If You Make A Lot of Money In Your Thirties, You Don’t Have to Spend it All (or, Did You Hear How Much Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutchers’s Wedding Bands Cost??)

Now that you’re in your thirties, it’s possible that you’re making more money than you used to. Maybe you’re making a lot more money, or maybe just a bit, but hopefully you’re getting to enjoy that difference in pay.

When I used to listen to Suze Orman’s podcasts- alas, she sadly retired from the podcast/TV scene recently- there was a segment called “Can I Afford It?”. In this segment, people would call in and tell Suze about something they wanted to buy. Then they would ask her if they had the money to afford the item. Suze asked them all the same basic questions about their financial situation, the most important ones being what their monthly income and their monthly expenses were.

The answers people gave to these income versus expenses questions were always enlightening. Sometimes people would call in with an income of $11,000 a month, but had monthly expenses hovering around $10,950 a month! And then there were people who would report an income around $3000 a month, but their expenses averaged  only $2,000 a month. Who do you think was better able to afford what they wanted to buy? It was weird to see the juxtaposition between the two.

Of course, it’s not always like this. Sometimes you can make a lot of money or a good amount of money, and simply not spend it all. I read an article today about Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher’s wedding bands. In an interview with Conan O’Brien, Mila was talking about how she saw that the wedding bands at Tiffany’s were ridiculously expensive. So she went on Etsy and found a nice wedding band for $90 and bought it for herself. Then she found Ashton’s wedding band for $100. So their grand total wedding band expense was $190! I’d imagine that’s a huge savings from the average cost of wedding bands today! And this wedding band was for one of the top paid actresses in Hollywood, who can absolutely afford one that was way more expensive!

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But a more expensive wedding band wasn’t worth it to her. This is an extreme example of how just because you make money doesn’t mean you have to spend it all. It’s also an example of how people cut costs on their wedding when they didn’t even have to, simply because some of the costs weren’t worth it to them. Of course, you don’t have to be cheap and hoard all your money either- being insanely cheap isn’t fun, and Suze Orman approves lots of purchases. After all, life is to be enjoyed! However, you can pick and choose which items and experiences are really worth spending your hard earned money on. And when you only purchase things that are worth it to you, you’ll end up making your purchases more special and exciting- even the little ones!

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 Click here to see the Mila Kunis interview about her Etsy wedding bands

 

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The Anti-Budget Budget In Your Thirties

Although Jane and I both very recently wrote articles about how we’ve been tracking every dollar we spend lately, (check out Jane’s Budgeting article Saving Money Like You’re In the Depression Era and my budgeting article How Tracking Money is Like Weighing Yourself), I want to write here about a way to possibly not track your money at all.

This is kind of the method I was unofficially using before I started tracking every dollar this past month using the Goodbudget app. The method involves taking a savings percentage off the top of your income before you spend any of your money on anything else. The word “savings” is general and can include any of the below:

Contributions to an Emergency Fund

-Contributions to any savings account

-Contributions to a retirement account – such as a 401K, an IRA, or a Roth IRA.

-Paying down any debt- such as a student loan, a credit card, or accelerating your mortgage payments.

-Contributions to your child’s college fund- such as a 529 Plan.

So here’s how to live the anti-budget life:

  1. The second you get paid, decide on a percentage of your income to contribute towards savings.

2. If you never save anything, you can start with as little as 1% to save. The way to figure this out is to simply knock 2 zeros off the amount. So if you get paid $2000 biweekly, contribute $20 every time you get paid. Make $1000 biweekly, contribute $10 every time you get paid.

3. If you’ve been saving already, for retirement, for a house, to pay down credit card debt, to have a good emergency fund- saving for anything really- then you can easily incorporate this tactic to make saving money even easier. Whenever you make any money, save a certain percentage towards any and all of your goals. I usually do it this way- the second I get paid, I put 10 percent towards my emergency fund, 10 percent towards retirement, and 10 percent towards throwing extra money at my student loans.

With this tactic, you can then try not budgeting the rest but instead spend it comfortably knowing that you’ve already saved what you needed to.

Of course, you’ll need to make sure your bills, like rent and utilities, are paid before you spend the rest freely, but you will still be able to spend without budgeting every  dollar.

Check out another anti-budget budget article by the awesome finance blogger and podcaster Paula Pant of Afford Anything- she lives by this strategy and goes into immense detail about it in The Easiest Budget to Follow- Shockingly Simple.

Give this strategy a try, especially if you hate budgets, and let us know how it works for you! It’s nice and simple!

 

How Tracking Money Is Like Weighing Yourself

Recently, I’ve gotten in the habit of tracking every single dollar I spend. Jane, in her last money post, Saving Money Like You’re In the Depression Era, just wrote about tracking all of her money, bit by bit. As we’ve always suspected, Jane and I must have a psychic connection because I had just started doing the same thing with my money.

The reason it’s amazing that we both started tracking money at the same time is because we have been adamant about NOT tracking money in the past. It made both of us extremely nervous to track money- we always felt like we were frugal enough and that tracking every dollar stopped us from enjoying the tiny indulgences in life.

I began tracking money because I realized that my dollars were disappearing faster than I’d like. I’m an extremely frugal person, so money mysteriously disappearing irritated me greatly. Since I don’t make a budget from month to month, I rely on my frugality alone to keep me in check. Since that didn’t seem to be working anymore, I went over my credit card statements and was amazed to see that so many little tiny $4.00 or $6.00 purchases had added up. In some cases tiny purchases had added up to hundreds of dollars!

I had attempted to track my spending a few times in the past (giving up after maybe 2 days) and those times I’d used pen and paper to write down whenever I bought something. That wasn’t the best option for me because I’d lose the paper I wrote the expenditures on, so this time I downloaded two money tracking apps- things are easier to keep control of electronically. After playing with both apps, I really started using and enjoying this one called Goodbudget. It’s free in the App Store (and probably the Android Google Play store too). The app is great because it’s simple and it allows me to make categories of spending so I can see where I’m spending the bulk of my money. Whenever I buy something that doesn’t fit into my previous categories, I simply add a new category.

With my trusty new money tracking app, Goodbudget, I’ve succeeded in tracking every dollar of my money for a few weeks now. That’s a record for me! And what’s really interesting is that I spend less money because I’m more aware of my money being spent..and it kind of bothers me to see the amount of money I’m spending go up uncomfortably high right in front of my face. So I question some tiny purchases (a latte here or there, a new shirt, however affordable), that I would’ve otherwise barely thought twice about if I hadn’t been keeping my monthly expenditure right in front of me. Now I know how quickly small costs can add up.

I always hated weighing myself too, because the scale made me nervous and anxious in the past, but I’ve found that it really does help me to have a number in front of my face to keep me accountable.

If you haven’t tried budgeting apps- even if just to write down all your purchases the way I have- I recommend giving one of them (such as Goodbudget) a try. Even if you’re frugal, you may be spending more money than you realize. And when you stop spending money mindlessly on things, you’ll have more of it to spend on the tiny luxuries you actually love.

 

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Saving Money By Living Like You’re in the Depression Era

Growing up, my parents were pretty amazing at saving money. Just to name a few of things they did to save money, they brown-bagged their lunch to work, compared grocery store circulars from several markets before purchasing anything, organized food plans for the week depending on what was on sale, and joined our buildings’ co-op board so that they could be watchdogs on how the building was spending money, which would ultimately affect their maintenance costs and property values.

They instilled a lot of wisdom in me, but more than anything, the idea that has stayed with me the most is: it’s not how much money you make, it’s how much money you save. 

The thirties are a time for building your nest egg, creating a solid financial foundation for yourself and potentially your family. And since I don’t make a lot of money (right now…), I take this adage to heart.

Lately, I’ve been really contemplating every single purchase I make. I try to be mindful about each dollar leaving my wallet. From the smallest items (gum, a bottle of diet coke, etc.) to larger purchases like clothing or new shoes.

