- As an AmeriCorps member I serve at poverty level and make only about $1,000 monthly
- I would consider my educational degree of a B.A. in Art History an asset. With this I may be able to expedite time without employment if I was to lose my current position
- I have no economic assets such as a vehicle, home, or significant savings
- However, I currently only have two bills, rent and utilities, about $550 monthly
Friday, November 1, 2013
I recently had the opportunity to attend a conference entitled Pathways to Prosperity: Integrating Asset-Building throughout Communities. It was here that a term I had never before heard was being thrown around, asset poverty. Being a contradictory set of words I was instantly confused until I learned the meaning. “A family can be defined as asset poor if it has insufficient net worth to support itself at federal poverty level for three months in absence of income, i.e., net worth less than $4,577 for a family of three in 2009” (Assets & Opportunity Profile). As I was assumedly standing in a room of mostly asset stable professionals I realized I might be the only asset poor individual in the room.
As you can see, if for any reason I lost my position or received a surprise expense, I would be in hot water very quickly. On the other hand, I learned at the conference ways to combat my asset poverty status. I decided to take the Money Smart Challenge. Money Smart can be found at http://www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/moneysmart/adult.html and is a free, highly reputable, financial literacy curriculum. New Century IDA uses Money Smart for Crosby Scholars participants. Info on Crosby Scholars programs can be found at http://crosbyscholars.org/, to participate contact ESR’s Barbara Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org. With the Money Smart curriculum I can learn techniques to become more economically savvy and begin to implement savings. I will also learn about credit building options. Since I have no credit to date, learning these methods will help. I plan on using this information while choosing my first credit card!
I know that once I establish stable savings and build credit then I can look into making my first asset purchase such as my own home or vehicle. What do you think? Would you consider yourself asset poor? If not, prove it with http://www.playspent.org/
If you want to look into ways out of asset poverty like me or if you’re interested in helping build asset stable communities I suggest reading Asset & Opportunity Profile: Winston-Salem and Forsyth County found at http://www.forsyth.cc/housing/Documents/WinstonSalemMEOPReport.pdf
Be on the lookout for the next blog on my Money Smart Challenge progress!
"Assets & Opportunity Profile: Winston-Salem and Forsyth County." ASSETS & OPPORTUNITY PROFILE. (2012): n. page. Web. 31 Oct. 2013.
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Well, I did it. I went against everything I had said previously, my declaration to society, and a promise made to myself to wait until I paid off my student loan. I got an iPhone.
Allow me to explain.
I have wanted a smart phone for a really long time, and particularly an iPhone. I didn’t care whether it was the 4, the 4S, or the 5. I just wanted to be able to look stuff up on Google whenever I wanted and have a GPS at all times. However, my carrier would require a $30 data charge on top of what I was previously paying ($60), and $90 seemed like way too much for a cell phone bill at this point in my life. Not wanting to switch carriers (I explain why here), I chose to wait until my student debt was paid before I added another expense to my monthly bills. I announced to my friends, family, and the world via blog what my plan was, and I intended to stick to it. That was until my phone started messing up.
Right after my blog, my flip phone, which I have had for almost 2 ½ years, started giving out. I became increasingly frustrated that people on the other end could barely hear me despite how loud I talked. I was trying to make it work, and I honestly intended to until my loan was paid (which, honestly, could have taken a couple of years or ten).
I received a message from my carrier’s marketing department which offered the iPhone 5 for $100 and $60 a month. I was pretty excited about this offer, but like most people, I wondered about all the strings attached. I picked up the phone, got some information, and was surprised to learn that it was a legit offer, but I forgot to ask about added fees. I was frustrated enough with my phone and it was a deal I could not pass up. I made plans to get the phone, and I was so excited!
Sometimes life doesn’t always turn out the way you think it will, and most of the time, it is better.
Here’s what I ended up with:
An iPhone 5 (enter ridiculous amount here)
$42 per month with insurance
Unlimited talk, text, and data (first 500 mb = 4G)
And… T-Mobile instead of Verizon
Why? Well, it was a deal I couldn’t pass up. The phone was a gift, but even if it was an expense out of my pocket, look at what I am saving each year:
If I stuck with my flip phone another year, which realistically wouldn’t last, I’d pay $720.
Over the next year, with insurance (which I didn’t have with Verizon) I’ll pay $504 with T-Mobile.
If I got the Verizon iPhone, I wouldn’t get insurance because it would be an added expense, and I’d be looking at paying around $780 a year with hopes that my phone does not mess up because iPhones are not covered the same way as a regular phone would be under warranty.
I mentioned previously about not wanting to switch carriers because I loved Verizon’s service, and that is honestly still true. But at this point in my life, T-Mobile saves me money and does what it is intended to do which is provide methods of communication. I’m glad I have a reliable way to contact someone because while my old phone might have had great service, it could have given out at any moment.
For those of you out there who are debating on how to save money with your phone service, do your research! Many employers offer discounts for particular cell phone carriers, and some will even pay for all or part of the bill. I am definitely happy to be saving money!
Friday, April 19, 2013
As I wind down my first month on The Spending Diet, I can’t help but feel at least particularly happy with my financial progress and grasp on my money situation. I honestly thought I had it all figured out before now, but it turns out I didn’t. In fact, I still don’t have it all figured out, as budgeting, saving, and cutting costs will always produce new tips for me to learn. Well, here goes; this is my progress so far:
- I spent my allotted $100 for the month (mostly on coffee, one trip out of town, and Valentines Day. Oh! And eating out).
- THEN I took back some stuff I didn’t need and never used (The Spending Diet encourages this) and got about $30 back, which I spent on nothing (which is really something but it was insignificant in the fact that they were probably consumables).
- THEN I went $25 over on my budget eating out.
So total, on non-necessities, I spent about $155 on random stuff. I went over on my budget by $55 (I am going to count the $30 of take-backs because I should have put it towards my loan), BUT compared to last month, I did really well. I spent way less this month than last because I was consciously aware of it.
Negatives: I went over my budget by $55. I didn’t save that extra $30 I got from stuff I took back. There were times when I felt cheap or I felt like a mooch (like when someone pays for me and I can’t later return the favor(although I could if I was better with my budget)). When I see something at a store and I want to buy it. Like last night I saw a beach towel that I really wanted even though it is still winter and I won’t be using it at least until June.
But on the other hand…
Positives: I spent less money than I would have if I had never started The Spending Diet. I spent less money on non-necessities than I did during January. I learned a lot about living frugally and overcoming impulse buying. I helped inspire some budgeting. I don’t own more stuff that just takes up space and I am not stressing out about not having enough money or trying to live a lifestyle that is above my means.
Overall, I learned a lot about myself and my ability to spend less and go back to my old ways as a 15 year old that refused to spend any money. I learned that I have some growing to do in order to resist temptations like going out to eat when my budget doesn’t allow, or spending extra money when it should be saved. I’m excited to follow my budget whether my impulsive buying likes it or not for the rest of the months!