Finance

Category Archives for Finance.

My first $100K: How to start investing

how to start investing

You know how bloggers say they started their site because their friends kept asking for pointers? This post on how to start investing is exactly that.

I posted on Insta and Facebook about my first $100K invested in the stock market for my retirement – separate from the cash I’m setting aside.

This milestone happened yesterday! For the first time in my life, seeing six digits when looking at my accounts – finally – was exciting.

It didn’t happen fast for me. But once I buckled down, momentum built and I nearly doubled what I had in just the past year.

This pandemic, horrible as it is, has been an advantage for saving. I’m not traveling any time soon after my weird vacation earlier this month, can’t go to happy hour because bars are closed, and have most meals at home. So my “fun slash going out” and travel budgets are going directly to savings.

If you’re in a similar spot, this is an excellent time to begin investing for your future.

how to start investing

Money Alley is a great place to be

So here’s my mini-guide. Written especially for my friends and those looking for direction. 🤑

How to start investing

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Condo sold, net worth return to form, & up $35K – July 2020 Freedom Update

july 2020 freedom update

Big news first: I closed on my condo on June 29! It hit the market April 22, and I got the offer on May 30. As y’all know, I’ve been on veritable pins and needles waiting for this. Now that it’s over, I’m almost embarrassed at the sheer amount of mental and psychic energy I put into it.

It drained me and consumed my thoughts. For the first time since I was little, I got down on my knees at night and prayed (for a smooth, quick sale).

This whole thing started in January when I got a small ceiling leak and morphed into this whole debilitating thing. But it’s done. And I finally feel like I’M BACK.

july 2020 freedom update

Now I live in an apartment in Dallas with the goodest boy

I’m always amazed (in a bad way) at how consumed I get with situations to the point where it zaps me so fully. That said, the last couple of weeks before closing were absolutely freaking crazy. In no way would I describe myself as being “calm.”

I didn’t post a June 2020 Freedom update because I knew the sale was pending and that it would shake up my financial situation. It did. And now I’m heading into the best financial shape of my life.

July 2020 Freedom Update

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Hitting a major rough patch & down $35K – May 2020 Freedom Update

Selling my Dallas condo has consumed most of my energy this month. Every time I check the Zestimate on Zillow, it falls a little more (yeah, I know it’s not reliable, but seeing the number go down gets me in the worst way). The value was above $200K for a few years, and now it’s dipped below that.

I get the resale certificate tomorrow. At this point, I’m seriously considering offloading to a cash for homes place just to get rid of it so I can move on with my life.

Because of Covid-19, I was able to get a 90-day forbearance on the mortgage. So I’m hoping that whatever’s going to happen will work itself out in the next three months. Cuz it’s seriously stressing me out.

May 2020 Freedom Update

What good has come from this situation? I’m meditating again and preparing for life’s next chapter

In the background, I’ve taken time to reconnect to my meditation practice (remember when I did that 10-day meditation retreat when I first got to Dallas?). And I’m seriously considering going full digital nomad when I no longer have a mortgage pinning me down. I want to travel again – this time, for a long time.

I’m also cutting my losses. Mourning in advance, if you will. So while my numbers are down this month, it means I’m going to have to work that much harder (or smarter) to keep my goals on track. Either way, I feel I am winding down my time in Dallas.

May 2020 Freedom Update

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Up $11K, condo for sale, moved, and uncertain – April 2020 Freedom Update

What a month for my April 2020 Freedom update. My condo is on the market now (!). COVID-19. I moved into an apartment around the corner. And I’m still employed – for now.

I’m concerned my property value is going to drop like a stone.

I always thought I was doing the right thing by investing in property. I had no idea how much control an HOA would have and how much they can affect your asset. I just want to offload this thing as quickly as possible – and I’m willing to give somebody the deal of a lifetime if it means I can get out.

April 2020 Freedom Update

Would anyone like to buy a perfectly good condo in Dallas?

This experience has soured me on condos (specifically HOAs), and to some extent, Dallas. I’m just ready move on with my life.

I will never buy property with an HOA ever again. And this whole thing really makes me wonder if I really want to deal with owning property at all. I love my new apartment – everything works and I’m not responsible for anything. I can cancel my lease and be out of here with a 60-day notice. It’s so… unattached. So freeing.

Although with COVID-19 happening, I definitely see the value of living in a paid-off house, especially with money being uncertain.

So a lot has happened in these last four weeks. And I really hope even more happens in the next four.

