Cheat Sheet Q&A –


Today’s question/topic – The cost of life events


Today’s entry:


I heard you and Jim discussing wedding reception costs.   What about other life events like a Quinceanera, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs and Confirmation?


Here’s my memory (of his wedding):


(I was) married in a blizzard in 72 in The Bronx.  The whole thing ran about $500.  My mom made the wedding cake.  Her mom made the Italian feast.  It was GRAND!  Between the reception and the 3 day honeymoon we probably got away with under $1,000.  A lot of money in 1972. 


Bottom Line:  I loved this question because it sent me down the path of research I’d never conducted before.  We do receive annual updates on the cost of weddings (which if you missed it is pretty incredible… the average cost of a wedding is nearly $30k now) but rarely if ever will you hear about the average cost of other life events. 


I’ll start with the Quinceanera…:


To begin with, I had to learn what this was (Right of passage in many Latin/Hispanic cultures for a 15 year old girl): 


  • The average cost currently is about $10,000 for one of these celebrations (or nearly $100 per person)


Now the Bat Mitzvah:


  • The average current cost is about $125 per person (the size of these varied greatly in my research so it’d be highly imprecise to project an average)


Now the Confirmation:


  • Catholic confirmation doesn’t actually come with an inherent cost


With the Confirmation being a religious ceremony there isn’t an associated fee (though a donation to the church is generally appropriate).  There isn’t any standing research on the cost of post Confirmation celebrations.  With my family it usually just involved a nice meal with the family afterword. 


For comparison’s sake I also decided to translate your wedding expense into 2014 terms.  At $1000 in 1972, your total expense in 2014 dollars would equal $5652.  Which goes to show that it’s not about how much you spend, it’s about family, friends and what you do after these life events.  Congrats on such a long lasting and happy marriage!


If you have a topic or question you’d like me to address email me:


Audio Report:



Do you still carry paper money?  How Much?:


Bottom Line:  I’m pretty open about being a borderline germaphobe.  As a result I avoid paper money whenever possible.  In fact if I have it on me its usually only a few bucks because I’m going to have to valet (man if only valets took mobile payments…).  I know I’m weird and outside the mainstream on this…but maybe not as weird as you may think.  New research from has determined:


  • 10% of Americans don’t carry paper money at all


And of those who do:


  • 78% carry less than $50 on average
  • 49% carry less than $20 on average


So certainly cash isn’t as important as it once was.  Now if I can only recruit the other 90%... 

Audio Report:



Career paths where advanced degrees come with the biggest payoff:


Bottom Line:  Being intentional in you college education has never been more important.  Historically fewer than 50% of college grads have ever worked in a career field directly related to their degree.  These days that often leads to post college unemployment and student loan debt problems.  That being said being intentional and going for an advanced degree can be the most rewarding of all.  So in career fields that don’t necessarily require and advanced degree, which ones provide the greatest reward?  Kiplinger did the research and listed these following professions which provide the best average ROI:


  • Civil Engineering
  • Accounting
  • Math
  • HR
  • IT
  • Business Administration
  • Economics
  • Computer Science
  • Marketing
  • Finance


In all of these career fields the average salary is over $100k for going all the way to a PHD.  In most cases a Master’s degree also averages over $100k. 

Audio Report:



Do you vote for companies you’re invested in?:

Bottom Line: 
It’s that time of year in corporate America.  For most publically traded companies it’s the annual meeting season.  That means that if you hold investments in companies you likely have received proxy forms to vote for various corporate initiatives.  Not surprisingly most individual investors overlook this process and don’t make their voices heard.  Much like in political elections it’s in your best interest to become informed and actually vote.  These days companies are listening to you, their shareholder, much more than in days gone by.  Anyway I’ve been tracking how I’ve voted on initiatives with companies I’m invested in.  Here’s the result.

I’ve voted for (I’ve rounded these numbers)


·         30% of executive comp plans

·         80% of employee plans

·         95% of board of directors

·         98% of auditing firms


So…  As you can see I do commonly find that executive compensation is out of line with the relative performance of companies.  And these are companies that I’ve invested in (that have dramatically outperformed the general market over the past year).  So yes executive comp is commonly a bit excessive and yes you should be minding your investment. 


A great way to start educating yourself is by using info provided by ISS.  Yahoo finance offers this as a free service.  Here is a direct link to Apple:


Look under the “Corporate Governance” heading.  You’ll see the breakdown of some information that can help you evaluate companies.  1 is the best score, 10 is the worst.


Audio Report:



How to get more publicity & business for your company:


Bottom Line:   Maybe it’s the success of Shark Tank or maybe it’s just a byproduct of the economy but in any case there are more opportunities for young companies to gain attention, more business and often increased investment.  Here is one of those opportunities.  


New Jersey based Empact is creating a program to feature fledgling companies of younger entrepreneurs.  It’s called the Empact Showcase.  They are creating a series of outlets and opportunities for companies who reach out to them that meet their criteria.  Among the areas of recognition companies can receive:


  • The Empact 100 list
  • Largest Potential
  • Top Social Company
  • Best Founder’s Story

There are other watch lists and categories where additional recognition can be received.  What’s cool is that all you have to do to be considered is click this link and fill out this form online:


Audio Report: