All Articles Tagged "Personal Finance"
A new study from the Urban Institute reveals over 35 percent of Americans have debts reported to collection agencies. This means that one out of three people are relying too much on loans instead paying for things with money they have. Now there is certainly nothing wrong with a credit card, so long as you don’t go crazy. Here are some warning signs that you are overusing them.
By Scott And Bethany Palmer The Money Couple, From Your Tango
You have the money, but you still don’t feel like you deserve what you buy.
If you love to spend money, but hate yourself when you do, you are not crazy. Many of us love to shop, buy gifts or conquer a great sale. But afterwards we feel that gnawing in our stomach. That doubt. That guilt.
We often get questions from readers about this feeling. For instance, Brooke, a participant at one of our events, told us this story:
“I really love my job, finally. After reading a million articles about people who couldn’t believe they get paid to do what they love. I am finally one of them! With too many false starts to count, I found a fit in advertising. Apparently my hair-brained ideas and constant doodling are valuable when focused and refined. The pace is insane and the workload massive, but I finally make great money to do what I love.
So why do I feel horrible when I buy things? Almost everything I buy makes me feel guilty later. Whether it’s an iPad I need for work or a skirt on sale — I feel guilty. Initially, I love looking at the options, trying stuff on, deciding which one is best, making the purchase and then, like heartburn from a bad burrito, I feel it. A fiery knot of self-judgment and doubt forms in my stomach. I start thinking, “Why did I buy this? Was it really a great deal? My credit card balance is killing me. I could live without this. Can I take it back?”
I feel trapped in an exhausting cycle. And it takes all joy out of my success and ability to purchase things I like and need. How do I stop feeling like this?”
Constantly plagued with the guilt of buyer’s remorse even while living within your budget? Visit Your Tango where The Money Couple gives some helpful tips on learning your money style and having a healthy relationship with personal finances.
When you decide to pull-up your big girl panties and take charge of your finances like a grown woman, you may begin to realize that everyone will not be happy with your new frugal lifestyle.
Your shopaholic friends will become your new financial frenemies and say things to keep you chained to the door of revolving credit, conspicuous consumption, and living beyond your means.
Here are five things that financial frenemies love to say to keep your financial situation in critical condition:
You only live once (YOLO): It’s true; you only live once. But here is something else to remember: each of your credit card bills, mortgage payments, and car notes has their own life cycle OAM (once a month.)
“But it is on sale…” If you are desperately trying to adhere to a budget, a financial frenemy will gladly try to throw you off your course to debt-free living by saying, “but it’s on sale” to justify something that is not scheduled in your budget. What your financial frenemy fails to understand is that buying unnecessary items whether for a little or a lot is wasted money if it is not a need.
“You work hard, you deserve it.” This statement really kills me. When your financial frenemy starts whispering this yiddy-yadda, ask them to be more specific about what “it” really means. Because when it comes to spending money that you do not have on things that you already own, “it” really means the following: less money, more debt, more crap, and more clutter. I doubt that that is something that you work hard for or deserve.
“It’s an investment…” Your financial frenemy really has a warped understanding of the definition of “investment” when she views spending your tax refund or rent on clothes, hair, electronics, or a car—all items that lose value over time.
Quick reminder, as one of my financial-friends-in-my-head Michelle Singletary loves to say, “If it is on your ass, than it is not an asset.”
“But that’s what credit cards are for…” Your financial frenemy will say this when she is trying to convince you to buy something that is WAY out of your financial comfort zone. I mean, way out. Here’s the thing: credit card money IS NOT yours. If you could not afford to buy an item without the credit card, how do you expect to repay that amount of money PLUS the interest that is slapped on for borrowing someone else’s money?
Discerning between you financial frenemy and financial friend is a cornerstone to developing a healthy financial backbone. But be strong and of good courage when you come across the forked tongue of your financial frenemy. Your wallet and your financial future depend on it.
Kara is a life coach, motivational speaker, author, and founder of The Frugal Feminista. She is also the author of the ebook The 5-Day Financial Reset Plan. You can download it for free here. Connect with Kara @frugalfeminista.
