When Was The Last Time You Enjoyed Your Money?

My husband and I make decent money but rarely do I actually get to enjoy it. Since most of our money goes towards debt and other household bills like heat and mortgage, the money we do have ”left over” is used with discretion. Outside of groceries, gas and the day-to-day boring stuff, we usually end up spending on stuff we need, like the shoes my husband desperately needs replacing. For some, buying new shoes may be fun, when it’s an absolute there’s-a-big-hole-in-the-sole type of situation, it’s a little less fun.

Today however I plan on enjoying some of our money. After work I’m going to a concert with my best friend and it will be great! As soon as I heard Brad Paisley was coming to town, what seems like forever ago, I knew that was what I wanted for my birthday. I chatted with my husband and he agreed that if that’s what I wanted as a gift for my 30th birthday then we’d spend the money. The ticket was bought and paid for months ago so outside of it being on my calendar, and me seeing the reminder daily, I almost forgot about it.

I’ve always been one who would rather spend money on experiences than things. I’d much rather have these memories with her than something I’ll wear for a while and then throw away or donate and totally forget about. For me doing something like this, going to dinner and a concert with my best friend is the best way I could enjoy my money.

One of the biggest motivators in us paying the debt off is so we can have more of these memories. While not all memories include spending money when I think about my favorite memories they’re usually from a vacation with my family or a concert or something ”special” (like the super delicious dinner we recently had in memory of my 20’s, aka my 30th birthday). Most of which require spending money.

We do a pretty good job at enjoying life while paying this debt off, I am by no means complaining about our life but I can’t help but wait for the feeling of buying something and enjoy it totally guilt free. Not spending it and immediately thinking about what I should be using the money on, or shopping on credit, or simply not spending at all because we can’t, or don’t want to.

I look forward to the day when I can go to a concert, or trip or buy the shirt or dinner out and think to myself ”I worked my butt off for ”this” and I’m going to enjoy it!’. I work to support my family but I’ll be damned if I don’t enjoy it too (within reason of course ;)).

When was the last time you really enjoyed your money??

Why We Need to Redefine the Indications of Wealth

Last week on my blog, Jordann had a comment that made me think. In commenting about assumptions about her (and her husband’s) financial life, she said:

‘’…People who don’t read my blog think I’m poor because my husband and I live on a pretty strict budget and don’t spend money on items that would indicate wealth…’’

According to Wikipedia, wealth is the abundance of valuable resources or material possessions.

It saddens me to realize this. I think if you asked anyone if they would like to be ‘’wealthy’’ the answer would be yes. Given the choice I’d certainly rather be wealthy than not. While I understand that the definition of wealth is up for interpretation, working with the public for as long as I have has taught me one thing, most people would not reinterpret the definition of wealth. Most people would equate wealth with the acquisition of ‘’stuff’’.

Most of this stuff adds no value to our lives, it simply clutters it. It clutters not only our lives but our thought processes. Since we live in a society that largely looks for social acceptance, if it’s a ‘’wealthy’’ circle we’re looking to be in, how else would one be accepted if not for materialistic items? When we live our lives chasing the perfect definition of wealth we’re in this constant state of needing more ‘’stuff’’ and logic has it the ‘’wealthier’’ we are, the more stuff we’d need to prove that.

The big problem being that people are equating stuff with wealth, regardless of how they come into these objects. The abundance of material possessions is not something that indicates wealth to me, nor can we assume someone who has a lot of material possessions is wealthy. In today’s age of credit, it doesn’t require true wealth to have a lot of any one thing, unfortunately.

If you truly do have a lot of money and assets, I’m not suggesting you don’t go out and enjoy it, though I do hope you’ll do some good with it too…What I am suggesting is that if you’re living your life accumulating stuff thinking it will make you wealthy, you’re in for a big, unhappy, surprise. While money can’t buy happiness, if you have money it certainly can be enjoyed, but if you don’t (have money), spending the money (you don’t have) will leave you miserable, not wealthy. You’re chasing a dream that doesn’t exist.

So while Wikipedia’s definition of wealth ‘’is the abundance of valuable resources or material possessions’’ I think it needs to be altered to ‘’wealth is the abundance of valuable resources or material possessions which one gains through inheritance or earned through wages’’ OR wealth is the abundance of valuable resources or material possessions not bought on credit, or with your kids diaper money, or from illegal activity’’. Whatever definition you choose to adopt, remember that the acquisition of stuff does not equal wealth. True wealth is more about the life you choose to live than the objects in it.

