Personal Finance

  • Budgeting Tips For Beginners

    Budgeting is something many of us love to hate but with these budgeting tips you’ll be off to a smooth start.

    Budgeting is incredibly useful and can help you achieve financial goals, but it’s also a lot of work and hard for beginners to grasp.

    How To Set Up A New Budget

    In this video I show you the basics of setting up a new budget along with a few budgeting tips. If you’ve never done a budget before I highly recommend you watch this video before you start.

    Creating your first budget can feel a lot like guessing and failing in the beginning. You can save yourself time by using worksheets or an app that guides you through the process but the basics of creating your first budget are actually easy.

    You need to figure out how much money you are bringing in and how much money you are spending. For most people you are going to budget your after tax post deduction income.

    Basically you want to give the money you bring home an assignment so you can better optimize your budget to achieve all of your financial goals.

    Here are the steps to creating your first budget:

    • Gather Your Budgeting Supplies
    • Write Out All Your Monthly Bills
    • Order Your Bills By Calendar & Paycheck
    • Categorize Your Previous Spending
    • Set Reasonable Goals For Spending
    • Plan Your Sinking Funds
    • Add All Your Expenses Up
    • Track Your Spending

    You can do this same process shown on the video with either pen and paper, a budgeting printable, a spreadsheet or a budgeting app.

    The process is what matters most, not how you write down and track the actual numbers.

    How To Set Up Sinking Funds

    One concept that is often new to people when they start budgeting is sinking funds.

    Sinking funds are saving accounts with a purpose.

    Setting up sinking funds is a great way to keep your budget together throughout the year so the ups and downs don’t derail you.

    They are accounts you save into regularly for spending on expenses that are irregular expense, non-monthly expenses, unpredictable or big one time expenses. It’s a mini savings account for an expense you know you’ll have in the future. There are many different sinking fund categories you might consider saving for that are not regular expenses.

    Sinking funds make saving for these hard to budget items strategic and stress free. You set a little bit aside each month until you hit your goal… and then you spend it!

    So if you’re saving up for an event 6 months from now, you put a smaller amount aside into the sinking fund each month until the event where you spend it all.

    Sinking funds are designed to let you spend without stress or worry. It’s one of the best budgeting tips most people ever learn.

    Sinking funds will change how you budget and make like a lot easier as you start and refine your budgeting style.

    Budgeting Tips For Beginners

    Now let’s look at some of the best budgeting tips for beginners. If you’re new to managing your money and want to learn more about what you should be doing then these tips are for you!

    pay-yourself-first budgeting tips

    Face the truth about your spending.

    Tracking your spending is the key to budgeting success. Without tracking you won’t be able to budget.

    Start at the beginning of the month and track everything you spend either with an app like Mint or Personal Capital. You can also do it manually so you are in control and seeing where you are really spending.

    I usually recommend someone new to budgeting does it manually and writes out everything they spend for at least a month. It is eye opening because many of us spend without paying attention.

    Write out a realistic budget for the next month.

    You can base your first budget on what you were actually spending based on your tracking or research into your receipts and bank summaries.

    For your first month you can make some realistic cuts budget don’t go overboard. Definitely don’t try to slash your entire budget in half the first month because it won’t work and you’ll likely abandon the process.

    Be realistic about your budget and make goals to incrementally improve over multiple months.

    Plan to set aside money for savings.

    Pick a small percentage or amount of money that you will save into a savings goal no matter what.

    Put this into your savings account first before you do any spending or pay any bills.

    Setting aside money before anything else is a critical step to achieving bigger financial goals. You can plan your spending around this savings move at the top of your budget. Always pay yourself first!

    Visualize your goals.

    Think of the long term things you want to save for and either right it out, create a tracker, a vision board, or whatever you are motivated by to make your budget goals happen.

    I love using debt payoff printables and savings trackers to visualize my progress with big money goals.

    Use whatever budgeting method that appeals to you visually. Maybe that’s budgeting on paper with highlighters or maybe it’s an app with great reporting. Find what visually appeals to you and work with that!

    Cut out more unnecessary spending.

    For the majority of people out there you are buying something you don’t need. You have splurges in your spending that could be cut.

    Look at your spending with a critical eye. Instead of trying to justify why you spent so much on restaurants for example, critically ask yourself if that was necessary or just happened because you were not paying attention.

    Tell friends and family you are cutting back.

    It can be more helpful to stick to your goals when you have people keeping you accountable. Let some of your close friends and family know that you are budgeting now especially if it will mean you have to cut back in areas that will affect your relationship.

    Having friends and family who also manage their finances carefully makes it easier when you do have to say no to things.

    You may also find that talking more openly about your finances helps you get better at budgeting and also helps others.

    Leave your card at home if you aren’t planning on spending.

    Some of us have to eliminate the temptation to spend entirely.  This is one of the budgeting tips I did in the beginning since we started using cash for our variable spending and it really helps to not have that fallback option. 

