overspending http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/196/all en-US Here's What to Do If You Can't Pay Your Bills On Time http://www.wisebread.com/heres-what-to-do-if-you-cant-pay-your-bills-on-time <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/heres-what-to-do-if-you-cant-pay-your-bills-on-time" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_managing_finances_000044489328.jpg" alt="Couple finding what to do if they can&#039;t pay bills on time" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Not having enough money to pay the bills is an issue we may face from time to time. Life is full of financial ups-and-downs, and after all, we're all human.</p> <p>Don't beat yourself about the situation or get discouraged. Vow to take action. If you don't make changes, things will stay the same. If you're in a tough financial spot, here's what to do when you <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-annoying-things-bill-collectors-cant-do-and-how-to-stop-them">can't pay your bills</a> on time, and tips on how to best handle the situation.</p> <h2>1. Don't Hide From the Facts</h2> <p>Do you know why you can't pay your bills? Did you overspend, have to make up for an emergency, or was it just human error? Don't hide from the facts, but instead embrace them head-on. Not dealing with this financial mess can lead to more late fees, higher interest rates, additional interest charges, and even damage your credit report.</p> <p>Avoiding paying your bills will only make things worse, so make a choice to rectify things right now. You may realize that the situation is not as bleak as you thought, and that there are more options available than you believed.</p> <h2>2. Change Your Financial Momentum</h2> <p>Now that you're ready to face the facts, start by listing all of your current bills and debts. Pull up your bank account (or bookkeeping software) and review all of your transactions, deposits, and other expenses.</p> <p>Then ask yourself why you're in this financial bind. There are usually two causes of a financial emergency:</p> <ul> <li>Spending too much</li> <li>Not making enough</li> </ul> <p>If overspending is the cause, then look for ways to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-how-you-stop-online-impulse-spending">scale back your spending</a> and stop the bleeding until you get back on top. Think outside-the-box and look for creative ways to afford the things you need.</p> <p>If you've cut back your spending as much as you can, look for ways to bring in more money using the skills you already possess. What can you do this week to bring in some extra cash? Go through your house and prep items to sell at a yardsale or on Craigslist. Ask friends and family if they need help with a weekend project. Turn your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-ready-to-turn-your-hobby-into-a-business">hobby into a paying gig</a> on the side by using sites like eBay or Etsy.</p> <p>Figure out the cause of why you can't pay all of your bills, and take action to change your momentum. It may take a few months for your budget to adjust to the changes, but be patient and know that it will be worth the sacrifice to avoid this situation in the future.</p> <h2>3. Prioritize Your Bills Based on Importance</h2> <p>If you've completed steps one and two and still find that you don't have enough money to pay your bills, it's time to prioritize which ones get paid based on their level of importance. Obviously you need to pay your utility bills, like water, heat, and electric, as well as paying your landlord and putting food on the table.</p> <p>Mark any secured debts connected to assets like a mortgage or car as next in the line of importance. If you default on those bills, it's likely you will lose the roof over your head, or your ability to drive to work to earn a living.</p> <p>Any other funds leftover after paying these important bills can be put towards other debts and balances owed.</p> <h2>4. Figure Out Your Options</h2> <p>Can you get approved for SNAP (food stamps assistance) until you get back on your feet? Does your electric company offer help from the community for bill payment? Call your financial institutions' customer service departments and figure out your options. Many local banks will give you an extension on your payment if you simply call and plead your case.</p> <p>Most creditors would rather help you pay your bill than lose you as a customer, so don't be afraid to call and and explain the steps you're taking to get your finances back on track. In other words, be proactive with your bill payments. Institutions will be more willing to help you out if you take the initiative to fix the problem.</p> <p>Once you've come to a payment agreement with the institution, be sure to get the details in writing and keep them in a safe place for future reference. You may be able to ask for a refund of any fees or interest charges, and you'll want to keep written proof of this.</p> <h2>5. Create a Long-Term Plan</h2> <p>It's easy to get into the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/back-in-debt-heres-how-to-pay-it-off-for-good">endless cycle of being broke</a>, which is why it's important to change your financial momentum before it gets out of hand. As you begin getting back on top of your finances, take steps to develop a long-term strategy that will ensure you aren't in this position again.</p> <p>Combat emergency situations by saving up a small emergency fund. Simply start with $5 or $10 a week until you have a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-microsaving-tools-to-help-you-start-saving-now">solid savings habit</a> established. Streamline your lifestyle and learn to live without a lot of stuff by focusing on creating memories instead of accumulating clutter. Downsize your home, sell your car and use public transit, take on an extra job for the summer &mdash; do whatever it takes.</p> <p>Sometimes you simply get behind on your bills because you forget to pay them on time. Avoid this in the future by setting up bill payment reminders or signing up for automatic bill pay.</p> <h2>6. Know That This Will Get Better</h2> <p>You likely feel discouraged about your current financial situation, but know that by taking these steps, it will get better. We've all faced tough times when it comes to money or our careers.</p> <p>Channel your frustration into forward momentum so you can regain control of your finances and are again able to pay your bills in a timely manner.</p> <p><em>What's another tip that will help you pay your bills on time?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-smith">Carrie Smith</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-what-to-do-if-you-cant-pay-your-bills-on-time">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/8-reasons-youre-bad-at-money-and-how-to-fix-it-asap">8 Reasons You&#039;re Bad at Money — And How to Fix It ASAP</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/video-on-how-to-spot-counterfeits">Video on How to Spot Counterfeits</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/7-ways-auto-payments-can-screw-you">7 Ways Auto-Payments Can Screw You</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/organizing-your-financial-paperwork">Organizing Your Financial Paperwork</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/pay-bills-early-only-if-you-want-to-save-money">Pay Bills Early? Only If You Want to Save Money</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance auto-pay bills late payments overspending paycheck to paycheck Wed, 05 Aug 2015 15:00:39 +0000 Carrie Smith 1508963 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Reasons You're Bad at Money — And How to Fix It ASAP http://www.wisebread.com/8-reasons-youre-bad-at-money-and-how-to-fix-it-asap <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-reasons-youre-bad-at-money-and-how-to-fix-it-asap" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_bad_finances_000043972528.jpg" alt="Woman learning she&#039;s bad with money and how to fix it" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Perpetually broke? Always holding your breath when you run your credit card, worried your balance has finally tipped over the limit? Living paycheck-to-not-quite-the-next-paycheck?</p> <p>Some people are <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-lies-rich-people-never-tell-themselves">bad at money</a>. (I should know &mdash; I used to be one of them.) But you don't have to be that way forever. Here are eight reasons you suck at money &mdash; and how to fix them.</p> <h2>1. You're an Impulse Spender</h2> <p>A little retail therapy is fine and dandy, if it's not a chronic issue that causes you financial distress. Had a rough week? Sure, a splurge on a new pair of running shoes or a shade of lipstick that is inappropriate for work can offer a quick (and temporary) pick-me-up, assuming you have the cash to spare. But if you don't, then retail therapy is a bad idea. Actually, spending just to make yourself quickly feel better is almost <em>always </em>a bad idea.</p> <p>If you just had a baby and hate the way your body looks (I know nothing about this, shut up), then an expensive haircut and a bottle of self-tanner aren't actually going to fix the problem, although they may distract you from the issue for a day or two. If you hate your job, binge-buying a ton of video games may entertain you in your off-time, but won't actually make your working hours any more bearable.</p> <h3>How to Fix It</h3> <p>Check yo'self before you wreck yo'self if retail therapy is a regular habit. At the very least, try to determine exactly what the problem is, find the root of it, and address it head-on. If you need more education to land your dream job, then you should be focusing your finances on that, rather than on needless entertainment.</p> <h2>2. You're Unprepared or Lazy</h2> <p>I waste a lot of money on take out. It's not that I don't like cooking &mdash; because I do &mdash; but that I am truly terrible at meal planning and buying groceries accordingly. When I was single, eating was simply a matter of buying a fresh loaf of bread and some good cheese and maybe some cheap wine, but now I have to feed a whole family, it's become a little more complex.</p> <p>Or perhaps you find yourself paying through the nose for services, like yard or home care, that you could do yourself. There's nothing inherently wrong with paying someone else to perform work for you, as long as you can afford it, but if your budget is stretched, then cutting back makes sense.</p> <h3>How to Fix It</h3> <p>Find ways to make the necessary work more bearable. If it's meal planning, take a look at websites and meal planning apps that help you plan, shop, and cook. Enlist the help of your favorite music while cleaning and doing laundry. Get a lawn mower that works. I had to spend $400 to find a lawn mower that I could start, but that's still cheaper than paying someone to come and mow my lawn every week or so.</p> <h2>3. You Had Bad Money Role Models</h2> <p>Maybe your parents were terrible at money and you learned their bad money habits. It can be hard to break out of this mold if you've been shaped by it since childhood, since old habits die hard. But if you want to put yourself in a better financial situation, you need to forget what you learned growing up and start fresh. Fortunately, it's never too late to learn good money management skills.</p> <h3>How to Fix It</h3> <p>The internet is your friend when it comes to money management. You can peruse personal finance websites (like this one!) or take a <a href="http://www.cicmoney101.org/Course-Catalog/Money-Management.aspx">free online course</a> in money management.</p> <h2>4. You Had No Money Role Models</h2> <p>Maybe no one ever taught you the basics of money management and you've been winging it poorly. (Incidentally, back when I was in school in the last millennium, Home Economics courses taught us how to sew and how to microwave eggs, but never mentioned budgeting.)</p> <p>Parents often believe that they are doing their children a favor by not exposing them to the dirty business of money management. While understandable, the notion is misguided. Sometimes families have to tighten their belts to make ends meet, and it's not wrong to explain to children why they can't go to the movies every weekend.</p> <h3>How to Fix It</h3> <p>If you have kids, you can break the cycle of financial silence by allowing your kids to participate in planning meals and family budgets. Although learning basic money management skills can seem daunting when you're an adult, getting the whole family onboard can make it less grueling.</p> <h2>5. You Try to Keep up With the Joneses</h2> <p>Maybe you idolize people who have a lot, and believe that <em>buying things</em> is the only way to be happy. Or maybe you've just bought into the idea (haven't we all?) that you need to have at least as much as your neighbors in order to fit in.