Scared of money? (Why & how to overcome your fear today)

sourced from: https://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com/blog/scared-of-money-why-how-to-overcome-your-fear-today/

The more I see people talk about money, the more I see how SCARED we are of it.

How we let others poison our views of money.

And how easily we use negative words to describe it.

Here’s an email I got from someone who read my book, I Will Teach You To Be Rich. What do you notice?

“Frick it, I guess I’ll write the email…

Money stresses me out. My parents didn’t teach me anything about it and I’m very dependent right now. I did a year of nonprofit and made about 10k after taxes and it was miserable, so I figured if I can pull that off for one year then I can make it work. And I did! But I don’t know if I’ll hit it this year (it’s a bit depressing and a big source of anxiety). I think time is the name of the game though, the career is moving forward, hopefully, game sales will kick in passive income.

For the “rich life” I’m a simple person. I want enough money to be able to travel. I want to own a dog. I want a kitchen with an island. I want to have a nice desktop and a nice coffee table. My partner doesn’t want to own a house but I kind of do. Since I don’t have a full-time job outside of my freelancing which is currently in a drought period, I don’t have really ANY money, averaging about $250 a week.”

My response:

“Good stuff. Great to meet you

Now I want you to look at your email and count the number of times you use negative words to describe your life/money. How many do you count?”

His response (notice the skepticism):

“Ha, I can’t tell if this was an automated message or not but you got me there!

Depending on your definition, about 6-10.”

6-10 IN A SHORT-ASS EMAIL. (Well, compared to the kinds I write…like the one you’re reading. LOL.) Finally, my response:

It’s not automated.

Good!

Now, can you rewrite that entire email to be POSITIVE instead of negative? Send it over my way.

This guy didn’t even notice his reflexive negativity with money. It’s become like a dull toothache, something he gets used to. And since negativity is his worldview — the “lens” through which he views everything — I guarantee it’s an invisible “drag” on his entire life.

I asked him to rewrite his email to be POSITIVE instead of negative because sometimes, it takes someone pointing out your pattern to shake you out of it.

When I talk to people about money, here are the most common words they use to describe it:

“Anxious”

“Stressed”

“Is it too late”

(What words come to mind for you?)

But it’s even more revealing when you listen to the ways they talk about money.

What they say: “What’s my Rich Life? Well, I just want to go on vacation with my kids a couple times a year, nothing fancy…”
What they really mean: Notice those last two words — “nothing fancy.” When people talk about their Rich Lives, they almost always minimize their own dreams. When you’ve spent your entire life worrying about what can go wrong with money, it’s almost impossible to dream.

What they say: “How do I KNOW your programs will work?” OR “Will this book work for me if I live in Bolivia and I have a lazy left eye and I only eat mussels on Mondays?”

What they really mean: “I have a finite amount of money. If I spend it here, I need to know it will absolutely work, otherwise, I will have wasted my money…and there’s no way for me to ever earn more”

Are you about to say what I think you’re about to say?

What they say: “Even if I made $250,000/year, I wouldn’t eat out at a nice restaurant like that. What a waste!”

What they really mean: “I have never eaten at a place like that and I don’t want to be the kind of person who “has” to go there to enjoy food. I’m simple.” (One level deeper: “I’m nervous that if I ate there, I might actually like it. I don’t trust myself to avoid going there every single week and spending all of my money”)

What they say: “I shouldn’t get a credit card.”

What they actually mean: “I don’t trust myself to control my spending, therefore I need to restrict myself”

What they say: “I went to [ANY FOREIGN COUNTRY] and they tried to rip me off because I was an American”

What they really mean: “Well, yeah, I could have afforded an extra $5 for those postcards…but I HATE BEING RIPPED OFF. If someone else is winning and I am losing, I HATE IT”

So many of us make day-to-day money decisions, never understanding the “invisible scripts” that actually guide these decisions. And in America, money is driven by FEAR.

FEAR that we’ll never have enough.

FEAR that we can’t make more of it.

And FEAR that someone will judge us for our spending — or even what we want to spend on.

I hate this. That’s why I show you how to identify your Money Dials, the things you LOVE spending on, then I show you how to spend MORE on it.

Talking to a small group about money psychology. On book tour, I hosted private events in NYC event at Thompson Square Studios (NYC) and our Hills Penthouse (West Hollywood). As a reader of IWT, you can get your first month free at either of these locations. Please reach out directly to chelsea@thompsonhousegroup.com

I also show you how to get psychologically comfortable with the idea of changing your identity. People say “Money changes people,” in disgust, as if it’s a bad thing. Money should change you! It should let you dream bigger, it should let you live an easier or more adventurous life, and it should let you bring others with you (learn about the psychology of the wealthy).

But you can’t do that if you’re stuck thinking about money as a source of anxiety and fear.

An interviewer recently asked me what I would change from my 20s. I said, “I would have more FUN. I was too rigid. But the times where I had the most fun and I was the most successful was I just loosened up and tried a bunch of new things”

With money, try these different approaches.

Know that you can trust yourself. Know that you can eat at a really nice restaurant once for the experience — and truly enjoy it — but trust that I’m not going to trip and fall and end up going there every single week. You can also use credit cards without overspending (follow the systems in my book). You can pay off your debt and stay out of debt. You can become Rich and do good. Trust yourself.

Know that you can create more money. You can negotiate your salary — or find an entirely new job. You can start a business, even if you don’t have an idea. You can build your network to sidestep people with 10 years’ more experience than you — and get perks you’ve never dreamed of. All of those things can dramatically increase your income. Above all, your money is not a fixed pie that you have to exhaustively guard and protect. You can also expand the size of your pie.

Stop being afraid of waste. In puritanical America, one of the biggest no-nos is WASTE. Oh no! Ramit, if I start spending more on the things I love, I might “waste” some of my money!

How do I “KNOW” that your book will solve my exact, highly specific problem that I worry about every fucking day of my life? If it doesn’t, I’ve wasted $10!!!! Scammer!!!

Oh no! Ramit, what if I hire someone and they don’t handle my SEO, my WordPress uploads, design all my graphics, triple my conversion rates, write my entire email funnel, and create a new webinar system? I might have WaSTed the $13/hour I tried to pay them!!

Oh no, there’s so much government waste! We should ONLY focus on cutting government waste. Especially that one thing I really hate. What? It only represents 0.03% of total spend? No, that can’t be right. Anyway, we need to handle WaSTe. Also, don’t talk about raising my historically low taxes, you socialist.

If you spend your entire life worrying about waste, you miss a simple fact of life: In any system of sufficient complexity, there will always be waste. Yes, you should take measures to control it, but you should also accept that there will be a certain amount of waste — and move on!

I know that I’m going to buy courses and attend conferences that won’t be perfect for me. I know I’m going to eat at a restaurant that’s unmemorable. I know I’m going to make bad hires.

SO WHAT?

I’d rather try new experiences and learn with each one…than to sit back and let the bogeyman of “waste” scare me from doing anything at all.

So much of personal finance advice take your latent fears and heightens them.

NO! Don’t use a credit card, you might overspend a little!

NO! Don’t eat out at that restaurant, what a waste!

NO! Don’t try to negotiate your salary, you should just be happy you have a job!

If you spent the last ten years worrying about your waste and all the bad things you might do, you’ve accepted the message that you should be SCARED. That you’re an organism that simply reacts to whatever’s around you — that you have no agency or control.

Meanwhile, the people who have gone on offense have taken control of their own finances, their own psychology, started to earn more, and happily spend on the things they love. No anxiety. Just confidence and the systems to back it up.

You listen to these fears and end up frightened and anxious, sitting around worrying about all the things that can go wrong with money.

Or you can go on offense. You can take control of your money.

You can build a plan to spend extravagantly on the things you love.

You can EMBRACE making mistakes, knowing you’ll waste a little money, but it’s fine, because over the long term, those mistakes are minor, and you can create more wealth for yourselves.

You choose.

In my book, I wrote this:

Play offense, not defense. Too many of us play defense with our finances. We wait until the end of the month, then look at our spending and shrug: “I guess I spent that much.” We accept onerous fees. We don’t question complicated advice because it’s given to us in a language we don’t understand. In this book, I’ll teach you to go on offense with your credit cards, your banks, your investments, and even your own money psychology. My goal is for you to craft your own Rich Life by the end of Chapter 9. Get aggressive! No one’s going to do it for you.

My dream is for you to remove the shackles of negativity around money. To decide what you LOVE spending on, and spend more on it, so money goes from a source of anxiety and doubts to a source of joy and possibility and purpose.

Get my book here

And comment here if this resonates with you. I want to hear from you.

Scared of money? (Why & how to overcome your fear today) is a post from: I Will Teach You To Be Rich.

The Cheapest California Renters Insurance Companies 2019

sourced from: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/thesimpledollar/~3/dRetFrlu6rg/cheapest-renters-insurance-companies-california

With nearly 40 million residents, California is enormous, and so is its renter population. Stockton, Anaheim, Santa Ana and San Bernardino are all cities where renters outnumber homeowners. Californians spend most of their household income on rent, the highest in the country, so renters insurance is especially critical for extra protection. California prices for the best renters insurance are more expensive than other states, averaging an annual total of $223.

Renters insurance protects your belongings if they are damaged or lost in circumstances like fire, theft and vandalism. Although renters insurance is not required of residents, it comes highly recommended nonetheless. It will provide protection for your most valued belongings.

With so many renters insurance companies, it’s more important than ever to do your due diligence when looking for the best cheap renters insurance in California.

The best cheapest renters insurance companies in California

Unlike California car insurance, there are no state requirements for California renters insurance.

Renters insurance includes personal property and personal liability coverage, medical payments and even additional living expenses should you have to vacate the property for protected events. The cost of renters insurance is also based upon the number of policies and claims filed within the state. This includes the total cost of all insured items.

There are many factors that insurance companies consider when creating your quote. Things like your neighborhood, coverage and deductible will all determine what you pay.

These are California’s best cheapest renters insurance companies:

  • Allstate: Allstate’s plans cover living expenses, personal liability, personal property coverage and guest medical. You can also get add-ons like identity theft protection.
  • Farmers: Farmers is a good option for people who want to customize their policy. It offers claim forgiveness, an eco-rebuild option and cosmetic damage coverage.
  • Liberty Mutual: Liberty Mutual has flexible, comprehensive coverage. It offers inflation protection, the full replacement cost of personal property, loss forgiveness and lots of discounts.
  • Nationwide: Nationwide offers good add-on coverage like earthquake and theft extension options. It also has many discounts to help people save money.
  • State Farm: State Farm offers the standard things you’d expect in your renters insurance policy and add-on options like business property and earthquake damage.

