You Can Travel Hack and Still Have an Excellent Credit Score

It's better to see something once, than to hear about a thousand times.

One of the biggest eye openers for me in the past few years has been the idea of travel hacking. I had my first credit card when I was a senior in college. It had a $500 credit limit. A few months later, I was already maxing out that limit. I had no concept of credit (despite majoring in Econ), let alone how to use it wisely. Fast forward a few more years, I got into more credit card debt. Thankfully, I was able to put a stop into my credit card debt and started getting wise about its use.

What Barriers Do Young Australian Women Face in Reaching Financial Independence?

Australia is popularly known as “the lucky country.” It holds the OECD record for economic growth at 26 years and counting. While there are some definite advantages of living in Australia over the United States in terms of reaching financial independence (like free universal health care) there are still many reasons why Australian women need to think about financial independence differently than their male compatriots.

The Power of F U Money

Save for your freedom.

OK, I didn't necessarily call mine F U Money, but I did have a fund setup in case I needed a break from the 9 to 5.

I first had this sense of wanting to get out of the race early on in my career. I had just graduated from college and was working full time in IT at a pharmaceutical company.

What Your Trash Says About Your Spending Habits

Here’s the kicker when it comes to the waste we produce: this is also money. We may not realize it right away, but each item we buy not only costs us money, but costs us time. We have to start thinking about the consequences of our consumption. It is actually our consumption that is depleting our natural resources. There is an excess demand for extra stuff. This results in more being made and manufactured. The outcome is not only waste byproducts, but also wasted materials. The lifestyle of product is so short nowadays that it essentially goes from the store to our hands to the trash in a matter of days or even minutes.

5 Reasons Why Young Women Need to Think About Financial Independence Differently

There's many reasons why I wanted to start this site. You can find that here. After reading many personal finance books for women, written by women (and men), I don't think these five reasons are addressed enough. While I am all for equal gender pay, there are still some areas where men and women differ and these reasons are why we need to be addressing women's personal finances differently.

Should You Pay Off Debt or Invest? FIRE Logic

This has been a question that's been weighing on my mind lately. Today, my husband and I have two large debts: a car loan and his student loans. I've been trying to weigh what our best strategy is towards these. Should we pay these off quickly or use some of the money to invest instead. Those in the FI/RE community will probably have a different way of looking into this.

The Cost of Living: How to Combat the Expense of Healthcare, Childcare & College

The cost of living is going up and the chance of living is going down.

A few weeks I came across this chart on Marketwatch. The original creator is Mark Perry, economics professor at the University of Michigan using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Perry's original blog post can be found here. It’s a startling graph and there’s a lot that we can interpret from it (I recommend you read the comments on the blog post), but of course, since I write from the perspective of Financial Independence, I want to put the FI spin on it.

The End of An Era: Goodbye Marriage Penalty

50 years. That’s how long it took to get rid of the “marriage penalty” in our federal tax system. What’s even worst is that some people never even knew it existed. The marriage penalty arose if two married individuals, both earning income, paid more in taxes if they file with under “married filing jointly” than if they filed taxes separately under the “single” tax status. How is this possible? It’s because the income tax brackets from single status did not rise in proportion to the marriage filing jointly tax bracket.

How to Use Venmo Securely

Venmo me tomorrow.

Based on certain sources, I am considered a millennial, although I'm at the end of the older spectrum. My sister on the other hand is at the opposite side of the spectrum so it's interesting to see her take on certain things: Venmo is one of them. I actually use Venmo and find value in it, but perhaps not to the extent that the younger generation does so I asked her to provide some best practices for using Venmo. Here are some tips on how to use Venmo safely and securely.

If you are not familiar, Venmo is a mobile payment service owned by Paypal. It allows a quick and easy way to transfer money via a mobile app or desktop.

How to Use Your Public Library on the Journey to Financial Independence

A library is infinity under a roof.

Today, I want to talk about the library. I know, for most adults, the library was probably a thing of the past. For many of us, we probably stopped going to the library after middle school or after college. With everything available on the internet, it's easy to rely on Google or Amazon for all of our information needs. I want to challenge that thinking and encourage you to get your library card and take advantage of what your local library has to offer. I think the library is one of the most underutilized resources out there. For anyone starting the FIRE journey (Financial Independence/Retire Early), don't discount the library as a tool for your journey.