This reminds me of a quote my parents used to repeat to me whenever I wanted to buy something new (well, not always, but often enough that I remember it.)

They would say,

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”

Until today, I didn’t realize this was a common household aphorism during the Great Depression. But it works and always. Especially in light of the whole Marie Kondo organizing movement of keeping only items that “spark joy” and also of a surge of people adopting a more minimalist lifestyle. Check out this woman’s blog, Make It Do. She decided to not buy anything for a full year except what she used up or wore out.

For me, I’m not going to be as extreme, but I do want to be mindful about every dollar I spend, in much the same way that I try to be mindful about everything I eat.

Would you adopt a spending diet? What’s your relationship to money?

Do I Need An Estate Plan in My Thirties?

I read an article earlier on LearnVest about Estate Planning. It was only vaguely interesting to me, because I figured that I was too young to do any kind of estate planning- also, isn’t that for really wealthy people who’ve built some kind of empire? Right now, my student loans negate my empire, don’t they?

After all, don’t you need an estate to do estate planning?

Apparently, you don’t need much of anything to begin estate planning, you just need to be over 18. Randy Gardner and Leslie Daff of Estate Plan Inc- the husband and wife team of attorneys consulted in the Learnvest article, say that it’s never too early to start planning- once you turn 18, your parents can’t make legal decisions for you anymore. They also say that you don’t need to have an empire of wealth for your ‘estate’ to go through probate (an un-fun court process needed to settle your affairs if you die without an estate plan in place)- an ‘estate’ of more than $20,000 can end up going through probate.

So how to start planning? The article is already helpful, but here are some of the top easiest tips I took away:

  1. If you have money stashed somewhere (an IRA, 401k, etc) make sure your beneficiaries are up to date. In my research, I read about a recently married couple where the husband died and never updated his beneficiaries to include his wife. His parents got the money and for reasons beyond me didn’t give the wife anything at all.)
  2. Perhaps setting up a Durable Power of Attorney is a good idea- though it seems slightly complicated. This is basically someone who is appointed (your spouse, a family member, a friend) to make healthcare and/or financial decisions for you if you are incapacitated or otherwise can’t handle your affairs.  This article explains it a bit– as well as how to set one up.
  3.  If you have children, setting up estate plans becomes even more necessary. You don’t want to have no plans in place if something unexpectedly happens to you. Look into setting up a Living Revocable Trust and make sure you have a will in place.

This stuff isn’t at all fun to think about, and we’re still young. But it’s kind of like having car insurance or rental insurance- you should always have a plan in place, especially when you have something to lose. Then you’ll be free to continue happily building your empire in peace.

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Should I Play the Lottery In My Thirties?

Last week the Powerball jackpot was 1.5 billion dollars. A bunch of my friends bought tickets and a few of them even won…four whole dollars.

When one of my friends first told me he went and bought a bunch of tickets, I’ll be honest, I was little upset with the idea. He asked me if I was going to buy any myself, and I replied with a haughty, ‘no, I think I’m going to invest my money and save it, thank you very much.’

I kinda felt amazingly proud of myself- the lottery (and gambling in general) are things that I can easily control my response to and I value that about myself. I have insane self-control when it comes to spending money on things that I consider wasteful. I don’t know if I’ve ever purchased a lottery ticket- maybe I bought some for an ex many years ago.

However, something about my own response bugged me- was it really so bad to buy lotto tickets? That same week, I received an email newsletter from a writer I love, Ramit Sethi. He was talking about how silly it is to discourage people from buying lotto tickets, because, in a way, you’re discouraging them from dreaming. Ironically, he was actually writing in response to bloggers who scoffed at people who bought lotto tickets. He said:

Their articles [finance bloggers] reflect a total lack of understanding about WHY people buy lottery tickets. Hint: People who buy lottery tickets don’t really expect to win. People know the odds are astronomically, cosmically against them. So why would they do it?

The answer: They’re buying permission to dream about winning it.