Best renters insurance company for customer service: State Farm

State Farm is known for its reliable customer service, particularly in California, and boasts a perfect score from J.D. Power, which judges customer satisfaction.

Best renters insurance company for eco-friendly options: Farmers

While its customer service is average, Farmers offers many protections that other companies do not, such as an eco-build discount if you rebuild damaged property with green materials.

Best for inflation coverage: Liberty Mutual

Liberty Mutual does not rank high on customer satisfaction, but it does take inflation into account when it renews your policy. You’ll keep the same coverage level you signed up for no matter how much inflation happens.

Best renters insurance company for extended coverage: Nationwide

Nationwide is excellent for its many coverage options, offering theft extension, which covers the valuables within your stolen vehicle, and Valuables Plus, which provides additional coverage for your most cherished things.

Best renters insurance for medical guest coverage: Allstate

Among its unique add-ons, Allstate offers special guest medical coverage, which will take care of any medical expenses if there are any injuries to a visitor on your property.

Ratings for Cheapest Renters Insurance Companies: California

There are different rankings that determine whether a company is good for renters insurance. JD Power and the Better Business Bureau judge a company’s customer satisfaction, while AM Best conveys a company’s financial stability.

Company J.D. Power AM Best BBB
State Farm 5/5 A++ (Superior) A+
Nationwide 2/5 A+ (Superior) A+
Farmers 2/5 A (Excellent) A+
Liberty Mutual 2/5 A (Excellent) A
Allstate 2/5 A+ (Superior) A+

The cost of California renters insurance varies greatly depending on where you live, so you should always research your options before committing to a renters insurance policy.

We gathered quotes using a sample policy that included $30,000 in personal property coverage.

  • Farmers: $168
  • State Farm: $162
  • Liberty Mutual: $175
  • Allstate: $269
  • Nationwide: $351

Many companies will discount renters insurance policy if you also bundle auto insurance. Inquire to see what incentives the best California renters insurance companies can offer you.

Frequently asked questions

How much renters insurance do I need in California?

Renters insurance is not required in California, but some landlords will include a clause within the lease that requires coverage. Regardless of the requirements for your property, renters insurance is still highly recommended to protect you against unexpected damages and loss.

What is the best renters insurance company in California?

No one person is the same, so no renters insurance is the same. The best renters insurance company in California differs from person to person, so use the rankings and information provided here to make an educated decision on the best California renters insurance companies for you.

What kinds of events does my renters insurance policy cover?

California is known for its wildfires, so that’s an integral part of coverage. That’s not all that can happen to your home. Things like theft, fire, smoke, lightning and flooding can all wreak havoc on your home and turn your life upside down. When interviewing different renters insurance companies, make sure that there is the right coverage for your property and all of your things inside.

Are there discounts for my renters insurance?

Most companies offer additional discounts for qualifying parties. Multi-policy discounts are common, as are extra savings for homes with home or fire alarm systems. There are also exclusive discounts that could apply to your renters insurance policy, like Allstate’s claims-free discount for renters without a history of claims. Every discount can save you precious dollars when you’re living on a budget.

The post The Cheapest California Renters Insurance Companies 2019 appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

Downsizing to Accelerate Other Financial Goals

sourced from: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/thesimpledollar/~3/6WadnYNa3do/

One of the most effective strategies for really accelerating your progress toward your financial goals is to make a major downsizing move, one that will free up hundreds of dollars a month and/or quickly produce thousands that you can instantly apply to progressing toward your big goal, whatever it might be.

For many people, that’s retirement. A person in their 50s or early 60s with some solid money in the bank and a desire to have plenty of time to enjoy life without work while still in good health might want to take that final leap over the threshold to the amount they need to retire on while also reducing their monthly expenses.

For others, it might be something like a house down payment, the funds to go back to school for a few years or the funds to launch a business idea they’ve had for a while.

Whatever your big goal is, a significant drop in your monthly bills or a quick influx of cash can make all the difference, but the price can be costly, too. You don’t want to make a move that would make your life miserable or untenable, so the trick is to stick to just one or two that seem like they’re palatable to you.

Here are seven ways you can “downsize” to accelerate yourself toward your goal.

Cancel your cable or satellite.

The average American pays over $100 a month in cable or satellite bills, with many families paying well above $200 a month for packages laden with premium channels. Simply canceling the service means that you’re no longer paying that bill.

Cutting the cord isn’t easy. The free replacement is an over-the-air antenna, which can get you 15 to 20 channels of content in most cities. You can also replace the service with streaming options such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant Video and Disney+, but those come with a small monthly cost — much smaller than a cable package, to be sure, but still significant. If there is a cable channel or two you just can’t live without, take a look at Sling — it’s another monthly bill, to be sure, but you can at least retain a few cable channels that you deeply enjoy.

Currently, we have an over the air antenna, Netflix and Disney+, and we only have the latter because we got a deal on it for under $4 a month for the first three years. Our “television” bill is about $15 a month all told.

Cancel your cell phone and switch to a simple pay-as-you-go phone.

Cell phones are incredibly useful, but you don’t really need the latest smartphone with a huge data package under a long term contract. Rather, assess your actual needs and consider dumping that heavy contract by moving to a lighter pay-as-you-go service like Ting or even a much more lower-end option from your current provider.

The average cell phone bill in America is somewhere around $80 per month. If you can cut that to $20 or $30 (or even down to nothing), then you’ve made a significant change in your finances going forward.

If you find that you have tons of unused data each month, this is a change you should seriously consider making.

Cancel your home internet service.

If you’re a heavy cell phone user and the above option doesn’t seem to click with you, consider instead canceling your home internet service. The average home internet service is above $60 per month for people with broadband, and if you’re not using it frequently for data-rich purposes, your cell phone can likely provide all the internet you need.

One great way to figure out whether you need a certain service — whether it’s cable, internet or cell phone — is to intentionally go without it for a month, or to use it absolutely minimally. Does your life go smoothly without it? If so, it’s probably a service you can easily drop. Plus, you get a fresh view on any tired routines you may have built up over the years.

For many people, canceling either home internet service or cell phone service makes a lot of sense. Having only one of them enables the internet access that people often need, and the one you choose likely depends on your lifestyle.

Do a major “possession purge.”

A few months ago, one of my friends decided to do a thorough “possession purge” in which he got rid of 50% of his possessions. He took almost every type of possession he had, divided it in half based on which ones he actually valued and which ones he didn’t, and proceeded to sell off the 50% he decided to get rid of using Facebook Marketplace and other services.

While this might seem like a pretty radical step for some, for him it was quite freeing. He described his home as feeling completely uncluttered, he had tons of closet space again, and perhaps most important of all, he felt a lot more ready to move in the near future, as he’s considering moving within the next six to 12 months.

Even more important, he used that influx of cash along with a trade-in to ditch his old car and get a much newer and more reliable one. He now has stable transportation for a long while without adding another debt to his life.

If you simultaneously feel like your home is cluttered and your possessions take up too much space while also wanting to make big strides toward a financial goal, consider a giant possession purge. If you’re not sure how to start, consider simply dividing each type of possession you have in half, sorting by the value it has for you, and selling off the lesser half.

Sell your house and buy a less expensive one, either smaller or in a different location.

Many people, particularly people who have had children recently leaving the nest, have recently done a “possession purge” or have opportunities in other areas, find themselves with a bit more space than they need and thus the possibility of downsizing their home becomes real. The truth is that most of the space in our homes is used to store stuff, the vast majority of which we rarely use, so a smaller home isn’t really that big of a shift if you get rid of a portion of those things.

If you do decide to downsize your home or move elsewhere, you’re likely to not only recoup money from the value of your home, but you’ll also see reductions in mortgage costs, property taxes, insurance, utility bills, (possibly) commuting costs and home maintenance costs. The impact of a downsize in your home can be tremendous.

This is perhaps the biggest single game-changer on this list, but it’s not right for everyone. For example, we currently have a teenager, a pre-teen and a child nearly at the pre-teen stage in our home along with two adults, so downsizing would be a bit of a challenge for us right now. It’s possible, but not particularly comfortable. However, in 10 to 15 years, when it’s just Sarah and me under this roof, downsizing will likely be much more appealing.

Move into a cheaper apartment.

Moving to a smaller or more efficient place doesn’t just apply to homeowners. The same is true for apartment dwellers, too.

Moving into a smaller apartment means less rent, of course, but it often means lower utility bills and it can also often mean a reduction in the cost of commuting. If you can get a smaller apartment that’s positioned better to allow you to use mass transit, you can easily ditch your car, use mass transit for almost everything, and occasionally use rental services when you have additional needs, saving a ton of money.

This is a major transformative move, but it’s one that can save you a ton of money each month, turning a situation where you’re barely treading water into a situation where you’re getting ahead quickly.

Sell your car and use only mass transit.

Obviously, this can pair well with moving to a place that’s closer to mass transit, but it can be a smart move for anyone with easy access to mass transit systems in their city.

The act of selling off your car can directly raise some significant funds, but when paired alongside the elimination of the many expenses surrounding a car — registration, insurance, fuel, maintenance, parking — selling off a car can result in significant ongoing savings as well. The cost of a mass transit pass is only a fraction of those expenses.

If you live near mass transit, seriously consider selling off your car and relying on the mass transit system with occasional help from other services. It’ll produce a bundle of cash right now and save you money every month going forward.

The goal isn’t to do all of these things, but to find one (or maybe two) that make sense for you and actually do that one.

Doing everything on this list would be an enormous shock to most people and likely outside the realistic limits of their life choices, but for most of us, doing one or two of these things in the service of achieving financial goals and accelerating our progress toward big ones can be quite powerful.

Look for one or two items on this list that are in line with the realities of your life and then do those things. Don’t just sit around and think about it. Do it.

Good luck.

The post Downsizing to Accelerate Other Financial Goals appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

Wishing for a walkable neighborhood

sourced from: https://www.getrichslowly.org/wishing-for-a-walkable-neighborhood/

“You sure slept in late,” I said to Kim this morning.

“I know,” she said. “I was up for two hours in the middle of the night. I was thinking about you. I was thinking about everything we talked about at our family meeting.”

“For two hours?” I asked.

“Yeah,” Kim said. “My wheels were spinning. I was trying to figure out why you’ve been so unhappy since we moved to this house. The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced it’s because we don’t live in a walkable neighborhood. That’s so important for you. I think it makes a real difference to your mental health.”

“I hadn’t thought of that,” I said.

Walk Score: Seven

Actually, when we moved to this place two-and-a-half years ago, the lack of walkability was a very real consideration. I thought about it. I talked about it. I wrote about it. In the end, though, I decided that the pros of the move would outweigh the cons.

Our current home has a Walk Score of 7

Since we moved, I haven’t thought much about the lack of walkability here. I’m aware of it, sure, and I sometimes bemoan the fact that I can’t just walk for errands. But Kim could be right. This could be a critical factor in my (lack of) recent happiness.

  • The condo had a Walk Score of 68, a Bike Score of 81, and a Transit Score of 37. Our current country cottage has a Walk Score of 7, a Bike Score of 24, and a Transit Score of 0. (The only reason our Walk Score isn’t a zero? There are nearby schools and parks.)
  • At our old place, the 0.5-mile walk to the nearest grocery store took ten minutes. Now, the two nearest grocery stores are both 1.5 miles away — or half an hour by foot. (Plus there’s 625 feet of elevation change on one route, an average grade of about 7.5%.)
  • At the condo, walking to restaurants took a little longer than walking to the grocery store — by two minutes. And there were a dozen good eateries to choose from! Here, it’s the same 1.5-mile walk to reach lesser-quality restaurants (and, again, half of them are at the bottom of a huge hill).

When we lived in Portland, it was easy to walk for nearly every errand. If the place I needed wasn’t in the half-mile radius of our immediate neighborhood, it was almost certainly within the one-mile radius of our extended neighborhood. And some summer afternoons, I’d make the 2.7-mile walk to the next neighborhood over in order to access even more stores and services.

Here, outside of the two shopping centers that are 1.5 miles away, there are two additional commercial pockets that are each 2.9 miles away (at the bottom of the hill). Those walks are doable — but not often.

Gone are the days when at three in the afternoon, I’d decide what to make for dinner, then walk to the grocery store to pick up ingredients. Gone are the days of spontaneously deciding to walk to Thai food for lunch. Gone are the days of walking the four miles into downtown Portland from the condo to meet readers and colleagues.

A Cascade Effect

Before we moved, I averaged about 12,000 steps per day. Last month, I averaged 6287 steps per day. Most of those steps are from walking the dog. A few times per year, I’ll walk for errands. Mostly, though, I drive.

Other indicators are worrisome too. In the thirty months since we’ve lived here, I’ve gained thirty pounds. (I’m pleased to report that I seem to have arrested this weight gain, however, and am now losing weight.) My net worth has dropped $300,000 (!!!). I now get a few social interactions per week instead of a few per day.

I can’t say there’s a causal relationship between the move and these changes (although it sure seems likely). And I’m not saying that I want to leave this house. Because I don’t. I told Kim as much this morning.

“I’ll do whatever it takes to improve your mental health,” Kim said this morning. “Even if it means moving.”

I waved her off. “I think you’re probably right about this. I think the lack of walkability probably has had a huge impact on me. But I don’t want to move. That feels foolish. I love this place. I love my life here with you and our animals. I don’t want to leave.”

Instead, I think I need to force myself to get out and walk more. I need to accept where I live and walk regardless.

A decade ago, when Kris and I were still married and living on the other side of the river, I was in a similar situation. The nearest grocery store was exactly one mile away. There were a few restaurants within 1.5 miles of the house. If I was feeling ambitious, I could walk the 2.7 miles to the nearest downtown area to access even more stuff.

For most of the time I lived in that house, I did not walk for errands. But during my last couple of years with Kris, I learned to walk. It became something I looked forward to. By the time we split up, I was often walking the five-mile roundtrip to the nearest town for lunch. I think that’s something I could (and should) do here.

The nearest restaurant to our house

Time to Walk

“You know what?” Kim said as we prepared to walk the dog this morning. “I think you might want to consider renting an office somewhere nearby. Even if it’s just a small place. It’d be a way for you to get out of the house. And if the office was somewhere walkable, you could scratch that itch too.”

Maybe Kim’s right. I don’t know.

This morning, I sifted through Craigslist to see if there’s any local office space for rent. There is, but not much. Five miles from our house, in the center of the next city over, there are two spots available.

  • The first space is 129 square feet for $325 per month.
  • The second space is 161 square feet for $425 per month.

Both of these spaces are in the same building, and the building is in the heart of a walkable downtown where we already do many of our errands. Plus, there’s a Regus shared office space at the bottom our our hill, about 2.5 miles from the house. That’s certainly walkable in summer and bike-able most of the year. (There’s no much else in that particular neighborhood though.)

I’ve already sent email regarding the office space. Tomorrow, I’ll drop by the Regus building to check out my options there. I think Kim may be on to something here.

In the meantime, I’m absolutely going to make myself walk more often — despite the fact that meterological winter starts today. When the cats need food, I’ll walk to the pet store. For small shopping trips, I’ll walk to the grocery store. And once or twice each week, I’ll walk to a local restaurant for lunch (and to work).

Instead of being passive, instead of allowing myself to be unhappy due to my circumstances (circumstances that I chose), it’s time for me to be proactive, time for me to do the things that I know bring me increased well-being. And that means walking.

The post Wishing for a walkable neighborhood appeared first on Get Rich Slowly.

Our first annual family meeting

sourced from: https://www.getrichslowly.org/family-meeting/

Yesterday, to celebrate Thanksgiving, Kim and I instituted what we hope will become an annual tradition. Yesterday, we held our first annual family meeting.

Kim approached me with the idea last week. “I think it’d be nice to sit down and talk about our goals,” she said.

“I agree,” I said. I was thinking of the article Matthias shared here in August. Matt and his wife create five-year plans to co-ordinate their shared future. They spend a day drafting couple goals to build their dream life. I’ve been thinking that Kim and I should do something similar.

So, yesterday morning over coffee, we sat down for our a family meeting. We talked about the current state of our household — and we talked about where we’d like to steer things in years to come.

J.D.’s Rocky Year

“It’s been a rocky year for me,” I said, although Kim already knew this. “I’ve been fighting anxiety and depression since March. I’ve had a few patches of amazing productivity and good self-worth, but I’ve spent a lot of my time trying to keep from drowning. Metaphorically.”

“That’s true,” Kim said, “but you’re making good changes. You’re exercising. You’re drinking less. You’re seeing friends more often. You’ve stopped wasting time on videogames. And you have your big project coming up.”

“Right,” I said. I’ve been recruited by Audible and The Great Courses to create a ten-part (five-hour) series on financial independence and early retirement. “That work is going to take most of this winter. The first five lectures are due at the end of January. The rest of the course is due at the end of March. I’ll fly to D.C. in early May to record the audio.”

“Will the project pay enough to fund your lifestyle?” Kim asked.

“Sort of,” I said. “It’s four months of work, and it’ll probably end up funding about four months of expenses. That’s not bad, but it’s not great either. But I’m not really doing it for the money, you know.”

“How are your finances?” Kim asked. Believe it or not, in our nearly eight years together, we’ve only talked about money in-depth a couple of times. We trust each other, so we haven’t felt the need.

“Things aren’t as good as they were three years ago,” I said.

“What do you mean?” she asked.

Notes for family meeting

“Well, when we returned from the RV trip in June 2016, I felt completely at ease financially. I had enough saved that I never felt like I had to work again. I could do what I wanted, when I wanted.”

“That’s not true anymore?”

“Not really,” I said. “You know I’m not squandering my money, obviously, but let’s look at the numbers. Over the past three years, I’ve spent $400,000 on a bunch of big stuff: buying back Get Rich Slowly, remodeling this house, those investments in other businesses. I’m not blowing the money on gambling and hookers. These are all financial decisions that made sense in the moment, but which have left me feeling pinched.”

“Are you running out of money?” Kim asked.

“No, not really,” I said. “I just don’t have as much as I want. Look. I’ll show you the numbers.”

In 2016, I had about $800,000 in regular, taxable investment accounts. Today, I have $271,119. “This is the money I have to live on until I turn 59-1/2 in nine years,” I told Kim. “Three years ago, I had enough saved that I could spend $67,000 per year. Today, that’s down to $30,000 per year.”

“But the money you spent on Get Rich Slowly isn’t dead,” Kim said. “That gives you an income, right?”

“I haven’t taken any money out of the business yet,” I said. “It’s earning about $5000 per month in revenue. But then we have expenses. And after expenses, Tom and I share profit. But neither of us had taken any profit yet. We have about $12,500 in the business bank account.”

“What about your retirement savings?”

“That’s doing better,” I said. “I have almost exactly $500,000 in my retirement accounts. That should continue to grow over the next decade. Plus, the house is worth about half a million too, and I own that free and clear.”

“So, why are you worried?”

“I can’t explain it,” I said. “It’s just the next nine years I worry about. And I know that the worst-case scenario is that I find work at Starbucks for a few years. My net worth is still over $1.6 million, so that’s great. It’s just bridging the gap between now and retirement that concerns me.”

Kim’s Quiet Accumulation

“Now,” I said, “how are you doing with your money?”

“I don’t have as much as you do,” Kim said, “but I never have. I don’t know if I ever will.” She pulled up her account information on her laptop.

“I just added a fourth work day each week,” she said, “which means I’ll now be earning $5500 per month. I’m putting 22% of that into my Vanguard retirement accounts. I’ve been saving a similar amount for my new car and for other goals.”

“So, you’re saving nearly half of your income?”

“More or less,” she said. “And now I have nearly $200,000 saved for retirement. But I’ve been feeling really pinched lately. I know that’s because I’ve been saving so much, but I don’t like it. I know it’d help if I spent less. I just don’t know where all of my money goes.”

“You don’t like tracking it,” I said.

“I hate tracking it,” she said. “I hate tracking money. I hate tracking calories. I hate tracking anything.”

“Well, a lot of your money this year has gone to medical expenses,” I said. Kim had knee surgery at the end of March. She’s maxed her out-of-pocket expenses this year. (I have too!)

“That’s true,” Kim said. “But I still feel like I’m spending too much.”

“I was just looking at my yearly numbers in Quicken,” I said. “At the start of the year, I cut back hard on a lot of my extraneous expenses. And next year will be the last year that I buy Portland Timbers tickets, so that’ll cut even more. The biggest splurge I still carry is food. I spend a ton on food. I’ll bet you do too.”

“Maybe that’s something we should address in 2020,” Kim said. “We could find cheaper places to eat out. We could choose happy hour instead of dinner. We could drink less. Let’s work on it.”

Family Goals

“Okay,” I said. “That’s where we are at the moment. Where do we want to be? What are our goals?”