How do you define wealth? Do you consider yourself wealthy?

Banking in the Modern Age

In this day and age, it is practically impossible to go through life without having a banking institution. It is much easier to get through life with a bank account and a debit card. In fact, some companies require you to have one in order to use their services or purchase products. Using a financial bank can also make life easier in the long run. While it may not allow you to build credit, it can allow you to show some financial stability when buying a car or renting a home. In order to buy a home, you have to have a bank account to show your income and expenses. The fact of the matter is that in today’s world, using a bank is almost a necessity.

How To Choose The Right Bank For Your Needs

When choosing a bank, one must take great care in understanding what the bank is offering you. There are many terms and conditions that customers should know and understand. Before choosing a bank to use, it makes sense to shop around to find the right one for your needs. Many banks have basic information available online for viewing. This is probably the best place to start. Once you have narrowed down your choices, the next step is actually visiting the banks and meeting with a representative. They can help you with any questions you may have and can provide you with detailed information. Once you have chosen the right bank and account type for your needs, these representatives can help you through the process of opening your account.

What Makes J.P. Morgan Stand Out

JP Morgan is the largest financial institutions in the United States. Their hedge fund unit is the second largest in the country as well. The multinational company offers many banking and financial services so you can use J.P. Morgan for all of your banking needs. The bank is a very established institution and would be a safe choice for any customer. J.P. Morgan wealth management is one of the best in the country, and can give you sound financial advice on all investment opportunities. Wherever you decide to do your banking, make sure it is a place that you are comfortable with and that the bank meets your needs.

How to Increase Your Home’s Value: Curb Appeal

Interior renovations on a home can be quite expensive and generally require more work than what you originally planned on. But the reason most people choose to renovate a home is generate a profit down the road when they get ready to market the home and move to a new home or location. What many people overlook when they are trying to increase their home’s value is the value of curb appeal. Here are just a few ways you can increase your curb appeal.

Add Some Color

Changing up the look on the front of your home can be easy. Painting the outside of your front door in an appealing color that provides some visual interest is a great way to draw the eyes of potential buyers.

While paining your door is fairly easy and inexpensive, painting your shutters or trim may take a little more work, but it can be worth it to have attractive and color coordinated accents on the front of your home.

Replace Hardware

No matter if you’ve given your door a fresh coat of paint or not, you can easily add some curb appeal and updated beauty to the front of your home by cleaning off any marks or smudges on and around your door and doorbell. Once you’ve cleaned the area, changing out your doorknobs and other hardware can make your older home look more modern and sophisticated.

Clean up the Landscape

Making sure your lawn is always mowed on time and free of weeds can go a long way in making your home look more presentable. Beyond that planning a few flowers or shrubs in a garden or mulch bed adds some personality and additional color to the front of your home. Consider edging your garden beds to make them look even more crisp and defined.

Create a Shady Spot

Having a small seating area in your front, side, or backyard is a great idea for entertaining guests during mild-weather times of year. Outdoor entertainment areas are a big value addition you can make to your home. If you have a covered porch or deck that’s great, but if not maybe some cladding would be a great way to add some shade and visual interest to your outdoor entertainment space. Composite cladding provides a cost-effective solution when compared to most wood cladding, plus it usually lasts longer.

Mailbox Makeover

Give your mailbox a quick makeover with a coat of new paint, adding a design, or going over you house number. This is a fast and easy way to catch the eye of any potential buyers who might drive by your home for quick preview.

What other ways have you helped create some curb appeal and add value to your home?

I’m Sick of Assumptions About My Financial Life

In my job, I chat with a lot of people day-to-day which, to say the least, keeps my day interesting. I have some incredibly enlightening and inspiring conversations and, conversely, I have conversations with people I simply….shouldn’t (why do people feel the need to tell me intimate life details…). Every day is a new day.

Money doesn’t often come up in conversion but sometimes it does. Yesterday was one of those days.

I have a patient who, for lack of better words, is a total brat. Her attitude drives me crazy and she sucks all life out of the air when she’s around. I know her family well. They’re a fairly established family with two working parents who seem to be so busy in their own social engagements I don’t think they remember how many children they actually have. Not the point. Their daughter, patient in question, was in to see me and complaining about her sensitivity.

{Important description: 18 years old, walks in wearing TOO much perfume, sporting her MK watch, Kate Spade purse and Hunter rainboots}

Though the sensitivity could easily be remedied if she’d cut the two liters of pop and energy drinks out of her diet, it’s always MY fault they’re sensitive. Given that I’ve established there’s no changing this woman’s habits I simply suggest, again, that she try one of the desensitizing toothpastes I have suggested in the past. Her response?

