As promised in my post on Tuesday, I said I would feed some updates on my life. So, in a weird and bizarrely timed set of events, I found out this week that due to my current medical battles, my employer is putting me on a leave of absence for up to 12 weeks or until my health improves such that I can work a regular full-time schedule on a consistent basis. Last week after all, was a struggle to put in 6 hours at work. Kind of a crazy point in my life at the moment. But!!! Guess what, I am incredibly fortunate to be prepared for events of this magnitude such that I don’t need to freak out. Sure it’s a setback, but entirely manageable. The way I see it, undoubtedly because of my preparedness, is I now can dedicate a significant amount of time toward healthcare and seeing the necessary doctors to resolve my failed health. Plus, I now have a lot more time to ponder posts and future plans for this blog! I also find it ironic that we just finished two posts detailing the relationship between your health and your job! Thankfully, my situation is NOT that work is causing the health issues, but rather the health issues limit my ability to work effectively. The benefit/advantage being that once I recover, I shouldn’t be worried about my job recreating any of the current health issues. Anyway, I have a whole slew of doctors to visit with soon, but I should be able to stay on top of regular posts! [Read more…] about Are We Really Seeking Money or Time?
For a few years now, I have challenged myself to build a life worth being proud of. Sure, I made some foolish decisions, like any young adult. But fortunately for me I learned a lot from them and counsel of a handful of trusted friends and family. As a result, I have turned my life onto an entirely different (and significantly better) trajectory. That’s not to say I don’t have struggles or worries, I have some very significant ones, especially surrounding my health at the moment. But that is just another motivator for me, especially as it relates to achieving financial independence. None of us are perfect, that’s what makes us uniquely human. But it’s not our flaws or mistakes that hold us back, it’s not being willing to fix them and create a better future.
So last week I talked about some basic level stuff with income, expenses, and mindset. My plan is to slowly unpack that and dive deeper into each of those categories to uncover some basic truths as well as hopefully introducing some newer concepts to think about. On that note, let’s jump into today’s topic. One that doesn’t get as much attention as perhaps it should.
Today’s world is one that is a bit less stable, for a wide array of reasons. With the amount of people roaming the planet and vastly different ways of life, it is an unfortunate thing that we fabricate artificial boundaries between each other and even start wars over seemingly absurd things. I’m not trying to be a Debbie-downer, but this is our world, and to enjoy the good things, we have to put up with (or change) the bad things too. [Read more…] about Improve lifestyle survivability through income diversification
I wanted to let you all in on my loose plan as this blog develops. I aim to make two posts per week. One of which will follow a rough plan and stick primarily to finances, the other post may be entirely random so that I can share recent events or other time-sensitive content. I will also be adding more features to the blog soon (subscription, more images, etc…) so please understand the physical layout is a work in progress! Anyway, back on topic…today’s post is a bit longer!
So, when we think about finances and budgeting it is easy to look at it as simply restrictions on life or sometimes in a marginally better light as restraint. What we often seem to ignore is that someday there will (at some point) come a time when you (and I) are unable to work for a living. As such, the response should be to appropriately set aside enough resources to sustain yourself when that time comes. Likewise, those around you should do the same so you don’t suddenly have a massive financial burden due to their poor planning. The assumption here however is that we have enough resources in our particular situation to set anything aside, however that seemingly isn’t always the case for some. One of the situations that we should be aware of by now is the growing disparity in the distribution of wealth. Though I am not against CEO’s and others who have worked their butts off to earn income worthy of their efforts, I do firmly believe that all individuals capable of working for compensation and doing so at a full-time schedule should earn a livable wage. I don’t feel this is something that governments should need to get in the middle of, as it should be the business owners realizing it is in their best interest to simply compensate their workers with a livable wage and have one less thing the government needs to have unnecessary fingers in. This could go on forever. However, I would rather focus on what we can do here and now with the current system in the state it exists. If the state of the system changes, we can too. But, all we can actively control (though in a limited sense) is the here and now as it relates to our own finances. [Read more…] about Basic Finances and Assigned Values
Today’s post is going to be a bit different than the typical content I’ll produce, but part of it is something very near and dear to my heart that is experiencing some difficulty at the moment. This post is going to be centered around family and finances. Before some of you check-out, it has long been a belief of mine that there is no singular aspect of life that if controlled properly will result in what we’ll loosely call success. Rather a combination of things that we can control, things we can’t control, as well as general luck. With this in mind, social health is an aspect of life that not too many bloggers or writers in general seem to care about too much. Maybe it doesn’t sell as well, but I am here to say, it matters!
As for my social health, it is most definitely a work in progress. Something that needs improvement and significant time dedicated to resolve issues as well as to instigate some necessary forward motion. Specifically in my situation is a concern that the relationships within my family are not as strong as they could or should be. This is clearly something that I need to work on as well as fine-tuning other aspects of life. My suggestion and challenge to you all is that as you set and work on resolutions or just any set of goals is that you include your social health into the equation of things needing checks and balances to be happy and “successful”. I know this is something that is on my list of short and long term goals.
Now shifting gears, I came across a few news articles this week regarding finances that didn’t necessarily shock me but definitely got my attention. The one I’ll mention was titled “Americans owe more, save less, and are poorer than in decades”. This article, though brief, detailed how an even larger proportion of Americans have more debt than money now. So bad in fact that the last time it was this bad was over 55 years ago. In fact, they even claim that 30.4% of American families have zero or negative non-home wealth. Now, there are many variables playing into this unfortunate news, many of which appear to be out of our control. Or at least so difficult to control that the option seems nearly removed. Now, for most of us, this would be the point where we examine what we can control since those could lead to tangible results in a timeline where we can realize any benefit. Also, this is what I’ll focus on as these variables are the ones included in personal finances.
