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Manage Money

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In the spring of 2016, I decided to start a podcast because I knew they were popular in the online and finance business space. I also thought it would be a lot of fun.

 

Two months into my project, I started receiving requests from different financial experts asking to be guests on the show. Now, I’ve interviewed more than 20 guests—and I’ve noticed some patterns as it pertains to managing money successfully.

 

Here are four of the most important money lessons I’ve learned from my guests.

 

1. Faith Plays A Major Role In Finances

 

Just about every guest I’ve interviewed has credited their success with finances to something bigger than themselves.

 

I’ve interviewed Buddhists, Christians, and people who consider themselves to be simply spiritual, and every single one of them has mentioned how having faith has helped them with their finances.

 

For me, “faith” doesn’t necessarily equal religion. But I’ve realized that it means trusting yourself to make the right decisions. I needed to have faith in myself to take risks like starting a business, asking for a raise, and investing money.

 

2. Money And Emotions Go Hand In Hand

 

One of my most popular podcast episodes is with Melanie Lockert of Dear Debt. During her episode, she shared how she was able to pay off $81,000 in student loan debt.

 

What really struck me about her interview is how open she was about the role of money in her mental health. Depression and anxiety are extremely common when we think of our financial situations, and our emotions play a major role in how we behave with money.

 

When I first started my financial journey, I let my emotions take over because I didn’t realize how emotional money actually was. For example, I’d spend my money because I was stressed at my job.

 

My guests have taught me techniques to help me determine whether I’m making financial decisions based on emotion or logic. Whether it’s meditating or gratitude lists, it all makes a difference in helping you stabilize your emotions.

 

 

3. Money Doesn’t Need To Destroy A Relationship

 

They say money issues are a common reason for divorce, but I’ve interviewed plenty of guests whose marriages have withstood major financial problems.

 

One such guest is Lauren Greutman, author of “The Recovering Spender.” She got herself into over $50,000 of consumer debt and hid it from her husband.

 

One day, she finally mustered up the courage to tell him and start fixing her financial life. Rather than asking for a divorce, her husband was on her team and they worked together to pay off the debt. Their marriage is now stronger than ever.

 

As I date, I now know that we need to have financial conversations early on. While money won’t necessarily break a relationship, it is important to get on the same page from the beginning.

 

4. There’s Always A Solution

 

The main lesson I’ve learned is there’s always a solution to every problem if you look for it. The solutions may not appear out of thin air, but they are often in plain sight. For example, I would complain about not earning enough income when the solution was as simple as just asking for more money. The solutions do take some work, but the rewards are worth it.

 

Do you listen to financial podcasts? What lessons have you learned? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to share in the comments.

When I got married in January, I wasn’t really considering the financial ramifications—other than the fact that it was less expensive to elope. But soon after marriage, a lot of questions started to come up.

 

Here are the biggest ones I had, as well as the answers I found:

 

How do my taxes change?

 

Once you’re married, you have the option to file married jointly or married separately. You should provide your employer with a new W-4 that lets them know you’re married, and tax deductions will be calculated differently. You should do this whether you’re filing jointly or not, the number of allowances you’re claiming on your taxes will likely change.

On a joint tax return, both spouses are responsible for all the information and must sign the same return. Some couples opt to file separately, but most of the time this results in higher taxes for both parties.

 

Does my husband own my property? Is he responsible for my mortgage?

 

Back in 2015, I bought a home on my own. If you acquire assets like these before marriage, they are considered separate property. While a new spouse isn’t responsible for your mortgage as soon as you’re married (not paying it won’t affect their credit score), the financial obligation of a mortgage lingers after death. So, if something happens to the borrower, your spouse is usually the one responsible for paying it.
 

Are we responsible for each other’s debt? Student loans?

 

While federal loans are forgiven if your spouse dies, there are certain situations where your spouse could be responsible for your loans. If they cosigned your loans or if they live in a community property state while you took on new student loans or other debt, your spouse would be responsible. If your parents cosigned private student loans that don’t release you upon death, then your parents are most likely the ones who would be responsible.

 

What financial questions did you have after marriage? Or what answers surprised you? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to share in the comments.

