Why Having Nothing To Wear Is Making You Broke

Don’t get me wrong, I love to shop, buy a new outfit or two, but I have never been the type of woman who stands in front of my closet saying…I have nothing to wear.  Maybe it is my oversized sense of self or just my decisive nature, but it is just something I don’t do.  Many of my friends agonize over this decision daily, ultimately resulting in the purchase of more (and more and more and more) stuff.

The thing about stuff is, you will NEVER have enough, there never comes a point where you will say, yep, that’s it.  Anyone remember Amelda Marcos, the wife of a Philipino dictator in the 80s?  She had 3,500 paris of shoes.  Nuff said.

If you are trying to get ahead financially, this infinite money suck, called your closet, is not an asset to your financial health.  My suggestion is, set a monthly clothing number.  You will probably spend it the first week of the month, I always do!  And the number will vary wildly from person to person based on your income and other monthly outlays but setting up monthly limits will tame your inner Imelda and help release your inner Warren Buffett:)

Please contact Dollars & Sense Education to bring our seminars to your company or organization!

Dollars & Sense Education – Raising Your Financial IQ!
http://www.daseducation.com
nicole@daseducation.com
215-499-3834

Know Thyself – What is Your Money Personality Type?

I have written a couple articles such as this one and this one on the psychology of money.  There is the MBA finance chick side of me who looks at sheer numbers, then there is the realist who says wealth building isn’t all about the numbers it is even more about personality and psychology. 

 SO what are the money personality types as I see them:

Slow and Steady Wins the Race – These folks are the ones that follow all of the rules.  They max out their 401Ks, IRAs, have 529s for their children, an emergency fund, pay their credit card bills in full.

Get Rich Quick – These folks really want to be rich but don’t have the discipline for long term wealth building.  So instead they typically try to build wealth with the “investment of the moment”.  Sometimes this strategy works, but most of the time it doesn’t.

I Could Be Hit By a Bus Tomorrow – These people are the folks that aren’t so focused on wealth building period.  Its just not on their radar.  They can range from simple to extravagant folks, the common thread being they are way more interested in living life than thinking about money.  Fortunately, most of them never get hit by a bus.  Unfortunately, this means they never planned financially for not getting hit by a bus.

Nervous Nellie – Nervous Nellie is a hybrid of Slow and Steady Wins the Race and Get Rich Quick.  Nervous Nellie is the type of individual who knows what the rules are: invest in Retirement Accounts, 529s, etc.  But gets really nervous when the market is unstable.  This is the investor the buys high and sells low because they think that the world is ending when the DJIA loses 5%. 

Broke as a Joke – This person is broke they don’t think about money because they are barely covering expenses.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject and see if any of you have identified other money personality types.  In a subsequent entry I will talk about how these folks should invest differently!

Please contact Dollars & Sense Education to bring our seminars to your company or organization! 

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Dollars & Sense Education – Raising Your Financial IQ!
www.daseducation.com
nicole@daseducation.com
215-499-3834

The Golden Rule of Personal Finance

The Golden Rule is a fundamental moral principle which simply means, “Treat others as they would treat you.”  It is arguably the essential basis for human rights.  Similarly, in my mind there is a Golden Rule for Personal Finance.  Like the moral Golden Rule, it doesn’t encompass everything you need to know but unless you tackle it, the rest is moot. 

Golden Rule of Personal Finance:  You must earn more income than what you spend.

Sounds simple enough but so many folks don’t follow this rule.  Check out this link to an awesome skit on SNL.

A Personal Finance Blog Revolt!!!

My one pet peeve with MOST personal finance blogs out there is their almost religious commitment to being thrifty.  I have read articles lately about refilling toothpaste bottles and reusing cereal liners.  In my opinion that’s not personal finance, that is borderline homelessness. 

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I know there are people out there that are mired in debt and need to use these gorilla tactics to crawl out of the hole they are in.  I have been at those points in my life where I had to stretch every dollar reeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaallllllllllllllyyyyyyyy far.  However, I suspect that there is another group of individuals out there that are so turned off by the “personal finance paupers” that they eschew personal finance blogs, articles and tv shows.  My belief is that you can still have a comfortable life and build wealth.  You just need to budget accordingly.

I have a confession to make: I eat out every day.  That’s right.  Every day.  No, I don’t buy my food in bulk at Sam’s Club.  And you know what else, I drink alot of beer at bars.  I have budgeted these things into my life because they make me happy.  Could I sock a little bit more into my savings account if I ate at home and drank a six pack all by my self.  Sure, but what fun would that be?  I have been able to invest a hell of alot of money from age 22-29 without living a boring life.  Does it help that I am single with no children? Sure.  Does it help that I live in a city with a low cost of living (Philly)? Sure.  Does it help that I have made a decent salary over the last few years? Sure.  But I am convinced you can have your cake and eat it too.  In college, I made $12,000/year.  My pay was able to cover rent, electric, gas, car insurance, food and alot of partying.  Did I have to skimp on luxuries? Obviously.  But I budgeted around my priorities and 12K went a long way.

My view is personal finance should be about finding the sweet spot between growing your net worth and living a fulfilling life.  Just my 2 cents.

 Please contact Dollars & Sense Education to bring our seminars to your company or organization!

