problems http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/13348/all en-US How Reliving Past Money Mistakes Hurts Your Financial Future http://www.wisebread.com/how-reliving-past-money-mistakes-hurts-your-financial-future <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-reliving-past-money-mistakes-hurts-your-financial-future" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_looking_at_wallet_money_dollar_banknotes_flying_away.jpg" alt="Man looking at wallet money dollar bank notes flying away" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Past money mistakes are a little like zombies: Just when you think you've finally destroyed them, they rise again.</p> <p>It's time for you let those old mistakes go. Not only does focusing on your past money mistakes make you feel bad without actually improving the situation, but spending time thinking about your past misjudgements makes you more likely to repeat them.</p> <p>Here's how focusing on past money mistakes keeps you shambling from one bad financial decision to the next, and how you can avoid that fate.</p> <h2>Shame can be a downward spiral</h2> <p>In many cases, when you are focused on a money mistake you made in the past, you are using the word &quot;should&quot; to describe what happened. For instance, you might be thinking something like:</p> <ul> <li> <p>I shouldn't have co-signed a loan with my shiftless brother-in-law.</p> </li> <li> <p>I should have started saving for retirement much earlier.</p> </li> <li> <p>I shouldn't have used student loans to go on spring break.</p> </li> </ul> <p>These &quot;should&quot; statements aren't necessarily wrong &mdash; they're just useless. You are probably correct that you should have acted differently in the past, but since it's impossible to go back in time, all you are doing is making yourself feel bad for something you can't change.</p> <p>This thought process can cause further financial damage, too. For instance, if you feel like you <em>should</em> have started saving for retirement earlier, that fact is only going to make you feel terrible about not having done so. From there, it's an easy jump to think that there is no point in starting now since you are already so far behind. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-retirement-planning-steps-late-starters-must-make?ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Retirement Planning Steps Late Starters Must Make</a>)</p> <h3>Ask yourself &quot;Now what?&quot;</h3> <p>Feeling ashamed of the things you've done in the past is a form of sunk cost fallacy. Sunk costs are the time, money, or resources that have already been spent and can't be recouped. The sunk cost fallacy is when we value sunk costs over future choices.</p> <p>When you're feeling ashamed of a past decision, you're overvaluing that past decision and allowing it to affect your current emotional state and decisions. Instead of simply thinking &quot;I shouldn't have co-signed that loan,&quot; it makes more sense to complete the thought. &quot;I shouldn't have done it, but I did &mdash; so now what?&quot;</p> <p>Instead of getting caught in your shaming thought process, asking yourself &quot;Now what?&quot; allows you to start making decisions based on what the situation actually is.</p> <h2>Trying to learn from mistakes can backfire</h2> <p>What if you are focusing on your past mistakes in an attempt to learn from them? You understand that you can't change the past, but you can certainly learn from it, right?</p> <p>Well, not necessarily, according to a 2016 New York University study. When you focus on trying to figure out why you made a mistake in the past while trying to make a similar decision in the present, you don't have as much mental bandwidth to devote to the decision at hand. Thinking about your past mistake &quot;triggers a cascade of computations&quot; which distract from the decision at hand, Roozbeh Kiani, assistant professor at New York University's Center for Neural Science, told The Atlantic in 2016.</p> <h3>Let your brain reset</h3> <p>The best way to keep yourself from being distracted by your past mistakes when making a similar decision in the present is to take a little time away from the problem. In Kiani's study, participants didn't get overwhelmed by negative feedback after a mistake if they took a break before trying the task again.</p> <p>So, think about something else for a while and come back to your financial issue after you've let your brain reset. That will help you make a more rational decision.</p> <h2>You can fall for feel-good mistakes again</h2> <p>Another major problem with letting ourselves focus on past mistakes is that our brains are wired to repeat actions that were rewarding once, even if they are no longer rewarding &mdash; anyone who has tried to kick a sugar, cigarette, or debt habit can attest to that. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/its-never-too-late-to-fix-these-5-money-mistakes-from-your-past?ref=seealso" target="_blank">It's Never Too Late to Fix These 5 Money Mistakes From Your Past</a>)</p> <p>According to Susan Courtney, a cognitive neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins University and a co-author of a 2016 study into this phenomenon, this can be a hard thing to overcome. &quot;When my gaze drifts toward the doughnuts in the mailroom,&quot; she told The Atlantic, &quot;that triggers a thought process of what it would be like to taste that doughnut. That makes it harder to resist.