At work we all are more or less in the same income bracket which means we all read the Canadian Tire, Home Depot, XS Cargo, and Wal-Mart flyers as a group. The unforgiveable sin apparently has to do with taking the Canadian Tire flyer to your office before everyone has had a chance to make suggestions to each other on things none of us need. Today a large pool was suggested for our lobby. Often times I don’t even have to read it, I am just told what to get or what I need by co-workers. It also means that we have similar kinds of tastes and financial pressures and so people are pretty open about money.
Growing up I was horrible with my money. Allowances were to be spent and I think I was the only kid who tried a leveraged buyout of a Star Wars action figure (I couldn’t get my banker to give me the $2). As a teen I was just as bad. I got a little better as I got older but eventually living from paycheck to paycheck got a little old and I started to get a lot more disciplined.
Eventually I learned how to manage our money a little better and while we haven’t always had that much of it, we have survived. When I started working at the Salvation Army, all we had installed on the computers was Internet Explorer which meant that the homepage was set to MSN.com. While I am not a big MSN fan, I love MSN Money, especially the home finance information. Below are some of the articles that have made some sense to me over the last year.
- Money in Your 30s :: Compared with other age groups, more people in their 30s have serious debt problems. Despite median income that’s 76% higher than those in their 20s, people in their 30s are more likely to be 60 days late on a bill (9% compared with 7.9% in their 20s) and nearly twice as likely to be $10,000 or more in debt on credit cards (12.1% compared with 6.4%). (If you need expert advice on debt, free help is available here.)
- Money in Your 40s :: A majority of people in their 40s carry credit card debt, and the median balance is $3,800, sharply higher than the $3,000 carried by households in their 30s. The percentage carrying big balances is up as well: 14% of people in their 40s have more than $10,000 in credit card debt, compared with 6.4% of people in their 20s and 12% of people in their 30s.
- A Simpler Way To Save: The 60% Solution :: I’m not saying that 60% is a magic number. It’s a workable goal for my family, and it’s a nice round number. Your number might well be a bit higher or lower. At any rate, it’s a good place to start.
- Why You Need $500 in the bank: This saved us a fortune in overdraft payments.
- The real reason you are broke: I hate large car payments with a passion.
- Don’t bite off too much house: I really would love a big office and man cave of my own but then I realize that our small house (and small house payment) has kept us solvent in tough times and I realize my corner of the basement works well.
- Your Seven Biggest Financial Decisions :: You don’t have to live like a monk to save money. Americans are conditioned to overbuy. Shopping has gone from being a chore to a hobby, a lifestyle even. Shoppers are encouraged to define their individuality in terms of style, which for most people comes down to a matter of which mass-produced goods one chooses to buy.
- Should I keep my clunker or go and buy a new car?
- 5 bad money mistakes to make in a downturn :: "Retirement, then credit cards, then emergency fund." Your highest priority, typically, should be saving for retirement, since every dollar you fail to save today could cost you $10 or more in lost retirement income. (The younger you are, the more you’ll lose by not tucking money away now.) Also, opportunities to get a 401(k) match or to fund an IRA or Roth IRA are typically "use it or lose it" propositions. Dispatching credit card debt should be your next highest priority, since it’s probably accumulating at double-digit interest rates and reducing your financial flexibility (see above). Finally, an emergency fund equal to three to six months’ worth of expenses can be a bulwark against the inevitable setbacks life sends us — job loss, disability, illness, accidents, natural disasters. Having a pile of cash in a high-rate savings account can also do wonders for reducing your money anxieties.
- Your money priorities ::
- 16 rules of thumb regarding money
- Save your emergency fund for the real thing :: Aside from her main emergency fund — now $25,000 (for her, that’s six months’ worth of expenses) — she has a separate account for house repairs and emergencies, another for the car, another for gifts and a regular savings account for miscellaneous expenses.
- Why one writer is saving up $15,000 in 2009
- What to do with extra paycheck :: Wendy gets paid weekly and I get paid bi-weekly so a couple of times a year, the checks get banked.
- 10 easy ways to save thousands
It’s pretty American advice. I’ll admit it, I don’t much about 401k’s but the principles have helped Wendy and I spend less, save more, and gave us a lot of fuel for thought on what we wanted to do financially as a family.