5 New Skills You Can Learn on Your Daily Commute

learn on commuteAt a minimum, most people find the daily commute to work to be a nuisance. At the extreme, it can be a major source of stress. But you can convert this into a virtue, by using your daily commute to learn new skills.

Those skills can be used to increase your income, help you move into a different career, or otherwise improve upon the quality of your life. Consider some of the ways that you can use your daily commute to make these changes happen.

1. Learn a new language.

You can sit in a classroom and learn a new language but – short of living in a foreign country – the best way to learn the language to the point of being fluent is to put yourself into an environment where it is being spoken all the time. You can do this with CDs, cassettes, and digital downloads that specialize in learning a foreign language.

The only way to truly learn anything, especially a new language, is through repetition. You can use your daily commute to surround yourself with the needed repetition. While your commute is getting you to and from work, it will also be helping you to learn a new language.

Learning a new language can be more than something fun to do. If you can become bilingual in a common foreign language, it can open up all kinds of employment opportunities for you in the future.

2. Learn how to get motivated.

We often think that some people are motivated and others aren’t, but it’s not always that simple. Many of the people who are motivated invest time and effort in making themselves that way. Motivational CDs, tapes, and digital downloads to your MP3 player can help you do that too. In fact, since you’ll be listening on the way to work, it’s the perfect time to increase your motivation for the coming workday.

Since life has a way of beating us down, you need to make an intentional effort in countering that trend. Filling your head with positive messages is a way to do that. And just as is the case with learning a foreign language, repetition has a way of making motivational messages become a part of your thought process. Once it does, you may find a lot of good things coming your way in work and life.

3. Become a better speaker.

Public speaking is one of the most feared activities in humanity. But there are so many professions where being a good speaker is a real asset. Though it isn’t possible to become a strong speaker overnight, you can begin listening to lessons that will instruct you on the mechanics of being a better speaker.

You can use your daily commute as an opportunity to practice public speaking. Though you obviously won’t have an audience listening to what you’re saying, you will be out “in public” – driving your car on crowded roads – while you are speaking. That will help you to get comfortable learning how to speak in front of people, as well as how to do it fluently. It is also a form of dress rehearsal for the real thing – of visualizing in your mind how it will look and feel.

If you use your commute – every day – to practice public speaking, you can’t help but get better at it. And when a real opportunity arises, you’ll be much better prepared for it.

4. Improve your sales technique.

Some are naturally born salespeople, but anyone can get better at it no matter what their skill level is. You can order training sets from well-known salespeople and listen to them and rehearse as you drive. Much of sales is a matter of technique, and you can learn that during your commute each day.

One other factor to consider here is that many more jobs are becoming more oriented toward sales. Most jobs today involve multiple responsibilities, and sales are increasingly becoming the responsibility of everybody in an organization. Instead of resisting the trend, embrace it – which is exactly what you can do on your daily commute.

5. Learning life skills.

Though we typically think of “skills” as referring to techniques to help us earn more money, they can also be used to improve the quality of our lives. Most of us have bad habits that we need to change, and you can use your daily commute to help you in the process.

Whatever the bad habit is – overeating, excess alcohol consumption, not getting enough exercise, or smoking – all major changes start in the brain. Before you can change an entrenched habit, you first have to convince yourself why you should. Like anything else you will learn in life, that will require a lot of repetition. You can help your cause by using your daily commute to provide the barrage of messages that you will need to change bad habits into good ones.

As an example, let’s say that you want to change your eating habits. You likely have two basic obstacles to making this change. The first is a lack of knowledge as to what you should be eating. The second is preparing your mind to accept the change and to know that is the right thing to do.

Audio lessons that you can listen to on your commute can help you achieve both objectives, and make it easier for you to bring about the needed life change.

There is a certain amount of “self-hypnosis” that is completely necessary in order to make any kind of change in your life, whether it is to learn something new or to change a bad habit. You can use your daily commute as a way to make that happen. And when you do, you’ll be converting drudgery into a virtue. And maybe – just maybe – you might start to view your commute in a less negative light.

