Do You Throw Your Ethics Away To Save Money?

Ethical dilemmas aren’t fun for anyone.

You want to do the right thing, but you’re not sure if your actions are crossing the line or not.

These dilemmas get even more complicated for some people when you throw money in the mix.

Is it really ethically wrong to save a few bucks when a huge corporation is making millions from people just like you?

Let’s explore some common situations below and I’ll let you decide in the comments below!

Related: 123 Money Savings Tips

Movie Theater Drinks and Snacks

I think most people will admit, at some point in their lives, to sneaking in a drink or some sort of snack into a movie theater. After all, the prices at the concession stands are absolutely ridiculous and you know the movie theaters are making a killing!

The real question is, are you stealing when you sneak drinks or snacks into the movie theater?

In this situation you’re paying to see the movie, but you just aren’t buying any snacks from the theater. If you say you wouldn’t have bought anything from the concession stand, does that make a difference?

Some say yes, while others say no.

Here’s an even bigger dilemma for this scenario. What if the movie theater is a local mom and pop run movie theater with only one location? Would this change how you feel about sneaking in snacks or drinks?

In the end, it really comes down to the rules of the theater. If they post signs that say no outside food and beverages allowed, you’re technically breaking the rules. The question is, do you care?

Are movie theater rules on a different level than the laws of the state or country you live in? That’s for you to decide.

The Naive Garage Sale Person

Garage sales are a great place to pick up some cheap deals. In most cases, the person hosting the garage sale knows they’re selling their stuff cheaply so they can free up some space in their house.

But what happens when the person hosting the sale puts a valuable item up for sale for mere pennies on the dollar of its true value? An ethical dilemma, that’s what!

Let’s say the person hosting the garage sale is selling some old toys that they think are worthless and put them in a box for $0.25 each. You, a vintage toy aficionado, realize these toys are worth $100 a piece, not just a quarter!

You have two options available to you. First, you can buy all the toys for a quarter each and make a killing. Second, you can tell the garage sale holder that these toys are much more valuable than they think. What is the right thing to do?

How can you do the ethically right thing in this situation and still make a profit? One solution is to tell the person that the toys are worth more than a quarter a piece and offer them more money, but not the full value.

This way the garage sale holder still makes a decent amount of money off of the valuable toys and you still have room to make profit by reselling them. Of course, what you ultimately do is up to you and how you perceive the ethical dilemma in this situation.

Finding A Misplaced Wallet Or Purse

You’re walking through a public park and you notice that someone has left their wallet or purse on a bench. You head over and take a look and find $200 cash and no identifying information.

What do you do? Do you keep the wallet and the money? This ethical dilemma is pretty tough because there isn’t really a way to figure out who the money belongs to.

You could try turning the wallet in to the nearest business with hopes that the owner comes looking for it, but you know it is a long shot and the business might end up pocketing the money. If that’s the case, why not just keep it yourself?

I had a similar situation happen once. I was walking down the road and found a $20 bill blowing in the wind. I naturally picked it up and immediately wondered what I should do with it.

I looked around, but there was no one looking for the money. I figured there was no way to find the rightful owner so I decided to keep the money.

This situation would be very different if you found the wallet and it had some sort of identifying information such as a license or a credit card.

In that case, you should definitely try to get in touch with the owner and return the wallet and all of it’s contents, including the $200.

Some people would say finders keepers, losers weepers, but I don’t think you’d want someone else to do the same to you. Aren’t ethics fun when you combine them with money?

So, what would you do in each of these ethical dilemmas? I’d love to hear your thoughts on all three in the comments? Have you ever run across these situations in real life? Were your real life actions different from what you think you’d do in theory?

Have Times Changed? Who Should Pay For A Date?

who should pay for date nightToday’s post is a blast from the past from Cat Alford.

Last week, we had such a good debate about who should pay for a wedding that I thought “Who Should Pay For A Date?” would be an equally relevant topic to chat about.

I admit; I didn’t have a lot of dating experience when I met my husband.

He likes to say he swept me off my feet (leading me to never date anyone else), and he was really the first very serious relationship I ever had.

Before him, I went to high school dances with other boys, and they always paid for my meal.

However, that’s definitely a special occasion, and their moms probably made sure they paid for me (or else!)

Dating an adult is different though and so a new set of rules might apply. Of course, based on my very limited experience, all I know is that my husband did pay for my meals when we first started dating, but as we got to know each other better, we split checks.

Reasons Why He Should Pay

Here are a few situations, which I think would merit a man paying for the date:

  1. He extended the invitation.
  2. He wants to show he has good, old-fashioned manners.
  3. He wants to show he can take care of his date.
  4. He enjoys treating someone else.
  5. His mom would kill him if she found out he didn’t pay.

Reasons Why She Should Pay

Here are a few situations where a woman might want to pay:

  1. She extended the invitation.
  2. She wants to show that she is independent.
  3. She wants to contribute to the relationship.
  4. She is showing him one of her favorite restaurants, and the date was her idea.
  5. She knows the date would be a stretch for him financially and she wants to help out.

Reasons Why They Should Split The Bill

Lastly, here are some reasons where a couple on a date might want to split the bill:

  1. They want to show that they both care about each other’s well being.
  2. They want to establish a strong, equal partnership.
  3. They aren’t concerned with “traditional” manners and prefer a more modern approach to dating.
  4. They both make good incomes, and so there is no reason why one should pay for the entire meal.

Of course, I’m sure there are many other reasons why people would insist on the man paying for a date or insist that couples split a bill. If that’s the case, I’d love to hear your opinions in the comment section below.

Like I said; I don’t have an extensive dating history, and I’m interested to see how other couples navigated the tricky battlefield of dating in the 21st century.

**Lance’s Two Cents** I don’t have a ton of experience here either! I was lucky and didn’t have to date a lot to find the right person. I think the first couple of date’s the guy should pay, unless the woman was the one who asked the guy out in which case I think splitting the check might be an option.

Other than that, after a few dates I don’t see why people couldn’t talk about it if things are going well. Chances are it would come up after a few dates I would think.

What do you think? Who should pay for a date? Do the circumstances matter, or should there be a strict rule that is followed? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. I have a feeling this could be a fun discussion.

Photo by: oliviavaughn Text added by: Lance Cothern

Would You Rather Be A Millionaire 100 Years Ago Or Middle Class Today?

millionaire 100 years agoInflation has slowly been eroding the buying power of the dollar.

100 years ago, being a millionaire would have been a huge deal but today being a millionaire might not even allow you to live a comfortable retirement.

Even with the effects of inflation, I’d still rather be in the middle class today than be a millionaire 100 years ago.

Would you?

Why I’d Rather Be Middle Class Today

There are so many things that I couldn’t even possibly list them all. However, here are some of the big ones.

We Live More Comfortable Lives

Today our lives are much more comfortable than for those who lived 100 years ago.

Our homes are climate controlled with air conditioning systems and heating systems that are extremely efficient. We even have heating and air conditioning in our cars. Shopping for food, or anything else for that matter, is so much easier than it was 100 years ago.

We have fancy beds that allow us to sleep comfortably. We have fun kitchen gadgets that make cooking easier. We have clothes washers, clothes dryers and dishwashers that have changed tasks that were once very time consuming to tasks that were very simple.

Even if I was a millionaire 100 years ago, I wouldn’t be able to live with all of these wonderful luxuries we have available to us today. That’d be a shame.

Yes, I could pay someone else to do my laundry, dishes and cooking, but I wouldn’t have the access to drive halfway across the country in a day. The interstate system hadn’t even been implemented yet!

We Live Longer

We live longer, healthier lives today than anyone would have ever thought possible just 100 years ago. Many diseases that once were death sentences can now be cured with a simple medication. Healthcare has advanced to allow even those with chronic illnesses to lead a somewhat regular life.

I wouldn’t want to live longer unless I had a high quality of life, but even those in their 90’s often live very fulfilling lives today. That would have been nearly impossible 100 years ago, even if I was a millionaire. I wouldn’t trade away my life simply to be rich.

Technology Has Advanced Beyond Anyone’s Wildest Dreams

After living with the technology we have today, it’d be really, really hard to imagine living 100 years ago. Forget smartphones and the internet, computers hadn’t even been anywhere near being invented. There was no TV, not that TV greatly enriches our lives. Just these few technologies make us richer than those who lived 100 years before us.

