Today, we’ve got a guest post from Kayla, who writes for Listen Money Matters. It’s sometimes tough to figure out whether to focus on investing or focus on paying off debt first. When I was in my debt pay off phase, I opted to do a minimal amount of investing compared to the salary I was making. I invested around $5,500 in my first year of debt payoff, around $13,000 in my second year, and then invested around $30,000 in my final year of debt repayment. Now that I’m personally debt free, it’s nice that I can aggressively invest and still have the satisfaction of already having a decently sized investment account. In her post, Kayla shares with us some of the reasons she opted to invest, even as she’s paying off her debt.
I’m always on the lookout for tools that I think can make investing easier for people. While we personal finance writers think of investing as really straightforward, the truth is, the logistics of investing really isn’t as simple as we make it out to be. It’s easy for us because we’ve spent hundreds of hours reading and learning about money and investing. Tell me to put my money in a total market fund with Vanguard and I can do that pretty easily. But tell your average person to do the same and I guarantee they won’t understand how to do that.
In an ideal world, investing would be as easy as opening up a bank account. Your average person could just go online, open up an investment account, and then walk away without having to make any decision other than deciding how much money to put into their account.
Welcome to another edition of the side hustle report! As a quick background, for about a year now, I’ve been tracking all of the side hustle income I make from sharing economy apps and posting those numbers in these posts.
We live in a pretty amazing time where anyone can make extra money just by using the stuff they already have or doing the things that they’re already doing. Even just a few years ago, making money like this wasn’t really possible. My hope is that people reading these posts can see exactly what’s possible out there. There’s money to be made if you know where to look. And it can be pretty fun too.
When you’re married to a dentist, you tend to learn a lot about the world of dentistry. Turns out dentists love to talk about teeth and when you hear them talk about it all the time, you end up picking up a few pieces of information here and there.
In addition to learning about teeth, I’ve also been learning about the crazy amount of student loans that most new dentists graduate with these days. I’m definitely no stranger to student loans. Law school is notoriously expensive and in the legal world, student loans are pretty much a given. When it comes to student loans though, lawyers don’t even compare to the type of debt that dentists can graduate with.
I’ve been getting really into the world of credit cards and travel hacking over the past few months. For people like me, opening up new cards is an easy way to optimize my spending and snag some free flights in the process. If you’ve got a good handle on your finances, adding even just a little bit of travel hacking into the equation is a nice way to get a little bit of return on your spend. Once you get into this world, it’s easy to see why so many people write about this stuff. It’s stupidly addictive!
For years, I’ve resisted travel hacking because I was too scared to do it. At first, I just thought it was just too good to be true. I’m definitely not skeptical by nature, but the logistics of traveling around the world for free by opening up new cards didn’t make much sense to me. It seemed like there must be a catch. Even when I figured out that travel hacking was a legit thing, I was still too scared to do it. The entire process was overwhelming and I had no idea where to start. There’s definitely a lot of information out there for anyone who wants to start travel hacking. It’s just often hard to synthesize everything you’ve read into useful and coherent information, especially when you’re a newbie.
My brother has a knack for making and saving money. At just 28 years old, he’s managed to build up a sizable net worth – far higher than mine or many other young financial bloggers. If he was involved in the financial blogosphere community, he’d be one of the success stories out there. At his current rate, he could probably be financially independent by his mid-30s (although he isn’t familiar with the concept of financial independence).
What makes his net worth growth really astounding is that it pretty much happened by accident. While he’s always been good at making and saving money, my brother has never been so good at actually knowing what to do with that money. For a long time, he just parked his savings in a regular savings account. When he finally did start investing, he pretty much just walked into a random bank, gave his money to some banker, and asked him to invest it for him. Naturally, that money ended up in expensive, actively traded mutual funds. After all, the banker needed to justify his fees and how could he do that if all he was doing was just putting that money into boring, old, index funds?
I was recently talking to a buddy of mine about personal finance when we ended up on the topic of saving money. He knew he needed to save more money, but was having trouble actually doing it. To him, saving money came down to self-control. As he explained it, he was struggling to save more because he couldn’t resist the urge to spend. If he could just avoid buying the latest gadgets or going out to eat so often, he’d definitely be able to put more money away – or so he told himself. Saving money came down to willpower. If he wanted to save more, he needed to will himself to do it.
I’ve always seen it a little differently. I’m admittedly a terrible budgeter. I don’t give every dollar a job and while I track my account balances regularly using both Mint and Personal Capital, I rarely, if ever, actually sit down and review my spending. I’m also horrible at self-control. I go out to eat all the time. And if I see something that I want that isn’t too expensive, I’ll just buy it without much thought…