How to keep track of your expenses while traveling

Adventure silhouette

Another question that was asked after a recent meeting of the Portland Integrative Finance Community was regarding expense tracking and traveling, namely:

“How do you overcome the challenges of tracking expenses while traveling?”

Ooh, another great question! Gosh, if the PIFC keeps growing, I’ll never need to think of post ideas again!

Read more »

Categories: Movement, Radical Finances | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

What to do when you have extra category money at the end of the month

Blue corner

At the most recent gathering of the Portland Integrative Finance Community (join for free here), we had a frank and engaging discussion about the challenges and the benefits of tracking your expenses each and every month, something I’ve done for years and espoused on this site over and over.

But just saying “track your expenses” is the beginning of the story, and there are plenty of questions that come up when figuring out exactly how to do this. (This is one of the topics that I cover through financial coaching.)

And one of the questions I was asked after the meeting was:

“What do you do when you have unspent money in a category at the end of the month?”

Good question.

Read more »

Categories: Radical Finances | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

You really can move to a new place

Photo courtesy of Ninian Reid

I’ve written about how you can and should love where you live.

I sometimes get some push-back on this that feels like excuses. People spend a lot of time defending their own unhappy inertia, that circumstances simply prevent them from changing, and that there is simply nothing they can do. This rationalization seems to grant people the license they feel they need to be able to complain without actually doing anything about it.

We all make choices, of course, but new choices can be made all the time. To say your hands are completely tied is usually a bit disingenuous.

So here are some excuses that people give when they complain about why they can’t move to somewhere else. Also included are some responses. See if any of these resonate with you.

Read more »

Categories: Awareness, Movement | Tags: , | Leave a comment

How to know if it’s time to move away

Man on bike

On a recent flight home, I fell into conversation with a friendly woman from my birth city of Philadelphia.

She was on her way to a small town in the Pacific Northwest for a job interview and was as excited as she was nervous. Hearing that I not only lived in Portland, but also was originally from the east coast, she peppered me with questions. About my move, about how I decided it, about why I chose Portland, the whole process.

It turned out that the questions were not just polite ones, but deeply relevant to her, as she appeared to be at a crossroads in her life: Should she stay in the place she’s lived all her adult life, which was easy and comfortable and had real prospects, or should she pull up her roots and head to new place, one filled with promise but also uncertainty?

There is no should, of course. But it made me think about moving, both in my own decisions and those of others.

Read more »

Categories: Decisions, Movement | Tags: | Leave a comment

How to plan a trip to anywhere via travel hacking

Atlas statue

I was at a party recently where the conversation turned to travel. One person in particular was trying to get to a destination (somewhere in South America, I forget the specific city) the following month, and wanted to know how they could do it for cheap, possibly using frequent flyer miles.

Well, they could start planning sooner than a month before, is the response I wanted to say but didn’t.

But let’s say that you wanted to find a way to get somewhere (say, Belize) and you wanted to find a way there without having to pay full price. Which, after all, is one of the benefits of travel hacking. How do you do it?

Read more »

Categories: Decisions, Movement | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

This might be why you don’t believe you’ll be financially successful

Rusted Car

It’s not hard to find bad economic news that applies to you. If you’re a millennial, chances are the job market is terrible for you. If you’re a baby boomer, chances are that you’re either underwater in your house or you have not enough saved for retirement. If you’re a woman, the gender pay gap is still rearing its ugly head (though being spoken about more). And no matter who you are, chances are that your income is not nearly keeping up with your perceived needs.

Forget the 1% versus the 99%. It runs out that 20 people have as much money as half of America.

You may conclude from this that the system is rigged against you. And in this, you’re basically right.

But you may also think, as the saying goes, that “the little guy can’t get ahead“. As in, that you can’t win.

And that’s not true at all.

Read more »

Categories: Decisions, Radical Finances | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

How to handle when your luggage doesn’t show up

Luggage cart

Alaska Airlines has been pretty good to me. While their product isn’t anything extravagant, it’s certainly enjoyable enough, and I pretty much never have to deal with agents who totally hate their life (which was something I encountered with regularity on other airlines).

The question is: can this love fest with Alaska survive a epic failure to perform its duties?

Personally, I didn’t particularly have any interest in answering this question, but I was thrust into the situation anyway when on a recent flight, my bag failed to arrive on the belt, and I was left without any clothes the day before a business meeting.

Read more »

Categories: Decisions, Movement | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

How you can use same day flight change rules to save on airfare

Mesospheric clouds

I think Alaska Airlines is pretty much the best domestic airline out there right now. Bold claim, I know, and there are many different criteria that go into such a rating, but I say this based on a combination of how well they treat customers (both frequent and non-frequent) and how much employees appears to be enjoying their jobs.

Alaska isn’t always the cheapest, but price isn’t always the most important consideration for me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s always a consideration, just sometimes comfort and timing trump raw price.

I’ve been flying with Alaska for a few years now, and I’m still happily learning new benefits to flying with them, including one that I just puzzled out this week involving same day flight changes. And this can not only add flexibility and save you time, but can also save you money as well.

Read more »

Categories: Movement, Radical Finances | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

There is no glory in poverty

Toeing the line

Henry Rollins, who I’ve previously mentioned as being an honorary Unlikely Radical, perhaps the one that I aspire to be like the most, once joked at a spoken word show about a fictitious performance art piece, one with the pretension level amped up to its highest level. In it he mused that he would:

“…pound all these symbols of our materialistic world into a flat, metal/glass/ concrete chunk. And that will be me destroying all material possessions and showing you that it’s much better to be a worthless poet.”

And then the punchline:

“And then we all go home, and I bum cab fare from you.”

Henry Rollins

I know I find lessons in unlikely places, but I see something in this offhanded comment.

Read more »

Categories: Awareness, Radical Finances | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

The problems with airline loyalty

Golden Chains

So by now, I’ve talked about the problems inherent in certain retail loyalty programs. Programs like Starbucks Rewards and Amazon Prime seem like a good deal, but can often force you in making decisions based on the idea that you’ve “already paid for it”, rather than any good financial decisions.

But, as you know, one of my hobbies is traveling. I’m very fortunate to have had the ability to do this, both because of intentionality on my part and a lot of fortuitous situations, such as having worked jobs that see fit to fly me places.

And due to my relatively frequent traveler ways, I’ve developed a certain affinity for certain perks.

This is dangerous. I’ve helped to get people upgraded to first class before, and always warn them that all of their other flying experiences are going to suck a little worse from now on. It’s hard to taste comfort (if not real luxury) and then go back.

When you fly enough with a particular airline, you get what is know as “Elite Status” with them. This can net you perks, such as expedited check-in and boarding, as well as financial benefits too, such as checked bags.

On Alaska Airlines, where I have “MVP Gold” status, I can cancel or change any ticket without penalty at any time, even “nonrefundable” tickets, even on the day of travel. The ability to make “speculative” bookings is worth a lot to me, as I suspect it would be to you.

But the loyalty comes at a cost. The desire to qualify (and requalify) for these benefits can alter the decision making process, and can cause one to spend more money. Which is of course, exactly what the airlines want.

I’m not immune to this. As I found out when I went to book a flight to Chicago.

Read more »

Categories: Radical Finances | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments