Month: December 2019

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

sourced from:

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.


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:



“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

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.


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:

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:

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:

“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:

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.