My friend P realized that over the summer, she had unwittingly been spending a lot of money at Starbucks. For one, they were often heading out for adventures out & about, so she was stopping in the drive-through in their neighbourhood rather than lingering over a homemade drink at home. Her kids out of school meant more people in the car requesting their own hot chocolates or iced teas or whatever, adding up more quickly than usual. By the fall, the unthinking minimal treat expense had become a full-blown, costly habit. This reflected a bigger trend in their spending habits that had developed in the midst of some stressful family goings-on.
The financial situation, months later when they were forced to reckon with their decisions, was overwhelming and stressful; it needed immediate lifestyle changes. But, she also knew that going from full-on to cold-turkey would be unrealistic. If she tried, she knew it would just result in failure, disappointment, and discouragement. So, she decided to budget for $15/week at Starbucks: enough to get herself a couple of things a week, or splurge once for the whole family.
I respected so much that she had the wisdom to set herself up for success and to create a goal that was realistic & attainable.
You may be very financially stable, but it’s easy for little things like this to run away with any of us (and our spare change).
I believe that we have a chance to start anew every single day of the year, but certainly, times like the New Year are great opportunities for assessment. If you want to “do better” in 2016, start with one item, one area. Create a little budget, and stick to it.
Dig around through your expenses; there may be one area that perhaps became the norm over the holidays but wasn’t previously. Maybe it is coffee at a coffee shop or meals on the go. Maybe you bought fancy cheese for some holiday hosting and now it’s nestled itself into the regular grocery list. Maybe it is booze or soda, which are such a prevalent part of holiday consumption that they may have become the norm (guilty!)
If you are consuming any of these things at a higher rate than before, do an estimate on the difference (say, currently vs. what you were spending in October). Do a little quick math on what the difference would be if you add it up over a month, or a year. If you’re happy with the results and have the resources to sustain it: great! If it seems unreasonable to you ($200/year on havarti cheese?!), tackle that one thing and make a change.
No judgment. No guilt. Just you & your wallet. I am a champion of the small steps!
Our production partner, Basha, began in one little office in Dhaka, Bangladesh — the most densely populated city in the world. Over the many years they have been in business, creating kantha textiles & jewelry, they have expanded: both in number of staff, and also locations.
It was helpful for some women to leave the norm of their old life environment, to get away, to start fresh in a new city. So, Basha created different offices in varied locations. They established a girls' home to safely house daughters & other vulnerable young women as they come of age.
As Basha has continued to identify the great need of women in Bangladesh, there is another area they have expanded: actively seeking women in brothels & whispering the potential of a new life.
As I was packing for our first family international flight (to London UK), I wanted to make sure that we had everything we needed to make our overnight journey the most comfortable. As you know, those flights can be a little chilly - so I wanted to bring blankets for all of us. Naturally, I wondered...
Can I bring a blanket onto a plane?
In short: YES! According to the TSA you are allowed to both check a blanket in your luggage and to bring a blanket on a plane within a carry-on (and this also includes electric blankets). You can even bring your own blanket in your arms as you would a jacket or hat, without it counting towards your carry-on or personal item limits or paying any extra fees.
When I got married as a baby (4 days over 21), I was still a student. Then, we both worked for a bit, then we had babies, and then my husband was a student. For almost all of those years, our "budget" was: try to not spend money.
This head-in-the-sand tactic has served us... ok... BUT, now that I'm pretending to be a real grownup (at age 35 — youngest children tend to be late to the responsibility party), I'm taking a new approach!
After Christmas, I started using You Need a Budget (YNAB) to track every expense & plan for future spending. Two months in, here’s what I think.
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