 

My nephew Ryan is marrying his girlfriend, Whitney, the end of this month. As an aunt, I am excited to witness this young couple make a long-term commitment to each other. I just love a wedding!

 

But as a money and emotions expert, I know that it is important for any engaged couple to realize that marriage is a financial commitment as well. Unfortunately, one of the biggest contributors to divorce is financial conflict.

 

Because I love Ryan, I plan on having a little chat with him before his wedding day. Here are some highlights of what I will say.

 

Work As A Team

 

Too many couples fight about finances and work against each other when it comes to spending and saving decisions. My husband and I have been married for 20 years. One thing we have done well is work as a financial team, in both good times and bad. Any young couple should strive to do the same.

 

Celebrate Differences

 

It is unrealistic to expect that you will always agree with each other. My husband and I come from different money histories, and we needed to spend time understanding each other’s money mindsets.

 

Celebrate these differences, and capitalize on each of your strengths. You will be emotionally and financially stronger as a result.

 

Go On Money Dates

 

My husband and I go on regular money dates. During these dates, we talk about money, ask each other curious questions about our respective financial histories and mindsets, and discuss how to proactively plan for our future together.

 

If you’re engaged, it may seem like you have plenty of years to talk about money. But do yourself a favor and discuss money matters now. Trust me—the last 20 years passed very quickly!

 

What money advice would you give to an about-to-be-married couple? Sign up or login in with your Salt account to share in the comments!

My son turned one last week. First birthdays mean a birthday party. Birthdays cost money, which inspired me to write this post.

 

Like when celebrating many “firsts,” there is a temptation to go all out. Often, these added bells and whistles cost money. Without skimping out on the birthday festivities, my wife and I made some decisions that helped keep costs low.

 

(And, let’s be honest, the kid is turning one. ONE. Is he really going to remember anything about his party? The answer is no.) Here is what we did:

 

Did It Ourselves

 

Obviously 1 year olds don’t talk (at least most of them don’t). When planning for a birthday theme, we couldn’t just ask Noah what he wanted.

 

He really likes his baseball toy with handles, so we chose a baseball-themed party. Red Sox, to be specific.

 

There are endless baseball/Red Sox-themed party supplies. To save money, we opted for some DIY decorations: recycled mason jars as baseball silverware holders, a tablecloth as the Green Monster, and caramel popcorn party favors. Total cost for all three of these? Less than $10.

 

Kept It Small

 

My wife has a large family—like 25 first cousins large. We discussed throwing a big bash for Noah’s first birthday. This would have required renting a hall, some type of entertainment, additional food costs, etc.

 

In the end, we decided to keep it small. Immediate family and grandparents. We hosted the party (forgoing the hall rental). Our parents were more than willing to bring some baseball-themed snacks, and we recruited my brother-in-law and his wife to swing by early and help set up.

 

Remembered The Purpose

 

We hear the phrase “Keeping up with the Joneses” all the time. There is a lot of temptation, and in some cases social pressure, to go all out with these milestones for your kids. For some people, that works. For us, we were hoping to avoid the temptation.

 

As I mentioned earlier, we could have gone all out with more bells and whistles. As we talked about birthday plans, we realized it was most important for us (and we will assume Noah) that he was surrounded by his family while some solid photo opportunities.

 

In the end, the party was a smashing success. As an added bonus, fewer people means fewer gifts, which means less junk fewer toys that he will use once and forget about.

 

What about it, Salt Community? Any cost-saving ideas for upcoming or past parties? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to share them in the comments!

Lately, I’ve been obsessed with Warren Buffet’s 25-5 rule. If you’re not familiar, it’s a simple exercise to help you figure out the things that matter to you most. You make a list of 25 things you want to achieve in your life, and circle five of them. Then, you instantly forget about the other 20—and focus only on achieving your top five.

 

The point? Spreading yourself too thin and not prioritizing your goals results in you getting none of them done. If you ruthlessly focus your time on only five, you’ve got a greater chance of success. And, if they truly were the top five, achieving them should maximize your happiness.

