8 Money Mistakes To Avoid This Holiday Shopping Season

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Ahh, the holidays. Michael Bublé on blast, holiday drinks at Starbucks, and Christmas party hookups (we’re kidding, please stay in). The holidays will look pretty different this year with ‘rona still rampant, but regardless of how you spend it, gift-giving with friends and family is probably still on your mind. Now, we know retail therapy is real, and let’s just say 2020 is giving us even more reasons to want to fix our problems by buying things we don’t need. But before you start maxing out your credit cards and landing in that pool of tears and regret (like you did after you drunk-texted your ex, oops), make sure you’re not falling into one of the following traps this holiday shopping season.

 

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Mistake #1: Not Setting Your Budget Beforehand

Before you buy anything, be sure to get organized and craft your budget. Start planning out your holiday shopping by making a list of every single person you’re planning on buying a gift for and how much you are willing to spend for each of them. Then remember to include white elephant gifts, potential travel expenses, or (virtual) office parties. And of course, smaller expenses like wrapping paper, shipping fees, and decorations. They’re small, but they add up! Once you’re done making your budget, stick to it! Impulse-buying is real, we get it, but you do not want to end up spending more than you can afford. This especially applies to people who recently entered the workforce and started making money. We know it’s tempting to go all-out and splurge once that paycheck hits, but be sure to slow your roll and think savvy!

Mistake #2: Buying Gifts Last-Minute

Like that presentation you need to work on for tomorrow’s meeting (we see you procrastinating on Betches, girl), you will not be on your A-game if you wait until the last minute. Retailers know that shopping tends to spike closer to the end of the holiday season, and they often raise prices because they know buyers will be willing to drop more. To make matters worse, if you don’t shop ahead, many items may be out of stock or otherwise unavailable, which could lead you to settling with higher-priced alternatives. You don’t want the stress of having to rush to finish up your holiday shopping. Start hunting down deals right now! (Bonus: It gives you an excuse to procrastinate at work, just saying.)

Mistake #3: Overspending On Credit

If you haven’t started saving up for this holiday season, it might be tempting to just swipe your credit card and deal with the expenses later. But patience, young padawan. You do not want to end up drowning in exorbitantly high interest rates and fees or to ultimately take a hit to your credit score. It’s noble and generous to give extravagant gifts, but do not jeopardize your financial health for the sake of it! Remember that handmade gifts and sentimentality (self-care craft night, anyone?) can be just as appreciated as store-bought gifts. If you do take on debt, set strict goals to pay it off by January or February of next year—do not let those interest rates accrue!

 

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Mistake #4: Splurging On “Great Deals” 

So you’re perusing stores looking for gifts, and you see it. 50% off the MOST FETCH handbag you’ve ever seen. Or free shipping if you spend just $10 more. Or even 10% off if you apply for a store credit card. It always feels like an opportunity we just can’t pass up! I get huge FOMO when shopping for deals, and we’ve all been guilty of spending extra when we really thought we were spending less. Retailers know how to take advantage of human psychology, and they push just the right buttons to make us buy things that we don’t really need, or even want. So this holiday season, ask yourself if you would still buy the item if it was full-price, or if your money would be better served elsewhere. 

Mistake #5: Impulsive Buys

Now if you’re like me (I have definitely bought a dress because yes, I totally saw myself wearing it while eating a pain au chocolat in a cafe by the Eiffel Tower like Emily), you have also totally shoved that dress in the back of your closet, only to collect dust. Impulse-buying because we think we need the item makes us vulnerable to overspending and maxing out on our holiday budget. Stick to the 7-day rule: if you like something, think about it over the course of the week, and then act on it! You will be surprised to see how much your opinion can change when you’re out of the spending mindset.

Mistake #6: Sh*tty Gift-Giving Strategies

Like any good investment (read more on investing here), the best gifts aren’t necessarily the expensive ones—they’re the ones with high value. Before you buy a gift for someone, ask yourself: is this something they need and will use daily, or will it just end up being re-gifted? Have you taken a look at their Pinterest boards, or any of their wishlists? The best gifts are useful and high-quality; think tickets to an art museum your BFF is dying to go to (after COVID ofc!), or a standing desk extension for WFH. And also, if you are tight on cash this holiday season, consider doing a gift exchange with family, setting maximums for gift exchanges, or just planning a virtual get-together instead. Normalize that money talk!

