What to Do When Summer FOMO Kicks In

 

With summer quickly approaching, many of us are indulging the fantasy of lounging on a tropical beach with yummy cocktails or taking a long-awaited road trip. As exciting as those things sound, the fantasy is often dashed when reality hits: these things cost money.

Summer is the prime season for the Fear of Missing out, also known as FOMO — when we’re tempted to join friends and family for exciting trips even though funds are low and we can’t afford to take the time off. But summer can still be a blast without jet-setting to the nearest island. Here are a few options to enjoy yourself this summer without draining your bank account.

Be a Tourist in Your Own City

It’s nice to take a vacay to an exotic location, but more often than not, we tend to overlook all the fun things to do in our own backyards. Create a list of all the things in the city that you always say you want to do, but never have the time to get around to, and make a commitment to finally try them.

Game Night/BBQ with Friends

Two of my favorite things are good food and spending time with good people. Summer is the best time to enjoy both of these! The year gets busy, but summer seems to be the time when we all would rather be outside in warm weather instead of an office.

Coordinate a summer get-together at your or a friend’s house for everyone to catch up. Have each person bring a favorite game, snack, or drink, and fire up the grill. If you really want to give the ultimate summer vibes, set up tropical-themed decorations. It’s a great way to have some laughs, delicious barbecue, and make new memories with friends — and that’s really what summer is all about, right?

Throw a Private Pool Party

Some friends of mine recently came up with the idea to rent out a fun space with a pool to celebrate summer, as well as everyone’s work accomplishments this year. If you want to indulge in a modern, luxurious atmosphere for a few hours with friends, Peerspace is a unique online marketplace that gives you the opportunity to book short-term spaces for fun events. With hourly rates for all price ranges, you and your friends can chip in to have your own private pool party for way less than the cost of a tropical vacation!

Have a Summer-Themed Photo Shoot

Whether you’re a pro with the camera or a novice, take advantage of the sunshine for a fun photo shoot. This can be done with your partner or a group of friends, or even solo.

If the photo shoot is with a group, everyone can pick out their favorite summer outfits, go to a scenic location and take turns indulging their inner supermodel. Bonus points if you get some good shots and make a little summer cash selling them to stock photo websites.

Indulge in a Getaway

If you hardly ever take trips throughout the year, all the staycations in the world won’t make up for the experience of a new destination. In that case, it probably makes sense to plan some time away to reset and refresh.

Still, the key is to have an experience that reasonably fits your budget. Unless you’ve been stashing away stacks of cash before summer rolls around, you may not be able to swing two weeks at a luxury resort in Maui.

What’s that you say? Just put it on a credit card? Not on my frugal watch! Kidding… kind of. While you should definitely enjoy life, you also don’t want to spend the next year or more paying interest on a vacation you really couldn’t afford to begin with.

Maui might be out of the question, but there are plenty of other desirable options that won’t leave you financially drained. New Orleans, Las Vegas, Austin, and Chicago are just a few places that have fairly cheap airfare year-round, and plenty of entertainment to satisfy nearly every type of traveler.

Don’t Forget

Summer is a season that comes and goes like all the others. Those tropical beaches and yummy cocktails will still be around next summer, so it’s not a done deal if you have to skip some festivities this year.

You might get hit with a wave of FOMO if you see photos on social media of your friends while you’re still at work. If it’s too much, you’re not a terrible person should you decide to mute certain threads or take a social media break for a little while. It might even be the best way to make time for all of the other cool activities you’ll be doing in the meantime!

This article was originally published at HiCharlie.com

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Why A Clear Mind May Be The Answer To Your Debt Free Goals

Consumers that become debt free cited peace of mind as a resulting benefit they enjoy. Yet, your state of mind becomes important in your debt situation long before your debt is paid off. There is a well-documented relationship between the two: debt and your mental state. According to a Money and Mental Health survey, 49 percent of people that experience mental health issues also find themselves in debt while 25 percent of Americans admit that they worry about money all the time. For some, it is the credit card or personal loan repayments, while the younger generation finds themselves battling the repayment of increasing student loans. In the end, navigating their way out of debt can lead them to spiral, and in some cases panic. However, while proper management of finances and tools such as budgeting remain key to solving the age-old debt question, a clear mind can be just as powerful, and possibly the tool that kickstarts getting rid of debt.

Clarity Reduces Misplaced And Impulse Spending

Our state of mind and emotions play a large part in our spending habits, including impulse purchases. Many people can find themselves struggling with emotional spending triggers such as sadness or even the receipt of good news. Purchases like this can also throw a wrench into your debt repayment plan and sometimes throw it off track. By spending money intended for your debt repayment or using the extra money that could have helped you make more progress in your debt journey, you are indirectly sabotaging your debt plans.