How long does it take you to commute to work? How much time do you have to consume new information? Leave a comment!

Why You Should Do Your Christmas Shopping Now

christmasChristmas shopping in September? Sure, it’s a little bit early, but not by that much. Some of the large retail chains are even beginning to stock their stores for the holidays, and some are even beginning to decorate. (When you are in the retail business, there can never be too much Christmas!)

It might not be a bad idea if you get into the spirit now and start doing some or even all of your shopping before the season officially launches on Black Friday. There are at least five reasons why now is the perfect time for Christmas shopping.

1. Shop without the crowds.

Right now, we’re in that cozy little lull, just after the back-to-school rush, but well ahead of the holiday season crush. That means that there is a window of opportunity to shop without being surrounded by crowds.

Not only does this help you to avoid the stress that comes with holiday shopping – like standing in long lines and fighting for parking spaces – but that calm makes it easier to save money. Since you can bounce in and out of stores, and cover several in just couple of hours, you are in a better position to hunt for bargains.

Though it may not be practical to do all of your Christmas shopping before Thanksgiving, the more that you can do now the easier it will be later.

2. You have plenty of time to take advantage of sales as they happen.

One of the biggest advantages to shopping during seasonal lulls is that retailers often offer sales in attempts to bring the shoppers in. If you wait until the holidays hit, retailers will have far less incentive to have legitimate sales, since stores will be packed with shoppers anyway.

This can be especially important if you’re looking to make any large purchases. If you are forced to buy a laptop computer for one of your kids one or two weeks before Christmas, you’ll be stuck with whatever the going rate is at that time. But if you start shopping for one now, there is an excellent chance that they will go on sale before the holidays arrive.

By beginning your shopping now, especially for big-ticket purchases, you give yourself the time that you need to find the best deals. That step alone can cut a substantial amount out of your holiday season budget.

3. More time to budget your holiday expenses.

The amount of money spent for Christmas varies from one household to another, but if you’re on a higher range for your budget it will definitely help if you can spread your gift shopping out over several months, rather than just a few weeks. This is especially true if your holiday plans include either travel or hosting large holiday gatherings, or both. In total, your holiday expenses will be substantial.

It may be possible to do the majority of your gift buying in September, October, and early November. And if you can, it will reduce the strain on your budget during the critical Thanksgiving-to-New Year’s stretch. But if you wait and try to cram your shopping in with all of your other plans, you can find yourself spending an incredible amount of money in just a few weeks – then carrying it over into the new year.

4. Minimizing the last minute crush.

When it comes to the holidays, it probably is not possible to completely avoid last-minute situations. This is especially true if you travel for holidays, and/or have a large number of people to buy gifts for. But you can minimize the 11th hour maneuvers by getting the majority of your gift buying done in advance of the holidays.

Set up a list of all the people who you need to buy gifts for, and start shopping for them now. As you buy for each one, you can cross that name off the list and move on to the next one. This will make holiday gift shopping very methodical, and very doable.

You can buy just a few gifts each week, until everyone on your list has been crossed off. I find it can also be a big advantage to shop on Monday and Tuesday evenings. The stores are practically empty on those nights, which makes shopping even easier. Each gift you buy before the holidays is one less item for the last-minute crush.

5. Enjoy a low stress holiday.

Do you ever find yourself being so stressed by the holidays that you don’t really enjoy them? That’s actually a common problem. Life is busy enough in the normal course, but when you add a collection of rapid-fire holidays, like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s, it can move you to the breaking point. You can only get involved in so much, and then you find yourself not enjoying any of it.

A very big part of the stress issue at the holidays is of course shopping for gifts. If you can at least remove that single major component from the mix, the holiday season will be a lot less stressful. You may even enjoy the holidays for a change. With your gift buying done, think about all of the stresses that you will not have to deal with on and after Black Friday:

  • Fighting the crowds at the stores.
  • Finding close-in parking – especially in bad weather.
  • Standing in long lines.
  • Dealing with returns.
  • Finding the time to do it all.
  • Finding the money to pay for it all.
  • Making time to handle everything else that’s happening in your life (the “non-holiday” side of life).