Why Checking Your Credit Report is as Important as Your Yearly Gyno Visit

A lot can happen in 365 days.

Usually, at around the time of my birthday in March, I like to get my yearly doctor check-ups done. It's just easier for me to remember and also I feel like it makes sense since I’m another year older and another year wiser. One other thing that I also like to do during this time is to check my credit report…because my birthday also means another year of being a more responsible adult.

If you are not comfortable doing this around your birthday, do this around tax season. It's a great way to put yourself in the mindset of money management. Start associating April as the month where you also take care of yourself and your finances.

Total Stock Market Investing As a College Student or First Time Investor

There are things we don't know we don't know.

Investing is a scary act. It involves risk and reward. It involves research. It involves understanding how companies work and how company information is presented in financial statements. There's an old advice out there that says "invest in what you know" meaning support the companies that you would buy from. For a period of time, I invested heavily in an index that tracked against the growth of the S&P 500. This was a hands off approach and one that I would recommend to those just starting out. There's a lot of volatility (ups and downs) with investing in single companies so instead the idea is to invest in an index fund or a mutual fund that already has a diversified list of companies (meaning the basket consists of various companies from many industries.)

Ramen($) or Steak($$$): Finding the Balance

My husband and I started our FIRE (Financial Independence/Retire Early) journey in the spring of 2017. We agreed that we both wanted to reach FIRE but figuring out how to get there has been a bit of a sticking point. There have been countless discussions about the best approach to get there. He says our focus should be to earn more so we can save for the future and allow ourselves to indulge in the luxuries of life (i.e. steak dinners). While I agree to some extent, I think our focus should be on spending less since this is more of a controllable factor. Now I’m not suggesting we eat ramen noodles for every meal, but there’s nothing wrong with being more cost conscious.

Save For Retirement Because You Love Your Kids

I picked up another personal finance book from the library. Another oldie, but a goodie from Suze Orman: Women & Money: Owning the Power to Control Your Destiny. There's a section in there where she talks about Saving for Your Kid's College vs. Saving For Your Retirement. Suze, like she always does, keeps it real.

The reality is that if you retire without ample money to support yourself, you will become a financial burden on your children. So understand that the most generous decision you can make today - for yourself and your children - is to build as much financial security as you can, so that down the line the only thing you ask your kids for is more time with them and the grandkids, not financial aid.

What I Made My Boyfriend Do 6 Months Into Our Relationship

Let's talk money, honey!

I met my boyfriend (now my husband) on Valentine's Day. As with any relationship, our path to becoming "official" took some time. By the time we became official, we had known each for months already. Earlier on in our relationship, we've always been pretty open about the range of topics we would discuss. From family to work to goals and dreams, nothing seemed out of the question to discuss. While we both didn't know how serious we were going to be, to me it was never too early to start thinking about the future.

Dual Income, No Kids, Still Broke

Dual income, no kids? Take advantage.

A few years ago, while working in IT, my co-workers which were mostly men always talked about this concept of DINKs. As a 22 year old, I had no idea what that meant. I had never heard of the term before and was pretty surprised that a term like this existed. For those that are not familiar, DINK stands for Dual Income, No Kids. It describes a childless couple where both partners work. For a period of time, many couples will fall into this category as they settle into married life. I wanted to bring this concept up because there's an opportunity here if we stop to take a full look at it. Mainly, it's the opportunity to really coral all of your finances and set yourself up for Financial Independence before kids are in the picture. What can this look like?

Balancing It All To Become Debt Free: Ginny's Story

I pretty much expected to be in debt for the rest of my life.

I graduated in 2011 from a private liberal arts college with a degree in Theatre and over $25,000 in debt. In addition to that, jobs were scarce when I graduated and I was unable to secure one directly out of college. I bounced around from job to job, industry to industry, city to city, making just enough to cover my bills and even save a little before settling in Buffalo in the fall of 2013.

Can You File Taxes on a Postcard? Sure, if Your Tax Returns are Simple

Our society is so simple and so standardized...NOT!

In an effort to simplify the tax code, lawmakers aggressively pushed and passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. One of the first claims of the Trump administration was to reform the tax code and streamline tax filings so far as to allow people to file their taxes on a postcard-sized piece of paper! Do I think it’s possible? Yes! But I think it will only be applicable for taxpayers with little to no complications in their tax returns.