3 Ways to Defuse Heated Money Conversations This Holiday Season

3 Ways to Defuse Heated Money Conversations This Holiday Season

There you are, enjoying a plate of pita chips and salmon dip at your neighbor’s annual party, when someone mentions Dave Ramsey. Suddenly, you’re on trial. And you get an earful of questions and comments like: Oh, you’re a Dave fan? I agree with everything he says except . . . Be honest: How many credit cards do you really have? No one can afford to pay for Christmas with cash. It’s too expensive! After a few rounds of this, you start searching for the nearest exit. While it may not be fun to take the high road, it’s your best option.  Here are some easy tips for defusing a heated money conversation this holiday season: 1. Share Your Story. No one can dispute your own story. Instead of talking about their choices, turn the conversation into how much debt you’ve paid off and how much freedom you’ve experienced with a budget. If someone tells you that you can’t pay for Christmas gifts with cash, just say, “Actually, I just did. I’ve been saving all year, and it really wasn’t that bad.” That’s what we like to call a mic drop. 2. Don’t expect to change their mind. You could get through to this person, but chances are they just want to prove you wrong—and prove themselves right. If they’re trying to justify their car loans and second mortgages, don’t start preaching at them. If you do, the conversation will soon descend into who has the loudest voice and the best comeback. You can respectfully disagree without making a scene.   3. Ignore the Dave-bashing. People like to “catch”...
3 Questions to Ask Before You Use Your Emergency Fund

3 Questions to Ask Before You Use Your Emergency Fund

You know the drill—something breaks, wears out, or costs more than you can cash flow. So where does the extra money come from? If you’re following Dave Ramsey’s seven Baby Steps, you’ve got two options: dip into your emergency fund or start a savings fund. Your emergency fund is the money you’ve saved for those unexpected costs that would otherwise blow your budget, like a midnight trip to the emergency room. Your savings fund is the money you’ve been socking away toward a future goal, like a cruise to the Bahamas. But not every situation is as clear-cut as medical bills and island getaways. So what classifies as a true budgeting emergency? It all boils down to these three simple questions: 1. Is It Unexpected? Life has a few surprises we could all live without. A job layoff is one of them. But your emergency fund should help by keeping your lights on and your belly full until you land that next dream job. And if a tornado or flood visits your neighborhood, it’s perfectly fine to use your rainy-day stash. Let it cover your insurance deductibles or other property damage your policy doesn’t cover—that’s what it’s there for. Annually reoccurring expenses, however, are not an emergency. Christmas happens on December 25 every year. So there’s no excuse not to save up before the gift-giving season hits. Same goes for back-to-school shopping. It shouldn’t come as a shock that your kids need new binders, index cards and composition notebooks every August. By saving a little each month in a savings fund, you can actually enjoy these big occasions instead...
Wedding Budget Blues: How to Plan the Wedding of Your Dreams Without Breaking the Bank

Wedding Budget Blues: How to Plan the Wedding of Your Dreams Without Breaking the Bank

Written by Lauren Reisig for Sharpheels.com The story is familiar to us all: Once upon a time, there were two people who fell madly and deeply in love. They decided to spend their lives together and host a beautiful wedding to celebrate. They found the perfect dress, the perfect cake, the perfect venue, the perfect rings– they had it all. Then, they lived happily ever after–under a formidable mountain of debt. At times, it seems as though this is how the modern fairy tale is destined to go. After all, in 2015, the average cost of a wedding in the United States was between $29,000 and $31,000, and that’s not including the honeymoon! Unfortunately, wedding planning is only getting more expensive as time goes on. In fact, since 1990, wedding prices have increased 100%! With the whirlwind of emotions you feel while planning the big day, it’s easy to get swept up, go over budget (only 50% of couples manage to stick to their budget during the process), and land yourself in a hole that’s hard to dig out of. It’s definitely not a good way to start your married life together, but thankfully, it’s completely avoidable. Set a Realistic BudgetYou don’t have to be part of the 50% of couples who overspend when planning their weddings if you set—and stick to!—a realistic budget. Nothing is worse than having your heart set on something for the big day and then realizing later that you can’t afford it because you spent too much money on something else. So, do some research. Look up the average cost of everything in your...
Get Out of Debt With the Debt Snowball Plan

