Today I sat for two hours waiting for my car to be serviced, and I caught a rerun of Oprah. It was the show about people who had received windfalls of money and their lives had gone to hell.
To tell you the truth I never believed the "money doesn't buy you happiness" thing. I have had money in my life and let me tell you I was overjoyed. I have been on safari to Africa, stayed at some of the finest resorts in the world, and eaten meals at restaurants I will never forget (including some just recently in Sr.John).
I think the most fascinating thing about money is your relationship to it. On the Oprah show they featured a homeless man who had received $100,000 from a benefactor and they made a documentary about what he did with it. What he did was, he blew it all and has nothing. Why? Why would a homeless man who was not on drugs, passed a psych evaluation and was a good, honest person ruin his future? One reason: he thought the money would make people respect him, and that he would finally like himself.
This is not what he said of course. What he said was he blamed society, and that people took advantage of him. He got that money and bought a friend a car, bought himself a car, lent money to everyone in his family and spent it all. All for the sake of being "liked". Oprah called him on the "society blame thing", wasn't it society that gave him $100,000? He said his life was worse and he wished he had never gotten the money.
How you view yourself, is how you will treat money. Hate yourself and you will spend every cent you have. Love yourself and you will save. Simplistic yes. But I'm right. Money will not make you like yourself more, or give you the confidence you've been lacking. You can't buy friends or family with money (at least ones who truly care about you). Money is there for security. It's your insurance policy, and it does not define you. Having discipline with your money, knowing where it's going and how it's spent, is healthy. Continuing to spend it and ignoring your problems is not. I have been there.
Thanks for joining me for money week. You made it through like a champ!
Credit cards are evil. If you don't believe me rent Maxed Out. I am serious. It's scary.
If you're not in debt, you are my hero and probably only one of ten people in America. If you are in debt, hello, this is for you.
Here's how you get out of debt, FAST, in three easy steps!
1. Get a number. How much debt are you in? Look at all your balances and know where you are. This might help you to stop using credit cards. (maybe not) Also find out the minimum payment due and the current APR.
2. Call credit card companies to get your rate down. They may reject you one week and do it for you the next so stay on them no matter what they say. Ask to speak to a supervisor, tell them you're thinking about closing or switching to another card. be a bully! You can even speak to the supervisors supervisor (called a manager) and see what you can get! Write everyones name down that you speak with so you can keep track.
3. List all credit cards, amounts owed and APRs on piece of paper. Pay off one card at a time, closing ones you don't need, and keeping a few. Systematically paying them off will make you feel great! To know which to pay off first do a little math. Take the total debt and divide it by the minimum payment. This will give you a score. For instance I owe $108.41 to Victorias Secret (gotta make Hubby happy!), and my minimum payment is $10. Gives me a score of 10. In other words it will take me 10 minimum payments to pay it off. The lower the number, the sooner you will pay that card off so it goes on top of the list of cards to pay first. Get it? List all the scores lowest to highest and systematically pay them off! Of course if you lower your rates you'll get more bang for your buck!
Some people say to pay off the highest interest card first but you don't get the same thrill because it won't happen as fast. This method above is from David Bach, author of Smart Couples Finish Rich among others!
We have all probably heard about the "Latte Factor". Theory is that you buy a latte every day, maybe a muffin, maybe go to Marshalls (had to throw that in), there's the extra money you should be saving. It's hard to live with no lattes, but maybe a limit would be good.
Even better than the "Latte Factor" is the "Pay Yourself First" plan. This is the key to saving and not having to be disciplined! Hooray! Here's how it works: Whatever you start or currently have whether it's an IRA or a money market account or whatever, set it up so that the money automatically comes out each month. For me my IRA is set up to take out money from my checking account every two weeks. Guess what? I don't even miss the money! That's why I just upped it this week. This is a must and I am telling you it works. Pay yourself first before you pay bills or Uncle Sam!
Here are a few other suggestions and tricks I found out about to help you find more to save.
1. Gasbuddy.com--With gas prices going insane find out the cheapest place to buy it! Go to this site and plug in your zip code!
2. Meal planning. Go to Organizing Junkie and learn all about Meal Planning Monday. I have saved so much in groceries sticking to the plan!
