Get More for Less: Easy Ways to Save Money Around the House Without Cutting Back

Saving money on household expenses does not always have to mean cutting back or eliminating things that you want or need. From your home entertainment services right down to your utility bills, cutting costs can put more money in your pocket each month. When eliminating services is not an option for you, there are still economical ways in which you can save money. Some of the most common methods to saving money are negotiating, comparison shopping and promotional offers.

Let’s look deeper into how these methods would work in your household.

Home Entertainment Services

When it comes to home entertainment, having services such as your phone, internet, and cable are essential. Though you could certainly save money by eliminating or reducing the services you have, there are other ways that allow you to save money on the same services. In this instance using comparison shopping and promotional offers would be best.

Comparison shopping – There is likely more than one home entertainment service provider in your area. Since each company is vying for your business, they’re going to be willing to offer you a better deal than their competitor. Comparison shopping allows you to see who has the best offers. Check each of the home entertainment service providers in your area and see what prices they offer for the cable, television, and phone services you need. Choose the company that offers the better deal.

Promotional Offers – Another option for getting the services you need for home entertainment without cutting services is to use promotional offers. Many cable companies that offer phone and internet services will offer them as a package deal. This package deal is given for a period of time (3 months to a year). Since many of these companies don’t require you to sign a contract, you can simply look for better promotional offers once yours is expired. This way, you’re always paying the better price for the services you want.

Negotiation – if you like your current service provider, simply contact them and try to negotiate a lesser price. Since they are trying to keep your business, they will do what they can to give you the same services at a more affordable price. Let them know that a competitor is offering the services for a lesser amount and see what the company can offer you.

Utility Bills

Another household expense that can consume your budget is the utility bills. Gas, and electric obviously a necessity, so cutting them is something you can’t do. So how can you use savvy shopping tips to cut the costs in instances like this? Comparison shopping and negotiating work best in this instance.

Comparison Shopping – Many residents are not aware that they have the power to choose their own energy provider. Due to new regulations in many states, residents can now choose which service provider they’d prefer for electricity services. Now you can easily use a price comparison website that allows you to shop electricity rates. Search for an energy service provider in your area that offers better rates than your current supplier and switch.

Negotiate – Again, if you like your current electricity provider but want to see if you can get the price lowered, negotiation is your best tactic. Because of deregulations in various qualifying states, electric companies are more than willing to negotiate with consumers to keep their services. If you find a price at a lower rate through price comparison, bring this up to your current energy provider and see what they can offer you in return.

Household Repairs

Don’t you just hate it when something breaks down in the home? Depending on what it is and the severity of the damage the repair could set you back hundreds if not thousands of dollars. While you can’t go without certain appliances and systems in your home, there are ways in which you can save money on repair and maintenance services. 

Comparison Shopping – again, comparison shopping is your best tool when it comes to shopping for repair services. Look around at the various companies that will provide the repair services you need. Get several quotes (at least three) that give you an accurate read on how much the services will cost you. Lastly, choose the service provider that offers the better deal.

Promotional Deals – There are companies that will offer promotional deals on repair services. For instance, an HVAC company may give you a percentage off your repair services if you sign up for a maintenance contract. While you might not look at this as a savings, maintenance on household systems and appliances actually saves you money in the long run on repairs. Therefore, signing up for a maintenance contract will ensure your systems or appliances are working efficiently while also giving you a discount on your repairs.

Negotiating – Like the credentials of a particular contractor but don’t want to pay the high costs? Sometimes you can use negotiating to your advantage to get a deal. By letting the contractor know that the services are offered at a cheaper rate from a local competitor, they may be willing to come down on the costs. If you know a few people in your neighborhood that are interested in such services as well, you could use that as a negotiating point. Letting the contractor know that you also have two or three residents interested in their services might get you a discount as you’re supplying them with new business.

You as the consumer have a lot more power than you think. When it comes to saving money on products and services around the house, cutting back or eliminating them doesn’t always have to be the answer. Instead use the three savvy shopping strategies: comparison shopping, taking advantage of promotional offers, and negotiating to see if you can get more for less. While it may not work in all cases, it is a great measure to take when you’re looking to balance the budget.

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Poor Financial Lessons Parents Are Inadvertently Teaching Their Kids

Parents are often referred to as the first teachers in their child’s life. It is the responsibility of parents and supporting family members to provide a solid foundation from which their children can learn to live life. While most families try the best they can to teach their children the properly, sometimes they inadvertently pass on poor habits and traits that follow their children right through adulthood. One area in which parents unknowingly teach poor habits is personal finance.

