Tag Archives: personal finance

Predicting Your Financial Future

As a kid, I loved to play with a Magic 8-Ball that was supposed to hold legendary fortune telling power. I’d sit around for hours asking it exactly what the future would hold for me. Would I be rich? (Outlook not so good). Would I marry the man of my dreams? (Reply hazy, try again). Would I be happy? (You may rely on it). I think we have all wished that something or someone could tell us exactly the type of future that we can expect. Amazingly, some of those magic powers possessed by the 8-ball must have rubbed off on me because I am about to accurately predict your financial future. I won’t even charge you $8.99 per minute or speak in a bad Caribbean accent. Are you ready?

Your car is going to need repairs and tires every few years. You will need to buy new clothes for you and your family. Your air conditioner/appliances/roof will need replaced or repaired. The cost of living will rise. Your pet will need to go to the vet. You may lose your job. You or a family member will get sick and need medication. Medication will continue to be outrageously expensive.

So, am I really psychic? (Don’t count on it). However, my predictions are right on the money. Most of us go through life with our fingers crossed, hoping that nothing goes wrong. Even if you are the luckiest person alive, something has to go wrong sometime. When it does, it’s probably going to cost you. If you just accept the fact that something is inevitably going to happen that wasn’t planned, you will be able to deal with it much more effectively. Here’s how: Continue reading Predicting Your Financial Future

Little Green Lies: Fibbing for Budget’s Sake

**Editor’s Note: I chose this for another “Throwback Thursday” post ~ great reads from last year I’m not ready to archieve w/o one more pass. Enjoy!

I’m an honest person. In fact, I hate lying and am usually terrible at it. I’m the kind of person you should never ask “if your butt looks fat” in those jeans. While I wouldn’t be heartless about it, I’d probably say that we “can find a more flattering style.” So knowing this about myself, I was shocked and appalled by my recent behavior on a shopping trip to a local specialty store.

My friend Cristy at work has the coolest little loose leaf tea pot. I fell in love with it as she kindly made me a cup of tea one afternoon when I was feeling under the weather. So, after some internal deliberation about spending money for something that I wanted but did not necessarily need, I knew that I simply had to have one, too.

Before I went shopping, I estimated that I would probably spend about $30 on a tea pot and a couple of ounces of tea. I knew from the moment the sales clerk opened his mouth that my carefully planned budget had met its match. This guy knew more about tea and tea accessories than Bob Barry knows about Sooner football.  He was simultaneously incredibly helpful and terrifying.

I was firm on only spending a set amount in this store and he was the czar of cross selling. I picked out the tea pot and then moved on to tea. I already knew which type I wanted so I asked for two ounces. He reminded me that you ‘get a better price break if you buy four.’ I was still feeling strong at this point and stuck to my guns. “No, I’ll just start with two ounces, thank you,” I said.

Then, he threw the first curveball my way. “You’ll need a tin to store it in. Otherwise it will rot. Would you like the small one or large one?” My mind started racing. Rotten tea? Well, I can’t have that! I had no choice but to buy the tin, right? So, I weakly said, “I’ll take the small one.” Score one for the tea king. Continue reading Little Green Lies: Fibbing for Budget’s Sake

N.U.T. #3 – I live below my means.

In the not too distant past, there used to be a fairly tried, true, and tested piece of advice for financial stability. If you wanted to be financial stable, all you had to do was live within your means. Or, as my favorite double negative phrase of all time says, “DON’T BUY CRAP YOU DON’T NEED WITH MONEY YOU DON’T HAVE!”

Just a few short years ago, this timeless piece of advice was enough to keep just about anyone in just about any financial situation above water if they were willing to put it into practice. Sure, sure… there were and still are other more sophisticated financial axioms for people who really wanted to get ahead, but if you just wanted to be financially responsible, all you had to do was live within your means.

And up until sometime in late 2008, that was good enough. But then the markets crashed here in the U.S. and around the globe, and like most pieces of conventional financial wisdom, the idea of living within your means went from being a great financial axiom to being not quite enough. In fact, after 2008, most people (myself included) stopped believing in the idea of financial stability completely.

