Category Archive 'Personal finance'

The Art of the Emergency Fund

Personal finance

Do you have an emergency fund? Are you ready to deal with emergencies?

Don’t lie! Most of us don’t. After paying bills and dealing with investments, who has any extra money to save? Who wants to save money for something that hasn’t happened yet?

Many personal finance bloggers preach the idea of an emergency fund. Today I wanted to get into more detail on this topic and how it works.

 What are the benefits of an emergency fund?

  • Deal with the unexpected.
  • Not have to use your credit card.
  • Bail yourself out.
  • Sleep at night know that you’ll be covered.
  • Plan for a rainy day.
  • Cover expenses if you ever get fired.

Now you know why you should have one. This usually isn’t enough to start a new savings account. Just to be transparent I wanted to share my emergency fund situation with you guys.

How do I run my emergency fund?

I leave money in my checking account. I also have a beefed up savings account.

I don’t have an elaborate “emergency fund.”

I just have extra money sitting around to deal with emergencies and whatever life may bring me. Things always happen. It’s not a matter of “if,” it’s a matter of “when.”

Have I ever used my emergency savings?

YES. Many times.

One specific story comes to mind…

I was driving home from school. It was late at night and it was pretty damn cold. I just wanted to get to the library to cram for my final exam the next morning. I was over-worked, under-motivated, and just feeling crappy. As I’m getting off the highway, my car slides and hits the curb at a fast speed.

I panicked. I was nervous. I drove to my buddies house. I knew that something was wrong. He’s a mechanic and he helped me check out the car. He told me it definitely needed work and that it couldn’t be avoided.

The next morning I went to the shop before my exam. I studied in the waiting area while they fixed my car. It sucked. I didn’t want to hand the money over, but I had to. Luckily I had money saved up to deal with this.

Now it’s your turn…

How can you set your emergency fund up?

Start saving. Save a dollar. Save two dollars. Save anything that you can. Put this money away. Hide it. Just keep on going.

I also suggest that you create a new account to keep this money in. I would label it”emergency” just so that you mentally separate this from your other accounts.

You don’t have to do anything special. Just keep some extra money on the side.

This isn’t the sexiest topic, but we all need to protect ourselves.

Are you ready to get your emergency savings off the ground?

How You Can Train at Home to Save Money

Personal finance

Are you ready to finally get in shape? Is a lack of money preventing you from training? Well, this is the article for you…

I like to cover all sorts of financial experiments on here because I want us to save money together and crush our finances. I also want us to get in shape together. It’s time to use our limited financial resources to look better than ever before.

How can you train at home to save money?

You must first realize that getting in shape isn’t 100% all about working out and training. A majority of the battle relies on your diet and what you put into your system. Before you start to stress about training and different workout regimens, the first goal should be to focus on your diet and what you’re eating.

You can check out this resource on fasting and eating right.

Once you improve your eating, you can focus more on different types of strength training.

What about home workout programs?

We live in an era where home-based workouts are gaining popularity. In the last few years all sorts of random home-based workouts have been sold and marketed like crazy to us. Should you give in to the marketing hype?

It depends on how you follow up to be honest. Buying P90X and letting it sit on your desk next to your “to-do” list is a waste of money. If you pop that dvd in right away and use it 3x per week, well then it’s a pretty decent investment.

How can you ensure that you actually use the dvd?

  • Create incentives for yourself.
  • Find a workout buddy.
  • Give it a test run. Use free material online to see if any of these programs are right for you.

Should you buy any equipment?

Perhaps. I have a few pieces of equipment that make training easier for me. What equipment have I purchased to train from home?

  1. Kettlebell.
  2. Resistance bands.
  3. Two 20lb dumbbells.

You don’t need to buy these tools. They just help with your training.

What are some basic workouts to perform at home?

There are all sorts of workouts worth checking out. I recommend that you read the beginner body weight workout at Nerd Fitness if you’re just getting started. You don’t need much to perform this workout routine.

If that workout doesn’t work you can never go wrong with some basic pushups and going for a walk. When I don’t feel like lifting weights, I grab some music and go for a 30-minute walk. If I don’t have time for the gym, I bust out the pushups at home. All that matters is that you push yourself.

That’s how you can train at home to save money and look like an athlete!


How Much Sleep Do You Need When Working Like an Animal?

Personal finance

How much should a young person sleep? What do you do about sleep when you’re trying to get lots of work done?

“Scientists know embarrassingly little about why we spend roughly one-third of our lives asleep.” — Tim Ferriss

I’ve struggled with sleep over the years. I have a very difficult time falling asleep. There have been times during college where I barely slept. Then there were also times where I slept way too much and it affected my productivity.

How much should you sleep every night?

I didn’t just want to share anecdotal advice here so I looked for something a little more scientific. I found this little tidbit on the Time website:

“Studies show that people who sleep between 6.5 hr. and 7.5 hr. a night, as they report, live the longest. And people who sleep 8 hr. or more, or less than 6.5 hr., they don’t live quite as long. There is just as much risk associated with sleeping too long as with sleeping too short.”