&quot;</p> <p>If you are regretting past mistakes that felt great at the time, focusing on those past mistakes will do nothing but further entrench your interest in them and awareness of them. The more you think about how much you regret buying all of those shoes (which you enjoyed at the time), the more likely it is that your attention will be caught by shoe sales in the future &mdash; making it that much harder to change your spending habits.</p> <h3>Focus on the future</h3> <p>Rather than thinking about these felt-good-at-the-time mistakes, it makes more sense to think through what you want your future to look like. That kind of thought process will not only distract you from the enticing potential mistakes that surround you, it can potentially also start charting a different neural wiring that will reward you for intelligent financial behavior.</p> <h2>Letting go of your mistakes</h2> <p>Past financial mistakes don't need to keep coming back to haunt you. Let go of your shame, take a break from thinking about your finances, and don't assume that obsessing over old mistakes will help you learn from them. Instead, focus on your future and let your past stay in the past. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-money-mistakes-everyone-makes-but-no-one-talks-about?ref=seealso" target="_blank">20 Money Mistakes Everyone Makes But No One Talks About</a>)</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fhow-reliving-past-money-mistakes-hurts-your-financial-future&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FHow%2520Reliving%2520Past%2520Money%2520Mistakes%2520Hurts%2520Your%2520Financial%2520Future.jpg&amp;description=How%20Reliving%20Past%20Money%20Mistakes%20Hurts%20Your%20Financial%20Future"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/How%20Reliving%20Past%20Money%20Mistakes%20Hurts%20Your%20Financial%20Future.jpg" alt="How Reliving Past Money Mistakes Hurts Your Financial Future" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emily-guy-birken">Emily Guy Birken</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-reliving-past-money-mistakes-hurts-your-financial-future">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/its-never-too-late-to-fix-these-5-money-mistakes-from-your-past">It&#039;s Never Too Late to Fix These 5 Money Mistakes From Your Past</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-expect-after-these-5-personal-financial-disasters">What to Expect After These 5 Personal Financial Disasters</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-money-mistakes-to-stop-making-by-50">5 Money Mistakes to Stop Making by 50</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-financial-mistakes-to-stop-making-by-age-40">6 Financial Mistakes to Stop Making by Age 40</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-a-single-mother-in-debt-over-200k-is-fixing-her-finances">How a Single Mother In Debt Over $200K Is Fixing Her Finances</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance bad habits debt fixing money mistakes moving on problems psychology shame Thu, 31 Aug 2017 09:00:06 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 2012629 at http://www.wisebread.com 20+ Questions to Ask During an Open House http://www.wisebread.com/20-questions-to-ask-during-an-open-house <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/20-questions-to-ask-during-an-open-house" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/showing_room.jpg" alt="Showing room" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Shopping for real estate can be daunting. It takes time and discernment to know which house is right for you. To avoid wasting time on open house visits, be prepared with these key questions. If you find a house that matches your wish list, chat with the listing agent to find out all the details you don't want to overlook.</p> <h2>Before you start asking questions</h2> <p>First things first: Pick up a copy of the property information. These are often on the kitchen counter or near the entry during open houses. Many people view the house, and then look over the information. But the disclosure statements often reveal things you'll want to see while on site; maybe there was water damage, or the carpets were recently replaced. Spend five minutes reviewing the property information so you can eyeball the improvements or issues as you move from room to room.</p> <p>Some listing agents will wait near the information sheets, ready to talk to prospective buyers. If you're not ready to chat yet, say so; the agent should accommodate your desire to view the house and review the information before either of you starts asking questions.</p> <h2>General questions</h2> <p>Ask these questions to get an idea of the overall condition of the house and area.</p> <h3>What's the reason for the sale?</h3> <p>This may seem like a personal question, but it's a valid one. If the house is being sold because the owners are unhappy with its condition, need for repairs, the safety of the area, or the feel of the neighborhood, you want to know. Your goal is to understand if the reason for the sale is personal or due to an issue with the house or area.</p> <p>Don't press for personal information about the owners, of course; the agent should protect their confidentiality while giving you a top-level answer. If the agent is very hesitant, or unable to provide even a generic or partial answer, note that. If you're interested in the house, you can have your own real estate agent follow up with the listing agent.</p> <h3>What are the biggest problems with the house?</h3> <p>If you ask, &quot;Are there any major problems with the house?&quot; then the agent may say, &quot;No, it's in great shape.