Maintaining a clear mind means remembering your priorities and navigating events in your everyday life (and the emotions that come with it) with level-headedness. Too often we get caught up with impulse shopping on items that may appeal to us at that moment but do we really need it? Take a step back and consider whether it is money well spent and what it will be taking away from other priorities in your life. Are you able to pay cash or are you putting it on a credit card? If you do opt to fund impulse purchases with credit, there are also interest charges to contend with.

Loss Of Clarity Can Mean Loss Of Motivation

For many, the debt repayment journey can be a long and hard one. It requires sacrifices, commitment, and dedication. So it is not unusual for consumers to fumble or lose their motivation at some point on their way to becoming debt free. Having our minds clouded with negative thoughts can even lead to direr mental consequences such as depression. In fact, studies have indicated that debt levels can trigger stress in consumers while 29 percent of people with high debt stress levels experience severe anxiety, according to a study by the University of Nottingham. Luckily, there are small and simple steps you can take along the way to avoid and remedy this. Consider implementing a reward system at certain points of your debt repayment journey and visually track your progress up to this point. Seeing yourself make progress can act as a powerful motivator to keep going, especially if you see yourself overcoming preset hurdles such as debt checkpoints. For those looking to combat stress or anxiety, implementing the regular practice of mindfulness techniques in the home can help relieve tension for every family member.

Avoid Tunnel Vision By Having A Clear Mind

Finally, another reason that a clear mind is vital in our bid to clear our debt is that it allows us to see and truly consider all other options. Too often we can develop a repayment strategy in the beginning and we tend to zero in on that throughout. However, the reality is that our debt repayment methods and tools may need to be adjusted throughout; in fact, it is not unusual for a debt repayment plan to be evaluated a few times. While debt refinancing or consolidation may be a good idea in the beginning, they aren’t anymore. Being able to see all the options available to you means you are able to make the best decisions possible on the way to becoming debt free, and possibly do so earlier.

In today’s world, the repayment of debt has become a regular part of many American’s lives and commitment schedule. While much has been said about the effect that the debt journey can have on our mental state, not a lot has been mentioned about the reverse connection; the effect of our state of mind has on our debt. While money and savvy techniques remain handy in achieving the goal of a debt-free life, our minds continue to be the most powerful tool we have in our quest to be free. It is what drives our commitment, our strategies and our continuing motivation. As a result, protecting and nurturing it should be at the top of our list if we wish to achieve our debt goals.

Chrissy Helders

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How to Personalize Your New Apartment on a Budget

Moving can be exciting — but expensive. Between the first and last month’s rent, your security deposit, and other costs, your bank account may be hurting. To top it all off, your new apartment feels foreign, like it’s someone else’s home. But don’t worry — you can add homey, personal touches to your new digs without digging a larger financial hole for yourself.

Know What You Can Do

In order to be able to confidently channel your inner Joanna Gaines, you need to check with your landlord to see what you’re allowed to do with the space. Often, they’ll agree to cosmetic changes that can easily be reverted when you move out. Some landlords will let you make more substantial alterations or upgrades with their prior approval. Regardless of what your plans are, be sure to have what’s OK, what’s not, and any instructions clearly spelled out in your lease before you pick up that paintbrush or nail gun.

Pro Tip: Keep the originals of anything that you replace (unless otherwise instructed by your landlord) so that the apartment can be reset to its prior condition when you move out.

Set Up Your Space

There are lots of ways to make any space more attractive and functional. Here are a few interior design tricks to try:

  • Use large mirrors: They make small areas seem more spacious.
  • Arrange your furniture strategically: This can turn an open area into well-defined living spaces.
  • Get double duty furniture: Ottomans are for reclining and storage, tables are for dining and working, and sofa beds are for movie watching and sleeping.
  • Use curtains in different ways: In addition to beautifying your windows, try curtains as wall hangings or room dividers.
  • Experiment with lighting: Yes, place light fixtures where they make functional sense, but also use them to highlight your home’s best features, like built-in cabinets or a piece of art.
  • Throw some throw rugs around: They can be great color accents and help to establish the borders for areas.

Small Things Make a Big Difference

You don’t have to rely solely on furniture to make your apartment give off your vibe. To pepper in your personality throughout your home, try picking up small, inexpensive items like:

  • Throw pillows, picture frames, or vases: The right ones scream your style and are easy to switch up as your tastes change.
  • Plants: Real, low-maintenance plants such as succulents help to beautify your abode, give your space an oxygen boost, and simply need occasional watering.

