Couple Money header image ≡ Menu

Build Up Your Marriage and Money Stash

Learn to live on one income and have fun with the second with Couple Money’s Free Newsletter!

  • Automate Your Finances
  • Pay Down Your Debt Faster
  • Grow Your Money Together

Be a part of the tens of thousands who read Couple Money to build their finances together.

Heatwave and Pregnancy – Not a Fun Combo

air conditioning for heatwave

9 Months Pregnant During a Heatwave

It’s been a bit crazy lately. I feel like the weather, my body, and everyone else has gone a bit insane this past month. Let’s see what’s going on – we’re in a middle of a nasty heatwave, I’m still pregnant, and many people are annoying me with ‘ Are you still around?’ questions.

As far as other people, I now see that babies give off this vibe where it’s fine to be annoying to someone already uncomfortable. I try to maintain a sense of humor, but it’s just not there anymore. I don’t really think it’s funny. People constantly asking me if the baby is born by phone has gotten annoying and I now limit talking to them.  Yes, I would love to have her in my arms already, the baby will come when she comes.

Oh, well. I’m done complaining, now on to some personal finance stuff.

Catch My Posts on Lending Tree Now!

In case you’re curious what I’ve been up to, I’ve been blogging over at Lending Tree now. I have a post today on handling debt as a couple. I know that many spouses have to first get on the same page before they can tackle their debt, so I offered some tips on making that transition much easier.  I also had a post last month on ways to save some money with your wedding. Summer seems to be a popular time to get married, but these tips apply year round.

If you enjoy the posts, please share it with your friends on Twitter, Facebook, or Google +.

I feel that blogging is about building a community and expanding your circle, so I’m really excited to joining some wonderful bloggers over at the site. You’ll recognize quite a few are from the Yakezie network.

Personal Finance Posts to Catch Up On

If you have some free time this week and want some tips and information for your finances, be sure to read some of these wonderful posts. There are some handy tips this week to help you out.

I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did. I also recommend checking out my blogroll to pick up some great personal finance blogs to follow. Please also let me know what are some of your favorite blogs that you enjoy reading on a regular basis.

Have fun this week with your family and try to stay cool!

Photo Credit: MSVG

 

5 Common Resume Mistakes You Should Avoid

Check your resume

The economy has left many people looking for work and recruiters can be inundated when it screening applicants so they’re using any reason to throw yours out. I even read that having an hotmail or yahoo email address can result in your resume being ignored.

Use these tips so you don’t kill your chances to make it through the initial screening because of resume no-nos.

Spelling and Grammar

Submitting a resume with even one spelling error, whether it was a typo or just lack of knowledge, indicates you don’t care. I can tell you from personal experience not to trust spell check programs. The word might be spelled right, but it wasn’t the word you meant.

Have multiple people with excellent language skills review your resume. If this isn’t an option, then put it aside and come back to it later with a fresh eye.

Use of Keywords

Many companies now use software to screen online applications and resumes. Your resume will never see a human eye unless it scores well enough in the analysis. Study the job posting for priority words to use in your resume. This shows you understand the requirements of the job and potentially have the expertise to fill it.

Be sure to use common industry abbreviations or acronyms which may be keywords. Buzzwords can be annoying but the software may be looking for them.

Creative License

A boring resume is not going to be read. Use your creativity to make the resume noticeable. Match the style to the position and company. If you trying to get hired as a graphic artist, an non-traditional resume will be better-received than it would a a conservative accounting firm.

On the other hand, don’t go overboard. If viewing your resume requires a QR scanner, it’s probably not going to be seen.

Readability

Busy hiring managers don’t have time to read a lot of words that run together in long paragraphs. Instead, create a bulleted resume with enough white space. Many people make the font so small in an effort to get more one one page.

Ignore the “rule” about fitting the entire resume on one page; it’s not as important as providing relevant information in a readable format.

Resume Content

It’s important to include enough information to pique the employer’s interest but not too much. Put the most important information at the top. Include accomplishments instead of responsibilities for previous roles.

Content you should leave out includes hobbies (who really wants to know that you ski?), salary requirements, references or a photo. Don’t let you bad hair day eliminate you!

