Holiday Happy Hour with Money Mondays Mavens

Posted on Facebook December 9, 2011

It was great catching up the women who attended previous Money Mondays workshops.  Being the budget-minded gals we are, we chose Slainte, a cozy Irish pub on Bowery, for it’s 2-for-1 drink specials until 7 pm.  No need to pay full price for a drink when you don’t have to, right?

Money honeys talking smart money skillz and getting our drink on!

Several months have passed since we did our Money Mondays workshop together and it was great to seeing everyone together again.  Besides catching up on life, discussing holiday plans and complaining about work, we also shared some solid budgeting and saving tips.

Getting ready for the holidays

Here’s what some of the ladies shared:

– One of the budgeting lessons at Money Mondays is that as soon as you pay down your bills, you should start paying yourself. The rule of thumb is to put about 10% of monthly income away in a savings account

At happy hour, Yoon said she has become more vigilant about saving and now abides by the 10% a month rule.  She is saving 10% of every check she gets, even if the check is for $76!!!  Love it!

– When dealing with banks and credit cards, I urge everyone to go “old-school.”   Back in the day, people would go to their local bank branch and be recognized by their friendly neighborhood bank teller.  When I was a little girl, I loved going to the bank every Saturday morning with my mom—why?  Because while she was sitting with our family banker, I would chomp on lollipops the bank always had in the lobby.

These days, people don’t really develop long-term (or even short-term) relationships with their bank tellers.  Today, banking is about convenience.  I totally get that; however, I think it’s valuable to sit down with a banker (or call the customer service line) once a quarter to review your accounts and inquire about better interest rates or specials that the bank is offering.  Banks are fighting to keep your business, so it doesn’t hurt to make them work a little.

That’s why I was so proud when Nancy told us about the cash bonus she received when switching her accounts to ING Direct.  While ING Direct is more of an online bank (hard to establish relationships that way), they do offer great deals because they are not burdened with the overhead of brick-and-mortar branches.

Nancy explained that she took advantage of a Black Friday deal at ING Direct; she switched her checking account to an ING Direct account and got cash back.  In addition, she signed up to roll over an old 401k to an IRA with ING Direct and received even more cash!  In total, those smart transactions earned Nancy almost $200 cash back!!

 One of the biggest lessons Money Mondays tries to convey is that you should be in charge of your finances and not the other way around.  It’s so easy to get caught up in holiday shopping and parties, paying bills and splurging on those amazing toeless shoe boots (a trend I’d like to see on it’s way out!)  Take some time to understand your own spending patterns.  What you spend your money on says a lot about you and there are smart ways to cater to the “wants” while paying for the “needs” and also saving.

 Kelli shared an article she read recently that explained that it’s important to pay attention to what we spend money on.  The things/food/travel/clothes that we spend money on are good indications of what is important and meaningful to us.  So it may be a good idea to take time to review your credit card bills and bank statements from the past six months to see what you spent money on.

Is there a smarter way to spend money on the things you love to do that will also allow for better saving habits?  For example, if you’re like me and spend lots of money on eating and drinking out, this might mean you value socializing and companionship.  Maybe consider planning ahead to have a big steak dinner once a month—even put it on the calendar—and then make sure to plan smaller and less expensive outings as well.

– Another lesson from Money Mondays—if you’re using a credit card, make sure there is some kind of benefit to using it and make sure to take advantage of those benefits.  Does this credit card have a low interest rate on purchases?  Does it give you cash back?  Do you earn points on the purchases you make that you can trade in for airline miles or gifts?

Recently, I found an old credit card that I already paid off that had tons of points on it.  I called the credit card company and got access to the rewards website (I even lost the credit card a while ago so couldn’t get on the website!) and looked through all the amazing things my points would get me–but eventually traded in the points for about $250 worth of gift cards from Best Buy and Macy’s!  Guess what my family is getting for Christmas???

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