For starters, my investments have started to recover. But the idea of “normality” still seems very far away.

April 2020 Freedom update

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Taking a $25,000 beating & dealing with panic in a bear market – March 2020 Freedom Update

This year has already been difficult in many ways. So I’ll have to unleash a whole lot of not great news. Of course, everything is down right now. And I’m fighting my HOA about a roof repair and thinking about renting an apartment nearby and trying to sell my current place.

All that’s been going on in the background as everything I’ve worked to save in the past year or two has been wiped out in the stock market. I’m hoping I can sell before my property value suffers too much. I will never, NEVER live in a place with an HOA EVER again.

That said, I’m grateful to have a job that’s allowing us to work from home. But this – all of this – moving, renting, selling, and making repairs to my current place (including the roof and ceiling!) are going to cost me everything I have. Like, everything.

But I have to try.

March 2020 Freedom Update

I few weeks ago, we lived in a different world and I was in Cabo. How quickly things change

For a second, my finances are going to spin out of control. And oddly enough, it’ll all be OK.

March 2020 Freedom update

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One IRA maxed, a return to credit cards & up $10,000 – February 2020 Freedom Update

Hello my droogs. How quickly things change in a day.

I started this post with such excellent news to report: big gains, strong performance, and hard work paying off. As I write this, I fear I’m about to go into battle with my HOA over repairs that haven’t been made for a month – right before my (nearly free) Cabo trip. So I’ll try to put myself back into my previous headspace and vent about the rest later. Because I need to vent.

The good news is a continuous upward trend. Though I fear coronavirus is about to give my stocks a hell of a beating, I’ll have to see it as an opportunity to buy more at a discount. Because it’ll pass and that’s what it is.

This month finds me almost done maxing out my 2019 Roth IRA. Then I can finish paying my credit cards and turn attention to the 2020 Roth IRA. All according to plan.

February 2020 Freedom update

I’ll be back in Mexico at the end of this week, a lot further ahead than I was before – even if it doesn’t feel that way right now

The HOA stuff might throw a wrench in my progress soon, and I hate that. But life, right?

Sigh – going back to previous headspace again. As it stands now, my overall net worth is up to $137,88528% of the way toward my $500,000 goal. Baby steps feel so good.

February 2020 Freedom update

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Booked: How I used points to save $2,000+ on five days at FinCon 2020

fincon 2020

Dang, conferences are expensive these days! Especially if you’re paying for it yourself and not getting reimbursed from a job. But FinCon is one I’m happy to self-finance.

I’m genuinely interested in the content, meeting like-minded peeps, and immersing myself in a world of ideas about money. Now that I’m FIRE-ing up my efforts more than ever and missed last year in DC, I simply had to go. But I didn’t want to pay the piper.

So I burned a batch of old Marriott points for a five-night stay only four minutes from the conference hall, plus a few Amex Membership Rewards points. And used Citi ThankYou points and statement credits to fly there and back. The only thing I’ll pay for is food, rideshares to/from the airports, and dog boarding. 💥

fincon 2020 points

There’s yours truly among the revelers at FinCon

All told, I think I paid ~$100 for the flights and hotel. FinCon, here I come!

FinCon 2020 with points

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Invest Vs Pay Down Credit Card Debt & Up $11,000 – January 2020 Freedom Update

Most of my thoughts recently have been on money instead of travel. Now that I have aggressive financial goals, I want to meet at least a few milestones before I take another big trip.

I’m seeing the juncture of points & miles with personal finance so clearly. I’m understanding how much you can really save on travel by accumulating credit card rewards – and sinking the extra funds into investment accounts.

Of course, I’ve always known how awesome points are if you’re passionate about travel. And you bet your bottom dollar I’m gonna treat myself to a nice big award (!) trip to celebrate soon enough.

January 2020 Freedom Update

Travel will always be my #1 passion. Now I’m wondering: where is the intersection of traveling cheap and living frugally?

This month, I was waiting for the right time to post this update. But there is no perfect time and things will always be in flux.

With that in mind, let’s dive into what happened in January!

January 2020 Freedom update

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Balance transfer cards 2020: A godsend when you need more time (but don’t fail the test)

Hi lil lovies. The holidays were wild, eh? I’m writing this in a medicated haze with flu-like symptoms. But I wanted to write. And I’ve been meaning to talk about is how I’m using balance transfer cards to:

  • Meet my current financial goals (which I need to update)
  • Smooth out large, unexpected expenses (like when my AC quit in July and I had to get a new HVAC system)
  • Give myself a jump-start to purchase big items when I want them (I bought myself a rowing machine because I really really wanted one and I’ve been using it regularly)

This is because I didn’t have enough in a savings account, which will change this year. So hopefully I won’t have to rely on them in the future.