When it comes to personal finances, many adults are unaware of how to handle them properly. It is not until something goes terribly wrong that the need to learn on how to effectively manage personal finances come into place, however, by this point your children have already absorbed a great deal of what your actions have shown. Below are a few lessons you may be unconsciously teaching your children about finances.

1. Debt is the Solution

While parents don’t need to share every aspect of their personal finances with their children, failure to talk to them about the importance of staying out of debt leads to the conclusion that debt is the solution. Parents constantly paying for things with credit cards or taking out financial loans at every turn leads children to believe that in order to get ahead in life, borrowing funds is the solution. While borrowing funds and being in some debt is common, it is not the ideal go to solution. Though you may have talked with your teen about the importance of good credit and low debt, they only SEE you using debt.

2. Spend Now Saving is Optional

Did you know that approximately 62% of Americans  do not have a emergency savings account? Many adults do not effectively save money for rainy days or even for planned events such as retirement. While you may have told your kids about saving money, your actions are what they’re paying attention to. Many adults don’t think about saving until something has gone wrong to cause their finances to be disrupted. Children who are watching essentially believe that there is always time to save money later. In essence they develop a, “We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it” attitude.

3. Being Rich Will Solve All Your Problems

There is nothing wrong with wanting to be financial well off, but if you’re completely honest you know that more money does not erase all of your problems. When your children constantly hear you saying things like, “when I get this promotion things will be better”, “when I hit the mega million I can solve this matter”, “If my job paid me more maybe I wouldn’t be behind on my bills, they begin to believe that having an abundance of money will erase any problem they have.

4. Money Problems Destroy Relationships

Couples that don’t know how to effectively communicate and resolve money matters amicably end up lashing out without even knowing it. Married couples getting divorced, mom and dad not speaking to each other, and even arguments every time there’s money involved sends the message that money can destroy relationships. This in turn can teach children that its better to withhold issues with money from their significant others to prevent the drama. OR it can show children that arguing about money matters is the way to resolve the matter. Either way, this is a negative message to send.

5. Telling Little Fibs About Money is Alright

How many times have you answered a phone call from a creditor and made up an excuse as to why you couldn’t pay? Was that excuse the truth? Many parents tell small lies with the hopes of wiggling their way out of a bad situation. “Oh I recently got fired from my job, I need more time”, “I’m barely surviving financially, I’ll call you next week to set something up.” However, the reality is that you simply didn’t manage your money well. Your kids catch on to this and believe that lying is the answer for dealing with money issues that they don’t know how to resolve.

6. Being Competitive with Money is Cool

Last, but certainly not least, parents give off the impression that it is okay to compete when you have money. Bragging about having the bigger house or the best car, and keeping up with the Joneses are common examples of how parents give off this impression. While competition is necessary in certain areas of life, you don’t want your children to believe that the only way to be successful is to have money and buy nice things. They in turn feel like they have to keep up with the competition causing them to create the illusion that they’re more successful than they really are.

Don’t Let Finances and Wealth Get the Best of You

Wanting to succeed in life and managing your finances can often cause a great deal of stress. Essentially when we allow certain areas of our life to get out of control, it can begin to have psychological and eventually physical affects on our health and well-being. If you’ve begun to notice changes in your mental or physical well-being such as elevated levels of stress, periods of sadness, or disconnections from your daily activities it’s time to rethink the way your finances run your life.

Many people don’t realize the emotional effects of debt and ultimately begin depending upon substances such as drugs and alcohol to cope with emotions. Prescott House, a rehab facility for men, talks about alcohol dependency and its affects on the body. Allowing finances to get you to this point is essentially dangerous and can affect your entire family if you don’t recognize the signs and get help.

The fact is, that personal finances and wealth management are important aspects of life. If you fail to handle your finances properly essentially you create a lot of unnecessary stress and debt. While you are well aware of this and strive to teach your children the importance of managing their finances effectively, your actions speak louder than your words. Be mindful of how you handle money matters in front of your children. While you don’t have to disclose every bit of your financial status to them, it is important that you try your best to emulate the very lessons you are trying to teach them.

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Why Women Don’t Ask

Although the wage gap between men and women has been widely publicized, it hasn’t narrowed much in a decade.

In article, The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap (Spring 2015) the author says:

“In 2013, among full-time, year-round workers, women were paid 78 percent of what men were paid.”