&quot; Phrasing matters. Every house has problems. This is the time to find out what those problems are. The listing agent wants to sell the property, of course, but they want the sale to be a satisfactory one.</p> <p>In many states a seller's disclosure is required, and should be included with the property information. You can ask for more details on any issues disclosed:</p> <ul> <li> <p>Have there been any more water problems since the sump pump was replaced?</p> </li> <li> <p>How extensive was the termite damage listed on the disclosure?</p> </li> <li> <p>Have the owners done any further mold testing?</p> </li> </ul> <p>Asking for more information will help you determine if the issues have been resolved or would require additional repair or maintenance.</p> <h3>What are the average utility costs?</h3> <p>Older houses tend to be less energy efficient, and can come with heftier utility bills than you'd expect. On the other hand, the owners may have a installed top-of-the-line HVAC system, put in double-paned windows, and invested in other energy-saving upgrades. The listing agent will know, or be able to find out, the average monthly cost for utilities. It's a good idea to ask for a typical monthly cost in the winter and in the summer, so you can compare how much the energy use might fluctuate seasonally.</p> <h3>Has the price changed at all?</h3> <p>The listing agent will know the history of the house, if the listing price has dropped or increased, and the reasons for any change in price. A lower listing price can be great news for you, but multiple drops in price should be a red flag. Was the house listed much too high for the area? Or are there major issues that are keeping buyers away?</p> <p>In your discussion on price, you can ask other questions to get an idea of the urgency of the sellers:</p> <ul> <li> <p>How long has the house been on the market?</p> </li> <li> <p>Have there been other offers on the house?</p> </li> <li> <p>Are the sellers eager to negotiate?</p> </li> <li> <p>Are the sellers in a hurry to sell?</p> </li> </ul> <p>You may not get direct answers to all these questions, but they're still worth asking. If you are genuinely interested in the property, talking with the agent can give you insight on what matters most to the sellers. If they're in a hurry to move, for example, they might accept a lower offer with a rushed closing date.</p> <h3>Is this a good neighborhood for families?</h3> <p>Maybe you don't have a family; this is still a good question to ask, because &quot;family-friendly&quot; is often code for safe, clean, and welcoming. Are there community events nearby? Is there a neighborhood association? Ask the agent about the nearest places for shopping, entertainment, and dining out. If the nearest grocery store is 10 miles away but the nearest bar is just around the corner, it may not be so family-friendly, after all.</p> <p>A discussion about the neighborhood is a good time to ask about area resources and attractions, as well as cost of living:</p> <ul> <li> <p>Are there any parks or natural attractions nearby?</p> </li> <li> <p>What do people in this area like to do for fun?</p> </li> <li> <p>What's the best restaurant nearby?</p> </li> <li> <p>Do you know what the average income is for this area?</p> </li> <li> <p>Where is the nearest hospital?</p> </li> </ul> <h2>Room by room questions</h2> <p>Some questions are room-specific. Ask the agent to walk through the house with you and discuss as you go.</p> <h3>Kitchen<strong> </strong></h3> <ul> <li> <p>Which appliances are included? How old are they?</p> </li> <li> <p>Have there been any major updates or renovations in the kitchen?</p> </li> <li> <p>Are there any water issues in the kitchen?</p> </li> <li> <p>Have there been any major repairs in the kitchen?</p> </li> </ul> <h3>Basement</h3> <ul> <li> <p>Are there any water issues in the basement?</p> </li> <li> <p>Is there a sump pump installed?</p> </li> <li> <p>Have there been any issues with mold?</p> </li> </ul> <h3>Living rooms and bedrooms</h3> <ul> <li> <p>How old is the carpet?</p> </li> <li> <p>What's underneath the carpet?</p> </li> <li> <p>Have the rooms been recently painted?</p> </li> <li> <p>Are the window treatments included?</p> </li> <li> <p>Have there been any renovations or updates done lately?</p> </li> </ul> <h3>Bathrooms</h3> <ul> <li> <p>Are there any water issues in the bathrooms?</p> </li> <li> <p>How is the water pressure? (Ask if you can check it.)</p> </li> <li> <p>How recently have the bathroom fixtures been updated?</p> </li> </ul> <h3>Yard</h3> <ul> <li> <p>Does the landscaping allow water to flow away from the house?</p> </li> <li> <p>Are there any wet or soggy areas in the yard?</p> </li> <li> <p>Have the owners done regular pest control?</p> </li> <li> <p>Are there any issues with the yard or garden?</p> </li> </ul> <h2>Open house etiquette</h2> <p>Open houses vary, but there are some common etiquette rules to follow. Don't forget to sign in; leave your name only if you prefer not to include your contact information. Be sure to greet the listing agent. Let the agent know you have questions, but don't keep them from being able to interact with other visitors. Discuss, don't dominate.</p> <p>Expect to answer a few questions about yourself, such as &quot;How long have you been looking?&quot; A good listing agent will be trying to determine who's a serious buyer and who's there for the free mints.