25 Traits Of The Not So Well To Do

burning-cash

Who hasn’t complained about money from time to time?

I’ve had my share of gripes over the years for sure!  Some people follow up their gripes by doing something about it.  They save and work hard so they can have a better life later on.  They become the well to do.

Others are the not so well to do’s.  They sacrifice their futures to live like kings and queens today, always with the latest “stuff” but at the same time complaining about money.

I’ve observed, over the years, that the not so well to do’s have some traits in common.  The following list are my observations.

These items aren’t bad per se, but when you see a good number of these traits in a person there’s a good chance they too are one of the not so well to do (read: poor)!

25 Traits Of The Not So Well To Do:

Reason you're not rich or wealthy1) Big flat screen TV

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Take Up A Sport And Become Good At It

you-could-be-in-mma-this-summer

Take Up a Sport and Become Good at it

This is a guest post from the blogger behind Studenomics, a personal finance blog that offers common sense advice for college students and recent graduates.  Studenomics is the ultimate resource for young people looking for advice on  how to survive this current recession, grow their careers, manage their finances, and still be able to enjoy the weekends.

We all want to have a productive summer but we just don’t know where to start.  Here’s a little secret: you can start by reading The Summer of George- The Most Productive Summer a College Student Will Ever Have.

Remember right before the Summer of George begins and he stumbles into the guys playing frolf (frisbee golf) in the park?  Costanza plays one game and he gets all excited about how he will spend his summer learning how to play frolf and then that could not be further from what actually happens.  This post may not have a whole lot to do with personal finance but the point of this series is to help young people have a highly productive summer.

Obviously I’m not trying to recommend frolf as a summer sport for everyone but I’m sure all of you have a sport in mind that you have always wanted to play.  For me this sport is Mixed Martial Arts and for the past few weeks I have been training 5 days a week to learn the sport.

Please don’t fall prey for the two most common excuses: no money and no time because there is a solution for both.

The no money excuse. If you can’t afford to pay for professional training then simply don’t get professional training.  First of all there are plenty of free tutorial videos available online (what would our generation do without You Tube?) and practice makes perfect.  If you can’t organize a group of your friends to play soccer one afternoon then go towards a major park in your area and join in on a casual game.  You will get to meet new people, practice, and improve your skills.

The no time excuse. The excuse of having no time is a self imposed restriction used as an excuse for procrastination.  I can maybe count on one hand the amount of college students that I actually know that don’t have any time at all to spare during the summer.  We all have at least an extra hour a day where we can sneak in some sort of physical activity.  The trick is to figure out how we can play this sport with our free time.  I figured out that I could sneak in a kickboxing class in the mornings since I have been working evenings lately.  A couple of summers ago when I was into golf (not frolf) I would wake up really early and go to the park to tee off a little so that no one would see my embarrassing swings. Whatever the sport is you can always sneak in an extra hour or so to improve your skills.

What other ways do you think you can afford a new sport?

Please enjoy the rest of the series:

Summer of George Introduction @ Studenomics.com

Learn a New Language @ TotalCandor.com

Help Your Local Church @ GatherLittleByLittle.com

Take Some College Courses This Summer @ PoorerThanYou.com

Summer Jobs With Little Startup Funding Required- Part 1 @ MoneyNing.com

Summer Jobs With Little Startup Funding Required- Part 2 @ PTMoney.com

Take Control Of Your Financial Situation @ Bargaineering.com

Work Abroad This Summer @ CashMoneyLife.com

Enjoy Cheap Summer Activities @ MoneySmartLife.com

Creative Commons License photo credit: Latente ? Le Sbarbine nel Governo

Don’t Let Money Ruin Your Marriage!

Wedding Day

You found that perfect person who completes you that you want to spend the rest of your life with.

Now you are getting married!  It’s a big step and will be one of the biggest days of your life.  Sharing your life with someone is a wonderful, intimate experience.