If you think about it, $2 for a dream is well worth it. If you live a life where you’re counting pennies, isn’t it worth paying $2 for the dream of becoming fabulously wealthy — even if just for an hour? Hell, if you live a humdrum life of $60,000/year with 2% annual raises and one 2-day vacation a year, you can see why people would crave an escape.

By the way, there are a LOT of other ways we pay for an escape: Movies, fancy clothes, and so many more things. Isn’t it funny how lottery tickets cost less, but incur more wrath from judgmental people? It’s fun. It makes you feel good, and that’s a great reason to spend $2. OF COURSE lottery tickets are mathematically stupid. So is going to a bar to meet someone…but we do it anyway.

I never really thought about lotto tickets that way, but they’re a tiny price to pay to dream about something way bigger and more exciting in your life. Sure, we can all visualize and meditate and dream for free, but any tool that helps you feel happier and more passionate about life, is harmless, and only costs a couple of dollars, is absolutely, totally worth it. Use the tools that you discover- little indulgences here and there can help you feel better and dream exponentially bigger. Make the ‘silly’ choice sometimes.

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How Do You Deduct Tips You Pay In Cash While Traveling (To the Bellboy, Cab Driver, Housekeeping, etc) on your Taxes?

I’m currently working in Detroit and just was thinking about when I’d have some time to change a twenty for a bunch of ones when a friend of mine posted on Facebook asking about how, for her taxes, she can deduct cash tips she paid out while traveling.

I realized that I didn’t exactly know the answer to this except that my usual way of deducting the tips I pay out to people in cash is mild guesswork. I know that when I travel for work I almost always tip housekeeping about $2-$3 a day. I rarely use a bellboy to bring my suitcases anywhere, but maybe would use one approximately 4 times a year in order to help me carry something or other up, and tip $2-$3 each time. I’d tip a shuttle driver about $3 about 8 or 9 times a year. Etc, etc.

Make sure you deduct your cash tips to hotel or transportation staff anytime you travel for work. The tips are actual valid deductions. If you’re self-employed, these are no-brainer bona fide travel expenses. But even if you’re not self-employed, if you end up traveling for work, the tips you pay in cash while traveling can absolutely be deducted if you’re itemizing deductions.

The deduction would be under ‘business travel expenses’ and the way you would note them in your records would be to write the tip amount on some form of receipt related to the trip in question. So, for example, if you tipped housekeeping and the bellman during a business trip to Detroit, you would get the hotel receipt (even if it was $0.00 because your company paid for the hotel) and write the cash amount paid on the sheet of paper. Then you would keep that for your records.

This may seem like nickel and dimeing, but these deductions are valid and can really add up, so you might as well take them if you travel a lot for work and are itemizing your expenses.

In our thirties, we should try our darndest to get better at doing our taxes the best we can, so we can keep the most money. We might as well- why lose the money you’ve worked so hard to earn?

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View from my hotel in Detroit. I’m here for 16 days, and a lot of tipping happens in all that time.

 

Have You Been Taking Advantage of Compound Interest in Your Thirties?

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“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world”

“The greatest invention of mankind is compound interest.”

Albert Einstein is attributed to have said some version of all of these quotes. Whether he did or did not actually say this remains to be determined, but the truth is that compound interest really is a force to be reckoned with.

Compound interest can cause your retirement fund to grow way more than what you could’ve contributed yourself, and you can end up living on what you never could have saved up in your wildest dreams. $5000 invested at the age of 18 in a Roth IRA and left alone can turn into half a million dollars by the age of 72 with an average 9% interest rate.

$5,000 + compound interest magic + time= $500,000 for you

Compound interest can also get you in tons of credit card debt- the kind of debt that you couldn’t imagine wracking up in your wildest dreams. $5000 of credit card debt at a 22% interest rate would become $44,235 in 10 years. 

$5000 + compound interest + time (not much) = $44,235 owed to your bank.

Now that you’re in your thirties, make sure you’re aware of this miraculous compounding power. You can make compound interest work for you, or you can let it wreak havoc on your financial life, but either way, you have to start now because compound interest compounds fast, and waits for no one.

