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How I use Google Calendar

How I Use Google Calendar To Stay Organized

Google calendar is a free tool available through your Google account. Maybe your Apple calendaring system can do the same things, but we’re a heavily Google-integrated family (our budget is on Google drive) and here’s how we use Google calendar to stay organized.

Keeping Two Adults in Sync

Mr. T and I have totally different things going on. He goes to work, I juggle all sorts of things during the daytime and we each have different responsibilities with work, etc. We keep it all in line by having synced Google calendars. I keep mine updated and so does Mr. T. As soon as I make an appointment, it’s in the calendar. This means that we both know what the other is doing. When Mr. T sees that I’ll be at a Church youth activity, he knows he has to be home during that time. When I see Mr. T is helping someone move on Saturday, I know that I’m home. It’s implied with 3 kids that we’re going to work together on taking care of them. If there’s a scheduling conflict, that’s when we have an actual face-to-face conversation about the calendar. “I just found out I have a work meeting the morning you scheduled to ride your bike to work. Is it possible to switch bike-commuting to the next day to help get the kids to school during my meeting?” Because we’re both awesome, these conversations are quick and solutions reached easily.

Keeping the Kids Organized

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You Are Your Own Agent: A Pep Talk

You Are Your Own Agent: A Pep Talk

At the beginning of the year, I was about to attempt a new freelance opportunity that I hadn’t done before. I was struggling with selling myself and setting prices that I would be happy with later (especially because the project was unlike any I had yet done). Do you know who gave me the greatest pep talk of all time? Revanche over at A Gai Shan Life.

The Original Pep Talk:

If you were negotiating on my behalf like my agent, what would you be proud of telling me that you’d gotten as a rate? Don’t think of it as selling yourself, think of it as letting them know the circumstances under which you can work together. They’re not doing you a favor, you’re providing an excellent service they want and they need to compensate you fairly or it’s not a relationship worth your time. Puff up that chest with a huge breath, let it out and calmly imagine them being THRILLED to be working with you. That’s the feeling you want to have going in and coming out, and quote them from that mindspace.

So good, right?

You Are Your Own Agent

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Why is Personal Capital Free? The Catch!

Why is Personal Capital Free? The Catch!

I’m sure you’ve seen a number of these already, but here’s my Personal Capital Review. If you’re interested, you can sign up for Personal Capital here.

Why is Personal Capital Free?

Let’s start with the bad. Personal Capital is free because they want to actively manage your money (don’t let them!). When I signed up for Personal Capital over a year ago, the sidebar showed me a picture of a banker under the caption “Your Advisor.” Since then, they’ve heated up the hard-sell a bit more. I now get emails that say things like: “You’re not on track for retirement! Call your advisor today!” When I log in, I often have to click out of a pop-up showing me my advisor and asking me to give him a call. This is all annoying. And things may get worse (who knows?).

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Calculation Financial Scenarios: Roth IRA Edition

Calculation Financial Scenarios: Roth IRA Edition

On Monday, we we used our portfolio balance and our current savings rate to calculate the impact of different market conditions on our future portfolio. Today, we’re going to mix it up just a little bit. Same market scenarios. Different savings rate. Since Alaska is solidly in its own recession, we’re going to assume that Mr. T loses his job by the end of the year (Debbie Downer? I don’t actually think this will happen, but again, I love a good calculation scenario!), so instead of considering our current savings rate, we’re going to assume that we can only max out our Roth IRAs at a total of $11,000/year (or $916/month).

This scenario is more broadly applicable. You have $150,000 portfolio? You max out 2 Roth IRAs? This is the post for you! Again, to make these calculations, I use my very favorite compound interest calculator to plug in the numbers. We’re looking at 4 scenarios: from major recession to bonkers markets to see how long it would take to reach $1,000,000 and $2,000,000. Here we go:

The Recession Starts Tomorrow!

In this scenario, our entire portfolio takes a 25% hit before the end of the year and then grows at 3% forevermore. Let’s look at the numbers:

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Calculating Good and Bad Financial Scenarios

Calculating Good and Bad Financial Scenarios

I haven’t done many calculations around here lately and since we both know I am number-crunching incessently, I thought it was about time to do a number crunching exercise here on the blog with our numbers. Today, we’re going to look at 3 scenarios into the future: a terrible one, a low-return one, and a good return one. Let’s see how the numbers play out:

Where we Stand

These calculations are based on our portfolio’s current $150,000 value (a nice even number to work with, which is part of why we’re running the simulations now!). The monthly savings for the first year assume $2500 – the $1500 to max out Mr. T’s 401k (automatic) and a mix of employer contributions and my savings for another $1000/month. This is our current savings rate. Then, after the first year, those monthly savings amount skyrocket to $4500 because in 2019, we will start the year with a paid off house and we can throw our mortgage payment directly into savings! To make these calculations, I use my very favorite compound interest calculator to plug in the numbers.