But are you intimate enough?  Have you sat down and had the money talk?

Money talk, you ask?

Yes, money talk.  Have you sat with your spouse-to-be and have a serious talk about our finances?  I mean intimate talk.  Telling each other about your money history, your money experiences, your debts, your plans, your thoughts about money and debt…a real honest talk.

Do you know many couples don’t have this talk?  Did you also know that many marriages end because of money?

Why don’t more couples disclose their money thoughts and history?

This is very similar to why more don’t have a budget.  Some people are embarrassed about their past and are afraid of being judged.  Others don’t want to have to answer for their spending habits and have to answer for what they spend.  I wouldn’t be surprised if many just don’t think d talking about money.  Whatever the reason you aren’t allowing yourself to have a complete relationship by keeping money secrets from your significant other.

Here’s what to discuss in your money talk:

Credit Card Debt

Let your partner know where you stand with your credit card debt.  Don’t be embarrassed.  You’re going to share your lives together and this includes your debt as well.  It’s better to get this out in the open now.

What Credit Cards You Have

Discuss what credit accounts you both have open.  You may find that you have way too much credit between the two of you.  This also helps to improve trust in that you don’t have any secret credit cards the other doesn’t know about.

Student Loans

Your partner has a right now they are possibly marrying into tens of thousands of dollars in student loans debt.

Past Money Problems

Talk about past issues you’ve had with money.  It’s ok that you’ve had bad money experiences.  Talking about your past money issues will help your future spouse understand your emotions about money.

Bills You Currently Pay

Show each other a list of everything you currently pay.  Again you should both get an idea of what bills are coming into the relationship.  You may be able to eliminate a lot or combine some (like cell phone accounts).

How and Where You Save/Your Checking

Disclose your savings and checking accounts and your current savings plans.  Discuss how you want to handle these once you are married.  Put together a plan for both of you to save.  Will you keep separate accounts?  Will you combine them?  Talk about it!

Retirement Saving

What type of accounts to you save for retirement in?  Get the paperwork prepared to add each other as beneficiaries on each other’s accounts.  Talk about how you both feel about retirement and how you will save for it.

How Will You Handle Spending

Do you want to come home one day and find a huge flat screen TV?  Maybe you do but its got to be paid for doesn’t it?  Discuss how you will handle purchases.  Put together a plan for how you will go about purchases and what kind of purchases you’ll both discuss before making.

Who Pays What

Who will be responsible for what bills?  Where will the money come from?  If you have two checking accounts which account will pay what?

Credit Reports and Scores

Pull your credit report and credit scores and share them with your partner.  This is full disclosure with your partner about what accounts you have and black marks you have on your report.  It can also be a great surprise in finding out how great your credit has been!

Finally

In order for you to start off right in your marriage you need to be honest and share yourself. Keeping secrets about money and finances from your partner is dishonesty.  I think you’ll find that when you talk to your partner you will build up your trust and this will lead to a greater, more intimate bond between you!

Are you going to let money ruin your marriage?

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No Job Is Below You

Northland Foods '70s Interior
When I was a teen I worked at a supermarket (I actually worked there a loong time).  One day I ran into a friend’s dad woo had his own butcher business.  We chatted and he asked me if I worked.  I sheepishly told him I worked at a supermarket like maybe I was a little ashamed.  With all seriousness he no, it’s not what you do but how you do it!  As long as you put your all into your job then that’s all that mattered.  This took me back.  One, because I didn’t expect such a serious answer from a casual acquaintance; and two, because it really struck a note with me.  He was right.  So long as I knew I was doing my best and putting everything into my work then I had no reason to be ashamed of what I did and every reason to be proud of myself.  I would go on to get many promotions at that supermarket and became a jack of all trades in the store.  I worked as cashier, stock, unloading the truck, head cashier, bookkeeper for the store to bookkeeper for the chain writing out expenses and doing payroll (told ya I worked there a long time).  I learned a lot from that supermarket job!  From time to time I have to remind myself of that conversation but I still try to take the point to heart and do what I do to the best of my ability.

