spending

9 Unspoken Rules Of Being Frugal, Not Cheap

Because there is a big difference between the two, no matter how similar they may seem on the surface. And whether you’re earning six figures or a student’s stipend, you can still live by certain (often unspoken) rules that make you savvy, instead of that person that no one wants to go out with because you’ll start a fight over the bill.

These are those rules.

1. Don’t agree to things you can’t afford. It’s really tempting to say “yes” to things your friends really want you to go to, even if you know you don’t have the money for it. But the primary source of financial stress when a check comes — or lingering resentment after the day is over — is agreeing to things you could not afford in the first place. You have to be open about what you can and cannot do, and if everyone is trying to go to a hip new restaurant that will put you out $75 for dinner and that’s not an option for you, you have to say no. You can’t say yes and then agonize every time someone orders and appetizer for the table, because that’s what makes you look like a cheap asshole.

2. Don’t be a penny pincher with friends. When it comes to good friends, you should not be venmo-ing each other every time someone buys you a two-dollar tea. While people are perfectly allowed to pay you back for whatever they want, it’s just generally a bad vibe to constantly demand every penny from someone you’re close to. Good friends should have a relationship of “your treat, my treat” when it comes to little things, and should honestly find joy in the act of buying one another a round or a coffee or a little gift. And obviously if someone is abusing this, you can stop it, but being afraid of not tracking every cent with a friend just makes you kind of a Scrooge.

3. Invest up-front in the important things (when you can afford it). When it comes to things that you’re going to want to have for more than a season — boots, winter coats, certain furniture, etc — it’s important to not be cheap with yourself if you have the option. For things that are going to cost a lot up-front (but be worth it), following the strategies of “wait for things to go on sale or go to a discount store, and buy high-quality” leads to saving a lot of money over time. We all go from “replacing our shitty everyday bag at least twice a year because the straps break,” to “putting a couple hundred dollars into an actually-quality bag that changes our lives.” And it’s an important life change to go through.

4. Don’t be afraid of turning down an invitation. Part of being frugal, socially, is doing your best to get rid of FOMO. Even if you can technically afford something, saying “yes” to everything generally leads to having little money, or wasting it on things you wish you hadn’t. Even if you can afford to be the belle of the ball four nights a week, no checking account needs to suffer that damage.

5. Start upping your at-home entertaining game. Hand-in-hand with not saying “yes” to everything social is making your house somewhere you actually enjoy spending time. This means investing a little in things like nice drink ingredients, learning to cook some of your favorite take-out or restaurant recipes, and generally accepting that a night in (by oneself or with friends) can feel just as ~special~ as a night on the town. Those people who use their oven as storage and have to run to the liquor store every time they want to have a drink are probably spending about 15x as much as they need to on takeout, social events they don’t even enjoy that much, and “last-minute” runs they pay out the nose for. Domestic Goddesses (and Gods) are frugal in the best way.

6. Don’t squabble over a couple dollars. When it comes to things like dinners out with friends, squabbling over four dollars on a bill because you didn’t share a full 50% of the queso, and you also ordered two drinks instead of three, is just ugly. Don’t be the guy that insists on making the server split the check 18 ways, or gets huffy and passive-aggressive over a couple dollars. Let it roll, and if you are really getting the feeling that a friend is taking advantage of the bill-splitting, have that conversation separately. If it’s really egregious, stop going out with that person. But you and your friends should generally be in a place where you’re able to cover for one another by a few dollars without it getting weird.

7. Wait for sales, and shop discount. Basically a golden rule of frugality is never paying full price for things. Whether that means you live like me, and basically exclusively shop at TJ Maxx and Marshall’s, or you are religious about buying off-season and waiting for things to go on clearance, it’s all effective. It’s just important that you never be the person who gets so caught up in a ~must have~ item that you waste 100 more dollars on it than you would need to if you had a little patience. (And this goes hand-in-hand with not buying ultra-trendy crap, because if something is unwearable after the season in which it was popular, you don’t need to be buying it).

8. Be honest about what you actually need. You’re never going to get ahead of your own finances if you are convinced that you need four of the same jacket, or a blender you never use, or a fur vest that you are way too ashamed to put on in polite society but looked so cool on the Nasty Gal website. Learning to prune your life down into things you actually want, need, and will use — and be honest about what is just a waste of money — means saving your precious money for the things that actually merit it. (I know myself, and that means I will never again buy a bright-purple designer bag. I am not that girl, and never will be.)

