WARNING: Bad Debt Ahead

Helllo!~ Another week, another financial blog post. How has your week been? Mine has been going pretty well, and I am super stoked about today’s topic.

Did you know there are two types of debt? Now, I know if you’re reading this you think debt is most likely bad. That ALL debt is bad. Bad, bad, bad. But, what if I told you there is Good and Bad Debt? I mean… most debt is BAD, but there are some good guys too.

Today I want to focus in on those bad guys – the bad debt, and see what it is and how we can combat getting ourselves into it.

 

Defining Bad Debt

Bad debt, in the Personal Finance sense, is debt that has massive depreciating value or has an extremely high interest rate. A high interest rate I would consider as anything >6%, because that’s definitely worse than long term market gains. But, a mortgage isn’t bad debt and neither is a business loan (for the most part), so if an interest rate is >6% on either of those things, I would not consider them bad debt, except in extreme circumstances.

 

What is Bad Debt? – Common Examples

 

Credit Cards are the most common form of bad debt. Do you know the interest rate on your credit card? Most are >18%! This rate is significantly higher than most consumer loans. The payment schedules are also maximized so the debtor will owe as much money as possible.  Any type of balance on a credit card is never a good idea.

Cars are the second form of bad debt. How many people do you know with $30,000/yr income or $60,000/yr income with cars that are $30,000 or more? Thousands of Americans fall into this trap of having a high car payment. While the interest rate on car loans is often low, transportation costs per month should be <10% of your income. This includes gas, maintenance, registration, and a car payment. Having a car payment you can’t afford on an asset that loses thousands of dollars in value within months is never a good idea.

Consumable Goods America, and many globalized cultures value spending money and the “consumer debt”. Have you ever gone into debt during the holidays, or spent more than you planned? This is consumer debt and most things bought have no or little resell value.

“Transportation costs per month should be <10% of your income. This includes gas, maintenance, registration, and a car payment.”

 

How to Avoid Bad Debt

If you’re familiar with personal finance or the Femillionaire mindset, you know exactly what I’m about to say. If not, that’s okay! Welcome to the club.

Step 1: HAVE AN EMERGENCY FUND. I cannot stress this enough. Seriously, you need to have savings set aside for when shit hits the fan- because it will, and usually it’s a lot of shit all at once.  Just start. saving. now. Even if it’s only $15 a month, having a $100 emergency can compound into $200 very quickly when put on credit cards.

Step 2a: Be smart and have awareness of your financial situation, especially when buying a car! Buy a car that you can afford, has low monthly payments, will be paid off in 36 months, and that you can put a big, cash deposit down on. I know this is a lot and often means you won’t be buying a new car, but there are so many used cars that are only a couple of years old, have low miles and are incredibly reliable.

Step 2b: Buy a reliable car! Research which brand/years are most reliable. Generally, you can never go wrong with a a Honda Civic, Honda Accord, Hyundai Elantra, or Hyundai Sonata.

Step 3: Self Control. This is going to be one of the more challenging steps (if not the most challenging!). You can have an emergency fund and an affordable car, but still lack self control.  If you don’t have self control,  you’ll find yourself in a cycle of gaining bad debt, paying it off, and taking on more bad debt.

 

“You can have an emergency fund and an affordable car, but still lack self control.”

 

The Bottom Line

Bad Debt is, well, bad.  It’s bad for your wallet and your mental state. Avoiding bad debt at all costs should be your primary goal. If you already have bad debt, paying it off before all other debt should be your priority.

 

Have you ever had bad debt and paid it off or are in the process of paying it off? I would love to hear your stories below!

 

Female Fridays Finances financial independence

Emergency Funds – How an Efund will Save You

Happy Fri-YAY! everyone! Will that ever get old? Probably. Will I start using something more original as an opener? Maybe one day! Hah! It is another Femillionaire Friday and I’m super excited because this is two Fridays in a row! How long can I keep it up, the world will never know.

Okay- great intro, Meredith, now to the point.

I want to write about Emergency Funds and why you need one, why your grandma needs one, why your dog needs one, and remind you of all the horrible things that happen when you don’t have an emergency fund.

First, do you want to know something terrifying? 56% of Americans can’t cover three months of expenses.

What is an Emergency Fund?

