Financial Wellness: Finding a System that Works for You

A few years ago I wrote that I wanted to get my credit cards paid off and to do that I was going to track my expenses through Excel spreadsheets. I was able to keep up with that for a few months, until I got my credit cards paid off, and then I started utilizing my spreadsheet less and less. Mostly because I rarely open my computer when I’m at home. I sort of try to avoid using my computer seeing as I am in front of a computer day in and day out at work and my phone meets all my other needs. So my budgeting took a back burner. Then E and I moved in together and my expenses were cut down in half and I stopped being as vigilant with my budgeting. But because of that, I’ve lost sight of my goals (I planned on trying to get around $10k of my student loans paid off in this year when my expenses were so low) and haven’t made progress on them.

I’m trying something new this year – in my planner, I’m tracking what I’m spending every week and then adding it up on Sunday. I then put my total that I spent that week on my monthly calendar in my planner. I won’t be able to make up lost ground with my student loans but I’m hopefully that I can still make a bit more of a dent in my loans. It’s important to remember that it about making progress and not about being perfect. With your finances, your fitness, your work, and your life.

Financial Wellness: Money Saving Apps

Holiday season is upon us, like it or not (I like it) and with that comes the inevitable cost of buying gifts, travel, the food…fear not though, I may have an article that could prove to be a bit valuable…8 different apps that you can actually use year round but this article is marketing it towards the holiday season. I was most excited to try Santa’s Bag but unfortunately it’s not available for Window’s phones (truly the only negative of Window’s phones has to be the lack of apps made available). It has a countdown until Christmas, it’s password protected, and lets you create budgets and lists of gifts. If you use the app appropriately, it will even save all the gifts that you have gotten for people so no more cruising through Eddie Bauer trying to remember if you have already given your stepdad that exact same fleece 4 years in a row…

There are apps that range from hotel, to food, to clothes, to toys…check out the article and if you download any of the apps, let me know in the comments below. And damn you iPhone users and having a better store…but I will just have to live with having a superior phone ūüôā

Financial Wellness: Twitter?

How can twitter save you money? Check out this article by LearnVest.

Twitter is great for a variety of things and checking it out for discount codes and giveaways is also great. One thing that is new to me though is Twitter Parties. This article contains some good links to checkout if you are interested.

I’m not someone who is on Twitter 24/7, so I often miss the giveaway things, but the discount codes are great. Search for hashtags and shop smartly!

Also, check out Ebates to earn money back when you spend at certain stores. If you are going to be spending money, might as well try to earn some back!

Financial Wellness: Ease or Smart?

I’ll admit, I have a secret love for a few YouTube channels and lately they have been showing all these “unboxing” videos. Whether it is makeup/skincare or food (for people and pets), it seems that these subscription boxes are the new “it” thang. I love it when people break down how much they paid for the box and how much the contents of their box were actually worth to see if it was actually a good buy. Now before I share an article, which I haven’t read¬†yet¬†(I wanted to put my thoughts first, read the article and then share any difference of opinions!) ¬†I thought I would throw my 2 cents into the talk. Are subscription boxes really worth the money? I would say for me, no. I strive to only have things that I need and to not have a bunch of crap all over my apartment. But I can see where some people would find them nice. People who like to try different things would probably find use, also people who like to get mail that isn’t another credit card application or menu from the pizza place down the street. Ok, now to read the article. You can join me if you would like…here!

Ok, there are a ton of subscription services out there…why would someone ever need to leave their home? You can literally have everything delivered right to your door. That’s weird, right? Anyway, the jist of the article is that when considering a subscription service, ask yourself if you want or need this service. If it is a need and you can clearly justify it (like w/ the Target or Amazon subscriptions), then you are probably ok. If it is a want or borderline need, don’t think about the monthly cost, think about the yearly cost. Do you really need to spend $120/year on makeup? Do you even spend that much to begin w/? Is it something that is a financially smart idea to do? If it is, then go for it. Or if it is something that you think you might enjoy, you might see if you can get it as a birthday/holiday gift. The gift that keeps on giving! The other thing is to look at what the cancellation policy is. The article mentioned that some places, it’s go online and end, other places you have to talk to someone on the phone (shudders).

Bottom line or the tl;dr:  Is the subscription box something you need? When you look at the year cost, would you spend that much on similar products?

Financial Wellness: Invest in Your Future

I have been open on my views that I do not feel that high schools (at least back in the day when I was in high school) properly prepare students for the realities of being an adult and they sure do not prepare students with the knowledge that they need going into college and what debt they will likely acquire. So you can imagine my excitement when THIS article landed in my inbox last week. 4 courses for young adults on money? Tell me more!

Well, apparently you are only a young adult if you are enrolled in college. All 4 of the courses mentioned are for college kids. I guess they assume that you have your life together after you graduate from college and you are perfectly aware of your finances. Even though this is when, excuse my language, but shit gets real. Loan payments are no longer deferred. Student discounts disappear. That free, er, “free” gym membership is gone. Public transportation is no longer free or discounted. You all of a sudden maybe want to eat more than ramen noodles. You are working a full-time job which means financial forms to fill out, health insurance to figure out, retirement funds…shit gets real when you get done with your schooling!

I’d like to see a real financial course for adults and I’d like to to be free! Really I would just like to not feel like I’m flopping around when it comes to my finances. And I’m not even just talking about paying bills and making ends meet. I got that…it’s the rest that I am not so good at.

Financial Wellness: Spending Triggers

According to this article from LearnVest, my spending trigger is a perfect home. …Now I tend to not agree with a lot of these quizzes like this…I mean BuzzFeed pretty much has a monopoly on my quiz taking now that I am out of grad school but I have a really hard time seeing the validity and reliability in this specific quiz.

