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Ten financial commandments to live by in your 20′s

Old Antique Book
KJ: If you were to create Ten Commandments that would apply to your financial life in your 20′s, what would be on the list? Fortunately, MSN money recently wrote an article on 10 financial commandments for your 20′s that outlined their list of ten items that all Gen Y’ers should abide by. Do any of these resonate with you? Whether you’re in your twenties now (or were at some point), what words of wisdom would you impart on the younger generation of the shoulda-woulda-coulda?

No. 1: Develop a marketable skill
Check! – I would like to say that we have developed some pretty marketable skills. I’m a whiz-kid when it comes to spreadsheets, and Angela is at the forefront when it comes to interpersonal relationships and knowing how to sell [insert product or initiative] just about anything.

No. 2: Establish a budget
Check! – I would say we’re pretty on-board with this one. While the last few months have been a bit of a stretch with some extra items that have come up with our house, we always come back to “how can we pay for this without keeping anything on the credit card”? Sometimes expenses – and income – ebbs and flows, and this past quarter we decided to take the plunge and finally get around to some of the things around the house we had been holding off on for a while (read, finally painted our deck and got some patio furniture!).

Check out our tips on budget basics and building your first budget.

No. 3: Get insured
Check! – I would say we have this one down stat. I’m covered through my work, and Angela has coverage through her work for health insurance. Plus, we’ve got our ducks in a row for homeowner’s, car, life insurance, etc.

No. 4: Make a debt-repayment plan
Check! – None needed on this one. ‘Nuff said. Other than the house, we’re debt free!

No. 5: Build an emergency fund
Check! – Reached our goal for the emergency fund, but we continue to pad it for the next car purchase or big purchase down the line.

No. 6: Start saving for retirement
Check! – Between 401(k)s, Roth IRAs, and HSAs (that we intend to use as supplemental retirement by letting it grow over time instead of spending it today), we’re working toward that goal!

No. 7: Build up your credit history
Check! – With our process of putting all our expenses on a credit card to rack up some nice rewards and then paying it in full each month, coupled with our home loan, we’re on the track we need to be to establish some good long-term credit.

No. 8: Quit the Bank of Mom and Dad
Check! – Fortunately, once we got out of college, we were immediately on our own dime and learned to take care of ourself. We still thoroughly enjoy the “chef de Mom y Dad” when we get to spend time with family for meals, but no loans that we owe to our parents! This was a very high priority and goal for Angela and I as we started our adult lives together. We don’t want to owe anyone anything!

No. 9: Clean up your online presence
Check! – What happens on the internet, stays on the internet. Learn to keep a classy profile and think twice before you post something seemingly benign!

No. 10: Get your key financial documents in order
Check(ish)! We have most of our financial affairs and documents in order. One of our goals for this next quarter is to [finally] get our estate plan and wills in order. Being that I work in the industry, you’d think I would have this down, but we haven’t gotten around to it yet. Otherwise, between downloading our monthly statements from all accounts, reviewing Mint.com regularly, and discussing our quarterly presentation together, I would say the rest of our financial documents are in about as good order as they could be.

    What financial commandments do you live by?
    What would you tell your 20-something self?
    Share with us the rules that guide your life!

Image courtesy of adamr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Ten financial commandments to live by in your 20s is copyrighted by TheSimpleMoneyBlog.com without consent to republish.

Some of the links in the post above may be affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. We feel strongly about only recommending products or services we use personally and/or believe will add value to you, our readers. Read more about our commitment to providing quality product recommendations.

What do rich people do everyday that’s different?

American flag with fireworks for the 4th of JulyAJ: We’ve been busy lately, REALLY busy. When I came across this article (Entreprenur.com), it provided a welcome perspective as to why we keep cramming things into our lives even when our cups already runneth over. This post feels like a good post-holiday reset as we all drag our way through life until Labor Day (am I right!?) just praying for a snow day.

I’ve pulled out a few of the stats that resonated loudly with me, and I’d love to know how you all feel about these. Full disclosure – there are a few on the list that don’t resonate with us all of the time: they don’t watch TV (I’m a TV-aholic), They read…but not for fun (I read for fun like a maniac), they’re big into audio book (NO THANK YOU)! So maybe I’m not quite “rich people” material yet, but I like to think we’ve got the fundamentals down.

    Rich people always keep their goals in sight.
    “I focus on my goals every day.”
    Rich people who agree: 62%
    Poor people who agree: 6%

    Not only do wealthy people set annual and monthly goals, but 67% of them put those goals in writing.