9. Treat yo self (within reason). Obviously there are few things more satisfying than TrEaTiNg YoSeLf when you’re having a bad day or worked really hard or whatever. But it’s also really easy to slip from “treating oneself as a form of self-care” and “emotional spending that ultimately damages your finances and doesn’t make you any happier.” Being able to know the difference, and not being cheap with yourself while also prioritizing your financial health — i.e., treating yourself once in a great while for the right reasons, such as celebrating accomplishments — is the right way to go about it. You can be cheap with yourself, too, and while you shouldn’t, you also shouldn’t spend money wildly because it makes you feel good. Spending on “fun things” is like fast food. Everyone’s soul is lifted by those once-in-a-while french fries dipped in a chocolate shake. But made into a habit, and suddenly your whole body feels like poured cement and you’re wondering why you’re tired all the time. In the end, it’s all about balance.

15 Things You Waste Money On As The Weather Gets Colder (And How To Stop Spending)

1. Ordering food. When it’s cold out, the last thing you want to do is take public transportation to the store, grocery shop, and then have to lug your bags home while the icy wind cuts off the circulation in your hands. And sometimes even going out for a meal seems like a chore, which is how you end up ordering thai food two nights in a row.

How to stop: If you’re going to order out at all, try to do it very sparingly, and with multiple people chipping in. Someone once told me to only splurge on food with others, and to eat as cheaply as possible when you’re alone. For delivery, this is a point well taken (though, again, not often). Try to never get takeout when it’s just you, or just you and your Seamless-enabling significant other. For groceries, try to stock up on more non-perishables, so you only need to go to the store once a week. I have never been a fan of canned vegetables, but I’ve learned I’ll never go hungry if I have eggs, canned beans and salsa around for when I’m desperate.

2. Hot beverages. The colder months are, as we all know, seasonal beverage haven. As soon as the PSLs go out of style, they’ll be replaced with gingerbread lattes (my personal weakness) and peppermint mochas. And the colder it gets, the easier it becomes to rationalize a hot beverage to warm your hands.

How to stop: First, BUY GLOVES. In high school, I used to hate winter accessories, and was the queen of buying tea to keep my hands warm because I legitimately thought it looked cuter than gloves. But then I joined the real world, started paying my own bills, and snapped out of it. Also, if you’re craving those delicious beverages, get crafty at home, and spruce up your typical coffee. Make concentrated coffee/espresso, heat warm milk (personally, I’m into coconut milk in coffee right now), and add chocolate syrup. Homemade mocha!

3. Hot yoga classes, or a gym membership. In the summer, we manage to talk ourselves out of bougie gym memberships because we can workout outside. In the winter, it seems like the only way we will actually exercise is if we spend money, and force ourselves to go to kickboxing class after work.

How to stop: Get creative with your “home gym” with weights or a yoga mat. If you have the means to exercise while at home, you’ll be taking advantage of the “I don’t want to leave the house” excuse. Find more TFD workout solutions here.

4. Transport. When it starts to snow, Uber starts to look very appealing. I even have friends who have been stuck taking cabs home to faraway boroughs because the trains have closed by the time they’ got off work thanks to ~~inclement weather~~.

How to stop: Be more definitive about your cut off time at work, and at social gatherings. The later you stay, the more apt you are to want to take a ride, because the colder it’ll get outside. Personally, I tend to linger when I know it’s freezing outside because I’ll do anything to delay leaving the heat. But if you chose to leave earlier, you stand a better chance of braving the cold, and not succumbing to an expensive ride.

5. Sweaters, scarves, and other fall and winter trends. Everything from dark colored nail polishes to chunky knit sweaters look exceptionally appealing, and because it’s getting cold it feels like you can write it off as a “need” instead of a “want.”

How to stop: As I’ve mentioned before on TFD, I think a clothing swap can be a fun way to get some new fall finds. If everyone brings over accessories, or fall clothes that are still in good condition, everyone can leave with at least one item they love, and get rid of things that were just taking up space in their closet.

6. Duck boots. I cannot keep up with winter boot trends. First it was Uggs, then it was Sorels, and now it’s duck boots. They’re all fine brands, of course, but we don’t need a new pair every year because 2015, contrary to popular belief, does not have to be the Year Of The Duck Boot.

