Category Archives: Saving

Our Debt is Embarrassing

Money MindWe know we suck at money management…we just gave ourselves a C or lower in personal finance class. But then we say we are spending more and basically not doing anything about it.

Yet, we are embarrassed about our credit card debt…more embarrassed about that than our weight, age, credit report or how much money is in our bank account.

It’s embarrassing and we stress about it. We’d like to say “don’t sweat the small stuff,” but your finances aren’t “small” and maybe sweating it would do you some good.

If you’re this far, the good news is you CAN find the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s called “saving money.” And it can be the answer to all your financial woes.

The bad news? It’s going to take some work. For the rest of your life (or until you don’t have to worry about money anymore). Money management doesn’t just “go away” once you have it in order. It takes lifelong tending and growing.

Go Girl Finance has some ideas to get you started saving money and living stress-free:

Identify the problem. Be serious…what is the real issue? Spending too much on fancy-schmancy stuff? Too much activity on your credit card? Or is there just not enough income coming in? Find out why you are stressed about money, then make a plan and start getting organized.

Stay positive in the present. Nobody likes a Debbie Downer. But it’s easy to become one and jump on the “woe is me” bandwagon. Focus on what you are doing now and give yourself a daily pep talk. Remember what Stuart Smalley used to say: “I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. And doggone it, people like me.”

Put yourself in the power seat and know that you can change your situation. Above, we said you need to make a plan. This is when you put that plan into motion, little by little. Remember, it’s a marathon not a sprint. One small change (like saving $25 a month) can have a snowball effect, and encourage you to do even more.

Exercise! Yes, move your body more than just lifting the remote. Exercise is a great stress buster. Just a regular old walk around the block can put you in a better mood, and relieve stress.

Savvy Money says to track your spending. Maybe not forever, but this is a must for a few months. Here’s how it should pan out:

  • 35% for housing
  • 15% for transportation
  • 15% for debt
  • 10% for savings (this is NON-NEGOTIABLE!)
  • 25% for any other living expenses

If you feel like housing can be a lesser expense, use it towards another category. It’s your choice! You can borrow from any category EXCEPT savings.

Managing your money smartly takes time, effort and dedication on your part. But we know you can do it…because you’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and doggone it, people like you.

Money Brain

money brainThere’s “mommy brain,” “senior moments” and “blonde moments.”

Well…now there’s “money brain.”

Experts say being a spender or saver depends on your brain. What you’ve been taught at home has something to do with it too, but in this post, we’re talking about that gray matter between your ears.

Recent research shows that while parents do have an effect on your financial habits, your brain’s chemistry plays a role too.

We won’t bore you with case studies, focus groups and medical gobbledygook, but here’s the deal: some of you get a thrill from instant gratification (buying that super cute pair of shoes NOW) and some of you get excited by “the deal” (think shopping sales or seeing your savings grow).

Think about it: When you get a free meal, doesn’t it taste better? Or if you find those super cute pair of shoes HALF OFF, aren’t they all that much cuter?

If you want to read the research, read The Psychology of Money-How Spending and Saving Habits are Programmed in Your Brain or The New Science Behind Your Spending Addiction.

Now that you know “you can’t help spending” … well, actually, you can…but if you feel you are one of those people like our friend Fredica (who had a spending problem, but now realizes she can control it) here’s some tips:

  • Use cash. The simple act of seeing the dollars can help. A credit card is just a plastic card, right? You can’t see the money being spent until it’s too late (and $300 later).
  • Use an ATM or branch office to withdraw your money, and make sure you get a balance inquiry. This helps you see your dwindling account.
  • Never “put it on my tab.” Pay as you go so you keep track of how much you are spending. Wait…the only place we know of where you say “put it on my tab” is a bar, and you shouldn’t be wasting money there anyway.
  • Don’t be swayed by “the big sale” or sales people! Remember that Friends episode when Joey bought all that stuff for his new apartment and racked up a major credit card bill?

Ross: What… what’s that?
Joey: It’s my VISA bill. “Envelope one of two.” That can’t be good.

No Mr. Tribbiani, it’s not good.

Don’t buy things because they’re on sale. Buy them because they are a need.