    When you carry a credit card you can sometimes overspend because in the moment it is easier to impulse swipe. If you don’t have that credit card with you then there is no option to spend the money.

    This is something that is helpful when you first start budgeting and want to stick to your spending goals. Over time it’s less necessary as you adjust your spending habits.

    Have regular no spending days.

    Set aside one day a week as a no spend day in order to flex the no spending muscle. This will just get you in the mindset and habit of not buying things which for many of us, is kind of foreign at first.

    Knowing you can go one day without spending any money can help your mind recognize the fact that you can go more days or even weeks and months without spending. It builds a routine and you think more critically about your spending. 

    Try out a no spend challenge if you want to do more than a few no spend days in a row.

    Always have an emergency fund.

    You will need some level of emergency fund to get ahead financially because things are going to pop up that you did not expect.

    Financial guru Dave Ramsey suggests at least $1,000 set aside for emergencies that will come up and I usually suggest at least 1-2 months of expenses set aside in savings before you do anything like pay off debt.

    Having money will help you get in front on many emergencies.

    Learn how to make easy, cheap, quick meals at home.

    Listen, we don’t all have a ton of time to cook at night and many of us don’t want to anyway.

    Ie’ve found quick and easy meals that we love and are affordable to repeat night after night. For us this meals simple stuff and some pre-made items from Trader Joe’s. If we can feed our whole family for an affordable price and less than 10 minutes then we are much more likely to make dinner.

    It’s cheaper to cook at home if you are making good choices and planning around simple meals. This means we are more likely to stick to our spending goal for food.

    Appreciate money and then give it away.

    Part of managing your money is realizing that you likely have enough to give some away.

    Even when I was at my lowest income ever I still found myself giving money to causes and people I cared about. Now we send a portion of our income to the local church as a tithe and then the local church supports a variety of causes and charities and families in need.

    Money for us is a blessing but we realize it’s not ours to keep forever nor will it ultimately save us or fix our lives. It can make life easier to have more money but we never want our money to control us or our values. 

    Choose your spending splurges.

    Budgeting does not mean you can’t splurge and spend excessively in some areas. In fact, you should budget in some splurges!

    Pick the one or two areas of your budget where you want to splurge because it is important to you. Plan to spend a lot in those areas that give you the most value in life.

    Then cut everything else where you don’t mind spending less! It’s ok to have splurge areas but you can’t make every category a splurge.

    Think about what you value and what helps your feel like you are living your best life. Then keep that category high and lower the rest. 

    Budget and go enjoy your life.

    Budgeting is not meant to make you feel like you can’t enjoy your life. It’s just meant to guide you so that you can enjoy life and hit all your bigger financial goals.

    Hopefully these budgeting tips help you start off strong with your new budget.

    Keep working on it and learn how to live the life you love on a budget!

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  • I Quit My Job

    I’ve hated my job for over three years but it has taken me until now to finally quit.

    I struggled with the decision because I was happy there to start. I also like the company at large and the owners of the company are amazing… but ultimately it’s the best choice for me to leave.

    Life is too short to be miserable because of your job or your manager.

    A lot of people are quitting jobs these days in part because 2020 taught us all a lot of lessons about how we want to live life. Many of us realized after the past year that life is too short and precious to stay in situations that don’t serve us well, jobs included.

    When Jobs & Company Culture Changes

    When I started my job 5 years ago I loved it. I loved the people I worked with and the benefits and job perks. For the first two years the job was exactly what I needed.

    But over time, things changed.

    My manager changed and the work environment changed and slowly I became more and more unhappy with my situation.

    I’ve explained it to others as the frog in a pot situation. I started off in such a happy place that I didn’t realize over time how things changed. I was happy at work until suddenly I was boiling with misery.

    Things were bad in so many ways from little inconveniences to large issues. I was denied pay raises, denied annual reviews, given unclear feedback, had authority removed, felt micromanaged, watched my previous supervisor get demoted for no reason (which meant there was little hope for me moving up). Then after a year of working from home successfully I was told I needed to start coming back in daily even though we were still working remotely.

    Those who have watched my YouTube channel for a while know that I have spent a lot of money in therapy trying to deal with my job and how unhappy it made me. I had never had a bad manager before and didn’t realize how difficult it was to constantly be trying to filter through the muck of unclear and unkind management.

    Ultimately there are a lot of reasons why I quit, but it also boiled down to one thing:

    I could finally financially afford to leave a bad situation.

    The Decision To Claim My Time & Income

    Ultimately I came to the decision in 2020 that I needed to leave my job.

    Then, a pandemic happened right before I could make a move. 2020 was a rollercoaster where jobs were scarce and I was happy just to be employed most days because no one knew what would happen as we all navigated yet another “once in a lifetime” event. Suddenly finding another job was a lot harder.

    Right after the pandemic I learned we were growing our family by one more. It had been something we wanted but it also complicated my decision to leave a stable job with health insurance.

    Having a more or less stable job has been helpful through that time period and over the last few years as my husband changed jobs and grew his career. I was willing to put up with many frustrations with both corporate culture and my specific situation in exchange for a stable income.