This year, you can actually have time to watch Christmas specials, to drive around and enjoy the Christmas decorations, and to participate in all of the events that make the holiday season so special. All you need to do is get your shopping done before the holidays come around.

When do you normally begin doing your Christmas shopping? Leave a comment!

Real Estate Investing: Creative Financing

real estate investingIf you have ever met a real estate investor, you know they are from a different breed. When you talk to them, they look as if they know something you don’t. The truth of the matter is they do. They have taken the leap into this world and have found that the hard work truly pays off.

For those that are not involved in the business, the biggest question they have about it is, “How can I do this if I don’t have any cash to put down?” There are many ways to answer that question, but here are a few to get you started.

Seller Carry Back

This is a form of “owner financing” where the seller acts as your bank or mortgage company. They agree to carry the note on the property you are purchasing. The owner/seller owns the property free and clear. This arrangement works for both parties as the income is taxed differently than rental income. They don’t want the property, but they don’t mind receiving a monthly payment on it. Generally, there will be a time limit for when the note must be paid in full – typically, between one and five years.


This subject-to method comes from the phrase “subject to existing financing.” In this situation, the buyer gets the property on the condition that the existing financing stays in place. The buyer will have the title transferred in their name, but the loan stays in the seller’s name. The buyer basically takes over the payments on the existing mortgage. Knowledgeable investors use this method so they do not have to use their cash flow to get into the property. They will than flip out of the property at a gain or refinance the loan into their name at a favorable rate. This is a well-known method of investors that focus on buying pre-foreclosure properties. The seller is usually willing in this situation, because they have to get rid of the property immediately.

Seller Second

This is another option that is used quite often in real estate investing. The term “seller second” means that the seller of the property will provide a second mortgage to complete the deal. Typically, this second note is used to cover the required down payment. For example, the investor finances 80% of the property, but does not have or want to lay out the 20% down payment. They get into the property without using any of their cash, while the seller gets the majority of their equity in the deal. You must make sure that your loan allows a second mortgage. For the majority of companies, this is not a problem, but you will find some that do not allow it.

Lease Option

This is basically a “rent-to-own” option. It allows the buyer to get into the house for little to no money down, as well as the right to buy the property down the road. In an agreement like this, the future price of the property is fixed at the time the lease option is signed. Generally there is a payment made up front to purchase the option. In some cases, the monthly payment will be larger than normal, with the excess used to purchase the option. Occasionally, the option money can be applied toward the down payment for the later purchase of the property.

Just four ways, but very important ones to get the beginning real estate investor out there and on the hunt. So get out there, because the market is ripe for the picking. This your opportunity to take of the rest of your life.

What methods sound best to you? Leave a comment!

Where to Find the Best Exchange Rates

exchange ratesStretching your horizons and visiting foreign lands is an enriching experience. Unfortunately not everyone takes U.S. dollars when you travel abroad, and even if they do you have to constantly be aware of the exchange rate they are giving you.

It is almost always better to deal in the local currency than to take dollars with you. You are guaranteed to have your payment accepted in the local currency.

That leaves the problem of how to acquire that currency. Exchange rates can vary widely and the end result is a dramatic difference in cost.

How to Avoid Outrageous Exchange Rates

For starters, you can ignore the exchange rates listed in the paper or online. Those rates are a good baseline but are used when massive banks lend each other money.

Your rates will be higher because the intermediaries have to make a profit as well.

That having been said limiting their profit means less money wasted on exchange costs and more money to spend on your trip.

Withdrawing Cash When You Arrive via a Debit Card

Believe it or not most banks will let you use your debit card overseas at an ATM. You’ll need to know your ATM in numeric form (many ATMs overseas are digits only, no letters). And you also need to let your bank know about your travel plans ahead of time so they don’t think fraud has occurred on your account.

Going to an ATM through one of the major networks such as Cirrus or Plus will mean you pay a ATM withdrawal charge ranging from $2 to $5, plus an exchange fee of about 1%. This means you’ll want to withdraw larger sums of cash over fewer transactions rather than going to the ATM every single day to cut down on the ATM fees. This puts you at a little bit of risk because that cash can be stolen.

