How to manage your own (basic) retirement plan

You may be thinking, 1) “But Mike… my employer does that. Why would I need to manage my own retirement plan?”   Or, 2) “Retirement…? That’s about 40 years away. Why would I bother with that now?”   Or, (and this is the one I’ve heard most recently) 3) “Mike – I know that I need to be saving for retirement but I don’t know what to do?!?! Can you help?”   My responses, respectively:   1) What happens when you no longer work for your employer or decide your employer does a bad job of managing your retirement plan (you’ll be rolling over into an IRA, or something similar – Individual Retirement Account — Keyword: Individual)?   2) Come on man – the data show you need to get on it. There is no replacement for time, even if the investment is small. See this article for details.   3) […]

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Mailbag – should I invest or pay off debt?

  I received an email the other day that both I and the sender thought other’s may enjoy reading about.      First the question:       So I have between 25k and 30k in student loan debt at 5.75% interest (I thought I was below 5 until I just double checked) on a very long payment plan (I’m paying like 250 a month).   About a year ago as an experiment I put $5600 into the stock market split between 3 ETFs.  In that year or so I have a total gain of 11.57% on that money.   With this said for future money I am saving per paycheck do you think it is better to try and aggressively pay off my student loan… or continue investing in the stock market since so far I seem to be earning almost double the interest rate on my loan? -Archer […]

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How to make room in your monthly budget for investing if you lack the capital (guest blogger – Andrew)

Hi Team,   Today we’re lucky to have with us Andrew from SlickBucks – where you can find some great posts about investing, saving, and building wealth. In this post, he covers some solid options for investing if you lack the capital. Be sure to let him know what you think in the comments section and check out some other posts he’s written for his site. As always, thanks for being here!   -Mike     If you’re young, broke, or young and broke, you’re probably tired of hearing the maxim “it takes money to make money”. What are the rest of us supposed to do, then? Living paycheck to paycheck isn’t a sustainable way of life, so you need to find investment strategies that will work even if you don’t have much capital. The Mindset: Goals and Saving It’s hard to start investing, but you should start by thinking of what kind of […]

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Car trouble in paradise – “That’s not a Buick!!”

It was a random Tuesday. We had just gotten home from work and had commenced unpacking lunch boxes, loading the dishwasher, and started talking about the day’s events when Monica casually slipped it into the conversation… “Oh, yea. My car got hit in the parking lot at work again.”   “Wait. What?… How bad are we talking?”   She continued, “Well, I’m not sure. You’d better take a look at it. The girl left a note, though. So we should be all good.”   Humm… OK. Now that I’ve got the narrow range from front end caved in, to a scratch under the headlight as an expectation, I couldn’t possibly be surprised with what the actual damage was… Another good setup by the Mrs.   After much inspection, I concluded the damage was minor but there was some missing paint and a dented fender immediately in front of the left […]

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Can millennials bank on pensions? I don’t know, but I’m not

I remember the day I landed my current government job. Relief rushed through my brain as I could now list the attributes: stability, health insurance, regular raises, and pension in the same sentence with my current employment situation.   I was stoked! Great benefits, fulfilling career, and a sexy title (forensic scientist)… Doesn’t get too much better than that, right? Sure, but sexy titles don’t keep food on the table during retirement. A pension would do that for you… Or would it?   Pension – a regular payment made during a person’s retirement from an investment fund to which that person or their employer has contributed during their working life.   It really is a great concept. You pay into it for 30-ish years, so does your employer, and that cash is invested and grows to basically provide you with a regular paycheck during retirement years. This type of system (a defined benefit […]

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No, Not Everyone Needs a Budget (guest blogger – Dan)

This week, MikedUp Blog is attempting to answer the question, “What are personal finance bloggers collectively wrong about?” My contribution posted Tuesday, while Dan from Pennies and Dollars has provided his take below. Here’s a link to the intro post (from Monday) if you’re looking for more details. And as always, thanks for reading!   -Mike   The personal finance community is obsessed with budgets. And for good reason.   Budgets are the roadmap for our finances, and most people tend to go astray without a budget in place.   However, there’s a tendency in the personal finance community to deliver budget ultimatums. To be clear, not everyone is guilty. Some personal finance writers take a balanced and measured tone to budgeting. But I’m certainly guilty of budgeting ultimatums! I’ve stated in no uncertain terms that everyone needs a budget. And I know I’m not alone. The kind host of this blog […]

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“Cut up your credit cards!!” – (Wait… what? Why?)

This week, MikedUp Blog is attempting to answer the question, “What are personal finance bloggers collectively wrong about?” My contribution is below, while Dan from Pennies and Dollars will provide his take on Thursday. Here’s a link to the intro post (from Monday) if you’re looking for more details. And as always, thanks for reading!   -Mike     Dave Ramsey recently tweeted, “The credit card is the cigarette of the financial world. When we look back in the years to come we will shake our heads at the stupidity.” Additionally, some PF (personal finance) bloggers have written recently, echoing the “cut up the cards” sentiment.   You should also know that the current interest rate for credit cards is 15.07% – and that’s if you have good credit. The bad credit rate: 22.73%.   As an example, if you buy a $1,000 couch using a store credit card via payments for 60 […]

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This week: What are personal finance bloggers wrong about?

No question, some of the best things about starting a blog that dabbles in personal finance are the relationships I’ve formed with other bloggers. I’ve never been one to hold virtual friendships in high regard, but these are new times, and these are some knowledgeable and, at times, like-minded individuals. The other thing? They also think talking about numbers sounds like a good time.   With these friendships made through Twitter, Google searches, or other social media platforms come the opportunity to discuss topics we’re passionate about, comment on each other’s posts, and guest post occasionally on other sites. It’s good for the readers to get exposed to other points of view and, let’s be honest, it’s nice to share some clicks now and then, too.   I say all of this to introduce a new approach to this week’s posts.    One of the bloggers I’ve talked with recently […]

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How a $10k IRS bill makes you re-evaluate your tax strategy

  First off – Happy Tax Day, 2017!!   The tax year was 2015 and we had been through some changes financially. Up to this point, we had been a 1-income family for years, no kids, at least 1 of us (sometimes 2) in grad/dental school, apartment living, … You get the idea. But in 2015 we decided to gradually dip our toes into the water of life (this is a complete and total use of sarcasm).   Here were some of our family’s changes in 2015:   Went from 1 income to 2 We quit taking out loans to fund dental school (I hear you – cash flowing college die-hards, but to come out of dental school if your parent isn’t a dentist with less than $200k is considered a huge victory… stuff’s expensive) We had our daughter (technically Monica had our daughter) We bought our first house The 2nd income […]

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No excuses – pay like a champion (response to the few who say it can’t be done)

    I wrote an article back in spring 2016 about a young couple that paid off $89,000 in 15 months. The article was very well received, as most applauded the couple’s tenacity and hard work. I’d be lying to say the article didn’t help me out, too. It was the 2nd most popular post I’ve published (to date) and has helped introduce me to a few credit counseling clients that I currently work with (more on that below).   As is typical, though, not all reviews were roses and sugarplums.   Many conceded the hard work and the fact that Jon and Heather sacrificed a great deal in the short term to get out of debt, but many have commented that because the couple ended their debt free journey earning $110k/year, their situation doesn’t extrapolate to the majority of regular folks.   I see the argument that big numbers like […]

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