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resolutionsNew Year’s resolutions can be difficult to keep, as anyone who has tried to spend January losing weight, saving money or doing some other type of self improvement knows. Too often, the resolution is thrown to the side by February, and that includes financial resolutions.

With a late start being better than no start at all, I’m starting February with three financial resolutions that I hope to keep on track. These go beyond my resolution to lose weight, which I started in October 2015 after getting the idea that an early resolution might help motivate me. So far, not much, but I’m working on it.

After losing weight and getting organized, spending less and saving more was the third most popular resolution in 2015, according to the Statistic Brain Research Institute. Forty-six percent got past six months, which gives me some hope.

Here are three financial resolutions I’m working on immediately in 2016:

Find a better business checking account

I accept payment in various ways as a freelance writer and editor, and as owner of three other websites, and I’ve been mostly happy with my business banking account. PayPal works great, but I’m never thrilled with the fees they take out of the payments I receive.

I also have direct deposit from a few clients, which I think is the best solution for both sides. For others, I accept checks, and taking a photo of a check on my phone and depositing it via my banking app is swift.

The problem is with the checking account that I keep my business income and expenses in. When I first started freelancing as an independent contractor, an accountant recommended having a separate account from my family’s checking account. I quickly set one up, but a few years into it my bank changed the requirements for having a free account. ...continue reading


worst financial mistakesAnyone can make a mistake. They're part of everyday life. Financial mistakes, however, can lead to problems for years to come if not corrected soon.

After talking to financial experts and others who have either experienced or seen other people make the worst financial mistakes of their lives, we compiled the following list of 25 of them. Many are common after graduating from college and starting a financial life on your own, but they can still happen to anyone at any age.

We should also note that these worst financial mistakes aren't listed in any order. We'll leave measuring their importance to you:

25 Worst Financial Mistakes

1. Not going to college

The average starting salary for a high school graduate is about $28,000. That figure almost doubles to $48,127 for college graduates in the class of 2014 with bachelor's degrees, according to a salary survey by National Association of Colleges and Employers. Starting your working life by being that far behind in pay is one of the worst financial mistakes you can make.

2. Not paying off student loans fast

The average student loan debt for a college graduate is $28,400, according to the Institute for College Access and Success.

For a college grad who is earning some real money after four or more years of living like a student, it can be tempting to spend much of their new income before paying off debt. That's one of the worst financial mistakes a graduate can make, says Alfred Poor, a college speaker and author of books about problems young people are having in the workplace.

"If college graduates tighten their belts and lower their expectations, and live like they only have the high school diploma, they will rapidly pay off their average $27,000 in student loans," Poor says. "If they spend their whole salary on a more comfortable lifestyle, they could be struggling to pay off that debt for decades, and end up paying much more in interest."

3. Paying off student loans too quickly

Paying off student loans quickly can also have a downside, says Steven Fox, a financial planner in San Diego with NextGenFinancialPlanning.com. If they use all of their extra income paying off student loans, they could be in financial trouble if they don't put some in an emergency fund and lose their job or get in a car accident and have unexpected medical expenses, Fox says.

"They should really think about whether they should pay off their student loans as fast as they possibly can once they get their first job if it means that they're doing so at the expense of not saving or investing anything," he says. "Ending up with zero debt is good, but ending up with zero savings is very bad."

An emergency could lead to borrowing money at a higher rate than what they were paying on student loans, says Fox, who reminds graduates that student loan interest is tax deductible for up to $2,500 for individuals making $80,000 or less without having to itemize.

4. Using max credit card limit

"Just because a bank offers you a credit card that allows you to spend money doesn't mean you should," Fox says.

This goes for all debt, he says. Being approved for a $20,000 auto loan doesn't mean your budget for a car is $20,000. ...continue reading


16096239579_66a8d2cb6e_oDespite my recent post all about how emotions can have a detrimental effect on our finances, and what to do about it, I sill gave in to my emotions yesterday.

Everything about yesterday went bad from the very beginning. I overslept my alarm and was rushed to get to work on time. I ended up being about 10 minutes late, and from there the day only got worse. I had several stressful phone calls and situations to deal with for everything from my part-time job to an organization I volunteer for, and more. In fact, I ended up having to use some of my paid vacation time from my full-time job to deal with these situations. Talk about wasting my precious vacation time!

By the end of my full-time job's workday at 5 p.m., I was ready to burst from all the emotions of the day. I was craving comfort food, and for me that means a massive chocolate and sugar-filled snack. So on the way to my evening haircut appointment, I tried two of my local bakeries, which were both closed (it should have been a sign!), before finally I gave in to my emotional temptation and splurged on a chocolate doughnut and soda at the convenience store next to the salon.

The entire time I was eating, ok I was scarfing, my snack, I knew I had made not only a financial mistake, but also a health mistake too. This deliciously unhealthy snack did make me feel better for a minute or two, but then it made me feel worse because it doesn't correlate with my financial goals or  my health related goals.

Of course this small splurge isn't a budget busting purchase, it was only about $2, and it probably won't be the straw that breaks the camel's back for my health either, but it still wasn't a smart decision.

After some thought, I decided that I need to be more aware of how I treat emotional decisions like this in the future so I don't nickel and dime, or soda and doughnut, my way into a financial rut or a health rut. My goals are more important to me than my $2 snack that will only satisfy my craving for a few minutes before my brain is back to thinking about the crap-shoot of a day I just had.

Crappy days happen to everyone at some point, and it's probably okay to splurge on a temptation like this once in a while when your emotions kick in. But if this is something I turn to each time I have a rough day, then I need to find a more constructive way to work off the emotions of my crappy day.

While brainstorming, I came up with these ideas for the future:

  • Go Workout! Working out releases endorphins. Endorphins make you happy, and happy people just don't shoot their husbands. (Bonus points if you just got the reference!)
  • Spend Time Outside. If the weather is nice, spend a little time outside enjoying it to get some fresh air and take your mind off the events of your day.
  • Play With Pets. I have plenty of furry companions around me, I should use them for what they do best, comforting their owner.

How do you deal with a crappy day? Do you let your emotions get the best of you?

Photo courtesy of: Live Life Happy