 

While I’ve tried to apply this rule to my life goals, I also thought Buffet’s advice applies nicely to personal finance. The idea came about when a friend told me they dropped $300 on a pair of Yves-Saint Laurent sneakers, and I had to collect my jaw off the floor.

 

I would never spend that much on shoes, but that’s just me. My friend obviously has fashion as a part of his top five—he’s chosen to prioritize spending his money on it instead of something else. So, after much internal debate, here is my financial top five—just in time for financial literacy month, too!

 

Keep in mind that these categories only relate to the money I’ve marked for spending. Other far more important categories like retirement savings, debt repayment, and more aren’t counted here because they’re funded beforehand. 

 

1. Travel

 

I’m a sucker for visiting new places and exploring the world. In general, I’d say I tend to prioritize spending money on experiences rather than material objects. Hence, why travel is so high up on the list for me.

 

Now that I live in a different part of the country from my family and close friends, travel has also become a way for me to reunite with my loved ones.

 

From plane tickets, to hotel stays, to rental cars and Ubers, I have very few reservations about sinking money into this category throughout the year. 

 

2. Books

 

I don’t think I’ve stepped foot in a bookstore in the last 5 years and not walked out with something in my hands. I’m a gigantic book nerd, and if Barnes & Noble had a loyalty card, I’d probably be on my fifth free book or something for the year.

 

While books are obviously material objects, I think they still help us generate lasting experiences and memories—just of the mental variety. Therefore, they’re worth it to me!

 

3. Personal Training And Gyms

 

It’s scarily easy to take good health for granted, and fitness is obviously key to maintaining it. And while I don’t think I’ll ever actually become one of those people that, you know, enjoys exercise, over the years I have found a few things that keep me going to the gym again and again.

 

Working with a personal trainer is probably the biggest of those things. Having somebody else hold me accountable for achieving my fitness goals has been a surprisingly effective way to stay motivated, so that I keep going back to the gym even when I don’t want to.

 

4. Good Food

 

Maybe living in San Francisco has ruined me, but I think I’ve officially become a n00b foodie. And while I’ve yet to degrade to the point of taking constant food Instagrams, I do like to splurge on a good meal out with friends.

 

For me, it’s less about the food, and more about enjoying the experience of trying out a new restaurant with other people. It’s a social and communal experience, and I think that’s what I value most about it.

 

5. Entertainment

 

I like to go out. Like, a lot more than I probably should (cue the “you’re only young once” narrative). From concerts, to DJ shows, to long nights at the bar, a good chunk of my cash goes to just having fun. And again, that’s totally OK by me because I know the memories that I’m making with my friends will last long after the bars close.

 

Have you thought about your financial top five? I’d love to hear about them in the comments! Sign up or log in with your Salt account to share!

Last summer, I took an internship on campus and was faced with the decision of how to house myself for the summer months. This led to me getting my very first apartment … sort of. From early May to the end of August, I sublet an amazing apartment right by my school!

 

When you sublet, you sign an agreement with an apartment’s current tenants for a short period of time. While you may not be the direct renter, you are still a legal tenant of the place. This option is great for college students like me, who need to stay somewhere for a couple months for work, and those who travel.

 

But as great as the benefits are, there are some downsides too. So, for those who may be looking to sublet for the summer, here are my opinions on it!

 

The Pros

 

  • No need to buy furniture. Most sublets come fully furnished. At the apartment I stayed at over the summer, I had to buy nothing except groceries every week.
  • No credit check. If I was shopping for an apartment to actually lease, the process would be a lot more formal—and likely include a credit check. But most short-term sublets don’t require anything that formal. You just need to pay on time every month and treat the property well.
  • You can negotiate. I noticed that toward the end of the school year, prices got cheaper and cheaper. As much as you want to live in the apartment, the subleaser usually wants to get out just as bad. Nobody wants to pay for a place they're not using, so they are more willing to negotiate toward the end of the school year.
  • No security deposit. When you rent an apartment for yourself, you typically put down a security deposit to cover potential damages for the space. When you sublease, the sublessor will often waive this deposit.


