Last October, the members of my large family made their way back to Toronto, Ontario for Thanksgiving. After the week’s festivities, we all said goodbye and headed back to the airport. My family headed home, but one of my brothers was completely stonewalled when he went to check into his flight. The airline agent told him that his suitcase was not only going to cost him an extra fee, but new weight restrictions meant that his 45-pound suitcase was now considered “oversize.”
These days, you can’t turn on the TV without seeing a commercial for a home improvement store. And the commercials make it seem so easy: If you don’t like something about your house, a trip to the hardware store and an afternoon in your paint clothes should do the trick. After watching one of those commercials, you might end up getting the itch for a new paint color or to finally build the deck you’ve always wanted.
Many of us can think back to a time when the idea of making a steady salary and having “nice things” was a bit of a pipe dream. After my husband and I were married, he was working two jobs while we lived in a tiny basement apartment, shared a car, and ate a lot of ramen noodles. It was difficult to ever imagine anything different – we thought we’d be in that apartment forever.
Of course, fast-forward 10 years, a couple of kids, and two lucrative career paths later, and our newlywed lifestyle is a distant memory. As we’ve aged and improved our earning potential, we are now more concerned about mortgages and retirement savings than stretching our grocery dollar and making rent.
We all have our creature comforts – those habits that, for better or worse, we indulge on a daily basis. However, while a regular morning latte or a new pair of shoes might seem harmless, you’ve got to consider their effect on your bottom line. A dollar here and a dollar there add up over time – and, despite your efforts in other areas, they could be one of many reasons you’re still mired in debt.
Those of us who find ourselves experiencing chronic debt problems often share similar behaviors and financial habits. If you catch them early enough, you can avoid trouble. But even if you’re already in the red, recognizing and adjusting these behaviors can help you get back on track.
My husband and I have been mulling over a refinance over the last few months. Our mortgage was rolled over to another banking institution when Washington Mutual folded, and I’ve never really enjoyed the service. The clincher came when I called to talk about options and interest rates. I did my homework: I checked rates online, pulled my credit report, and ran a quick home valuation so I could approach them with solid numbers. Unfortunately, the rate they offered me was nowhere near their best.
Online shopping can seem like the ultimate in instant gratification. However, while the ability to buy pretty much anything you want from the comfort of your own home presents incredible benefits, it can also get out of hand pretty quickly. Overspending and draining your bank account is one of the more common pitfalls – but it might not even be the worst, particularly when you consider how shopping online can jeopardize your identity.
Are you a chronic overspender? If you start each month with great intentions and spend according to a set plan, but eventually find yourself making mindless purchases justified by that ever dangerous “a little won’t hurt” attitude, you’re likely facing an empty bank account and severe buyer’s remorse by the end of the month.
On ABC’s “Shark Tank,” five extremely successful millionaires and billionaires – the “sharks” – hear pitches from business owners and occasionally vie with each other to invest. If the business owners play their cards right, they can score much-needed venture capital funding and strategic partners who practically guarantee them future success. If they’re weak, they’re sent packing with little fanfare and plenty of regrets.
I probably have about six episodes of “Shark Tank” saved on my DVR at any given time – but it’s not purely for entertainment value. The show teaches us all a great deal about business subjects such as investing, royalties, and licensing.
Once upon a time, the most that businesses could hope to know about you boiled down to the information you’d use to obtain a mortgage: essentially, your credit score, household size, and household income. Of course, the more information businesses have about you, the better they can tailor their marketing strategy to target you. Today, with the ability to monitor your habits and access sensitive personal information, businesses have access to a veritable gold mine.
As my 30th birthday approaches, I find myself thinking about what I accomplished in the last decade. My 20s saw me get married, build a house with my husband, have two amazing kids, and start my career. And while I feel great about all those successes, there were definitely a lot of mistakes along the way – especially when it came to finances.