Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Summer Savings

The garden is in and we are beginning to harvest the fruit (and vegetables) of our labor.  With this in mind, I got thinking about the benefits of a home garden.  You can do this even if you live in an apartment, using container gardens, or a small raised bed.  We are fortunate that we have the space for a big garden and even a coop for free reign chickens who provide us with fresh eggs.
With a little bit of time you can save big at the grocery store by planting what you eat.  Tomatoes are easy to grow and one to three plants will feed a family all summer. Leaf Lettuce and Swiss Chard will grow continuously till frost. If you have more than you can keep up with,  you can freeze or can to save them for winter.
Lettuce, beets, spinach and Swiss chard are now being harvested and it makes for great salads. We will be able to put in a second planting so we have these vegetables fresh going into fall.

Besides the fresh vegetables, other benefits include:
Ø  You save money by less shopping at the grocery store
Ø  You eat better with higher quality fresh vegetables
Ø  You have time to enjoy working in the garden and harvesting what you planted
Ø  You may loose weight because you are exercising more and eating better
Ø  You have a stress release from your busy workday.

To see what we are up to, check out our other blog:

Happy savings, gardening, eating well, stress reducing, being healthy and happy.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Commencement Address

As we just graduated our senior class and sent them off into the world, a few parting words of advice and personal finance tips:

1.  Stay true to your values.  Roy Disney, Walt's brother said "When values are clear, decisions are easy."  Keep refining and defining your values, for they should guide your decision in the future.

2.  Go forth in your life with passion.  Stay true to your values and whatever you do, do it with passion and energy.  We all will have parts of our jobs that we do not like, but need to get done.  Use your passion and energy even when you have to "shovel out the stables."  It will make it more fun and just maybe a little more enjoyable.

3.  Love what you do and do what you love.  It may take you 5, 10, 20 or 50 years to find your true calling in life, but enjoy the journey.  You will learn something in everything you do, but may not realize it until you look back on your life.  Your life's journey has a purpose and the journey is the way to learn and discover your purpose.

4.  ALWAYS pay yourself first. Make sure you put enough in your 401-k to get your employer’s entire match.  You are responsible for your own retirement, so start early and maximize your contributions.

5.  Don't buy things you cannot afford.  It is tempting to rent a nice apartment and fill it with nice furniture....all purchased on credit, but do not give into this temptation.  Save and pay cash for the things you want and need.  You are used to living on very little as a college student.  Keep that going for a few more years and save for the things you want and PAY CASH, not credit.

6.  Remember to give back and be thankful.  It took a village to get you through college: your family, friends, teachers, professors, co-works.  Keep them in mind as you do good with your education.  Perhaps you will influence others to go to college and graduate.  Always give back to others.

7.  Keep in balance with your saving, spending, investing and giving.  Only you can control what you do with your money.  Live life fully and enjoy the relationships you make, but keep everything in balance.  Don't sacrifice friendships for career or your career for friendships, and don't sacrifice your savings and investment plans for immediate gratification.  Life is short so enjoy it as you keep your balancing point.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Personal Finance and Passion

My passion is farming and people and writing and creating. This month, we ventured into a dream of mine; starting the Walker Homestead CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Bob will remind me that this is a business and we need to be making money at it. And I remind him that this is a passion and we need to be having fun with it; creating, experimenting, and sharing the goods and trials with our new extended CSA family. That in itself has a lot of value, and I would argue much more than a pile of money for which to select an investment option.
Yes, I could make much more on an hourly basis, exercising some of my other learned skills, but I earn so to keep me and my family secure and happy and so that so I can do things I want to do. Starting up a CSA -planning the events, sharing ideas between members, creating the gardens and the orchards and working with hens, thinking about milk goats (and maybe a few piglets) is joyful. And at the same time, we are earning money and reducing some of our tax liabilities.
Which speaks to the principle: If you find an occupation that you love, you will never have to ‘work’ a day of your life. It is graduation time. Good luck to all seniors in pursuit of your passion.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Frugal While Waiting for Fitness

I have been injured, busy, on travel and a thousand other reasons for not staying fit.

Ramification: Weight gain. Temporary of course, but there is nothing worse than busting your budget buying clothing for a size you don’t want to stick with.

