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Money, politics, and sex. Three things you’re not supposed to talk about in polite company. So, let’s talk about them. At least, the first two. I’ve got to know you a bit better before we talk about sex. I’m an old-fashioned kind of gal in that way.

I’m a financial planner, so talking about money goes without saying. And I think we’ve all given up the ghost that we can afford to not talk about politics.

I’m not going to get into my specific political beliefs, as they are not relevant to this post. (If you’re curious: Ask yourself, “What would a woman, who got a degree at a liberal arts college, had a short stint in a socialist organization during college, and now lives in the Pacific Northwest, believe in?” I’m fairly predictable.)

But it has not eluded my notice that I tend to attract like-minded folks, and their like minds are all fairly horrified at many of the things happening in this country right now. And they’d like to do something to make things Less Horrific.

I don’t pretend to be a political activist. But, in my role as a financial planner, I actually feel I can have a big impact. Not because I’m going to give away skads of my own money (I do my best). Not because I am going to tell my clients to give money to this or that charity or cause. But because I can honestly tell my clients:

You want to do something more? You can. Time, money, or both. It’s not a matter of can or can’t; it’s a matter of choice.

First Things First: How Do You Want to Support the Causes You Care About?

How can financial planning help you do more for the causes you care about?

Step 1. Figure out what’s important to you. Which causes? Do you want to give money or time?

Step 2. Figure out the financially savviest way to support those causes in that way.

Notice the order of those steps.

The financial considerations come after the personal considerations. The financial serves the personal.

As much as we financial planners like to talk about the financially efficient way of doing things (like, say, donating company stock to charities because of the tax benefits), sometimes that financial tactic doesn’t serve the personal desire, and making financially “inefficient” decisions is in fact the best path forward.

For example, the easiest way to contribute to a cause is to simply give money. And when you give money to a charity, you can get a tax deduction. So, that’s how most people do it. People sure do love themselves a tax deduction. And sure, it’s nice to support Operation Smile or Save the Children or other 501(c)(3) charities. But what if the cause you care most about isn’t tax deductible?

In the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election, I could have continued my tax-deductible contributions to fairly non-controversial charities (who doesn’t want to help the children, after all?). But I thought that the organizations fighting for environmental health, civil rights, and women’s reproductive rights—organizations whose lobbying arms don’t provide tax deductibility—needed help more.

So, I gave money to causes I care about and received no tax benefits. But that’s okay, because the point is not to get tax benefits. It’s to provide support. If you can find a financially savvy way of doing that, great. But not at the expense of the support you want to provide.

If you work in tech, chances are you make a goodly amount of money. More than you need to live comfortably on. (Not more than you need to do everything you always wanted to do. Travel and Amazon can, after all, consume an unlimited amount of money.) Many people need to think about finances first, and everything else second. You, I hope, are or could be in the position to think about values and priorities first, and then figure out the necessary financial choices.

How You Could Use Financial Planning to Improve Your Political Involvement

I am not proposing you sacrifice yourself to help others. I bet you dollars to donuts you can help more without hurting yourself. Sure, maybe it’ll involve changing yourself and your life, but change isn’t necessarily hurtful.

Here are some direct ways that managing your finances in an intentional way can help you support the causes you care about.

Want to give more money?

  1. Evaluate your current spending habits and identify places where your spending doesn’t align with what is important to you. Do you spend a lot of money on takeout or restaurants every month? Would some of that money be better spent (according to your value system) on recurring monthly donations to a charity or a political cause?
  2. Set up recurring monthly donations to a charity. Start small, so you don’t “feel” it, and gradually increase. When you get a raise, consider beefing up your charitable contributions by, say, half that amount (the other half going into savings, of course).
  3. Use your company stock to make big, lump-sum donations to charities. Stock that you’ve held for a long time (and has had time to grow in value) and stock you got by exercising options at a low strike price are great choices for this.

Want to give more time?

  1. Squirrel away a bunch of your nice tech-industry compensation so that you can take time off (maybe a sabbatical during an election year?) to volunteer.
  2. Take advantage of your current time in tech to save money and make connections in other careers in preparation for eventually switching to a career you find more meaningful, but with a cash cushion and professional network to ease the transition.
  3. Figure out how much less money you could live safely on, then negotiate with your employer to work (and get paid) less so you can have more time to work for causes now while staying in the tech industry.

Regardless of your political and social persuasion, being thoughtful and intentional about your financial choices can help open up a world that might not be available to you now. I don’t mean to guilt anyone into anything. I just see this as a recurring theme with my clients and the people I meet in my work. They want to help, but they feel almost paralyzed.

This has to be a clear, intentional part of your financial planning if you want to do it. I have seen far too many people say they want to help more and then not do it…simply because they prioritize other things higher.

I am not here to judge your prioritization of financial choices. I just want to make sure you know that you need to prioritize your political activism (or any other goal) and build a plan for it, if you want it to actually happen.

Do you want want to use your financial advantages to become more involved in the causes you care about? Reach out to me at meg@flowfp.com or schedule a free consultation.

Sign up for Flow’s Newsletter to stay on top of my blog posts and videos, and also receive our guide How to Start a New Job (and Impress Yourself and Everyone Else) for free!

Disclaimer: This article is provided for general information and illustration purposes only. Nothing contained in the material constitutes tax advice, a recommendation for purchase or sale of any security, or investment advisory services. I encourage you to consult a financial planner, accountant, and/or legal counsel for advice specific to your situation. Reproduction of this material is prohibited without written permission from Meg Bartelt, and all rights are reserved. Read the full Disclaimer.

The post Do you want to be more politically involved? Being intentional about your finances can help. appeared first on Flow Financial Planning.

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I want to paint walls something other than Sherwin Williams Pure White SW 7005. I want to plant a garden and not have to leave it after just a few years. I want a better kitchen! I want to buy a home!

The lure of home ownership is strong in you, young padawan…and in almost every person I work with. And I get it! I finally bought my first home at the tender age of 39, and while there are definitely downsides, I’m so happy we did it.

There are a million articles out there about renting versus owning, the “true” costs of home ownership, how much cash you should have to purchase a home, etc. And you probably understand intellectually the cost considerations of each path.

I thought I’d give you a window into my own home ownership and all the costs that have come with it. I find that most people don’t think about these Very Unsexy costs of owning a home, but they can add up fast. And you’ll need to think about them ahead of time when making the “rent vs. buy decision” and make sure to set aside money for them every year you own your home.

