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The BFS Way to Diagnose Your Financial Health

Are you financially fit and healthy? Take this quiz to find out if your finances are up to par. I did ok, not great. What's your score? Diagnose your financial health with me!

There seems to be all sorts of ways to measure your financial health, but here’s the list of points I’d keep an eye on: 1)  Am I spending significantly less than I earn? If I’m not, I’d take a look at my spending, make a budget, and cut the unnecessary expenses. If that didn’t fix it, I’d look into getting a better-paying job or at other income sources. 2)  Do I have a solid emergency fund? If I have at least 3 months of expenses (preferably 6 months or more), I’d move on. Otherwise, I’d start funneling cash into an emergency account. Even starting with $50 a month is better than no backup fund at all. 3)  Am I saving enough for retirement? I’d take a look at a few retirement suggestions and figure out if I’m on track. If I’m not, I’d look into my options. Do I have a 401k, IRA, or a Roth IRA? Would one of these work for me? 4)  What kind of debt do I have? If I do have some, I’d make a little list and see what I could eliminate. I’d start paying off high interest debt like credit cards before attacking car … Read more

How Would You Proceed?

My husband and I are approaching a small financial crossroads. We make his final graduate school payment in June, he graduates in August, and that will bring a small automatic raise (about $1000 a school year minimum). That means that we will have an extra $750 a month starting in August. We’re wondering what we should do with it since we have several options. I know, it’s a good problem to have, but I have a personal finance blog for a reason (I over-think money)… Here’s the info we’re working with: We’re in our mid-20s and want to retire at age 52. Our current emergency fund has 3-4 months of expenses in it and our jobs are VERY stable. Our mortgage has about $73,300 left at 5.375% and is already on track to be paid off by the end of 2017 instead of 2022. Hubby’s car loan has about $10,700 left at 4.6% and is already on track to be paid off by the end of 2011 instead of 2013. We contribute 6% to my 401k, which is matched up to 6%. We fully fund one Roth IRA ($5000 a year). We put about $200 a month into our Scottrade … Read more

Fit in a Fun Friday – Sea Monkeys

If the title didn’t make you smile, you’ve never had Sea Monkeys. They bring up so many fun memories from my childhood that I thought I’d remind you too. For those of you that haven’t heard of Sea Monkeys, they are miniature Brine Shrimp that are suspended in their hatching process until they are introduced into the correct environment. In this case, that environment is a little plastic aquarium that has the correct packets added to it a few days in advance. Honestly, the waiting is the hardest part. Even after you successfully wait to add the “Instant Life Eggs”, you then have to wait until the little guys hatch and become visible under the magnifying bubbles on the side of the tank. I don’t know how many times my mother reminded me to have some patience. I know that tiny shrimp may not sound like fun, but the whole process makes me giddy. It’s fun to create a tiny world. It’s also interesting to watch them stutter around the tank. I can’t swear I learned anything deep from the whole process, but I really do have fond memories of my first real pets. Yes, we had a dog and … Read more

March 2010 Net Worth

Our net worth has hit $3 million and we’re retiring this week.  April Fool’s!  Sorry, but I felt like I had to make at least a lame attempt…it’s tradition… To get serious, we calculate our net worth as listed below.  We don’t include the value of our possessions, we round down to the nearest hundred for assets, and we round up to the nearest hundred for liabilities. Assets1. Cash – $24,5002. Stocks – $12,4003. Retirement – $34,5004. Home – $130,0005. Cars – $16,000 Liabilities1. Home – $73,3002. Car – $10,700  (We made an extra $1000 principal payment in mid-March, woot!) Total Net Worth = $133,400 Increase/Decrease = Up $5300 from last month I base the value of our home on two things: comparables selling in our neighborhood and the estimated appraisal by Chase Home Value Estimator.  I will always estimate low. I base the value of our cars on Kelley Blue Book’s Private Party Value of our vehicles in “Good” condition truncated down to the nearest $1000.  For example, if my car is valued at $4600, I’d calculate that as $4000. Please feel free to visit the archive to see our past net worths.

Need Money? Have an Extra Bedroom?

A year after my husband and I bought our 3 bedroom home, a friend needed a place to stay for a little while. Our guest bedroom was open and our friend was living in an overpriced hotel. When he offered to pay $350 and half of the utilities per month, we happily agreed to turn the spare room into a bedroom rental. Since our mortgage payments are only $740, it was a win-win for everybody. Bedroom Rental Three months later, our friend moved on. We thought we’d love having complete privacy again, but we missed the money more. After a 20 minute discussion, we decided to list our spare room as a bedroom rental on Craigslist. I knew nothing about actually renting out the room, so I looked up ideas online. I listed the room in detail with pictures of the spaces that were being rented out – room, bathroom, laundry area, and kitchen. I asked questions on the phone about pets and smoking habits. When they showed up for our scheduled meetings, they filled out their job and housing history and signed off on background checks. I’ll be honest, I knew exactly who I wanted to live with by the … Read more