</p> <p>Humans are social creatures, and we tend to care deeply about what our peers think of us. This is, of course, why many advertisers sell an image of who you can be when you buy their product, rather than just selling the actual product.</p> <h3>How to Fix It</h3> <p>Just like occasional shopping sprees, there's nothing inherently wrong with wanting to impress other people, but buying things specifically for the sake of shaping someone else's opinion of you is silly, especially if you don't really need what you are buying. Before you buy anything, ask yourself, &quot;Would I spend money on this if I knew that no one else would ever see it?&quot;</p> <h2>6. You Are the Joneses</h2> <p>Or at least&hellip; you <em>were</em> the Joneses, until financial circumstances changed, and your spending habits didn't.</p> <p>Perhaps you lost your job and now you have to scramble to make ends meet for a while. It doesn't matter that people once envied your brand new car and constantly updated wardrobe; what matters now is putting food on the table and paying the bills. A part of your new life involves adjusting budgets and expectations to meet reality.</p> <h3>How to Fix It</h3> <p>You might find that changing your spending habits is as simple as cooking at home instead of dining out, or learning not to shop as much. Some downsizing might be more serious, like reducing the number of cars that you own or learning to live in a smaller house. Regardless of the size of changes that you have to make, you'll do well to learn to let go of the past and accept the present.</p> <h2>7. YOLO</h2> <p>Hey, I'm totally in favor of living for the moment, but that doesn't mean that you can't save for the future. And while you can't take it with you when you die, you're going to need those savings to help you out in old age (sure, it might seem far away now, but you'll be amazed at how time flies once you hit your 40s).</p> <h3>How to Fix It</h3> <p>Part of the joy of being young is taking calculated risks and enjoying the freedom that comes from a relative lack of responsibility. But that doesn't mean that you have to struggle with money &mdash; money problems are a stressor, and nothing ruins the fun like stress. Learning to live within your means while young is smart, and it's also easier than trying to learn when you are older.</p> <h2>8. You Have&nbsp;Really Bad Luck (or Dumb Relatives)</h2> <p>Not everyone in a lousy financial situation got there through bad habits. I happen to be good friends with a couple who continually ends up having to empty their savings because their families are financially irresponsible, and they find themselves having to bail out spendthrift siblings or medically challenged parents.</p> <p>Medical bills are a major cause of bankruptcy in the U.S.; even people with health insurance can end up losing all of their savings on expensive treatments. Even Medicare and Medicaid don't cover the full cost of many treatments &mdash; my own mother recently went through both chemotherapy and radiation to treat cancer, and would have paid much more out of pocket if she hadn't purchased supplemental health insurance to cover what Medicare would not.</p> <h3>How to Fix It</h3> <p>There's not much you can do when calamity strikes, other than to pick up the pieces and learn from any mistakes (like gaps in insurance coverage). But you can prepare by having emergency savings on hand and being adequately insured.</p> <p><em>Why do you suck at money? More importantly &mdash; how will you fix it?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-karim">Andrea Karim</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-reasons-youre-bad-at-money-and-how-to-fix-it-asap">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/life-after-bankruptcy-whats-next">Life After Bankruptcy: What&#039;s Next?</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/could-your-city-go-bankrupt">Could Your City Go Bankrupt?</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/debt/bankruptcy">How to File For Bankruptcy</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/do-not-buy-something-just-because-you-can-afford-it">Do not buy something just because you can afford it</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/the-3-best-pieces-of-financial-wisdom-from-oprah-winfrey">The 3 Best Pieces of Financial Wisdom From Oprah Winfrey</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance bad habits bankruptcy building credit money overspending shopping Fri, 26 Jun 2015 13:00:09 +0000 Andrea Karim 1463013 at http://www.wisebread.com Best Money Tips: Questions to Consider Before Overspending http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-questions-to-consider-before-overspending <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-questions-to-consider-before-overspending" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman-tired-shopping-459279227-small.jpg" alt="woman tired from shopping" title="woman tired from shopping" 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 amazing articles on questions to consider before overspending, saving on back to school shopping, and cost cutting tips for drivers.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="http://bobbyfinance.com/questions-to-consider-before-overspending/">8 Questions to Consider Before Overspending</a> &mdash; Before you overspend, ask yourself what would happen if you didn't make the purchase. [Bobby Finance]</p> <p><a href="http://www.debtroundup.com/save-money-back-to-school-shopping/">How to Save Money on Back to School Shopping</a> &mdash; To save money on back to school shopping, don't be afraid to go used and create a list you can stick to. [Debt Roundup]</p> <p><a href="http://yourpfpro.com/5-cost-cutting-tips-drivers/">5 Cost Cutting Tips for Drivers</a> &mdash; Avoiding accidents and driving smarter can help cut the costs associated with your car. [Your Personal Finance Pro]</p> <p><a href="http://attorney-newyork.com/blog/from-the-blog/the-411-of-balance-a-checkbook/">The 411 of Balancing a Checkbook</a> &mdash; When it comes to balancing your checkbook, make sure to record all transactions. [Tayne Your Debt]</p> <p><a href="http://cashvilleskyline.com/2014/08/12/maintaining-your-network-is-more-important-than-saving-money/">Maintaining Your Network Is More Important Than Saving Money</a> &mdash; Sometimes it's a good idea to spend a little extra money to maintain your network because your network can help you find new jobs! [Cashville Skyline]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="http://www.mcclainlovejoy.com/2014/04/22/retirement-account-rollover-options-401k-403b-pension-simple-ira-rollovers-can-go/">Retirement Account Rollover Options</a> &mdash; Did you know Roth IRAs can only be rolled over into another Roth IRA? [McClain Lovejoy]</p> <p><a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/How-Figure-Out-When-Delegate-35480685">An Easy Way to Figure Out When to Delegate Tasks</a> &mdash; If someone else can do a task 70% as well as you can, it's ok to delegate that task to the other person. [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="http://stumbleforward.com/2014/08/14/richest-people-in-the-world/">Look After the Pennies &mdash; The Five Richest People In The World</a> &mdash; The richest man in the world is Carlos Slim from Mexico. [Stumble Forward]</p> <p><a href="http://donnafreedman.com/2014/08/14/smartphones-as-important-as-deodorant/">Smartphones: As Important as Deodorant?</a> &mdash; Nine out of ten people think their smartphones are as important as deodorant and toothbrushes. [Surviving and Thriving]</p> <p><a href="http://www.chrisducker.com/10-social-media-tools/">10 Social Media Tools That Make Everything Easier!</a> &mdash; Buffer and Pocket are just a couple social media tools that can make your life easier. [Chris Ducker]</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-questions-to-consider-before-overspending">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-3"> <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/14-pricey-things-you-shouldnt-buy-and-what-to-get-instead">14 Pricey Things You Shouldn&#039;t Buy (And What to Get Instead)</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-tricks-you-should-learn-from-great-hagglers">10 Tricks You Should Learn From Great Hagglers</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/why-you-shouldnt-stress-too-much-about-spending-money">Why You Shouldn&#039;t Stress Too Much About Spending 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/frugal-tip-do-not-spend-when-you-are-sad">Frugal Tip: Do Not Spend When You Are Sad</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/its-natural-for-me-to-spend-as-i-do-0">It&#039;s NATURAL for me to spend as I do!</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Shopping best money tips overspending questions shopping spending Tue, 19 Aug 2014 19:00:04 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 1186297 at http://www.wisebread.com Lifestyle Inflation: The Ultimate Financial Trap http://www.wisebread.com/lifestyle-inflation-the-ultimate-financial-trap <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/lifestyle-inflation-the-ultimate-financial-trap" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/car-4594948-small.jpg" alt="lifestyle" title="lifestyle" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Do you remember the first real paycheck you ever got? Not a pouring coffee part-time kind of paycheck, but one from a real, full-time-with-benefits, honest-to-goodness job? I know I remember mine. And while that salary would not have impressed most people, it sure impressed me. Suddenly, I was making more in two weeks than I'd scraped by on over the course of two months while in university. In other words, I was rich! (See also: <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-peer-pressure-keeping-you-poor">Is Peer Pressure Keeping You Poor?</a>)</p> <p>So, I did what any highly educated, smarty-pants college grad would do&nbsp;&mdash; I spent every cent on new clothes. And shoes. And probably some other stuff I can't remember now. After all, in two weeks, my job would just give me more!</p> <p>It wasn't long before I'd accumulated a lot of nice clothes and other things I hadn't even really thought of buying before. But here's the thing. Although I was making a lot more money, I still rarely had two quarters to rub together at the end of the month, just like in college. Only this time it wasn't so much my lack of income that was the problem, it was me.</p> <h2><strong>Lifestyle Inflation</strong></h2> <p>It's called <em>lifestyle inflation</em>, and it's what happens when you get a raise or some other financial boost that should put you ahead, but instead often leaves you in exactly the same financial position.</p> <p>Once I could afford something better, all the trappings of my former lifestyle suddenly looked like a dingy, old version of me. Soon, I was shedding versions like a snake and its skin, trying to slither away from the discards as quickly as possible.</p> <h2><strong>Caught on the Hedonic Treadmill</strong></h2> <p>What I didn't realize is that while you may be able to buy a better lifestyle, it never really feels like a better life. Some people call the act of pursuing that lifestyle the &quot;hedonic treadmill;&quot; you can run as fast and as hard as you like, but you won't actually get anywhere. And if you really push it, chances are you'll fly right off and land face first in your own little slice of financial hell.</p> <p>Fortunately, my job gave me the opportunity to learn about personal finance &mdash; and the skills to assess what I was doing with my money. I have, of course, enjoyed some lifestyle inflation since my college days; I have a car, I eat much less canned food, and my apartment is far from crummy (look mom, no ants!). But it hasn't inflated so much that I'm not benefiting from my bigger income. As a result, I'm able to save money for retirement every month, make extra payments on my mortgage, and stay out of debt.</p> <p>Want to avoid falling prey to lifestyle inflation? Well, you're in luck, because it's actually as easy as shifting your perspective.</p> <h2>Remember What Makes You Happy</h2> <p>Sometimes a boost in income is almost like a switch in the brain. Suddenly, the car you drove so proudly looks like an old tin rattle bucket, and the $1 burritos you shared with friends are thrown aside for fancier fare. The thing is, when you think back to the days in your life when you were happiest or had the most fun, those memories are probably completely unrelated to what you were wearing, driving, or how much money you were spending. Chances are, they probably had more to do with where you were in life and who you were with.