Research as to why women get paid less shows multiple reasons. They don’t try to train for the high paying jobs. They have to take time out from their career to bear and (usually) raise the children. They work more part time jobs than men. They don’t ask for higher pay or more opportunities or promotions. Sometimes they don’t even think about what they could want or ask to receive.

Linda Babcock is one of those researchers. She has written a couple of books:

  • Ask for It – How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What They Really Want and
  • Women Don’t Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide

Her findings indicate that men will ask for what they want much more often than women. On the Lange Money Hour radio show, she explores how this can hurt the female half of a couple when it comes to family finances. For example, if the husband is running the finances (which is true in many couples) and he decides to take a risk with the money, it can end up devastating the family finances. Many women won’t ask their spouse to consider a different approach. When they do, they sometimes suffer for it.

In my own family, a sister-in-law spoke up when her spouse wanted to use the college funds they had saved to send their 4 sons through school to carry a real estate investment through the 2010 recession. They fought over it and he ended up suing her for divorce.

Another situation might be when the man decides to take his social security as early as allowed (age 62), instead of waiting until full retirement age. Since women typically outlive men by 5 – 10 years or so, and since currently the wife can get benefits from her husband’s social security (and vice versa) in many cases, the reduced benefit he gets by taking early social security can affect her ability to live comfortably after he dies.

Women are afraid to ask.

I know that throughout my own life, I have been afraid to ask for what I want and sometimes have even felt that I don’t deserve to even think about having what I want.

I was raised to be a ‘nice girl’, to be considerate of others, to always be polite, not to yell, not to be selfish, to always be of service. After I married, I noticed that my spouse had no trouble at all speaking up for what he wanted, but when I did, there were arguments and anger and resentment. It didn’t take long to quell any thoughts of going after what I wanted.

Why are women afraid to ask?

Other research, reported in Winning Negotiations: Why Women Don’t Ask expands on that concept.

Jean Clemons is a management communications teacher at Wharton. She says:

“Women are afraid that asking for what they want will make them appear negative, aggressive or pushy.”

Guess what? There is a good reason they are afraid of that. The article goes on to say:

“Michelle Madhok, founder and CEO of SheFinds Media, an online media company that publishes editorial websites about shopping for busy professional women, pointed out that women’s concern that they will appear in a negative light is somewhat justified.

Research shows that women tend to get labeled “arrogant” or “abrasive” much more readily than men, she said.”

Another article: Nice Girls Don’t Ask states that:

“Women often don’t get what they want and deserve because they don’t ask for it.”

They agree with me that it may be partly due to our upbringing, saying:

“First, they often are socialized from an early age not to promote their own interests and to focus instead on the needs of others. The messages girls receive—from parents, teachers, other children, the media, and society in general—can be so powerful that when they grow up they may not realize that they’ve internalized this behavior, or they may realize it but not understand how it affects their willingness to negotiate. Women tend to assume that they will be recognized and rewarded for working hard and doing a good job. Unlike men, they haven’t been taught that they can ask for more.”

“Women who assertively pursue their own ambitions and promote their own interests may be labeled as bitchy or pushy. They frequently see their work devalued and find themselves ostracized or excluded from access to important information. These responses from women’s colleagues and supervisors may not be conscious or part of any concerted effort to “hold women back.” More typically, they’re a product of society’s ingrained expectations about how women should act.”

My theory.

How the heck did this kind of socialization get embedded in our society? I think it dates back to the dawn of time, and to our physical makeups.

Most of earth’s populations developed as patriarchal societies. Men ran things. Why? I think it was because they were physically stronger. I think it was because they beat weaker beings into submission, through verbal and actual physical means. I think it was because women were forced into dependency during childbirth and breastfeeding and were pregnant much of their adult lives due to lack of effective and viable birth control measures.

Because of these things, women learned to modify their behavior simply to survive and ensure the survival of their children. They passed along what they learned to both sons and daughters. Their men passed along the idea that it was OK to ask and demand as well as dominate. A societal culture was created that favored men, that made them feel free to ask for ( or even demand) what they wanted. That same culture taught women that they were at the mercy of men and that they must subjugate their right to ask so that they and their offspring could survive. In time, it became the norm.

Although women’s ability to function independently has risen with the change in society to enable women to become bread winners and to be shed of the constant cycle of pregnancy to which we were previously enslaved, men can still threaten and dominate – and some do.

Speaking up to ask for what women want is not easy when, deep down, we know that we can and probably will be yelled at or punished for doing so. It is nearly impossible for those unfortunate women who still suffer physical and mental abuse from the men in their lives.

