Thursday, November 10, 2011

Smart Financial Tips

Okay, so stupid vs smart isn't necessarily the most accurate way to describe them, but it keeps it simple at least.

And I'm sorry that I don't remember exactly where I read/heard what, but at least the advice stuck!

The Budget is not set in stone. Actually, I think I heard this in another area entirely. I remember hearing the U.S. Constitution described as a living, breathing document, but somehow, I also took it to heart in terms of my budgeting. I'm always taking line items off my spreadsheet, adding new ones, messing with the numbers. For instance, I thought with the increase in our commute, I would be spending $40 a week on gas when I'd previously been spending $40 every two weeks. Well, the reality of it is I'm spending about $80 a week on gas. This is not an area where I can presently cut back; it is what it is. Other numbers have to change, and my budget now accurately reflects that.

Using the Triangle. Again, I didn't first learn this as financial advice, but I remember learning about the Triangle, where you can have two of the following: cost, time, or quality, but you cannot have all three. I think about that in terms of spending. It may be cheaper to buy produce at a Farmer's Market, but the hours don't generally mesh with my schedule. An item could be on sale, but is it worth it even then? For each line item in my budget, I try to assess its true worth beyond the dollar amount.

Splurge sensibly. I splurge on little things, like buying songs we want on iTunes, and going to lunch with friends. Anything over $20, however, takes a lot more consideration. As Suze recommends, I try to look into the future and determine if I'll regret it. Like this laptop on which I'm currently writing this post. True, I could've used that $$ towards paying down credit card debt, but I have not regretted this purchase. It's come in very handy for keeping the family peace. Over this past year, even this past week, there have been dozens of things I've considered, but haven't purchased. I don't regret those decisions, either. I generally don't actually spend the money the first time I've thought about it, but go back to it 3 or 4 times before hitting that "add to cart" button.

Shop online. You always get the benefit of the time factor, so the only things left are quality and cost. There's no pressure of salespeople or signs dramatizing the urgency of the discount. You don't have to settle, but can keep looking for exactly what you want. You can bookmark it and come back later if it doesn't fit in your budget right now. Even if that sales price goes away, you can look for the item on other sites for that price when you're ready to buy. And hey, if it ends up being a purchase you regret, it's so much easier to just fill out the return info and ship it back then find the time to go wait in a customer service line. (And the receipt is always easier for me to locate in my email than in my purse.)

First retirement, then your children's future. Since I basically started over 8 years ago, the very basics of Maslow's chart needed to be met first. After we were settled, it was time to start thinking about the future. I, of course, started hyperventilating at the thought of paying for college. But I've been told by colleagues and experts that it's like the airlines tell you: first, put the mask on yourself, and then the children. So right now, I'm maxing my 401k, trying to build savings and decrease debt before I can think about what I can do for them. While of course we hope for scholarships, realistically what will most likely happen is that they'll take out some student loans, and I'll subsidize their living costs.

People first, then money, then things. No secret where I got this Suze Orman mantra. I've covered "People first" into the ground already. While I may not have the latest tech gadgets, my bills are always paid on time. It's kind of like another way of saying, it's all about balance.


Missy June said...

Great tips, friend! It helps to keep perspective.

I hope your week has been fantastic!

Anonymous said...

Oh my're SO organised! Kudos! Hoping to take a leaf from your book....thanks for the tips.