Learning Financial Portion Control

February 25, 2015 Permalink 0

4439880034_1cb627b696_zWe have a problem of epic proportion here in the United States. Literally.

Last night I was out having dinner at a diner-style restaurant with my good friend whom I had seen in quite a while, and when the waitress came by to take our orders I asked if I could order off the kid’s menu. The menu clearly states that it’s only for kids age 10 and younger, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to ask. After all, that kid’s meal had everything I wanted in my breakfast for supper meal anyhow: pancakes, bacon, and eggs.

If I was able to order this off the kid’s menu rather than the “regular” menu, I’d save some money and I wouldn’t be wasting any food. The kid’s meal was only $3.99 vs the $7.50 of the adult version and still had about 80% of the amount of food. The adult version is always too much for me anyway.

To my surprise, the waitress said I could order off the kid’s menu!

What does this have to do with personal finance (besides my $3.50 savings)? Well it got me thinking about the portion control problem we have in the United States.

We have a huge problem with portion control in our country, and I don’t just mean with food portions. Our cars, houses, and need for “stuff” has grown out of control. This constant need to acquire more, bigger, and “better” stuff has led to our other portion control problem: debt.

Don’t believe me? Research shows that the total of U.S credit card debt is around $739.1 billion dollars. No, that’s not a type-o, it’s billion with a B. The average credit card debt per household is $15,799.

So what do we do about it? Here are some ideas I came up with while I was pondering all these facts.

How to Keep Valentine’s Day Spending Under Control

February 10, 2015 Permalink 0

8475113858_a999353bce_zValentine’s Day is just around the corner and no matter whether you are on the side of the fence that believes the holiday is fabricated by the greeting card industry, florists, and bakeries, or if you and your sweetie celebrate it every year, the fact is the population as a whole spend a lot of money on Valentine’s Day. According to a survey done by the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association (presented by Statistic Brain), the average person plans to spend about $116 on Valentine’s Day.

As a personal finance blogger, I found myself asking if this was a reasonable amount to spend for Valentine’s Day. Personal situations differ, but I know that I won’t be spending anywhere near that amount on Valentine’s Day, though I will be spending a little bit of money to have an afternoon “tea” celebration with my grandma, mom, and aunt. Here are a few things I thought of that you might be able to try to keep the costs of your Valentine’s Day celebration to a minimum and still have a classy celebration.

Don’t Dine Out

Going out to eat is usually a big part of most people’s Valentine’s Day celebrations. Luckily, Valentine’s Day is on a Saturday this year which means most people who work a traditional 9-5 job will have the day off work. Perhaps instead of spending money to go out to eat at an over-booked restaurant, you could prepare dinner for your Valentine at home. Even if you spend extra money to prepare an extra-special, fancy meal, chances are that it will still be cheaper (and healthier) than going out to eat.

Separate or Combined Finances as a Couple?

February 9, 2015 Permalink 0

coupleValentine’s Day is a big day for wedding engagements, and while having separate or combined finances as a couple isn’t a topic that’s likely to be discussed on that romantic occasion, it is worth talking about before getting married.

Whether a couple shares or hides their finances from each other, or at least each person has a separate account for discretionary spending, finances can be a big part of a new relationship.

A recent survey by Citi found that 24 percent of Americans in a committed relationship have a private account that their significant other doesn’t know about. That’s a fair amount of hiding something from someone you plan to spend the rest of your life with.

Many more, however, share finances, with 82 percent saying they share their financial life with their significant other, and 88 percent of couples having complete access to at least one of their partner’s accounts, the Citi survey found.

The good news, whether they have separate or combined finances as a couple, is that being with someone can change your financial habits. The Citi survey found that 82 percent changed their financial habits, 60 percent are more careful with their discretionary spending, and half are more focused on long-term financial planning.

Dealing with finances as a couple

There are a number of ways to deal with finances as a couple, especially as an engaged couple planning on getting married who have some time to work things out.

“Getting to know each other fiscally is just as important as getting to know each other sexually,” says April Masini, a relationship expert at AskApril.com.

Here are some things to consider when deciding if you should have separate or combined finances as a couple, or a combination of both: