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21 Gift Ideas For People Who Value Experiences More Than Things

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Most of us have way too much stuff.

One survey found that 1 in 7 Americans has a room in their home that they can’t use because it’s filled with things they rarely use. Another found that the average American is currently hoarding 23 items they have no use for. And the more crap we accumulate, the more miserable we become.

This holiday season, we once again have an opportunity to dive head-first into consumerism or focus on making memories instead. If the memories sound good to you, consider giving experiences as gifts this year. Here are 21 creative ideas.

For The Family Cook

Even for those who love to cook, coming up with a quick and creative family meal on a hectic weeknight can be a tall order. With a subscription to a meal kit service, however, all the guesswork is taken out of dinner without resorting to takeout or the same old tired spaghetti recipe. Plus, there’s no need to worry about food waste. Of all the meal kit services I’ve tried, my favorite is Home Chef, though you can find services that cater to just about any dietary preference.

Cooking classes can be great for someone who wants to expand their skills in the kitchen or has tons of cooking gadgets but doesn’t really know how to use them. There are classes available across the country through companies like Sur la Table, or you can book classes through a local cooking school.

One incredibly important aspect of cooking that’s often overlooked is knowing how to handle a knife. Not only will a course in knife skills be fun and informative for any budding chef, but it’ll help increase safety in the kitchen, too.

For The Culture Buff

Sometimes the only way you ever make it to the local museum is when you have guests in town. But visiting a museum can be a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Museums including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York offer gift memberships. Even better, you can deduct the membership fee on your taxes in many cases.

With popular musical hits such as “Wicked,” “The Book of Mormon” and “Hamilton,” a gift of theater tickets is sure to be a hit. You can give tickets to a particular production or consider a general pass such as the Broadway gift certificate so your recipient can pick a show that fits their tastes and schedule.

Living near a major city means there’s always something to do or see. But it’s easy to take that for granted. Give the gift of experiencing your hometown from a fresh perspective with tickets to a city tour. My personal favorites are the architectural boat tour in Boston, the walking tours of New Orleans and the Conch Train Tour in Key West, Florida.

For The Imbiber

Whether your loved one is a sommelier in training or simply appreciates classy day drinking, they’ll definitely appreciate the gift of a wine tasting. Send them on a tour of local vineyards, to a neighborhood wine shop or let them taste from the comfort of their own home with a wine tasting gift set.

If your friend or family member prefers to sip on an ice-cold IPA, they’re sure to enjoy a tour of a local brewery to learn about the brewing process while sampling the products. But they don’t have to be a craft beer snob to appreciate a brewery tour. Mega-brewers, such as Budweiser and Coors, also offer tours of their brewing locations.

9. Subscription cocktails

For the person on your gift list who likes to entertain at home, learning a new cocktail recipe will ensure they’re the life of the party. A cocktail subscription box from a service like Shaker & Spoon will let them test out a new concoction while learning the techniques for mixing a perfect drink.

For The Animal Lover

10. Zoo or safari park pass

Is there an animal lover in your life? A zoo membership allows them to appreciate wildlife from Africa, Asia and beyond. Many zoos also have animal encounter add-ons that could be perfect for the penguin lover or cat lady in your life.

Owning a horse is a major time and money commitment that many people can’t handle. But just about anyone can get their fix of these majestic creatures by spending a couple of hours riding. Give the gift of a leisurely trail ride or, for the more experienced rider, give show jumping lessons.

What could be better than waking up early on the weekend, gathering in a room full of strangers and contorting your body beyond what you thought possible? A lot of things, probably. But goats? Tiny goats? Nothing. That’s exactly what you can give with goat yoga, which is part exercise class, part petting zoo and 100 percent adorable.

For The Adrenaline Junkie

Flying a plane is one of the most exhilarating experiences on the planet. If you know someone who loves a thrill and isn’t afraid of heights, consider giving the gift of flight and buying them a flying class through a local aviation school.

