Category Archives: Finances

Not a REVIEW, Not a RECOMMENDATION…

a SHARE!

Once, on an out-of-town trip with friends, I tried out a Japanese steakhouse.  I enjoyed it, recommended it to my family, and when they visited that town, they made sure to visit the restaurant.  It was decidedly NOT their favorite, and they decided that my recommendations weren’t usually that helpful since I tend to be a bit indiscriminate.  I like most things and get something out of just about everything.  (Which is not a bad thing, but I will tread lightly because of it 🙂 )

So, rather than write that this is the best book ever, I’m going to make my claim a little simpler: I got something out of this that made it a worthwhile read for me.  And, given that it might do the same for you, I’ll pass along the basics for you!

The book?  It’s Not About the Money: Unlock Your Money Type to Achieve Spiritual and Financial Abundance by Brent Kessel.

Table of Contents:

Part 1: The Nature of the Mind

  1. You Will Never Have Enough
  2. The Unconscious Wins Every Time

Part 2: The Eight Financial Archetypes

  1. The Guardian
  2. The Pleasure Seeker
  3. The Idealist
  4. The Saver
  5. The Star
  6. The Innocent
  7. The Caretaker
  8. The Empire Builder

Part 3: In the World and of It

  1. The Middle Way with Money
  2. The Conscious Investor
  3. The Yoga of Money
  4. You Have Arrived

Appendix: The Nuts and Bolts

This is the kind of book where you can skim it and still benefit from it.  The catchy part is the section on financial archetypes.  The archetypes represent different ways people interact with financial matters.  Ideally, argues Kessel, “the optimal human being would be balanced among all eight of these archetypes.”  He expects that most people fall into a couple of categories.

Here is the brief overview he offers for the types (from page 40):

  • THE GUARDIAN is always alert and careful.
  • THE PLEASURE SEEKER prioritizes pleasure and enjoyment in the hear and now.
  • THE IDEALIST places the greatest value on creativity, compassion, social justice, or spiritual growth.
  • THE SAVER seeks security and abundance by accumulating more financial assets.
  • THE STAR spends, invests, or gives money away to be recognized, feel hip or classy, and increase self-esteem.
  • THE INNOCENT avoids putting significant attention on money and believes or hopes that life will work out for the best.
  • THE CARETAKER gives and lends money to express compassion and generosity.
  • THE EMPIRE BUILDER thrives on power and innovation to create something of enduring value.
It was fun to read through and see what types I was.  I always enjoy personality inventories from psych classes and quizzes from magazines and such.  And this has more long-term benefit than knowing the answer to “what type of perfume best fits your personality” or “what type of dog would you be.”  🙂

Change of Course…

I’ve decided to nix posting my spending diaries on ListfulWistful.  Sure, I didn’t start them all that long ago, but I was intending to keep them going. 

It’s not because I’m embarassed to admit that I spent $45 on dinner for my boyfriend and I on Saturday (though I did, and I am; it was Takosushi, though, and it was delicious, at least!) when I intended to have a miscellaneous spending budget of $50 for the second half of the month, and it’s not because I don’t consider it a valuable exercise.  Tracking spending and paying attention to no-spend days does a lot of good for helping me achieve my financial goals, and it fits with my general stance toward conscious consumption (even when I make mistakes I still like to be quite aware that I’m making them!). 

The thing is, though, that I already track my spending.  I’ve done it without fail for nearly a year.  And I like–no, relish–putting money in all my little savings accounts as soon as I get paid.  So while there are definitely plenty of areas of my spending that could use improvement, I don’t think blogging about my daily spending was helping me grow in the new areas where I want–well, crave–balance.  I’m sure finances will come into play on here (and I’ll always love the personal finance blogs I follow religiously!), but I’m going to try to focus my efforts toward simplifying, finding balance, consuming consciously, and becoming sufficiently (but not excessively!) proactive about fulfilling my responsibilities.

School began this week, but with two classes cancelled and a substitute professor for one, it didn’t feel like the rhythm of the new semester.  I expect things to be in full swing next week.  In the meantime, my boyfriend and I are going to visit good friends in Atlanta for Labor Day weekend.  I’m excited for the getaway! 

