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

th9 150x150 The prom bubble has burst. Sort of.According to a Visa survey of 4,000 people, families will be spending 14 percent less on the prom this year.

“I think people are realizing that prom is a dance, and you don’t have to spend like a celebrity to have a great time,” says Nat Sillin, head of U.S. financial education for Visa.

While I’m glad to hear spending is down, I’m still a little startled by the average price tag: $978.

Regionally speaking, the West Coast region pays the most and the Midwest the least (although more than last year). The Northeast registered a 27 percent spending drop since last year and the South 23 percent.

Here’s how that shakes down per family, per region:

  • Western, $1,125
  • Northeastern, $1,104
  • Southern, $926
  • Midwestern, $835

Doesn’t that sound like an awful lot of money for a high-school dance?

read more

th7 Yet another plastic bags blog post.Washing and re-using plastic bags is a frugality meme that won’t die. Although it saves money and is an eco-friendly thing to do, it’s often derided in a “get a life!” way: You waste all that time and energy just to save a few cents?

I have a few thoughts about that. Washing takes just a few seconds. These bags cost  more than a few pennies each. Finally, they’re made from petroleum or natural gas — a couple of non-renewable resources.

The Bargain Babe website recently resurrected the notion with a post called “21 reuses for freezer bags.” Some of Megan Thode’s ideas are clever but I disagree with some, such as using them to start seedlings, pipe frosting or transport used cooking oil to the trash.

To do those things would mean trashing a perfectly good Ziploc. Can’t play that way.

However, I do think that once bags spring pinhole leaks they can be used for some of her other suggestions, such as matching kids’ clothing or storing board-game pieces.

read more