Week #2 of the Gratitude Project and I am still going strong. Now that I am in the habit of taking a few minutes each day to write down what I am thankful for, I am better about remembering to be thankful in each day and each moment. I feel the project working its magic, as my mood has been markedly better in the past two weeks. These are excerpts from my actual gratitude journal, so sorry if some of it is a bit jumbly!
Do you give your pet a gift every holiday? It may sound weird to some, but for as long as I can remember, my family has been gifting our dog a present. Usually just one or two that stays wrapped underneath the tree. My mom is really good at remembering to always gift the family dog something: a bone, some special food or new toy.
I remember When I was a kid, I loved having an extra gift to open, and loved showing the goods to my dog. Now that I have Murray, I get to have fun with both the giving and the receiving.
Holiday Gift Ideas for your Pet
Shop Mimi Green.com Product Review and Giveaway
You can go to any pet store and buy a dog collar or harness, but why not take that one step further and personalize the collar with your pet’s name and contact information? I think the engraving on the one I received is beautiful.
Shop Mimi Green has cute accessories for dogs of all sizes. I had a hard time deciding between a collar, a harness or a matching collar and leash set. [Read more...]
As a teenager and college student, I treated Black Friday as a holiday on par with Christmas and Thanksgiving. I prepared diligently — scanning the early release ads and getting up at 3 AM to shop. Yeah, the 3 AM that’s in the morning.
A couple of years ago, it sort of died down. Being broke and in debt isn’t really conducive to spending like a coked up rockstar. Now, while still in debt, we aren’t really broke anymore. However, I’m still boycotting Black Friday. Here’s why:
1) It’s starting earlier and earlier every year. I heard Black Friday at many stores is starting during Thanksgiving dinner this year. This. Is. Disgusting.
First and foremost, the fact that retail employees are forced to work during a major holiday is wrong. There is no reason that stores should be open on Thanksgiving.
Second of all, considering the twisted views many Americans have, people can and will skip the holidays with their families to go shopping. Because for some reason buying gifts for your family is more important than spending time with them. ‘Murica!
2) 3 AM is really early. So it was always early, but it seems even earlier now. I get up at 7 every day, I’m not really interested in losing 4 hours of sleep off my regular sleep schedule. This is my least important reason, but I still feel it should be mentioned.
3) Christmas consumerism is gross. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Christmas gets more and more obnoxious each year. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no Grinch. I LOVE Christmas! I just think the commercialism is a little cray cray.
Instead of buying my family members a bunch of stupid crap they don’t need, I’m taking everyone out to dinner and drinks. Because food and booze is greater than stuff, at least in my minimalism-loving mind.
4) Unlike Miss Carrie Bradshaw, shopping is NOT my cardio. If I was going to purchase regular gifts for Christmas and wanted to shop the sales, I’d be all about Cyber Monday. No one has to work on the holidays and no one has to wake up at 3 AM.
In case you don’t know what Cyber Monday is, first of all, congratulations on figuring out how to get onto the Internet to read this blog. Pat yourself on the back, Old School. Cyber Monday is the Black Friday of the Internet and falls on — you guessed it! — the MONDAY after Thanksgiving.
So that’s it, guys. I won’t be partaking in the Black Friday festivities due to my moral code, laziness, and the existence of the Internet. Sales be damned.
Will you be shopping this Black Friday? Why or why not?
To break up this funk I’ve been in lately I decided to follow the advice of this video and start my very own gratitude project. To recap what a gratitude project is, I write down three things I am thankful for each day for 21 days. In my efforts to further improve my mood and outlook on life and hold myself accountable, I am going to publicly share what I have been grateful for this past week.
-I had a really great day at work, and then I thought about how thankful I am to have a good job, not to mention one I really enjoy in times like these.
-I’m thankful for the free gym at work. It really makes a difference.
If you’re a fan of my clothing/shopping related posts, you may remember the post back in May when I had a wake up call and realized I had spent 3500.00 on clothing in the last calendar year (May 2012-May 2013). Yikes! That is roughly $291 each month. Realizing my clothes spending was out of control, I boldly declared I was going to do a “clothing fast” where I would not spend any money shopping for clothes for the next six months. I am now happy to report the results of the challenge.
You’ve seen on Facebook where everyone has been listing things to be thankful for daily. I think this is really nice! And apparently there is a proven way to re-route your brain to be happier in the day-to-day. In the video below Shawn Achor talks about writing down three things each day you are grateful for and in 21 days you will have re-wired your brain to see the positive.
Myth #1: There is good debt and there is bad debt.
Fact: There is only debt. A student loan is not inherently better debt than a car loan. The differences are minor, and largely psychological. You can try to fool yourself into thinking you only have “good” debt, but let’s get one thing straight: debt is only good for the people who are collecting interest. One more time: debt is good if you’re the one charging interest, and debt is bad if you’re the one paying interest. End of story.