I have some goals for the month of September:

  • exercise at least 8x.  That’s only 2x/week, it should be more than doable; the goal is low because I’ve only exercised about that many times this entire year; pathetic!!; I think that as the heat subsides a touch I’ll be more inspired to be active…
  • get my car washed.  I have a coupon that my parents gave me for Easter; I need to use it!
  • get an oil change
  • list 5 items on Amazon. After a long dry spell, I had two books sell in the last week, which reminded me that it could be a nice way to keep decluttering and contribute toward my gum graft & student teaching funds!) 
  • call the consignment shop to see if the rest of my spring/summer goods sold and if there are any items that did not sell that I should pick up
  • take at least 3 items to consign for the fall. More would be great, but I took a good many last year, so I have fewer pieces to get rid of this go ’round.
  • get a haircut. 
  • get rid of at least 30 more things.  That’s one a day.  I’ve got this!

I’ll leave it at that for now–

I hope you enjoy your weekend!

Meg

August Spending Diary, Part III

August 17: No spend day!

[Side income earned: $70 from babysitting all day]

August 18: I was on track to have a no spend day until I read this post by Girl With the Red Balloon.  In the first paragraph, she writes: “Yes, I’ve totally considered buying something in the past but thought, ‘Eh, I’d have to post it on my spending report, so I better not….”  That struck a chord with me because I had been waiting to purchase something I needed (a cap to the air valve on my tires… how does one go about losing one of those??) until I had a day when I had to purchase something else.  By consolidating my spending, I could have more no spend days!  I started to write a comment about how I was waiting to make my purchase, but I couldn’t think of a single way to phrase it in which I didn’t sound like a doofus.  There didn’t seem to be many potential positive results from waiting, other than having more no spend days.  What if I got a flat tire and had to pay to have my car towed? Or what if it was slowly hurting my fuel efficiency and costing me money? Or how silly was I that I didn’t take care of it when I had the time, all because of my spending diary? The verdict was that I was very silly, so I went to Advance Auto Parts at 8:45 pm and spent $2.11 on a set of tire valve caps.

August 19: $1.93 at Dunkin Donuts.  I had a coupon for a free donut with the purchase of a medium beverage.  I am so spoiled by my dad making coffee in the mornings, that I didn’t realize there wasn’t any coffee today (he’s out of town) until I was packing my lunch and scooting out the door.  [Free, delicious coffee that’s ready when you wake up = Perk # 1,734 of being a boomerang! … I don’t actually mind making coffee, but I sure have loved having Dad make it!]

August 20: $0.54 at Liquid Highway.  My boyfriend is a farmer, and I helped out at the farmer’s market on Saturday.  I purchased a coffee, which is only $0.54 when you bring your own mug!  The early morning was much cooler than normal for this area, and the coffee hit the spot!  After the market, I treated my boyfriend to lunch at an Indian restaurant downtown for $24.99.  It was delicious!  In exchange for working the market I got my pick of the produce that was left… we made a great dinner on Sunday with the goods!

August 21: No spend day!

August 22: No spend day!

August 23: No spend day!

Three in a row was kind of fun!  It was nice not having to check for things to have cleared on my bank website, log things into my spending notebook, part with money, etc. 🙂  And three other days at $3.00 or less!  I don’t regret any of the purchases, either, though  I do wish I had done a little better with side income.  There’s next week for that, maybe!

August Spending Diary, continued…

August 10No spend day!

[Side income earned: $20 for babysitting]

August 11$14.91 at Brixx Pizza Oven with good friends; $8.80 at LOFT (I exchanged one top for three sale tops; this was the difference)

*A restaurant I love with people I love; sure, it’s debatable (or maybe not so debatable) whether I should spend the money on that, given the numbers I just crunched about upcoming expenses.  This was already on the calendar, and I bowed out of going to see The Help after dinner.  What I’m liking about my spending habits these days is that I’m reserving my spending for things I need or really enjoy; there isn’t any mindless spending, no convenience spending (eating out by myself or picking up takeout because I failed to pack a lunch, etc.).  I’ll keep working on trimming back the spending, though!

August 12: No spend day! [And I was proactive about side hustle; I emailed a woman I babysit for to let her know I was free Monday afternoon if she was interested–and she was! Yay for filling in free time with side income!]

