Finally got my first Keurig.
But years of not being a coffee drinker are hard to overcome, I guess. 😉
Investing doesn’t need to be scary.
It can be intimidating, sure. Especially to first-time or small-time investors. Where should I invest? How much? and especially: I’m living paycheck to paycheck. How do you expect me to save up the minimums to even open an account?
Now, Fidelity has answered that last one with, “You don’t have to.”
This opens investing to virtually everyone.
Starting now there are no minimum balances required to open a Fidelity brokerage account.
And on Friday, Aug 3, they will begin offering two index funds with ZERO minimums or fees. That means that, other than taxes, the gains are yours.
This eliminates the $1000-$3000 required by other brokerage firms like Vanguard, and the account fees charged by small investment options like Acorns. (Seriously, that $1/mo fee adds up. Why not pay it to yourself instead?)
So, what are you waiting for? Set up an account and start funneling the $5 or just the small change that you find in the couch cushions into a place where it will earn money for you. Your future self will thank you.
If you do any amount of research into personal finances, you will eventually come across CD ladders.
At their simplest, CDs are Certificates of Deposit issued by financial companies. You give them money (of some specified minimum or more) for a specific length of time, and they pay you interest.
Because the interest rates are generally lower than returns you’d see in the stock market (and don’t always keep up with inflation), experts usually agree that it makes sense to use CDs for short-term savings goals, like 5 years or less. Though they aren’t as liquid as a high-yield savings account, they almost always have higher rates.
So my thinking was, buy a 5-yr CD each month for 5 years, and then use the maturing CDs to keep the ladder going.
Though there are banks with lower minimums, the average is usually $1k. Which means this strategy would amount to $60k.
And that’s when my brain short-circuited. My first thought was that if I had that much money, I’d put it in stocks, not CDs. I mean, $60k is one heck of an emergency fund.
But is it wise to build one this big?
There are a few considerations.
The interest is taxed like ordinary income (as opposed to the lower rates of long-term capital gains in the stock market).
But unlike the stock market, the money is risk-free as most CDs are FDIC insured.
Once the ladder is fully funded—all 60 CDs bought—it’d be self-perpetuating (assuming a principal $1k wouldn’t be needed for something when the CD matures).
Likely the interest would eventually be enough to purchase some of the CDs, too. (For simplicity’s sake): a 5yr CD at 3% would earn $150 before taxes.
60 of those equals $9k.
Just some food for thought.
And kudos to you if you can manage to save this much, or even half this much while also saving for retirement and still, you know, living your life. 😉
At what point do you know it’s time to ask for help?
Who do you call? What do you say? Especially when it’s 3 AM and everyone else has a job or a life…
You might not make the call to the suicide hotline, but what if the simple push of a button could bring a compassionate text, voice, or even a hug from someone who knows and loves you? Would you do it?
Would it be worth the $2.99/mo?
The new NotOK app hopes to keep users from suffering in silence. It takes the hard work out of that 3AM text (that often gets deleted rather than sent) and makes it simple for those who need help. Not doing ok? Need help physically, emotionally? Simply press the button and your predetermined, trusted contacts are notified (up to 5).
I have no answers on how this compares to other apps in terms of ease of use, or price. It just brings up conflicting emotions in me.
On the one hand, I think it’s great—especially for those with a physical ailment who might need assistance that isn’t worth calling 911 for. But often when depression is overwhelming, sufferers don’t want to bother others with their problems.
(What if you say you aren’t okay, but none of your contacts can help right then? What if you use the crap out of it because you’re having a reeeallly hard time and then someone decides you’re toxic to their well-being?)
Still, it might keep things from spiraling out of control. I wonder how many people who’ve committed suicide might’ve lived had they had a friendly voice a button push away. They might not call or even text, but push a button? Much more likely.
Please, if you or someone you know could use this, don’t hesitate!
Each of these circles is an overlapping image of the sun.
Know how I know?
Because this is what it looked like at the height of our partial eclipse:
Same tree, same sun, big moon.
Here it is 8 mins prior:
And 5 mins later:
Fascinating to see the sun sliver slide around the moon’s shadow (and create new tongue twisters).
For further comparison, here it is almost 40 mins later. There’s still a chunk of the moon’s shadow on the left of the images, but the shadows aren’t as sharp because more visible surface area of the sun = more locations for the light to originate from = reduced spotlight effect.
We weren’t sure at first that we’d get to see any of the show because a thunderstorm let loose about noon (fantastic nature show in and of itself), but it cleared around 1:30. By then, things were already in full swing, and the sun was nearly 30% gone.
As the moon ate up more of the sun, the light started to feel…wrong.
