Tag Archives: credit card debt

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.”

8. Listen to your parents.

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Over the course of my life, I’ve done the math and it turns out my parents are right about 90 percent of the time.

That’s a pretty good statistic seeing as they’re probably the only two people in the world who want what’s best for me. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that blood truly is thicker than water.  While I’m fortunate enough to be blessed with many great friends, sometimes, understandably so, they’re caught up in their own stuff and may not always give the best advice. On the other hand, my parents are always caught up in my stuff, because they’re my parents (this can be a blessing and a curse). So let’s see, what have my parents been right about so far?

  1. Telling me to never ever date anyone named Steve again.
  2. Cheering me on to break up with every Steve (and there have been at least five).
  3. Not saving me by paying off my credit card debt, but helping me by paying off my student loans.
  4. Pushing me to get my college degree.
  5. Asking me to always lock my doors and windows.
  6. Making me wear a sweater when it’s cold. (Now this one is questionable because recent studies show that being out in the cold doesn’t mean you’ll catch cold. But my dad won’t have any of it).
  7. Being happier to see me single than miserable in the wrong relationship.

Those are just a few examples of a lifetime’s worth of my parents’ wisdom. I’m sure you can find a few of your own. 

Word to the wise: Most of the time, it pays to listen to your parents. You may not agree with everything they say, but you should know that’s it’s coming from the best possible place – their hearts. And no one loves you like they do. So the next time they offer you advice, at the very least, think about it.

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