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How to Beat 3% Raises and Inflation

If you’ve followed any news in the personal finance space this year, you’ve heard one word mentioned more than any other. Inflation. In April, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) which measures inflation rose 4.2%. The fastest since 2008[1]. In May, it rose even higher, eclipsing 5% [2]. And June, 5.4%. Excluding food and energy, it’s the most inflation we’ve seen since September 1991 [3]. And it hasn’t slowed down either as it maintained a 5.4% rate in July, and August wasn’t much different [4]. Many sources are now indicating that high inflation is likely to persist for a while [5]. What this means is that everything is pricier and will cost more money. So, how can we afford the price increases? Is there a way to beat inflation? And if you’re only getting the standard 3% yearly raise, are you technically not getting any raise once accounting for… Read More

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The 4% Rule. Debunked. Rebunked. And Then Bunked?

So, I’ve been pondering my financial future and attempting to determine how much I need to save to become financially independent. Financial independence meaning, I can live entirely off my investment without needing a job to sustain my lifestyle costs. Or how much money I need until I can live in my bedroom fulltime creating YouTube videos without any subscriber growth and still afford my organic plant-based dinners. This is more commonly known as retirement or my typical weekends. Traditionally, the 4% rule has been the basis for many retirement calculations but in 2021 with interest rates near zero, inflation spiking, and bonds producing little-to-no return, is this rule now too risky? What is the 4% rule and how much money do I need to retire? And what organic plant-based meal did I have for dinner last night that my 4% rule needs to account for… Read More

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My Crypto Moon Run

A couple of weeks ago I was looking over a list of the top cryptocurrencies by market capitalization when I saw a coin called Shiba Inu. It had just broken into the top 20 largest cryptocurrencies on earth out of the thousands that exist. And I was so confused because Shiba Inu is the breed of dog that mascots the cryptocurrency Dogecoin. And Dogecoin is a joke cryptocurrency that was made to counter Bitcoin. And if you have no clue what I’m saying, we’re on the same page. Bitcoin is the largest cryptocurrency, or digital currency, on earth. A joke cryptocurrency, or digital currency, was created to rival Bitcoin called Dogecoin. And then another joke cryptocurrency, Shiba Inu, was created to rival the current joke currency Dogecoin. To summarize, we have a joke coin created after a joke coin created after a “real” coin… Read More

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How I Paid Off $150,000 of Debt

It was May of 2013 when I got my first internship after attending the Rochester Institute of Technology. And it was a significant moment for me. A lot bigger than I ever expected it to be. It was a moment that flipped my perspective entirely. I was no longer spending money to learn and an acquire a degree. I was now working to earn an income and build a life I would enjoy. I was finally taking a step in the life that all my time in college had prepared me for. And what happened was something I had never expected. A mountain of debt welcomed me immediately. For the first time that I can really remember, I looked at my student loans. I know that seems odd, but I just can’t remember ever worrying about finances while I took classes. I knew that everything was being paid for by loans, but I never thought about what they were or when I’d have to… Read More

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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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