Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Posts Tagged ‘personal finance

Good way to handle daily money

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Take a look at this post at The Simple Dollar: The Two-Account System for Automatic Savings. Excellent idea.

Written by Leisureguy

28 June 2009 at 7:27 am

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The Simple Dollar’s favorite blogs

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Trent Hamm has a useful post today, titled "My 25 Favorite Personal Finance, Career, and Personal Development Blogs". The post begins:

Collin writes in:

What personal finance blogs do you read?

You can actually find the answer to this question on any page of The Simple Dollar. If you scroll down a bit, you’ll see a section in the lower right entitled “Blogs I Read.” Under that heading is a list of twenty five blogs that I keep pretty close tabs on – I visit all of them most days.

I update this list about once a year, and because of Collin’s prompting, I decided it was time to give that list a good refreshing. I removed about half of the sites that used to be there (a few are now defunct, the rest have simply become less compelling) and added quite a bit of new blood to the list.

So, which personal finance, career, and personal development blogs do I keep tabs on? Here they are, along with some notes on why I find them so compelling. If you want to visit any of these sites at any time, just visit any page on The Simple Dollar – the full list can always be found in the “Blogs I Read” section.

Ask MetaFilter
http://ask.metafilter.com
Ask MetaFilter is an interesting community blog of sorts. Here’s how it works: members pay a small fee to join, then they’re allowed to ask questions that are on their mind. The questions are all over the place, ranging from whether a person should move from Boston to Colorado to things like how budget reconciliation in the Senate works. The diversity of questions – and the wide range of responses, many of them well thought out – makes Ask MetaFilter a compelling read.

Bargaineering
http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/
Bargaineering (formerly Blueprint for Financial Prosperity) is probably my favorite personal finance blog for interesting ideas. Jim Wang, the author of the site, is …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

5 May 2009 at 10:34 am

Posted in Daily life

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Big collection of personal-finance links

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Interposed with Christmas cartoons. Something for everyone, I expect.

Written by Leisureguy

17 December 2007 at 3:53 pm

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Another money-tracking Web app

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I haven’t used Wesabe yet, but certainly Lifehacker is enthusiastic about it. Might be worth a try.

Written by Leisureguy

15 December 2007 at 11:20 am

Posted in Daily life

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Origami with currency

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Money

Unfortunately, no instructions. But lots of cute examples, like the one above.

Written by Leisureguy

26 November 2007 at 8:17 am

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Simple Dollar’s top 10 finance books

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Simple Dollar spent a year reading personal finance books, one a week for 52 weeks. Now he’s picked out the top ten of those. The first I definitely agree with, and copies are available for $1 at the link.

1. Your Money or Your Life
Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin

This shouldn’t surprise my regular readers at all, as not only have I reviewed the book, I’ve also talked about how it changed my life and discussed it in incredible detail in the inaugural version of The Simple Dollar Book Club.

I’ve read a small mountain of personal finance books over the last year and a half and simply none of them compare to this one in terms of really making you reconsider the role that money has in your life and how to manage it better. Unlike other personal finance books, it really doesn’t focus much at all on the mechanics of how to save money or how to invest. Instead, it steps back and looks at the broader picture of how and why you’re spending money.

This material could easily become nebulous and, well, boring in the hands of lesser authors, but the late Joe Dominguez is just amazing here, transforming some very broad ideas into very, very specific things you can do to evaluate your own financial situation and how you’re choosing to spend your money and your time. It goes beyond money management into an examination of how we spend money in the modern world and whether it’s in line with our values or not. This book is incredibly heady stuff and will leave you questioning a lot about your life if you follow along and take the whole thing seriously. Read my complete review of Your Money or Your Life, and if that’s not enough detail, read through the very detailed book club entries.

Read about all ten of his choices here.

Written by Leisureguy

13 November 2007 at 11:52 am

Posted in Books, Daily life

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Self-congratulatory post

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I’m extremely pleased with the comments that have been posted on the “Managing Your Money” post. Apparently the Excel workbook (downloadable via a link in the post) has worked well for some. I think the key is that it surfaces the implicit spending involved in gradually wearing out possessions that must, someday, be replaced and provides for automatically saving the replacement money so that, when the day comes, no crisis erupts.

I now would suggest that you save this money via automatic transfer to ING Direct. (Last I checked, passbook savings accounts in regular banks paid 1/10th of 1% interest per year.) As the money accumulates, transfer it to one of Vanguard‘s low-fee balanced funds. (For most of their funds, “low-fee” becomes “no-fee” once you have $10,000 in the fund.)