If you learn one financial lesson in your thirties, let it be this one- use compound interest wisely and start now.

Here’s a chart of $5000 invested in an IRA at age 18, untouched until age 72, at various interest rates. If somehow you averaged a 13% interest rate, that $5000, without ever adding another penny, would become over 3.5 million dollars when you retire. Now that’s some powerful magic.

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Budgeting in Your 30’s When You Hate Budgeting

For all the writing I do about finance and money goals, I really hate to budget. I just can’t stand it.

Perhaps this is because I’m already a big saver, so when I want something, I usually REALLY want it, and not much is going to stand in my way. I hate not listening to my own written budget, but I wouldn’t listen if I really wanted something badly, so I feel like I’d probably go over budget lot of the time, and then I’d kick myself. Ok, so this is actually a self-control issue. :/

I walked around forever with budget hatred burning a hole in the pit of my stomach until recently, when I read an article and realized I’d been kind of following an unofficial budget strategy all along. I googled the info in that article and came upon even more articles that outlined alternative budgeting strategies. Turns out, I naturally follow a common budget strategy called the 80/20 budget, though my version is actually a 70/30 budget.

The 80/20 budget is basically the simplest and least detailed way to budget ever. And I love it, because the details of budgeting make me nuts. Here’s how it works: when you get a paycheck, 20 percent goes to savings. The rest is fair game to divide between needs and wants. That’s it.

This is kind of amazing if you’re never sure how much you’re going to spend in any given month- no matter what, you’ll still be saving. I do a 70/30 budget, or actually a 70/10/10/10 budget, which is only slightly different than the 80/20. The way it works is:

  1. I get a paycheck
  2. I put 10 percent in my retirement account immediately
  3. I put 10 percent in my savings account immediately
  4. I put 10 percent towards my student loan immediately (this is always in addition to the minimum monthly fee I pay)
  5. Then the other 70 percent is divided as best I can among EVERYTHING else without making a budget.
  6. Within the 70 percent, my NEEDS include: Rent, utilities, and student loan minimums (definite needs), as well as food, metrocards (transit), laundry money, and toiletries.
  7. Also within the 70 percent are WANTS including: eating out and or/drinking with friends, food and coffee and green juice splurges, new shoes or clothes, tickets to theater, subscriptions to Spotify and Hulu.

Don’t get me wrong- it’s probably best to actually budget everything out little by little with a food budget, a clothing budget, and an eating out with friends budget. But I’ve never done this, and I don’t know if I’d stick to it if I did. So I think it’s better to at least have SOME sort of budget! And with the 80/20 (or 70/30, or even 60/40) budget, you’re at least still saving. If you don’t have students loans, I’d recommend putting at least 10-15 percent of your paycheck immediately into your retirement account, and then 10-15 percent immediately into a savings account.

What’s funny about taking a certain percentage out of your paycheck right away and paying down a debt and/or putting it into savings is how little you notice that the money is gone. It’s a strange phenomenon! Try it if you don’t believe me. Take 10 percent out of your paycheck immediately each month and put it into savings…you probably won’t even miss it! And if you do, you can always take it back. I wouldn’t recommend it…but the whole point is that your savings account belongs to you! 🙂

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The Joyful Paradox of Saving and Spending In Your Thirties

Today, I was at the airport, sitting next to a woman who was having an extremely loud phone conversation. She had a strong Irish accent and was discussing hotels with her friend/relative on the other end of the line.

“But is it a 4 and a half star?” she exclaimed,  “I don’t want to be in another one of those low category hotels like before.” Her companion apparently told her something disagreeable…not about stars, but about price. “It’s $1500 now? Last time it was $1000. It’s going up!”

It’s possible that this woman was referencing a total cost of stay for a weeklong trip. Who knows? But in my head I thought she was referencing a daily rate.

And hotels really can run into the thousands for daily rates! They can actually get much pricier, especially when suites are involved! Those kinds of crazy high hotel prices don’t even require that great a stretch of the imagination! A friend of mine works at a hotel and she’s seen rooms multiple times that price.

How dare hotels charge those kinds of wild rates? That’s easy- because people will pay them.

Cost is relative. The woman on the phone at the airport seemed okay paying $1000 as long as the hotel was 4.5 stars or higher. Since the hotel had gone up to $1500, the woman was put off, but she didn’t seem totally averse to the new exorbitant price..because she cared more about the quality of the hotel than about the price.

And so it is with saving and spending…and a lot of life. Pick your battles.

There’s a great quote from the CEO and founder of the amazing home website, Apartment Therapy, Maxwell Ryan: ‘Save more than you spend in a way that keeps you happy and comfortable. You can be comfortable or uncomfortable on any level.’

Yesssss!! Even if you made 500K a year and furnished your Park Avenue mansion with the finest handmade furniture imported direct from Italy, you can easily find a way to want more and more… and still be uncomfortable. And if you made 30K a year and live with 4 roommates in a house in the far out suburbs with no car, you can still find ways to be extremely comfortable (well, you can try your darndest). The key to spending/saving comfort takes both knowing yourself and carefully planning.

As you go through life, you become more familiar with your wants and needs. What’s important enough to you that you’ll budget more money to get it? What can you forsake in order to save? Can you live without staying in a 4.5 star hotel? Are you more into spending most of your budget on dinners with friends? Do you want to shop only organic? Is living in the most popular, convenient (and expensive) neighborhood important to you? Do you value fancy cars? Once again- pick your battles. And sometimes it helps to throw money at problems you’d rather not deal with…

In planning your budget, and saving money, it really helps to know the difference between what you care about, and what you only think you care about. In this way, you won’t be a miserable wreck while saving. Don’t deny yourself your absolute very favorite things! Just find the things you can live without and go without them for awhile as you save. You can do it!

Yep, this is a real underwater hotel in  Pemba Island, Zanzibar. It's called the Manta Resort. And for a cool $1,500 a night, it can be yours!

Yep, this is a real underwater hotel in Pemba Island, Zanzibar. It’s called the Manta Resort. And for a cool $1,500 a night, it can be yours!

Should You Have Lots of Credit Cards In Your Thirties?

You know it’s true: You’ve been tempted by credit card sign up bonuses in the past. And you’ve maybe even signed up for a credit card solely for the sign up bonus… and then canceled it? Or have you been scared that opening up or canceling lots of credit cards in your thirties could hurt your credit score?

There’s a lot of mixed information in this area that might leave you puzzled. Here’s the deal: credit cards can be really helpful and pretty benevolent unless you can’t use them wisely. It’s like anything: if you develop an unhealthy (overspending) addiction, you need to stay away. Otherwise, proceed wisely and happily. There are lots of benefits to having multiple credit cards.

Here are some tips for having various credit cards in your thirties:

  1. Pay your credit cards off in full every month

This is pretty self-explanatory, but the real trick to benefiting from credit cards, and especially from having multiple credit cards, is to make sure you pay the full balance off every month, not just the minimum. If you can’t pay the full balance off every month, stay with fewer credit cards until you can. Sign up bonuses and points aren’t worth the crazy expensive interest charges you’ll have to pay if you rack up debt.

2.  Don’t cancel the random credit cards you opened in your early twenties

Part of your credit score is calculated based on length of credit history. If you cancel the first card you ever opened, you’re shortening your credit history, and this will hurt your credit score. Unless a card has a high annual fee that you don’t want to pay, there’s no reason to cancel. If you don’t want to use the card anymore, pay it off and cut it up.

3. If you’re opening multiple cards for a point bonus, make sure you can meet the minimum spend in the correct amount of time

If there’s an American Airlines card that will give you 50,000 miles when you spend $3,000 in 3 months, make sure, if you get the card, that you’re gonna spend the $3000 in 3 months. I’ve screwed this one up before and have actually forgotten to meet the minimum. Put all your other cards away and solely use that one for awhile. If you can pay major bills, like your rent, on your credit card, you should be able to easily meet the minimum. There are actually services that can help you do this –this one is called Plastiq. Though Plastiq charges a 2.5% service fee, it can be helpful if you need to meet a minimum.

