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Cut Spending By Looking At Hours Of Work Put In To Pay For Stuff.

How many hours of your week is spent working just to pay for your “wants” versus your “needs”? Do you have to put in overtime just to keep up with minimum credit card payments, or can you survive comfortably on your regular salary? Are you working for your stuff or are you working for you? These are important questions to ask yourself when you feel the desire to spend your hard-earned money on “stuff” rather than putting it in savings or buying necessities. While most people work to live, many people work so they can try to buy their happiness — and it’s never going to work. Instead, they find themselves working longer hours at jobs they hate or extra jobs just to try to keep up with paying for their “stuff” that is supposed to being them happiness. What a horrible way to have to live! When you start breaking down how many hours of your day are spent working just to pay for the extras in life, suddenly the extras are not that attractive anymore. If I was still spending like I did in my early 20’s, I would have to be working 3 jobs just to put food on the table. It’s definitely not a good way to go through life, and I am glad I stopped all that nonsense sooner rather than later.

Just for fun, let’s do some math and look at the work vs. “stuff” exchange rate, shall we? (And this is not taking into account taxes being taken out, so the real numbers are even more)

  • Let’s say that a new decent-sized LCD flat-screen TV is $1,000. If you get paid $20 per hour at work (more than the national average), you have to work 50 hours just to pay for that TV… with cash. You have to work even more if you buy on credit and pay interest. How much better does the TV you already have look now?
  • BMW’s are great cars, don’t get me wrong. I love the way they drive and the way the look. But at a minimum of $33,600 for a 4 door 3 Series, they aren’t cheap. Using the same $20/hour rate, paying for that car in cash would take 1,680 hours of your working life. That’s 42 weeks of work just to pay for that car! (And way more if you finance it) Is it worth it? Not for me. As much as I love cars and driving fast, owing that much isn’t in the cards for me anymore. A Honda Civic is much more my speed, as it’s more reliable than the BMW, can still seat 4-5 people, easily cruises at whatever speed you want, gets good MPG, and still looks nice. Plus, it’s starting price is about $18,000 less than the BMW is. At $15,000 it would take you 750 hours to pay cash for that car – or 18.75 weeks. That’s like getting 23 weeks of vacation just for buying the cheaper car!
  • Let’s talk about clothes for a minute. Clothing is one of the biggest “extra” expenses of many people, as most don’t need designer duds to go to work or see a movie in. 99% of the time I do just fine in my $15 t-shirts and Gap jeans for $39. And when I used to have to look nice to go to work, I still bought my clothes at places like Gap, Target, Express Men and Macy’s. Nothing high-end for me! However, some people I know spend $200+ on a single pair of jeans or $250+ on a pair of shoes – it’s crazy! I have never (and never will) spending that kind of cash on a pair of jeans! Who wants to work 10 hours just to own jeans? Not me, thanks. I have better things to do with my time!

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Creative Commons License photo credit: Jeff Karpala

Imagine how much less you could work if you considered how much you have to work to pay for your stuff? More time for hobbies, for family, for friends. More time doing the things you love to do instead of working to pay off your $200 jeans. I stopped trading my time for “stuff” years ago, and now mostly buy the things I need, with an occasional splurge on a wanted item now and then. When I go to make bigger purchases, I take into account how much work it is going to take to pay for the item in question, and I ask myself if it is worth the time put in. If the answer is yes, than I go ahead and buy it. But oftentimes, the answer is no – and the item gets denied entry into our house. Do you do anything like this to control your spending? If so, let us all hear about it. And if not, well, give it a try – I bet it will keep your spending and consumption habits down!

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Sunday Money Roundup – Taking A Short Break Edition.

Hope you all had a great 4th of July! Just wanted to let everyone know that I am going on a road trip back east for a few weeks to see some family, some old friends, and to just take some time off from working. I will still be publishing some articles while I am gone, but they won’t be every day as they are normally. “See” you when I get back!

Saving For Serenity asks the question “Affluence and Poverty: Where Do We Belong?

Money Ning talks about something I plan on doing soon – A Volunteer Vacation.

Gather Little By Little writes about some things that are worth spending money on…and I agree with him on these items!

Five Cent Nickel wants you to Avoid Do-It-Yourself Disasters.

Moolanomy wants to help you Achieve Financial Freedom One Expense At A Time.

Debt Free Adventure writes about following through on your financial goals. Everyone needs help with this one!

Mrs. Micah talks about the new income-based student loan payment plans.

Almost Frugal wants to help you Take a Vacation from High Prices on Travel.

No Credit Needed talks about Breaking Bad Financial Habits. You know you need help with this one!

