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?

Creative Commons License photo credit: makelessnoise

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?

 

A Mother’s Struggle Between Work And Kids

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The following was written by Mrs FFB.  As you may remember, before the school year started we made the decision that my wife wouldn’t return to work (in education) and instead stay home to raise the kids.  Below is her rationale.  Enjoy!

I remember when I was in college and I had this end term goal of having a career, making my own money, buying my own things and being a “professional” woman.  The thing is, ever since I was a little girl, I also always had a dream of being a mom. I never knew or could ever even imagine how these two, opposing aspirations would collide with each other in my future life.

When I was in college I had this assistant teacher position in a nursery/daycare. I remember working the “extended” day which ran until 6pm and feeling so awful for these young children who were still in the daycare center.  I was so judgmental of these mothers: “This is wrong!”, “How could they leave their babies here until 6pm!” “A young child should be in their home during this time of the day!” I was real heated about this topic. ….Little did I know at the young age of 19 years old, that this would be my life one day.

So I graduated college and nabbed myself a teaching position for September. I was so excited about this upcoming career and making “good” money (up until that point, I had made minimum wage working the daycare).  It turns out that I was pregnant and expecting in January but I didn’t care and wasn’t going to let the pregnancy get in the way of working. I didn’t tell the principal during my interview that I was pregnant and just showed up the day after labor day all prego.  Luckily, I wasn’t really showing, but by October there was a buzz going around the school and I finally told the principal but assured him that I would return to work in 6 weeks.

I had no idea what I was in for. When my daughter was born, I fell in love times 1000 and I couldn’t bare the idea of leaving my little baby.  So I took off the rest of the school year and returned to work that following September.

That September became the beginning of a long, hard phase in my life: working mom (and for a few years -single, working mom).  My daughter was 8 months old and I had a stay at home friend of mine babysit my daughter.  The problem with this friend was that she lived really far and out of the way.  So I had this awful drive to her home each morning.  Not to mention that I barely had any sleep.  I remember nights when my daughter would just wake up and stay up- we’d watch Elmopalooza! in the dark wee hours of the morning.  Then I was expected to be a completely functional teacher for a very challenging class.

When my daughter turned two I enrolled her in daycare. So this was my life for a number of years: late to work every morning, trying to get a difficult toddler ready to leave the house, driving haphazardly to the daycare, rushing her into the daycare and then running out to my car and racing to get to the school.  On top of all this stress, I was going to graduate school and because I was a poor single mom, I worked afterschool too.  There were some nights when we didn’t get home until 10 pm.  Then we’d have to get up early and do it all over again.

It was very hard and depressing, so not what I thought motherhood would be like.  So when I was engaged to be married (with the wonderful FFB, edit) and knew that I wanted to have more children, I vowed and proclaimed that I would stay home at least 2 years with my child due to the trauma I experienced with being a working mom with my daughter.

Four months after we were married, I was pregnant.  It was one of the happiest, most pleasant phases of my life.  I actually was ok with going to work at this point.  My daughter was a bit older, in first grade now and I new that I was taking a long leave of absence.  I literally worked up until the day I delivered the baby.

Somewhere during the childcare leave, I started to feel pressured to return to work in September and against my original plans to stay home for at least 2 years, I decided to go back to work… again.  It was the year of hell.  My son was 8 months old and I put him in daycare.  I remember bringing him to the “wobbler” room and thinking about how surreal it all was.  8 babies sitting in little high chairs and wondering about how well a daycare worker, who is paid minimum wage, was going to care for my son.  I felt so bad and guilty.  Not even 2 weeks into daycare, my son got sick.  Then he was sick every single week with some kind of cold virus.  Either he was just getting a cold or getting over a cold.  I was constantly at the pediatrician’s and at one point he was even on a nebulizer for respiratory distress.  It was so horrible to know that I needed to stay home with my sick son but also face the repercussions of being absent from the job.  I felt that my son was more important so I would always stay home with him when he was sick but i still found the whole scenario agonizing and extremely distressing.  I hated having to call into to work, over and over again as it turns out – 17 times! After a while, i just accepted the fact that maybe I would get fired or get written up or something.  I didn’t even care at that point.

I was so spent. I too become sick often and was severely sleep deprived. I sucked at the job cause I was so distraught over my decision to return to work, taking care of a sick baby and lack of sleep.  It was just terrible. One morning I was so tired and in such a rush that I crashed our car in the garage!  I knew that things were really bad at this point.

So I persevered and made it until the end of the school year and had this long summer vacation to look forward to.  I pulled my son out of daycare and enjoyed every second with my children but then we got to the end of August and the anxiety of returning back to work started to over take me.

