Life Lessons From Dolly Parton

By Melissa Tosetti

I just got back from a quick trip to Knoxville, TN.   I was there to do a speaking engagement for a financial advisor on Thursday. Since it’s spring break, I took Paul and Dante along for the ride. Our initial plans were to go for a hike in the Smokey Mountains the day of the speaking engagement and then head to Dollywood the following day. After hearing about a cavern with an underwater lake from a friend, we shifted our plans and headed to The Lost Sea Adventure the morning of the event. We’re so glad we did! Paul is already planning a trip back with about 12 of our closest friends for their extended 3 hour cave crawl and overnight stay.         
The next day we headed to Pigeon Forge to visit the theme park Dolly Parton started 30 years ago. 
Paul and Dante were excited about Dollywood for the food and rides. Like Paul and Dante, I was also looking forward to the parks attractions, but the real reason I wanted to go was to learn more about one of my greatest heroes – Dolly Parton. 
As a kid, I spent many hours in my dad’s GMC truck listening to Dolly, Loretta Lynn and our long distant cousin Merle Haggard (his mom is my grandmother’s cousin).  
Although I enjoy her music and the memories it brings back, what I love and appreciate even more is her drive. She grew up in a one-room cabin in Sevier County, TN, the fourth of 12 kids. There was no silver spoon in her mouth, let alone her entire house. 
What Dolly did have was an amazing voice, a fantastic personality and a crystal clear vision for who she wanted to be. With those tools, she turned herself into Dolly Parton.
She’s role model for turning a vision into reality through hard work and perseverance. I love that!
For the record, whether you like country music or not, Dollywood is a fantastic place to visit and the food exceeded our expectation, especially the cinnamon bread!   The roller coasters were equally amazing. I’m pretty sure the Mystery Mine burned at least 1,000 calories through the pure terror of it!
If you are a Dolly Parton fan though, there’s one place you have to go while you’re there and that’s the Chasing Rainbows Museum. It holds thousands of memorabilia items from her childhood as well as her music and movie career. 
There was an item on display that caught me by surprise and made me choke up to an embarrasing level - and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one. It was the actual Coat of Many Colors Dolly’s mama made for her as a child and inspired one of her most famous songs. Seeing the actual coat made me appreciate just what a visionary that five year old girl must have been to be so poor, but believe she didn't have to stay that way.  That there was something so much more out there for her. We can learn a lot from that little girl! 

The Original Coat of Many Colors

Review Your Credit Card Statement
By Melissa Tosetti
One of the most important money saving habits you can adopt is to review your credit card statement each month.  

Back in July, I was charged $95 to renew a subscription for anti-virus protection on a computer I know longer own.  I immediately called the company and asked them to reverse the charge. 

Had I not noticed the charge, I would have blindly paid it, quite possibly for years to come as it was an annual subscription. I can think of many more things I would prefer to spend that $95 on! 

A much more impactful example of how crucial it is to review your credit card statements came at the expense of one of my clients in Virginia.  When we started working together, she discovered that she had been paying $200 a month for a personal trainer that she hadn't seen in two years.  That mistake cost her $4,800!

When your credit card bill arrives, invest the two minutes it takes to review the statement and make sure you're getting billed appropriately.
Take Your Lunch Tuesdays
By Melissa Tosetti
Of course you already know you can save money by taking our lunch to work.  In fact, you know you can save A LOT of money, but you still haven't done it.  

When it comes to the Take Your Lunch To Work Habit, we often think that it has to be all or nothing.  We think we have to it every day to be effective.  Any time you set yourself up for an all or nothing situation, your results are likely to be nothing.  

Instead of getting into the mindset that you have to do it every day, start by brown bagging it just once a week.  I'm a massive fan of baby steps and in my own experience and that of my clients’, baby steps are the best way to achieve your goals.

To help you jumpstart your habit, I’d like to introduce Take Your Lunch Tuesdays.  Starting tomorrow, Tuesdays are now the official days to take your lunch to work.

If you’re worried about missing out on social time with your coworkers, invite them to join you.  Tomorrow, instead of wasting 20 minutes driving to that deli and then standing in line waiting for your order, you can walk outside together, find a shady spot and immediately enjoy a lunch time picnic. 

We want to hear about your experience!  Use the hashtag #TakeYourLunchTuesdays on your favorite social media site to tell us what you brown bagged!  Pictures of your lunch are even better!
Shop Your Bathroom

Tired of the cosmetics in your makeup bag? 

