Category Archives: Think

Financial Pitfalls Aren’t Always About Money

Today’s piece is contributed by Robyn of A Dime Saved.

A photo where it looks like a woman is falling to the ground on her back from the top of some springtime trees

At first glance, it appears financial problems are primarily about money. But in my experience, most financial mistakes often point to other obstacles. It is usually not about the money.

We all have our experiences and frameworks that have gotten us to where we are. Sometimes our choices are from ignorance. Other times, the reasons behind our behavior may not be as apparent.

How we spend and interact with money is often a symptom of more significant issues. These problems can either lead us to make sound financial decisions or lead us to make terrible choices with our money.

For example, maybe we struggle with talking about money with our partner, or we find that when we get stressed, we eat out more, or, conversely, we struggle with spending money on anything.

To tackle our money problems, we have to get behind the behavior to see what is going on. Creating a budget and living frugally can only get you so far: you must get to the root of the issues.

Behavior Management

Most people can change their money habits temporarily, but the focus should not be on only doing what we think we should be doing.  Soon things settle down, and when the original motivation wains, we will revert to what comes more naturally to us.

True change can only come when we understand the reasons for our behavior. Merely changing our actions will not lead to lasting change.

This is why figuring out the reasons behind our behavior can help us change our actions permanently.

There might be areas where we lack knowledge, and we should pursue educating ourselves on what we don’t know. However, most core money issues are not caused by what we don’t know.

  • Most of us know we should not spend more than we make, and yet on average most of us have large credit card balances, whether because of behavior or necessity.
  • We know that to retire, we need to start saving. However, few people are investing in their 401k’s.

How do people make healthy financial choices over the long term?

Maybe the best place to start is to “fake it until you make it.” But this will not last long-term if we don’t realize our actions result from other feelings/ideas/problems that we need to focus on to change our trajectory.

But to change our behavior permanently, we have to eventually move from the “fake it until you make it” mentality to a place where good money decisions result from a lasting change in our lives.

What Matters Most

There is always a reason behind our choices. We don’t live life doing random things for no reason.

One way to tackle money problems is to take a look at what we want. When we are old and wrinkled, what kind of choices will we be happy to have made?

Things that will matter the most:

  • Our relationships: How connected we are to the closest people in our lives.
  • What we accomplished: Have we worked as hard as possible to accomplish what we wanted to accomplish?
  • Enjoying life: Did our experiences cause us to enjoy life?
  • Memories: Having tons of great memories will help us have a positive perspective on our past.

Things that won’t matter as much:

  • Stuff we purchased: Material possessions we want and don’t “need” can only give us a certain amount of value.
  • The house we lived in: We often get used to the house we live in and learn to enjoy wherever we end up living.
  • How much we earned: How we use our money is more important than how much money we earned. Obviously, earning more money can give us more options, but only if we choose to exercise those options. Likewise, how you spend is more important than how much you spend.

Prioritizing

Looking at what we want to accomplish can help us determine what choices are not leading us down the right path and which choices lead us to what we truly want.

When I think purchasing an expensive TV that I can’t afford will make me happy, it becomes easier to justify spending more than I make and going into credit card debt.

But when I realize this item is not going to add much value to my life and limit my options, it can provide the power I need to make smarter financial decisions.

When I realize that spending money on certain aspects of my life- such as health, education, memories, and things that bring me joy — I can budget for those things appropriately and truly feel at peace with my spending.

Financial problems ultimately come down to us being confused about what we want in our lives and what is worth pursuing.

Weigh the Pros vs. Cons of Our Financial Choices

Asking ourselves this question will help us determine whether this financial decision is worth it:

Will I regret making this decision in the future?

We can’t 100% know for sure how our future self will feel about our present financial choices. But previous decisions can help us determine how repeating those choices will make us feel in the future.

So, in my opinion, this is the best option to figure out how we should move forward right now.

Another way to look at this is to make a document with two columns. In the first column, put the questionable things you want to buy right now.

Then, in the second column, describe things you could do with that money that push you towards your goals instead of purchasing the items in the first column.

By comparing and contrasting the choices directly, we encourage ourselves to think about these decisions from a more logical perspective.

Get Emotional About Your Dreams

Emotion often drives us to make decisions. And this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as having emotions is human.