</p> <h2>Tight Budgets and High Adventure Go Hand in Hand</h2> <p>I once stayed in a filthy motel that was only sort of close to the beach. It was supposed to look like a cute Mexican inn, but the doors were only sheets of plywood with peeling red paint (seriously), and hospitality was definitely less than quaint &mdash; the inn keeper banged on the door at 9 a.m. to ensure we'd be out by checkout time. Oh, and did I mention that the front desk also served as a bar, and that both were manned by a one-armed, tie-dye clad man with a glass eye? You can't make that kind of stuff up. If my friends and I had been able to afford a hotel on the beach, one with real doorknobs and soft, soap-scented sheets, well, I wouldn't have this story to tell.</p> <p>Financial constraints have their advantages. Not only do they force you to be more resourceful, but when you run out of options, you're likely to find yourself in <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/for-amazing-affordable-vacations-travel-slowly">some pretty crazy adventures</a>. I can't say I'd go back to that motel, but I have to admit that most of the nice hotels I've stayed in haven't been nearly as memorable.</p> <h2>Take It Away Before You Can Spend It</h2> <p>It always amazes me when people can live happily enough on their salaries and then still find themselves unable to save more money when they get a raise. If they didn't have that money to spend before, why do they seem to need it so badly as soon as it hits their bottom line? The answer is, they don't, just like I didn't really need all that money from my first job &mdash; at least not for spending.</p> <p>Fortunately, I got into the habit of <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/managing-your-short-term-money">taking some of it out of my checking account</a> on payday and moving it to my savings account, or my retirement plan or, later, my mortgage. You can do the same. You just have to decide to do it. And if you want to indulge in a little of your newfound wealth money, go ahead and do it. Just be sure to split the difference to save for some bigger, more important financial goals.</p> <h2>Build Some Balance Into Your Budget</h2> <p>Avoiding lifestyle creep doesn't mean living your life as a crusty, closed-fisted money hoarder. After all, you probably work pretty hard for every pay raise you get, and you deserve to enjoy that extra money. So please, <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-little-luxuries-that-go-a-long-way">spend some of it on something awesome</a>. Just not all of it. After all, if making more money just means continuing to live paycheck to paycheck, running up debt, and accumulating more stuff, you're really just working harder and harder without actually <em>living better</em> &mdash; or getting ahead financially. And that's just sad.</p> <h2>Feel Richer, Be Richer</h2> <p>Lifestyle inflation is so sneaky that it can creep up on you almost without you noticing. Suddenly, you're driving a nicer car, or even just moving up to brand-name cereal. There's nothing wrong with wanting to enjoy money, but I think the key is to <em>actually enjoy</em> it. Otherwise you can make all kinds of money without feeling the least bit richer for it.</p> <p><em>Have you ever succumbed to lifestyle inflation? How did you walk yourself back to more sensible income and spending habits?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tara-struyk">Tara Struyk</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/lifestyle-inflation-the-ultimate-financial-trap">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-4"> <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-signs-youre-suffering-from-lifestyle-inflation">9 Signs You&#039;re Suffering From Lifestyle Inflation</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/frugal-red-herrings-money-savers-that-cost-you-in-other-ways">Frugal Red Herrings: Money-Savers That Cost You in Other Ways</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/handling-emotions-and-money">Handling Emotions and 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/windows-phone-7-giveaway">Windows Phone 7 &amp; XBox Live Gold Membership Giveaway From Wise Bread</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/12-cheap-ways-to-make-your-car-look-awesome">12 Cheap Ways to Make Your Car Look Awesome</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living lifestyle inflation overspending peer pressure Thu, 20 Jun 2013 10:36:30 +0000 Tara Struyk 978395 at http://www.wisebread.com Frugal Red Herrings: Money-Savers That Cost You in Other Ways http://www.wisebread.com/frugal-red-herrings-money-savers-that-cost-you-in-other-ways <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/frugal-red-herrings-money-savers-that-cost-you-in-other-ways" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/6158664238_89c0992717_z.jpeg" alt="Burning Money" title="Burning Money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We all love to save money. Regular readers of Wise Bread are exceptionally good at it, actually. But that doesn&rsquo;t mean we&rsquo;re not prone to making mistakes. I, for one, have fallen victim to some money-saving misnomers, and in a recent article I talked about some of the ways we think we save money that ends up costing us more. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-you-do-to-save-money-that-end-up-costing-you-more">10 Things You Do to Save Money&nbsp;That End Up Costing You More</a>)</p> <p>However, it&rsquo;s not always the case that our frugal ways cost us MORE money. Sometimes, we &ldquo;break even&rdquo; or lose out in other ways. So I decided to compile a list of frugal red herrings &mdash; those little things we do to save money that, for one reason or another, just don&rsquo;t pay off.</p> <h3>1. Standing In Long, Long Lines for Freebies</h3> <p>Now, if someone said you could stand in line for one hour and be guaranteed a free PS3 or iPhone at the end, no strings attached, it would be worth it. However, that never happens. Never.</p> <p>What does happen is that Ben &amp; Jerry's gives away a free cone, Chipotle hands out free burritos, or Starbucks gives out a free coffee. Suddenly, the stores are inundated and the lines stretch around the block. And for what? A $3-4 ice cream cone or a small coffee?</p> <p>Think about this rationally for a second. If you&rsquo;ve got nothing, and time is abundant in your life, maybe it makes some kind of sense. The homeless and hungry, or the very, very poor, may stand to benefit from this. But I have been to a couple of these giveaways in my life, and the line is usually populated by people like, well, me. People who like a bargain. Is it really a bargain to waste so much of your time on something that ordinarily costs so little? If you stand in line for 45 minutes to get an ice cream, what does that equate to &mdash; maybe the equivalent of around $6 per hour? That&rsquo;s not even minimum wage.</p> <h3>2. Buying Cheap Shoes</h3> <p>No one &quot;needs&quot; a $2,000 pair of shoes. But at the same time, skimping on your footwear may save you cash but cause you back pain, foot pain, or other problems. If you have arch problems, you&rsquo;ll need to invest in shoes with good arch support. Sure, those $14 shoes on sale at the outlet stores may be fine, but more than likely they&rsquo;ll give you bad posture and lead to pain and discomfort. Do yourself a favor. <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-case-for-expensive-shoes">Invest in good shoes</a>, your body will thank you for it.</p> <h3>3. Dining at &ldquo;All You Can Eat&rdquo; Buffets</h3> <p>If you&rsquo;re really hungry and short of cash, those buffets can be a pretty good deal. They&rsquo;ll never take the place of a good, home-cooked meal, though, and for what you pay you can buy groceries that will get you through three or four meals. The problem with buffets is that they are meant for one meal, not leftovers. You&rsquo;re only &ldquo;up on the deal&rdquo; if you eat enough food to outweigh the price of admission. That turns the average sane person into a food maniac, piling up plate after plate with food in an effort to get their money&rsquo;s worth. I&rsquo;ve often said that these places should really changes their names to &ldquo;gluttony restaurants&rdquo; because that&rsquo;s what they promote. Some people say they&rsquo;re eating for two meals, but the body doesn&rsquo;t work like that. You&rsquo;ll be hungry again later, or if you starve yourself prior to going, you&rsquo;ll get full faster than you think. And if you only plan to eat a small amount of food, and not pig out, then you&rsquo;re spending more than you need to anyway.</p> <h3>4. Refinancing Your Home for a Cheaper Rate</h3> <p>We&rsquo;re always being hit with offers for lower rates on mortgages. But remember, there are fees associated with a refinance, including:</p> <ul> <li>Mortgage Application Fees</li> <li>Origination Fees</li> <li>Attorney Fees</li> <li>Title Search and Insurance Fees</li> <li>Prepayment Penalties</li> <li>Appraisal Fees</li> </ul> <p>It&rsquo;s very easy to spend $4,000-$5,000 in fees to refinance a mortgage, and if you&rsquo;re only saving a quarter of a percentage point, it could take a very, very long time to recoup the costs you paid out upfront. What you need to do is find the BEP, or <a href="http://www.decisionaide.com/MPTables/RefiTables/RefiTables.aspx">break-even point, </a>and decide if it&rsquo;s worth your time and a huge chunk of your money to do the refi. If that break-even point is just a few years, then maybe it&rsquo;s worth it (if you&rsquo;re not planning to sell any time soon). But if it&rsquo;s a long way out, you&rsquo;re probably better off keeping the cash and waiting for a better deal to come along.</p> <h3>5. Trading in Your Car for One With Better Gas Mileage</h3> <p>We all feel the pain at the pump these days, and when you&rsquo;re <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/drive-the-old-car-or-buy-a-new-car">driving around in a monster gas-guzzler</a>, it can be very tempting to trade it in for a new car with great gas mileage. But wait. Is it actually going to save you money, or will you actually fail to break even or lose money?</p> <p>What you need to do is look carefully at the MPG of your current vehicle, the MPG of the one you&rsquo;re considering, and the costs involved in trading in the car and your new monthly payment. Even if you plonk down cold hard cash for the new car, you still have to work out if you&rsquo;re actually going to break even or save money over the life of the new car. Most of the time, the costs involved in moving up to a better MPG vehicle far outweigh the costs of buying more gas.</p> <h3>6. Making Do With a Cheap Mattress</h3> <p>When times are tough, it&rsquo;s easy to scoff at the high prices of quality mattresses and get yourself a $200 special. But consider this. You spend six to eight hours of every day in bed. That&rsquo;s up to one third of your life. You spend more time sleeping, or laying down, than you do any other activity in your life. So skimping on a mattress that will give you <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-effective-sleep-tips-you-havent-tried-yet">truly rested sleep</a> and good support is like building a home with a shoddy foundation. There are some things in life that really do need the best that money can buy, and a mattress is one of them. Most manufacturers will offer flexible payment plans or other incentives, and you will get at least 10 years out of a great mattress. Even if it&rsquo;s $4,000, that&rsquo;s just $400 a year, or $33 a month. Chances are, you spend more than that on snacks and coffees.</p> <h3>7. Going Large When You Don&rsquo;t Need To</h3> <p>I know so many people who do this, and it continues to make me scratch my head. I&rsquo;m talking about food of course, or beverages, and it&rsquo;s one of those strange tactics that plays on your desire for a bargain.</p> <p>Usually, whether it&rsquo;s Burger King, Starbucks, Dairy Queen, or any other place that sells food in sizes, it will be a little bit cheaper to get a lot more food and drink.</p> <p>For instance, let's take Starbucks.</p> <p>A tall (12oz) Caffé Latte is $3.55. A grande (16oz) is $4.25. And a venti is $4.55. (Those prices are correct as of <a href="http://www.wegotcoffee.com/pictures/starbucks/starbucks-2012-menu-and-prices.php">May 2012.</a>)</p> <p>Your first 12oz costs you roughly 29 cents per ounce. But the move up to grande is just 70 cents more for an extra 4 ounces. That&rsquo;s cut your price per ounce almost in half, to just 17.5 cents per ounce for the extra coffee. And if you choose a venti over a grande, your cost for the additional 4 ounces is just 30 cents. That&rsquo;s a paltry 7.5 cents per ounce for the extra 4 ounces, which is 75% less than the cost of the original 29 cents per ounce.