Are You Being Held in Rebate Ransom – Sales Tactic #4

RebateSign

We have your money!  We’ll give it back if you follow these specific steps.  Make one mistake and we’ll keep the cash!

Sound like a ransom note to you?  Think again, it’s actually the crumpled rebate receipt in your wallet!  When you buy something with a mail-in rebate the seller is holding the money you “saved” for ransom.  The crazy part is that we willingly volunteer our money for ransom AND feel like we are saving money! The Rebate Ransom technique is the next trick we’ll discuss in the Sales Tactics Revealed series.[Photo credit ninjapoodle]

Three Strikes You’re Out
In the heat of shopping frenzy we’re overcome by the seeming great bargain and fall for the rebate, strike one. We pay full price and add the rebate to our “To Do” list. Life gets in the way and we put off submitting the paperwork, strike two.  The day before the deadline we rush to mail in the paperwork and overlook a minute detail in the fine print, strike three. We’re out the money!

If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone.  According to a Business Week article from 2005 an estimated 40% of people fail to apply or have their application rejected for rebates every year. This is a very effective tactic; retailers get us to focus on the discount price while still charging the full amount.  With so many people not redeeming their rebates for one reason or another they’ve found a way to offer discounts without actually honoring it almost half the time!

Warning Signs
• Only $1 after Rebate!   • Free After Rebate

Tactic in Action
I think most everyone has encountered this scenario at least once so an example probably isn’t needed.  Whether we’re too busy to mail it in, we lose the receipt, we don’t feel like sorting through the terms & conditions of each rebate, or the check just never comes there are many reasons why rebates fail to pay out.  Despite all these problems, we continue to fall for this sales tactic.  What can we do to protect ourselves against it?

Protect Your Paycheck
Rebate Reminder
Often times, the price after rebate really is a good deal IF you can get your money back.  Before you decide to purchase the item, schedule the date when you’ll mail in the rebate information.  Write the date the rebate is due on your receipt at the checkout counter.  Then when you get home login to Rebate Reminder and setup a reminder so you don’t let your money go unclaimed.

Time Is Money
Remember, time is money.  How much time will you spend getting back your money from the rebate company? Is it worth the money you’ll save? Sometimes it feels like sending in your rebate info is more paperwork than buying a house or doing your taxes!  Want to see how much time other people have wasted, just do a Google search on “rebate hell”.

What Box Do I Check for Tax-back?
When you purchase an item with a mail-in rebate you pay tax on the full price, not the price after rebate.  Guess what, there’s no box on the rebate form to check to get your money back. On a big ticket item such as home appliances, big screen televisions, or computers that tax can add up.  Remind yourself that you’re taxed on the purchase price, not price after rebate.

Sales Tactics
Rebate Ransom in the 4th sales trick in the Sales Tactics Revealed series. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the first three as well: Don’t Miss Out, You’ll Be Sorry, and Buy Now, Pay Later.  If you’ve gotten something out of this series, you can subscribe via feedreader or email for coverage of upcoming sales tactics.


Personal Finance Review – No New Shoes Edition

OldShoes

I hate shopping and I hate spending money.  Of course this means when something I own breaks or falls apart I’m not very happy because I have to go out and buy another one!  I own one pair of dress shoes that are unfortunately on the decline. 

The soles have been coming off of the work shoes for a while now, when I took them in last summer to be fixed, the shoe shop said they couldn’t be repaired.  I’ve stretched them another year but things aren’t looking good.  The crack in the sole keeps getting bigger and one of these days I’ll lose the whole heel. Needless to say I’m not looking forward to that day. 

I should probably start looking around for bargains so I don’t have to make an emergency purchase down the road but I really hate shopping so I think I’ll put it off for a while longer : )  No new shoes for now. Here are some personal finance articles you shouldn’t put off reading this week.  

-A Visual Guide to the Morningstar Mutual Fund Comparison Tool @ Generation X Finance

-Making Sense of the Recent Market Volatility @ Generation X Finance

-Who Is Responsible For Lead In Toys? @ Money, Matter, & More

-Saving Tips For New Parents: Get Ready For Baby! @ The Digerati Life

-Some Ways That We Are Thinking Small @ Lazy Man & Money

-Analyze Mutual Fund Costs with FINRA’s Mutual Fund Expense Analyzer @ Suns Financial Diary

Congratulations to No Credit Needed and Get Rich Slowly for their recent addition to the Money Blog Network! Both wonderful personal finance sites, No Credit Needed talks this week about How To Create A Budget If You Have Irregular Income and Get Rich Slowly is upgrading to handle the constant flood of visitors that come to read his insightful content. 

