Beating The Need to Spend: Anniversary Edition

wedding.jpgToday is our fifth wedding anniversary. I have no idea where five years went but it’s gone. It’s been quite a journey from newlyweds to homeowners to now wrangling our toddler to sleep in her own bed and explaining to her why she can’t hold the moon tonight.

We’ve always been very practical people. It was quickly outlined in our first year of dating. For my 18th birthday my (then boyfriend) bought me a gold chain bracelet. Though it was beautiful, I didn’t know if, when, or how to tell him he should have saved his money or if he insisted, bought something a little more practical. I was not then, nor am I now, a jewelry person. It took a little courage but I finally found the courage to tell my sweet and sensitive boyfriend that though I appreciate the thought, he really didn’t need to waste his money on me, especially lavish gold chains. I was nervous he’d be insulted but instead it was sheer relief. For a 17 year old boy I think when we formally announced our relationship he expected money to fly out of his pocket, I assured him it wouldn’t.

As the years and milestones went on so did our against-the-grain, frugal celebrations. Forget five-star Valentine’s day celebrations, I think (the day) is stupid and we go out of our way to be as unromantic as possible (which has since turned into a bit of an unexpected tradition) of getting the grossest cheapest fast food (think McD’s) to eat at home, in PJ’s. Our first Christmas in our home we decided to forgo gifts and buy something for our new home instead. One of my most favorite gifts ever was my dishwasher. You get the point.

Some may call us cheap but we’re not doing these things for extreme financial reasons. We’re just uber practical people who would rather spend money on things other than $6.49 anniversary cards that are pretty but will end up in a drawer or garbage next week. Society can sometimes make us feel bad for the choices we make, like we’re bad people for not dropping a bunch of cash on a lavish night out celebrating but we’ve resisted the urge to spend money to please other (non-important) people’s standards thus far.

We are who we are and that’s why I love him. Not to say he doesn’t surprise me with the occasional special treat like flowers or cookie delivery to work its infrequent and usually accompanies something I really need, like new laundry basket.

The fifth wedding anniversary ”gift” is wood. Though an engraved cutting board, beautiful jewelry box or custom coasters would be great gifts for someone, I think we’ll take the bundle of wood in our back yard and burn it ;)

 

 

 

How To Deal With Rejection

On Monday my husband picked me up from work with surprise ice cream in hand (before we picked the kid up so I could actually eat it, bonus points). It had been a particularly long day where nothing was going right, including getting confirmation that I didn’t get the job I had interviewed for two weeks ago.

I’m not totally surprised though. It was a bit of a long-shot and I was surprised to be in the final two contenders. The office manager explained that everyone loved me, that it had nothing to do with me, my skills or anything else except the girl I was competing with had one skill set I haven’t practiced since it was taught to me, what would have been seven years ago now. A skill I could re-learn very quickly but when it came down to it, we were equals she just had a slight advantage being given the opportunity to work in this particular area before. The office manager also explained that they enjoyed me enough to tell me that as soon as next position becomes available, the job is mine and she won’t even post it publicly if I’m still interested come the time (at this office I’m not holding my breath that it will be any time soon given they just filled their vacancies with what will likely be long-term employees).

When faced with rejection it’s easy to just put your head down and micro-analyze what when wrong without looking for solutions. Instead, we need to accept it wasn’t meant to be and move forward. Every opportunity in life grants you a learning opportunity you just need to find it. Rejection can be prime time to make a learning opportunity. This applies to everything from breakups to job loss. Figure out why it didn’t work out and if it is necessary to improve for next time.

I didn’t get the job but that doesn’t mean I’m just done. I need to learn something from this experience. I’m still in a job I like though isn’t ideal. For me I need to make the most of my current situation, but how?

  • First, applying for this job has re-opened my eyes to the job market a bit. I’m approaching my boss about a raise. I’m overdue and deserve it, I have a plan, one I will likely share come the time.
  • Second, I’m going to look at what I was missing and improve myself to make myself more competitive for the future. They were looking for someone who held a skill I haven’t practiced in seven years. I’m also going to approach my boss about re-teaching me this skill since I work in an office that preforms this skill-set but the dentist does it all where normally, in 2014, it’s something hygienist does at least partially. If he doesn’t want to give up this aspect of his practice, he’s been doing things this way for 28 years so I don’t know he will, I will approach a specialty office about possibly giving me a training day, for free. I’d be looking to tag along for a day, working for free all I want is to learn some stuff.
  • Thirdly, if I’m going to be sticking around this office for a while longer I need to make my situation as good as I can. I’m going to again chat with my boss about changing a few things and ordering me some new items. Though this is normally no big deal I’m looking to spend a few thousand dollars so I’ll need his approval.