Yet knowing the reasons and understanding the cultural role played in causing women not to ask for what they want and need can help us all learn a new lesson.

Realizing that is really is OK and normal for all of us to state our position and ask for what we want frees our minds and sets us on the path toward full utilization of all our human resources.

We need to stop teaching our children that women shouldn’t ask.

For my daughter-in-laws and my granddaughter.

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Grandma Rie’s 2015 Money Camp Plans

Teaching the next generation to successfully handle money and personal finances is normally a family responsibility. Although parents bear much of the burden to teach, train and model good personal finance, extended family members can also contribute.

Although my grown children do very well in the personal finance arena, they learned from us by osmosis, without any special or formal training by my spouse or I. When they presented me with grandchildren, I vowed that I would take an active part in teaching financial literacy to them.

As a result, I started a one week ‘Grandma Rie’s Money Camp’ in 2011 and held our fourth annual one this year.

Background.

This year’s camp will held just for the two grandchildren, a boy just 11 and a girl almost 8. My grandchildren’s other Grandma will participate with me in this years camp.

Long range planning

Earlier this year, I sat down and thought about the long range goals of our Money Camp. Before I know it the kids will be teens and not very interested in going to a Grandma camp with their precious time. However, as long as there is interest I plan to continue.

From basic concepts about currency identification and value to more esoteric topics such as the psychology of money, I jotted down the things I felt were important to pass along to our next generation. I gleaned some of my ideas from books such as The Young Investor by Katherine R. Bateman, Raising Financially Fit Kids by Joline Godfrey and Granddad’s Money Camp by Dr. George H. Meyers. Other’s came from discussions in our family meeting about what our family values are and still others from things I felt I had lacked or had neglected to teach my own children before they grew up.

Some of the items, for example, include:

  • How to deal with a windfall
  • Conceptual and practical information on investing
  • A heavy focus on saving
  • Exploration of and encouragement to have financial independence
  • How to negotiate
  • Getting a loan, buying a car or house
  • All about insurance
  • Tax education
  • more…

I ran my topics past the parents and then divided them up into categories and figured out at what age I want to cover each.

This year

Since saving is such an important value in our family, I intend to spend an additional day reviewing what we did last year, when the main focus was on saving.

Then we will dive into some practical skills. We will cover things like practice making change, when why and how to use a budget.

We’ll explore what adult members of our family do for a living as well as what other kids are doing right now to earn money or have a business.

I’ll continue to help them learn about investing by reading books (including Stock Market Pie), having them look through samples of annual reports, do a scavenger hunt to find companies who make things around home.

We will continue to learn about self employment and entrepreneurship (which I encourage because I want them to consider the possibility of NOT working for someone else all their lives). We will read Once Upon a Company – a true story about kids who earned money for college by opening a Christmas wreath making company; Benji – Kid Zillionaire – a 5th grade level book about a boy who wrote an App and made a bunch of money; and The Toothpaste Millionaire – about kids who made and sold millions of dollars worth of toothpaste.

Then we will play a board game I made up called Toothpaste Millions which helps kids learn about how decisions they make affect the growth of a business.

We are also going to watch an old movie called Kidco – about a group of kids who make money selling fertilizer from their farm, but get into trouble because they aren’t following the rules.

One day will focus on selling – why it is important, how it can be done, practice with sales techniques and examples of kids selling things. Another day will be devoted to learning how to negotiate – with a field trip to garage sales so they can practice.

Each year, they typically elect to have a kid business. So far that has been a one day drink & snack stand with various other add on products for sale. This year I’m going to propose that they make or bake Christmas crafts or treats, send samples to relatives along with an order form – which we will then fill in December.

Preparation tasks.

I’ve found over the years that lots of prep work makes things go smoother and lets me focus on covering the concepts I want the kids to learn. I spent about 3 months planning for and preparing objects and activities for the camp this year – the board game in particular, took a lot of time, but was great fun for me.

Here are some of the tasks you might consider covering if you want to hold a camp for your kids – especially if, like me, you are not used to having the little people around all the time anymore!

Pick one or two concepts to cover. Look at educational standards and what typical kids the age of yours can or should know and do before you settle on a concept. By focusing on just a couple of things, you will send a stronger message.

Search for resources (books, games, activities, movies and etc) that help reinforce those concepts. I use library books, books I buy, board and card games, online games and activities, dvds, presentations, home made movies and more.)

Do something to set camp time apart from down time. We use the t-shirts – wearing them during camp and taking them off when camp ends.

