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The Secret to Staying Out of the Red and in the Black

When I am not writing about personal finance and consumer debt, I knit. Something about the gentle rhythm of yarn and needle calms my spirit and unwinds my brain.

professional woman sitting at her desk, knitting.

I have managed to finish a few projects, not because I’m a great knitter but because I can “tink” almost as well as I knit (knit spelled backward is tearing out).

Because all knitters make mistakes, tinking is a required skill for those who take the craft seriously. It doesn’t take too many oversized sweaters or undersized hats to figure out that the smallest error at the beginning of a project can produce disastrous results if not found and corrected.

Just two options

Money is a lot like knitting. By some miracle, all knitting consists of just two stitches: knit and purl. Likewise, with money you have two options: spend or save. And who among us can say they have never made a financial error? We all make mistakes but the secret to staying out of the red is correcting the little mistakes before they lead to disastrous results.

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Stop Wasting Money on Kitchen Tools That Do Only One Thing

Celebrity chef Alton Brown contends that a kitchen tool that does only one job is mostly useless. He calls anything like a pickle fork, garlic press, strawberry stem remover, or hot dog steamer a “unitasker.”

His advice? Don’t waste your time and money on any kitchen tool if it is only good for one thing. It will just take up valuable space, eventually becoming clutter.

 

Kitchen tools and gadgets hanging on a wall

 

It sounds a bit like Alton spent time with my grandma who was big on buying a sack of flour to bake bread, then sewing the sack into a dress, and when the dress wore out she would cut it into rags for a rug. Or pieces for a quilt.

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5 Reasons You’ll Quickly Regret Raiding a Retirement Account

I know it’s hard. I know you’re desperate. You’re stressed and losing sleep. Things are tough. You have to do something, and soon. But whatever you do, don’t touch your retirement account. Don’t borrow against it. Don’t withdraw from it. Just leave it alone.

What’s so bad about liquidating a retirement account? Here are five reasons you’ll quickly regret doing that:

 

Happy piggy bank all locked up to keep retirement account safe

1. Momentum

Your retirement account, even during times when it appears to be losing value, is money you are going to need after you reach retirement age. And I can guarantee you are going to need it much more then than you do now. If you bleed it dry now, you stop the momentum—the pace at which it is growing. Think of your retirement account as completely out of your reach for now.

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You Really Can Recover from Dumb Money Mistakes

When I was young and stupid, I accumulated more than $100,000 in unsecured, credit-card debt. And you think you’ve got troubles?!

I didn’t get into that mess overnight. It took me 12 years and myriad terrible financial mistakes to do that and in the process, nearly ruin my life.

During the 13 years it took to get out of the mess (paid back every nickel with no concessions, settlements, negotiations—or bankruptcy) I learned how important it is to deal with mistakes as they happen so they don’t turn into major setbacks.

No one is perfect. You’re going to make mistakes, and when you do, you need to know how to react and what to do to minimize the damage.

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Sticky Situations: Lending Money to Family, Kids and Their Parents’ 529 Savings Plans

There is an old adage that warns, never lend money to family or friends. And if you’ve managed to adhere to such a thing when someone you love has been in a real bind, it’s possible that you’re much stronger than I am and I dare say, most of your fellow readers as well. The secret is to help if you can, but in a way that strengthens that relationship, not destroys it.

 

Male and female hands exchanging a stack of 100 dollar bills

Does the Lender Get a Say?

Dear Mary: Last month I lent my sister $500 to pay for her rent since she said she was in a jam. Well, it’s been months now and she hasn’t paid me back, yet she’s eating out every day and getting a weekly manicure! Needless to say, I’m angry. What can I say to get my money back? Seething in Seattle

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