-Having A Goal Helps You Be Frugal @ Blueprint for Financial Prosperity

-How You Can Earn Over Cash Back with Credit Cards @ Free Money Finance

-Making money with an eBay Store, Part 4: Obtaining product at the right price @ Mighty Bargain Hunter

-“Borrowing” Money from an IRA @ Five Cent Nickel

-Make Money From Your Own Videos With Revver @ My Money Blog

-10 Reasons Credit Cards Are Good @ Cash Money Life

-Predicting the Future: Will People In Their Twenties Today Collect Social Security In Retirement? And How Should That Answer Change Our Plans? @ The Simple Dollar


Crappiest Job Ever – Pet Waste Removal Service

PooperScooper

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw this hang tag advertisement on our door handle today.  There are actually companies that you can hire to clean up your pet’s waste! 

A Google search on pet waste removal services led me to an Entrepreneur.com article from about a year ago where they called it “one of the hottest homebased pet businesses around today.”

The article points out that the initial investment is minimal and the returns can be great.  Check out the fees these guys charge, the cheapest is $50 a month.  That’s more than I pay for cable!

PooperScooperRates

I don’t own a dog and agree that picking up their mess might be kind of undesirable but I don’t think I’d ever pay $50 a month to have someone else do it.  Under the “Why Choose Us” section of their website they say “Sure it’s something you could do yourself, but consider all the things you could be doing.”  Seriously, how long does it take to clean up after your dog?

If you have two dogs and they come more twice a week, you could be paying almost $100 a month for pet waste removal.  If you have more dogs, they clean more frequently, or have a big yard, the price just gets worse! That seems a lot to pay, imagine all the other things you could do with that money.  What do you think?  Do you own dogs?  Would you pay someone to clean up after them?


Come On! Buy it Now, You Can Pay Later – Sales Tactic #3

BuyNowPayLater

Think back to a shopping trip where you almost made a purchase but wisely walked away because you couldn’t afford it.  Bad news, the marketing gurus have found a way to stop that from happening!  When your better judgment screams NO, they use the “Buy Now, Pay Later” sales tactic to ease you into a big purchase. 

This tactic is a retailer’s dream come true.  They can sell to us whether we can afford it or not!  They get us to spend money we don’t even have on what they’re selling.  Instead of feeling uneasy about being able to pay for it, we feel satisfied, like we got something for nothing.

All About the Payment
Buy Now, Pay Later is dangerous for consumers because it puts our focus on the size of the payments, instead of whether we can afford the item.  The sellers love this approach; it breaks down our resistance to spending and makes their sale so much easier.

Using this tactic, the people selling to us delay our decision of whether we can afford something until AFTER we agree to buy it.  The financial implications of the sale sneaks up on us after the sellers already have our money and we’ve passed the return period.  The bad news is this isn’t even the worst thing about the tactic.

Guess What, There’s Interest!
First the retailers convince us to buy from them using their store brand credit card, whether we have the money or not.  Then they add in finance charges on the money we borrow to buy something from them.  So they fool us into feeling as though we can afford their item and then jack up the price by tacking on exorbitant interest!

This tactic works out pretty well for the seller, more sales and extra interest income.  Unfortunately, for every winner there is a loser.  While they make out, we consumers get hosed.

Warning Signs 
• Low Monthly Payment       • No Payments for 1 Year
• Only $40 a Month            • No Money Down!
• 90 Days Same As Cash     • Just 3 Easy Payments! 

Tactic In Action
“I’m paying in cash”, I said for what felt like the millionth time.  The blank stare made it obvious he didn’t encounter this situation frequently and wasn’t sure what to try next.

The Buy Now, Pay Later tactic began soon after the test drive, once we started talking dollars with the car salesman. “What kind of payments are you looking to make?”, the salesman asked. “It’s not size of the payment, it’s about the price of the car!”, I shot back.  “I’ll be paying in cash and am looking to get the lowest price I can.”  He furrowed his brow then launched into his pitch.  “I can put you into this one here for under $400 a month.”

