Photo Credit: Leo Reynolds via Compfight cc

This last month we missed out monthly budget party. I figured we have budged for 81 straight months! Pretty good streak if you ask me; comparable to the Harlem Globetrotters 2,495 straight wins over Washington Generals. (32 other famous sports streaks)

It was a time of flux, transition, and [insert excuse here]. So my wife and I failed to have our monthly pow-wow over how we’ll spend our money and guess what…it didn’t matter that much.

6 Years of Budgeting and Marriage

A funny thing happens after 81 months of marriage and learning how to communicate about money–namely you figure out a plan and stick to it. That’s what ended up happening for the most party. We did what we always did.

I still kept up with spending and found out that groceries were pretty much the same, under actually. We did go a bit crazy with eating out, but that was part of the transition and celebrations over job promotions.

Our budgeting streak is over, but we had a good run. We do plan to jump back on the budgeting train; after all our income will be increasing, so we need to really keep our eye on the ball.

If you want to learn how we budget or tips on budgeting, read this series of articles about budgets.

Typical Hipster in NYC

These days hipsters are everywhere. There are a few I’d even consider friends (yes, geeks and hipsters can get along).

I remember a time I didn’t know what a hipster was. Wait you don’t know either or want to be a hipster just because it is deck (cool)? That’s just stuff hipsters say.

Hipsters gotta earn money and budget too. Here are some Hipster tips for your finances.

Side Hustle Like a Hipster

  • A typical hipster income might be from graphic design, jewelry design, or anything with design in the name. Need a guide to finding a hipster job?
  • You could also make some side money from the chicken eggs you harvest in your Brooklyn apartment or sell homegrown organic vegetables. Those DINKS Uptown will pay a bundle for your organic goods!
  • Protest for pay. I see those ads on craigslist all the time…I wonder if they are a scam?
  • Be a tourguide of Williamsburg, Broooklyn (home of hipster) to out of town hipsters.
  • Paid reviews of music and books. Trick is you have to hate everything not mentioned on Pitchfork.
  • Sell something at a farmers market. Make it, grow it, knit it, and then sell it at 200% markup at a Farmers Market no one has ever heard of. Deck!
  • Make your own home brew or roast your own coffee beans. Organic and Fair Trade of course. Take out an ad in the Brooklyn Vegan and you’re set.

Budget Like a Hipster

There are certain items that must be included in a hipster’s budget.   Here are a few:

  • Home brewing equipment. PBR is so 2011.
  • Yarn for knitting your own I-pad covers.
  • Clothing is such a large percentage of hipsters budget that each clothing item gets its line item: Fedoras, scarves, shoes, vintage T-shirts, skinny jeans, new shoes that look old, flannel shirts, big watches, handmade jewelry, hipster glasses, etc.
  • Counseling because they are being labeled as a hipster and can’t deal with being put in box.
  • Yearly Airfare to Williamsburg to soak up the essence of hipster and eat at the hipsterest places on the planet.
  • Tattoos- Better save up for that full sleeve tattoo…it’s gonna cost you.
  • Indie Music and Shows- Rare music is going to cost you, especially when you’ll have to ditch your favorite band once 5 other people like them. Oh yea. you’ll need a lot of dough for vinyl.
  • Vintage Bike repair. Your beach cruiser will need some fixing from time to time. How about a new basket to hold your vegetables from the farmers market?
  • Apple- no not the ones you eat, but you’ll need to save up for the latest Apple products in order to stay hipster. A Blackberry is so 1%.
  • Bail- You’re going to protest and probably get arrested sometime this year. Go ahead and save up for that bail $.
  • Food- Hipsters don’t eat. They only drink coffee and nibble on organic vegetables. Meat is out of the question, a very frugal move indeed.

Hopefully you’ll find these funny and I don’t get flamed from the hipster community. Hipsters, I’m secretly jealous I’m not as cool as you. If you really want to know how to budget please read my How to Budget Like a Pro Series.

Help ensure this article is up to Hipster Standards. Any suggestions or additions to my lists are welcome in the comments below. 

Photo cred Joel Bedford

I hope you never have to break your Emergency Savings pig.

I’ve read a few articles about emergency funds recently that make me worry a bit. Seems Americans aren’t saving as much as they should and if they are it’s in all the wrong places.

In a recent Smart Money article (April 2012- Fatten Your Reserves) they cite a bankrate.com study that shows only 24% of Americans hold a 6 month emergency fund and 25% have no savings at all.

This article went on to state that Americans are using alternative methods instead of a traditional savings account like borrowing from 401K, home equity, and insurance. I disagree and believe going down this path will bring more financial disater in the end as these alternatives come with very high risks.

Emergency Funds: The Basics

An emergency fund’s purpose is to shield you from unexpected events and emergencies. There are some basics we must remember about Emergency Funds.

1. Keep it Liquid- No, not in water, but keep it easily accessible. Don’t tie up your emergency fund in hard assets like your home, CD’s, investments. If an emergency happens, you need that money now, not in a several days or weeks that include paperwork and red tape.

