The hotel breakfast room was quiet and empty at this early hour. The only sound was the local early-bird news playing on a lone TV in the corner.
Bleary-eyed from a long day spent hiking Wyoming’s Devil’s Tower the day before, Mrs. FFP and I silently shuffled along the buffet and filled our plates with continental fare.
As we later packed our bags and loaded up the car for the 5th time in as many days, the first rays of the sun were just peeking over the horizon. And while the first birds started to chirp cheerfully, my wife was noticeably quiet.
I could tell she was nervous. Over the next two days, our itinerary involved traversing two different mountain ranges – and she had a serious fearof heights. Continue Reading
Your 26-Step Blueprint For Building A Bullet-Proof Budget
There are few things on a battlefield more powerful or intimidating than an army tank. They’re mobile, possess incredible firepower, and are heavily-armored. And whether it be in the form of sand, mud, water, or barbed wire, they can overcome practically any obstacle.
When building your personal budget, your goal should be to model it after a tank. You’ll want it to be easy to maneuver, powerful, difficult to knock off-track, and capable of surmounting any obstacle between you and your financial goals.
This comprehensive guide will provide you with the 26 steps to building a bullet-proof budget and creating a money management system that is virtually unstoppable.Continue Reading
Smooth Sailing: Simplify Your Life With Automatic Bill Pay
Work. Errands. Relationships. Kids. Sometimes there’s simply too much going on to keep it all straight. The time demands of life in modern society can make it easy to feel like life is living you these days, rather than the other way around.
When was the last time you talked to someone who mentioned their excessive amount of leisure time, or how well they were able to remember all of their to-do’s? If your social circles are anything like mine, these interactions are few and far between.
With this in mind, who wouldn’t jump at the chance for some additional free time or a few less things to remember? Automatic bill pay offers you the opportunity to simplify your life and obtain both in the process. Continue Reading
Go Green & Save: The Benefits Of Paperless Billing & Banking
Saving money often goes hand-in-hand with conserving the environment. Upgrade your home’s energy efficiency, drive a more fuel efficient vehicle, or practice minimalism, and you’ll save both cash and natural resources.
The intersection of green living and personal finance is one of my favorite topics. For those of us who are hard-wired to pursue efficiency and optimization, this combination is as irresistible as a colorful flower beckoning to a butterfly.
The crossover between these two pursuits is exemplified perhaps nowhere better than by paperless billing and banking. Like twin flowers in a field, going paperless offers dual benefits – the opportunity to save money and reduce your environmental footprint at the same time. Continue Reading
The Secret Budget Sauce: Your Automatic Hidden Bonus
Culinary sauces are the foodie’s spice of life. Whether in the form of a homemade cranberry sauce, a mouth-watering BBQ glaze, or some pain-inflicting fire juice, every King or Queen of the Kitchen has a secret concoction that only they can make. A sauce that transforms a simple dish into something people talk about for days.
If you’ve been following this Master Your Money series from the beginning, you’ve been busy whipping up your own custom money management system. And perhaps without even realizing it, you may have created an automatic hidden bonus for yourself in the process.
We’re not talking mere chump change, but nearly 10% of your annual income. So prepare to savor the results of your hard work, because it’s time to take a look at this secret sauce that can transform your budget into something truly special. Continue Reading
Dancing On Ice: Designing Your Cash Flow Choreography
I come from a highly competitive family. We have trophies for winners of annual board game tournaments and football pools. Engraved plaques for golf scramble champs.
It goes without saying that we also have a fondness for the Olympics – a gathering of the world’s finest athletes to compete for the right to be labeled the best on earth. It was while watching the figure skating competitions during the Winter Olympics earlier this year that I was inspired with the idea for this post.
Even a perfectly balanced budget is of little use without the proper cash flow choreography. Today we’re reviewing how to keep your monthly income and expenses in sync like a perfectly choreographed performance on the ice. Continue Reading
Flee The Robber Barons: Avoiding Exorbitant Bank Fees
In early medieval history, some feudal landowners turned their hand to lowbrow tactics to supplement their income. Their insidious acts ranged from merely charging excess tolls to highway robbery and even kidnapping for ransom. Such scoundrels gave rise to the term “Robber Baron“.
While unfortunate, you may think that this tale of highway banditry perpetrated hundreds of years ago doesn’t concern you. But I’m here to tell you that it does.
Because there’s a modern-day robber baron afoot, masquerading as your friendly bank. Exorbitant bank fees are the new highway robbery. And if you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself being relieved of your hard-earned cash faster than a waylaid medieval merchant. Continue Reading
Life At The Zoo: Your Ticket To Stress-Free Spending
Paying bills isn’t the most fulfilling feeling in the world. And buying necessities like grocery staples doesn’t exactly provide any ultimate feeling of satisfaction or reward.
But when you decide to treat yourself by indulging your taste buds, buying that item in support of your favorite hobby, or splurging on your favorite vice, you expect to obtain a feeling of fulfillment, satisfaction, or reward.
However, the typical joy of discretionary spending can be quickly sapped by the stress of financial uncertainty, fear, guilt, shame, regret, or worry. With this in mind, today we’re taking a look at how you can ensure your spending is as stress-free as a well-fed animal in the zoo. Continue Reading
A Tactic From The High Seas: How To Combat Overspending
I’ve always been fascinated by naval history, particularly accounts of naval warfare. As an adolescent, I remember binge-reading virtually every naval military history book contained in the archives of our local library.
I found the exploits of Sir Francis Drake, a 16th-century English privateer commissioned to harass Spanish merchant trade in the Caribbean, particularly fascinating.
By this point in the Master Your Money series, you should have a rock-solid money management system and budget in place. But like a poorly-tied sailor’s knot, all the work you’ve done thus far can be easily undone by overspending.
Today we’re turning back the clock to the Age of Sail to review a naval practice you can adopt to combat overspending and keep your budget out of the briny deep. Continue Reading
The Art Of Compromise: Reconciling Wildly Different Spending Habits
Finding and maintaining your balance on the save vs. spend tightrope can be difficult if you share your finances with a spouse or significant other. Particularly if the two of you possess differing views or attitudes about money.
One of the great mysteries of life is that all of us are born as either natural savers or spenders. And while some birds of a feather may fly together, the old “opposites attract” idiom is proof enough that this isn’t always the case.
If the spending habits of your significant other ruffle your feathers, read on to learn how Mrs. FFP (a spender) and I (a saver) managed to reconcile our wildly different spending habits as newlyweds. Continue Reading
A High Stakes Balancing Act: Mastering The Save vs. Spend Tightrope
How much of your discretionary income should you save? And how much of it is okay to spend on splurges and guilty pleasures?
These are loaded questions, and one-size-fits-all formulas aren’t the answer. These questions can only be answered by you, and you alone. Your unique personality, financial goals, and income level are all contributing factors.
Properly weighting your saving and discretionary spending is a balancing act with high stakes. Lean too far towards spending, and you put your financial freedom at risk. But save too aggressively, and you may find yourself chafing under a budget that feels restrictive rather than freeing.
This article will help you find your footing on the save vs spend tightrope. Continue Reading
Super Mushrooms: Powering Up With Mint Savings Goals
Today we’re going all the way back to 1985 to take a lesson from the most iconic video game in history – Nintendo’s original Super Mario Bros.
We just finished examining how to build a savings goal ladder rung-by-rung which will enable you to reach the finer things in life. But before you can put this ladder to use, you need to know a few tips and tricks regarding how to manage the impact of Mint savings goals on your monthly budget.
If budgeting in Mint was a video game, think of this article as your guide to beating the savings goal level. By the end, you’ll be capable of using Mint savings goals to power up your finances just like Mario powers up with Super Mushrooms. Continue Reading
Reach The Finer Things In Life: Build Your Ladder To Financial Freedom
If you’ve ever had the privilege of picking fruit fresh from the tree, you know that the biggest and tastiest morsels are often located in the very upper-most, hardest-to-reach branches.
While frustrating, this should come as no great surprise given the abundance of fresh air and sunlight available at the top of each tree. Reaching this fruit requires both determination and, in most cases, a ladder. But the juicy reward makes the effort expended well worth it.