I’m guessing you will not have thought of some of the costs that I’ve incurred…and they can be pretty spendy. But when you own the home, you’ve got no choice!

I’m not going to talk about upgrades or improvements. The new wall colors. The new back door so the back stairway landing isn’t in permanent midnight. The replacement of industrial grade carpet to faux-wood flooring. I’m talking about straight up “Please lord don’t let this turn into a pile of rat-infested invasive species dragging our house down around our ankles.”

Let’s call this the Keep Our House Standing and Definitely Devoid of Rats fund. It ain’t small.

My House-Maintenance Costs

I knew that I was going to have to spend additional money every year on top of my mortgage, even on top of the homeowner’s insurance and property tax, to own a home. But I have been taken by surprise by some of the stupid, ungratifying sh*t we’ve had to pay for.

I’m ignoring the costs that we incurred in the first few months of home ownership, as I think we can easily wrap those up in the purchase cost. For example, we spent about $15k on a lot of insulation work shortly after buying the home, but we knew that going in. I want to focus just on the requirements of ongoing maintenance.

For context, we purchased our house for $385k in the summer of 2014. So, on an annual basis, we are spending an average of $4607 (or 1.2% of the purchase price) to maintain our home. The rule of thumb is to budget 1% of the value of your home for annual maintenance, and it looks like we come very close to that number. I suppose that makes me feel better?

Your costs will be different, of course. And I hope very much that they involve fewer “pest control” costs. But you will have your own, unique, unexpected costs just to keep your house from falling down around your ankles. Also, it’s possible that your current rental provides some utilities for free, like water and sewer, or garbage pickup, or heat, or lawn maintenance. These are all additional costs that will now be yours.

I hope you can embrace the romance of owning your own home, and also be realistic about the whole cost of owning a home.

Are you itching to buy your own home? Do you want to work with a planner who can understand and share your enthusiasm, and also bring a reality check to the conversation? Reach out to me at meg@flowfp.com or schedule a free consultation.

Sign up for Flow’s Monthly Newsletter to stay on top of my blog posts and videos, and also receive our guide How to Start a New Job (and Impress Yourself and Everyone Else) for free!

Disclaimer: This article is provided for general information and illustration purposes only. Nothing contained in the material constitutes tax advice, a recommendation for purchase or sale of any security, or investment advisory services. I encourage you to consult a financial planner, accountant, and/or legal counsel for advice specific to your situation. Reproduction of this material is prohibited without written permission from Meg Bartelt, and all rights are reserved. Read the full Disclaimer.

The post Want to Buy a Home? Don’t Forget Boring Ol’ Maintenance Costs. Welcome to My Journey as a Homeowner. appeared first on Flow Financial Planning.

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I bet you spend almost all your work time doing the job you’re paid to do. But what if you were running a business (You) selling a product (your labor) to customers (employers)? How would you work on your business? 

How would you market yourself? How would you improve your product? How would you price your product correctly? 

Ideas for Improving Your Career if You Ran the Business of "You" Instead of Being an Employee - YouTube

Do you want a partner and guide through all your financial decisions? Reach out to me at meg@flowfp.com or schedule a free consultation.

Sign up for Flow’s Monthly Newsletter to stay on top of my blog posts and videos, and also receive my guide How to Start a New Job (and Impress Yourself and Everyone Else).

Disclaimer: This article is provided for general information and illustration purposes only. Nothing contained in the material constitutes tax advice, a recommendation for purchase or sale of any security, or investment advisory services. I encourage you to consult a financial planner, accountant, and/or legal counsel for advice specific to your situation. Reproduction of this material is prohibited without written permission from Meg Bartelt, and all rights are reserved. Read the full Disclaimer.

The post Ideas for Improving Your Career if You Ran the Business of “You” Instead of Being an Employee (Video) appeared first on Flow Financial Planning.

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Employer matching contributions to your 401(k) are a beautiful thing. They are also a thing of confusion.

Most 401(k)s I’ve come across have matches of some sort. But what is a good match? And if your match isn’t good, or if there isn’t one at all, should you still use your 401(k)? Or mix and match with an IRA?

I’ll put the bottom line at the top for you impatient types: 401(k)s are wonderful in many ways, and in general it’s best to use your 401(k) to its fullest, regardless of match. Employer match is just icing on the cake.

And if you don’t believe me, I’ve provided another 1000 or so words to convince you.

What Is a Good 401(k) Match?

Well, there is no hard and fast rule about what makes a “good” 401(k) match.

  • The worst I’ve seen is, of course, no match at all.
  • Amazon provides a better-than-nothing-but-still-kinda-scrawny match: they match 50% up to 4% of your income, meaning a total 2% match.
  • Examples of good matching I’ve seen:
    • 100% match up to 5%. This was in a startup, surprisingly.
    • At Google, in 2017, they would match 50% of the amount you contribute, up to a maximum matching contribution of $9,000 (which is 50% of the 2017 contribution limit of $18k). This gives you incentive to max out your 401(k).

Where does your company match fall along that spectrum from “none” to “Google”? (I’m no Google shill, and I have my fair share of “issues” with Google, but I give them credit for a truly outstanding benefits package.)

Also, remember that the 401(k) match is one of those things you should definitely look for when evaluating a job offer. You can simply add it to the offered salary to quickly compare two offers.

Always Get the Full Match.

(I pulled this from the Ten Commandments of Personal Financial Planning…which I of course just made up but I wouldn’t be surprised if it existed.)

You need to contribute enough to your 401(k) to get the full match, whether your match is great or crappy. Matching contributions are “free money,” money you won’t get unless you contribute.

Another way to look at it is that it’s a great return on your investment. You “invest” $1 in your 401(k), and now all of a sudden you have $2 (or $1.50, if your match is 50%). You’re like an Investing Genius, you are.

Here’s an example: Let’s say you:

  • Earn $100k/year (otherwise known as Easy Math Income)
  • Max out your 401(k) ($18,500 in 2018)
  • Your match is 100% up to 5%

That means the employer is giving you an extra (5% of $100,000=) $5000.

If instead you make $200k/year, that 5% match would mean an extra (5% of $200,000=) $10,000. Not too shabby!

After You’ve Gotten the Full Match, or If You Don’t Get Any Match at All, the Analysis is the Same.

Once you’re no longer getting matching contributions from your employer—whether that’s because you’ve maxed out the company match, or there was no company match to begin with—I suggest you follow the same analysis to decide whether you should put another dollar into your 401(k), or save your money elsewhere.

Why You Should Contribute Money to Your 401(k)

I started drawing up a list of reasons you should use your 401(k) regardless of match. At first it was a short, but powerful list. And then I kept adding, and adding, and adding reasons that 401(k)s are awesome.

Which leads me to conclude: You’d better have a damn good reason not to participate in your 401(k), even if there’s no match.

  1. It’s dead easy to save. This is the most important reason, in my opinion. Improving your personal finances is first and foremost about controlling your behavior. But behavior change is hard, and automation is one way to get around our innate animal tendency to be lazy.
  2. Contributing to your 401(k) is perhaps the easiest act of saving you’ll ever encounter. So, unless you’re pretty darn sure you’re going to be able to make yourself save to another account, I’d recommend sticking with your 401(k).

  3. Higher annual contribution limit. You gotta save for retirement, whether you do it in your 401(k) or an IRA (a plain old investment brokerage account is also a worthy contender, but it doesn’t give the tax benefits the others do, so I’ll ignore it for now). A rule of thumb about retirement savings is that you need to save 15% of your income every year.
  4. If you make $100k/year, 15% is $15k. If you’re under 50 years old, however, you can only contribute $5500/year to an IRA. Whereas you can contribute $18,500 to a 401(k). You can save all of that into a 401(k); you can’t save all of that into an IRA.

    And if your income is $200k/year, your 401(k) won’t be enough, but it’ll be better than an IRA.

  5. Legal protection. The money inside your 401(k) is protected, without limit, against creditors (i.e., when you declare bankruptcy). (The most famous example of this is OJ Simpson keeping his retirement savings after losing the civil case for Nicole Simpson’s murder, along with other unsavory behavior.)
  6. So, while declaring bankruptcy is unlikely, if it happens, legal protection will jump right to the top of the list of reasons to put your money in a 401(k). It’s a bit like insurance for car accidents: unlikely to happen, but when it does happen, you are soooo happy you have car insurance.

  7. Inexpensive investment options. 401(k) plans cost money to run, so it’s rare that a 401(k) is actually cheaper than investing in an IRA or brokerage account on your own. But sometimes a company is large enough and has enough bargaining power that it provides better investments than you can find elsewhere.
  8. When my husband worked at Hewlett Packard, this was the case. (We eventually rolled his 401(k) over to an IRA simply to simplify the administration of our finances. From an investment-choice perspective, his 401(k) was still slightly better.)

  9. Roth goodness. A 401(k) can help you build up your balance of Roth money in two ways. (It’s really good to have some Roth money in your retirement bucket. If you’re uncertain why it’s so good, here’s a primer.)
    • You aren’t allowed to contribute to a Roth IRA if you make over $135k (single)/$199k (couple). There is no income limit on Roth 401(k)s. You could make $200k as a single person and still contribute to a Roth 401(k). So, if your 401(k) offers a Roth option and you make a high income, this is one of your few ways of getting money into a Roth account. And it’s an easy way, at that!
    • Some 401(k) plans allow after-tax contributions to the 401(k). If you take advantage, you can “supersize” your Roth contribution every year—up to a maximum of $55k in 2018—way beyond the usual IRA limit of $5500 or even the 401(k) limit of $18,500. I don’t know of any other way to get so much money into a Roth account each year.
Why You Should Not Use Your 401(k)

What I compiled above is a pretty compelling list of reasons to use a 401(k), regardless of match. But let’s consider a few (and I emphasize “few”) other reasons you might not want to use your 401(k) if you don’t have a match, or to not put any money in it beyond the matching amount.

I have yet to see a large tech company that doesn’t give any match. I have seen this occasionally in startups, where the company provides a retirement plan (maybe a 401(k), maybe a SIMPLE IRA) but doesn’t provide any matching contributions. But it does happen!

I’ve previously written about what to do if your 401(k) is generally crappy (and not having a match is one aspect of a crappy 401(k)). A couple others:

  1. It’s expensive, both the plan itself and the individual investments. It does cost money to provide a 401(k) plan, so some expenses are okay. But if your investment options cost, say, 1% (the “annual expense ratio”) or more, that’s just stupid high. (Again, there is no rule that says “$x or y% is too expensive!” So, this 1% is ballpark-ish.) You can buy index funds at Vanguard for under 0.1%, target-retirement funds for under 0.2%, and even their actively managed mutual funds often below 0.4%.
  2. The user interface and customer service are crap. You just don’t want your money stored behind a wall of incompetence, unusable design, and poor service. You already know how frustrating it is to use a poorly designed website or get stuck in a voicemail jail for doing something as low-stakes as buying clothes. (And for sure, it is one of my great pleasures to walk through a 401(k) website with one of my UX or design clients, and have them yell and point excitedly when they see all manner of crappy design.) You should have much higher standards for the company that is holding your retirement savings.

But also remember, you’re likely not going to be at this job forever, or even for very long, and when you move on, you can roll this 401(k) into an IRA and get out from under all this crap.

Do you want help figuring out how much to contribute to your 401(k) and how to invest it? Reach out to me at meg@flowfp.com or schedule a free consultation.

Sign up for Flow’s Monthly Newsletter to stay on top of my blog posts and videos, and also receive our guide How to Start a New Job (and Impress Yourself and Everyone Else) for free!

Disclaimer: This article is provided for general information and illustration purposes only. Nothing contained in the material constitutes tax advice, a recommendation for purchase or sale of any security, or investment advisory services. I encourage you to consult a financial planner, accountant, and/or legal counsel for advice specific to your situation. Reproduction of this material is prohibited without written permission from Meg Bartelt, and all rights are reserved. Read the full Disclaimer.

The post My company doesn’t match my 401(k) contributions (or it’s a very small match). Should I still use my 401(k)? appeared first on Flow Financial Planning.

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I recently spoke with a prospective client who wants to make sure their advisor can advise on cryptocurrencies, because they own some.

Cryptocurrencies fall cleanly outside of my investment philosophy, which is, in a word, boring: low-cost, broadly diversified investments that try to match the market performance, not beat it.

I think it can be reasonable to put money (I am assiduously avoiding the word “invest”) in cryptocurrencies. Or ETFs based on the marijuana industry. Or the newest mutual fund promising to protect you from whatever the most recent market scare was. But only to the extent you’re willing to lose the money. Because, at the root of it, who the hell knows how those investments work?

This was a big problem in the 2008-2009 market crash. Collateralized debt obligations, credit default swaps…they were all the rage (until they most definitely were not). And, it turned out no one knew particularly well how they would work in the wide range of possible market conditions. Hell, after at least one very popular movie and countless interviews and articles and books, there’s still widespread confusion about these products.

And for the last year, of course, the “hot” investment is cryptocurrencies. I understand the fascination with it as a technology. But its role as a technology is almost entirely separate from its role as an investment. And Bitcoin’s volatile performance just this year (losing about half its value) should give every potential investor pause.

So, I suppose you could say that one reason I don’t invest my money or my clients’ money in things like cryptocurrencies, commodities, derivatives, and the like is that I don’t sufficiently understand how they work.  (Another strike against them? They’re generally expensive to own.)

What do I invest my own and my clients’ money in? Low cost, broad-market index funds and exchange-traded funds, like Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF (VTI) and Vanguard Total Bond Market Index Fund (VBTLX).

Why do I feel comfortable investing in funds like these?

Because I understand how they work. And furthermore, I can help my clients understand how they work.

Answer These Questions Before You Invest in Something.

In a webinar about investing earlier this year for Tech Ladies® (and which is being held again this June 5…hint hint), I encouraged the attendees to understand an investment before they put their money in it. One of the women in the audience asked, and I paraphrase “How do I know when I understand ‘enough’? I have a PhD. I know the rathole always goes deeper.”

What an awesome question. And it left me blank in the moment. Always embarrassing.

I’ve been mulling on that notion of “enough” understanding ever since, because certainly even I don’t understand everything about the investments I use. And I’ve come up with a list of questions that I think will take you a long way towards understanding an investment. I can answer them for the investments I use for myself and my clients.

And I think you should be able to answer them about anything you want to invest in. If you can, then I think it’s fair to say you understand the investment “enough.” That’s no guarantee the investment will do well. But it makes getting taken by horrid surprise a lot less likely.

I’ve answered these questions for the fund VTI, mentioned above. I am not recommending this investment. I am simply trying to illustrate how you might answer these questions about any particular investment you’re interested in. [Yes yes, that’s some regulatory CYA right there.]

  1. What makes the investment gain and lose value?

    You’ve got to know this in order to know how your overall portfolio is going to behave.

    VTI will gain value when the companies in the overall US stock market do. Specifically, VTI tracks the performance of the CRSP US Total Market Index. This particular index is “a benchmark that measures the investment return of the overall U.S. stock market. The index includes large-, mid- and small-cap stocks regularly traded on the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq.”

    The overall US stock market should gain in value when there is optimism about the future of the economy, so should VTI. Conversely, when the overall stock market loses value, so should VTI.
  2. How does the investment behave in up markets? Down markets?

    This is a different way of asking #1. As noted above, because VTI simply tracks the US stock market (through a particular index with broad exposure to US companies), when the US stock market goes up, so does VTI. When it goes down, so does VTI.
  3. What is its underlying source of value?

    True investing relies on something having an intrinsic source of value. Cryptocurrency (as an investment), as far as I know, doesn’t have any intrinsic value. Its price is based on the “greater fool theory,” the idea that someone else will be willing to pay more than you are. A company, on the other hand, creates value by selling products or services and earning revenue that way. And rental real estate has value because people pay rent every month.

    VTI is a collection of, basically, all the publicly traded large, mid-size, and small companies in the US. Therefore, its source of value is the value that all of its component companies create: the future revenues and profits from consumers.
  4. Who profits when I lose? Who profits when I profit? Who profits all the time?

    Knowing this helps you “align incentives.” Do you really want to own something where influential people/institutions will benefit when you lose? Because I don’t want to pit myself against influential people or institutions.

    If I’m invested in VTI, then when I lose, people who are betting against the US stock market profit. (Historically, not a good bet to make, as the stock market, again historically, has gained in value over time.) When I profit, fellow investors in the overall US stock market profit. Vanguard profits all the time, because I’m paying them an annual expense ratio regardless of how VTI performs (although the expense ratio is quite low).

    If my financial advisor managed my investments and charges me a flat fee, she profits regardless of how my investments perform. If my financial advisor charges a percentage of the assets she manages for me, then she always profits, but she profits more when my investments gain and less when my investments lose.
  5. How will this investment affect my taxes?

    Will it generate a lot of taxable income (via interest, dividends, or capital gains distributions) or is it “tax-efficient” (not a lot of such income)? If it’s tax efficient, then it’s reasonable to own it in a taxable investment account. If it’s not tax efficient, then you would probably lean towards owning it in a tax-protected account, like your IRA or 401(k), where nothing is taxed until you tax the money out.

    VTI is very tax-efficient. Most funds that track major stock indexes are. There’s just not a lot of buying and selling going on inside the fund, and that’s what generates a lot of the taxable income while you own it. If you look at Vanguard’s description of VTI, you can see that the “Return before taxes” and the “Return after taxes on distributions” are quite similar. Which means that you don’t lose much of your gains to taxes as long as you own the investment. And it means I can reasonably hold it in a taxable investment account.
  6. What are the alternatives to this investment?  Could I get a similar return or cash flow in a different, lower risk or lower cost way?

    This is a particularly important question for high-cost investments like annuities and cash-value life insurance, where you can often either find a less expensive version or create the same risk/return balance with a couple of more-basic investments. For example, annuities can sometimes be replaced with a CD (for guarantee) and a total stock market fund (for participating in market gains). And that’s a heck of a lot cheaper.

    My goal in owning VTI is to gain in value, so I can sell it later; I am not trying to generate current cash flow. I could get the same potential gains from different investments, certainly. Mostly other index funds that track the same or similar indexes. But that wouldn’t particularly help me lower risk or increase return or reduce costs.  

    I could own several funds which are more narrowly focused—I could own a large-cap index fund + a mid-cap index fund + a small-cap index fund, which altogether give me that total-market exposure—but that increases complexity. It also would introduce an element of market timing, because it would force me to guess, for example, if small-cap stocks are going to do better than large-cap stocks.

    I don’t know of any alternatives to VTI that give me the same return with less risk, or more return for the same risk, or better cash-flow for my needs, at a lower cost.
  7. How does the investment fit with the other investments I have? What role does it play in my investment portfolio?

    Do I expect it to behave the same as other investments I have? In which case, what good does it do to buy it? Do I expect it to behave differently (otherwise known as diversification)? How differently? The opposite?