“In the immediate future, I need to buy a new car,” Kim said. She drives a 1997 Honda Accord that has been limping along on its last legs. “I plan to test-drive a RAV4 this weekend, if you want to come. I have nearly $20,000 saved for that, plus USAA has pre-approved me for a $10,000 auto loan.”

“Here’s an idea,” I said. “You’re paying me $500 each month for the house. You’ve paid a total of $13,750 since we moved in. What if you stopped paying me and I gave you back that money?”

“Why?” Kim said.

“It’d help you with your cash flow,” I said. “And it’d make it so you didn’t have to borrow to buy the car.”

“But it’d hurt your cash flow,” she said. “Plus, I like the idea of buying into the house. I like having ownership.”

“I get it,” I said. “Just consider the idea. What are your long-term goals?”

“I really want to save for a second house,” Kim said. “I want us to buy a beach house that can double as an investment property. I’ve been talking about this ever since you and I started dating eight years ago. It’s important to me, but we haven’t done anything about it.”

Kim changed gears. She asked me about my future. “What are your plans?” she asked.

“I don’t have any specific long-term goals,” I said. “I like our life. I like our family. I like where we live. The only two concerns I have are my mental health and my financial situation until I reach retirement age.”

“You’re working on the mental health thing,” Kim said. “What can you do about the money?”

“My top priority is to increase my income,” I said. “I’ll check my spending again at the start of the year, but I’m sure it’s down from where it was twelve months ago. It’s my income that’s the issue. I have enough saved that I can draw about $2500 per month, but I’d rather not touch that money at all. I’d rather keep it for retirement.”

“So, if you want more income, how are you going to do it? You could find a job, right? Or make more from Get Rich Slowly?”

“Those are the two options,” I said. “And I don’t really want to find a job. I truly believe I can make enough with the website to support myself.”

“How are you going to do that?” Kim asked.

“I think there are three things I can do. First — and most importantly — I can publish more regularly. I don’t want to wed myself to a schedule, and that’s fine. But I think I’d be happier (and so would the readers) if I published more often than three times per month!”

“What else?” Kim asked.

“Well, Tom and I both believe that if we’d finish the redesign, that could help increase income. We’ve been working on the new site for two years. Lately, I’ve been the hold up. It’s stupid. We need to get it out there as it is, then worry about fixing things after we launch.

“And the final thing I could do to make more money is to build out profitable sections of the site. I’ve been reluctant to write certain articles because I feel like it’s ‘selling out’. But it doesn’t have to be. If I do it my way, in a way that helps the readers, it can be a win-win.”

“Then do it,” Kim said.

We finished our family meeting by touching on some miscellaneous topics. We agreed not to take any major trips for a couple of years, for instance, so that we can both focus on saving money. (Instead, we’ll make excursions in and around Oregon.) And business travel killed me this year. I was miserable. I’ll do less of that over the next year or two.

Final Thoughts

In all, Kim and I spent two hours discussing our current situation and talking about the future. It was awesome. We both came away feeling energized about our plans. We didn’t find all of the answers, and that’s okay. We feel like the discussion has put us on a shared path.

After our money talk, we tackled the second part of our family meeting. We walked through the entire house — then across the entire property. As we went from room to room (and spot to spot), we drafted a list of projects for the coming year.

House goals from family meeting

Finally, we spent the afternoon putting dreams into action. While Kim cooked Thanksgiving dinner and tackled some of the house projects, I cleaned out our storage shed, then thinned my wardrobe. (For years, I’ve been wanting to move to a more minimalist wardrobe, but keep finding reasons not to. Yesterday, I finally gave in and boxed up a bunch of clothes.)

Today, as soon as I finish this article, I’ll transfer our list of “house goals” from paper to digital. Tomorrow, we’ll test-drive a new car for Kim. In the weeks and months ahead, we’ll support each other as we work toward our individual and shared goals.

Our first annual family meeting was a success. I look forward to repeating this process again next year!

The post Our first annual family meeting appeared first on Get Rich Slowly.

10 Last-Minute Tips for Frugal Holiday Cooking

sourced from: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/thesimpledollar/~3/BglOW8jrTF8/

Over the next few days, many families across America are celebrating Thanksgiving with a big dinner to be shared with family and friends, a big meal that requires a lot of planning and likely generates a lot of leftovers.

As many households gear up for this big meal, don’t forget to keep in mind that there are a lot of little money-saving tactics that you can pull together, even at the last minute. Here are 10 such tips, most of which I expect to see in action over the next few days.

Ask your guests to bring something simple, but ask today! Go through your list and ask each guest to bring something simple in lieu of a host/hostess gift. Perhaps you can ask a few guests to bring a bottle of wine, or ask another guest to bring dinner rolls.

Not only does this trim your cost a little, it makes your guests feel better about not showing up empty-handed to an elaborate meal without having to put in a ton fo work and it reduces the stress of preparation.

(If you’re wondering about what to do with the wine if they show up with a bottle that needs to be chilled, don’t worry — we’ll get back to that in a second.)

Do everything you possibly can — and even some things you didn’t think of — the day before or the morning of the meal. Every single possible thing you can do in advance, do it in advance.

Chop the vegetables tonight and put them in small containers in the fridge. Make the sauce tonight and refrigerate it so all you have to do is let it warm up a bit tomorrow. Do 80% of the work for all of the casseroles in the morning so you can just push them in the oven in the afternoon. Make your salads the night before and chill them in the fridge.

How does that make things frugal? It saves tons of last minute effort and drastically reduces the chances of food items and whole dishes going to waste because you’re overwhelmed. I’ve seen many holiday dishes and ingredients go to waste because people were overwhelmed with tasks at the last minute. Spread them out. You’ll be glad you did.

Save your vegetable scraps. As you’re chopping those vegetables, you’ll sometimes wind up with some edge pieces that are perfectly good, but tricky to chop, or some pieces that are marginal. Save those bits. Put all of them aside in a great big mixed bag of vegetable scraps and stow that bag away in the deep freezer.

After the holidays are over, pull out that bag and dump it in a slow cooker. Add some salt and a few peppercorns, then fill it with water and turn it on low. Let it run for a long time — 12 hours or even more if you want. Then, strain it and save the liquid.

That liquid is vegetable stock and it’s useful in all kinds of casseroles, soups, and other things. Any dish that uses broth or stock can use that liquid gold. Save it in the freezer in quart-sized batches so you can easily make soup going forward.

Use a slow cooker (or two) to keep an item warm while other items are cooking in the oven … or even cook an item in the slow cooker. You don’t have to make everything at once and perfectly time everything for the table at the same time. Rather, make some items a little earlier in the day and then use a slow cooker to keep them warm until it’s time to eat.

A slow cooker is perfect for things like sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, collard greens, dressing or even gravy. Almost all of those can rest for a while in a slow cooker on “keep warm” mode for an hour or two while you finish other dishes.

You can even make many of those dishes in the slow cooker, and even serve them if your slow cooker has a nice removable crock for serving.

Use a pitcher as an extra chiller. This is one of my favorite little tricks that seems to show up all the time during the holidays. Do you need to quickly chill a bottle of wine and there’s just no room to do so and it won’t get cold enough in the freezer in time? Just take an empty water pitcher, put your bottle in there, fill it about halfway up with ice, then sprinkle in some salt (a tablespoon will do), then fill it the rest of the way with water. Leave it sitting out on the table and rotate the bottle every few minutes. It’ll be really cold in about twenty minutes or so, and then you can just dry it off and serve it.

You’d be surprised how often someone will show up with a bottle of wine and you want to serve it but it’s supposed to be served chilled and the bottle is room temperature and the freezer won’t get it cold enough fast enough and you don’t want to serve mildly chilled wine and you’ve got fifty other things to do. This is such a simple way to handle it, as long as you have an extra pitcher or similarly sized container big enough for the bottle to fit in.

If you need last minute table decorations, go on a walk. Go outside and gather up natural elements for your table centerpiece rather than some prepackaged and expensive items. Find things like pinecones, leaves, pine tree branches, and other such items that will easily create a natural, rustic and festive look on your Thanksgiving table.

Most leftovers are freezable in resealable containers, so label them and save them. Almost everything served at a typical Thanksgiving dinner can be frozen and then reheated. After a day or two in the fridge to be eaten as short-term leftovers, save the items that are left in individual meal-sized containers and freeze them. Thaw them out at a later date.

You can do this with almost everything from mashed potatoes to sweet potatoes to dressing to casseroles, and most of it will turn out quite good. You can have a Thanksgiving dinner redux in a month or two.

Chop up every bit of leftover turkey and freeze it, as it can substitute for chicken in many dishes later on. Turkey is a special case because chopped up turkey can be used in so many different recipes. Any leftover turkey you have should be saved on its own in relatively small batches in the freezer.

You can use that turkey later for things like soup or stew or turkey tetrazzini or as an ingredient in a casserole. It can basically be used in anything that chicken would be used in.

Save your turkey carcass and scraps, too. This goes along with the earlier tip of saving vegetable scraps. It turns out you can make delicious turkey stock in much the same way, and that turkey stock is useful as the backbone of all kinds of casseroles and soups and stews.

Just save all of the scraps, break down the carcass a little, and save it all in a big bag in your freezer. When the holidays are over, pull out that bag, get out a big slow cooker or a big pot, and put the carcass and scraps in there. Add a few teaspoons of salt and some peppercorns and maybe some other herbs and spices of your choosing, then fill it with water such that the carcass is covered. If you’re using a slow cooker, turn it on low and leave it for a good 12 hours (or more). If you’re doing it in a big pot, put it over just enough heat for the liquid to barely simmer and occasionally refill it with water so that the carcass is always covered by a few inches of water and let it simmer all day. In either case, strain it when you’re done and save that liquid, as it’s turkey stock and it’s the delicious backbone of countless soups and casseroles.

Freeze that liquid in quart-sized containers (quart sized freezer bags are fine) for future uses of all kinds. You’ll find yourself making an amazing homemade soup in a month or two using that liquid gold.

Go grocery shopping on Black Friday. While there are a lot of shoppers out on Black Friday, they’re usually not in the grocery stores. However, grocery stores are typically unloading Thanksgiving items on Black Friday at a discount, so that’s a perfect time to pick up things you can store for the future.

Grab an extra turkey for the freezer — you can always cook it up in February. Grab some pre-made dinner rolls. Stock up on sweet potatoes and other vegetables. Everything you might have on a Thanksgiving table that doesn’t have a far-off expiration date is going to be on sale, so stock your pantry.

The best part? It won’t be very crowded because everyone is shopping at the department stores.