OF COURSE wealthy people set goals and they probably accomplish them, too! I think the thing that fascinates me more about this set is that only 6% of poor people claim they make goals. We’ve posted several times about our goals which are a huge priority for both of us as individuals and as a household. We love accomplishing goals together and while sometimes that’s more exhausting than anything else, it’s still a way that we thrive in our relationship together. I would love to know how these statistics change within the community of retired, wealthy people. Even when we’re on vacation I find myself setting goals – sometimes that goal is to get out of bed by 11, but it’s a goal none the less!

KJ: Goals are such an important part of personal (and professional) success and fulfillment. If you’re not setting goals – and keeping them in front of you – then how do you know where you’re headed? Be sure to make your goals specific, measurable, assignable (i.e. who will do it), realistic, and time-related (the S.M.A.R.T.).

    And they know what needs to be done today.
    “I maintain a daily to-do list.”
    Rich people who agree: 81%
    Poor people who agree: 19%

    Not only do the wealthy keep to-do lists, but 67% of them complete 70% or more of those listed tasks each day.

AJ: A to-do list seems like such a simple thing but whether the intention is to accomplish everything on the list in one day or over the course of six months, it’s a living, breathing representation of what it means to be a forward-thinking person. Rarely do people earn money by sitting in the wings waiting for money to come to them. Without a proper to-do list, my meal planning, incidental planning and over and above spending would go haywire. I have to actively plan to manage our expenses and staying on top of that means staying ahead of our retirement goals.

KJ: I am a fanatic for to-do lists. There’s just something about writing down your goals or task list for the day and being able to physically cross them off as you complete items that is quite rewarding. It creates a sense of accomplishment, and it gives you the buy-in that you are working toward something. Sure, not all items are accomplished each day, but the exercise I find is quite valuable!

    They aren’t hoping to win the jackpot.
    “I play the lottery regularly.”
    Rich people who agree: 6%
    Poor people who agree: 77%

    That’s not to say that the wealthy are always playing it safe with their money. “Most of these people were business owners who put their own money on the table and took financial risks,” explains Corley. “People like this aren’t afraid to take risks.”

AJ: I love this one. We know MANY people who play the lottery with the empty hopes of improving their means. Lottery-minded people are not traditionally saving-minded, financial goal-driven people. Why not redirect those hopes and dreams into something you can control – like investing in yourself through a potential promotion, education, or certification? Personally, if I’m going to take a chance on burning money, I’d prefer to do it in a way that results in a bigger reward, one that would help me achieve my goals of course!

    What else do you think differentiates the truly rich from the rest of the general population?
    Why aren’t rich people watching TV and reading for fun?
    What happens when rich people also become the least interesting people in the world? :)

Image courtesy of nirots / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

What do rich people do everyday that's different? is copyrighted by TheSimpleMoneyBlog.com without consent to republish.

Some of the links in the post above may be affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. We feel strongly about only recommending products or services we use personally and/or believe will add value to you, our readers. Read more about our commitment to providing quality product recommendations.

Would you take a job with more money or more flexibility?

Words Show Choices of Family Career and Work
KJ: Surely the job that would pay you the most should be top priority and make the decision of what path you take an easy one, right? The reality is that most of us at some point in our lives or careers will be faced with this dilemma. Is it better for you and your family to accept the higher paying position at the expense of flexibility? The answer for you may be much different than your young-self had always imagined. Since few people have both a rich income and the flexibility they need to fit their lifestyle, the reality is that most of us will be faced with this decision at some point.

Given the unique answer for each of us, this post has a slightly different format where we propose a series of questions to reflect upon.

How much more money?
Are you talking a modest bump or a leap?
Is a lot of the increase based on an uncertain stock payout, bonus, or other variable payment?

What flexibility are you losing?
Are you losing out on the ability to break away from work an hour or two early to go to a doctor, pick up a sick child, or take time off when you’re sick?
Can you work from home or is your access restricted?
Do you have one pool for time off, or are they compartmentalized to sick days and personal days?
Does one of the jobs have “flex” time – where you can work 7-4, 8-5, 9-6, etc.?

Is part-time what you are seeking?
Does your family need someone to stay home with children or the care of a parent or sibling?
If a higher paying job doesn’t allow you the part-time flexibility you need to be able to care of those in need of your support, is it more important to be there with them to provide support or is the income support your primary goal?