4. If you can meet multiple minimums at once, it’s best to open more than one card on the same day

Even if you have great credit, you’re more likely to get denied for a card if you open a new card every few weeks. I’ve actually opened and been approved for three cards in one day (I’m really good with credit cards and pay them off in full every month). If I’d opened one card and then waited a week to apply for the next card, I would have probably gotten denied. Wait at least 90 days to apply for the next credit card(s).

5. You won’t ruin your credit from having multiple cards

In fact, the opposite is true. Your credit score is partially calculated from something called a debt-to-credit ratio. If you have more credit available, you’ll have a better ratio.

6. You won’t ruin your credit from canceling a card

If a card has a high annual fee and it’s not worth keeping, go ahead and cancel it. Your score will only drop a tiny bit from your lowered debt to credit ratio. And it will come back up again as you continue using your remaining cards wisely. The annual fees aren’t always worth keeping the card. The only exception to this rule is if you cancel your oldest card- that will definitely lower your score more than the others because it will change your length of credit history… as I mentioned above.

There’s a lot more tips for enjoying multiple credit cards safely, but I hope this is helpful! As always, please comment below with any questions you may have! Thanks for reading!

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Is Having a “Respectable” Job In Your Thirties Worth Your Happiness?

Something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is having a ‘respectable’ job in your thirties.

In my twenties, I’ll admit, I hustled for money a lot…I was concentrating on my “real passion” – theater – so I was working a lot of random event jobs in between the Tradeshows I normally worked..also for extra money to support my theater career. I had jobs where I worked outside in the snow and handed out orange juice. I had jobs catering parties where people wouldn’t look at or talk to me. I had jobs at bars where too many people looked at and talked to me. I had jobs dressed as a dinosaur from a video game. There were many crazy moments. And, I’ll admit, there are still crazy moments now.

But there’s something about being in your thirties where the old job hustling doesn’t seem to cut it anymore. It feels very  important to have a “respectable” job. Job titles are cool in your thirties the way everything ‘grown up’ is sort of cool. Somewhere along the line of being in your thirties, you’re supposed to have ‘made it’ careerwise, right?

Well, I definitely don’t miss a lot of the random crazy gigs I had in my twenties, especially the ones that didn’t pay well. And I definitely am way more conscious of how I’m treated by the people I work with- I tolerate a lot less disrespect than I used to. But as for having a particularly ‘respectable’ and grown up job title…well, I don’t know exactly what that means to me. Especially since I’ve always been self-employed and have kind of cobbled my skills together.

I know some people who:

  1. Have an amazing, respectable job title and are pretty happy but make way less money than you’d think.
  2. Who have an amazing, respectable job title and make lots of money, but are way more UNhappy than you’d think.
  3. And of course, there are the people in respectable jobs who make tons of money and are super happy. I guess that = the dream. Damn those guys.

But maybe the thirties career dream actually doesn’t need the respectable title. Maybe all you need is to make good money (or at least enough money) and be really happy. Perhaps in your thirties, you don’t necessarily need that respectable title after all- just make enough money and be happy enough doing it. Then go do other things that make you happy.

So I’m sort of stopping my search for the respectable job title and am focusing the search on jobs that meet my financial needs and make me happy enough. Then I’m off doing other happy-making things.

If you can make good money hustling and are happy doing it, then by all means, hustle.  If you’re happy being a theater actor, and are okay money-wise, then be a theater actor. For goodness sake, if you’re happy and make enough money being a clown at a birthday party, then by all means, keep doing that! Screw the titles and screw explaining yourself! Figure out your own life, make yourself happy, and then of course, keep afloat. Make your own title! As long as you have the money to keep yourself smiling, then go for it. Because aren’t the thirties all about giving zero fucks anyway?

