Quick budgeting update: I shared in my Shine article on budgeting that I always round up to the nearest dollar what I spend. This really really helps when you've hit financial lows because then when you balance it against what the bank/credit union says you have (keeping in mind, of course, any outstanding payments that haven't been deducted yet), you just might find you have more than you think! I needed to use this, and found almost $200! Woo hoo!!
I realize this still doesn't make me an expert, but there is some so-called expert advice I've read (often more than once) that I could do with never reading again:
Skip the morning latte. I already do, thanks. Yes, I love Starbucks, but I'm rarely actually there. I make my coffee at home. And if I do go to Starbucks, I buy a grande drip which, with my reusable cup that I have with me at all times, costs me less than $2. Leave me and my coffee alone. It is not a budget-breaker.
Do your own mani/pedi. The last time I had a mani/pedi was 5 years ago and it was a birthday gift from a friend.
Bring your lunch from home. Okay, first of all, stop assuming that those of us looking for financial advice are stupid. Do you think this is a new concept that no one has ever thought of before?!? Most people that are willing to do this already are. And those of us that aren't? There are a variety of reasons. For some of us (like single, working moms), this is an excellent way to hang out with friends that doesn't involve hiring a babysitter. For others, it's an opportunity to network. For the record, I do go home for lunch a couple of times a week, sometimes I go for very inexpensive lunches, and yes, sometimes they're not so cheap. But this one is not so much a budget-breaker for me as an area for cutting back if/when the budget has gone topsy-turvy. But mostly, what bothers me about this particular piece of advice is the complete lack of originality.
"Never" or "always" anything. From "never pay full price for anything" to "always pay your credit card balance in full," the idea of always or never is usually not very realistic, and sets us up to think of ourselves as failures if/when the time comes that we break a so-called cardinal rule. To make it worse, we usually break these rules when something bad has happened; health issues, a lay-off or pay cut, divorce, car problems, etc. Financial advice should contain some room for the unexpected...and usually un-welcome stuff of life.
Cut back on _____. Whether it's cable, eating out or whatever the author found particularly useful for them does not make it necessarily so for the reader. Again, it's the assumption that we're stupid; that we haven't actually looked at where our money is going. We also each have our own priorities. We either already canceled HBO or we feel the cost is worth it. What I found to be much more useful was looking at my actual spending every week, every month, and finding which items I resented. Then, it became easier to cut back in areas that I personally felt were wasteful.
And thus begins a more positive look on what financial advice was actually helpful. More to come...