Paying your bills late is the financial equivalent of a daily doughnut habit when you’re trying to lose weight; a recipe for disaster.
It seems as easy to say “eat kale, not doughnuts” as it does to say “pay your bills on time,” but you know the saying… some things are easier said than done.
Ask yourself if you really need or value each product or service you’re paying for. If the answer is yes, ask yourself if you need as much of it as you’re currently getting/using. Think deeply about this with your highest personal values and priorities in mind.
Raise your perfectly-manicured hand if you love having your nails done. *Raises hand.* I love feeling polished and put-together with a good manicure, but I also know all of those salon visits add up quickly.
Let me first soothe any worries about the direction of this post: Don’t worry, I’m not about to tell you to quit getting your nails done. I’m going to share a hard-to-believe-more-people-don’t-know-this tip (and a few related suggestions) that will make beautiful hands and feet fit easier into your budget.
Here it is: I avoid getting manicures altogether.
Before you think I just went back on my word about the direction of this post, keep reading!
Instead of a mani/pedi, I get a color change on my hands and feet. The end result looks the exact same but with $5-$10 saved each trip. That doesn’t sound like much but flexing my “saving muscles” on small expenses has helped me build up financial muscle strength for saving on bigger ones. If you’re into the numbers, it’s essentially a “free” color change every third trip.
Some places will charge a couple dollars to cut your nails if you’ve asked for a color change, but filing and buffing is included. Even if you have to pay a few bucks for cutting, it’s still worth it to stick with the color change.
If you’re concerned about cuticles, just run your thumbnail along the cuticles on the opposite hand after you’ve been in the shower for 5 minutes (once a week). The dead skin will fall off and the rest will get pushed back.
To maintain soft feetsies, I use a foot file or pumice stone once a week. I only scrub for about 10 seconds on each foot as too much removal can make calluses come back faster and/or thicker. These two weekly habits make my hands and feet look like they’ve been fully mani’d and pedi’d.
The other way I get the most mileage out of these color changes is by my polish choices. I like brands that stay on well (but that aren’t gel or acrylics). My faves are OPI Shine and CND Vinylux. As for the color, I use a neutral color on my hands, and go for the more vibrant, bold choices on my toes. This is for fashion as much as it is about not blowing my nail budget. Polish tends to stay on toes much longer than fingers, and having a neutral color on my hands means those inevitable chips are much less noticeable. I definitely skip the jewels and other trendy touches. Call me boring, but I prefer “classic” and financially savvy J
And finally, I go to the salon on a schedule rather than when my nails look like they need it. I never go more often than every two weeks. If my nails don’t look great before the two weeks are up, I take the polish off and wait it out.
One last tip: Don’t skimp out on a generous tip. Being financially fit doesn’t mean being cheap. Reward good work where you find it. Plus, it’s good financial karma.
It’s been awhile since I’ve popped up in your inbox. It certainly isn’t for lack of things to share. I actually have so much to say, but I need to be careful. You see, as a nonprofit organization, the Financially Fit Foundation is a non-political entity. Personally though, I’m pretty politically active. In fact, I’m headed to DC in a few hours.
What you’re about to read is my best attempt to be non-political while sharing my thoughts on your financial well-being under this new administration. I’ve also included suggestions for you going forward.
To begin, I really don’t want to add to the climate of fear. Fear, I believe, is a big reason why we’re in our current situation. While I don’t want you to be afraid, I do think you should be concerned.
Now I know I don’t have a crystal ball that tells me what this administration will do and what the future holds. I can only take I have the information I have, combine it with my education, knowledge and experience, and tell you what I think we’re in for. Based on it all, I think there is reasonable cause for major alarm. I’ll say this as gently as I can: the next four years will not be kind to consumers (that’s you and me).
Instead of explaining all the reasons why, the focus should be on what we can do about it. Here’s what I suggest:
First, I beg you to get (or stay) politically engaged. Less damage is done when everyone knows they’re being watched.
Next, and this is always the case but is especially true now: become financially fit.
You can’t afford to be ignorant about money. Understand that we are up against forces whose success depends on our lack of knowledge and mistakes with money.
You have got to know how it works and how to manage it. It’s not hard, it’s not complicated but you need to overcome the reasons you think that it’s something you can put off until later (or just overcome by making more money).
