Money Advice from Shakespeare

Today is William Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday. In honor of the Bard, I thought I would nerd out and give some money advice based on his work. Who knew the Greatest Writer of All Time was also a financial counselor?

He looks pretty good for his age.

He looks pretty good for his age.

Foul cankering rust the hidden treasure frets,
But gold that’s put to use more gold begets.

Venus and Adonis

 Translated:

Simply put, INVEST! Although I’m sure we’d all love to have enough money that we referred it as “hidden treasure” and kept it stock-piled somewhere untouched, I think we can agree with Shakespeare that it wouldn’t really do us any good. You want your money to grow. You want it help you start a business. You want it to make a difference in your life. Keep some money in savings, but have a financial counselor help you invest the rest.

 

All that glitters is not gold, often have you heard that told.

The Merchant of Venice 2.7.65-66

Translated:

Apparently this was a cliché even in Shakespeare’s time, which might prove just how true it is. The key take-away: money isn’t everything. It’s so easy to get caught up in the “grass is always greener on the other side” game; life would be so much better if I just had a new car, a higher level job, or a bigger house. Just because something is newer, more expensive, or shinier than what you have, doesn’t mean it’s better. Appreciate the things you have!

 

Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy, 
But not express’d in fancy; rich, not gaudy; 
For the apparel oft proclaims the man, 
And they in France of the best rank and station 
Are most select and generous, chief in that. 
Neither a borrower nor a lender be; 
For loan oft loses both itself and friend, 
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry. 

Hamlet 1.3.556-563, Polonius to Laertes

Translated:

There’s a lot of good stuff in this soliloquy so let me break it down for you:

  1. Live within your means. All that “Costly thy habit” stuff basically just means that you shouldn’t have spending habits your wallet can’t afford. If you can’t pay for it, don’t buy it. This is a rule modern Americans break a lot. It’s so easy to charge something to your credit card, the payment is delayed, and then you don’t really have to think in the moment about whether or not you can afford the item. It’s not until you get your credit card statement in the mail that you realize how much trouble you’re in and by then it’s too late to do anything. Polonius is saying it’s okay to enjoy nice things, but only if you can pay for them.
  2. Don’t lend money to others, especially your friends. You’re not a bank. Or the mafia. Not only are you risking not getting your money back when you casually lend it out to friends, but you’re also putting the friendship in jeopardy because owing someone money is awkward.
  3. On the flip side, don’t be that friend that’s always borrowing money from everyone. If you constantly rely on others to buy your drinks and never pick up the tab yourself, pretty soon your Saturday nights will start to look kind of lonely. Loans should be given by credit unions or banks and only for purchases that require financing (ie. car or house), not taken from friends who wish they could say no to you. Don’t be that guy.

 

He that wants money, means, and content is without three good friends.

As You Like It 3.2.21-22, Corin to Touchstone

Translated:

Basically you need three things in life: money, employment, and happiness. Shakespeare is implying that these three things go hand in hand. A job that makes you happy to do will lead you to money. Making money will make you happy to do your job. Having a job that makes you money will make you happy. Sound familiar? Probably because it’s a lot like ye old “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

 

I think it’s important to note that most scholars believe Shakespeare died a wealthy man. Though modern cinema likes to depict him as the starving artist type, historical records of his property purchases and other investments indicate that he actually had quite a large estate. So if you’re going to take money advice from a historical figure, the Bard isn’t a bad choice at all! Plus if you can slip one of these quotes into casual conversation, you will sound wicked smart.

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Pay Less at the Pump!

If you live near a Cumberland Farms gas station and you do not have their Smart Pay App . . . YOU NEED TO GET IT NOW! We all hate paying for gas. It’s so expensive. And the price keeps creeping higher and higher all the time. But as a Smart Pay customer, you pay 10 cents less per gallon than the posted price. 10 cents might not seem like a lot, but if you’re filling your 15 gallon tank it adds up to about $1.50. And if you’re stopping for gas once a week, you would save around $78 a year. Think of what you could buy with an extra $78. That’s a month’s cell phone bill. Or a night out with friends. Or a mani-pedi.