Give Items a Facelift

With a little elbow grease, you can take what you already have and breathe new life into it. Here are some budget-friendly suggestions:

  • Paint the walls: Choose a color that puts you in a positive mood, but do yourself a favor and make sure it’s easy to paint over when your lease is up.
  • Look into removable wallpaper or tile stickers: You can apply them to anything dingy, boring, or ugly.
  • Swap out lampshades: This makes sticking to a color scheme a snap and can really modernize the look of the lamp.
  • Change door knobs or hardware on furniture and cabinetry: There are so many styles to choose from and you might be surprised at how much of a difference it makes.
  • Refinish or reupholster your furniture: It will look like a brand new (and totally different) piece.
  • Get new light fixtures: Sconces or pendant lighting can add a dramatic, personalized flair.

DIY Decorations

Sure, you can buy art that’s pre-made. But if you want it to be perfectly true to you, you should make it yourself! You don’t have to be the next da Vinci to try these projects:

  • Apply paint to canvas: Find your muse and sling the color in whatever way strikes your fancy.
  • Play with clay: Whether your clay pot actually looks like a pot is irrelevant. Making your own pottery can be a great decoration and conversation starter.
  • Create a collage: Your favorite photos, magazine clippings, and other keepsakes can culminate in a lovely tribute to your past, or help you manifest your future as a vision board.

Decide Where to Shop

Depending on your budget, preferences, and what’s available, there are several places to shop for home decor:

  • Check out large retailers: Places like Walmart, Target, and HomeGoods may offer some deals on brand new items.
  • Go used: Flea markets, estate sales, auctions, and Craigslist are all tried and true avenues for finding vintage pieces that fit your theme.
  • Try an app: Technology makes it a breeze to connect with others that want to unload just what you’re looking for. Check out OfferUp and NextDoor.
  • Leverage your network: Your friends and family may have things they no longer need that you can use. The best part? Chances are, they’ll let you have them gratis!

Final Thoughts

While decorating/furnishing a place can be expensive — especially for first-time renters — there are ways to express yourself without emptying your wallet.

This article was originally published at HiCharlie.com

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Should You Delay Your Retirement Contributions To Clear Debts?

78% of Americans said they were concerned about not saving enough money for retirement, in a 2018 study conducted by the Northeastern Mutual Planning and Progress. Conventional wisdom advises focusing on saving for retirement right from when you are young, either through a 401(k), IRA or any other convenient plan. But a critical dilemma to consider is whether you should delay these contributions or investments to clear your debts. Since massive debts, including student loans, burden many people, it can be hard to make financial progress. So when is the right time to prioritize clearing your debt?

When settling debts should come first

Let us say that you are earning $40,000 per year but have $70,000 worth of loans. Such a situation could mean that you are approaching bankruptcy, which is disruptive, and can leave you with little freedom and affect your employment. In this case, it would be more prudent to put a stop to other obligations and prioritize paying your debt. Think of it as a move to channel all your resources and effort into dealing with the biggest blockage to growth and happy retirement. After clearing these debts successfully, you can now focus your full energy on savings and investments, which will place you in a better financial point after retirement.

The opportunity cost of paying your debt first

There is a negative side to committing to pay debts without saving for retirement. Assume it will take you 5 years to completely get rid of your loans. During this time, you would have saved $5,000 per year plus your employer’s addition (50% of your contribution). If you invest this money in stock, giving an average annual return of 10%, you would have more than $48,000 at the end of these 5 years. This is the opportunity cost of choosing to clear debt first, which is a steep mountain to climb. The same goes for freelancers seeking a retirement plan that works best for them. Also, the IRS puts a limit on how much you can contribute to tax-advantaged retirement accounts yearly, and if you miss out on it, you will not enjoy the chance again. This and the fact that you lose time to grow financially is enough incentive to make you reconsider your options.

Pay loans and save for retirement if you can

If your monthly income puts you in a position to pay the debt and still invest for retirement, you should do so. But this arrangement could also work for those whose income does not give them much space. In such a case, you can go ahead and do both while giving one more weight. For example, focus on paying your student loan while saving minimally. Inc advises that regardless of your financial situation, you should contribute a certain percentage of your income, aiming to generate maximum employer match on your 401(k) or whichever plan you are using. Additionally, there are available loan-payoff-calculators that can help you to determine how best you can settle your loans while still growing your nest egg.

One of the biggest financial challenges is that many vital commitments compete for limited income. While delaying retirement investments is a bad idea, sometimes you can forego it and focus on clearing your debt. Everybody’s situation is unique depending on their type of loan, payment terms, and age, amongst other factors. As such, it is essential to consult a professional financial adviser, who will guide into selecting the plan that works best for you.

