This thought came to me as I recently left Urban Outfitters with an item that I knew would give me immeasurable 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.”
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.”
While I’d like to take credit for thinking of this one, it’s really Suze Orman who inspired me to do this in my own life. I had read her book, “The Courage to Be Rich, Creating a Life of Financial and Spiritual Abundance,” and this was one of her ideas that really stood out. Basically, the thought is if you give to someone else, it makes you feel like you have something to give, and that feels good. So even if you can’t afford a chai latte every day, when you really think about it, there are people and animals that are much worse off than you. Her book also states that by giving to charity, you will become richer by doing so. I think that’s true both spiritually and materially. Even if you have just a little, for someone less fortunate, it can go a long way. Maybe it’s that whole law of the universe kind of a thing. When you give, you get back. The true challenge I’ve found is not the giving – it’s who to give to. You want to make sure that your hard-earned money is going where it really needs to go. And not into the pocket of some administrator.
Word to the wise: Give a little and you’ll get a lot. But just make sure you do your research. A great place to start is www.charitywatch.org. It rates charities on how they spend your money. And hey, anything you give is also a tax write-off. Now don’t you feel richer already?
Have any favorite charities? 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 Should Know.”