Showing posts from September 29, 2019

How and why to budget

Budgeting is an important process... for a while. I used to budget carefully each month, but now I don't. I track my spending monthly, but I don't expect to have a budget that I have to worry about. I know roughly (within $100/month) how much it takes for me to live for my basic necessities and beyond. There are a lot of ways to budget, but the best way to budget is whatever way will get you  to get all of your transactions down either on paper or in a spreadsheet or in an application like Mint or Personal Capital. If you've never budgeted, now's the time. Today, because it won't get any easier tomorrow. You'll have to add today's transactions on top of whatever you have to do right now. Everyone has a different set of categories that are important to them. A friend of mine had these categories: Taxes Health Insurance Mortgage Student Loan 1 Student Loan 2 Car Car Insurance Gasoline Electricity Natural Gas Water Phone Internet Prescription

Ramit's Money Dials

Ramit Sethi is a personal finance and behavioral science blogger who wrote I Will Teach You To Be Rich and had several courses on finance and behavioral psychology. He wrote about Money Dials in his blog recently. Each person has at least one thing they are passionate about, and that he suggests we focus our discretionary funds into that category, and spend less on things they don't care about. For me, two categories are eating out and travel. I use those categories several ways, though. Eating out with friends allows me to try new foods (I love trying cuisines I've not eaten before!) as well as socializing with others. It also gives me more information about cooking - something I enjoy, but not enough to make it a category that I want to spend a lot of money on. The other category is travel. Similar to the novelty of eating different foods, I love traveling to new places and often go with friends. More new things and socialization. When I realized that I was spending some

How to start your retirement accounts

You could wait another week, or you could start today. Here are the basic steps you have to do to start your retirement planning. This article assumes you don't yet have a 401(k) and will start with an IRA. If you DO have a 401(k), contribute THERE first, then move on to the IRA. Don't care where you go - I like  Fidelity , but  Vanguard  and  TRowe Price  and the other big guys are very similar.  But here's your plan:  1.  Save up $1,000 that you don't need for an emergency. 2.  Open an IRA with one of those big guys. 3.  Select a Target Date fund (They'll say something like Target Fund 20XX with XX being roughly the year you turn 60) and those types of funds will select a basket of stocks/bonds/mutual funds appropriate for your age (risk tolerance) and rebalance for you as you near retirement. Done. Well, you're done with the biggest piece. Here's the next step: 4.  Go through the process again with your spouse if you have o

Marginal Tax Rates

I will be giving a financial presentation in early November, so most of my October posts will be devoted to some personal finance topic. Today is: Marginal Tax Rates - Your Friend is Wrong When They Tell You Your Raise Will Give You Less Net Income In the United States, we have marginal tax rates for incomes. This means the more you make, the more you pay in taxes. However, if your income increases into a new bracket, only new income past the bracket is taxed at the higher percentage. For example, assume the following tax brackets. Incomes From Incomes To Tax Bracket $0 $10,000 10% $10,001 $20,000 20% How does the math works for the marginal tax brackets? if you make: bracket 1 bracket 2 your tax is your net income is $5,000.00 $500.00 $0 $500.00 $4,500.00 $10,000.00 $1,000.00 $0 $1,000.00 $9,000.00 $10,001.00 $1,000.00 $0.20 $1,000.20 $9,000.80 $15,000.00 $1,000.00 $1,000.00 $2,000.00 $13,000.00 $20,000.00 $1,000.00 $2,000.00 $3,000.00 $17,000.00 As you ca

End of the No news and No social media experiment

News: I do feel like I'm missing out. I've seen a few glimpses of some Ukraine and Trump Impeachment inquiry but don't know what is going on. However, nothing has changed on a daily basis for me. I do miss watching Seth Meyer's A Closer Look and John Oliver's Last Week Tonight, so I'll go back to watching those, and skimming news headlines from Google News, WRAL and WTOL. Other than that, I don't think I need to be reading or watching the news. Social media: While I did better at the first half of the month than the last half due to creating my annual I'm Not Dead day post on Facebook, I didn't miss it much. Regardless, this was a good experiment for me to realize that not watching the news wasn't that big of a deal. And social media just isn't important to me, so who cares if I log in or not - and I expect to do very little moving forward..

The Gym, part 2

The gym I was interested in was running a special. For reference, here's what they were offering: It was an offer until September 29th, and I decided to roll the dice to see if this morning they'll start a different and better promotion. It looks like I lucked out. They currently are offering, until October 11th, these choices: Well, I guess I'll just sign up with the No Contract membership this week. I'm looking forward to adding strength training to supplement my twice a week run on the greenway. I used to do Tae Kwon Do twice or three times a week when I lived west of Raleigh. I used to do walking and running and Tae Kwon Do and didn't feel like it was too much then. Once I start adding non-cardio exercise, it'll be interesting to see if and how my running is affected!

Mini run today

I enjoyed a stroll on the greenway - 20 minutes for .75 miles, then ran back. Made it back in 10 minutes. Was pleased about that, especially since the temp was 93 and index was 100 degrees. It really made me drink more water when I got back - which was the other goal! I need to drink a lot more water than I currently do. I'm up to 5.5 cups + 2 cups of coffee this morning. I've had a relaxing day, reading more of Power of Habit, but as the book has gone into organizational habits, I have fewer pieces that relate to my goal of being better. I decided to get some pizza - sounded good, and as it's salty, I'll hopefully... drink more water! Facebook reminded me that I made a post 5 years ago, excited about finishing Week 2, Day 1 in the Couch to 5k program. The segments were 90 seconds jogging and 120 seconds walking, repeated for a total of 6 iterations. It's great to know that I'm able to run much longer now! I'll do another 3.1 mile run on Tuesday or Wednesd