    But I struggled with the fact that a bad manager controlled both my time and my income.

    A manager was able to say I could not make more money.

    A manager was able to deny my time off requests.

    After growing a side income via YouTube and having two small kids, I’m more aware than ever that TIME is my greatest resource.

    I’m no longer willing to trade that precious time for money. Especially when I’m trading it for money that’s worth less than the year before because I was told I would not receive a raise of any kind.

    I’m not willing to spend my time commuting to a job. I don’t want to spend 10 days a year in my car in stressful traffic just because a bad manager has decided it’s necessary.

    I’m no longer willing to spend my time doing work that doesn’t matter. My job was just a job and it didn’t directly help anyone. After building a business that has helped people fix their finances and change their own lives I want more of that direct impact from my work.

    By quitting my job I’m reclaiming my time and my ability to control my income.

    If I want to earn more money then I will work harder in my business. If I want to use my time to take a vacation or play with my kids then I will do so.

    My decisions will be my own.

    Limiting Beliefs About Quitting My Job

    However, I’ve been scared to make the jump for a long time. It took me a couple years of being unhappy and then a year of focused effort on my side business to the point where I could quit my job.

    Even with a side hustle income that was equal to my day job I was still scared to quit. I had a lot of limiting money beliefs to work through before I was able to finally make the move.

    Some of those limiting beliefs included:

    • I have to have a “real job” to earn money
    • If I quit i will end up broke and homeless
    • I have to be miserable to earn enough money
    • If I don’t have coworkers I’ll be lonely and isolated
    • It is too much of a risk not to have a stable 9-5 job
    • I can’t make enough money on my own
    • I have to hate my job to make money

    All of these limiting beliefs were running through my head constantly. Looping around and keeping me stuck.

    At a certain point in working through these I realized that FEAR was controlling my life and that’s what kept me stuck and so so unhappy.

    Fear of the unknown and fear of losing control of my future and the fear of going backwards.

    Why Quitting A Job Is Scary

    Let’s talk about FEAR for a minute.

    Fear is a super powerful emotion and it is a natural instinct within us that can be very helpful. It keeps us alive and helps us through dangerous situations. It is our body helping us see and handle danger.

    But it’s also something that can prevent us from doing things even if those things could potentially be good for us in the long run.

    Fear can keep us stationary or stuck because fear’s primary goal is to keep us safe.

    Because fear keeps us safe we will often stay too long in situations that aren’t good for us because we allow fear to tell us we won’t be able to get the things we need if we let go of what we have. For me, the fear of not being able to find another job or not having enough money made me stay in a job that at various points has been boring, miserable, and toxic.

    However, so many people in my life have told me to quit. Friends. Family. My husband. My therapist. My audience watching videos. My mastermind group. Everyone said I should quit and pursue this creator thing because it seemed to make me happy and fulfilled while my job only made me miserable.

    Finally during my maternity leave I started talking to others about quitting my job and maybe doing content creation full time. I had a lot of conversations about this and came to some realizations:

    • If I don’t take risks then I’ll never get to a level I want. I’ll just be at my job earning roughly the same amount forever because my manager has control over my income and refuses to give people raises some years.
    • I don’t have social interactions at work that I can’t replicate. I didn’t have meetings or much in person interaction at work. The things I enjoy are lunches with my coworkers but that’s outside my actual job and something I could schedule myself with whoever I want during my weeks.
    • You have to take radical responsibility for yourself, 100%. Nobody is coming to save you or give you permission to change your life. You are going to do it yourself. You are responsible for your destiny. So I had to give myself the permission to do this even if everyone else already told me.

    When maternity leave ended my manager required I come back to the office full time 5 days a week even though I’d spent a year doing the same job remotely.

    Even worse?

    I had to go back to the office physically to work remotely from another building. No one knew if I was there or not besides my manager. The level of control and insanity in that decision finally pushed me over the edge.

    If I could work hard for that company I could work hard for my own company. Or another. Life is too short for such silly decisions to control my lifestyle.

    Making A “To Do Before Quitting” List

    I’m a very responsible and risk averse person generally and with a family I knew I couldn’t quit without making sure we would be ok financially.

    I also wanted to make sure I was going into a situation that was as strong as possible since I wouldn’t be getting unemployment and my business is growing but not 100% stable.

    So I made myself a list and started working on crossing out all the things I could.

    My list of things to do before quitting included:

    • new tires on my car
    • fill all my prescriptions
    • medical procedures done
    • save up gift cards from Fetch Rewards for groceries
    • filled up some of our sinking funds
    • earn as much money in my business for multiple months
    • have at least 2-4 paychecks from business saved up

    Basically I wanted to take care of the most pressing needs that could be expensive and then go ahead and plan my budget for a couple months of runway.

    Knowing I had at least a couple “paychecks” from my business before I quit really helped me feel more confident.