If staying on the ground is more their speed, Chris Burdick, the founder of Automoblog.net, suggested gifting the opportunity to race a Ferrari or Lamborghini around the track. Xtreme Xperience and similar companies offer exotic drives. Or get behind the wheel of a real Formula car with Formula Experiences.

If you’d like to give a gift that has a much lower chance of resulting in injury, consider a gift certificate to an escape room experience. Your loved one’s heart will get pumping when they’re locked in a room and forced to find their way out by solving dozens of puzzles before the timer runs out.

For The Health Nut

One of my favorite group exercise studios is Flywheel. But at $28 a pop, it’s just too darn expensive to go to classes on a regular basis. Whether it’s indoor cycling, hot yoga, Pilates or TRX, fitness fanatics will appreciate the gift of a pass to a luxury workout session. You can also buy a membership to Class Pass, which allows members to try out various classes at local studios.

Running is one of the best ways to stay fit, and road races have become increasingly popular in recent years. Last year, 17 million Americans completed a running event. But the sport of running isn’t exclusive to serious athletes. Entry to a fun 5K, such as the Color Run, Ridiculous Obstacle Challenge or, my personal favorite, the Zombie Mud Run, is a great gift for runners of all fitness levels.

Rest and recovery are just as important as hitting the gym. Give your loved one relief from sore muscles with a Swedish, deep tissue or sports massage from a specialist. You can also give them a Spa Finder gift card, which is accepted at thousands of locations across the U.S.

For Anyone Who Could Really Use A Damn Break

19. House cleaning service

Sometimes the greatest gift of all is relief from the chores of daily life. If you know someone who could really use a day off from housework, buy them home cleaning services through a company such as Merry Maids. Just be sure you’re close enough with the recipient to know they won’t be offended.

This gift won’t cost you a dime and will likely be the most cherished gift by the parent on your list. Volunteer to babysit the kids free of charge for one day so the parents can indulge in some self-care or enjoy a date night. You can find cute coupon printouts on Pinterest.

You don’t have to drop thousands of dollars on an expensive vacation in order for your family member or friend to experience the amenities at a luxury resort. J.R. Duren, senior editor at HighYa.com, tipped me off to his detailed review of ResortPass, which lets you purchase day passes to high-end resorts and hotels in seven states across the country. The site also allows you to send a gift card amount of your choosing to a recipient. “If you’re not sure how much to give, you can search hotels in the recipient’s area to get an idea of how much the packages cost,” Duren said.

Honestly, this is an experience I’ll probably gift myself this year.

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4 things kids need to know about money

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(NC) Responsible spending includes knowing the difference between wants and needs. Back-to-school season, with added expenses and expectations around spending, is the perfect time to not only build your own budget for the year ahead, but also to introduce your own children to the concept of budgeting.

The experts at Capital One break down four basic things that every child should know about money, along with tips for bringing real-life examples into the conversation.

What money is. There’s no need for a full economic lesson,but knowing that money can be exchanged for goods and services, and that the government backs its value, is a great start.
How to earn money. Once your child understands what money is, use this foundational knowledge to connect the concepts of money and work. Start with the simple concept that people go to work in exchange for an income, and explain how it may take time (and work) to save for that new pair of sneakers or backpack. This can help kids develop patience and alleviate the pressure to purchase new items right away that might not be in your budget.
The many ways to pay. While there is a myriad of methods to pay for something in today’s digital age, you can start by explaining the difference between cash, debit and credit. When teaching your kids about credit, real examples help. For instance, if your child insists on a grocery store treat, offer to buy it for them as long as they pay you back from their allowance in a timely manner. If you need a refresher, tools like Capital One’s Credit Keeper can help you better understand your own credit score and the importance of that score to overall financial health.
How to build and follow a budget. This is where earning, spending, saving and sharing all come together. Build a budget that is realistic based on your income and spending needs and take advantage of banking apps to keep tabs on your spending in real-time. Have your kids think about how they might split their allowance into saving, spending and giving back to help them better understand money management.