The plus side is that you can get an inexpensive exchange. The downside is you have to wait until you get to your destination to have local funds. That can leave you a little uneasy – what happens if your debit card doesn’t work when you get there?

If you go this route it is probably a good idea to bring some cash with you whether U.S. dollars (to exchange locally) or a small amount of that country’s currency so you aren’t left completely unable to pay for anything while you get your financial situation sorted out.

Use a No-Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Card

Your next best option is to have a no-foreign transaction fee credit card to use on all of your spending.

The key here is the lack of a fee for foreign transactions. Most credit cards don’t have this feature and you’ll end up paying the profit on the exchange rate plus a 3% fee.

However, some cards specific to travel do carry this benefit. You might pay a slightly higher exchange fee (perhaps 2% instead of 1% like with your debit card), but there are some extra benefits as well. You’ll get consumer protections on your purchases (assuming your card covers those purchases in foreign countries) and not have to worry about being stuck with excess currency at the end of your trip.

Don’t Go to the Bank or a Currency Exchange

You get terrible exchange rates by going to your local bank or even to a currency exchange inside an airport either in the United States or in the foreign land. Your two best options are above.

Have you exchanged currency before? Tell us about your experience!

Ready to Move? Consider Renting in Your New Town First!

rentWhen making a move, it seems like a nice idea to buy a home first, and move in. However, it might make sense to rent for a little while first, especially if you plan to sell your old home.

Here’s why it might make sense to rent first:


Trying to pay two mortgages can be difficult. Plus, if you haven’t managed to sell your old home yet, or you don’t have someone lined up, some lenders won’t let you buy the new place. It’s just too risky.

Even if you plan to rent out your old house as a source of income, it might not work out. First of all, many lenders like to see that you have at least 30% equity in the home you plan to rent out. Next, they won’t count all of your expected income in their calculations. As a result of these realities, you might not get approved for a home loan on a new house.

Instead of frustrating yourself, consider renting first, until you get the situation worked out with your old house. It might be cheaper overall to rent for a little bit, and re-evaluate your financial situation so that you can experience a greater chance of success when you are ready to buy.

Get a Feel for the Area

Another good reason to consider renting instead of buying – at least when you first make your move – is so that you can get a feel for the area. If you are moving to a new locale, you might not really have a good idea of what to expect. Where are the amenities? How close are certain neighborhoods to work and school?

Renting can provide you with the time you need to assess the situation, and to see what a town is really like. You can drive the neighborhoods and figure out where you really belong. It’s difficult to truly gauge a new area if you have never truly lived there. Renting gives you the time and the flexibility to find the right house in the right neighborhood.

Maybe You Don’t Ever Need to Buy

It’s occurred to me recently that I’m not sure that I really want to buy a house again. I’ve enjoyed living in my home, and I like it, but I don’t know about buying. My son is old enough now that he doesn’t really care about the backyard. My husband and I aren’t really into yard work, although we do what’s necessary to keep the property looking presentable.

I sometimes fantasize about living in a nice apartment building/condo development with a pool and fitness center, and heated underground parking. Renting doesn’t seem so bad in that circumstance, and it would still be less than what we pay when interest, property taxes, maintenance and other home ownership costs are factored in. I could invest the difference and not worry about being tied down to a house.

Bottom Line

While being a permanent renter doesn’t appeal to everyone, renting does have its points when you are moving to a new area. Whether you want to wait until you can swing a home purchase financially, or whether you simply want to get the lay of the land before you commit to a mortgage, it can make sense to rent first.

What do you think about renting first? Does it makes sense? Leave a comment!

How to Save on Organic Food

organic foodOrganic food used to be hard to find but has quickly grown in popularity. But do you have to rely on Whole Foods to open a store in your area to be able to get tasty food that isn’t laden with additives and chemicals? And when that happens how many credit cards do you need to be able to afford to shop there?

Saving Money on Organic Food

Thankfully, saving money on organic food is not as difficult as it seems. You might have to get a little creative compared to your normal shopping habits for non-organic food, but you don’t always have to pay the full premium price for your organic purchases.

