Tagged With personal finance

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Adhering to a strict financial plan is a lot like following a healthy diet. You do it because you know it will help you feel good now and set yourself up for the best possible future.

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Sometimes we waste money on things we don't need without even realising.

It can be difficult to spot things that are wasting cash because an item's affordability is subjective based on situation and personal preferences. Here are five things that may be a waste of your money.

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I've long had a "to buy" list that I'll add items to throughout the year, pruning and updating as needed. Right now it's relatively short, including a water purifier, art for my apartment, and wireless headphones to use while running.

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Whether it's regular clients, some freelance work you did on the side, an item you sold or just money that your mates borrowed from you, it's a pain trying to get people to pay you the money they owe you. With Christmas just around the corner, it's a good idea to start chasing down that money that is owed before everybody goes off on their holidays. You could probably use the cash to buy Christmas presents as well. Here are four ways to increase your chances of recovering the money.

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This weekend, I bought a bouquet of $8 peonies for my new apartment, a small celebration of sorts. The few dollars were tiny drops in the bucket of money I had just spent, considering the movers, increased rent, fees and everything else that comes with a move.

Unlike those costs, however, the flowers were rather impractical. Beautiful, yes, but purposeless. And so as I walked home with them in hand, I couldn't help feel a twinge of guilt. Sure, it was only $8, but with all the other money I had just spent, was it necessary?

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One of the first things I did after my first job offer was call my parents. I ran through the pros and cons, expounded on how it would help my career and marveled at the thought that I'd somehow landed a full time job in journalism, with benefits and everything. It seemed too good to be true.

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Life happens. One minute you're coasting towards graduation, ready to take on the world. The next, you've lost your job or haven't been able to find one in your field and you can't afford the rent any more. If you're lucky, your parents are both willing and able to let you move back in and regroup before you go back out into the world to live on your own.

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A lot of our thinking about money revolves around the gains: I'll invest X to get returns of Y per cent in the long term; I'll buy this couch because it will brighten up my apartment and make me happier. But when it comes to financial decisions, it's also important to consider what you'll be giving up.

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One of the struggles of covering personal finance is that the tips and tricks most experts recommend only make sense for a certain group of people: Those who have some disposable income and are likely upwardly mobile. Sure, you can write about handling setbacks and how big an emergency fund should be, but standard advice won't work for everyone.

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When you spend money impulsively, it isn't necessarily on luxuries. We buy some pretty boring stuff: Household cleaning products, for example. Research shows we like to buy practical, useful things, which makes spending impulsively even more dangerous.