Tag Archives: personal finance

Why We’re So Materialistic – Even Though We Know It’s Dumb

Flickr/Leo Reynolds

Flickr/Leo Reynolds

I recently came across a photographic essay that showed the bedrooms of dozens of children around the world. It’s beautiful and interesting, but what stands out the most is how much stuffsome of these kids have — closets bursting with toys and other possessions, while others have so little — a straw mat, a cup, a threadbare shirt.

Of course, my instinct is to feel sorry for the little girl with only one doll, or the little boy who sleeps on a wooden pallet and proudly displays a few tattered books. Then again, that might just be materialism talking. After all, the photographs reveal nothing else about these children; whether they get enough food to eat, a safe, warm place to live, and parents who take good care of them. It’s just so easy to assume that they are disadvantaged because they don’t have a television and a mountain of toys.

The truth is that most us (myself included) have way more than what’s required to meet our basic needs, more than is required to make our lives more convenient and comfortable, and even more than what we need to keep us happy. Check out a few reasons why in my new post on WiseBread.

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The 10 Commandments of Credit Card Use

Flickr/401(k) 2013

Flickr/401(k) 2013

Some people will argue that credit cards are an irredeemable financial evil. They certainly do lead a lot of people down the path of overspending, debt, and even bankruptcy. But I don’t think the problem is the credit cards themselves — it’s how we use them. And if you follow a few key rules, you can enjoy their convenience and their benefits without the financial fallout. You can start by faithfully following 10 credit card commandments. Check them out in my new post on WiseBread.

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4 Financial Lessons From “Fifty Shades of Grey”

ellebnere

ellebnere

I have a confession: I read “Fifty Shades of Grey.” All of it. And before you judge me, you should know that even if you haven’t read it, chances are many of your neighbors, co-workers, and family members have. For all the terrible reviews it got, the series (yes, there are three books) sold 70 million copies worldwide. Statistics don’t lie, people.

At any rate, I read this book not for the fantasy, not to get to know the ins and outs of what everyone else was talking about (and there were a lot of ins and outs in this book). No, I read it strictly in search of financial lessons. I’m really that professional. It’s just the way I roll.

Or at least that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

So, without further ado, check out four financial lessons you can learn from “Fifty Shades” in my new post on WiseBread. Because that’s what you were reading it for too… right?

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Build a Better Budget in 5 Minutes Flat

Flickr/401(k) 2013

Flickr/401(k) 2013

Do you have a budget?

If not, you’ve been meaning to get to it, right? According a survey conducted by Bankrate, 40% of Americans don’t keep a budget. But if you’re dreading getting the job done, maybe you shouldn’t be. Budgeting isn’t so bad, and it doesn’t have to be about spreadsheets and calculations and highlighter pens. In fact, at the most practical level, budgeting is really simple. And it only takes five minutes to get started, plus another five or so minutes for each of the follow up steps to really build your budget.

Ready? Find out how in my new post on WiseBread.

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Saving Money Is Easy If You Set the Right Goals

Flickr/splorp

Flickr/splorp

I clearly remember the very first thing I ever saved up for: a Sony Sports Walkman. I already had a walkman, but its vintage was questionable, its branding unrecognizable and, because my parents had bought it for me, its price was undoubtedly “reasonable.” Oh, and it totally wasn’t “shock-proof” and “waterproof.”

The problem was, the Sony version cost $65. For someone who only got a couple dollars per week of allowance, coming up with that much money wasn’t easy. Lucky for me, it turned out to be gratifying. Once amassed in $1 and $5 bills, $65 makes for a very impressive stack of cash. The kind that I was inclined to keep under the pillow, so that I could pull it out and flip it through my fingers like some casino high-roller. I began to do that frequently enough that I think my Dad finally took pity on me and chipped in the last $10.

So, although it took what felt like a very long time, I finally got my Walkman. But I got something else too: A very positive experience, the kind that probably helped me develop a better attitude about saving. Read more in my new post on WiseBread.

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5 Stupid Things My Parents Taught Me About Money

Flickr/ota_photos

Flickr/ota_photos

I don’t want to offend anyone, so I’ll start by saying this: My family has pretty good financial habits, and I was lucky to have learned a lot of them. They work hard, they avoid debt, they save up for things and, as a general rule, they stay out of financial trouble.

That said, I think my parents got a few things wrong. (Sorry, Mom.) Check out five stupid things my parents taught me about money in my new post on WiseBread.

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What’s Under the Hood? 10 Insurance Terms You Need to Know

Flickr/Jerry Bunkers

Flickr/Jerry Bunkers

Have you ever taken your car into the shop and felt your eyes glaze over as the mechanic explains the problem has to do with the intake manifold, which is affecting the crankshaft…er…sorry…what was that?

Not to perpetuate a well-worn stereotype, but there are all kinds of topics that have complex terminology we often don’t fully understand. If you’re familiar with cars, maybe you get tongue-tied when the topic turns to investing, or perhaps computers. Or, if you’re like many people, you shut down when it comes to insurance.  According to the State of Insurance Report conducted by TD Insurance, 31 percent of respondents don’t ask questions about their insurance policy because they think it’s too complicated, while another 23 percent fail to do so because they’re embarrassed about their lack of knowledge.

It seems like the easy way out – until you file for a claim and find out you’re not covered.

Say what?!

You might need a new whatchamacallit for your car, but a nasty insurance surprise is something we can all live without. Check out 10 insurance terms you should know, and how to use those terms to read – and understand – your policy in my new article on GoldenGirlFinance.com.

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