If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you know I’m more likely to take photos of food I cook myself than food I order in a restaurant. Actually, I tend to prefer eating at home. After a day of working, I would rather get out of work-appropriate clothing and into sweats. Which isn’t to say I don’t enjoy a good restaurant meal — even when I don’t enjoy the prices. This week, freelancer Lizz Schumer caught my eye when she asked a half-dozen foodies and money experts (including The Times’ own Pete Wells) for tips on how to enjoy fine dining even if you’re on a tight budget. Among the suggestions: Check out the menu before you go, so you can order strategically. Instead of dinner, go for lunch when the menus tend to be significantly cheaper. Sit at the bar, where you won’t get the evil eye for ordering a couple of apps instead of a full three courses. The bar frequently offers a cheaper menu with food that’s just as yummy. And, Wells notes, ask for a bag or box to take home your leftovers so you can pay once — eat twice.
Protecting The Stay-at-Home Spouse
Many couples — and all new parents — will at some point have to figure out the childcare puzzle. If it comes down to a decision of one spouse or the other staying home (even for a short stint), economics often figure into the equation: Who brings in more? Who has health benefits? But, as The Wall Street Journal points out in this week’s Journal Report, this calculation can determine the short-term benefits, not the long-term ones. The spouse who stops working is often skipping out on the years where their salary will experience the most growth, and consequently giving up his or her top salary potential. This is why it’s so important to plan and protect the stay-at-home spouse.
Whether you’re the non-earning spouse or your partner is, the story suggests a few maneuvers that can help. Top of my list: Contributing to a spousal IRA. The family as a whole loses out on both current tax benefits and growth if only one is contributing to a retirement account. Roth or Traditional IRAs both work for this purpose; pick the one that’s right for you. The story also posits a post-nuptial agreement, a written agreement that pledges money from the earner to the non-earner’s savings account — or financial support in other forms, like money set aside for an advanced degree or to invest in a side hustle. This document could also be helpful in simply outlining how household expenses will be covered. Another benefit of a side business (or part-time job) is that it can keep you eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance. You only need to make $5,280 a year to remain qualified. Note: If you need some ideas for side hustles for professionals, here are a few to consider.
Save More vs. Work More
When it comes to solving the retirement puzzle, there are a few ways to improve your odds of amassing as much as you need. You can work longer. Save more. Take a little more risk with your investments. Let’s take the last one out of the equation. Which one rises to the top? In the same special section of The Wall Street Journal was a surprising piece about how effective working even just a little bit longer can be. Putting off retirement and Social Security payouts by just three to six months has the same effect on your retirement income as would saving one percent of your salary for 30 years. (Yes, three decades!) So if you’re approaching retirement and you’re worried that you don’t have enough saved, don’t lose hope. By postponing your retirement by a year, you boost your Social Security payout by 8 percent — and allow the money you’ve already saved for retirement to continue to grow.
Kakeibo Your Finances
No, Kakeibo is not the newest fermented, gut-healthy drink to hit the market (you’re thinking of kombucha). It’s the name of the Japanese organizational tactic that could save you as much as 35 percent a month, says PureWow. Before you dive in — here’s a warning: It’s old school. The term literally means “household finance ledger,” because that’s what it is — a financial journal where you keep a record of everything you buy (much like a food diary). Here’s how it works: First, pick up a notebook or journal you like looking at (that’s important) and a nice pen while you’re at it. Then, at the beginning of each month, write down your fixed expenses and incomes (mortgage, rent, cell phone bill, etc.). The difference will tell you how much money you have available for the rest of the month. During the month, divide your expenses into four different categories: survival (e.g. food, rent), optional (e.g. eating out, buying new shoes), culture (e.g. Netflix subscription, concert tickets) and extra (e.g. irregular events like birthdays or car repairs). Finally, ask yourself and write down the answers to these questions: “How much money do you have?” “How much money would you like to save?” “How much are you actually spending?” and “How can you improve on that?” Writing things down is a simple-but-brilliant way to get yourself to pay attention to the little things. Just like this.
If you caught NBC News last night, you know that The Federal Trade Commission has launched an investigation into Facebook’s privacy practices. The latest revelation is Facebook’s confirmation that it has been keeping logs of the calls and texts of Android users who use their phones to access Facebook messenger. If you’re tempted to #DeleteFacebook altogether to avoid any sort of privacy breach, you should know that hitting “delete” doesn’t automatically wipe all of your information from the platform. It may take up to 90 days for all of your photos, statuses and other data stored in backup systems to be completely gone, says Refinery29.
Have a great week,