At any rate, take a look at the post and give the workbook a try. It might prove helpful.

Written by Leisureguy

2 November 2007 at 9:56 am

Posted in Daily life

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Retiring at age 51

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Sounds good, eh? Dumb Little Man describes the route. I add some other strategies following his list.

I managed to retire at age 51, and the way I did it was to live beneath my means.

You can adopt this strategy too, by simply spending less than you earn. You may think that’s impossible for you, but if you make it a challenge instead of a chore, you’ll soon be creating ways to cut corners in everything you do. And believe me, it all adds up.

There are no secrets to this strategy. It’s just common sense. Here are my 10 favorite ways to live beneath your means:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

23 October 2007 at 9:54 am

Posted in Daily life

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More on Mint (Web 2.0)

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I blogged earlier about Mint, and so far it looks good to me, but Lifehacker has a very good and thorough review with screenshots. Take a look. (The Wife is still wary of it.)

Written by Leisureguy

18 October 2007 at 11:42 am

Posted in Daily life, Software

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Sensible life-choices

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The Simple Dollar gives one example of a sensible life choice. Remember: you get the one life, so far as we know, so you should take some care to make sure you’re enjoying it.

Sometime in the last month, one of my friends quit his job as an actuary for a large insurance company. He’s single, has a Ph. D. in mathematics, and no debt at all. He quit for one reason and one reason alone. I’ll let him tell it to you:

I got tired of going home every night mentally exhausted and sitting in front of the TV playing Xbox. It’s what I did almost every night, without a weekend. I made a lot of money but I had no life to do anything at all. My job ate all of my energy.

What’s he doing now? He took a night shift at a local factory where he’s driving a forklift. Half of his time, he just sits on the forklift waiting for a new load to pick, and so he’s started reading a lot of the classics. He makes $11 an hour, far, far less than he was making as an actuary, but good enough for him to live on especially considering he banked almost all of his income from his actuarial work.

You know what? I applaud him. I think it was a brilliant move for his life and an excellent response to what I call professional exhaustion.

Here’s why I think it was a good move.

First, before he quit, he became debt free. He paid off his car, all of his student loans, and his townhouse. He funneled almost 60% of his income over his handful of years as an actuary into becoming debt free, so now he owns his residence, his automobile, and his education.

Second, he made an effort to always live far below his income level. The only item I saw him splurge on in the last few years was an XBox 360, which he buys a new game for roughly once a month. With his job switch, he claims he probably won’t buy a new game for a very long while, as now he has the energy and freedom to pursue other things … which leads to the third reason.

Third, his job was killing him. He was constantly stressed out and burnt out on everything. He had some severe stomach issues, looked like death warmed over most of the time, and also looked completely exhausted, too. His job was literally eating him alive – and no matter how much you’re getting paid, no job is worth that.

Finally, he has a lot of energy, intelligence, and value that can be used more productively elsewhere. He has a seemingly unstoppable amount of energy now, and he’s directing it into starting a business that he’s passionate about during the day, using some of his saved money to seed the work. Plus, he’s also looking at running for a few local political offices.

Yes, he may have watched his salary get reduced by (at least) 70% and he may have also lost some benefits, but his life is much happier now and that, my friends, is the key to life.

So what can you do if you find yourself professionally exhausted?

First, start living seriously frugal. Driving a Lexus to the steak house and drowning your sorrows in a fistful of $20 drinks isn’t going to cut it if you want to be free. Start making your own food and stop spending money frivolously. Minimize every bill you have.

Next, pay off all of your debts. Once you get in the routine of living frugally, it will be much easier to pay off your debts as you’ll have a surfeit of money. Channel all of it into debt elimination.

Then, build up an emergency fund. After all your debts are gone, save up a few months’ worth of living expenses in a savings account so that when you quit, it’s not disastrous.

While you’re saving, figure out what you actually want to be doing. What drives your passion? I have a friend who works as an auto mechanic, for example. He also happens to be one of the most intelligent and driven people I’ve ever met, and he’s on the verge of opening up his own shop. He spends almost all of his time at the shop, but he’s crackling with energy and happiness each time I see him. Why? He’s found what he loves. Spend some time finding what you love, then go for it. Even if it means starting off as an auto mechanic at a local car repair shop.

Remember, your life is not your job. Your job is just a way to pay for your life.

Over the past week or so, The Simple Dollar’s been running a series of posts on the book Your Money or Your Life, which provides a step-by-step method of getting back on financial and life-choice track.