The Cons

  • Limited control. If the current tenant gets their lease terminated for any reason, then you too are out of an apartment—and there's nothing you can really do about it, because you rent through the tenant and not their landlord.
  • Shady sublessors. You must definitely be careful when searching for a sublease. If you are in college, check if your campus has a website dedicated to searching for apartments nearby. My school has a website designed to help bring responsible tenants and landlords together. Some sublessors may not be truthful about the lease. For example, they may not be allowed to sublease the apartment or may have failed to run it by their landlord first. This can get you both in trouble. Others may try to jack up the price to make themselves some quick bucks.
  • Delayed services. If anything in the apartment breaks down or needs fixing, you must first go through the current tenant. Then, they must go to their landlord. So, fixes and repairs can take a bit of time.


These are just a few of my opinions based off my experiences on subleasing. Does anyone have similar experiences or advice? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to share your stories!

While I certainly look at all my financial goals every January, I like to think of April as the financial new year.

 

Seeing as how April is Financial Literacy Month and spring is in the air, it seems like a good time to clean your financial house. You also have to file your taxes in April, so you might as well keep the financial train going.

 

Here are a few of the ways that I personally like to celebrate Financial Literacy Month each year.

 

Review My Financial Goals

 

April is the time I check in on the financial goals I set back in January to see if I’m on track. Since I also run a business, this is the time I measure what’s going on in the business financials.

 

For example, I set a goal in January to have $10,000 in emergency savings. I also decided to make certain investments in my business with specific outcomes in mind. April is the time I see how I’m doing.

 

(I’m happy to announce that I’m almost at my savings goal, and I’m slowly starting to see the return on my investments.)

 

Talk To My Money Team

 

Since I’m a business owner, I have people on my money team that I speak with. For instance, I have an accountant I talk to every April for tax planning. However, I also crunch numbers with my business manager.

 

Sometimes we need other perspectives from experts in their field to really get a good sense of what’s going on in our financial lives. This helps you figure out what your next steps should be. Speaking of which ...

 

Start Taking The Next Logical Step

 

The final thing I like to do every April is to start taking action. More specifically, I take action on the next logical step for my financial life.

 

This year, that looks like researching different types of retirement accounts for business owners—and possibly making a switch for tax benefits.

 

What are you going to do to celebrate Financial Literacy Month? Or what’s the next logical step to take in your financial life? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to let us know in the comments!

I just got back from a weeklong business trip in London. I hadn’t been there since I studied at Oxford as an exchange student—I almost forgot how much I love the U.K.!

 

I also almost forgot how expensive traveling abroad can be. From different currencies, to different expectations around gratuities and more, you can easily end up going way over budget on a trip abroad.

 

Here are three things I had to (re)learn the hard way about traveling abroad. Use them on your next trip outside of the States!

 

1. Memorize Common Currency Conversions

 

I got excited buying a ton of “inexpensive” £5 meals and £20 clothes throughout the week, until I realized that those amounts are the equivalent of $6 and $25, respectively. Not too drastic a difference, but still—I may have put down the $20 shirt if I knew it was really $25!

 

As you may expect, conversion gets more complicated as the numbers get larger. Doing mental math for quick dollar amounts is fine (and usually won’t have too much negative impact if you ***** up), but not understanding that £1,000 is $1,260 will have more adverse side effects for your budget.

 

I recommend memorizing common conversion amounts (like, the equivalent of $1, $5, $10, $50, and $100) so that way you can make quick gut checks as expenses pop up. You need not know the exact dollar equivalent, but having a rough idea will help you make smarter financial decisions.

 

2. Shop Tax Free Where Possible

 

There’s nothing fun about paying taxes to a government you don’t get any benefits from. When abroad, a lot of shops may offer tax-free shopping as an option. You’ll get a special receipt at checkout that records the amount of tax you paid for your goods. Then, if you take that receipt to a kiosk at the airport, you can get a refund for that amount.

 

Not every shop will offer this, and a lot of them are not transparent about it. The places I shopped were very open about their tax-free options, but at a few others, I had to actually talk to an employee to get the special tax receipt I needed.

 

If for whatever reason you plan to buy a big-ticket item abroad and take it back home with you, tax-free shopping can save you quite a bit!

