Category: Personal Finance (Page 2 of 6)

Process is part of the product

The Process is PART of the Product

There is a constant battle between the process and the product in early retirement talk. Mr. T and I lean toward a calmer, more comfortable process leading to a delayed product of early retirement. Others choose to give up a lot more than we do in the process for a sooner product.

Balance is important. If you ruin your health, happiness, or relationships along the way, you’ll find yourself retired early and alone and sick. But you are the only one that can determine what that balance looks like for you.

It’s important to take another factor into consideration as well: Pride – The good kind. The kind where you roll up your sleeves, grab a cup of lemonade and just sit and stare thinking nothing but “I did that!” It’s a great feeling, right?

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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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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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Don't be a retirement newsletter poster child

Don’t be a Retirement Newsletter Poster Child

Periodically, the company that runs the retirement funds at Mr. T’s employer sends out a retirement newsletter. This is the standard single-fold document that tells you to save more money, think about your future, and think about your taxes.

Here’s the Problem:

I read this newsletter religiously (mail about saving more money!? Yes!). It’s terrible. One of my earliest posts rewrote one of Mr. T’s newsletter scenarios because I think someone should jazz this stuff up!

This past newsletter threw in some more horrible stories. I’m changing the names (so I don’t offend the real fictional dummies), but everything else is the same. I’m not making this up!:

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Save Money on a Legal Will

Save Money on Your Legal Will

Mr. T and I finished the whole estate-planning process just before leaving on our grand adventure (follow us on Twitter for trip updates!). On Monday, we outlined considerations for making a will. Today we’re going to talk about how to save money on making one. This is expensive stuff we’re talking about! And today we’re going to cover how to save money on a legal will. I’m not an attorney, so obviously don’t take this as legal advice. This is just my observations based on my experiences and research on the matter. Mr. T and I used a lawyer to draft up our legal wills, powers of attorney, and advanced health directives (a total of 6 documents). The legal fees? $1,895! Yikes! That’s more than it cost for all of our plane tickets for the trip we’re on! Here are 5 ways to do it for less:

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Relativity - Minneapolis Cherry Spoonbridge

Financial Relativity (Your Experience is Not Mine)

What is Relativity?

In physics, the basic definition of relativity is that physical phenomena are highly dependent upon the position (motion, etc) of the observer.

I was in Minneapolis recently for work. It was a super windy day with 40-50 mph gusts. It was the worst airplane landing I had ever experienced with the plane violently rocking back and forth and up and down right up until touchdown. The wind made the trunk lid slam into my head as I was putting my luggage in the trunk. I headed to Trader Joe’s to buy my imports. As I was checking out, the lady said: “Isn’t it a lovely day? Every day is a lovely day when you don’t live in Duluth!” Hilarious, right? Except I sort of didn’t get it because I’ve never been to Duluth. I’m assuming this is similar to us (in Anchorage) saying in the middle of winter: “At least it’s not Fairbanks!” (which is probably lost on YOU, dear reader!).

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gazingus pin

The Gazingus Pin: Your Spending Weakness

It’s no secret that one of my all-time favorite books is Your Money or Your Life. The book constantly talks about the Gazingus Pin. The Gazingus Pin is the ridiculous thing you continue to spend your money on. The book couldn’t say “clothes” or “movies” because specific items would be too close to home for many readers. As I read that book, I kept thinking “I don’t go to the mall. I’ve stopped going to Target and Target clearance was my Gazingus Pin. I’ve already solved my problem!” Maybe you’re thinking that, too. You’ve stopped getting coffee on the way to work. Congratulations! Unfortunately, the problem with the Gazingus Pin is that it’s not usually the thing that’s easy to cut out. It’s that thing you need that you never realized you buy in quantities too large to be useful.

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Financial reflexes

Do You Know Your Financial Reflexes?

A reflex is defined as an “an action that is performed as a response to a stimulus without conscious thought.” When the doctor hits your knee, your leg goes up. You don’t will it to do so. It just does. I was at a friends’ house last month. She had a broken toe. She walked into her kitchen and accidentally kicked a Lego with her broken toe that her kid had left on the floor that she didn’t see. Her reaction: Deep breath, pick up the Lego, and walk away. WHAT?! No cussing. No yelling. No throwing things. She just took a deep breath and moved on. Now, I’m a yeller. My kids know I’m working on it and they are very good about reminding me to calm down. But you know what my reflex is if I were to kick a Lego with a broken toe? YELL AND SCREAM! I don’t consciously think “I’m going to yell about this painful, frustrating experience now” and then yell. It is my automatic response. The stimulus hits and I respond with yelling without conscious thought.

Everyone has reflexes/defaults/automatic responses. These are the things you do without consciously deciding to do so. Unfortunately, some aren’t quite as obvious as yelling in a frustrating experience. A lot of financial reflexes are ones we can’t pinpoint and that often causes problems. Tracking your spending to the penny helps identify these things, but think about different scenarios. I’ll present a few, but there are thousands! Instead of thinking about what you THINK you would do or what you know you SHOULD do in these situations, try to stick with your instincts. Try to identify what your default would be. I’m also not necessarily saying there are right answers to your reactions here. They will be different for everyone based on your priorities.

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Broken hose pipe

How to Stop Leaky Spending

Last week, Mr. T turned on the outside hose for the first time this spring. The water trickled out. After some sleuthing, we realized the pipe had burst and as soon as Mr. T turned on the hose, the water started going in the (newly insulated and beautiful) crawlspace! Upon seeing the water all over, my first reaction was “SAVE THE STUFF!” I mean, that insulation was not cheap. And the boxes sitting in the water weren’t going to save themselves! Mr. T looked at me and said: “First we have to stop the leak.” He’s so sensible. That’s why I married him. Obviously. He made an excellent point. The order matters! 

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One Change

The Impact of Making Just One Change

A few months before we dove into purging our stuff, Mr. T got new socks. I was reading The Lifechanging Magic of Tidying Up to prepare for the big event. I was just reading the socks section when Mr. T was unpacking his new socks. “This book says you should roll your socks to let them rest.” Probably more to get to me to stop talking about the book, Mr. T dutifully rolled all of his socks. For two months, those perfectly sushi-rolled socks taunted me. They actually seemed happy. Socks. Happy. Crazy? Right? I wanted our whole house to feel that way. Every time I saw his socks, I wanted more! I wanted to dive right in and make it all better.

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