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The Financial Hack
QUESTION: I am the CFO of my family (I handle the household bills) and am very good at what I do. The problem is my husband. He never wants to talk about budgeting saying, “Budgeting is for poor people. We are not poor so we don’t need to do it.” I’ve asked what he thinks we should do however, he is extremely adamant about not talking about it, period. How do I get him to budget, or should I just do it without him?
MY TWO CENTS:
It’s always important that couples are on the same page financially. Contrary to popular belief, the majority of marriages fail because of financial reasons, not infidelity as many may think. I was once in a marriage where disagreements regarding finances was a major issue. That coupled with “other” stressors unfortunately led to its demise, but I dare not digress so allow me to make a couple of suggestions:
- POSITION: You are the CFO of the family. Hmm. Think about that for a second. Have you declared yourself Chief Financial Officer of the family to your spouse, to extended family members or friends? Some men have extremely fragile egos and regardless of your intent, you declaring yourself Chief Financial Officer of the family may indicate authority over your husband making him feel emasculated. This could result in subconscious resentment towards you. Usually one spouse handles the finances because either one is better at it than the other or one has more time to do so. As petty as it may sound, consider resigning from the position of CFO (or at least from making the reference aloud.)
- APPROACH: When are you bringing up the topic of budgeting? Here are a couple of examples of when NOT to approach your husband regarding budgeting: Immediately upon coming home from work and before, during or after a football/basketball/baseball/hockey game etc. Those times will result in immediate “shut down.” After a stressful day at work and/or a long commute home, talking about budgeting is the LAST thing your husband wants to do. Most prefer to decompress and relax. Asking questions on “game day” is definitely out. For many men, game day is their “me time” or “time with the guys” especially if their spouses/partners are not into sports. In this case, do the opposite of what Nike says…. “Just don’t do it.”
- INVOLVEMENT: Try breaking the ice by asking your husband what his top three money goals are. Ask him what his plans are for achieving those goals. LISTEN TO HIM. If the mood is positive, introduce how budgeting can help achieve those goals. The key is not to dictate what should be done. Work together. Feedback and communication are important. You are a team. Stress the importance of how a collective effort can produce fruitful results. GOOD LUCK!!!
Wishing you financial prosperity and success in your marriage,
~Andrea L. Coleman, The Financial Hack
QUESTION: My washing machine is on the fritz. The emergency fund that I had established has been depleted due to an unexpected expense last month. I’m scheduled to receive a commission check next month and will use it to pay the credit card bill after charging the washing machine. Is this the right course of action to take?
MY TWO CENTS:
In this scenario, I would say “no” for a couple of reasons:
1) Purchasing a new washing machine is not an absolute necessity in my opinion. An automobile repair for a vehicle that you rely on to get you to work, yes. A washing machine? Not so much. Although inconvenient, a visit to the local laundromat or a friend/relative’s until you have saved the money to purchase the washer IN CASH would be the best route to take. Should another unexpected expense emerge next month, the commission check may have to be used for it thus leaving you with a credit card balance that will accrue finance charges.
2) The issue of the depleted emergency fund should be addressed. I suggest taking the commission check you’ll receive next month to replenish the fund. An essential key to having a healthy emergency fund is being able to replenish it when used. Make sure you can distinguish between what constitutes an emergency and what does not.
3) I believe this scenario is an excellent lesson in delaying self-gratification. We all want what we want when we want it. That’s human nature. Delaying self-gratification develops discipline, so if you intend to be successful at being a better steward of your money, start with delaying self-gratification.
Wishing you prosperity and healthy finances,
Andrea L. Coleman, The Financial Hack
I’m back! That’s enough reason for me to celebrate.
I can give you a million “excuses” as to why I haven’t posted, but I won’t because I can sum all those excuses up into one word: COMPLACENCY.
Over my six month hiatus, I remembered a few principles about blogging I should have never abandoned. Allow me to share the most important ones with you.
1. MAINTAINING A BLOG REQUIRES DISCIPLINE: Spending 1-2 hours each day can make the difference between an engaged audience vs an audience who suddenly becomes disinterested.