    Making A “Reasons I’m Quitting” List

    Even with all the preparation I’ve done and equaling my day job income with my side hustle, I was scared to make the jump.

    So I also made myself a list of reminders about why I am doing this. Honestly, I’m tired of being miserable and allowing a bad manager to control my choices and 50 hours of my life every week. I’m also tired of forcing something I love to do into the margins of my life.

    Here’s my list of reasons why I’m quitting my job:

    • I’m prioritizing my mental health
    • I’m prioritizing my physical health
    • I’m prioritizing my family and time with my babies while they are little
    • I’m buying back 5 hours per week and over 10 days per year that I would spend commuting
    • I’m giving myself the freedom to say yes to new opportunities
    • I’m allowing myself to do work I enjoy that helps others
    • I’m giving myself the chance to pursue new career options
    • I’m leaning in to things I’ve always done for fun (creating content)
    • I’m doubling down on making money on YouTube
    • I’m giving myself the time to pursue professional development my job didn’t give me
    • I’m opening up time to work on things that let me stop trading time for money
    • I’m betting on myself

    It’s scary to let go of something stable for the unknown and not guaranteed. I’m still scared.

    But when I think about staying in my current job I feel depressed. It’s almost physical how sad it makes me.

    When I think about quitting? When I write out my plan? I suddenly feel optimistic and excited and energetic.

    What’s Next After Quitting My Job

    So I did it! I quit my job!

    I’ve put in my two week’s notice and my time will be freed up very soon.

    What’s next for me? I’m going to work on my business full time!

    I’m both excited and terrified to try being a full time YouTube creator.

    My business is mainly content creation in various forms. That’s where my skills and passion lie, specifically creating content that helps people take control of their finances. I like helping people make more money and manage that money better.

    My work will be focused on several things:

    I’m incredible excited to keep building on the foundation I’ve already built for this business. It feels great to create content that I know has helped people.

    And here’s the thing: this YouTube business can be my job for the next year. I can pay our mortgage and bills. I’ve built something that covers all our expenses right now. It can be my job for a year while my baby is little. Or maybe even two years until my baby can go to the preschool we love.

    Will it be my forever job? I doubt it. Will it be something that I learn a lot of lessons from? Yes. Will it give me time to tide me over and maybe change my career or plan my next job focus? Yes.

    I’m tired of settling for things that don’t make me happy or fulfilled.

    So I’m accepting what this is and not putting pressure on myself to make this last forever. I did that with the job I worked three years too long. If this stops working then I’ll make a pivot faster.

    I’ve learned from this situation over the last year or two that holding loosely to your plans is the best way to proceed. This is temporary… as is every job and every situation.

    Even if change is scary it is the only constant in life. So this will be my next step and I hope you join me on this journey.

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  • Roth IRA Explained | Retirement Savings 101

    What is a Roth IRA? Do I need a Roth IRA? What are the benefits of a Roth IRA?

    Roth IRAs are an amazing way to stash money away for your future but many people don’t know enough about them.

    Today I’m sharing all about Roth IRAs and why you should open a Roth IRA today if you don’t already have one.

    This guide to Roth IRAs for beginners goes over a few things:

    • why you should open a Roth IRA
    • what a Roth IRA is
    • who can open a Roth IRA
    • how much you can contribute to a Roth IRA
    • benefits of using a Roth IRA
    • common Roth IRA mistakes
    • my personal experiences with Roth IRA investing
    • my recommendations on how to determine where to open a Roth IRA

    If you just want to get started quickly, here are a few places I recommend for opening a Roth IRA:

    Traditional brokerages with low cost funds:

    Online Brokerages with great apps (affiliate links):

    This video and blog post gives you a general framework for how to get started with Roth IRA investing and determining where to open an account.

    Choosing Retirement Accounts

    Today I’m talking all about Roth IRAs and why I think they are an awesome account type and why everyone should open one if they are eligible.

    There are many different account types you can consider using when you are saving for retirement. From traditional IRAs and 401ks to Roth IRAs and 401k and 403bs and more. It can feel like. you need a whole new vocabulary just to invest.

    A Roth IRA is just one type of these retirement accounts you can consider using to build up your retirement savings.

    It’s one of many retirement account options so you should take your time and learn about all of them. Even if you decide you need a professional opinion and hire a financial advisor it always helps to be aware of the basics yourself.

    What is a Roth IRA?

    A Roth IRA is an individual retirement account that offers tax-free growth and tax-free withdrawals in retirement.

    Roth IRAs are similar to traditional IRAs but taxed differently. With a Roth IRA you fund your account with money you’ve already paid taxes on, the contributions are not tax-deductible. Then when you are ready to withdraw money in the future at retirement age, the money you withdraw is tax-free.

    An important thing to understand is that a Roth IRA is just a type of account. It’s not an actual investment. The Roth IRA is the account and you purchase investments to keep inside that account. Those investments then get to grow tax-free because they are inside the special Roth IRA.

    It’s a favorite account of many in financial planning because of the tax-free growth and tax-free withdrawals.

