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 Post subject: Finances
PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2016 9:25 pm 
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Bathes in Braggs
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I made the topic broad because there isn't a lot of financial talk on the ppk. If you search stock you get recipes with veggie stock. If you search investment you get people talking about buying a Vitamix (count me peanut butter and jealous).

So anyway, I wanted to post about Pinnacle Foods seeing success in their vegan products like Gardein and choosing to focus on that more. I had looked for vegan-friendly stock before and basically found nothing so I'll keep them in mind. “We actually think we are at a tipping point in terms of people starting to look at plants as an alternative to animal protein,” said Mark Schiller, president of North American Retail for Pinnacle Foods.
http://www.onegreenplanet.org/news/pinn ... ed-protein

But don't make this thread just about that. I figured a thread about money might be useful to some people. I think about it a lot, but maybe more for the lack of it than the what to do with it.


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 Post subject: Re: Finances
PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2016 10:38 pm 
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If we talk about finances can we also talk about how people budget and their best tips to save money? I'd love some insight on how to be more frugal (as I contemplate buying a new car...)


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 Post subject: Re: Finances
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2016 12:07 am 
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Chip Strong
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My best tips on saving money would be to make sure your monthly bills are as small as possible. Rent/mortgage, utilities and travel (like to work), that's where the big money is.

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 Post subject: Re: Finances
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2016 7:43 am 
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Dying from Nooch Lung
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I recommend reading the Mr Money Mustache blog. It's not about clipping coupons and getting rid of cable, it's kind of a graduate degree in being smart with your money. I've gotten a LOT out of it.

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 Post subject: Re: Finances
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2016 8:15 am 
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Bathes in Braggs
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Invictus wrote:
I recommend reading the Mr Money Mustache blog. It's not about clipping coupons and getting rid of cable, it's kind of a graduate degree in being smart with your money. I've gotten a LOT out of it.

That's an entertaining blog. Good advice too. I find having a child makes it a lot less enticing to live with roommates or ride the bus instead of owning a car. I'm struggling with living within my means lately, but don't have a lot of monthly bills I can cut. My phone plan ends later this year and I'll try to switch to a pay-as-you-go and just use wifi everywhere. That should cut my bill in half.


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 Post subject: Re: Finances
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2016 9:06 am 
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BAD PASS
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Wow. So. Reading Mr. Money Mustache I was just inspired to use my savings to pay off all my debt. So far I've paid off a medical bill I was making monthly payments on, a credit card I made a major purchase on years ago and have not used since, but still had a balance, and the remaining balance on my iPhone (I was making monthly payments on the phone itself on TOP of the phone bill). I have one more thing to pay off, but I've run out of transfers between my savings and spend accounts (whoops -- didn't realize there was a limit) for the month, so it'll have to wait until Friday.

That was a super impulsive thing to do, but I'm feeling pretty good about it! (And trying to think about how much more money I'll have to put INTO savings every paycheck instead of thinking about how my savings security blanket was just cut in half.)


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 Post subject: Re: Finances
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2016 9:19 am 
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Has it on Blue Vinyl
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that's an awesome thing, Hollie and your savings account will increase quickly because you're no longer making payments to those things. nice job!

for me, i am working on paying off my last credit card and i should be done in just a few months. i'm so excited! right now what helps me the most - when i think of something i want to purchase, i rethink it and ask myself, "do i really NEED this?". if i don't purchase what i wanted to (could be anything from a latte to a new pair of shoes for work) i pay the amount of the would-be-purchase to my credit card. my statement has a lot of little payments throughout the month (range'n any where from $20.00 to $150.00), but last month it totaled $428.00 that i paid off! so yay!!!!


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 Post subject: Re: Finances
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2016 11:38 am 
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Saggy Butt
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I like reading frugal blogs - I went through a phase a few months ago where I was binging on Mr. Money Mustache and Frugalwoods and things like that. But honestly, I feel like a lot of it is just common sense, mostly don't spend money on things you don't need, and you (probably) need way less than you think you do. (If you're strategizing about how to best pay off debt, thats a whole other thing, and making strategic decisions about it is definitely smart and not necessarily intuitive!)

It's not that exciting to think about just cutting out expenses, versus thinking that maybe there are some big secrets out there that can help you save a bunch without really changing your lifestyle. But mostly, I feel like it's about trading convenience/time for money saved, and evaluating how much joy and value you would really get out of whatever you're thinking about spending money on.