The hardest part for me will be nailing down some time to actually talk to him. It’s impossible. I’m going to start with a warning remark about how I need some of his time and try to find a few minutes in the next week to make it happen and hope he works with me to find the time…

Rejection sucks but I’ll be in a better situation next time if I take the time to learn from it, and so will you.

How do you deal with rejection?

Budget Bedroom Update #1: Using Vinyl Wall Art

We’ve officially been living in our house for over four years. I have no idea where the time went but we just got around to painting our master bedroom earlier this year. Part of the reason being I couldn’t make my mind up about the color but we made a decision and haven’t regretted it once. After the paint was up and new duvet cover was on the bed, we sort of stalled…and stalled…and stalled. It took me four years to decide on paint color so figuring out how we were going to finish the room, on budget, was a challenge. One I’m up for I just needed time to figure it all out.

When we were living in our apartment I was excited to make our first place feel like home, which was tough living within the constraints of the apartment. We couldn’t paint and were very limited as to what we could hang on the wall basically anything beyond a thumb tack wasn’t allowed. Using vinyl as a decoration is something I first came across on Pinterest. Living in an apartment, this was a perfect solution, vinyl goes up fast and comes down just as easy. I may have gone a little vinyl wall art crazy.

I decided to try a little wall art fun again in our bedroom with a vinyl wall quote on a small wall near our door.

wpid-20140808_145445.jpgI really like the quote and see it everyday when we wake up. So, very, true. I’d be nothing without my husband and daughter beside me in everything I do!

You can order vinyl wall art from many, many sites (check out thequotesworld.com for examples). I personally am a fan of vinyl wall quotes but you can get basically anything you can dream up. My daughter told me the chrysanthemum flower was bbeeaauuutttiiifffuuullll!

Other quotes I really liked were:

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We still have a few more things to put up on the wall, a-la-DIY no doubt, but it’s slowly coming along!

Have you ever decorated with vinyl? Did you like it?

 

Getting Married? The Past, Present and Future of Your Household Budget

Getting married is one of the biggest milestones we accomplish in life. We take vows with a person whom we intend to stay with for the rest of our lives. Marriage is a pretty big commitment that requires a lot of patience, honesty and respect. The same could be said for how marital finances should be handled.

Past

In terms of marital finances, the past refers to being open and honest about your financial situation with your spouse before you actually get married. This will eliminate any future arguments and allow them to be on the same page about where you stand. If you acquired debts before the relationship started, let them know how and why they were accumulated. Some debts, such as a student loan or mortgage, are pretty self-explanatory, but if you bring unsecured debt such as credit cards, let them know how and why you’re carrying the debt…….

{Continue reading this post over at Mint.com where I’m featured!}

What Motivates You to HOW You Spend Your Money?

The other day my aunt posted a thing on Facebook about why someone who had a perfectly function kitchen would need a kitchen makeover. The lady detailed how, though her kitchen may be outdated, it was in good shape and totally functional. She had storage, a fridge to store her family’s healthy food in and clean running water (in not just the kitchen but multiple rooms in the house for which she is so grateful for). It was a public plea to stop asking if you can help her update her kitchen because quite frankly she doesn’t care for your opinion. It works fine, provides for her family and she would rather not go into debt to restore the kitchen to 2014 standards.

First off, good for you lady, you’re so right. Secondly I want to thank you for making me think not just about my kitchen but for opening my mind to thinking in a much broader sense. The motivation behind why we choose to spend our money the way we do.

If we lived alone and never had anyone over, would we sink a bunch of money into a perfectly clean and functional space just to satisfy ourselves? I wouldn’t.

I don’t care what the TV shows and magazines will try to convince you about how the room is just for you, there is no freaking way I’d be dropping 20k+ into a room that NO ONE but me and my immediate family will see. A beautiful kitchen won’t make me any better of a cook just like owning a treadmill doesn’t mean I’m guaranteed to use it and be in great shape. Gadgets (and that’s what a fancy kitchen is) are just things.