After a friend of mine made an enlightening comment to me about why wouldn’t I just return to work when my son was older (since my leave permits that), then why wouldn’t I just do that?  So I started to really sit on this idea.  Why was I so afraid to follow my dream of being a  stay at home mom?  There is my whole life to work but only like 4-5 years of a child’s life when they really, really need their mothers.  So why was i doing this to us?  Maybe I wouldn’t have any more kids and I would’ve missed my only chance to do the “right” thing (for us).  I missed out on all those years with my daughter and was doing the same damn thing, 7 years later to my son.  Now when my daughter was little, I was a single mom and didn’t have a choice.  But now I had a husband and our financial situation was solid, so why not just try it?  “I could always go back to work the following year,” I pleaded with my husband.

I have to tell you, I am so happy now.  I can wake up in the morning.  I don’t curse the sun for rising like I used to. I no longer have grim thoughts of despair about the day ahead of me, ” how am I going to make it through the day,” “why can’t it be Saturday,” “I am sooo tired, I can’t do this,” or my favorite –  “what if I just quit and not even call or show up?!?”  Now I wake up get my daughter ready for school and I don’t have to drag my 23 month old son out in the wee hours of the morning.  He gets to bumble around HIS home, eating breakfast at his leisure.  We got to the park, we do errands, we make meals, visit other stay at home moms… Life is truly wonderful now!  I am so happy and so is my son and daughter!  I realize now that when they would give me a hard time in the morning, they were just reacting to being rushed and all the stress I would put on them.  Now things are so pleasant.

We had to make a lot of changes to accommodate to one income and we certainly aren’t living the lifestyle I imagined we would’ve been at this point in my life, but we are happy now!

photo credit: maessive

Medical Treatment And Your Credit

Human face anatomy

It’s a common theme on the news and in the papers, the cost of virtually everything is going up and more and more families are finding it harder to keep up with monthly expenses, let alone what happens in an emergency situation, especially a medical one. As health care costs rise and medical insurance costs increase astoundingly fast, a medical emergency can complicate the finances of any family.  It is especially tough on those who require prolonged medical care and prescription medication.

What happens when you need to seek treatment but do not have the money to cover the costs? For many, a seemingly easy fix is to pay on credit in order to get immediate attention but financially it may not make sense, especially if you do not have a cash plan to cover the monthly costs. In addition to failing health, you may be faced with long-term financial stress. By charging your health care costs to a credit card, you are going to end up forking over much more money than you otherwise would have to thanks to increased costs and potentially over the limit fees for any missed payments.  Credit limits will also take you only so far.  For prolonged treatment, your credit limit may quickly be maxed; not to mention the changes being made by the credit card companies which are reducing credit amounts and increasing interest charges.

If you have a credit card that offers a cash back rewards program based on purchases made, it might be beneficial to use it for the money coming back to your account or your wallet. However, that alone is not a reason to use your credit card for medical treatment. There are more viable alternatives for paying for medical care. If you are unable to come up with the cash for payment, perhaps the following list can help you find other options.

Start An Emergency Fund

Even if you don’t anticipate an illness occurring (who does?), you can make a point to have a small amount of money each month transferred to an interest-bearing savings account, where it can grow and be available for medical emergencies. With insurance, there are many times that the costs not covered can still run high and it can be a great relief to have access to cash in the event a medical situation arises, especially one that requires a hospital stay or long-term medication.

Check In With The Government

There are many medical assistance programs available in communities and on a federal level to help supplement your medical payments. Many people will not consider asking for assistance whether due to pride or just lack of knowledge. There are also many clinics that base payment rates on your income and expenses. You can often get quality medical care for a fraction of the cost if you make the effort to seek out additional help.

Payment Plans With The Treating Facility

Most health care providers will offer some options for a payment plan, depending on your need. Even if you have to make payments for a long period of time, you will likely end up saving money by eliminating interest charges like those tacked on to a credit card. If you don’t have insurance, or find that your insurance does not sufficiently cover all of your costs, the balance amount can be paid down over a period of time without collection action, provided you continue to make regular payments

Medical emergencies and unexpected illness are stressful enough. It is better to be proactive and prepared for the unexpected than to rely on your credit card to get you through your situation. Adding financial stress to physical stress can often be a fatal combination. As health care continues to be a major issue for many in the nation, it may continue to get worse before it gets better. No one can prevent an emergency but by proper planning, one can be prepared for it.

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Tisha Tolar is a freelance writer providing content for CreditCardAssist.com, where she regularly writes about credit cards, rewards programs and general consumer finance issues.

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photo credit: Patrick J. Lynch