Here are a few tips to help you trim your grocery budget while you avoid the chemicals many companies use in non-organic foods.


Coupons? Yes, coupons.

Some food manufacturers are now creating organic versions of their normal products. Those manufacturers utilize the same couponing system that they use on their normal products.

That means you can get coupons in your local Sunday paper or at the manufacturer’s website just like you would with your other purchases.

Even smaller manufacturers of organic products will put coupons on the box or have the grocery store put it in their weekly ad to draw attention to the products. They’re trying to sell as much of their product as the other companies are, so they’ll throw some incentives your way to get you to purchase.

Your Local Farmer’s Market

One of my favorite places to get local, fresh, organic produce is my local farmer’s market.

There’s nothing like walking around on a Saturday and shaking hands with the farmer that grew the food sitting in front of you. Where else can you talk to that person to ask them what sort of pesticides, if any, they used on the produce?

Plus, by purchasing at the local farmer’s market you are supporting the local economy rather than some agro-giant company that is headquartered in another state.

Shopper Programs at Your Regular Grocery Store

If you end up doing your regular shopping at your normal grocery store you can rely on the store’s normal shopper programs to save money.

That might include:

  • Buy One Get One Free – Some stores will use this marketing method to move product and get you to try it out.
  • Fuel Points – Many grocery stores now offer a fuel discount program. By shopping at that store you rack up more points which can earn you significant discounts on your next fill up.

Of course as you are shopping you will want to use the regular strategies you use on non-organic food in order to lower your costs.

Do comparison shopping at other stores to see if you can get the same products for less. Use a rewards credit card with a large cash back bonus for shopping done at grocery stores. If you’re going to pay a premium for your organic food you might as well earn as much cash back as possible!

What are some other ways you can save money on natural and organic foods? Leave a comment!

5 Top-Notch Productivity Tips for the Freelancer

freelanceFreelancing is a great way to make a little extra money on the side, and sometimes it turns into a full-time business. Many first-time freelancers get overwhelmed by all the tasks they didn’t see coming when they first started. When I first started building my business, I had to learn productivity techniques along the way. I read books such as Getting Things Done by David Allen and Zen To Done by Leo Babauta. I also picked up some best practices through experience. Here are some productivity tips that have helped me, and I hope they help you too.

1. Set aside some time to “be the boss.”

Managing yourself is one of the biggest challenges of being a freelancer. If you’re accustomed to being an employee, switching to “boss mode” isn’t always easy, but it’s certainly necessary.

Pick a day out of your week or month to assign yourself tasks. Think like a boss, telling your employee (you, in this case) what you need to focus on. Write out some tasks on a calendar and make sure you set goals.

If you don’t set aside time to act as your own boss, you might find yourself working hard but not accomplishing anything really useful. Thankfully, I’m the type of person that’s pretty hard on myself, so “being the boss” has worked out well for me. But if you struggle in this area, seek accountability.

2. Delegate tasks that you shouldn’t be doing.

Entrepreneurs aren’t the only ones that should be delegating tasks – freelancers need to as well. Focus on those tasks that you excel at, and hire others to do those things that take up too much time. You’ll find that when you pay attention to your craft, your business will remain healthy. People don’t hire you because you’re good at business accounting (unless you’re taking care of the books for their business, of course), they hire you to get a job done. Work in your area of expertise and passion, and leave the mundane tasks to those who like to do them.

3. Focus on serving your very best customers.

The Four-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss encouraged business owners to think carefully about what products and services they provide. If 20% of your customers are providing 80% of the revenue, ask yourself how you can cater better to that 20%. Don’t neglect the 80% of your customers, live up to the promises you made to them, but begin to transition your offerings to best serve those who are putting food on your table.

4. Learn to say “no.”

We all get emails from people who want to do this or that, and if we accept every “opportunity,” we won’t get much important stuff accomplished. I’ve learned that I have to say no to those things that distract from the most important things.