On the other hand, I’ve seen people look down on some jobs as though they aren’t good enough for them.  Granted, if you have the skills and knowledge to do one thing then do it.  But I’m talking about folks who are hurting financially and continually complain that they hate what they do and can’t make ends meet.  They don’t have overly technical jobs that require a specific specialization.  But they talk like doing something “common” is no good for them.

If you recall my wife has been working a few hours on the weekend doing test prep at a private school.  She doesn’t get paid nearly what her qualifications should demand but the reality is we can use any extra cash we can get and she’s good at test prep.  Some years ago I used to help out with a friend’s entertainment business where I learned to DJ.  Many days were fun but many weekends were full of work!  A four hour party could easily turn into 6-8 hours of work with travel and carrying and setting up the equipment.  It was very different from the desk job I have but it was good money for weekend work (I might even try to jump back into it).

Know what? Those jobs until the wee hours of the morning paid off over time as they helped me afford my first car.  My wife’s test prep work helps with some extra cash to pay for groceries and such.  Some weeks we don’t have to dip into the ATM.

Point is, if you need the money no job is beneath you.  Hard work is hard work no matter what you do.  If it helps you make ends meet or put some extra cash in the bank that’s great!  Sitting back and complaining about how hard things are will not help you.  You need to go out there and do something about it.  Life isn’t always ideal and sometimes you have to eat some humble pie and do something you don’t want to.

So if you need some extra dough go out and do something about it. Don’t worry about what others might say about you, just concern yourself with whether you are doing your best!

What do you think?

Creative Commons License photo credit: afiler

What Is A Ponzi Scheme – In Simple Terms

With all of the talk about Bernie Madoff heading off to jail for a few years (a century or so) the thought on a lot of people’s minds is How did he do it? and What is a Ponzi scheme?

I came across the post Explaining the Ponzi Scheme to a Fifth Grader recently.  I think the explanation pretty much nails it! Here it is:

Say you went to your sister and told her, if she gives you a dollar to invest today, you will give it back to her on Tuesday next week and she will get $1.25. Then you go to your other sister and tell her the same thing only you will give her $1.25 Wednesday. Then you go on to your dad and every person you know and tell them the same thing. As you’re going around asking for money from other people you know, you give your first sister her $1.25 and she’s happy to have twenty five cents extra just for letting you invest her $1. So she says, why don’t you keep my dollar and invest it some more? So you say, OK.

But the thing is, you weren’t really investing it were you? You were just using other people’s money to make it look like you are earning money for them. Do you see how you will eventually run out of money especially if they all ask for their money at the same time?

So she answers, Yeah, but can’t I just ask more money from more people? Yeah, you can do that but what if you ran out of people to ask and also ran out of time? That’s what happened to Bernie Maddox and that’s why he’s going to jail.

She then said, but they said he still has millions of dollars and he’s not really in jail. True.

About $68 billion lost summed up pretty nice!

The are a couple of lessons in this:

Know what you are investing in AND There’s no such thing as a free lunch!

You have to know where your money is going.  If not then you are asking for trouble.  From what I’ve been hearing people were throwing their money at Madoff so he could invest it.  They didn’t care how he did it so long as they got back huge returns.  I feel horrible for those people who lost their retirements and for all of the charitable organizations that were hurt.  But you have to ask the big questions and in this case the questions is Where is the money going to get those returns?!?

It may not be fun learning about personal finance and investing but a little knowledge goes a long way.  Sure it’s fun to say you’re getting 15% every year on your investment but you have to questions how!

Am I being too harsh?

I don’t mean to be.  These people were swindled and hurt!  The whole situation bothers me.  It seems there’s no real accountability with Wall Street any more.  There were warnings going back a decade about Madoff’s “investments” that went ignored.