Although careful meal planning is the biggest holiday meal money saver, there are lots of things you can do at the last minute to cut costs and get the maximum value out of your holiday meal. It just takes a little clever thinking and a lot of leftover containers!

Good luck!

The post 10 Last-Minute Tips for Frugal Holiday Cooking appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

Scared of money? (Why & how to overcome your fear today)

sourced from: https://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com/blog/scared-of-money-why-how-to-overcome-your-fear-today/

The more I see people talk about money, the more I see how SCARED we are of it.

How we let others poison our views of money.

And how easily we use negative words to describe it.

Here’s an email I got from someone who read my book, I Will Teach You To Be Rich. What do you notice?

“Frick it, I guess I’ll write the email…

Money stresses me out. My parents didn’t teach me anything about it and I’m very dependent right now. I did a year of nonprofit and made about 10k after taxes and it was miserable, so I figured if I can pull that off for one year then I can make it work. And I did! But I don’t know if I’ll hit it this year (it’s a bit depressing and a big source of anxiety). I think time is the name of the game though, the career is moving forward, hopefully, game sales will kick in passive income.

For the “rich life” I’m a simple person. I want enough money to be able to travel. I want to own a dog. I want a kitchen with an island. I want to have a nice desktop and a nice coffee table. My partner doesn’t want to own a house but I kind of do. Since I don’t have a full-time job outside of my freelancing which is currently in a drought period, I don’t have really ANY money, averaging about $250 a week.”

My response:

“Good stuff. Great to meet you

Now I want you to look at your email and count the number of times you use negative words to describe your life/money. How many do you count?”

His response (notice the skepticism):

“Ha, I can’t tell if this was an automated message or not but you got me there!

Depending on your definition, about 6-10.”

6-10 IN A SHORT-ASS EMAIL. (Well, compared to the kinds I write…like the one you’re reading. LOL.) Finally, my response:

It’s not automated.

Good!

Now, can you rewrite that entire email to be POSITIVE instead of negative? Send it over my way.

This guy didn’t even notice his reflexive negativity with money. It’s become like a dull toothache, something he gets used to. And since negativity is his worldview — the “lens” through which he views everything — I guarantee it’s an invisible “drag” on his entire life.

I asked him to rewrite his email to be POSITIVE instead of negative because sometimes, it takes someone pointing out your pattern to shake you out of it.

When I talk to people about money, here are the most common words they use to describe it:

“Anxious”

“Stressed”

“Is it too late”

(What words come to mind for you?)

But it’s even more revealing when you listen to the ways they talk about money.

What they say: “What’s my Rich Life? Well, I just want to go on vacation with my kids a couple times a year, nothing fancy…”
What they really mean: Notice those last two words — “nothing fancy.” When people talk about their Rich Lives, they almost always minimize their own dreams. When you’ve spent your entire life worrying about what can go wrong with money, it’s almost impossible to dream.

What they say: “How do I KNOW your programs will work?” OR “Will this book work for me if I live in Bolivia and I have a lazy left eye and I only eat mussels on Mondays?”

What they really mean: “I have a finite amount of money. If I spend it here, I need to know it will absolutely work, otherwise, I will have wasted my money…and there’s no way for me to ever earn more”

Are you about to say what I think you’re about to say?

What they say: “Even if I made $250,000/year, I wouldn’t eat out at a nice restaurant like that. What a waste!”

What they really mean: “I have never eaten at a place like that and I don’t want to be the kind of person who “has” to go there to enjoy food. I’m simple.” (One level deeper: “I’m nervous that if I ate there, I might actually like it. I don’t trust myself to avoid going there every single week and spending all of my money”)

What they say: “I shouldn’t get a credit card.”

What they actually mean: “I don’t trust myself to control my spending, therefore I need to restrict myself”

What they say: “I went to [ANY FOREIGN COUNTRY] and they tried to rip me off because I was an American”

What they really mean: “Well, yeah, I could have afforded an extra $5 for those postcards…but I HATE BEING RIPPED OFF. If someone else is winning and I am losing, I HATE IT”

So many of us make day-to-day money decisions, never understanding the “invisible scripts” that actually guide these decisions. And in America, money is driven by FEAR.

FEAR that we’ll never have enough.

FEAR that we can’t make more of it.

And FEAR that someone will judge us for our spending — or even what we want to spend on.

I hate this. That’s why I show you how to identify your Money Dials, the things you LOVE spending on, then I show you how to spend MORE on it.

Talking to a small group about money psychology. On book tour, I hosted private events in NYC event at Thompson Square Studios (NYC) and our Hills Penthouse (West Hollywood). As a reader of IWT, you can get your first month free at either of these locations. Please reach out directly to chelsea@thompsonhousegroup.com

I also show you how to get psychologically comfortable with the idea of changing your identity. People say “Money changes people,” in disgust, as if it’s a bad thing. Money should change you! It should let you dream bigger, it should let you live an easier or more adventurous life, and it should let you bring others with you (learn about the psychology of the wealthy).

But you can’t do that if you’re stuck thinking about money as a source of anxiety and fear.

An interviewer recently asked me what I would change from my 20s. I said, “I would have more FUN. I was too rigid. But the times where I had the most fun and I was the most successful was I just loosened up and tried a bunch of new things”

With money, try these different approaches.

Know that you can trust yourself. Know that you can eat at a really nice restaurant once for the experience — and truly enjoy it — but trust that I’m not going to trip and fall and end up going there every single week. You can also use credit cards without overspending (follow the systems in my book). You can pay off your debt and stay out of debt. You can become Rich and do good. Trust yourself.

Know that you can create more money. You can negotiate your salary — or find an entirely new job. You can start a business, even if you don’t have an idea. You can build your network to sidestep people with 10 years’ more experience than you — and get perks you’ve never dreamed of. All of those things can dramatically increase your income. Above all, your money is not a fixed pie that you have to exhaustively guard and protect. You can also expand the size of your pie.

Stop being afraid of waste. In puritanical America, one of the biggest no-nos is WASTE. Oh no! Ramit, if I start spending more on the things I love, I might “waste” some of my money!

How do I “KNOW” that your book will solve my exact, highly specific problem that I worry about every fucking day of my life? If it doesn’t, I’ve wasted $10!!!! Scammer!!!

Oh no! Ramit, what if I hire someone and they don’t handle my SEO, my WordPress uploads, design all my graphics, triple my conversion rates, write my entire email funnel, and create a new webinar system? I might have WaSTed the $13/hour I tried to pay them!!

Oh no, there’s so much government waste! We should ONLY focus on cutting government waste. Especially that one thing I really hate. What? It only represents 0.03% of total spend? No, that can’t be right. Anyway, we need to handle WaSTe. Also, don’t talk about raising my historically low taxes, you socialist.

If you spend your entire life worrying about waste, you miss a simple fact of life: In any system of sufficient complexity, there will always be waste. Yes, you should take measures to control it, but you should also accept that there will be a certain amount of waste — and move on!

I know that I’m going to buy courses and attend conferences that won’t be perfect for me. I know I’m going to eat at a restaurant that’s unmemorable. I know I’m going to make bad hires.

SO WHAT?

I’d rather try new experiences and learn with each one…than to sit back and let the bogeyman of “waste” scare me from doing anything at all.

So much of personal finance advice take your latent fears and heightens them.

NO! Don’t use a credit card, you might overspend a little!

NO! Don’t eat out at that restaurant, what a waste!

NO! Don’t try to negotiate your salary, you should just be happy you have a job!

If you spent the last ten years worrying about your waste and all the bad things you might do, you’ve accepted the message that you should be SCARED. That you’re an organism that simply reacts to whatever’s around you — that you have no agency or control.

Meanwhile, the people who have gone on offense have taken control of their own finances, their own psychology, started to earn more, and happily spend on the things they love. No anxiety. Just confidence and the systems to back it up.

You listen to these fears and end up frightened and anxious, sitting around worrying about all the things that can go wrong with money.

Or you can go on offense. You can take control of your money.

You can build a plan to spend extravagantly on the things you love.

You can EMBRACE making mistakes, knowing you’ll waste a little money, but it’s fine, because over the long term, those mistakes are minor, and you can create more wealth for yourselves.

You choose.

In my book, I wrote this:

Play offense, not defense. Too many of us play defense with our finances. We wait until the end of the month, then look at our spending and shrug: “I guess I spent that much.” We accept onerous fees. We don’t question complicated advice because it’s given to us in a language we don’t understand. In this book, I’ll teach you to go on offense with your credit cards, your banks, your investments, and even your own money psychology. My goal is for you to craft your own Rich Life by the end of Chapter 9. Get aggressive! No one’s going to do it for you.

My dream is for you to remove the shackles of negativity around money. To decide what you LOVE spending on, and spend more on it, so money goes from a source of anxiety and doubts to a source of joy and possibility and purpose.

Get my book here

And comment here if this resonates with you. I want to hear from you.

Scared of money? (Why & how to overcome your fear today) is a post from: I Will Teach You To Be Rich.

Overcoming Unintentional Shopping

sourced from: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/thesimpledollar/~3/p9PuWCq-_UY/

Last year on Black Friday, I made this agreement with myself that I was going to utterly ignore it (aside from a bit of investigating that I felt I needed to do for an article or two that I was writing). I wasn’t going to buy anything. I wasn’t going to go out shopping. Rather, I was going to spend the day playing some games with my kids, working on a homemade gift for the holidays, and getting some reading in.

At three different times during the day, I found myself looking at Black Friday sales. I actually took note of it at the time, thinking it would make for an interesting post someday.

So, how did that happen?

The first time, I was reading social media and I noticed that a person I knew was posting about an item on deep discount, and I clicked through to check it out. I didn’t buy anything.

The second time, a friend texted me about three separate items that he thought I might be interested in. I clicked through the links without a second thought. I didn’t buy anything.

The third time, my wife and I were quietly talking about Christmas gifts for people and she started looking for a few items on her phone, with me looking over her shoulder. I believe my wife bought one item as a gift.

This isn’t to say that my goal was some kind of failure. During the day, I never went directly to seek out sales on anything, online or off. Rather, I came to those sales through secondary influences: social media, a friend sharing things he thought I’d like, my wife wanting to find good holiday gifts for our kids.

Social media got me to a Black Friday sale, even though I wasn’t intending to shop.

A friend got me to a Black Friday sale, even though I wasn’t intending to shop.

My wife did the same.

In each of those cases, I didn’t have any intent to do any shopping. I sat down to see what a few distant friends were up to on Thanksgiving and the day after, and yet that got rerouted into a shopping experience. I read a message from a friend, and that got routed into a shopping experience. Even sitting down with my wife on the couch for a bit, as innocuous as that was, got routed into a shopping experience.