Plan for alternate activities. Some times the kids just aren’t interested or you aren’t up for the orig. one. Have something in your back pocket to pull out and use.

Draw up a schedule. Check first with parents to see when the kids are available. Check the offering dates and times of businesses or tours or activities you want to pursue during camp. Test your schedule to see if you have enough or too little planned for the time allotted. I usually do this by going hour by hour on a paper schedule and then reviewing it multiple times. You have to be flexible during camp though and not try to stick strictly to the schedule. It should be a guide for you, not a task master for kids.

Gather or prepare any materials you need. Any teacher will tell you that it takes many non-classroom hours to be ready for one class exercise.

It really helps to be organized!

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The Future of Personal Finance Record Keeping

The other day, I was looking (longingly) at a new laptop at the store.  I keep my personal finance records totally separate (as much as possible these days) from the internet, to attempt to avoid data or identity theft.  Today those records exist soley on the hard drive and diskette backup of my 2000 era desktop computer in a very old version of Quicken.

As I looked around the electronics department, I wondered, why not go to a tablet.  It would be easier to use.  In researching the applications I could use to track my finances, though, it quickly became apparent that I would need to store my data on a third party server or even ‘in the cloud’ – something I’m not totally comfortable with today.

That made me wonder, what will the future of personal finance record keeping be?

But first, a look back.

The past.

Picture the Christmas movie: Scrooge (aka A Christmas Carol) where Bob Cratchet bent over hand written ledgers, inking in the latest information. In the 1920’s and 1930’s folks (and banks) used ledger books to track their accounts and inflows and outflows. Net worth was tracked via paper and pencil (if at all). On to my youth in the 1950’s when banks issued passbooks showing your transactions (which were stamped in while you stood there and watched); parents kept checkbooks handy for bill paying and hardly anyone used a credit card (and there were no credit scores as we know them today the FICO scoring system having been developed – according to Bank Rate  – in the late 1980’s)

Now look at what many are doing today to track their finances – pictures of receipts going into software which automatically classifies it; check pictures snapped and automatically deposited, online automated bill paying, direct deposit of payrolls and benefits, confirmations of transactions sent out automatically (and posted online for you to see), even taxes being calculated and filed by software and services offering cloud based data storage of your financial data along with a multitude of tools to help you manage it.

Until the advent of the personal computer, most people (if they tracked at all) kept their records on paper, using hand written or typed (yes on a typewriter) accounts.

Introduction of the personal computer changed that. Since 1985, Intuit has offered software to track your personal finances. Allowing the software to bear part of the burden of keeping track of things.

Still, even with the expanding use of computers, the information was personal and private. Money was (and still is in many ways) a taboo subject. You didn’t talk about how much you made, how much you had or how much you spent on what.

With the spread of internet usage in the mid-1990s multiple new tools to simplify personal finance tracking were introduced as well as the possibility for your data to become less than private.

Some of these tools required that you basically gave up some control over your personal data, allowing it to be stored in databases in the cloud or on servers where the company controls who has access to it (hopefully in such a fashion that no hackers were able to get it), how much you had to pay to use it and what services you actually got.

In April 2015, PC Magazine article: What Is Cloud Computing? acknowledged some of these issues, saying:

“Cloud computing—like so much about the Internet—is a little bit like the Wild West, where the rules are made up as you go, and you hope for the best.

The ISPs, telcos, and media companies control your access. Putting all your faith in the cloud means you’re also putting all your faith in continued, unfettered access. You might get this level of access, but it’ll cost you. And it will continue to cost more and more as companies find ways to make you pay by doing things like metering your service: the more bandwidth you use, the more it costs.

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak decried cloud computing in 2012: “I think it’s going to be horrendous. I think there are going to be a lot of horrible problems in the next five years,” he said.

But Wozniak was concerned more about the intellectual property issues. Who owns the data you store online? Is it you or the company storing it?

That said, of the approximately 256 million people aged 15 and over living in the United States, estimates of the numbers of people storing and accessing their personal financial data over the internet exceed at least 15 million (estimated number of Mint.com users). This doesn’t even count everyone using online brokers, bill paying, banking and other private data center vs. ‘the cloud’ (what is the difference?) type storage and services. Heck, even if you don’t sign up for online accounts, your data is still out there, and can possibly be hacked. Financial institutions don’t typically segregate accounts prior to loading it to their private servers – its usually all there in these data centers, whether or not you use it via the online functionality.

In just a few short years, more and more people seem to be willing to lose that degree of control over their data, so that their record keeping can be simplified. Why is that?