 

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Mistake #7: Not Shopping Savvy

As you’re shopping for gifts, don’t take prices at face value; do your research and compare prices across retailers. Now more than ever, it’s easy to automate your deal shopping by adding a couple of browser extensions like Honey or Rakuten. Like any potential cuffing season bf/gf, be sure to shop around and compare prices before you commit! Don’t leave money on the table.

 

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Mistake #8: Not Planning For Next Year

If you’re like me and are just waiting for 2020 to be f*cking over, start off next year on the right foot by determining how much you will need for gifts the next holiday season. Establish a small fund early on and divide it into months, so it’s easier to manage. It’s also worthwhile to throw that moola into a high-yield savings account or a brokerage account early to earn some bank without breaking a sweat! 

 

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And that’s it! Best of luck with the holidays! We hope it’s not too stressful. If you want more tips like these, comment below, check out our website here, and follow us on Instagram @her.capital!

Images: Ben White / Unsplash; @her.capital / Instagram

WTFunds: 10 Financial Terms Everyone Should Know

If you’re a having a bit of a WTF moment right now because you’re a REAL ADULT paying taxes and bills all by yourself, you’re definitely not alone. Entering the finance world can be pretty scary because it is guarded by toxic finance bros and confusing terminology that seems to be an entire language on its own. So if you clicked on this article, you’re probably thinking that you’re just a beginner trying to get your feet wet, but honestly, you’re one step ahead! The HerCapital team is here, and we’re going to show you that money can be easy and approachable, by introducing you to 10 basic financial terms that you need to know.

1. Compound Interest

Ever heard the phrase time is money? Well, whoever coined that phrase (no pun intended) definitely knew what they were saying because in financial markets, time literally equals more money! Compound interest is the interest an investor earns on their original investment and all the interest that has been earned from the interest added up over timeessentially it’s “interest on interest.” The effect of compounding becomes especially powerful with time, which is why it is advised to invest early, even if it is with a small amount.

 

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2. Federal Reserve

If there’s anything quarantine can be remembered by, it would probably be Dalgona coffee, wearing PJs to our zoom meetings, TikTok binges, and all that hubbub about the Federal Reserve. Wait…who…what? The Federal Reserve—“Fed” for short. Serving as the bank’s bank, the Federal Reserve is responsible for setting monetary policy for the United States and maintaining the overall stability of the economy through altering money supply and interest rates. Through the sh*tstorm of COVID-19, the Federal Reserve is the one behind the scenes supporting households, small businesses, and government, through actions like lowering federal funds rates (the interest rate at which banks borrow and lend money to each other) and encouraging banks to lower lending requirements so they can give more money out to borrowers.

3. Inflation

Inflation is the rate at which the general level of prices for goods and services is rising or decreasing, even when the quality of said products is constant. Today, most central banks set inflation target rates at 2%. During the Great Depression, inflation rates were negative over a long period of time, which meant that prices were dropping like it’s hot! Sometimes this happens because people hold off on buying goods, in turn hurting the economy in the long run since there is limited economic activity. On the flip side, positive inflation can be troublesome as prices of goods increase dramatically—imagine that $2 coffee doubling to $4 in a year; that would not be great for your budget.

 

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Ever wonder why prices keep rising (but not so much your paycheck)? 🧐📈 Inflation is one of the biggest factors! 💡💸 Learn more about it in today’s #MoneyBites and comment below with any of your questions on this topic ⬇️✨ #HerCapital

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4. FICO Score

We personally would never go on a sketchy Tinder date without going on an FBI-esque investigation and going down the rabbit hole of weird 2014 Facebook photos. When it comes to credit, it’s pretty similar. By ranking consumers on how likely they will be to pay off their credit obligations, FICO scores help lenders make informed decisions on whether or not they will extend credit. Scores range from 300 to 850 and baked into this score are elements like how much you currently owe, your payment history, and the length of your credit history. The higher your score, the higher your creditworthiness, and people with higher scores often have an easier time securing loans and seeing benefits in their terms and interest rates. Ah, if only spotting red flags in people were that easy.