In keeping with the kitchen example, we just re-did the kitchen in my husband’s grandfathers cottage. By re-do I mean replace the handmade 20+ year old cabinets with used cabinets that my husband and I ripped out of our house and gave to him. When the work was done the family sat back and admired how good it looked. We were pleased with ourselves for doing such a good job and the cottage now looks great.

Why was this perfectly functional kitchen ok for the cottage, going as far as looking great, but not ok for my own home?

My guess? Other people’s standards.

We re-did the kitchen in our home because simply put, we thought it was ugly. Truthfully it wasn’t that bad. It was 100% functional, we just didn’t like it. As soon as we could, it was ripped out and replaced and guess what? We couldn’t wait to open the front doors of our house and show every single person who wanted to see. I also admit that I loved having the cabinet installers parked in our driveway, it allowed the neighbors to know that we were having work done to our house (and let them speculate what could be going on). Kinda makes me sick to think I admittedly dropped thousands of dollars to please others more than myself.

I’d like to think I’m a conscious consumer but maybe I’m not as aware as I thought. I’ll certainly question why I’m buying certain products a little more. Do I really want that sweater or do I only want it because so-and-so has it. Makes ya think…

What motivates you in how you spend your money?

How to Select the Perfect Type of Credit Card Processing Terminal

At this point, overcrowded online and offline markets force players to get really creative when it comes to rolling out new selling strategies. To preserve their competitive advantage, companies operating in the retail industry have to make the most of modern tools developed to help them improve the shopping experience for every single category of buyers.

In this case, merchants should realize that a modern, portable credit card processing terminal can become their trusted ally, leading the way towards increased customer satisfaction, improved sales and enhanced brand awareness. These days, when tablets have been gradually turned into versatile POS systems, mobile and portable card terminals have become increasingly popular and threaten the supremacy of their countertop alternatives.

More and more business owners choose to “use the processing power of modern smartphones to accept credit and debit card payments with very little, or no, upfront cost and no contractual tie-in period.” So which type of card machine should you actually use: a countertop, a mobile or a portable one? The final choice is yours. However, before making an informed purchase, you should take a close look at the advantages associated with every single type of card machine.

Countertop terminals: They are suitable mostly for business owners who wish to accept credit card payments over the phone or at their till. Some models launched by different brands incorporate the contactless technology designed to enable users to reduce waiting time and serve more clients rapidly and much more effectively.

Portable terminals: Portability is an amazing benefit enabling you to reach your clients in their own environments, improve your cash flow, stimulate sales and boost brand awareness. Whether you’re selling Girl Scout cookies, handmade jewelry or old books, you can improve your profit margins by simply investing in a portable terminal that you would be able to carry around with you at flea markets, exhibits and countless other types of events where you would get the chance to market and sell your goods. This type of card machine basically lets you improve customer service by helping your buyers discover the most convenient way to make payments.

Mobile terminals: Just like millions of other business owners who are eager to test, buy and implement the most convenient credit card processing method, you may be wondering: why should I actually invest in a mobile credit card terminal?

Here’s a good reason to opt for mobile card processing: with mobile card machines, you can basically accept payments anytime, anywhere, as long as you have a good mobile coverage. There is no need for a broadband connection. Several service providers including Shopify offer small business owners all the tools and the apps that they need to turn their iPads and iPhones into complete, fully functional, money-saving POS solutions.

These popular readers are compatible with a variety of mobile devices as well as tablets, but check compatibility before you commit to one. As you process the transaction, the apps will give you the option of sending a receipt to the customer via e-mail.

Mobile credit card processing is the ideal option at hand for various categories of users, including repairmen, street vendors and tradesmen who are looking forward to accepting payments without actually being tied to their cash registers.

Making an Informed Purchase

The highest level of convenience, portability, user-friendliness and cost-efficiency are only a few factors that may convince business owners to switch to mobile payment processing. Whether you have your eyes and your heart set on a countertop, a mobile or a portable card machine, you should compare offers coming from different brands, in terms of both costs and benefits. All in all, the perfect credit card processing terminal should offer you the chance to:

  • Avoid fraud risks
  • Boost sales and attract new potential buyers
  • Save a significant amount of money in the long run
  • Accept most types of debit and credit cards and in some cases other payment alternatives, like checks and/or gift cards
  • Make a sale anytime, anywhere

The most commonly viewed credit card terminal these days is one that has a keypad and a sliding slot. The retailer slides the credit card through the slot, in the process recording the data set on the magnetic strip on the back of the credit card.

