It’s hard not to get a serious case of celebrity envy whenever I glance at a tabloid magazine. Is it me, or do celebrities seem like professional vacationers in addition to being singers, actors, and TV personalities? Whether lounging on a sun-drenched beach on the coast of Hawaii or skiing on the perfect snow in Colorado, celebs have a lock on luxurious vacation hot spots that we mere mortals can only dream about.
By Jacqueline Curtis
If your child is one of the millions of college freshmen headed off to school, your August might be packed with shopping, gathering textbooks, and packing up entire rooms. And while picking out the perfect dorm decor might seem important, don’t neglect the deeper subjects.
Now is the time to talk to your child about personal finance. As a parent, you have the opportunity and obligation to prep your freshman on budgeting and smart spending strategies before he or she hits campus.
Last summer, an experienced garage sale friend of mine invited me to bring some old baby items to a sale. An afternoon watching her unload inventory and fill the till taught me a ton about effective presentation, dealing with customers, how to be a good negotiator, and, of course, the critical importance of coming up with the right price for each item.
Buyer’s remorse: It’s that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach as you drive away from the store. It’s that tiny, relentless voice that says, “You shouldn’t have bought that,” or “Your spouse is going to be mad,” or, “You let that salesperson walk all over you.”
I’ve been the victim of buyer’s remorse myself. The day I bought our boat I remember getting off the phone with the seller and thinking, “What have I done?” Fortunately, I’m happy with the decision now, but at the time, all I wanted to do was call the seller back and tell him I’d changed my mind.
There’s no doubt that part of the fun of a vacation is planning it, and in the Internet age, vacation planning means having access to comparison sites, traveler reviews, and helpful hints that can make your next trip the best you’ve ever had.
While you can surf the web-based versions of a lot of money-saving travel apps, having quick access to everything you need on your phone or tablet while you tour can be an amazing advantage. And best of all, many apps that can help you save money on your trip are 100% free.
Thanks to websites that scour the Internet for the best deals, many people simply select the cheapest flight available that fits their needs. While you can definitely find some amazing deals this way, it also means you’re likely to rack up airline reward miles with several different carriers – with no way to consolidate them for a free flight. Fortunately, this dilemma is not without solution. Even if you can’t get a free flight, there are several ways to spend your rewards points before they expire.
I remember when I received my first credit card offer. I was 18 and fresh out of high school and, frankly, I was flattered that Visa thought I was responsible enough for a card. Of course, I know now that pretty much every 18-year-old receives credit card offers, but at the time I couldn’t wait to get my own. I signed up and was later mailed my shiny card, which came with a $1,500 credit limit.
I live in a fairly established area with a lot of retirees, and it seems that every week I hear about a family whose adult kids are moving back in, sometimes with grandchildren in tow. And the phenomenon is not just limited to my neighborhood – the AARP estimates that 5.8 million kids currently live in their grandparents’ homes.
I’m no stranger to the condition myself – I moved in with my in-laws briefly while our house was being constructed, complete with a dog and a newborn baby. Moving back home with your parents after college can be tough, but living with parents when you’re grown and you have a family of your own is a different scenario altogether.
Have you ever been struck with the mentality that if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself? I know I have – and it’s usually when I’m with my kids. I love them, but house cleaners and garden-weeders they are not. Most of the time, I’d rather occupy them with a movie while I do the chores myself, lest I spend hours on cleaning the bathroom with my “helpers” at hand.
However, while doing all that stuff yourself might save time and yield a better result, it doesn’t exactly teach your kids the value of hard work.
I love my usual routine. When my kids are in school, I send them off to the bus and settle down to work. Of course, during the summer it’s a completely different story. Instead, I find myself scrambling to find ways to keep my kids entertained, and more often than not, completely blowing my budget to pay for summer activities. Without a firm plan or routine in place, I find myself overspending on museums, amusement and water parks, movie theater tickets, and whatever else will get my kids out of the house and cooled off during the summer.
By Jacqueline Curtis
During the month of April, I decided to go on a “shopping diet” – so for the entire month, I didn’t buy a stitch of clothing. While this might seem like a cinch for some of you, for shopaholics like me, it was a huge wake-up call. Not only did I save a ton of money, but I was also able to see how often I shopped as a reaction to outside stimulus. Bad day at work? I had the urge to shop. Worried that I might miss a sale? I had the urge to shop. Bored? Oh yeah, I definitely got the urge to shop.
Have you ever been caught unaware by an event or appointment that you completely forgot about? It happens to me roughly three times per week. There I am, having lunch with friends or kicking back at the park with my kids, and suddenly, I remember that I had a Skype appointment with a client, or I forgot it was parent-teacher conference night. Since I don’t actually carry my entire wardrobe in my car – as much as I want to – I’ve all-too-often found myself racing home for a quick change or just showing up and hoping my kid’s teacher doesn’t notice that I’m dressed for the playground.
I have 653 pins on my various Pinterest boards. I also have 514 followers and I personally follow 149 people. In fact, Pinterest is often used as a downtime activity for me – I’ll settle into bed at night and surf on my tablet, pinning everything from recipes, to outfit ideas, to beauty tips. After all, Pinterest is meant to be a cyber bulletin board, where you can keep all of your ideas and inspiration in one place.
Despite the many positive aspects of Pinterest, there is a downside: Often, Pinterest can entice you to spend money. I see all the cute clothes, home decor, and amazing recipes, and before I know it, I’ve blown my budget.
Most baby shower games have been around forever. Maybe the “chocolate bar in the diaper” game was cute the first 20 times you played it, but the idea starts getting less adorable and enjoyable, especially as more and more of your friends and family members have babies.
In addition to being tired and cliché, many baby shower games require a ton of supplies and can cost a fortune. If your baby shower budget is already tight, the last things you want to spend money on are jars of baby food, candy bars, and art supplies to use at the shower.
So you’re planning a baby shower, and you’ve got the decorations, the games, and even the gift – so what’s missing? Ah, yes: the food. It’s not a baby shower without a ton of cute edibles for guests to pick at. However, if you’ve already blown most of your budget elsewhere, you might need to be careful how much you spend on food. It’s important to remember that at a baby shower, the food isn’t just for eating – it’s also part of the decor. Throwing bowls and casserole dishes full of eats onto the food table just doesn’t cut it.