Chrissy Helders

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5 Numbers More Important Than Your Income

As my friend Mel says, “Numbers are sexy.” We love talking about numbers, and tend to fixate on them — particularly when it comes to how much we earn. “I’m a six-figure freelance designer,” or, “If I take this job, I’ll earn $10,000 more.”

We oftentimes measure our worth based on how much money we rake in. It can be easy to feel like you’re behind, or a grade-A underachiever when your cousin or bestie or partner makes more than you. Sure, your income is important, but there are other numbers that deserve a closer look than how much cash you earn. When it comes to financial wellness, here are five metrics that trump your income.

1. Cost of Living Index

Bottom line: the salary you earn living  in one part of the county might not stretch as far living in another part of the country. Say you earn $80,000 in Los Angeles. If you move to Nashville, Tennessee, you’d only need $45,269 to enjoy the same comforts, according to Sperling’s Cost of Living calculator. Expect to spend 26.1% less in health and 39.2% less in transportation. And if you were to buy a home, you’d be spending 62.6% less in housing.

How much you make is relative to a number of things — one being the cost of living in your stomping grounds. So the next time someone says they’re making $120,000 but live in Silicon Valley, chances are they aren’t enjoying the same standard of living, than those in less-expensive parts of the country.

2. Compensation Package

When it comes to your work salary, it’s also important to look at the entire kit-and-caboodle for your benefits package. Your employee benefits can make up to one-third of total compensation costs. That includes health benefits (which alone can cost employers $15,000 per worker) and an employer-sponsored 401(k) plan.

If your workplace offers an employer match for retirement savings, that also boosts your total compensation. You might also get discounts on gym memberships, and group rates on car insurance, life insurance, and even financial and legal advice.

Besides your take-home pay, you’ll want to factor in the full suite of benefits that your employer offers. In turn, that makes a difference as to how much you have to work with each month.

3. Happiness Report

Yes, happiness is a difficult thing to pinpoint. But in recent years metrics have been developed to gauge how happy nations are as a whole, giving us a good idea of wellbeing and work-life balance.

The U.N.’s World Happiness Report uses data from the Gallup World Poll, which surveys citizens in 156 countries on how happy they feel — to determine the overall well-being of a country’s denizens. The Cantril Ladder, or Cantril’s Self-Anchoring Ladder of Life Satisfaction, is made up of 10 rungs. The bottom of the ladder equals 0, and represents the worst possible life for you. The top of the ladder equals 10, and equates to the best possible life for you.

Per the Gallup World Poll, Finland, Norway, and Denmark, respectively,  ranked highest for happiness. The bottom three countries were Afghanistan, Central African Republic, and South Sudan. Where does the U.S. fall? Nineteen out of the 156.

Consider doing your own happiness assessment using the Cantril Ladder. Are you living your best life? What does it exactly mean for you to be living your best life? What steps can you make in the right direction to boost your well-being?

4. Net Worth 

Remember: Your income isn’t a measure of your wealth. Your net worth is. To figure out your net worth, tally up your assets — this includes your investments, how much you have sitting in your savings, and any other assets, like your home or car. Next, tally up your debt. Subtract your debt from your assets and you have your net worth.

Net worth gives a full picture because it factors in how much money you make, how much debt you owe and how quickly you’re paying it off. It’s what you have left at the end of the day that’s for Future You. Having a positive net worth shows that you’re financially healthy.

5. How You Spend Your Money

Are you putting your paycheck toward paying off debt, helping your family, or are you squandering it? Not only does how you spend your money affect your progress toward net worth, but it’s ultimately an indicator of what you value.

For instance, while I am typically pretty frugal when it comes to clothes, I spend more on high-quality, nutritious foods. That’s because my health, especially as I get older, becomes more important. I recently splurged on some fancy cookware because I’ve been preparing more meals at home. I also pay for weekly yoga classes at a nearby studio. Because my physical health is important, I’m willing to spend more on food and exercise.

There you have it. Five metrics that are more important than your income. As you can see, while your take-home pay does play a key role in your financial well-being, there are other ways to measure your financial success.

This article was originally published at HiCharlie.com

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Can Debt Be Used to Build Wealth? Let’s Weigh In

Image result for suitcase cash

Generally, people think of debt as something to avoid. Debt usually means “bad” and no debt means you are better off financially. So the idea of using debt to build wealth can seem a bit dubious. Can you really build wealth using debt?

In order to answer this question, we first need to know that there are two kinds of debt. There is good debt and bad debt. And though the thought of debt being “good” seems counter-intuitive, the fact remains that some debt is actually good.

