Tag Archives: spending

Halloween Spending Is Scary

Halloween spending hikes in this terrible economy is a real horror show! A recent National Retail Federation survey shows a record 170 million Americans plan to spend $8 billion on Halloween. Here is the breakdown:  $1.4 billion on adult costumes, $1.1 billion on children’s costumes and $370 million on pet costumes. Why do we spend a lot of money pretending to be someone else, cloaking our true identity? Or is the costume we wear our real identity, a secret fantasy revealed on Oct. 31?

One would think that the world is horrifying enough, filled with brutality, war, terror and poverty, so why do we disguise ourselves as zombies and ghouls? However, this is precisely the point. When people feel frightened and stressed, they need to escape from reality and confront the fear of death in a controlled situation like watching a horror movie; then the lights come on and the audience leaves unscathed. Wearing a vampire or big bird costume helps us to laugh at the absurdity of life diluting the daily scary stuff in our personal lives.

You can get to know people better on Halloween. It’s funny that we all tend to hide the authentic self by putting on different faces and even changing our manner of speech in daily dealings with others.  How many times do we say yes when we want to say no?  Then on Halloween we select a costume that holds a key to unlocking our true spirit.

Here are some Halloween costumes and what they reveal about the wearer:

  •  Vampires and zombies – wrestling with the fear of death, coping with energy vampires  who rob you of  time and space, or experiencing life with numbness like the living dead
  •  Dictators, presidential candidates – the need for personal empowerment * Witches and sorcerers – magic is a great social equalizer, transforming a drab existence  with wealth and comfort,  the ability to transform
  •  Big Bird – The spontaneous joy of childhood, releasing the free-spirited inner child who perceives innocence and goodness
  •  The naughty nurse, the submissive, or librarian – unleashed sexual longing from the constraints of social/moral censorship

Keep in mind that after you release bottled-up stress and experience much-needed fun on Halloween, you will have to ultimately face the scary bills and the nightmarish weight gain from Halloween candy.  While you might act out on Halloween because you feel like you have lost control in your daily reality, be aware that you are still in control of your budget both for purchases and caloric intake.

This year try downsizing by simplifying your costume with a creative homemade version. And hide the holiday candy, so that it is not out in the open, or if you do overindulge, consider performing an extra workout to compensate for the caloric intake. Halloween sets the pace for the holiday season soon to follow.



photo by: WxMom

Line Your Pockets In College

Heading off to college for the first time? If so, your to-do list probably includes dorm room decoration, choosing the right classes and ditching your high school duds for a decidedly collegiate style. However, Pepsi Refresh grantee Economic Empowerment Initiative (EEI) wants to add something else to your back-to-school agenda: getting your finances ready. Not sure how to get on the right path with budgets and credit? EEI’s Executive Director Samuel T. Jackson gave us some tips for ensuring you get your money straight for the next four years and beyond.

1) Build the habit. It may seem silly to make a budget when you’re about to be a broke coed, but Jackson says you need to have a plan for your money no matter how much (or how little) you’re bringing in. Even if you’re only making $100 a week from your work-study job, make sure you have money to cover your basic necessities. “Without a budget, it’s too easy to get in the habit of blowing your money on clothes, dinners and nights out with friends,” so get yourself on the right path from the very start.

2) Get plastic (but not too much). Thanks to 2009’s Credit Card Bill of Rights, if you’re not 21, you’ll need a parental cosigner or legit income verification showing that you can afford to pay with credit cards. Jackson says this isn’t a bad thing since, “Giving anybody a credit card without any education is like giving someone a car without a driver’s license.” He encourages students and parents to attend a financial seminar, learn how credit works and then get a low limit credit card to build credit early. Even if you have a low-limit card, Jackson warns, “It’s not free money. You can’t just run it up. You have to pay it on time.” He recommends students not have a credit limit more than half their monthly income, and once you have a card, only use it for emergencies. “It’s not for movie night or the club.”

3) Cultivate your credit score. Yes, your GPA is important, but it’s not the only number you need to focus on over the next four years. “Your credit score is more important than your GPA,” says Jackson. A bad credit score can follow you for at least seven years, keeping you from renting an apartment or purchasing a house or car. Plus, it’s common practice for employers to check job applicant’s credit scores, so make sure yours is in tip-top shape.

4) Bank smart: Depending on your needs, you’ll want to open an account at your school’s credit union or at a national bank. Make sure whatever account you choose has no fees and no limits on the number of deposits or types of deposits. Above all, says Jackson, stay away from currency exchanges and check cashing businesses.

5) Share the bill: Get one membership card to a bulk discount shopping store like Sam’s Club or Costco and then share that card with a group of friends. “Get your dorm hall to set up something where one weekend the hall gets toiletry items for everybody,” he suggests. You might not get the exact brand of body wash you want, but you’ll save money. He also suggests looking into book rental or buyback programs, and talking with upperclassmen to find out the savvy ways they’ve found to save money on campus.

This post originally appeared on www.refresheverything.com, as part of the Pepsi Refresh Project, a catalyst for world-changing ideas. Find out more about the Refresh campaign, or to submit your own idea today.

