Don't make dumb money mistakes

Don’t Make Dumb Money Mistakes!

When I was little, I remember being at my cousins’ house and we were having some sort of pinching fight(?) and laughing and crying and screaming. My aunt came in and yelled: “Don’t do dumb things!” and we all laughed and laughed. But the message stuck and I hear that in my mind so much that I’ve yelled it to my own children a number of times!

So what got me riled this time? The Ryan Lochte situation. I won’t go into it as I’m sick of hearing about it (though I do have to say my favorite headline has been the “Lochte Mess Monster” and his apology for his “immature tantics” made me laugh). The lesson for kids: Even if you’re hanging out with the dumb people, you’re still doing dumb things and may find yourself with your passport confiscated or with a fine for $11,000. Don’t do dumb things.

This statement applies to so many situations!

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Self employment

Reverse Roth IRA Challenge: The Self Employed Movement

Today, I get to feature Marc from The Self Employed Movement. As aspiring (more like wannabe) entrepreneurs, Marc’s blog attracted me pretty early on. Since Marc began the blog, he’s had a very dramatic journey. When I approached him about writing a spin on the Roth IRA Challenge, he hesitated about writing it because he didn’t fit the “criteria” (for the record, there really isn’t a criteria. It’s more of a prompt, so let me know if you want to participate!). I told him to tell his story about GIVING UP money and why that was the better choice. Here’s Marc with his story:

This isn’t your traditional “IRA Challenge” post, which are all awesome in their own regards. Rather, it’s a cautionary tale of what could happen when you put money in front of your health.

I was a couple of years into my career in the Finance industry. It was nothing that I was ever passionate about; I kind of just fell into it. It was at a point in my life where I didn’t know what I wanted. I just knew that I wanted to not smell like tacos when I came home every night. (I worked at a Mexican restaurant at the time.)

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How to cut cable and not miss anything

How to Cut Cable and Not Miss Anything

So you’ve decided to cut cable? Good for you! But you have some hesitations. I understand that. But let me tell you how we do it here in the Banks household and see if you are convinced.

  1. Get a Computer Without a Monitor – We have a small Dell that has no monitor. Instead, we hook it up to our TV as a monitor. Under our TV is our DVD player, the computer, and the computer keyboard.
  2. Get a Wireless Mouse – This will now be your remote. And just like all technology, these just keep dropping in price. And you can even buy one that looks like it emerged from a futuristic planet (easily amused).
  3. Set up a mini Antenna or Bunny Ears – I have no idea how to point you toward which one, but we got a midrange antenna at Radio Shack way back when we first set up ours (it was about $30). Which one you need will depend a lot on the geography of your area and your proximity to the broadcasting towers. This also gives you sub-channels that aren’t available through cable or satellite. We have France 24 news in our area!
  4. Stream, baby, Stream! – When you’re watching Hulu on a computer, the service is free (though there are limits to when shows are available and for how long). Netflix has raised its prices to $9.99 a month, but you can always buy discounted Target gift cards on and then use those to purchase Netflix gift cards at Target! Also, sharing Netflix accounts is totally okay. Also, remember that you have a full computer with full internet access, so anything on network websites or YouTube is also fair game.
  5. Set up a DVR – For events like the Olympics, this is totally awesome. You can purchase a USB TV tuner with video capture. Your recording limit is based entirely on your computer’s hard drive! Mr. T and I have been recording all 8-10 hours of daily Olympic coverage on basic NBC (which is free through the antenna) and then watching it all in about 4 hours in the evening! This set-up is also great for awards shows (so many commercials!) or anything you think to record ahead of time so you can watch it commercial-free!
  6. Worried about Sports Events? – I admit, Mr. T and I only care about the Olympics when it comes to sports, but if you don’t want to miss a game, check out these resources on how to cut the cord and not miss a game here and here.
  7. Want to Watch Foreign TV? (I’m obsessed with British TV and need Doctor Who as soon as it airs) – Use a VPN! This reroutes your internet traffic through another country so it thinks you are watching locally. I’ve found that free VPNs are available, but they are entirely hit and miss. But there are several options of paid ones and they aren’t that expensive either.

Now that I’ve told you our system, I’ve got all of yesterday’s Olympic coverage to catch up on…

Status quo coin flip

Status Quo Bias and the Coin Flip

I have had the same haircut forever (a simple, A-line bob if you really wanted to know). When I go to cut my hair, I think: “I’m going to do something different!” but then I go do the exact same thing. This is an example of status quo bias. We like things to be the same and any deviation from that point is considered a loss. What if I hate my hair? What if the guy who is running against the incumbent is going to be worse than that guy? What if I quit my job and regret it? It’s easier to stay the same. 

Flashback 12 years ago: I’m on a study abroad in London and the Vidal Sassoon Salon is offering free haircuts if you’re willing to get anything. YES! This is my chance to be crazy! I walk in. Every single person has crazy hair. My own guy has a tight Afro with ringlets hanging off of it like a disco ball. It was amazing. I wonder what I’ll get!