2. MAINTAINING A BLOG REQUIRES PLANNING: This includes posting on topics relevant to your target audience not just topics that interest the blogger.
3. MAINTAINING A BLOG REQUIRES CONSISTENCY: Committment is doing something even when we don’t feel like it. There’s no other way to say it.
I thank those who gave me their positive feedback as well as constructive criticism and well, just criticism in general.
Be on the lookout for regular postings, helpful tips and tricks and I’ll be adding “My Two Cents,” a column responding to questions/given scenarios posed to me.
Posts will be much shorter (please hold your applause,) which should make for a more pleasant reading experience (I’m a Journalism major and a wannabe writer/poet so cut me some slack here). Also look for guest postings.
Weekly Periscope sessions with The GOAL Patrol will resume although I’m indecisive regarding the future of my Facebook page.
I do look forward to resuming my blog. I’m not ashamed to tell you I’m a little excited. Okay a lot! In the meantime feel free to explore my website and tell me what topics you’d like to discuss.
Wishing you prosperity and healthy finances in 2017,
~Andrea L. Coleman, The Financial Hack
HEY!!!! Be sure to follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook @TheFinancialHack
When offered 0% financing for a specified number of months, finance charges have already been added to your purchase total. #Fact
Let me give you the skinny about Spirit Airlines…. From my perspective.
I recently returned from a trip to the Dominican Republic via Spirit Airlines. Yep you read correctly, SPIRIT AIRLINES. The words Spirit Airlines is usually followed by groans, grunts and frowns from many, but I must say, my experience wasn’t as bad as I anticipated. Let me give you the Cliff Note version of “Spirit Airlines for Dummies.”
- GET AS MUCH FEEDBACK AS POSSIBLE: If someone is interested in trying out a new restaurant or visiting a particular city/country for example, what do most people do? They ask for feedback. They may ask what is the best hotel stay in a particular city or even the best restaurants. If you value their opinion, you’ll take their advice. My point: Ask questions. Before booking my flight I asked Facebook friends and Twitter associates to provide feedback as to their experience. It was overwhelmingly negative in general, many complaining of flight delays and hidden fees, shoddy service and anything else negative they could think of all of which I took into consideration. I also read several internet reviews. Some were good, some were terrible, and some were really terrible. On the other hand, some were indifferent. They didn’t sing the praises of Spirit Airlines, but they didn’t rip them to shreds either. I considered choosing another airline however, after looking at available flights through my http://www.CheapTickets.com package, no other airline got me to Punta Cana before 10:30pm and I couldn’t risk missing check-in to my hotel. Therefore comma, Spirit Airlines to the rescue!!!
- PRINT YOUR BOARDING PASSES IN ADVANCE: Either do it at home, or pay $10 or more to print them at the airport. No thanks. I can find better ways to use that money. Boarding passes can be pre-printed 24-hours PRIOR to your flight’s departure. Do you prefer a window seat? Be prepared to pay for it. Is an aisle seat more in line with your personality? The same thing applies.
- SAVE $$$ BY JOINING THE “BARE FARE” CLUB: Now this is where things got a little tricky for me. By joining the “Bare Fare” Club, you pay $59.99 per year to get a discount on any checked luggage. You are only able to board the flight with ONE PERSONAL ITEM (diaper bags, oxygen tanks, etc., notwithstanding.) Keep in mind, you pay less if you pre-check your luggage. When I fly American, Delta, Virgin, Joe Blow Airlines, or whoever, I’m allowed the smallest of the smallest carry on suitcase and a personal item that can fit underneath the seat in front of me. Not on Spirit Airlines. In a nutshell the “Bare Fare” club is no “free” bag, no “free” drink. It’s just your ass plus gas and ONE personal item… POINT BLANK PERIOD. Thirsty? Better get something before you board. Oh, you want peanuts to tide you over? Cough up the dough. Weaning yourself from alcoholic beverages? You’d better have a debit/credit card handy. Now that you know the ins and outs, Welcome. You have now officially been inducted into the “Bare Fare” Club.
