Tag Archives: money 101

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: How To Meaningfully Reduce Your Expenses

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Financial tips like “skip your latte” are obnoxious. So are suggestions to camp rather than stay in hotels, separate two-ply toilet paper and cook eggs in the dishwasher. After all, I don’t want my life to suck. While it’s true that incremental expenditures add up over time, the biggest factors affecting spending have to do with central life choices. The average “middle class” American making about $50k spends 30 percent of it on housing, 20 percent on transportation, 15 percent on food, 10 percent on retirement, 8 percent on utilities, and 7 percent on healthcare. These things aren’t elastic — you need it all — so the idea is to make efficient choices within these categories. Keep reading »

Money 101: How To Save For The Big Stuff

Let’s face it, saving money is a bitch. But all the big stuff in life — car, college, marriage, kids, travel — have equally big dollar signs attached. To minimize debt, saving for these expenditures ahead of time is important. Here are six effective strategies to set money aside — and keep it there. Keep reading »

Money 101: 3 Very Good Reasons Not To Buy A Home — Yet

During a coffee break at the Boston Federal Reserve’s housing crisis conference, I answered my 23-year-old, unemployed, freshly engaged sister’s phone call. She and her (also young but at least employed) fiancé were shopping for homes near San Francisco, where housing prices start above half a million dollars, and wasn’t I so excited for her? Nope! In an effort to prevent her and other young buyers from becoming housing horror stories, here are three thoughts to consider before house shopping. Keep reading »

Money 101: 11 Personal Finance Reads To Change Your Life

In finance, there’s a canon that everyone on Wall Street has read: Benjamin Graham, Adam Smith, and Robert Schiller. But no canon exists for personal finance. In fact, most personal finance books are a frustrating waste of time and money. From Suze Orman’s factually incorrect information to Jim Cramer’s super-caffeinated hysteria, it’s a sad field that puts consumers who take such advice, likely already vulnerable if seeking help, at risk. But, despite all the garbage, there are some stellar resources and I am going to direct you to them. 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 »

Money 101: How To Buy Your First Home

Buying your first home can be a terrifying experience that may transform you from a financially stable go-getter to a jittery, nervous wreck.

I remember lying awake, staring at the ceiling the night before our closing. I pondered the longevity of this decision. How could I sign a 30-year financial commitment when I couldn’t even commit to a color to paint the walls in our soon-to-be new home?

We’ve already told you how to start saving for a purchase this large and momentous. Once you’ve got the money in the bank, where do you go? A good realtor should hold your hand and walk you slowly through the myriad of steps required to buy your first home. In the meantime, we asked 20-year-veteran Atlanta realtor Kristen Crisp to give us the abbreviated version for first-time home buyers. Keep reading »

Money 101: An Overview Of 401(k), 403(b), And Roth IRA Retirement Accounts

If you’re anything like me, when someone brings up retirement savings, investing, or your 401(k) match at a cocktail party, your eyes immediately glaze over and all you hear is the “wonk wonk” of the adults from a Charlie Brown special. Inside my head is the flashing red light and loud voice signaling “Danger. Danger. You are engaging in a discussion of a topic you know nothing about. Abort conversation to avoid massive embarrassment.”

But the truth is that investing and retirement accounts are something worth knowing about. Even a financial neophyte like me knows that if you start socking away for retirement early in your career you have a huge advantage. In this case, time really is money.

So, we interviewed financial blogger phenomenon and author of Your Money: The Missing Manual, J.D. Roth, for the Cliff’s Notes of Retirement 101. He gave us almost enough to get you through a cocktail and conversation with a financial planner without faking it. Keep reading »

Money 101: How To Save Even When You’re Living Paycheck To Paycheck

Being the queen of your own financial destiny is priceless … and can be as scary as some of Lady Gaga’s heel heights. Whether your salary is as high as a modest kitten heel or soars to stiletto altitudes, you’re only as financially healthy as your savings habits. Maybe you’re eating Ramen to make your money stretch, or worse, living off your credit cards, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start saving now. J.D. Roth, of GetRichSlowly.org, offers these tips to get you saving even if you feel like you’re barely getting by. Keep reading »

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