 

3. Beware Hidden Fees And Different Expectations

 

Foreign countries will have different gratuity fees. In the U.K., for example, if you go to eat at a café, you may pay two different prices for the same item depending on if you eat it at the store or if you take it to go. That’s because there’s a small “service fee” bundled into dine-in orders that pays for the person bussing your table. It’s frowned upon if you get a to-go order and then sit down to eat it because you didn’t pay that extra fee.

 

Tipping can also be extremely different. In the U.K., it’s not common to tip because most service professionals have higher hourly rates. That said, there have been times where I wrote down a gratuity on a credit card slip out of habit. Nobody said anything to me about it, but I essentially walked away from a meal or two with a bit less money, and potentially appeared condescending because of it.

 

Do you have any other money-saving tips for traveling abroad? Sign up or log in with your Salt account and let me know in the comments! 

Transitioning from college to work can be rocky. Just as you were getting the hang of this “school thing,” it’s over. Finished. Done.

 

Now, the real fun begins.

 

Thinking back on my own experience (sadly, further in the past each year), I remember feeling a bit lost with the whole post-grad financial piece. Although I had a solid understanding of the basics, I didn’t know all the right questions to ask—nor could I predict what I would “need to know.”

 

In that spirit, I have outlined four financial “to-dos” for the soon-to-be graduate. Some of these I knew when I left school; others, I learned about the hard way.

 

1. Create A Spending Plan 

Why? Because that first job rarely pays enough to cover all financial needs and wants.

 

My first job out of college paid far less than what I was expecting. In fact, I was dipping into my savings account on a regular basis to make ends meet. This was a hard reality to face.

 

To avoid this (and avoid dipping into your hard-earned savings), be prepared to create a realistic spending plan and stick to it. Most likely, it will require some trade-offs and due diligence, but it can be done.

 

2. Read Your Credit Report 

Why? Because potential employers check credit reports.

 

According to the Society of Human Resource Management, up to 47% of employers check potential employees’ credit reports as part of the hiring process. Although this same report indicates not many employers use the report as the “make or break” decision, checking your report (especially to correct any errors) is a great habit to establish. 

 

I didn’t run my credit report until a few years after taking my first job. Thankfully, I did not come across any errors. Since then, checking my report has landed firmly in my financial “to-do” list. You can pull your report for free once every 12 months at AnnualCreditReport.com.

 

3. Start Saving For Retirement 

Why? So you do not lose out on potential earnings.

 

I know what you are thinking: Saving for retirement seems a bit odd since you may not even have entered the workforce yet. However, much like regular savings, saving early and often for retirement can mean a big return in the long run. Not to mention, too many employees (an estimated one in four) leave money “on the table” by not saving enough to receive their company match.

 

My first full-time job after college required all employees to contribute to their retirement account. The minimum was 3% of your salary. If you increased to 5%, the company would match you 5%. This is, in the most literal term, free money. Check to see if your employer offers a match. If they do, do what you can to meet the minimum requirements.

 

4. Learn How To Negotiate Your Salary 

Why? So you do not leave money on the table.

 

If you are like me, the mere thought of salary negotiation makes you anxious. But, if you can get over the fear, it can really serve you well.

 

A recent survey by NerdWallet and LookSharp found that a mere 38% of respondents negotiated their salary, while employers overwhelmingly (~75%) reported having room to negotiate and increase salaries!

 

Personally, I have negotiated my salary once. The result? No change. Although nothing changed, I was proud of myself for taking the leap. If you need some help, check out this great resource on Salt®.

 

What about everyone else? What financial “to-dos” do you have for soon-to-be graduates? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to share them!

Since last September, I’ve been on a marathon of unhealthiness: my wedding, a week-long honeymoon, my birthday, Halloween candy, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s—with football season running through it all until Super Bowl Sunday. Eventually, enough was enough, and I looked for a solution.

 

Two friends of mine found themselves in a similar predicament, so we’re working together. In a Biggest Loser-style competition, whoever loses the largest percentage of his body weight over a 75-day period wins a prize, courtesy of the third place finisher. We’ve been motivating each other with constant heckling and trash talk since we started on March 1.