- PRE CHECKING BAGS ONLINE SAVES YOU NO ADDITIONAL TIME AT THE AIRPORT: You’d better get to the airport at least TWO HOURS prior to departure. Even though I pre printed my boarding passes and pre-checked my itty-bitty teeny-tiny suitcase online, I thought there would be a dedicated line for the “chosen ones.” Fuh-get about it. I got no preferential treatment and had to wait in line as if I hadn’t spent 30 minutes at home deciding whether or not to join the secret society of the Bare Fare Club. The upside; there were plenty of self service terminals where people pre-printed their boarding passes and were standing in line to hand-off their luggage to the Customer Service Agents. Okay Spirit, I’ll give you a pass for execution. The TSA checkpoint moved fairly quickly as well, so it’s off to the gate. Let’s get to the fun part… “The Plane Boss, THE PLANE!”
- THE LEGROOM ISN’T AS BAD AS YOU THINK: I’m about 5’8 1/2-5’9″ and I still had more than enough room to cross my legs. I can’t speak for the guy that sat behind me on the trip back who decided to give me a nice lower back massage with his knees. If you are 6′ or taller, you may harbor some Spirit Airlines flight resentment afterwards. I never used the almost non-existent tray table which appeared to be the size of my iPad 2 and thank God I sprang for the additional $10-$18 (depending on flight capacity) for a window seat. I would have been miserable had I not. I didn’t miss much because I make it a point to pop my Dramamine 30min prior to my flight, Beats headphones in and it’s Good Night Nurse until our flight descent. The flight was on time as scheduled, but hey, when 6am is probably you’re first flight out, how can you not be on time?
My return trip wasn’t so good. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good either. I pre-printed my boarding passes and I discovered there IS an Airport God… at least in Punta Cana. There was a line dedicated for the Bare Fare Club “chosen ones” to check their bags. Here’s where the fun starts. The flight was scheduled to leave at 1:37pm and boarding was to begin at 12:52.The plane came in and sat there looking at me and the rest of the passengers in all of its splendor and glory for another 1 1/2 hours.
At 1:30, Spirit reps allowed us to start lining up to board. Guess who was first in line. I offered to let a lady and her friend get in front of me because they had a young child but I should have rethought that idea once the child awakened and refused to stop screaming.
Enter foreshadowing. We finally took off at 2:45pm and much to everyone’s dismay that innocent sweet-looking child screamed from Punta Cana all the way to Ft. Lauderdale. Beats headphones really do cancel outside noise.
To make a long story short (too late) the connecting flight to Dallas was delayed 1 1/2 hours. The delay now puts me in Dallas at midnight instead of 10:30pm and for some odd reason I thought it would be a good idea to go to the office the next day. Ten o’clock is nearing as we quickly shuffle on board and upon takeoff right on cue, that cute innocent screaming child commences Act II. Man, I swear those Beats headphones really were worth the money I didn’t spend on them. Good Night Nurse!!! But just like the Ginsu Knife commercial, you get a free set of 20 steak knives just for flying Spirit. We land at 12:15am, deplane and everyone is looking like Charles Manson at the luggage carousel for an additional 30min waiting on our luggage. This cannot possibly be happening. It was. I finally snatch my teeny-tiny itty bitty suitcase from the carousel and my Spirit Airlines Experience was over. It wasn’t sexy or glamorous. Just over.
So after all of that story-telling, the burning question you’re wondering is “Would I fly Spirit Airlines again?” The short answer is “Yes.” I didn’t experience anything I haven’t experienced on any other airline (aside from the bag fees) but I’ve learned to pack light. Spirit Airlines I believe is good for a weekend getaway where everything you need will fit neatly into ONE small carry-on suitcase. I suggest taking early flight to avoid delays, buy snacks at the airport, and if travelling with small children, find a way to tranquilize them before boarding. Oh never mind, Just buy a pair of Beats headphones. They make EVERYTHING better. Oh, And that $50 voucher Spirit Airlines emailed me for my inconvenience the very next day didn’t hurt either. I’m headed to Miami after Labor Day. HAPPY TRAVELS!
Do you have a Spirit Airlines story to tell? Leave your comments below.