If you don’t know where all your money is going every month or that your spending is on track with your goals, you’re not financially fit. There’s a little more to it but at the core, that’s what it means to be financially fit.
I realize that I’m being super direct. This might be too straightforward. I’m sorry if this comes off as rude. I just desperately want you to not only survive, but to thrive financially, now and forever.
It brings me no satisfaction to live well and be financially secure while I watch people suffer over money, especially when I know that with a little education, they wouldn’t suffer any longer. I guess there’s a selfish reason that I want you to be financially fit – I don’t want to see you are struggling with money when I can show you a way out.
Also, I know that if more of us are financially fit, we will all be better off. As the saying goes “A rising tide lifts all the boats.” So for your sake, for the sake of your family, community, society-at-large (or whatever level of belonging that inspires you to action), become financially fit.
We of course have workshops that teach you what you need to know (the next ones are coming up February 11th and 12th) but you’re also welcome to get financially fit by reading ~10 books on money, talking to dozens of experts (after figuring out who’s an expert and who’s actually a fraud), and/or experiencing firsthand the most common costly mistakes people make with money. Totally your choice but I encourage you to sign up for the workshops. More info and registration here.
In the meantime, stay vigilant. Review your bank statements and credit card statements carefully – watching for fees, unauthorized charges or overcharges. Check your credit score and report. Spend mindfully; avoid wasting money. Be prepared for unexpected expenses/financial emergencies (I’m sorry, but they’re coming, no matter who is in power). Don’t take out a loan just because you qualify for it. Cancel (or lower) repeat charges on products and services that are not useful or important. Use your money to take good care of yourself.
Wishing you all the financial peace and prosperity in the world.
Are you ready to drain your swamp?
“Draining the swamp” has come to mean getting rid of waste and corruption in politics, but it’s also fitting on a personal level. Happiness and money will flow easier when we drain the clog of our financial institutions, associates, and habits that don’t serve us.
So how do we get ourselves unstuck and make financial progress? How can we stop the waste? How do we get rid of the “insiders” that have become so entrenched despite doing us harm?
Here are the 3 steps that will get you 90% of the way there.
- Consider ditching your bank
If we’re going to clean house, let’s start by figuring out if the house is even worth staying in. Where we house our money is important to our finances. If your bank is constantly finding new ways of draining your account, it’s time to run.
You should not be paying ridiculous fees. You should not stay at a bank that treats you badly (like opens up a secret account in your name) or doesn’t fix mistakes timely. Don’t stay at a bank that gives you a pathetic interest rate on your savings.
Go with a bank that’s looking out for you. You may have better luck with a credit union. Find an institution that makes it easy to track your money (they make copies of your deposit checks and give you calendar-month statements.)
Bonus points for a company whose business practices are ethical and principled. It’s commendable to peace out of an institution that invests in companies that violate your values.
2. Cut out expensive people
Expensive people are those whose costs outweigh their value. They’re a bigger drain than contribution to your life. They’re friends. They’re family. You don’t need to ditch them altogether but limit your time around them.
The ones to look out for are those who ask to borrow money that they never pay back (and most don’t pay it back if we’re being honest), insist on going to bars, restaurants, or malls to hang out, and who complain about their financial situation while refusing to get financially fit.
This is hard because some of these people are nice and you have a history with them, but since you’re the average of the five people you’re closest to, it’s worth showing them the door (while wishing them well).
3. Check yourself before you wreck yourself
The best defense to external forces is a strong internal offensive. This one’s the hardest but the single most beneficial – by far. Imagine the life you want to live and design it. Make up your mind on financial values, priorities, and a plan for how you want your money to be spent (and saved!).
Then get your heart on the same page. That means working through negative thoughts, beliefs, and emotions around money. Oh yes, we’re going deep to clear out this swamp!
P.S. If you’re wondering what the other 10% is, it’s becoming financially fit – it’s the ultimate swamp drainer. Waste, corruption, and “stuckness” stand no chance. The next available round of workshops are open for registration.
You’re probably thinking: can this election be over already?! I’m thinking the same thing. Here are some other things to think about as we prepare (perhaps brace?) for Tuesday.
