It’s tax season! Whether you’re still filing your taxes or you’ve already done so, this is a good time of the year to check in with your tax withholdings. In other words, the amount of income tax your employer is withholding from your paycheck. The amount that’s withheld can have a huge impact on whether you receive a refund check or you’re paying in come April 15th.
One of the first things that struck me about my partner was his generosity. It started on our second date when he brought three cupcakes to my apartment — one for me, one for him, and one for my roommate. I mean seriously, who considers getting in with the roommate that early on? Throughout our relationship, my husband has been very generous with his money, his time, and his attention. In our marriage, I have seen it through his willingness to support my ambitious dreams even if that means spending nights alone, picking up the slack around the house, investing some of our shared income, or being the instigator in our social relationships.
My first car broke down one winter a few years ago. I honestly had never considered what I would do when it came to the end of its life. After struggling to get around without a car, I took a week or so to examine my options — buying new, buying used, and leasing — and choose my next vehicle.
Ultimately, I decided to lease. One of the main reasons was because I wasn’t sure if the car I picked was really the one for me. I also was looking for the cheapest monthly payment I could find. Prior to that point, I’d never had a car payment and I didn’t have much wiggle room in my budget.
I’ve heard this question countless times over the last year or so and to be honest, I’ve been nervous to respond because my husband and I don’t have children. So I decided to ask some friends who are parents for their perspective.
One of the things I heard loud and clear: Kids are EXPENSIVE! If you wait to have kids until you can cover every conceivable expense, you will never have them. That being said, if having kids is a high priority for you, it is worth every penny. My friend Jillian put it perfectly: “Having a child is definitely more expensive than I had planned for; however, it is also way more amazing than I ever thought it would be. Being a mama is truly the most incredible experience I have ever had and I wouldn't trade it for anything.”
The health care system can be really confusing — and the costs associated with your health care can be even more confusing. In this week’s post, I want to help you understand some key health insurance terms as well as how different elements work together to pay for some of your health care expenses.
Prior to my husband’s car accident last spring, we rarely used our health insurance. Over the first three years of our marriage, we collectively spent about $1,500 out of our own pocket (if that) on health care — including an ER visit. Since the accident, I’ve become more well-versed in the health care system and seen in action how our insurance has stepped in to cover much of our costs. I can’t say I find the system as a whole any less complicated, but knowing the basic terminology and processes has been invaluable as we’ve sorted through the bills.
If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you’ve figured out that I absolutely love to travel. And you also know that I’m more of a saver than a spender. Those two practices seem at odds, right? I often talk to people who view travel as completely unaffordable. They end up living vicariously through others who are willing to make it happen. But why shouldn’t those great travel stories and experiences be your own?
Whether you love or hate Valentine’s Day, it is a great excuse to stop and say “I love you.” Now, some people would say: Shouldn’t you say “I love you” every day? Absolutely! But how often do we take the time to do it properly? That means saying it in the way your loved one will hear (and feel) it best
If you’re feeling a little jaded about the whole experience, I encourage you to think broader than the confines of a partnered relationship. Who in your life needs to know you love and appreciate them today? Is it your parent who you often lean on for support, your best friend who lives across the country, an elderly relative in assisted living, your colleague who is experiencing a tough season of their life? Absolutely include your partner on the list (if you have one), but be sure to widen your circle as well.
I encourage you to take a different approach. Don’t give in to the temptation to overspend or wallow in your singleness. Instead, use this day as an excuse to stop and say: “I love you.” Some would say: shouldn’t you say “I love you every day?” Absolutely! But how often do we stop and take the time to do it properly? If you’ve been in a relationship a long time, it’s easy to let saying the great words “I love you” become so perfunctory that they lose their meaning entirely.
A few weeks ago, the lovely career coach, Lisa Lewis, interviewed me for her blog series about money. During the interview we got to talking about whether or not you can ever have enough in savings. The desperate pursuit of the elusive “enough” too often leads people to live in fear: fear of spending too much, fear of giving away too much, fear of not having enough to support themselves and their family.
Like many little girls, I dreamed about getting married. There’s a classic home video of me playing “wedding” with my grandparents when was about four – getting all gussied up in my dress up clothes, wearing about 10 of my grandmother’s necklaces, and walking down the aisle to meet my prince charming (who, in this case, was my grandmother). Most of what I learned about marriage came from Disney movies and rom-coms … and, in my eyes, that meant sharing everything.
I was cleaning out my pantry this weekend. Literally every time you opened the door, something fell out — seriously, so embarrassing! As I began to reorganize the items, I realized pretty quickly that 1/3 to 1/2 of what was in our pantry was actually expired. As I piled up the items to be recycled and thrown away, I was filled with regret: for the food that was never made, the money we wasted, the fruitless labor that went into making the items I was so carelessly discarding, and the many people who go hungry every day across the world.
Are you hoping to get a raise in 2019? Whether you’re seeking to earn more in your current position or you’re looking for a new job that can bump up your salary, this is a good time to start preparing for your next negotiation conversation.
Let’s face it: Asking for more can be nerve-wracking — even if you feel you deserve it. In my own career working for two non-profits and a church-based small business, I got the impression I was paid all the organization could offer. I felt that any dollar I asked for would detract from the real mission.
Growing up, $5 felt like a lot of money. With it, I could buy lots of candy, or a Beanie Baby, or get half-way toward a Polly Pocket — my favorite toy. The possibilities seemed endless.
But today, there’s not a lot I want to buy that’s $5 or less – maybe a burger from a fast food restaurant or a sweet treat from my favorite bakery. About the only time I feel like that $5 is well-spent is when I use it to support Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) as a sustainer. It doesn’t feel like a lot to me, but I know it makes a difference for them, especially when all of us sustainers join together to magnify our impact.
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.