Monthly Archives: February 2018

Getting Unstuck

Sometimes you just get stuck.  You’re trying to drive in snow and you get stuck.  You’re trying to lose weight and you plateau and get stuck.  You’re trying to write a paper and you get stuck.  You’re trying to get through Couch to 5K and you get to week 6 and get stuck (maybe this is just me…but it has happened to me multiple times).  You try to write a Moneywise Tip and get stuck so end up sending it out on Tuesday rather than Monday (ok…this is definitely just me).

Sometimes you just get stuck.  It happens with money more often than anyone would like.  You put together a budget and you’re saving for bar expenses when your best friend announces a wedding you will have to be in.  You have your budget on track and even accounted for winter heat bills when a polar vortex knocks the temperature below ten degrees for two weeks straight, making the big heat bill you expected larger than you were prepared for.

Getting stuck financially is never fun.  But it must be dealt with.  In a perfect world, you have an emergency fund set aside for such situations.  But the world is not perfect.  So you may need to adjust other areas of your budget to make ends meet (Ramen, anyone?).  Or you may need to use a credit card to get yourself past the “stuck” and then budget to get that paid off as quickly as possible.  You may need to reach out to friends or family for some bridge funds.  You may need to dig a bit further into the student loan pot.  You may need to pick up a few more hours per week at work.  You may need to explore “side gigs” such as online surveys or ride share driving.  You may need to sell some belongings.  But you need to do something to get yourself unstuck.

Being stuck isn’t fun.  But there’s always a way to break yourself free from it.  You just need to find it and keep moving forward.


Electronic Payments with your Smart Phone

I’m usually the kind of person that wants to see how something works for other people before trying it myself.  So I’ve been dragging my feet on the whole Apple Pay/Google Pay thing.  But if there’s one thing that can drag me into a new technology, it’s the opportunity to save money.  So when one of my credit cards started offering 5% cash back for using their card with these services this quarter, I jumped on board.

Most major retailers are equipped to accept electronic payments now.  So I set up my Google Pay account and attached the credit card with the 5% cash back.  And off to the grocery store I went.  Instead of pulling out my credit card at the register, I just tapped my smartphone to the signature pad.  And boom….I was done.  No signature. No waiting.  No exchange of cash.  Just tap and done.

This is a whole new world.  Very quick payment.  No need to have credit cards on my person.  I can see this as being very useful when I go out for a longer run or bike ride and might want to stop to buy myself a beverage or snack.  And if the vendors at music festivals start accepting Google Pay, I’ll certainly be in my glory.

But on the flip side, I can see this new technology as a bit dangerous to the budget.  As we’ve moved from a cash society into the world of plastic, it has become a bit harder to keep track of how much money you actually have available to you.  You no longer have to consciously make a trip to the ATM to spend more than you have planned.  And the ability to pay by tapping your phone without even digging out a card makes it seem even less like real money.

Additionally, you’ll want to make sure you keep your phone screen locked if you are using this.  If your screen is unlocked and you lose your phone, the finder would be able to run around charging up a storm on your account.  You should be keeping your screen locked anyway, but this is just another reason to do so.

Electronic payment technology is definitely easy and fast.  But it has a down side as well.  For now I’m going to give it a thumbs up, but with the caveat to proceed with caution.