After re-iterating I was paying cash, he came back with the same tactic again. “No point in paying it all up front, how low do you want your payments to be?”  The Buy Now, Pay Later tactic must usually be so successful that he didn’t have any other tricks up his sleeve!  After several more of his attempts, I finally made it clear I was interested in the final price and wouldn’t be distracted by talk of low payments.  After we negotiated a sales price it was on to the sales manager’s office.

“I’m paying in cash”, I responded to the manager’s spiel about a special financing offer. He scowled and asked, “Why pay for it all now?  Why not keep the money and finance through us?”  After several rounds of refusing financing he realized they weren’t to make any money off us via this tactic.

At that point, he mixed in the You’ll Be Sorry tactic.  He talked about the potential problems an extended warranty would cover and “strongly encouraged” us to buy it.  I told him of our plan to put money away every month to cover any future auto expenses, this way we’d only have to pay in the event something went wrong.  “If you buy the extended warranty you’ll be covered right away.  You don’t have to pay for it up front; we can roll it into your loan.”  Once again, I reminded him we were paying cash and firmly refused the extended warranty.

Upon realizing we weren’t going to fall for either the You’ll Be Sorry or Buy Now, Pay Later tactics, the manager quickly finished the paperwork and rushed us out of his office so he could focus on the next customer.

Protect Your Paycheck
The Buy Now, Pay Later tactic can eventually lead to mountains of debt if not overcome.  Here are some things to keep in mind as you try to beat this strategy.

Lifetime Payment Plan
You can pay for anything given enough time.  According to the US Census Bureau the annual household income for 2006 was around $48,000.  Based on those numbers, the average person earning this income each year would earn well over $1 million in their lifetime. So if you think about it, on a payment plan you can afford most things being sold to you, right?

Let’s stop and think about this for a minute.  Think about how much you hate making payments every month.  Why create more for yourself? Who wants to be on a payment plan their whole life?

You Really Will Pay Later
The majority of people who buy on a payment plan end up paying more than sticker price for an item.  Interest charges or late fees can add up to 35% onto the total price.  Sellers know if you fall for Buy Now, Pay Later, they can keep making money off you with late fees and interest charges far into the future.

Your Electronic Speeding Sign
Before easy credit, we only spent what we had.  Now companies are extending credit to practically everyone and we can spend on whatever someone wants to sell us.  Charge cards make it so easy to swipe and carry; we often don’t realize how much we’re spending until we get the bill at the end of the month. What we need is something to remind us of how much we’re spending day to day.

How many times have you cruised past one of these electronic speed signs on the side of the road and been surprised at how fast you were actually going?  Today’s powerful and comfortable cars and (relatively) smooth highway systems make it easy to be unaware of our driving speed.  Similar to the way charge cards allow us to obliviously spend over our budget. 

Some companies offer a feature that you can think of as an electronic speeding sign for your credit card.  You can setup telephone and email alerts to let you know if you have spent more on your card than you have budgeted.  Adding alerts for charges over a certain amount, a certain percentage change in your balance, or a certain balance exceeded can be your own electronic speeding sign to remind you that you’re falling for the Buy Now, Pay Later tactic.

Sales Tactics
That wraps up the third sales trick in the Sales Tactics Revealed series. If you haven’t already, be sure to read the first two, Don’t Miss Out and You’ll Be Sorry.  If you’ve gotten something out of this series, you can subscribe via feedreader or email for coverage of upcoming sales tactics.


You’ll Be Sorry If You Don’t….. – Sales Tactic #2

What emotion could make you sign a blank check with no questions asked?  How about FEAR?  It makes us do crazy things.  Sellers use this tactic to scare us into spending money.  If you don’t spend money for this now, You’ll Be Sorry, later!  Sound familiar? If so, you may have fallen victim to the second sales tactic in the Sales Tactic Revealed series.

Fear of the Unknown
As we go about our lives, there is always a chance something unpleasant could happen.  We don’t fret over the countless things that could go wrong because it’s likely they won’t.  That is, until someone informs us of potential danger and offers to sell us protection against it.  They know if they can trigger fear in us their chances of making money just went up.

This tactic can be used for a wide range of products and services.  Many of you may have encountered this trick through a sales pitch for an extended warranty or some type of insurance.  It can also be used as an upsell to convince you to upgrade to the higher quality product that won’t break down or the service with better coverage.