It’s hard to describe; “flat” doesn’t really capture it, but it’s the only word you think of in those moments. And it’s definitely not the same as when clouds cover the sun. I took a couple of pictures, not sure the difference would show up for my auto-focusing, point-n-shoot.
Then I did the side-by-side:
(Though there were clouds at 3, they weren’t near the eclipse.)
So there you have it. More fun with science thanks to the eclipse.
Make money just by setting some aside to pay your bills? It’s possible.
In the early years of our marriage, I kept track of our spending by recording each purchase on a spreadsheet under its designated category. Gas, tolls, insurance under “transportation”; donations under “giving”; groceries and restaurant purchases under “food”; etc.
This was painstaking and time-consuming and unfortunately didn’t rein in our spending, though it did enable me to see where our money went each month. I thought it would help in making a budget, as all are advised to do to become financially responsible.
But I found budgeting by category too complicated. Many expenses vary widely, and by the end of the month, the virtual budget would resemble taking the cash out of all the respective “envelopes” and throwing it at whatever bill needed paid next. Messy.
(I mean, seriously, do you say, “Ohp, can’t drive anymore, I overspent on gas this month.” I’m sure the boss would love that excuse.) 😉
My budget now consists of three categories: fixed expenses, broken down into “monthly” and “other”, and “discretionary spending.”
“Monthly” accounts for bills paid monthly (duh) like phone, internet, and utilities. The benefit of this is that the bills will always get paid.
“Discretionary” covers all spending that isn’t a known bill–everything from food to doctor visits. Since we use reward credit cards for almost all of our purchases, it’s easy to keep track of what’s been spent and how much is left. There are no surprises when the bill comes in, no overage charges, and the money is there to pay it off each month, so no interest charges either. (Racking up credit card debt is a whole other issue that deserves its own post.)
The “other” fixed expenses category is where I found potential to make a bit of money.
Even with keeping track of my bills, it was easy to forget the ones that came up infrequently, like HOA dues, Amazon Prime membership or pest control fees.
I finally made a list of these with their estimated amounts and due dates. Then I divided the total amount by the amount of time I had to save up between each bill.
For example, Prime is once a year, so I divided it by 12; HOA dues are quarterly, so I divided that by 3.
The resulting amount was what I needed to set aside each month to ensure the money would be there when the bill came due. Since I would rather over-save than come up short, I’d round up to the nearest $5 or $10. Makes things nice and neat.
Let’s take Prime. That’s roughly $100 per year, or $8.34 per month. (Yeesh) By rounding that up to $10 a month, it means I’d have $120 saved by the time it’s due. (The other benefit of this is that Amazon can raise their price, and I’ll likely still be covered.) After the bill is paid, any overage goes directly into savings.
But while that money is sitting there waiting for the bill, it can also earn interest.
I have 10 of these expenses, so it was fairly easy to figure out how much money I’d have set aside each month. If the amount was enough to invest in a CD with a higher rate of return than my online “high-yield” savings account (currently 1.20%), I’d buy one for the number of months left until the first bill came due that I’d need it for.
For example, Prime for us is due in January, and pest control is paid yearly in July or August. If I were buying a CD in September, I’d purchase a 3 month CD, or maybe a 4 mo if I could find one with a maturity date before Prime’s due date in January. Then in February, I’d purchase a CD for 5 or 6 months depending on when I planned to pay the pest control bill.
If I couldn’t find a CD with a higher rate, I’d funnel the money into the h-y savings account. The only consideration there is the limit on the number of withdrawals allowed per month (6). But since I know how much is due each month, it’s easy to make 1 withdrawal for the whole month right before the first bill is due.
For instance, I pay car insurance in mid December and HOA fees at the end of the month. So the week before the car insurance is due, I pull out enough from the savings account to cover both bills. This allows adequate time for the money to settle out from the ACH transfer and will be the only withdrawal I make that month.
Though the interest earned may seem small, it’s easy to make, essentially free, and will add up over time if parked somewhere earning interest itself. And that is a good deal.
Here’s your PSA for the day:
Early last month, I finally took the plunge and opened a high yield savings account. I chose Synchrony because of their perks (no min, ATM card with fee rebates, etc) and comparably high interest rate.
At the time, they offered 1.05% apy, but today, that rose to 1.15%.
The account is still new, but I haven’t had any problems with their ACH transfers. And while I have received my ATM card, I haven’t used it. Honestly, since this is an account to fill and forget, I probably won’t unless it’s an extreme emergency. As I said, the ACH transfers have worked just fine for me.
But if you’re thinking about a savings account, I can recommend this one. It allows you to have cash relatively accessible while earning a heck of a lot more than the average bank or credit union savings account. No fees and you can fund it with as little as $0.01. (I did. For real.)