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Is a 0% Interest Credit Card Just a Blatant Lie In a Pretty Package?

Oh my god!! A zero percent interest credit card?? Does that mean I will have unlimited money and can buy whatever I want forever in my thirties? And then I can simply pay money back super slowly until I die…. interest free?

Short answer: no.

Long answer: no.

I mean, come on.

I was listening to reruns of The Suze Orman show podcast the other day (it has sadly gone off the podcast air this summer) and a few people mentioned using a zero interest credit card and asked Suze for her advice.

I remember the first time I heard about zero interest credit cards. I thought to myself “what the heck is a zero interest credit card? Why would card issuers would give someone money interest free? In what way would credit card companies benefit from this?”

Here’s a simple answer: zero interest offers always expire. And card issuers almost always benefit.

Here’s another simple answer: zero interest credit cards are usually a bad idea for the consumer. And then card issuers benefit.

Here’s why:

Let’s start with the way zero interest credit cards work:

  1. There are two different kinds of zero interest credit cards: deferred interest and waived interest.
  2. For both types of 0% interest cards, the 0% interest rate only occurs for a certain period of time (say, 6 months) and then expires.
  3. For both deferred and waived interest cards, after the 0% interest rate expires, the new interest rate is EXORBITANT- more than almost any other type of credit card. It could be as high as 26%, which is basically highway robbery.
  4. A deferred interest card is VERY bad, and a waived interest card is not much better. Here are the differences between the two:

a) For a DEFERRED INTEREST 0% interest card, interest is actually accruing during the special 0% promotion period (that certain amount of time I mentioned above when the card is still zero percent), but it’s being deferred. So if you buy something on a 0% credit card that’s 0% for 12 months, interest occurs during those 12 months. but you won’t have to pay it until month 13. If you pay off your original purchase by month 12, you never have to pay that interest. But if you haven’t fully paid off your purchase by month 12, you get hit with THE FULL YEAR OF INTEREST CHARGES!!!

So lets say you bought a $1000 bed on a 0% interest credit card that is deferred for 12 months. Let’s say that card has a deferred 23% interest rate. This means that about $20 in interest is adding up on your card every month. You won’t have to pay any of that interest for those first 12 months, but the card company has a record of it. If you pay off that bed within 12 months, you’ll never have to pay the interest. But if you just pay the minimum every month, the SECOND those 12 months are up you’ll be hit with a $240 deferred interest bill PLUS interest will continue accruing on anything you didn’t already pay off!! At a whopping 22% a month interest rate! This is terrible.

b) For a WAIVED 0% interest rate, lets say you bought that same $1000 bed on a 0% interest credit card that is waived for 12 months. Let’s say that card also has a waived 23% interest rate. This means that for 12 months no interest is accruing on your card. If you pay off that bed within 12 months, you’ll never have to pay any interest. But if you don’t finish paying the bed off, the SECOND those 12 months are up you’ll be hit with a 22% a month interest rate! This is pretty bad, though not as bad as the deferred card.

Credit card issuers count on you being dazzled by the zero percent interest rate and simply impulse grabbing one of their credit cards to make a big purchase. Don’t fall for it!! You’ll likely end up paying way more in the long run!

And if this hasn’t yet convinced you not to get a zero percent interest card, here are two more evil tricks 0% interest card issuers may be playing on you:

  1. For some 0% interest cards, if you’re late to pay or miss even one payment, the 0% interest offer is negated, and you’ll end up having to pay interest right away- before the 0% promotional period is even up! And it’ll be higher than other credit cards!
  2. Also, on some 0% interest credit cards, the 0% offer is only good for the first major purchase, and not the purchases thereafter. So if you continue using that 0% card, it won’t be zero interest anymore for anything other than your first purchase!

Read the fine print on 0% cards. And of course, if you can, avoid purchasing things that you couldn’t afford without a credit card anyway. A lot of times when it comes to interest rates, credit card companies are selling you very blatant lies wrapped in very pretty packages.

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