Capsule Re-Cap(sule): How my New Wardrobe is Going

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It’s been about four months since I started my capsule wardrobe experiment. I’ve gotten a lot of questions, such as how do I decide what clothes to keep? How do I decide what new clothes to buy? Don’t I get bored? Happily, there are an equal number of questions I have not asked myself over the last few months, such as what should I wear today? How do I have so much stuff in my closet yet nothing to wear? Where the @%$# are my favorite pants?

Based on this last bit if nothing else, I am calling the capsule experiment a tremendous success.  Continue reading Capsule Re-Cap(sule): How my New Wardrobe is Going

Is Grad School Worth It?

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I’ll admit I’ve been delinquent in my writing recently. I have a good excuse, though — maybe the best excuse. I’ve been on a multi-week, joy-filled, and overwhelming high after attending my 10-year grad school reunion. It really couldn’t have been any better — great friends and amazing people doing amazing things.

Am I one of those people? Sort of — I work in a related field, but it’s not what I went to school for and I went on to get ANOTHER degree after this one that’s required for my current job. (Yes, I be crazy. Way too much schooling.) So I have a somewhat random Master’s degree on my resume that always confuses people and no one’s quite sure what to make of it. To be honest, neither am I.

But was my two-year academic jaunt “worth” it? Continue reading Is Grad School Worth It?

Budget Basement Reno Rundown!

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Woohoo! I am proud to report that my basement renovation is finally, totally, completely, almost done. There are just a couple of minor repairs (shaving off a door that can’t clear the new, plushy, cushy, awesome carpet and repairing a leaky toilet) and then hanging some pictures on the walls when my photo prints arrive in the mail.

I am even prouder to report that it came in … over time and over budget! Not a surprise, but thankfully the overruns were not too extreme. Continue reading Budget Basement Reno Rundown!

Investing 102: I am a Robot

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I’ve been distracted recently and haven’t given this blog the attention I’d like, with several other creative projects (more to come on this!) taking priority, plus the taking-longer-than-wanted-but-not-unexpected basement refurb. Thankfully, though, my finances are robotocized (that’s a word, I swear) and I don’t have to worry about making sure I’m on track.

So how do I robotocize my financial life?

  1. Direct deposit. Did you know you can set up a direct deposit to multiple accounts? I only figured that out recently. I get paid every two weeks and set up direct deposit with my employer. The general amount I need for living expenses (or at least what I budget) is deposited to my checking account and the rest goes to my savings/brokerage account at Schwab.
  2. Automatic bill pay. Many banks and credit cards offer options to set up automatic bill pay through your accounts directly. I’ve taken a more piecemeal approach and set up automatic payments through each billing account, but now I don’t ever have to worry about making sure my bills are paid on time, including everything from my mortgage and car insurance to electricity and gas to state and federal taxes to full payment of my credit card balances every month.
  3. Automatic investing. Once my paycheck gets deposited in my Schwab brokerage account, a few days later I have a semi-monthly automatic purchase of $300 of a total stock market index fund. This means I invest $600/month without even thinking about it. Through my employer, I also have my 401(k) withdrawal with every paycheck — I front load it with a whopping 50% of my paycheck at the beginning of the year.
  4. Automatic dividend reinvestment. Whenever I buy a stock or fund, I select the option to automatically reinvest dividends — free money to invest before I even know I have it.
  5. Automatic rebalancing. I have my 401(k) account set to automatically rebalance once a year. This ensures that the asset allocation I’ve selected will stay generally the same from year to year — in a nutshell, if I have a great year in stocks, I’ll shift some of the gains over to bonds, and vice versa, ensuring maximum diversity for maximum growth over the long haul (there’s an important life metaphor in there somewhere!).

Easy peasy, nice and breezy! Now if only I can find a way to robotocize the rest of my responsibilities …

The Best $4 I Ever Earned

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There are so many things I’m learning on my path to financial independence — one of those is that sudden recognition that I have no idea what I want to do with my time when I am no longer beholden to The Grind. I know I will always want to keep working to a limited extent, but I don’t have a “dream” job in mind. Ihave a lot of hobbies I enjoy doing, but nothing that really grabs me as something I’d want to do even close to full time or would be capable of doing as a means of income production.

In the dual interests of figuring out what I might want to do with more time on my hands and making the most of my current situation, I’ve been trying to pursue more creative endeavors this year and have generally been doing a pretty good job of that — from writing this blog, to refurbishing my basement, to making lots of art, to maybe finally, eventually, really for reals opening that Etsy shop I’ve been talking about for so long.  Continue reading The Best $4 I Ever Earned