A few months ago, I got into a dumb and completely avoidable bike accident. My wife and I were biking to meet up with a friend that lives not too far from us. The bike path that leads to our friend’s apartment winds its way through campus and part of the path goes through this […]
A few weeks ago, I ran into a colleague of mine from my old law firm. After exchanging the normal pleasantries, we got to talking about who from our class was still working there. It wasn’t many. I graduated law school back in 2013 and started my first biglaw gig soon after. Just four years […]
I was recently talking to a buddy of mine about personal finance when we ended up on the topic of saving money. He knew he needed to save more money, but was having trouble actually doing it. To him, saving money came down to self-control. As he explained it, he was struggling to save more because he couldn’t resist the urge to spend. If he could just avoid buying the latest gadgets or going out to eat so often, he’d definitely be able to put more money away – or so he told himself. Saving money came down to willpower. If he wanted to save more, he needed to will himself to do it.
I’ve always seen it a little differently. I’m admittedly a terrible budgeter. I don’t give every dollar a job and while I track my account balances regularly using both Mint and Personal Capital, I rarely, if ever, actually sit down and review my spending. I’m also horrible at self-control. I go out to eat all the time. And if I see something that I want that isn’t too expensive, I’ll just buy it without much thought…
I’ve often lamented about getting a late start in the savings game. Unlike many of my peers that went into the workforce at 22 years old, I opted to head off to law school (and goofed off for a year before doing that). Choosing this path meant that I had to take out nearly six figures worth of student loans and made it so that I earned essentially no income for the majority of my twenties. By the time I started my first job, many of my friends had already been in the workforce for 4 or 5 years.
When it comes to late starts though, I don’t think anyone can beat my wife. She spent five years in college, another four years in dental school, did a one-year general practice hospital residency and is now currently in year two of a three-year specialty residency. For those of you keeping track at home, that’s 8 years of post-college training! And unlike medical residencies, most dental residencies pay nothing or offer their residents a tiny stipend (usually a few thousand bucks a year – my wife made about $4,000 total in 2016). By the time Mrs. FP earns her first real paycheck, she’ll be 32 years old. Oh, and she’s also got a healthy six figures of student loan debt to boot. Quite a position to be in at 32 years old.
For me, 2016 will go down as the first year I began aggressively saving for retirement. It sort of bums me out that I’m getting into the savings game so late. At 30 years old, I’m way behind my more financially literate peers, some of whom have already retired or established huge treasure troves of savings. See folks like Millennial Revolution, Money Wizard, and Fiery Millennials.
A part of it is a byproduct of me entering a profession that requires years of extra schooling and a ton of student loans. While most people start their first job at 22 years old, most lawyers won’t start their first job until they’re 26 or 27 years old.
Last year, I set up my Solo 401k with Fidelity and this past week, I made my first contribution to it. This post walks you through the entire process of setting up and contributing to your Solo 401k.
One of the fun things about living in a college neighborhood is getting to see all of the different modes of transportation college kids use to get themselves around town. If you’ve never spent time in a college neighborhood as an adult, take a weekend afternoon and just hang out in one for a bit. I promise that you’ll never see so many creative ways to get yourself from Point A to Point B. Folks travel around on skateboards. Scooters. Rollerblades. Basically anything with wheels. These college kids are masters at figuring out how to get around a city quickly, cheaply, and efficiently.
Non-car based modes of transport that go beyond walking are totally normal in college areas but seem oddly out of place in many “adult” neighborhoods. I know that when I lived in neighborhoods populated primarily by young professionals, I saw far fewer people using bikes as a primary mode of transportation. In even fancier neighborhoods, you’ll probably rarely catch a full-fledged adult biking as a means of commuting.
Every personal finance expert probably agrees that you should set aside some money as an emergency fund. The amount you should have in your emergency fund is a subject of debate, but the typical rule of thumb is to keep somewhere around 3-6 months worth of expenses. You never know what the future might hold, so it makes sense to at least have some buffer to keep yourself afloat in case something happens.
Since we can all agree that we should at least have some money in an emergency fund, the next important question is where should we put that money?
One of the things I’ve always wondered is why anyone would invest in expensive funds (I typically define an expensive fund as one with an expense ratio of around 1% or more). Since there are options – like Vanguard – with expense ratios of 0.1% or less, it’s never made much sense to me why anyone would invest in anything else. Why pay ten times more to invest your money in what amounts to basically the same thing?
One problem I have is that, as a dude who’s really into personal finance, I fall into a sort of personal finance bubble. I take a lot of the stuff I know for granted and assume that everyone just knows this stuff too. In reality, the vast majority of people have no idea what anything I said even means.
One of my more financially interesting friends is my friend Jay (not his real name). While the rest of us are beginning or in the middle of our “real” careers, Jay still works as a bartender at the same restaurant he worked at while we were in college. He recently turned 30 years old, and if my calculations are correct, that means he’s been working as a bartender at the same place now for 8 years (longer if you count the summers that he worked there while in college).
Bartending always seemed like it was supposed to be a temporary stop. My friends and I all graduated college in 2009 – right in the midst of the financial crisis – and found ourselves unable to get any “real” jobs. I worked two minimum wage jobs and lived at home with my parents. My other friends did similar things. One friend worked at a sporting goods store. Another worked at a golf course. Some people worked at restaurants – typical post-college jobs that you’d expect a 22-year old to have to take after the worst financial meltdown in a generation.