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Get Financially Fit

A Financial Poise column dedicated to the idea that your financial health starts with how successfully you manage your money.


Get Financially Fit

Protect Your Money: Learn from Damage Repair Scam Victims

March 8, 2017

by Michelle Gershfeld Visit her website at www.GetFinanciallyFit.com or contact her at Michelle@GetFinanciallyFit.com Getting Scammed Is Easier Than You Think   A punishing Nor’easter storm moved through town in the early winter. Selena and Steve Simpleton suffered unexpected consequences. The next day, a damage survey showed extensive damage to their home. An old oak tree […]

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How Much Is Too Much to Spend on Your Rent And/or Freedom?

February 23, 2017

  by Michelle Gershfeld Visit her website at www.GetFinanciallyFit.com or contact her at Michelle@GetFinanciallyFit.com   Rooms, Roommates, Rentals and Regrets   Victoria was very pleased with how her life was going. She was 28 years old, had since graduated college, held a steady job and paid off all her student debt. Her parents agreed to […]

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Scams Against Seniors

February 8, 2017

Unfortunately, the elderly are frequent targets of fraud. Here’s how you can protect yourself and your family.   by Michelle Gershfeld Visit her website at www.GetFinanciallyFit.com or contact her at Michelle@GetFinanciallyFit.com   OVER LUNCH LAST week, two of my female colleagues told the same story, each with a different twist. Both women have mothers in […]

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Stolen Mail: What to do when you’re the victim of identify theft

February 1, 2017

by Michelle Gershfeld Visit her website at www.GetFinanciallyFit.com or contact her at Michelle@GetFinanciallyFit.com         Lila was surprised to see a police car pull into her driveway on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Everyone was home, so she did not panic. The police officers told her that her postal deliverer, the Postman, made a […]

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Inheritance and Crisis: How to Handle Your Complicated New Reality

January 24, 2017

After a loss, inheriting money can compromise your emotions. And your financial future.   by Michelle Gershfeld Visit her website at www.GetFinanciallyFit.com or contact her at Michelle@GetFinanciallyFit.com     Jake is an emotional mess. He feels uncomfortable in his skin. He is so sad, but his sadness is periodically interrupted by relief and giddiness. He feels guilty […]

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How a False Arrest Almost Destroyed His Financial Life

January 18, 2017

How a strategic debt negotiation prevented a cautionary tale from becoming a tragedy.   by Michelle Gershfeld Visit her website at www.GetFinanciallyFit.com or contact her at Michelle@GetFinanciallyFit.com     AT APPROXIMATELY 1:45 on the afternoon of April 23, 2014, Scotty Fuentes was detained by officers of the New York City Police Department in the Bronx. The police […]

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The Real Cost of Liability

January 12, 2017

  Financial liability is never just about the money.   by Michelle Gershfeld Visit her website at www.GetFinanciallyFit.com or contact her at Michelle@GetFinanciallyFit.com   On a bright August Sunday in 2015, Brian and Denise Neighbor, and their three children, were invited for swimming and a barbecue. It was held at the home of Matthew and Tyra Friend, […]

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Your Living Will: Are You Truly Prepared?

January 3, 2017

Without your living will, you can’t truly protect yourself, your loved ones or your assets.   By Michelle Gershfeld Visit her website at www.GetFinanciallyFit.com or contact her at Michelle@GetFinanciallyFit.com   Ellen woke, startled, to an emergency call in the middle of the night. Her sister, Cara, and Cara’s husband, Mark, had been in a fatal car crash. […]

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Your Easy New Year’s Resolution: Use a Financial Rule of Thumb

December 29, 2016

By Michelle Gershfeld Visit her website at www.GetFinanciallyFit.com or contact her at Michelle@GetFinanciallyFit.com Sally, Wanda and Christine are nurses at our local hospital. They’ve been there for years, and each earns good money. And yet, each feels dissatisfied because they’re not living the financial lives that they want. They know they need financial advice, but they don’t […]

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Stop Fighting About Money

December 20, 2016

  By Michelle Gershfeld Visit her website at www.GetFinanciallyFit.com or contact her at Michelle@GetFinanciallyFit.com                     Harry doesn’t like fighting about money with his wife. But it keeps happening, he tells me, and something has got to change.   Here’s Harry’s story: After working his full shift and commuting […]

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Should Your Child Get a Student Credit Card?