Do you have a student loan? Are you struggling to pay it? With today’s economy still in recovery mode there are many college graduates rethinking their decision to earn their degree as the debt of student loans are zapping paychecks — so much so that money is being garnished from accounts. Whether you have a few more payments to make or will owe institutions for the next couple of decades, there are some do’s and don’ts you need to consider. Here are some tips on handling student loans.
We are right on the verge of summer. And you KNOW what that means!!! Summer love, dating, seeing and being seen, and all of that good stuff that comes with these two flirty, sensual seasons.
But as your sister-in-saving, I would be remiss if I did not pull you aside and tell you that you don’t need to be maxing out your credit and missing your rent to impress these men out here.
No, put your credit cards away and bank your next paycheck. Here are three items that you especially do not need to spend money on impress a dude that you are dating.
1. Sexy Lingerie: Since we are grown, we can be honest, right? If things are going according to plan, the lingerie should be off in hopefully less than 10 minutes once he sees you in it, right? In fact, from an informal survey that I took of men around me, most men prefer you naked. The quicker you are naked, the better. So, save your energy on all that shopping and save your dollars. Your birthday suit will suffice. And if you really need to buy some new skivvies, hit up Marshalls and TJ Maxx, and Target. Here’s the truth: men will take notice of anything that YOU feel the most confident in, not the label.
2. Designer Jeans That Round Out Your Booty: Some of us are willing to pay hundreds of dollars for those magic jeans that round and lift instead of the time at the gym to make the booty reach those desired dimension. Keep your coins and try a 30-day squat challenge. Google “30-day squat challenge” and take your pick. Even two weeks following one of these regimens will get it round and right without the support of spandex and modern-day technology. With a round and tight booty, you won’t have to worry so much about the cost of the jeans—your booty will look good in most things that you try on.
3. Makeup: If you think buying lots of make-up, ultra expensive make-up or getting your make-up professionally done for your dates is a going to make him think that you are pretty, please think again. Especially if you are using make-up to completely alter how you look. The make-up has to come off sometime, right? So, try for quality make-up that enhances your natural beauty, not hijacks it, which can be found at your local drugstores at an affordable price. The Queen Collection from CoverGirl is the truth for quality, cost-effective alternatives to your department store brands.
In other words, try being yourself and working with what you have and let your money work for you.
Kara is a life coach, motivational speaker, author, and founder of The Frugal Feminista, an online home created to inspire and inform women of color about financial empowerment, girl power, and “juicy” living. Connect with Kara @frugalfeminista. Download her free ebook “The 5-Day Financial Reset Plan: Eliminate Debt, Know Your Worth, and Heal Your Relationship with Money in Just 5 Days.”
Confession: I have been trying to lose these last 10 pounds and transition to 50 percent veganism for the longest time… longest time.
But, see, what happens is… I stick with my nutrition and health regimen for a little while, but as soon as I feel lazy or feel like cheating, I succumb and retreat to my old habits even though it represents the complete antithesis of where I want to be in terms of my relationship with healthy living and clean eating. In between my failed attempts to make a change, I think I started to believe that I was just not built with that discipline or dedication.
The same belief may hold true for those of us trying to curb our spending, live a debt-free life, and wisely invest in their future but fall prey to the temptation to splurge, binge, and overspend. Some of us may rationalize our spending with the notion that we are just not good with money.
I was reading the book Mindset, by Carol Dweck, a Stanford psychologist, which focused on why many of us will never reach our goals or push through challenges to be the people that we really want or to accomplish the things that we really want to do.
If Carol were our best friend, she would say that our fixed mindsets are keeping us from being physically fit and fiscally fit. Folks with a fixed mindset believe their basic qualities, like their talent, personality traits, or intelligence is fixed and immutable. They believe natural talent or proclivity— without effort—creates success.
If we were to cultivate a growth mindset, one where we believe that our most basic abilities (i.e. making mindful money and health decisions) can be developed through dedication and hard work, we would view the hiccups along the journey toward financial freedom and clean living as opportunities to learn instead of signs of failure.