Here’s a little lighter side that I also picked up from AMoores (where I saw the simple Ponzi explanation):

How do you feel about it all?

 

Frugal Ideas To Help Your Home Sell

Robie House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright 1909

We recently put our home on the market to sell. Man, do we have a lot to do to get the place in ship shape!  We have been busy for the past couple of weeks doing what we could to make the place look more appealing to a potential buyer.  Living there for so long we didn’t realize how much stuff we had and how many little things could be fixed.  I’d be lying to say we weren’t concerned about getting a good price in today’s market!

Our goal is to make our home look as clean, big, and attractive as possible without breaking the bank!  Fortunately there are many things we can do to help achieve this.

These are inexpensive ideas to help sell your home:

  • Paint (@MoneyMatters) – We hired someone to paint most of the place for us.  It wasn’t that expensive and it’s made the place look so much bigger and brighter!  We used light, neutral colors that would be appealing to most (our prior colors were great but too dark for most people’s tastes).  This could be done yourself to save more.  We just didn’t have the time to do it ourselves (and we got a great deal on a local painter).
  • Replace Light Fixtures – We replaced our dining room, bathroom, and the bedroom’s light fixtures.  We bought them at Home Depot and they weren’t that expensive.  Combined with the new paint job, the apartment looks much bigger than before.  Add to that we used fluorescent lights so we can tell prospective buyers that the light costs will be lower.
  • Remove Clutter (@nomorespending)- We’ve already removed all of our CD’s and their shelves as well as our books and bookshelf.  It’s really opened up the place (I have a LOT of CD’s).  Remove, give away, put in storage whatever you can.  Get down to the bare minimums to make the place look as big as possible and let a buyer step in and imagine it as theirs.  This will also help you when you move as you will have less to box and bring with you.
  • Clean Carpets/Wax Floors (@thepassivedad) – Renting a machine for the day to clean your carpets can be inexpensive.  Same is true for a floor buffer.  There’s also less expensive cleaners you can use that may require more elbow grease but can be as effective.  If you’re able add no base board molding.  Basically give a buyer the thought that they don’t have to do any work on the floors if they don’t want to!
  • Landscaping (@misformoney)- If you have a garden or lawn space do what you can to spruce it up and make it lively!  New plants don’t have to be expensive and can make the front of your home look much more inviting!
  • Take Great Pictures (@pffirewall) – Your home will most likely be online somewhere for sale and you will need photos of it.  Make sure the photos are good quality taken at the time of the day the light is the best.  Wait until you have everything ready and use a good camera.  If you have a friend who’s a photography buff ask him to come over and take a few shots for you.  You want big and clean!  I’ve seen people post photos of cluttered rooms that make me instantly go to the next listing on the site.
  • Re-Grout Wall and Floor Tiles - This sounds like more work than it really is.  I’ve discovered it takes some elbow grease but doesn’t cost too much.  And new grout will make your tiles look almost new again.  Go ahead and take a close look at how dingy they may be…  I’ve been slowly re-working the tiles in our bathroom!
  • Replace Old Sinks, Cabinets, Faucets – You can go crazy replacing these items and spend thousands for sure.  But sometimes if yours are beat up and old an inexpensive replacement will look much better than what you have.  New usually equals clean and that helps a buyer!
  • Replace Outlet Covers and Light Switch Covers – Over the years these can get beat up and dirty.  But they cost little to replace.  Put these in after you have painted to keep them clean.
  • De-Personalize Your Home – Put away all of your photos and pictures.  You can leave a few up to display but you want a buyer to walk in and imagine the place as theirs.  Seeing your face all over doesn’t help that.  It also helps remove the clutter too!
  • Read Magazines/Watch TV (@nodebtplan)- No, I’m not saying you should sit around and be lazy.  What you can do is look at what homes look like in advertisements and shows.  There are also plenty of home shows on TV these days to give you ideas as well.  You can get a good idea of what a model home should look like.
  • We Need More Light! – When you are showing the home turn on the lights to make the place look bigger even if it’s during the day!
  • Bake Before a Showing – This one is a bit cliche but you would be amazed how well it works!  We had friends over and one was helping me install a new dining room light.  At the same time my wife happened to be baking a cake.  It smelled amazing and really made the place feel “home”-ey. (And really how much do those instant bake cookies cost?)
  • Build a Website – A friend mentioned that when he was selling his Manahttan apartment he put up a quick website with some pictures and contact forms. Six months hosting isn’t very expensive and a lot of hosting companies will give you a free domain name and web site kit.  He ended up selling the place himself!  You can also list your home on Craiglist.
  • Clean, Scrub, Sweep, Repeat – Clean like a madman.  Then go do it again.  Then ask a neighbor or friend to point out what still seems dingy and hit the cleaners again.  Make the place sparkle!  The cleaner the better.  A clean place tells a buyer that you take care of the home (and it makes it look great).
  • Empty Those Closets - As best you can clean out the closets.  Again, live with the bare minimum that you need and get those closets looking as big as possible.  Buyers will want to see how much of their stuff they can put in them not how much of yours!
  • Visit Other Homes In Your Area – Take an afernoon and go visit the open houses in your area.  See what their homes look like and what they offer and the price they ask.  If you see a similar place as yours take note; this is your competition and you want your place to look better!  Is it cleaner? Newer?  You may be surprised to find out it won’t take much to make your place look nicer.
  • Replace the Toilet Seat – Seriously!  People will notice that it’s sparkling clean which will get you big points.  Either they don’t need to get a new one themselves or they believe you keep things super-clean, you win.

