Are you wary (as I am) about the safety of using debit cards (read my Reader’s Digest article about that)? Or would you rather not be tempted to overspend with your debit card? If so, did you know that many banks will let you “turn off” the point-of-sale purchase function on your card? Each bank or credit union has a different process for doing this, but try asking your financial institution to set the limit for all debit transactions on your card to “zero.” Voila! Your card is just an ATM card again. Read more about it on ClarkHoward.com.
Reading the horrible financial news on the front page of my newspaper is enough. I’m not going to bury my head in the sand, but I’m not going to drive myself nuts, either. The market rises. The market falls. I’ve got, oh, 20-plus years until I retire. I just can’t stress about what my retirement plan is doing today.
Need some reassurance that we’re not heading for a second Great Depression? One of my favorite financial voices of calm is Clark Howard. He goes into much more detail on his radio show, but you can read the short version here.
I love these segmented banks, which I bought for my daughters a while back. They’re from MoneySavvy Generation, a Web site created by Susan Beacham. I interviewed Susan for a Parenting magazine article about allowances, and thought her banks were a great idea so I ordered them the next day. (This company also has segmented banks.)
Each bank has a slot for “Spend”, “Save,” “Donate,” and “Invest.” (We’re not really using the “Invest” slot yet, but we will.) When the girls get their allowances, the deal is that they must put SOME money in each slot. We talked about it ahead of time, so they have a regular plan for how much they’ll put in each compartment. Greg and I didn’t tell the girls how much goes in each slot; we wanted them to make that choice.
Ever think about the fact that the holidays come at the same time each year…yet somehow we forget to budget for them? Or that you need to fill your home’s oil tank a couple of times each year (for those of us in old houses), yet you never seem to have enough cash?
If you take a minute to consider it, there are lots of expenses that only happen a few times a year, so we don’t really plan for them. But why not? A few years ago, my DH and I sat down and brainstormed every annoying expense that had caught us by surprise. Could we somehow anticipate them?
Whenever I’m poring over grocery ads and clipping coupons, I wonder: Are we big food spenders compared to our parents’ and grandparents’ generations? I don’t feel like we buy a lot of expensive or convenience food, yet somehow I’ve always had a gut instinct that we are spoiled shoppers compared to the families who came before us.
And eating out? I remember going out maybe once every other week when I was a kid in the 1970s. My own family today (2 parents, 2 kids) goes out slightly more often—maybe twice a week. And my husband eats lunch out more often than my dad (a consummate brown-bagger). So I often feel a pang of guilt when we pay a restaurant bill.
Harvard professor Elizabeth Warren did a comprehensive comparison of American spending patterns in the 1970s compared to today. And guess what: We aren’t blowing our paychecks on expensive restaurant meals and designer clothes after all.