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20 Percent Of Americans In Relationships Are Committing Financial Infidelity

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Nearly 30 million Americans are hiding a checking, savings, or credit card account from their spouse or live in partner, according to a new survey from CreditCards.com. That’s roughly 1 in 5 that currently have a live in partner or a spouse.

Around 5 million people — or 3 percent — used to commit “financial infidelity,” but no longer do.

Of all the respondents, millennials were more likely than other age groups to hide financial information from their partner. While 15 percent of older generations hid accounts from their partner, 28 percent of millennials were financially dishonest.

Regionally, Americans living in the South and the West were more likely to financially “cheat” than those living in the Northeast and Midwest.

Insecurity about earning and spending could drive some of this infidelity, according to CreditCards.com industry analyst Ted Rossman.

When it comes to millennials, witnessing divorce could have caused those aged 18-37 to try and squirrel away from Rossman calls a “freedom fund”.

“They’ve got this safety net,” Rossman said. They’re asking: “What if this relationship doesn’t work out?”

As bad as physical infidelity

More than half (55 percent) of those surveyed believed that financial infidelity was just as bad as physically cheating. That’s including some 20 percent who believed that financially cheating was worse.

But despite this, most didn’t find this to be a deal breaker.

Over 80 percent surveyed said they would be upset, but wouldn’t end the relationship. Only 2 percent of those asked would end the relationship if they discovered their spouse or partner was hiding $5,000 or more in credit card debt. That number however is highest among those lower middle class households ($30,000-$49,999 income bracket): Nearly 10 percent would break things off as a result.

Roughly 15 percent said they wouldn’t care at all. Studies do show however that money troubles is the leading cause of stress in a relationship.

That’s why, Rossman says, it’s important to share that information with your partner.

“Talking about money with your spouse isn’t always easy, but it has to be done,” he said. “You can still maintain some privacy over your finances, and even keep separate accounts if you and your spouse agree, but you need to get on the same page regarding your general direction, otherwise your financial union is doomed to fail.”

With credit card rates hovering at an average of 19.24 percent APR, hiding financial information from a partner could be financially devastating.

But, Rossman adds, it’s not just about the economic impact but also the erosion of trust.

“More than the dollars and cents is that trust factor,” he said. “I think losing that trust is so hard to regain. That could be a long lasting wedge.”

Kristin Myers is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.

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7 Examples Of Terrible Financial Advice We’ve Heard

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Between television, radio, the internet and well-meaning but presumptuous friends and family, we’re inundated with unsolicited advice on a daily basis. And when it comes to money, there’s a ton of terrible advice out there. Even so-called experts can lead us astray sometimes.

Have you been duped? Here are a few examples of the worst money advice advisers, bloggers and other personal finance pros have heard.

1. Carry a balance to increase your credit score.

Ben Luthi, a money and travel writer, said that a friend once told him that his mortgage loan officer advised him to carry a balance on his credit card in order to improve his credit score. In fact, the loan officer recommended keeping the balance at around 50 percent of his credit limit.

“This is the absolute worst financial advice I’ve ever heard for several reasons,” Luthi said. For one, carrying a credit card balance doesn’t have any effect on your credit at all. “What it does do is ensure that you pay a high interest rate on your balance every month, neutralizing any other benefits you might get from the card,” Luthi explained. “Also, keeping a 50 percent credit utilization is a surefire way to hurt your credit score, not help it.”

Some credit experts recommend keeping your balance below 30 percent of the card limit, but even that’s not a hard-and-fast rule. Keeping your balance as low as possible and paying the bill on time each month is how you improve your score.

2. Avoid credit cards ― period.

Credit cards can be a slippery slope for some people; overspending can lead to a cycle of debt that’s tough to escape.

But avoiding credit cards on principle, something personal finance gurus like Dave Ramsey push hard, robs you of all their potential benefits.

“Credit cards are a good tool for building credit and earning rewards,” explained personal finance writer Kim Porter. “Plus, there are lots of ways to avoid debt, like using the card only for monthly bills, paying off the card every month and tracking your spending.”