    Am I buying this because I want to diversify (reduce risk in) my portfolio? Or am I buying this because I’m hoping to pick “winners”?

    VTI provides exposure to the US stock market, which complements exposure to the US bond market and the international stock market, which I also have in my investment portfolio.
  8. How long has the investment been around? 

    If it hasn’t gone through at least one major market crash, you just don’t know how it’s going to perform. Remember the Flash Crash of 2010? Okay, maybe you don’t. My layman summation: crazy huge losses within one day of trading, caused by us not fully understanding how ETFs work. ETFs hadn’t been around long enough, and used widely enough, for us to adequately predict how they’d behave in certain market conditions.

    VTI has been around since 2001, as the economy was starting to emerge from the Dot Com Bust (#1). It went through the Great Recession of 2007-2009. From October 2007 to March 2009, VTI lost about 53% of its value. And by January 2013, it had pretty much regained all that value (and of course continued to steadily gain after that until present day).
  9. How much does it cost to own?

    The more expensive an investment is, the less of the gain you’ll keep for yourself, and the more painful losses will be (because the cost will be added on top of the loss in value).

    VTI costs 0.04% annually to own. By comparison, mutual funds often cost around 1% to own. VTI is very inexpensive.
Understanding the Investment Isn’t Enough.

Understanding an investment is not the only factor in including it in your portfolio, of course.  There are the important matters of: What are you investing for? What is your risk tolerance?

Choosing your investments doesn’t require a PhD or a financial designation. But it does require serious thought. If you want to learn more about investing (which you should definitely do), I recommend you do some reading. A couple of my favorite books are:

    [With thanks to friend and colleague David Meyers for his informative and entertaining suggestions. If you enjoy puns and you need a financial advisor, and especially if you live near Palo Alto, David’s your guy.]

    Do you want help investing your money in a way you can understand? Reach out to me at meg@flowfp.com or schedule a free consultation.

    Sign up for Flow’s Monthly Newsletter to stay on top of my blog posts and videos, and also receive our guide How to Start a New Job (and Impress Yourself and Everyone Else) for free!

    Disclaimer: This article is provided for general information and illustration purposes only. Nothing contained in the material constitutes tax advice, a recommendation for purchase or sale of any security, or investment advisory services. I encourage you to consult a financial planner, accountant, and/or legal counsel for advice specific to your situation. Reproduction of this material is prohibited without written permission from Meg Bartelt, and all rights are reserved. Read the full Disclaimer.

    The post Before You Invest Your Money, Make Sure You Understand What You’re Investing In appeared first on Flow Financial Planning.

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    Changing your behavior is essential to accomplishing anything great in your life, right? Skip your traditional Sunday brunch so you can train more for that triathlon. Study every night instead of hanging with friends so you can get an MBA.

    And when you start working on your personal finances, you’re going to be asked to change your behavior, at least in some small way.

    Some of those changes will be easy. “Oh, I should invest my 401(k) in Fund A instead of Fund B? Done!”

    Some are very much not easy.

    Behavior Change is Hard.

    Probably the hardest change to make in our financial life is to spend less money. Not everyone needs to do it, but a lot of us need to, just to achieve some financial security. And a lot of us want to do it in order to get to our goals faster–buy a home sooner, retire earlier, travel more often.

    (The difficulty of reducing spending–which I’ve observed time and again in my practice–is perhaps the best reason for avoiding “lifestyle inflation” in the first place. Undoing lifestyle inflation, deflating your lifestyle, reducing what you spend: it’s just The Suck.

    I wrote recently about the futility of will power in making these lasting changes. If you’re anything like me, it won’t work just because you try.

    So, what is to be done?

    In that article, I propose creating a plan and automating your finances as solutions. But what if you can’t automate the change you want to make?

    Increasing your 401(k) contribution by changing your paycheck settings is easy to do. But there’s no automatic setting to “spend less every month.” You have to actively, consciously make the decision, every day, to Not Spend Money.

    Rely on Your Community to Help Change Your Behavior.

    Do you remember that study that came out about a decade ago from the New England Journal of Medicine? The study that showed that if your friends gain weight, you’re more likely to gain weight, too? And that if your friends lose weight, you’re more likely to do that? The effect persisted even if friends were far away, and even if friends were more like friendly acquaintances. (The effect was just smaller.)

    What if we apply that relationship to changes in financial behavior? If being friends with people who gain (or lose) weight makes you more likely to gain (or lose) weight:

    What about hanging out with people who treat their money the way that you want to treat yours?

    I’m not suggesting you abandon the Big Spender friends you have. (I’m not that crass.) But why not seek out other people whose financial behavior you admire and would love to emulate?

    There are all sorts of possible resources out there. It’s hard to make good, close friends, but you can still grow your community to include people with the desired behavior. You can easily find online communities that espouse the kind of relationship you want with your money, whatever that is. Early retirement, avid travelers/travel hackers, home buyers, you name it. You’ve got reddit channels, Facebook groups. Talk with your co-workers. Look for meetups. I don’t know, talk to people. See who’s doing it in a way you admire!

    And to “flip the script” a bit (having recently watched the new Cobra Kai, Hawk has forever changed my perception of this phrase), if you make healthy and helpful changes to your financial situation, then your friends are more likely to do so, also. Whaddya think of that?

    Managing your own behavior is the hardest part of life (at least, in these affluent, developed-economy parts of the world).  It’s also arguably the biggest determinant of success, in life in general, but certainly in your personal finances.

    What can you do, to help change your behavior in a way that will create stronger finances?

    Have you tried to change your financial behavior, but realize you can’t do it alone? Reach out to me at meg@flowfp.com or schedule a free consultation.

    Sign up for Flow’s Monthly Newsletter to stay on top of my blog posts and videos, and also receive our guide How to Start a New Job (and Impress Yourself and Everyone Else) for free!

    Disclaimer: This article is provided for general information and illustration purposes only. Nothing contained in the material constitutes tax advice, a recommendation for purchase or sale of any security, or investment advisory services. I encourage you to consult a financial planner, accountant, and/or legal counsel for advice specific to your situation. Reproduction of this material is prohibited without written permission from Meg Bartelt, and all rights are reserved. Read the full Disclaimer.

    The post Changing your financial behavior is hard. Leverage your community! appeared first on Flow Financial Planning.

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    A lot of my clients fret over a large one-time expense–a once-in-a-lifetime vacation, a huge home remodel, a fancy electric car–and waste much less angst on their monthly expenses. Turns out, they’ve got it backwards.

