Category Archives: Money Management

40. If you want something, visualize it, although you may find you don’t want it after all.

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I was having lunch with a very mature 23-year old the other day and as humbling as it was, she seemed to knowdreamstime_s_26320973 more than me about many things. I think it was Aristotle who said, “The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.” I was fascinated how, at such a young age, she knew how old she wanted to be when she got married, that she wanted to have children and that she will easily be able to balance her career with family. She also wants to live on the beach in a beautiful home. She described how she could see herself on the balcony and could feel the ocean breeze at night. She said she saw all of this for herself and is confident it will happen. And strangely enough, I believed her. I’ve heard over the years about visualization, that you have to picture something you want in your mind and that you will get it.I always thought of this as mumbo jumbo – I am a bit of a cynic. But the more she spoke, the less sure I became of my stance on this subject. She said that if I couldn’t visualize something, it meant I wasn’t ready for it. Damn, that girl was smart. She got me to really start thinking about what I want. Some of us have the extreme fortune, like my 23-year old friend, of knowing early on how to pave the path to their dreams and desires. But even if you don’t, there’s no harm in trying. So if there’s something you think you want, try to see it. And if you can, then maybe you’re ready for it. 

Word to the wise: It doesn’t hurt to visualize. All that’s required is you and your mind, which turns out, truly is a powerful thing. Here’s a little something to help you get started: http://www.qualified-lifecoach.com/Visualization.html

What do you think about visualization? Has it ever worked for you? Note: If I’m lucky enough to get a book deal, your comments may be published anonymously in the upcoming book, “Wise Before 25, 50 Things Young Women Need to Know.”

37. It’s true money can’t buy you love, but $100 or less can buy you happiness.

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This thought came to me as I recently left Urban Outfitters with an item that I knew would give me immeasurabledreamstime_s_2512924 pleasure – a portable record player. When I saw it in the window, it called to me with its bright orange case and light tan handle. Plus, it played albums and 45s. But, I didn’t know how much it cost. All I could think was, please, don’t let it be more than $100. I nervously waited in line, hoping this precious possession would soon be mine. When I got to the register I knew one way or another, it was now or never. I asked the clerk, “How much?” She gave me the answer I was looking for: “$99.” I practically skipped out of the store. When I got home, I grabbed some 45s and was delighted to hear a sound I hadn’t heard in years – the needle scratching against the vinyl. And that’s when I started to think about happiness and how little money it takes to truly make one’s self or others happy. Another recent example is New Year’s Eve. I remember in my 20s we’d go out and blow way more than $100 for what usually turned out be an evening that was worth way less. New Year’s Day was even better because there was the requisite hangover, worn like a badge of honor. This year, I stayed home, broke out a bottle of champagne and had a new neighbor over for some frozen appetizers. Cost: about $30. And we had a great time, sipping and nibbling while watching the ball go down in NYC at 9 p.m. And then there’s one thing I’ve been wanting for years and finally went to amazon.com to buy – a chess set. Cost: $29. Happiness quotient when I receive it: Priceless. Wait, that’s the MasterCard commercial. So take a moment and think about how you can make yourself or someone you love happy. Big expensive stuff is great, if you can afford it, but what do you really need?

Word to the wise: Bling isn’t always the thing. Achieving happiness is. Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but $30 in your pocket could be everyone’s. Spend wisely and you’ll never have to worry about buyer’s remorse.

Can you think of anything you bought or did for $100 that made you happy? Note: If I’m lucky enough to get a book deal, your comments may be published anonymously in the upcoming book, “Wise Before 25, 50 Things Young Women Need to Know.”

36. Be a good host.

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While knowing how to be a good guest is important, learning how to be a good host is essential. And it’s not as hard as you might think. Whether it’s the holidays or any day, it’s fairly easy to make your guests feel special. I tend to find that mostdreamstime_s_16853082 people are just glad to be invited. If you keep that in mind, you can minimize your stress and entertain with ease. Also, you don’t need to bust your budget. Here are some things I always keep on hand, which gives me the pleasure of inviting anyone over at any time:

Salami, cheese, crackers, frozen hot appetizers (cocktail hot dogs, artichoke dip, taquitos, quiches, etc., you get the idea), apples, a bottle of red and white wine

Of course, you’ll also want to make sure you have:

Toilet paper in your bathroom(s), tissue in your bathroom(s), hand soap, guest towels – just large napkins (hand towels can make people squeamish – ok, well maybe that’s just me)

I think the most important aspect of being a good host is being a generous one. Giving freely what you have (even if it’s just cheese and crackers) and opening your home and heart. Here’s to being a good host in 2014 and beyond!

