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2015 Savings Goal Update: March

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Good morning Loves.  Remember back in January when I set some pretty aggressive goals for myself this year?  Honestly I had good intentions when I set them, but never in a million years did I think I would stick with them.  Why?  Because I have commitment issues.  I rarely finish anything I start when it comes to goals because I hate living with restrictions.  That’s just who I am.

Saving for retirement: Check

I excited to tell you that my goals, on all fronts, are on track.  Even as I’m writing this I can’t believe it, but it’s true.  I have actually already met my savings goal for the year.  How? By being a stellar employee in 2014.

Instead of taking my bonus in cash and loosing over half of it in tax I decided to put it directly into my retirement account.  This way I boost my savings and don’t give any away to the tax man.  The downside to this is now it’s in my retirement account and I can’t touch it without penalties.  But oh well.

The thought of losing any of the money, whether it’s on withdrawal fees or withholding tax, just makes me cringe.  So despite my original plans to take it in cash I am going to transfer it directly to my retirement account, invest it and hopefully watch it grow for the next 25 years until I retire.

Cash savings: Epic Fail

Taking a lump sum of cash from my annual bonus and saving it for retirement seems almost too easy doesn’t it?  Although I’m proud of my achievement because I did work for the money, I don’t really feel like I saved it.  So in an effort to keep myself focused on good money habits I’m still trying to save my actual earned money on a monthly basis.

Remember last month when I told you I saved $1000?  Well with my little trip to New York City at the beginning of March those savings went out the window.  Actually I should say the money went to the Wyndham Garden Hotel in Chinatown and to the lovely people at Greyhound.

Spending the money was worth it because I was going crazy and needed to get away, but it’s not helping me achieve my cash savings goal of $7000 in 2015.  That’s my new goal.  Since I already met my original savings goal, now I’ve redefined it to be cash savings, meaning non registered, meaning outside my retirement accounts.

Isn’t money funny?

That’s the thing about money; it takes a long time to earn, but it gets spent very quickly.  I hope to make up the $1000 loss (if you can call a trip to NYC a loss) this month and get back on track towards my savings goals.  I’m not sure what I’m saving for, I think I just want to prove to myself that I can do it, since I rarely stick to any personal goal strategies.

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4 mistakes I made with my credit card

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I will be the first to admit I’ve made some mistakes when it comes to money.  Actually that’s a major understatement.  I made some huge mistakes when it comes to spending, managing money and of course using credit cards.  I wish I learned about managing money when I was in my teens so I didn’t end up in tens of thousands of dollars of debt in my 20s.  But ironically I don’t regret it.

Making those money mistakes helped me become a responsible young adult.  Yes I had to learn the hard way, but at least I learned.  I am sure life in my 30s would have been very different if I didn’t have to pay off $50,000 of debt, but thems the breaks.

I wouldn’t want my children to go through what I did when it comes to money, but I don’t have kids.  So I’m using my knowledge to help others any way I can.  Whether you’re in your 20s and starting out or in your 30s and learning from your own mistakes we can all use some tips about how to avoid getting into overwhelming credit card debt.

Accepting every offer

When you’re 20 and working two jobs you have a great income for an age bracket that’s supposed to be broke.  This makes you very attractive to credit card companies.  I got my first credit card at 18 and by 20 I was offered a gold VISA card.

I accepted the offer in he mail because I thought a gold card was prestigious and it came with enough travel rewards for two round trip flights.  This was my first mistake and it set the tone for the next few years of my life.

Applying for more

When I couldn’t afford to pay off my credit card balances or make the minimum monthly payments I did what every normal 25 year old would do…I applied for more credit cards.  This was my second biggest mistake.

The only thing worse than not being able to pay off $7,000 of debt is not being able to pay off $15,000 of debt.  I should have just started paying off my two credit cards, instead I thought paying off debt with credit was the answer.  It didn’t solve my problems, all it did was make paying off debt that much harder.

Spending carelessly

How did this all start?  I was young, moved away for college, had no friends and had nothing else to do but go shopping as a way to spend my days.  I didn’t think about the fact that I would eventually have to pay off the balances.  I wasn’t worrying about anything, I was just spending and I’d have to deal with the payments later.  This was my third mistake. Spending out of control and worrying about the payments later is a huge mistake.

Making only minimum payments

This was probably my biggest mistake.  Applying for credit cards is one thing, spending carelessly is another thing but only making the minimum payments is probably the biggest mistake of all.  Credit card debt comes down to one thing, how quickly you can pay it off.

The higher the balance the harder it is to pay off and the longer you keep balances the more interest you’ll have to pay. Although making the minimum payments keeps your credit in good standing, it doesn’t help the balances get paid off.