Instead of accepting every so-called opportunity, ask yourself if accepting these opportunities is really worth your time. Look for the right opportunities, don’t settle for less. This is a subjective process, but one freelancers can learn with time.

5. Collect tasks outside your brain.

Getting Things Done by David Allen points out the importance of collecting tasks by writing them down or typing them out. I’ve been using Todoist to keep track of everything I have to do, and best of all, it syncs with my phone. Wherever I’m at, if an idea hits me, I have a place to store it.

If you don’t have a to-do list, I encourage you to make one. Keeping new ideas and tasks in your head doesn’t always work out too well, and you might find yourself forgetting important information.

Being a freelancer is an exciting way to do work. I hope you will take at least a couple of these tips and put them into practice. Let me know how it goes for you!

Bob is a full-time blogger who writes about personal finance and online business. You can find more from him at Christian Personal Finance.

4 Financial Perks of Traveling with Friends

Traveling with FriendsTraveling is great. Being with friends is great. Why not combine the two and get the extra benefit of saving money?

Granted, you can’t travel with just anyone. It has to be the right set of friends. Some people are nice to be with a day or two but any longer and things get a little tense. But there are some financial perks to the having the “more the merrier” mentality when it comes to traveling with friends.

4 Great Financial Reasons to Travel with Friends

There are some trips that there is no financial incentive to travel together, just the knowledge of having a good time together is likely to result.

Yet on other trips you get some or all of the reasons below combined and that can lead to serious savings.

Let’s imagine a road trip to the beach as an example.

1. Shared Transportation Costs

If one couple drives to the beach they bear the full brunt of the cost of gas, maintenance, and other associated vehicle costs. Yet unless they are driving a tiny car or a convertible they probably have more room in the car for some additional people.

If another couple joins them both couples save money, and the drive is probably more bearable than it would be otherwise. At the very least the gas costs can be split in half. If the other couple is feeling generous they might pay a little extra to pay for the wear and tear on the vehicle, too.

2. Shared Accommodation Costs

If you stay at a hotel, even as a large group, you aren’t likely to get a big discount.

But renting a condo or home at the beach? Again, you’re taking a fixed cost and splitting it as many ways as possible. If it has two bedrooms then one couple won’t use the empty bedroom. Having another set of friends there cuts the cost in half.

3. Shared Food Costs

Going out to eat in a large group is only going to drive your costs up thanks to required gratuity.

However, if you are renting a place with a kitchen you can go grocery shopping and cook meals together. Not only is it always going to be less expensive (and likely healthier) than eating out, but you are splitting the cost and effort of the meals in half.

4. Maximizing Reward Points

If you are the person in your group of friends that likes to maximize credit card reward points and your friends would rather pay cash or not deal with it, then you’re in luck when you travel in a group. Just put all the spending on your card, tally up the total at the end of the trip, and have your fellow travelers write you a check or give you cash.

It can also make planning a trip a little bit easier when there is one person booking all of the accommodations rather than delegating each step of the trip to a different person. Accounting at the end – wait, did we split dinner that night or did everyone pay on their own? – can be a pain.

One fair warning on the points side of things. You can’t hog the points if you are not the only person who plays the game. That’s just a mean thing to do. (And you’ll probably end up traveling alone in the future!)

What are some other ways you can save money while traveling with friends? Leave a comment!

5 Signs You’re a Good Money Manager

good money managerIt’s nice to know that you’re doing a good job. However, sometimes you are your severest critic. It can be hard to recognize when you are doing a good job, and when you are on the right track. This is especially true when you are trying to figure out how to manage your money.

You might not realize that you are actually a good money manager. If you have been down on yourself because you don’t feel that you are exactly where you wish you could be, take a step back. It could be that you’re on the right track, even if you aren’t quite there yet. Here are some signs that you’re a good money manager:

1. You have an excellent credit score.

While the credit score isn’t the be-all-end-all of financial management, it can still provide a solid indication of your money management skills. If you have excellent credit, it usually means that you pay your bills on time, and that you have a relatively low debt load.

If you don’t use credit, though, you’re not going to have a good score, and you don’t need to get worked up about it, since there are other (better) signs that you’re a good money manager.