  • Know the difference between needs and wants. Read this “Needs vs Wants” from a recent post.
  • We’ve said it before. Tell someone you are trying to control your spending. A good friend will stop you from buying too much. A great friend will buy it for you. JUST KIDDING. Don’t think we want you to be a charity case. A great friend will help you and may even suggest a financial counselor at a credit union or non-profit agency.

No matter if you are a spender or a saver, you brain has a lot to do with your money smarts, as well as the habits you learned early on in your fiscal career. The bottom line is all about control, and we know you can control your brain. Well, most of us can.

Quick Tip: Smart Uses For a Tax Refund

Destroying your debt doesn’t have to take hours. Watch our 15 second tips and then be on your merry way. These tips also air on KAKE-TV’s (ABC, Wichita, KS) regularly.

View all our quick tips.  Follow along on social media at #moneypossible.

Smart Uses For a Tax Refund

The average tax refund has been around $3,000. Don’t blow it. Pay off credit card debt. Boost your savings. Build your retirement fund. Or even invest in your home.

A “C” in Financial Literacy

One room schoolhouseSchool is so lame. Having to do what teacher says, all those dumb assignments, and who looks at your grades anyway?

April is Financial Literacy month, and a recent survey shows adults give themselves a “C” or lower when it comes to their financial knowledge. Not exactly making the honor roll, are we?

Here’s what the survey revealed:

  • Forty-one percent of adults gave themselves a grade of C, D or F on their knowledge of personal finance.
  • More than half of respondents (61 percent) admitted to not having a budget. This is the highest percentage in six years.
  • About a third (34 percent) carry credit card debt month to month, and 15 percent roll over more than $2,500 in debt per month.
  • Top concerns are not enough in emergency or retirement savings.

So basically, we are AT BEST a “C” student. We don’t have a budget. We carry credit card debt and we don’t have money for emergencies or retirement. And here’s the best (worst) part: Adults are spending MORE than in previous years, with only 29 percent saying they spent less than last year.

People: Get a hold of yourself!

First, watch this:

Financial education is what this campaign is all about. Our participants are learning that with proper budgeting, mindful spending and saving, and financial organization, you can beef up savings, pay down loans, stop impulse buying….and be on your way to financial health. The result of this knowledge? Living with less stress.

Here are a few more tips:

Spend less than you earn.
Period.

Make goals.
Goals can create actions plans that help you stay on track.

Be realistic.
Start small. Eliminate one lunch out and save $10 a week. Trim $20 from your grocery bill. Then SAVE that $30 or apply it to one of your debts.

Consider your financial institution.
Kansas credit unions can save you $30,000 over your lifetime simply by using them as your primary financial institution. Most offer seminars or classes, some even have a person right on staff to help you. Credit unions are local establishments with a fierce loyalty to the their communities. Search here for a Kansas credit union, or visit asmarterchoice.org to find one nationally.

You can do it. We know you can. Make a commitment now to get control of your finances.
Download the Money Possible workbook. Call a financial counselor. Google it. Watch a video.

Strive for that “A” … that spot in the National Honor Society. Don’t you want your own “I’m an honor roll student” bumper sticker?

Poll results: What is Your 2014 Financial Goal?

Our informal poll results are in:

2014: What is your financial goal poll results

More than a quarter (27 percent) of respondents goal is to pay down credit card debt. That’s a biggie…the average household owes more than $7,000 on their cards, and 15 percent of us roll over more than $2,500 in credit card debt per month.

Twenty percent said the goal was to save for a milestone like college, a new baby or retirement. Did you know the average college graduate owes $35,000 in debt in 2013? Or that you’ll spend about $10,000 on a baby in the first year alone? Or that you’ll need eight times the amount of your ending salary to retire? Things to think about…

Only 13 percent are saving for a “big ticket item” like a house, car or much needed vacation.

This is the big one…almost half of you (40 percent) want to build your emergency savings.  You are in good company. Roughly 75 percent of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck, with little to no emergency savings, , according to a recent survey released by Bankrate.com.

Fifty percent of those surveyed have less than a three-month cushion and 27 percent had no savings at all. People…this is not good. All households should have at least three months of living expenses saved.

Controlling Impulse Spending.

Hot Deal! Best Sale!Impulse spending will wreck your budget faster than the Ellen selfie went viral at the Academy awards.