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5 Things You Shouldn’t Spend Money On but Probably Do

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Good morning Loves.  As I continue on with my savings goals in 2015 I’m thinking about all the things I want to spend money on, but don’t.  This got me thinking about all the ways people waste money on items they don’t really need or don’t bring value to their lives but they buy them anyways.  Do you do this?

When I say waste money I am in no way judging people’s spending habits.  I am about to list five things I think people can avoid buying in order to save money but I myself am guilty of spending money on two of them.  I know I shouldn’t, but I do.  Can you guess which two they are?

Blow Outs

I am a huge fan of feeling pretty.  I like spending the day at a spa or half a day at the salon.  Two years ago I discovered The Dry Bar in NYC and I’m hooked.  I know it’s a colossal waste of money to spend $40 on only a blow out (no cut) but I do it anyways.  Once in a while (like once a year) I give myself a little treat and book an appointment to get my hair blown out by a professional.

A Room With a View

This is one upgrade I never pay for.  I don’t like heights so looking out the window is not on my list of things to do.  The concept of a room with a view is completely lost on me.  I much prefer to see a city by exploring it myself on the ground, not look at it through the window.  But that’s just me.  I know a lot of people pay a premium price for a room on a top floor overlooking something spectacular, but I’m not one of those people.

Bottled Water

Ah the concept of bottled water is a total consumer ploy.  I have seen bottled water sold 4 for $1 and I’ve seen it sold $1.79 per bottle.  I’m not talking about flavored water or Vitamin Water, I’m talking about plain old filtered spring water.  Never ever have I seen a commodity with such a variation in price and you know the crazy thing is people actually but it.

I have a reusable portable Brita bottle which allows me to filter tap water from anywhere at any time.  It’s much more eco-friendly than buying new bottles every time you need a drink.  That being said I do buy bottled water when I’m on vacation because it’s just more convenient than bringing my reusable bottle.

Decorative Light Switches

This is completely crazy to me.  I never understood people who buy decorative light switch covers in their favorite sports team, animal shapes or anything else.  It doesn’t add any function to the lights or to the room and it also doesn’t add any value to the home.

In fact I don’t think there is any benefit to paying $20 for a decorative light switch cover for every room in your home.  When you’re ready to sell the new owners probably won’t have the same taste as you do so you won’t even get your money back.

Bank Fees

My total pet peeve in life is bank fees…and I work at a bank.  I understand people have to pay for services but banks make money so many other ways they really don’t need to collect monthly account fees.

Banks make interest on our credit cards, loans and mortgages and they also make money with our investments so why are they charging for basic services such as monthly bank account fees?

Do you ever spend money on something but know you shouldn’t?

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Savings update: I’m changing my habits

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Good morning Loves.  Well it’s the end of the first month in 2015 and you know what that means…time to check in on all the goals I set just 30 days ago.  My two major goals this year are to start saving money and lose 30 pounds.  Remember that?

My 2015 savings goal

I want to save at least $7000 this year and I mean really save.  I don’t want to put money in my savings account and then take it out whenever I “need” (I’m using that term lightly) to buy something.  I want to put money in my savings account every month and have it still all be there in December.  How does that sound?  It sounds pretty good to me.

I love it when people ask me why I don’t have savings, they’re like “But you don’t have debt?”  That is true but I still spend money and can’t save a dollar if my life depended on it.  There is always a bill to pay or always something to buy for the apartment or food to order.  I could rationalize eating out several different ways and yes I know this is a waste of money.

Why I’m choosing to save money this year

Every single January I grab a pen and paper and write out my finances for the year.  Of course they are never the same at the end of the year in December as they were at the beginning of the year in January, but it’s the thought that counts.  Every single year I set financial goals to save more, pay off debt and take a lovely vacation or two.  This year I’ve also added in the goal of buying pretty things for our new apartment.  So what’s the big deal?  Well I’m going to do all those things without using my credit card.  Why?  Because I’ve been in debt and I definitely don’t want to go back.

In my 20s I was over $50k in debt and by my early 30s I was out of it.  No it didn’t happen overnight but it did eventually happen.  It’s really easy to get into debt and it takes much more time to get out of it.  Those were very difficult years for me because I’m the type of person who wants everything done like yesterday.  I just wanted to snap my fingers or open my eyes and have all my statements show a $0 balance, but that’s not how debt works.

My savings in January

I’m proud to say this month I’ve successfully saved $1000.  That definitely puts me on the right track towards saving at least $7000 by January.  How did I do it?  To be honest it wasn’t that hard.  There’s really nothing to do up here in the cold Northeast during the winter so I nowhere to go and nothing to spend money on.

I could have spent the money shopping but I consciously made an effort to avoid the shopping malls and all their after holiday sales.  I ended up spending only $41 on three new pairs of pyjamas, they were already on sale plus an additional 30% off so how could I resist.

I feel like $40 is not so bad, trust me the damage could have been a lot worse.  I controlled my spending this month and it directly helped me save more.  That’s a win-win in my books.

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