For some really cool tips on all kinds of parties, nobody does it better than http://www.bhg.com/party. And if you’re paranoid about red wine and other food stains, like me, check this out: http://www.bhg.com/wedding/recipes/tips-for-cleaning-emergency-party-spills.

Word to the wise: It’s fun having people over and you really don’t have to do too much to make them feel at home. Your family and friends will always appreciate the effort and the more you do it, the better your hosting skills will become.

What was the best party you ever gave? Note: If I’m lucky enough to get a book deal, your comments may be published anonymously in the upcoming book, “Wise Before 25, 50 Things Young Women Need to Know.”

Special note: It’s been a crazy year and I look forward to being back up online regularly in 2014. Thanks to everyone for your support and comments.

32. Go to expensive, beautiful places and do beautiful, inexpensive things.

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I don’t know about you, but I’ve always had champagne taste on a beer budget. This has presented me with many ????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????dilemmas in my life, not the least of which was my credit card debt situation when I was in my 20s. Most of that $13,000 debt could have been attributed to me going out to nice restaurants and paying for all my friends who couldn’t afford them. Um, neither could I. But here’s a fabulous trick I’ve learned over the years – go to a really expensive, beautiful place and have a glass of champagne (or an old fashioned or a rum and coke, whatever). You might be out $20 but the experience will stay with you for a long time. Some of my favorite places to practice this principle:

The Montage (where a room is $795 a night), Laguna Beach

$10 for a glass of champagne and an ocean view to die for.

Walk their gorgeous grounds and sit on a bench overlooking the ocean. (Free.)

http://www.montagelagunabeach.com/?gclid=CI-Bjqnu47YCFUOe4AodpCQAcw

Mastro’s Steak House, throughout the U.S. (where a steak dinner a la carte will cost you about $40)

Sit in the bar and order their house chardonnay for $9 and split the enormous portion of their gorgonzola mac ‘n’ cheese for $11 and munch on their insanely fabulous FREE bread.

http://www.mastrosrestaurants.com

Take a walk along the beautiful cliffs and beaches of Corona Del Mar, California. (Free)

Then have breakfast at Café Panini where you can have a Mediterranean omelet that comes with Greek salad and bread for about $11. And don’t forget the champagne! Or better yet, pack a picnic and sit on the bluffs after your walk.

http://www.mypaninicafe.com

I know these are all in my backyard (and a beautiful one it is!) but can you think of places where you live that you don’t go to because you think you can’t afford them? You should actively seek these special places. Because even if you don’t have a lot to spend, for an hour or two, you’ll feel positively rich.

Word to the wise: The appetizers can be just as satisfying as the meal. Even more so if you’re at a five-star hotel with an ocean view. Or whatever it is that makes your backyard special. Life’s too short not to enjoy it.

What are some of your favorite places and do you know how to maximize your experience without doing major damage to your wallet? Please share. Note: If I’m lucky enough to get a book deal, your comments may be published anonymously in the upcoming book, “Wise Before 25, 50 Things Young Women Need to Know.”