Written by Leisureguy

14 October 2007 at 9:49 am

Good lessons from The Simple Dollar

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Some good points:

The last two years have taught me many, many things about personal finances. Some of the lessons have been useful and others thought-provoking, but a few have really knocked my socks off and changed the way I view the world. Here are the five lessons I learned that really altered my perspectives.

Every time you buy anything, you sacrifice a bit of your dreams.
I have an old college friend who constantly moans about how he hates his job and how he dreams of not having to work any more. Yet every single weekend, he spends about $100 on two new video games and about $60 on beer and pizza – he then spends the whole weekend “zoning out on reality” by playing games and watching football.

He constantly tells me how he should be making more money and how it’s difficult to save money, but it’s pretty easy to see that he’s spending away his future here. Every time he buys a video game or goes on a beer and pizza binge, every single time, he extends his attachment to the misery of his job. If he took that $160 a week and invested it, then spent his weekend free time looking for other avenues to raise money (like building a side business), he’d be moving directly towards the kind of freedom that he wants.

While his case is an extreme example, it’s true to a degree for all of us: every frivolous purchase is an active choice to postpone our dreams. Consider what your dreams are the next time you pull out the plastic – and ask yourself if this item you’re buying is worth giving up a piece of that dream.

There is no such thing as a free lunch.
I used to often do things like sign up for in-store credit cards to get that “awesome” 10% discount. To me, it was like they were giving me money for free! I used to collect big time on the credit card offers on campus as well that offered “free” tee shirts just for getting a card.

Bad move. There is no such thing as a free lunch. If someone is giving you something for “free,” you will be giving them something in exchange. Often, it’s your time – other times, it’s personal information or access to you as a customer. Sometimes, it’s a freebie in exchange for signing up for something costly, as is the case with freecreditreport.com.

If someone offers you something for seemingly nothing, step back for a second and think about what they’re actually getting in return. Usually, it’s something more valuable than the freebie – your time, your information, or sometimes even your money.

My “income” wasn’t nearly as high as I believed it to be – and neither is anyone else’s.
Want to see how much you really make? Take your salary, then subtract your annual income taxes from it. Then subtract all of the extra expenses you incur because of work – professional clothing, transportation to and from work, extra food, work-related social gatherings, travel. Then add up how many hours you actually contribute to your job in an average week – time at work, time transporting to work, time spent traveling, time spent doing other work-related tasks like buying work clothes and attending work-related social functions. Multiply that average week by 50 or so (assuming two weeks off a year), then divide your real income by your real working hours and find out what you actually bring home per hour.

Ouch. There’s no other word for how you feel when you see that number. Lots of people working at high paying jobs discover their hourly rate compares well with McDonald’s. So why not do other tasks that pay you more per hour than your real job? I know of at least one woman who switched to a lower paying job (on the surface) that actually allowed her to bring home more cash per hour of work than before.

Thinking about things in this fashion really changes your perspective about what’s really important in life.

Investing isn’t just for rich people – it’s for everyone.
It wasn’t long ago that I had a perception that investing in the stock market and building a portfolio is something that rich people did, not people like me. In fact, I often used the fact that many investments return quite well as an excuse to believe that “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.”

It’s not true. Anyone who is capable of spending less than they earn can invest and start collecting some great returns on the fruits of their labor. In fact, the internet era has made it easier than ever for people to invest – you can do everything from the convenience of your web browser. All you have to do is start spending less than you earn – that’s it.

Success is a choice.
This one is going to get some people upset, I’m sure, but it’s true. If you want something to happen in your life, you have a choice to make: do you really want it to happen? Are you willing to wake up for three hours in the middle of the night most nights to get posts written for your blog, so that you can spend the daytime with your family? Are you willing to spend weeks in a row without any simple relaxing activity – no television, no entertainment, just the stuff you need to do to get the job done? Are you willing to forego spending unnecessary money, period?

Success at anything requires some level of sacrifice, and often the big successes require a lot of sacrifice and focus. If you want to turn your financial life around quickly, you’re going to have to make some very tough choices. If you want to start a successful business, you’re going to have to make some sacrifices.

I used to look at people who started their own successful businesses with jealousy, and I felt like people who had their finances in order were given access to some secret that I didn’t know. It’s not true – success at anything is a result of a lot of hard work. You lay the groundwork for good things to come to you, but it’s a challenge. Are you up to the task?

Written by Leisureguy

30 September 2007 at 9:00 am

Posted in Daily life

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