~The Financial Hack ©2016
THE FOUR MONEY BEARS by Mac Gardner, CFP®, CRPS®, CRPC® is a “must have” book to introduce young children to the concept of money and how to use it wisely. Simplistic yet succinct, I highly recommend it. This book would make a great addition to your local school/public libraries. I’ll be speaking with DeSoto School Board Trustees for book approval, even if I have to purchase them myself. Purchase this book for your little ones or anyone you believe can benefit from it. (Avail…able on Amazon.)
~Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs)
Andrea L. Coleman (The Financial Hack) 2016
Helping Hand Financial Counseling Ministries
Stressing over bills? Is your paycheck already spent before payday? Are you running out of money before the end of the month? Can’t make ends meet even if you had two magnets? Are you robbing Peter to pay Paul? Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired?
Debt can be particularly frustrating, especially if you’re drowning in it with no one to throw you a life preserver. Even if you are able to tread water, at some point you’re going to get tired. I know, because I’ve been there. Yep. Back then you could call me the “B” word… BROKE. My secret. No one knew. Broke can take on many meanings, so for all practical purposes, let’s assume “broke” means not having enough money to cover your monthly obligations.
Have you ever stopped to ponder the reason(s) WHY you’re “broke?” If this is you, stop and think about it for a minute. What can you do differently to change your current situation? While you do that, let me list a few behaviors/attitudes contributing to your “brokeness.” Yes, I am aware “brokeness” is not a word, but it should be.
- You Don’t Budget: I love it when I hear people say, “Oh I’ve got it all up here” while gently tapping the side of their head. Unless you’re a mathematical genius, how could you possibly have all those numbers and figures inside your head? Yes, you may have a general idea of what comes in and what goes out, but just imagine if you were to transfer “what’s in your mind” onto paper. This way you can see clearly what’s coming in and most importantly where it’s going. After writing it down and seeing it in black and white, you’re easily able to identify “blindspots” you didn’t know existed.
- Instant gratification is your “modus operandi:” We live in a society of heavy consumption. We want more more more, and WE WANT IT NOW. It’s too easy to whip out a credit card and purchase the latest iPhone, flat screen plasma television, that expensive pair of heels or those Jordans that just came out yesterday knowing you don’t or won’t have the money to pay the bill in full when the credit card bill comes due. This is where Jesus (and discipline) should take the wheel. You have to be disciplined enough to “walk away” no matter how loud those items are calling your name. I love shopping at discount retailers (Marshalls, TJMaxx, Home Goods, DSW etc.) and when I decided to check myself into “financial rehab,” I literally had to alter my driving route so I wouldn’t pass the strip mall that housed these stores. Out of sight out of mind.
- Keeping Up With The Jones: When I look back now over my days of “Keeping Up With The Jonses” it was quite silly because I eventually realized, the Jonses were just as broke as I was. I’m not ashamed to say I went through my phase of believing driving a Mercedes Benz, carrying Gucci and Louis Vuitton handbags, having a closet full of clothes and shoes and living in a big house complete with swimming pool when it was just me and my two dogs somehow made me feel “important.” At the time I felt having those “material things” somehow validated me. All it did was expose my weakness, and that weakness was a lack of self-esteem. Anyone who is secure within themselves doesn’t need materialistic things for validation. Let me be clear. I still have all of those things mentioned above (minus the Mercedes Benz,) but I realize those things do not define me. There’s nothing wrong with wanting nice things, it’s simply nonsensical going deep into debt in order to obtain them.
- Financial Literacy Wasn’t Taught In The Home: My father was always good at saving money. He worked hard and sacrificed for his family. He taught me how to write checks and balance a checkbook when I was 11 years old, and even after I got a job at 15 and was buying my own school clothes/paying for school activities and such, he never stressed to me the importance of saving, yet he was a HUGE saver. I’m still puzzled by that. I’d like to think he was proud because I was being responsible. Not every one my age had a job. I didn’t need a job, I just wanted financial independence. Asking for $10 to hang out at the mall with friends turned into a two hour lecture about how money didn’t grow on trees, but I digress. I also remember my Dad telling me, “If you can’t pay cash, you can’t afford it.” To some extent, I do agree with him now that I’m older and wiser. He also advised me not to get caught up in credit cards when I went off to college, however, he didn’t explain to me why. I wished he had. It would have saved me a ton of angst and grief. If financial literacy isn’t taught at an early age, it’s easy to fall into the “debt trap.”