But for now, they’ve helped me consolidate a lot of balances spread over several cards with big interest rates. I paid a one-time balance transfer fee, and have a 0% APR rate through April 2020. So I haven’t paid a dime of interest since. And honestly? It’s been the one thing that’s given me time to get caught up.

balance transfer cards

Balance transfer cards aren’t a perfect solution. But they’ve bought me time and helped me avoid a ton of interest while I got my plans together

The test, of course, is paying them back before the 0% promotional rate expires. If you don’t, you’re right back to where you started. 🌀

The good thing is these rates are a year or more (usually more). A lot can happen in a year.

While I’m glad balance transfer cards have been available to me as a financial tool (which is absolutely how I think of them), moving forward I want to depend on savings rather than having to buy myself time.

Balance transfer cards 2020 – should you, could you, would you?

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Freebird Promo Code for $10 Cashback: “OUTANDOUT”

Here’s the latest Freebird promo code you can stack for up to $10 cashback on Uber and Lyft rides booked through Freebird.

Here’s how to do it. After you download Freebird, enter this.

Freebird promo code: 

  • OUTANDOUT” – $10 cashback ($5 for each of your first 2 rides)

Freebird lets you book Uber and Lyft rides through their app – and you’ll earn points on each ride. Once you earn 5,000 points, you can cash it out for $10. So you can potentially do even better when you add points to the mix.

freebird promo code

I love using the Freebird app for Uber and Lyft rides

Plus, any Uber and Lyft credits and promos stack with Freebird!

Freebird promo code powers up your Uber and Lyft apps

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My First Month of Diligent Saving & Net Worth Is up $20,000 – December 2019 Freedom Update

November was the first month I got down and dirty with my new financial goals. Having them in mind gave the month shape and purpose – I felt for the first time in a while that I was working toward something urgent and real and palpable that I could measure.

If naming things is empowering, creating a plan is getting superpowers. I watched as each dollar flowed into and out of my accounts.

Slow and steady wins the race, but I have an out-of-control, flaming emergency! I have GOT to pay off my credit cards by April 2020 before the 0% APR rate expires. And I’ve got over $14,000 left to go.

Last month, a combination of strong market and aggressive payments boosted my overall net worth to $115,806 – a full $20,000+ increase.

And while it’s nowhere near the $500,000 goal I want to hit, it’s an awesome start. And to that end, this is my first Freedom update (Freedom is what I call money). I hope I look back on these posts and marvel at my progress. One day…

December 2019 Freedom Update

Getting started on my FIRE in a big way – getting rid of credit card debt is my #1 prerogative right now

I know “never say never” buuuut… I will NEVER have credit card debit ever again as long as I live. In the future, I’ll dip into my healthy savings account. Because this hurdle really freaking sucks.

December 2019 Freedom update

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It’s Official: SoFi Money Will Reimburse All ATM Fees Worldwide, Even Forex Charges

sofi money review

Welp, that’s it. Now that all SoFi Money ATM fees are gone, SoFi Money is officially the best checking account available today. It’s great right out of the gate, requires no futzing or maintenance, and now, they’ll even reimburse Visa’s forex fees internationally – so you get free withdrawals with absolutely zero fees worldwide.

They’ve tried hard to overcome any hurdle to be the best checking account around. You get:

  • Free, unlimited, and INSTANT ATM withdrawals worldwide. Even if Visa charges you a forex fee, they’ll reimburse that too
  • 0.2% APY on any balance you carry
  • Zero fees, no minimums
  • Easy to use app and website
  • $75 bonus when you open an account and make two direct deposits of $500 each – bonus appears in a day or two and it takes 2 to 3 minutes to set up

I’m proud of their efforts. And I’m switching to make this my full-time checking account after my next pay cycle.

Well how ’bout that?

Yes, I’ve had a Chase checking account for over a decade. And I’ll keep it because it’s free, and for the incredibly rare times I need to do something in a branch. But for everyday banking, bill payments, and my financial clearing house, I’m going all-in with SoFi Money. #officiallyconverted

SoFi Money ATM fees – nothing to see here!

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