”I’m not a rich girl like you who can just go out and buy $5 toothpaste. I don’t have the kind of money you do”

Taken aback (and beyond annoyed with her at this point), I put my instruments down and immediately ask her what she means. She goes on to explain that she doesn’t have the ”kind of money that a dentist does” and that she can’t ”waste her money” on toothpaste. Umm OK.

I explain that I’m not a dentist and that I don’t have nearly as much money (as most dentists) do. The mother in me went on to explain that, yes, though I have good paying job, I don’t actually enjoy most of my money since my husband and I are sill working to pay off our educations and that she really shouldn’t make assumptions about people, period.

Intrigued (and lacking a social filter), she went on to ask me a bunch of questions about why my parents didn’t pay for my education, why I have the debt, why I had a kid, how I ”even live” if I have debt, since she would ”kill herself if her parents didn’t pay for her stuff”…Yup, for reals. I answered her questions and reminded her if she could wear more than $1,000 in apparel in ONE outfit she could obviously afford the $5.00 toothpaste.

Though this girl drives me nuts every time she’s in, I’ll give credit when due, she apologized for for assuming I was ”rich” and felt bad for saying so. She also gave me ”props” for working hard to pay it off. Thanks, I guess?

This incident isn’t he first time something like this has happened though.Most of the time we don’t have the time (or energy) to lay it all out, as I did for her. I’ve had friends and family assume we did or did not have money based on, what I can guess, is nothing but assumptions since they didn’t ask ”why”. Let me take the time to say we (happily) have full control over financial life. If we decline an invitation to something it doesn’t mean we’re poor and have no money, if we try and give money it doesn’t mean we’re rolling in the dough or will struggle next week.

I don’t really care what anyone thinks of me, but my God, it drives me crazy when people make assumptions about our finances. Part of me wants to tell them to bugger off and the other half of me wants to give them the login info to my personal accounts and speadsheets.

Why do we (as a society in general) assume people who have seemingly well-paying jobs are ”rich” and those who don’t couldn’t possibly be?

Afterall, you know what they say about assumptions? They make and ass out of u and me ;)

 

 

 

A Look at Types of Home Loans

Graduating high school, going to college, getting married, landing a “career” type job, and buying your first home. All of these things are commonly seen as mile markers along the road to becoming an adult. But that last one, buying your first home, can be a very confusing and complex process. Luckily, there are a variety of home mortgage loans for you to choose from to find the one best fits your situation.

No matter if you’re a young adult with little saved up, or more established in your career with a large down payment already saved up, there is a home mortgage out there for you. Here are just a couple of the most popular types of home loans.

Fixed Rate Mortgage

A fixed rate mortgage if interest rates are especially low when you go to secure financing for the purchase of your home, because the interest rate will be fixed at the same percentage level for the entire life of the mortgage. This means that if interest rates go up over time it won’t affect your loan or your monthly payments because your rate is locked in. This type of loan is more secure and stable than an adjustable rate mortgage.

Adjustable Rate Mortgage

If interest rates are low, you may want to consider a fixed rate mortgage when you secure financing for the purchase of your home. This will ensure that the interest rate is fixed at the same rate for the entire life of the mortgage Again, there is more risk associated with this loan type than a fixed rate mortgage. Interest rates might drop, but on the flip side they could rise and you’d be stuck with a higher monthly payment to help cover the increased interest cost of your loan.

Low or No Down Payment Loans

Most conventional home mortgage loans require a 20% minimum down payment of the houses’ selling cost. But if you do not have a good chunk of money stashed away for a down payment, you may be able to secure a loan with a low (or no) required down payment. Instead, you will be required to pay for loan insurance to help cover your lender’s risk.

Sometimes there are first time homebuyer’s programs that may waive the insurance requirement even if you don’t have a large enough down payment saved up. These programs are usually government sponsored to help young people purchase their first family home.

With so many different loan products to choose from when you go to buy your first home, it’s a good idea to consult with your lender or other financial professional about what type of mortgage is best for your situation.

What type of mortgage fit your home buying process the best?

Dealing With the Emotional Unhappiness of Being in Debt

wpid-img_20140804_194830.jpgBeing in debt is a label that is hard to wear. No one likes it and I’m guilty of allowing this title to define me sometimes. I almost feel like I need to disclose it to people when I meet them. As if it’s a lie to not tell. Like they’ll find out and wonder why I didn’t tell them I had this big ”thing” I wasn’t disclosing, as if it was the same thing as neglecting to tell someone I had a child or was married. Debt can feel that heavy.