December 13, 2016

By Michelle Gershfeld Visit her website at www.GetFinanciallyFit.com or contact her at Michelle@GetFinanciallyFit.com   Rachel and Deanna, mother and daughter, had a difference of opinion. You see, Deanna received mail this week from 1st Financial Bank. Inside, three separate documents invited her to apply for a student credit card. Deanna wanted the card. Rachel was hesitant, and […]

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Your Holiday Dinner Is Costing You Too Much

December 6, 2016

By Michelle Gershfeld When I think about making food for the holidays, I plan my menu based on tradition and, of course, the family favorites… …but inevitably, I go over my budget. I slave over my food, cooking for days, and spend way too much money. All for a meal that could be gone less […]

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Gambling: It’s Not Worth the ‘Thrill’

November 28, 2016

By Michelle Gershfeld The jingly, happy music was playing and the announcer, flamboyantly mused about all “you do” as he continued to praise the listeners’ good deeds and selfless tasks, quickly followed by “You deserve it!” He was telling the listeners to go get a scratch off lottery card, with “hey, you never know” as […]

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If You Can’t Pay Your Bills, That Does Not Make You Immoral

November 22, 2016

By Michelle Gershfeld So many in debt struggle with the “morality” of their situation and how to maximize their financial situation and yet “do the right thing.”  Making a decision about if, or how to pay debt, however, is not a moral dilemma but a business decision. My friend Tim is 62-years old.  He has […]

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A Winning Plan for Young Professionals – Part 3

November 15, 2016

By Michelle Gershfeld In my last two columns [here and here], I addressed thoughtful steps to start building your successful relationship with your money. I suggested taking time to really think about and journal your personal views about money, to think about your life and your money goals and the literal actions necessary for successful […]

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A Winning Plan for Young Professionals – Part 2

November 8, 2016

By Michelle Gershfeld In my last column I began to address suggested steps to your successful relationship with your money. I raised some issues for thought and suggested you start with a money journal to clarify for yourself your own views about money as well as to provide yourself with an opportunity to think about […]

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A Winning Plan for Young Professionals – Part 1

November 1, 2016

By Michelle Gershfeld Last week my daughter was eager to introduce me to her boyfriend.  I was very excited and looking forward to meeting him and putting a face to the person I have been hearing about.  To my surprise, just minutes before meeting him, she informed me that I was not allowed (in fact, […]

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The Enviables and Material Ties That Bind

October 25, 2016

By Michelle Gershfeld I think we get a little crazy defining ourselves by our material wealth. How can we separate ourselves from the ties that bind?  I recently spoke with a conscientious couple (Mr. and Mrs. Enviable) who have been blessed with a lifetime of success and self-earned wealth. Working in big companies provided the […]

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Are You Sharing Your Money?

October 18, 2016

By Michelle Gershfeld How do two people bring their separate selves and lives together? It is amazing how we are inclined to pair off. We find someone who appeals to us aesthetically and if we feel the person fulfills us, we often commit to a life of shared everything before knowing a whole lot about […]

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Am I Cheap?

October 11, 2016

By Michelle Gershfeld Am I cheap?  No.  Have I had to learn “the hard way” how to respect my money? Yes.  Would it have been better to learn the basic financial lessons sooner?   Yes. Trial and error is a good way to learn for sure, but if you had the rule book in advance, wouldn’t […]

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Are His Bank Accounts and Spending Habits Your Concern?

