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Wealth & Personal Finance

Long time no post!

winnie-retirement-goals
#goals: to be a rich little old lady that crochets cute amigurumi
I’ve been meaning to rollover my former employer’s 401(k) account for a while now… 1.5 years after I left the job. On Thursday, I went to an event at called “Investing Better” where I hoped to learn more about strategies and literally invest better (it didn’t happen) but it did spark me to take action to consolidate my multiple accounts.

For transparency, with my old employer I have both a traditional 401(k) and the Roth 401(k). I decided to contribute to both plans because I figured it doesn’t hurt to put more money into retirement. My thought process was that I was in my lowest tax bracket of my life, so I can do Roth. I put money into traditional since that was the default option :D. I also opened up a separate Roth IRA a few months later, because why not? I was 22 and with so many years to grow…

winnie-retirement-accounts
my little piggies are gonna grow to be big and strong *—–*

Which Broker to Use?

Thanks to Nerd Wallet, who put together a great summary table here. They compared the brokers, what it’s best for, cost of making trades, and current promotions.

I am looking for something that is low-cost, so I am deciding between Fidelity and Vanguard thanks to Nerd Wallet.

Fidelity has this amazing promotion going on to match 1-10% IRA contributions for current year + next 2 years depending on how much is deposited. To much sadness, I did not qualify since “direct rollovers from a 401(k) are not eligible.”

Vanguard was my next choice and the broker I had in mind already but needed some extra reassurance. It also helps that my current employer switched to Vanguard so I already have funds here.

Rollover or Convert?

The next hurdle is figuring out if I wanted to convert my Traditional 401(k) portion as well. Note that this is a very personal choice!

winnie-retirement-rollover-convert
go snowball go! up the hill
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Wealth & Personal Finance

I’ve been tracking my spending for 7+ years now and I am proud to share with you the latest Personal Finance Budget & Expense Sheet.¬†ūüėÄ

In this sheet, you will need to input all numbers in purple, including salary, health, savings goal, living expenses, flexible expenses, etc. Includes TAX CALCULATIONS so your yearly net amount can be as accurate as possible (although it will never be quite there, so use this sheet as an awesome estimator).

Once again, disclaimers: this is an estimation tool and is in no way shape or form a replacement for your personal advisor or accountant / tax preparer.

(1) This sheet is not going to match your tax refund exactly, but it gives a good basis as to what it would be like
(2) This sheet includes tax calculations for NYC residents. If you reside elsewhere, you will have more money leftover than the last number in this sheet.
(3) This sheet also assumes you take the STANDARD deduction (6200), which… if your NYS tax paid is greater (row 38 + 44), you will be ITEMIZING. (Sheet is currently in the making).

Related post: Monitoring Your Spending

Don’t be a victim of yourself and see this happen –>money flying away¬†(money flying away)


View the Budget & Expense Sheet

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Wealth & Personal Finance

The Last Safe InvestmentI picked up “The Last Safe Investment”¬†¬†by Bryan Franklin, Michael Ellsberg¬†from the library, thinking it would provide some insight into growing wealth. I stopped reading on page 118 (I had to return the book). It sums up to this: spend systematically so it can provide other value to your life and work on your tribe/network/community because that’s how you accumulate a different type of wealth.

INTRODUCTION:
Consuming vs investing
* John taking friends out to action movie, buys soda and popcorn
* Jane takes coworkers out to business-related movie that someone mentioned, buys water
* They are both not expecting anything back from their group and just want to have a good time

The book explains (exaggerates for the point) that Jane didn’t just spend on Entertainment, she also contributed to a bunch of things that John didn’t. I can’t say I agree with this completely but here is the impact (p 17):
— health. Water is good for everyone vs (John) sugar makes people bounce off walls
— relationships. Respect what others care about vs (John) don’t see how he didn’t invest in this too since his friends like action movies as well
— career.¬† Contribution to get involved in matters related to work vs (John) doesn’t impact his career directly (unless you can count on his friends’ network for that future role, which I think is pretty likely too)
— purpose.¬† Enjoy contributing time to each other because it makes their lives more purposeful vs (John) I can see this applying as well… what if their purpose was to contribute to the laughter in his life??
— provide value. Discussion after the movie so everyone is sharing their ideas vs (John) now everyone is more in-the-know about pop culture

Investing = Spend value on other contexts of your life, outside the original context

True Wealth Discipline

  1. Spend systematically Рmake every expense count for something more
  2. Increase your value to others – see how you can help others with your skills or knowledge, so they will think of you in future when you need something
  3. Improve your happiness exchange rate (more below)

True Wealth Asset

  1. Adviser Equity – contributing your knowledge to others
  2. Tribe – your community and close friends
  3. Savings – “the money you risk (in the form of investing in yourself… should be in service of something that will improve you, further your purpose, as well as increase your income” Intro, p. 41

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Wealth & Personal Finance

mint_logoHi everyone! It’s been a while since my last post. Since 2015 has wrapped up, I wanted to share some ways you can either:

  1. Evaluate your spending in 2015
  2. Monitor your spending in 2016

I am a big user and supporter of Mint.com. They connect all your financial accounts (you need to log in with your credentials) so you can see almost ALL your transactions in one place.

