Springtime Giveaway Announced

It’s time for another giveaway here at The American Spinster!

This time the prize is a set of Mama and Baby Cat plushies from The Toy Cove:

The American Spinster Springtime Giveaway

These sweet little cats make great home decor pieces or a perfect set of toys. They stand 11” (adult) and 8.5” (kitten) tall, and are weighted at the bottom so they stand up on their own,

American Spinster Springtime Giveaway: KittenWhat do you have to do for your chance to win? Aside from being 16 or older and having a  US shipping address (fine print, sorry), just use the Rafflecopter widget below to leave a comment on this blog. There are plenty of other ways to gain additional entries, including repeatable entries to increase your odds of winning.

This contest starts Monday, April 18th and runs through Sunday, May 15th at 11:59pm.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wishing Your Way To Financial Freedom: The Disney Princess Method of Financial Planning

Wishing Your Way To Financial Freedom: The Disney Princess Guide to FinancesWorking toward your goals requires more than just saving money, and Disney princesses know this. Though the princesses have gotten a bad rap lately for being all wish and no work, I don’t think this reputation is entirely earned. From Ariel to Tiana, the princesses illustrate an under-mentioned point about planning for the future.

Ariel wants to be a human. For years before the movie opens, she dreams about being human. Though she doesn’t seem to know how obtaining legs would be possible, she collects every human artifact she can find, and learns all she can about their culture. After meeting Prince Eric, she finds the determination to make her dream come true (even though she makes some pretty bad choices trying to get there).

Belle wants a life of adventure outside her little town, and to find someone who understands her for who she is, rather than the town oddball. Although fate can be thanked for the circumstances that lead her to the Beast’s castle, her own strength of character is what allows her to save her father. And it’s her unyielding determination and refusal to be cowed that wins over the Beast, leading to her happily ever after.

Jasmine knows she wants the freedom to choose her own life, and actually runs away to do it. Even when she’s back in the palace, she continues to stand up for herself, shaming the Sultan, Aladdin, and Jafar for continuing to decide her future. It’s her steadfast insistence, not Aladdin’s antics, that finally convinces her father to allow her to marry whoever she wants.

Though not as maligned as the earlier princesses, I want to include Tiana here as well. She’s the first Disney princess to make establishing capitol one of her main goals. She dreams of opening a restaurant, and works toward that with a single-mindedness that causes her to miss some of the other important parts of her life. By the end of the film, she finds a balance of work, dreaming, and living.

Are there problems with the princesses and their stories? Of course. The Disney Princess Guide To FinancesBut I think as a culture we’re throwing the baby out with the bathwater when we pretend that self-knowledge, determination, and perseverance to follow one’s dreams aren’t just as important as clocking in every day for the 9-5. The Disney princesses (excepting perhaps Snow White and Aurora) know what they want and hold on to their dreams as if their lives depend on them. They make difficult choices to obtain their goals (even if, in Ariel’s and Jasmine’s cases, they’re poor ones), and follow through with them until the end. Whether you’re a fan of Disney or not, you have to admit that those are the virtues of a successful woman.

Investing In What You Buy

Every item you purchase can be an investment, from a loaf of bread to a new computer. So what are the best ways to invest when you buy?

Investing In What You Buy: The American Spinster Financial Series

Food

Food is pretty much a one-time deal. You buy it, eat it, and that’s the end of that money. However, what you eat isn’t just a temporary fuel source. Just like a car, the quality of what goes in plays a part in how long and how well it stays running. Not to get preachy here, but even though you can eat a bowl of ramen for 20 cents, that’s sort of like funneling bootleg whiskey into your gas tank. It’ll keep you going, but does more harm than good in the long run.

Investing in your foodOrganic is out of my price range, and I’ll admit to eating my fair share of cheap, hyper-processed noodles. But I also try to balance that out with healthier options. Less expensive fruit like bananas still give your body ample nutrition. If you like salad, try mixing cheap iceberg lettuce with more nutritious Romaine and green leaf, so you can eat it every day.

Your body is the one thing that will be with you all of your life, so it’s your most important investment.

Living Space

Investing When You RentThis one is obvious if you’re living in your own home, as real estate can be a great investment. But what if you rent? You may not be investing money in the traditional way, since you’re not going to own a rented home. But since a large portion of your monthly income is going toward rent, you should make sure you’re getting your money’s worth.

Clothes

There are so many ways to invest in good clothes. My preferred way is to spend very little on new-looking clothes from consignment and thrift shops. It doesn’t matter how quickly I destroy them, since I only paid about a tenth of the original cost. Of course, you can also buy new from reputable retailers. Land’s End and L. L. Bean, for instance, offer lifetime guarantees on their clothing.

Investing in ClothesWhen it comes to investing in clothes, price and durability aren’t the only important aspects. Another element of long-sighted clothes buying is limiting your trendy purchases. By all means, go buy that cut of jeans that’s popular right now. But maybe limit it to just one pair, because in a year and a half, they’ll be out of style. Is anyone (besides unfashionable me) wearing Gauchos anymore? Nope. They’ve fallen out of style. So no matter how well they’ve lasted, they’re still folded up in someone’s closet.

Technology

Investing in TechnologyWhat about buying things that depreciate rapidly, but are pretty much necessities? Computers and other technology fit the bill here. My best advice is to buy as new as you can, bearing in mind the possibility of updates and the items overall utilitarianism once it’s become outmoded. I recently bought a new laptop, and it cost me quite a bit. But, unless an unprecedented technological explosion happens, it’ll serve me for at least the next few years before it become decrepit and unusable. I also chose to buy a laptop, so it’s more functional for the money I spent.

Collectibles

Investing in CollectiblesAnd then there are the other things. Items that appreciate in value. Mostly, these are going to be collectibles. For people who have a beloved collection they like to add to, don’t worry too much about spending the money. As long as it’s not coming out of money earmarked for savings or regular expenses, you’re still investing that money. You may never want to sell, but it’s still a smarter purchase than over-priced convenience food that has absolutely no value once you purchase it.

 

No matter how well you save, you’re going to have to spend money on a very regular basis. But if you keep these things in mind, your purchases, even the ‘disposable’ ones like food, can be well-planned to give you the best possible future.

The Financial Book List for Spinsters

As I’ve been preparing this financial how-to series, I’ve been coming across a number of books about women and finances. And you know what I’ve noticed? Not surprisingly, there aren’t too many guides for single, childfree women. Despite that fact that we’re a rapidly increasing demographic, many publishers don’t seem eager to jump in and fill the void.

Financial Book List For SpinstersPerhaps they, like a lot of married-with-children adults, seem to think we naturally have tons of cash lying around, so financial advice isn’t a vital topic. While it’s true the childfree woman doesn’t have the expenses of singles or couples with children, living solo is itself a huge expense, and navigating the murky waters of retirement is a difficult task for anyone. Spinsters need to manage their money just like anyone else.

However, I did find a few helpful guides aimed at the spinster demographic, or at least in that general direction. So today, in lieu of the normal, in-depth book review, I’ve compiled a list of helpful books for the independent woman.

On My Own Two Feet: A Modern Girl’s Guide to Personal Finance by Manisha Thakor
If you’re wondering how modern this book can be when it refers to women as girls… I’d just say that titles need to grab attention to sell books. This book offers practical advice aimed at single women. I like it because it’s straightforward and honest, backed up by studies and statistics.

Single Women And Finances: A Woman’s Secret Diary To Saving, Budgeting, and Retirement by J. J. Jones
Unlike a lot of “For Women” financial books that are filled with over-simplified, generic advice, this is actually aimed at single women. It examines the financial pros and cons of singlehood and relates the advice in the book directly to those issues.

The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement by Jane Cullinane
Retirement may seem far away to some, but for most spinsters, the time to start planning for it was yesterday. This book is written very specifically for the single audience, including statistics on single women and how they (tend to) spend and save. It’s a comprehensive look at the multi-faceted relationships between money, lifestyle, psychology, and culture.

Suddenly Single: Money Skills for Divorcees and Widows by Kerry Hannon
This book teaches financial management for women who have recently become single through the lose of a spouse. It approaches the topic with the assumption that many divorced women and widows were not solely in charge of the finances, and offers advice on taking the reins when they’re abruptly dropped into your hands.