It’s Okay to Say No!

Seriously. It’s okay. Don’t feel bad about it.

Tina Fey says in her book Bossypants, “Say yes, and you’ll figure it out later.” I love me some Tina Fey but this seems like a risky life policy, especially when it comes to finances. It’s great to say yes to new opportunities, to adventures, and to challenges. But you can’t do it all. And unless you’re Bill Gates, you definitely can’t pay for it all. It’s tempting to buy something you want now and figure out how to pay for it later. If it’s a $3 coffee you want, this plan might work. If it’s a $30,000 car, not so much. Successful budgets take thought, planning, and some self-restraint. Learning to say no is essential to financial success.

I don’t know about you, but saying no can be REALLY difficult for me. This is especially true when I’m saying no to paying for something I want. We all want to buy that pretty dress we saw on Mod Cloth. We all want to go on that spring break vacation with our roommates. We all want to throw our older sister the most awesome bachelorette of all time. Plus as a girl, I think I might be physically conditioned to say yes to everything. Saying no often makes me feel uncomfortable or worse, it can make me feel like I’m letting people down. Don’t give into saying yes just because it’s easier. If you struggle to say no, here are 3 easy steps you can take to make the negative seem a little more positive.

leslie-knope-no

1. Take a deep breath before you say it. I often find myself agreeing to things before I really think about them. My default setting is YES! But oftentimes once I’ve had a minute to think about it, I find I’ve yes’d myself into something I don’t really want to do. I try to avoid this by pausing before I agree to anything; having a minute to take a deep breath gives me time to check in with how I truly feel about the question. If it’s still a yes after the breath, then great! If it’s a no, I feel more confident in my refusal since I’ve thought things through.

2. Offer another possible solution. Saying no can be easier if it’s not the end of the sentence. Let’s say your friends really want you to go out to dinner and a movie with them but you don’t have the cash in your budget for it this week. Just saying, “No,” is sad and final. Or if you give a reason like, “No, I don’t have enough money,” your friends might try to talk you into splurging. But a, “No, I can’t swing that in my budget right now. How about we cook dinner and have a movie marathon at home instead?” presents an alternative that works for everyone. They get to hang out, have dinner, and watch a movie and you get to save money.

3. Think about all the times you’ve said Yes! Guilt is often the biggest reason we cave and do something we don’t want to. Whether is breaking your budget or working extra hours, you don’t want to disappoint anyone, including yourself. Assuage some of that guilt by reminding yourself of all the things you have said yes to recently. Maybe you had to pass on that weekend road trip, but you were able to pay off your credit card this month, redecorate your bathroom, and get tickets to that Ed Sheeran concert. Thinking of what you were able to pay for can make turning down other purchases worth it.

Remember, no isn’t a four-letter word! It’s not wrong to say no to things that aren’t in your budget or don’t match your financial goals. If you need to, say that no loud and say it proud. 🙂

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Credit Report Updates!

It’s not every day that you hear good news about your credit report. But this Monday was the American consumer’s lucky day! Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, the three major credit reporting bureaus, announced this week that they are overhauling the credit reporting process. They will be instituting some major changes that will benefit the consumer, changes like making it easier to dispute an error and not blaming consumers for late payments made by their health insurance company. It’s like they’re finally listening to years and years worth of complaints!

Plans to improve the credit reporting process were lengthy, but let me break it down to the important stuff for you.The changes include:

– Medical debts won’t be reported until after 180 days, so that if an insurance company is late making a payment the consumer won’t be personally penalized. Additionally, the credit reporting agencies will remove previously reported medical collections that have been or are in the process of being paid by insurance.

– Credit reporting agencies will stop the reporting of debts that the consumer did not agree to pay by signing a contract or agreement. So things like tickets or fines will no longer show on your credit report.

-Consistent standards will be enforced by the credit reporting agencies to entities that submit data for inclusion on credit reports. All three credit bureaus will enforce similar standards.

– If you get a copy of your annual free credit report, dispute information on it, and the dispute results in a change to that item, you will no longer have to wait a year to get a new copy of your credit report. You will be able to get a second one right away.

– Consumers who dispute an item on their credit report will receive info with the results of their dispute with further steps they can take if they’re not satisfied with the outcome.

– There will be more free educational material available on www.annualcreditreport.com to help consumers understand their credit reports.

– A group will be formed to regularly review the data collecting process for credit reports to help ensure consistency and fairness.

Sounds like good news to me. Thanks, credit reporting agencies! For more information, check out this spot that was featured on the NBC Nightly News.

When to Tip Cheat Sheet

Tipping is awkward. It’s like a secret language that we’re all expected to speak but nobody ever teaches it to you. You’re just supposed to know when to tip and when not to and how much to give. There’s nothing worse than that uncomfortable moment at the end of a transaction when you don’t know if you’re supposed to tip or not but it feels rude to ask. Plus I never want to spend too much on tipping (I have a budget after all) but I also don’t want to under-tip. Even though I won’t hear it, just imagining the waiter or manicurist complaining about how rude I am once I leave makes me cringe.

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As you can tell, tipping gives me social anxiety. But I don’t think I’m alone. Anthropologist George Foster has written entire books on tipping and he proposes what he calls the “social pressure theory of tipping.” He asserts that who we tip in our culture is based on guilt. “We tend to tip in places where we’re having a lot more fun than the people who are serving us: bars, restaurants, cruise ships. But we usually don’t tip in grocery stores or dentist’s offices.”

I think George is on to something. But I also think we tip just because it’s expected of us. I have never not left a tip at a restaurant, even if the service was really bad. I might give a little more than usual if the waiter was really nice to me, but I would never leave less than 15% because I would feel too guilty about it. Society says we should tip certain people, so we do. If you feel like fighting the man and trying to change tip culture, rage on! Stop tipping! But for everyone else, here’s a cheat sheet on who to tip, how much you should give, and what happens if you don’t tip.

Tipping Situation How Much Should You Tip? If You Don’t Tip . . .
Waiter 15% – 20% You’re the worst. On average 85% – 100% of a waiter’s salary is tips. So even if the service is terrible, you should tip.
Delivery 10% – 20% You’re the worst, again. Also add in extra for bad weather.
Takeout No tip necessary It’s totally fine. Maybe give $1 or $2 if you had a complicated order.
Bartenders $1 – $2 per drink You’re evil. Tip more for a fancier drink that took longer to prepare.
Tip Jars Optional You’re normal. Throw in spare change or a few bucks here and there if you’re a regular.
Cab Driver 15% – 20% You’re super cheap. Unless it’s Uber and then you can’t tip anyways.
Valet Guy $2 – $5 You’re mean. Tips are 50% – 75% of their salary.
Housekeeping $2 – $5 per day You’re a little cheap but probably fine. The longer you stay, the more generous you should be.
Hotel Doorman/ Bellhop $1 -$4 per bag carried, $1 – $3 for getting you a cab You’re not very nice but okay. You rarely run into these guys unless you’re at a fancy hotel anyways.
Hair Salon, Massage, Mani/Pedi, Waxing Services 15% – 25% You’re really cheap. Also I wouldn’t mess with someone who has access to hot wax and scissors.

I hope this chart makes tipping a little less complicated. If all else fails, just move to Europe or Australia where there is no tip culture so you won’t have to worry about it anymore.