</p> <p>If you want to do the math a different way, it goes like this:</p> <ul> <li>A tall Caffé Latte = 29 cents/oz</li> <li>A grande Caffé Latte = 26 cents/oz</li> <li>A venti Caffé Latte = 23 cents/oz</li> </ul> <p>We may not do the math to that extent, but we all know that there&rsquo;s a deal to be had by going large. The same is true of ice cream bowls, fries, sodas &mdash; you name it. However, it&rsquo;s not a deal if you&rsquo;re only ready to drink a tall sized coffee. You&rsquo;re throwing the rest away, and this is something the chains count on. They know you have eyes for a deal and will spend the extra money to go large, even if you don&rsquo;t want it.</p> <p>Do this over and over, you&rsquo;re throwing hundreds of dollars away year after year because your brain made a deal that your body couldn&rsquo;t keep.</p> <h3>9. Buying in Bulk and Letting It Rot</h3> <p>I&rsquo;ve been guilty of this one way too often in my life. The big warehouse stores offering gallons of mayo, sofa-sized cartons of cereal, and enough cakes to feed an army offer amazing value for the money. But only if you use it all. Quite often, we&rsquo;ll see bargains that cut the price of our regular grocery items in half, or even less, and we buy them. However, sometimes we go overboard and just cannot get around to eating it all before the sell by date. Remember in &quot;Seinfeld&quot; when Kramer fed his Beefaroni to a horse in a desperate bid to get rid of it all? Well, if you&rsquo;re at the point where you&rsquo;re looking for ways to get rid of food before the ticking time bomb of the sell by date comes around, you&rsquo;ve become the victim of another frugal red herring. It&rsquo;s good to have a full fridge or pantry, but it&rsquo;s not so good to have one full of old and rotting produce.</p> <p>Those are my top eight frugal red herrings. Now, over to you. Which money-saving tips have you followed, only to realize that they weren&rsquo;t such a good idea after all?</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/frugal-red-herrings-money-savers-that-cost-you-in-other-ways">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-5"> <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/heres-what-to-do-if-you-cant-pay-your-bills-on-time">Here&#039;s What to Do If You Can&#039;t Pay Your Bills On Time</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/chinese-money-habits-how-my-culture-influences-my-attitudes-toward-money">Chinese Money Habits - How My Culture Influences My Attitudes Toward 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/living-cheaply-for-the-long-term">Living Cheaply for the Long Term</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/10-things-you-do-to-save-money-that-end-up-costing-you-more">10 Things You Do to Save Money That End Up Costing You More</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-big-of-a-house-do-you-really-need">How Big of a House Do You Really Need?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Frugal Living bad money habits Mistakes overspending Mon, 30 Jul 2012 10:36:41 +0000 Paul Michael 944070 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Frugal Promises I Have Not Kept http://www.wisebread.com/6-frugal-promises-i-have-not-kept <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-frugal-promises-i-have-not-kept" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/leaf.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="169" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When I started blogging for Wise Bread many eons ago, I was making a great salary and had just bought my own home. I was filled with frugal ambitions, ready to lean how to invest, be a good home owner, and save lots of money for retirement.</p> <p>Five years later, I honestly can't say that I have accomplished all that much, to be perfectly honest. Lots of Wise Bread writers are people who found themselves in a financial bind and reacted by pulling themselves together and changing their lives. I am not that kind of writer, and that's one of the reasons I never write about investments or savings accounts &mdash; because I don't have any.</p> <p>I've written about a lot of my other money-saving ideas and goals along the way, but to be honest, I haven't made many of them. Here are some of my more spectacular failures.</p> <h3>Giving Up Caffeine</h3> <p>I have <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stop-being-a-slave-to-starbucks-how-to-quit-caffeine">quit drinking coffee</a> several times over the past few years, but I always go back. To be honest, it's my one vice. I don't smoke, and I quit drinking alcohol (I have a sip every now and again, but I don't consume unless there is a toast being made). I don't think that getting up every morning and stumbling to the coffeemaker before I can focus my eyes is healthy for me, but I haven't managed to get through more than a couple of months without at least a strong cup of tea.</p> <p>The thing is, I know the relying on caffeine for energy is depleting; caffeine is bad for bone density, and living on borrowed energy isn't good, either. But although I don't go to a cafe every morning and usually brew my coffee at home, I still haven't managed to totally kick the habit.</p> <h3>Letting My Gray Hair Grow</h3> <p>A couple of years ago, I cut off all of my dyed hair and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/going-gray-grey-hair-stop-coloring">let my natural color grow out</a>. I started getting my first gray hairs when I was right out of college, and so it's not like it was a surprise that I have a significant portion of gray and white hair among my natural reddish brown locks. I had experimented with letting my hair be natural before, and had failed, but back in 2008, I suddenly realized how much I was spending at the colorist and decided to give it another go. I wrote a blog post about it, feeling all proud and ready to face a life with gray locks. I would be the female Jon Stewart or Anderson Cooper, all silver-foxy and chic.</p> <p>Instead, I looked like someone had run over me with a tractor. I looked tired, old, and dumpy. No matter how I changed my makeup colors or styled my hair (including ample application of gold glitter), I looked terrible. My mother had warned me, too. She said, &quot;Andrea, you have my hair. It's awful, and I am sorry. Stick to the coloring.&quot;</p> <p>As usual, my mother was right. My hair IS awful. It is gray around the sides, like my fathers, but not really at all on the top. Having gray hair not only makes me look old, it makes me look like a man.</p> <p>I've gone back to coloring it, usually from a box. It's cheaper than a salon, although I still go in to see a stylist for trims and deep conditioning treatments.</p> <h3>Learning Not to Give Too Much</h3> <p>My very first article on Wise Bread was about how my combined vanity and guilt over having grown up privileged combined to make for some <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/can-i-conquer-my-vanity-for-the-sake-of-my-sanity">really bad spending habits</a>. Although I no longer blow my entire paycheck at Nordstrom, this is partly because I have so many other steep bills to cover that I simply can't afford to buy nice clothing anymore. I'm also still guilty of feeling the need to help other people monetarily, even if it means having to take out a loan to do so (not wise).</p> <p>Also, I'm still madly vain and overly concerned with my appearance. Fortunately, a drastically reduced salary has curbed my trips to the manicurist.</p> <h3>Grooming My Dogs All by Myself</h3> <p>I have two small dogs that should be easy to groom. They are not. I bought a rather expensive pair of clippers and wrote an article about how I can <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/pet-peeves-part-2-good-grooming">groom my dogs at home</a> because I am just that talented. It turns out that I cannot be trusted with clippers. In fact, even the strongest clippers I could find would not cut my Pekingese's hair, which apparently is made of some kind of ultra-strong polymer from the future. In fact, just finding a good spot to do the grooming is impossible in my house. Short of placing my dogs on the kitchen counter, I don't have an adequate surface or appropriate room to give the dogs a sense of safety and stability. In addition, there is no way to prevent dog hair from flying everywhere.</p> <p>I still bathe my dogs in the bathtub using one of those showerheads-on-a-hose. But I pay to have them trimmed, plucked, flea-dipped, and dentally cared for. The DIY option is more work than I can handle on my own.</p> <h3>Not Having A Television</h3> <p>This one isn't a failure so much as a semi-renege. For years, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/life-without-tv">I didn't own a television</a>. I watched what I enjoyed online, and had no use for extended cable. My father, however, was horrified at his inability to watch golf for hours while visiting me in Seattle. &quot;This will never do!&quot; he proclaimed, and marched to Costco to buy a flat screen TV.</p> <p>I still don't watch TV per se; I catch episodes of Modern Family on Hulu.com if I have time, which is rare. But I do technically have a television in my home, and we do use it to watch movies. My fiancé has improved upon it with a sound system that probably wouldn't fit in my Prius, because men cannot watch a television unless a subwoofer is hooked up to it.</p> <h3>Driving Slower</h3> <p>Back when I owned a Toyota Avalon, I found that driving around 50mph saved me a lot of gas. I drive a hybrid now, and although it doesn't respond well to sudden acceleration, the optimal driving speed for my Prius is around 70mph. Of course, the speed limit on Seattle freeways is 60mph.</p> <p>I still drive more slowly when I am heading home for the day, but am a bit more harried in the morning. Because the car is a hybrid, I spend less than half of what I used to on gasoline.</p> <p><em>Do you have any money-saving pledges that you have not managed to keep? Tell us about them in the comments (and go ahead and justify them, it's fine).</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-karim">Andrea Karim</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-frugal-promises-i-have-not-kept">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-6"> <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/how-to-travel-full-time-for-17000-a-year-or-less">How to Travel Full-Time for $17,000 a Year (or Less!)</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/24-tips-for-having-a-baby-without-going-broke">24 Tips for Having a Baby Without Going Broke</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/where-to-find-free-or-cheap-yoga-classes">Where to Find Free or Cheap Yoga Classes</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-legit-ways-to-use-the-gym-for-free">8 Legit Ways to Use the Gym for Free</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/the-5-best-resistance-bands">The 5 Best Resistance Bands</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Health and Beauty Lifestyle broken promises debt restructuring financial goals not met frugal failure overspending shopping addiction Mon, 07 Feb 2011 13:48:09 +0000 Andrea Karim 488282 at http://www.wisebread.com The Frugal Balance: Staying Away from Financial Extremes http://www.wisebread.com/the-frugal-balance-staying-away-from-financial-extremes <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-frugal-balance-staying-away-from-financial-extremes" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/balance.JPG" alt="balancing act" title="balancing act" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="248" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>One of the most underrated financial x-factors in our lives is our relationship with money and the inner psychology of how we deal with our finances. I suspect that it is because it is the most difficult and intangible aspect of money management, and also the hardest to fix. </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span> </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>In my financial planning career, I saw a lot of different people with a myriad of financial backgrounds and attitudes towards money. For example, I&#39;d like to share the story of a fellow who I shall nickname &quot;The Monk With A Big Screen TV&quot; (we&#39;ll call him Monk for short!):</span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span> </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>Monk allowed money to flow right through his hands for most of his life, regardless of his income. In his early 20s he had a job for a few years in which he made over six-figures. It disappeared just as quickly as the years when he made under $30,000, and he had very little to show for either of those situations at the end of the day. </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>Finally he realized he was in financial trouble when collectors agents were banging down his door, he broke up with his girlfriend, and didn&#39;t even have enough cash to find a place to stay for the night. Despite the fact that he had a job, he actually became homeless for a few days until he could scrape enough together to start getting his life on