Existing Users:

I suggest you¬†export all your 2015 transactions and evaluate how you were spending to see where you can spend less (or just be shocked at how much you spend in a certain category). Since Mint currently does not offer transaction exports with¬†Top Category (just subcategories), head over to my Mint support response thread here for the default list and how to pivot everything. From this I learned: I spend way too much on “Food & Dining > Restaurants” and “Misc > Family (my custom subcategory)”.

New Users:

Most people are afraid to link up financial accounts for fear of being hacked. I’m not a technology security expert, but in the four years I have been using Mint, there has been¬†zero problems with security.¬†Mint pulls the transaction info from each of your accounts and does¬†not display any login usernames or passwords.

I have connected all¬†my possible financial accounts so I can view everything in one place. I know my “net asset” balance at any given point.

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Wealth & Personal Finance

Here’s a situation that myself and peers are in right now, given that we graduated 1-3 years ago and have some money to spare. We want to save and invest… so, the big question is, how do you start?

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for your loss or headaches (but you can share gains with me, haha :D). Seek professional financial advice if you really need it.

Being an investor is all about the risk you want to take. How fearful of you of losing money? Have you ever went to a casino and sat down at a card table game and lost? Did you feel bad or did you think you could try again to win?

The simplest things you can do to invest your money is to:

  1. Open a savings or CD account
  2. Put money into your company’s retirement account
  3. Open a separate retirement account
  4. Buy equities (or stocks)
  5. Buy life insurance
  6. Start an education savings fund

Keep in mind that there are many many investments outside of this list that I do not know (since it’s outside of my risk profile).

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Wealth & Personal Finance, Wellness & Workout

If you’re into fitness, wellness, or need some motivation to be more wellthy, here are two apps I think are awesome because you get rewards for working towards your best self:

Pact App http://gym-pact.com

In summary, you wager $5 for each activity you will complete, whether it’s gym or fruit/veggie. If will earn $ for the promises you keep and lose $5¬†for each promise you break. Ex: if you promise to do gym 5x and veggie 5x, but you only did gym 4x, you will owe $5.

Wellcoin http://wellcoin.com

In summary, you log all your wellness activities, from sleep to food to exercise to buying groceries, etc. Each activity belongs to one of the five categories. Each category has a max # of wellcoins you can earn each day. You redeem wellcoins in the marketplace (granola bars, fitness classes, retail discounts, etc) and get entered automatically into weekly and monthly raffles for Amazon/Target giftcards.

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Wealth & Personal Finance

I grew up being told to save, save, save, because it’ll be good for the future. We all know how tough saving can be with the bajillion things we want to do. So, here are some ways you can save money without trying too hard:

1. Use Ebates (sign up herea). Ebates gives you a percent back on your online purchase on many websites.¬†You can easily earn 1% – 10% back on things you are¬†already buying. I usually check Ebates before any purchase, but to really save more time, you can install their button/plug-in here¬†(Chrome, Mozilla, Safari) so if you go on a website that is on Ebates’ list, it will tell you to turn “Cash Back” on. Ebates will send you a check every quarter if you reach¬†their minimum cash back amount.

2. Use UPromise (sign up here). The purpose of this website is to save for college. However, you can have the savings sent direct to your checking account (after you meet the minimum amount). Sometimes, UPromise has better % back than Ebates, so it’s better to use it. UPromise also has the browser toolbar¬†to detect if the website has cash back. The awesome plus about UPromise is that it can earn $ back from your dining and auto gas expenses–just remember to add your credit and debit cards (and other cards of your family if you want to benefit from their purchases too!). If your credit card is already linked to a dining or rewards program (such as Hilton Honors rewards dining, then it will not work for UPromise).

3. Use Acorns. This app rounds up your daily expenses to the nearest dollar and sends it to your savings account. You can set up saving goals for yourself. Another feature is putting a lump sum and having their technology help you grow it. I personally do not use Acorns but have heard great things about the saving feature, since you do not even realize you are saving.

4. Use RetailMeNot. This website lists¬†discount codes of online retailers. Some codes do not work, so just try ’em until they do.

5. Use LevelUp. This is a payment app, so if you’re iffy about security, then this is not for you. The way this app works is that every time you spend money at a food & dining spot, you are logging loyalty dollars. Every vendor has a set amount of spend before you get $$ credit. Plus, your first time visit to new vendors that use LevelUp may have credit applied to your purchase! I have been a user since this came out for Gregory’s Coffee last fall. (Ex: Gregory’s Coffee is spend $50 for $5; Go Go Curry is spend $70 for $7; Fresh & Co is spend $100 for $9, etc. Can you tell what stores I like? Haha.)

a Sign up with my referral link, so you can help me while helping yourself ūüôā