For numerous business owners, it is extremely important to be able to turn their tablets and smartphones into effective POS solutions and accept credit card payments in different environments. Several providers of mobile credit card processing terminals enable their users to take various payment types, customize their receipts, add company logos, calculate sales taxes and more to individualize, grow and consolidate their business the easy way.

All in all, before selecting your first credit card terminal, you should know that if you plan to useShopify Payments as your payment gateway, you can rely on the encrypted card reader that it provides. Otherwise, you can just stick to one of the most convenient credit card machines brought to you by the brands that you know and trust.

Why I Could Never Live Without Multiple Income Streams

wpid-20140713_232643.jpgI’ve always wanted to have a side job. I remember when my best friend got a Saturday job to supplement her career income a few years ago wishing I could figure out a way to do something similar. The dreams I created about making additional money somehow over and above my salary. I knew I wanted it I just didn’t know at the time how I could mesh spending my free time on something I loved while making money, I wasn’t quite desperate enough to waste my precious time doing something I loathed. In the last few years I’ve built multiple income stream opportunities which I hope to never give up!

Blogging

Blogging is something I have done on and off for years. I have always done it as a hobby and never looked for it to satisfy more than pure enjoyment. When I started blogging in what I learned was the infamous personal finance community, suddenly I had opportunities open to me that never existed in other niches. I could make money blogging and writing and I jumped at the opportunity. Advertising started incredible slow and slowly picked up in the last 18 months. It’s far from reliable but always nice when things can work out for the better.

Freelance

I have always loved to write. Never formally (I’ve submitted my fair share of scientific written reports, that much structure isn’t fun) but that’s what drew me to blogging. I like getting my opinions out there and engaging in conversation. Sure I knew people made livings with freelance gigs but I certainly never dreamed I could make money doing it too. On a whim, I applied for my first freelance gig almost two years ago. Not expecting to hear anything, I was actually hired. I love freelance writing and still do it today. I have written for quite a few sites and currently am on the roster with four other sites. Some very casual, others on a more frequent basis. I try and make sure I’m not writing in any one niche too much since I get bored so spread it out as best I can. Depending on how this potential new job pans out I may attempt to seriously rev up my freelance writing since my schedule will be much different but we’ll see how it goes.

Working More

Professionally I’m a dental hygienist. My job has me working four days per week and that is how we budget. If we need extra money for whatever reason, I have the option of working additional hours within my profession. I can either work with my current employer or as a casual fill-in to whatever office may need me (via a provincially issued list to dental offices). I like that I have the extra day per week to play with when it comes down to it.

The security that comes with having multiple income streams is something I never imagined. Though my professional job is far above any of my side jobs, I have peace of mind knowing I could come up with something if it came down to my losing my job and needed cash. For me, multiple income streams is an insurance policy for my family, it acts as a fluid emergency fund. I have more peace of mind knowing I have more than one way to make money, than I do cash sitting in the bank.

Do you have multiple income streams?

Important Payroll Mistakes to Avoid at All Costs

One very important aspect of a small business that new business owners can quickly become consumed with is payroll. It seems easy enough at first to make sure everyone is getting paid on time and accurately, but when the legal items begin to add up, the task becomes daunting.

A Xero small business guide on the subject says, “Payroll is covered by tax law, which is complex,” depending where a small business is located in the world.

“The penalties for errors can be high. Even the cost of an audit can bankrupt a mall business.”

No small business owner even wants to think about that. So how can they avoid these mistakes? Here are a few tips.

Make sure to monitor

If a small business owner uses an outside company to handle payroll, it’s still on the owner to monitor all payroll activities. If the company doesn’t perform the payroll job on purpose or on accident, the problem always falls on the small business owner.

Choose a payroll vendor that lets the owner manage and track accounts, while letting the vendor keep working. By being able to monitor progress, there will be some additional peace of mind.

Pay accurately and on time

In the rush of running a small business, paying the right person the right amount of money at the right time could be overlooked. Of course, not paying someone on time can lead to some unhappy employees.

Again, payroll systems can help make sure these payments are always made on time

Other items to not forget

Payroll goes beyond just paychecks. It also includes benefits, holiday pay and more.

Make sure employees are being offered the benefits they are eligible for. Additionally, make sure to factor in holidays, such as the Fourth of July and Memorial Day, which employees should be eligible for paid time off.

Employee expenses also can be tricky, and need to be managed.

But most importantly, stay on top of deadlines — especially tax payments — to avoid any government penalties.