It is wise to keep your emergency fund in a high interest saving account or Money Market account with check writing privileges. (Find one now)

Continue Reading…

Empty book shelves

Clear your schedule and free energy to make your new goals a reality. Credit svenwerk.

A new year is here. Wow that was fast! It’s time to create new goals and resolutions to keep you successful and moving forward in life.

In order to say yes to a new goal–you’ll need to say no to an old habit or activity.

10 Ways to Make Room for Your New Year’s Resolutions

Here are a few ways to create space for that new weight loss plan or spending plan.

1. Delete one social media account on your smart phone or ditch it completely. I left Instagram several months ago and haven’t really missed it. My friend deleted the Facebook app off his phone and gained back many minutes each day.

2. Wake Up Earlier- One of the best ways to have time for your new resolutions is to wake up earlier. You’ll be amazed what you can accomplish before the sun rises and all the kids wake up.

3. Unsubscribe- You know those dozens of newsletters, coupon sites, and other junk email you receive each day? Those valuable minutes you take reading or just hitting delete are precious. Unsubscribe or block those senders to gain back your time.

4. Turn off the Tube- Seriously, if you’re looking to make headway on those resolutions and goals–turn off the TV and gain back hours out of each day.

5. Budget Your Time- Have you ever done an audit on your schedule to see where your time is spent? Create a time budget and mark out every 15 minutes of the day to ensure those new goals have a spot in your week.

6. Block Your Computer- Try blocking social media sites during certain times of the day–like the times you’re supposed to be running or working on another goal. The best way of course is to turn off your computer and use good ole’ pen and paper.

7. Go to Bed Early- Since you’ll be waking up earlier it is only natural you’ll need to wake up earlier. Start a routine to be in bed by a certain time and prepare your wardrobe or set coffee on automatic brew to make the morning easier.

8. Wear Earphones or noise canceling headsets when you’re working to block noise and distractions during key times during the day. 

9. Dump friends or acquaintances- You don’t really need to know what your 3rd grade friend’s kids are wearing for Halloween do you? It is time to dump ‘friends’ from your online accounts that are eating time and causing you to compare and become jealous. There might even be a real-time friend that needs a few boundaries set and their time limited [I recommend the book Boundaries]

10. Check email only twice a day- Don’t be a master to your emails. Schedule several blocks of time each day to answer email and don’t be a master to the dings and chimes of email [Idea from book The 4-Hour Workweek]

I wish you much success on your new goals for this year!

How will you clear your schedule and free up energy to accomplish your New Year’s Resolutions and goals? 

Christmas Gifts Storm Trooper

What does a  Stormtrooper give his little troopers? Credit Kalexanderson.

Christmas is a season of giving. It is about blessing others because we ourselves have been blessed. It is a time to remember the gift of Jesus. We want to express our love and appreciation. Plus there are other reasons to give that I wrote about if you need more motivation to give.

You may be convinced that you should give gifts for Christmas, but there are other thorny questions lingering about giving that we should address.

Should I give if I’m in debt?

Yes, I suggest to my clients that you should continue to be in the practice of giving. Be cautious about your heart that it doesn’t become greedy, even though you’re in debt. Decide to give a certain percentage of your income each month as a practice. If there is no way you can give money this year, then give your time volunteering at a local non-profit.

I don’t want to give ‘Stuff’. What should I do?

Give relationally! Give gifts that will have you spend time together. Puzzles, games, outings, events…etc. Relationships are more important than boxes. Have you heard of the Advent Conspiracy?

How much should I spend on Christmas gifts?

You’ll have to decide for yourself of course. I do suggest you make a budget and stick to it. There is no reason to go into debt to buy stuff for others, especially if it involved co-signing or loans.

Can I give too much at Christmas?

As long as you don’t go into debt, go crazy giving. Just be wise in how you go about it. You don’t want to make a relationship awkward by giving too much. If you’ve got the dough, go and bless others!

I’m not a Christian, can I still give gifts for Christmas?

While Christmas is largely a religious holiday, it is also part of Western culture. If you want to give, then give. There are no restrictions. I’m sure both you and your receiver will be blessed no matter your spiritual views.

Whom should I give to?

Again, a personal decision. If you feel obligated to give to someone out of guilt or shame, then perhaps either your motivation needs checking or that relationship mending. If you’re in business don’t forget your boss, co-workers, clients, and vendors.

Should I give my boss a Christmas gift?

Why are you giving to them? To show thanks? To get a promotion? Giving to your boss or co-workers can be tricky. Whew! I’m glad I’m self-employed. Here is a good guide for shopping for your boss and coworkers.

I got a gift last year that I didn’t use. Is re-gifting ok?

Yes, but don’t get caught or give something cheesy unless it’s funny and the recipient will get your humor. Remember Seinfeld’s “The Label Maker”?

Is it ok to give cash for a Christmas present?

Of couse! Especially in hard economic times or if you don’t know what to get someone, then cash or a gift card is acceptable.

I want to give to charity. How do I know if my charity is legitimate?

First off, I’d ask them. This is a common question and they should have a ready answer including reports, recommendations, and facts. You can also check out Charity Navigator or Guidestar to see if your nonprofit is listed.

Action: What are thoughts about giving? Please share in the comments below. Merry Christmas!