The Recession Starts Tomorrow!

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A Financial Plan is Like a Sneeze While Driving

A Financial Plan is Like a Sneeze While Driving

Have you ever had to sneeze while driving? It’s terrifying! You’ll have to close your eyes and convulse your body* all while maintaining safety on the road. Having a financial plan is very similar to preparing for this unexpected, horrifying sneeze.

Preparing to Sneeze While Driving

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Your Spring Will Come

Your Spring Will Come

Sometimes in the thick of winter, it is hard to remember spring will come. I did not truly understand the redemption spring symbolized until moving to Alaska. In this state, winter means darkness and hibernation. The plants feel winter approaching and shed their leaves and turn brown. All signs of plant life recede and the ground looks dead. As the sunlight returns and the snow melts, the earth looks hopeless. The ground is flooded, littered, and barren. How can life possibly emerge from this? Then, it does. From the barren ground, the sprouts emerge. Over just a few weeks, the world that looked so brown and dead is brought to life. The plants that looked hopeless burst into life all at once.

Your Spring Will Come

The symbolism of spring is a poignant reminder that life is not made of just winters. It is also made of springs, summers, and autumns. Maybe you’re in the midst of a winter. Health, family, or financial setbacks take their toll. They dim the sun and plunge us into a season of winter. Some winters are darker than others. Sometimes, in the midst of the darkness, we feel like spring couldn’t possibly be the next season. Life can’t emerge from such darkness, we think.

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April 2017 Plan Update

April 2017 Plan Update

It’s officially spring here in Alaska! Other than our two big snow piles on our lawn, all of the snow is gone! We’ve got seeds growing in our window (still risk of frost outside), the kids have been riding bikes outside after school every day, and they have less than a month left until summertime!

The Numbers:

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! (I assumed bloggers pushed this because of the affiliate income until I started using it myself… worth the FREE pricetag! And Seriously Amazing.)

Can I just say how much I love being a month ahead in finances? It’s only the first month, but it simplifies things so much! I know where my money is going! As for the investments, this market insanity can’t continue, can it? I mean, we’re up to $149,600. So close to $150,000! We’re starting to ramp up extra payments toward the mortgage again. This month was smaller than we hope to do the next few months, but we did manage to get it down to $48,100.

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Northern Expressions

Northern Expressions: How Close is Money to Your Heart?

Hello Friends! Today’s Northern Expression starts with a pretty famous Jonathan Swift quote, but we recently happened upon Lord Bolingbroke’s response and we loved the two together as a conversation so here you go:

A wise man should take care how he lets money get too much into his head, for it would most assuredly descend to the heart

“A wise man should have money in his head, but not in his heart.” – Jonathan Swift (in a letter to Lord Bolingbroke)

Lord Bolingbroke’s response: “A wise man should take care how he lets money get too much into his head, for it would most assuredly descend to the heart.”

I wonder why we don’t hear Lord Bolingbroke’s response as much as Swift’s quote because it’s basically the same sentiment with clarification. If you spend too much time thinking about money, it becomes the obsession and cannot be separated from your heart. It is a reminder that money is a tool. It is not the goal.

Happy Friday, friends.

Love, Maggie

Why I Don't Shop For Clothes (But am Trying!)

Why I Don’t Shop For Clothes (But am Trying!)

I hate shopping. Especially for clothes. Part of me wishes I was that person that could walk into a store and want ALL THE THINGS! Before moving to Alaska, thrift stores were my jam. Everything I owned was from a thrift store. It was my style, it was cheap, and if it got destroyed, I wasn’t that worried about it. Also, I could walk into the thrift store and look at my size on the rack. When the rack ended, I was done.

Now that I live in Alaska (where the thrift stores are both expensive and terrible), I’ve been forced into buying clothes from stores like regular people. It’s awful.

Clothes are Expensive!

I hear the argument that you should just buy really well made clothes and they’ll last forever. It’s a sane argument. But what if you have 3 crazy kids, you spend most of your year walking through snow, your shirts always manage to get holes in the front, and you are incapable of eating chocolate without having pieces melt into your shirt?* Well, then your argument is crazy. Then I put on said shirt and feel like I can’t live my life. I can’t accidentally rub up against my car (with its inch-thick dirt in the winter and spring). I can’t touch my children. I can’t go outside.

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