friends and family money
One of my relatives asked me for money a few times in the past. The first time, he said he needed money for a security deposit on an apartment; the second time, he said the money was for groceries. Both times, he played up the situation to pull on my heartstrings: he needed his own place so he could get custody of his daughter, or he was literally starving and had exhausted alternative resources.

I caved and wired him cash. If the cash helped him out, I wouldn’t think much more of the situation. But the reality is that he’s someone who consistently mismanages money, fails to keep jobs long-term, and makes poor life decisions. He lied about where the money was going and never did get that apartment. I also suspect he used the food money to purchase cigarettes and alcohol. By now, I fully realize that giving money to him is like throwing it into a black hole.

Situations like these make you think twice about giving money to friends and family. It’s often a mental struggle because you want to help someone, yet you wonder how giving or not giving will affect the both of you, financially and relationally. Some people say the solution is to never give cash to relatives or friends, but I don’t think it’s always that black-and-white. It’s a hard and very personal decision that will vary with each situation. These guidelines can help though.
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I have a love-hate relationship with financial rules of thumb. On one hand, I recognize that not everyone is going to spend as much time thinking about and researching financial topics as they should, and rules of thumb give them easy-to-remember guidelines for staying on track. But on the other hand, these types of guidelines are often inaccurate, outdated, or outright wrong — and following them can derail the very goals you’re trying to achieve.

In particular, saving for retirement seems to be a subject that attracts these “rules.” What’s worse is that these rules will often still be stated as facts long after they’ve lost credibility.

Here are three retirement rules that no longer apply, followed by what you should be doing instead:
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burstWe all know that we need to save for our golden years, but it can be difficult to know just how aggressive our savings goals need to be in order to fund a comfortable retirement. For many savers, it’s easier to simply put enough into the 401(k) to get the employer’s matching contribution and call it a day, but it is unlikely that this strategy will be adequate to sustain even an average retirement lifestyle.

The fact of the matter is that you will most likely need 10 and some say even as much as 25 times your annual expenses as a nest egg in order to enjoy financial security in retirement. But how do you get to that benchmark?

According to the research firm Hearts & Wallets, the best method for ensuring a comfortable retirement is burst savings. In a recent study, the research firm found that 64% of savers using this method were able to put together a nest egg at least 10x their salary. What’s most interesting about this study was that it found burst savers were likelier to reach this goal than non-savers, no matter what age they started their savings.

Here is what you need to know about burst savings and how to implement it in your life:
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One of my favorite episodes of “Pawn Stars” features a soon-to-be dad trying to sell his massive collection of Transformers memorabilia. Even though the guy ultimately didn’t sell, he was able to find out what the collection was worth — thousands of dollars, in this case. While I wouldn’t hang your hopes on getting filthy rich from your old Happy Meal toys, there are ways to make money with others’ warm and fuzzy memories. Here are just a few ways to get started:
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When we think of self-improvement, we often think of it as something that costs us money and reduces our financial viability. However, this isn’t necessarily the case. Yes, you can spend money on self-improvement. That doesn’t mean that it’s money poorly spent though. In fact, your efforts for self-improvement can be an investment that pays off and helps your finances down the road. Here are some examples of how self-improvement can benefit your finances:

Invest in Better Education

Better education can cost money, but it can also boost your earnings down the road. Those with bachelor’s degrees have higher median earnings than those with high school degrees.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to get a four-year degree to be successful financially though. In some career fields, an associate’s degree can be just as lucrative, as can certain training certifications. Be careful about how you go about it, but a better education can improve your life, boost your skills, and make you a better person. It can also help you earn more money.

Informal Education Can Work Wonders As Well
Don’t assume that all education has to be conducted formally either. If you are willing to read up on business and money management, you can better direct your financial resources in a way that boosts your ability to take care of yourself.

I just finished reading a book on retirement planning. And while I already heard of the ideas that the author presented in the book, I will benefit financially from spending the money to buy the book and spending the time to go through it. That’s because reading the suggestions motivated me to come up with a plan to convert my 401k into a Roth via a multi-year Roth conversion to save taxes down the road. It was something I’ve been meaning to do, but I keep getting sidetracked and eventually forgot about it.
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ice cream cone
My most recent spending temptation was an adorable Jack-o-Lantern bowl I saw at Wal-Mart on the Saturday before Halloween. I imagined putting candy in the $2 bowl for our trick-or-treaters, and it would really liven up our Halloween. Theoretically, I was in the store to get a prescription filled, but spending an extra two bucks for the grinning bowl wouldn’t make that big a difference in my total. I was at the checkout before I realized that I really didn’t need this particular item since it was only useful one night a year. That realization was enough to have me put the bowl back on the shelf. I haven’t always been so disciplined though.

Avoiding spending temptations isn’t easy, considering the fact that we are constantly surrounded by things to buy. The best way to avoid spending money is to know what triggers your spending impulses. Here are a few ways that might help you to say no the next time temptation strikes:
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