Personal Finance Basics: It’s a Numbers Game

Please note this post contains affiliate links which help to fund this blog at no cost to you. Thanks for your support!

Before you ever get your personal finances in order and start on the road to financial health and security, the place to start is to figure out your personal finance basics: the numbers! There are just so many numbers and terms out there, it’s easy to get lost trying to figure out what you really need to know. What numbers are the most important? Where do they come from and how can you change and improve them? Why is it so important to know and understand them in the first place? It’s really a numbers game of personal finances!

When it comes to personal finance basics, it's important to know your numbers. Here's a look at which numbers are important to track and exactly what they mean.

Personal Finance Basics: The Numbers

1. Know your Real Income (Spendable Income)

It sounds so darn simple, doesn’t it? If I asked you how much you make from your job, you probably know exactly what that number is. But your income is not your salary. Knowing your actual take-home, spendable income is the foundation for accurate budgeting. When you know how much you bring home from your job and any side hustles or passive income streams, you can then determine how much you can spend. You can also make well-informed decisions to prepare for your future. Continue reading

What? – It’s Blogiversary #4!

Back at the end of 2013, I was forced to stop working and “retire” because of health issues. I had had a heart attack earlier in the year and was also suffering from increased effects from diabetes, making me feel old and for the most part kind of useless. Yes, you could say I was thinking “pity party” and was selling that idea to anyone who would listen. Problem #2: no one wanted to listen.

As I'm celebrating my 4th blogiversary, I look back on where I started. Time flies when you're having fun!


So what does a formerly busy guy do when he’s forced to wind his life down and face the reality that he’s entered into a new phase…and he isn’t really mentally prepared for it? I began to call it the “every day is Sunday” syndrome, and looking at it you may see the reason why. Continue reading

Why Learning to Say No is So Powerful

Saying “yes” to almost everything requested from us feels safe, avoids conflicts, and takes less time than pausing to decide whether or not that request is truly important and valuable. Too often we are just so darn busy that we don’t have the time to stop and think about much of anything and so we default to our standard answer, “yes”. That used to describe the way I was, but not today. That’s why I’m learning to say no as my default answer.

As part of our quest for success, we are often conditioned to say yes to every opportunity. But learning to say no gives us the power to determine what's valuable to our work and personal lives. Here's why I'm learning to say no as my default answer.

What Made Me Change My Mind?

Saying no, thoughtfully, may be the most undervalued action of our time. In our world of relentless demands and infinite options, we really need to prioritize our tasks and responsibilities so that they can add the most value to our work and personal lives. That means deciding what to do more of, less of, and what to stop doing altogether. Saying no gives you the time you need to do just that. Continue reading

So You Want to Be a Millionaire!

(Where is Michael Anthony When You Really Need Him?)

If you’re under age 40, you know the TV show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”. We all like that idea. But, if you’re around my age you probably also remember the old TV show called “The Millionaire” which aired on CBS from 1955 to 1960. You can even watch old episodes on YouTube.

Becoming a millionaire is a dream for many of us. But are there dangers to having so much wealth? Today's post explores what could happen if you were to receive a million dollars.

The Millionaire was an anthology series that explored the ways that sudden and unexpected wealth changed someone’s life, for better or for worse, and it became a five-season hit during the Golden Age of Television. Continue reading

Health, Wealth, or Something “Elth”?

Remembering back to when I was kid (that’s way back!), the local Chinese American restaurant might offer special “family” combinations leading to the iconic phrase “Choice of one from Column A and two from Column B” and its variables. Those restaurant menus used to have long columns of dishes (Column A, Column B, etc.) and whenever you were ordering food family style, it was a pretty cool way for each member of the family to get their own special choices. And even better, it was usually specially priced because you were getting multiple items at once for the big meal.

If life were like a Chinese menu, with choices from column A and column B, what would you select? Are you working in real life to obtain these life choices?

Column A or Column B?

One could choose one item from Column A, two items from Column B, and so forth and this method became so familiar that choices from “Column A” and “Column B” in anything (business, mathematics, whatever) often were called a “Chinese menu” in the slang of the time. The “Column A, Column B” sorta became a joke around the country back then. Continue reading

Inflation Is Merciless on Your Financial Future

Inflation has been low for the past 25 years and that sounds like a really good thing. In fact, the inflation rate since 1992 has remained under 3.0% annually every year with just a few exceptions when it was only slightly higher.

Inflation is often thought of as the gradual increase of prices over time. But when you're planning for retirement decades in the future, it's a huge factor. Learn more about inflation in today's post.

That’s 25 years of fairly stable overall consumer prices so you might just think all is well as we roll merrily along in our working years aiming for a great retirement. Unfortunately, if you truly believe that, you are probably not quite getting the impact that even an annually low inflation rate has on your future buying power. The fact is inflation is a merciless tyrant on your financial future. Continue reading

Money Talk is the Last Taboo

Discussing money—the nitty, gritty details—with our friends and families is a real taboo subject. You may be thinking, really? There are thousands of personal finance blogs around and libraries full of books about personal finances, money, budgeting, retirement planning, and I could go on and on here. But the truth is that we just don’t have any informal, detailed conversations with each other about these topics. Money talk is the last taboo.

There are so many subjects to discuss these days, but money talk is the last taboo. Here are some thoughts on why it's so difficult to talk about money and what we can do to get started.

Taboo Talking Points?

People will talk about their sex lives before they discuss their finances. Money talk and personal finances may be the most challenging topic to discuss with other people that there is. It begs this question: if no one is talking to each other about it, how do we ever find out what the beliefs and behaviors are of those who get rich and manage to stay rich as opposed to those who do not and never will? Continue reading

6 More Things It’s Never, Ever OK to Do with Your Money

One of the things we all do at one time or another in life is to make a really dumb money decision. I’m not just saying that you have done it. I’m saying we all have done things you should never do, including “moi”.

There are just some things you should never do with your money. Take my advice so you don't have to learn the hard way like I have.

A while back I wrote about 14 things you should never, ever do with your money and I meant every word of it.

Most of the things on that list would put a serious dent in your wallet. But every day, I can’t help but notice that people continue to fall victim to pitfalls and traps with their money even though in many cases it’s because they just wanted to help someone or they were badly informed about something. Good motives can sometimes just backfire on you. Continue reading

Money Advice for Millennials From a Baby Boomer

Today’s post is aimed primarily for the millennials out there, but if you’re older, one important way to help millennials deal with their finances in this complicated 21st century world is to give some sage advice and share some life experienced wisdom to them directly from your own life. If they even get one or two important points from you, consider it a success. Being a baby boomer myself, I know most of my own generation was not very tuned into parental advice given by the older generation back in the day. I think things are a little different today. That’s why this post is for you too, if you want to help a younger person. So here are some great financial strategies that I often preach and hope you will share with the millennials in your world!

Millennials face significant financial challenges as they build their future. That's why my experience and advice as a baby boomer may help. Here's my money advice for millennials to work with.

Some Things Just Never Change

The younger generation sometimes gets some knocks from us older folks and much of it is really undeserved. When I was a kid, everything from the way I dressed to the music I listened to was critiqued by anyone over 30 and that is more or less the way it has always been throughout the generations, hasn’t it? But even though my Mom and Dad may have had a problem with my “radical” interests, long hair, strange language, and anti-establishment mentality, it is the badge of youth to try and forge new ways in the world and seek a unique path to a successful future, at least that is always the plan. Continue reading

Do You Know the “Best” Grocery Prices When You See Them?

Find out why you need to know the best grocery prices—then take the quiz to see where you stand

No matter how many times I write about saving money at the supermarket, I am always quite amazed at how little the average shopper really knows about prices and what they should be looking for to find the very best deals when they shop.

To be a savvy supermarket shopper, you need to know the "best" grocery prices so you know when to stock up. In this post, I'll explain why and then test you on some common grocery prices to determine if you know the best price when you see it.

Most of us are very familiar with coupons, loyalty cards, weekly specials, and all the gimmicks and tricks the typical supermarket uses to get you to stock up and buy! You know what I am talking about here: the high traffic end cap displays with the huge saving signs, the BOGO promotions, and the “must buy 10” to save, etc. But, the biggest savings you can get is buying items at their very lowest and best price, and having a coupon is really icing on the cake. But how do you know when what you see is the very best price when you see them? Continue reading