P.S. In case you are wondering, the name comes from the Fair Isaac Corporation who created the score. 

5. Individual Retirement Account (IRA)

If there’s anything everyone in the world can agree on, it’s that we f*cking love free money. So think of IRAs as piggy banks that let you set aside money for retirement, where your contributions grow with interest and you don’t even have to lift a finger. Traditional Individual Retirement Accounts (Traditional IRAs) let you deposit pre-tax income to a retirement account where that money grows tax-deferred until you take it out for the golden years. Roth IRAs, on the flip side, are not tax-deductible (meaning you deposit after-tax income), but you can still make contributions as long as you are earning an income and withdrawals are tax-free.  A key difference between the two is that you cannot deposit into a Roth IRA if you earn too much (>139k if single and 206k if you are married)! To open a Roth IRA, you need to find an institution (banks, brokerage companies, federally insured credit unions, and savings and loan associations) that has IRS approval to offer this type of account. 

6. Capital Gains

Like the term itself describes, capital gains are the gains (income) that stems from the sale of an asset, such as financial investments or real estate. If you hold the underlying asset for less than a year, the capital gains are taxed at the same rate as your income. This profit is typically taxed at 20% or less for long-term assets i.e. assets held for longer than one year. 

7. Securities

Now, while putting your money in a savings account is better than just parking it under your mattress, you could honestly get so much more by putting your money into securities, tradable financial assets used to raise capital for governments and corporations both privately and publicly. Traded in financial markets, securities include stocks, bonds, and options, all varying in definition and ownership. What you really need to know, though, is that investing in securities typically comes with a higher yield, which means more bang for your buck, literally. Read more about them on our website.

 

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Get moving and start investing! 😏💸💪🏻 When you do, diversification is key. Today we’re simplifying some basic investment vehicles by relating them to common workouts 🧘🏻‍♀️🏋🏽‍♀️🚴🏼‍♀️ Investing will give you the #financialfreedom to treat yourself to your favorite workout classes, so what are you waiting for? #HerCapital ✨🌸💥

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8. Financial Statement

If you’re an investor, you have probably heard of people screaming to buy the “hottest stock” of the moment. But you might wonder, what’s the hype? That’s where financial statements come in. Financial statements clear the noise and get to the down-and-dirty realities of a company’s financial performance. They are written records of all business transactions and activities, reporting elements like profit and losses, liquidity, and assets. The four main financial statements are the balance sheet, income statement, statement of shareholder’s equity, and cash flow statement. So when you invest, be sure to do your research, comb through those statements, and make an informed decision.

9. Asset Allocation

There are appropriate times to be risky and times to play it safe. Just like in life, you might want to try out that piece in your closet that you never, ever wear, but if you’re cutting bangs after a fresh heartbreak we’d tell you to slow down a little bit. When it comes to your financial plans, asset allocation is all about understanding and tolerating your risk and wisely choosing where to put your money. Different asset classes react differently in the economy, thus you can create your own mix that caters to your needs, time horizon, and goals. And take the time-tested tip to diversify, diversify, diversify!

 

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Need a kick this Monday morning? ☀️ We are here for you with a cup of Irish Cream ☕️🍾 For the typical investor, the balanced portfolio is the strategy recommended by @fidelity, and we break down what that means with this fun visualization! #HerCapital 🌸💸

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10. Bull & Bear Markets

Within the financial world, the terms bull and bear markets refer to the general sentiment about the markets. A bull market is a sustained period where prices for securities are on the rise, often driven by optimism, investor confidence, and high expectations. On the flip side, a bear market is a period of contraction, characterized by falling prices. It generally occurs amid investor pessimism and shaken confidence and is often accompanied with an economic downturn, such as recession. I guess you could say that investors find this time to be unBEARable… sorry.

And that’s it—the 10 financial terms everyone should know. Wasn’t too bad, right? If you have any more questions or are looking for more resources, you can drop a comment here, or check out our HerCapital website and Instagram @her.capital. We’ve got lots of stuff for our community of badass women invested in their financial futures like you.

Images: Sharon McCutcheon / Unsplash; @her.capital / Instagram