Ten Money Questions
Our guest gets personal below about money, memories and why we need to get serious about our finances. Enjoy!
1. How do emotions impact decisions with saving and spending?
For many of us, our financial decisions are very similar to our food decisions – they’re based on fulfilling an emotional need. Spenders tend to buy things they don’t really need because it makes them feel rich or comfortable or loved whereas hoarders save because it makes them feel secure. So yes, emotions absolutely impact our decisions regarding savings and spending. But if you have a plan and stick to it, and take the emotions out of it, you stand a much better chance of reaching your financial goals.
2. What is your most significant memory about money?
For my 13th birthday, I was with my cousins at the mall. My mother had given us a certain amount to spend and we had gone to the movies and played Ms. Pacman and Galaga and the money was over all too quickly. As we walked back to the car, I said, “I wish we had some more money so we could stay longer.” As I looked down dejectedly, I saw on the on the ground a $100 bill. I swooped it up, and held it up for my cousins. “Look!” They thought I had pulled a fake bill out of my pocket and was toying with them. I was so excited, I started squealing, and I took my cousins back in so we could play more video games and go see another movie.
3. What is your worst habit around finances?
I end up wasting too much time trying to get the lowest price possible. I usually do get the lowest price, but I’ve also lost countless hours and a lot of peace of mind.
4. I understand you like to invest in real estate. Given the housing market, is this still a viable option?
Smart investors can find great deals in any market and this is an investor’s dream market, in my opinion. Bargains abound when everyone else is getting out. For investors, it’s a good time to get in if you can make the cash flow work. I’m biased – I think real estate is always a great investment in any market IF (and this is a big IF), it’s the right location and the right price. That IF is the clincher. You really have to know what you’re doing to get into a market like this.
5. Is there a typical “life event” that prompts most queers to get serious about their finances? How does expense tracking play into it?
I think queer people face a lot of the same wake-up calls that straight people do, e.g., going into debt, breaking up, wanting to buy a home, medical emergencies, unemployment etc. I think most people wake up to their finances when they realize they don’t have any. If you can start paying attention while you have some money to manage, no matter how little, you’ll never have to feel that sense of helplessness when money’s tighter than painted-on jeans from the 1980s.
6. Do you and your partner see eye-to-eye on money?
Sort of. She’s very good with money (after listening to my rants for 7.5 years!) and I’ve learned a lot from her how to trust and how not to make myself crazy over every little expenditure.
7. What was the most important lesson that your parents taught you about money?
How to save, how to use credit cards wisely, and how to live within my means.
8. Do you lease or own your car?
I lease my car because I’m self-employed and I get to deduct most of the payment whereas if I owned the car outright, I could only deduct the mileage, which works out to a much smaller deduction. In deciding whether to lease or own, you have to calculate the costs and benefits of each. If you’re an employee (as opposed to owning your own business), I’m not sure leasing is such a good idea because there aren’t any tax advantages (that I know of) and you’ll end up making payments forever and never owning the car.
On the other hand, owning might not be any great shakes either because you’re paying each month for a depreciating asset that will end up eventually costing you money to maintain eventually. I think leaseguide.com has some great information to help people understand the process and my personal secret for leasing is swapalease.com. You can take over someone else’s lease, which saves you having to pay all those charges up front. You can get fantastic deals but it takes time to find the right car and go through the lease assumption process.
If you’re interested in buying, you might try fleetrates.com. I haven’t used them but they seem legit and it looks as if you never have to deal directly with a dealer, which is a bonus. The point is that no matter what you decide to do, make sure you educate yourself and use the Internet so you can make sure you’re getting the best deal possible.
9. Even though you’re no longer practicing law, was it worth the money to get a J.D.?
Absolutely! Law school trained me to think much more analytically about things. It also took away the mystery of contracts. You better believe I read every piece of paper I sign and because of law school, I actually understand what I’m reading!
10. What are your personal plans for retirement?
I don’t know that I’ll ever retire because I love what I do and I’m always exploring new adventures and business opportunities. But I’m relying on real estate investments to generate passive income for years to come (so that I’m working for pleasure, not out of necessity) and so I can spend my time writing, creating and helping people.
Read other Queercents interviews in the Ten Money Questions archive.