So long 2015, Onward and Onward to 2016!

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Ever since I was a kid I’ve been very goal oriented and weirdly motivated by the endorphin rush that comes from checking something off my to do list. So it should come as no surprise I enjoy this time of year — reflecting back on what goals I accomplished the past year, kicking myself with a few face punches (metaphorical) for the ones I didn’t, and looking ahead and making lots and lots of lists for the coming year.

2015 was a mixed year for me, though I would say I leave it with a sense of generally pretty spectacularly amazeballs awesome — overall, financially, it was a very solid year, though not without some important lessons. Personally, it couldn’t have been better — Sweetie Pie moved closer to me after being in a different city for two years; I traveled a lot and saw many, many old friends; I started to feel like my house is becoming my home; and I started exploring all sorts of new pursuits outside of work (like this blog!), and somehow managed to achieve some balance of not feeling perpetually “busy” (I chalk that one up to good old fashioned gratitude!). Professionally, however, last year was a disappointment — I had some tough days at work and have been embroiled in some deep soul searching about where I might want to go next, how to get there, and the best recipe for lemonade in the meantime.

In terms of my specific goals, here’s the rundown: Continue reading So long 2015, Onward and Onward to 2016!

Emergency Funds and the Pricelessness of Peace of Mind

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In trying to figure out how to balance my finances, I’ve often struggled with how much is the right amount for an emergency fund. Should I save more in cash, or invest it? Should I pay off my mortgage faster, or save more? How much is enough for an emergency? How much is too much? Should I buy more cheese or less? One of those questions is easy to answer; the rest, not so much…

Standard advice is that an emergency fund should include 3-6 months’ worth of living expenses. Continue reading Emergency Funds and the Pricelessness of Peace of Mind

Investing 101: Getting Ready

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Welcome to Investing 101! This will be a five-part series covering (1) Getting Ready (2) Basic Vocabulary, (3) Asset Allocation Strategies, (4) Mechanics, and (5) Seeking Professional Help. Please be aware (BEWARE!) that I am not a certified investment advisor, accountant, financial planner, or anything else of the sort. (I am, however, trained to write very thorough disclaimers!) The advice I’m giving here is what’s worked for me, but only you can figure out what will work for you — and that’s something no financial advisor can tell you, no matter how much you pay them.

I came relatively late to the investing game — although I had read and understood theoretically how important it is to “make your money work for you,” I tend to be very risk averse and I didn’t understand enough about investing to feel confident putting my hard-earned cash into an account that could actually go down — scary thoughts after all the effort I had put into earning and saving said cash. Letting my (meager) savings sit untended in an account for ten years probably was not the best approach, but it ultimately gave me the confidence to invest more intelligently when the time came. So, my approach is a cautious one, but I think it’s also a wise one where, hopefully, we can all learn from some of my mistakes.

The first two steps to any wise investment strategy are (1) having money to invest and (2) understanding investment basics. This post covers step 1; subsequent posts will get into the details of step 2.

In terms of having money to invest, it’s important to consider some priorities — investing is not something you have to do and, if you’re struggling with other financial challenges, it might not be wise. Here are my seven spending priorities: Continue reading Investing 101: Getting Ready