Another common mistake is incorrectly classifying workers, specifically with employees who file a W2 versus independent contractors who file 1099s. State regulators govern this.

Payroll is more than just delivering paychecks; it’s an important aspect of a small business that’s regulated by the government, so make sure to stay on top of it.

By staying sharp and on top of payroll, a small business can avoid costly penalties.

Dealing With an International Emergency

When I was about 14 years old I had an opportunity to compete in an international music festival held in Walt Disney World with my choir. It was a really fun and exciting time, creating memories I’ll always have. Leading up to the trip, my mom was frantically trying to get everything in order for me to depart. Asking me a million times per day if I knew where my passport was, how to exchange money if needed and how to use the calling card she gave me to call home every night.

Though I felt more than prepared, in retrospect my mom was rightfully freaking out (I know I would if my daughter was flying thousands of kilometers away). While my definition of being prepared was making sure I had my camera, choir uniform and bathing suit, my mom was worrying about all the details moms need to take care, of like preparing me for a potential emergency away from her.

Money

My mom was a firm believer in traveller’s cheques. With immediate access to internet almost everywhere in the world, I don’t even know if traveller’s cheques still exist! Doing something like an international money transfer is a much easier and probably safer option today but growing up if we were crossing the border, mom used the traveller’s cheques.

I needed a 15 minute lesson on how and where I could use these cheques and what to do with the change. She made me confirm I would have access to a safe in my hotel room to keep these cheques secure. What a pain in the ass really but in the 1990’s it really was probably the safest option but can you imagine if I needed immediate access to cash? As I got older we moved from traveller’s cheques to credit cards, always calling ahead to let the credit card company aware of my travel plans.

Health

I always travel with additional travel insurance if leaving for an international trip. We have quite a large coverage plan through my husband’s employer but it still leaves me nervous. For only a few dollars per day we get additional coverage that puts my mind at ease.

Though I have no medical conditions or allergies, it is imperative that if you do have a medical condition it is easily identifiable through something like a medic alert bracelet.

ICE: In Case of Emergency

I always make sure I have my ICE contacts everywhere when I travel. My cell phone’s main page are my ICE contacts (with international area code) and both my passport and wallet have a card with updated ICE contacts.

Though we travel in hopes of nothing ever happening, it does sometimes. From monetary emergencies to more serious medical emergencies you need to be prepared for everything!

 

You Have to Recognize Your Financial Weakness

Have you ever done a budget up and totally blown it only to recommit yourself the next month and the same thing happens again? I know I have. When I did our first budget I didn’t allocate a single dollar to entertainment or eating out. After all, we were trying to get real about paying debt off so in my mind these were frivolous items to budget for. But guess what? Even while working towards your financial goals, life goes on, and in my life, eating out occasionally and spending a little money on fun will happen. It took me a few months to realize things like eating out once per week was a financial weakness of ours but as soon as I did we started having less and less financial slip-ups.

Recognizing your financial weakness isn’t always easy. Sometimes you may not want to admit it, it certainly took me a few weeks to admit to myself that I would definitely have at least one meal per week from take out but that’s how I roll. I want a break and usually come Friday after a long week, hubby and I want to just go home and not worry about anything, including a meal to prepare so we’ll often grab something to go.

Recognizing your financial weaknesses is imperative to keeping your finances in order. I love buying stuff for the home. I recognize that this is a huge weakness for me, a weakness that, contrary to the eating out item, I refuse to budget for right now. I can justify adding in a line to our budget to eat out once in a while, I however cannot justify satisfying my weakness for a new picture frame or area rug. To combat this weakness I simply avoid the stores I enjoy shopping at. I don’t look through the flyers often and limit my online pursing since it tends to make me want more ”stuff”, stuff I don’t need, not now and likely not ever.

By simply recognizing certain types of stores will cause me to spend unnecessarily I have avoided my financial weakness and kept my budget intact. #winning

Obviously certain financial weaknesses just need to stop too. Some things are just utter wastes of money and if you don’t have the income to support it, give it up. It may sting for a while but you’ll quickly get over it as you watch your other goals be met.

If you don’t spend the time to figure out what it is that pulls at your purse strings and causes you to bleed money, you’ll never better your situation. While some weaknesses need to be cut out (or at the very least temporarily avoided) sometimes it just needs to be recognized and managed better. We’re human and have wants and needs that should be met, just don’t let these things control your entire budget, or life.