I Have a Love-Hate Relationship With My Budget

I have a love-hate relationship with my budget but not for the reasons you would think.

I finished up my 2017 budget yesterday–gasp, yes 11 days later than normal.  My careful readers know I typically spend New Year’s Day updating my prior year spending and net worth and finalizing my current year budget but not this year.  I started working on it in mid-November but sort of forgot that it wasn’t complete.  For me, budgeting is such a given that the lack of a budget has no impact.

I’ve been budgeting for 34 years now.  My early budgets had 4 categories–rent, car payments, gifts, spending (everything else).  I now have 21 categories–I have the various utilities dual home ownership requires and I’ve broken spending down a bit further (vehicle, boat, home improvement etc.).  Doing my budget each year takes about an hour and most of it stays the same from year to year.  My spending budget is the same as it was 10 years ago–I didn’t spend it all then and I don’t spend it all now. Continue reading “I Have a Love-Hate Relationship With My Budget”

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Social (in)Security is Complicated!

Many of my younger readers think they will not receive Social Security.  This is because the trust funds are predicted to be exhausted sometime around 2034.

There are many reasons the government will not allow Social Security to disappear.  Social Security payments keep about 35% of older Americans out of poverty and is the principle source of income for nearly half of this group.  It simply cannot go away without destabilizing our country.  Oh, and old people vote so it will never happen.

But things will definitely have to change. 

Continue reading “Social (in)Security is Complicated!”

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The Stock Market Seems Really High . . . Should I Sell?

Election night it looked like the stock market was going to tank.  S&P 500 futures were down about 15%.  I was scared for my country and my money.  I was preparing to write an article celebrating that stocks were on sale and telling everyone to stay the course or to buy.  Rather than crashing, we saw the S&P 500 go up over 1% the day after the election and it has only continued to rise since then.  This is a very different article but the answer remains the same.

This post-election stock run up has been amazing.  Through Christmas weekend, we hit all time highs.  My invested assets grew over 3% in November and an additional 2% so far in December–the annualized return is over 30%.   I made more these months than I’m likely to spend in all of 2017.

Price to earnings ratios are very high.  This ratio compares how much a stock costs to the earnings companies reported over the previous 12 months.  We’re paying almost $26 for $1 of earnings for S&P 500 index funds.  The historic average is under $16.

So the market looks expensive.  Does that mean this would be a good time to sell and wait for a dip in the market to buy back in? Continue reading “The Stock Market Seems Really High . . . Should I Sell?”

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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year y’all and cheers to a great 2017!

Here’s a great article from Brent Esplin of The Micawber Principle to get your year started right – Separating the Essential from the Important.  This article is well worth the few minutes it will take to read it but since we’re all extra busy this time of year, here’s the summary.  How about focusing on one of these essentials each month next year? 

















Your Behavior

Your Knowledge

Your Behavior

The Stock Market’s Behavior

Big Financial Decisions

Small Financial Decisions

Brent highlights the importance of discovering your why.  If you haven’t worked on your why lately (or ever) this article can help you get started.  Knowing your why keeps you from getting derailed from your path–or helps you get back on your path after you are derailed.

Master Your Money – Build the Foundation For Your Dreams


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12 Steps To A Kick A$$ Life

How should you balance your different financial goals?  Should you save for retirement before your credit cards are paid off?  How about student loans?  I thought it might help to talk about the steps to reach financial independence.

Want to accelerate your progress through these steps???  Calculate your net worth regularly and track your spending.  And to stay on track with these steps, you have to figure out your why.  Otherwise, it will be way to easy to start chasing the next shiny object rather than keeping your eye on the prize that matters most to you.

Ok here they are, Ms. Liz’s steps to a Kick A$$ Life: Continue reading “12 Steps To A Kick A$$ Life”

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Your Cheat Codes For Real Life

We’re in for a real treat today!  MitchTheCatSitter, a frequent and insightful commenter on Ms. Liz has written a guest post for us.

You youngins out there probably know what a cheat code is.  This old lady had to Google it.  A cheat code is a trick that gamers use to bypass the tough parts of a video game in order to win.  Mitch has laid out four cheat codes that will help you bypass the tough parts of your financial life and allow you to live your kick a$$ life.

Mitch is living a pretty kick a$$ life of his own.  He and his wife reached financial independence in their 40’s by working hard, maintaining a high savings rate and investing in real estate.  Pretty much by following the cheat codes he has laid out for us below.

But don’t you dare call him retired as he will be quick to remind you that he drives a bus . . . one day a week, in the winter.  When he’s not playing bus driver, he can be found playing with his backhoe, riding motorcycles, playing bridge, managing their real estate holdings or investing their portfolio.

So without further ado . . . MitchTheCatSitter:

Okay, you’re not in the 1% and may never be. Who cares? Wouldn’t you rather have a meaningful life anyway? Grinding away to climb the corporate ladder has no appeal. Being nimble and sampling all of what life has to offer is what is attractive. Meaning and mobility come waaaayyyyyy before money. Continue reading “Your Cheat Codes For Real Life”

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Are You Ready For A Challenge?

The good folks over at Frugalwoods are hosting an Uber Frugal Challenge during the month of January.

Daily inspirational emails, a facebook group and one helpful hound will guide you through this challenge.

Seriously good folks–she’s my favorite contributor to the frugal blog world.  Her articles are very personal, entertaining and warm.  Even if you’re not that frugal (like me!), you’ll be entertained and informed.

Interested?  Get the details at Frugalwoods Uber Frugal Challenge and sign up!  It’s free and a great way to jump start your financial success in 2017!

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On Finding My Retirement Balance

There are a couple balances that really matter in retirement.

We’ve talked a lot about financial balances.  How much money you have, how much you spend and how much you need.  This balance is important so you can have a retirement free from excess worry.

I’m a worrier so it’s impossible to think that I would not worry about my finances in retirement.  But I have adequate cushions and contingency plans so I don’t have to worry about money . . . much.

The other balance that I’m still trying to figure out is how to balance my time.  Continue reading “On Finding My Retirement Balance”

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Redefining Risk So My Money Lasts As Long As My Life

One of my greatest fears about retirement was the very real risk that my life would last longer than my money.

So how did I get comfortable that I could retire?

I spent hours reading about retirement and tax strategies for early retirees. Continue reading “Redefining Risk So My Money Lasts As Long As My Life”

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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?”

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