Our first “Ask the Classy Frugalist” post of the year is all about New Year’s resolutions. There’s a lot of research about New Year’s resolutions out there. Did you know that just 8% of people achieve their New Year’s resolutions? And 80% fail by February? The statistics are so discouraging it’s easy to wonder if you should even make one. Instead of creating a specific resolution for myself this year, I prefer the idea of setting an intention that can pervade all different parts of my life. As an avid yogi, I’m accustomed to setting an intention at the beginning of a practice and seeing how that intention comes to life on and off the mat.
This holiday season has felt different for me. As I’ve listened to holiday music, watched Christmas classics, and enjoyed the light displays, I’ve found myself more drawn to the message of Advent than the message of Christmas. In the Christian tradition, Advent is a season of waiting — waiting for the birth of Jesus. We are reminded of our ancestors who waited expectantly for centuries for the coming of the Messiah.
With the holiday season in full swing, the big financial item on many people’s minds is gifts. My husband and I are no exception. Ever since the week of Thanksgiving, my husband and I have been in constant conversation about gift giving: Who do we still need to buy gifts for? Did we ever figure out something for X person on the list? Will everything arrive in time? But, the biggest question on our minds of late is: What will we give each other?
A few weeks ago, I was traveling for work. When I landed at the airport, I went to Enterprise to rent a car and was greeted by a woman about my age who gave me exceptional service. Even though the facility was small, crowded, and noisy, she spoke clearly, worked efficiently, and smiled effortlessly. I was out of there and into my rental car in no time. As I was leaving, she gave me her card and invited me to contact her manager if I had received good service. She mentioned that she was up for a promotion and that any feedback would be really helpful.
For many of us, an employer retirement account is a given … but what if you’re self-employed? This week’s question comes from a reader who is a freelance actor, and her spouse is a freelancer, too. She wants to start saving for retirement early, but she’s not sure what her options are since she doesn’t qualify for an employer-sponsored 401(k) program.
Happy Black Friday! Today, you’re in for a brief, bonus post highlighting my Black Friday deal. Just in case you missed it, I’m offering my Marriage & Money survey + a bonus 30-minute ($149 value) coaching session all for just $49! That’s $100 off!
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. In my family, this is generally the only time during the year that we are all able to be together. Aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins come from far and wide to my parents’ home in St. Louis for a few days to reconnect, eat good food, shop, and relive old memories. My dad — who used to be a caterer — is the chef, and he consistently wows his audience with course after course of amazing dishes. It’s always quite a feast.
Can you believe the holidays are just around the corner? While they can certainly bring a lot of joy, they can also bring a lot of stress, particularly to our financial lives. A few weeks ago, Emilie Aries from BossedUp interviewed me for her blog on just this topic! Below I’ll share a few tidbits from the article, but I invite you to follow this link to read the whole article.
It happened to us. And now, it’s been six months.
So often people ask me, “How is your husband doing?” And I want to respond, “Do you want the short answer, or the long one?” Here’s the short answer: better; a whole lot better, in fact. He’s back at work, he was able to join me for our dream vacation in Paris, he finished PT, and all of his health care providers (in addition to his adoring wife) have been impressed by his quick progress. It’s the bright, shiny success story that everyone wants to hear.
When my husband and I got engaged five years ago, one of my biggest concerns was how we would handle money. When it came to finances we never seemed to be on the same page. He enjoyed spending money and I couldn’t wait to give money away. He liked investing money in more expensive items and hobbies, while I enjoyed living frugally and struggled to spend money on myself. We did have common dreams and goals for our marriage — like buying a house and traveling the world — but I wasn’t sure how we’d ever make these dreams a reality when our approach to money seemed so different.
My 31st birthday is coming up this weekend. Even though last year was the big 3-0, I think it took me about a year to come to terms with leaving my 20s and really consider all that I had learned during that decade of my life. Like most people, I experienced mountains of change: I started out my 20s in college, a single woman living with three roommates and a vague notion of what I’d like to do with my life. I began my 30s in my own home, a married woman with a clear sense of what I love to do: help people improve their relationship with money.
Ever since I studied French in school, I always dreamed of visiting Paris. I longed to stroll the streets, sit at a café eating a croissant, visit the market to buy all of the ingredients for dinner, and see the famous art in its many museums. I wanted to drink in the sites, the smells, the taste, the culture. So about three years ago, I started putting together a trip to Paris to celebrate my 30th birthday. My husband was quick to get on board – adding that it this would be a good opportunity for him to see the Normandy beaches. As I began telling friends about the idea, we found another couple who was interested in joining us, too.
I have to confess: I’m jealous of people who spend extended time traveling — whether it’s a few months, a year, or more. I constantly see posts on social media related to this topic — Facebook knows me well! — and I can’t help but imagine my husband and I setting off on a fully-funded globe-trotting journey without a care in the world.
You know you have a problem when your husband feels the need to ask your permission every time he wants to make a purchase even if he’s just buying an occasional cup of coffee on the way to work. Don’t worry – it’s not that he’s financially dependent. It’s because I was (and probably still am to some extent) financially controlling. I like to track where each dollar of our income is shared, saved, and spent. I still check our bank account every day even though we have more than enough. After living paycheck to paycheck as a student, I like to be reminded that we are ok. While I never said he should call me when he wants to spend money, I think my behavior implied it.
I get this question a lot and I have to admit that it feels like a trick question. Couples want to know if they should combine their money when they get married, keep it separate, or do a hybrid of both. From my perspective, I don’t think there’s one right way to do it. The most important thing is that you and your partner are on the same page in terms of how you want to handle money. Many engaged people I’ve talked to assume they will be taking one approach – either combining their money or keeping it separate – but they’ve never had a conscientious conversation with their partner about it.
Can money really buy you happiness? According to researchers – yes – it can buy you time, which in turn can boost your happiness!
Last summer, a group of researchers published a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they found when people spend money on time-saving services like a house cleaner, lawn care, or grocery delivery they experience a boost in happiness. In contrast, when they spend money on things, it didn’t boost their happiness in the same way.
Saving money isn’t easy. Most people’s minds go directly to pinching pennies – needing to eat out less, give up buying coffee, or buying used instead of new. While these lifestyle changes can be really helpful, what if you investing a few hours and making a few small changes could have a big impact on your budget and give your savings a large boost?
I don’t know about you but the thought of stepping back sets off my internal alarm bells. I’m a big fan of getting things done, crossing items off my to-do list, and constantly moving forward. But I think this addiction to forward motion can often get us stuck in a hamster wheel. We keep running – thinking we’re moving forward – when in fact we are just spinning our wheels. If we do in fact move forward, we may find ourselves stepping further and further away from our intended destination because we aren’t willing to course correct.