- You Refuse To Take Responsibility For The Actions Stated Above: This is the most important of all the habits/attitudes/behaviors listed above. If you don’t acknowledge that your spending is out of control, that you don’t budget, that you mismanage your money, or that you seek validation by obtaining material possessions, you will forever remain in a state of “broke.”
Creating multiple streams of income without wearing yourself out can be quite tricky, especially if obligations such as family, school or even your nine to five job take priority. The goal is to find what is easy and convenient… FOR YOU. Here are a few examples of Multiple Streams of Income that I recommend.
- Open an eBay Store: Unlike your classic brick and mortar places of business, your eBay store is a virtual brick and mortar store (minus the overhead.) Just think. There are no costs for leasing space. No utilities. No hassle of hiring employees or having set operating hours. An eBay store allows you the luxury of making money on your own time and on your own terms. If you’re looking for inventory, start by shopping your closet. In my 13 years experience with eBay, I find that new/gently used shoes/handbags/accessories and perfumes are quite popular. Certain books and children’s clothing are popular as well. You can choose to auction your items or sell them outright at a set price (Buy It Now.) Here’s the catch: If you wish to be successful at your eBay store, you must keep inventory in stock at all times (even if it’s just a few items) and a variety of items is preferred. Be mindful of the pricing of your items. Your item is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it.
- Find something you enjoy doing, or are good at… AND FIND A WAY TO MAKE MONEY DOING IT: Are you bilingual? Offer private lessons, or consider teaching an ESL class. Good in Math? Consider becoming a Math Tutor. Are you a “techie?” You’d be surprised how many people would rather NOT install Windows on their computer or do the simplest of troubleshooting when it comes to their computers. That’s where you come in. Do you enjoy exercising, working out and eating healthy? Consider becoming a Personal Trainer. Can you play the guitar, piano or other instrument? Same applies. Do you love animals? Consider dog sitting or becoming a dog walker. Babysitting is very popular among teenaged/college females. Signing with an agency would guarantee you hours and if you’re good at it, word of mouth is the best referral. Catch my drift? These are just a few examples of skills you can tap into to make extra money.
- Write a Book: Years ago before the age of the Kindle and e-books, self-publishing was the most cost efficient way to get your book to the masses. Now, all you need is the manuscript, a good editor (or editing software) and VOILA! Your book is available as a Kindle e-book for $5.99. That isn’t so bad if you’ve sold 2000 units and counting! NOTE: Freelance writing isn’t off limits either. It may take a while to find one, but there are some publications who will PAY for your article submissions so keep your writing skills sharp.
- Become a Substitute Teacher or a Realtor : If your schedule allows, become a substitute teacher. Subbing one day a week could generate an additional $200-$300 monthly depending on whether you hold a college degree or are certified by the state to teach. Also, with the housing market bouncing-back, real estate can be an effective income producer. I’m a licensed Real Estate Broker and it’s always good to have my license to fall back on if necessary. NOW IF ALL ELSE FAILS…..
- Get a Part-Time Job: As much as I hated working part-time jobs in my life, I did it any way because I had to. In high school I worked for a popular fast food chain, in college I worked at a gas station (not as a mechanic lol,) I’ve worked for a grocery chain, I’ve worked making copies at night for a law firm (through a temp agency) you name it, I’ve probably done it. I can recall working a nine to five, driving home, grabbing a quick bite to eat, then heading to my six to ten (or six to later depending on where I was working.) Retail is ALWAYS available, video stores were once popular (until Redbox and Netflix dominated,) and let’s not forget fast food restaurants. For many, fast food is the absolute last resort, but if there were nothing else and you really needed the income, you’d take it. If you just can’t fathom working in fast food, consider Starbucks which offers its employees (even its part time employees) health insurance. There are many people working there just for the health benefits.