Here’s how it all works:

1. You sign up for a Smart Pay account here: https://www.cumberlandfarms.com/smartpay/

2. You download the Smart Pay app on your phone (or you can pick up a free Smart Pay Card at your local Cumbies if you don’t have a smart phone).

3. The next time you need to fill up, you pull the app up on your phone. It will locate which store you’re at, then you type in which pump. Once you confirm your location, you’re ready to fuel up for 10 cents less a gallon.

Here's the home screen of the Smart Pay App. You have a PIN so it's secure to log-in.

Here’s the home screen of the Smart Pay App. You have a PIN so it’s secure to log-in.

Want to know the best part? Your Smart Pay is connected directly to your checking account, so you don’t need to swipe a card or pay cash! So if you’re like me and you frequently forget your wallet at home, you won’t ever be caught in a pinch where you need gas but have no money. Which has happened to me before . . . maybe more than once . . . The app even has this little savings calculator that tells you how much money you saved at the pump for your current purchase as well as your lifetime savings (aka how much you’ve saved since you started using Smart Pay).

Smart Pay also lets you save on purchases in the store. I’m not a big convenience store shopper so I’ve never used that part of the app, but I have friends who love it. Right now for example just from the gas I’ve bought, I’ve earned a free 16 oz. Coke. Pretty sweet.

Just to prove this is not a paid promotion by Cumberland Farms (although if they’d like to pay me for this post they are more than welcome to 🙂 ), there might be a downside to Smart Pay. I’ve had a sneaking suspicion for a while now that the gas at Cumberland Farms doesn’t get me as far as gas I purchase from other places. I swear if I fill up at Irving or Mobile I get way more miles per gallon than when I fill up at Cumbies. So I have decided to do an experiment. I will buy gas at Cumberland Farms, Irving, and Mobile over the next few weeks and compare price per gallon as well as miles per gallon I get after I fill up. We will see if there is really a significant difference. Only time will tell . . .

Cheap Stuff I Love: SHOES!

If I have one rule to live by it is that when you see a pair of cute shoes that also happen to be super cheap, you BUY THEM. Any nice-looking pair of shoes under $20 is just too good to pass up. Think of how often you wear shoes. And how long they can last. And how they don’t have to go through the laundry. And how you can wear the same pair 2 or 3 days in a row and no one will really notice. And even if someone does notice it’s not gross to wear the same pair of shoes for multiple days like it is if it’s a shirt or pants – so who cares?!

I've never met an animal print I didn't like.

I’ve never met an animal print I didn’t like.

Long story short, shoes are the best part of your wardrobe. They are low maintenance, cute, and cost effective. You wear them everyday. So if you see a pair for $7.99 like I did at Old Navy this weekend, you DO NOT say no. You buy those pointy-toed snake-skin ballet flats! Expensive shoes are another story, but cheap shoes are always a solid investment.

Did I mention I like shoes?

Shoes. Let's get 'em.

Shoes. Let’s get ’em.

Old Navy also had a lot of other stuff on sale, like dress, tops, and jeans. If you’re looking to refresh your spring wardrobe on a budget, you should definitely check them out. I spent less than $50 and got a dress, 2 shirts, and a pair of shoes.

Happy First Days of Spring!

How I Spent My Tax Return

Just because I know you were all oh so curious . . . here’s how I spent my 2013 Income Tax Return! If you didn’t get a tax refund this year – I’m sorry. That’s no fun. If you did – here are some ideas to help you plan what to do with your own sudden windfall of cash. Although it’s tempting to spend it all in one place (just like your grandpa always told you not to every time he gave you $5), it’s much smarter to give that money some structure and purpose. In the long run an impulse purchase won’t be as satisfying as some of the other things you can do with you return. Here’s how I broke mine down:

 

Total Tax Return (Federal + State) = $1,000

** I didn’t actually get $1,000 even, but I’m bad at math so it was just easier to pretend that this was the way it went down. Also if you are good at math I don’t want you to be able to do some kind of reverse wizardry to figure exactly how much money I make.

 

20% Emergency Savings = $200

  • Living without an emergency fund is like sky diving without a helmet – if everything goes according to plan you’ll be fine, but one small error could mean big trouble! Unless you’re the Evel Knievel of finances, I would suggest saving money for unexpected expenses like car repairs or hospital bills. If you don’t have an emergency fund already, saving a portion of your tax return is a great way to start.