 

The loser’s punishment isn’t steep, but the shame of losing to two close friends is driving me to diet and exercise as best I can. Unfortunately, smart choices for my body aren’t always smart for my bank account. Healthy stuff is expensive! I’m only 3 weeks into my journey, but that’s long enough to have some takeaways for keeping my waistline and my wallet in good shape.

 

1. Work Out At Home (Or Somewhere Free)

 

As dedicated as I am to sculpting my body, I won’t let myself spring for a gym membership. There’s a few reasons for that.

 

First, I work at a college and have access to their facilities. It certainly helps to have an employer with a benefit like that. It’s a luxury that may not be afforded to you, which is fine because there are alternatives.

 

I prefer to work out at home anyway. There may not be as much equipment or energy at home, but it is 100% free and all to myself (and my wife). If you like taking classes or need some direction, surf around Google, YouTube, and Vimeo. There are tons of free and easy classes and programs online, many of which require zero equipment.

 

2. Plan Your Meals

 

I’m not an organized guy, even when it comes to food—and I am madly in love with food. I have friends who spend their Sunday nights cooking food for the rest of the week. That level of prep is great, but it’s just out of character for me.

 

Planning for me is more about knowing what is for lunch and for dinner each week. I’ve switched to salads at lunch every day, which means either having ingredients on hand each morning to prep for that day or venturing into the world to pay for someone else to make me a salad. The latter can be a nice Friday treat, but financially, it is so much more advantageous to stock up on veggies each week and craft my own concoctions.

 

The same goes for dinners, especially on the weekend. Without a plan, or even an idea, weekend meals can often mean settling for takeout or worse.

 

3. Make A Sacrifice

 

The biggest factor in my weight loss so far is probably having gone sober for the time being. It’s a tough task, and I may have missed out on some fun, but the numbers on my scale and my bank balance are no doubt improving together. Even though standing in a bar or going out to dinner and only drinking water has been a choice I’ve made for weight loss, the collateral effect on my tab at the night has been a welcome change.

 

This has been my choice, though it doesn’t have to be yours. Find a burden on your health and wallet and try to eliminate it, even for a bit. Sugary drinks at Starbucks, weekly pizza orders, or big fancy brunches are all nice ways to cut spending and calories.

 

Have a budget-friendly diet idea? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to share with us!

I’ve officially decided that I pay too damn much in rent. I knew when I moved to San Francisco that rent would eat up the biggest portion of my budget (and choosing to live alone would only worsen that effect), but I saw it as just another life advancement: A big-boy apartment meant big-boy costs.

 

What I didn’t realize at the time was that really, this was just a justified form of lifestyle inflation. Did I need to pay a ton in rent to live alone just because I could? Definitely not. And the idea of it being “the next step in my life” and all that was pretty much just mumbo jumbo: People twice my age live happily with roommates, and after all, I was still renting.

 

So, moving forward, I’m imposing a rent ceiling on myself, where I don’t pay more than a certain amount of rent. Here’s more detail on why.

 

Expensive Rent Is Contrary To My Financial Goals

 

The “rent or buy” debate is a popular one—especially in my own head! For a while, I thought I would be OK never owning a place and always renting. It meant less hassle for me and more location and job mobility.

 

The cons of renting are well known. You basically pay off somebody else’s mortgage at a premium while building no equity of your own. Even the idea that renting provides more mobility has been challenged before—you can always rent out a house or condo that you own, after all.

 

Lately, as I grow to really, really like both California sunshine and my job, I’m thinking that buying a place and setting down roots could make sense. To even think about buying a house, you need to save for a down payment. The quickest way to not do that is to tie up your fixed monthly expenses, the largest of which is usually rent. If my endgame is to buy a place, renting an expensive studio is completely contrary to that goal. Hence, the need to put a cap on my willingness to pay for space.

 

I Want To Prevent Further Lifestyle Inflation

 

Over the past 6 years, my living situation has changed dramatically. At 18 and 19, I was living in the same room as somebody else, and I didn’t find it weird or stressful. At 21 and 22, I was living with a bunch of roommates in Boston and later New York. 23 was a brief spell at my parents, and 24 has brought me across the country to a San Francisco studio.