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Dollars & Sense Education – Raising Your Financial IQ!
www.daseducation.com
nicole@daseducation.com
215-499-3834

A Primer on Retirement Saving (Part 2 of 5)

Hopefully, in Part 1 of this series I convinced you to start saving NOW for retirement!  If are convinced or if you were already doing so, read on.  Part 2 discusses the different types of retirement vehicles available to us and explains why we want to maximize their use.  Let me start with why you should maximize your 401Ks and IRAs for your retirement savings versus other types of accounts such as a savings account, online or traditional brokerage account.   One word, TAXES.  When you invest in retirement accounts your money grows tax free.  The amount you will save in taxes as your retirement account grows tax almost always outweighs the benefit of taxable accounts. 

Ideally you should maximize your retirement accounts before you begin after tax investing.  What retirement vehicles are available in the marketplace?  There are many, but the two major types are employer sponsored plans and IRAs.  The ability to participate in them is based on your employer and income.  I describe the most common vehicles below. 

Employer Sponsored Plans:

401(k) – For profit companies offer 401(k) plans.  These plans allow you to save up to $15,500 per year (for 2007), usually through payroll deductions.  If you are 50 or older, you can put away $20,500 for 2007.  Your employer’s plan may have lower limits.  Your contributions to a 401(k) are excluded from your reported income and thus are generally free from income taxes.  Your withdrawals at retirement are taxed at regular income tax rates.  Some employers don’t allow you to contribute right away.  Some employers match up to a certain percent; so in addition to saving on taxes, you get extra money.

403(b) – Not for profit companies offer 403(b) plans.  These plans allow you to save 20% or $15,500 per year (for 2007), whichever is lower usually through payroll deductions.  If you are 50 or older, you can put away $20,500 for 2007.  Your contributions to a 403(b) are excluded from your reported income and thus are generally free from income taxes.  Your withdrawals at retirement are taxed at regular income tax rates.

IRAs:

Standard IRA – Anyone with employment income can contribute to an IRA.  For tax year 2007, you may contribute up to $4,000 per year, $5,000 if you’re age 50+.Your contributions to standard IRAs may or may not be tax deductible.  If you are not covered by an employer sponsored retirement plan, you can take a full deduction regardless of salary.  If you are covered by an employer sponsored retirement plan, for tax year 2007, if you’re single your tax deduction is phased out when your AGI is between $50,000 and $60,000 – for couples they are phased out between $80,000 and $100,000.  Your withdrawals at retirement are taxed at regular income tax rates.

Roth IRA – Your contribution is not tax deductible but the money grows tax free and is withdrawn tax free.  For tax year 2007, you may contribute up to $4,000 per year, $5,000 if you’re age 50+.  However, there are income restrictions – Single: Up to $99,000 (full contribution); $99,000-$114,000 (partial contribution) Married: Up to $156,000 (full contribution); $156,000-$166,000 (partial contribution)

All individuals have at least one type of Retirement Account they can participate in, many have more than one.  As you plan your retirement savings, utilize these tools to their fullest potential. In part 3 of this 5 part series “A Primer on Retirement Saving”, I will discuss the best use of these retirement investment vehicles to meet your retirement needs.    Stay tuned! 

Please contact Dollars & Sense Education to bring our “Financial Health 101 seminar to your company or organization!

Dollars & Sense Education – Raising Your Financial IQ!
www.daseducation.com
nicole@daseducation.com
215 – 499 – 3834 

A Primer on Retirement Saving (Part 1 of 5)

Save for Retirement?  C’mon, that is soooo far away.  This is the last thing on most people’s minds.  They want to travel, they want to buy nice clothes while they still look good in them, they want drink good beer.  I get it, I get it.  So do I.  But you need to realize that you are going to want to do all of these things when you retire and you need to have a way to pay for it!  So a little self sacrifice now will go a long way later.

 Let me use an analogy: Say Jim graduates from college and makes $40,000 a year.  His company offers a 401K plan and he decides to put away $4,000 annually.  His 401K returns an average of 9% per year for the next 43 years.  He does this until he retires at age 65 with $808,000* in the bank.

Aaron also makes $40,000 dollars per year.  He does not begin investing for retirement until he turns 40.  At this point he starts to sock away $8,000 per year in his employer’s 401K plan.  Like Jim his investments earn about 9% per year.  He does this until he retires at age 65 with $462,000* in the bank.

In terms of sheer dollars Jim saved $28,000 less than Aaron but he retires with $346,000 more than him. 

How did that happen?  Compound interest!  Compound interest is the concept that your interest earns interest and this makes you more money.

So moral of the story…Start saving early.  If I haven’t convinced you to start saving for retirement, well, don’t bother reading parts 2-5 of this series.  But please don’t cry to me when you are 85 and still working.  The most critical part of this whole process is to just do it – start planning for retirement early.

 In part 2 of this 5 part series “A Primer on Retirement Saving”, I will discuss the different investment vehicles you can use to save for retirement.  Stay tuned!

*adjusted for 3% inflation per year

Please contact Dollars & Sense Education to bring our “Financial Health 101” seminar to your company or organization!
Dollars & Sense Education – Raising Your Financial IQ!
www.daseducation.com
nicole@daseducation.com
215 – 499 – 3834

Payday Loans = Mayday

I received an email this week from advertising representative from a payday advance loan company asking me if they could advertise on my company’s site.  My company, Dollars & Sense Education provides personal finance education in the workplace.  Payday loans are predatory loans that prey on unsophisticated people with little to no financial education.  This would be equivalent to Marlboro asking the American Cancer Society to advertise on their website.  I sent them a scathing email. 

Just like smoking, I know the consumer bears alot of the blame.  But these companies make a living from putting people into financial ruin.  At least packs of cigarettes coming with a warning label.