Profile for Colleen Meeks

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Money 101: How To Avoid 7 Common Savings Pitfalls

This past payday, I was as excited about having the funds to bring home this season’s faux fur vest as I was about skimming 10 percent off the top and watching our savings account increase. And I have to admit, I’m pretty proud of myself for being responsible enough to make that deposit regularly – so proud of myself that I felt totally justified buying that snuggle-worthy vest. (The fact that it’s faux fur? You can’t get any more guilt-free.)

Maybe you’re like me, and you get a sense of accomplishment every time you make that deposit in your savings account. But we all work hard for our money … is just putting some of it aside making it work hard enough for us? Before you get too proud of yourself for being a savings queen, read this advice from Susan Hirshman, president of SHE LTD, a consulting firm focused on enhancing the financial literacy of women. The author of Does This Make My Assets Look Fat? A Woman’s Guide to Finding Financial Empowerment and Success, Hirshman offers advice for making sure that you’re avoiding some common savings pitfalls. Keep reading »

Money 101: 10 Financial Etiquette Questions Answered!

Around the same time I started raking in the big bucks (courtesy of the Tooth Fairy), my father started enforcing the rule that the topic of money was off-limits in polite conversation. There was no, “Hey, how much was your incisor worth?” in my house. And the one time I asked my dad the amount of the bill at a restaurant, he handed it to me since he assumed I was offering to pay. I never asked again. Keep reading »

Money 101: How To Negotiate Anything

One of my favorite coats is a gorgeous knee-length number that coordinates with almost anything. The best thing about this coat is that I paid the criminal price of $10 for it. I found it on a clearance rack. It was the only coat of its kind and happened to be in my size; our relationship was obviously meant to be. It lacked a price tag, however, and I was scared this meant it would be expensive. When I asked the cost, the manager pulled a jacket of lesser quality from the same rack and said she’d give me my coat for the same insanely low price. Delighted, I showed her where the coat was missing a button, thinking she would have a suggestion for replacing it. Instead she shrugged and offered to knock off an additional 10 percent. I couldn’t hand over my debit card fast enough, and when I got home? The missing button was tucked in the pocket.

As adorable as the coat is, the amazing bargain makes me love it more. While my steal was more the result of a tired manager than my intense negotiating skills, it definitely whet my appetite for wheeling a good deal. Knowing how to ask for one can be intimidating, though. Jim Camp, negotiation skills trainer and coach, and author of Start with No, offered this advice for the negotiating novice. Keep reading »

Cash & Coupling: How To Establish A Wedding Budget

If you have been engaged for more than five minutes, you’ve probably purchased every current bridal magazine and dog-eared the pages with ideas you swear someone thought up just for you. Before you look at pictures of another celebrity wedding and set your sights on a dress only Beyonce could afford, you need to have a serious talk with your fiancé. This, my friend, is the “How the hell are we going to pay for this?” talk. Maybe you’re assuming your parents are going to foot the entire bill. If they are, lucky you! But chances are, both sets of parents have some assumptions of their own, and you need to know who’s expecting to pay – or not pay – for what. For advice on how to determine this combined wedding budget, The Frisky talked to Aimee Manis, author of 52 Things Brides On A Budget Should Know. Keep reading »

Cash & Coupling: How To Plan A Honeymoon On A Budget

Looking back on my wedding planning, I realize how many of my decisions were to make other people happy. My day was special and I felt like the star of the show, but I had to make sure that I stayed in budget so my dad wouldn’t have an aneurysm, that the menu wouldn’t trigger any allergic reactions from my guests, and that the band’s play list would make for a party to remember. But when it came to the honeymoon, there was nobody to think of except me and my new husband, and the closer we got to the wedding, the more I couldn’t wait to get out of town. Endless time for sex, zero calls about headcounts, and did I mention tons of sex? I totally began to understand why people elope. Keep reading »

Cash & Coupling: Agreeing On Household Utilities When You Want HBO And He Wants Netflix

There are necessities, like running water, and then there are “necessities,” like HBO and a weekly pedicure. When you’re single and supporting only yourself, you have every right to declare keeping your toes in the latest shade of blush a priority. But once you join budgets with your partner, it’s important that you both agree on which expenses qualify as non-negotiable.

