In December 2016, right before Christmas, a work colleague of mine’s house and garage burned down taking everything in the house – including his family’s Christmas gifts – with it. Luckily, he, his wife, and three kids were all unharmed. When my office heard about the accident, we were eager to help. His team arranged a company-wide potluck and began accepting donations of money and gift cards to aid his family. When I heard about the tragedy I wanted to help too. But, I took a look at our budget and realized that we didn’t have a lot of money to spare that month. I talked to my husband and we decided to give a small gift card, but it broke my heart that we couldn’t do more.
Have you ever looked at homes online and found that the estimated mortgage was less than the amount you are paying in rent? Maybe you’ve wondered why you’re throwing your money away on a rental when you could be building equity in your own home? In today’s post, I want to take a look at the real cost of buying and owning a home. Wondering whether owning a home is right for you? Check out last week’s post.
The other day I was out for drinks with a friend and he mentioned that he was considering buying a house and he was wondering how much he should spend on it. In other words, what percentage of his budget should go toward a house. For those of you who are curious, conventional wisdom says that you should spend no more than 28% of your budget on a mortgage. But, I found myself wanting to take the conversation a few steps back - as I often do - to ask the question why do you want to buy a house in the first place? Are you sure that buying a house is the next right step for you? That’s the question that I want to get at in today’s “Ask The Classy Frugalist” post.
I’ve heard it said that there are two ways to create more flexibility in your budget – reduce spending or increase your income. Too often we focus on the subtraction side of the equation – what can I cut back on? I think for many of us that’s a fine place to start. But, have you really stopped to consider the other side of the equation – how would you increase your income? Particularly, how might you increase your income from your current employer?
As I mentioned in last week’s post, when my husband and I first got married I was more of the “money” person in our relationship. He was happy to let me just handle the money and I was happy to put my skills into practice. And, if I’m honest, I think I was happy to keep control over at least one area of our relationship. Now, I’d like to share with you a few things that I’ve learned as I’ve relinquished control of our money life and started to listen.
Here are a few valuable lessons that I’ve learned from Mr. Classy Frugalist:
We’ve all heard that money is one of the leading causes of stress in relationships. I’ve seen this stress emerge from talking about money too much, not talking about it at all, and everything in between. So, what can couples do to reduce the stress? I suggest they stop, take a deep breath, and spend time listing to their partner. What are his or her fears? What are his or her goals? What can you learn from him or her?
I’m not saying this is easy. Most of us have different money personalities than our partner – maybe one of you is a spender and one is a saver. In the case of my husband and I, I would really love to give all of our money away and my husband can think of a million ways to spend it. If you have a different money personality than your partner, how do you meet in the middle?
It happened to me.
About six weeks ago, my business partner and I were driving back from a wonderful day of speaking to leaders in East-Central Wisconsin. When we were about two hours out from Minneapolis, I looked at my phone and saw that I had five missed calls from my husband. Now my husband is the type of guy who rarely calls twice in a row – why would he call five times? I called him back and was greeted by the voice of a paramedic who assured that my husband was breathing and conscious but he had been injured in a serious car accident. I immediately fell apart. As someone who travels often my worst fears had been realized. He was hurt and I wasn’t there to be beside him when he needed me. My business partner and I continued the longest two hour drive of our lives inching ever closer to my husband’s side.
About a month ago my aunt posted a picture on Facebook of my grandparents before going to prom night at their senior living community. They were each dressed up in their finest and they looked so happy to enjoy the evening with each other and their friends. I think this photo is a great representation of what retirement looks like to me. Retirement isn’t about buying a yacht, traveling, or even the ability to sleep in. It’s not about what you’ll buy or even what you’ll do, it’s about making the most of the time you have with the people you love.
Summer is officially here! So, I thought I’d bring something a little lighter to the blog. For many people, summer is the season of vacations. As you probably can already tell, I’m a huge travel fan. Adventure is near the top of my husband and I’s values lists. And, I’ve had the blessing of traveling about 30% of the time for my job the last three years so I’ve picked up a few tricks and tips.
This week I'm excited to share with you a guest post from one of my favorite personal finance coaches, educators, and bloggers: Michelle Boss (aka The Money Boss). Michelle and I met while she was creating her Your Money Matters podcast series this spring. I was privileged to be a part of this series with so many other wonderful financial educators and coaches. I asked Michelle to share how she's connecting her money and her values to create a fulfilling life. I'm excited for you to hear a new perspective and get connected to all of Michelle's great resources. Join me in welcoming Michelle Boss to the Classy Frugalist blog!
How many times per week or even per day do you stop to check the price of something? You might stop to compare prices between two different brands of paper towels at the grocery store. You might surf the internet for a good deal on a vacation flight. You might compare the price of a book on Amazon between the new and used selection. You might scan a toy at Target to see how much it costs before you step up to the cash register. We spend a lot of time checking prices and searching for the best deal. But how often do we step back and check the value on an item or experience before we purchase it?
Let’s say you’re looking for a new credit card and you’re considering a travel credit card. How do you know if it will be worth it? Is there a certain amount of travel that you should be doing to make the perks and the cost of the card worth it?
Following my recent series on credit cards, Beth asked just this question. She writes, “Every week I find I receive at least one piece of mail encouraging me to get a new credit card. I've considered a Southwest or other airline-related card that would help me accumulate airline miles, but have never felt I travel enough to justify the upfront or yearly cost associated with it (I admit I did rough math on this!). I travel maybe 4-5 times per year on an airplane. For those of us not always interested in doing the math calculations, do you have an average of how much travel would justify getting a flight miles related card?”
This week I'm sharing something different. What you'll see below is a post that I wrote for the Center for Stewardship Leaders' weekly newsletter. As some of you may know, I had the pleasure of working for this Center for three and a half years while I was a student, and later a staff member, at Luther Seminary. I learned the most about money and how to connect it to your values while I was at seminary. It was a pleasure to revisit that time of my life and share the story of this blog's evolution with that audience. I hope that you will enjoy this article, too!
Do you ever feel like you are fast-tracked on a one-way bullet train to a life you never consciously chose? You’re supposed to go to college, get a job, find the love of your life, get married, buy a house, adopt a dog, have 2.5 kids, and retire at age 65. But, what if that’s not the life you have or even the life you want?
As you can probably tell, I’m a bit of a financial nerd. But, you may not know exactly why – is it because I’ve learned a lot of tips for living large on a small budget? Is it because I enjoy the challenge of doing my own taxes? Or, is it because I’ve found the secret to getting out of student loan debt quickly? While all of these things are true, none of these are the real reason. My passion for money comes from one single discovery. Money, when used intentionally, can become a tool to help me better live out my values in the world.
Welcome back to our brief series on credit cards! Two weeks ago I took a look at how to evaluate whether or not you really need a credit card, and last week I explored some things to consider as you choose your card. This week, we’re exploring what to do if you end up carrying a balance on your card (or cards) and need some assistance getting out of debt.
Step 1: Know what you owe
I know it may seem obvious but it’s important that you have a solid understanding of what you owe before you can make a plan to pay it off. When you’re in trouble it can be easy to get so overwhelmed by fear that you avoid taking the first step. Avoiding the problem won’t make it go away. Facing it head on, with all of the facts on the table, is the first key to success. You’ll want to know the interest rate, total balance, minimum payment amount, and the balance due date.
Welcome to the second part of a three-part series on credit cards. If you missed last week’s post, I took a look at the reasons why you might get a credit card. This week, we’ll take a look at what factors you should consider when you’re looking for a credit card.
The most important factors vary depending on what you plan to use the card for:
· Planning to pay off your bill in full every month? In this case, the interest rate doesn’t really matter as much. Look for a card with the best perks for your lifestyle that has a longer grace period to pay your bill and a minimal annual fee.
This week I’m starting a new segment called, “Ask The Classy Frugalist.” If you have a question that you’d like for me to answer, please share it with me through my contact form. I’d love to hear it! Any question about finances or frugal living is welcome.
During the Super Bowl, interspersed between the beer, chips, and car ads I saw an intriguing financial commercial. It features 85-year olds flying planes, DJing at a club, performing surgery, lifeguarding on the beach, working tech support, and fighting fires. The theme song running through the ad is “I’m 85 and I want to go home” – a riff on the famous Jamacian folk song “Day O” (The Banana Boat Song). If you haven’t seen the ad, I encourage you to check it out.
You’ve heard the story before. It’s not unusual. Saver is working diligently to get her finances in order. Spender is working hard to live his life to the fullest. Opposites attract. They fall madly in love and walk off into the sunset together. That’s the end of the story, right? But, how do those wonderful opposites – both of which have their own strengths and weaknesses – create a financial life that they can both be proud of?