Good debt is a debt that will increase your finances over time. So something like a small business loan is good debt because you use the money you borrowed to build up your business, thus, bulking up your finances in the long run. Good debt also has a smaller interest. So while you are expanding your business with your small business loan, you aren’t paying an exorbitant amount in interests. This type of debt also allows you ample time to pay back your debt.

Bad debt is the exact opposite. This kind of debt has astonishingly high-interest rates and usually involves some form of collateral. There is also a very short turnaround time for you to pay your debt, plus interest, back. Some examples of bad debt are credit card debts, car title loans, and payday loans. A loan of $100 will have you paying back nearly the same amount in interests alone. Bad debt will sink you financially faster than a boat riddled with holes.

So now that you know the two types of debt, you can probably guess which one can be used to build wealth. The question now is “how”.

A good way is the example stated above. Use debt to expand your business. If you do not have a business, use debt to invest. It could be in property or in various investment funds. Whatever you decide to invest in, it is important to know your risk tolerance and how much you are willing to invest.

The principle of leverage can help you out as well. Say for example you are investing 100 dollars of your own with an expected return rate of 10%. This will earn you a return of $10. If you borrowed money with an interest rate of less than 10%, you can add to your initial $100 investment and still earn from it despite having to pay off the debt you used to invest. You can diversify your financial portfolio using this strategy as well; borrow to invest in different institutions and different kinds of investments.

There are a few to consider when using debt to invest. Think of your tolerance for debt. Can you realistically pay off your monthly payments? Can you pay off that debt within the time frame or do you need more time? Consider your cash flow as well. You need to make sure that you have enough income to pay off your debt.

So the answer to the question can debt be used to build wealth is yes, you can. You just need to choose the right kind of debt, invest in the right things, and keep in mind your debt tolerance.

This article was originally published by Uncapped Mortgage

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10 Ways to Save on Insurance

Having insurance is great when the universe decides it’s time to give you a major (or even minor) problem. But when you can get a policy for practically anything, it’s easy to spend more on protecting your life than living it. Don’t worry, though. We can help you keep these expenses under control while still getting the coverage that you need.

Here are ten ways to be protected for less:

1. Assess Your Needs

Rather than buying coverage simply because you think you should, it’s important to consider your specific situation. Your life today and your future plans should dictate what insurance policies you need and how much coverage is appropriate.

Although there are lots of factors to consider for each type of insurance, you should think about the following to determine your needs:

  • Your assets: More assets (cash, investments, businesses, property, etc.) may mean more insurance
  • Your family: Having dependents typically requires more coverage
  • Your health: Poor health could necessitate a more robust medical policy or more life insurance

2. Shop Around

Before committing to any policy, get pricing from multiple companies. You may be surprised at how much variation you see. And remember — don’t just set it and forget it. It pays to do this before every policy renewal.

3. Bundle Policies

As you get quotes for coverage, ask each company for a bundle price on the types of insurance that you need. You could score big savings and simplify your bill paying process.

4. Get a Discount by Association

Sure, you can likely get a deal on health, life, and disability insurance through your employer. But did you know that you may be eligible for discounted group rates on home and auto policies, too? Check with your HR department!

5. Raise the Deductible

Increasing your policy’s deductible could be an easy way to save a few bucks each month. Be sure, however, that you can cover the higher deductible if you ever need to make a claim.

6. Keep Your Credit Report Clean

Unless you live in CA, HI, or MA, poor credit history could cost you. Insurers may assign you an insurance score (similar to a credit score), with lower scores resulting in higher premiums. They believe, right or wrong, that a low score indicates irresponsibility and therefore more risk.

7. Save on Car Insurance

If you want to own a car in 48 out of 50 states, you need car insurance. The good news is that you can defray the expense with tons of different discounts. You may be able to save cash for being a student, taking a defensive driving course, being a member of AAA, driving a car with low miles, and more. Additionally, if your car is older and paid off, you may not need as much insurance. Remember: carry sufficient liability coverage to protect your assets.

Tip: Try this calculator to see how much car insurance you may need.

8. Save on Homeowners/Renters Insurance

If you have a mortgage, you’re probably required to have homeowner’s insurance. To make this expense more budget-friendly, ask your insurer if they offer price breaks for having smoke detectors, a home security system, modern plumbing and electrical systems, etc. Many of the same discounts are available to renters, too.

Bonus read: Check out this article on determining how much coverage you could need.

Tip: Use this guide to take an inventory of your belongings and determine the value of your stuff, which gets factored into your insurance requirements.

