29 September 2011

9 Secret Ways Stores Seduce Us into Buying

9 Secret Ways Stores Seduce Us into Buying

Check out what the clever folks at LearnVest found for us. Yes, stores are willing to do all sorts of things to separate us from our money. Here are nine ways in which they do it.

Are there any of your favorites in there? I know that I can easily be manipulated by music. It's probably a good thing that my tastes are a little esoteric and not likely to be found in Target or at Publix.

The credit card discount can be a particularly heinous ploy. However, it is most tempting when buying big dollar items, and hopefully you have so thoroughly completed your research that you will not be lured by this siren song. Just plan your work and work your plan and you should be in good shape.

Vani-sizing. Well, guilty as sin here. There are witnesses. I will say no more. 

08 September 2011

How'm I doin'?

Back in the 1980’s the mayor of New York City was an affable fellow by the name of Ed Koch. His best known catchphrase was “How am I doing?”, which in New York-ese came out in a mere three and a half syllables as “How’mIdoin’?” He must have done pretty well because he was re-elected twice.

Sometimes it is hard to know how well we are doing financially. These aren’t things we like to freely discuss with others. ING has provided a way of comparing us to…well, other people who have found their website.  If you would like to know how your finances compare to those of the same age, income, gender, and marital status, hie thee to www.ingcompareme.com and see how you do. 

Before you trot over there, it would be advisable to know how much you have in your retirement accounts, how much other savings you have, and the asset allocation of your investment accounts. What’s that last thing? Your asset allocation is simply the percentage of your assets that are in the following categories: cash, bonds, individual stocks, domestic mutual funds, international mutual funds, target date mutual funds, and other. If you don’t have this information handy, that’s okay. You can guess, or admit that you don’t know, and still be able to see how others like you have allocated their assets. 

Other helpful information to have: your mortgage balance and monthly payment, credit card balances, and your monthly budget in fairly round numbers. After comparing yourself to others like you in savings, spending, investing, debt, and planning, you can print out a nice little report.

A couple of things to remember – the information that ING provides to you in this exercise is based on the input of other people just like you. It is human nature to perhaps round up the amounts one reports or to be optimistic in general. That’s okay, as long as we are all aware of this. Also, this exercise is no substitute for actual financial planning. Just because you compare favorably to your peers does not mean that you have done everything that you can or should do in the area of financial planning. 

So, how are you doin'?