th 8 pointed questions to ask before you buy.A comment on a Get Rich Slowly article got my attention today. In “Four ways to make money with your old junk,” a woman posting as Winterlady noted one of the tactics she uses to prevent overbuying:

“I hold the item and think ‘How quickly will I want to garage-sale this?’”

Having seen more than a few like-new or still-in-the-shrink-wrap items at yard sales, I expect her comment is not particularly flippant.

I also liked another thing she said: “It is easier to control the purchases than figure out how to dispose of them.”

This.

I’m a big fan of informed consumerism, i.e., of asking the right questions before you decide to buy something. In a post on Wise Bread, I described the queries along the lines of, “Do I really need it? Do I already have something like it? Is there a way to get it for free? If not, what’s the most affordable way to get it?”

Yet even after applying this frugal filter, you sometimes just waaaaant something – right now. That’s when you ask yourself a question like the one cited by Winterlady.

I’ve got a few more to add. They’re not all questions as such, but they should encourage a little self-interrogation.


read more

th7 Want a chance at a decent old age? Have a daughter.When middle-aged sons live with their parents, it’s probably because they’re underemployed or unemployed. But middle-aged daughters are more likely to bunk with their parents in order to take care of them, according to a new survey from Yodlee Interactive.

Men ages 35 to 44 are more than twice as likely as women to receive economic support from their parents, and more than three times as likely than women to live at home.

Oh, and daughters are more likely to provide “emotional” support as their parents age, regardless of living arrangements. In fact, 20 percent of the men surveyed say they do not plan to call or visit Mom and Dad as they grow old. Nice.

Maybe it’s because women are socialized to be caregivers. Maybe it’s because they’re guilted into it. My best friend from childhood cared for her father during a long battle with dementia, and also dealt with her mother’s congestive heart failure, despite working and having two kids.

When she asked her older brother for help he told her that because she was the daughter it was her “duty” to take care of their parents.

I am not making that up. And yes, it happened fairly recently, vs. back in the 1800s.


read more

th 1 One way to celebrate National Splurge Day.Yet another holiday invented to make you spend money! Just what we need, right? But I’m sorta-kinda okay with National Splurge Day, as long as the splurges are done frugally.

In fact, I think you should splurge on something today – but that you should do so in as cost-effective a way as possible, and with an eye toward postponing future splurges.

Does that mean you can never have nice things? Not at all. In fact, what it means is that you can likely get those nice things faster – but only if you’re willing to grow up, wise up and stop ignoring future goals in favor of fun-right-now stuff.


read more

th6 Information wants to be free. Writers want to be paid.A post on my daughter’s website might get under some writers’ skins. Not mine – and not just because she’s my daughter.

Why I refuse to have a donate button” helped me clarify something that’s been twigging me lately: the proliferation of “please pay me” buttons on personal websites.

Newspapers and other sites are experimenting with paywalls to recoup at least some of the costs associated with professional writing (and, presumably, professional standards). So why not bloggers?

To my daughter, at least, the pay-to-read mentality comes across “as either grandiose (let’s face it, none of us is the NYT) or greedy.”

“Asking readers for money just seems crass,” Abby writes. In part that’s because she associates pay-me buttons with paid content, aka “sponsored posts,” aka “stuff some company pays you to run.” While she acknowledges that not everyone would feel this way, Abby says she’s less likely to return to a blog with a donate button unless “there is a good reason why the person actually needs help.”

To some extent I can see the purpose of a button: It’s like paying for a magazine subscription. Sites that put out great stuff have writers who put great effort into the posts.

Lots of sites don’t.


read more

th2 You know whats hot? A money date.Hey, all you single men and women: Want to attract a mate? Work on your credit scores as much as your abs.

Of the 1,010 married adults surveyed by Experian, 95 percent rated “financial responsibility” as more important than “physical attractiveness” (86 percent) and “career ambition” (77 percent).

Not that romance is dead: “Personal compatibility” was the most important attribute in a potential partner, ranking at 98 percent.  

Financial compatibility is important, too; in fact, at 96 percent it edged out “sex and intimacy” (95 percent) and trounced “religion and spirituality” (69 percent). The thing is, plenty of people don’t talk about finances before they marry – and that’s a huge mistake.


read more