I Froze My Credit–Should You?

It seems like every time I turn on the TV I hear about another company getting hacked and more people’s personal information getting into the wrong hands.

I received a phone call yesterday from a former colleague and good friend.  The accounting company that does her taxes was hacked.  Her four children and her own social security, address and dates of birth are now likely being offered to the highest bidder on the internet.  With that information, someone can easily file fraudulent tax returns, apply for credit, obtain medical services and wreak other havoc with their lives.

Last year, two of my friends had their tax returns filed fraudulently.  Someone else received their tax refunds before the real people had the opportunity to file their returns.  They spent hours going to the Internal Revenue Service offices to prove that the returns were filed fraudulently and confirm their identity so they could receive their own refunds.

To combat this risk, I can spend anywhere from $100 to $329 each year to have a company monitor my credit and reimburse me for lost funds.  Or I can protect myself by spending an hour freezing my credit for free.  This only works because I am not routinely seeking new lines of credit–mortgages, credit cards etc. Continue reading “I Froze My Credit–Should You?”

Sometimes What Is Least Expensive Is Best

I just got back from a few days in Sedona, Arizona.  I hadn’t been there in about 25 years and I was reminded what a beautiful, spiritual place it is.  The contrast of the bright red canyon walls with the evergreens and the blue sky was stunning.  I wish I could come up with a bigger word than stunning but stunning will have to do.

The way this trip came together was complete serendipity (desirable discoveries by accident).  I’m not a great travel planner so I LOVE serendipity.

Our Colorado neighbor and great friend, Melanie, has become the travel and outdoor recreation coordinator for a group of friends whom she calls her tribe.  I was fortunate to be included on many of her biking and hiking journeys this summer and met various members of the tribe.  Each member of the tribe is active and fun–I think I laugh more than I speak when we are together. Continue reading “Sometimes What Is Least Expensive Is Best”

What Does Wealthy Look Like?

I’m re-reading The Millionaire Next Door.  It is filled with great reminders of how millionaires are different from most Americans.  The authors studied the wealthy and were surprised that most millionaires don’t look like millionaires.

They give numerous examples of how un-wealthy most millionaires appear.  The average millionaire had not paid more than $235 for a watch or $399 for a suit.  The book was published 20 years ago so these numbers would need to be increased to $361 (watch) and $614 (suit) for inflation.

They contrast the millionaires with those that make high incomes but have low wealth.  The folks we think are millionaires often are not–they use the big hat, no cattle analogy.  Those who look rich often aren’t, those who look poor sometimes aren’t.

They provide seven traits or habits that are common amongst people who successfully build wealth.  I can summarize them for you–they work hard, work smart and live well below their means.  They often work in fields that don’t require them to look prosperous by living in fancy homes, driving fancy cars or dressing in fancy clothes. Continue reading “What Does Wealthy Look Like?”

Live With No Regrets

I tend to live without regrets on the big stuff.  I look back at each change I’ve made in the course of my life and I’m happy I made it.

Happy I moved to the mountains, happy we moved back to the city, happy I went to law school, happy I quit law school after a year, happy we moved back to the mountains, . . . . I think you get it.

I love my life and I’m happy for the sometimes windy path that got me here.

But I went to a conference in September and met a bunch of kick A$$ people.  People in their twenties and thirties who were saving amazing amounts of money, living on what sounds like not much so they can retire young.  Remember, if you save 70% of your income, it only takes 11 years to save enough to retire.  I met several people who were doing just that. Continue reading “Live With No Regrets”

Gratitude Turns What We Have Into Enough

On my walk yesterday, I listened to a Mad Fientist podcast.  Brandon (The Mad Fientist) interviewed Ali and Joe who went from $0 net worth to retirement in five years–on teacher’s salaries.

It was an interesting chat about how they bought single family rental homes in Las Vegas–dollar cost averaging in as the real estate market tanked.  Then they diversified their portfolio by buying rental properties in other locations and now they are rounding out their portfolio with stock index funds.  They quit their jobs, sold everything and their passive income stream supports their life of international travel.

But here’s what really struck me.  They were so grateful for what they had that it didn’t seem right to wish for more.  So grateful to be living on about 30% of their earnings–remember, teacher’s salaries so not much. Continue reading “Gratitude Turns What We Have Into Enough”

The Perfect Gift Policy

Until a few years ago, I would stress out as Christmas approached.  I would make my list and spend the last few months of the year trying to find the perfect gift for everyone on my list.

We live about 3 hours away from our family so we would organize gifts by family or friend, load up the back of our car and off we would go.  When we got to house #1, we’d empty most of the car so gifts wouldn’t freeze or be stolen.  We’d then have a celebration with that family member or friend and stay the night.  The next morning, we’d load the car back up, go to house #2, repeat, go to house #3, repeat. . . .

We would come home exhausted with the back of the car filled to the brim with gifts we received.

Continue reading “The Perfect Gift Policy”