All Articles Tagged "saving"
Are you spending for the life you have or the life you want?
That’s the question I had to ask myself as I stood in an electronic store recently mulling over an iPad purchase. As I stood there considering how much this purchase would set me back financially, I glanced down at my shoes. The rubber had all but completely worn off the bottom near my toes and it looked to be only a matter of time before my big toe came out for air. These were my only pair of decent flats to wear to work and they were at a point way past raggedy. I’d been too cheap to purchase a new pair, yet I was justifying a shiny, new electronics purchase that was easily forty times the price of a new pair of shoes.
There I stood between the life I have: a working girl who needs dress shoes for the office versus the life I want: a lucrative, self-employed woman whose line of business requires flip-flops…and the latest electronics. The lives were mutually exclusive at that point, one decidedly less expensive and the other undoubtedly rooted in fantasy. Yet, I was much more willing to throw away my life savings chasing a mirage instead of investing my disposable income to improve upon what I already possessed.
I’d done this time and time again:
Deciding I wanted to be a “Woman who Scrapbooks”, I bought a ton of scrapbook materials and never made a single scrapbook page.
Deciding I wanted to be a marathon-runner, I bought a pair of custom running shoes and signed up for a gym membership only to use them both twice in six months.
Deciding I wanted to be a great cook, I purchased a Wok to make cool Asian-inspired cuisine…and that Wok is collecting a considerable amount of dust.
Deciding I wanted to go to grad school, I bought several GRE study guides and vocabulary books and hardly cracked one of them.
Author Scott Young, would call my efforts “feel good tasks”: tasks I do to make me feel like I’m doing something without my actually doing anything. He says a feel good task is a task not essential to getting started nor directly contributing to success; therefore this task rarely results in achieving a particular goal and instead becomes an end unto itself.
In other words, I determine I want to be well-read so I subscribe to the New Yorker and immediately feel like I’ve reached my goal despite not having actually read a thing.
This isn’t to say I can never change, pursue my dreams or pick up a new hobby, but maybe I can ease into those changes financially once I’ve made a serious commitment (evidenced by follow-through) rather than using my desire to change as an excuse to spend money.
If I’m serious about scrapbooking, I can start by collecting and organizing all the pictures lying around the house. If I’m serious about running, I can go outside and run every day for a month. If I’m serious about cooking, I can unthaw the meat that’s been in my freezer for a considerable amount of time. If I’m serious about grad school, there are tons of free, online practice guides for the GRE. And if I’m serious about saving money and building wealth then I can stop spending money on random, unrelated projects just to feel like I’m doing something.
Prioritizing purchases is one thing, financing a life I don’t actually live is another. It’s a sure-fire way to end up in debt or, at the very least, with a lot of stuff I don’t need or use.
What do you think? Have you ever found yourself financing a life you don’t actually live?
Alissa Henry is a freelance writer living in Columbus, OH. Follow her on Twitter @AlissaInPink
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For 20-somethings, being broke is nearly a fad. We trade war stories about our under-or-unemployed status, dream up creative ways to evade our astronomical student loan payments, and show little shame about moving back in with our parents after college graduation. But once that Twitter hashtag #TeamiPhone or #TeamDroid pops up on our respective timelines, we’re all taking sides and writing dissertations in 140 characters or less about why one is better than the other.
Because despite having one of the highest unemployment rates in the country right now, studies have shown that millennials are the fastest-growing segment of luxury goods and services purchasers.
MSN.com recently reported that “although some millennials – people between the ages of 18 and 34 — are launching promising careers, most are burdened with large student loans, and thousands are unemployed. Despite all this, they are making luxury purchases a priority.”
Jason Dorsey, a millennials expert and the chief strategy officer for The Center for Generational Kinetics told MSN that he believes social media is a driving force in getting young people to prioritize spending money on high-end items. In his opinion, we are buying things so that we can say we did on Twitter, Facebook, or some other social media site. That in turn makes others want to say they did as well. The constant stream of conversation works as a way to sort-of peer pressure virtual strangers into owning non-essentials like flat screens, iPads, luxury cars (along with luxury car notes) and Android cell phones.
There is nothing wrong with wanting nice things, but can we afford those things on top of necessities and debilitating debt from a degree that has yet to result in a real salary? For many, the answer is a resounding no. A survey by WSL/Strategic Retail found that nearly a quarter of millennials are unable to make ends meet. We’re creating lives for ourselves that we cannot afford.
The good news is, studies show that we are less likely to use a credit card to bridge the gap between the money we have and the money we need to buy something. We are charging less and therefore paying off our credit card debt at a faster rate than other age groups. Low bank balances have also morphed us into super frugal shoppers, always finding the lowest price.
The bad news is that even a $250 iPhone from Craigslist is still $250 for a phone.