October 4, 2016

By Michelle Gershfeld I met this great guy. He is well-spoken, educated, good looking and athletic.  As soon as I met him we had a connection and sparks were flying. As we are getting to know each other, he has been honest, too. Thus came the disclosure that he is in transition, job-wise. Translation, unemployed. […]

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Magical Money Goals

September 27, 2016

By Michelle Gershfeld When I ask people about “money goals,” I am often met with blank stares, smirks and flat out aggression borne of distress. I hear things like: “How can I think about saving when I spend every cent I earn?” “Every pay period, as soon as I pay all of my bills, I […]

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What’s Your Payment Method?

September 20, 2016

By Michelle Gershfeld Wendy has a system for paying her bills that she believes works well. Her bi–monthly paychecks are automatically deposited to her checking account. Along with her checking account, Wendy maintains a savings account and a credit card account with the same bank. Where possible, Wendy has provided her credit card account information […]

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What Is Your Food Consumption Costing You?

September 13, 2016

By  Michelle Gershfeld Monday I had a price-fixed lunch in a fancy New York City restaurant. The cost was supposed to be $29 per person. My companion ordered an add-on for an additional $5. We drank flat water and didn’t order coffee or anything else. So, I was thinking the check would be about $69. However, […]

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How to Pick a Bank That Best Suits Your Financial Needs

September 6, 2016

By Michelle Gershfeld Shortly after graduating college, Nancy was fortunate to get a job in Texas.  Making the move from New Jersey to Texas left Nancy thinking about issues that never occurred to her as a child or as a student.  She had done her “banking” through her parents’ account (and generosity) at the university’s […]

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Do You Have a Clothing Budget?

August 31, 2016

By Michelle Gershfeld Have you ever determined which emails to open based on the subject of the message?  Today these were just a few of the subject line invitations in my email box: “We’ve Missed You!” “A Special offer, just for you – 20% off your order” “Exclusive! 50% Off at [store name]” “From $19.99: […]

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Don’t Let the Cost of Your Pleasure Trip Trip You Up

August 23, 2016

By Michelle Gershfeld How long do you really have to work to pay for that fabulous vacation? Don’t be fooled when calculating your trip budget. “By the time I take my vacation in the Fall, I will have worked for 35 consecutive weeks. I am entitled to a vacation of fun in the sun and […]

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Avoid Bad Debt and Read the Fine Print

August 16, 2016

By Michelle Gershfeld You do understand that the banks are in business to make money? I was a bit amazed recently as I listened to a banker try to sell more debt to the customer next to me. She was simply doing her banking transaction when the head banker approached her kindly and started in […]

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Budgeting and Saying ‘No’ Equal Freedom

August 9, 2016

By  Michelle Gershfeld I love the lyrics to the new Meghan Trainor song No:  “All you gotta say is, my name is no, my sign is no, my number is no.  You need to let it go.” That is my new theme song when I go shopping.  I have a little reminder sticky note on the […]

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Are You Prepared for the Costs of the New School Year?

August 2, 2016

By  Michelle Gershfeld Do you buy your kids new backpacks every September, when you know there are perfectly good backpacks piling up from previous years?  Is it a good use of your money to buy a new JanSport backpack, at a cost of approximately $50, every single year?  Would your child be embarrassed to go to […]

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May I Please Have a Financial Do-Over?

July 26, 2016

By  Michelle Gershfeld “May I please have a financial do-over?”   Sometimes we get into situations and we feel we are trapped, smothered in distress, and we often cannot see a way out.  Wouldn’t it be great if we could do it all over again?  We would be so much smarter the second time around. Financial stress […]

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Are You Opening and Reading Your Credit Card Statements?

