Cover Your Budgeting Bases: Position Yourself To Win With Money

Cover Your Budgeting Bases: Position Yourself To Win With Money

A baseball infielder making a play at the bag on a diving base-runner, illustrating the need to cover your budgeting bases in order to win with money.
A savvy infielder covering his base well, positioned to win at the bag.
Photo by KeithJJ, CC0 1.0 license

Budget, budgets, and budgeting. If you read those words and picture something akin to handcuffs, a ball and chain, or an experience about as enjoyable as plucking a nasal hair, you’re not alone. These words possess a negative connotation in the minds of many.

Based on your own past experience or perhaps someone else’s horror story, you might even believe that budgeting and the concept of financial freedom are diametrically opposed to one another.

But the relationship of budgeting to financial freedom isn’t that of a necessary evil, or even a means to an end. Done right, budgeting actually serves as the key to removing those handcuffs you’re envisioning, along with that ball and chain. Continue Reading

Laying Your Financial Foundation: A Guide To Mint Transactions

Laying Your Financial Foundation: A Guide To Mint Transactions

A photo of brick and mortar at a jobsite, illustrating how Mint Transactions constitute the bricks in your financial foundation.
Photo by alexeddy1010, CC0 1.0 license

Understand where your money is going. Align your spending with your values. Make your financial goals a reality. Obtain the freedom to live the life you’ve always wanted.

A highly-optimized and easy-to-implement financial plan can deliver on all of the above. And if you’ve been following the Master Your Money series from the beginning, you’re on track to create just that.

In this article we’ll walk through how to use Mint transactions to lay the foundation upon which you will build the money management system that can power you to financial freedom. So grab your trowel, and let’s get started!

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De-stress, Save $130,000, & Preserve The Planet With Online Bill Pay

De-stress, Save $130,000, & Preserve The Planet With Online Bill Pay

Close-up of a carpet of three-leafed clover, illustrating the three primary benefits of online bill pay.
Photo by Higher-TJ, CC0 1.0 license

A rich, uninterrupted carpet of bright green clover is one of the more pleasing sights to the eye of this veteran wildlife food plotter.

But the above photo represents more than just a nice visual. The typical three-leaf clover is also a perfect symbol of the three primary advantages of online bill pay.

Let’s take an up-close look at how this basic functionality can take the stress out of bill payment, save you some serious cash, and preserve our planet, all at the same time.

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Mint To The Rescue: Your Bill Pay Safety Net

Mint To The Rescue: Your Bill Pay Safety Net

A NYC fire engine streaking down a street with lights ablaze, en route to a call. The photo illustrates how Mint is standing by to come to your bill pay rescue.
A NYC fire engine with lights ablaze, streaking down a street en route to a call.
FDNY Fire Truck” by Ciaran McHugh, CC BY 2.0 license

Bills – one of the most critical aspects of any money management plan. No, I’m not referring to the type that have Benjamin Franklin, Andrew Jackson, or George Washington on their face.

I’m talking about the type that list your name, account number, balance, and due date. The kind that tie your stomach up in knots, increase your blood pressure, and result in late fees if you don’t pay them on time.

It’s time to put those possibilities in the rear-view mirror and eliminate your bill-related stress for good. Today I’m going to show you how Mint is standing by to come to your rescue with a bill pay safety net which will help prevent you from ever forgetting to pay a bill again. Continue Reading

Personal Finance Made Easy: Master Your Money With Mint

Personal Finance Made Easy: Master Your Money With Mint

A boardwalk winding through a mossy forest, illustrating the journey to financial freedom made possible by Mint.
Photo by albertmt10, CC0 1.0 license

Every journey starts with just a single step. In many cases that first step is the most important, as it represents the difference between thought and action, hesitation and commitment.

Today I’m inviting you to take the very first step on your personal journey to financial freedom – a destination every bit as enchanting as the photo above.

Taking this first step has the potential to forever change your life. It will put you in the driver’s seat of your finances, and give you control over your money like you’ve never had before.

So hoist up that backpack and let’s set out – I’ll be guiding you every step of the way.

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Open The Door To Financial Freedom With Online Banking

Open The Door To Financial Freedom With Online Banking

A partly-opened door revealing a footpath, illustrating how online banking is a prerequisite of beginning the journey to financial freedom.
Photo by Tama66, CC0 1.0 license

Accessible. Simple. Convenient. Efficient. Automatic.