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Northern Expressions

Northern Expressions: Set Impossible Goals

Set Impossible Goals

Today’s Northern Expression comes from amazing Olympian swimmer, Katie Ledecky who said in an interview: “Set goals that, when you set them, you think they’re impossible. But then every day you can work towards them, and anything is possible so keep working hard and follow your dreams.”

When I was young, in every birthday card ever, I would write: “May all your dreams come true!” I’ve advocated here on the blog to dream big and pick a path and make it yours. Katie Ledecky is the ultimate example of doing that. Her only competition is herself. When she gets in the water and starts chasing the World Record line, she’s chasing her own record! This is what each of our journeys is all about. We’re not in a race anywhere. We’re only competing against ourselves. And we can do better. We can always dream bigger and achieve more.

Go, friends! And make all your dreams come true.

Love, Maggie

P.S. You can wait to achieve greatness until the Olympics are over. I can tell you I’m doing nothing productive for the next 10 days!

What are you proud of?

What Are You Proud Of?

Last week, I was singing along with Katy Perry’s Roarand with the Olympics coming up, I started really thinking about what gets me going. I’m all for singing “Dancing through the fire. ‘Cause I am the champion, and you’re gonna hear me roar!” at the top of my lungs. Now I’m watching the Olympics (obsessively) and it’s clear that to be an Olympian, that is your life. You eat, breathe, train, strategize, and compete. You break your leg? Get back out there! Your team needs you! You give yourself a concussion? Shake it off! You can still win yourself a medal! These people are passionate. They found their thing and now they’re doing it.

What about the rest of us?

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The Formula for a Happy, Productive Day

The Formula for a Productive, Happy Day

When Mr. T and I were in London in June, we attended church right near Hyde Park. The speaker mentioned the three things we should be doing every single day and I’ve thought since then about how right he was.

Here is his 3-step formula for a happy, productive day (with my own thoughts added under each one):

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Northern Expressions

Northern Expressions: The Power to Imagine Better

We do not need magic to change the world, we have the power to imagine better

Happy Friday, friends!

With the celebration of Harry Potter’s birthday this week and the release of The Cursed Child, I thought it would be appropriate to use one of my favorite quotes by the creator of Harry Potter herself: J.K. Rowling.

In 2008, J.K. Rowling delivered the commencement address at Harvard. In it, she discusses the role of failure in our lives, her profound experiences at Amnesty International, and the power of imagination. I urge you to go read the whole thing. It is completely inspiring. 

“We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.”

We are capable of envisioning profound worlds. This imagination can lead to a better life for ourselves and our family, innovation, profound solutions to real problems, and a better world for everyone. I can imagine that world. So this week, let us exercise our power of imagination and start creating those dreams for us and for everyone around us. 

Enjoy your weekend!

Love, Maggie

PS – If you’ve finished The Cursed Child, email me your thoughts! (No spoilers in the comments for those that haven’t read it yet!) If you’ll recall, we saw the production in June and I’ve been DYING to talk to EVERYONE about it ever since!

Does comfort stunt growth?

Does Comfort Stunt Growth?

Remember Nick over at The Money Mine? The one who just wrote that awesome Roth IRA Challenge post about money tips for couples? Last week, he issued a challenge:

For those of you who have already taken control of their finances and decided to pursue Financial Independence or to Retire Early, what was your trigger? What gave you the initial motivation to get your finances in order and have a long term financial goal?

In June of 2015 Mr.T’s company started threatening layoffs in earnest. In that moment, we reflected back on our year of unemployment. Though we hated the stress of being unemployed with a new baby and we really didn’t love freeloading my parents’ beach house because we felt like we had failed at independence, we missed those days. We missed raising our baby together. We missed the creative projects we pursued. We missed the freedom of time and location we enjoyed. 

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July 2016 Plan update

July 2016 Plan Update

July has come and gone so fast. We spent the beginning of the month at the Oregon coast with my whole extended family. Then we came home to Alaska and went dipnetting the next week and filled our freezer full of a year’s worth of salmon. Alaska is seriously so amazing. We’ve also been enjoying bowls full of fresh raspberries from our garden.

This month on the blog, we covered how to save money* in both London and the UK in general. We also came clean about being early retirement frauds and I took Mr. T’s company’s retirement newsletter to task for being terrible. We had THREE people take the Roth IRA Challenge this month in awesome posts. First Ditching the Grind talked about being a U.S. military reservist. Then Amber Tree Leaves discussed property management. And finally, The Money Mine offered a great post about couple finances. Are YOU ready to take the challenge?

We’ve also completely changed our email newsletter. I now email once a week on Saturdays and while the email does include links to the posts on the blog from the week, it also includes information I don’t share on the blog and other interesting links of research and random tidbits of information I read that don’t “fit” in the blog format. If you want to give it a try. SIGN UP over on the sidebar! (I don’t plan to annoy you with sign-up pop-ups.)

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