After reading this book, I realized that I definitely had a growth mindset when it came to eliminating $40K worth of student loans in less than two years, but held a fixed mindset when I thought about my lackluster progress on my journey to better eating and living. So, I started thinking about how I could apply the mental models and actionable strategies I used to eliminate $40K worth of student loan debt toward improving my relationship with food, exercise, and nutrition.
I decided that debt was NOT an option. I drew the proverbial line in the sand and made a decision that I was not going to carry this debt. Once I made the shift toward committing, I viewed all obstacles as temporary. I can’t say that I have made the same declaration for my diet and food lifestyle.
I viewed financial setbacks like a splurge here or poor use of my credit card there with compassion and in the totality of my progress. Understanding progress was not synonymous with perfection allowed me to brush off minor mistakes and stay focused toward my goal of financial freedom. I have to apply this same attitude to ensure that I don’t throw my hands up in the air and retreat to inactivity each time I don’t meet my high expectations.
I had to get comfortable making sacrifices. Financial freedom required a tradeoff. I could not say “yes” to a new dress or an invitation to every play, party, or trip that I wanted to go to.
I had to study about money in order to respect it more. Part of developing a growth mindset is being open to learning more about the topic. When you learn more, you make better choices. I took the time to subscribe to personal finance books, read beginner investing guides, and speak to frugal folk—basically, I immersed myself in a financially empowering environment. For my fitness and nutrition goals, I think my attitudes toward food choice and exercise will change as I increase my knowledge base.
Skills like money management and dispositions like frugality can be taught and developed. I have not always been financially savvy but I kept towards my goal of financial freedom and now I consider myself pretty financially confident.
If you are looking to change how you approach your journey toward financial freedom, meditate on how you respond to other challenges in your life. If you are having trouble reflecting, try reading Dweck’s Mindset as great reference and motivator. Also, I wrote a free ebook The 5-Day Financial Reset Plan available on The Frugal Feminista just for this. Day 1 of The 5-Day Financial Reset Plan digs into the role that negative self-talk plays in keeping us from abundant living.
The highly indebted by way of poor financial choices, consumer charging, and unrealistic standards of living come in an array of sizes, hues, shapes, languages, and ethnicities. Despite these superficial distinctions, there remains a unifying mentality and set of behaviors for this demographic. Their habits, priorities, and ways of navigating have striking congruence.
1. The highly indebted see an increase in income as an invitation to increase expenditure.
Whether it be a windfall through an inheritance or bonus or a steady increase in income from a raise or an investment dividend, more money is usually considered a positive and good thing. In responsible hands, it could be used for college funds, bolstering emergency funds or paying off debt.
For those with trouble staying in the black, however, more money may lead to more money problems, not less. This is because the highly indebted create a direct relationship with money and expenditure. That is, the more money there is, the more stuff there is to buy. In theory, this principle should not create any economic burdens if the increase in expenditure is offset by the increase in income. What gets the highly indebted in trouble is this is not their financial model. The increase in income inspires an increase in expenditure that is disproportionate to the amount of the rise of income. For example, a 10 percent increase in income may spur a 25 percent increase in spending, leading to more debt.
2. The highly indebted invite big business into their lives.
There is one reason that corporations spend millions of dollars on advertisements annually–whether it be 30-second radio plugs, billboards, mass emails, glossy magazine and newspaper pullouts, regular prime-time commercial slots, or once-a-year events such as the Super Bowl. The reason is because it works. Psychologists, marketing teams, researchers, and focus groups are handsomely paid to gain insight into human wants and insecurities for the sole purposes of manipulating this information to meet their financial bottom line.
The highly indebted, nonetheless, can be found flipping through magazines, purchasing tickets to car shows, strolling through malls, browsing sales items at online sites, and watching infomercials. In other words, they nurture a relationship with big business and its peddling machine. The only way to diminish the influence that big business has on the lives of the highly indebted is for them to break off all ties. In particular, the highly indebted have to spend time doing things that don’t include spending or overexpose them to mass media tools of financial persuasion–reading a book, exploring a hobby, volunteering time, or strengthening familial relations.
3. The highly indebted suffer from selective amnesia.
Listen carefully to the story of a highly indebted person. It may sound like: ” I just charged a couple of things to the credit cards… just to treat myself because I work hard and deserve something nice… got a little behind on payments… Then, all of a sudden… I was $5,000 in debt… I don’t know how it all happened… It was just a couple of purchases. I don’t remember charging all that much.”
One of the best cures for this condition is the creation of and adherence to a budget. A budget does not rely on the failed memory of the highly indebted because it is written and unconcerned and unmoved by the moods, impulses, and vacillation of the highly indebted. Employing direct deposit to and/or automatic withdrawals from checking and savings accounts also buffers the highly indebted from the negative effects of their condition. These tools ensure that the highly indebted avoid late fees, benefit from incremental debt reduction, engender savings, and ultimately establish a solid credit history and standing.
Connect with Kara @frugalfeminista. Learn more about The Frugal Feminista at www.thefrugalfeminista.com
There is a saying in Antigua: “one, one, full basket” meaning that every bit, no matter how small, will have an impact on your overall goal, especially when it is a financial one. When those “bits” are tiny deposits into an account, you will eventually have a hefty reserve if you keep at it. On the other hand, if you continually withdraw those little bits for “here and there” purchases, your account will stay stagnant, or worse, dry up completely.
Here are five of those little purchases that will eventually chip away at and erode your financial foundation, if you let them.
Nails: If you’re accustomed to getting a mani/pedi every two weeks, then you are also accustomed to spending at least $50 a month (not including tip) for temporary, fading beauty. The inevitable truth about getting your nails done is that the color will chip (it is just a matter of time), and as soon as it does, you will be back to in the salon, in that chair, spending your money.
Body Scrubs: What’s the average cost of your favorite body scrub? Mine was about $30 until I found out how easy and inexpensive it was to make one with the ingredients in my kitchen. With some brown sugar, sea salt, olive oil, peppermint oil, a little of almond oil, and a repurposed lotion jar, my favorite body scrub now costs less than $5.
The benefits of making your own scrub just doesn’t end with the money you will save. It can also lead to a side hustle, where you are making homemade body scrubs for order. On top of that, with all of the preservatives and additives that go into these “natural” products, you actually know what is going on your skin.
Books: Nerdy beauties, this money drain was particularly hard for me to fully tame, especially as a bibliophile. But there are tons of places for you to read books or learn something new for free or little cost. As the founder of The Frugal Feminista, I wrote an article called “10 Sites The Frugal Black Girl Nerd Will Love” when one of my good friends shared that she was spending over $100 a month on her book habit and I wanted to provide some fiscally responsible alternatives. Sites like TEDx, NetGalley and DailyLit are just a few of the sites that help you get your reading/learning fix without burning a hole in your pocket.
All of your meals on the go: No one says that you have to brown bag it every day for lunch or that you shouldn’t have your afternoon latte or a morning bagel. However, if you are eating out for every meal, you can easily spend $30 on food a day. A few days like this each week can mean that you are wasting at least $90 dollars.
Mascara: Tubes of mascara for $30-plus is a serious waste of money. Your local convenience store has a variety of high-quality mascara for less than $10, if that much. When it comes to mascara and its impact on your lashes, you may be the only one that sees the difference.
Taking control of your money with these small steps is definitely doable and pain-free. These alternatives don’t leave your frumpy, ashy, uninteresting, or starving. These alternatives allow you to live your fabulous life for less.
Connect with Kara @frugalfeminista. Learn more about The Frugal Feminista at www.thefrugalfeminista.com
We have all seen people walk around with their nose pointed to the sky. Can you think of someone who always has to talk about the designer labels they are wearing, the fancy car they are driving, or the hot restaurant they have a reservation for, which, to them, equates to a higher status? Truth be told not everyone can afford what they are trying to display. Here are some signs you are living beyond your means. Hopefully you’ll fix these problems before they land you in serious debt.
Yay! We made it through another winter which means we can enjoy the fruits of spring! Which means it might be time to invest in some new stuff. Here are 10 reasons to spend money for spring.
Springtime and shopping? This really is a great day.