Bad days are inevitable. Some days are very bad, and depending on how you cope with those days, they could be the most financially devastating days of your life. I’ve seen so many people fall into a financial hole because of depression, substance abuse, and poor diet, among other causes. It’s heartbreaking to see your closest friends dealing with pain that you cannot fix. It’s tougher when the person who is dealing with it is you.
Admit your day was bad and move on – it may sound easier than it actually is, but admitting your day was terrible is a great start to moving on from it. You can dwell on how bad it was and look to therapeutic shopping as a remedy, but that will often end in buyers remorse, which is another depressive state. Look for outlets that allow you to process your frustration like reading, coloring or spending time outdoors.
Avoid shopping to lift spirits – therapeutic shopping can devastate even the biggest bank accounts. Once you’re sad and you find that shopping lifts your spirits, there isn’t a store big enough to satisfy your demand. When you’re feeling down, call a friend, visit a park, and do anything other than going to the store. The store doesn’t have what you’re looking for, I promise.
Keep a journal – one of the best ways to offset bad days is to review the good days you had in your journal. Every day is a new beginning, so you don’t have to dwell on whatever has you down today. Write in your journal at least a few times a week to keep it current and relevant.
Dive into a hobby – thinking about taking up painting? Or do you want to learn how to play the guitar? Both of these hobbies are a great way to challenge yourself without breaking the bank.
Volunteer – whether at the local animal shelter, a senior center, or to help the veterans, there are many ways you can volunteer your time. This is also a great way to meet like-minded people who care as much as you do. Websites like Volunteer Match are a great place to find volunteer opportunities in your area.
There are many ways to distract yourself from the pain of a bad day. Especially when there are a string of bad days line up together, it can get tough to focus on the big picture. Know that impulse shopping, drugs, alcohol, and junk food aren’t the answer. Focus on yourself in the dark times and you’ll come out stronger and happier in the long run.
There are many ways to earn cashback on purchases. One of the easiest ways is to use an online cashback website like Ebates or TopCashBack. Credit cards, store rewards programs, and rebates are another way. Regardless, cashback is something you’re entitled to on almost every online purchase so don’t let that money slip through the cracks.
Sign up for cashback before you make your purchase. Refer to the list of popular cashback websites below. It costs nothing to sign up with the cashback websites, and many of them have minimal payout thresholds so you can get your money quickly.
Plan your purchases ahead of time – most cashback websites offer greater cashback amounts during holidays and promotional periods. For example, the anniversary of the cashback website may trigger an offer for 2x cashback. If you’re planning on making a large purchase like a TV or refrigerator, wait until a major holiday to see if the cashback amount is greater.
Know your categories – many cashback sites limit cashback on specific categories, including gift cards, low-margin goods like laptops, and other items with minimal profit margins. Don’t get confused and make a large purchase only to find your category was excluded. If in doubt, email the cashback website and ask if the purchase will qualify.
Track Your Purchases
Track your purchases – make sure that after you’ve made your purchase, you receive the proper amount of cashback. Mistakes are uncommon, but they do happen. If your cashback amount does not equal the amount you calculated, write to the cashback website immediately. They are often able to remedy these issues right away. If you wait too long, it may be too late to do anything.
Popular Cashback Websites
Active Junky focuses on active lifestyles, so you’ll find stores like REI, Cabela’s, Backcountry, Nike and more. They offer many articles in categories like cycling, mountain biking, kayaking, camping and hiking. Also, check out their buyer guides for an in-depth look at active lifestyle products.
Ebates is one of the largest and most reliable cashback websites on the web. They have over 1,800 active stores and 10,000 coupons. On major holidays, Ebates typically offers double cashback or more at select stores, up to 40%.
Mr. Rebates is a classic cashback website featuring over 2,000 stores. Their simple interface makes shopping cashback easy. Mr. Rebates also offers coupons at many of their cashback stores.
TopCashBack is one of the newer cashback websites, now offering cashback at over 3,500 stores. They bill themselves as the USA’s most generous cashback site and even guarantee the highest cashback.
Don’t wait to sign up for one of these cashback websites. You miss an opportunity to save money every time you place an order online outside of a cashback website.
Using Credit Wisely
In my experience, I found most money making opportunities take capital to get rolling, so I’m always concerned with using credit wisely. It’s tough when you have an idea that you think will really work, but you’re facing an uphill climb. On the flip side, you may really want that new car or designer purse, and you aren’t worried about the cost today. You know you can pay it off later. Both of these scenarios lead to the same path: debt. I minimize this potentially toxic debt by following these guidelines:
Credit and Relationships
Credit cards can make or break any relationship. If your SO doesn’t have the same approach you do, you’ll find yourselves at a crossroads. It’s important that you have the credit card discussion early on in your relationship so you don’t end up fighting over it later on. As long as you’re on the same page, you should be able to keep credit card problems at bay.
Know Your Limits
Know your limits – not just your credit card limit, but your cash limit on a monthly or quarterly basis. Never spend more in one month than your cash flow over a quarterly period.
Credit in Moderation
Don’t have more than 4 credit cards – I’ve heard people say they have 10 credit cards and an 800 score. That’s great, but you’d probably have an 850 with fewer cards. All of that extendable credit actually makes you a risk. If your limits are high (e.g. more than 4x your quarterly cash flow, or more than your overall annual cash flow), request that the banks lower them to a more reasonable level. Try to keep your limits under your annual cash flow.
Avoid Store Cards
Don’t use store cards – ever! There is nothing to be gained from a store credit card other than a large credit limit that’s only useful in the store itself. It’s actually a detriment to your credit, so be careful when the salesperson tells you that price is only good if you use the store card. That’s usually a sign that their profit margins are too low to sustain business without pushing their card on you. Avoid the pressure and use one of your bank cards instead, or buy it elsewhere.
Join a Credit Union
Join a credit union – this is probably one of the best pieces of advice I got early on in my adulthood. I joined a credit union at 21 which helped me with my first car loan and subsequent loans since. Each loan was at least 1 point below the industry average. The only times I have not used the credit union is when the manufacturer’s bank offered a better rate, sometimes as low as 0%.
Say No to Cosigning Anything
Never cosign – I cannot stress this enough. The best way to indirectly ruin your credit is to lend it to someone else. No one cares about your credit score more than you do, so once you lend it out to others, expect it to drop. Even if they make every payment on time, you’re still looking at outstanding balances, and the risk of a lawsuit if payments are missed.