An Emergency Fund is a type of savings that is held in a savings account and used when an “emergency” occurs.  Generally, this is 3-6 months of living expenses, but all situations and plans of precaution are different. Expenses are inclusive of your mortgage/rent, food, kids daycare, insurance, electricity, trash/sewer, pet food, vet visits, gas, general car maintenance, student loans, personal care, etc. Any expense you currently have, don’t think of cutting it out, include it! I think a lot of people do this with child care, thinking they’ll be home, but you’ll be home and busy editing your resume, going on job hunts, and maybe even catching up on some work around the house/apartment!

What Constitutes an Emergency?

An emergency is anything that meets the UNU criteria:

Is it Urgent?

Is it Necessary?

Is is Unexpected?

This is where you need to build AIM (Awareness, Information, and Management Skills) when it comes to your finances. You need to be aware of how much you spend and use that information to manage your accounts!

A perfect example of this is car maintenance. You know a new timing belt is going to be needed at your next oil change, so why dip into your emergency fund? Save for that piece of car maintenance as best you can! I personally don’t measure out the price of maintenance (I hate dealing with cars), but I budget around $600 a year for car…. stuff. And if anything goes over that, I do dip into my Efund.

true emergency is something you absolutely cannot plan or expect.

 

The most common reasons to use an emergency fund:

  • Loss of Job
  • Necessary travel (ill family member or death, NOT a wedding)
  • Car repairs
  • Unexpected medical bill
  • Unexpected pet illness (Save for your pets!)
  • Heater or A/c went out in unfavorable temperatures
  • Necessary and Urgent Home Repairs
  • Use to cover before insurance pays out

 

NOT Emergencies

  • Christmas
  • Birthdays
  • Spur of the Moment travel
  • Going out with friends

 

… What happens if I DON’T have an emergency fund? It’s Risky…

Have you ever been stressed out before? Was it about money? That’s EXACTLY what not having an emergency fund feels like, overwhelming, compounding stress that you can’t control the situation you find yourself. One of the main issues in marriages is money. One of the main causes of depression is money. You know what solves some of life’s biggest problems? An emergency fund!

Some more extreme examples include homelessness, being hungry, losing your home, or taking on bad debt (i.e. credit cards) and finding yourself in even more stressed out.

An Emergency is the definition of peace of mind.

 

Let’s talk about the Beneies- the Benefits of an Emergency Fund

The largest benefit of an Emergency Fund is peace of mind, aka not being stressed. When your car needs a new tire- or four and you can pay for them, it’s the easiest “yes” you will ever say. You might even get a little high from the sheer adrenaline rush of not having to worry about the expense.

The second largest benefit of an emergency fund is it stops you from taking on bad debt. Aka, it stops you from taking on debt with high interest rates that make you more stressed to pay back.

The third benefit is somewhat indirect- having an Emergency Fund teaches you to not spend money. Having a lump of cash in the bank takes huge amounts of self restraint to not spend. And if you can keep it there, you’re absolutely killing the mental game of savings.

 

How the Hell am I supposed to Build an Emergency Fund??

I’ll tell you right now, it’s going to take time, patience, and intelligence to finally have your emergency fund, especially if you already have a tight budget. My recommendation is to save at least 10% of every single paycheck into a savings account until you have the amount of money you need.

You can help yourself by opening a High Yield Savings Account outside of your current bank and set up automatic transactions. This means when you login to your normal checking account, you never even see your Emergency Fund.

If an emergency happens while you’re building your emergency fund, take a deep breath, use your cash, and start building again.

 

Meredith Foxx’s Approach to an Emergency Fund

What’s my personal approach to an emergency fund? I use my emergency fund for only the most true emergencies, aka loss of job. I have had to dip into it once for my cat and once for my car, but for the most part, I like to structure my savings.

I have accounts labeled (and yes, these are all seperate savings accounts):

  • Car account – $106/pay period, this is for gas, insurance, and $600 of maintenance a year
  • Kitty – $30/ pay period, this is for food, toys, clothes, and vet visits. Any excess I’m saving for a surgery he’ll need.
  • Travel – $200/pay period, this money isn’t used for any unexpected bills (although I could for unexpected travel), but I think it’s important to point out where my cash goes
  • Efund/General savings – $300/pay period, while my Efund has been maxed out for a couple of years now, I am in the beginning stages of saving for a house and other big purchases. I have all of this lumped into one high yield savings account. But I know, $10,000 of what’s in there is an emergency fund.