Just like grade-A fruit, financial freedom doesn’t always come easy. Obtaining it requires both intentionality and the right tools. With this in mind, today we’re reviewing how to build a savings goal ladder rung-by-rung that will enable you to obtain financial freedom and reach the finer things in life. Continue Reading
The Debt-Free Derby: Debt Snowball vs. Debt Avalanche
By the end of that article, you should have been able to identify the size of your personal debt mother lode as well as the potential income and wealth concealed within each of the individual loans on your debt claim.
But in order to calculate how much of these riches you can actually recover, you need to decide which debt reduction method you’ll put your money on and ride to the debt-free finish line.
Today we’re taking a definitive look at the top two thoroughbreds in the debt-free derby to determine which is the better mount for your financial racetrack – Debt Snowball or Debt Avalanche. Continue Reading
Strike It Rich By Mining Your Debt: There’s Gold In Them Thar Loans!
The topic of debt usually gets pretty rough treatment in the personal finance blogging community. And for good reason – if not handled with care, it can be as dangerous as a short-fused stick o’ dynamite.
But if you’re already in debt and your money situation feels as cramped as a claustrophobic miner trapped deep underground, you’re already acutely aware of how dangerous debt can be. So let’s pivot and instead explore a far more encouraging aspect of debt – it’s hidden wealth potential.
Yep, you read that right. If you’re in debt you are sitting on a potential mother lode of riches. So without further ado, let’s stake out your debt claim and discover how you can strike it rich by mining your debt. Continue Reading
A Financial Freedom Shopping List: Your Savings Goal Price Tags
The almighty price tag is everywhere – fast food drive-throughs, restaurant fold-out menus, catalogs, grocery aisles, clothes racks, and online product listings.
Price tags come in all shapes, sizes, and colors and influence our shopping behavior in many ways. Similarly, the price tag of your financial freedom should influence the saving and spending decisions in your monthly budget.
With this in mind, today we’re exploring how to check the price tags of the individual items on your financial freedom shopping list.
Murphy’s Law – Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. We all know this old adage. And I’d wager that most of us have lived it and can lustily vouch for its accuracy.
The insurance industry is predicated almost entirely on this concept. There are at least 95 policy types that exist – life, health, home, auto, motorcycle, boat, accidental death and dismemberment(!?!), travel, liability, flood, kidnapping, alien abduction… the list goes on.
And while hopefully your chances of being dismembered or abducted by aliens are excruciatingly low, just remember that Murphy is still out there.
So the question becomes, how do you Murphy-proof your finances? I submit that you can do so by copying a design element dating back to the early days of “the motorcar”. Continue Reading
Gimme Hands: The Power Of Being Selfish… With Yourself
Selfishness is typically not a trait to be pursued, developed, or cultivated. But when it comes to your financial freedom, all of that conventional moral wisdom goes right out the window.
Now don’t throw the baby out with the bath water – I’m not talking about being selfish when it comes to the way you treat OTHERS. I’m referring only to the importance of cultivating selfishness in your futureselfwhen it comes to its dealings with your currentself.
If you are still aghast that I would suggest such a thing, it may help for you to think of this concept in the much more palatable light of delayed gratification. Continue Reading
Become Your Own CFO: Calculating Your Monthly Net Profit
Have you ever daydreamed of what it would be like to run a large business? Of being an executive high roller in a high-rise? If so, you’re in luck, because your household has an immediate opening for a Chief Financial Officer. And you just happen to be the most qualified candidate to fill it.
The job requirements of a CFO are varied. They can include ultimate responsibility for everything from crafting budgets to managing cash flow and optimizing tax liability.
These facets all have an impact on the bottom line of every business. But there’s one metric that trumps all others when it comes to determining business success or failure – net profit. Continue Reading
Beat The Blitz: Avoid The Unexpected Bill Scramble Drill
You open up your mailbox and there it is – that forgotten annual bill for your auto insurance, home insurance, or property taxes. You open it with trepidation and baited breath, wondering the extent of the damage. Your heart sinks as you realize the amount due will throw your entire finances off-balance for several months.
Sure, those Christmas gift-giving and annual vacation memories were great. But now that the credit card bill funding those memories has arrived, it’s time to pony up and pay the piper.
Do your irregular bills have you on the run? If so, it’s time to dive deep into the budgeting playbook and shore up your protection so you can avoid the unexpected bill scramble drill for good. Continue Reading