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Money Matters 101

In the never ending pursuit to live a comfortable lifestyle, I’ve been asked countless times how I save money. This question seems easy — just don’t spend it. However, there’s more to it and it’s not as simple as it seems.

For starters, there’s a difference from what you need from what you want. I want a new MacBook Pro and I want a new Rolex, but I don’t need it. Needs are possessions and services deemed essential. A few good examples are car insurance, my medication, and a cell phone. These things are absolutely necessary for my life and is a requirement for going about my daily life. I already have a MacBook and a fancy watch I never wear except on the most special of occasions. Buying something newer is just wanting what’s new and fresh.

I feel the urgency to want something and anticipating it is the main problem with out of control spending or being frivolous with my funds. If left uncontrolled, you run the risk of making it a habit to always want what you do not need.

The cost of the MacBook I want is about $4000. This figure is high because my last computer was fully maxed out when I ordered it. Take the cost of that computer or whatever it is you want and see how many hours you have to work in order to buy it. Remember your time is valuable and is a cost associated with trading your working hours with the cost of purchasing items. Do I still want it? No.

Tracking your spending is absolutely required. I’ve used Mint to log every transaction made on my credit card for almost a decade. I have close to ten years of history to show me my spending habits and if my previous months are above or below my average spending. Charts and data are your friend. Without it, the number in your bank account feels less like money and you can’t picture what dollars look like in your hand.

Speaking of banks, your typical bank offers less than 1% interest. Letting it sit idle in the course of a year means your $100 loses $3 at the end of the year. Inflation is the enemy. If you can’t beat it, you’re losing money by not making it work for you.

Go open up an online savings account and skip the one your local Chase, Wells Fargo or Bank of America offers. The fees are higher, the minimums are lengthy, and they absolutely are designed to keep trapped in a cycle of fees and penalties. Ally Bank is one of the most popular online banks, but even your local credit union might have competitive rates and accounts to fit your needs.

If you rather invest, here’s the blunt reality: do it now. The longer you wait to invest, the less you’re going to have when you retire. Every month, I invest a significant portion of my income into various stocks, mutual funds, and investments. You tend to have people tell you this, “I would but I can lose it all. It’s too risky.” While only somewhat true, money invested into an index that tracks the overall stock market is more likely to make you money in the next 30 years than you’ll lose. It’s not a matter of what you buy into but how often you keep investing. Thanks to the market crash this year from the coronavirus, I’m up 12 to 20% depending on which portfolio I look at.

If you don’t have 3-6 months of expenses saved up, do it now. The pandemic should be a harsh lesson for anyone who is unable to make ends meet. Granted there are multiple reasons why some live paycheck to paycheck, but expect other viruses to occur in the future. That is the truth. If you spend every dollar you make and don’t at least make an effort to save, you’re doing yourself a great disservice and these bad habits will boil over when you’re older.

The fact is you have to try. Discipline yourself to keep track of your finances and don’t go over budget. If you’re banking on the government to come save you, you’re delusional and in for a world of hardship when this repeats. Life isn’t all about money, but when the going gets tough or you have some unexpected expense happen, you’ll be thankful you can just take care of it without issue than keeping yourself at night wondering how you’re going to make it.

Later world.

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The Search for Answers

I’m kind of lucky. I know I can text a handful of friends, both male and female, for their opinion on something. I tend to fixate and overthink something until the very reason for doing so almost becomes unclear. Hands down, one of the most confusing habits I have. Eventually, I come to my senses and ask everyone for their thoughts.

I’m not going to lie. Some topics get dark and wouldn’t fit the narrative of an online journal. You have that secrecy that trust allows. Other times, it’s another question about a relationship or someone I’m seeing. In the end, all I’m looking for is their cold hard unfiltered opinion.

I think what I’ve come to realize is you’re not going to be able to save yourself. Best you can do is ask for help. There aren’t always answers even with your most trusted loyal group of friends to confide in. At least hear them out to look at the situation from their prospective.

2020: once you’re off the boat, you’ll need to really convince me to let you back on.

Later world.

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27 Going On 30

There’s just 9 more days to go before half the year is over. I find it frightening how quickly it all seemed to fly by and vanish. Did I autopilot the entire length? Hell no. I have a tendency to believe I got nothing done without really giving the year a hard look. Perhaps it’s my way of not getting too comfortable with myself. After all, how could you aspire to do more without being a little discontent? Life comes at you fast — faster than you can anticipate the impact. Queue dramatic imagery of a car crash.