 

When it comes to living situations, I’ve nearly done it all at this point. And the thing is, never once—even when I was sharing a room—did my living situation make me completely unhappy or otherwise affect my life in a major way. I always adjusted, and arguably, more important things (the people I spent time with, the work I was doing, etc.) had a greater influence on my happiness. That’s something I want to maintain.

 

Living alone is scary to me because of the room (pun intended) it provides for me to get attached to more “stuff”: more personal space, more furniture, more things that shouldn’t matter to me. I want to get back to a place where I’m valuing the more important stuff, and I think returning to a roommate situation will help me do that.

 

There will be a time when living alone makes sense (i.e., when/if I buy a place), but until then, paying somebody else’s equity for something that has marginal impact on my happiness just doesn’t make sense.

 

  Do you have a rent ceiling for yourself? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to let me know in the comments!

josef

3 Times I Felt OK Taking On Debt

Posted by josef Employee Mar 16, 2017

Debt has had a huge impact on my life. And while I cringe whenever I hear that word, I know that sometimes debt is unavoidable—and not all that bad necessarily. 

 

I’d never advocate for taking on debt when you don’t have to. But there is debt that that can help you go about your day and life. Here are three instances in which debt helped me succeed. 

 

1. School Loans

 

When I started college, my low ACT score did not qualify me for many scholarships. The only scholarship I got was $500 from my high school. I ended up paying the rest of my tuition through college loans.

 

If I had not taken out those loans, I would have had to work full time and go to school part time, which was not my ideal situation. Instead, I took on this debt, knowing that it would pay off in the long run.

 

2. Car Loan

 

Most personal finance experts would say that a car is not an asset but a liability. However, having a car in a town where public transportation is poor can make it not only an asset but also a necessity.

 

After living in Oklahoma for 7 years and having no car for 3 of those years, I realized that a car is a must to get around due to the poor public transportation system. I did not have the money to purchase a car outright, so I took out a car loan. Doing this was a smart investment, because how else would I get to work?

 

3. Credit Card

 

I’ve had both good and bad experiences with credit cards. The bad? Getting into $10,000 worth of debt.

 

After getting out of that debt, I think twice when swiping my credit card. However, there are times when using credit is must—especially when I travel out of the state or have to pay for an emergency. I’ve been in a situation where I needed cash and payday was a week away. So, I swiped my credit card because I knew I could pay off the bill in full when my paycheck arrived. If you cannot do the same, then that good debt can definitely turn bad.

 

Debt is an essential part of the economy and our life. Taking on debt is not a bad thing in some instances, but don’t let debt take over your life. What debts do you have that are assets? Sign up or log in with your Salt account to share in the comments. 

What do you do when you have to start filing your taxes? How do you react to the universally known news that your taxes are due April 15? Do you have a ritual? Some sort of superstitious way of tackling the tax prep?

 

For me, when I think about filing my taxes, I know that the process will go something like this:

 

1. There’s always a moment in February/March when I realize I have to do my taxes. The sensations that come with this realization are similar to the walls starting to close in. Temperature drops, but I’m sweating and I look like this:

disney doctor who excited pixar the big bang theory

2. Once I finishing panicking I gather my paperwork and materials, which brings out a lot of frustration and realizations that in spite of my best efforts, I‘m not the most organized human.


BBC season 3 work drama frustrated

 

3. Once I put all my materials together, I find a website that offers tax prepping services such as HR Block or Turbo Tax and begin filling out the forms with my personal information. Due to the amount of paperwork, I try to stick to one I’ve used in previous years so I can have some of it filled out already and cut some tax prep time.

 

 

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4. A few hours into the process, I have to take a moment and walk away out of frustration. It’s probably my lack of patience, or the millions of forms I have to fill out because I’m a freelancer in different states, but taking a break is always part of the process.

 

computer parks and rec throwing computer away

 

5.Once I get back into it, I ask questions to an expert by calling my accounting friends or emailing the website’s customer service account, and make sure I’m getting everything done right and that I’m not missing anything. It also helps to talk to an expert for words of encouragement.