That makes it sound like being frugal is some sort of terrible, deprived way to live, which I really don't think it is. Or it doesn't have to be. But sometimes it does take extra effort to make it fun, like inviting friends over and cooking dinner or having a potluck instead of meeting up at a restaurant or bar, or hosting a clothing swap or mending clothes instead of buying something new. I am 29 and have never owned a car, despite it occasionally being a huge pain in the asparagus or sometimes taking much longer to rely on biking/public transit/borrowing cars/car sharing programs. But overall, being a cyclist has benefited me in so many ways other than monetarily: I've made tons of awesome friends (and one awesome husband!) through the bike community in Chicago, my physical and mental health is better for it, when I'm biking I'm able to see and discover more of the neighborhoods I'm riding through, etc.

I'm not trying to say everyone should trade in their car for a bike, obviously that's not practical for lot of people for a variety of reasons, but that's just to say that for me, it's necessary to think about big lifestyle things that save money not just as some sort of grim determination to not part with my dollars, but instead to look for ways that being frugal actually brings value to my life, through finding inexpensive or free ways of doing things that are fun or satisfying, or relationship-building. I also think it's really important to have other people in your life that are more or less on the same page- if all your friends are inviting you out for fancy cocktails all the time or to play golf or whatever expensive hobbies people have, it's going to be way harder than if you find a community of fun cheapskate weirdos who are excited to go to the free evenings at the art museum or just sit around a backyard fire pit.

The most recent big frugal thing we did was buy into a cooperatively owned cohousing community. (Essentially it feels like a small (6-unit) condo building, since we live in our own apartment-style unit, but it all shares one mortgage for the whole building and everyone who lives here are shareholders in the corporation that owns it. We all decide collectively each year how much to charge ourselves, based on what our current taxes and water rates and stuff are, as well as how much we want to put in the reserve fund for building repairs, and what sorts of repairs or building upgrades we want/need to make throughout the year. )

My husband and I had been looking at houses for a while, but ultimately decided that moving into this place would be good because it had a MUCH lower buy-in fee than we would be spending on a downpayment for our own building, so now we still have lots of savings instead of none, plus our monthly payments would be lower and would already account for all ownership costs which would be shared amongst a bunch of people. And to me the community aspect of it is just as attractive- I like having a built-in way to get to know my new neighbors, through sharing a garden and a workshop space in the basement and having monthly meetings and building social events. We also were excited about this particular place at this particular time because we just had a baby, and there are two other babies that are 2 and 4 months older than ours. Bonus- we've bought hardly any clothes for our baby because they grow so quickly that we've gotten so many hand-me-downs already! And have been able to swap some childcare with each other.

It's not without its downsides though- we live in a 1 bedroom unit that sometimes feels small/lacks privacy (and closets!). We used to rent a big 3 bedroom apartment, and even though we mostly had a roommate there, my partner and I each had our own room with a door that was more OUR OWN space, and it was nice to have a spare room when guests come to stay rather than just our pull out couch. Some day when our baby is big enough that we want to put him in his own room, we'll have to put up a wall that makes our current living room half as big, and our common space will feel even more cramped. Recently another couple in our building moved out and we briefly considered moving into their bigger, 2 bedroom space, but along with the fact that I did NOT want to move again after only a couple months here (after repainting basically the whole apartment at 6 months pregnant, and knowing we would have a newborn by the time they moved!), frugalness won out as we decided we would rather not pay an extra $250 a month. Oh well. Maybe in a few years someone else will move and it will make more sense for us to take over their unit, or maybe in a few years we'll have saved that several hundred dollars a month and be better able to afford a down payment on another place, or maybe something else totally unforeseen will happen. Or maybe we'll just make do.

But in turn, I've been able decide to quit my job so I can extend my (already unpaid) maternity leave, and then in a few more months look for a new job that I like better. Being frugal to me = freedom!



One thing that I have been thinking about a lot lately is what to do with all that money that we were saving for a downpayment, that now is just hanging out in our savings account collecting hardly any interest. Probably some of it will go into a mutual fund, some of it will go into retirement accounts...I have also been thinking about putting some in peer to peer lending programs. I'm much better/more practiced at just not spending money than I am at investing it!


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 Post subject: Re: Finances
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2016 6:35 pm 
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I totally will be following this thread. I've been obsessed with getting out of debt (minus my mortgage) the last 3 years, and am an avid reader of frugality and debt-success sites. I'm down from 34K to 12K of debt, paid off my car and student loans, and $ lent by a parent for my house downpayment. I now am focused on my credit cards. I was able to transfer my horrid dept. store credit card (w. crazy APR) balance to Chase Slate (0% for 15 months...if you don't use the card), and am a couple months away from paying it off. If you can get it approved, I totally recommend this strategy...just cut up the Slate card when it arrives in the mail. Then, after the dept. store balance, just one more crazy high credit card balance...hopefully, I'll be out of it a year from now. I used the Dave Ramsey snowball debt method...or what I could glean for free about it from the web.