9. Save on Life Insurance

If you have a family to protect or want to leave loved ones a little something when you’re gone, you may want to purchase life insurance. There are a few different types, each with their own pros and cons, but generally, the most affordable type is term life insurance. Term life insurance will pay your beneficiaries a specified amount if you die within a certain timeframe (usually 10-30 years). There are a number of ways to save on life insurance such as paying the entire year’s worth of premiums upfront or getting a volume discount (aka getting more insurance for less money!).

Tip: Try this calculator to see how much life insurance you may need.

10. Save on Health Insurance

It’s no secret — medical care is crazy expensive. Adequate health insurance can save your wallet from a beating if you become seriously ill or injured.  If you’re in good health, don’t go to the doctor frequently, and have a cash reserve, consider saving money on your monthly premiums by choosing a plan with a high-deductible. You’ll pay the full tab if you go to urgent care with the flu or a sprained ankle, but you’ll (hopefully) pay less overall each year due to premium savings. You can also save money by using in-network providers and practicing healthy habits — like eating right, getting those steps in, and going easy at happy hour.

Tip: A Health Savings Account (HSA) is a perfect partner to a high-deductible medical plan. Check out how an HSA can help lower your tax liability, set money aside for medical expenses, and save for retirement here. To get started, click here.

Final Thoughts

Insurance can be a significant line item on your budget, but there are many ways to minimize the expense. While this article isn’t an exhaustive list of ways to save, it gives you a good start to being covered affordably.

Tell Charlie: What’s your favorite way to save on insurance?

Please note: We don’t have an affiliation with or personally endorse any of the services linked to in this post. We’re just trying to give you some ideas.

This article was originally published at HiCharlie.com

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The Cost of Love: Differences in Dating Expenses Between Men and Women

The game of love can cost a pretty penny. Take the popular reality TV series The Bachelor. Female contestants are expected to bring their own wardrobe for the entire show. (That’s seven whole weeks!) This includes the entire kit and caboodle, from stiletto heels and evening gowns to hair products, accessories, and makeup to city cruising and hiking outfits. The cost for these single ladies? Anywhere from $1,800 to a whopping $8,000. Looking good on the prowl ain’t cheap!

Getting the bachelor to ask you, “Will you accept this rose?” could add up quickly.

Male contestants on The Bachelorette, however, spend a lot less on appearances. How much do they spend to be on the show? Anywhere from $500 to $3,500 in an attempt to woo the bachelorette.

When it comes to the real world, the costs of courtship are lower, but there’s still a discrepancy in how much men and women spend in their journeys for love.

The Costs of Dating
According to Match.com’s 7th annual Singles in America survey, men spent an average of $1,855 per year on dating, whereas women spent $1,423, per Mental Floss. This includes throwing down dough on eating out, entertainment, clothes and personal grooming, and on dating apps. Singles are spending roughly $80 per date and going on about 20 dates each year.

As you might’ve guessed, it costs more to date in major cities: $2,069 in the Big Apple, $1,816 in Chicago, and $1,788 in Washington, D.C. Despite the major costs related with courting, talking about cash in a relationship is tricky. Here are our tips for approaching the subject:

Don’t Assume 
Whether it’s what we observe from our parents, or what’s been culturally instilled in us from an early age, we might bear assumptions that no longer ring true in our modern age.

For example, who takes the bill at the end of a date? Per the Singles in America Survey, nearly half of men believe in footing the bill, while only 36 percent of women think that men still should. What’s more, when it comes to going splitsies, 71 percent of males enjoyed it when a woman offered to pay, and 78 percent of women said they had offered. When my partner and I first started dating, we went Dutch from the get-go. It wasn’t about gender roles, it was just what felt right for our dynamic.

You also don’t want to assume you know what the true costs of courtship entail. A good friend of mine was getting annoyed that his girlfriend wasn’t paying her fair share. He was paying for most of the meals and movie tickets. Plus, he had to fork over gas money to drive out to see her. When he brought this up to her, she pointed out that she had made up for it by buying pricey lingerie. This was a “hidden” cost that my friend hadn’t even considered. If you’re not sure what your date is thinking, don’t be afraid to ask. That can help prevent conflict and bouts of resentment.

Start Simple 
You probably don’t want to talk about credit scores, debt loads, and tax brackets on the first date — unless you want to scare them off. As the tried-and-true adage goes: Keep It Simple, Stupid (KISS). In the early days of courtship, start with the easy stuff. There’s no need to pry when all that’s required is deciding who will be paying for dinner.

In the early days of the relationship, it might be best to observe instead of outright asking. You can learn a lot about someone’s approach to money in the spending decisions they make and their lifestyle choices. Are they are a saver or a spender? Do they generally seem optimistic about their finances, or can you sense glimmers of pessimism? Piecing together these hints can help you figure out whether they have a healthy relationship with money.