Satisfied Customer reactions retro coffee help

6. After that, all that’s left is to get to the finish line or, if everything else fails, take it to the nearest tax preparation service. The latter being what I will most likely do this year.

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How does doing your taxes make you feel? Log in or sign up with your Salt account, and post the perfect GIF describing what you’re going through this tax season!

Recently, I started hanging out with a new friend. She is fun, active, and makes me laugh. The only problem? She always finds a way to not pay her fair share of the bill.

 

Over 3 months, I paid for drinks, covered her meal at a fancy restaurant, and bought tickets for a community event for both of us. At first, this was OK with me, as I don’t tend to penny pinch when I am out with friends. But by the third time, her behavior started to irritate me.

 

Her excuse (“I forgot my wallet”) was getting old, and I knew I had to say something if our friendship was going to last. Here are three things I kept in mind when I approached my friend on this sensitive issue. If you feel uncomfortable talking to friends about this topic, these tactics could help you break money silence.

 

1. Use Care And Concern

 

When I asked my girlfriend about her financial situation, I did it with empathy. I asked if she was financially OK, as I noticed that she didn’t have money the last few times we went out. She denied needing help, and seemed surprised by my question. I reassured her that I was someone who talked about money, and I was concerned for her wellbeing.

 

2. Be Curious And Listen

 

When I approached my friend, I started with a curious question about her situation instead of accusing her of taking advantage of me. While I had a theory or two, I kept them to myself. Instead, I asked a lot of questions such as “How do you decide where to spend your money and what do you do when you can’t afford to go out?” and let her do the talking.

 

3. Be Clear About The Action You Would Like To See

 

I let my friend know that going forward if she felt like she could not afford an invitation I extended to let me know. I was happy to adjust plans, have her opt out if that made more financial sense, or in some instances, pay her way. I just wanted her to communicate openly and honestly with me before I found myself in an awkward position. She agreed.

 

Since our money talk, my friend dropped a check off at my house to cover some of her expenses over the last month. Her action and our talk left me feeling better about our friendship. I know there will be other money talks in our future, but now I feel more comfortable speaking up, if and when there is another time when she utters the words, “I forgot my wallet.”

 

How do you deal with a friend who doesn’t pay their way? What actions would make you feel better about the friendship?

 

Log in or sign up with your Salt account to let me know.

During the winter, it’s hard for me not to eat tasty sugar cookies, load up on muffins, and forget about exercising. After all, who wants to run in the blistering cold—especially when the roads are icy or covered in snow?

 

Now that the weather is getting nicer, it means one thing: beach body.

To prepare, I’m getting back into my exercise routine. But I have another bad winter habit I need to break, too. With the holidays and Valentine’s Day, it’s easy to overspend during these months—and you’ll want to get your finances back in shape as soon as possible (definitely before beach season!).

 

Here’s how build a workout plan to achieve this:  

 

Know Your Goal

 

Before even walking into the gym, you have to know what your goal is. Are you working toward building muscle? Losing weight? A six-pack? Not knowing what your goal is will not get you anywhere.

 

The same is true with finances. You have to know what goal/s you want to accomplish. When I was $10,000 in credit card debt, I made it my goal to pay it off promptly. I stuck to my goal no matter the circumstances and paid it off.

 

This past year, I made the mistake of overspending on Christmas presents. My goal was to make up for that amount, and I achieved it by adjusting my finances to pay off that debt immediately.

 

Keep A Routine

 

After high school, I built a habit of working out at least three times a week to stay healthy. I mixed my workouts with cardio and weightlifting. Your financial workout plan should have a routine and a mixture of activities as well.  I would make it routine to “pay myself first” by putting a certain percentage of my paycheck into my savings. I also calculated how closer I was to paying off my credit debt on a monthly basis to make sure I was on track to paying off my credit card debt.

 

Check your credit score frequently, pull your credit report every year, put a certain percentage of every paycheck in your savings account, and balance your checking account every week. Keep the routine of checking your finances because losing sight of your finances can cause financial trouble in the future.

 

What do you do to keep your finances healthy? Log in or sign up with your Salt account to share in the comments!