The tagline to My Money Design has always been designing financial freedom. For as long as I’ve been into reading financial books and blogs about money, I’ve seen a lot of them try to answer the question of what is financial freedom. However, I feel as though the weight of this term often gets lost or trivialized. In this post, we’re going to layout a definition for financial freedom and explain where we need to focus in order to achieve it. … [Read more...] about What is Financial Freedom – The Easy to Follow Explanation
Lately there have been a number of great posts and strong opinions about having an emergency fund, and I wanted to weigh in with my own opinion and experiences. I have had a long a standing love-hate relationship with emergency funds. Sure, you need them for critical situations! But my problem (and I think this is where a lot of people struggle) is how to save up enough. Depending on which advice you subscribe to, the recommendations can be anything from 3 to 12 months of your gross monthly income. If you’re a typical American household making $60,000 per year, that’s anywhere from $15,000 to $60,000 that we need to have in the bank! Ouch! Is it any wonder we fail at this? … [Read more...] about My Alternative Emergency Fund Strategy and How It Works
It wasn’t one week after we closed on our mortgage refinance that my wife and I got our next “big break” on our expenses. As I’ve spoken about before, part of my annual budget is to pick a handful of expenses each year and see what I can do to reduce them. Sometimes this takes a fair amount of work and research as was the case with the mortgage refinance. But ironically, this next one came from an unlikely source: Junk mail. … [Read more...] about Another Expense Reduced – Refinancing Your Auto Loan
At many times throughout this series and especially in Part 2, I told you not to worry just yet about your individual credit card purchases and to treat them all as one “big category”. The reason I did this is because I didn’t want our lesson to get hung up on analyzing credit card purchases to death. You have a lot of other bills besides a credit card, and most of them are fixed each month. As we’ve already shown, knowing what you’re going to spend each month versus what you’re going to take in is extremely helpful in creating a budget. But in no way does this mean that we should ignore your credit card purchases. In fact, hitting the credit card category is the first place I usually look to cut my spending and re-direct the money … [Read more...] about How to Budget – Making It Easy with Mint
Time to test the gold in fire. Earlier I told you that a well designed budget would be the key to money management and staying within your means. This is still true. If you’ve created something that is tailored for you, meets your goals, and is comfortable enough for you to live with, then you should do well. All of this would be great if “you” were the only person this budget was for. The problem is that it’s not just “you”. A budget is usually for you, your spouse, and your family. Although that doesn’t sound like a lot, there’s a lot going on inside that group. Just like how a company sets a budget, each department will likely have competing goals and agendas. Similarly, sometimes each person in the family feels differently about … [Read more...] about How to Budget – Step 7 – Sticking to the Plan!
So after Step 5, does your budget meet our goals? Did you make adjustments and sacrifices? Do you have a positive balance for each month throughout the year? Is less money going out than is coming in? If so, then you are ready to move on to adding in your investment goals. Notice we didn’t do this in any of the previous steps. This is because you have get your business in order before you can start getting advanced with your budget - You have to walk before you can run. After we’re meeting our basic set of goals, let’s start digging a little deeper and adding in our investment goals. … [Read more...] about How to Budget – Step 6 – Adding In Your Investment Goals
Every great budget follows one simple formula: • [ Money In > Money Out ] = Good Or in other words … • [ Money In – Money Out > $0 ] = Good Basically you’ve got to have more money “coming in” than “going out”. Any other way is just a recipe for disaster! Don’t under-estimate how incredibly powerful this equation is. Everyday, people make the mistake of buying things on credit that they can’t afford or taking on payments when their income simply can’t sustain it. It’s simple physics that you can never have more going out than coming in. … [Read more...] about How to Budget – Step 5 – Apply the Formula for Success
As I’ve already expressed, your entire year is not just one month multiplied times 12. Your year is full of different events and one-time events that can greatly influence your money. The next step is to capture all those things in your 12-month snapshot. Here are a few to start with: … [Read more...] about How to Budget – Step 4 – Add In Those Special Times