Be Fiscally Flexible Like A Yogi

Probably my number one financial rule in life is that I do NOT like to spend my money on managing money. This means I don’t want to pay for my bank services, I don’t want to pay for my credit card services, and I don’t ever, ever, ever want to pay interest on my credit card.

As you know, I am a fanatic about paying off my credit card because compound interest works both ways, baby. I have never carried a balance.

But this year, I have a fellowship that comes with a significant amount of professional development/travel funding. I get to go on awesome trips (New Orleans, St. Pete, Canary Islands!) but I have to front the money and then I have to wait 6-10 weeks to be reimbursed.

I just can’t afford to front the money, pay off my credit cards and still make rent. So, for this year only, I broke my cardinal rule (sort of).

I signed up for a credit card that allows me to pay no interest on a balance for 14 months. I carry a balance on this credit card, and as soon as I am reimbursed for my travels I pay it right off. I don’t include this credit card in my Mint reporting, because it’s money that is outside of my budget and it is money that I would not be spending if not for this fellowship.

I normally would NEVER advocate for this sort of financial planning, but in this situation I needed more cash flow flexibility. I could really get myself in trouble if I forgot that the money that I am getting reimbursed for has already been spent..so I am very strict with myself, and it has saved me a lot of worry and money-transferring.

Moral of the story: it is ok to break your own rules, as long as they make sense. Be flexible. Try financial yoga!

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Bills Schmills

I am sorry to tell you the terrible truth of adulthood: Remember all of those times that your parents griped about how you were an unappreciative teenager because they worked hard to put a roof over your head and you thought, “Well, duh, that is your job, you are a parent.”

Your parents were right. It is hard just to keep a roof over your head.

As an adult you get to do all sorts of fun things like drink beer and stay up late whenever you want and watch tv show marathons on Netflix for 8 hours straight and eat ice cream for breakfast. But you also have to pay bills. Which not only is a major bummer of adulthood but also makes mail as an adult way less fun.

Here are some bad things about bills:

-You have already used the water, cable, gas, phone…so it’s lame that you have to pay for it after. It’s not like you’re getting something new and exciting that you are paying for. Bummer.

-You need a stinkin’ stamp to send your check in. And you need enough checks (Not a problem, if you have Charles Schwab!) And you have to remember to bring it to the mailbox. Ugh.

-They don’t all come at the same time each month and some come online and it’s kind of hard to keep all those things organized, don’t they know you have a life?!?

-If you are late or you move a lot (me) and sometimes your mail doesn’t show up in a timely manner, you have to pay late fees and it impacts your credit. So lame.

Here are some good things about bills:

…but even though we hate bills (unanimously, survey says), you still have to pay them. So the goal is to make paying them as painless as possible. Actually, the goal is to forget about them altogether so that you can focus your adult energy on eating ice cream for breakfast. But how can you forget about them altogether without wrecking your credit and/or having your power cut off (which would be horrible because then you couldn’t read my blog)?

AUTOMATIC BILL PAY. It is a miracle. Look online at your bank’s website. It takes 20 minutes to set up, you will never, ever be late on a bill again, and you don’t have to think about your bills. At all.

Here are some tips for making the most of this modern day miracle:

-Set up your bills to be due right when your paycheck comes in. That way, you won’t ever have to worry about overdrafting your checking account, and also you know that whatever ca$h money is left in there is yours for the using (within your budget, of course).

-If, for some reason, you don’t want to pay a whole bill at once (maybe your credit card balance is too high?) you can always set up your bank to automatically make the minimum payment and you will NEVER pay late fees ever! Yeah!

-If you have some bills that are due to, say, a roommate or your mom (thanks for the family plan phone discount, Mom!), you can set up your bank to automatically mail a check to an individual at a designated time, too. Saves stamps, saves checks, saves time, saves nagging, saves feeling guilty about forgetting and then worrying about tallying up past due amounts. Pretty awesome. AND it improves adulthood mail for the recipient, because getting a check in the mail is always nicer than getting a bill in the mail.

Now that you have cleared out that monthly awful nagging guilty feeling in your brain, go make yourself a margarita and toast yourself for being a super capable adult.

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