I've really really cut back on personal spending, especially on clothes, music/concerts, alcohol, and food. I try to bring my lunch to work every day. Aldi's is my personal savior. I even have been able to set up an emergency $1000 savings account (per Dave Ramsey). My roommate/boyfriend hasn't been able to pay me rent for 9 months, but it hasn't induced any panic attacks on my part.

Anyhoo, I don't feel entirely secure, but much better than I've ever been before. I was so so stupid about credit cards in my 20s. I'm paying for that behavior now, but at least there's a light at the end of tunnel. Other big goals over the next 3 years: 1) Increase my 401K contribution level by 5%, 2) Start a Roth IRA & max annual contribution, 3) Increase house payment by 50%, 4) Increase savings enough to comfortably tackle major home improvement projects., and 5) Save up for overseas travel/vacation (I miss taking vacations).


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 Post subject: Re: Finances
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2016 6:48 pm 
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The last 365 days have been the most expensive of our lives. We bought a house and parted with all of our savings, and then contending with all the little things that you need to buy when you buy a house - a lawn mower, reno supplies, unexpected things you didn't think you'd need to buy. All told, we have $20K of consumer debt now that I'm serious about getting rid of as soon as possible (plus car payments and we both have student loans we're paying off - but that's another story). I'm budgeting and setting aside monies every month to plow through this debt as quickly as possible as I feel incredibly icky having it over my head. Here's hoping.

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 Post subject: Re: Finances
PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2016 10:01 am 
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I have credit card debt that I really, really want to pay off before I graduate and have to deal with my student loans (graduation is a couple years off thankfully). I also owe my mom and brother money. My income isn't great by any means, but I came up with a simple repayment plan.

First, I changed the due dates for my credit cards so they are all the same. I figured my monthly expenses and income and saw that I would always have adequate money for the payments on a certain date. It'll be a couple billing cycles, but eventually my cards and car insurance- my two major expenses- will be split among two easy to remember dates rather than 5.

Then, based on current expenses (Netflix, car insurance, health insurance, rent), I figured out the amount I can pay to my mom and brother a month. It will take me 5 months to pay them off, which they are great with.

All these expenses considered, I figured out how much I can then put towards my credit cards. It will be another 5 months to finish paying them off in full (accounting for usage).

And all THIS considered, I can still save a decent amount of money each month. I'm shocked, to be honest- this money will go a lot farther than I thought it could. It's so easy for me to spend and have nothing to show for it. I am about to read that mustache blog and will follow this thread closely!

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 Post subject: Re: Finances
PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2016 1:25 pm 
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Nice job! Way to come with a plan to tackle the issue.

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 Post subject: Re: Finances
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 7:55 am 
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BAD PASS
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I just made the last payment! Look at me, all debt-free over here!

Whoooooooo!


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 Post subject: Re: Finances
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 7:55 am 
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BAD PASS
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(so excited I double posted)


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 Post subject: Re: Finances
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 8:17 am 
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Woooooo!!!!

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 Post subject: Re: Finances
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 8:49 am 
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Bathes in Braggs
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Congrats! Sometimes I just try to remember that even if I'm struggling now my debts are getting slowly smaller. Just make it one day at a time and that student debt will be gone when I'm 55!

It's good for me to hear stories about people struggling because it feels like society just bombards us with advertising that makes it look like everyone has a nice house, a fancy car, and goes on vacations often. Nobody's making TV shows about living on food stamps.


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 Post subject: Re: Finances
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 10:27 am 
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Awesome, Hollie!!!

A brief struggle: of course I desperately want to get my hair done now that I have an action plan. I let myself look at braiding hair online for fifteen minutes, took a deep breath, and reminded myself I have a box filled with bundles of synthetic braiding hair already. It can cost me anywhere from $100-300 to get a full head of box braids done, not including travel expenses because I have such a hard time finding folks who are willing to braid; it is free to do it myself (even though it's very labor intensive, hence the high cost). So, I can have it all!... I just have to be willing to do a little extra.

Something that got me really excited was seeing that I can save a minimum of $1,000 in 5 months at the same time I pay off my debt. How cool is that???

I have a super pretty journal that I've been saving and I think I'm gonna make it my Finance Journal. I have about a million scraps of paper jammed in my purse with plans scribbled on them and I want to write them down neatly somewhere. Journaling is fun for me, so it's kinda like incentive.