August 13: $4.85 at Chick-fil-a; Gas.  [Sadly, I also lost 2 hours of work time because I was sick in the morning; I went by Chick-fil-a to get a soda to settle my stomach and ended up getting a kids’ meal as well… obviously I’ve been updating this spending journal as I go, because the pronouncement above about my newly improved spending habits no longer seems to apply by the 13th! Sigh… ]

August 14: $2.65 at Panera; I took my Littlest Sister to the mall to purchase a pair of athletic shoes before taking her to work.  She wanted to pick up lunch, and I ended up getting a bagel as well.  I also went to Staples to get more filing supplies (I’ve been revamping my filing system–I’ll show pictures soon!), and I spent $6.02 more than the gift card my grandmother had given me a few weeks earlier (tape for my labeler = expensive!).

August 15: $15.89 at Total Wine.  I decided to try Bota Box wine.  The box is the equivalent of four bottles and lasts for four to six weeks, so it’s a pretty good deal per glass.  Plus, they say Cab is chock full of flavonoids that are good for you! 🙂

[Side income earned: $50 for the afternoon babysitting]

August 16: No spend day!

[Side income earned: $25 (for babysitting this evening) + $120 (for babysitting this morning and last Wednesday)]


Upcoming Expenses… wow!

Since I am able to anticipate a need for money during the time while I’m student teaching when I won’t have my primary stream of income (my part-time retail job), I don’t want to plan on using my Emergency Fund for that time.  So, I’ve opened an ING Savings account that (once funded!) is going to serve as “income” for February, March, and April.  Obviously, I’ll still try to make side income during that time, but I can’t count on making a certain amount, so the bulk of it should be in place before February gets here. 

How much will I need in it?

Enough to cover my fixed expenses:

  • $200.04 for health insurance
  • $71.49 for JuicePlus+
  • $9.99 for CreditKeeper (allows me monthly access to my credit report, notifies me when inquiries are made, etc.)

At $281.52 a month, my fixed expenses will total $844.56 for the three months of student teaching. 

I’ll also need enough to cover my variable expenses:

  • gas (the amount I will need will depend in large part on the location of the school I’m assigned to): for now, I’ll say $175 a month, so $525
  • spending money (for entertainment, random expenses, etc.): approximately $100 a month, so $300

Grand total? $844.56 + $300 +$525 = $1669.56

Yikes!

If that were my only big upcoming expense I would feel pretty confident that I could come up with the $278.26 that I would need to set aside each month between now and then.  I’m actively pursuing side income, I’m trimming my expenses, etc. I’m on a roll!

The bummer?

I had my visit with the periodontist yesterday, and I’m going to need gum grafting.  There are two spots that need it, but one side can wait for a while (hopefully a few years).  One area, though, needs to be taken care of in the next six to eight months.  The pricetag? $1367!  My meager dental insurance plan covers routine cleanings, but that’s about it.  There’s a chance it could cover a touch more, but since there is a $500 maximum, I can’t count on it.  I think most oral surgery procedures aren’t included, either, so I’m not holding my breath. 

That’s a total of $3,036.56 that I need to come up with in the next 6-8 months. 

My current plan is that all side income will be split evenly between these two goals.  Additionally, I’ll be trying to maximize the amount of money from each paycheck that can go to these causes, both upfront when I receive my paycheck and with any money that is leftover from my spending allotment. 

I’m going to need to get creative!!

August is Financial Fitness Month (for me, at least!)

We’re nine days into August, and the month is off to a good start financially (measured in habits, progress, and dollars).  There are three key reasons I’m kicking it into high gear:

1.  I won’t have any regular income when I’m student teaching in the spring.  I will still try to squeeze in a few babysitting jobs, and I might get to work a Saturday or two at the store, but I need to prepare for that time as if I won’t have any income.  I have an ING savings account designated for February-April.  So far, I’ve only been making tiiiny contributions, but I’m ready to step it up.  I’ll need to account for regular fixed expenses (health insurance, CreditKeeper, and JuicePlus), variable expenses (gas), and spending money. 