- First and foremost (even you, high schooler working part-time in a stressful minimum wage job) save as much as possible for retirement/your future. The sooner you start the longer that money has to grow. Ultimately meaning that time is on your side and you can be the one coming out with potentially hundreds of thousands more when you are retiring.
- Stop trying to keep up with the Joneses. They probably aren’t as happy as you think they look. They are probably maxing out credit cards, or perhaps socially or emotionally unavailable to each other most of the time. Maybe they are also unhealthy or ill. The short of it is, that life is more than just having the newest toys. Take care of yourself then those closest to you.
- Spend only after you set aside from your income a reasonable amount for savings. Don’t do just the bare minimum. Think of this as investing in your future. The more you contribute, the more likely you will be able to do more of the things you love when the time comes.
- Stop telling yourself that spending money makes you happy. Sure, buying essential items like food and shelter, could very well produce happiness. But what about that Nintendo Switch, those expensive car upgrades, or (insert any other non-essential item here)? It may bring a few smiles, but at what cost?
With these four rules, I have been able to turn my financial health onto a monumentally healthier trajectory. I didn’t save in high school and I do strongly regret that. I wasn’t mentally prepared for that though, so I don’t dwell on it. I loosely tried to keep up with the Joneses when I bought by current vehicle 8 years ago. I foolishly used a large gift as part of the payment as well. If instead I had used that gift for repairing the old car I still could have had a significant sum to invest. Two very regrettable moves on my part. I thought the newer vehicle would produce a better outcome and enable me to be happier. Well, I can’t say that has been the case every time I get in it. I regret selling the old car for many reasons. Then not only did I spend a couple years not appropriately saving for my future (retirement) but I told myself that spending could help me be happier. I broke all four of these rules. Well, kinda….technically these weren’t my rules until I realized how much of an idiot I had been. I set these four rules for myself nearly six years ago. Unfortunately it took some time to undo the previous damages I had created but now I am on a much healthier path. One where my wife and future family should be able to set aside most (if not all) financial worries and instead focus on being a healthy and happy family together. One where not only can I provide for them, but I too should be well cared for and able to do the things that make me happy. Ultimately that is where this all leads anyways, right?! Being able to provide for yourself and those closest to you so you have the freedom to focus on them and not just your finances.
So, please learn from my mistakes. Take these four rules that helped me turn my financial life into a much better picture and apply them to your own life. Once you do, keep me posted on your progress. Even if you don’t apply these rules, I’d love to hear any thoughts or questions about them.
I am typically not one to set New Years resolutions as I find them to be short lived or all together forgotten by February with most people. Instead, avoid the cliché “wishing and hoping” you have a better year and find challenging but feasible ways to improve your life on your own terms. Whether that starts today, tomorrow, or in a few months (the when is not as important as actually committing to the challenge). As it relates to finances, I am challenging myself to indefinitely save an additional 5-10% of our monthly net income. I am also working towards more automation with my finances (especially as it relates to budgeting/tracking expenses) so I can spend a little less time doing that.
I hope 2017 has gone well for you all and that you purposely make 2018 even better. My challenge to you all is two-fold. First, focus on the things that matter. There will be plenty of distractions that won’t impact your daily life in any sort of meaningful way. Don’t lose any sleep on those distractions. Second, pay attention to your well-being and the people close to you. Then improve both yours and their lives however you can. That will be how 2018 becomes more meaningful and better than years past.
For nearly all of my adult life I have been mildly obsessed with personal finances and generally saving as much as possible. This however has frequently and sometimes dramatically conflicted with my many (and typically expensive) hobbies that I truly enjoy. This includes (or has included) photography, guns, remote control planes, drones, and trucks, PC gaming, my Jeep, keeping adept with technological advancements, investing, bicycling, and probably a few more I’m forgetting. As I write this, I have my Christmas present to myself, a partially assembled, 7.5′ wingspan r/c airplane lying in the living room (kinda blocking access to the TV, and a shelf with the printer and home office supplies, and definitely annoying the wife). As I age, I’ve begun to slowly refine that list of hobbies, but still the ones that remain can consume a disproportionately large sum of our income during some years. Despite this, our average savings percentage over the past few years has ranged from 20 – 47% even while I was attending college and working only part-time. I have been reading/listening to more blogs on personal finance over the past few months (Radical Personal Finance, Mr. Money Mustache, and Frugalwoods to name a few) and have found the motivation to engage myself in more frugal spending habits. I ultimately would like to see our savings percentage jump into the 50’s or higher as I would love to be financially independent (FI) sooner rather than later. This will be something I frequently post about with tips, suggestions, things to try (or not!!!), and even questions that you (the readers) may be able to help answer. As much as this is a challenge for myself (and my wife), I would like this to be a challenge for anyone reading this to find ways to (dramatically) cut your spending. Essentially this is basically just cutting back to a life that is still fulfilling and only spending money on things that bring happiness or add value to life.
Some of our current “frugal” practices are to limit eating out to 0-2 times per month, no impulse purchases, we discuss/plan all purchases over $25, and instead of just spending our own cash on some of the niceties of life (Starbucks, the theater, restaurants, etc…) we often just ask for cash or gift cards around Christmas and our birthdays to the places we anticipate that we would like to visit and get to save our own cash for other (read as practical) purposes such as savings or legitimately needed things. I have also tried to maintain the mentality that if I buy something that will stay with us in our apartment, that something we already own should go. This is often harder to maintain, but it is a good place to be mentally. Especially if you live in an apartment (due to increased likelihood of moving and a general lack of storage space).
As you find ways to cut your own spending, please share them. I too will write about my own attempts (whether successful or not)!