Fear Factor
The sellers frighten us into paying money NOW for a product or service that either prevents or covers a POTENTIAL FUTURE “threat”.  So they get our money today and they know chances are good they’ll never have to give us our money back.

The crazy part is, they take our money and we feel better!  They scared us into parting with our hard earned paycheck and now we feel safer.   Who do you think wins when we fall for this tactic?

Warning Signs
• Don’t Let it Happen To You! • Sign Up & Sleep Easy
• Put Your Fears to Rest        • No More Worries
• Don’t Become a Statistic!    • New Victim Every 5 Seconds!
• Let Us Protect You!           • Don’t Wait Too Long! 

Tactic In Action
A friend of ours rented a car recently and unknowingly encountered a master of the “You’ll Be Sorry” tactic.  As she signed the paperwork for the week long rental the sneaky salesman asked, “Would you like to add the protection of rental car insurance for just $10 a day?”  She declined, mentioning her auto insurance covered rental cars. 

“How high is your deductible?” he asked, his mouth watering for an upsell.  Upon learning she was responsible for the first $500 he moved in for the kill.  “Well, would you rather pay $70 or $500?”, he asked persuasively.  He followed it up with the knock-out punch,“Some insurance doesn’t cover all the potential costs of an accident.  You’d be better off paying less and getting full coverage.”  The fear reaction kicked in overriding her logic and our friend caved, signing up for the insurance.

Our friend lived with the “threat” of paying a $500 deductible every day she drove her own car.  What was different about the rental car?  Nothing, of course!  She was just duped by the “You’ll Be Sorry” tactic.  The salesman comparing the cost of rental insurance with the amount of her deductible was definitely just a ploy.  The $70 insurance was a definite expense vs. a $500 deductible she probably wouldn’t have to pay.  Of course, all he had to do was use this tactic and her logic went out the window.

Protect Your Paycheck
You’ve likely experienced the “You’ll Be Sorry” tactic before and were probably aware they were laying it on in an effort to make a sale.  Here are some things you can do to prepare for the next onslaught and think about when you’re under attack.

Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself
Do you want to spend your money on things you need & want or something the sellers scare you into buying?  It’s your money, how dare they frighten you into spending it!  If you started spending your hard earned money on products and services to protect you against potential threats, you’d be broke before you finished signing up for them all!

Build a Contingency Fund
Create your own contingency reserve.  Put aside the money you would spend each month for the service into a separate bank account.  You get to keep your money if nothing goes wrong and if it does you’re covered!

Second Opinion
Always get a second opinion.  It doesn’t have to be from an expert, just someone who has knowledge of the item and doesn’t have a vested interest in making a sale.  Use your resources: friends, family, co-workers, or search the Internet to validate the claims of whoever is trying to sell to you.

Check Your Coverage
How many times have you tried to cash in on some type of coverage or return a product because it didn’t protect as promised and gotten the line, “I’m sorry, that’s not covered under category 17.2a”?  First they scare you into buying the protection and then when you try to redeem it they try and get out of it!  If you do go for the product or service, make sure you read the fine print.

Sales Tactics
An understanding and awareness of the strategies that others use to sell to you can save you a lot of money.  If you haven’t already, be sure to read the introduction to Sales Tactics Revealed and check out the details on the first tactic, “Don’t Miss Out”.


Beware of Sales Tactic #1 – Don’t Miss Out!

Clock

Have you ever bought something in haste simply because you were afraid it would be too late if you didn’t pull the trigger immediately? If so, then you’ve been bitten by the first tactic in the Sales Tactic Revealed series, “Don’t Miss Out”.  Sellers use this strategy to spring you into action by creating the illusion you’re in danger of missing out on a great deal.

Picture what you do when someone makes you an offer.  You take your time weighing the pros & cons and thinking it through before coming to a decision.  Now what if someone makes you an offer that is only available to 10 people; first come, first serve.  Or they need an answer in an hour?  You don’t want someone else to rush in and take the last spot.  You have to decide quickly or miss the chance! 

This tactic changes your whole decision making process.  Your adrenaline kicks in and fear of missing out overrides your normally practical thoughts.  Without time pressure we can think about a purchase.  We check out competitors, research our options, perhaps even decide not to buy it at all. We’ll come back later if we decide we’re interested. 