The first step to a new job is getting that interview. Let your resume be an asset instead of a detriment. What resume mistakes have you encountered?

Some rights reserved by Robert S. Donovan

Don’t Sabotage Your Own Job Interview

prepare for job interviews

So many people are looking for work now in this economy. Many employers have the advantage when trying to fill a position. People are looking for something long term where they can grow and develop and the good news is that there are places like that.

My husband’s company is growing and they are hiring. They’ve been having interviews for a few departments and lately they’ve been having some memorable candidates. Not memorable in a good way, but instead in how unprepared they were.

Sometimes I though he was joking – I couldn’t believe someone would go in for a mid-level position and not be ready. Others made me wonder where did they find these candidates.

Review Your Resume for the Job Interview

One of the first impression you can make is with your resume. What you put on there can get scrutinized before, during, and after the interview.

Some mistakes that applicants have made include:

  • Copy and Paste: What’s worse than not personalizing your resume for a particular job? How about just copy and pasting job descriptions? Want to make it even better – how about copy and pasting the same thing, over and over on your resume?
  • Check your spelling and grammar. Sounds easy with office software including tools for such matters, but it slips in. what’s worse is that some people have several spelling and grammar mistakes.

Go ahead and check your resume before you head for your next interview. Read it out loud and have someone else review it just to double check.

Prepare for the Job Interview

When you’re sitting in front of the interviewer(s), understand that you’re one step closer to getting a job. This is your opportunity to shine. you want them to see how you can succeed in the position and that you’re a team player.

  • Know the position you’re applying for and review the job responsibilities. Expect to be asked a question to demonstrate that you know what the job entails. If you’re a software developer, brush up on on the basics.
  • Know the company and its mission. While you may not always have time to do a detailed analysis for every company, you should prepare the best you can. Understand the industry and how the company fits into it. Be able to articulate how you can help the company reach its financial goals.

Don’t wing it; it’s a waste of your time and a waste for the company’s time. Instead of just putting out your resume everywhere and seeing what sticks, focus on jobs you really want.

Thoughts on Job Interviews

What shocked me about some of his stories was how these applicants weren’t recent college graduates just starting their career. These are supposed to be seasoned veterans, looking to move up in their own career ladder.

Have you ever sat in an interview and were surprised by the candidates’ lack of preparation?

Photo Credit: bpsusf

Quick Money Tips for Travelers

travel tips

Sometimes we label ourselves as tourists without even knowing it. Whether it’s your face buried in a map or your trendy NorthFace backpack (akin to an American flag in some countries), it’s easy to get targeted by local pickpockets.

But these days, protecting your money when on vacation takes more than just wearing a discreetly (and often awkwardly) hidden money belt.  With all the sneaky exchange and foreign transaction fees charged every time you swipe, theives don’t even have to reach into your pocket anymore; you’re be practically handing your cash over.

With a little foresight, you could avoid getting cheated and get the most out of your dollar. Here are a few tips to help you protect your wallet when on the go.

Paper, Plastic or Both?

It’s good to have multiple methods of payment because it’s difficult to anticipate which will be accepted, and where. Try not to carry more than $300 cash in the local currency, and make sure to get at least some foreign currency before you hop on the plane—banks could be closed when you arrive at your destination, ATMs could be down, and pickpockets frequent currency exchange booths.

In addition to cash, you should also consider bringing more than one credit or debit card on your trip. Carry one card with you at all times and keep one in the safe at your hotel, so you’ll always have a money source in case of an emergency.

If you’re planning an extended visit abroad, consider getting a more traveler-friendly credit card. You can get the most out of your money by earning rewards tailored to your specific needs. You could rack up airline miles, earn extra rewards points at participating hotels and resorts, and can even get cash back. The Capital One Venture Rewards card, for example, is a fantastic international credit card that allows you to redeem miles on any travel expense and doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee.

Traveler’s Checks

Traveler’s checks (or “cheques” for our British buddies) aren’t accepted at as many businesses, and often come with fees attached. These are slowly becoming outdated, but they’re still a useful supplement to debit and credit cards.

Make sure you get the checks from a trusted issuer like American Express or Visa. Dual signature checks, like the AmEx “Cheques for Two,” are a good option if you travel with a buddy. Allowing access to more than one person is important in case of an emergency.