Get Out of Debt With the Debt Snowball Plan

Myth: You need to pay off the debt with the highest interest rate first to get out of debt quickly. Truth: You should knock out the smallest debt first to create momentum in your debt snowball. Mathematically, it makes sense to pay on the debt with the highest interest rate first. After all, doesn’t that save you the most money? Maybe, but it’s more important to pay your debts in a way that keeps you motivated to keep going until you’ve wiped them all out. If you begin with the biggest one, you might think you’re not making fast enough progress, lose steam, and not finish the job. It’s better to get quick wins that pump you up. Those wins happen when you start with the smallest debt. Once you’ve saved your $1,000 starter emergency fund, list all your debts (except the house) smallest to largest. Now it’s time to get rid of them ASAP with the debt snowball. How the Debt Snowball Works Make minimum payments on all the debts except the smallest, and throw as much money as you can on it. Once that debt is gone, take its payment and apply it to the next smallest debt. Repeat that as you plow your way through them. The more you pay off, the more your freed-up money grows—like a snowball rolling downhill. Here’s a quick example. Say your debt snowball looks like this: Credit card 1: $500 at 13% with a monthly payment of $25. Credit card 2: $1,000 at 19% with a monthly payment of $50. Car loan: $6,000 at 4% over four years with a...
Yours, Mine & Ours: How to Manage Joint Finances Without a Fight

Yours, Mine & Ours: How to Manage Joint Finances Without a Fight

Written by Lauren Reisig for Sharpheels.com It’s happened. You’ve fallen head over heels in love with “The One.” The one who knows you better than anyone else. The one with whom who you want to spend all of your days. The one with whom you feel comfortable sharing all of your innermost thoughts, feelings and ideas. It’s amazing and all-consuming — and the next thing you know, you’re moving in together and combining your lives. While sharing your guilty-pleasure music or the fact that you’re not the greatest at keeping the bathroom tidy with this person may seem relatively easy, there’s one thing that may be a little harder to share…your finances. Why is this?  Well, numerous studies and polls have told us time and time again that couples fight more over how to manage their money than anything else.  In fact, it’s the leading cause of stress in marriages, not to mention one of the most frequently cited reasons for divorce. Money can tend to bring up all sorts of proprietary/ownership feelings. Kind of scary, right? There are ways, however, to ease some of the tension, and create harmony in your relationship…and your bank account. Put in the Time and Communicate As with anything in your relationship, getting your finances on track is going to take time and effort. First, sit down with your significant other and decide how you’d like to manage your finances. For instance, some couples prefer to use the “Yours, Mine, Ours” method which allows both people to still have their own bank accounts and then a “shared pot” from which all bills are...
Money Tips on Moving Out

Money Tips on Moving Out

Written by Lauren Reisig for Sharpheels.com How to Pinch Pennies When Relocating to That First New Apartment or Home of Your Own Moving away from home for the first time can be a terrifying yet exhilarating experience: granted, your current “nest” with parents/relatives may be cozy and safe, but you’re bound to feel at some point that it’s time to strike out on your own, and maybe feel the delight of freedom. This momentous step will impact every single area of your life — including your pocketbook. Whether you’re starting out with very little, and plan on surviving off of ramen for the foreseeable future, or you’ve been saving for a while and are thus starting off with an advantage, either way, the big move  comes with a number of expenses that can rattle even the best penny-pincher. Don’t panic and ditch your plans though — there are ways that you can become that independent woman and still remain confident about your financial plan. Start Using the “B” Word: Budget! Although it’s not exactly fun, smart budgeting will be your biggest ally when making your move to a new place — especially if you do it before you head out or even begin looking for your new home. Knowledge is power, and the more you have before trying to make it on your own, the better you’ll feel. So here are some tips: Have no idea how much something costs? Don’t be shy; ask your parents and friends how much their gas, electric and water bills are and how much you should budget for each. Or contact the chamber...