Month : February 2019

Mind Over Money

This 1 Question Will Change Your Spending Habits

A Buddha in the Rain Creative Commons License photo credit: h.koppdelaney

When I was a child I was very curious. I always asked questions about things. One show I used to watch called “The Adventures of Pete & Pete” had a great episode. In it one of the characters, Ellen, kept asking the question “Why?” As kids we’re always inquisitive. What happened to that? Why don’t we ask ourselves that question more often?

I’m a big believer that everyone can control themselves. Granted sometimes it’s very hard (ex. drug addiction). You can check out the  rehabnear.me christian centers to have a control on youself when it comes to drugs.

But mentally,

  • You decide what to think
  • You decide if you’re going to get upset if someone cuts you off in traffic
  • You decide if someone talking bad about you is going to piss you off (excuse my French)
  • You decide if a little rain is going to ruin your day (Literally and figuratively)
  • You are the master of your mind

No one can control it unless you let them.

Next time you decide you use a credit card to buy an outfit because it looks good on you, but you don’t have the cash, or decide to get a payday loan like on this site, ask yourself “Why?”

  • Why do you keep buying clothes that you don’t need?
  • Is there something inside of you that says you need a new outfit to feel good?
  • Why do you need to spend money to feel good?

That’s a bad outlet to get a high. Instead, learn to love what you have. Make a list of things you’re happy about. Make a list of things you love. Make a list of things you’re proud of.

In the end I think it’s boredom that causes this. If you weren’t shopping what would you be doing? Watching TV; talking on the phone; surfing the net. While these things are entertaining to do, they are just that, entertainment. Find a hobby that will be more fulfilling. Perhaps sewing?

If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, or are heavily in debt ask yourself why? Be honest with yourself and don’t blame others. If your significant other spends all of the money ask why? Why don’t you talk to them about it? Why don’t you compromise? Why don’t you say no? Get to the root of the problem with you, then you can solve the problem you have with others

Just ask why?

Do you ask why?

Money Management

Identity Theft On Black Friday

Identity theft this Black Friday is a very plausible fear. With the hustle and bustle of getting the best deal the fastest can cause us to let our guard down. Check out these tips to protect your identity this Black Friday:

Tips for Holiday Shopping
[Via: IdentityHawk.com identity theft]

Money Management

The Simple Truth About Building Wealth When You Have None

When you don’t have wealth it seems impossible to get. The truth is that it isn’t hard to develop wealth. The plan is easy to follow. And it doesn’t require anything more than you already have.

My Story

When I was applying to colleges I had a mentor named Steve. Steve was successful in his field. He had done academically well throughout school.

I had never been a super student. I had many interests outside of school, some of which I took very seriously. For better or for worse, I spent more time on my outside interests than I did on my schoolwork. Consequently, my grades could have been quite a bit better.

By the time I was ready to take college seriously I figured I could use all the help I could get. So I visited Steve.

I asked Steve, “What’s the secret to doing well in school?”. His answer was right to the point: “Take easy classes”.

That answer hit me like a ton of bricks. Could it really be that easy? Was that really the secret to Steve’s success?

Now, Steve obviously couldn’t have established himself professionally if he’d only taken “Wine Tasting 101”, or “Beaches and Shorelines”. He had to take the hard classes too. But his point was clear.

The problem I had was that I spread myself too thin. I had taken all advanced placement course in high-school, and had several activities outside of school, each of which required a major time commitment. I was spread too thin.

So how does this apply to personal finance?

Steve’s approach to school was basically to be honest about how smart he was and then use only a portion of those smarts to get through school. If he’d taken all hard classes he probably wouldn’t have done very well. He wouldn’t have had time to handle 4 midterms all at the same time, or write 4 papers all at the same time, in subjects that were difficult for him. And this is basically what happened to me.

By taking easy classes Steve ensured that he would have enough resources to handle the workload, regardless of what came his way.

The secrets to developing wealth are not really secrets.

  1. Save more than you spend.
  2. Earn more when you can.
  3. Spend less when you can.
  4. Earn interest on the wealth you already have.

If you do those four things, over time you’ll be wealthy. Even if you just do the first one, you won’t be living paycheck to paycheck for long.

The biggest reason people without wealth don’t start practicing those four healthy habits is emotion. If they earn a lot they feel as though they should be able to spend a lot. Or they feel that certain aspects of their lifestyle (a nice car, eating at restaurants or expensive clothes) are necessities. Maybe your tastes aren’t so extravagant. Regardless, if you’re stressing about money then you’re doing something wrong. Until you find out what it is you’ll never find a way to reduce that stress.

The simple (and hopefully not too painful) truth about building wealth is that it doesn’t happen by following some complicated process that’s only available to the wealthiest 1% of the population. The secret to building wealth is simply spending less than you earn.

Once you get the basics down, there are some more complicated things you can do to add some extra punch to your wealth-building power; 401Ks, health savings accounts, etc.. But no matter how much money you earn, if you spend more than you earn, you will never be wealthy.

So Take Heart

If you’re stressing about money, wondering why you don’t have any, thinking that things would be so much better if only you had more money coming in, don’t despair. Things can turn around quickly if you’re willing to let go of unhealthy money management habits and change your lifestyle.

It doesn’t matter how much you earn. The key to building wealth is spending less than you earn, saving money to build up an emergency fund, investing once you develop a cushion, and just letting the wealth accumulate.