July 20, 2016

By  Michelle Gershfeld When Kim graduated from college her first job paid pretty well.  Although she had lived on very little while in college, as soon as she started receiving bi-monthly paychecks, Kim was “sucked in” to the world of debt and entitlement. Not really understanding, because no one ever taught her, Kim was lured into […]

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Let’s Not Buy Furniture on the 18-Month Interest-Free Plan

July 13, 2016

By  Michelle Gershfeld   “I am so annoyed with myself, I am such an idiot!” These were the words of Eddie as he walked into our meeting.  Eddie’s distress was created by his misunderstanding of the “fine print.”  In Eddie’s case, he had purchased furniture two winters ago, right before Christmas, drawn in by a commercial […]

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Money Lessons at Home

July 6, 2016

By  Michelle Gershfeld Deirdre was late for our initial appointment. She’s a single mom of a 10-year old, trying to make it all work.  As we start our conversation, Deirdre concedes that she is beside herself with the negative feelings she has about her financial situation.  She berates herself for being “irresponsible” with her money.  On […]

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Recording Your Assets Now Means Less Worry Later

June 29, 2016

By  Michelle Gershfeld Becky’s house was hit by lightning a month ago.  The thunderbolt and surge of power infiltrated in a flash through the chimney, blowing the bolted iron doors off the facing of her fireplace, discharging soot and projecting shards of glass everywhere.  The strike fractured the concrete foundation, fried the electrical wiring, and tore […]

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Money Down the Drain

June 22, 2016

By Michelle Gershfeld As most parents would admit, having children is not a “good financial decision.”  Every decision cannot be money based or money driven.  Nevertheless, there are those days when our money quite literally goes down the drain … as happened to me recently. From down the hall, I heard my daughter crying hysterically.  […]

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Order Your Free Annual Credit Report … Today

June 15, 2016

By Michelle Gershfeld Mary Beth thought she had perfect credit, and although she carries small balances on some of her credit cards, she felt confident that with her salary and work history, approval for a $300 store credit would be a no-brainer. “I was so embarrassed,” Mary Beth says, “There I was with a pair […]

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How Much Are You Going to Spend on an Engagement Ring?

June 8, 2016

By Michelle Gershfeld When I was 22 years old and in law school, I had amassed the then astonishing sum of $10,000, earned in a variety of jobs from babysitter to waitress and then the more lucrative position as summer associate at a New York City law firm. My grandmother (Grandma Sylvia) told me she […]

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Take Control of Your Money Today

June 2, 2016

By Michelle Gershfeld Franny’s mother: Franny graduated from college almost a year ago.  She has a very good job, makes a regular income, has no large bills (no student loan debt, thank me very much), but she loves to spend and her credit card bills are growing.  Franny has no budget and she doesn’t want […]

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The Cost of Your Good Health

May 25, 2016

By Michelle Gershfeld My daughter has treatment-resistant epilepsy. She has been suffering with seizures for more than a decade. The emotional costs have been tremendous. It is so painful to watch your child (or anyone) seize up, convulse and check out. But this column is about the medical costs associated with family illness. My daughter […]

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Whose Gift Is It Anyway?

May 18, 2016

By Michelle Gershfeld Our friends, new homeowners, just moved into their new house and my boyfriend wants to buy them his favorite, very expensive, top-of-the-line grill.  I think we should just give cash or even a gift certificate and let the new homeowners pick whatever they want.  Isn’t a grill a “fancy cooking toy” people […]

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Do You Expect Your Child to Boomerang? Are You Planning to Boomerang?

May 11, 2016

By Michelle Gershfeld   My friends living in the city are making tons of money, and they are spending it just as fast as they earn it. That was one comment I heard recently when speaking to a Young Professionals group.  I was at the event to empower the new-to-the-workforce, career-driven young men and women.  […]

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Moving in Together?

May 4, 2016

By Michelle Gershfeld My 75-year-old mother met a man two months ago and now he is moving in with her. Those were the distraught words of Beth, a woman I spoke with last week. Her mother is widowed and lonely and looking for love and attention. But, who is this man? This stranger she met […]

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Don’t Be a Victim of Excessive Charges From Unscrupulous Vendors

April 27, 2016

By Michelle Gershfeld How closely do you look at your receipts and credit card bills?  Do you know how much of your money is going to pay for items you haven’t purchased? In the last month alone, I have been victimized by four different businesses attempting to improperly overcharge me.  Not only have these incidents […]

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Do ‘Money Night Terrors’ Keep You Awake?

