My guilty pleasure is reading women's magazines when I'm getting my cardio on at the gym. Whatever motivates you, right? While indulging in my seemingly harmless second favorite stress release activity (second only to running outside with my dog), I almost fell off my hamster wheel while reading Your A-to-Z Money Guide by Zac Bissonnette in Glamour.
This article touched more than one nerve in me, and as I fumed, I increased my incline and speed. Thanks for the motivation, Zac! In alphabetical order, these are the top 11 bones I have to pick with this article on behalf of all women and savvy savers of America:
A: Assets. Bissonnette lists your home as a prime example of something that "will make you money over time." As we've all become painfully aware in the wake of the mortgage crisis in our country, you can't always bank on your home as an investment. Many homes across the country were never worth what mortgage companies claimed they were, and they probably never will be again. While buying a home is cheaper in 74% of US cities, that still leaves 26% (also comprised of some of the most densely populated areas) where renting is a better bet according to Trulia's assessment. There are several key factors beyond location to consider when deciding whether or not buying a home is better than renting. This buy vs. rent calculator published by The New York Times is a great tool to figure out what works for you based on the most important criteria.
B. Budgets. Mr. B says forget about these, just deposit a percentage of each paycheck into a savings account and "leave the credit card at home." Budgets are actually one of the best ways to identify where you overspend, and therefore how you can better manage your spending and increase your monthly savings deposits. Paying with a credit card is smarter and more beneficial than paying with cash or debit, but more on that as we travel down the alphabet.
C. Coupons. He suggests you sign up for sites where you can buy coupons. We believe that you should never ever pay for coupons. Why would you? They are absolutely free, and doesn't that defeat the purpose? We find them, test them, and post them for you every day in one place. For free.
E. Email blasts. The example he gives for unsubscribing to deal emails? A "$10,000 Thailand trip for $6,000...can lead you to spend money you don't have." Much like the credit card comment, this assertion assumes that readers (women) have no self control and should be uneducated consumers. Besides, anyone who impulse purchases a trip for 6K can afford it. It's not a pack of gum. The truth is, the more deals you see, the easier it becomes to identify the real deals when they come around. Why not comparison shop using free resources like our newsletter?
F. FICO. "That's the name for your credit score." Forgot, we are women so we don't know this. What I definitely do not know is, how am I supposed to build my credit score when am not using credit cards?
G. Guys. "Go for the thrifty ones. A 2011 study found that men who throw around the bucks are generally less interested in commitment than men who spend more practically." Forgot again! We women weren't interested in any financial advice anyway. Just commitment from men, as always! Pardon me while I iron my man's boxers and churn some butter.
H. Home Ownership. No real reason to rehash the letter A, and while Bissonnette points to the New York Times source mentioned above, he also mentions 3.5% as the minimum down payment to consider. While that is the minimum required for an FHA loan, experts will tell you 10% is good, 20% or more is best.
J. Job Search. He says job searching online is a waste of time. With so many reputable job sites online and the convenience of networking directly on those sites like LinkedIn, there has never been a better time to find your next big gig on the web. I found this job on Craigslist, and before that, I had another sweet position working for a celebrity and found that listing on Monster. Networking is great, but you can't rely solely on other people to find you a job. Plus, these sites are free and right at your fingertips.
P. Pampering. Bissonnette urges you to have a student hack away at your hair to cut the cost of your next crop chop. Why do that when you can book all of your appointments through Lifebooker.com and get up to 85% off services from master stylists and aestheticians? Here's a tip: if you try a new stylist and you like them, they will more often than not offer to let you return for the discounted rate indefinitely if you save them the LB fee on their end by booking your next appointment directly through the salon.
R. Rewards Points. If I had to pick just one, this would be the worst of the bunch. He remarks that one of the most stressful aspects of traveling is "listening to people in the airport talk about how they got their flights 'for free!'” Well, they weren't paid to stand around talking about it; they did get their flights for free. He also goes back to to letter B, saying "you’ll save more money in the end if you use your debit card all the time." Paying with credit cards, especially those that offer miles and reward points like the Starwood American Express card and the British Airways Visa, pay you back as much as double in rewards on things you are buying anyway. When you pay with a debit card, you get little rewards if any, and most won't protect you if your item arrives damaged or stops working. Many credit cards, like the Amex we just mentioned, actually extend your warranties. With rewards point, you can get more than just free flights. In case you haven't seen it, check out how our founder and Editor in Chief Brad Wilson got a $40,000 trip to Australia and New Zealand almost for free!
V. Visa and Mastercard. This letter is used to tell you, once again, not to use credit cards and to use your debit card for all of your purchases. He says doing so ensure that you'll have "no more excuses to spend money you don’t have!" Isn't that what a budget is for?
What do you think of Mr. Bisonnette's advice? Sound off in the comments section below! Sign up for our newsletter to get more deals and news like this delivered to your inbox!