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F20-questions-to-ask-during-an-open-house&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F20%252B%2520Questions%2520to%2520Ask%2520During%2520an%2520Open%2520House.jpg&amp;description=20%20plus%20Questions%20to%20Ask%20During%20an%20Open%20House"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/20%2B%20Questions%20to%20Ask%20During%20an%20Open%20House.jpg" alt="20+ Questions to Ask During an Open House" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/annie-mueller">Annie Mueller</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-questions-to-ask-during-an-open-house">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-mortgage-details-you-should-know-before-you-sign">5 Mortgage Details You Should Know Before You Sign</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-money-moves-that-will-ruin-your-mortgage-application">5 Money Moves That Will Ruin Your Mortgage Application</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-questions-to-ask-before-signing-a-lease">10 Questions to Ask Before Signing a Lease</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-questions-real-estate-agents-hear-most-often">8 Questions Real Estate Agents Hear Most Often</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-unexpected-costs-of-selling-a-home">8 Unexpected Costs of Selling a Home</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing damage home buying homeownership listing agents maintenance open houses pests problems questions renovations utilities Thu, 20 Jul 2017 08:30:14 +0000 Annie Mueller 1986643 at http://www.wisebread.com 9 Problems You Can't Solve With Money http://www.wisebread.com/9-problems-you-cant-solve-with-money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-problems-you-cant-solve-with-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/sad-man-looking-at-wallet-94502179-small.jpg" alt="sad man looking at wallet" title="sad man looking at wallet" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>No matter how limitless your budget and how strong your arm, there are certain times when throwing money at a problem simply won't help. So take a look at the list below and ask yourself: Are you facing a situation whose solution might require thought and effort, as opposed to more bankroll? (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-money-problems-why-theyre-all-your-fault?ref=seealso">Your Money Problems Are Your Own Fault</a>)</p> <h2>1. A Failed Relationship</h2> <p>A lot of relationships founder on the shoals of money issues, but even those can't be healed by throwing money at them &mdash; what they need is mostly better communication plus a generous dollop of willingness to compromise. And if the relationship problems aren't related to money, throwing money at it won't help at all.</p> <h2>2. A Mid-Life Crisis</h2> <p>It's a cliche of the mid-life crisis for a 40-something man to buy a red convertible, but it's not a purchase that's going to solve existential angst. Of course there's nothing wrong with buying a red convertible if you want one, and can afford it. It just doesn't solve any problems. (Not even the practical transportation problems that could be solved with a more practical car, really.)</p> <h2>3. Getting in Shape</h2> <p>Buying a gym membership does not improve your fitness. Neither does buying a treadmill, stationary bike, or elliptical machine. Regularly including appropriate aerobic, resistance, and flexibility exercise among your daily activities gets you into shape. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-turn-your-walk-into-a-real-workout?ref=seealso">5 Ways to Turn Your Walk Into a Real Workout</a>)</p> <h2>4. Acquiring Skills and Talents</h2> <p>Getting good at something is largely a matter of practice, and money is no substitute. Of course you can spend money on books, on classes, on workshops, and on tools, and all those things may be of some help, but they're not going to give you skills if you don't put in the time to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-become-an-expert">develop the expertise</a> (and they're certainly not going to give you talent).</p> <h2>5. Becoming Enlightened or Even Just a Better Person</h2> <p>There are always hucksters pretending to be one sort of spiritual guide or another, willing to take your money and show you the true path. There are also people ready to suggest that donating money to worthy causes makes you a better person. You can be confident that neither of those things is true.</p> <h2>6. Natural Disasters</h2> <p>It's very reasonable to spend money in advance of a natural disaster, to make yourself more prepared. A well-supplied pantry can really help you through something like a blizzard or a flood or an earthquake. The right tools and right supplies can turn a disaster into an inconvenience &mdash; or even an adventure. Money can also help some after a disaster is over. But no amount of money will turn back a lava flow, or get a commercial jet to fly through a volcanic dust cloud. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-emergency-situations-you-must-prepare-for-and-5-you-can-ignore?ref=seealso">5 Emergency Situations You Must Prepare For</a>)</p> <h2>7. Being Blackmailed</h2> <p>You know giving in to a blackmailer's demands just lead to more demands, right? You've seen this movie.</p> <h2>8. Wanting the Impossible</h2> <p>I'd like to spend the next 2000 years learning to be the world's greatest musician, greatest swordsman, and most eloquent Esperanto speaker, and then travel through time to play, fence, and argue with everyone history suggests might have been better at those things than I. Throwing money at that problem will not solve it &mdash; nor will it produce world peace, end hunger (or death, or disease), let me travel faster than the speed of light, or meet friendly aliens from other worlds.