Because record keeping is a drag, always has been. That, according to some sources, is, after all the reason Scott Cook and Tom Proulx started Quicken – Cook’s wife’s loathing of her monthly bill paying chores. I myself have lamented the increasing amounts of record keeping required as we have become more affluent.

What will the future of personal finance record keeping look like?

As we move forward in time, how will it change, how will it become less of a drag?

I believe it will be a combination of the influences of technical advances, changes in our psychology around money and of the fight against hackers. Among those, I believe the psychological changes will be the hardest to effect and the most important influencer.

Technical advances.

In 2014, Pew Research Center’s Internet Project, and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Project cam up with 15 projections about the future of the internet.  One of them was:

 “Augmented reality and wearable devices will be implemented to monitor and give quick feedback on daily life, especially in regard to personal health.”

With respect to our finances, these could (perhaps in combination with bio-metric security applications) be used to record our financial transactions as we go about our day to day business of living – keeping track automatically of spending (including savings and investments), payments made and received and their impact on our net worth and goals planning. You won’t even have to take a picture of your check or receipt to capture it.

Taxes (I believe) will be simplified (eventually) and automatically calculated and filed for you. Records will be stored online instead of in your filing cabinet at home, by the organization that cares most about you paying them (ahem, the IRS for the most part). Just as doctors offices long ago took over our interactions with our own health insurance companies to file a claim, the government will lose patience with our record keeping and reporting and take over the process.

Cash (or some equivalent non traceable form of exchange) will continue to exist, but fewer people will use it and those that do will probably be tracked by the NSA because it will be assumed that since you don’t want to be tracked, you must be up to something bad.

Fees will be reduced or eliminated (such as transaction fees on credit cards or Paypal accounts) only if some other means of reward can be introduced to entice companies to offer these services.

There will be more and more financial interactions that cross national boundaries because the technology will make those transactions easier and cheaper.

If you are interested in the latest and greatest, there is a conference dedicated to exploring the latest and greatest finance innovations – called Finovate.

Changes in our psychology of money.

A percentage of our populations are becoming more open to the sharing of things and information – evidenced by ride and home sharing applications as well as social networking and personal finances in the cloud products and services. Our psychology of money is changing from being one of private, secret, none of your business to one where we trade privacy for convenience.

Among those 15 predictions of the future of the internet, another was made which validated the above, saying:

“People will continue – sometimes grudgingly – to make tradeoffs favoring convenience and perceived immediate gains over privacy; and privacy will be something only the upscale will enjoy.”

There will be more personal style interaction, made possible by a backlash against the isolation of the internet and by the advancement of technology that allows cross-distance face to face human interactions. These interactions will address more foundational (and trust related) personal finance issues than mere record keeping – offering financial therapy, planning and non-trivial conversations.

The fight against hackers.

Biometrics may become the gold standard in security in the nearer future. Starting now, with the finger print scanning available to lock or unlock your cell phone, progressing to voice recognition in phone calls to verify your identity all the way into the more distant future where payment devices will sense your unique body or genetic characteristics, access your pre-stated preferences on payment and automatically deduct the purchase amount from your preferred account. Back in 2013, PBS NOVA article The Boring and Exciting World of Biometrics validated that, stating:

“Before long, physical driver’s licenses will be obsolete and credit card purchases won’t require signatures, just a wave of our hands over a sensor.”

Until and unless our computer applications become smarter and more creative than human brains (which I hope never happens!), hackers will find ways around security devices.

There is a degree of risk in all human endeavors. We accept a very large degree of risk today in using the internet, hopefully that risk will be reduced by a better hardware, software and regulatory infrastructure going forward.

The future depends on how well our trust issues are addressed – both within ourselves and by our service providers.

On a broader front, Kiplingers, in The Future of Personal Finance predicts:

“The future will be all about simplification. The financial-services industry has created a dizzying set of products and services for dealing with household risk and responsibilities. From now on, the innovation mantra will be managing these risks comprehensively, from hedging against a drop in income to making sure you’ll never run out of money to monitoring household finances with a tap of a finger.”

What does this mean to us?

For me, it means an uncomfortable personal finance record keeping future. Fewer and fewer products or services will cater to people like me (who prefer to keep their money issues to themselves).

It means that I may be stuck in the past using out dated and unsupported software to centralize and track my accounts, debts, net worth and trnasactions.

It also means that I won’t be using personal finance needs to justify buying myself a tablet!