 

Really think about the Amount you Need

There are a couple of reasons why you should think critically of what you need. The more important one being, will you have enough money? 3-6 Months is the standard, but if you have a large mortgage, kids, a spouse that doesn’t work, pets, loans, a job that is high risk, etc, you might want to consider 12-24 months of cash reserve. You’ll be prepare when the shit hits the fan, especially because when it rains, it pours.

If you’re young, healthy, no pets, no dependents, etc, really think about not holding onto too much cash. You’re losing time in the market by keeping dollars in an account that doesn’t even keep up with inflation.

 

In Conclusion

I hope halfway through this article you opened up your bank account and started a new savings account called EFund. Having an emergency fund is so critical to being able to handle stress and impactful moments in life. An Emergency Fund takes the edge off and allows you to breathe easy, knowing you’ll be okay.

I know saving money isn’t always easy, but it’s so much better than the alternative.

 

I hope you enjoyed this article, thank  you for reading! Check out my Youtube video for more:

 

Female Fridays Finances

Savings vs. Investments – Aren’t they the Same Thing?

Happy Femillionaire Fri-yay! Well… Not so Fri-yay as this post goes up late…. You know what my plans are for the week? Get. Shit. Done. Same as any other week. But I still love Fridays, mainly because it means new Finance tips on my Youtube Channel and here! Yay!

In this first post of 2019, and the first video in my Youtube playlist, Femillionaire, I want to start with a two basic definitions that can alter you from being comfortable, to being wealthy and financially independent.

Savings vs. Investing

I want to touch on the topics of savings and investing today and the key differences between the two.

Definition

Savings

Generally savings are in cash accounts held at your local or online bank.

Investments

Investments are investing in something with the intent to see your money grow.

Savings are held, investments are for growth.

Examples

Savings are cash in a savings account at your bank. You might keep savings in a checking account (which isn’t a great idea!). Savings can also be stored in Money Market Funds.

Investments are stocks, mutual funds, property, gold, or even in yourself. Anything that invest X gets you Y, where Y > X.

Purpose

Savings

Saving money in a bank account has one soul purpose. It is short term money that you need in order to fulfill a want or necessity. There are a few things that need defined in that sentence.

First, short term. What is short term in terms of your money? Short term is anything less than five years. So, any savings should only be done for something that is 5 or less years away. This includes a house, a car, a new purse, a baby, etc. Short term also mean urgency, if an emergency happens, you need cash now. 

Let’s break down the second part of that sentence, fulfill a want or necessity. Yes! Savings isn’t just for a rainy day fund (or to the more financially aware student, Emergency Fund), but is also for fun things like vacations, big projects, etc.

The final intent of savings is that it will be spent. You just may not know when.

Investments

Pay attention! This is where  we go from cash rich to actually wealthy. The purpose of investments is to increase one’s wealth by converting one amount of money into a larger amount of money. The purpose of investments are that they take time, mature, and when they mature your money has doubled, tripled, or even quadrupled- something you certainly wouldn’t see in a savings account. Investments also aren’t actively spent until they’re used to help fund your retirement or your next big project.

 

Returns

Savings

Savings is going to have very little returns. I highly recommend parking any large amount of cash you do have (>$3,000 saved) into a High Yield Savings Account. These accounts will at least earn you 2% as of me writing this article. My current Synchrony account is at 2.2%.

Investments

Investments, historically, have a much higher rate of return than savings, primarily because they increase in value over time. While investments may decrease for a short amount of time, history proves investments increase wealth and net worth.

Risks

Savings

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “gotcha bitch” TRY to tell me that savings is risky and a bad idea.

… Okay, I will. Savings is incredibly risky when it comes to your money.  Are you going to suddenly have pennies, like you could with an investment? No. you’re just losing critical compounding time in the market when your money could be working for you.  Also, you technically are losing money…. if inflation is greater than your savings account rate, which, it most likely is. So the $100 you have in savings today, is still going to be $100 in 10 years, but worth only about $80 of today’s dollars.