How to stop: Refurbish your boots — both the winter ones, and the leather/suede ones. You can buy good cleaner (for suede, leather or ~rugged~ boots) and they work remarkably well. If you care for your boots, they should last for at least two, or three winters, if not more.

7. One-time use decorations. When the holidays are getting closer, we’re constantly in the “well this might spruce the place up” mindset, which prompts us to make thoughtless purchases.

How to stop: If you’re going to buy fall or winter decorations, do so purposefully, and remember that less is more, seeing as you might take all these decorations down in a few months. Buy an inexpensive plastic storage box (you can find them for $5) and store your decorations properly so that you can reuse them.

8. Plane tickets. As someone who lives across the country from my family, I know how expensive travel can be around the holidays. And sometimes we don’t even consider the fact that we need to buy a ticket until the weather starts getting chilly.

How to stop: Buy in advance. Way, way in advance. I bought my ticket home for Thanksgiving in JULY. I know that, for this year, this warning is a little late, but the sooner you buy, the better.

9. Heat. Starting in October, the thermostat becomes a security blanket.

How to stop: Monitor your use by turning the heat down at night, and always, always remembering to turn it off when you leave the house. Leave a sticky note on the back of your front door to remind you to turn off the thermostat. And look into these tips for lowering your utility bills.

10. Manicures. When it gets cold, it’s easy to run out of things to do with your girlfriends, because having a picturesque chat on a park bench is out of the question when it’s freezing. And when it gets cold, the seasonal reds, and dark colors, are so enticing that it makes you want to get your nails done.

How to stop: Get creative about what you’re doing with your friends. Get together and make crafts to give out at Halloween, or Thanksgiving. (Once, my friend gave everyone in our crew homemade cinnamon bath scrub — just as a seasonal treat — and it was a perfect budget present.) You can also have a girls’ night in, or check out other “new friend date” suggestions here.

11. Coats. One for each type of cold. The corduroy jacket, the leather jacket, the peacoat, the professional coat to use when it’s too cold for peacoats, and the ski jacket/parka.

How to stop: Downsize your needs. I own three coats, all of which were splurges and are good quality, but have lasted me three to four years each, and are still in great condition. I own a leather jacket, a peacoat, and a down parka, and they cover all of my bases. When I lived in upstate New York, I preferred to wear my parka out to dinner every so often, rather than buy an entirely new “fancy parka” for when it was too cold for peacoats.

12. Cinnamon, peppermint, and pumpkin spice-flavored EVERYTHING. And I don’t mean the coffee, I mean anything else with a holiday label.

How to stop: I completely understand getting drawn into the nostalgia of fall, or needing a pick-me-up in the grayest part of November. So, I would say skipping the aisles with the treats you like at the grocery store, the pharmacy, or the closest Walmart, is the best solution. Remember that most October impulse purchases are often pumpkin-cinnamon scented, and that avoiding temptation will be more satisfying in the long run.

13. Annoying kitschy, holiday-centric attractions and activities that friends or family want to partake in because they want “to be tourists just this once.”

How to stop: Just say “no.” Bite the bullet, and suggest another activity, or meet up with them after the very expensive carriage ride in the snow that someone suggested would be “so quintessential and Gilmore Girls-esque.” You don’t need to be quintessential, nor do you need to go skating at Rockefeller center.

14. Hosting parties. There’s the Halloween party, Friendsgiving, and then a holiday party. For some, that means hosting one party every month, for three months in a row, which can get really expensive.

How to stop: Get together with your closest friends, and divvy up the parties. If one person is going to host a pumpkin carving, have someone else host the Thanksgiving gathering, and someone else do the holiday soirée. If you enjoy hosting all three, try to incorporate as many “bring your own” aspects as possible. Don’t feel uncomfortable asking your guests to bring their own alcohol, or a side dish. Chances are, they’ll appreciate the opportunity to pitch in.

15. Extraneous heating equipment. Space heaters, candles, blankets, and lounge clothes. All it takes is one problematic heater situation to force you to spend on Polartec Everything, and buy fleece blankets in every color.

How to stop: People accumulate blankets at record-breaking speeds, so ask friends if you can borrow extra blankets, if you need them. It’s likely that someone you know already has more blankets than they could ever use. Seal your windows, and close your curtains to keep the warmth in. And finally, don’t stop doing laundry just because it’s cold out, because, unfortunately, that’s a surefire way to buy three new pairs of sweatpants, because you forgot about the cozy pants buried at the bottom of your hamper.

