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How I Pick 401k Investments

The other week my employer’s financial advisor held a retirement training session for all the employees. His goal was to describe the investment options available to us through our organization’s 403b plan (a 401k for non-profits). In doing so, he made a broad recommendation that the best investment option for all employees was a target date fund. And I thought about this and was like he’s not wrong… but he’s also not right. This may be the best option for employees who are new to investing or want a set-it-and-forget-it option, which is most people I’d say, but there was something here that made me cringe just a little bit. Normally I’m all about target date funds if they’re low-cost. But our target date fund options aren’t. And if you’re willing to spend 1 hour per year reviewing your investment portfolio, you could easily save an… Read More

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Average American Expenses. How Do You Compare?

Have you played the latest Call of Duty Warzone game? Or Minecraft or Animal Crossing? I’m sure they’re great games but would be even better with a newer console and upgraded controller. Have you gotten a pet lately? They’re fun and loving but would be cuter with a new collar, toys, and obviously a hot dog bed (🌭 + 🛏️). What about an indoor garden? With dozens of plants that require new pots and shelves and fertilizer. These were a few of the hottest consumer trends throughout the past year that nearly everyone participated in. Trends that cost most people hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Trends fueled by relentless consumer marketing, personal fear of missing out (on the hot dog bed), and lack of financial education. Well, as I watched these trends pass by on the sideline… distracted by my fear of missing out on the perfect sleeping posture… Read More

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What I Learned in the Emergency Room. Part 3.

We’ve made it to the final post in the series of what I learned in the emergency room. First, I discussed how nutritionally poor the food is in hospitals. Second, I talked about how misdiagnoses can happen and how you can prevent them. And third, today, I’m going to cover three more essential topics in health and wellness, and how they were affected by my emergency room visit: Sleep, Physical Activity, and Finances. Let’s get into it! Did you know that people who live next to airports have significantly lower quality sleep than those who don’t? This is because the noise at night from the planes overhead can disrupt sleep cycles even if they don’t wake us. Did you know that people who live in the city that keep their curtains open and let streetlight in their bedroom have lower quality sleep than those who don’t? This is because even dim light in our… Read More

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15- vs 30-Year Mortgage: Here’s Your Answer

Am I buying a house?! No, not yet. Am I looking into buying a house? Still no. But am I considering how I would buy a house if I wanted to buy a house? Absolutely! As I’m on the verge of turning 29 this month, and edging closer to house purchasing age, I’ve been researching and listening to many people talk about mortgages. I’ve heard questions like, “How much house can I afford?” which seems like a dangerous question to begin with. I’ve seen information online saying a 30-year mortgage is the American standard and should be selected by all. And I’ve seen opposing advice from Dave Ramsey, one of the most popular personal finance advisors, who only recommends a 15-year mortgage for everyone. So, after taking in all this information, I decided to dig in myself and see what I could find. Here’s what I found out. With a 15-year mortgage, you make monthly payments… Read More

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Why Is It So Hard to Stop Buying Stuff?

About six years ago I was 22 years old, a year out of college, and had a stable job. I was making enough money to cover my living expenses, make minimum student loan payments, and save a few extra dollars in the bank. Despite owing $90,000 in student loans, I still had this inner urge to consume and spend those few extra dollars I saved each paycheck. At first, I wanted to buy a jet ski. How cool would it be to spend the weekends exploring the outdoor waters? How much fun would it be to jump boat waves and dock my jet ski at waterfront restaurants? And, how nice would it be to always have something to do? Seriously, it sounds amazing. And so, I spent weeks researching jet skis. I spent so much time researching that I knew more about jet skis than most people selling them. But then I took a step back. I took a deep breath. And I visualized exactly what my life… Read More

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You’re Ready to Invest – But When Should You Buy?

Ever since watching Jim Cramer’s TV show Mad Money in high school, I’ve had an interest in investing. He always talked about how to evaluate the stock market, how to tell when it’s a bull vs bear market, and when to buy/sell. This was super interesting to me and when I finally got my first job after college, I opened a Roth IRA (individual retirement account) and started investing. I picked a handful of diversified stocks and bought when Jim indicated it was an appropriate time. This worked well but over the years, as I learned more about investing, I realized there was a better strategy. Instead of stressing about when I should buy or sell stocks, I found a strategy that helped me automate the process and alleviate the stress. And instead of spending hours each month researching the best time to buy and sell, I found an effortless strategy… Read More

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We Completed Financial Peace University

My girlfriend and I spent the past two weeks completing a personal finance course called Financial Peace University. This course is put on by Dave Ramsey, one of the most well-known personal finance experts. It was a course that included 9 one-hour lessons, each with their own homework assignments and takeaways. Since my girlfriend and I were raised quite differently in regards to money, we’ve often struggled to talk about it. She characterizes her feelings about money with words like greed, ego and shame while I often use words like freedom, opportunity and options. With these two differing mindsets, we thought it’d be useful to go through a course together that would provide us with a common background of knowledge on the topic. After completing the course, there’s a lot we both learned and found beneficial but there were a few items in Dave’s courses… Read More

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Why Care About Money?

I live in one of the richest countries in the world. The United States economy has made it possible for almost anyone to earn millions of dollars over their lifetime. Although difficult, it’s possible to save a million dollars even while living on minimum wage. Despite this fact, 78% of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck. This means if they didn’t receive their next paycheck, they’d have to leverage debt to fund their lifestyle. Let me say this again. Nearly everyone in the United States earns millions of dollars over their lifetime but about 78% of those same people can barely afford to live for a week. How is this possible and why does money even matter? I’ll get to these questions in a bit… Read More

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Budgeting and Cash Flow Made Simple

Throughout all of college I focused on learning, athletics and visiting my family. I never really thought about the cost of my meal plan, apartment and education. I assumed like most, that this is what college was and what everyone did. You focus on your schooling, interests and social life while allowing all of your expenses to be put on loans or some sort of debt. Eventually, when you got a job after college, everything would work itself out and your job would easily pay back all the accumulated debt. Well, 150 thousand dollars later, it turns out that almost any job would make paying back this amount of debt quite difficult. And, with a ~7% interest rate, that meant my debt was growing by around $10,500 a year. That meant, I needed to pay $10,500 each year just to keep my debt from growing. Wow… that realization shocked me. But, great lessons from my parents and education had taught me to be a problem solver and to see challenges as opportunities. With that mindset instilled in me, I put together an aggressive plan that helped me pay back all my debt within 6 years. And now, I’m using that same plan to invest and grow my wealth each month… Read More

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The 7 Steps to Financial Freedom

The following steps are the steps I’ve used, and continue to use for investing. Each time I have money available, I determine which step I’m at and put the money in the respected account. I’ve used this strategy to prepare for emergencies, pay off $150,000 of debt, and grow my net worth to a substantial figure by 28 years old. Although your situation may be different, I believe this is the best order for most people to invest their money… Read More

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