Investments

I think it’s quite obvious why investments are risky- it’s why many people, especially women, don’t invest to begin with. Investments could be $5,000 one day, and $0 the next. If you invest in a company and it goes Bankrupt, you’re out of luck. If you buy a house and it burns down before you can buy insurance, you’re out of luck.

What we need to realize that yes, stocks, real estate, etc are all risky. However, with due diligence and staying the course, especially when things are going south, Investments out perform cash. Every. Single. Time.

Liquidity

The availability of liquid assets, i.e. cash.

Savings

Savings are quite liquid. You’re able to pull out all the cash you need, generally on a single day, from a single bank. Liquidity is one of the key reasons for keeping cash.

Investments

Investments are not as liquid as savings, however different Investments have varying levels of liquidity. Stocks in a normal, health year of investment are pretty liquid. It easy to sell stock and have the money in your bank account less than a week to two weeks later. Real estate as an investment is a different breed. One can flip a house, or sit on it for month – even years – until someone wants to buy or rent it from you.

 

In Conclusion

I hope the difference between savings and investments is clear to you now. In a way, investments, especially buying into mutual funds, are basically like saving with a slightly better interest rate. That is, until you have enough money where compound interest really takes root and you see your numbers start to soar.

After this article, I hope you are able to correctly discuss savings and investments and continue to invest and grow your wealth!

 

For the more audio readers, below is my Youtube video covering the same topics as above. Thanks!

 

Finances Uncategorized

2019 IRA LIMIT INCREASES by $500!

You heard it here first folks, in 2019 IRAs are increasing their limits from $5,500 to $6,000 per year. The $6,000 contribution is based on the government’s fiscal 2019 calendar, which starts in April 2019, but you should be able to start contributing larger amounts for the Fiscal Year starting in January. Just make sure you’re 2018 IRA account is already maxed!

How Much Should you Contribute per Paycheck to Max Your IRA?

  • If you are paid monthly (12 paychecks/year) and you max it out in 12 months, you need to contribute $500/paycheck to max out a 2019 IRA.
  • If you are paid bi-monthly (24 paycheck a year) and you want to max your IRA, you need to contribute $250/paycheck to max out a 2019 IRA.
  • If you are paid bi-weekly (like me! 26 paychecks a year) You need to contribute $230.76/paycheck to come close to maxing out a 2019 IRA. You’ll need to contribute an additional $0.24 to reach $6,000. Easy peasy.

 

For me, this increases my per-paycheck contribution up from $212 to $230. I’m not quite sure if I’ll be getting a raise this year as I plan to negotiate for more PTO, way more PTO.

But, I also may not be doing the per-paycheck method anyway. I anticipate a bonus of ~$3,000 and if I actually receive it I’ll dump it all into my IRA to already have it half maxed.

 

Do you max an IRA every year? What method do you use to max it out?

 

Finances financial independence

Where have I been?

I’ve been busy. Very busy.

I have been BUSY and spending way too much money. Like, way too much. BUT the things that I’ve recently bought brought me more joy than anything else this past year. I mean, besides my cat, my boyfriend, and our trip to Cabo. I’ve learned a really important lesson on how spending money can be beneficial, and it’s not all bad.

My New Computer

I built and bought a new computer. First, I’m not hugely into computer components and understanding every last detail about them, but I do have enough knowldge to be intereted in how to put a computer together and how to make a dope as fuck computer. I wanted something with speed, agility, and beauty. Also, my current 8GB of RAM laptop was dying. It was time to buy something else. And this time, I finally wanted to buy/build something I never had growing up, a computer that was fully functional for what I wanted to do.
I went for a super computer with an AMD professor, 512GB of storage on an M.2 SSD  that clipped right into the motherboard. Building the PC was a whirlwind of events. But eventually, I turned it on and saw the MSI home screen, figured out how to install Windows, and never looked back.
My new computer is a total UFO, I can play games, create huge spread sheets, and do what I really wanted- edit videos.