April 20, 2016

By Michelle Gershfeld Finally done after another long day, you close down your electronics and put your head on the pillow to grab a few hours of sleep, recover and be ready for a new day tomorrow.  Sometimes sheer exhaustion takes you off to sleep quickly, other times it may take longer to unwind and […]

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Financial Pain Will Not Self-Correct; Take Action

April 13, 2016

By Michelle Gershfeld I twisted my foot recently. It fell asleep when I was sitting on it while working too long on my computer. I got up in a rush and crashed down on a dead foot. OUCH! For the rest of that afternoon I kept testing my foot to see how much it hurt […]

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Do You Know Where Your Money Is?

April 6, 2016

By Michelle Gershfeld You spend the majority of your time working to earn money, but are you paying attention to what happens to it after you receive your paycheck? “I was shocked to learn that my husband had gambled away our life savings.” “At a counseling session, my wife disclosed that she has been siphoning […]

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Are You Throwing Money Out The Window?

March 30, 2016

By Michelle Gershfeld Do you ever wonder, where does all my money go?  Are you guilty of pointless convenience spending? If so, you could be throwing a lot of money out the window. We live in a society of conveniences that can provide the extra time that American families desperately crave.  Convenience always comes with […]

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The Cost of Your New Car

March 23, 2016

By Michelle Gershfeld Car dealerships and their financial lending partners love customers who have filed for bankruptcy.  Why?  Because once a person files for bankruptcy protection, the law prevents another filing for eight years.  Think dollar signs.  The lender can charge enormous interest, which is not illegal, and even better, if the buyer defaults, the […]

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At What Cost Are You Underwriting Your Child’s Lifestyle?

March 16, 2016

By Michelle Gershfeld I often see and hear stories these days about whether parents should fund their retirement or pay for their child’s education.  The answer is for parents to save for retirement first. The time to do so is limited, while their young adult child has a lifetime to repay any student loan debt. […]

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Just Say No to Money Bullies

March 9, 2016

By Michelle Gershfeld I am constantly amazed at how people constantly try (very often successfully) to bully others into spending money. My daughter just told me about a cancer awareness event that her sorority was supporting.  She was “told” she and the other girls “had” to buy a $15 T-shirt to support the cause.  The […]

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Stop the Waste!

March 1, 2016

By Michelle Gershfeld “I’d rather spend my money on Ruben.” That is what I was telling myself as I recently walked clear across Manhattan from 84th Street and York, to 23rd Street and 2nd Avenue.  If you don’t know New York City, that walk is 3.5 miles.  It took me about an hour and 15 […]

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Dead Men Tell No Lies (Or Truths)

February 24, 2016

By Michelle Gershfeld Do both you and your spouse know where all your money is invested? Where the key to the safe deposit box is? What bank the safe deposit box is at? My experience tells me that it is pretty common for one spouse to be “in the know” about the family finances and […]

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No Co-Signing Please!

February 17, 2016

By Michelle Gershfeld Have you ever been in the position of being asked to co-sign for a loan and not knowing how to react? Are you the proverbial deer in the headlights?  Immediately pinned?  Uncomfortably “forced” into submission?  Unable to say “no” because of guilt, expectations, or perhaps even wanting to impress?  If so, you […]

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How Are You Going to Show Your Love On Valentine’s Day?

February 10, 2016

By Michelle Gershfeld The holidays are now over, the credit card bills have arrived, and you have come to accept the damage you did buying lots of gifts wrapped in shiny paper.  Now you are gearing up for Valentine’s Day.  Are you going to show your love and affection to your significant other with yet […]

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