Saturday, December 09, 2017

Say No to the Pressure of Holiday Shopping

Many Americans think peer pressure only affects children but it affects adults too. Child peer pressure is more obvious but adult peer pressure can be subtle. Many adults may not even realize they have been victims of peer pressure. Many adults find themselves pressured into a lifestyle that requires them to give their family more and buy things they can’t really afford. This behavior results in financial disaster.

Many adults have succumbed to financial peer pressure from family, co-workers, friends and their children especially during the holidays that can wreak havoc on their lives and cause them to ruin their credit, go into debt, spend more than they earn and even result in filing for bankruptcy.

Statistics show that 70% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck and 96% of Americans retire or die broke. Avoid trying to keep up with everyone else, stop trying to compete with others and don’t be jealous or envious of someone else’s success or financial prosperity.

The saying birds of a feather flock together is true. The people you surround yourself with are a reflection of you. When you surround yourself with people who succumb to peer pressure, live a materialistic lifestyle, seek acceptance or approval and lack self-esteem you are acting in a weak state of mind. This type of behavior is toxic and leads to unhappiness, anxiety, depression, health issues and negative financial habits. Here are 15 ways to deal with adult peer pressure regarding shopping during the holiday season.

Say No
Learn how to say no. Don’t buy gifts if you can’t afford it. Explain that buying gifts is not in your budget right now. 

Look at the character of the person who is pressuring you and notice if their finances are out of whack, or if they are unhappy with their life – misery loves company.

Recognize the peer pressure in your family, co-workers and social circles.
Firm. Be firm in your decisions about not buying gifts or set a spending limit and stick to it.
Defend. Don’t feel like you have to explain, justify or defend your position regarding buying gifts, you don’t.

Tell those pressuring you to buy gifts that you would appreciate it if they could be supportive and accept the decisions you make in your life.

Give the gift of time
Offer to walk a friend, neighbor or relative’s dog; watch their dog when they are on vacation, pick up their mail or perform errands. You can also do volunteer work and take your family or friends. 

Give a Service
Offer to fix something in someone’s home or if you are good at putting things together, put together a stand or computer.  If you know how to repair a car offer to give a free oil change, put air in tires or change brakes. You can also offer to babysit, clean their garage or home.

Make your own decorations or shop online to find inexpensive decorations. Buy plastic flowers instead of fresh flowers that can be reused. Pack and store decorations carefully to reuse next year. Reuse decorations from the previous year.

If you sew you can make clothes and give as gifts. If you know how to quilt or crochet you can make pillows, quilts, blankets, sweaters, socks and more and give as gifts.

If you know how to make jewelry you can away give as gifts. Make your own. You can make lots of stuff such as: gloves, pottery, candles, candle holders and give as gifts.

Visit the dollar store to look for children's gifts. If you have to buy gifts for several family members suggest a "Secret Santa" so only one person has to buy a gift for one person and set a limit on the amount spent.

Saturday, December 02, 2017

The 1 Percent Are the Only Winners in the Trump Tax Bill

Rumors and half-truths have been flying around for over six months about the proposed Trump tax bill. The administration assured Americans that the proposed tax bill will be a great improvement to the current tax bill. If you thought the proposed tax bill was bad, it has been confirmed - it is worse than you thought. Unfortunately, the 1% win again and the 99% are the losers. Here is a summary of winners and losers in the Trump tax bill. How to fix it - show your views about the Trump tax bill be voting during the next local, state and presidential elections. 

The health insurance penalty will be removed which will lead to a lower number of people who sign up for health insurance. This will lead to an increase in health insurance premiums for remaining subscribers. In addition, approximately 30 million taxpayers would lose their healthcare coverage due to a reduction in government funding for the Affordable Care Act. Medicaid funding will be reduced by $610 billion.

The deduction for local and state taxes will be eliminated. State taxes are not deductible under the alternative minimum tax.

Taxpayers with incomes less than $30,000 would be taxed the most in 2019. Incomes starting at $30,000 will be taxed the least. Taxpayers with incomes of $50,000 or more will receive a tax cut in 2019 and will receive more than $500 extra in their tax refund.

The child tax credit will be increased from $1,000 to $2,000 but wealthy taxpayers benefit the most from the increase.

Funding to social service programs such as SNAP and TANF that provide food and other benefits for low-income taxpayers and the Pell Grant which provides financial aid for college students would be greatly reduced. Almost $1.2 trillion would be reduced from all these programs.

The current seven income tax brackets 10%, 15%, 25%, 28%, 33%, 35% or 39.6% would be reduced to four - 12, 25, 35 and 38.5 percent. The new top income tax rate of 38.5% will be for incomes starting at $480,000, an increase from $418,000 for single taxpayers and $1,000,000 for married taxpayers, an increase from $500,000. Most taxpayers would see a 2 percent tax increase. Wealthy taxpayers’ income tax would be reduced by 5 percent.