Which job has better long-term prospects?
Sometimes a smaller step now could lead to a much bigger step in the future (if that’s what you’re looking for).
A college graduate may be intrigued by a shiny, high profile job right away (with often little to no future growth), but what about the path that gets you ahead of the curve 5 to 10 years later instead?
Sometimes it can be a challenge to balance the here-and-now versus the uncertain future on where the opportunities may rise.

    Have you had to contemplate a higher paying job versus a job with more flexibility?
    What caused you to lean one direction or the other?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Would you take a job with more money or more flexibility? is copyrighted by TheSimpleMoneyBlog.com without consent to republish.

Some of the links in the post above may be affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. We feel strongly about only recommending products or services we use personally and/or believe will add value to you, our readers. Read more about our commitment to providing quality product recommendations.

Can one job be better than two?

AJ: Having one job is often more than most of us can handle, but what happens when life throws you a curve ball and you need to find a way to make more? Many families find themselves in situations where they’re forced to choose the function of multiple jobs in order to make ends meet – but is another job really the right answer?

Over the years Kirby and I have come across a varied and fascinating lot of successful people, all of whom have lead very unique lives that took very different paths. I like to think we’ve learned a thing or two from their experiences, so here goes!

Before you get a second job, consider what the cost of that second job will be.
- How much time will it take you to get from your first job to your second job?
- How much gas will it take you to get from your first job to your second job, and then back home?
- How much of your sanity and physical well-being are you sacrificing in the amount of time it takes you to transition from job one to job two?
- And finally, is there a better way?

Opportunities within opportunities
Many companies offer opportunities for a second job within a first job, if you will, by way of overtime. Even individuals who are salaried can sometimes be eligible to work and receive payment for overtime hours without having to commute at all, so before looking outside of your current role, seek additional opportunities to find value in the position you currently hold.

Milk your benefits!
Kirby and I work for fundamentally different companies that offer drastically different benefits, both unique and beneficial in their own ways. Look for additional cost savings in the benefits you already have:

- Does your company offer free or subsidized meals? Kirby’s company provides free fruit, which seems insignificant, but cut my fruit-buying need in half which adds up.
- Does your company offer incentives for carpooling or riding your bike to work? We have several friends who receive ride share and bike-to-work benefits in the form of cash back on their paychecks – that’s an incredible area of free money that most individuals don’t take advantage of.
- Can you drop your outside personal trainer or gym membership in exchange for the at-work facilities?
- Bring your lunch! This seems simple but think about it – when you leave for lunch every day you’re spending more than you would were you to make your lunch and you’re presumably using additional gas to get there. See what happens to your wallet and your waistline if you bring your work to lunch for a month instead of eating out. You’re welcome!

So what if your situation is more about two incomes costing you more by incurring the cost of child care, a costly commute or your health & well being? Few people have sympathy for those dual income families who are faced with the issue of having two jobs but struggle to make ends meet due to circumstance, but this is a huge burden for a lot of families. If you make $35,000 pre-tax and the child care costs for your two children are over $25,000 a year, your job may actually be COSTING you money over staying home with your kids. Of course there are all kinds of considerations in this scenario, but truly put pen to paper with regards to the input and output of dollars when considering whether two incomes really are better than one.

    What career/life balance decisions do you struggle with?
    What do you value most about your job?
    Can you find additional benefits in your job that are currently untapped?

Can one job be better than two? is copyrighted by TheSimpleMoneyBlog.com without consent to republish.

Some of the links in the post above may be affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. We feel strongly about only recommending products or services we use personally and/or believe will add value to you, our readers. Read more about our commitment to providing quality product recommendations.

New Year’s resolutions: month one gut check

KJ: Part of any proper goal setting process is to periodically check to see the progress (or lack thereof) you have made, so you can hold yourself accountable. And with that, we have committed (no, not been committed) to accomplishing all of our goals for the year. Read more about our intro post on our 2014 goals here. Here’s our update after having a month to progress toward our goals, and let’s see what we have been able to accomplish.

AJ’s 2014 goals (drum roll, please!):
- Read 5 specific books. BLEH! I read one professional-development-type book and were it not for a work trip with a four hour flight that lacked TVs I wouldn’t have made it through. Even though it doesn’t count, I also read 3 mindless books to save the creative side of my brain from shriveling. I’m almost done with my 2nd book, too, which was supposed to be a fun book, but clearly I didn’t read enough about it prior to buying it, as it’s actually about murder. Bad call!
- Learn to knit. I looked at my knitting needles twice this month. I’m considering this progress. I also think that this might be more of a late-February goal because early February isn’t looking so hot.
-Learn how to bake. This is happening. I made cupcakes from a box without screwing them up AND I made homemade cream cheese frosting which is probably more like cooking than anything like baking but still. Let’s consider this a success! ALSO, I made biscuits from scratch (no yeast required, BUT I have purchased yeast, so hey, there’s that!). And I bought bread flour, which clearly implies intent to bake. Pizza dough, cinnamon rolls and bread are all on the horizon. Commence carbo-loading!
-Make money money, shake money money. It’s only been a month, people, let’s give this one some time to breathe :)
- Just say no. Thus far I’ve gone over and above on not drinking for one week of the month, actually not drinking for a solid 18 days! I was not quite the social leper I feared I may become, and I felt as good physically as I had hoped. This might convert into allowing only one week a month where I do drink, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. It’s only January after all.
- Bring in $100 more per month. Even as I made this resolution I wasn’t sure how we’d get there and while we didn’t quite MAKE $100 more this month, we did all kinds of things that reduced costs. Thanks to the pair of AT&T sales kids who interrupted my dumpling making at 8 pm we got Time Warner to lower our bill by $35 a month and kick in an extra DVR. We also replaced all of our light bulbs with super energy efficient light bulbs which helped contribute to $112 in savings on our monthly bills. We saved LOTS of money by purchasing gift cards for home improvement items from Cardpool.com. And lastly, we saved several hundred dollars on the installation of our kitchen backsplash by installing it ourselves. Not too shabby!
Backsplash Counters Cupcakes and Biscuits Photos
-Maintain my ideal weight. I made it 40% of the way to getting back down to my ideal weight. I had hoped to get there by the end of January so as to start February from a place of maintenance but given all the schedule and meal plan changes, I’m not shocked I didn’t hit that target. I have worked out a minimum of two times a week, though, which accomplishes an important piece of this goal. We also plan to do the Advocare Cleanse again starting in mid-February (thus our carbo loading in early February), so by the end of February I hope to be at my ideal weight.
-Create and maintain a garden. The seeds are purchased, the drive is there, if only the weather would stop freaking out (it snowed again yesterday in Texas, for real) long enough to stop freezing (thank you Tom Thumb for carrying these new seeds on the cheap)! March is the month of planting according to plant whisperer Bob so I’m standing by, on the ready!

KJ’s 2014 goals:
- Read 5 books. I started reading the book American Gridlock: Why the Right and Left Are Both Wrong – Commonsense 101 Solutions to the Economic Crises. I haven’t quite finished it, but I am about half of the way through. It’s a book from an economist I follow, and there’s definitely a unique approach he takes to his writing style. He even has a fake back-and-forth conversation with the President…a bit quirky, yes, but I’ve been meaning to have this read from when it first was published.
- Professional development. This goal relates to continuing to invest in my own “human capital” (i.e. unique earning potential from the ability and skills used to generate an income). I haven’t learned any new technologies lately, but I did earn two hours of Continuing Education (CE) this month. Also, I’ve placed a larger emphasis on prospecting more (…that’s half the battle, right?), and I’m heading to a technology conference this week, so progress is being made.
- Maintain my ideal weight. I have lost a couple of pounds, but some of the working out has fallen by the wayside (quickly). I have been able to workout twice per week for most weeks (except this last week was only one time, so hopefully that’s an anomaly).
- Double blog readership. Thanks to a shout-out we received from BudgetsAreSexy.com, the month was off to a great start! We haven’t quite reached the audience we want to build good personal finance and savings habits, but January was a good start to the year!

OUR combined 2014 goals:
- Work out twice per week. Mostly accomplished. We were able to do this for most weeks (except the last one, as AJ attempted to sacrifice a body part on behalf of throwing a great shower and wasn’t up to snuff) so all-in-all, not too shabby.
- Increase our net worth by 35%. And this is probably one of the least successful months we’ve had. From having to pay for a fence ourselves (since our neighbor backed out from any help in the final hours – we’re not bitter, we’re not bitter, we’re not bitter) to poor market performance for January, we haven’t made any progress on this goal yet! Such is the ebb and flow of expenses over time (and markets too!), so hopefully we can make up some ground in the remaining eleven months…

    What’s the most challenging resolution you’ve taken on?
    How do you motivate yourself to stick to it?
    Where do you find your renewed commitment?

New Year's resolutions: month one gut check is copyrighted by TheSimpleMoneyBlog.com without consent to republish.

Some of the links in the post above may be affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. We feel strongly about only recommending products or services we use personally and/or believe will add value to you, our readers. Read more about our commitment to providing quality product recommendations.

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