My guest post, Retirement Savings Mistakes, is up at Learn Save Invest today. It’s an overview of a retirement savings mistakes article and how we are stacking up. Please take a look if you get a chance!
I hit on the main ways of diagnosing your financial health in this past post. I’m going to use Wednesdays to go further in depth on each point since I truly believe that financial health leads to less stress and happier lives. I have already covered the first two points, Spend Less Than You Earn and starting an Emergency Fund. The third point was to save enough for retirement. This means saving consistently to fully fund the years after you stop working full time. Whether you choose to retire or simply age out, retirement savings is a truly important part of your fiscal life since you lose options with age. Look at Your Options You may be eligible for a 401k, 403b, IRA, Roth IRA, pension plan, etc. We even plan on using our stock investments at Scottrade as retirement income down the road. Out of all of these options, I’d first concentrate on the 401k to see if your employer matches any contributions. If so, make sure to contribute as much as you need to in order to get the full employer contribution. Otherwise, you are literally ignoring free money. What other investment do you know of with a 50% – 100% rate … Read more
I was inspired by this article to give a proper shout out to my parents. Thank you Mom and Dad for everything you taught me from as far back as I can remember. You are the reason I love personal finance and have never had to deal with high interest debt. Okay, no more mushy stuff, I promise. The article above has a great 15 item list, but I really honed in on these points: Only spend what you earn. Only allow yourself to spend 50% of that. Guide and advise but don’t dictate your kids’ spending. At some point, cut your kids off. I’d also like to add these specific suggestions since they either helped me or people I know: Help your kids open a banking account…having my own account spurred me to save. Teach your kids how to balance a checkbook and what those numbers mean. Have fun going over compound interest…I loved learning what my money could do. Explain debt’s consequences…this works best if they already know about compound interest. Introduce investment ideas…my mom went over CDs with me when I was 10. They help teach patience too. Quickly highlight what credit scores are and what they’re … Read more
My husband suggested this post and the idea caught my fancy. We skimp on a lot if there is a viable alternative EXCEPT the following: Name Brands We Buy Regularly Nature’s Own Honey Wheat (hubby was right, this is good bread) Kroger Brand Brownies (taste better to us than the name brands) Kroger Brand Real Mayo or Hellman’s (Miracle Whip makes me gag) Kellogg’s Poptarts (my morning crack) General Mills Honey Nut Cheerios (my other morning crack) Kellogg’s Frosted Mini-Wheats (my I’m-not-eating-lunch-for-a-while option) Dr. Pepper or Cherry Coca-Cola cans (yeah, yeah, I know. I wait for the 4 packs for $10 sales at Kroger and stock up…we try to keep the habit to a pack or less every three weeks) Charmin Toilet Paper (hubby scoffs at Scott’s…this is soft, but it’s only tp) Tide for regular clothes (hubby swears it’s better…I’ve decided this is a battle I’ll forfeit) Oxyclean for grass and mud stains from sports officiating (it does work and saves freaking expensive reffing gear) French’s Mustard (this is totally my hubby…I cannot taste a difference to save my life, but again, I choose to forfeit) Wolfbrand Chili with no beans for hot dogs (smells like wet dog food, but … Read more
According to this issue of the Employee Benefits Research Institute, 69% of eligible workers participate in their 401k plans in 2010. That means almost a third of eligible employees aren’t contributing anything at all. Even if we take into account that some of these plans do not match contributions, millions of people are passing up free money! This post is not to tell you the normal rules (don’t take out loans on your 401k, don’t cash your 401k out when you switch jobs, contribute as much of the $16,500 a year as possible, etc). This post is to yell at everyone who is ignoring free money. For the sake of all that is sacred to you, contribute the maximum that will be matched by your company. That is free money that is part of your benefit package. Not taking advantage of that is like handing back a paycheck and saying “no thanks”. Don’t whine that you’ll miss that percentage of your paycheck…you won’t. I never notice the 6% that’s missing from mine. Unless you are truly starving, this is necessary. I know that my readers probably already do this. I know I’m probably preaching to the choir. BUT, if you … Read more
I hit on the main ways of diagnosing your financial health in this past post. I’m going to use Wednesdays to go further in depth on each point since I truly believe that financial health leads to less stress and happier lives. I covered the first point, Spend Less Than You Earn, last week. The second point was to have a solid emergency fund. This means that you need liquid reserves in order to cover unexpected circumstances. Job loss is the most frequently mentioned reason for emergency funds that I have read so far. Start a Separate Account I’d suggest starting a separate account for your emergency fund so you’ll be less likely to use the money if it’s away from your normal accounts. We recently chose to keep our emergency money at Smarty Pig since they currently have a 2.01% interest rate while ING is only at 1.1%. I sometimes forget about our emergency fund account for weeks at a time. It usually only pops into my head to check on it when I’m updating our monthly net worth. If you don’t like the idea of a separate account, I’ve also seen recommendations for starting a CD ladder, investing in a money market account, or … Read more
Yahoo had this article about the 12 Hidden Costs of Homeownership that reminded me of the many times I had to take a deep breath when we were buying our home. Here’s a quick summary of their list: 1. Home inspection – $300 or more 2. Pest Inspection – $50-$200 3. Appraisal Fees – $350-$400 4. Closing Costs – 2%-3% of the mortgage loan amount 5. Moving Expenses – Variable 6. Furniture – Variable 7. Property Taxes and Homeowners Insurance – $3000 or more and 0.5%-1% of the loan respectively 8. Supplemental Insurance – $240 a year 9. Homeowners Association/Condo Fees – Variable but could be more than $1200 a year 10. Utilities – Variable 11. Ongoing Maintenance – Variable 12. Repairs – Variable Here’s how we have fared so far: 1. Home inspection – $200 2. Pest Inspection – $50 3. Appraisal Fees – $250 4. Closing Costs – 2.2% mortgage loan amount or about $2000 total since we had a $91,200 mortgage. 5. Moving Expenses – $400 since we packed our stuff and hired a company to simply bring the boxes and furniture to our new house. 6. Furniture – So far we still use family hand-me-downs for … Read more