For the rest of you, it means less time and effort spent on the mundane and boring tasks of tracking your money and more time available to actually form goals and strategies to move your finances to a more affluent state.

What do you envision in the personal finance future world?

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Money in Your Twenties, What Would You Do Differently?

 

1956 calendar

This week I had an inquiry from Jackie, asking what I did successfully in my 20’s and if I could go back in time, what would I do differently – saying:

“Your 20s are typically the perfect time to start planning for retirement, but sometimes life gets in the way.

What did you do successfully in your 20s, or if you could go back in time, is there anything you would have done differently to ensure a better financial future sooner in life?

In a post on Family Money Values, I would love to hear your thoughts on how you could have built your financial safety net in your 20s better–and how you can start it now if you haven’t already. What would be your ideal retire at 65 plan?”

In answer to that, I’m going to repeat part of the story I told in my book Choose Wealth! Be a millionaire by midlife. In Chapter 4, I talk about my journey to becoming a millionaire, particularly some of the mistakes I made in my youth.

What I actually did in my youth.

I became a millionaire in my early fifties. It still kind of amazes me.

Here is how I got there.

The early years.

My birth family didn’t have money while I was growing up. Mom and Dad started poor – Dad the son of farmers and Mom the daughter of an immigrant.

I grew up in a lower socioeconomic neighborhood. Not a bad one, just not middle class. When I was little, we used a coal stove to heat, had no indoor plumbing and lived in a 4 room house.

As a child I sort of bumbled along, trying to please everyone. Shy as a kitten, I hardly felt I had the right to take up space in the school hallway.

There weren’t any formal money lessons at home or at school. Mom and Dad were savers and I watched their example, but they let me make my own mistakes – and I did!

I got 25 cents a week allowance for helping around the house, and spent most of it each week. The one thing for which I remember saving was my first two-wheeler. It was a green, no gear, girls bike with balloon tires, a basket on the front and fenders. It was $10. That would have been 40 weeks worth of allowance if I had saved it all (and I did give part to church). So I tried selling plums from our backyard tree and Christmas cards door to door and doing odd jobs for the relatives.

Eventually I had the money to buy that used bike. I still remember the feel of the wind on my face as I flew downhill on it; the sound of the pedals as they bumped slightly against the bike body and the scritch of the tires on the gravel road as I banked into a turn. Fun times!

I was clueless as to the existence of another kind of world. All my friends lived in houses just like mine and had no more money than I. We happily rode bikes in the neighborhood, and played tag, king of the hill and monopoly together.

College Daze.

My first exposure to a more luxurious lifestyle came in college. It was state U, paid for by my parents. They saved for years, and Mom went back to school for a Masters degree in teaching, got a job and used her salary to help pay the college expenses. All I had to supply were my clothes and spending money. For those I worked summers. I was blessed to have this family support!

I was dating a boy who had joined a fraternity. Of course I decided I had to fit in, so I joined a sorority. I’m sure Mom lobbied with Dad for this. She benefited greatly from her own teachers college sorority throughout her life and no doubt thought I would be smart enough to do so as well. But as usual, I was clueless. Yes, I enjoyed the fancy sorority house we stayed in and getting to know the other girls. But shy as I was, I neglected to make firm bonds with any; didn’t visit their homes; or meet their parents; or understand what their families did. Neither did I keep in touch after graduation to provide mutual help, support and contacts as we all grew in our fields.

I also neglected to make use of my college counselor and consequently didn’t explore potential lucrative and interesting career fields. Instead, when it came time to choose a major, I just picked one I liked – without regard to whether it would provide a living or even an enjoyable job. I had no dream or vision for what I wanted from life.

I did a few things right. I studied hard and earned good grades. I also learned to lead by taking on the roles of Chief Justice of the student traffic court and Scholarship Chairman of my sorority. These helped me learn how to work with groups of people.

Just Bumbling Along.

After college, I continued to bumble through life, grabbing the first job I could find, marrying and giving birth way too young, still trying to please everyone around me, never imagining a better life.

We were pretty poor, although the only debts we had were for real estate (our starter home and 40 acres of raw land). Every year we saved what we could from his salary. I was home caring for kids and working part time weekends at a retail sales job. Every year our savings went out the door at year end for annual bills and Christmas.