Impulse spending (or impulse buying) is an unplanned decision to buy a product or service. Stores are notorious for placing items “just so” to increase your impulse spending.

Fredica knows that she is an impulse buyer. She knows she buys things she doesn’t need, just because it might be on sale or she has a coupon. She’s not alone.

The lure of impulse spending.
Did you know 90 percent of the time you go shopping you end up buying something that wasn’t on your list?

Yes, 90 PERCENT!

A survey showed that impulse buyers waste an average of $200 per month on items they don’t need.

But who can resist the lure of temptations like this: “Buy a bag of chips and get a jar of salsa for free.” Neither items are on your list, but hey, free salsa!

Or this: “Buy three 12 packs of soda for $12 OR one for $5.” NO ONE really “needs” soda. But here in ‘Merica, we do!

Retailers know that 88% of impulse buys are made because something is on sale. And 14% of impulse buys are food items, but something you probably didn’t need in the first place.

Impulse spending creates cluttered houses, busts our budget and packs on the pounds.

Plan to shop.
Retailers, especially grocery stores, rely on consumers to make impulse purchases. That’s why it’s super important to PLAN to shop. In fact, impulse buying increases 23% if the trip itself was unplanned!

Make a list and (this is the important part) STICK TO IT.

Planning to shop and sticking to only the items on your list can reduce impulse spending.

Take control.
We know it’s hard to control spending. Here’s our favorite ways to take three tips to help:

Give it 48 hours. If you still need that item, you can go back and get it, but only if it is in your budget. Chances are, you won’t.

Calculate how many hours you have to work to buy that item (really only works for larger purchases).

Go on a spending freeze. A spending freeze is where you don’t spend any money for a designated amount of time. Before you freak out and think you can’t do it, even a few days can help. A two-week spending freeze is common, but some people even try a month. Just Google “spending freeze” and you will find plenty of resources to get started.

Controlling your spending is hard, especially when it looks like everyone else is throwing money around like it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. The ability to purchase things online doesn’t help either. Click, click, done! Congratulations! You just spent $78 on shoes you don’t need.

Take control now. The only person who can change your behavior is you.

Just Say No.

Just Say NoThe word “No” kinda gets a bad rap. Parents of young children grow weary of saying it. “Just say no” was the 1980s ad campaign for the war on drugs. We feel bad sometimes when we say it; like when you are asked to do something you really don’t want to do, or don’t have the time, yet feel obligated to say yes.

Saying no is no fun.

The word yes is much more positive, like that Home Alone Macaulay Culkin fist pump YES!

But when you are talking about your finances, saying “yes” can be much worse than saying “no.”

Just ask Lisa and Bryan. They want to reduce their debt and save for retirement. They are saying “yes” to things, when they should be saying no. Especially to family and friends.

It’s hard to say no to those close to us, or even our co-workers and neighbors. But if you are trying to stick to a budget, save for retirement or whatever, “just say no.”

No to Sonic runs. No to that new movie that just opened today. No to the soda at the ball game. (By the way, if you said no to just those three things, you’d have an extra $20 to save.)

But how do you come across without sounding like a Debbie Downer or a Party Pooper?

It’s simple. Tell people you are trying to stick to a budget, save money, save for retirement, whatever. People who care about you, won’t put you through the ringer for wanting save for a rainy day.

You’ve got to stand your ground. And don’t you dare feel guilty about saying no. It’s like peer pressure for adults. It’s like keeping up with the Joneses. There will also be someone with the newest gadgets, eating at the fanciest restaurant, taking the coolest vacations. Get over it. Just say no.

Here are three ways to say no:

  1. Keep it simple.
    You don’t need to explain the heck out of why you can’t (or don’t want to) go the latest flick. Just say “another time.” Or “I’m busy that night.” Even a casual “It’s not in the budget this week” should do the trick.
  2. Offer something else.
    “Instead of going out to a movie, let’s rent that one we’ve been wanting to see, and have a movie night at my house.” You are still spending time with them, just in a different way.
  3. Say “I don’t” instead of “I can’t.”
    “I don’t go to movies in the theater,” is different than “I can’t go to movies in the theater.” A change in terminology can be the difference between staying within your budget, and blowing it to bits.

A couple of good hardy “nos” and you’ll be a pro at it. You’ll feel better about your decision, and your budget will be saying YES!