3. Home phone and Cell? Some of our friends have dropped their home phone lines all together! Saves you money!
4. Credit Cards- Get rid of you debt and save a ton of cash. Until then go to Bankrate.com and find the lowest rates on every type of loan including credit cards.
5. Start Paying Cash- Spending hurts when you don't take out the plastic.
What are your saving secrets? How do you find money to save?
Hubby and I have had money struggles and continue to. The older we get, the more expenses there are. Add kids to that and whammo. Most young people (okay I'm not that young but I'm still in my thirties!), either have no clue about saving or putting money away, or just think they can't because they don't make enough. The truth is, the earlier the better! When you're young and haven't started a family it's time to start saving! Get to it!!!!!
Hello compound interest? It's me The Mrs. Why the hell didn't I start saving sooner?
Mellody Hobson (love her) was on GMA a couple weeks ago and had some fabulous advice. Here's her answers to the big burning question:
How can I retire a millionaire?
At Age 25
At 25 years old, if you can save $75 a week, or $300 a month, in a mutual fund with an average return of about 8 percent, you would have $1 million by the time you turn 65.
The first place to start is with your employer's retirement plan, such as a 401(k). While I always advise maxing out your contributions, this is not always possible, so at a minimum, be sure to contribute enough to qualify for your employer match. According to the Profit Sharing/401k Council of America, about 78 percent of employers offer some type of match.
Not taking advantage of this is the same as passing up free money. If you don't have an employer retirement plan, definitely invest in a Roth IRA if you meet the income requirements, or a traditional IRA. Twenty-five is also the age to start an emergency savings fund (with three to six months of living expenses) as well as to pay down any outstanding debt and be sure to avoid building up new debt.
At Age 35
If you haven't saved anything yet, you will need to sock away $671 per month (also in an investment earning 8 percent annually) to reach $1 million by 65.
Again, first and foremost, take advantage of your 401(k) plan. If you can, contribute the maximum, which is $15,500 in 2008. You also may want to consider other savings vehicles that offer tax advantages, such as your home state 529 plan if you have kids.
That said, keep in mind, your retirement savings must take priority over saving for your kids' future education expenses. There are multiple options for your kids to finance their higher education, and they will have their whole careers ahead of them to pay off any loans. But, as I have said many times, there are no scholarships for retirement.
At Age 45:
If you're starting from $0, you will need to save $1,698 per month (again at an 8 percent annual return) to make $1 million over the next 20 years. While the pressures on your finances may be greater at this age with growing children and aging parents, it is critically important to keep at it and save for your own future.
If possible, contribute the maximum to your retirement plan and also invest in an IRA. The bulk of your savings — or 80 percent — should be in stocks, with the remaining 20 percent in more conservative investments like bonds.
While I am biased toward stock investments, I have always counseled diversification across different types of stocks, which helps to mitigate risk. To that end, make sure you are not overweighted in company stock and that your equity diversification is made mutual funds instead of individual securities.
At Age 55
If you have no money saved, it becomes very difficult to get to $1 million in 10 years, but you can do it if you save $5,446 a month in an investment with an average annual return of 8 percent.
In addition to maxing out your contributions to your employer-sponsored retirement plan, also take advantage of catch-up contributions, which allow you to contribute an additional $5,000 per year. At this stage in your life, your investments should be 75 percent stocks and 25 percent bonds.
If you are starting with little or nothing in savings at this point, you definitely should consider working past 65 years old. Not only will your retirement savings be greater, but your Social Security benefits will also be higher.
Okay that was the real deal but you needed to know the facts. Don't get scared, just make a plan (we'll get to that later in the week) Who's ready to start being a millionaire? Tomorrow, we'll look for ways to cut back so you have more money to save!!!
If I hear another person say "well you know...in this economy..." I'll rip out my hair and scream. Okay I know things are not the greatest but sheesh! Hubby and I even have a joke that we say that even when something has nothing to do with the economy. I say: "I burned your toast babe"...". He says: "well you know in this economy..." and we laugh. Tee hee.
I am choosing to focus on the positive and pro-active as I always try to do! Next week is finance week on my blog. We'll delve into everything from retiring, investing and financial planning, to where to buy the cheapest gas. We're all going to be millionaires if you stick with One Fabulous Mom!!!