Yes, it takes some work on your part to do these things. But if it will help you sell then it will more than pay off!!  A couple of years ago you might have had a bidding war for a home that wasn’t all done up.  But in today’s economy you have to put your best foot forward just to get the sale!  Don’t let something small keep a buyer from wanting your place.

Any other ideas?


Creative Commons License photo credit: mach3

Are Your New Year’s Resolutions SMART?

Measurable Goal

Kudos to you if you are still keeping up with your New Year’s resolutions! But most people who make New Year’s resolutions aren’t keeping them by month’s end.

Why? They weren’t SMART!

What are SMART goals?

SSpecific

M - Measurable

A - Attainable

RRealistic

TTime-Bound

Specific - Your goals should be as detailed and specific as possible.  It’s not enough to say you have a goal of saving lots of money.  You need to give it a figure like “I will save $3000 this year.”  Without specifics you are just floating out there.  If you only say your goal is to save then did you achieve your goal by putting fifty cents in a jar?  Didn’t accomplish much with that.

Measurable - To continue with the savings example, how will you get that $3000?  In one lump sum?  Or perhaps in measurable terms like “I will save $250 a month.  This will be $125 from each of my pay periods in the monthly.”  Being able to measure your progress will help you move along in your goal.

Attainable - Can you achieve this goal?  Will you be able to break it up into smaller achievements that will add up to the goal?  In our example we save $125 per paycheck in order to attain the big goal of $ 3000 in savings for the year.

Realistic - Do you believe your goal can be reached?  For our example you have to be able to save $250 a month.  If you currently only save about $50 a month then you either have to figure out a way to squeeze out more savings or you might need to make your goal more realistic.  When a goal is unrealistic you’ll become frustrated before long and give up the goal.

Time-Bound – Give yourself a pre-determined time frame for your goal.  Back to out example – It’s great to want to save $3000 but it’s very different to do that in year and to do it in ten years.

The SMART system is a great guideline for you to set goals with.  Ask yourself if your New Year’s resolutions are SMART.  If they are you have a much better chance of accomplishing them!

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Creative Commons License photo credit: Laineys Repertoire