I’ve been in some pretty dark places in my life. Considering I’m only 30, I’ve dealt with more in my life than most all of my peers likely ever will, but I would never even try to relate to someone who is clinically depressed. I know people who suffer, quite well, but I’d be lying if I said I can relate. I’m still in awe of myself sometimes and how I haven’t allowed my life’s circumstances to break me down but somehow I always manage to see the silver lining in every situation I’ve been placed, debt included. Today I’ll let you get into my brain a little and try to explain how I stay positive despite this mental weight I carry every moment, of every day.

Believe it or not, you have full control of your feelings. No one, or nothing, can make you feel something. When provoked, you have the power to choose the emotional response. If you’re being pro-active about paying the debt off, allow the strength involved to do so define you before the debt itself. I’m proud of the effort my husband and I make to reach our goals each month, so proud I share it on the internet with as many eyes who care to see.

Talking about things help. I type this as a bit of hypocrite. I very much keep emotions and thought processes internal. Not that I keep things bottled up until explosion but I definitely attempt to work things out myself before reaching out for guidance or help. This is true for almost everything in my life except my debt and my journey. The more I talk about it, the more input I get and the better I feel. This gets back to the feeling of a deep, dark secret; it’s one less thing I need to disclose about myself, and it’s a big one, so I always feel ‘lighter’’ when I’m around people who know. Conversation is how most problems are solved, chatting to people can lead to great things.

Realize there is an end. It won’t be forever. Though it seems like a long time simply remembering that a time will come when this label can be dropped is sometimes motivation enough to make me feel better. When I started this blog I didn’t think I’d ever NOT write about debt but here we are, 35 months away from paying it off (another side tip: talking in terms of months rather than years makes it easier on my brain too).

Debt is ugly and dark, regardless of the reasons behind its existence. If you allow it, it can make you incredibly unhappy. Try to see the good behind it- the lessons learned, the accomplishments of paying it off- and not just ‘’the debt’’. It’s inevitable that it needs to be paid off, mind as well make the best of the experience.

How I Plan to Save on Holiday Meals

Today is my birthday and I’m taking a day off :) I have another great guest post from the lovely Kayla from Shoeaholicnomore

With the holidays just around the corner, I’ve got budget and planning fever! The holidays are pretty much all I can think about lately. After all, the holidays can have a huge impact on your finances and your waistline! So, I’m doing all I can now to be prepared for these events so I can save as much money and calories as possible. Here’s my plan for saving money and preparing (hopefully) healthy meals this holiday season.

Thanksgiving

For those of us in the US, Thanksgiving doesn’t take place until late November. When I was a kid it was always my mom who made Thanksgiving dinner for all of our extended family. But now that I’m a “grown up” with a house of my own, the responsibility has been passed down to me. That means I’ve got to put together a meal plan, go grocery shopping, do as much of the food prep ahead of time as possible, and get up super early to start the cooking on Thanksgiving.

To help save me some cash, and some cooking, I’ve decided to make this Thanksgiving more of a pot-luck style meal. In order to make sure all the dishes people bring are unique but cohesive, I’m assigning dishes to different people. For example: my mom and dad always furnish the most expensive part of the meal – the turkey (but I get to cook it) – and my grandma always brings the pumpkin pie. This year I’m going to go a bit further and ask my aunt and uncle to bring a side dish, like mashed potatoes or green bean casserole. Having everyone contribute will help cut my costs significantly!

Christmas

It may seem like Christmas is a long ways away, but it’s just four short weeks after Thanksgiving. In my family, Christmas morning is spent with just my immediate family and then my grandma joins us for lunch, followed by the extended family gathering for games in the afternoon before the evening meal.

To cut down on costs and time spent cooking ever since I took over the Christmas lunch meal, I’ve turned it into a finger-food meal. We always prepare a couple different types of dips the day before, along with a meat and cheese tray, a vegetable tray, a fresh fruit tray, and a simple dessert. It’s not a lot of food, but it’s enough to get us through until we go to my aunt and uncle’s house, where they always have a huge feast prepared for the evening meal.

Without some planning and preparation ahead of time, my family tends to go overboard with fattening and expensive food. We always have good intentions to buy and eat less food, but hopefully having this plan in place now will help control the amount of cash leaving my pocketbook, and the amount of weight being added to my hips.

Do you plan ahead to save yourself some money and some calories during your holiday meals?