I wanted to throw out some random thoughts on sleep that have worked for me while I was getting lots of work done:

It’s always critical to have a “sleep-in” day.

If you work long hours during the week because you have a full-time job and are building a side business, I highly recommend a sleep-in day where you sleep in as long as you want and catch up on your rest. This gives you something to look forward to in your sleep-deprived state during the week,

Cut out the distractions.

If you focus more on your work, you can get more done. Ultimately, leading to more sleep! I found that I didn’t need to stay up late so often. I was doing so because I was foolish and wasting time on distractions that were cutting into my sleep.

Take power naps.

If you didn’t get much sleep at night, I strongly suggest that you take a power nap during the day. This beats that 7th cup of coffee or walking around like a zombie. A quick 30-minute snooze can do wonders for you.

Work with your body.

I can get by on 6 hours of sleep just fine. I do realize that when I’m older, I’m likely going to need more rest. It always makes sense to work with your body. If you can survive n 4 hours of sleep, then all the power to you. If you need more rest, go for it.

That’s what I think about getting sleep in when you’re working hard.

How You Can Take a Successful Person Out For Lunch

Personal finance

Everyone writes about networking and suggests that you stay in touch.

You know the deal by now. You should be networking. You should be interacting with successful people in your field. You know that party. You just don’t know what to do.

This is why today I wanted to focus on how you can successfully network when you take a successful person out for lunch or coffee so that you don’t embarrass yourself. This is a culmination of what I’ve researched and experienced myself.

Let’s get started with the lunch or networking event…

Go somewhere easy.

Nobody has time to meet you for a fancy dinner in the middle of a busy work day. A cup of coffee works because you pay in advance. You don’t want that awkward moment where you both wait for the bill to come or the have the server interrupt you a dozen times.

Ask questions the whole time.

This is your turn to ask the questions, pick this person’s brain, and get as much feedback as you possibly can on the topic. I highly suggest that you come loaded with questions ready to fire out.

Oh and there’s one thing about questions that you need to know…

Ask good questions.

Don’t ask for their best tips or advice. That’s lame and they won’t know where to start. Don’t ask general questions because you’ll get vague responses that won’t help you much.

What are questions worth asking?

  • What did you do right after high school? What did you after college? You want to see what a successful person has done right after completing their studies. This will usually surprise you.
  • What does an average day look like in your life? I wonder if there’s time for video games?
  • Who else do you work with? You can find out the other players involved in making the team work.
  • What would you do if…? Then you present a specific scenario or hopefully one that you’re experiencing yourself.

Don’t talk about yourself.

Do you remember what The Rock used to say? Know your role and shut your mouth.

This is your time to be all ears and become a sponge for information. Don’t give your input on every single comment.

Do your research.

Don’t walk in confused or clueless about what this person is all about. It’s important that you take some time to do your research and figure out exactly what this person has been working on. This will score you some bonus points. It pays to be interested. People want to know that their work is being taken seriously.

That’s how you can have a decent networking lunch with a fairly successful person. I must admit that I’m still working at this. I’m not perfect and I have a long way to go. I am trying my best!

This article was mentioned in the Carnival of Personal Finance at Nerd Wallet.

How to Budget For a Vacation

Personal finance

Have you been dying to go on a trip for the longest time? Do you finally want to save up for a big vacation?

Whenever I talk about a past trip or one that’s coming up I get asked the usual question from curious friends.

How do you afford to travel so often?

My answer is simple.

It’s all about prioritizing. If you want to travel you need to set your priorities straight so that you can manage to pull off a trip. You need to cut back on the crap that’s not allowing you to travel.

Below is the formula that I follow when it comes to planning one of the many trips that I attend per year:

Pick a rough time frame.

The first step is to decide when you think you’ll be able to go on this trip. If you’re broke it could be a year. If you’re doing okay, it could be a few months.

The good news is that if you have a year for the trip, it’s going to be easy to save. You just need to put aside $20 a week and you’ll have over one thousand dollars in your bank account after a year. That’s good enough for most travel destinations.

Ask around to see who’s interested.

The next step is to see who’s going to attend this trip with you. Do you have a girlfriend itching to go away? Perhaps your best friend wants to ditch the winter? I recommend that you ask your close friends to see who can pull this trip off with you.

Pick a destination.

Where do you want to go? How much money are you willing to spend? How much money can you realistically put aside for this trip?

After looking around, you’ll easily find an answer to this.

Start saving.

When I have a trip coming up I try to either save more money or make more money (or a combination of both). If you want to make more money you can start freelancing now. You can also increase the hours at your current job to have more money coming in. You can sell your crap. There are dozens of ways that anyone can increase their income right now.

As for the saving money equation: just cut out the crap that’s holding you back.

Create a sub-account.

The final step involves setting up a specific savings account where you’ll hold (or hide) the money for this trip.

To keep my focused on my goal I create a sub-account with ING Direction. I label this account after the trip destination. For example, “CANCUN 2013 BABY!” is a suitable title.

That’s how you can plan for and budget for a trip.

Where are you going to go next? Make sure to take some pictures for us.