Truebill Editor’s Finance Friday Picks, Edition 3: Must Haves, Reads and Do’s
I don’t know about you, but for me, the holidays are a delicate balance between making sure I’m happy with what I purchased for everyone on my gift list, and making sure that I don’t suffer a financial hangover after the holidays. Having
a bad shopping habit an enthusiasm for shopping, I have to carefully mind my shopping list or I will be too easily tempted by all of the holiday sales, and end up buying more for myself than those on my list. As I’m currently saving to buy my first home, I have to be more diligent than ever to stray strictly on budget. Here are a few of my favorite things to stay on budget, and save a little extra:
Podcast: The Happier Podcast, Episode 123
Those of you who read my very first Finance Friday may remember that one of my picks was the book Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin. The Happier Podcast is her continued exploration of how people can live happier lives. I’m a huge fan of Gretchen’s work, and was delighted to find, after ripping through all of her books, that she also has a podcast. This particular episode talks about the psychology of indulging in a modest splurge (keyword: modest).
From a happiness standpoint, the idea is that, while the old saying “money can’t buy happiness” may be mostly true, money can buy things that contribute to happiness. But be strategic about that splurge – plan something that will truly bring you sustained happiness. For me, it’s in something that I will see or use daily, to bring me that bit of happiness on a regular basis.
As my own personal example: I am a tad obsessed with candles, and will go overboard on purchasing scented candles if left unsupervised. Upon hearing Gretchen rave about the Jo Malone Orange Blossom candle in her book, I decided to splurge and give it a try. I’ve fallen so in love with it, that it’s become a staple, and I’ve stopped buying other candles.
The fascinating, unintended consequences I’ve found from using this method are two-fold:
1) I’ve stopped buying other candles because I only want to use this one, and in tallying it up, I actually spend less per month on candles now because I’m only buying one, rather than a bunch.
2) This has leaked over into other areas of my life, where I’ve started to indulge in quality over quantity, and found that it saves money in the long run.
Before you go nuts with this method, however, be sure to compare your indulgence against your total monthly spend in that category to make sure you’re truly saving money.
Blog Post: Getting Rich: from Zero to Hero in One Blog Post by Mr. Money Mustache
If you’re yet to discover the world of Mr. Money Mustache, then you’re in for a treat. Mr. Money Mustache is a personal finance blogger and is one of the few I’ve found who offers actionable tips and guidance that actually make a difference. While everyone is different in how they best work with money, and have different money stories, as mentioned in last week’s Finance Friday picks, I’m the type who needs to see significant change, and fairly quickly. I’ve scoured countless finance articles about saving money, and many of them give tips along the lines of “buy generic instead of name brand,” or “make your own almond milk instead of buying it at the store.” While I’m sure this method works for many, it simply doesn’t move the dial enough for me.
Mr. Money Mustache, on the hand, has some excellent tips that will make a big difference. In particular, his Getting Rich: from Zero to Hero in One Blog Post actually packs a huge punch. This isn’t clickbait; he delivers in one post, addressing everything from grocery shopping to auto loans. If you read only one article from MMM, make it this one.
Book: The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko
The Millionaire Next Door is not your typical finance book – it’s actually based on a 20-year study of affluence by the authors, and they found 7 common traits that appear among the wealthy. And by “wealthy,” they mean the truly wealthy, not those who merely appear wealthy. This is an important distinction they make in the book, pointing out that over 80% of millionaires in the U.S. are regular, everyday people who amassed their wealth in one generation. What’s more, they aren’t the people living in huge houses and driving fancy cars; those people tend to be, what the book calls, “under accumulators of wealth.”
If you’re someone who’s always felt compelled to “keep up with Joneses,” or even if you feel you are saving like crazy but not quite reaching your goals, this book is an eye-opening must-read backed with solid statistics and insights.
Board Game: PayDay
My Finance Friday picks can’t all be serious, there must be a bit of fun! Those of you who remember this board game from your childhood are likely a child of the late 70s/early 80s, like myself. My stepmother recently found our old PayDay game from the 80s, dusted it off, and sent it to me for nostalgia’s sake.
Playing it again reminded me what a valuable tool this game is for teaching kids about managing finances. It gives them the opportunity to save, and they also have to pay rent and unexpected bills that may arise during the month.
A quick tip about this game: the reviews for the newer version of the game aren’t good – a lot of reviewers feel that they removed some of the best elements that teach kids about finances, such as the ability to save. I recommend trying to find one of the older versions, such as the options they carry at Target.
Subscription: Angels’ Cup
I’ve finally had to admit that my daily coffee habit is getting a bit out of hand; 1-2 trips/day to my local coffee shop has resulted in my spending anywhere from $150-200/month. That’s money I’d much rather put towards my investment accounts, but my daily coffee isn’t just about getting a much-needed jolt of caffeine, it’s almost ritualistic. There’s something about the routine of stopping at the coffee shop every morning on my way to work that signifies the start of my day.
That’s where Angels’ Cup coffee subscription box comes in. Working for a company that manages subscriptions, I’m very choosy about which subscription services I use. We’ve heard countless horror stories from those who’ve found it nearly impossible to cancel a subscription service when they’re done using it. Angels’ Cup is one of the highest reviewed coffee subscription boxes I found – 5 out of 5 stars by those who rated it on My Subscription Addiction, 8.3/10 from those who rated it on The Coffee Concierge.
Beyond its high ratings, Angels’ Cup has found a clever way to keep the ritual in coffee drinking. They begin by sending monthly samples from their 208 different single-origin coffee suppliers. The coffee samples are only labeled with a number, so it’s a blind tasting to help you identify what you like without being swayed by any information about the coffee you’re sampling. When you’ve found a coffee you love, you can use the number on the bag to find out what it is.
Beyond that, they have an app available for both Android and iOS, which allows its customers to continue the coffee-tasting ritual with others in the Angels’ Coffee community. After your blind tasting you can compare tasting notes with other community members, as well as the roasters themselves. You can even guess the origin, and log any hidden flavors or aromas you notice. The app offers both beginner and advanced modes, and provides brewing guides for each specific coffee.
And if you’re thinking, “She’s gushing about them too much, this must be sponsored,” I assure you, it’s not. It’s just that cool of a subscription box. With plans starting at $9.99/month, the price is hard to beat, and it certainly beats what I’m spending on coffee each month.
What are some of your favorite money-saving tips to avoid a holiday financial hangover? Leave me a comment below!