The standard deduction will be doubled to $12,700 from $6,350 for a single taxpayer and to $24,800 from $12,400 for married taxpayers. Personal exemptions will be eliminated such as local and state income taxes, casualty losses, and unreimbursed employee expenses.

The homeowner deduction will be limited to $500,000 for first-time mortgages. Mortgages on second homes will no longer be tax deductible. Deduction for interest on home equity debt will be eliminated. There will be a $10,000 cap on the deduction for real estate taxes.

Real Estate
Real estate developers will receive additional tax breaks such as a shorter depreciation schedule. Royalty payments, rental income and licensing fees will get new rates for pass-through income to avoid paying taxes on the money.

The alternative minimum tax is repealed which will allow wealthy taxpayers to avoid paying a minimum tax.

The estate tax exemption threshold will be increased to estates with less than $11.2 million who will not be taxed.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

How to Stop Bad Spending Habits That Make You Look Poor

Tips on Saving Money & Breaking Bad Spending Habits

At some point in your life or even now you have had at least one bad spending habit. My bad spending habits started in college when I was approved for my first credit card. This type of behavior leads to unnecessary debt and can lead to financial crises such as bad credit, collections, judgments or wage garnishments. 

These habits can be inherited from parents, relatives, siblings or friends. These habits usually start or are implanted in your subconscious as a child and stay with you throughout adulthood.
Determine where the bad spending habits started. Stop these bad habits now will save you time, money and stress in the future.  

Examples of bad spending habits are: overspending or spending more than you earn, impulse or emotional shopping, using payday loans or check-caused stores, using money orders instead of writing checks or using online banking; talking about your purchases and the cost.  Here are x way to stop bad spending habits that make you look poor. 

To stop bad spending habits write down your daily spending on paper and pen, Word or Excel or use a smartphone app. Assess your spending each week to determine areas where you can reduce spending. 

Create a budget to track spending or use a budget app. Create realistic financial goals to help you stay on track with your spending. Go on a 30 day spending fast. Stop charging and buy only basic necessities.
Use voice recording, set alerts or reminders when bills are due and any other tasks to help you eliminate your bad spending habits. Seek professional therapy to help change your mindset. 

Comparison shop to obtain at least 3 price quotes to find the best deal. Search online and on social medial sites for discounts and specials. Sign up for email or text alerts. Use comparison sites like Amazon, Bizrate and Price Grabber or smartphone apps like BuyVia or RedLaser.

Sign up for email or text alerts about coupons, discounts or specials on item your regularly purchase. Use cash back or rewards points earned to make purchases.

You no longer have to pay full price for any item. You can comparison shop, ask for price matching or negotiate to obtain a lower price.  Reduce temptation when shopping and leave your debit card or check card at home.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Americans Spend At Least One Paycheck during the Holidays, Don’t Be One of Them


According to a GoBankingRates survey over 50% of Americans spend at least one paycheck during the holidays. While 22% spend two paychecks, 6% three paychecks, 4% four paychecks, 3% five paychecks and 9% six paychecks. Forty-four percent expect to spend two paychecks on more during the holidays. 

These alarming statistics indicate that Americans need to spend less and save more. It also indicates that Americans are not prepared for a financial crisis such as illness, divorce, unemployment, death of a loved one or a natural disaster.

These statistics show a lack of control, discipline, impulse buying and an eagerness to keep up with everyone else. If Americans saved money throughout the year they would avoid the holiday shame when their credit card bill arrives in January.

Advertisers knows that consumers are triggered by emotion so retailers create advertisements to heavily tap into consumers emotions to encourage them to spend more money. Holiday shopping should equal the amount of money you can comfortably afford to spend – money that will not be needed in the near future for another purpose. 

The best way to curb overspending during the holidays is by calculating how many hours it takes you to work to earn enough money to purchase a specific item. For example, if you feel the urge to buy a large flat screen television that costs $1,000 and you earn $998 each bi-weekly paycheck, it will take you 80 work hours to earn enough money to purchase the television. Here are 5 fantastic ways to avoid spending your paycheck during the holidays.

Create financial goals
Set financial goals that you want to achieve for the next five years. Every time you think about spending money determine how the purchase will affect your financial goals.

Ignore peer pressure your family, friends, colleagues, other parents or neighbors to purchase at item even it is for a good cause. If you can’t afford to purchase the item and purchase it anyway you are the only one who suffers.

If you overspent during the holidays last year or earlier in the year, examine why you overspent and solve the root cause to prevent overspending in the future.

Reevaluate how you purchase gifts. If you have a large family consider a secret Santa exchange so you are only required to purchase one gift for one person. If your family has a large number of children skip buying gifts for the adults and buy gifts for the children. Another option is to purchase gifts for your immediate family and work with your family to set a general spending limit.

Spend less money on those persons you purchase lavish gifts for in the past. If they complain tell them you are on a budget this year and need to stick to your budget. The amount of money spent on someone should not indicate your feelings for the person, i.e. if you spend less money it does not mean you care about them any less.