Of course, there is typically no shortage of time but if the seller can manufacture a shortage with a limited time sale or limited quantities, they usually win.  They know if they put the pressure on that we’ll make a hasty decision.

Warning Signs
• While Supplies Last              • Get it Before it’s Gone
• One Day Sale                     • 15 Hour Sale
• For a Limited Time Only         • Hurry In, Deals Won’t Last
• Don’t Miss It!                     • Low Price, Limited Quantities
• Time is Running Out!            • Now or Never Sale
• Biggest 1 Day Sale EVER       • Don’t Miss this Opportunity!
• Act Now, Limited Quantities  • Once in a Lifetime Deal

Tactic In Action
Each sales tactic we review will include an example of that strategy in action.  Here is one that left me shaking my head. One Saturday afternoon a local discount store announced over the intercom, “Surprise sale in Sporting Goods for a limited time!  Ask an associate for details”. 

As customers descended on the sports aisles in a shopping frenzy, I heard a salesperson explain selected items were 25% off for the next 15 minutes.  Wild-eyed people raced up and down the aisles grabbing items and piling them in their carts. 

I cringed as a frantic women said to her friend, “I’m not sure what this is but for 25% off it must be a good deal!”  I shook my head as nearby salespeople discussed how the “select” items were discounted to clear out unwanted products from the shelves.  

The “Don’t Miss Out” tactic proved that it really does work.  Damaged and dusty items that had sat on the shelf for months were swept away in a matter of minutes.  Put under time pressure and given a little incentive, people had filled their carts full of stuff they hadn’t planned on buying just because they didn’t want to miss a deal.

Protect Your Paycheck
Now that we’ve covered the details of the “Don’t Miss Out” tactic, let’s look at some mental countermeasures we can use to protect our paycheck against this marketing approach.

Last Minute Decision = REGRET
How many times have you driven home, trying to decide if your recent purchase made sense?  Trying to justify why the purchase was a good deal?

What is the outcome of many hasty decisions? REGRET!  Before you buy, think what would cause you to regret your action an hour, day, or week from now?  Think of all the last minute decisions you’ve made in your life.  How many of them have turned out for the better? 

What are the sellers trying to keep you from doing with this tactic?  Making a well-informed decision that is best for you.  If they succeed in selling to you who wins?  They get their money right away.  What do you get? Something you were rushed into buying and not 100% sure you want. 

Painful Returns
Even if they have a return policy, you just made your life more complicated.  You now have the additional stress of trying to decide if you keep it or take it back.  The seller forced this upon you with their urgency to sell.  They have your money and the responsibility is on you to get it back.  YOU have to keep your receipts, YOU have to return within their timeframe, YOU have to wait in the customer service line and fill out the paperwork to make the return.

Downside of Spending
We often think of the downside of missing the opportunity.  Instead, think of the downside of being tricked into buying something.  For example, a $100 item at 25% off.  If you pass it up, you may decide later on to buy it and pay an extra $25.  If you go ahead and buy it on sale and end up not using it, you’re out $75.  Which is worse?

Buddy System
Talk to a friend or family member about being a spending buddy.  Someone you can call when the seller puts the pressure on.  They can be your voice of reason when your fear of missing out on a deal kicks in!

What’s Your Take?
Do you have any comments on or experiences with this marketing technique that you’d like to share?  If so, leave them below in the comments section below or send them to salestactics [at] moneysmartlife.com.


Sales Tactics Revealed – Win the War Over Your Paycheck

You can’t follow a budget!  You don’t have self control! You can’t manage your money!  You, you, you…… 

Money Foolish?
Is it really all about you?  Is it all your fault?  As we go through life, we don’t always do what we’re “supposed” to do with our money.  When things don’t go right financially, we tend to get discouraged and down on ourselves.  Where does all our money go?  Why can’t we manage our money? 

Did you ever stop to think maybe it’s not all your fault? What if the problem isn’t just your lack of self control or inability to stick with a budget?  It’s definitely possible to have a budget and decent self-control and still overspend.

Gimme Your Money!
Every dollar you spend is just one side of a transaction.  The party on the other side is taking the money you’re using and chances are they played a role in convincing you to spend that money.  As a matter of fact, we have people trying to sell us things all day long!  They come at us in magazines & newspapers, in radio ads, on the Web, and now with direct sales even at work and in our homes. And we wonder why it is so hard to hold onto our money!

Taking a Different View
One view you could take is that we overspend because we are weak consumers.  Another way to look at it is that companies are overcoming our self-control and better judgment with sneaky sales tactics. What do you think about that perspective? Does it put your focus on the companies selling to you and their ability to persuade you to buy something instead of wallowing in financial self-deprecation?

Forget Defense, Go on Offense
Which do you think is the more effective argument as you try and talk yourself out of spending money:

“I shouldn’t buy it because I don’t need it.”

“These people are tricking me into buying what they’re selling!”

It seems to me the first approach doesn’t motivate you not to buy, it is simply is a defensive attempt at trying to stick to your budget.  It reminds us we’re constrained by money and we feel disappointed that we can’t buy something we want. 

The second approach on the other hand gets my blood boiling!  It reminds me that I worked hard to earn my money and I’m not going to hand it over to someone just because they have a few good sales tactics up their sleeve!

The War Over Your Paycheck
The sellers are waging a full assault against our wallets. They have an array of sales consultants, market research, cutting edge technology, & advertising agencies working to convince us to spend our money. So what are we to do?

A) Keep spending away and blame it on the sellers
B) Refuse to buy anything because they’re out to get us
C) Be aware of their tricks and learn how to beat them

The Art of Distraction
As a father, I’ve learned a large part of keeping a child happy is the art of distraction.  If you can take their attention off the issue at hand, they forget why they are unhappy.  The sellers have learned the same thing about us.  If they can use their selling tactics to distract us from the fact we’re spending money, we’ll hand over the cash and leave happy customers!

The most insidious thing about these sneaky sales tactics is that we don’t realize the effect they’re having on us.  They’re not illegal; you won’t see them featured on the news because they actually are legitimate business practices.  There are many more businesses selling with these tactics than selling with scams.  So why call them sneaky?  They are so well accepted that we don’t realize the effect they are having on us!

Sales Tactics Revealed
So what are these tactics we’re so vulnerable to?  Stay tuned to the “Sales Tactics Revealed” series as we document the most effective & frequently used tricks and ways we can recognize and overcome them. 

Each installment of the series will use a similar format to study a sales tactic.  First the tactic will be described and the warning signs listed.  Then an example will be given of someone who has been caught in the trap and finally, we suggest different actions that you can take to protect your paycheck.

If this sounds like something you’d benefit from, sign up for daily updates to Money Smart Life in your feed reader or via email and get ready for the first tactic in the series!

Sales Tactics


Baby Expense Budgeting – Family Style

Who spends the money on kids your family, mom or dad?  If you’re like us, it’s the mom who buys the baby what they need.  If the mom’s spending the money, why does the dad often make the budget?

Baby Expense Planning
I have a friend who’s expecting a new baby next spring.  He has his finances planned down to the minute detail for the next 30 years so this baby has forced him to re-evaluate all his plans.  He’s so obsessed about it that we’ve gotten a chuckle at work over this wrench in his plans. However, unlike many worried fathers to be, myself included, he didn’t sit down and work out projected expenses for the new baby.

Instead he asked his wife to do some research and figure out the reoccurring expenses the child would introduce.  I like this idea because it gets both family members involved in the planning process and reveals the mother’s financial expectations for baby time.  My friend emailed me his wife’s findings:

Formula
First 4 months – $72 per month, then after that more like $48 per month.

Diapers
First 4 months – $70 per month, then after that – $35 per month until they are potty trained so plan on this expense until they are 3 to be on the safe side.

Baby Cereal / Food
This starts at about 4 months- $75 per month.

Yearly Expenses
Insurance Co-Pays
$25 per visit – We will have to take the baby in at 1 week, 1 month, 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 9 months and 1 year and for any issues, then once a year after that.  Figuring in a couple additional appointments, this is $250 for the first year.  We can put this amount plus some for ourselves into the Flexible Spending Account Plan so we don’t have to pay taxes on it.

Clothes
$500, my friend said she buys clothes at the beginning of the season and after holidays (because relatives will get him/ her clothes).

What do you think?  Do the expenses sound accurate?  Did she miss anything? Knowing my friend, he’ll go through and validate each one but I think it was a good idea to get both parents involved in the budgeting process.


Personal Finance Review – I Have No Pension Edition

At a family gathering this weekend I discovered the employer of one relative offers a pension plan.  I thought pension plans were a thing of the past but I guess some companies still have them.  Not only that, they offer a 401k match and profit sharing.  Wow, I’m working at the wrong place : ) 

We supplement our 401k plan with Roth IRAs since I don’t have a pension and I’m not planning on any help from Social Security in retirement. As a teacher, my wife has contributed to a state employee retirement fund that should be solvent come retirement time so we can look forward to that; but no pension for us : (

Here are some money articles I enjoyed this week, kind of long review this time:

-Bank of America May Have Removed Balance Transfer Fee Cap @ Suns Financial Diary

-Percent Given, Not Amount, is Key to Generosity @ Free Money Finance

-Interest Rates For Dummies @ Money, Matter, & More

-Should You Take That 0% Financing Offer? @ Blueprint for Financial Prosperity

-Invest In The Stock Market Using These Investing Styles @ The Digerati Life

-A Few Good Reasons Why You Should Pay Your Taxes @ Generation X Finance

-Stopping My Prosper Contributions @ Lazy Man & Money

-Refilling a Toothpaste Tube for Fun and Convenience @ Five Cent Nickel

-September 2007 is eBay Month at MyPoints @ Mighty Bargain Hunter

-5 Romantic Outdoor Day Date Ideas Under $30 @ Consumerism

Discover your money values and financial demons @ Moolanomy

-How to Feed Yourself for $15 a Week @ Get Rich Slowly

What’s your tipping point? @ Paid Twice

-Getting Out Of A Cell Phone Contract By Giving It Away @ My Money Blog

-The One Hour Project: Build Your Own Net Worth Calculator @ The Simple Dollar

Last but not least, check out last week’s Carnival of Personal Finance at Advanced Personal Finance.


Do Your Routines Help Create Wealth & Happiness?

Is your life full of routines? Are they helping or hindering the creation of wealth and happiness for you?

Wealth Building Routine
Investing over a long period of time and leveraging compound growth is a great way to build wealth. You’ve probably heard the saying “pay yourself first”, well a saving and investing routine can enable you to do that.  Make putting away money something you don’t have to think about and it’s much more likely to happen.

Setting up an automatic investment routine when we first entered the job market 7 years ago has allowed us to start a nice nest egg; I would definitely recommend starting a saving or investing routine to anyone.

Routines Can Enable Happiness
The great thing about a routine is that you go through the steps enough times that you can become very efficient in their execution.  As your efficiency improves, your routine may take less time, which leaves more time to do the things that make you happy.

Another benefit of a routine is that you know the scope of the steps you need to take and what is expected of you.  This advanced knowledge of daily tasks can greatly reduce your stress level. Establishing a routine for our new son helped us adjust to the role of parenthood and meet his needs while still having some time for ourselves.

A Wealth Reducing Routine?
One negative thing about a routine is that it promotes the status quo.  You get used to doing things a certain way; a routine does not encourage innovation, research, or change.

Having a plan and sticking to it is good but every now and then you need to revisit that plan and see if it still meets your needs.  If you never rebalance your investment portfolio or make adjustments for lifestyle or risk sensitivity changes simply because you’re used to the routine of having it on auto-pilot your returns may suffer.

Routines Can Also Reduce Happiness
If you do something over and over again for years in the same way chances are you will get tired of it. The problem is often that it’s easier to keep doing the same thing than make a change or take a risk. You don’t necessarily enjoy the routine anymore but you’re “stuck in a rut”. You’d like something different but can’t seem to get yourself out of the old routine.

I’m experiencing this in my career right now. I’ve been in the same job for 7 years and although I’ve been advancing regularly I no longer feel interested in or challenged by our projects. I used to enjoy the work I did but it has now become a chore. Of course I’m used to the routine of the same tasks, same people, same commute and it’s easier to stay working there than seek out a new job but it doesn’t necessarily make me happy. I am working on a plan to get out of the rut but the “comfortableness” of the routine makes it mentally more difficult.

Routines, Good or Bad?
As I’ve shown, establishing routines can definitely help you along towards happiness and wealth but over time they can potentially become a drag on both. I think the key is to periodically review your routines and make plans to change any that are no longer beneficial to you.



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