Fifty years ago, in 1965, I was just 16 years old. Ah yes, the 1960’s! It’s remembered for quite a few things, isn’t it? Baby boomers were just first coming of age back then, but of course there were also things like the Beatles and the British musical invasion, Motown, man landing on the moon, the assassination of JFK, the Vietnam War and of course, who will ever forget Woodstock!
They say “if you can remember the 60’s then you weren’t really there”, but I am here to tell you I was there and it was a wonderful yet tumultuous time in America. I thought, for this post, we should look back at that time and use it as information that can help us plan for the future. Sort of where we were, where we are, where we’re going, put in the context of financial independence. It’s not really that complicated. We can adjust for inflation and compare it all so that we can see how things have changed. Or have they really? Continue reading
Over the past several weeks, the US stock market has been bouncing up and down like it hasn’t done since the recession back in 2008. The daily swings and huge one-day drops and gains in the major markets have caused a lot of speculation and even panic as the bull market that saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average rise to a record 18000.00+ has transitioned to a bear market falling to as low as 14750.00 during that time period (minus about 20%).
The causes of this volatility are being called by some experts “a market correction”, which periodically occurs after large gains are made and profits are taken by investors. The US market has also been heavily influenced by other world markets, most recently the decline in China and Japan. Our market had been gaining now for years since 2008 and had reached all-time highs just very recently. But the beginning of “bear market conditions” can be a longer term activity than a correction indicates and if that’s what is happening, it can affect you whether or not you are an investor. Continue reading
Many people don’t know a lot about investing, and so they’re afraid to start. This can have a significant impact on your retirement savings and the growth of your wealth. Learning the basics of investing isn’t that difficult, and in fact, it’s a bit like cooking good barbecue. What? Yes, you read that right. Before you write me off as crazy, follow along and I’ll explain how a good basic investing strategy is like cooking good barbecue (with the disclaimer that I’m neither a barbecue nor an investment expert). Despite my northern roots, I love good barbecue just as much as the next person. Brisket, ribs, pork butt, chicken…it’s all good. So last week, when the country pork ribs were on sale at the supermarket, I picked up a few pounds and my mouth started to water for dinnertime to arrive. While they were cooking, I had time to think over the process and how similar it can be to investing, and so here I present for your reading consumption: how to invest like you’re cooking barbecue. Continue reading
It’s Murphy’s Law: anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Now it might not be as bad as all that, but you never know when a crisis will hit out of the blue. And that’s why having an emergency fund is so important. Typical personal finance advice says to save approximately 3 to 6 month’s worth of expenses in an emergency fund to deal with life’s unexpected expenses. But how many people actually keep that much sitting around? Most people have some consumer debt, so if they’re focused on their finances at all, they’re typically saving up a minimal emergency fund (like $500-$1,000), and then spending the rest on paying down their bills. That seems reasonable, after all the interest you’re likely paying on your consumer debt usually far outweighs the measly 1% interest you’d be lucky to get on your savings (if you can even find 1%). But is your emergency fund big enough to save you? When it comes to emergency savings, size matters.
In the world of financial responsibility and saving money, our rewards come from achieving our goals. It can be a long journey, and not always a “fun” one, as we adapt our lifestyles to fit our budgets. But a number of financial organizations and other companies are seeking to inject some play into that process through the gamification of savings. Games are great motivators, after all, who doesn’t like to win? So if saving money is your game, you may be wondering where the prizes are.