In other news Grandmommie got Landon the cutest clothes I've ever seen. These are what I call milestone man clothes! He got his first tie, first leather belt, first pair of Nantucket red shorts, and first navy blue cashmere cardigan.
He is one lucky birthday boy!!!
Last but not least I am meeting some LA bloggers out tonight! Isn't that so fun!? If you're a blogger in the area let me know! For the rest of you, I'll tell you who, what, and where when, when I report back!
First off let me thank all the well wishers and prayers that are coming my way..I can feel them already! Just be specific! I don't want triplets! LOL!
In other news she's back. The purple velvet couch that was my Grandmothers. My Grandmother was my idol and best friend. When I was a child I would go in my Grandmothers living room and visit the couch. I would just sit on it very gently and stare at it. I had never seen a purple couch before or since.
I had lent the couch, after I had inherited it, to my cousin. She had moved here sans couch. Before I knew it, five years passed through the hourglass like a snap.
Then the phone call I had been waiting for. My couch was coming home. My Grandmother was an artist (painter), a supreme baby spoiler, and had a wicked sense of humor that could make anyone smile. She loved all things purple and fabulous. Her house was filled with art and artifacts from all her travels. Mysterious things she found on archaeological digs that just blew my little mind.
I was her first grandchild but we had a bond that went far beyond Grandmother and grandchild. We were best friends. She told me her deep dark stuff and I told her mine. Her deepest darkest stuff was about how much she missed my Grandfather and how he was the love of her life. She still had his clothes in the drawers, even though he'd passed away over a decade ago. I didn't judge her. We understood each other.
When she died, she left me the purple velvet couch that I had "visited" in her living room. This I had expected. What I didn't expect was that she would leave me her wedding ring. That blew my mind. Her single sign of devotion to my Grandfather and she left it to me.
The purple couch and I have been united and tonight I sat on it. I thought of my Grandmother, My Grandfather, and all things purple and fabulous.
You may have read in previous posts that we got our cutey pie, a now two year old Landon, through in vitro. The real deal is that we tried for a year, then started tests which came up with NOTHING, and then tried artificial insemination to no avail.
I have to tell you that dealing with fertility issues is a marriage killer, a self esteem mutilator, and a faith shaker all rolled into one. Hubby and I heard from everyone on the issue, because of course everyones an expert on making babies..."just relax and don't think about it", or "drink some wine"...Hello? I have drank enough wine to know that it was not going to make me a baby. I asked myself why it was happening to me, the worst possible question you can ask yourself because you WILL come up with an answer.
For us, the saving grace was a preacher who divulged he had similar issues. He was unable to conceive and had adopted a boy. He consoled me, and prayed with me as we changed doctors and found a miracle worker here in Los Angeles.(Email me if you want his name, or if you want to talk about this!)
He told us that because I had my appendix out and there were a few complications, he thought scar tissue was preventing us from getting pregnant. He recommended we go to in vitro. We were a little hesitant because of multiples and the costs. It is $20,000 to do in vitro my friends. Holy cow. Making matters worse, health insurance companies in California DON'T PAY A DIME of the costs.
Luckily and with everyone praying their bibles off, we got Landon on the first try. Three eggs in, and one Landon came out. I find myself again at the start of a fertility cycle. Well, not really, we have frozen embryos so it will be way easier then starting from scratch. I am a little daunted, a little excited, and a little scared. I'm hoping again to get lucky on our first try and have a baby. This is where you come in!
Please pray for us as we embark on this journey once again. Pray we have one (or two) healthy baby(ies) and get it all wrapped up on our first go round. I will keep you posted about our process and let you know when the good news happens. Until then keep us on your prayer list please!
Far From Perfect, who was on my blog-cation to Greece, is too fabulous.. Before I even took her on vacation, she gave me an award! It's the Just Plain Fun To Read Award. So I am passing it on to three of my favorite people. (Of course it's nearly impossible to pick!!!)
Well, after our yachting expedition we watched the sunset in Little Venice. We had drinks right on the beach.