- Expect some chaos
There will be wackiness in the stock market. Just know that going into Tuesday. This happens every time a new president is elected, no matter who it is. Focus on keeping your emotions in check instead of what you should buy, sell, or do with your financial future. Things won’t get as bad as the pundits predict and they won’t get as great as others claim. Whatever you do, don’t make any emotional financial decisions.
- Prepare your move
I’m not talking about your move to Canada. Maybe you said you’ll move if your candidate loses but few people actually go through with it. What I mean is that you plan your spending moves for the next year – the same way I suggest you do every year. Come up with a solid budget for 2017.
Very little, if anything, will change about your money in the 12 months after our new President takes office. However, by getting your spending on track in 2017, you’ll be in the best position to make smart moves in 2018 when we MIGHT see a change in the direction of our dollars.
- Don’t let them define financial success for you
Both candidates have faced serious accusations of making money through some shady means. Just because the president did it that way, doesn’t mean that you should. I know, it’s easier said than done because we do as we see and not as we hear. Adults are as guilty of this as kids.
As much as humanly possible, avoid using the president as your model of financial success. The science of happiness says that having millions or billions of dollars, whether earned from noble or illegal activity, doesn’t correlate with your happiness or well-being. It depends how you use the time and money that you have. Money is a tool for happiness, not its source. Since money is a tool for happiness, focus on what you do with the tool, rather than how big it is. (I realize there’s a joke in there, but I’ll just leave that one alone 😉
All that being said, it’s incredibly important that you vote, and not just for President – there are some monumentally important down-ballot candidates and issues that are going to be decided. It’s not too late to look them up and make your voice heard.
Sometimes getting an actual raise isn’t in the cards. If you know you’re being undervalued at work, you can still ask for benefits that will raise your standard of living. Here are two things you can ask from your employer that feel like you’re getting a raise.
1. Cover an expense
Ask your employer to cover your cell phone or other monthly expense, especially if you use it for work. When you get rid of (or even reduce) a recurring expense but maintain the benefit, you’ve essentially gotten a raise. If you use the savings wisely, you raise your standard of living — and isn’t that the point of a raise?!
Alternatively, you can ask your company to cover the cost of classes or workshops — like ours! Some great companies are already contacting us to do this. Education will definitely raise your standard of living and a good boss will feel good about providing it.
2. Give you time off
Ask your employer for an afternoon off once a month instead of a raise. It’s the equivalent of working one less hour per week and used strategically, this can totally change your life.
Imagine what you could get done if you took a Wednesday afternoon off once a month. How about getting all your errands done and having your weekends for yourself?! If you’ve ever been to the grocery store, mechanic, DMV, bank, mall or nail salon on a Wednesday afternoon, you know that it looks like an entirely different place than it does on the weekends — when everyone and their mama is there. You’ll get your errands done easier and faster during that afternoon weekday. You’ll save yourself from battling the weekend crowds and get to focus your weekends on fun, family and relaxation instead.
Would you ask for either of these? If you have ideas for “raise alternatives,” do tell! Hit reply and let me know so I can share them with the community.
Wells Fargo has opened an estimated two MILLION fake accounts for very real customers who had no idea that bank and credit card accounts were opened in their names. Many of these customers incurred fees and/or suffered damage to their credit through no fault of their own. You may be one of them.
Even if you don’t bank with Wells Fargo, there’s a good chance that other banks have been up to the same bad behavior. I recommend that you take two steps immediately:
First, call or visit your bank to ask for a complete list of your accounts. This way you’ll know if any checking or savings accounts have been opened without your permission.
To make sure that no credit cards or lines of credit were opened in your name, go to annualcreditreport.com. It’s a quick, easy and free way to check your credit report.
You’ll have the option to check 1, 2 or all 3 credit reports (they’re generated by 3 credit bureau’s: Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian).
I recommend that you check one now, the next one in four months, and the last one four months after that. Then repeat the pattern from here on out so that every four months you’ll get to look at one of your credit reports for free.
For example, check your Equifax report on October 4th, 2016, then your TransUnion report on February 4th, 2017, and then your Experian report on June 4th, 2017. You’ll start this again by checking your Equifax report on October 4th, 2017.
Keep an eye on your credit report and you’ll prevent an unhappy surprise when someone runs a credit check for a job, apartment, loan, mortgage, or even for a cell phone you want.