First of all, it’s very limited in the questions and answers for the questions.

Second, it’s one thing to be interested in interior design/architecture (or whatever you are interested in), but it is quite a different thing to actually be spending all your money on it. This quiz asked a few questions about things that you have spent your money on…but honestly I had a hard time answering it. Yeah I bought my dining room table for $200 a few months ago…but I also used gift cards with it and paid a total of $50 for it. No where in the quiz does it give you any option of saying that you budget or use gift money or something…

I get that this was a quiz about what your spending triggers are but, at least for me, this quiz was a complete bust. It asked random questions that didn’t really have links…I’m sorry…I love LearnVest and their articles but this one just doesn’t do it for me. If you take the quiz, let me know A.) what your spending trigger was and B.) if you agree with it.

Financial Wellness: Student Loans (insert groans here)

One thing I absolutely cannot wait for, but must, is to just be done paying my stupid student loans. For those of you that don’t know, I did my undergrad in Iowa (my home state) and then did my masters in Kentucky (uh, not my home state) so I racked up quite the pretty penny with my student loans. I almost daily try and think of how I am going to pay these bad boys off. And I have no clue. It feels overwhelming to think about it. But alas, my troubles are not your troubles and today, I’m here to provide what I think is a valuable resource. And of course, I found it from my daily LearnVest email.

Here is a checklist for paying of your student loans.¬†But honestly, if you are in high school or are in college right now, do the work and find scholarship opportunities. Meet with a financial counselor to have them help you figure out what your budget is and get a job to cover your living expenses instead of relying on student loans for everything. Take out as absolutely little of student loans as possible. Sure doing things like researching scholarship opportunities and making a budget are harder than just taking out all of your student loans, but being tied down to that kind of debt for 10, 20, 30+ years…I definitely wish that I had been more conscientious of my finances in college and grad school than I was. Even if you do end up getting a great job when you are done with school and you could pay off your student loans in a couple of years…wouldn’t you rather use that money for something else…anything else? Hell, I’d rather use the $200 a month I pay for my repayment for anything – food, clothes, an eye doctors appointment, putting it into savings…really anything sounds better than paying my student loans.

Apparently this week I’m getting ranty on topics. Meh.

Financial Wellness: Ca$h Money!

Ok, even though I am not doing an official check-in of my goals, I do really want to check-in with my financial goal. I mentioned that I was going to try to do the living on a cash diet thing. And I just you know, sort of wanted to give an update.

I am really enjoying it. I have a jar too that I keep any of my leftover money from the week in. I really try hard not to dip into those leftover funds just to see how much I can save from my leftover cash. There have been 2 times that I have dipped back into that fund and both things came up when I bought stuff beyond my normal weekly purchases. I rarely have to use my debit card when I’m out (which honestly does make me not freak out as much with identity theft). One of my big worries with just using cash was that I would just blow the money. Just spend like crazy. But I am actually feeling more conscientious of my spending when I use cash than when I just swipe with my debit card. An added bonus? Getting quarters for the week for laundry is somewhat of a game to me now.

I’m really only 2 months into using cash but so far I am liking it and my bank account is enjoying it as well.

Would you ever ditch the plastic for cash?

Financial Wellness: Ok, Ok, I’m Obsessed.

With LearnVest, that is. I am just really enjoying their finance articles. The article I’m sharing today walks your through one year of breaking bad money habits, starting in February. These are all taken from the LearnVest article. I love this article because it doesn’t preach to stop doing something, but in terms of say buying lunch, do it every once in awhile, not every day. I’ll summarize my favorites. them but check out the link if you want more detailed info.

February: ¬†Buying coffee, snacks, and lunch instead of bringing your own. Your grocery bill might increase a bit, but it won’t hold a candle to what your monthly budget looks like when you consistently buy these items.

April:  Not prioritizing high-interest debt. Again, just get rid of it. 

June: ¬†Carrying a credit card balance. If you can’t pay off your credit card at the end of the month, THEN YOU DON’T NEED WHATEVER YOU ARE BUYING!

October: Don’t set and forget your savings, constantly be trying to add more and more to that account.¬†

December:  Buying holiday gifts last minute. My sister is awesome with this. She starts thinking very early on about what she wants to get for people and starts shopping deals in July/August. We have been Black Friday shopping enough too that she knows when she can get good deals on stuff. She also is an ace at using her credit card reward points and using them to her advantage. 

January: ¬†Gift cards. Ug. I honestly despise getting gift cards because I either forget that I have them and never use them or feel too much pressure of what to buy or buy stuff just to buy stuff because I have gift cards. If you are thinking about getting someone a gift card, just get them cash instead unless you know for a fact that they are going to use the gift card. And be conscientious of the gift cards too. Buying those Visa ones that charge you $5 to activate or something…just give the person cash and save yourself some cash.

What are some of your bad money habits that you hope to break? My big one this year will be carrying a balance on my credit card as I keep chipping away at paying them off. Getting closer every pay period.

 

Financial Wellness: Toxic Money and Positivity.

Who knew that toxic money and positivity would ever go together. Well, in this pretty amazing article by LearnVest, they pair the two together. And it’s 3 pages of pure amazing-ness that breaks down to this: ¬†stop ignoring your money problems, write them down, get a plan of attack put together, and be positive. Whether your goals are to retire at a certain age, pay off your student loans, or just start putting away money to buy a house/car/a new wardrobe, you need to have a plan. And you need to have a positive outlook. Saying that it is impossible to pay off your credit debt isn’t helpful and doesn’t move you into the right direction. (Some may even say that it¬†helps¬†you justify getting more into debt). But setting out a plan and addressing what your debt is or what your financial goals are does help you move in the right direction.