I’ve been seeing someone, there’s a great opportunity on the horizon for myself, and all the pieces have been magically falling into place. I feel like a million. For all that didn’t go well, I’m glad I remember to stop to smell the roses.

New Goals / Reminders for the Second Half of 2019

  • Save more $$$
    • Kind of a given and my friends tell me I’m the most financially secure of the bunch, but we agree to disagree. I read somewhere you ought to have somewhere around $10K saved up and no debt before moving out. The number sounds arbitrary. Coupled with the fact I picked an expensive city to live in later this year makes this ever more important. I don’t have too many possessions other than several boxes of clothes and a computer and iPhone, but fuck me for wanting to decorate my place with nice furniture. The mid-century modern look is always in.
  • Cook more and eat out less
    • I like nice restaurants, but do I need to indulge? Probably not. A glass or two of wine every date? I’ll let my feelings decide.
  • Keep self-reflecting
    • Stop to smell the roses. Being busy is good, as my Uncle tells me all the time, but getting lost in the daily bustle of work and little leisure is a recipe for disaster. Note to self: do not repeat last October.
  • Keep it real
    • Fuck me for using such low brow vocabulary, but honesty and sincerity needs to remain in the front seat. Be content with myself and history I have with the world and people past and present. Life goes in one direction — forward.
  • Let go
    • Shit happens and will continue to happen so as long as I’m alive and breathing. Let go of all the misfortunes and grievances from the past, present, and future. Don’t hate (anyone). The future waits for nobody.
  • Eye on the prize
    • Everything I’m doing is inching my way up towards buying a home. The thought of having a property to my name and my Grandma there to witness my success keeps me going — like the wick that burns violently towards the dynamite ready to explode any second. Victory is in sight. I don’t like Donald Trump as much as the next guy, but Christ is the stock market doing well.
  • Keep writing daily
    • I’ve accumulated so many journal entries since starting this blog, it feels routine. I think I’ve gotten better at transcribing my inside voice over time. I see no reason to stop and if anything, this can be parts of the book I’m working on. Currently, it’s several hundreds of pages long. Yikes or is it yay?

27 going on 30. What a trip. Later world.

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Only So Much 1/2/2019

“There’s only so much you can do for someone before they must walk the path less traveled — alone.”

  • Save others who can’t save themselves
  • Don’t always tell them what they want to hear
  • Give time to those who are deserving of yours
  • Listen — and intently
  • Motives defined by altruism bring inner peace
  • Intrinsic values over extrinsic values
  • Build relationships through bonding
  • Remember to make time for those you love
  • Define yourself by your actions towards others
  • You are not all high and mighty — stay humble
  • Do not fear failing — it is inevitable
  • Think before you act
  • Shut the fuck up — you don’t always need a reply
  • Learn to love yourself before loving others
  • Self-forgiveness is central to inner peace
  • You are only human — expect shit to happen
  • Surround yourself with those who love you
  • Ignore those who cause turmoil
  • No life is completely happy all the the time
  • Good habits do not come easy — keep trying
  • You will always miss those who are gone
  • It’s your life — live it how you see fit
  • Blood family is not always your true family
  • Hate is not an attractive quality — avoid it
  • Find ways to relax — you’re fucking terrible at it
  • Speak up — even if you’re the lone wolf
  • Worry less about how long you live — it what you do in life that matters
  • Sincerity is paramount
  • Stop to smell the roses
  • Words don’t define the man, your actions do
  • Hug a little longer — you never know when you’ll see them again
  • Just say it — the worst she can say is no
  • Don’t always search for meaning — often there is none
  • You live to grow and change — remember that
  • Success is not measured in numbers
  • Make your dreams into reality — add fuel to the fire
  • Some people have to hit rock bottom before they find the light
  • Search your feelings — you know yourself better than anyone
  • Don’t fear commitment — you’ll face it eventually
  • Past failures do not define you — what matters is now
  • Mistakes will be made — own up to them
  • Alone time is essential for personal growth
  • You can have it all and still feel empty
  • Go back to basics — a life of excess is chaotic
  • Give, but expect nothing in return
  • It’s not polite to talk about yourself
  • Stay grounded by remembering where you come from