When my husband and I recently re-evaluated our budget, I was ready to slash the cable bill – we have Netflix, and I tend to watch shows a season or two behind. He balked; he’s an avid Atlanta Braves fan and I didn’t realize that without extended cable he couldn’t catch the games during the (never-ending) baseball season. Similarly, he was willing to eliminate our home telephone, while I hesitated at not having a landline in case of emergencies. Having to make these kind of joint decisions just comes with the territory of a shared address, but compromising can be tricky. Toni Coleman, licensed psychotherapist, relationship coach, and founder of Consum-mate.com, offered this advice about creating a household budget you – and your partner – can live with. Keep reading »

Cash & Coupling: We’re Buying A Home — But I’m Covering The Down Payment

Maybe you want to put a monogrammed welcome mat outside the door of a cute Craftsman cottage, or maybe you’re searching for a loft with a view. No matter what kind of digs you’re shopping for, if you’re in a committed relationship you’re probably shopping with the idea that the one permanent fixture is gonna be your significant other. Buying a home with the one you love is a huge commitment – one that can be even harder to get out of than marriage vows. You’re putting your credit score, your savings, and your personal space on the line. You might not be expecting your man to bring much to the decorating table – in fact, you may be desperately hoping he won’t – but realizing that he’s coming to the closing table empty-handed can be even more frustrating than his insistence on keeping that recliner.

If you’ve been following The Frisky’s articles on buying a home, you know to expect to put down 3.5 to 20 percent of the purchase price, and it can be discouraging to realize you’re the only one with cash. We talked to Dr. Tina B. Tessina, psychotherapist and author of Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things that can Ruin Your Marriage, about how to approach a home purchase when the whole down payment is coming from you. Keep reading »

Cash & Coupling: Who Pays For What On Your First Vacation?

Whether you’re heading to Colorado or Cabo, thinking about your first vacation with your man likely has you more hot and bothered than the new season of “True Blood.” From the moment you compared calendars, visions of couple’s massages and romantic dinners have probably been all you can think about. But before you make a single reservation, take a step back to consider how you and your significant other – as a couple – are gonna pay for the trip. Discussing who’s paying for what may feel awkward, especially if this is the first time you’ve ever had to talk money as a twosome, but it can be great practice for your future together. With this advice from Nicholas Aretakis, author of Ditching Mr. Wrong, you can breeze through vacation planning and ensure there won’t be money trouble in paradise. Keep reading »

Cash & Coupling: How To Handle Financial Infidelity

We all fear discovering an unfamiliar perfume lingering on our man’s collar or a smudge of lipstick that isn’t our shade, but sometimes his cheating isn’t with another woman … it’s with his wallet. Maybe you found a statement for a credit card you never knew existed, or suspect he’s been blowing the cash you thought he was saving for retirement. When your faith in your partner’s honesty and financial fidelity is shaken, how do you keep it from tearing your relationship apart? Manisha Thakor, The Frisky’s personal finance expert for women, offers the following advice for coping after he’s been fiscally unfaithful. Keep reading »

Cash & Coupling: How Having A Baby Changed Us — Financially

When I began dating my now husband, I already had a little girl from a previous relationship. In order to get serious with me, he had to adjust to the idea of late-night dinners at restaurants to takeout scheduled around bedtime. Luckily, he did so beautifully and won both my and my daughter’s hearts.

One wedding, two successful careers, and a substantial mortgage later, my husband adopted my daughter and we were ready to add another tax deduction to the mix. We were used to having to make adjustments to accommodate life’s surprises, so we thought a baby would cause minimal monetary ripples in our fairly stable life. We couldn’t have been more wrong. Keep reading »

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