They’re especially useful because issuers will usually reimburse you for a lost or stolen check within 24 hours, but don’t take that as an invitation to be reckless. Also, they could save you in the event that an ATM network is down or an ATM machine is only available in a foreign language. Traveler’s checks are good for emergencies, but not so much for primary use.

Contact your bank

When planning a trip, there are a number of reasons to contact your bank beforehand. First, you should inform your bank that you’re going on a trip to avoid your account being frozen due to “suspicious activity.” Also, ask your bank about their foreign transaction fee rates. It’s usually around 3% but can vary depending on your particular credit card. This information is very important when calculating exchange rates, which we’ll discuss in a bit.

Avoid Prepaid Debit Cards

Many people think they could cut their losses in the event of a robbery by having a prepaid debit card. The truth is, you should be more wary of your card issuer than pickpockets when it comes to prepaid debit. With the various reloading, withdrawal, and balance inquiry fees, just to name a few, you might as well be giving your money away. Plus, if you lose the card, it could be particularly difficult to replace while abroad. Oh, and there’s a fee for that too.

Beware of the DCC

The Dynamic Currency Conversion process (DCC) is a feature only offered by Visa and MasterCard, and is often where travelers lose the most money. In this process, cardholders have their transaction converted into local currency, with the rate exchange disclosed at point of sale rather than at the end of the billing cycle.

The catch is that the merchant, not your card issuer, calculates the exchange rate. Some merchants have been known to hike up exchange rates up to 3% more than issuing banks, and they can even charge a conversion fee. Reports say that RyanAir has been known to charge up to 7% extra on their transactions.

When signing your receipt, you’ll have the option of being charged in foreign or your home currency. Make sure to check the totals and decide whether you are getting a better exchange or if you should just stick with your bank’s rates.

Angie Picardo is a staff writer for NerdWallet, a credit card website helping people find the best in international credit cards.

Photo Credit: Dene’ Miles

If I Had A Million Dollars…

million dollars what to do

What would I do with a million dollar windfall?  While reviewing some blogs from the Yakezie network, I saw a question posed by Sandy from Yes I Am Cheap for a personal finance meme last week.

I found this to be a fun exercise and conversation for my husband and I. It gave us an opportunity to define what some of our goals are. I decided to join in and come up with a plan should a get a million dollars (after taxes).

Pay off Debts ($130,000)

Between our student loan and our mortgage balance, we have debt total of $130,000. The first part of our spending will be cleaning our slate and taking care of our financial obligations.

By not having debts in our budget, that frees up about $1,100/month. We can use that for other goals, like travel or exploring hobbies. Believe it or not, we won’t quit our jobs just yet – we love what we do. If anything, we’d try to adjust work location.

Long Term Income Stream ($400,000)

We’d take our time in deciding how we’ll use this money. We would hold off for a few months and speak with some financial advisers about viable options. I have a few ideas, but before committing the money, we’d have to sit down and work out a plan together. We both want the other to feel comfortable with how the money is invested for our family’s future.

I’m thinking of something along the lines of getting a rental property (a building with 4 apartments for example).

Take Care of My Family ($270,000)

I personally would not feel good if I didn’t help out my loved ones. First, I would top off my mother’s retirement accounts and finish paying off her small mortgage balance. My husband would want to finish off his parents’ mortgage as well.

For our siblings, we’d create a small family fund to help them as a safety net should they have an emergency. It’ll be set up as a no interest loan, so if they pay it back there’s money for any future crisis. If they spend it though, then it’s gone. We would keep tabs to make sure one person doesn’t clean out the pot.

Our hope is that siblings can create their own income streams to support their dreams. It’s our hope that once that occurs, we can transfer over that money into our charity fund.

Set Up a Charity Fund ($200,000)

I want to help others, but I feel like passing out lump sums would go too quickly and wouldn’t do much. I would set aside money to set up a charity to pass out a small amount of money perpetually.

This would be another area where we would work with a financial and legal professional to get this off the ground. We like to this project to continue for years down the line.

What Would You Do With a Million Dollars?

What about you? If you had a million dollars, how would use it? What would be the biggest challenge? What would be the most fun?