Handle With Care 
Chatting about finances in a romantic partnership is no easy feat. As it can be a heavy and sensitive topic, you’ll want to approach it with finesse. I like to bring up light topics when it comes to money, such as finding a bargain at my favorite online store. If I feel like talking about my finances, I’ll do so in a way that could lead to a deeper discussion. If they’re not feeling it, don’t pressure them to share.

And whatever you do, don’t judge. People might feel shame about not earning enough, or about their debt situation. (Yes, debt shame is a very real thing.) If you’re going to approach a tricky subject, come from a place of empathy and understanding.

Time the Ask 
Getting financially naked is essential to a healthy relationship. Once you get more serious, you’ll need to pull back the hood and reveal the state of your finances. This includes your credit card debt, net worth, how much you earn, as well as your hopes, fears, and concerns about money.

Yes, it’s a lot. But the last thing you want in your relationship is financial infidelity, or keeping a money secret from your S.O. If you don’t know where your partner stands, you won’t be able to build a life together based on shared values. Talking about money is oftentimes difficult and scary. But doing so will help you build trust.

Know There Will Be Differences

We come in with our own mindsets, behaviors, and habits around money. If you and your partner have different ways of handling money, you’ll need to communicate boundaries, expectations, and work on shared goals.

My partner and I have pretty different ways on how we treat our money. I am super cautious, and need a lot tucked away for emergencies to feel safe. My partner feels comfortable having a smaller cushion for his rainy day fund. My threshold for what makes me feel safe isn’t the same for him. He doesn’t own a credit card, and pays for everything upfront. While I pay off my credit card balance in full each month, I love racking up those credit card points!

Pencil in Money Dates 
Most of my coupled money nerd pals carve out time to go on money dates with their significant others. It’s a perfect time to discuss progress on shared money goals, share wins, and hash out any issues. You can make it fun. Get out of the house, and chat over coffee or ice cream. As you most likely each lead busy lives, you can squeeze in a time to chat while driving to dinner once a week.

Dating is expensive, and talking about money is hard. But unless you swear to a life of singlehood, these are costs and challenges you’ll need to take into account. With a bit of know-how, planning and tact, you can incorporate finances into dating and relationships like a pro.

This article was originally published at HiCharlie.com

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8 Ways to Stop Impulse Shopping

Raise your hand if you’ve gone into Target just to buy a pack of toilet paper and left with a full basket of stuff.

Hey, we’ve all been there. It’s fine to make light of it all (I mean it does make for some great Target run memes, amiright?) but when it comes time to look at your bank account, it’s probably not going to be fun.

Impulse shopping happens to the best of people, but it can lead to blowing your budget, missing financial goals, and even going into debt. Worst of all, you may regret purchases, leading to those pesky emotions known as shame and guilt.

Before you go hiding under a rock, vowing never to come out again — please don’t, the world needs your awesomeness — keep reading to find out what you can do to curb impulse shopping.

Forgive Yourself

We all make mistakes. It’s not helpful to dwell on them and beat ourselves up on the past.

The more negative self-talk you engage in, the more you’re going to shop impulsively again. If you feel like you can’t escape the wrath of the Target run, you’ll end up blindly going into the store and tossing unnecessary items into your cart.

If you end up overspending, take some time to tell yourself it was a mistake and that you can become better with your money. One step at a time.

Notice Your Urges

… Shopping urges that is.

When you feel the need to shop — and it’s not because you ran out of toilet paper — take note. You can even go as far as marking it down in your note-taking app or a journal. The idea is to draw attention to it so that you can stop and think about why you feel the need to shop.

In most cases, the reasons are emotional. Maybe you’re going through a stressful time and want to do some retail therapy. Or you’re feeling a bit insecure at your new job and want to impress your coworkers. It could even be as simple as you celebrating your birthday, leading you to buy things you weren’t planning on purchasing.

 

Avoid Temptation

  • Here are some simple tricks to avoid the urge to buy things in store or online you don’t need: Block websites of your favorite retailers
  • If you need to purchase something, see if they have a pickup service, so you’re less tempted to be swayed by shiny displays
  • Don’t go to the mall
  • Give yourself a time limit when you do need to buy something, like 5 days to see if you actually want it
  • Take a different route to work if there are any stores you’ll see that may lead you to impulsively shop
  • Have hours where you’re not allowed to browse online (like past midnight, when you might not be thinking straight…)

Stick to a List

A lot of people end up making impulse purchase because they don’t have a plan. Of course, sticking to a list isn’t going to be 100 percent but at least it can help deter you by having something you can reference.

