Your Emergency Fund

Everybody knows that they need an emergency fund (despite the fact that not enough people have them). Nobody wants the stress of being unable to handle a medical emergency, the loss of a job, or a car that needs repairs. But what priority level should your emergency fund be compared to paying off debt or saving for retirement? How much do you actually need to save? And should it be in all cash or invested? These are the issues we’ll be looking at today.

When to Start Saving

The loudest voice in personal finance is Dave Ramsey. Ramsey tells his readers and listeners to first save $1,000 in an emergency fund, then pay off all non-mortgage debt, then build the emergency fund to 3-6 months of expenses. And all of this before contributing anything to retirement savings.

If you’ve been around here for any length of time, you know from my framing of the last paragraph that I am about to disagree. Continue reading “Your Emergency Fund”

You Need to Be Investing!

Whatever bad things you want to say about them, Millennials are good at saving.

This is assumed to be due to being in their formative years when the 2008 recession happened. One expert noted that prior generations saw “plenty of boom times where the stock market was going up, home prices were going up, so they didn’t feel they had to save.”

Millennials saw that markets can go down and home prices can go down and placed more emphasis on emergency savings and a bit less on consumption.

That’s great news! The bad news is that Millennials aren’t investing the extra cash that they are stowing away. Continue reading “You Need to Be Investing!”

Pay Yourself First

Sometimes I will read the same piece of advice across a dozen personal finance books and a host of personal finance blogs. My brain will automatically start pushing that to the back of my mind as common knowledge.

And then, sometime later, I will be interacting with someone in the real world and remember that it is not common knowledge. I will remember that I am a weirdo and normal people don’t spend their time reading personal finance books for fun.

One such piece of advice is to pay yourself first. Continue reading “Pay Yourself First”

Understanding the 4% Rule

As we’ve already discovered, to retire comfortably you need around 25 times your annual expenses. This number comes from the 4% rule, which I briefly touched on (and which got a lot of attention in the comments because you all are apparently as nerdy as I am). Today we’re going to explore the 4% rule and determine whether it is still a viable retirement guideline. Continue reading “Understanding the 4% Rule”

The Importance of Opportunity Cost in a Happy and Wealthy Life

One of the central concepts in decision-making is the concept of opportunity cost. Every decision we make on a daily basis, whether it is an involuntary part of our routine or an active choice, can be evaluated using this overarching concept.  Essentially, the idea behind opportunity cost is that oftentimes a choice that we make will close the door on other choices. If I go to the beach this weekend, I can’t also go to the mountains this weekend. If I spend $300,000 on a Ferrari 458 Speciale, I can’t invest that $300,000 in the stock market (or ever retire). Continue reading “The Importance of Opportunity Cost in a Happy and Wealthy Life”

Get Smarter, Richer, and Happier. Go to the Library.

I tend to focus on three distinct categories here: building wealth, becoming happier, and thinking smarter. Usually there is some overlap between these subjects. Even if there is not a direct overlap, there is always at least some connection behind the scenes. Correcting cognitive biases can make you wealthier. Well-spent money can make you happier. Being happier can lead you to better performance at your job.

But today I want to talk about a tool that allows you to hit all three of these subjects directly. The library. Continue reading “Get Smarter, Richer, and Happier. Go to the Library.”

Budgeting (Or Not)

Let me just say up front that I budget. Don’t pretend to be surprised. I know I’m a nerd.

But I won’t judge you if you don’t.

What I do want to make sure you do is make a conscious decision about how to handle your money. If you’re ignoring budgeting because you think it will take too long or be too constricting, then your money may be leaking out in places that you don’t want it to.

Whether you decide to budget or not, here’s what you should know before deciding how to apportion your money. Continue reading “Budgeting (Or Not)”