If you struggle with debt, a credit card is probably not for you. At least not right now. But if you are on top of your finances and want to leverage debt in a strategic way, a credit card can help you do just that.

3. The mortgage you’re approved for is what you can afford.

“The worst financial advice I hear is to buy as much house as you can afford,” said R.J. Weiss, a certified financial planner who founded the blog The Ways to Wealth. He explained that most lenders use the 28/36 rule to determine how much you can afford to borrow: Up to 28 percent of your monthly gross income can go toward your home, as long as the payments don’t exceed 36 percent of your total monthly debt payments. For example, if you had a credit card, student loan and car loan payment that together totaled $640 a month, your mortgage payment should be no more than $360 (36 percent of $1,000 in total debt payments).

“What homeowners don’t realize is this rule was invented by banks to maximize their bottom line ― not the homeowner’s financial well-being,” Weiss said. “Banks have figured out that this is the largest amount of debt one can take on with a reasonable chance of paying it back, even if that means you have to forego saving for retirement, college or short-term goals.”

4. An expensive house is worth it because of the tax write-off.

Scott Vance, owner of taxvanta.com, said a real estate agent told him when he was younger that it made sense to buy a more expensive house because he had the advantage of writing off the mortgage interest on his taxes.

But let’s stop and think about that for a moment. A deduction simply decreases your taxable income ― it’s not a dollar-for-dollar reduction of your tax bill. So committing to a larger mortgage payment to take a bigger tax deduction still means paying more in the long run. And if that high mortgage payment compromises your ability to keep up on other bills or save money, it’s definitely not worth it.

“Now, as a financial planner focusing on taxes, I see the folly in such advice,” he said, noting that he always advises his client to consider the source of advice before following it. ”Taking tax advice from a Realtor is … like taking medical procedure advice from your hairdresser.”

5. You need a six-month emergency fund.

One thing is true: You need an emergency fund. But when it comes to how much you should save in that fund, it’s different for each person. There’s no cookie-cutter answer that applies to everyone. And yet many experts claim that six months’ worth of expenses is exactly how much you should have socked away in a savings account.

“I work with a lot of Hollywood actors, and six months won’t cut it for these folks,” said Eric D. Matthews, CEO and wealth adviser at EDM Capital. “I also work with executives in the same industry where six months is overkill. You need to strike a balance for your work, industry and craft.”

If you have too little saved, a major financial blow can leave you in debt regardless. And if you set aside too much, you lose returns by leaving the money in a liquid, low-interest savings account. “The generic six months is a nice catch-all, but nowhere near the specific need of the individual’s unique situation… and aren’t we all unique?”

6. You should accept your entire student loan package.

Aside from a house, a college education is often one of the biggest purchases people make in their lifetimes. Often loans are needed to bridge the gap between college savings and that final tuition bill. But just because you’re offered a certain amount doesn’t mean you need to take it all.

“The worst financial advice I received was that I had to accept my entire student loan package and that I had no other options,” said Gina Zakaria, founder of The Frugal Convert. “It cost me a lot in student loan debt. Now I tell everyone that you never have to accept any part of a college financial package that you don’t want to accept.” There are always other options, she said.

7. Only invest in what you know.

Even the great Warren Buffett, considered by many to be the best investor of all time, gets it wrong sometimes. One of his most famous pieces of advice is to only invest in what you know, but that might not be the right guidance for the average investor.

In theory, it makes sense. After all, you don’t want to tie up your money in overly complicated investments you don’t understand. The problem is, most of us are not business experts, and it’s nearly impossible to have deep knowledge of hundreds of securities. “Diversification is key to a good portfolio, and investing in what you know leads to a very un-diversified portfolio,” said Britton Gregory, a certified financial planner and principal of Seaborn Financial. “Instead, invest in a well-diversified portfolio that includes many companies, even ones you’ve never heard of.”

That might mean enlisting the help of a professional, so make sure it’s one who has your best interests at heart.

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