Tag: saving (Page 1 of 3)

Living More in the Present: A Success Story

Living More in the Present: A Success Story

As I stepped away from the blog this summer, my focus was on enjoying the moment more. Sometimes being so involved in this community of awesome optimizers and hustlers becomes a whirlwind of motion. It’s good and it triggers important change, but sometimes it’s hard to really focus on the progress we’ve already made and enjoy what we have now.

Living More in the Present this Summer

This summer, I stepped back from pumping out posts on optimizing your finances or seeking entrepreneurship. I only calculated my expenses at the end of each month for the monthly plan updates and only checked my accounts a few other times each month. I stopped actively following all my favorite blogs (though would often binge because I can’t stay away for too long!). In short, I stepped back from the current hustle and started living more in the present. The break was tremendous and I learned a great deal. Here are a few things I learned:

  1. We’re on the Moving Sidewalk – I’m (Rockstar Finance) famous for saying the path to Financial Independence is like a sprint followed by a rest on a moving sidewalk. When I originally penned that post, I assumed I was still a few years away from enjoying that moving sidewalk. In reality, we’ve done our version of sprinting for the past 2 years since starting this blog. We’ve hustled, cut costs, set up savings, and attacked our mortgage. We got tired. In reality, because we’ve done all that, we’re already enjoying that moving sidewalk when we take a break from actively caring. Our mortgage keeps going down and our investments keep going up. It’s brilliant!
  2. We’re Incredibly Lucky – Our situation is already fantastic. We really have a great set-up. I get to be home with the kids all day every day. I don’t have to force myself to sit up at a desk job when my chronic health issues kick in (a full post on this coming later). Mr. T has incredible flexibility and lots of vacation time. We are incredibly privileged.
  3. We’ve Already Learned So Much – We still love the idea of being self-employed and having total autonomy over our own schedules and we haven’t made much significant headway there, but we have learned a whole lot already. We’ve learned all sorts of random skills along the way and learned what we enjoy and what we don’t enjoy. I feel like this whole thing has been like going to college in entrepreneurship and we’re getting closer and closer to graduation.
  4. I Need to Spend More Money Now – We’re not that close to financial independence, but we’re on that moving sidewalk. My kids, however, get older every single day. I have so much I still want to do with them. Now is the time. If you’re on the email list, you already know we’re venturing to Europe with the kids next summer. We’re going to take them on a 3-week trip through the UK, Norway, and Iceland. I’m SO EXCITED. We spent this summer letting the kids pick castles in Wales they want to explore, museums they want to check out in Oslo, and reading histories and guidebooks together. Most people have to wait until financial independence to do this kind of thing, but we can do it now. Mr. T has the flexibility and vacation time. I’m a freelancer so can choose to take a month off whenever I choose. These are the kinds of experiences I plan to focus on in the next 9 years before Penny graduates.
  5. Maybe We Have Happiness All Wrong – We always think our lives would be so much better elsewhere or doing something else. We get frustrated and immediately declare something drastic: “We’re retiring early.” Now, if you’re as far away from that possibility as we are, long-term planning for it isn’t a bad idea (at this rate, we’ll retire long before 65 just plugging along as we currently are), but focusing all efforts towards it misses the point. Maybe changing just one thing in your life can make all the difference. What would being 20% happier do for you?
  6. I’m Not Going Away – For now, I have enough passion and stuff to say that I am resuming my previous Monday/Wednesday posting (with an occasional Friday image by Mr. T or guest post). I love this space. I love all of you. I truly, truly do. I have a plan for another website based on my survey, but I decided I don’t want to do that one alone, so it may not get up and running for awhile. So, I’ll start sharing some info from that awesome survey here as well.
  7. I’m Always Prepared to Mix Things Up – When I get in a funk, I reserve the right to mix up everything. A step away this summer was exactly what I needed. Sometimes we need to get out of the water to see how truly beautiful the lake is.

Have you learned lessons in living more in the present lately? I’d love to hear yours!

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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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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Why Are We Afraid of Boring?

Why Are We Afraid of Boring?

Everyone lives their lives trying to not be boring. They don’t want to live like everyone else. They don’t want to seem average. People prove they’re not boring by buying nice houses, interesting cars, fashionable clothes. “I couldn’t possibly be boring. Just LOOK at me!” In this cycle of trying to prove we’re not boring, we also expect boring answers to be wrong.

The Boring Answers are the Best Ones

People want shortcuts. They want to hear the anecdotes and not the research. Everyone wants to be in shape and everyone wants to be rich. Why do you think the weight loss and financial industries are so large? We want a pill or a get-rich scheme. Do you know how to get in shape? You exercise. You actually work the muscles you want to be strong. Do you know how to get rich? You save money. You let money grow by not touching it.