Myth #2: Most people have debt.
Fact: That’s really only true in the United States. This study about the differences between the average US citizen’s debt load is eye opening. The average US household debt is 136% of household income, compared with 17% for the Chinese. That’s ridiculous. We can do better! Also, if everyone jumped off a bridge, would you join them? (Trick question, of course you would. I mean, I certainly would. My friends are the kind of people who I trust implicitly, and if they are all jumping off a bridge, you better believe I’d join them!)
Myth #3: It’s okay to pay the minimum.
Fact: Financing shoes is not what you want to do. If you can’t afford to pay it outright, you really shouldn’t buy it. You’ll never get ahead paying minimums, not with interest rates the way they are. At best, you’ll keep your debt at a steady level, and at worst (which is the most likely outcome) your debt will increase.
Myth #4: Debt allows you to afford nicer things.
Fact: Debt prohibits you from being in charge of your money. It keeps you broke. You can’t have nice things! I’m sorry, but it’s true. You might think you deserve them, and you might actually deserve them, but you can’t afford the nice things if you have to finance them. Drive a beater car. Get your furniture off Craigslist. Find roommates. Do what you have to do to get out of debt. Earn your way up to the nice things. It’ll feel really good once you can pay for something without spreading that payment over six months.
Myth #5: Ignorance is bliss when it comes to debt.
Fact: The only way being ignorant is blissful is if you don’t connect your current self to your future self. When you mindlessly swipe your credit card, you’re saying, “I don’t care how I’ll come up with the money to pay this off.” But think about it. What you’re really saying is that you don’t have a plan for how you’re going to pay it off. “Future self will handle this,” you’ll think. “Future self is going to make more money. Today self wants the shoes/restaurant food/manicure/handbag/whatever.”
Myth #6: It’s too hard to get out of debt, once you’re in it.
Fact: It simply isn’t. The truth is, it’s every bit as easy as getting into debt. Trust me, I know. I was there. I had $25,000 in credit card debt alone. I was too scared to tally up the numbers. Getting into debt was so easy. I mean, I’m one of those idiots who wrote a check as an “investment” into a friend-of-a-friend’s business that would surely pay me back in spades before the interest rate would kick in. (Read that story here, if you want.)
The difference is, getting out of debt is a lot (and I mean a lot) less fun than getting into it. All of a sudden you have to be hyper aware of every single dollar.
Myth #7: There’s no hope if you’re up to your eyeballs in debt.
Fact: Wrong again! You know those ads you hear on the radio when you’re listening late at night? They have a concerned-sounding voice asking if you have “more than $10,000” in credit card debt. They make DebtConsolidation.com sound like a real scam, so even when I needed to talk to a credit counselor, I never (ever) did. I was worried that somehow I’d get burned again. Turns out, I was only half right. There are some seriously sketchy companies out there that consolidate your debt, but extend your term, so it’s like a mortgage that pays them a bunch of interest, and only helps you in the short term. But there are really good companies out there, too. You need to do your due diligence and avoid scams, but you may find a way to get out from under the mountain you buried yourself under.
Kathleen O’Malley writes over in her corner of the internet at Frugal Portland and discusses saving money, living simply, and enjoying life in Portland, Oregon.
Some of you may have noticed I’ve been a little radio silent lately. Few posts of my own, little conversation on Twitter or Facebook. There is a reason for all of this, but it’s taken me a long time to put the words of this post together. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve scheduled it to go live, only to change my mind and schedule it for later. Any way I type these words just sound trite and ill-fitting: about a month ago my fiance and I decided to end our engagement. Initially we kept things quiet, as I only told my immediate family and friends who were involved with the wedding. Now I think a few people have picked up on what’s been going on, and it is time to formally address the elephant in the room. [Read more...]
The following is a guest post from Martin of Studenomics, who happens to be on a quest to become financially free by 30. Will you join the journey?
How would you invest $1,000?
I get asked a version of this question fairly often. Once friends find out that I write about personal finance, they want to start asking questions. I’m all for answering questions, if I know the person is serious and will actually take action. I love to help out and give solicited advice. I always avoid giving unsolicited advice. [Read more...]
Everyone knows my dog, Murray. When I walk him in the park women I’ve talked to call out to him and say, “Hey Murray! How you doing?” but they can’t remember my name. In short, he’s a little celebrity, and I love him. He has not, however, always been what most would consider to be a “good dog.” He is mischevious and even a little bratty (like dog, like owner) but a lot of his behavioral problems stem from his intense separation anxiety. You can see the effects of this anxiety in this post here.
It’s a problem again in my new home a) because I don’t want Murray chewing through doors and floors and b) it’s just rude when people come over, I put Murray in his play pen and he barks constantly nearly making it impossible to have a decent conversation.