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Pay off debt or invest?

debt May 27, 2021

The age old question. How much of your income should be going to debt vs investments. Should it be all or nothing?

The answer depends on a variety of factors, one of which being personal preference. In general, investing should be prioritized above LOW interest debt, particularly if you are young. Here are some suggested cut offs:

  • Invest first if your debt is less than 6% if in 20s
  • Invest first if your debt is less than 5% if in 30s
  • Invest first if your debt is less than 4% if in 40s

Above those cut offs, pay off the debt first!

Why does age matter? With age, your portfolio will have a higher bond allocation and generally low returns. In addition, you want the security that complete debt freedom brings when you move into retirement. 

Here are some examples of how the numbers change on the debt vs invest question when looking at high interest vs low interest debt.

 

With low interest, high dollar student loan debt, your net worth actually comes out higher if you do a...

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The Secret Drag On Your Investments

wealth Feb 15, 2021

If you're a consistent investor, CONGRATULATIONS. That alone is a major accomplishment!

If you're not sure how to invest, click this link to take my masterclass on getting started.

As hard as you are working to save and invest, I'm sure you would want to know if something was draining your investments behind the scenes. 

Well, something is.

It's your investing fees.

Fees come in several forms. The first is related to the investment itself. Each fund you choose has an expense ratio that represents the fund's internal operating expenses. It is represented as a percentage, and can be interpreted as the percentage of your returns that is taken from your account to pay for the fund's fees. 

Not sure what the expense ratio is for the funds you've invested in? Just google the fund's ticker (collection of capital letters representing the fund name). Click the Morningstar link. The expense ratio will pop right up. 

What's a good expense ratio? I prefer <0.10%. Most of my...

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Backdoor Roth IRA

wealth Jan 18, 2021

Roth IRAs are one of the best tax-favored accounts to use for retirement investing. 

You invest "after tax" dollars (meaning your contributions are not tax deductible). The contribution limit for 2021 is $6000, unless you qualify for a catch up contribution. After age 59 and 1/2, all of the funds in the account can be accessed TAX FREE. Yes, you read that right. In addition, Roth IRAs have several other benefits:

  • You can withdraw your contributions (not the growth) at any time.
  • You can make a withdrawal without 10% penalty before 59 and 1/2 if you use the funds for qualified educational expenses (you will still pay income tax on the earnings portion).
  • You can make a withdrawal of up to $10,000 without any taxes or the 10% penalty before age 59 and 1/2 if you use the funds for a first time home purchase as long as you made the contribution >5 years ago (if it has been less than 5 years, you'll pay income taxes on the distribution).
  • No required minimum distributions in...
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CARES Act Benefits Ending - How can you prepare yourself?

lifestyle Dec 14, 2020

As 2020 comes to a close, many of the CARES act benefits are ending as well. Congressional debates continue, but a new stimulus bill hasn't been passed. Make sure you know what you can expect moving into 2021. 

The following benefits are set to end in the next few weeks:

  1. Unemployment benefit extensions - When the initial bill was passed, unemployment benefits were extended from 26 weeks to 39 weeks, with an additional $600 per week (which ended several months ago). The benefit extension to 39 weeks will end Dec 26th. There is talk of benefit extensions in 2021 with an additional $300 per week, but this has not been passed by Congress.
  2. Employer incentive to help pay down student loans - Employers can contribute up to $5,250 towards an employee's student loans in 2020, which is excluded from income and employment taxes. This benefit ends December 31st. 
  3. Charitable contribution benefit - If you normally take the standard deduction, you can...
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Paying for the Holidays

lifestyle Nov 15, 2020

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I will be compensated at no additional cost to you. For my full disclosure, click here

The holidays are a wonderful season full of joy and family, and a WHOLE lot of extra expenses. If you're stressed about paying for all the extras this season, check out these suggestions.

  • Make a list of people you plan to buy gifts for, and set a specific price point per person.

Having an organized game plan before you go shopping helps you stay on track while looking for gifts, and helps you determine a total price point for your budget. DO NOT plan to spend more on gifts than you can afford to spend - racking up credit card debt to buy gifts isn't worth it. 

  • If you realize you can't swing buying gifts this year, make something.

