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20 Financial Milestones for your 20s

Alright millennials - how do you stack up versus me? What quiz score do you get on these 20 financial milestones for your 20s? I did not bad, but there's still room for improvement. Managing money well in your 20s makes a HUGE difference later on in life. These money milestones are key.

I saw Thousandaire’s 20 Financial Milestones for your 20s that all started at Gen Y Wealth and couldn’t resist. Here’s how I stack up at age 28: #1 – Finance a dream vacation…in cash Mr. BFS and I take at least one big trip every year and always pay for it in cash.  Last summer we took our second cruise (we went snorkeling in Jamaica and Grand Cayman and loved the lazy rivers in Mexico).  This coming summer we’re heading back to Las Vegas for a week.  These may not sound like “dream vacations” to everyone, but I’ve already lived in other countries and Mr. BFS is a homebody, so these are our dreams, lol. #2 – Pay off your private student loans We didn’t have any college loans.  My husband’s parents covered his education and my parents covered whatever my scholarships and 3 part-time jobs didn’t.  I also lived cheaply in college overall.  We were/are blessed.  We know.  🙂 #3 – Automate paying your credit card bill in full We automate as much as possible in every aspect of our financial lives, lol.  We got this covered. #4 – Get Rid of Bad Debt  The only debt we have left is … Read more

Being Judged Cheap and Wasteful At the SAME TIME

This post, When Rich People Call You Cheap, at Financial Samurai really hit a chord with me.  In his post, he mentions an uber-rich friend that had the audacity to call him cheap over a $5 coffee at Starbucks. First of all, as many of my frugal readers know, I am not ultra-frugal.  As some of my spendy readers know, I am not ultra-spendy.  I seem to split the difference.  I don’t have a smart phone, but I enjoy cable and DVR.  I still drive a car I despise since it’s paid off, but I enjoy having a biweekly housekeeper and lawn guy since I hate manual labor.  I cut and use some grocery coupons, but I will probably never make my own laundry detergent. In short, I prioritize. This system works for me, but it also gets me judged from all sides.  Some people like to point out all I could save by cancelling cable, doing my own chores, and mowing my own lawn.  Other people tell me to buy a new car since I obviously don’t like the one I have and also have the money for car payments.  Still others will hear about my budget and make sure to … Read more

VA Mortgage Benefits and Financing Rates

The following is a guest post from Adam Gibson, an author of Accrued Interest, a popular financial world blog.  You can check out Accrued Interest for the latest on the bond market, treasuries, mortgages and other financial news. If you’re a veteran or an active duty service member and are considering a home purchase this year, a VA home loan may be the perfect solution to finance that new house. Not only can they be great budgeting tools due to the variety of loan products available and flexibility of the loans, but VA loans have incredibly generous financing terms and a relatively easy qualification process. VA loan eligibility is relatively straightforward and in order to qualify for a VA loan, veterans, active duty service members, or their families must meet the following criteria. Able to provide verification of a minimum of 2 years employment. – If employed by the present employer less than 2 years: – Verify prior employment plus present employment covering a total of 2 years, or – Provide an explanation of why 2 years employment could not be verified. A debt to income ratio of less than 41%, including the potential loan. The VA’s debt-to-income ratio is a total … Read more

Maintaining Motivation on a Big Financial Goal

This is a guest post from Jackie Beck, who writes at MoneyCrush. She writes about things like Straying from the Path of Intention to Impulse, Saving Money with Meal Planning, and Don’t Forget the Third Option. Do you have any big financial goals? If so, chances are reaching them may seem impossible at times. Maybe you even feel like giving up now and then. Those kinds of feelings are only natural, but in order to reach our goals, we have to keep going. And that requires maintaining motivation. My husband and I are working on a big financial goal right now: paying off our house. We want to be completely debt free, and we’ve been working on that last step for a while now. As of the day I wrote this, we were down to owing $83,687.18. (Yes, I know the exact balance, and that’s part of the trick to maintaining momentum.) You see, when you’re reaching for a big goal, you’ve got to track your progress. And you’ve got to feel like you’re making progress. Now I happen to be the kind of person who gets excited at sending even an extra dollar to our mortgage. If I’d sent … Read more

Paid to Lose Weight

According to this article, one-third of U.S companies are starting to offer financial incentives to their employees to lose weight or to get healthier in general.  One company, OhioHealth, even paid employees for walking.  IBM pay their emplyees $150 for completing a 12-week Web-based health program. My job started a Wellness Program a year ago but they’re cheap. We don’t get anything for participating (except hopefully better health). We do have annual health screenings at work though.  There’s nothing better than hearing you need to lose 20-30 pounds from yet another person every year.  😛 My company newsletter recently mentioned that we could receive discounts on our health insurance premiums in 2011 if we get our blood pressure to 120/80 or less (check, woot), our total cholesterol to 200 mg/dl or less (check, woot), and if we don’t use tobacco in any form (super check, woot). BUT, this actually really sucks since I get free health insurance, so a discount implies that our insurance won’t be free anymore…unless this is only in regards to the optional upgraded plan. I doubt that I’ll be that lucky. 🙁 Anyway, how much would the discount need to be to entice me to work on it? … Read more

Happiness – The Last Week of the BFS Way to Diagnose Your Financial Health Series

I’ve been using Wednesdays to go further in depth on each point of diagnosing your financial health since I truly believe that solid finances leads to less stress and happier lives.  Today is the last post of this series. I have already covered the first seven points – Spend Less Than You Earn, start an Emergency Fund, review Retirement Savings, evaluate Debt, Diversify your investments, have enough Insurance, and creating an Estate Plan.  The last point is to ask yourself if you are happy. Honestly, all the financial health in the world wouldn’t be worth anything if you aren’t happy. If you aren’t happy, I’d highly suggest actually figuring out why.  If there are actual reasons that can be worked on, hop on it.  It might be hard, but trust me, it will be worth it.  My husband is currently busting his hump to secure a happier career.  This means that he is teaching 8th grade science, taking 9 hours of grad school, and looking for a new job all at the same time.  Being happy sometimes takes that kind of work. If you can’t pinpoint the problems by yourself, open up your wallet enough to afford some professional help.  I have several friends and family members that were actually … Read more

How We Chose to Budget in the Fun Stuff

As my last post explained, we do make it a priority to have fun now while saving for our future.  My husband and I actually went back and forth on this for a couple of years since I felt we should save everything we possibly could, but he thought we should be able to live a little too. He was right, but we had to find a way that could make us both happy.  He asked me what I was worried about, and I realized that I just wanted all our bases covered.  I wasn’t pissed that we spent money, I was worried we weren’t saving enough. We started a plan that would make us both happy. We sat down one Saturday evening and wrote out our big life goals.  We then broke those into financial goals that could be achieved with our combined $78,000 income before taxes.  We set target amounts for each goal.  That sheet looked something like this in a couple of hours: Targets: Mortgage – Continue overpaying $160 a month. Tax and Insurance Account – $400 a month since we don’t escrow and this would cover taxes, homeowner’s insurance, and our CPA. 401k – Continue contributing 6% of my … Read more