track. </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>This was a real wake up call for Monk, but sometimes wake-up calls aren&#39;t enough. </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>Monk decided that the best way to get ahead would be to live like a monk and punish himself for getting into this financial squalor. He endured weeks not spending any more money than what he absolutely had to for survival. He ate poorly if at all, cancelled all his services (eg: phone, cable, internet, even heat at one point), and refused to spend money on anything. He even cut himself off from his friends and any social contact. His justification was that if he endured this period of sacrifice, he would be able to start to financially get ahead, and eventually breathe a little easier. He honestly didn&#39;t see moderation as a possibility - it had to be all or nothing. </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>Of course, subjecting yourself to such mental, physical, and emotional torture can&#39;t last long before the pendulum swings, and Monk was no exception. One month after his vigilant overly-frugal stint, he broke down, bought a big screen tv, a case of beer, and re-ordered his cable service. </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>Of course Monk soon realized that all his hard work and sacrifice in the previous month was negated by this splurge, and consequently felt guilty. So, back to the monk-lifestyle he went. Until he broke down again. </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>Poor Monk went through this vicious financial circle for years before he realized that he didn&#39;t have to live a life of extremes, effectively getting him nowhere. He hadn&#39;t made a dime of progress on his debts, and if anything his affairs were worse. </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span> </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>I had another client (a couple, actually), whose own personalities defined financial extremes. We&#39;ll call them Yin and Yang. </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>Yin never had much money. She (like Monk), spent money like it was water. She could justify a fancy dinner at an expensive restaurant just because it was the second Tuesday of the month.<span> </span>She cashed in retirement savings for vacations. She played a balancing game of maxed credit cards, only paying off enough to charge the next big extravagance. And of course, she had no investments to speak of. She justified every expenditure by saying that she didn&#39;t like her job, had very few things in life she truly enjoyed, and if she couldn’t treat herself once in a while then what was the point of even being alive. </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>Yang, on the other hand, had quite a different view. A big night out on the town for him was renting a few movies at the local video store. He dreamed of travel, but never (in my years of knowing him) would he ever actually go anywhere, because he was forever convinced that there wasn&#39;t enough money for his future. He saved and squeezed every single penny he had, and brought new meaning to the word frugal. He even cut his teenage son off his allowance ($7/week for doing the chores) saying he couldn&#39;t afford it. He was also a workaholic, driven by the constant fear of not having enough money for the future or in the event of an emergency.</span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>I&#39;m sure it comes as no surprise that in addition to receiving financial counselling from me, Yin and Yang also received divorce counselling and are now learning their financial lessons separately. </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span> </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>But who was right? Yin who refused to plan for tomorrow in her desire to live for today? </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>Or Yang who refused to live for today in favour of planning for tomorrow? </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>How about Monk? Which was better? His monk-like lifestyle of sacrifice, or his extravagant splurges that brought him back to square one? </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span> </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>In a way, everybody was right. And wrong. </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span> </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>I was unable to continue to work with Yin and Yang as circumstance had it, but I continued to keep in touch with them. </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>Over the years, Yin&#39;s financial situation only worsened, and she also became quite ill. She had no money to deal with the illness, but some benevolent friends stepped in to help her in a time of need, which she was extremely lucky to have. What I can credit Yin for was her zest for life. If she dropped dead tomorrow, one could argue that she lived a full life with few regrets. Unfortunately, she will never ever be able to retire (or even slow down a bit as she ages), and will continue to be an increasing financial burden on her family and friends. </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>Yang, on the other hand, continued to save frantically for years. One day, to my surprise, he declared that he had reached his financial goals, and he could start to relax. He was scaling down his business, and would be fully retired by age 70 (which was surprising as I figured he would work forever out of financial fear). He was starting to enjoy life more, and treating himself once in a while. Unfortunately, his relationship with his (now adult) son only continued to deteriorate as he grew up, and they are relatively estranged today. From what I&#39;m told when they do occasionally meet, it is strained, and of course Yang never pays. To bring the comparison full circle, if Yang dropped dead tomorrow, one could argue that he spent so much of his life planning for tomorrow that he never really lived. </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span> </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>Monk and I did continue to work together over a number of years, and his transformation embodied much of what Yin and Yang never really learned. He discovered that his pattern of vigilance and splurges was getting him nowhere, and in fact as time was passing him by his financial situation was getting worse, compounded by the fact that he wasn&#39;t able to invest any money for his future and allow it to grow. </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>Through <a href="/six-steps-to-eliminating-your-debt-painlessly" target="_blank">debt management strategies</a> and simultaneously squirreling an (initially) small amount away for the future and a safety net, he slowly but surely took hold of his finances. It was a long slow process, and he&#39;ll admit he had to learn his lessons many times over before he really redefined his relationship with money. Today he says <strong>he</strong> controls his finances, not the other way around. </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span> </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>If there is anything that Monk (and Yin or Yang for that matter) can teach us, it is that living a life of extremes is not constructive. If we can manage to keep our eyes on the future, but also manage to let loose a little today, then we can really start to enjoy what life has to offer. </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span> </span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><span>And of course, it&#39;s easier said than done.</span></p> <p class="MsoPlainText">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">&nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/nora-dunn">Nora Dunn</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-frugal-balance-staying-away-from-financial-extremes">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-7"> <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/the-private-financial-information-you-must-share">The Private Financial Information You Must Share</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/6-harmful-money-beliefs-that-are-keeping-you-poor">6 Harmful Money Beliefs That Are Keeping You Poor</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/ow-do-you-deal-with-family-members-who-are-bad-at-managing-money">How Do You Deal With Family Members Who Are Bad At Managing 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/financial-tricks-to-master-for-a-happier-life">Financial Tricks to Master for a Happier Life</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/easy-personal-finance-for-lazy-people">Easy Personal Finance for Lazy People</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Lifestyle financial planning life balance money management overspending Sat, 29 Sep 2007 00:52:02 +0000 Nora Dunn 1229 at http://www.wisebread.com Jettison the Junk: Why Clutter Clouds Your Mind and Saps Your Energy http://www.wisebread.com/jettison-the-junk-why-clutter-clouds-your-mind-and-saps-your-energy <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/jettison-the-junk-why-clutter-clouds-your-mind-and-saps-your-energy" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/tired-4303504-small.jpg" alt="tired" title="tired" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There's a man who lives down the street from me who's a big fan of dumpster diving. And by &quot;fan&quot;, I mean, that's all he does. His backyard is a sea of garbage. He has 30 broken refrigerators on his giant back porch. His truck, which is parked in front of my house, is overflowing with discarded junk like broken baby strollers, cardboard boxes, paving stones, and dried out cans of paint. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/clutter-free-the-zero-accumulation-household">Clutter-Free: The Zero-Accumulation Household</a>)</p> <p>To my knowledge, Dumpster Dan is not employed, and probably not eating well. He's impoverished. Yet he has all this crap lying around. Which is partly why I was so delighted to read the first sentence of Paul Graham's July 2007 <a href="http://www.paulgraham.com/stuff.html">essay about stuff</a>:</p> <blockquote><p><em>I have too much stuff. Most people in America do. In fact, the poorer people are, the more stuff they seem to have. Hardly anyone is so poor that they can't afford a front yard full of old cars.</em></p> </blockquote> <p>Oooh! Snap!</p> <p>And also an interesting point &mdash; in the same way that the poorest Americans are also the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-is-it-so-expensive-to-be-healthy">fattest Americans</a>, the poorest Americans still accumulate a whole lot of junk. As Graham says, &quot;<em>Stuff has gotten a lot cheaper, but our attitudes toward it haven't changed correspondingly. We overvalue stuff.&quot;</em></p> <h2>When Less Is More</h2> <p>I've only recently become enamored over <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/voluntary-simplicity-as-hedonism">the joys of having less</a>. Buying less, owning less, and wanting less. I'm not a zen master of simple living, not by a long shot. And I came by the joy almost on accident.</p> <p>A friend of mine was planning a visit to my house and was bringing her one-year-old daughter along. In a slight panic, I ran around my home, attempting to 'baby-proof' the entire thing. Papers were shredded, junk discarded, floors mopped and swept, heavy vases hidden away in tall, locked cabinets.</p> <p>After looking around, I suddenly realized how WONDERFUL my house looked. It was downright beautiful. Looking around a spic-and-span room relaxed me. Coming home, opening the door and being greeted by the sight of an organized kitchen made me feel truly <em>at home</em>.</p> <p>That's why I'm loving Paul Graham's essay about <a href="http://www.paulgraham.com/stuff.html">having too much stuff</a> (via <a href="http://unclutterer.com/archives/2007/08/against_stuff.php">Unclutterer</a>). In between Fight Club-esque moments of &quot;your stuff owns you&quot;, he says:</p> <blockquote><p><em>And unless you're extremely organized, a house full of stuff can be very depressing. A cluttered room saps one's spirits. One reason, obviously, is that there's less room for people in a room full of stuff. But there's more going on than that. I think humans constantly scan their environment to build a mental model of what's around them. And the harder a scene is to parse, the less energy you have left for conscious thoughts. A cluttered room is literally exhausting.</em></p> </blockquote> <p>So, so true. Frustrations are multiplied when you don't have a clean, empty space to rest your eyes upon. Not only are piles of junk mentally jarring, but they remind you of how much work you still have left to do &mdash; sorting, organizing, and storing the stuff.