Sticking to a list will require you do some advance planning on your part. For example, if you go grocery shopping, check your pantry to see what you items you need. Or if you’re buying new clothes, write down the types of styles, color and clothing item before you go try stuff on.

Try a 30-Day Challenge

Gamifying your finances can be a fun way to work towards a better financial future. Call it a “shopping ban,” “spending fast,” or something more fun. Whatever you do, see if you can challenge yourself to stop impulse purchases for 30 days.

If you do, make sure you get as specific as possible. Maybe you’ll only purchase necessities, but nothing outside of groceries, bills, etc.. Or you want to stop clothes shopping for the next 30 days. Consider making some rules or guidelines on what you can and can’t purchase during the challenge.

When the challenge is over, see how you feel. What did you learn about yourself??

Have an Accountability Partner

Sometimes having an outside force can help you to stick to your goals. If you have a friend who you can chat all things money with and trust, challenge each other to stop impulse purchases.

This plan will have a higher chance of success if you make specific goals. Think about keeping each other accountable throughout a 30-day challenge (as mentioned above) or even having a weekly chat to talk about your thoughts around spending money.

The win-win here is that you can work towards a better financial future and help a friend out at the same time!

Bring Cash

You can’t spend money you don’t have, right? If you need to head into a store to make a purchase, bring only the cash you need and that’s it. That way you’re not tempted to buy anymore because you won’t be able to purchase it.

If you hate the thought of carrying around cash, consider using a prepaid debit or credit card so you can still limit the amount you spend.

Understand Your Why

Sounds super cheesy, but you can’t maintain a habit without understanding why you’re doing it in the first place. Sure, it’s a good idea to stop impulse shopping, but why is it important to you specifically? Do you want to save more money so you can replace your old laptop? Or do you have a bunch of credit card debt you want gone by the end of the month?

Giving a reason for changing your behavior will help keep you motivated during the tough times. And when you get through to the other side, you’ll be thankful you took the time to understand the why behind your finances.

This article was originally published at HiCharlie.com

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What Entrepreneurs Can Teach Us About Getting Out of Debt

Credit card debt surpassed $1 trillion in 2017, according to a report by the Federal Reserve. Getting out of this kind of debt can be challenging, but there is one group that can help show you a way out; entrepreneurs. They understand that debt involves having more liabilities than assets according to Forbes. In general terms, debt can be defined as owing more than you own. Owing something to someone else can be beneficial to your productivity, prosperity and value creation. When you cannot use debt for these benefits, then debt becomes a burden not an opportunity.

Learning to negotiate your way out of debt

When even the smartest entrepreneurs get into debt because a certain product did not sell well or because of a downturn, they often find ways to negotiate better rates and monthly payments with their lenders or creditors. Creditors do not refuse to negotiate because if the business fails, the creditors will not get their money. Similarly, your creditors want you to continue paying your debts because if you stop paying, it may force them to litigate.

Most creditors prefer to receive smaller amounts rather than to receive nothing at all. This process of negotiation may be brought before a third neutral party called an arbitrator to resolve any debt repayment dispute. This is often done to avoid spending time and money going to court to resolve the dispute. During time period of debt repayment after the debt negotiation process, your cash flow may stabilize.

Cash flow can be irregular

An illusion of invincibility may envelope you when cash inflows start exceeding outflows, but that quickly dissipate when irregular cash flow unexpectedly sets in. Some people turn to more credit cards when this happens, but credit cards may only make you dig yourself deeper into debt.Entrepreneurs ensure that they do not sell anything at a loss when they are experiencing more cash inflows than outflows. Another way entrepreneurs keep the cash flow regular is by offering no discounts and adding more value by creating bundles of products or services. So maintain your former budget, but do not add any more expenses. You will also need to prioritize your debt.

Tackle loans with large interest rates first

Entrepreneurs prioritize debts that affect their business relationships and those with large interest rates and penalties before other loans.  Penalties include having to lose an asset which you placed as collateral for a loan from a lender. So you can start repaying the loan that has either your house or your car as collateral because losing those properties can plunge you deeper into debt.

Debts can affect your relationships if you borrowed the money from relatives, friends or co-workers or when the debt is putting a strain on your marriage. Failing to pay the debt on time can actually end these relationships making you more vulnerable the next time you get into debt. For entrepreneurs, a supplier or vendor may refuse to deliver certain products to a business because of a debt that wasn’t paid.

Generally, you need to have a debt repayment plan, which involves drawing up a budget and sticking to it with the discipline of an entrepreneur. The changes you make may be hard on you and your family but that sacrifice will lead to a more secure future.

Chrissy Helders

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