    Some key notes about Roth IRAs:

    • A Roth IRA is a type of retirement account where you pay taxes on money before you put it into your account and then all future withdrawals from the account are tax-free.
    • There are income limits for who can contribute. If you make too much money you can’t utilize a Roth IRA. In 2021, the limit for singles is $140,000. For married couples, the limit is $208,000.
    • Each year there is a max for how much you can contribute. This amount changes every couple of years. In 2021, the contribution limit for a Roth IRA is $6,000 a year. If you are age 50 or older you can deposit extra money to “catch up” with contributions up to $7,000.
    • You can start a Roth IRA at most brokerage firms, banks, and investment companies.
    • A Roth IRA can be established at any time. You have until that year’s tax-filing deadline, usually April 15 of the following year, to max out your contributions.
    • You can put money in your Roth IRA for as many years as you want as long as you have earned income that qualifies.
    • You can withdraw contributions from your Roth IRA, both tax- and penalty-free if you take out only an amount equal to what you’ve put in.
    • For withdrawing earnings in your Roth IRA, the current rules say that as long as you’ve owned your account for 5 years and you’re age 59½ or older, you can withdraw your money and you won’t owe any federal taxes.
    • There are not required minimum distributions like a traditional IRA that forces you to pull out money beginning at age 72.

    There are also more ways to withdraw your money sooner with the ability to draw out money without penalties for things like a first-time home purchase, college expenses, and birth or adoption expenses.

    You can read more about Roth IRA rules on the IRS website.

    Where To Open A Roth IRA

    You can start a Roth IRA at most brokerage firms, banks, credit unions and investment companies. A Roth IRA must be established somewhere that has received IRS approval to offer them.

    Here are a few places I recommend for opening a Roth IRA:

    Traditional brokerages with low cost funds:

    Online Brokerages with great apps (affiliate links):

    You have many options for where to open a Roth IRA since many institutions are able to offer this account type. Not all of these options are equal since some will be more restrictive in their offerings than others and some have higher fees that will affect your investment returns.

    When you are trying to decide where to start a Roth IRA you should look for an option that fits several needs:

    • your risk tolerance
    • your investment preferences
    • your desire to be active or passive
    • the diversity of investments you can choose
    • account requirements like minimum balances

    These things will determine where you want to open a Roth IRA. For example, if you plan to trade within your account you’ll want something with no fees for trades or if you want to be hands off you’ll want something that offers either low cost index funds or roboadvisors.

    You’ll want to also think about the functionality of the account you open. Will you be more likely to contribute if it’s with an institution where you already have another account for example?

    Most people start Roth IRAs with a brokerage since these are well known and trusted

    Roth IRA Contribution Rules

    The IRS has a lot of rules about Roth IRA contributions.

    The contributions are capped at a certain amount each year, you can only contribute earned income, and you have to qualify via your income in order to contribute.

    How much can you invest in a Roth IRA?

    Each year there is a maximum amount you can contribute to a Roth IRA.

    • In 2021, the contribution limit for a Roth IRA is $6,000 a year.
    • In 2021, if you are age 50 or older you can contribute up to $7,000.

    Who can contribute to a Roth IRA?

    Contribution limits are set by the IRS each year and determined based on your modified adjusted gross income.

    • In 2021, the income limit for singles is $140,000 to contribute the full amount. From $125,000 to $140,000 you can contribute a reduced amount.
    • In 2021, the income limit for married couples is $208,000 to contribute the full amount. From $198,000 to $208,000 you can contribute a reduced amount.

    You can view the entire chart of contribution limits on the IRS website.

    What if you make too much money?

    If you’re above the income limits to contribute to a Roth IRA you still have the option to utilize this account thanks to a little loophole.

    You can use the backdoor Roth IRA strategy and convert an existing traditional IRA and into a Roth IRA.

    When you do this you are required to pay income taxes on the contributions that were deductible along with the gains, but after that tax bill you then have a Roth IRA account with all the tax-free growth benefits.

    Common Roth IRA Mistakes

    There are many benefits of Roth IRAs especially the tax-free growth and withdrawals.

    However, there are some drawbacks and mistakes that should be considered with this type of account.

    Roth IRA Disadvantages:

    • No upfront tax break for your contributions which means you’ll get less money to budget for your life.
    • The maximum contribution is low compared to other retirement accounts like a 401k.
    • You have to set it up yourself unlike a 401k that is managed by your employer and easy to enroll.

    Roth IRA Mistakes:

    • Not calculating whether you will benefit more from the Roth IRA or a traditional IRA tax wise. Whether the Roth IRA is right for you will depend on your personal income situation now vs what is expected in retirement will determine
    • Not choosing an investment when you put money into your Roth IRA. When you put money in you have to buy an actual investment like an index fund or shares of stock. Otherwise your money will be in a settlement fund not earning any interest. A Roth IRA is an account type, not an investment itself.