</p> <h2>9. Being a Happy Person</h2> <p>Money can buy things that you want, and money can certainly solve some problems &mdash; and if those problems are making you unhappy, then in that sense money can buy happiness. But research shows that <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-happier">happiness comes from other things</a>. Things like doing good work and having the respect of your peers &mdash; things you can't buy with money.</p> <h2>The Three Questions to Ask</h2> <p>So, when is throwing money at a problem the <em>right</em> choice? I tend to ask myself these three questions before I decide to throw money at a problem.</p> <h3>1. Is the Cost Bounded?</h3> <p>That is, can you know up front how much money you're talking about? Is it a one-time expense, or would you be taking on a new recurring monthly expense?</p> <p>It's easy to make the necessary cost-benefit analysis of a single payment. You have the information you need to decide if the cost is worth it &mdash; and if you can afford it.</p> <p>If you're looking at solving a problem by signing up for a new recurring monthly expense, you're potentially talking about a lot of money. You're also making the analysis a lot tougher.</p> <p>None of which is to say that recurring monthly expenses are never the right answer. Everybody has recurring expenses, and they're a perfectly reasonable way to cover the basic costs of living. But when you're talking about throwing money at a problem, you're usually talking about something less basic (and less long-term) than, for example, solving the problem of being homeless by renting an apartment.</p> <p>The &quot;being a happy person&quot; problem fails this test, because even if this or that purchase would make you happy for a moment, no purchase will make you happy forever. The &quot;being blackmailed&quot; problem fails it as well.</p> <h3>2. Will the Money Solve the Problem?</h3> <p>Arguably, this ought to be the first question. If money won't solve the problem, then there's no point in throwing it &mdash; or even spending it. But in my experience, this question is so often hard to answer, while the other is so often easy, I find it makes sense to start with the other. If you answer that one to your satisfaction, then you come to this one.</p> <p>What makes it hard to answer is getting a clear understanding of the problem.</p> <p>For example, your car has broken down and you can't get to work. That's a problem where throwing money at it &mdash; paying to have your car repaired &mdash; may be reasonable. But don't stop your analysis there. To come to the right decision, you need to be sure you're getting to the fundamental problem. In this case, the real problem is that you don't have reliable transportation.</p> <p>That's important, because making a needed repair does not always turn a car into reliable transportation. If this is just the most urgent of a list of needed repairs, maybe you need a different solution &mdash; a new car, or a good bicycle, or a bus pass, or an apartment closer to where you work, or a job closer to where you live.</p> <p>Most of the other problems listed above &mdash; terminal illness, failed relationship, midlife crisis &mdash; fail this question.</p> <p>That result is often heartbreaking, but it doesn't change the fact that whole categories of problems &mdash; medical problems, personal problems, political problems, social problems &mdash; often cannot be solved with money.</p> <p>Save your money for the problems money can solve. Solve those other kinds of problems (if they can be solved) on their own terms.</p> <h3>3. Is There a Good Chance You'll Get the Money Back?</h3> <p>This is really a secondary question, after evaluating the cost of solving a problem with money. If a problem is clearly solvable, and the solution is easily affordable, you're probably not even thinking about it in these terms. (If the problem is that you're out of flour, and there's a grocery store a few blocks away that will sell you nearly unlimited quantities for less than a dollar a pound, then buying a bag of flour doesn't really rise to the level of throwing money at a problem.)</p> <p>The third question becomes important when the cost of solving a problem with money is so large as to be a major factor in your budget &mdash; or especially if it will significantly impact your wealth.</p> <p>Probably the most common circumstance is when you've sent a check, but it has gone astray. If you're dealing with a reputable counterparty, especially one with which you have an ongoing business relationship, it's usually fine to just pay again. Eventually one of two things will happen. Your first check will probably turn up and whoever has gotten paid twice will refund the extra payment (or credit it to your next bill). Or, if it never turns up, the money will never have left your bank account. (This is a good reason to pay by check. If an electronic debit or money order goes astray, you'll have to involve your bank in tracking the money down.)</p> <p>Another common situation where there's a good chance you'll get your money back is when you have insurance. If your house burns down, your insurance company will probably pay necessary temporary housing expenses. If you're sick, your health insurance will probably pay necessary medical expenses.</p> <p>Many times while traveling on business, I threw money at a problem, confident that my employer would reimburse me for those expenses along with my other business travel expenses &mdash; a legitimate move, because the money was solving a problem for my employer as much as it was solving a problem for me.