The stress built. My husband was working 10 hour days and then watching the 2 babies on the weekend. I was home with the kids all day and night 5 days a week, trying to provide a loving and educational environment with no money and no help, and working weekends for peanuts. He was mad much of the time. Mad that he made so little for so much effort. Mad that his salary had been frozen for many years, with no raises given at all. Mad that we weren’t able to get ahead financially. His mood made me resentful and angry. I remember being on my hands and knees on the hard Congoleum floor, scrubbing it with a brush to get the dirt out of the dimples and thinking – this is not what Walt Disney promised me! This is not a happily ever after. There is no prince charming. I want more.

My Trigger to Act.

I wanted more. I wanted earning power, I wanted control over money and I wanted a better life.

The stress on both of us was so great that I decided we needed to divorce unless things changed, but I wanted a way to be able to provide for myself and my sons before taking that action.

Note: He and I stuck together through these tough times. They were not only tough on me, but also on him. We recently celebrated our 41st wedding anniversary and are happily going strong together.

Getting back to my story – I researched jobs that paid the most, figured out what I had to learn and do to get one of those jobs, and then made a plan. I was determined to not take a penny of what he made to get prepared for that job. I was determined to pay back every cent he had earned and used on the family up until then – after I got that job. I did it too. I actually tracked the money for a few years, but gave that up as unnecessary when I started earning more than him!

To earn money to go back to school, I decided to start a licensed day care home. To be licensed, I had to get permission from all bordering neighbors – most of whom I didn’t really know. Swallowing my shyness, I trudged to the homes next door, across the street and behind our house and begged for permission. Luckily no one objected. I got the license and advertised for kids to watch. Since I had been the head of the church’s mother’s day out program, I quickly found a baby – Jeffry – to watch full time for $40 a week. I used some of the money to hit the garage sales to get equipment to help me with the day care home and added children – up to the max I could legally watch. This was the most difficult and tiring job I’ve ever done, and I did it for 3 years. I saved up all the money I would need for books, tuition, gas money and clothing to wear so that I could go to community college to get a data processing degree.

It was hard going back to school after all that time. I did it in the evening and on the weekends, still caring for our kids during the day. I studied every chance I got. After the first year, I landed a part time job in the school’s computer lab and after 2 years I had my associates degree in data processing with straight A’s.

To make a long story short, I took the long route to financial freedom. If I had done a few things differently, I probably could have retired in my fifties instead of at 62.

What I would do differently.

Be more curious.

Everyone should try to get outside of their own neighborhood – seeking out new experiences, different socio-economic neighborhoods, other geographical and cultural areas. I stayed within my box and consequently didn’t see that there were other ways of doing things and couldn’t dream a big dream about what I wanted from life. I wish I had been a more curious and exploratory child – pushing the envelope of my environment to see more of what different parts of the world were like.

For example, my nephews, one in college, one about to enter, have found ways to provide service in foreign countries without it costing their parents an arm and a leg. One is in Nepal now (during the 2015 earthquakes) as part of a semester of overseas clinic duty. What an experience. Thank heavens he is OK.

Choose a more lucrative path of study.

Part of those explorations should include not only the college subjects in which you have interest, but the monetary rewards they might bring to you. I went to college because it was expected. I hadn’t a clue what I wanted to study or what kind of career I should enter. I graduated in 1971, during a recession. Some say it was the worst decade of most industrialized countries’ economic performance since the Great Depression. Needless to say, a Bachelor of Arts didn’t get me a job of any kind.

Wait to have babies.

I was 22 when my first was born. If we had waited to have babies, I might have pursued an active career before getting pregnant and may have advanced further than I eventually did.

Listen to Dad.

During the late seventies and early 1980’s my Dad began to learn about the stock market. Back then, it wasn’t as common for regular folks to invest, but Dad was starting to do so. He also tried to educate me using a family newsletter that he laboriously pecked out on a typewriter. Since we didn’t have much money even to save, I pretty much ignored him and his message. Big mistake. Taking time to learn about personal finances then would have been a big boost for my life and our little family.

Develop alternate and passive income flows.

Looking around now at what others have done to have more than one source of income is inspiring. Pat Flynn, for example, from the Smart Passive Income blog, was laid off from his architect job, yet now is making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, using multiple streams of income, some of them passive.

Things I did right.

Eventually, I did seek out a well paying career field and get trained so I could enter it.

My spouse and I were both diligent savers, which kept us out of debt and eventually helped us gain enough traction to start investing.

Based on my experiences, I have drawn up a Framework for Wealth, which I detail in my book: Choose Wealth! Be a millionaire by midlife. You can use this Framework to shape your own (or your child’s) financial life.

Thanks for the great question Jackie!

What would all of you do differently if you could go back in time – to be better positioned for early retirement?

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