    Despite a few disadvantages and potential mistakes most people will benefit from using an IRA. If your income, age, and tax brackets determine you would benefit from a Roth IRA then open one and get started as soon as you can!

    Why I Love My Roth IRA

    I started my Roth IRA while I was in college during my junior year. I had worked since I was 16 and with some extra money lying around from working throughout the school year I decided to start saving for retirement before I even graduated college.

    Looking back on that decision, I think it was a pretty smart idea since that money is still in my Roth IRA today. If I had not invested back then it would have been spent frivolously.

    That money I invested is still growing tax free in my Roth IRA!

    I was pretty unique since starting a Roth IRA account in college is not what most college students are doing. I certainly don’t know anyone else who did it. I didn’t hear any of my friends even talk about retirement accounts until they had been several years out of college.

    Many college students have never even heard of a Roth IRA because it’s not part of the common language. They might know about credit cards or student loan debt, but retirement accounts seem like something to worry about later.

    There isn’t enough financial education for people at that age and that is one of the reasons why I have this blog and my YouTube channel!

    We didn’t get any help in high school or college learning about personal finance. Even if classes covering personal finance exist they aren’t mandatory. This leads a lot of young people to graduate at a disadvantage where they don’t know all the options available to them like Roth IRAs.

    Luckily these days more people are learning about investing and how to invest for retirement and other big financial goals.

    Why You Should Open a ROTH IRA Now

    If you are in college, soon to graduate, just graduated or at any time in your career (even in your 50s):

    Start investing in a Roth IRA now!

    This account can be your biggest ally in a secure future retirement. All of that money growing tax free will be a huge win for you in the future when you want to stop working or physically can’t work.

    It might not feel fun to send money into an account you won’t use for decades, but the earlier you start investing, the better!

    If you start investing earlier it’s easier to build the wealth that will help you live a great life when you are older. You can start with smaller amounts, just a few hundred a month or a couple thousand a year, and let that build momentum with the power of compound interest.

    Even if you are starting later then you will still be glad you decided to invest for your future.

    I’m not a professional so I can only share what I did and I would recommend doing what I did: read, research, and learn on your own.

    There are lots of resources on the web with information about investing and Roth IRAs specifically. It’s unlikely that you will learn about Roth IRAs and investing so take to the web and educate yourself. You’ll be glad you did for years to come.

    If you haven’t opened up a Roth IRA yet, and it makes sense for your situation then I highly recommend you do it now. Sites like M1 Finance have made it incredibly easy to start a Roth IRA for just $500.

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  • 5 Ways to Simplify Your Finances

    Many people struggling with their finances because things get too complicated, disorganized, and overwhelming.

    It’s easy to follow too many financial plans and get yourself tangled up with the added complexity. Once you get disorganized or overwhelmed it’s easy to throw the whole system away and ignore your finances – which just leads to a worse financial situation.

    The best way to manage your finances is to make it very, very simple.

    Simple is good. It’s understandable and manageable which means you are more likely to stick to it.

    When you stick with something you eventually achieve the goals you set out to achieve. That is why keeping your finances simple is so important.

    5 Ways to Simplify Your Finances

    Below I’m going to share 7 ways to simplify your personal finances so that you are able to stick with your money goals.

    Automate your money.

    Automating is the simplest way to manage your money and stay on top of your bills. For most people automating savings is the only way to consistently save money as well.

    Automate everything that you can.

    Automate your bill payments so they are paid on time every month. Automate your retirement savings so your 401k and Roth IRA is funded each paycheck. Automate your savings so your sinking funds have money allocated after every paycheck hits your bank.

    Setting up everything in your financial life be automated will save you a lot of mental energy and effort.

    Pay yourself first.

    I truly believe paying yourself first is the foundation to success with your finances. It’s also a great way to keep things simple.

    When you pay yourself first by automating your investments to happen immediately when you get paid you are able to guarantee that your goals are funded.

    Making sure your big goals are funded first makes the rest of your spending plan a lot simpler. You are able to spend what’s left without being as stressed because you don’t have to use the remainder.

    Most people leave their savings and investing to the very last line of their budgeting. They save what’s leftover after spending and this is always stressful because it feels like there is never enough.

    If you only save what’s left after spending there will never be enough.

    Switching to a pay yourself first method will eliminate that stress of feeling like there is never enough.

    Less stress and better funded financial goals? Simple and perfect.

    Limit your investments.

    It’s easy to get caught up in stock picking and trying to chase the next best investment opportunity.

    But in reality? The best investment plan is a simple one with limited investments.

    Do your research and choose one or a handful of investments that are already diversified like a certain index fund or target date mutual fund. Once you’ve made your selection stop looking for new investments and just focus on sending money to fund this one thing.

    You don’t need to constantly research and change your investments in order to get great returns. You just need to choose a good option and then actually fund the investments.

    Create an emergency fund.

    Saving money can be incredibly hard and it’s even harder if you are working toward multiple goals like paying off debt.

    However, an emergency fund will help you simplify your plans for when emergencies come up.