    When it comes to your long-term financial health, it turns out that expenses you incur over and over again (those pesky “monthly expenses”) often have a much bigger impact than a one-time expense, even a big one.

    For example, remodelling your new Seattle condo to the tune of $100k will likely have less impact on your long-term finances than spending an extra $1000/mo in expenses.

    And showing my clients this in my financial-planning software, which projects years into the future, never fails to surprise them. It even mildly surprises me every time, even though I’ve seen it a thousand times.

    Even though it surprises everyone, it makes sense if you think it through: $100k once is easy to surpass with an extra $1000/mo over 20 years: $1000 x 12 months x 20 years = $240k.

    (Finance pedants will get on my case about the time value of money, which is, of course, a Real Thing and an Important Thing, but I’m simplifying here to make a point. And I also already have plenty of pedants in my life, having two young children and a husband.)

    There is an obvious analog with your physical health: Exercising a little each day is better for you than being the weekend warrior.

    So that I don’t mislead you into going out and buying that souped-up 2018 Tesla Model X because “hey! It doesn’t affect my long-term outlook and they’re so awesome!” please remember these other factors that also influence your long-term financial success:

    • How long-term is your long-term? If you’re 40 years old, you’re going to be spending money every month for 600 more months if you live to the age of 90. By contrast if you’re already 70, then you have 240 months of spending to go.  Changes to your monthly spending are going to have a much bigger impact if your long term is, well, longer.
    • How big is your big one-time expense? If you spend an extra $100k on a home, maybe that won’t necessarily hugely affect your long-term finances.  If you spend an extra $500k, obviously the calculus is different. My post does not give you permission to go buy yourself a private island “but only this once!”
    • Is your big one-time expense leaving you vulnerable financially? Let’s say our software-powered projections show us that, long-term, you’ll be fine spending that extra $100k now. But if that expense flattens your cash reserves, it’s probably a Bad Idea.

      Software has a hard time controlling for the possibility of “My mom got sick. I have to take 3 months off to go take care of her” or “I lost my job and the tech industry just imploded. Again.” And for those unpredictable yet oh-so-likely vagaries of life, you don’t want all your extra money wrapped up in photos from that sweet once-in-a-lifetime vacation. You want cash.

    What do you worry about more? Your undifferentiated monthly expenses or that big one-time “splurge”? Try multiplying those monthly expenses over the next 10 or 20 or 30 years. How does that change your perception of their relative impact on your financial future?

    If you want to make sure you’re spending your time, energy, and angst on the right things, reach out to me at meg@flowfp.com or schedule a free consultation.

    Sign up for Flow’s Monthly Newsletter to stay on top of my blog posts and videos, and also receive our guide How to Start a New Job (and Impress Yourself and Everyone Else) for free!

    Disclaimer: This article is provided for general information and illustration purposes only. Nothing contained in the material constitutes tax advice, a recommendation for purchase or sale of any security, or investment advisory services. I encourage you to consult a financial planner, accountant, and/or legal counsel for advice specific to your situation. Reproduction of this material is prohibited without written permission from Meg Bartelt, and all rights are reserved. Read the full Disclaimer.

    The post A Tesla won’t scotch your financial prospects. Your recurring expenses will. appeared first on Flow Financial Planning.

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    Flow is two years old today. Starting and growing the firm has been stressful, invigorating, challenging, educational (boy howdy), gratifying, ego-stroking, ego-crushing, and validating.

    Being an entrepreneur, and in particular running a financial planning practice, has painfully taught me some lessons, in both life and finances. 

    Lesson #1: I need a (pretty freaking big, as it turns out) community.

    I am not a “born entrepreneur.” I would never have launched my own financial planning firm without thinking there was a community that could lead me, by the hand, through the twisting paths of launching and running a firm. For that, I given full credit to the XY Planning Network. That organization, and all the people in it, gave me the confidence I needed to dare to start my own firm.

    The first major thing I did for my firm was to work with a designer who could create my website. Perhaps not everyone has such a great relationship with their designer, but my designer, Karin Haggård, definitely deserves a spot on the list of “people who have made this journey not only possible but enjoyable.” Karin is on my list not because she’s a great designer (she is), but because she has been consistently encouraging and informative about my practice since I started working with her.

    Right before launching my firm, I joined a study group of fellow planners who were also newly launching their firms. Mike, Ryan, Catie, Tim and I commiserated, ranted, shared successes and knowledge and ideas, and encouraged each other.

    Next, I hired a business coach. For any of you who are financial planners yourself, I cannot speak highly enough about Elizabeth Jetton. We have met at least monthly since December 2016.

    Then I started having day-long offsites with another planner, Daniel Frankel, which we hope to do twice a year. He’s got a very MBA/quantitative approach, and I’m “It’s all about the relationship, man! What’s your purpose?” It’s quite the complementary pairing.

    And since earlier this year, I’ve been in another study group, of more-established firm owners. Shawn, Steve, Colin, and Greg and I meet every week (cough…well some of us do), and it’s a wonderful recipe of listening, sharing ideas and resources, encouragement, understanding and just knowing we all want the best for the others.

    All along, my husband and I have been seeing a marriage counselor. I look at this as a long-term investment. You can be crass and think of it as a hell of a lot cheaper than divorce. I also value it for making my current life more joyful and regularly turning my mind and soul back to the important things.

    And, of course, my husband has given me not only the desperately needed emotional support (even when I was certain this wasn’t going to work, he was equally certain it would; or at least he talks a good game!), but also the logistical support. When I have needed to work during the kids’ bedtimes or on the weekends, or when I have needed to take time away from everything for sanity’s sake, he’s always covered for me. He’s taken care of the rest of my life.

    It is not a stretch to say that Flow might not exist today if I were lacking even one of these members of my community.

    Lesson #2: I need to replenish myself all the time.

    Raw enthusiasm powered me for the three months working full-time to launch the firm, and then the first six months of running the firm. After that, I felt pretty depleted.

    The major stress of the first year was trying to gain momentum, to get clients. The major stress of the second year, when things really started to “click,” was trying to moderate growth so that I could yes, grow, but also remain true to the value I was providing to my clients and the life I wanted for myself (not working excessive hours, spending time with my family and friends, reading something not about financial planning or business).