The fact that I can go to Google and search how to fix my home easily saves me hundreds of dollars a year. While these technologies haven’t made me a millionaire yet, they easily could. In fact, I make money every month through these technologies in ways that would have never been thought of 100 years ago.

Some Things Are Cheaper Than Ever

While the value of the dollar has decreased over the years, on an inflation adjusted basis, some things are cheaper than they ever have been before.

For instance, shopping at the grocery store is cheaper than it was 100 years ago on many items. The same can be said for movie tickets, gas (although that depends on if gas prices stay as low as they currently are) and most clothing.

Overall, I’d say we have it pretty good today even if we are only in the middle class and we’re not millionaires. I wouldn’t trade the luxuries I have today for a million dollars 100 years ago. I’d be going so far backwards I’d have no clue what to do!

Would you rather live 100 years ago and be a millionaire? Or would you rather be a millionaire today? Heck, I wouldn’t even trade not being a millionaire today for being a millionaire 100 years ago, but maybe that’s just me. Leave your thoughts in the comments!

Should We Buy That 70″ TV We Want Oh So Badly Or Wait?

When we painted our living room a few months ago, we moved our furniture toward the middle of the room to paint. When we did that, we noticed that our TV looked bigger when we were sitting closer to it. Novel concept, I know.

The thing is, when our furniture was moved toward the middle of the room, we were reminded how our TV looked in our old, smaller living room.

We moved into our new home over a year ago and the living room in our new home is much larger. Now that the furniture is moved back to its normal arrangement our TV looks much smaller.

The question we’ve been battling with is, should we get a larger TV to fit our new living room or should we wait until we’ve accomplished some of our other goals first? First I’ll explain our other goals, then we’ll discuss the TV situation a bit more.

Goals We Want To Accomplish (In Addition To An Awesome 70″ TV)

So we have a big goal we’re trying to accomplish right now. We’re trying to fund our imergency fund (investment emergency fund), which is an extension of our emergency fund. We currently already have a 6 month emergency fund in cash (actually, a high yield online savings account) but we wanted to feel a bit more secure and have a bit more money on hand.

The problem is, we didn’t want all of that in cash due to inflationary forces slowly eroding the value of our cash. Instead, we decided to put the second part of our emergency fund, our imergency fund, into investments. We decided we wanted another 6 months of expenses in our imgergency fund so this will support us for months 7-12. 

Eventually the imergency fund will grow beyond six months of investments, but for now that is our initial goal. We’ve been able to fund 3.5 to 4 months of our new goal, but still have 2 to 2.5 months worth to invest. There is no rush finish our imergency fund, but we think we’ll be able to complete our goal by the end of 2014 if we don’t make any major purchases, like that sweet 70″ TV.

What We’ve Already Accomplished This Year

We’ve already accomplished two pretty major financial goals this year. The first goal was to finish paying off my wife’s $80,000 of student loan debt which we finished up in early Spring of this year. We were super stoked to finally get rid of the student loan debt and free up some major cash flow every month.

The second major goal we’ve accomplished is fully funding our 6 month cash emergency fund that I’ve already mentioned. We didn’t have to fill this up from $0 since we kept a decent emergency fund while paying off my wife’s student loan debt. However, we did still have to save a few more months of expenses to fill the fund to its intended level.

We feel like these are two pretty major accomplishments this year, but just because we’ve accomplished two big goals doesn’t mean we should splurge on a 70″ TV, does it?

Is A 70″ TV Really Necessary?

No, a 70″ TV is never necessary… ever. We know this is clearly a want and nowhere near a need, but we’re allowed to have some fun with our money, right? The 70″ TV’s we’ve looked at are right around $1,500 and honestly, I think that’s probably a bit much for a TV.

In all likelihood, we’d probably get a 60″ or 65″ TV that comes in at under $1,000, but a 70″ just looks so amazing and so much bigger! It should be clear we haven’t decided on which TV we want yet. There’s a good reason for that.