Before heading to the drugstore or department store, check your makeup drawer and look for loved, but forgotten items.

You can do the same for shampoo and conditioners.  When you find that you're not getting the same results from your favorite hair products, swap them out for something else you already have on hand.

The Sunday Amazon Habit

By Melissa Tosetti

I learned a fantastic tip from one of my new clients yesterday. He’s a professor and purchases a lot of academic books for his own library.
If he hears about a book he’d like to add to his collection, he puts it in his Amazon shopping cart and leaves it there. He continues to do this throughought the week.  On Sunday, he sits down and reviews all the books in his shopping cart and then decides which ones he really wants to purchase. 
The habit has two big benefits:
  • He gets a few days to really think about the purchases he wants to make before pulling the trigger.
  • The second and more impactful benefit is that he gets to see the total cost of all the books he was thinking about buying that week. If he were to purchase them over a seven day time frame, it would be $30 here and $40 there. By looking at them all at once he’ll see a $200 total and that makes him really evaluate each book.  He'll then only buy the ones that will give him the most benefit.  The others, he borrows from the library.

This tip doesn't have to be limited to books.  You can do it with any purchase.  In fact, you can use it to save you even more money by implementing a once secret savings tip.  For many items Amazon sells, if you leave it in your shopping cart for a few days, you may receive a discount code via email.  It's a trick some retailers use to get you to pull the trigger.  It won't work on books, but it will work on many of the items you purchase through Amazon or other retailers.



The Bright Side of Tax Day

 The bright side of April 15th is that tomorrow, Tax Day will be a year away!

How To Change Your Spending Habits
By Melissa Tosetti
Yesterday I posted a piece about being willing to save for an item if it’s what you really want, rather than buying a cheaper item by default. I posted a link to the article on Facebook where Cheryl Stafford Ferguson wrote the following comment:
Don't want the more expensive one just because it is more expensive.
More expensive is not necessarily better quality.
Cheryl is absolutely right. Just because an item costs more, doesn’t mean it’s better quality.  The true nature of savvy spending is in questioning every purchase.  Is this an item I should invest in or should I bargain shop?
Her post reminded me of a conversation I had last week with clients who, previously, never had to worry about money. Now that they’re in retirement, they’re having to be mindful of their spending to ensure they don’t outlive their money.
They asked me how to become more conscious about their spending. Before, if they wanted something, they’d just buy it and never look at the price. 
I suggested two books for them to read. One is, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg and the other is What Would A Wise Woman Do by my friend Laura Atchison.
Both books talk about how so much of what we do in any given day is out of habit, including the questions we ask and the decisions we make. If you’re trying to change your financial situation and your making decisions based on your old habits, your situation is not going to change.
If you can break out of the fog and become conscious of the spending decisions you make, from a pack of gum to your next car, you can change everything. 
One of the things The Power of Habit explains is the need for a trigger to implement a new habit. So, if you want to be more conscious about your spending, something as simple as putting a post it note on your debit or credit card with the words “spend smart” will be the trigger you need to ask yourself the right questions before making your next purchase. 
Don't Be Cheap

Savvy Living isn't about being a cheapskate or a tightwad.  Don’t settle for a cheaper item just for the sake of saving money if the more expensive item is what you really want.

Often, in the long run, it’s more expensive to purchase the cheaper item - because it's inferior or because you won’t have the satisfaction the more expensive item would give you.

Without that satisfaction, you will likely end up purchasing the more expensive item on top of the cheaper one, costing you far more in the long run.  Be willing to save for what you really want. 

Are You Eating Your House?
By Melissa Tosetti
Donna Freedman is one of my favorite personal finance writers.  I had the pleasure of talking with her awhile back after we met on a panel. After reading her column on MSN for years, it was a pleasure to put a voice and personality to her written words.   
Last week I saw a headline for an article on that jumped out at me. The title was We’re Eating Our House. I clicked on the link and was not surprised to see that Donna was the author.
The focus of the article is whether your financial goal is a new house, retirement or your dream vacation, if you find yourself struggling to achieve your goals, look at your dining habits. It’s likely that “you’re eating your house”.  
My favorite line in the article is…
Ever listened to a friend bemoan her paycheck-to-paycheck status while using an iPhone to Instagram her entrée?
But Donna doesn’t just point out where people stumble in achieving their goals. She offers dozens of suggestions for how to fix the problem. 
Check out the article and while you’re at it, visit her blog Surviving and Thriving.

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