</p> <p>So sometimes, throwing money at a problem is the right move. But asking yourself these three question beforehand is always the right move.</p> <p><em>How do you decide if money is the answer to a problem? Please share in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-problems-you-cant-solve-with-money">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-14"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/hate-budgeting-how-a-percentage-based-budget-might-work-for-you">Hate Budgeting? How a Percentage-Based Budget Might Work for You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/change-jars-and-8-other-clever-ways-to-build-an-emergency-fund">Change Jars and 8 Other Clever Ways to Build an Emergency Fund</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-smart-things-to-do-with-your-settlement-money">8 Smart Things to Do With Your Settlement Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-purchases-with-financing-options-that-depreciate-fast">4 Purchases With Financing Options That Depreciate Fast</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-personal-finance-rules-you-should-be-breaking">15 Personal Finance Rules You Should Be Breaking</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance budgets problems spending spending strategy Thu, 04 Sep 2014 13:00:03 +0000 Philip Brewer 1202831 at http://www.wisebread.com Best Money Tips: Strategies for Fixing Common Budget Problems http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-strategies-for-fixing-common-budget-problems <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-strategies-for-fixing-common-budget-problems" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/calculating-budget-504905483-small.jpg" alt="calculating budget" title="calculating budget" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/best-money-tips">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found some fantastic articles on strategies for fixing budget problems, simple DIY frugal tips, and smart money moves for college students.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="http://www.thesimpledollar.com/nine-strategies-for-fixing-common-budget-problems/">Nine Strategies for Fixing Common Budget Problems</a> &mdash; If your budget categories estimates are off, start your budget from scratch. [The Simple Dollar]</p> <p><a href="http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/10-easy-diy-frugal-tips.html">7 Dead Simple DIY Frugal Tips</a> &mdash; Cooking your own meals and growing a garden can help you save money. [Bargaineering]</p> <p><a href="http://www.moneytalksnews.com/2014/08/21/5-smart-money-moves-first-time-college-students-should-make/">5 Smart Money Moves First-Time College Students Should Make</a> &mdash; College students should be sure to start building a cushion and establish credit. [Money Talks News]</p> <p><a href="https://www.dailyworth.com/posts/2146-how-to-strategically-manage-your-debt/2">How to Strategically Manage Your Debt</a> &mdash; Take control of your debt by educating yourself and making a payoff plan. [DailyWorth]</p> <p><a href="http://www.threethriftyguys.com/2014/08/how-to-get-rid-of-junk-mail-for-good/">How to Get Rid of Junk Mail (for Good)</a> &mdash; Are you sick of getting junk mail? Consider checking out PaperKarma. [Three Thrifty Guys]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="http://www.freemoneyfinance.com/2014/08/why-people-have-money-problems.html">Why People Have Money Problems</a> &mdash; People who spend too much on housing tend to have money problems. [Free Money Finance]</p> <p><a href="http://www.kiplinger.com/slideshow/spending/T050-S001-worst-things-to-buy-on-amazon/index.html?si=1">Worst Things to Buy on Amazon</a> &mdash; It's probably not a good idea to buy athletic shoes from Amazon. [Kiplinger]</p> <p><a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/Random-Acts-Kindness-Ideas-34351861">109 Random Acts of Kindness You Can Start Doing Today</a> &mdash; Paying the toll for the car behind you and smiling at people are just a couple random acts of kindness you can start doing today. [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="http://www.creditsesame.com/blog/affordable-care-act-save-free-wellness-checkup/">Save on Healthcare Costs With Free Wellness Checkup &amp; Preventative Care</a> &mdash; Have you ever taken advantage of free wellness clinics? [Credit Sesame]</p> <p><a href="http://parentingsquad.com/4-reasons-to-vaccinate-your-children">4 Reasons to Vaccinate Your Children</a> &mdash; Vaccinating your kids protects your family and your community. [Parenting Squad]</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-jacobs">Ashley Jacobs</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-strategies-for-fixing-common-budget-problems">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-problems-you-cant-solve-with-money">9 Problems You Can&#039;t Solve With Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-things-football-teaches-us-about-money">9 Things Football Teaches Us About Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/think-like-a-startup-to-boost-your-finances">Think Like a Startup to Boost Your Finances</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/financial-iq-test-how-healthy-is-your-budget">FINANCIAL IQ TEST: How Healthy Is Your Budget?