The trick is to understand the emotions that we experience and how they push us to make certain decisions, and harness those emotions to help us achieve our goals.

We can tap into the power of emotion to push us towards what we really want by getting emotional about our dreams.

Often this is a matter of focusing our energy and time on what we want to achieve and where we want to go in the future.

But you have to know what those dreams are and envision yourself experiencing the emotion of achieving those dreams to tap into this power. This process does the following:

  • Focuses our time and energy on what we want.
  • It helps us make choices that we will not regret in the future.
  • Refills our “energy bar” in pursuing what matters most to us.

Once you truly understand WHY you are acting the way you are, you can change HOW you act. By understanding the emotions and feelings behind our money decisions and using them to make better money choices, we can truly feel happy with the financial decisions we are making.

 

What methods have you used to tackle your financial problems, and what you want to achieve?

5 Habits for Successful Female Business Owners

This post is brought to you and contributed by an outside writer.

Woman sitting at a desk in front of her computer, drinking a cup of coffee.

Being a business owner is not easy.

Being a female business owner is even harder. Society has unfair, unrealistic expectations of women. Women are consistently pushed harder, exposed to fewer opportunities, and paid far less than their male counterparts. This, in part, is why many women become entrepreneurs; they’ve been discriminated out of the traditional W-2 workforce.

Women are expected to do it all and to do it all well. Grant yourself some grace if you don’t always measure up to this unrealistic goal.

Instead, focus on cultivating these soft-skill habits that will help you cope with the unique challenges of being a female business owner.

Confidence

Confidence is one of the single most important personality traits to develop as a female business owner. You may not be able to control every situation, but by trusting yourself and projecting that confidence, more people will believe in you and want to follow you, too.

When you trust yourself, you’ll also be able to judge whether you’re being overly passive in a situation, as we’re often encouraged to act as women. In situations where you’ve been wronged, confidence can help you be more assertive about seeking representation should you ever find yourself needing legal help.

Be Kind to Yourself

If you stand a chance at being successful, you need to get out of your head. Be kind to yourself in the face of failure and humble in the face of victory. The entrepreneurial life can be difficult, so you have to choose to view every ‘failure’ as an opportunity to learn rather than an event you’ll never recover from.

Exercise

Angry that the gender pay gap is not likely to resolve within our working lifetimes?

We are, too.

Working for less is stressful, but it’s a reality we’re all being forced to live in at varying degrees. One of the best ways to beat stress is through exercise, as exercise releases happy hormones and can help maintain your overall health.

The stress is warranted, but it’s going to be there for most if not all of your working career. Dealing with it healthily makes everything a little easier to bear.

Set Priorities and Allow Them to Change

One of the hardest aspects to master when you are a female business owner is the ever-illusive, nearly-impossible-to-truly-obtain-in-real-life balance.

In reality, you’re probably going to need to perpetually assess and readjust your priorities. Work might take center stage one week, while child rearing is front and center the next.

Keep your communication lines open with your employees always and don’t be afraid to delegate.

Goals, goals, goals.

All business owners need their own set of goals. These can be personal or business goals — or even both!

Make sure your goals are smaller and more manageable in the beginning, just until you’ve gained momentum, after that, you can move on to setting (and smashing) any goal you like.

Plan and prepare for how you intend on achieving your goals, that way you will soon find out just how reasonable, and attainable, your goals are.

4 Stats About Women & Money at Work

This post is brought to you and contributed by Casey Musarra. Casey is a reformed sports journalist tackling a new game of financial services writing. Previous bylines include Newsday and Philly.com. Mike Francesa once called her a ‘great girl.’

dollar bills sitting on a white backgroud. some of the bills are folded in half.

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it 82 times: there’s a big ol’ pay gap in the United States.

As of the most recent Census data, women still are earning just 82 cents for every dollar men earn.

But it’s not all bad news for women in the workplace. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, females have outnumbered males in college enrollment every year since 1991. In turn, this means women can earn more money than men at a younger age.

Here’s the 4-1-1 on women and money at work.

The more educated sex

While women have long dominated the college-educated, that hasn’t been reflected in the workplace until recently. Remember when women used to go to college to find a husband? (Gag.) Me neither.

In the first quarter of 2019, the number of women with at least a bachelor’s degree (29.5 million) surpassed the number of men with at least a bachelor’s degree (29.3m,) according to Pew Research.

While women tend to begin their careers making more than men, the pay gap soon hits—and grows larger as workers age. The pay gap used to be widest among lower-paying jobs but is now largest among higher-paying jobs. Only 336—or just under 12%—of the world’s billionaires in 2019 were women.

Meanwhile, women were 17 times more likely than men in 2019 to work in an industry that doesn’t pay a living wage, according to a report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

Despite typically having lower incomes and possibly dealing with more student loans, women tend to be better at managing debt than men. Overall, women have better credit scores than men, which can put them in a better position to qualify for opportunities to consolidate said debt. A low-interest personal loan for debt consolidation can help streamline your debt into a single payment, making life a little bit easier as you continue trying to shatter glass ceilings.

The gender and racial pay gap

The wage gap doesn’t end at gender—it’s even wider for women of color.

According to an analysis of the Census data by the National Women’s Law Center, Latina women faced the biggest wage gap in 2019, earning 55 cents, to every dollar white men earned. Native American women earned 60 cents, and Black women and Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander women earned 63 cents.

Asian women had the smallest pay gap, earning 87 cents on the dollar that white men earned, a drop of three cents from 2018. And white women earned 79 cents on the dollar that white men earned.

The undervaluation of domestic work

Domestic workers are highly undervalued in the United States, and the COVID-19 pandemic illuminated this even further. Marginalized women make up the large majority of domestic workers.

According to the National Domestic Workers’ Alliance, more than 90% of domestic workers—the majority of whom are women houseworkers—lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19 by the end of March 2020. More than 3/4 of these workers said their earnings were the main source of income in their households. In other words, they’re the breadwinners and often single mothers.

On top of that, women carry out about 2 1/2 times more unpaid household and/or care work than men, according to a UN Women report. And nearly 2 million women left the work force because of COVID-19. This is an issue that 50 prominent women, including Tarana Burke, Julianne Moore, and Amy Schumer, are pushing the Biden Administration to rectify with the Marshall Plan for Moms.

How COVID-19 affected women at work

While many jobs have started to come back—the unemployment rate was down to 6.3% in January—they’ve rebounded more for men than women.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics monthly job report from December—the first month of job loss since May—showed a net loss of 140,000 jobs, all of which were women’s jobs. Women lost 156,000 jobs while men gained 16,000 jobs.

But hey, look on the bright side? The gender wage gap is expected to close by 2070.

Sure, you’ll probably be retired, or maybe even dead. But the gap is projected to close. Eventually.

Irish Sayings that Inspire Financial Wisdom

What a fun blog post! Loving these Irish sayings that inspire money smarts.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone!  Today I thought it would be fun to look at some Irish sayings, proverbs, limericks and proverbs to see if there was any financial wisdom we could glean from them.

Irish Sayings About Managing Your Household Finances

Do not take the thatch from your own roof to buy slates for another man’s house.

It’s important to be a nice person and do nice things.  But not if you don’t have yourself taken care of first.  If your house isn’t in order, you won’t be able to help others..at least not sustainably.  No guilt if you’re working to improve the situation of you and your nuclear family.

Enough and no waste is as good as a feast.

Providing for your family doesn’t necessarily mean having lavish things.  Having enough and being grateful for it is more than enough.  And if you have extra, maybe you could go slate your neighbor’s roof or something.

Most eclectic St. Patty’s Day Parade I’ve ever been to in Raleigh, NC.

Irish Sayings About Money and Business

He that is of the opinion that money will do everything may well be suspected of doing everything for money.

What can’t money buy?  True love.  True friendship.  Respect for one’s character.  Even in the business world, it is sometimes necessary to do things simply out of the goodness of your heart  with no expectation of monetary reward.  People will like you for that.  And that may bring you more business and thus more money. People tend to dislike the profit-obsessed.

A fool and his money are easily parted.

Don’t be an idiot.  Or you won’t have any money. I could get into this on a much deeper level, but I feel like the surface meaning is pretty encompassing.

The best way to keep loyalty in a man’s heart is to keep money in his purse.

This could apply to straight up bribes.  Which is not good advice.  I feel like it could also apply to government or companies, too.  Cater to the people you want as customers or constituents. If you’re doing right by them and their personal economies, you’ll have repeat customers, or votes.

Irish Sayings About Life and Death

The keening is best if the corpse left money. 