The point is this: we’re often led in subtle and unintentional ways to situations where we can spend money on things we might want, and it happens more often than we realize. I didn’t really leave the house all day long last year aside from going on a rural walk, and I never picked up a device once with the intent of shopping online, but I wound up checking out at least three different retailers.

And, truth be told, I probably would have forgotten those visits had I not made note of them, and there’s a good chance I would have made at least one purchase if I wasn’t being extra aware of my choice to avoid Black Friday entirely.

They would have been forgotten visits and possibly forgotten purchases.

Here’s the take-home message from this: we’re often subtly influenced to buy, particularly in online settings, even when we don’t really intend to be shopping, and often those encounters are forgotten quickly thereafter, even if we make a small purchase. We’re tempted by products to the point that we’re actually in the store considering a purchase — and sometimes we even make a purchase – when we’re not planning to do so at all, and we often forget about it shortly thereafter.

What’s the harm in that? We’re often left with a little remnant of the temptation that took us there in the first place. We thought enough about the item to take action, to visit that online shop or to step into that convenience store, and even if we didn’t make a purchase, that doesn’t change the fact that we were tempted into going there.

Even if we have the best of intentions, we can still find ourselves falling into unintentional shopping, tempted into spending money when we’re not even really thinking about it. It’s easy to see how we can be tempted into it online, but it can happen when we’re anywhere.

We’re strolling by a vending machine and feel a bit thirsty so we slip a couple of dollars in the machine.

We have to stop for gas and need to go to the bathroom, but then we spy something when we’re in the convenience store and swipe our card to get it.

We’re going somewhere with a friend but they need to make a “quick stop” for something.

Those are instances of unintentional shopping, and whenever you’re shopping, particularly without any intention at all, there’s a chance that you’re spending money on something that you really don’t need or even want at all.

The easiest thing to do to avoid this is to simply avoid all instances of unintentional shopping, but that’s a lot easier said than done. If you’re on a road trip and you stop for gas, it’s pretty silly to not go into the gas station to use the bathroom because of a chance that you might buy something. It’s pretty nonsensical to never read a message from a friend because they might be sending you a link to an online store.

So, what can you do instead?

First, be aware of it. If you’re not intending to shop for anything right now, then that means if you go into a shop, it’s pretty silly to buy anything, even if it looks cool. That item you just saw would have never been on your radar at all if you hadn’t just unintentionally went shopping, so it’s completely unnecessary to buy it.

For me, I try to keep the purpose of what I’m doing in mind. If I’m browsing social media, I’m trying to keep up with some friends, not buy something. If I’m reading a text, I’m communicating with a friend, not buying something. If I’m going into a convenience store, I’m using the bathroom, not buying something. My intent is not to buy, so I’m not going to buy.

Second, just don’t click through. If someone sends you a link to an online store, don’t click through. If you see a link to an online store on social media, don’t click through. There’s no worthwhile reason to do so. Just keep moving along.

It’s actually a pretty useful habit to build. If you see a link on social media and it’s not truly important to you in any way, just don’t click it. The same is true if a friend sends you a link or if you get a link in your email. Just. Don’t. Click.

Third, don’t take the means to easily spend money with you. If you aren’t going with the intent to spend, don’t take money with you. Don’t take credit cards with you. Leave that stuff at home in a secure place.

That way, if you do find yourself unintentionally shopping, you don’t have the means with which to buy anything anyway, so it becomes a moot point.

Fourth, pare down your social media. Stop following companies and retailers. Stop following “influencers.” Instead, stick just to people you know well. Anything beyond that circle is just throwing junk at you anyway.

Over the last year or two, I’ve eliminated all but two social media platforms from my non-professional life and the things I’m following on there have been drastically cut back. This has resulted in a big cutback in terms of the time I spend on social media and certainly the number of links of all kinds I’ve clicked through and products I’ve been exposed to.

Finally, don’t share e-commerce links yourself. Don’t tell friends about big sales. Don’t share the latest products. Doing so encourages your friends to share things like that back with you.

The only time you should share things to buy with people is if they’re requesting it. Otherwise, keep those product suggestions to yourself. This gradually and subtly nudges your friends to do the same, meaning there are less opportunities for you to unintentionally shop online.

Unintentional shopping brings almost no value into your life while bringing a hefty financial cost along for the ride. You can’t completely stop it, but it’s pretty easy to slow it to a crawl, and your wallet will thank you.

The post Overcoming Unintentional Shopping appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

Scared of money? (Why & how to overcome your fear today)

sourced from: https://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com/blog/scared-of-money-why-how-to-overcome-your-fear-today/

The more I see people talk about money, the more I see how SCARED we are of it.

How we let others poison our views of money.

And how easily we use negative words to describe it.

Here’s an email I got from someone who read my book, I Will Teach You To Be Rich. What do you notice?

“Frick it, I guess I’ll write the email…

Money stresses me out. My parents didn’t teach me anything about it and I’m very dependent right now. I did a year of nonprofit and made about 10k after taxes and it was miserable, so I figured if I can pull that off for one year then I can make it work. And I did! But I don’t know if I’ll hit it this year (it’s a bit depressing and a big source of anxiety). I think time is the name of the game though, the career is moving forward, hopefully, game sales will kick in passive income.

For the “rich life” I’m a simple person. I want enough money to be able to travel. I want to own a dog. I want a kitchen with an island. I want to have a nice desktop and a nice coffee table. My partner doesn’t want to own a house but I kind of do. Since I don’t have a full-time job outside of my freelancing which is currently in a drought period, I don’t have really ANY money, averaging about $250 a week.”

My response:

“Good stuff. Great to meet you

Now I want you to look at your email and count the number of times you use negative words to describe your life/money. How many do you count?”

His response (notice the skepticism):

“Ha, I can’t tell if this was an automated message or not but you got me there!

Depending on your definition, about 6-10.”

6-10 IN A SHORT-ASS EMAIL. (Well, compared to the kinds I write…like the one you’re reading. LOL.) Finally, my response:

It’s not automated.

Good!

Now, can you rewrite that entire email to be POSITIVE instead of negative? Send it over my way.

This guy didn’t even notice his reflexive negativity with money. It’s become like a dull toothache, something he gets used to. And since negativity is his worldview — the “lens” through which he views everything — I guarantee it’s an invisible “drag” on his entire life.

I asked him to rewrite his email to be POSITIVE instead of negative because sometimes, it takes someone pointing out your pattern to shake you out of it.

When I talk to people about money, here are the most common words they use to describe it:

“Anxious”

“Stressed”

“Is it too late”

(What words come to mind for you?)

But it’s even more revealing when you listen to the ways they talk about money.

What they say: “What’s my Rich Life? Well, I just want to go on vacation with my kids a couple times a year, nothing fancy…”
What they really mean: Notice those last two words — “nothing fancy.” When people talk about their Rich Lives, they almost always minimize their own dreams. When you’ve spent your entire life worrying about what can go wrong with money, it’s almost impossible to dream.

What they say: “How do I KNOW your programs will work?” OR “Will this book work for me if I live in Bolivia and I have a lazy left eye and I only eat mussels on Mondays?”

What they really mean: “I have a finite amount of money. If I spend it here, I need to know it will absolutely work, otherwise, I will have wasted my money…and there’s no way for me to ever earn more”

Are you about to say what I think you’re about to say?

What they say: “Even if I made $250,000/year, I wouldn’t eat out at a nice restaurant like that. What a waste!”

What they really mean: “I have never eaten at a place like that and I don’t want to be the kind of person who “has” to go there to enjoy food. I’m simple.” (One level deeper: “I’m nervous that if I ate there, I might actually like it. I don’t trust myself to avoid going there every single week and spending all of my money”)

What they say: “I shouldn’t get a credit card.”

What they actually mean: “I don’t trust myself to control my spending, therefore I need to restrict myself”

What they say: “I went to [ANY FOREIGN COUNTRY] and they tried to rip me off because I was an American”

What they really mean: “Well, yeah, I could have afforded an extra $5 for those postcards…but I HATE BEING RIPPED OFF. If someone else is winning and I am losing, I HATE IT”

So many of us make day-to-day money decisions, never understanding the “invisible scripts” that actually guide these decisions. And in America, money is driven by FEAR.

FEAR that we’ll never have enough.

FEAR that we can’t make more of it.

And FEAR that someone will judge us for our spending — or even what we want to spend on.

I hate this. That’s why I show you how to identify your Money Dials, the things you LOVE spending on, then I show you how to spend MORE on it.

Talking to a small group about money psychology. On book tour, I hosted private events in NYC event at Thompson Square Studios (NYC) and our Hills Penthouse (West Hollywood). As a reader of IWT, you can get your first month free at either of these locations. Please reach out directly to chelsea@thompsonhousegroup.com

I also show you how to get psychologically comfortable with the idea of changing your identity. People say “Money changes people,” in disgust, as if it’s a bad thing. Money should change you! It should let you dream bigger, it should let you live an easier or more adventurous life, and it should let you bring others with you (learn about the psychology of the wealthy).

But you can’t do that if you’re stuck thinking about money as a source of anxiety and fear.

An interviewer recently asked me what I would change from my 20s. I said, “I would have more FUN. I was too rigid. But the times where I had the most fun and I was the most successful was I just loosened up and tried a bunch of new things”

With money, try these different approaches.

Know that you can trust yourself. Know that you can eat at a really nice restaurant once for the experience — and truly enjoy it — but trust that I’m not going to trip and fall and end up going there every single week. You can also use credit cards without overspending (follow the systems in my book). You can pay off your debt and stay out of debt. You can become Rich and do good. Trust yourself.

Know that you can create more money. You can negotiate your salary — or find an entirely new job. You can start a business, even if you don’t have an idea. You can build your network to sidestep people with 10 years’ more experience than you — and get perks you’ve never dreamed of. All of those things can dramatically increase your income. Above all, your money is not a fixed pie that you have to exhaustively guard and protect. You can also expand the size of your pie.

Stop being afraid of waste. In puritanical America, one of the biggest no-nos is WASTE. Oh no! Ramit, if I start spending more on the things I love, I might “waste” some of my money!

How do I “KNOW” that your book will solve my exact, highly specific problem that I worry about every fucking day of my life? If it doesn’t, I’ve wasted $10!!!! Scammer!!!

Oh no! Ramit, what if I hire someone and they don’t handle my SEO, my WordPress uploads, design all my graphics, triple my conversion rates, write my entire email funnel, and create a new webinar system? I might have WaSTed the $13/hour I tried to pay them!!

