Particularly if you live in a larger city, you’ve probably come across a few hipsters. These arty counter-culturalists tend to sport thick glasses, skinny jeans, and thrift-store inspired fashions. And, at least in the 20-30 year age group, they appear to rule.
I am not one of them. I don’t use an iPhone, I own absolutely no chic, nostalgic memorabilia and, rather than wearing skinny jeans and an ironic T-shirt, I’m often found wearing running spandex and compression socks — in public. I do, however, think that my outsider status allows me to have a more objective view of hipster culture, and I’ve noticed that when it comes to money, hipsters have some great habits.
Check out the top 12 ways hipsters stay frugal and ignore the status quo for spending in my new post on WiseBread.
I’ve heard just about every excuse in the book for not making a budget. I’ve even excused my own way out of budgeting more times than I care to admit. What I’ve learned in the process is that just like diet and exercise plans or productivity goals, budgets aren’t one-size-fits-all. In other words, the style of budgeting that helps you get your personal finances on track might be a disaster for someone else.
One very simple and easy-to-follow budgeting style is percentage-based budgeting. Is it a fit for you? Find out in my new post on WiseBread.
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.
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.
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.
You know you should exercise, eat more vegetables, and avoid the office candy jar. You mean to stop procrastinating – at some point. Starting tomorrow, you’ll try to get more sleep. And be more productive. And spend more time with your family. And carve out more time for yourself…
Oh. And save money. You know you’re supposed to be saving money, right? The problem is, while survey after survey catches us saying that saving is a priority, a 2012 report by CIBC found that 45 percent of us have no emergency savings, and only about half of people under of the age of 35 have any savings in an RRSP, according to a survey released by BMO in August.
The bottom line: When life gets overwhelming, we tend to let a lot of things slide.
What’s a girl to do? It turns out that getting on a savings plan involves a combination of strategy, money smarts and psychology. We talked to John Tracy, senior vice president at TD Canada Trust, and Dr. J. Bruce Morton, a psychology professor at Western University, to find out what may be holding you back. Check it out in my new article on GoldenGirlFinance.com.
No one likes to think about financial emergencies. The big ones probably entail losing your job, getting really sick or falling prey to some other disaster. In other words, they aren’t just financial disasters, they’re personal ones whose effects extend far beyond the bottom line. Maybe that’s why we’re so reluctant to start an emergency fund. It’s like a bad omen; put that money in the bank and you may just have to use it.
According to a 2011 report, “Financially Fragile Households: Evidence and Implications,” nearly half of Americans wouldn’t be able to come up with even $2,000 within 30 days to deal with a financial emergency. Almost half of all households surveyed in the 2009 Survey of Consumer Finances had less than $3,000 in liquid savings, while 25 percent of Americans have no savings whatsoever, according to the Federal Reserve. In other words, a large percentage of people are living on the edge; one bit of bad luck and they could end up losing everything.
We all hope we’ll never have to face the most serious financial emergencies, but the reality is that without a financial cushion, even common, minor mishaps can throw your finances off the rails. The good news is, even a little savings can go a long way. Find out how to get started in my new post on Dividend.com.
Flickr/The James Kendall
Are you planning for retirement? If you’re like many Canadians, you’re probably thinking about it…but you might not be getting much farther than that. After all, that’s something you’ll get to – eventually – right?
Maybe not. A new poll by TD Canada Trust found that 30 percent of Canadians don’t think they’ll get around to saving for retirement until it’s too late – if they get to it at all. According to the poll of 1,251 Canadians, 15 percent said they’d wait until five years before they retire to start saving, while another 9 percent say they’ll start even later. Six percent figure they probably won’t even bother!
Big mistake – and you don’t have to take our word for it. TD polled today’s retirees about what they’d do differently. Find out what they said in my new article on GoldenGirlFinance.com: http://goldengirlfinance.com/inspiration/?post_id=1127
Managing your money is a bit like developing your personal style: There is simply no ‘one-size-fits-all’ way to do it. In order for it to really work, you have to love it enough to work it. And yet it’s hard to live your own financial reality without wondering what’s going on in other people’s bank accounts.
With that in mind, here are some statistics regarding your fellow Canadians’ money habits. So go ahead…take a peek at your neighbors’ finances. But be forewarned – while everyone wants to be ‘normal’, sometimes it’s best to go your own way.
Are you normal? Find out in my new article on GoldenGirlFinance.ca: http://bit.ly/V2gaoL
When it comes to Tax-Free Savings Accounts (commonly known as TFSAs), we’ve got good news…and not-so-good news. First the good – nearly half of all Canadians now have a TFSA (it’s about time!). Unfortunately, only 21 percent of them have an investment-style account, and most are only using their TFSAs to store extra funds, according to a recent CIBC poll.
While we’re all for saving in any form, there’s one big problem with failing to invest your TFSA: you’re missing out on its benefits. That’s because unlike an RRSP, a TFSA is funded with after-tax dollars. Its claim to fame is that any growth and gains on your investment – such as capital gains, interest and dividends – are protected from all tax. As such, if you don’t rack up some interest and returns, you’re missing out on the TFSA’s tax-free advantages.
Now, we’d venture to guess that many of you aren’t investing because you’re confused about the investment options for a TFSA. Well, throw that excuse away! Get the rundown of all the choices you have at your disposal to truly put your money to work in my new article on GoldenGirlFinance.ca: http://bit.ly/NkA7a0