You may look at your budget and your list of people you would like to give a gift to, and realize there is no way to buy traditional gifts and stay on budget. Make something! The...

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Make More Money

wealth Sep 30, 2020

This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I will be compensated at no additional cost to you. For my full disclosure, click here.

 

You can only cut expenses so much. If you want to get out of debt faster, save more money, &ultimately build wealth - you need to increase your income! There are both short and long term components to this. Let's take a look at ways to do both.

Short Term
If you're trying to achieve an intermediate term goal, like pay off debt or hit a specific savings goal, increasing your income on a short term basis helps dramatically. I did this while paying off my student loans, and it is the only way I was able to pay off $161,000 in 16 months. There are a million ways to do this. Here are a few ideas....

1. Pick up overtime at work
- This is probably the simplest approach. If there is an opportunity for you to work overtime at your current place of employment, take it. 

2. Get a part time job
- Drive for uber, work...

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Are You Covered?

wealth Sep 07, 2020

It's not enough just to build wealth, you have to protect it! You may not perceive yourself as having wealth, but if you have money in your checking account, a savings account, retirement account at work, car, house or all of the above - you have wealth! Let's talk about various types of insurance you should be considering to keep yourself protected. 

1. TERM LIFE INSURANCE
- If you have anyone who depends on you financially, you NEED life insurance. Term life insurance (as opposed to whole life, universal life, etc) is inexpensive. We all feel nothing will ever happen to us, but the unfortunate reality is that it's possible. It would be bad enough for your family to lose you prematurely. Don't add insult to injury by leaving them in financial disarray. 

2. LONG TERM DISABILITY
- Statistically, it is far more likely that you would need to utilize long term disability insurance than life insurance. A sudden inability to work could leave you financially destitute with...

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Keep Your Chin Up

debt Aug 31, 2020

This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I will be compensated at no additional cost to you. For my full disclosure, click here. 

The process of paying off debt is usually a long one. It is a journey that is both physically AND emotionally exhausting. You may be working extra hours, going without things you were used to enjoying, and even dealing with the opinions of those around you who don't understand why you are doing what you are doing. I felt ALL those same things. Here are a few tricks I used to keep myself feeling positive and motivated along the journey. 


1. Celebrate each small win
- This doesn't have to be an expensive celebration! Go get ice cream. Dance around the house. Jump up and down. Post it on social (make sure to tag me @strivewithkristin so I can celebrate with you!). Even if you just paid off a $2000 credit card balance and you have $50,000 more to go, it is still an accomplishment and it is worth celebrating!


2....

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3 Ways You're Crushing Your Finances

lifestyle Aug 24, 2020

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I will be compensated at no additional cost to you. For my full disclosure, click here. 

Let's chat about a few of the most common money mistakes out there, and how avoiding them can dramatically improve your financial future. 

1. Not taking advantage of free money
- Depending on which study you look at, somewhere between 1 in 4 and 1 in 5 Americans are not taking full advantage of employer matches at work. This is FREE MONEY. You should be contributing at least enough to your employer retirement plan to obtain the free match, no matter what. Don't forget HSA matches as well! HSAs offer triple tax savings as is, so the potential for free money being added to your account just sweetens the deal. Employer matches (if they match dollar for dollar), are literally an automatic 100% return on your investment REGARDLESS of the market. Compound that money over decades, and you have completely changed the...

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Mindset Matters

lifestyle Aug 10, 2020

This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I will be compensated at no additional cost to you. For my full disclosure, click here.

Mindset is a buzz word these days, but for good reason. Your mindset matters. This is true in all aspects of life, and money is no exception. 

YOUR THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS ABOUT MONEY WILL FUNDAMENTALLY CHANGE YOUR FINANCIAL FUTURE.

What things can you do to "check in" on your money mindset?
1. EVALUATE HOW YOU VIEW "RICH PEOPLE"
- The narrow viewpoint that "rich people" are in some way "other" or fundamentally different than you is a lie. Most of us take it a step further though, and develop a social box that we put wealthy people in and then make unfounded assumptions based upon our social construct. If you find yourself assuming that wealthy people inherited their wealth, are greedy, or are lazy... you need to do some fact checking. Multiple studies have found that less than 20% of millionaires inherited their wealth (see ...

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