Oh no, there’s so much government waste! We should ONLY focus on cutting government waste. Especially that one thing I really hate. What? It only represents 0.03% of total spend? No, that can’t be right. Anyway, we need to handle WaSTe. Also, don’t talk about raising my historically low taxes, you socialist.

If you spend your entire life worrying about waste, you miss a simple fact of life: In any system of sufficient complexity, there will always be waste. Yes, you should take measures to control it, but you should also accept that there will be a certain amount of waste — and move on!

I know that I’m going to buy courses and attend conferences that won’t be perfect for me. I know I’m going to eat at a restaurant that’s unmemorable. I know I’m going to make bad hires.

SO WHAT?

I’d rather try new experiences and learn with each one…than to sit back and let the bogeyman of “waste” scare me from doing anything at all.

So much of personal finance advice take your latent fears and heightens them.

NO! Don’t use a credit card, you might overspend a little!

NO! Don’t eat out at that restaurant, what a waste!

NO! Don’t try to negotiate your salary, you should just be happy you have a job!

If you spent the last ten years worrying about your waste and all the bad things you might do, you’ve accepted the message that you should be SCARED. That you’re an organism that simply reacts to whatever’s around you — that you have no agency or control.

Meanwhile, the people who have gone on offense have taken control of their own finances, their own psychology, started to earn more, and happily spend on the things they love. No anxiety. Just confidence and the systems to back it up.

You listen to these fears and end up frightened and anxious, sitting around worrying about all the things that can go wrong with money.

Or you can go on offense. You can take control of your money.

You can build a plan to spend extravagantly on the things you love.

You can EMBRACE making mistakes, knowing you’ll waste a little money, but it’s fine, because over the long term, those mistakes are minor, and you can create more wealth for yourselves.

You choose.

In my book, I wrote this:

Play offense, not defense. Too many of us play defense with our finances. We wait until the end of the month, then look at our spending and shrug: “I guess I spent that much.” We accept onerous fees. We don’t question complicated advice because it’s given to us in a language we don’t understand. In this book, I’ll teach you to go on offense with your credit cards, your banks, your investments, and even your own money psychology. My goal is for you to craft your own Rich Life by the end of Chapter 9. Get aggressive! No one’s going to do it for you.

My dream is for you to remove the shackles of negativity around money. To decide what you LOVE spending on, and spend more on it, so money goes from a source of anxiety and doubts to a source of joy and possibility and purpose.

Get my book here

And comment here if this resonates with you. I want to hear from you.

Scared of money? (Why & how to overcome your fear today) is a post from: I Will Teach You To Be Rich.

Mailbag: Questions About Overdrafts, Dishwashers, Coffee, Investment Books and More!

sourced from: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/thesimpledollar/~3/3pW_jls8vOo/

What’s inside? Here are the questions answered in today’s reader mailbag, boiled down to summaries of five or fewer words. Click on the number to jump straight down to the question.
1. Time to change career path?
2. Overdraft problem with bank
3. Ally Bank’s “buckets”
4. Tracking fuel data
5. Board games as holiday gifts
6. Earning is more important
7. Borrowing from TSP
8. Cleaning a dishwasher
9. Cold-brew coffee setup
10. Good beginning investment book
11. Finding time for self-care
12. Practical white elephant gifts

For readers in the United States, happy Thanksgiving week, and I hope you have someone to celebrate with this week.

For those outside the United States unfamiliar with the tradition, Thanksgiving is a holiday in the United States, held on the fourth Thursday of November, that often results in a four day weekend (Thursday through Sunday) for many workers. Many extended families and groups of friends get together for Thanksgiving to share a large traditional meal, usually involving turkey. Some families celebrate other late fall and early winter holidays early during those gatherings.

We’ll see some family and friends this week, eat some cranberries, share a few hugs and laughs, and hopefully avoid politics because arguing politics at a family event is basically never fun.

On with the questions.

Q1: Time to change career path?

I’m 31, partner is 29. I deeply regret what I chose to study in school as the parts of it I loved do not show up in work in this field at all from what I can tell. Classroom doesn’t translate. Quarterlife crisis, whatever. My partner is encouraging me to switch careers but she makes only $30K a year and I make about $46K. She does have insurance that would cover us.

Going from $76K a year to $30K is a stiff drop in income, one that I don’t know if we can afford and I feel guilty putting her through it. On the other hand, I do not want to work in this field for another 35 years.

Any insight as to what to do?
– Jenny

I know all about the “quarter-life crisis.” I was pretty disillusioned with my career at that point — I really loved the people and some aspects of the work, but other aspects were miserable — and when another door presented itself, I jumped. In that situation, I didn’t leap into school, but into writing for The Simple Dollar full time. This meant a significant reduction in income over the short term, but I had hope that it would eventually grow back to where we were and also cut a lot of costs. My wife had great insurance, better than I had at my job, so it didn’t really change our insurance situation.

My advice to you is to very, very carefully assess whether you can make ends meet on just her salary and, if you can, make the leap now rather than later. It really comes down to that calculation — can you make it work for a few years on just her income?

If you do this, give it your all so that you can get the maximum value out of your return to school. Don’t just study, but start building connections in your new field from day one. The value of college isn’t just found in the classroom.

Q2: Overdraft problem with bank

My job recently changed their entire payroll system. They told us all that our next paycheck might be delayed a few days due to the switchover and it was, most of our direct deposits arrived 3 days late. This shouldn’t have been a big deal, but it was because of [my bank]. I went in and told them about it and they said that I could pay my bills as normal and they would put a note on my account. During that three day period, I overdrafted twice and they charged $70 to my account. I went in and complained about it and they saw the note but said they “couldn’t do anything.” I escalated to a manager and the manager told me the same thing. Contacted corporate and basically just got run around a bunch. So mad!!! What can I do?
– Kelly

Aside from switching banks? Not much. If they were clear as to their overdraft fees and you overdrafted your account, then you owe the fees. They could waive them as a way to help retain you as a customer, but they have no obligation to do so.

If you don’t like how you’ve been treated, I would switch to a different bank. Open a new account at a new bank and start migrating everything over to the new bank from the old one. Only close out the old one when you’re sure all of your direct deposits and bill payments have been moved over to the new bank.

It would have been a good customer relations move for the bank to waive the overdraft fees, especially since you talked to them first, but that’s their business call.

Q3: Ally Bank’s “buckets”

What do you think of the “bucket” system Ally Bank is adding?
– Nathan

I wasn’t sure what Nathan meant until I found this press release from Ally Bank describing the system. In a nutshell, Ally is adding a feature to its online banking accounts that allows people to essentially create “buckets” for savings. You might have an “emergency fund” bucket and a “car savings” bucket and a “holiday savings” bucket, for example, and you can automatically transfer money into each one on a regular basis.

You could also use it for a form of budgeting by creating “buckets” for different expenditure types, though I think that would require a fair amount of online account watching. This would be like an online version of the classic “envelope” method of budgeting.

I think this makes having a lot of goals in the same savings account a lot easier, and I suspect this kind of feature will roll out to other banks in the future. Capital One 360 (formerly ING Direct) has had essentially this feature for a long time and I’ve found it very useful many times.

Q4: Tracking fuel data

I have always tracked fuel efficiency in a notebook I keep in my glove box. I have columns for date, type of gas, gallons put in, and cost. I assume you do the same based on other posts. Do you use a notebook or an app for it? Haven’t found a good app.
– James

I used to use a notebook, but a few years ago I decided to try out a bunch of different apps and ended up sticking with Road Trip, and now that there’s so much data in it I just stick with it. It tracks everything I can think of and displays the data in a lot of useful ways. I don’t see a reason to even try other apps, honestly.

It has completely supplanted the “notebook in my glove box” strategy for recording that kind of data, and I also use it for recording other forms of maintenance and a few other car-related things.

Give it a shot. If you’re the type that records fuel mileage in a notebook (like I am), you’ll probably like it.

Q5: Board games as holiday gifts

I used to (secretly) love family game night when I was a teenager. We would eat pizza and then we’d set up a game on the table and play it and my dad would be trying to win every time and my mom would laugh at him being so competitive and we’d talk about the week. I’d be a typical “roll my eyes” teen but I really loved it. We used to play Acquire, Masterpiece and Scrabble the most.

I want to find a game or two to give to some families as gifts that would be good for family game nights. I was thinking of giving a “family game night” kit to some friends with kids around 10 years old with a game and a few coupons for pizza. But there are so many games at stores and I don’t know what to buy. Looking for a really good family game for $20-30 for this. I know you’re really into board games so I thought you’d have ideas.
– Amy

Acquire is still around, believe it or not. The current version has really nice 3D buildings to represent the corporations. However, the price usually floats between $30 to $40 on Amazon, though it goes on sale fairly frequently and gets down in your price range.

Ticket to Ride is an absolutely stellar family game that works well for three to five players and currently clocks in at $26.99 on Amazon. The board is a simplified map of the United States. Each player has a pile of trains in their color and is attempting to connect cities together in a connected route to complete the secret goals they have (like connecting Seattle to Houston).

Pandemic is usually in the $20-25 range on Amazon and it’s a really good family game, too. It’s cooperative, meaning the players work together to rid the world of four different diseases. The players are scientists and medics who travel around the board (a map of the world) curing diseases and providing medicine, then the diseases spread automatically using a deck of cards. It’s really clever.

We have a family game night at least once a week and play all kinds of things, so the trick for me here is to separate what things my family likes because everyone has clear tastes and quirks at this point from what would work well for a wide range of families. I think the above games would work well for a wide array of families.

Q6: Earning is more important

If you want to establish long-lasting financial success, earning more is more important than frugality, but you write mostly about frugality. No frugality can take you from making $30K a year to making $90K.
– Bryan

I agree with you, but there are a few issues with that from an advice-giving perspective.

One, people who are looking for financial advice are often struggling right now, and frugality has much more of an immediate impact than trying to improve one’s income. Income improvement is a long road — you can’t just walk into work tomorrow and triple your income. However, you can wake up tomorrow and start taking actions that reduce your spending load.

Two, frugality advice is way more broadly applicable than advice on earning more. Aside from a few general truisms like “work hard” and “build a lot of transferable skills” and “be a lifelong learner” and “think about what you’re doing from the long term perspective,” it’s hard to give advice on earning more money that’s useful to a wide range of people. The advice quickly becomes specific to your career path or business situation. Frugality strategies apply to wide swaths of people and can provide results to all of those people.