Short-term solution: A quick remake. I had a jacket to a nice suit which still fit but it has been a stretch since I have been able to shimmy into the skirt. I took two non-fitters from the back of my closet and made one fun skirt with attitude. Three hours later and I have a fun new addition to my wardrobe with attitude.

Cost: $0.00 Very frugal while working on getting fit. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Envelope Observation

We made it. For fun, we spent the last month going back to using the envelope system to help stay on budget. The theory is that having a personal relationship with each dollar spent increases the likelihood that you will not pithier it away.

I had been in the habit of charging at least three coffees a day against my next month’s payroll check. Running between meetings, it easy to have the barista swipe my staff ID badge to keep caffeinated. This habit comes to $8.00/day or $160.00/month or $1,920/year.  Think of what I could do with an extra $2,000?

Having to draw the dollar bills out of my envelope and slide them across the counter was much more painful than I thought it would be. Many times, my previous cup of coffee was not yet empty, just cold. For two bucks, I’m ok with nuking it for 30 seconds.  When drawing your spending money out of an envelope, there is much more a sense that money is a finite resource, not an endless stream. It now feels very irresponsible to throw out cold coffee.

Waste not. Want not. Thank you envelope.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Don’t Get Scammed

It’s tax time. It is also peak time for tax fraud. Each year, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) posts a list of current reported tax scams. Tax fraud through the use of identity theft tops this year’s list of scams. Through email phishing, the thief acquires your taxpayer’s identity so to fraudulently file a tax return and claim the refund.  The IRS has a special section dedicated to identity theft issues, including YouTube videos, tips for taxpayers and an assistance guide.

On, you can confirm your tax return status. If you have not already filed, there should be no record of the return. If you find that not to be the case, send an Identify Theft Affidavit to the IRS immediately.

If you believe you are at risk of identity theft due to lost or stolen personal information, contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490 so they can take action to secure your tax account.

Remember: The IRS never initiates contact with taxpayers by email or text messages to request personal or financial information.  

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

When You Retire...

When you retire, how much money do you need to have saved?
If there is a million dollar question, or a $4 million, or $10 million, I guess this would be it.  In my personal finance class, a student asked how much money you will need to retire.  We started going through the time value of money equations -present value and future values of lump sums and annuities to calculate how much one would need; which started me thinking long and hard about this questions.  I told my students it was keeping me up at night and this is why it is such a hard question to answer:
1. It depends on when you want to retire.  I asked my class and it ranged from age 45 to never retiring.  The person who retires at age 45 will need a lot more money saved in retirement than the person who never wants to quit working.  I’ve always said, “If you can turn your passions into profit, you never have to work a day in your life.”  I also believe that meaningful work provides you with self worth and increased happiness. So if you love your job, maybe you won’t retire; you may just slow down a little.
2. It depends on your lifestyle when you retire.  Experts are saying that you will need 80%-100% of your current income in retirement.  BUT….do you want to cruise the seven seas and stay a five star resorts or do you want to work around the house and live off the land?  There are a lot of retirement calculators on the Internet where you can find out how much money you will need to replace your current income or a percentage of it.  Lately we have been trying to live off the land and it is amazing how much we have saved in groceries.  Even with a small garden and a few chickens, you can save big money, eat better and be closer to your food source.
3. What will Social Security and health care cost be in the future?  I don’t know what government plans will be around when I retire, so I’m planning on being self-sufficient.  I would rather have too much in retirement savings then not enough.
Just some figures so you can check to see where you stand with the average American.  According to Gallup’s annual Economy and Personal Finance survey, the average American expect to retire at age 61.  This is up from age 57 when the survey was conducted in 1991. However over fifty percent of the non-retirees age 58-64 expect to retire past the age of 65.  Gallup also found that 61% of Americans are worried or very worried about having enough money for retirement.  The highest percentage of Americans worried about retirement savings is ages 50-64.
This delay in retirement could be due to a change in values, lack of financial resources, uncertainty about future expenses, or decreased mandatory retirement age.  I hope that you find your passions and can turn it into profit. Let us know what you think. 
When do you plan on retiring and how do you envision your retirement lifestyle?