</p> <p>A sink full of dirty dishes from three days ago isn't just unpleasant to look at &mdash; it reminds you that you have to do the dishes. And that you haven't had time to do the dishes for three days. THAT'S exhausting.</p> <h2>&quot;Bargain&quot; is Not French for &quot;Free&quot;</h2> <p>I'm delighted that Graham touches on one of the insane aspects of our culture, which is accumulating more stuff when we don't need it just because it's free, and having more stuff makes us feel richer:</p> <blockquote><p><em>That was a big problem for me when I had no money. I felt poor, and stuff seemed valuable, so almost instinctively I accumulated it. Friends would leave something behind when they moved, or I'd see something as I was walking down the street on trash night (beware of anything you find yourself describing as &quot;perfectly good&quot;), or I'd find something in almost new condition for a tenth its retail price at a garage sale. And pow, more stuff. In fact these free or nearly free things weren't bargains, because they were worth even less than they cost. Most of the stuff I accumulated was worthless, because I didn't need it.</em></p> </blockquote> <p>I'm frequently tempted to buy things that can be resold with a little fixing. You know, lovely old dressers that need a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-to-not-be-frugal">new coat of paint</a>. Clothing that can be made &quot;hip&quot; again with a few tucks here and there. But the truth is, I don't have the time or the space to handle projects like these. If I had my own workshop and a flexible job, I'd jump at the chance to restore antiques or resell clothing.</p> <p>But I have to accept the fact that my time and my living space are very limited. Remember, free or almost free stuff is only a great deal if you (a) use it, or (b) have the time, space, and energy to restore it and sell it for profit.</p> <h2>How to Stop? Don't Start</h2> <p>Simply getting rid of stuff isn't going to keep your life junk-free. Part of the trick in eliminating junk in your life is to refrain from accumulating <em>more</em> stuff you don't need and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/snl-financial-advice-dont-buy-stuff-you-cannot-afford">can't afford</a>.&nbsp;As Graham writes,</p> <blockquote><p><em>The really painful thing to recall is not just that I accumulated all this useless stuff, but that I often spent money I desperately needed on stuff that I didn't. Why would I do that? Because the people whose job is to sell you stuff are really, really good at it. The average 25-year-old is no match for companies that have spent years figuring out how to get you to spend money on stuff. They make the experience of buying stuff so pleasant that &quot;shopping&quot; becomes a leisure activity.</em></p> </blockquote> <p>Anyone who has ever spent $67 on a bottle of shampoo and some organic fruit at Whole Foods understands this sentiment. Shopping is a way to spend a Sunday afternoon, right? It's so pleasant, so breezy, so self-affirming.</p> <p>Shopping centers know this. All of the malls in my area are undergoing major renovations, making them more attractive places to hang out in. The University Village, which is near the University of Washington but packed with stores that students are too poor to shop in, has been wildly successful in turning an ugly, rundown strip mall into a lovely and appealing shopping destination. Replete with playgrounds, fountains, lovely landscaping, outdoor seating &mdash; you could spend an entire day in the Village and not be lacking in any services or products.</p> <p>That's a dangerous situation for me. The longer I linger, the more I want to spend. So I've learned to avoid langurous afternoons in the Village.</p> <h2>Self-Interrogation</h2> <p>In his essay, Graham discusses some of the tactics that he uses to keep himself from buying stuff that he doesn't need:</p> <blockquote><p><em>[A]sk yourself, before buying something, &quot;is this going to make my life noticeably better? [W]ill this be something I use constantly? Or is it just something nice? Or worse still, a mere bargain?</em></p> </blockquote> <p>Here's what I ask myself before buying something that I don't really NEED:</p> <ol> <li>Is this going to help me achieve any of my goals? (Running shoes, yes; lip plumper, no.)</li> <li>Which of my friends will be impressed by, or envious of, this item? If all of those friends would be disinterested in this item, would I still want it?</li> </ol> <p>Those questions help me mentally suss out the motivations behind my desire for an object. Peer pressure can be a powerful thing, and I try to use it for the forces of good rather than evil. If I imagine that all of my friends disapprove of a shiny new iPhone, I can offer myself a more unbiased opinion about my own feelings regarding my desire for one. If I bought this, and everyone hated it, would I still think it was a great purchase?</p> <p>That's how I avoided purchasing: a fast motorcycle, lip injections, and a tattoo on my forearm.</p> <p>As I slowly work towards a less cluttered life, I'm constantly realizing how empowering it is to have less. Of course, this is the opposite of what we are told by advertisers; we are led to believe that only owning things will give us a feeling of power. It's almost jolting to discover what a lie that is, even if I've proclaimed all my life that I understood the falsehoods behind the marketing.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-karim">Andrea Karim</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/jettison-the-junk-why-clutter-clouds-your-mind-and-saps-your-energy">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-8"> <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/the-seven-deadly-sins-of-consumerism-and-the-frugal-redemption">The seven deadly sins of consumerism (and the frugal redemption).</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-ways-to-live-better-without-spending-more">5 Ways to Live Better Without Spending More</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/can-i-conquer-my-vanity-for-the-sake-of-my-sanity">Can I Conquer My Vanity for the Sake of My Sanity?</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/knowing-your-triggers-can-prevent-stupid-spending">Knowing Your Triggers Can Prevent Emotional Spending</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/unbearably-stupid-packaging">Dumbest packaging ever?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management Lifestyle America clutter compulsive consumerism debt junk overspending shopping Tue, 07 Aug 2007 23:54:15 +0000 Andrea Karim 964 at http://www.wisebread.com The seven deadly sins of consumerism (and the frugal redemption). http://www.wisebread.com/the-seven-deadly-sins-of-consumerism-and-the-frugal-redemption <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/wisebread_imce/demon.jpg" alt="demon" title="demon" width="243" height="212" /></p> <p>Sit ye down, hold your loved ones tight, and get ready for the seven deadliest sins of the modern day consumer.</p> <p>(By the way, I know I’m a movie buff when I can reference two of the greatest films ever made in one blog headline. If you don’t know what they are, shame on you. But even more shame on you if you’re committing these sins right now.)</p> <p>Who says they’re the seven deadly sins? Well, I do. I’m no authority on the subject, I certainly didn’t write the consumer bible. But life experience has taught me that indulging in any of these sins leads to a path of debt, disillusionment and despair. If you find yourself in the position of indulging one or more of these sins on a daily basis, seek the frugal redemption.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/wisebread_imce/greed.jpg" alt="greed" title="greed" width="300" height="244" /></p> <p><em> “I’ll take that, and that, and that, and that…and who cares how I’ll pay for it. In fact, I’ll put it on the good old credit card and think about it later. Hey, it comes with six months no interest anyway. Sweet!”</em></p> <p>Sound familiar? Greed is fairly ugly and I see it everywhere. Our obsession as a society with material things has gone beyond the norm. As Madonna once said, we’re living in a material world. But I don’t think anyone realized how bad it’s become. The ‘buy now, pay later’ mentality is rife. But when our own government is in debt to the tune of $8,892,888,862,434.37 (that was at the time of writing this article, and climbing $1.93 billion per day) they’re hardly setting the standard for fiscal responsibility. An argument for another time perhaps. Still, the message is clear. Give in to greed, make way for debt.<br /><strong><br />The Frugal Redemption</strong><br />If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it. By that I don’t mean save up $300,000 and drop it on a new house. But examine your budget (better still, MAKE a budget…the first step on the road to debt is not having a budget). Have three bank accounts – one for saving, one for bills, one for fun. If you spend your fun money for the month, hey guess what, you’re done. </p> <p>Get out of the cycle of wanting things you really don’t need or can afford. Stop and think. Often my wife will go shopping for baby clothes for our newborn. She’ll get to the counter with an armful of clothes, then think again about what she really actually wants or needs. The pile gets much, much shorter. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/wisebread_imce/sloth.jpg" alt="sloth" title="sloth" width="300" height="225" /> </p> <p>It can wait.<em> &quot;401k? It can wait. Savings account? Next month. Paying off the credit card? I’ve got time. Coupons? Waste of time. Deal-hunting? Why bother?”</em></p> <p>Sloth is a great enemy of frugality. And I know, I was a former indulger of sloth. I put off the 401k contributions because I wanted to use the extra money. I hated clipping coupons, and they were only worth 50 cents or a $1 so who cares? But boy, those little amounts soon add up. </p> <p>Basically, you snooze, you lose. Put off saving in your 401k (especially if your company matches it) and you’re literally throwing away money. Plus, you have to put a whole lot more away later on to catch up. <a href="/the-dirty-secrets-of-credit-cards">Make the minimum payments on your credit card</a> and you’ll be paying it off for decades. </p> <p><strong>The Frugal Redemption</strong><br />Why put off till tomorrow what you can do today? Make it the day to finally start getting your life in order if you haven’t yet made plans for the future. Ask your HR officer about the 401k plan. Look through the coupons in the Sunday paper. You will find some that apply to you, I guarantee it. Start adding more to your savings account, even if it’s just $50 a month to begin with. Add more to your credit card payments if you can. This is all about forming good habits. </p> <p>If you can get a better deal by walking 10 minutes further down the high street, do it. Shop around whenever and wherever you can. The exercise won’t hurt either, we’ve become a nation of drivers. Use Internet shopping comparison tools to find great bargains. Check out sites like <a href="http://www.bargainist.com/">The Bargainist</a> , <a href="http://www.consumerist.com/">The Consumerist</a> , and of course, Wisebread. It’s very easy to be lazy, but in the long run you’re only fooling yourself and hurting your future. Seize the day.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/wisebread_imce/gluttony.jpg" alt="gluttony" title="gluttony" width="300" height="225" /></p> <p>My dad used to say to me <em>“your eyes are bigger than your belly” </em>and he was right. I was always happy to take more, be it candy or extra roast potatoes on my Sunday lunch. But all too often I didn’t eat them and they went in the trash, or went bad. Or I made myself sick. </p> <p>Sadly, I am still the same today, although I’m really trying to get out of it. “Hey look hon, 8lbs of cheese for $10, bargain!” It’s only when my wife tells me that, as usual, the cheese will go bad before we finish it that I’ll think twice. I’m a sucker for BOGO deals, regardless of whether I need two, or even one of the item on sale. Buying in bulk is deceptive. Great for things like rice, toilet paper and diapers. Not so great when it’s got an expiration date that’s fast approaching. No-one wants cheese sandwiches three times a day. <br /><strong><br />The Frugal Redemption</strong><br />Again, this is all about asking yourself a few questions before you pop something in the shopping cart. Do I really need 5 cartons of orange juice because I can save 20 cents per quart? Will my family benefit from this buy 10, get 10 free offer? Is it a deal, or false economy? As those great infomercials often say, when you throw away food it’s “cash in the trash.” Remember, just because it’s on clearance or a bargain, it doesn’t mean it’s the bargain for you. Being a glutton for special offers could make you a glutton for punishment. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/wisebread_imce/pride.jpg" alt="pride" title="pride" width="300" height="225" /> </p> <p>I know people who tell themselves, “heck, I deserved it” when they’re sporting a new jewel-encrusted watch or hand-made pair of the finest leather shoes. Maybe that’s true, but it doesn’t mean it’s a wise move. It’s fine to splurge once in a while, but making a habit of it can lead to all sorts of problems, including shopping addictions. </p> <p>Worse still, pride has this nasty habit of making you do things you don’t want to do. People will borrow cash to go out on the town rather than admit to being short of money that week. And that means buying a new dress, or buying a few rounds of drinks, plus the expensive meal. All because pride won’t let them admit, to their friends no less, that they’re trying to save money or that they just don’t have the cash. </p> <p><strong>The Frugal Redemption</strong><br />Give pride a vacation. It’s good to be proud of an achievement, or something your son or daughter has done at school, but embracing pride to allow yourself too many luxuries is never going to have a happy ending. Avoid places that will tempt you. If you have a habit of going nuts in Target or Macy’s, stay away. If you’re a sucker for a particular section of the store (watches, shoes) steer clear. </p> <p>As for feeling too proud to admit you don’t quite have the cash to go out, your friends will understand. Your co-workers will understand. In fact, anyone who doesn’t is probably someone you really don’t want to know. There’s no shame in staying home on a Friday night if it means you avoid the cycle of borrowing, debt and depression. Pride has its place…but it can be a frugal shopper’s worst nightmare. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/wisebread_imce/wrath.jpg" alt="wrath" title="wrath" width="300" height="179" /> </p> <p>“Don’t get mad, get even.” Wise words, although the ‘getting even’ part is not always appropriate either. I think it would be more apt to say “don’t get mad, get what you want.” </p> <p>Anyway, the point is this. I’ve watched people blow up at customer service folks. I’ve seen angry letters, I’ve heard angry phone calls. I’ve witnessed huge lists of demands spouted by human versions of the Tazmanian Devil cartoon. Most of the time, all it gets them is higher blood pressure and a security guard showing them the door. Anger is the first way to show you’ve lost control of the situation. </p> <p><strong>The Frugal Redemption</strong><br />A frugal shopper knows that you get way more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. My <a href="/how-to-complain-and-get-a-good-result">former article on complaining</a> highlighted this process, but it’s not just about making a complaint. It’s about life in general. </p> <p>Guess what happens if you treat you waiter with appreciation and a smile instead of disdain. Quicker service, more fries, bigger drinks, you name it, I’ve had them all. A polite conversation with most people will get you much further than raging and expecting something for nothing. Be nice.</p> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/wisebread_imce/envy.jpg" alt="envy" title="envy" width="300" height="202" /> </p> <p>This can best be summed up with that old “Keeping Up With The Jones’” adage. And I have several friends who are both house-poor and car-poor because of it. </p> <p>Why are so many people in this country living in houses they cannot afford, driving cars they could never afford and wearing clothes that are way too expensive? The simple answer is still way too long to print here, but a big part of it is envy.</p> <p>I remember being told that people measure their own misery and success by their surroundings, and it’s completely true. If you live in a nice little home and are surrounded by other nice little homes, you feel good. You’ve done well. Transplant that nice little home into a rich area filled with mansions, swimming pools and landscaping. Now, it doesn’t look so good. Actually it sucks. It’s not fair, it’s not fair, I want a big house! I want a Cadillac Escalade! I want a Rolex!</p> <p>The same applies to your job, your clothes, in fact, everything around you. But it’s all relative. And most important, you have no idea what the people around you do, or how they pay for what they have. Maybe they’re in debt up to their eyeballs and spend every night crying themselves to sleep. Maybe they work 24/7 to pay for the things they can never really enjoy. Maybe they had rich folks. But you should never compare, it will only lead to jealousy and misery.</p> <p><strong>The Frugal Redemption</strong><br />This one is not easy. After all, as a species we’re always going to compare ourselves to our friends and neighbors. But before you stop reading this and look out of your window to stare at the new Ferrari parked in your neighbor’s driveway, here are a few facts (as of Nov 2006, provided by <a href="http://www.globalissues.org/">www.globalissues.org</a> ).</p> <p>• Half the world — nearly three billion people — live on less than two dollars a day.<br />• Nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names.<br />• Approximately 790 million people in the developing world are still chronically undernourished, almost two-thirds of whom reside in Asia and the Pacific.<br />• According to UNICEF, 30,000 children die each day due to poverty.<br />• Some 1.1 billion people in developing countries have inadequate access to water, and 2.6 billion lack basic sanitation</p> <p>Now, I didn’t mean to bring you down. But it certainly brings life crashing into perspective if you think you’re not fortunate. Trust me, if you’re reading this then you’ve got access to more than most people will ever have. You’re lucky. </p> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/wisebread_imce/lust.jpg" alt="lust" title="lust" width="300" height="214" /></p> <p>First and foremost, you can relax. I’m not about to tell you that sex is not a good way to be frugal (actually, a romantic night in bed with your partner is a lot cheaper than going to the movies…and much more fun).</p> <p>No, the kind of lust I’m talking about is that longing, aching desire that takes over you and cuts off the common sense to your brain. In my case, I’ve been lusting after a 42” LCD TV for about, hmm, a year now. And every week, it grabs me a little bit more. It doesn’t help that every time I go into Best Buy they have more of them, and they cost less. But the frugal shopper in me is winning, so far. It’s saying “wait, the price will drop more, the quality will go up, you don’t need it.” But it won’t be long before the lust wins, telling me that I could be watching my Blade Runner DVD in HD on a huge screen and be drooling at the mouth in movie nirvana. </p> <p><strong>The Frugal Redemption</strong><br />It’s all a question of willpower. The 32” goldfish bowl TV I have right now is not great. But it’s not bad either. It’s just a TV after all, which I watch less and less these days as my babies get older. Put things into perspective. You’re a smart cookie…you’re a frugal shopper after all. </p> <p>My advice is this. Concentrate on what you really need, not what you want. There’s a big difference. And think for a second about how much better life would actually be with that object you’re lusting after right now. If it’s a new car, how much time do you actually spend in it? Is the one you have all that bad? Could the money be spent on something way more important or impactful, like perhaps a family vacation (life experiences stay with you forever…a car, on average, 5 years).</p> <p>At the end of the day, wants are fleeting. They are all too often replaced by bigger and more expensive wants. The objects of your desire will one day be put out with the garbage, or sold, or given away. You can’t take them with you. So, calm your lusts.</p> <p>There you go. Seven deadly sins. Not a short tale, but a worthy one I think. We all succumb to them from time to time, but we can be strong. We can. </p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-seven-deadly-sins-of-consumerism-and-the-frugal-redemption">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-9"> <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-ways-to-live-better-without-spending-more">5 Ways to Live Better Without Spending More</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/jettison-the-junk-why-clutter-clouds-your-mind-and-saps-your-energy">Jettison the Junk: Why Clutter Clouds Your Mind and Saps Your Energy</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/do-you-have-what-you-want-and-do-you-want-what-you-have">Do you have what you want… and do you want what you have?</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/snowballs-or-avalanches-which-debt-reduction-strategy-is-best-for-you">Snowballs or Avalanches: Which Debt Reduction Strategy Is Best for You?</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/debt-repayment-is-not-an-expense">Debt repayment is not an expense</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management Lifestyle debt debt reduction desire envy frugality gluttony greed lust overspending pride sins sloth spending habits willpower wrath Tue, 17 Apr 2007 22:43:46 +0000 Paul Michael 521 at http://www.wisebread.com It's NATURAL for me to spend as I do! http://www.wisebread.com/its-natural-for-me-to-spend-as-i-do-0 <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/wisebread_imce/moneybrain.jpg" alt=" " width="200" height="194" /></p> <p>Turns out that my brain, rather like the devil, MAKES ME DO IT. Spend too much, that is. </p> <p>Via <a href="http://consumerist.com/consumer/science/its-science-the-brains-of-spendthrifts-fuction-differently-than-tightwads-231071.php" target="0">Consumerist</a>:</p> <blockquote><p>It turns out that one&#39;s shopping habits have a lot to do with how active two centers of the brain are, the &quot;nucleus accumbens, a region of the brain with dopamine receptors that are activated when you experience or anticipate something pleasant, like making money or drinking something tasty,&quot; and the insula, a &quot;region of the brain activated when you smell something bad, see a disgusting picture or anticipate a painful shock.&quot; </p></blockquote> <p><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/16/science/16tier.html?ex=1326603600&amp;en=21f10df7dda51289&amp;ei=5089" target="_blank">The New York Times reports</a> on the science behind spending.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-karim">Andrea Karim</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/its-natural-for-me-to-spend-as-i-do-0">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-10"> <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/can-i-conquer-my-vanity-for-the-sake-of-my-sanity">Can I Conquer My Vanity for the Sake of My Sanity?</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/14-pricey-things-you-shouldnt-buy-and-what-to-get-instead">14 Pricey Things You Shouldn&#039;t Buy (And What to Get Instead)</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/jettison-the-junk-why-clutter-clouds-your-mind-and-saps-your-energy">Jettison the Junk: Why Clutter Clouds Your Mind and Saps Your Energy</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/will-that-thing-really-change-your-life">Will That Thing Really Change Your Life?</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/buy-baby-bunting-but-dont-pay-full-price">Buy Baby Bunting... But don&#039;t pay full price!</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Lifestyle overspending savings shopping spending spendthrift thrift Wed, 24 Jan 2007 23:21:07 +0000 Andrea Karim 217 at http://www.wisebread.com Handling Emotions and Money http://www.wisebread.com/handling-emotions-and-money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/handling-emotions-and-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000046033748_XXXLarge.jpg" alt="angry woman" title="angry woman" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><strong>Note: I'm writing this short post to solicit advice from fellow bloggers and readers, rather than to offer much fruitful advice. That, and I want to eliminate proof of the Econ Test From Hell that Will so helpfully posted, so the more posts we get up, the better. Thanks, Will. Really.</strong></p> <p>Like many people out there, I'm a moody spender. I use emotional up-and-downs to justify on-a-whim purchases and lousy tracking of finances. It's dumb, I know. It's extremely immature. I think I get this from my paternal grandfather, because it runs in some other family members as well, and certainly isn't a learnt behavior. My parents set a great example, yet I haven't followed it &mdash; I'm just going to hope it's an overcome-able genetic flaw.