With the events of the last few years as context, I (likely along with millions of other people around the world) started reevaluating my finances a little over a year ago. Continue reading N.U.T. #3 – I live below my means.

Hey, Hecklers: Common Sense May Not Equate with Comment Cents

Editor’s Note – I’d like to welcome guest contributor Jennifer Wallis to the Red Dirt Chronicles this morning.  Personal finance is an important area of our lives, and having someone like Jennifer around will be a great asset for both the readers AND contributors to the RDC.  Jennifer, I used “asset” as a word…can you tell I just read your post? –

Red Dirt Kelly

Most days, the audiences I teach in our financial education classes are open-minded and eager to learn. But, every once in while, I come face to face with that person sitting in the back of the room, arms folded, head tilted, apparently being held against their will who asks smugly, “Isn’t it just common sense to spend less than you make?”

This question conjures up feelings from long ago Trivial Pursuit games with one of my best friends, Marcy. While I love her like a sister, she has a white hot competitive streak. The girl hates to lose. I discovered her love for winning the hard way. Back in college, we were playing Trivial Pursuit and it was her turn to ask the question. She would look at the card, read the answer to herself and scoff, ‘Oh my gosh! This is SO easy!”  The question would invariably be something that I could never answer even if all of my brain synapses were firing perfectly.  “Who became the President of Kazakhstan in 1991?” she would ask as she rolled her baby blues at me. Of course, I would have no idea. She would then exclaim, “Wow! I can’t believe you don’t know that! It’s obviously Nursultan Nazarbayev.” Yes, of course, Nazarbayev. I can’t believe I didn’t get that one…

It’s something that we laugh about now. But, after her competitive trivia streak was revealed, we decided that for the sake of our friendship, Trivial Pursuit may not be the best idea. While I won’t kick the smug person out of their back seat in my financial education class, I do have a message for him/her.

First of all, saying that spending less than you make “is just common sense” implies that anyone living in debt has none. If you happen to be one of the Americans that owe a chunk of the $950 billion dollars in credit card debt or if you are one of the 17,787 Oklahomans that filed bankruptcy last year, you know that common sense has little to do with it. Those living with the dirty little secret of debt are probably already beating themselves up about it and they don’t need anyone kicking them while they are down.

The answer to any question is obvious when it’s written on a little card in your hand. Money management may be easy when you know how to do it. So, for those great money managers out there that have never struggled with debt, paid a bill late, or overdrawn their checking account, I say, “Way to go!” A truly an amazing accomplishment.

But, for the rest of us with whom money management does not come easy, let me say this: Your view of the financially challenged as unintelligent or lacking in common sense really doesn’t help. If someone takes time out of their life to attend a money management class, learn to budget and develop a plan to become debt-free, they should be commended. The easy thing to do is to go into ostrich mode, bury our heads, and ignore the mounting pressure of debt. But, if someone admits that they need more information and tries to make a life change, they need support – not contempt.

Everyone’s financial life consists of stages. Needs in college (pizza, beer, books…check) are quite different from those when you get married (buy a house, have a baby, have another, plan for retirement and put your own kids through college). It isn’t easy to navigate those changes without some additional support and education. When life throws in other factors like illness, divorce, job loss, the death of a family member, or an unpredictable economy, it can be downright impossible to make your income stretch in order to cover it all without some help. Yes, let us not forget that some do wind up in debt by their own poor choices and failure to plan. But, it’s never too late to change the road you’re on.

So, if you’re financially secure, let me challenge you. Instead of telling the debtors in your life that they have no common sense and that money management is (eye-roll) easy, try to remember that you probably don’t know all of the financial challenges they are facing. Try to help, offer support, encouragement, and accountability to anyone trying to make their life better.

If you are struggling financially, please know that your money management skills are indeed something that you can always improve. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and don’t be too ashamed to seek it.

Common sense doesn’t always translate to managing dollars and cents.