Then we had dinner at one of the finest restaurants on Mykonos. Katrines, or La Maison de Catrine, is one of the nicest and most established restaurants in Hora/Mykonos. Even though we had asked for directions in advance, the labyrinth-like interior streets of Mykonos inevitably had us asking again!
We had a true Greek dining experience, as we sat at a little candle-lit table right on the sidewalk in the winding, narrow alley way and got to do all sorts of people watching. Katrins is in a beautiful boutique-style location on a narrow walking street is lined with whitewash tables and large picture windows. With no more than ten inside tables, guests vie for the best positioning under an exaggerated ceiling and homey-décor.
We shared an artichoke hearts stuffed with mushrooms, spinach, crab, and melted cheese, as well as an avocado filled with seafood and topped with cheese. The lamb chops we ordered were tender and fresh. It's hard to go wrong with lamb in Greece!
Then as we wandered the streets at night we found a club, was it Space Bar? We had to dance! The music was too good! Then we walked right up to the bartender.
Hello Mr. Hot Greek Bartender. Fifty shots of Ouzo please! No! We're serious!!! We may e leaving Greece tomorrow but we are going out with a bang!
Tomorrow a little day tout of the Mykonos sites before we leave!!!
Time to hit the beach. Mykonos is where the truly jet set come to hang out and we of course are no exception! Let's do some people watching shall we? It's my favorite thing to do... This beach is crowded but we just have to see it right? But luckily we've taken these water taxis...
And moved to Agrari Beach, near by. Ahhhhhh....
I'm hungry. Let's walk down here to the beach "snack bar"....
We were greeted at the door with a glass of champagne, but you didn't need it to fall in love with this place! Overlooking Ornos Bay, Kivotos Club is just far enough from the clubs to get some serious rest.
Let's sit for a moment while they bring our bags to our rooms. I think this is going to be fabulous!
I chartered a flight for us...do you realize how many of us there are? This blogcation now counts 50 ladies on vacation! Now that is a party! And no better place to party than Mykonos.
Well here we are...
Mykonos does not have the sweeping cliffs that Santorini does, but it's charm lies in the cobble stone streets and views of "Little Venice". Santorini as an island, sighs, takes a deep breath and relaxes. Mykonos says: "Let's go and have sex in the ocean".
Sex oozes out of every pore this island, so you single girls can have your fun. For us married ladies, we will just live vicariously and get to have more time with nothing to do! Heaven!
Oh wait, there are a bunch of black mercedes S.U.V's pulling up. Ahhh...it's the drivers from our hotel. Looks like we're in good hands already.
After an afternoon exploring and then diving and relaxing in the pool I thought we'd head over to Oia.
Oia (or Pano Meria, Apanomeria, pronounced E-ah), faces south in a fishbone layout. The main street connects across the top of the cliff! There are narrow streets lined with shops to explore and the sunset here in unreal.
The sun is setting and we are going here: Cafe 1800. Amazing and one of the oldest buildings on the island!
But right now this is our view!
After dinner we will shop! Pack your bags! Tomorrow we leave for Mykonos! If you haven't met up with us yet you can join us there!
There is no beating this view and we needed to get out of the sun for a bit...I am a little sunburned! Darn!
The Blue note is walking distance back to our hotel. We'll snoop a little on the way back!
You have to try the Mythos beer. I don't usually like beer, but it's so good. Especially since we're going to have a little appetizer party or rather "mezethes" party, a long standing Greek tradition, while we're here. I am ordering kefthedes (meatballs), greek salad, octopus, and saganaki (fried cheese! Yes please!), of course there will be fresh pita bread with hummus. Oh I also ordered spanakopita and terropita (cheese and spinach wrapped in filo dough, sort of like an empanada). We'll also have tzatziki (cucumber yogurt dip), dolmades (stuffed grape leaves) and Taramosalata (caviar dip).
Tonight we will explore Oia. Bring your wallets because the shopping goes on way into the night! Their jewelry and custom made sandals will knock you out!
If your kids are dying to have a "sleep over" but are too young, try having a pretend one. Invite the friend over and leave the kids with a baby sitter while you and the parents go out for dinner. Let the kids have their sleeping bags and PJ's and go to sleep. When they wake up in the morning asking where their friend is, say they just left!