Image via Pexels

Narrated Abu Huraira (radhiAllaahu ‘anhu):

The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Every day two angels come down from Heaven and one of them says, ‘O Allah! Compensate every person who spends in Your Cause,’ and the other (angel) says, 'O Allah! Destroy every miser.’ ”

—  [Sahih Bukhari Vol. 2, no. 522]

The Spooktacular Numbers Behind Halloween In The United States 

This year, 157 million Americans are going to celebrate Halloween, down on last year’s 162 million, according to the National Retail Federation. The spending behind Halloween is going to be truly spooktacular, as ever, with total spending across the United States expected to hit $6.9 billion. Read more >

24 Things I Regret Spending Money On

1. That brunch where I only ate the garnish off my Bloody Mary and wished I was at home binge-watching Roseanne on Netflix.

2. My subscription to Showtime that I never use, except once a year for new episodes of Shameless.

3. That brunch where I wanted something sweet and savory so I got the Belgian waffle and the breakfast nachos and hated myself for a week.

4. That dress from Forever 21 that has a cool pattern but a little too much fabric on one side and a weird asymmetrical zipper so it’s just been hanging in my closet staring at me for 2 years.

5. A plane ticket to visit that person whom I didn’t know very well and didn’t end up liking.

6. A German-engineered car that only lasted a year before dying quietly while I was away for Christmas.

7. All pants/jeans with a waist anywhere below my bellybutton.

8. That huge iced coffee from Starbucks that tasted a little sad.

9. Anything shiny from Target.

10. A festival ticket from a scalper who charged me double.

11. The sweater that I chose to buy in an off-white color even though it came in black.

12. That brunch where I got too drunk and ended up spending $70.

13. One more drink.

14. That non-dairy whipped cream from Whole Foods that needs to sit out of the fridge for 30 minutes before you can get anything out.

15. That Darth Vader Halloween costume that I thought was a great deal, but turned out to be a child’s size.

16. Spending $38 on two dishes of Thai food because fuck it, they’re the only place that delivers right now.

19. Music that I could have listened to/downloaded for free.

20. Every pair of tights that ripped after a single wear.

21. That 3-pack of rings from H&M that turn my fingers green.

22. An Uber when I could have walked.

23. Those Chinese Laundry wedges that would go with every summer outfit if they didn’t shoot knives into my feet and make me think about all the bad things in the world.

24. That brunch where we waited for three hours to be seated, only to get an anxiety-high on coffee and stories about last night.

Theresa Healey writes the blog You Do The Math.

Image via Pexels

'Fiscal Conservative' Gov. Rick Scott Uses $700,000 Of Taxpayer Money To Settle Lawsuit Against Him

‘Fiscal Conservative’ Gov. Rick Scott Uses $700,000 Of Taxpayer Money To Settle Lawsuit Against Him

In a very crowded field, Rick Scott is in the running for “Worst Governor In The Country.” His screw ups are both frequent and legendary. As a person, Scott is everything from petty to mean to self serving (sometimes all at once). He also wastes his state’s money like it’s his job. Which it isn’t. Just the opposite in fact. Yet, Florida is once again footing the bill for one of their “fiscally…

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How Elon Musk exposed billions in questionable Pentagon spending
Ten years after ULA was born, the FTC’s direst warnings have come true, along with outcomes even the skeptics did not predict. By MATTHEW NUSSBAUM

Elon Musk’s SpaceX had to sue before it got access to the Pentagon — but now, as it promises to deliver cargo into space at less than half the cost of the military’s favored contractor, it has pulled back the curtain on tens of billions in potentially unnecessary military spending.

The entrenched contractor, a joint operation of Boeing and Lockheed Martin called the United Launch Alliance, has conducted 106 space launches all but flawlessly, but the cost for each is more than $350 million, according to the Government Accountability Office. SpaceX promises launches for less than $100 million.

Yet despite the potentially more cost-effective alternative, taxpayers will be paying the price for ULA’s contracts for years to come, POLITICO has found. Estimates show that, through 2030, the cost of the Pentagon’s launch program will hit $70 billion — one of the most expensive programs within the Defense Department. And even if ULA is never awarded another government contract, it will continue to collect billions of dollars — including an $800 million annual retainer — as it completes launches that were awarded before Musk’s company was allowed to compete. That includes a block buy of 36 launches awarded in 2013.

Read more here