As all workout warriors and diet veterans can affirm, these are core requirements of any successful fitness plan. Without these characteristics, most physical fitness journeys fail before they’ve truly started.

Similarly, becoming financially fit and achieving financial freedom requires a game plan possessing all of these same attributes. Crafting such a plan is a tall order, but after reading this article you’ll be well on your way to answering the bell.

Today we’re peeking through the keyhole at how online banking can open the door to your path to financial freedom.

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The Money Map: Identifying Your Financial Starting Point

The Money Map: Identifying Your Financial Starting Point

A pin labeled "You Are Here" sticking into an atlas-style road map, illustrating the absolute necessity of identifying your financial starting point prior to charting a course to your financial goals.
Photo © Tashatuvango via Dreamstime.com, Royalty-Free license

If you’ve ever attempted to follow a map to a given destination while unaware of your exact location, you know how frustrating and fruitless of an endeavor this can be.

Whether as a tourist, road-tripper, or mall-shopper, most of us have found ourselves in this situation at least once before. We all know the uncomfortable feeling of uncertainty that ensues – the second-guessing, the traveling in circles, the lost time and frustration.

It’s no mere accident that standard navigation software such as Google Maps, Apple Maps, and MapQuest require users to either input a starting location or enable the automatic tracking of their current location prior to providing directions to the selected destination. Continue Reading

Saddle Up, Rodeo Cowboy: Time To Master Your Money Bronco

Saddle Up, Rodeo Cowboy: Time To Master Your Money Bronco

You need to saddle up and master your money like this rodeo cowboy has mastered the art of riding a bucking bronco.
 Photo by gay2016, CC0 1.0 license

To date we’ve examined the elite annual income of the average American, the monumental impact of simply being intentional with your money, and the phenomenal power of compound interest.

Now comes the fun part – it’s time to start putting all of this new-found knowledge to work.

I’ve been letting you off easy in terms of practical application of the topics covered so far. But like a rodeo cowboy fast losing his grip, that’s all about to change in the blink of an eye because it’s time to saddle up and master your money bronco.

Are you up to the challenge?

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Compound Interest, Part 5: Benjamin Franklin’s 200-Year Experiment

Compound Interest, Part 5: Benjamin Franklin’s 200-Year Experiment

Benjamin Franklin experimented with many things, including the power of compound interest. Pictured, Franklin's Electrostatic Machine, an invention which led to his creation of the lightning rod.
An electrostatic machine, a personal invention used by Benjamin Franklin to experiment with electrical phenomena, contributing to his creation of another invention still in use today –  the lightning rod.
Independence National Park” by Peter Miller, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license 

This is the fifth and final installment of a series on compound interest and the impact it can have to both speed and sabotage your journey to financial freedom.

In part four of this series, we reviewed how the power of compound interest creates a hidden, deadly cost of debt in the form of opportunity cost, which can effectively double the interest you pay on your credit card and easily triple the original cost of a mortgage. Continue Reading

Compound Interest, Part 4: The Hidden Opportunity Cost Of Debt

Compound Interest, Part 4: The Hidden Opportunity Cost Of Debt

A well-camouflaged owl, illustrating the hidden and hard-to-spot nature of the opportunity cost of debt.
A well-camouflaged owl, one of nature’s most seldom-seen, stealthy, and deadly predators.
Photo by Kdsphotos, CC0 1.0 license

This is the fourth installment of a 5-part series examining the massive impact compound interest can have on your journey to financial freedom.

Previously in the series we introduced the phenomenon of compound interest, explored how it can serve as a rocket to riches capable of powering us through the millionaire barrier, and discovered how it can serve as the best double agent the world has ever seen.

By now you should be familiar with how to calculate the total amount of interest incurred over the life of a loan when you purchase something on credit, whether that be in the form of a credit card, auto loan, student loan, or a mortgage. Continue Reading

Compound Interest, Part 3: History’s Best Double Agent

Compound Interest, Part 3: History’s Best Double Agent

Black and white outline of tuxedo, drawing a parallel between double agents such as James Bond and compound interest working against you.
Photo by Tom Woodward, CC BY-SA 2.0 license

This is the third installment of a 5-part series examining the massive impact compound interest can have on your journey to financial freedom.

In part two of this series we reviewed how the power of compounding accelerates over time and can serve as your rocket to riches, making it possible to break the sound millionaire barrier by simply saving and investing $46.00/week over a period of 50 years.