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-reliving-past-money-mistakes-hurts-your-financial-future">How Reliving Past Money Mistakes Hurts Your Financial Future</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance best money tips budget problems strategies Mon, 25 Aug 2014 19:00:03 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 1192508 at http://www.wisebread.com On Problems and Opportunities http://www.wisebread.com/on-problems-and-opportunities <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/on-problems-and-opportunities" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/1121419794_d4a53cdb01_z.jpg" alt="man holding up hand" title="man holding up hand" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>One manager I knew used to correct people when they said they had a problem. &quot;It's not a problem,&quot; he'd say, &quot;It's an opportunity.&quot; He was kind of a jerk. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/incentive-plans-always-go-awry">Incentive Plans Always Go Awry</a>)</p> <p>It was something of a fashion in management-speak at the time &mdash; that anything that seems like a problem is really an opportunity to do better. And despite the fact that this particular manager was a jerk, there's an underlying truth there. It's very easy to get so wrapped up in accomplishing your intermediate goals that you lose sight of what you're really trying to get done.</p> <p>For example, if you're trying to photograph something, and you're only getting crappy photographs, you might be inclined to say that you have a problem taking a good photograph. But it's always worth taking a step back and considering whether you a better photo is really what you need. Maybe what you need is <em>a drawing</em>. Maybe what you need is <em>a description in words</em>. Maybe what you need is to <em>bring people there in person and show them the real thing</em>. Maybe someone else has already taken <em>a great photo that you can use</em>.</p> <p>There's no limit to the possible examples. Maybe what you think is a car problem is actually a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/frugal-transport-bicycling">bicycle opportunity</a>. Maybe what you think is a job problem is actually a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-real-deal-what-to-expect-when-starting-your-own-business">small-business opportunity</a>. Maybe what you think is a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/rural-living-in-a-world-with-expensive-fuel">rural-living problem</a> is actually an <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/think-you-can-afford-more-house-in-the-exurbs-think-again">urban-living opportunity</a>. (Or maybe you have <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/book-review-the-self-sufficient-life-and-how-to-live-it">the reverse</a>.)</p> <p>Maybe what seems like a problem is really an opportunity to figure out that you were trying to do the wrong thing.</p> <p>If you have a problem, take a step back and think about what you're really trying to accomplish. Maybe whatever you're struggling with can be done some completely different way. Maybe it it doesn't need to be done at all.</p> <p>So, if there's some truth there, why did pointing it out make this manager I knew into such a jerk? That's easy &mdash; what made him a jerk was that he was <em>denying the truth of other people's perceptions</em>. They thought they had a problem, and he was saying, &quot;You're wrong!&quot; That's just rude.</p> <p>If someone thinks they have a problem, don't tell them they're wrong. But do encourage them to take a step back and think about what they're really trying to accomplish. Maybe whatever they're having a problem with can be done an entirely different way, or be skipped altogether.</p> <p>Maybe they really do have an opportunity, rather than a problem.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fon-problems-and-opportunities&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FOn%2520Problems%2520and%2520Opportunities.jpg&amp;description=On%20Problems%20and%20Opportunities"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/On%20Problems%20and%20Opportunities.jpg" alt="On Problems and Opportunities" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/on-problems-and-opportunities">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fixing-mistakes-7-steps-for-any-situation">Fixing Mistakes: 7 Steps for Any Situation</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/my-one-favorite-frugal-living-tip">My One Favorite Frugal Living Tip</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/21-ways-to-make-a-big-financial-change">21 Ways to Make a Big Financial Change</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-one-financial-trick-lets-you-buy-happiness">This One Financial Trick Lets You Buy Happiness</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-money-resolutions-you-should-skip-this-year">4 Money Resolutions You Should Skip This Year</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Personal Development fresh thinking opportunities problems Tue, 02 Oct 2012 09:37:09 +0000 Philip Brewer 954828 at http://www.wisebread.com Fixing Mistakes: 7 Steps for Any Situation http://www.wisebread.com/fixing-mistakes-7-steps-for-any-situation <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/fixing-mistakes-7-steps-for-any-situation" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/4199675334_66c3e3d61d_z_0.jpg" alt="Statue of a man with his hands covering face" title="Making mistakes" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We all goof sometimes... Though many mistakes are minor, and don't cause much of a ripple in the world, some mistakes hurt other people and have to be dealt with quickly and completely. Here's a 7-step process for dealing with any mistake, whether it's something on a business or a personal level.</p> <h3>1. Acknowledge the Mistake Directly</h3> <p>Don't add to the mistake already made by ignoring it in the hopes that it will go away. Whether you've messed up on a customer order or forgotten your spouse's birthday, ignoring the failure won't make it seem less important; it will just make you seem like more of a jerk. Be straightforward. Directly and briefly, but honestly, acknowledge that you messed up. State specifically what you did and how much you regret it.</p> <h3>2. Take Responsibility</h3> <p>The automatic response of human nature is to jump into self-defense mode; at no time is this response stronger than when we are forced to acknowledge our own shortcomings. Resist the urge to find somewhere (or someone) to put the blame, even if it's justified. There are always extenuating circumstances, and most of us don't mean to mess up. But all the good intentions don't change the fact that you've made a mistake. Don't point fingers or use circumstances to make an excuse; doing so only makes you sound like you care more about getting out of trouble than really dealing with the problem you've caused, however unintentionally.</p> <h3>3. Apologize</h3> <p>Those two little words &mdash; I'm sorry &mdash; need to be heard by the person who's bearing the brunt of your mistake. &quot;Please forgive me&quot; is nice, too. It shows that you understand this person has a choice of whether or not to forgive the mistake. It acknowledges that you need forgiveness. And it puts the responsibility on the offended person, forcing them to either accept the apology, and thus, start moving on, or choose to ignore or refuse your apology and leave you with nothing else to do. Nobody wants to be the bad guy and refuse to accept an apology. If you don't verbally, directly apologize, however, the person who has been hurt doesn't have to make that choice to forgive and move on.</p> <h3>4. Offer a Practical Way to Make Up for the Mistake</h3> <p>In a few, rare cases, there's really nothing you can do to make up for what's been done. Perhaps you accidentally hit a neighbor's beloved family dog with your car and killed it; offering to run out and buy a new puppy isn't going to fix things, so don't offer. However, in most cases, you can think of a way to make amends. If you've broken, lost, or otherwise damaged property, you should offer to pay for it. If you've hurt someone you're close to on a deep level, you might offer to go to counseling together. If you're at a loss for what to offer, ask: &quot;What can I do to make this up to you?&quot;</p> <h3>5. Give the Other Person Time to Think and Respond</h3> <p>The deeper the hurt, the more difficult it is for a person to let go of it. Don't force an immediate response. People need time to think, to process, and to let go of hurt feelings and offense. Make your direct acknowledgment, take responsibility, apologize, and offer a way to make amends; then step back and say something like, &quot;I'll give you time to think this over.&quot; Offer another, specific time to talk so you don't forget to follow through with what you've said.</p> <h3>6. Listen and Respond</h3> <p>During both the initial conversation and when you follow up, take the time to let the other person talk. Sometimes what people need most is just to share how deeply they were hurt, or the repercussions of the mistake that's been made. Venting isn't fun to listen to, but it helps people sort through the feelings and get to the bottom line, which is where you need to both get in order to fix the mistake and move on.</p> <h3>7. Do What You've Said You Will Do</h3> <p>The last point is most important: if you've offered a way to make up for the mistake, and it's been accepted, follow through quickly. Failing to do what you've said you will only bring the mistake back in an even more unpleasant way and make it almost impossible for you to be taken seriously when you try to apologize again.</p> <p><em>How do you deal with mistakes? </em></p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffixing-mistakes-7-steps-for-any-situation&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FFixing%2520Mistakes-%25207%2520Steps%2520for%2520Any%2520Situation.jpg&amp;description=Fixing%20Mistakes%3A%207%20Steps%20for%20Any%20Situation"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/Fixing%20Mistakes-%207%20Steps%20for%20Any%20Situation.jpg" alt="Fixing Mistakes: 7 Steps for Any Situation" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/annie-mueller">Annie Mueller</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fixing-mistakes-7-steps-for-any-situation">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-signs-you-need-to-dump-your-friend">11 Signs You Need to Dump Your Friend</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-repair-a-burned-bridge">10 Ways to Repair a Burned Bridge</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/avoid-these-5-pitfalls-when-moving-in-together">Avoid These 5 Pitfalls When Moving in Together</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-these-6-relationship-moves-now-or-youll-regret-it-in-20-years">Make These 6 Relationship Moves Now or You&#039;ll Regret It in 20 Years</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/have-a-great-day-every-day-5-things-to-do-in-the-morning">Have a Great Day, Every Day: 5 Things to Do in the Morning</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Development fixing problems problems relationships work and relationships Wed, 09 Mar 2011 12:36:10 +0000 Annie Mueller 501446 at http://www.wisebread.com