If you’re willing to make the lifestyle changes to let that simple process happen, then you will be wealthy. Just have faith that it is possible and that you already have everything you need to make it reality.

Laran Evans is a software developer and entrepreneur looking to help ordinary people develop wealth with Plenty, a better personal finance tool.

Money Management

Save Money on Everyday Things

There are lots of ways to save money – and most of them are mechanisms that we take very much for granted. But how do we seek out deals and whether or not those deals are actually worth the few pennies they might save?

Internet Shopping

We already know that one of the best ways to save money is to order something online instead of shopping for it in a local store. Unfortunately, if you aren’t careful, the cost of shipping stuff to you will usually more than make up the difference for what you saved on the sticker price of an item. One of the best ways to save money is to shop online and use a coupon code.

Coupon codes are easy to find—there are entire sites, like Couponshoebox.com, that are built around sharing the discount and coupon codes offered up (sometimes barely publicly) by web vendors.  For example, if you are interested in options trading, you can apply an Optionshouse promo code to start a stock trading account and receive some bonus offers. You can also search the site for things like deals on Netflix or a gift from a children’s store for your kid. Before you click “pay now” on your shopping cart, check a promo code warehouse to help you save even more money (a simple Google search can yield dozens of results).

Deal Websites

When Groupon first rolled out everybody went nuts buying up all of the deals and offers they could. It didn’t take long before people figured out that, if they weren’t careful, they were literally throwing money at site simply for offering them deals. That said—if you take some time to actually search through these sites and only buy the deals you know that you will actually use and not the deals you think or hope you’ll use (hint: check for deals that are expiring soon because they’ve usually been given extra discounts), they can be a great place for savings.

Coupons

Coupons are a particularly troublesome money saver. This is because most of the time they don’t save you very much money at all—even when you only use them on things you want and use regularly. The trick to coupons is to only use coupons printed by manufacturers. Store coupons look like better deals but they are typically only on items that have recently been marked up or that the store is having trouble moving off of the shelves. Go directly to brand and manufacturer’s sites for the best deals and coupons.

Store Programs

Store programs can actually be pretty great. You sign up for a card at Safeway, Albertsons, Fred Meyer, wherever. Every time you shop, you swipe your card. The system tracks what you buy and spits out coupons for the things you buy the most—and the deals are usually pretty great. These programs will also track how much you spend and give you points. You can trade in these points for things like gas discounts, free coffees from in store coffee shops, etc.

Some stores, like Fred Meyer, will send you a gift card based on your point value for a sales quarter ($1=1 point. 785 points=$7.85 gift card). The only drawback is that you have to be okay with sharing your information with the store. Some people aren’t too keen on that.

Really, the difference between a good deal and a scam is often time—your time. If you take real time to seek out and research the discounts and deals you find, you can save a lot of money. It’s when you take something at face value that you start to get in trouble. 

Frugality

Don’t Let Frugality Take Over Your Life

For many people, finding ways to cut costs is essential for surviving a recession.  Many people take frugality to heart, but it is possible to go overboard.  Some people end up making sacrifices that don’t end up helping them in the long run.  Here are some things that you should think about before you become too obsessive about saving money:

  1. You don’t want to pay more by being frugal. This sounds counterintuitive, but many people feel that they can’t pass up a sale.  They end up hoarding or wasting many items they will never use.  Sales are great, but they work against you when they trick you into buying something you would never want otherwise.
  2. You compromise your ethics. We need to do what we can to get through the recession.  However, you need to know where to draw the line.  There are more important things than saving money.  Some people try to mooch off their friends who are even worse off than they are.  Others will do anything short of shoplifting from a goodwill store to get by.  We are in the middle of recession, but we haven’t devolved back to the Dark Ages.  Things aren’t so bad that you need to lie, cheat or manipulate people to be frugal.
  3. You put your health at risk. Do you eat foods that are past their expiration dates because you can’t stomach the thought of throwing them out?  These are choices that you need to cut out of your life right now.  Saving 80 cents on a can of beans is not worth a trip to the emergency room (especially if you don’t have health insurance).
  4. You forget the value of your time. I have heard stories of people who will literally clip coupons for hours on end.  After thirty hours worth of work, they may be able to find a hundred dollars worth of coupons off of products they intend to buy.  Surely, their time is worth more than three dollars an hour.  If you’re unemployed, it makes more sense to spend those hours trying to find a job.  If you have a job, it would make more sense to work overtime, pick up shifts or even a second job than to spend that much time cutting coupons.  What about your family?  Surely, your time with them is more important than a handful of coupons.
  5. You no longer find pleasure in life. Working on small budget doesn’t mean that you have to become depressed.  Sure, you need to make major changes when you have a new budget, but your budget needs to include pleasurable activities in your life.  It isn’t healthy to give up your social life or stop indulging yourself once in a while to save a few bucks here and there.  Just know what you can afford to spend and let other people know that you can’t get carried away if you go out.

Frugality is meant to make your life better.  Ideally, you would be able to cut costs without comprising too much of your happiness.  You need to assess your lifestyle and know if you are making unhealthy decisions just to save money.  Saving is great, but don’t go overboard.

Kalen Smith writes advice on insurance, finance and similar topics for the Homeowners Insurance Blog.