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Also don't forget to check your moles nightly to make sure they aren't devil's teats. - Erika Soyf*cker


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 Post subject: Re: Finances
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 3:36 pm 
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Tigon wrote:

It's good for me to hear stories about people struggling because it feels like society just bombards us with advertising that makes it look like everyone has a nice house, a fancy car, and goes on vacations often. Nobody's making TV shows about living on food stamps.


A lot of people DO have that...because they financed it. Maybe some people buy it outright, but in many, many cases those trappings of wealth are just signs of massive debt. I'd rather skip the fancy stuff if it comes with interest and financial stress.

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 Post subject: Re: Finances
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 3:38 pm 
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Dying from Nooch Lung
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GymClassZero wrote:
Something that got me really excited was seeing that I can save a minimum of $1,000 in 5 months at the same time I pay off my debt. How cool is that???



It is great!

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Mal: We're still flying.
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Mal: It's enough.


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 Post subject: Re: Finances
PostPosted: Sat Apr 02, 2016 5:37 am 
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Invictus wrote:
Maybe some people buy it outright, but in many, many cases those trappings of wealth are just signs of massive debt. I'd rather skip the fancy stuff if it comes with interest and financial stress.


This.

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 Post subject: Re: Finances
PostPosted: Sat Apr 02, 2016 5:55 am 
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Dr Bronners, MD
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This thread has convinced me to take control of my debt.

I'm terrible with money, but I allowed myself to get a credit card ("for emergencies") because I stupidly thought I could control my spending. Of course I maxed that fool out within a few months. I'm now paying it down instead of saving or paying off other debts. So my plan is to cut it up so I stop using it, use my savings to pay it down (I have money in a cash ISA), and then transfer the balance to a 0% interest card (that I'll cut up when it arrives) once the 0% interest period finishes.

Once I get this paid off, I'll be able to spend an extra £100 a month paying down my student loans and save £200 a month for travel (on top of the £50/mo going to my ISA). I might actually be able to pay off my student loans before we pay off our mortgage!

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 Post subject: Re: Finances
PostPosted: Sat Apr 02, 2016 3:33 pm 
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Being out of debt is the best feeling in the world! It took me two years of concerted effort to pay off $30k, but it was absolutely worth bad roommates and not having reliable heat. I started with a "spending fast" (see below) and Mint.com. Both of those really helped me make much smarter spending decisions (as in, "do I really need a $6 coffee right now? no. and i don't want evidence that I bought one in my Mint account"). I know it can seem overwhelming at first, but you guys can do it!

http://andthenwesaved.com/about-the-spending-fast/

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 Post subject: Re: Finances
PostPosted: Sat Apr 02, 2016 6:02 pm 
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I hadn't heard of Mr. Money Mustache before this thread, and I'm now hooked. I feel like I've battled with finances for all of my adult life. I'm in a better place now than I ever have been (i.e., not going into the negative on my bank account every month, paid off most debt, credit score is increasing). But I still haven't managed to stick to any kind of budget for more than a couple months at a time. I know if I can get myself to do that, I can do crazy, amazing things with my finances. I think reading that blog will help a lot - I've already got some convictions and some ideas I didn't have before.

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 Post subject: Re: Finances
PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2016 10:12 pm 
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I really, really enjoy it. I am currently quite low income, so it doesn't all apply. But, with a lot of advice from his blog, I am able to save/set aside 30+% of my income and I'm only bringing home $21000 a year.

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Simon: That's not much.
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 Post subject: Re: Finances
PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2016 4:14 am 
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Drunk Dialed Ian MacKaye
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I like Mr Money Moustache, and I also like Ramit Sethi (http://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com/blog/) which I find more relevant to my life. The thing with frugal / early retirement blogs is that they put me in this weird headspace where I start to think of all aspects of my life in terms of money (not saying that's what they say, just that's how it makes me think). I feel healthier when I have space to think of my time and hobbies in terms of value rather than money - for example, spending time volunteering can feel more valuable than running a side gig even though it doesn't bring money in.

Ramit talks a lot about the psychology of money and of spending. His basic system works on the assumption that motivation and willpower are limited resources, so you don't try to will yourself into sticking to a tiny budget. Instead you automate your bill payments and transfers to your savings and investment accounts when you first get paid. Whatever remains after that, you can spend guilt free. I also appreciate that he crunches the numbers behind "common sense" financial decisions, pointing out for example that it doesn't necessarily make sense to buy a home even if you can afford it.


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