Kayla is a mid-20s single girl living in the Midwest, USA. She is focused on paying off her consumer and student loans, while simplifying her life and closet. You can join her on her journey at Shoeaholicnomore.

Thanks Kayla, I’m so glad in Canada we have more than two weeks between holidays! More time to lose the Thanksgiving weight before Christmas indulgences :)

October 2014 Debt Repayment and Life Updates

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The $5.00 costume my sister-in-law and I made :)

As the end of the year approaches I’m in awe that we’re into November! October was fun. It was kiddos first Halloween where we went trick-or-treating. Truthfully I didn’t think she’d be into it at all given that she’s so shy around strangers but after the first house (when she realized she got a treat) she was a seasoned pro. We only did a few houses on my sister-in-laws dead-end street but somehow we have enough treats for her to last months. The weather was perfect and unseasonably mild (no snow suits under costume required!).

October was a good month for us for debt repayment too. As per our plan, we need to be putting $2,064 towards debt each month and this month we beat it…by $1 :) We were able to put $2,065 towards our debt which means we’re on plan, down to 35 months!

As we venture into November and December we have to really watch we don’t do too crazy with spending. My birthday is this week so I just have to make sure hubby doesn’t go too crazy :) He already bought me tickets to see Brad Paisley which is in a few weeks with my best friend, it should be a good time. Our vehicle safety is up this month but we’re not foreseeing any issues since we just had the brakes done. Fingers crossed there’s nothing needed and our budget will be ok!

I’m actually thinking about beefing up our ER fund a little bit which may affect November and December debt repayment but we’ll see how things pan out. December is full of holiday festivities but I think we have a pretty decent budget for that. As long as we stick to it we should be fine. Our Christmas budget is the one we’re usually really good at sticking to so I hope we can do it again.

How did everyone else do in October? 

 

Do You Let Your Debt Bully You?

ID-100206615I’ve mentioned that my birthday is approaching…the big 3-0…We don’t plan on doing much but we will be going out to dinner on two separate occasions, once with some family and another evening with some friends. I have decided that given I’ve spent quite literally, umm, maybe $50 total in the last three years on clothes, all of which are likely comfy clothes, I would buy myself a new shirt or two for the events. As well, I had the intentions of wearing them to a few other up coming events with work. I need clothes.

I don’t know where I got the number but I figured I would allow myself $100 to buy whatever I wanted (and could). Stipulation being they had to be real, grown-up (I am almost 30 now…), with no stretch, t-shirt quality or could pass as gym attire-real effin clothes. It’s not that I don’t enjoy clothing it’s just that I’m lazy, hate shopping and hate spending money on myself even more. This wasn’t always the case though, there was a time in my life (many years and about 15lbs ago) when I would dabble in fashion and give a crap what I looked like. I headed to the various websites of the stores I used to frequent and started my search. I found a few shirts I liked on one site, all of which would do just fine. I added them to my online bag and went to checkout but a strange thing happened, I couldn’t do it!

Immediately, I started talking myself out of it. I didn’t need them. I was wasting money. I’m being so selfish

As I sat there staring at the online cart, unable to push the ”pay now” button, I closed the browser and walked away.

Then it hit me. I am allowing my debt to bully me!

That asshole! Bossing me around telling me I can’t and shouldn’t do it! But guess what?! I’m going to! Not because I ”deserve it” or because I need them (which is a fact) but because I want to, I can, and because I have allowed it for myself.

I’m a responsible debt payer. My husband and I are working our buns off to pay this monster down and will be rid of it (mostly) within 36 (almost 35) months. We are in a position where I have made my extra debt payments like a good girl and I will allow myself to look presentable for my birthday. If I was slacking on the debt payments sure, likely not a great allocation of funds, but we hustled and we made it.

I didn’t go back and buy the items yet but I plan to. I’m going to go in the store instead since I don’t have time to wait for shipping arrival. These shirts better be as cute as I hoped, I have a point to prove ;)

Have you ever let your debt bully you out of a purchase?

If you’re unsure if you’ve ever fallen victim to debt bullying look for these signs:

  • Unnesessary mental back-talk
  • Cold sweats over the smallest of purchases
  • Talking yourself out of buying necessities (anything from bread to diapers)
  • Hoarding cash
  • Walking around like you permanatly live in a scene from ”Survivor” because you’re scared of buying real clothes
  • Ignoring all social engagments because you don’t want to spend the money, even though you budgeted for it
  • Not buying the items you want, and need in online shopping carts out of shame

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