    The first conscious change I made was to insist, insist on exercising every morning. This job takes it out of me literally every day. The hard work, the stress, the excitement, the mental overload. And I recognized that I needed to, similarly, replenish myself every day. Not just the doctor recommended 4-5 days a week. Every. Morning.

    I do it for 30 or so minutes, either yoga or strength training. And then I can start my day with a sense of accomplishment, momentum, and strength. It’s quite literally invaluable. I hear it has health benefits, too.

    The next thing I started incorporating into my life was a quarterly night away in a lovely hotel, away from my family and the business and any impositions on my time or mental space. Bellingham is on a bay, so getting a lovely room with a lovely view is easy around here.

    And I’ve recently decided to not work on the weekends. Like, at all. And that includes not listening to business-related podcasts. (Crazy, right?) Because after two years of hard-charging, it is really hard to “turn it off.” But I know I need the time, each week, where I get a protracted break from thinking about it all. Both for my own mental sake, but also so that I can meet the next work week refreshed and enthused and able to think a bit more expansively and differently.

    Lesson #3: My success depends on my ability to adapt to the unpredicted, not to predict it in the first place.

    I think the biggest example of the unpredictability of life is that I started this firm at all. One year before launch, it wasn’t really even a twinkle in my eye.

    In summer 2015, we bought our first house. (Side note: Waiting to buy a house until you’re 39, committed to staying in the same city for a long time, and sitting on top of a very healthy financial foundation…I can’t recommend it enough!)

    We chose a 5-year adjustable rate mortgage because it gave us a  crazy low interest rate (below 3%). Of course, the risk is that the interest rate can rise, maybe a lot, after 5 years.  That was fine with me because I planned to actually pay the home off by then. My husband was working for Hewlett Packard, making a good salary, we were saving a lot, and we had a lot of savings already accumulated.

    Fast forward not quite a year later, and my husband has quit his job to become a stay-at-home dad, I’ve launched a firm, and we have no income. We are now living on savings for the indefinite future.

    Two years after that, I am very happy to report that my firm is making good money and I’m taking home something approximating a reasonable income. But still, when summer 2020 shows up, we’re not going to be paying off the mortgage in one fell swoop, as originally planned. I need to keep that money “liquid,” in case life moves in some other unpredicted but major way.

    In retrospect, of course, I should have locked down a slightly higher but fixed-rate mortgage. I didn’t because, of course, life was simply going to continue along its current path, right? Ahem.

    So, now we’ll be dealing with what will certainly be a significant rise in the interest rate in year 6. I can no longer reasonably pay it off all at once. Instead we plan to focus on paying it down as quickly as possible. This is not the path I expected when I bought my home. But it’s the path I’m on.

    Lesson #4: Having a healthy financial foundation is essential for me to take risks.

    I’ve always saved a lot. I feel bad when I spend too much. I don’t rock climb or jump from airplanes to feel the thrill.  Instead, I do yoga for 30 minutes a day and cook homemade meals and enjoy spending quiet time in a comfy chair reading a book.

    I am not a risk taker. But yet I started my own business, which is pretty darn risky. I’ve often mused on just how that could happen.

    And I think it all comes down to the fact that, between my husband and me, we were ahead of the game financially, from our years in tech and a little bit of luck. I figured that we could go for three years, living on savings, certainly not adding to savings, and still be okay in the long run even if I then called it quits and we went back to being someone’s employee.

    So, I put on my blinders and went for it.

    I am inexpressibly thankful that we had the financial strength to give me the confidence to make this huge change in my life, in my family’s life. This is why I harp on the importance of cultivating financial strength with my clients and with the women in tech community whom I serve. Because it gives you options, it gives you choice in your life. Money is power, sure. But more importantly, I think, especially for women, money is choice.

    Thanks for indulging me in my retrospective. I’m no self-help guru, but I do find value in other people’s journeys, their challenges and successes. There’s always at least one nugget you can take away to help you improve your own life. I hope you can find one such nugget in here, whether you’re a woman working in tech or a fellow financial planner.

    Do you want your finances to help you make radical changes in your life? Reach out to me at meg@flowfp.com or schedule a free consultation.

    Sign up for Flow’s Monthly Newsletter to stay on top of my blog posts and videos, and also receive our guide How to Start a New Job (and Impress Yourself and Everyone Else) for free!

    Disclaimer: This article is provided for general information and illustration purposes only. Nothing contained in the material constitutes tax advice, a recommendation for purchase or sale of any security, or investment advisory services. I encourage you to consult a financial planner, accountant, and/or legal counsel for advice specific to your situation. Reproduction of this material is prohibited without written permission from Meg Bartelt, and all rights are reserved. Read the full Disclaimer.

    The post Life and Financial Lessons from Two Years of Flow appeared first on Flow Financial Planning.

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    In the tech community, stories abound of people who became rich overnight. They were lucky. Maybe you’ll be lucky. But maybe you won’t. 

    Your finances need to work either way.

    Don't Be Lucky with Your Money. Be Smart. (Ideally, Both) - YouTube

    Do you want a partner and guide through all your financial decisions? Reach out to me at meg@flowfp.com or schedule a free consultation.

    Sign up for Flow’s Monthly Newsletter to stay on top of my blog posts and videos, and also receive my guide How to Start a New Job (and Impress Yourself and Everyone Else).

    Disclaimer: This article is provided for general information and illustration purposes only. Nothing contained in the material constitutes tax advice, a recommendation for purchase or sale of any security, or investment advisory services. I encourage you to consult a financial planner, accountant, and/or legal counsel for advice specific to your situation. Reproduction of this material is prohibited without written permission from Meg Bartelt, and all rights are reserved. Read the full Disclaimer.

    The post Don’t Be Lucky with Your Money. Be Smart. (Ideally, Both.) (Video) appeared first on Flow Financial Planning.

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    I am one of about five people in the United States who doesn’t have a Netflix subscription. During the last month, however, I had a free trial. Now that it’s over, I once more have time and brain power to do something other than binge watch Marvel superhero shows and “Dexter.”

    The Netflix trial proved to me, yet again, that I have no self-control when it comes to watching screens. Honestly, my behavior in the last month disappointed me. “Surely I should be able to resist! What is wrong with me?” 

    But I also know I’m not alone in this behavior. I mean, hell, Netflix is designed to encourage this behavior, what with its “Start Next Episode” and “Skip Recap” buttons.

    What saved me from wasting the rest of my life binge watching TV was not a sudden surge in virtue or discipline or will power. It was that, by simply not paying for a subscription, I no longer had access to Netflix.