Of course, a phone isn’t standing in the way of anyone wanting to reach total financial independence, but the mindset that goes into making these costly purchases can be problematic — especially if you’re making these purchases in lieu of saving and investing your money.
Many phone companies are touting $100 a month for a cell phone plan. That seems reasonable for “unlimited everything,” but still that’s $1200 dollars a year. I looked up some numbers on personal finance website, The Motley Fool and it turns out – If you invested that $1200 yearly at a 9 percent interest rate instead of handing it over to Verizon for the next decade, you’d have 22-thousand dollars in 10 years and a whopping 480-thousand dollars in 40 years. $208 a month is $2,500 a year and investing that at the same rate will net you a million dollars in 40 years.
Here’s the thing, in our 20’s, being broke is still something to joke about with friends; but there isn’t anything funny about working our entire lives and then joining the legions of senior citizens who can’t write a five thousand dollar check because we squandered what little disposable income we had while we were young.
Luxury items are great and quality of life is important, but I hope we are more #TeamInvestingInOurselves instead of just #TeamPaddingThePocketsOfThoseWhoAreInTheBusinessOfKeepingUsBroke.
Which side are you on?Alissa Henry is a freelance writer living in Columbus, Ohio. Follow her on Twitter: @AlissaInPink or check out her blog This Cannot Be My Life
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The cheapest way to eat is to shop smartly and cook it at home. But we can’t live on home cooking alone. Sometimes getting out is just what we need to shake things up. Unfortunately, eating out can put a dent in your pockets. But if you know what you’re doing, you can eat out and still keep your wallet full.
Drinks are one of the most marked up items in the food service business. When you order a soda or tea with your meal at a restaurant, it costs about the same as you’d pay for a two liter at the grocery store, but only costs the restaurant a few pennies to buy. Order water and drink your cola when you get home.
For some, it’s a non-negotiable expense: the AC. If it’s too hot, you get in a bad mood, you become lethargic and you can’t get anything done. Problem is, the same thing happens when that hefty power bill shows up at the end of the month. Here’s how to stay cool this summer, and within budget.
Cutting your personal spending to a minimum in order to save more of your hard-earned money could seem like a pointless idea. Why not forget about saving this pay period and splurge on that new Kate Spade bag or eating out for lunch every day next week instead of bringing lunch to work? These decisions might seem like they are not that major, but when sacrificing your savings for a temporary spending binge, it could cut into your long-term spending goals over time.
Do you find it difficult for you to get excited about saving money? You don’t necessarily have to cut into your quality of life just to save. Keep in mind these ways on how you can build up your enthusiasm for saving more money rather than spending it:
Who knew that being an adult could be this much fun! Although sarcasm oozes from my tone and I sometimes long for those carefree days of my childhood, I am somewhat comforted by the growth that has occurred from childhood to womanhood. Many of the things I used to do as a young girl, I wouldn’t dare do as a woman; but of course that’s a part of growing up.
While each of us go through different growing pains and have different ‘ahh-ahh’ moments that declare our adulthood, I think we can agree that some of these things serve as our ‘girl you know you’re grown’ moments. From having a circle of married friends to learning to save before you spend, check out these sometimes overlooked signs that you’ve come oh so far in age and wisdom.
You Cringe At New Music and Reminisce When You Hear Some Of The Music You Used To Love
There was a time when I could dance and sing along to any song while paying little attention to the lyrics. Now I can’t bear to hear certain songs, let alone sing along to them because the lyrics are too harsh and disrespectful.
While there are times when I am out socially and it doesn’t bother me, more times than not I cringe when I hear some of the foul and overly-sexual music others are dropping it low to. So when a ’90s jam comes on, I get excited (and happy on the inside) because most music from the past I would consider my ‘jam’. I’ve decided that this taste in music is easily chalked up to me getting older and wiser.
By Makula Dunbar
Money matters such as earning and spending are easy concepts that those most far removed from finance careers understand. Though, in the middle ground – where organizing money, planning, strategizing and saving comes into play, many shy away. Coincidently, it is the combination of these practices – investing especially – that separates the wealthy from those who struggle at some point financially.
For African American women, understanding, most importantly jumping on the bandwagon – and taking the first steps toward investing – is a major contributor of living comfortably in the future. Simply put, investments can be any account, savings plan or fund set up to generate future wealth and stability.
Budgeting and Preparing to Invest
“I think the first piece of investing is saving an emergency fund. Somewhere between three to six months of your regular expenses,” says Janet Stanzak, a certified financial planner at Financial Empowerment. “It’s a cushion to have when things come up. Beyond that investment is a retirement plan.”
When Harrine Freeman landed a job just after graduating, an individual retirement account (IRA) was the last thing that she was considering. By the time she was a senior in college, she had overused 13 credit cards and garnered $19,000 in debt.