Three, frugality has a more direct path to results. If you do X, you will save money. Most career and business strategy advice is far from a guarantee because so much of it is reliant on other people. Mostly, it’s advice on how to put yourself in a position to be more likely to increase your income. In the end, it’s your boss’s decision to promote you and a customer’s decision to buy from you.

In the end, you’re correct that a tripled income is going to be more powerful for your finances than pretty much anything that can be said about frugality, but it’s much harder to give advice for career improvement that has the immediate impact that many people seek. I do write about career things fairly often, but I think both tools are needed and have a valuable role.

Q7: Borrowing from TSP

I have worked for [a branch of the federal government] for 11 years and have put money into my TSP since starting. I now have $122K in my account. One of my coworkers borrowed $50K from his TSP for a house down payment, combining with the $20K he had to put 20% down on a $350K house. Was this a good move? Trying to do the math on this. The loan itself seems great at 1.75% but then you’re losing money in your TSP for a while so it can’t grow.
– Marvin

You should not borrow from any retirement plan unless it is an absolute necessity, and a house down payment is nowhere near an absolute necessity. You will lose your shirt on this.

Let’s say, hypothetically, that your TSP is growing at an average of 10% a year. If you take $50,000 out of that, then you’re no longer getting that 10% growth and you’re paying 1.75% interest on that money. That’s effectively an 11.75% interest rate on that loan.

You are way better off getting PMI from your lender than you are borrowing money out of your TSP, particularly such a large amount. The additional 1% that the mortgage insurance costs on top of your interest rate is much less impactful than the effective 10%+ interest rate that you’re paying from a TSP loan. If you get a home mortgage at 4.5% and the PMI is another 1% until you get it down below 80% of your home value, a 5.5% loan is much, much, much better than a 1.75% loan that is causing you to miss out on 10%, 7% or even 5% growth in your TSP.

Q8: Cleaning a dishwasher

When I bought my dishwasher, the salespeople had me buy some kind of dishwashing cleaning solution that you were supposed to run in it once a month by running a normal empty load with just this stuff in it to clean it out. I understand that dishwashers need maintenance and cleaning, but is that solution necessary? I’ve read that many people just use vinegar for this. Does that work well?
– Craig

We’ve had a dishwasher for a decade now, never had any clogging problems, and the only thing we’ve ever cleaned it with is vinegar. What I usually do is put some vinegar in a spray bottle and spray it all around the interior of the dishwasher, then fill up the detergent well with vinegar and run a normal load.

Once in a while, I’ll go over the interior of the dishwasher with a toothbrush and toothpick to clear out any small holes that I see and to scrub away at any built-up debris. I usually use a baking soda paste for doing this, just baking soda with enough water added to make it kind of the consistency of toothpaste. Then I’ll run a normal cleaning load with vinegar as noted earlier.

That’s all I’ve ever done, and it seems to be fine. It was a cheaper dishwasher, which I now kind of regret, and I know what I’ll look for if we choose to replace it, but it works fine.

Q9: Cold-brew coffee setup

Could you walk me through, very carefully, step by step, how you make cold-brew coffee?
– Tom

Sure! It’s not too hard.

The only equipment I use is a cold brew coffee pitcher with a wire mesh filter, very much like this one, and a simple burr coffee grinder, like this one. You do not need the grinder if you just buy ground coffee, but even I with my undeveloped coffee-tasting taste buds can taste a real difference between making coffee with freshly ground beans. If you grind your coffee for cold brew, grind it on the coarsest setting possible on your grinder.

So, how much coffee and how much water? It really depends on how strong you want it, which depends on your ratio of coffee to water and how long you let it brew. There is no perfect answer here.

All I can tell you is what I do to produce a cup I like. I like it at a ratio of one part ground coffee to eight parts water by weight, which I will then cut with about 1 part almond milk or water to 2 parts coffee when I actually drink it. So, in practice, I actually weigh this all out with a small kitchen scale. 32 ounces of water weighs 946 grams, so for an 8:1 ratio, I need 118 grams of coffee grounds.

So, I measure out 118 grams of coffee grounds with my kitchen scale, put it in the cold brew maker, then add 32 ounces of water. I put the whole thing in the fridge for 24 hours (if I can’t get the timing exact, I end it a little early), then dump the coffee grounds into a compost bucket to put in our garden.

That’s enough for four 8 ounce cups of coffee, which I then cut with some almond milk (which I really like the taste of — it’s one of my splurges) and maybe a drop of honey and/or a bit of cocoa powder … or sometimes I’ll just drink it black, often cutting it with a bit of water because it’s strong for my taste.

If you like it cold, drink it cold. It’s a lot better than hot coffee cooled down, which always tastes really acidic and “off” to me, and you can easily heat it up in the microwave if you like it hot. It lasts pretty well in the fridge for a week or two, especially if you put it in a separate closed container.

You can “eyeball” the coffee grounds if you want, but you’d be surprised how much the coffee changes if you’re off by 10% – 20% in weight in terms of the grounds. It definitely won’t taste the same each time.

I like the taste of cold-brew coffee and I like that it doesn’t require constant new filters and it doesn’t require any expensive equipment. My math is that an 8-ounce cup of coffee straight black costs about $0.50 with this method when I’m using really good beans — cheaper if I’m using cheaper stuff, obviously. The coffee is really good, far better than I’d ever get for even a $2 – $3 cup anywhere else. It’s far cheaper than buying premade cold brew at the store, too.

That’s how I do it, but you should play around with it and find a method that gives you exactly what you want. Play with the coffee-to-water ratio, especially, and also how long the grounds sit in the water.

Q10: Good beginning investment book

I checked out some investing books from the library and they were over my head right off the bat. Can you suggest a couple of good beginning investment books that I can check out or request?
– Neal

My default suggestion is The Bogleheads’ Guide to Investing by Larimore, Lindauer and LeBoeuf. The first edition of that book was the one that really helped me get my head around the basics of investing while also presenting a coherent investing strategy that actually made a lot of sense to me.

Read it slow and think about each chapter. You don’t have to devour it in one sitting. It’s very readable and understandable, but there is a lot to think about — at least, there certainly was for me.

After reading that book, quite a few other investment books made sense to me, enough that I could decide whether the strategies those books were proposing were worthwhile.

Q11: Finding time for self-care

How do you, with all the writing you do, find time to be a decent husband and father and keep up a house and still find time for self-care? My husband and I are so dead at the end of most days that we simply fall in bed just to get up and run on the treadmill the next day. I feel like I am missing something.
– Amy

Well, here are some big things. Unless I’m watching a show that I’ve planned to watch with my family (basically, Friday movie nights or maybe one episode of a show on a weeknight with my wife after the kids go to bed), I don’t watch television, period. I have my cell phone set up so that I don’t look at it very much, either (I wrote about this last week, actually). I try to multitask as many things as I can when they don’t require active effort — like, for example, as I write this, there’s a meal in the slow cooker, a load of dishes in the dishwasher, a load of clothes in the washer and the Roomba is going upstairs. I put effort into making as many tasks as efficient as I can, as I noted recently — I’ll invest an hour to figure out the most efficient way to fold clothes, spend the next several sessions doing it more slowly to practice it, and then it’s eventually 25% faster than how I used to do it. I keep a to-do list with tasks tagged in various ways and follow them carefully. I also time block, which means that I have periods of time set aside for specific tasks and during those time blocks, that’s what I do. I also try to eat a healthy diet and get plenty of sleep — I’m far less productive if I’m awake 19 hours a day than if I’m awake 16 because “sleep-deprived Trent” is way way way less efficient at literally everything than “plenty-of-sleep Trent.”

This gives me enough breathing room to have time blocks for leisure and for “self-care,” which I presume is what you’re referring to for things like exercise and meditation. For me, genuine focused uninterrupted leisure is really a form of self-care, too. When I get time to play a game uninterrupted or to read a book for an hour or two uninterrupted, I genuinely feel better.

Something people sometimes ask me is whether I have time to “daydream” or let my mind wander or “zone out.” I honestly usually do that when walking, and I take a couple of walks a day. I’ll get into a steady pace and my mind will just wander from thing to thing and I usually come back with a lot of ideas and sometimes a solution to something that’s been bugging me.

For me, time management is a lot like frugality. It’s worth some effort to find ways to cut out the bad uses of my time, but like washing Ziploc bags, there comes a point where you’re wasting time trying to be more productive. For me, the litmus test is almost always “Will I be glad I did this a month from now?” I always regret wasted time. I don’t regret real leisure or self-care.

Q12: Practical white elephant gifts

Last year my family did kind of a “white elephant” gift exchange where everyone brings 4 small gifts under $10 each and everyone puts them in identical brown paper bags and sits them out on a table and then they get handed out randomly. When you opened one you could trade with the person to your left or right if you wanted. It gave everyone four little gifts to open and no one felt bad because they were all small items. Some of the stuff was pretty lame, though. I am trying to come up with good ideas for this year. We’re doing it the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
– Derek

With a white elephant exchange, it’s hard to get very personal with gifts because you don’t know for sure who will be opening them. Thus, you want something people will like, but something with actual broad appeal; for example, I’d skip specific entertainment items. Here are some ideas I have along those lines.

You will almost never miss with high-quality versions of common things people actually use (and consume). Buy some really nice homemade soaps. Get a bottle of a really good kind of hot sauce. A couple of bars of really good chocolate would hit the mark, or some other kind of candy. A bomber (a 22-ounce bottle) of a good craft beer usually clocks in around $10 and could be a hit. Seasoning and soup mixes can be a good idea, as can, say, $10 of beef jerky from a good butcher shop. A couple of containers of really good lip balm can hit the spot, as can some good hand cream (my wife can’t make it through the winter without Eucerin for her hands). The key to things like this is to do a bit of homework and figure out a quality version of that item that people will actually want. Look online for some highly regarded hot sauce and hit a specialty grocer to get some, or find some really well-regarded soap and order it online.

Another approach is to give out little useful tech items that everyone would use, like an inexpensive USB charger or even a good phone charging cable. I was surprised how in-demand those kinds of items were the last time I did an exchange like this. Everyone seems to always have a use for another one or their old one is frayed or something.

The easy answer is a $10 gift card to Starbucks or to the online Apple store or something like that. It might not get the wows, but people will likely use them.

I’m sure you can find four ideas out of that mix.

Got any questions? The best way to ask is to follow me on Facebook and ask questions directly there. I’ll attempt to answer them in a future mailbag (which, by way of full disclosure, may also get re-posted on other websites that pick up my blog). However, I do receive many, many questions per week, so I may not necessarily be able to answer yours.

The post Mailbag: Questions About Overdrafts, Dishwashers, Coffee, Investment Books and More! appeared first on The Simple Dollar.