Today is Alaska Day and the day that I like to reflect on how awesome this state of Alaska really is each year. You’ve heard me brag about it all before, but here is my current list of why I love Alaska so much:
Coming at you today is a super fun quiz I made up determining your financial personality. It’s full of pictures and not at all research-based! Have fun and tell me what you get!
On Monday, we shared an introduction to Merch by Amazon and tips for beginners. Today’s post is our personal Merch by Amazon experience.
Our Merch by Amazon Timeline
At the end of February, I heard about Merch and signed up. It sounded like the perfect platform for us (especially Mr. T – our local graphic designer that needs a creative outlet). It’s all about designing and researching (sound like a pair of people you know?!) and you don’t have to do any selling or customer service! At the beginning of June, Mr. T and I sat down to do our periodic financial date night. We talked about how our financial priorities for the next year were to get our kids to Europe and pay off our mortgage. The combined total of those was $40,000. We brainstormed how we could earn more money to make sure those things happened. Shortly after this discussion, we were accepted to Merch and threw ourselves into it. We uploaded our first shirt design on June 22 and sold our first shirt on June 27. We made a total of $7.07 in June (which showed up in our August plan update because of Amazon’s payment timeline).
Merch by Amazon is a t-shirt designing platform. It allows you to get your own designs in front of literally BILLIONS of Amazon shoppers. You simply design, upload, and then get a few bucks every time a shirt sells (you pick your own royalty per shirt. Amazon charges around $12-$15 depending on shirt style and your set price. Anything after that, you get to keep). There’s no shipping or customer service to take care of, Amazon simply prints and ships your designs.
Merch by Amazon is free to join (do it today! – maybe when you get accepted in a year you’ll want to!). The catch here is that you have to wait for approval. The time until approval is completely arbitrary. There are reports of people waiting between 4-13 months to get an invite. Also, sometimes they don’t even send you an email and your account is approved and then terminated for inactivity before you even know what happened. To combat this, just try to log in on the Merch website about once a month. If you can get in and see a dashboard, you’ve been approved. You now have 120 days to upload your first design.
Long, long ago, Steve over at Think Save Retire started a series called: our next life – then our friends over at Our Next Life, the blog, continued the series. We first participated in September of 2015 and ended that post by saying: “I should probably re-write this post once a year for the next seven years!” because plans change and ours are so fluid. So, here I am again 2 years later revisiting our plans.
Our Next Life Timeline
2018 – Take the kids to England, Wales, Norway, and Iceland – this will be a 27-day trip! This is one of the big changes from when we wrote this post the first time. This was supposed to be an England-only trip the summer after we paid off the mortgage. Now we’re doing a sweeping 4-country trip (so still fairly slow travel compared to hitting many countries) and we’re doing it before the mortgage is paid off so we can visit my parents in England while they’re living there.
Ahhh fall. Crisp air. Fall leaves everywhere. Colds from school. The whole gambit. We’re living all of it here in September.
Along with fall came an onslaught of money spending! We continued booking next year’s big Europe trip. We also spent the beginning-of-the-year fees for lessons/classes for the kiddos. Details in our spending section.
Also, Mr. T and I just got approved for Global Entry. So we’re ballers now. At least when traveling. And I started a weight training class at the University (paid for by my company so I can maintain access to the University library for my research work). I’m the oldest, weakest among those college younguns, but I’m having a great time!
Want to know how easy it is for us to write these every month? I literally just log into my Personal Capital and revel in all the numbers being in one place. Do you like checking numbers? Do you like graphics? Do you like playing with calculators like retirement calculators and how much your fees are costing you? Then, you should obviously use my affiliate link to Sign up here to help yours truly speed toward financial independence! (Also feel free to read my more in-depth review of Personal Capital.)
Lately, the news has been full of fires and floods. Seems like half of the United States is on fire (including my dear Oregon) and the other half is under water. And that’s just the United States! Add in genocide and more flooding in Asia, the international refugee crisis… the list goes on and on and on.
The World Has Enough
Now, it makes total sense that if we could just haul all the water from Houston and Florida that isn’t wanted there and pour it all over Oregon, Colorado, and all the other fires, our problems would be solved!
It’s not easy to save money on healthcare in the United States. The status of healthcare is up in the air and the functionality of the healthcare system is abysmal. It makes no sense and keeps costing more money. For a really good overview of all the problems and possible solutions, I highly recommend Elisabeth Rosenthal’s book, An American Sickness. It uses many, many real life examples and ends with a plan of action on how to solve the problem with many tips on things you can do. Some of the ideas listed in this post are from there, others are ones I’ve encountered in my own research.
Save Money on Healthcare
Here are some actionable things you can do to try to help keep your health bills down:
I know you’ve probably read a million posts on this topic lately since the future of healthcare in the United States is so uncertain, but healthcare is a big topic in the preparation for retirement, so let’s look at our situation:
Retirement Healthcare Cost Estimates
A recent Fidelity analysis estimates that healthcare will cost $275,000 per couple. This estimate only includes ages 65-88 at the latest. That averages out to $11,957 a year! Say you retire at 40 and live until 100 and spend the same amount of money annually, you’re looking at a whopping estimate of $717,420! Do I think this is reality? No idea. The answer is that we have LITERALLY NO IDEA what healthcare will look like in the United States until we die. That makes planning for it in calculations really, really hard.