Getting Smart with Money: The Thanksgiving Edition

Here are three articles I found this week that you might enjoy or find useful.
1.  When Unpaid Student Loan Bills Mean You Can No Longer Work
This article talks about the draconian measures some states have taken toward folks who have fallen behind on their student loan payments. Educational debt is the only type you can’t have forgiven in a bankruptcy; did you know it can also keep you from getting a fishing license in in South Dakota or keeping your job as a nurse in Tennessee? Until we are willing to have a sane national discussion about the actual value of higher education and the consequences of student loans, students (and parents) will continue to see their futures bound and determined by Sallie Mae and her ilk.

2.  An Alarming Number of Shoppers are Still Paying Off Debt from Last Christmas
Before you hit those Black Friday sales tomorrow, ask yourself if you’ve financially recovered from last year’s Christmas. If you’re like an increasing number of Americans, you financed last year’s holidays with credit card debt or you may still be paying it off. Even though I don’t agree with all the solutions presented in this article (for instance, I don’t believe Christmas should be financed through credit card debt—EVER), the basic premise of planning ahead, spending wisely, and using a written budget is evergreen advice for every holiday season.

3.  Focus on This
One of my virtual mentors and favorite personal finance thought leaders, Carl Richards, has a way with a Sharpie and an index card. He uses these simple tools to transform complex financial concepts into things anybody can understand. I think this sketch captures an approach we can all use more in both life and money.

Does what you’re worried about meet these two tests? It’s easy to get swept away thinking about the forces beyond our control, but real change happens when you focus on the things you can control—staying out of and paying off debt, living below your means, being generous with your time and your money, and having a plan and sticking to it.

I know I said I was going to send these emails out on Thursdays, but we all need a day of rest from work (and electronics) to savor and enjoy the important things. In the interest of actually having Thanksgiving Day off, I am sending this week’s news out a day early. May you enjoy a day filled with family, friends, food, and fun.
- Shay