23. Online banking is da bomb and you should use it daily to keep your budget on track.

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I apologize for my use of the phrase “da bomb.” I’ve been told never to use that expression. Or “Gettin’ jiggy with it.” Apparently, ????????????????????????????????????????I’m not convincing when I say either of those things. Regardless, online banking is not only da bomb, it saved my financial life. Really, when it gets down to it, it saved me, too. Back in the days when the dinosaurs roamed the earth, a.k.a., my 20s, I had to balance my checkbook the old fashioned way, which often took hours. And adding insult to injury, I was always off. Usually by at least $100, which might explain the amount of bounced checks I had back then. Because balancing my checkbook was always so frustrating, I stopped balancing it altogether. I never knew how much money I had, or in most cases, didn’t have, and this made me very anxious and worried. Paying bills was a drag, too. I never seemed to have enough stamps and writing checks that had the potential to bounce was pretty depressing. Then online banking came along and I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. I could check my balance every day! And it was always right! I even get email alerts when my balance falls below $200 (like today). This has had a profound effect on how I spend and save money. Online banking made taking control of my finances easy. The power it’s given me is immeasurable. You should be tapping into this power, too.

Word to the wise: Take advantage of everything online banking has to offer – and besides, it’s free! And check your balance every day. Pay all your bills online and you’ll know how much money you have left over for everything else the minute you hit the “Submit Payment” button. Look at your spending habits and see if there’s a way for you to save or to save more. Most banks have these cool charts that show on a monthly and yearly basis the stuff you spent money on and how much. You’ll find that if you totally get into it, online banking really is da bomb and you’ll feel like da bomb because you won’t be as worried about your money.

Has online banking changed your life? How does it help you with your finances? Note: If I’m lucky enough to get a book deal, your comments may be published anonymously “Wise Before 25, 50 Things Young Women Need to Know.”

21. Pets are a huge responsibility and they deserve to be treated well.

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Anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m an animal lover. And they might even tell you about my cat, Mr. Chew-Cha. ???????????????????????????????????????Because he’s a big part of my life. What I can tell you is that I really wasn’t ready for the responsibility. But my mom decided I was, so right about when I turned 38, she dropped Mr. Chew-Cha on my doorstep (whose shelter name was “Hobo” by the way). Immediately, I tried to get rid of him. Because I liked to travel, be footloose and fancy-free and I was single and had no ties. After putting up flyers with the clever headline “Hobo Needs a Home” and emailing all my friends, it was clear that Hobo and I were stuck with each other and that he needed a new name. But at no small price. I love him more than life itself but I do miss my freedom. You see, I’m the kind of person who knows that he misses me when I’m not there. And that he’s always home waiting for me. And most important, that he depends on me for everything. I don’t think I got that as much when I was in my 20s. Fortunately, I really didn’t have pets back then and my roommates never really wanted any. So some poor animal didn’t suffer because of our late hours and lack of responsibility.

Word to the wise: Think long and hard before getting a pet. Do you really have the time or desire to give them the love and attention they deserve? You need to be fair to yourself and fair to them. Pets can bring great joy into your life, but you need to be at a place in your life where you can bring them great joy, too. Here are some thoughts for college students considering getting a pet: https://vet.osu.edu/education/responsibilities-pet-ownership, which unless you’re a complete hermit, I wouldn’t recommend.

Do you have a pet? Ever seen some of your friends who have them and wonder why they do? Note: If I’m lucky enough to get a book deal, your comments may be published anonymously in, “Wise Before 25, 50 Things Young Women Need to Know.”

2. Lots of credit card debt is no way to go through your 20s.

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Let’s see, I was 27 years old, making $27,000 a year and I had racked up $13,000 of credit card debt. I think that’s a lot even by today’s standards. It got to a point where I couldn’t keep up with all the payments. Credit card companies were constantly  calling me at home and work, even asking to speak to my boss. I felt like I was the world’s worst person and there was no way out. But I just couldn’t resist that dining room table for my new apartment or getting front row seats for Sting (Molly Ringwald was three rows behind me) or going out to dinner every night or that oh-so-cool black leather jacket. You get the idea. That was the fun part. The not-so-fun part was paying it all back and re-establishing my credit. After three years of working with Consumer Credit Counselors (and sending them a $250 money order each month – a small fortune when compared to my salary and other expenses), I paid off my credit card debt.

Word to the wise: Even though I learned an invaluable lesson, I wouldn’t want to go through that again. And you shouldn’t either. Today, the credit card companies trust me again and the offers keep rolling in. But now, I know better than to trust myself.

What do you think? Note: Your comments may be published anonymously in the upcoming book, “Wise Before 25, 50 Things  Young Women Need to Know.”