Photo (cc) by Flickr user stuartpilbrow

7 Simple Tips To Budget Your Money For Your Happiness

Money can’t buy happiness? Well, yes and no.

Money can’t buy great friendships, self-esteem or a personal sense of fulfillment. However, if you are in complete control of where your money is going, you can consciously choose to direct your money towards experiences and investments that give you long-term fulfillment and personal happiness. Investing your money for more education, for example, may lead you towards your dream job. Or if cooking is your passion, spending more money on new ingredients and cool cooking equipment is totally worth it. Here are 7 simple tips to budget your money for more long-term happiness.

1. Know what experiences make you the happiest and most excited. If you know what experiences or lifestyle makes you the happiest, then it will be easier for you to be more discerning about where your money goes. For example, you may be willing to spend far less money on a so-so living space if traveling to lots of exotic countries makes you the happiest. Or you may be willing to spend less money on going out and dining out so your budget can include taking care of a cat or dog.

2. Have a small monthly fund for self-indulging and self-rewarding. Someone wise once said that one key to happiness is getting constant small treats. While it’s important to save money for retirement and for building your emergency fund, have a small monthly fund to really treat yourself to something fun–whether it’s a monthly back massage, an extra-fancy cafe drink or a rocking pair of new shoes. 

3. Give away some of your money. Giving truly is important for long-lasting happiness. Whether you want to donate to a different organization every month, or sign up to regularly donate a small monthly expense to sponsor a child in a third-world country, giving away some of your money will remind you about causes and needs bigger than yourself. 

4. Be completely confident about your control over your finances. Being the queen of your personal finances gives you a sense of competence, which raises your self-esteem and happiness. If you are unsure about where your money is going every month, start brushing up on your basic personal finance and budgeting skills. 

5. Keep your eye on the bigger picture. Know what the big goals are for your long-term happiness. Does your long-term happiness include raising a family? Going back to school for your dream career field? Having the money to start your own cafe? By being committed to the bigger picture, you will be less likely to spend recklessly on less important things.

6. Spend less money on stuff, and more money on something that will keep giving. Don’t get me wrong; spending money on a cute dress is fun. But spending money on cooking lessons or language skills or yoga class will benefit you with skills that will enrich you for a very long time, as opposed to simply giving you one-time gratification that fades away fast. 

7. Less is way more. A fancy dinner date can be downgraded to a cute outdoor picnic. Buying books to borrowing library books. Driving a lot to biking a lot. Working out at the gym to working out at home with your favorite T.V. shows. Chances are when you downgrade certain spending habits to the more cost-efficient version, your life will be enriched in unexpected, happier ways. 

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / Alan Cleaver

Women and Money

I run a business that teaches women to manage their personal finances. It’s not solely for women; everyone benefits from the techniques. But I find that it’s women who most often use my services. Why? We are the multi-taskers. We care for our families, ourselves, our jobs, our environments, our communities. We put food in the fridge and on the table and get the kids out the door to school. We are emotional about our money, and with all of these things riding on it, we should be. Shouldn’t we?

Maybe we’re just emotional, period. And our financial scenarios get wrapped up in whether the dishes are done, who took the trash out, the exercise class you missed yet again (though you’ve been paying that darned gym fee for months now). Quite often, when we take a moment to organize the thing a money issue is buried under, the issue resolves before our eyes. Then it’s sayonara to the heartbreak…Until the next one!

Practice Makes The Heart Grow Fonder
Personal financial management is a practice. It’s a structure you employ to balance your life, like going to church or temple on the weekend, calling your mother on Sundays. When you map the flow of your life’s ins and outs—cash, kid projects, meetings, bills to pay—you better understand the resources you have to deal with it all. And you escape overwhelm.  

The Spending Plan
Every week, I make a spending plan. When I don’t, without fail, I overspend. Every week, I also take time to calendar weekly events. If I don’t, inevitably, something falls off the table and feelings get hurt. And every time, I ask: What happened??

If we are not leaning forward into our lives, making use of simple financial and time management systems, we will always be looking backward and asking what happened. Looking backward, our answers don’t have a lot of meaning. Creating abundance, safety and peace of mind can only happen by having a clear purpose and a plan.

Resources Are All Around Us
Don’t let the current starved economy fool you. Financial and time management is personal. Even when the big players are treading water, you can create stability in your own life and family by exercising control of your own income and outflow. Find role models whose organizational tactics you can mimic. Search the Internet for tips on planning and maximizing money. Form a neighborhood knowledge circle that meets once a week to share money education and organizational tips, and even offers resources like carpooling and errand-sharing.

The more you enrich your personal financial management skills, the richer you will actually be: richer in time, richer at heart, and even in pocket. Most importantly, supported by structure, money will be less of an emotional trigger, leaving you to spend those precious feelings on your family, your friends, your community, and the things you value. How would that feel? I’d love to hear. Email me at erin@greensherpa.com.

For more tips to mastering your personal finances and managing your life’s flow, click on my other articles on this site, or find me at GreenSherpa.com.


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