 

20% Pay-Off High Interest Debt aka Credit Cards = $200

  • Although it’s not as much fun to use a sudden influx of cash to pay bills, it is smart. If you have high interest debt like a credit card, a private student loan, or a payday loan consider using a portion of your refund to pay down your balance. Even if you can’t completely pay it off, bringing the balance down with mean you pay less in interest in the long run.

LasVegasStrip-1_1

40% Vacation aka VEGAS BABY! = $400

  • This year, the majority of my tax return will be saved for spending money while I am on vacation in Las Vegas. My plan is to only use cash during the trip so I can limit my spending (or try to anyways). I’ll have my credit card for emergencies, but FYI ladies buying everyone in the bachelorette party another round does NOT count as an emergency. Saving this money over the next few weeks for Las Vegas means that I won’t have to dip into my normal budget for things like dinner, drinks, or trinkets while I’m on my trip.

 

5% Itemized Savings aka Wedding Account = $50

  • Believe it or not, my sister’s big day is only 2 months away! And her bridal shower is only 7 weeks away (not that I’m counting). So I’m tossing a small portion of my refund into my wedding savings account. It’s a great way to boost my regular contributions so I can hopefully cover most of the cost of these wedding festivities without harming my budget too much. If you don’t already do itemized savings, ask your credit union how they can help you set up club savings accounts to specifically save for a financial goal.

 

15% Spending = $150

  • Don’t feel guilty about using some of your refund money to splurge. You deserve it! Remember, this is money we don’t typically account for in our monthly budget. Using it to buy yourself that dress you’ve been eyeing or that massage you’ve been longing for is totally okay. Just don’t go crazy and have a $5,000 shopping spree when you only got a $1,000 refund.

 

Other ideas for smart ways to spend your refund:

  • Give to a charitable cause
  • Invest in a 401K, IRA, or other retirement savings account
  • Contribute to your child or grandchild’s college savings account
  • Replace an energy/ money sucking appliance
  • Use it for something you’ve needed for a while, like dental work or a vacuum that actually works

Amazing Discovery – I Like Oatmeal!

Last night, I made a life-changing discovery – I like oatmeal.

Oatmeal with Nutella mixed in that is.

A 13 oz. jar of Nutella is $3.59. A little expensive, but worth the deliciousness.

A 13 oz. jar of Nutella is $3.59. A little expensive, but worth the deliciousness.

If you’re wondering, I still have some of that instant oatmeal that I bought 2 or 3 months left over. I can’t throw it out, but I can’t bring myself to eat it either. Then a few days ago I came across this Buzzfeed: http://www.buzzfeed.com/suzefigs/15-ways-to-eat-more-oatmeal-9ynr

Although some of the recipes are pretty basic, and some are just downright frightening (what the HECK is pan-seared oatmeal?! Or zucchini oatmeal bread?), I was intrigued by the idea of Nutella in oatmeal. I would make the consistency less soggy. And Nutella is quite possibly the most delicious thing in the world.

Last night I was super brave. I made some plain instant oatmeal. I mixed in ample Nutella. The results were OUT OF THIS WORLD. It was chocolately, hazelnutty, not too thick but not too soggy. It was delicious. The Nutella may have erased any nutritional value that the oatmeal had, but it was worth it. I highly recommend it.

Here’s the recipe (you can pretty much figure it out on your own but just in case):

1 packet plain instant oatmeal

1/2 cup milk

1-2 tablespoons of Nutella (or as much as you want . . . go crazy!)

Heat the milk in a small sauce pan until boiling. Reduce heat to medium-high and stir in oats. Keep stirring, and removing from the heat to stop it from over boiling until the oats have absorbed most of the milk. Remove from the burner and stir in the Nutella. Try not to stuff it all in your face at once.

**Bonus hint – you can also use peanut butter! Might not curb your chocolate craving, but if you had extra hanging around or didn’t have Nutella it would be a good substitute.

Here I am just enjoying some oatmeal. :)

Here I am just enjoying some oatmeal. 🙂

Hope you enjoy this cheap, easy recipe.