</p> <p>Another unfortunate trait (possibly learned) is a problem with anger management and holding grudges. I'm TERRIBLE at forgiving people for small slights, and even worse about forgiving and forgetting when someone does something really obnoxious. I can be counted on to fire off a nasty e-mail to some flaky Craigslist schmuck who backs out of a sale after stringing me along for a week. I CANNOT be trusted to take a deep breath or count to 10. And then I'll go get myself something nice to placate my feelings.</p> <p>It's called retail therapy, and thousands of us are guilty of it. A study in the Journal of Psychology and Marketing discovered that 62% of shoppers buy something to <a href="http://business.time.com/2013/04/16/is-retail-therapy-for-real-5-ways-shopping-is-actually-good-for-you/">cheer themselves up</a>. While it's not necessarily always bad (you're allowed to treat yourself now and again!), it can also easily spiral out of control. Much like indulging in fatty foods or alcohol, consolation shopping has to be done in moderation.</p> <p>In my most recent incident, I managed NOT to go buy myself something nice (and there were some perfumes that were CALLING to me). But I still reacted emotionally to aforementioned Craigslist flake-head with a whiny e-mail about how unfair she was being. It's not important that this person clearly had issues and made weird accusations, what's important is that I couldn't take the high road and just let it go. <em>So she's an idiot &mdash; why do I have to point this out?</em></p> <p>How do you all cope with letting things go? Do you turn to retail therapy to cheer yourself up? Can you just go for a walk and do a little meditation?</p> <p>It's one of my New Year's resolutions (and it relates to all the others &mdash; money management, general laziness) to be more forgiving and less easily angered. I'm looking for some tips, mantras, and/or thoughts on the issue. If you have some good ideas, I'd love to hear them! Right now, I'm going to start with a 20 minute walk while listening to Andrea's Most Embarrassing Playlist Ever, which includes (I kid you not) a single by the one-hit-wonder Hanson.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-karim">Andrea Karim</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/handling-emotions-and-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-11"> <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/chinese-money-habits-how-my-culture-influences-my-attitudes-toward-money">Chinese Money Habits - How My Culture Influences My Attitudes Toward 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/8-reasons-youre-bad-at-money-and-how-to-fix-it-asap">8 Reasons You&#039;re Bad at Money — And How to Fix It ASAP</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/five-calls-you-can-make-now-to-save-hundreds-to-thousands-of-dollars">Five calls you can make now to save hundreds to thousands of dollars</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/having-a-baby-nine-financial-considerations-for-new-parents">Having a baby? Nine financial considerations for new parents</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/save-gas-dont-make-left-hand-turns">Save gas; don&#039;t make left-hand turns.</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living anger management depression money overspending Fri, 29 Dec 2006 23:51:29 +0000 Andrea Karim 128 at http://www.wisebread.com Can I Conquer My Vanity for the Sake of My Sanity? http://www.wisebread.com/can-i-conquer-my-vanity-for-the-sake-of-my-sanity <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-i-conquer-my-vanity-for-the-sake-of-my-sanity" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000014497194_Double.jpg" alt="spoiled princess" title="spoiled princess" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I'm worried that becoming frugal will force me to give up a certain amount of pride. And at the same time, I'm hoping that becoming frugal will help me to give up a certain amount of pride.</p> <p>It's hard for me to be frugal. I don't mean that it's difficult to clip coupons, or to restrict spending, or to limit spendy nights out on the town. All of those things are difficult, too, but they are not the root of the problem with finding frugality. The root of the problem, for me, is selfishness &mdash; the selfish need to be seen as NOT selfish.</p> <p>As of today, I have $18.74 in my savings account. I have an IRA with a couple of thousand dollars that I used to open the account, and have yet to add to. I do own a home, but given that the first several years of mortgage payments go to interest, I literally own about $500 worth of my house. I pay over $400 a month for my new car, the first new car I've ever owned. Despite making a very healthy income, I live paycheck to paycheck.</p> <p>This just about drives my boyfriend bonkers. He's a first generation American, and his immigrant parents raised him to be the epitome of frugal. If he buys anything, he buys the best (on sale, with free shipping), but he rarely does. Despite making less money than I have for the past three years, he has amassed a savings of well over 60K simply by depositing the maximum allowed percentage of his paycheck in his 401(k), by not buying a new wardrobe at Target every few weeks, and by not purchasing every new NPR-recommended book on Amazon. I am in awe of him, but at the same time, I am repulsed by his frugality in the same way that he is repulsed by my careless spending.</p> <h2>Vanity, Oh Fair Vanity</h2> <p>The truth is, frugality terrifies me because it assaults my vanity, and makes me fear for my dignity. It's gotten so bad that I will go through with an unexpectedly expensive purchase, and return merchandise later, rather than to tell a cashier that I'm going to put some items back, or that I can't afford that fourth pair of Spanx. Nordstrom is obviously a great place for me to shop, since their returns policy is so liberal.</p> <p>At one point in my life, when I was determined to frugalize, I went to Amazon and, devoid of any sense of irony, spent well over $100 on how-to-be-frugal books. I subscribed to About.com's Frugal Living newsletter, where host Pat Verreto's outdated thumbnail image convinced me that frugality meant that I was doomed to a life of white turtleneck sweaters and large Coke bottle glasses. Frugal Living suggested that I ask the supermarket for their about-to-be-discarded vegetables (&quot;Just trim the rotten leaves! Boil the carrots, and you'l forget that they haven't been crisp for weeks!&quot;), and suggested that I could grow my own patio vegetable garden cheaply &mdash; all I needed to do was spray paint some discarded milk jugs, add some dirt, and voila! Cheaper than terracotta pots!</p> <p>Cheaper, but infinitely more humiliating. I unsubscribed after a couple of weeks, shuddering over the idea that I would be dumpster digging at my local supermarket in order to eat the last three good leaves on a head of romaine.</p> <p>To be fair, Verretto speaks from experience and has a lot of good advice to offer. She's a kindly mentor. But something about the idea of planting tomatoes in milk jugs, or weaving a rug from plastic grocery bags, makes me want to cry.</p> <p>I don't want to be like my crazy Russian grandmother, who wore a shower cap when it rained, even though she owned several hats, and dressed like a bag lady when she went to Safeway to stock up during those two-for-one deals on cat litter. When she died, we found a four-year supply of toilet paper in a previously unknown closet &mdash; apparently she had stocked up in (disturbingly gleeful) anticipation of Y2K. I think of the pitying looks she used to receive from people who assumed that she was poor, even though she had everything that she needed. I think of the sad way in which she carried herself and my mind screams out &quot;Don't turn out like Nana!&quot;</p> <p>Will being frugal make me like that? Will people look at me with loathing or sympathy when I break out my stack of coupons? I don't want to furnish my home with plastic rugs! I want a cool, urban abode. I want to stalk haughtily to work in patent leather high heels, with my Starbucks cup in one hand and a leather briefcase in the other. I like being a yuppie.</p> <h2>Bourgeoisie Guilt</h2> <p>My parents have a decent amount of money. Both have worked hard and saved all their lives, and made some fantastic investment decisions. As a result, both kids graduated from college without having to take out loans, and my parents now own several properties and are set for a comfortable retirement. My sister and I grew up with almost everything we wanted. (Mom drew the line at expensive clothes &mdash; we shopped at K-Mart for that.) And my parents are extremely generous &mdash; they've raised not only my sister and I, but a bevy of our friends and classmates who came from broken and/or highly dysfunctional families.</p> <p>Despite, or rather, because of the attitude of classmates who assumed I was a spoiled rich bitch (spoiled &mdash; yes; bitch &mdash; but of course; rich&hellip; um &mdash; just upper middle class at the time, thanks), I have always felt that it is my obligation to spend money in order to treat both myself and others to comforting things. Be it an evening of pizza and gabbing, expensive snooty drinks at a ridiculously hip bar, or an expensive gift card to a job recruiter who landed me a lucrative contract at Microsoft, I have toiled under the impression that I OWE people the debt of my generosity.</p> <p>In college, I ran up a huge credit card debt taking care of friends who were struggling financially. Gasoline, dinner, clothing, interest-free loans &mdash; I paid for it all. And then I paid for it again when the credit card companies caught up with me a couple of years later. I reveled in the idea that I could fix my friends' problems by providing a scrumptious meal that was beyond their means. I also feared that by not doing so, I would risk losing friends who knew that I had money/credit that I could TECHNICALLY afford to spend on them, but chose not to.</p> <p>It's a terrible way to live. First, it assumes that there's not much else about me that someone would value, or that economics would trump the value of my friendship. It also assumes that my friends are cynical bastards (they're not) who wouldn't like me as much if I wasn't paying for their dinner. And it's condescending, assuming that because my friend might make less money than me, they must not have set aside enough cash for an evening out, and I'm alleviating a bunch of stress for them by paying for their martini.</p> <p>Bollocks! Spending your way into debt, in order to prove that you have enough money to give away &mdash; is there a better definition of &quot;senseless?&quot;</p> <h2>Baby Steps to the Elevator</h2> <p>I'm getting a head start on New Year's resolutions, because I'm bothered to be this close to age 30 without a 401(k). It means making some very large changes to my life.</p> <p>It means splitting the bill with friends rather than insisting that I pay for the whole thing. It means offering to cook a meal for a friend, rather than ordering the priciest pizza for a night of girly bonding. It means loving pho more than sushi. It means breaking out that library card and being patient enough to allow that I might not receive the book right away, or even within a few days. It means learning to live with less-than-instant gratification.</p> <p>But most of all, it means (cue inspirational music) that my friends love me, not because I treat them to dinner, but because I'm lovable. It means dropping the stupid Rich Girl's Burden that's plagued me since high school, and accepting that my friends are probably better at budgeting than I am, and thus able to pay for their own martinis.</p> <p>And yes, it means clipping coupons, something that I have never done before. Something I plan to do with my head held high, my scissors sharpened, and my shower cap secured.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-karim">Andrea Karim</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/can-i-conquer-my-vanity-for-the-sake-of-my-sanity">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-12"> <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-natural-for-me-to-spend-as-i-do-0">It&#039;s NATURAL for me to spend as I do!</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/jettison-the-junk-why-clutter-clouds-your-mind-and-saps-your-energy">Jettison the Junk: Why Clutter Clouds Your Mind and Saps Your Energy</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/things-you-might-not-know-about-your-local-thrift-store">Things You Might Not Know About Your Local Thrift Store</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-cs-to-keep-you-frugal-while-shopping">6 C&#039;s to Keep You Frugal While Shopping</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/do-not-buy-something-just-because-you-can-afford-it">Do not buy something just because you can afford it</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Lifestyle frugal frugality guilt overspending saving money shopping spendthrift Fri, 22 Dec 2006 16:52:53 +0000 Andrea Karim 100 at http://www.wisebread.com