Monday Night Finance- Volume 5

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Lack of professional sports getting you down? We’ve got you covered at Monday Night Finance. We highlight recent personal finance articles to help you through the rest of the week.

FIRE and the Ridiculous Strategy of Pinching Pennies

In this article, Shelley from Beyond Pennies contrasts two different strategies for obtaining financial independence and early retirement (FIRE). To do this, she embodies two fictional characters, “Frugal Phil” (or should it be Phrugal Phil?) and “Hustling Hayden”. Both Phil and Hayden retired after working for 15 years at the same salary of $175,000 per year. Frugal Phil managed to live on $50,000 and invest the rest. Hustling Hayden was still a decent saver and lived off of $85,000 per year. However, Hustling Hayden started a web-based business.

Have you ever wondered what makes this kind of difference in people’s lives? It isn’t always intelligence, talent, or dedication. ~Shelley at Beyond Pennies

This case study shows the power of having multiple streams of income. While both Phil and Hayden were able to retire early, Hayden has much more money (and flexibility in early retirement). Furthermore, Frugal Phil is still looking for meaning in his life whereas Hustling Hayden has retired to his side hustle.

How We Maximized Our Refunds After Cancelling Our Trip to Japan

Chrissy from Eat, Sleep, Breathe FI had been planning on taking her family to Japan for Spring Break. As noted in her earlier post, Spring Break was the only time of year her family can travel to Japan. Ultimately, Chrissy decided to cancel her trip to Japan because of coronavirus concerns on March 4th- weeks before travel restrictions were put into place.

Unfortunately, many of us have discovered that fears about coronavirus are not an eligible reason for (travel) refunds. Typically, only travel bookings for countries with level 3 or 4 advisories qualify for full refunds or trip cancellation coverage. In our case, Japan is still at a level 2 advisory, which disqualifies us from most refunds… or so I thought. ~Chrissy at Eat, Sleep, Breathe FI

In this post, Chrissy details her efforts to try to obtain refunds for her travel expenses. This was an extremely informative post. It answers what was easy to get refunded and what was difficult. Furthermore, it details her process of obtaining the refunds. Chrissy whittled her estimated $3,000 in non-refundable travel expenses to $488, and perhaps this will eventually go to zero. She was able to get all of her flights fully refunded! Most of the non-refundable expenses were airport lounge passes. These were not refundable or transferable as they were obtained through a promotion. If you had to cancel travel as a result of COVID-19, you should definitely read this post to find out how to get your travel costs refunded!

How to Meal Prep for Beginners: The Epic Step-By-Step Meal Prepping Guide

Cooking at home is a great way to be frugal and save money. However, if you don’t have a plan, even eating at home can be expensive. Without a plan, you need to make frequent trips to the store and sometimes waste odds and ends of food that you can’t use. If you’re just getting started on meal planning, or want a fresh take on how to plan meals, you should check out this post at MealPrepify.

We knew that if we wanted to eat high quality food and stick to our budget that it would take some meal planning. This meal prep guide is jam packed with info to help you put together a weekly meal plan, meal prep on a budget, and all kinds of other goodies. ~MealPrepify

The article makes an interesting distinction between meal planning and meal prepping. Meal planning is simply making a plan of what you are going to eat at each meal. However, meal prepping involves batch cooking the food when you have time. If you meal prep, you’ll be much less likely to pick up restaurant food during the week when you’re exhausted. The article also has great tips on how to make meal prepping efficient and budget friendly. For example, you can meal prep based off of what food is on sale that week. They also recommend keeping some convenience meals in the freezer in case your plan gets derailed. That way you can pull out some chili you froze two months ago rather than getting take-out.