I’m a Youtuber

I’ve wanted to join Youtube for YEARS. When I was in college, I couldn’t afford Netflix or Hulu and if I wanted to watch TV I would go to websites that allowed streaming. Que Youtube. I found free entertainment with some of the funniest, most creative people who were living lives I wanted so badly. I watched many girls around my own age, including Remi Ashton, Alisha Marie, Casey Holmes, and more. I lived vicariously through their Black Friday shopping adventures and their Target Hauls. Their DIYs were so cute and for five minutes at a time I could pretend I didn’t have homework, work, or student debt. I could pretend I just hauled a bunch of makeup from Sephora.
I finally took the plunge this Fall. After I built my computer, I bought lighting, created a background, and started brainstorming video ideas. I’m using a GoPro I bought in the Spring to film with, and it’s not great, but I’m working on my content and what I want my channel to be. Of course it will focus on finances and building income and wealth. But I also have some Hauls, DIYs, and random videos up as well. I’m working on my video editing skills and having lots of fun while doing so.
It feels like something I’ve wanted for so long is finally happening and I couldn’t be happier.
Check out my <a href=”https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClrLWlfevT77PN9jheHrCrQ?view_as=subscriber&#8221; Youtube channel </a> if interested! I’m going to be adding YouTube videos to more of my posts!

I Threw a Huge 25th Halloween Birthday Party

It’s not every day we turn 25.  And not everyone has such a close birthday to Halloween.  I was blessed with both of those things this year, along with enough disposable income to throw a huge party with the perfect food spread, tons of booze, and the perfect decor. All in, I spent about $2,500, along with a $562 gift from my boyfriend the party cost $3,000. And we had it in our condo!
Halloween decor is already marked up because it’s a holiday, and a few items were even more marked up because they’re such specialties. Enter <a href=”https://amzn.to/2CEfbdd”&gt; blood bag drink holders.</a> All the money was well spent, and I now have memories that will last the rest of my life. Clean up was sticky and the hangover was real, but I would throw it again and am even contemplating a huge 30th…

<h2> All In </h2>

All in, the past three months, including my rent and normal purchases, I’ve spend >$7,000. But it’s all been worth it. I think I’m finally understanding investing in your hobbies, because now I CRAVE to be on my computer (even more so than before) and I hope I’m inspired to publish more on my blog and create great Youtube content.

 

Until next time!

Finances

Spend Report – August 2018

Spending Report August 2018

This entire year has been rough when it comes to spending. There has just been a spend bug in my body the entire year. A lot of it is stuff I actually use – or services that make my life better. But as I want to FI, I need to find the areas that spark joy and truly do make my life better for the expense. One of these things has been fake lashes. I love them, but fuck they’re expensive. I go to a great woman, and I technically need a fill next week, but I honestly don’t know if I’m going to go. I should, but it’s so, so, so incredibly expensive. Ugh. And I’ve been into eye makeup more, and the lashes do kind of get in the way…  I probably won’t go.

Anyways, what you came here for:

My August Spend Report

A Brief Note on My Expenses: I live with my boyfriend who charges me $550 in rent for rent/utilities/groceries. Recently, I’ve been into credit card churning and have been paying for groceries, Netflix, and Hulu rather than giving him $550 a month. I reconcile this monthly and carry forward any remaining negative balance. Some groceries I do pay for myself and don’t bill him (like if it’s part of a Target run).

I break my categories into Category1 and Category2, Category2 is a sub-category of Category1. I try to get as detailed as possible in my Excel budgeting model. If I go to Target, I break out every item. If I go to the grocery store and only buy groceries- I lump it all together, but if I buy household items, they get categorized accordingly.

Below is my August 2018 Spending, This is a Pivot Table in Excel. I’ve purposefully broken out Category2 for Certain Categories

August 2018

In Review

This was a heavy spending month. I spent more than I have left over after I invest and save cash. $3,064 is definitely a lot of spend. Thankfully, most of that increase were due to unforeseen expenses (or foreseen, since I did have savings for them.

A few specifics:

  • Annual There were a lot of gifts this month!
    • My boyfriend’s birthday is next month. I bought him a very expensive, very nice kitchen knife.
    • My mom needed a new purse so I bought her one.
    • Our friend’s baby turned 1!
  • Personal Care I spend a lot of money on myself. Mainly on beauty.
    • High End Make Up stands out, Sephora had a 20% off sale so I got the < a href=”https://amzn.to/2LLRVLk”&gt; Tatcha Silk Canvas Primer</a> . I also made a stop at Ulta because I needed more eyebrow pencils.
    • Skin Care Stands out as well. Turns out I’m a sucker for everything Drunk Elephant. But in reality, I needed to refill my Vitamin C and buy a full sized Glycolic Acid . I had the mini, it was time to upgrade!
    • I also decided to purchase a meal plan from the fitness trainer I’ve been working with.
  • Transportation Car repairs
    • This month I needed my oil changed. It also came with $800 in car repairs. A cracked radiator, something wrong with the gas fumes leaving the car (I reported it). It adds up. But I love my mechanic! and the 2003 Hyundai Sonata chugs along.
    • This also came with ~$30 in Uber rides since I didn’t have a car for 3 days.
  • <strong> Household</strong> New furniture!
    • Although I’m not paying for it, my boyfriend bought a new coffee table and rug this month. We’re adulting pretty hard and this is definitely an abnormal expense.
  • <strong> Business</strong> Buying Domains and Ads
    • I started my venture into earning money online! Read that post here (if no link, it isn’t written yet 🙂 )

<h4> All of the Unusual Expenses added up to 40% of my monthly spend </h4>

August 2018 Unusual

 

<h3> Lessons and Spend for Next Month </h3>

September should calm down a little bit. Maybe. I’m anticipating getting my hair done, which will be anywhere from $200 – $600, depending on if I choose to get extensions or not. I’ve always wanted to try them and can fit them into my budget. I may or may not get lashes (eeek, what to do). I also plan on throwing a huuuge 25th Halloween themed birthday party. So shopping for that will definitely add up as well.

I should have fewer business expenses, although I plan to build up my Poshmark and upgrade this Website to WordPress business, which is another $200.

I have a feeling the rest of the year is going to be expensive. But as long as I keep contributing to my Brokerage, Roth, and Cash savings without skipping a deposit, I’ll be okay.

 

Finances My Finances Spending Reports

I’m Holding on to Too Much Cash – Will I Regret it?

Too Much Cash

 

I’ve reached the point with my finances where I have options. While I can’t have everything, I can have anything if I set my mind to it. And while I lean to be more conservative with my spending habits, I do love nice things. I always have. Even while I was growing up in a house-poor household with maxed out credit cards, I wanted a Louis Vuitton. Now, I had no idea how money worked, and the important difference between saving and investing.

Where My Savings/Investments Go

Currently, I contribute $1,211/ every two weeks (or 26 times a year) to my brokerage/Roth and $500 to my HYSA. Meaning every paycheck I’m saving almost 30% as cash. This doesn’t include money I fully intend to spend, like for the holidays, my cat, or a vacation.

Right now, cash is sitting at 21% of my NW. With my current rate of contribution, cash will ultimately reach 24.4% of my NW before decreasing- assuming I don’t spend any of it.

But that’s just it, I do plan on spending this money. Just not at Sephora. hah.

Big Life Events

I call this my “Big Life Events” Fund. The general rule of thumb is if an event is >5 years away, don’t put it in the stock market. And, while I don’t plan on buying a house in less than 5 years, I do if the market retracts. And if the market goes down and my savings for a house is in the market, well, there goes my savings until the market recovers.

I want to be prepared for if/when the market takes a nose dive.

I also want to be prepared for:

  • An Emergency (duh, some of this money is my emergency fund)
  • My annual max out of pocket
  • A new-to-me car in ~2 years
  • A potential down payment on a house
  • Replacing my laptop (even though I’m kind of saving elsewhere)
  • A pet emergency
  • I have really bad teeth, over my life I’ll need ~$40k in dental work
  • A Loss of job
  • Taking time off of work if I burn out
  • etc.

For me, there is no Plan B if I lose my job. There is no safety net other than the one I create to catch me if I fall.  I was very poor once upon a time, but I won’t let it happen again.

What Cash Makes me Lose Out On

I save $13,000 in cash a year (if everything go according to plan [it doesn’t]). On this $13,000 I make 1.085% currently.

Over a decade, if I were to invest it I would come out with $192,000 at 7% return. By saving it, I would come out with $144,000, or a difference of $52,000.

$52,000 is a lot to lose out on over a decade. $52,000 could be one year earlier of committing to FIRE.

But one year earlier doesn’t compensate for a cash security net right now. Perhaps once I get to a certain number and have a more reliable care I’ll invest more of it. But for now, I’ll stay a little cash rich.

How much cash do you hold on to?

Finances financial independence My Finances