Welcome to the 14th edition of Monday Night Finance. Each week we review some of our favorite personal finance articles.
There are thousands (if not millions) of personal finance articles about the best ways to save money. In fact, most personal finance resources are devoted to helping you spend less money and save more money. Even last week on Monday Night Finance we featured an article with 400 different ways to save money. At this point in time, I’m sure there has been an article or tip about how to spend less money on absolutely everything you could ever possibly spend money on. But is spending less money always the best idea? In this article, Oliver from Moneycheck.com shares a list of items that is worth spending more on.
Being frugal might save you a ton of money, but what are you missing out on while you stack dollars in your bank account? ~Oliver of MoneyCheck.com
Our bodies are irreplaceable. Likewise, we only have one life to live. Therefore, it makes sense to spend money taking care of our bodies. Many of the items on the list are directly or indirectly related to health and wellness. Spending money on sleep topped the list. Getting a good night’s sleep is so important for mental acuity throughout the day. Furthermore, sleep is also critical for reducing stress and making sure your endocrine system is in good working order. When you think about it that way, doesn’t it make sense to spend a little bit more on your next mattress or pillow? Also the list includes spending money on your vision and your smile. There were very few material things on this list, but they did focus on “high-use” items. Think about how many times a day you look at your cell phone. While cell phones aren’t a forever purchase, spending some extra money on a nicer phone might be quite economical if you look at it as a “cost per view”, rather than a cost per phone.
Do you know what your net worth is? Andy of MarriageKidsAndMoney.com shares that as little as 9 years ago he did not know what it was. Andy and his wife Nicole made a healthy salary and he had always assumed that he was rich. However, after watching an episode of the Suze Orman show he wrote down his assets and liabilities and realized that he, in fact, had a negative net worth. This article is about how he went from a negative net worth to almost a million dollars of assets in nine years.
We walked upstairs and started to write down all of our numbers on a big whiteboard. By separating our “assets” (what we owned) and our liabilities (what we owed) into two big columns, we started to discover that we weren’t rich. We were kinda broke. ~Andy of MarriageKidsAndMoney.com
Andy shares the 11 tips that helped him grow his net worth so rapidly. The post also contains his net worth in January of each of the nine years covered in the article. Andy’s first two tips are to track your net worth and create and stick to a budget. (We think CountAbout is great at doing both of those). By using these techniques, Andy and Nicole were able to use their large salaries to claw themselves out of debt to a positive net worth within a year. Andy and Nicole were eventually saving 50% of their income. At this point, their net worth really started accelerating in growth and this freedom gave them options to modify their lifestyle so they could both work part time. For more tips check out the article.
Everyone has a mental image of a government worker, right? Someone who is slouched over a desk, illuminated by crappy fluorescent lights. You may even imagine the government worker’s face, which is devoid of emotion and solely focused on clocking out at 5PM. Building upon this image, how do you imagine the government worker’s life? Do they come home to a studio apartment full of cats and heat up a TV dinner? These were Darcy’s thoughts as she started writing a guest post on GovernmentWorkerFi.com. However, as Darcy found out, government jobs can indeed be quite lucrative.
Going into this I was positive the private sector would wipe the floor with the government sector. I mean, come on. Government employees are overworked and underpaid, right? ~GovernmentWorkerFi.com
Darcy wanted to compare the compensation in the public and private sectors. She was surprised to find out that 20% of federal employees made more than $100,000 per year. (In contrast, only 9% of all employees in the US earn more than $100,000 per year). However, GovWorker pointed out that many federal jobs have been outsourced. The jobs that remain are highly specialized and unique to government work. For government jobs that do have a direct pay comparison (i.e. attorney) the government salary is often less (see comments in the article). In addition to what could be a high salary, government jobs often have access to great retirement savings accounts: 457 plans for state workers and the TSP for federal workers. 457 plans are great for people in the FIRE (financial independence and early retirement) movement because you can withdraw the money as soon as you leave your job rather than waiting until age 59.5 as with a private sector 401(k). Finally, most government jobs have a pension on top of these benefits. And what about the work environment? Are government workers really like the sloths in Zootopia? Darcy interviewed GovWorker (a federal employee) and Josh Overmyer who works for the State of Florida. You can read the article and make your own judgement based on their experiences.