    Having an emergency fund set aside allows you to focus on handling your life and letting go of worries. You know that the money is there when you need it. The security of an emergency fund makes life and your finances much simpler.

    Organize your finances.

    If you want to simplify your money then you need to get organized.

    Luckily this can be done with whatever system works for you. There is no need to struggle with any style of money management if it doesn’t click for you.

    You can use a number of useful free apps like Mint or Personal Capital for budgeting, or you can use pen and paper with budgeting printables, or you can do a simple anti-budget method utilizing automation and multiple accounts. Whatever way works best for your personality and lifestyle is the one that will be simplest for you.

    Here’s what you need to know to be organized:

    • when you have income coming into your account
    • when your bills are due
    • when your bills will be paid
    • if your account has enough to cover your bills
    • how much you have for spending money

    These are the basics of budgeting and knowing these things will allow you to get organized in a way that makes sense for your life.

    I always like to tell people it might take a couple of attempts before you find the budgeting and money management style that fits you best. Don’t give up if one doesn’t work out for you. Just try another!

    When you find the right option things will feel simple and easy.

    Simplifying Personal Finances

    Personally I am aiming to live a life that’s easier and less stressful which is why I’m constantly looking for ways to simplify everything in my life.

    My finances are no different and I’ve done a lot of work to personally find the systems and methods that make managing money a breeze for me.

    It might take a bit of upfront work to set up things like money automations but once you are done you will be able to benefit from a simpler, easier system for many years to come!

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  • How To Download A Digital Product On Etsy

    You’ve purchased a digital product on Etsy but now you aren’t sure how to download it. I’m here to help!

    Downloading Digital Files

    There are multiple ways to get to your digital files for download:

    If you have an Etsy account, after your purchase you’ll see a View your files link which goes to the Downloads page. Here, you can download all the files associated with your order.

    Etsy will also send you a download notification email separate from any transaction notification emails you receive from Etsy and/or PayPal. This will include the information for downloading.

    You can also download at any time by going to Etsy > Your Account > Purchases and reviews. Here you will see all the files you’ve purchased.

    etsy-digital-download-files-purchased

    On this Purchases page you will see a black “Download Files” button next to any order where you can download files. Click Download Files and it will take you to the Downloads page for your order.

    etsy-digital-download-files-purchased-

    On this page you will be able to then click “Download” for each individual digital file.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Here are some of the frequently asked questions about downloading purchased digital files on Etsy.

    Why is none of this showing up for me?

    Downloads are available once your payment is confirmed. If you paid with PayPal or a credit card on Etsy, confirmation might take a few minutes.

    If you’re unsure if you’ve purchased a Digital Item, you can always go back to the listing page. If it is a digital download, you should see an “Instant Download” message on the images for the item.

    Can I download on the app? Why is it not working?

    Unfortunately Etsy does not allow you to download a digital purchase through the Etsy app at this time. To download a digital file, please sign in to Etsy on your mobile browser or a non-mobile computer.

    What do I do if I purchased a digital item, but I don’t have an Etsy account?

    If you checked out as a guest, you’ll find a link to download your purchase in the receipt email that was sent to you after purchase. Because you won’t have an account to log in to this email will be the main access link to your files. Make sure you keep it in your email as long as you need the files.

    What if I can’t find my download notification email?

    Sometimes Etsy emails don’t show up in your inbox. First, check your spam or junk inbox to see if it landed there. If you use Gmail, also check your Social and Promotions tabs where many users find Etsy emails.

    If it’s not there, add [email protected] to your address book or safe list to allow the email to go through. If you still have trouble finding or getting the email you can reach out to Etsy support.

    how-to-download-a-digital-product-on-etsy

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  • 13 Tips To Save Money Eating At Restaurants

    Eating out at restaurants is something most people enjoy for both the food and entertainment aspects. It’s fun, it’s often social, and it’s a great treat to have high quality food you didn’t prepare.

    However, it also wrecks most of our budgets!

    Restaurant food can be incredibly expensive and it can also add up and destroy your budget if you are not careful. Today we will look at some of the ways to save money on eating out at restaurants and how you can still indulge without breaking the banks.

    How To Save Money Eating Out

    In this video I share all about how we save money on eating restaurant food. We love to eat at restaurants for both food and entertainment and it’s always part of our budget… but it’s nice to save money and make it a smaller portion of our budget.

    These tips are all the ways that I’ve found to save money on restaurant food but still enjoy my favorite restaurants.

    Mystery shop for free food.

    Mystery shopping is a great way to get free food while also getting paid. This double win means you’re earning money as a side hustle and getting a free meal at a restaurant.

    Generally for these opportunities you will get paid and a free meal in exchange for observing things at the restaurant and filing a report when you return. Some will also require photos of the location or other additional resources.

    There are many different mystery shopping services that will send you potential jobs so sign up for multiple. Then you can bounce back and forth between the different restaurant secret shopping opportunities.

    Use credit card points for gift cards.