If We Buy A Massive TV, We’re Hoping We Get A Massive Deal

We don’t plan on buying this TV on a whim, which should be apparent. Instead, we’re going to do some research, wait for the right time and hopefully get an amazing deal IF we decided to buy a bigger TV.

I’m thinking there should be some pretty awesome TV deals around Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Maybe we’ll luck out and get a good deal then. If not, we’ll just wait for a deal we can’t pass up.

Or Should We Buy An Experience Instead Of A Thing?

It’s been said that people enjoy experiences more than things, and in general I agree. We could spend the $800-$1,500 toward an experience, like another cruise, instead of getting a TV. However, I think a TV does somewhat count as an experience. TV shows and movies provide countless hours of entertainment which could be considered an experience much like going to the movies would be.

So Do You Think We Should Get A Massive TV?

So what do you think? Do you think we should go ahead and get a massive TV now and satisfy our want immediately? Do you think we should wait until Black Friday or Cyber Monday? Or do you think we should just pass up the bigger TV altogether and focus on our 7-12 month imergency fund first?

Don’t tell me I should cancel cable though, we’re not doing that! We’re keeping cable, so that means we will always need a TV to watch our wonderful cable programming, even if we do have to call to get our bill lowered every 6 months.

Let me know what you think! Should we get the TV or not? I read every comment, so we’ll definitely take your opinion into account!

How Much Do You Spend On Halloween? It’s Right Around The Corner!

Beloit, WI: Carved pumpkinsHalloween is just a short month away! While it isn’t my favorite holiday, I know a ton of people who would say Halloween is their favorite holiday. We’re pretty simple when it comes to Halloween because we don’t have any kids, but some families go all out and spend a ton of money to prepare for Halloween.

According to National Retail Federation, last year 7 in 10 Americans planned to celebrate Halloween and the average American was expected to spend $79.82 on decorations, costumes and candy. That’s not per family. That’s $79.82 per PERSON!

Halloween Decorations Can Be Expensive!

Halloween decorations come in all shapes, sizes and forms. There are simple decorations like the Jack-O-Lantern that you carve yourself and then there are completely over the top decorations like a two car garage that has been transformed into a haunted house.

As far as our decorations go, we normally have a couple of props we’ve gathered over the years and maybe a Jack-O-Lantern or two in our front entryway. Of course, if you want to get cheap Halloween decorations, wait until the day after Halloween and pick up what you wanted at a very discounted price.

Halloween Costumes Aren’t Cheap Either

The local mall has already had a Halloween store open for a few weeks and it isn’t even October yet. They sell all sorts of Halloween themed items, but I’d say about 80% of the items they sell are costumes and accessories to costumes.

The prices varied greatly but the average costume was over $50. There were some crazy over the top costumes there were a couple hundred dollars too!

One thing that surprised me was the fact that most of the costumes in the Halloween store were adult costumes, rather than children’s costumes. I always considered Halloween more of a kid’s holiday, but over the last few years it seems more and more adults get into Halloween. Then again, maybe I’m just getting older and realizing that it has always been an adult holiday too.

If you’re running on a tight budget this year, remember that you can normally come up with a pretty cheap Halloween costume from the things you have around your home. You might have to be a bit creative, but I’m sure you can come up with something good!

Do You Give Out Candy?

According to the NRF survey, 96% of people participating in Halloween would be buying candy to hand out to children last year. That’s a lot of candy, and I love me some candy! How much you spend on candy for Halloween totally depends on which type of candy you prefer to hand out to children.

If you’re going to be giving out bite-site or individually wrapped chocolates, be prepared to spend a ton of cash! However, if you go with my Halloween staple of Dum Dum pops, it won’t be nearly as expensive.

The other main factor in candy cost is where you live. If you live in a neighborhood with a lot of kids, you’ll have to buy a ton of candy. However, if you live off the beaten path like I have the last couple of years, you might only need to buy one bag!

Even with only one bag I still had a ton of left over candy last year. However, this year we live in a big neighborhood and I have feeling I’ll have to get a couple more bags of candy if I don’t want to run out.

How Much Will You Spend On Halloween This Year?

How much will you be spending on Halloween this year? Do you plan on buying decorations, dressing up in a costume or handing candy out to children?