    In the same way, you know what saves me from eating a bag of Doritos every day? The fact that I don’t buy them when I’m at the grocery store, so they’re never in my house.

    Eating Doritos. Binge-watching TV. Both unhealthy choices I’d be better off avoiding, but if the temptation is right in front of me, I cannot resist. Also in that category? All sorts of financial behavior: Spending too much money. Not saving enough money. Selling your investments right after the market drops.

    If we can learn anything about our financial lives from my relationship to Doritos and Netflix, it is:

    The best way to avoid bad choices in our financial life is to set up our life so that it’s hard to do the wrong thing.  

    I can think of three ways to put this philosophy into action:

    1. Create (artificial) barriers between you and the wrong behavior.
    2. Create a plan that you can blindly follow.
    3. Automate your finances.
    Create (Artificial) Barriers Between You and the Wrong Behavior

    In case you haven’t noticed, modern life could be summed up as the Pursuit of Convenience. I have no objection to convenience in general (from an evolutionary perspective, it makes perfect sense), but it’s a problem when it makes it easier to do the wrong things. Like watch endless hours of TV or eat unhealthy food or spend too much money on plastic geegaws you don’t actually need.

    It’s helpful, then, to intentionally introduce friction in the process of doing undesirable things. To make the wrong behavior less convenient, harder to do. Of necessity, these barriers will be artificial, self-made. But that’s okay; the results are the same: less of the wrong behavior!

    When it comes to (not) eating Doritos, it’s essential I don’t buy Doritos while I’m in the store. Then when I’m at home, it would require leaving the house and going to the store–even though there’s a corner store 100 yards away–in order to get my Doritos.  That’s enough of an inconvenience that I don’t actually ever do it. (One of those rare times when innate laziness works in our favor!) Similarly, by not buying a Netflix subscription, that’s one more thing standing between me and binge watching.

    What behavior in your financial life would you rather avoid, but seem powerless to stop?

    Maybe it’s spending way too much money on Amazon. Amazon is all about making shopping as frictionless as possible. If you introduce some friction to the process, you will almost invariably spend less.

    Here are some easy ideas for creating some friction:

    • Don’t enable 1-click shopping
    • Don’t use the Dash button
    • Hell, don’t be a Prime member! (I know, that sounds crazy. But I’m serious.)
    • Start putting items you want in your shopping cart and simply waiting 72 hours before purchasing it.

    If spending too much in general is a problem (it’s not just an Amazon thing), then you could go on a cash diet: pay for everything in cash instead of using credit cards. Plenty of studies have shown that spending goes up significantly when you switch from cash to credit card.

    That’s in large part because spending cash makes spending your money more real to you, so you do less of it. But there’s also an element of “Well, shit, I forgot to go to the ATM, so I guess I can only buy $50 worth of groceries instead of $100.  Or I can’t buy this thing easily online, I have to go to a brick and mortar store, which is less convenient, so, oh hell, I guess I don’t need it that badly.”

    I know, I know.  Sounds horrible. Sounds inconvenient and difficult.  But if spending too much is your problem, why would you want to make it easy to do it?

    Which of your financial habits don’t serve you well? How could you make it harder, less convenient for you to do those things?

    Create a Plan that You Can Blindly Follow

    When your paycheck is extra big because of a bonus or RSUs just vested, it’s really hard to decide in the moment that you should use these extra dollars to save for financial independence or for a downpayment. It’s much easier to use it for a complete new set of camping gear or that trip to New Zealand you’ve been eyeing for a while.

    But what would happen if, before you got that windfall, you’d worked on your finances, decided what was truly valuable to you (financial freedom and owning a home), and created a specific plan for what you were going to do whenever you got extra money? “I’m going to put 50% in an investment account targeted at financial independence, 40% of it in a high-yield online bank account for a downpayment, and splurge with the remaining 10%.”

    That clarity makes it a lot easier to do the right thing when your lizard brain is screaming at you to spend all the money now on delicious, shiny baubles. You made the decision before the temptation was sitting right in front of you. You don’t have to make any decisions at this difficult juncture…Just Execute the Plan.

    In my practice, I create just such a cash flow policy for my clients. We review current cash flow (income, saving, spending), look forward to what income and expenses are coming up in the next year, and then create a policy that tells the client what she should do with each paycheck, each raise, each bonus, each dollar that comes from RSUs or ESPP.

    We make this plan when the client is excited about taking control of her entire financial life, when she sees the power of handling her cash with purpose, when she’s thinking Big Picture, about financial independence or buying a home. We don’t make the plan after she receives the money, when temptation to splurge is too great.

    Automate Your Finances

    Imagine you need to save $500/paycheck to an investment account so that you can achieve financial freedom by the age of 45. If you do this all by yourself, then every time you get a paycheck, you have to:

    1. make the decision to save that $500
    2. manually transfer it from your bank account to your investment account
    3. manually invest it

    Honestly, I just don’t think you’re going to do it every paycheck. It’s just too high a demand on your will power.

    One alternative is to ask someone else to impose that discipline on you. Ask a financial advisor or a friend to remind/harangue you to do the right thing every paycheck. While you’ll probably do the right thing more often than if you’re left to your own devices, you can imagine the limitations to this approach.  

    Or you could simply automate the process. Set up your paycheck to automatically deposit $500 to the investment account, or set up your bank to automatically transfer money from your checking account to your investment account. Set up your investment account to automatically invest incoming dollars into certain funds.

    You only have to make the decision once.  Do the work once. And then it simply happens. This is the “pay yourself first” philosophy in action. No more willpower or virtue or self-discipline required.

    Do you like the idea of relying on systems instead of will power in order for the right things happen in your financial life? Reach out to me at meg@flowfp.com or schedule a free consultation.

    Sign up for Flow’s Monthly Newsletter to stay on top of my blog posts (and the occasional video), and also receive my guide How to Start a New Job (and Impress Yourself and Everyone Else) for free!

    Disclaimer: This article is provided for general information and illustration purposes only. Nothing contained in the material constitutes tax advice, a recommendation for purchase or sale of any security, or investment advisory services. I encourage you to consult a financial planner, accountant, and/or legal counsel for advice specific to your situation. Reproduction of this material is prohibited without written permission from Meg Bartelt, and all rights are reserved. Read the full Disclaimer.

    The post Netflix, Doritos, and How You Can’t Willpower Your Way Through Your Finances. appeared first on Flow Financial Planning.

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