In today’s article we’ll be detailing how compound interest can actually work AGAINST you by going undercover and acting as a double agent to thwart your financial goals.

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Compound Interest, Part 2: Your Rocket To Riches

Compound Interest, Part 2: Your Rocket To Riches

A rocket pictured mid-launch, demonstrating the acceleration and sheer power of compound interest.
The 9/27/2007 launch of NASA’s Dawn spacecraft via a Delta II-Heavy rocket, the most powerful in its class. Dawn Begins Its Journey” by NASA / Sandra Joseph & Rafael Hernandez via pingnews.com, Public Domain license

This is the second installment of a 5-part series examining the massive impact compound interest can have on your journey to financial freedom.

In part one of this series, we reviewed the phenomenal nature of compound interest, its life-changing potential, and a basic illustration of how it actually works.

Today’s article will illustrate how compound interest can become a rocket capable of breaking the sound millionaire barrier and launching your financial freedom into orbit.

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Compound Interest, Part 1: A Powerful Phenomenon

Compound Interest, Part 1: A Powerful Phenomenon

The Northern Lights, illustrating the phenomenon that is the power of compound interest.
Another phenomenon – Aurora Borealis, also known as The Northern Lights.
YUCH Northern Lights” by NPS / S. Tevebaugh, Public Domain license

You may view the concept of compound interest as simply a boring financial term that you (fortunately) only have to deal with a few times in your life, such as while applying for a credit card or slogging through mortgage origination paperwork.

But if you’re reading this article, it’s probably safe to assume that you’re interested in either ending the stranglehold your finances have you in, increasing your bottom line, or becoming independent of a paycheck. Maybe even all three.

If that’s the case, we need to revisit this concept of compound interest. It is one of the most powerful forces in the universe, and it has the potential to change your life. Continue Reading

Financial Intentionality: The 9th Wonder Of The World

Financial Intentionality: The 9th Wonder Of The World

The Great Pyramids of Giza, one of the original 7 Wonders of the Ancient World. The photo illustrates the great impact that financial intentionality has on personal finance.
The Great Pyramids of Giza, the last of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World still standing.
The Pyramids at Giza” by Josh Cutherell, CC BY 2.0 license

In the last article, we took a look at the surprising fact that an annual income of just $32,400 ($15.58/hour on a full-time basis) is all it takes to rank within the world’s top 1% of earners.

We also learned that nearly half of all Americans already meet this criteria and that the average adult is only $1,301/year ($.63/hour at 40 hours/wk, for those counting) from doing the same. Lastly, we reviewed some troublesome statistics regarding the money situation of everyday Americans:

  1. Up to 78% report living paycheck-to-paycheck
  2. As many as 72% identify as being stressed by money
  3. 57% have less than $1,000 in savings
  4. 39% have no savings at all

The obvious question remains: why this stark discrepancy between high average income and extremely low levels of personal prosperity? Continue Reading

The Average American Income Is Only $1,301 From World’s Top 1%

The Average American Income Is Only $1,301 From World’s Top 1%

Photo of a sleek grey Maserati auto, illustrating the luxurious life available to the top 1%.
Maserati” by Ramin Ekhtiar, CC BY 2.0 license

Does your income rank in the top 1% of the entire world? Before you roll off your couch in a fit of cynical laughter, you should know that the answer to that question might just surprise you.

A recent study found that the level of annual income required for someone to be within the top 1% of earners in the world is a mere $32,400. This translates to an hourly wage of just $15.58, assuming a standard 40 hour workweek and full-time employment.

Yes, that’s right – make $15.58/hour or more on a full-time basis and you’re part of the global 1%, based on income.

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Introducing The Financial Freedom Project

Introducing The Financial Freedom Project

A mountain in the distance mirrored in a lake that is clear as glass. The photo illustrates the beauty, serenity, and peacefulness of the financially free lifestyle.
The peacefulness, serenity, and beauty captured in this photo from our trip to Glacier National Park, Montana are representative of the financially free lifestyle.

Hello, reader! Welcome to The Financial Freedom Project, a blog dedicated to making financial freedom, financial independence, and early retirement attainable for everyday people with everyday incomes.

Driven to pursue financial freedom, but don’t have a six-figure income and don’t want to live like a hermit? That’s alright, I didn’t either! The good news is that there is another way.

This is Mr. Financial Freedom Project (Mr. FFP, for short), founder and author of this site. Below you’ll find a synopsis of my story, the blog, and what you can expect to find here moving forward. Continue Reading