2.  I have had a few health issues over the last few months.  While I’m hopeful that my health concerns can be taken care of relatively easily, the presence of the issues has meant that I’ve:

a) made initial appointments for my specific concerns (one with family doctor, one with a periodontist)

b) scheduled a physical to get a more comprehensive look at my health and body (I’ve never actually had one, I’ve relied instead on my annual OBGYN visit)

c) considered the financial impact of the results of these appointments (maybe just the immediate cost of these appointments if they don’t require follow-up visits; more likely, there will be follow-up visits or treatments)

3. My American Express is expiring at the end of the month.  I have an incredibly generous uncle who gave me an American Express to use for gas and schoolbooks.  It has been a game changer over the last few years in school!  It expires at the end of this month, and I doubt that I’ll be getting a new card in its stead.  I have a flurry of emotions about this.  I feel enormous gratititude for having had the card, even though I’ve felt guilty for having it, too.  I’m eager to be more financially independent (after all, I’m 26, living with my parents, and still not paying my own car insurance…), but I’m a little stressed about the upcoming cost of gas for my commute (even though I think it’s reasonable that I should be paying for it).  So I’m some mix of grateful, stressed, and relieved. 

So, given these three motivators, what am I doing in response?

1.  I’ve rekindled my relationship with no-spend days.  Here’s what the month has looked like so far:

August 1: No Spend Day!

August 2: No Spend Day!

August 3: No Spend Day!

August 4: Gas Only

August 5: No Spend Day!

August 6: $5.00 for a drink and a tip (celebrating with the bridal party of a wedding I was in; I mainly joined the group because a dear friend from Boston was in town; totally worth it!)

August 7: No Spend Day!

August 8: $15.01 for lunch for my boyfriend and I (at our favorite restaurant in Atlanta, LaFonda Latina, while we were in town for the day for his doctor’s appointment; I LOVE their fish tacos!)

August 9: No Spend Day so far! 

(Note: I don’t consider savings contributions or my three drafted bills–health insurance, CreditKeeper, or JuicePlus–as “spending”)

2.  I’ve actively pursued side income.  My most effective means of earning extra income tends to be babysitting (as opposed to Amazon.com sales, consignment sales, etc.).  Here’s what the month looks like so far:

August 1: $100 babysitting

August 3 & 4: $200 for helping my aunt at her school (she’s a principal), $75 for helping my grandmother (we spent 12 hours going through items in her kitchen/desk area)– both of these payments should be considered gifts more than income because they were more generous than they should have been! 

I had another babysitting job for the 8th, but my Little Sis had to take it for me (thanks!!) because I was later getting home from Atlanta than I anticipated.

I have 7 or 8 other babysitting jobs scheduled for the rest of the month.  Some are only for two hours, some are all day.  For three of the gigs I am giving up 3 hours at work to be able to babysit.  In each of these cases, the babysitting job was 5 or more hours, so I decided the trade was worth it.  So that means I can’t consider all of my babysitting income as “above and beyond” my current work schedule, but most of it will be!

I have a few other goals for the month, side-income-wise:

  • take at least 4 additional pieces to the consignment store (and check to see if my couple of pieces from Spring sold; probably not very much $ even if they did)
  • add at least 3 items to Amazon.com
  • let the families I regularly babysit for know my schedule/availability for September

3.  I’ve gotten ready to open a Roth IRA.  The timing (ie, yesterday’s stock market + the recent credit rating downgrade) is throwing me for a loop, but I’m all ready, otherwise.  I’d like to know that even if I have a health setback I have a retirement savings account in place.  I have filled out the application at Vanguard, moved the $1000 from ING to Bank of America… now I’m just waiting to make it happen.  I don’t know what’s best… invest without thinking of timing, wait a couple months for things to settle, purchase while things are low… who knows??

This month has felt good financially because I have been more proactive.  I also feel like the more I trim my expenditures, the more I can save until student teaching AND the less I’ll have to save for while I’m student teaching.  I hope I can ride this momentum for a while!

Cards that I’m glad are carrying a balance…

I was helping my mom look for something in her closet tonight, and I peeked inside a few of her purses that she’s not currently carrying to see if I could find what we were hunting for.  I found some junk–receipts, a couple of tubes of old lipstick, a few earring backs–but I also found a few gift cards!  I called to check the balance on the six cards.  The verdict?

Barnes & Noble: $15

Zaxby’s: $0

VISA: $0

Whole Foods:$10

Macy’s Store Credit: $46.77

Office Max Store Credit: $5.77

We never found what we were originally looking for, but after finding $75+, we weren’t too disappointed.  The best part, for me, aside from the sheer satisfaction of finding they had positive balances, was that she let me keep the Office Max, Barnes & Noble, and Whole Foods cards.  (She reasoned that she wouldn’t have discovered the cards if I hadn’t; that’s not really true, as she would have when she switched purses, but I am thankful she’s sharing!  And what great places for me, they’re right up my alley!)