I’ve noticed that the older a family member I talk to is, the darker their sense of humor. Irish or not. I find humor in this one, but probably because of the generation I belong to, I stifle my giggles as I feel it’s inappropriate or insensitive.

“Keening” essentially means mourning, so if someone dies, the funeral’s going to be a lot more fun if they left you a windfall.  My grandmother told me that, at least in the early 20th century, Irish-American people generally were not in coffins or funeral homes for the viewing/funeral.  There was a big party and the body of the deceased was sat in a chair.  The person who got drunk enough fastest ended up dancing with the corpse.  Creepy.

There once was a Irishman, who thinks.
Stead of spending his money, on drinks.
It was just his bad luck
He got hit by a truck 
Stead o boozein with mates, 
me’thinks.

At first glance this is horrible, horrible advice.  Your money is never spent well on boozing.  But I think the underlying point is worth noting.  Enjoy your life.  Don’t hoard your money and forgo life’s experiences, especially friendships and the time spent with said friends.  You never know when you could go.  Then you’ll just be a corpse dancing at a party with some drunk guy who just inherited a windfall.

Irish Sayings About Grit

You’ll never plough a field by turning it over in your mind.

Love this one!  It can apply to so many areas of life, but absolutely personal finances.  You’ll never reach your goal if you just vaguely daydream about it; you have to take action.  Only then can you see your goals and dreams fulfilled.

The tiredness leaves but the profit remains.

Don’t quit just because something is hard, whether it’s training for a marathon, working for a promotion, or paying off your debt.  It will be worth it.  And it won’t be hard forever.

 

Looking for more? Check out this Irish Saying Gift Guide.

Socially-Distant Spa Days for Valentine’s Day

This post is in collaboration with FTD.

Towel, lit candle, tan towel and pink flowers all sit on a white table.

I’m not going to lie: I really, really hoped we’d be free from the Coronavirus by now.

I’m incredibly sad that we’re not. But I’m also incredibly encouraged by the vaccine distribution which is gaining efficiency as time goes on, though there is still much work to do.

I’m encouraged by the booster trials for the new strains.

And I’m encouraged by the potential of further economic stimulus from the government.

But for right now, we’ve got to sit tight. Hope is on the horizon, but until it arrives in totality we need to stay away from other people as much as possible in order to preserve more lives. And continue to mask up whenever we do have to breathe in public.

That means we might have to sustain the changes to our traditions for a little while longer. We’re getting to be pros at it. We’ve had virtual Halloween parades and Zoom Thanksgiving dinners.

One of the final holidays new to our quarantine routine is Valentine’s day. In years past, you might have gifted a spa day to your mom, sweetheart or BFF.

In 2021, let’s redirect our attention to the socially-distant alternative: Spa Day Gift Baskets.

Cucumber & Olive Oil Spa Gift Basket

Cucumber & Olive Oil Spa Gift Basket
This soothing and refreshing spa basket contains natural products including:

  • Cucumber and olive oil hand soap.
  • Shea butter bar soaps.
  • Exfoliating body wash.
  • Shower loofa.
  • Smoked almonds.
  • Teavana green tea.

View the whole basket here.

Love & Rose Valentine Spa Gift SetLove & Rose Valentine Spa Gift Set

CHOCOLATE spa day! More specifically, included are:

  • Godiva chocolate truffles.
  • Two foil-wrapped, chocolate hearts.
  • Tea box.
  • Valentine’s Day coffee mug.
  • Shower loofa.
  • Rose-scented lotion.
  • Rose-scented body butter.

View the whole basket here.

Spa Day at Home Gift Set

Spa Day at Home Gift Set
With a melody of different heavenly scents and flavors, the Spa Day at Home Gift Set comes with:

  • Godiva chocolate truffles.
  • Lavender mimosa candle.
  • Bath bomb.
  • Chamomile and honey lotion.
  • Chamomile and honey bath scrub.

View the whole basket here.

Lavender Spa Day Gift Basket

Lavender Spa Day Gift Basket

This relaxing basket includes:

  • Lavender soap bar.
  • Lavender lotion.
  • Loofah
  • Lavender sachet.
  • Lavender hand soap.
  • Pumice brush.
  • Lavender mimosa candle.
  • Bath bomb.
  • Slippers.

View the whole basket here.