All about the challenges of Midlife Finance

BEEFING UP YOUR ‘STUFF YOU’ ACCOUNT

Some people call it an FU account. (Say the letters out loud, and you’ve got it.) Some people call it ‘Stick It,’ ‘Stuff You’ or ‘Shove It.’ Whatever name you choose to call it, this fund is your ticket out — of a boring, irritating or untenable job; a difficult situation; or an emergency.

The value of this fund can do amazing things for your temperament. With a ‘Stuff You’ account in your back pocket, crabby bosses or broken-down cars are merely temporary inconveniences. Sick of your environment? The FU fund can get you out of there, with moving expenses paid and a bit of cash for a fresh start. Whew.

How much do you need in your fund — well, what are you thinking might come up? Some people calculate a month’s worth of expenses. Others itemize what a move might entail, including the rental truck and deposit on a new place. You might settle on a flat amount: $2000, for example, will buy you a lot of mental peace…or a nice discount cruise. (Sometimes just getting away from your problems for a few days makes all the difference.)

       Now the question is: how to fill that account?


*Set aside a small percentage of your regular paycheck. Can you get by with only 95%? Even a $400 monthly paycheck will produce almost $250 in a year, if that 5% is funneled off right away. (Chances are you won’t even notice its absence.)

*Add any raises or bonuses, Christmas checks from Aunt Faye and other windfalls. You’ve been getting by without that money before, haven’t you?

*Spare change adds up. What’s it gots in its pocketses? Keep a bank on your dresser, labeled the ‘FU Fund;’ everything in coins goes in  Add the money to your fund when the bank gets full. One of the correspondents in Yankee Magazine’s Living On A Shoestring took his wife on a long casino weekend…just on spare change he’d found while running!

*Take a small or temporary extra job. Babysitting, Dog-walking and other temp jobs all qualify. (Oldest Daughter dog-sits — and gets $25 a day for her services.) Guess where the income from writing this article is going!?!

*Take advantage of rewards programs. It might mean using the gift cards you earn from participating in programs like Swagbucks. (Don’t laugh. I make at least $10 monthly in Amazon giftcards from just doing my regular work with it. That works out to $120 a year, for hardly even trying! Others use their Amazon giftcards to stock up on staples like razors and toilet paper.)

Credit cards have reward programs. So do airlines, grocery stores, restaurants and a plethora of different spots — even buying sites like Ebates. 

For every buck you save, an equivalent amount goes in your fund.

 beefing up your stuff it account

*Give something up–even if only temporarily. That glass of wine with dinner at the restaurant, for example. (Buy your dinner with certificates from Restaurant.com, and you’re getting the benefit of a rewards program, too.) The full-price movie. (Go to the discount showing…or rent a buck dvd from Redbox. Sign up for their rewards program, and you’ve got a free rental the beginning of every month!) Drop cable — you can always sign up again (and take advantage of a special!) when football season or the Christmas specials start.

Say to yourself, “I am buying my freedom.” Then stash the money in your FU account — quick.

Do one or more of these regularly, and you’ll be surprised how quickly even small savings add up. If the money’s used up — and that’s what it’s there for — you know you can refill it. Sure, it might take some time, but you can do it. A ‘Stuff You’ account is just another way of saying:

Who’s in charge of my finances and actions? Not you, Buddy — I am!

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