2. You save money each month.

If you have enough money to save each month, then chances are that you’re doing something right. If you contribute to your rainy day fund and your retirement fund regularly, that’s a great sign that you are a good money manager. If you never seem to have “enough” to save, that is an indication that perhaps you aren’t managing your money very well.

3. The end of the month doesn’t stress you out.

If you are living paycheck to paycheck, stressing out as the end of the month comes, along with its scarcity, there is a good chance that you aren’t managing your money very well.

However, if you aren’t worried as the end of the month approaches, because you know that there is enough to carry you through until the next paycheck without any trouble, you’re probably doing something right. When you know that you have what you need without having to move money around frantically, you are probably a good money manager.

4. All of your bills are paid on time.

If you can pay all of your bills on time, you are probably a good money manager. If you don’t have to try to “float” your bill payments, or if you don’t put off paying your bills, that’s a solid indication that you are managing your money appropriately.

5. You have no debt (or you are actively paying it down).

Are you able to pay off your credit cards at the end of each month? If so, you are probably a good money manager. The fact that you are able to live within your means, avoiding debt, is a good sign.

However, the presence of debt doesn’t mean that you are a poor money manager. Certain types of debt, like affordable car loans, mortgages, and student loans, as long as it is manageable, is acceptable. On top of that, sometimes there are situations beyond your control that result in debt, such as job loss and medical problems.

Additionally, if you recognize your poor decisions from the past, and are actively implementing a debt repayment plan, you are probably a good money manager. If you are working on your debt effectively, you are probably doing just fine.

What do you think? What makes a good money manager? Are you a good money manager?

Family Financial Etiquette 101

financial etiquetteMoney is still a somewhat-taboo topic in many situations. And I don’t see a lot wrong with that. While my husband and I discuss our finances, and talk about money with our son, I don’t feel a need to share the intimate details of my financial situation with other members of my family – including my parents.

On top of that, it’s important to be aware of finances when you are involved in other situations where finances come up as well. Here are some of my thoughts on family financial etiquette.

Sharing Income and Expense Specifics

I don’t see any reason to ask others what they make. And I don’t know why my extended family needs to know how much my husband and I make. For one thing, if you go around bragging about your income, it can be rude – especially if you lord your higher salary over your relatives.

Instead, it’s much better to say that you make “enough” and turn the conversation.

You also don’t need to go into specifics about your expenses. You don’t need to brag about how expensive something was. If you are proud of your good deal, and someone comments on what you bought, there isn’t anything wrong with saying, “Thanks! I got a steal of a deal. It was 75 percent off!”

For the most part, though, it’s best to just keep things vague.

Judging Others for their Financial Decisions

I used to be a bit judgmental of others for their financial decisions. However, I’ve loosened up a bit. After all, what’s important to me may not be important to someone else. Some of my family members might think the things I spend money on are stupid.

There’s no need to justify your financial choices to others, or demand that your family members justify their choices to you. The only exception, I think, is if you are providing substantial financial help. If my parents were sending me and my husband money each month to help us through a difficult time, they would be justified (to a certain extent) in keeping tabs on whether or not their support is really helping us in an appropriate manner.

Paying When You Go Out

One of the stickiest situations comes when you go out with family members. How should you split the bill? This is something that should be determined before everyone orders.

Also, be aware that if you insist that someone come with you to an expensive restaurant or activity that you aren’t sure they can afford, you should offer to pay the bill. My husband and I like to take care of these costs when we have family (especially younger cousins or siblings) stay with us. We usually pay for their costs if we go out to dinner, or if we see a show. This is because we invited them out, and they are staying with us.

However, if everyone agrees ahead of time where to go, it can make sense to decide how to split the bill first, whether everyone pays for their own meal, or whether the check is split equally. If the bill is being split equally, it helps to get a feel for what everyone else is ordering. Don’t be that person that orders a very expensive meal, or cocktail after cocktail, taking advantage of the even split.

What do you think? What financial rules of etiquette do you follow with your family? Leave a comment!

Page 21 of 190« First...10...1920212223...304050...Last »