    Credit cards can be a magical thing for anyone wanting to get free money or save money. This might sound backwards because they are for spending but they actually offer great cashback rewards that you can use to get restaurant gift cards for free.

    You can use credit cards for all of your purchases and then use the points you receive for that spending to purchase gift cards to your favorite restaurants. This is a strategy we use to eat out often without feeling guilty about it.

    Important! If you have trouble controlling or tracking spending then this strategy might not be right for you. If you are going to overspend by using a credit card then don’t try this. You could instead just use the card for bills that you would pay anyway or skip this entirely.

    Use Fetch Rewards points for gift cards.

    Fetch Rewards is one of my favorite apps to earn points to get gift cards to restaurants. With this app you take a picture of your receipts and upload them in exchange for point that you can redeem for gift cards and more.

    We use Fetch Rewards for every receipt that we get both in person and digitally. Thanks to this we usually have enough points to get a $25 or $50 to a restaurant for a date night every month or two.

    If you don’t use the app yet, you can use my Fetch Rewards referral code  MV7RR to get at least $2 free when you sign up.

    Drink water instead.

    Drinking water instead of soft drinks or alcoholic beverages will lower your restaurant bill. This is one of the easiest ways to save money when you are eating out.

    Water at most restaurants is free and you’ll save $2-$20 depending on the drinks you were considering. Even if you only do this every other time you go out the savings will definitely add up!

    Go for lunch instead of dinner. 

    Changing the time you are eating out will help save you money. If you go to a restaurant for lunch or brunch instead of dinner you will end up spending less money. Many places have a much cheaper lunch menu than dinner menu.

    When you decide to go eat at a restaurant for lunch instead of dinner you will save a lot of money especially if you combine this hack with others on this list.

    Eat at happy hour times to save on food and drinks.

    Similar to eating at lunch instead of dinner, you can go to happy hours and eat for much less than if you are there for dinner time. You can get discounts on meals, appetizers, and especially drinks.

    This is the number one way I went out to eat and kept it affordable when I was single and making less money. It was much cheaper to make sure I ordered food and drinks from the happy hour menu than the dinner menu. The price savings allowed me to frequent my favorite locations more often during the week.

    Split a large dish between people.

    Most restaurant portions are huge in the United States. On one hand this means you are “getting more for your money” but it also opens you up to others savings habits like splitting a large dish between people.

    You can easily split most meal options at restaurants with 1-2 other people. This can work for your main meal and for appetizers as well. Splitting the cost between people will reduce your share of the cost.

    Order apps instead of main dishes.

    Ordering appetizers instead of main entrees is a great way to save money at many restaurants. This won’t work everywhere but many restaurants have such good appetizers that it can be even better than a regular entree.

    This can save you a ton of money since many appetizers are much cheaper than main dishes. At one of my favorite chain restaurants I save $5 every time I order my favorite appetizer rather than an entree.

    Use loyalty programs or discounts.

    Many restaurants will offer discounts for certain segments of the population. These are things like discounts for seniors or teachers or police officers. If you fit any of those groups then you should definitely utilize the discounts available to you when eating out at restaurants.

    Restaurants also offer loyalty programs so you can get discounts for returning to the same restaurant over and over. Most places have a loyalty program from large worldwide chains like Starbucks to small local restaurants. If you plan to go back to a place make sure you use the loyalty program if they have one!

    Eat when kids are free.

    When you have kids you will notice that your expenses for eating out will go up dramatically. Having kids adds a lot to your bill overall which means you should definitely take advantage of restaurants that have “kids eat free days”.

    Many places will have one day a week where they either let kids eat free or at an extreme discount. When you work your schedule around these specific days to eat out at restaurants you will be able to save a lot of money.

    Watch for or ask for specials at a discount.

    When you visit a restaurant keep an eye out of specials but also make sure to ask about the price and if it’s discounted. Some restaurants use specials as just a way to try out new dishes and they can be more expensive than normal.

    Others will use specials as a way to draw people in so they are at a discounted rate. Find out what option the restaurant you are visiting does and if it’s cheaper try to order from the specials menu!

    Look at menu prices and evaluate price between items.

    Being cost conscious while you are ordering at a restaurant will help save you money.

    It might not seem fun to base your order on what is cheaper at a restaurant but this is something that can allow you to save money. You can use this method to save money on multiple trips to a restaurant so then you’ll be able to splurge later.

    Eat on your birthday for birthday specials.

    Birthdays are a great time to save money on eating out because many places will give you free food to celebrate!

    Many restaurants will give you a free appetizer or dessert and some even give you a whole meal for free. It’s definitely worth looking into free food you can score on your birthday so you can take advantage of that special day every year.

    Keep saving!

    Those are just the main ways we’ve found to save money when we still want to eat out and enjoy food from restaurants.

    There are a ton more and you should definitely keep looking for ways to save when you eat out at restaurants!

    Instead of forever giving up your favorite restaurants to stay on budget you can instead find ways to work on the price and fit it into your spending plan. Life is too short to stay out of restaurants forever!

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