Category: Personal Finance

The Net Worth Budget

You know that you need to budget, save, and pay off debt. Your parents, your teachers, your friend who is a financial advisor, and the morning news show you watch have all told you so. You made a list of bills and expenses and subtracted them from your income, figured out how much you had left, and maybe put some of that into your savings account every month. You’ve been doing that for awhile and don’t seem to be getting anywhere.┬áThe savings always gets spent, or somehow the money never makes it into savings in the first place. Something always comes up. The student loan debt seems like it is never going to go away, and saving up to buy a house is never going to happen. It’s time to look at a new approach to budgeting. Continue reading “The Net Worth Budget”

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Budget Breakers

I have been wanting to put this lesson together for awhile. I created an annuity spreadsheet to calculate the long-term impact of various spending habits. What would your retirement income look like if you brewed your coffee at home instead of going to Starbucks or drove a sedan instead of an SUV? When you replace small spending habits over a 30 year period and earn investment returns on the savings, the difference can be tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Check it out:

How to Start a Retirement Fund with Almost No Money

money pink coins pig
Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

Many people I talk to want to do a better job of saving for retirement but don’t know where to begin. Maybe their employer offers a 401(k), but they don’t feel like it’s enough, or maybe they have no 401(k) at all and desperately need to get something started.

Many people also don’t have much money to get started with. They might want to start investing as little as $20 per month. The fee structures of mutual funds and the transaction fees brokers have for purchasing securities can make investing small amounts of money at a time very impractical, but that aspect of the investment industry is changing, and there are some new opportunities for small-time investing that weren’t there only a few years ago. Continue reading “How to Start a Retirement Fund with Almost No Money”

Is Going Back to School Worth the Cost?

people-woman-coffee-meeting.jpgWhether or not to continue one’s education is one of the top questions in personal finance. Even for financial experts, it is not an easy decision. However, there are some great ideas and some great information out there that can help you make the best choice for you. It may be easier than you think. Continue reading “Is Going Back to School Worth the Cost?”

The Net Worth Mindset

I didn’t get into studying finance until I was in my 30s, but when I did I studied hard and tried to make myself an expert in it. I had to, because I had to teach it. One of the things I latched onto early was the balance sheet. It fascinated me and continues to command my attention. Predictably, when I learned to look at my own personal balance sheet, my personal financial life literally started to come into balance. Continue reading “The Net Worth Mindset”

My Year with a Cash Back Credit Card

Like many consumers, my wife and I have long been suspicious of credit card companies. We are generally cautious about debt, not wanting to add to our massive student loan obligations. Credit cards, of course, are among the worst kinds of debt: with high interest rates compounding at a rapid rate.

Up until the end of 2016, the only credit cards we ever had were from making a large retail purchase on credit. For example, I purchased my Macbook Pro with Apple Credit, which is really just a Barclay credit card. The first year has no interest, so I paid off the account in one year and paid no interest. I wanted to keep that line of credit open to build my credit rating, so I set up automatic bill-pay on a bill that is $15/month. I pay off the balance every month, and I don’t use that card for anything else. It has been great for building my credit at no cost. Otherwise, it not very useful and adds to my stress sometimes when I worry about forgetting to pay it.

blue-cash-everydayWhile teaching my high school personal finance class about credit cards and credit ratings, I decided to do an experiment and try using a cash back card. I compared some cards and decided to apply for the American Express Blue Cash Everyday rewards card. Credit Karma informed me that with my credit history, my application would have a good chance of being accepted, and it was. Continue reading “My Year with a Cash Back Credit Card”

Robinhood to the Rescue

An app that let’s you quickly and easily trade stocks with no transaction fees? It sounds too good to be true. There has to be a catch, right?

robinhood iconThis was my reaction when I heard about Robinhood, the app you can download for free and use to start trading stocks with no transaction fees. At the time, most of my retirement savings was in a 403(b) and a state pension. These accounts have limited options, mostly made up of index funds. I am not crazy about index fund investing for several reasons, which I will elaborate on at another time. I had finally opened a Roth IRA with an online broker to invest in individual stocks, but I was frustrated with the fee situation. I investigated Robinhood as an alternative, and here is what happened. Continue reading “Robinhood to the Rescue”