Where to Start When You Don’t Know Where to Start With Investing Money

How do you know where to start investing?

You’ve reached a moment in your life that has sparked you to take control of your finances. Maybe you’ve recently discovered Financial Independence, or Dave Ramsey. Perhaps you’ve even talked to a loved one about making some changes in your life to help this pursuit. But for all the motivation and energy you have, there’s one question you still have: where do I start? Start At The Beginning It may seem obvious – and be an unhelpful sentiment – but really, the place to start is at the beginning. I define the beginning as really just understanding yourself. There are two fundamental questions I ask myself whenever I’m evaluating what to do. What’s Your Current Situation Knowing where you currently […]

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I’m Not Using Our House in “Our Number”, and You Shouldn’t Either.

Understanding “Your Number” is important. Unless you’re developing passive income – and sometimes even if you are – chances are that net worth will probably be the main deciding number used to determine if you can afford to retire or not. General consensus is that you stand a pretty good chance of being able to retire for 30 years if you have a withdrawal rate of 4% of your net worth. If you want to play it safe, lowering it to 3.5% or 3% will give you some wiggle room. But when people figure out their net worth and how far they are from retiring, they’re often quick to throw their houses in there (along with the mortgage, if applicable). […]

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Pay Off The Mortgage or Invest? Who F***ing Cares?!?

Let’s play out a hypothetical scenario here about our friends, Jane and John. As they start their lives together, they’re planning on moving into a new house. Together, they’re a high-income earning family and live below their means, which means they’ve got some extra money each month. They’re just getting started to really get a strong hold on their finances. Currently John is maxing out his 401(k) and HSA at work and also contributes to an IRA up to the max. Jane contributes the maximum for her 403(b) plan and also has an IRA which is fully-funded. By most measures, they’re on the right track. Because they’re not overly flashy and have curbed lifestyle inflation, they have an extra $500 each […]

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Seven Things We’ve Done To Improve Our Finances in 2017

2017 has been a crazy year financially for us. I started out the year with being laid off. That in and of itself wouldn’t have been that big of a deal if it weren’t for the rest of our plans. We were set to be married four months later, and still needed to pay the remaining vendors. Depending on how long I was out of work, that could have been troublesome (even though we already had that money set aside). We are building a house, a process which started in late 2016. If I was out of work for an extended period of time, would we be able to afford the down payment? Would we even be able to secure financing? With […]

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Why We Rarely Fight About Money

Marriage and money is a complex set of topics. Financial issues are frequently cited as one of the most common reasons for divorce. In a healthy marriage it’s not uncommon to have some disagreements. What’s important, however, is how you handle those disagreements and work through them as a couple. Kristin and I rarely fight about money. We mostly see eye-to-eye when it comes to our finances (even if I’m a bit more laser-focused on early retirement), and there are a few major reasons for that. The Initial Money Talk We had the money talk early. It was one of the first “real” conversations we had even before getting engaged. I knew a long time ago that I did not […]

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Post-Wedding Blues and The Long Journey

On an airplane to our mini-moon!

First off, I want to apologize for not having written in a few days. It turns out getting married is both awesome and exhausting. We needed some quality R&R time, and now unfortunately we’re in the “post-wedding blues” phase of life. Altogether, we had been planning our wedding for over a year. We hired a company (and saved a $h!t ton in the process, despite still being expensive) to help manage the whole day for us and plan everything with us. Fourteen months of back and forth phone calls, text messages, and emails. Countless pictures sent, and several trips out to California. We managed to pay for it all ourselves without going into debt. Going into a marriage 100% debt-free […]

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How We Saved An Extra $6000 For Our Down Payment This Summer

Moving sucks. Saving money doesn't. Sometimes that means moving.

Saving enough money for a down payment on a house is not an easy task. According to Zillow, the median home price in the US is just shy of $200,000. If you’re planning on putting 20% down to avoid Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI), that means needing to amass $40,000 just for the down payment – plus any closing costs, and then also make sure you have enough saved and for a few of the necessities when moving in (though definitely not everything) Even if you are able to save $1000 a month toward your down payment, it’ll still likely take several years of intentional saving in order to hit your goal amount. So, when you kick into high gear, every penny matters. After […]

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The Worst Way To Budget For a House

Try to budget for a house like this without cutting your 401(k)

I recently read an article about a person who was wanting to purchase a home. In order to help mentally prepare himself, he practiced “having” a mortgage by actually saving the extra amount. While some of the article was actually not horrible advice, there was one specific piece that stuck with me as absolutely terrible. His Situation The individual in question, who I’ll refer to as Hopeful Homeowner (or HH), was living with a roommate in an apartment costing him $600 each month. The house he was anticipating on purchasing would come with a mortgage payment of about $1500 he estimated; definitely a sizable increase, but based on his current situation he figured it may be possible. So, HH followed through […]

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The Principles of FIRE and Figuring out ‘Your Number’

FIRE is an acronym for “Financial Independence/Retire Early“. These two concepts, while closely related, can mean two different things to two different people. They’re milestones to strive for, and for some are the driving force behind the decision to save or earn more money. Financial Independence Being financially independent is a pretty easy concept to grasp. Being financially independent means that you have enough money to cover your basic necessities: food, shelter, etc. without that pesky job. If you ever want to retire, this concept is critical to understand. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to have millions and millions of dollars today in order to sustain yourself. The money you use to be financially independent of a job can […]

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4 Ways to Battle Lifestyle Inflation

Slowly but surely, lifestyle inflation will creep up. It has the potential to ruin you financially, burying you in piles of debt and keeping you from your long-term goals. An undeniably real thing many college grads will experience (including me) is the rush of going from an internship or job in college (or no job) to suddenly having a steady paycheck, paying you more money than you’ve likely earned in your entire life. If you’re not disciplined, there’s a good chance that you’ll soon grow accustomed to your new-found income; by itself this isn’t bad, but as you continue to earn more, it leaves you in a position to start racking up debt and buying stuff just because you “can”. […]

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