Emergency Funds: How Much is “Too Much”?

If you have an emergency fund of just $500, congrats; you’re better-off than about half of the population (is anybody else freaked out by this?). But having too much cash on hand to help with life’s curveballs can also hinder you from making the kind of progress you’d like to see over the longer term. Starting Off In Total Money Makeover, Dave Ramsey is a huge proponent of having $1000 for emergencies while you aggressively pay off any debts you have. A thousand dollars should cover many of life’s immediate challenges, but once you’ve got your debt paid off it’s a good idea to save for more. If you lose your job you could find yourself out of work for […]

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The “Personal” in Personal Finance

Over the past few weeks I’ve been doing a ton of reading – much more than I used to ever do. Reading is a great way for me to pass the time on my morning or afternoon commute on the train, and it also keeps me energized. I enjoy a wide array of books from science-nerd titles like Carl Sagan’s Contact or NDGT’s Death by Black Hole, to more self-improvement-esque books like Gretchen Burin’s The Happiness Project and Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, to financial classics like Your Money Or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Monigue Tilford, or Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover. One of the things I’ve realized as I hammer through the non-fiction books (some for the second, […]

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Four Things I Won’t Skimp On

Clipping coupons from the Sunday paper was a pastime I remember fondly growing up in my household as my parents raised two kids on one (self-employed) income. We didn’t grow up poor, but my parents were always very money-conscious, and when you’ve got two hungry mouths to feed (my brother moreso than me, you should have see him in 6th grade…), food tends to be a pretty significant chunk of your budget. In the mornings I’d sit with my mom, finding deals on groceries for the week. I remember her green coupon box; some things carefully organized, others just haphazardly scrunched up from the thing being overstuffed. My parents taught me and my brother about money from a young age and […]

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3 Lessons From Watching “Blank Check”

Kristin and I just watched the 90’s Disney flick Blank Check last night. It was as amazing as when I was a kid; if you haven’t watched it, you should. For those who need a quick recap, here’s the general synopsis: Preston, a 10-year old living in a middle class family, feels like his two older brothers are stealing the spot-light from him. They are starting some sort of business and take over his room, all with his parents’ blessing because his dad is also an entrepreneur. He sees that money could buy his own space. He takes some birthday money (all eleven dollars of it, for his 11th birthday) to the bank, but they’ve got a $200 minimum – disheartened, he […]

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3 Expenses You’re Forgetting to Budget For, and How To Fix It

Making a budget can be super simple or super complex, but no matter what your preferred method is, you’re bound to need some refinements as you go along. That’s the entire point of going through the exercise of creating a budget, anyway, right? Set up some goals, track what’s coming in and going out, and try to maximize the in while minimizing the out to hit your goals more quickly. But chances are that even if you budget regularly, there can be a few “gotcha” moments. Here’s four of them that are pretty easy to overlook, and how to prepare for them. Lump-Sum Insurance Premiums This one consistently got me for a couple years out of college. It was the first […]

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Use The Financial Buddy System to Keep You Financially Accountable

A financial buddy helps keep you financially accountable

We all know about the buddy system. Most people get acquainted with the buddy system when they’re young and in school. On field trips or at a summer camp is a common time for this to be introduced to kids – find your buddy, and make sure everything you do, you keep your buddy accountable, and she keeps you accountable. The buddy system works as adults too, and I find it’s very helpful with keeping me on track to reach my financial goals in the form of a Financial Buddy. I first got started with the concept of The Financial Buddy System when was in Florida talking with my friend about our financial situation. We both wanted to do better, but knew that […]

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What The Hell Is An ESPP?

When I first saw the abbreviation ESPP, I didn’t even know what it was. Chances are if you haven’t run into one before, you probably don’t either. Yet it’s something that lots of folks have access to, even if they’re a bit uneducated about it. I’ve had about a dozen coworkers at previous companies ask about ESPP’s, and if it makes sense for them. Let’s clear a few things up, then see if it’s something you’re interested in. What is an ESPP? ESPP stands for Employee Stock Purchase Plan. There are a few different ways they can be structured, but most typical is allowing you to use post-tax money to buy company stock, typically at a discount. These are called Qualified ESPP’s. […]

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What’s Early Retirement, anyway?

I hear people talking frequently about early retirement and it got me thinking – just what is early retirement? “Real” Retirement Well, let’s start with something not so ambiguous: what the government considers retirement. If we’re taking a look at Social Security, the minimum age you’re eligible for collecting is 62 – albeit with some penalties – with the “proper” age being 66. You’ll get more from Social Security if you hold off on it, with benefits increasing up until you’re 70. With that in mind, anything before 62 could be considered “early”. But for the sake of dreaming (I don’t want to be working at a regular job in 30 years) let’s think about something a bit more extraordinary. “Unnaturally Early” Retirement Many […]

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How To Deal With Getting Laid Off (And 5 Things To Do To Prepare For It)

Getting laid off sucks. No matter how much you may like or hate your job, there’s rarely a good time to suddenly and unexpectedly lose an income you had counted on. Thankfully, you can – and should – prepare for the unexpected to make it suck a little less. I got laid off in early 2017, and it came totally out of the blue. I was working at a job at a start-up that I had been at for just under a year, making significantly more money than the “secure” job I previously had. I was working with great people (for the most part), and doing something I really, really enjoyed. Unfortunately due to some leadership changes, the company structure shifted and, […]

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5 Things To Talk About Before Getting Engaged

Getting engaged is a big deal - almost as much as these PJ pants.

Getting engaged is exciting. As you announce your news to the world, people celebrate the love you’ve found with each other and you get to think about your future. Finding that person you want to spend your life with is not exactly an easy task. But it’s also ranked #7 on the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, which ranks life events in relation to how much they stress us out and impact our overall health. Making sure you’re on the same page with what you want in your future – from simple things like what colors you want at your wedding to more personal and potentially challenging conversations like the decision to have or not have children – will help […]

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