Weakonomics finishes out the roundup this week with a post about The Fascinating World Behind Credit Cards And Fraud Detection.

See you soon!

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Money Quote Friday – True Bliss Edition.

Materialism is the only form of distraction from true bliss.” -Doug Horton

If you are depending on your “stuff” to make you happy, you are setting yourself up for a life of misery. True happiness comes from who you are, not what you own. Have a great weekend, and enjoy the 4th tomorrow!

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How To Fix A Mistake On Your Credit Report.

Whether someone alerts you to it or not, sometimes mistakes show up on your credit report. And while I have not had any major things come up, I have had credit lines (and even an old car loan!) show as still being open when in fact they had been closed a long while back. If you have been told or are curious to see if there are any mistakes on your report and want to work on fixing them, here are some steps you should take.

First off, you should have a copy of your credit report from each of the three big credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. Keep in mind that you are entitled to one free credit report from each per year, and you can get that from www.annualcreditreport.com. This is the only legitimate place sponsored by the credit bureaus themselves where you can get a free credit report online, so do not be fooled by other services who offer you free credit reports in exchange for signing up for credit monitoring and the like. I get my 3 reports a year from that site – one every 4 months so I can see my report throughout the year. If you already got your free ones, you can pay for another copy from the agencies themselves.

credit repair
Creative Commons License photo credit: TheTruthAboutMortgage.com

Search carefully through all three reports for the mistake(s) that you think might exist. Be sure to check for open and closed lines of credit, credit cards you don’t have, bank loans that might not be yours, addresses that you never lived at – anything out of the norm that you don’t recognize could be a sign of an error.

When you find any mistake, file a dispute claim with each credit bureau online at their website. Explain to them what you think the issue is and provide any backup information that will help them verify your claims. The credit bureaus will then contact the bank/lender/credit card company and see what information they can get back from them either agree with your claim or deny it.

If the company denies your claims, you will have to take the issue up with them directly. So if the problem lies with Visa, you will have to deal with them to try to get some resolution. If the company agrees with your claims, then the credit bureaus will remove the error from your credit report.

It is always good to monitor your credit report all year, and that is why I pull one of my free ones every 4 months so I can keep track. If you have not already started doing that, go ahead and get a copy of one of them from www.annualcreditreport.com. and start monitoring your reports!

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Find The 2009 Sales Tax Holiday For Your State.

It’s just about that time of year again, when most states in America offer up a few days to shop without paying sales tax. While some states are not having the days this year (Massachusetts & California being two states without “no sales tax” days), many states will have sales tax holiday shopping days for their residents. To help you out, I have assembled the following list of the dates, number of shopping days, the items included, and the website you can go to for more information. Enjoy!

Alabama

August 7-9, clothing – $100, computers – $750, school supplies – $50, books – $30, http://www.ador.state.al.us/salestax/SalesTaxHol.htm

Connecticut

August 16-22, clothing and footwear – $300, http://www.ct.gov/

District of Columbia

August 1-9 & Nov. 27 – Dec. 6, clothing – $100, school supplies – $100, http://otr.cfo.dc.gov/otr/

Georgia

July 30 – Aug. 2, school supplies – $20, clothing – $100, computer – $1,500

Georgia

October 1-4, energy and water efficient products – $1,500

Iowa

August 7-8, clothing – $100, http://www.iowaccess.org/tax/

Louisiana

August 7-8 , all TPP – $2,500, http://www.revenue.louisiana.gov/

Mississippi

July 31-August 1, clothing & footwear – $100

Missouri

August 7-9, clothing – $100, computers – $3,500, school supplies – $50, http://www.dor.mo.gov/tax/

New Mexico

August 7-9, clothing – $100, computers – $1,000, school supplies – $15, http://www.state.nm.us/tax/

North Carolina

August 7-9, clothing – $100, school supplies – $100, instructional material – $300, computers – $3,500, other comp. – $250, sports equip – $50, http://www.dornc.com/

North Carolina

November 6-8, energy star products, http://www.dornc.com/

Oklahoma

August 7-9, clothing – $100, http://www.tax.ok.gov/

South Carolina

August 7-9, clothing, school supplies, computers, other, http://www.sctax.org/

Tennessee

August 7-9, clothing – $100, school supplies – $100, computers – $1,500, http://tn.gov/revenue/

Texas

August 21-23, clothing and backpacks – $100, http://www.window.state.tx.us/

Virginia

August 7-9, clothing – $100, school supplies – $20, http://www.tax.virginia.gov/

Virginia

October 9-12, energy star products – $2,500, http://www.tax.virginia.gov/

West Virginia

September 1 – November 30, energy star products – $5,000


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