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A Simple, Month-Ahead Elimination Budget

A Simple, Month-Ahead Elimination Budget

Mr. T and I were married in the midst of college. We were happiness-rich, but cash poor. We were both lucky to not be in debt because we were both given some assistance from our parents for college. After we were married, we combined our meager bank accounts and started an elimination budget.

We both worked hourly as custodians for our college football team cleaning the locker rooms and the coaches’ offices between 9:30PM and 1AM. Perks: football games were way more engaging because we knew the players intimately though we never met them (“the player that’s got that cute letter from a 6-year-old fan on his locker board has the ball!”). We also got random things out of the trash, like a barely-worn pair of shoes and a dozen tickets to the nearby waterpark. Also, we got to work together and we got a slight pay increase for working nights. Downsides: It was very late and we were tired. We got weekly wheatgrass shots at Jamba Juice to get us through.

The Simple Elimination Budget

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How "Make More Money" is Like a Video Game

How “Make More Money” is Like a Video Game

Quick call to action: I’m running an awesome research project and need your help. I need as many responses as possible. Go take the survey. It won’t take long. Thanks so much! Do it for science!

Maybe you’re like me. You read all these amazing posts about how the solution to your problem is simple. Make more money. And then you think: “Yeah, wouldn’t that be great?!” The posts say: “Don’t worry. It’s easy. Start a blog. Make an extra $90,000/year” Or “just start an e-commerce business and watch the sales replace your day job income in no time!” Now, as a consistent blogger of nearly 2 years that has made a grand total of less than $400 on this blog (want to increase that? Sign up for Personal Capital with my affiliate link. The service is free. And awesome. I promise), and as someone that runs an Etsy shop with 2 total sales (I won’t pitch that to you as well. You’re welcome), let me tell you that I finally figured it out!

There are levels to the game Make More Money

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Northern Expressions

Northern Expressions: The Wilderness Will Tear You Down

Happy Friday! Tomorrow is the ceremonial start of The Last Great Race on Earth, AKA, The Iditarod! So, today’s Northern Expression comes from 4-time Iditarod Champion (including last year), Dallas Seavey:

The wilderness will tear them down. It's bigger than anybody out there. It has to just be your home.

“Every time I see people having to build themselves up to face the wilderness, the wilderness will tear them down. It’s bigger than anybody out there. It has to just be your home.” – Dallas Seavey

He said this in an interview with Survival Life. I really enjoyed the thought that if you have to build yourself up for something, you’re probably not ready for it. You have to learn to be at peace in even the harshest climates (literal or figurative).

If you have to build yourself up for financial set-backs and financial emergencies, your finances aren’t ready for them. The goal is to be so prepared that they just become an obstacle to overcome on the course rather than a complete roadblock.

So… let’s get prepared, friends! And get out there and enjoy the weekend! Run, dogs, run!

Love, Maggie

The Impact of Good Business Communication

The Impact of Good Business Communication

A business can do everything right, but if they have poor business communication, they’ll never succeed. You are your business. You need to make sure you have the ability to communicate your goals and priorities to yourself, your partner and to others that that are involved in your bottom line.

Business Communication Leads to Trust

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How to Choose a Fund Manager

How to Choose a Fund Manager

Over the past year, I’ve come across some pretty interesting studies about fund managers. Based on the research, let’s take a look at who the ideal fund manager is:

Top Performing Fund Managers:

  1. Drive “Practical but Unexciting” Cars – Fund managers who drive sports cars take on more risk… but the risk doesn’t translate into better returns. So, make sure you’re checking the parking lot before choosing your fund manager!
  2. Are from Poorer Backgrounds – It turns out privilege puts people in positions they don’t necessarily deserve to be in. Fund managers from poorer backgrounds may have to prove themselves more because of their lack of connections or status, so the ones that make it are smarter and have more grit than the ones that got a “leg up” to get there.
  3. Actually Do Very Little – This article is about Nevada’s 35 billion dollar fund manager. He describes his method as “bare-bones.” The article says: “The Nevada system’s stocks and bonds are all in low-cost funds that mimic indexes. Mr. Edmundson may make one change to the portfolio a year.”

Be Your Own Manager:

The key, as Mr. Edmundson from the Nevada fund would tell you, is low-fee index funds. Even if you don’t choose Vanguard funds, you can thank Vanguard for creating The Vanguard Effect – The combined savings of Vanguard’s low fees added to the driving down of prices in the industry leading to a savings of over $1 Trillion to the consumer!*

Maybe this is the end of investing as we know it if everyone jumps on the passive funds train. Or maybe you think index funds are communist (I don’t make this stuff up!). Then make up your own mind… but for now, I’m going to drive my sensible car and put my money in index funds and leave it alone!**


*This is similar to the “Costco Effect” in Anchorage. We’re told to be grateful we live in Anchorage after Costco came because before that, prices were much, much higher. 

**I can’t claim I don’t have the privilege card, because I do

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