“I didn’t know who to go to or where to turn. I decided that I wanted pay off my debt, but it was a struggle because the creditors didn’t want to accept the payment I was providing,” said Freeman, now a financial counselor and founder of H.E. Freeman Enterprises.
“They sent the check back and I’d send it right back. Through my persistence they saw that I truly wanted to pay the debt back and after five months they decided to work with me. I put myself on a strict budget and I was able to pay it off in four years.”
Minimizing her expenses to just rent, debt and groceries, Freeman eliminated shopping, eating out and all other fun from her activities.
Let’s get started!
What are your goals?
Get Out Of Debt?
Get a notebook and list them. Also, you can scroll down for a template which helps you do exactly what we ask here.
Create SMART Goals for Every Financial Goal
Now that we know about your goals, how will you get there? For every financial goal you have, you’ll need to apply SMART goals. Smart goals are: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time Sensitive
• S – Specific – What is the exact result you want to achieve? Be as specific as possible. Goals like “I want to make more money” sound nice but are really vague. By answering specifically how much money you want to make, you can be more detailed when setting your goal. For example, you could say, “I want to make $10,000 in the next 6 months.” That is a very specific, detailed goal.
• M – Measurable – What is a successful result? How will you know that you’ve reached your goal? When setting financial goals, measuring it should be relatively simple because there is generally a number associated with the goal. When there is some kind of number attached to it, you have something you can measure. You can track how you’re doing.
• A – Achievable – I’m all for dreaming big, but you have to ask yourself if your goal is realistic. “I want to be the first Jr. High student to play in the NBA” – sounds good; it’s even measurable and specific, but I don’t know how achievable it is. You have to balance between pushing yourself to accomplish a challenging goal but also making it realistic.
• R – Realistic-We edited this to reflect realistic instead of rewarding. By default all goals are rewarding but for our purposes, it is more important to be realistic. A realistic goal is one that will stretch you but not impossible. Completely cutting out all entertainment and eating out isn’t realistic for most. But starting my reducing the amount of money spent in this area is more realistic.
• T – Trackable – What is your cut-off date for achieving this goal? There should be a set finish line, so you are pushing yourself to achieve your goal. Without a timeline for accomplishing the goal, it is very easy to get off track, and you just get to it when you get to it. A goal without a deadline is just a wish.
Next, we’ll write it down and make the vision plain!
Write down on a sheet of paper:
- Top 5 values: financial security, paying down debt etc
- Top 5 Financial Goals
- SMART goals for each listed financial goal
- 24 hour plan: What will you do in the next 24 hours to take action?
- Deadline for completion: write down your target deadline for each goal
Take some time to create this plan because it is important that you define your values and goals to help you create a clear financial picture of where you want to be by this time next year. Remember, if financial freedom is the goal, then you must create a path to get there.
Written by Ginger, CEO of Girls Just Wanna Have Funds ™- breaking financial ceilings, one stiletto at a time. There she publishes tips and articles that will help women light up their financial lives and take control of their deepest money issues.
So many questions we have about why men act the way they do can be answered with “because they can.” When there are plenty other women around, men just go on to the next. But when there’s a drought, men have to pull out all the stops to impress a woman, and one way most men try to do that is by opening up their wallet.
“What we see in other animals is that when females are scarce, males become more competitive. They compete more for access to mates,” says Vladas Griskevicius, an assistant professor of marketing at the Carlson School and lead author of a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology which found men spend more when women are less accessible. “How do humans compete for access to mates? What you find across cultures is that men often do it through money, through status, and through products.”
To see how accurate their theory was, researchers conducted two tests. In the first, participants read news articles that described their local population as having more men or more women and then they were asked to indicate how much money they would save each month from a paycheck, as well as how much they would borrow with credit cards for immediate expenditures. When led to believe women were scarce, the savings rates for men decreased by 42% and men were willing to borrow 84% more money each month.
In the second study, participants saw photo arrays of men and women that had more men, more women, or were neutral. After looking at the images, participants were asked to choose between receiving some money tomorrow or a larger amount in a month. When women were scarce in the photos, men were much more likely to take an immediate $20 rather than wait for $30 in a month.
On the flip side, knowing there’s less competition doesn’t effect how women spend their own money, but it does raise their expectations for how much a man should spend on them. After reading a news article informing women that there were more men than women, women expected men to spend more on dinner dates, Valentine’s Day gifts, and engagement rings.
“When there’s a scarcity of women, women felt men should go out of their way to court them,” says Griskevicius.
Makes sense to me. When you think you have more options, you demand more from the person you’re with; and for men, knowing there are plenty of women they can get with for cheap or free, doesn’t exactly entice them to drop half of their paycheck on one woman.
What do you think about this study? Do you expect men to spend more on you when you know you can easily go find another?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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