Why You Should Start Biking Immediately

bikeHere’s a little confession: while I’m doing a great job being frugal in certain areas of my life, such as food, clothing, and entertainment, one area where I’m doing a terrible job is transportation. I’m a frequent reader of Mr. Money Mustache, and every time he punches someone in the face for having a ridiculous commute, I get a little ashamed of my own transportation situation.

See, I work in one of the most expensive cities in the country. To rent a studio would cost a minimum of around $1000. But my fiancé and I happen to have a ridiculously sweet deal on housing: we rent a 3 bedroom house (that’s practically falling apart) for $1000. The catch is, it’s 4 cities away and an 18 mile commute to my office. We do mitigate the commute costs by carpooling in a hybrid. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from MMM it’s that you should ditch your car in favor of a bike. Unfortunately, even if I could do an 18 mile bike commute to and from work every day, my fiancé’s job requires that he have a car, so the car would still be making the drive.

So I always have the thought in the back of my mind, “sure, I can’t bike my commute NOW, but eventually when we move I’ll do it.” And thus, I never purchased a bike.

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Individual Stocks vs. Index Funds: A Long Term View

investment choicesFor the past year or so I’ve been dabbling in investing in dividend stocks. At this point I have investments in three individual dividend stocks that I plan to hold for the long term because they’re solid companies with a long history of dividend growth. I also had planned to continue investing in more dividend stocks as extra money becomes available to build my dividend stock portfolio into a well diversified investment machine. I even had the notion that at some point I would have enough diversity in my dividend stock portfolio that I could stop investing in index funds.

Well, I’ve been reconsidering my plan lately. Not because I’m no longer excited by dividend stocks, but because I realize that my plan is incomplete, and therefore a pretty crappy plan.

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401(k) Match Day

bag of moneyI was catching up on some of the blogs I follow, and a post over at Thousandaire caught my eye. The post was titled “401k Match Day is like a Holiday.” I had a few immediate reactions to the post:

  1. I have lots of friends who are finishing up medical school, so “Match Day” means something else to me.
  2. I hate that my company has a 401(k) Match Day.
  3. Wait– other companies do 401(k) matching in a once-yearly lump sum too?!?!?
  4. 401(k) Match Day is like getting a tax refund. I’ve been meaning to write about how I hate tax refunds too, I should probably write something.

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Weddings Kill Your Budget (But Not the Way You Expect)

weddingWeddings are expensive, elaborate, complicated occasions that require a lot of planning. You need to find a venue and then coordinate all your vendors, including a caterer, florist, baker, DJ, photographer, officiant, etc. There are a lot of details that require quite a bit of advanced planning. And most of those details are very expensive. That means you spend months and months immersed in things you would never pay so much for on a regular basis. It starts to warp your sense of perspective.

After you’ve spent weeks getting price quotes from caterers who want to charge you $100pp, suddenly going out for a $15 lunch doesn’t seem like such a big deal. Once you’ve tried on $1000 dresses, that cute $150 sun dress you saw at the store seems downright cheap. If you’re not careful, you could blow your entire budget.

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The Wedding Industry Wants Your Money

Bride and Groom Outside a Drive-in ChurchI haven’t been doing too much writing lately. It’s primarily because I’ve started wedding planning and it’s an all-consuming endeavor. An all-consuming endeavor that makes me want to punch someone in the face. This picture represents what I’d really like to do right now.

Weddings costs are out of control. I’ve always known this. But now that I’ve begun planning my wedding, my eyes have been opened to all sorts of ridiculousness. From $200 bouquets to $100pp meals to $12,000 space rental fees, I feel as though I just want to give up. The fact of the matter is, unless you want to spend the time and effort to create a DIY wedding with creative food options and lots of help from friends to do things like photography, invitations, and DJing, you’re going to end up being robbed by the wedding industry.

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5 More Tips for Gen Y to Manage Student Loan Debt

Young GraduatesThis is a guest post by Stewart Bradley, following up on his post last week. Stewart is a contributory writer associated with the Debt Consolidation Care Community and this time he has discussed about some more points for gen Y to operate student loan to secure financial status.

Saving money is unmistakably a smart step for better future and the young generation or the gen Y is not ignorant of it. The young people know that saving money is important, but they may feel perplexed about how they must start saving. The gen Y may kick-start their savings strategy with the student loans. Well, student loans are almost inevitable for higher studies these days. Gen Y must be very cautious while choosing the proper student loan. If they’ll choose suitable loan terms and payment plan, then the loan payment will be much more hassle-free.

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If you’re a part of the “generation young”, then through this article you can find out 5 effective personal finance tips for your student loan. Follow these tips and ensure a secure financial future:

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Save Money with Beauty Schools

Hairstylist Cutting HairYesterday I wrote about the ridiculous cost of beauty services. The obvious solution that I discussed yesterday is to learn to be happy with yourself just as you are, without the monthly haircut, coloring, waxing, tanning session, etc. But we should still be able to treat ourselves to these beauty services from time to time, and we certainly can’t go forever without a haircut. That’s where beauty schools come in. For a fraction of the cost, you can get your beauty fix from a cosmetology student, under the careful supervision of a professional.

For my last haircut, I made an appointment with the local cosmetology school, thinking I was quite ingenious for thinking up this brilliant plan for a $12 haircut. I soon discovered I wasn’t the only one who had thought of this, as the day I wanted for my appointment was completely booked. I thought maybe it was a very small school, but when I did finally get there for my 9am appointment the following Saturday, I was one of about six people with that appointment time! (The word is out, so if you haven’t jumped on the beauty school train yet, get with the picture!) Now granted, my haircut did take two hours, but I think perhaps I got a very inexperienced student. However, her teacher came over several times to help her and guide her, and once the student was finished, her teacher had to give the cut her seal of approval. At the end of the day, I got a great haircut for $12, with the only negative being that it took quite a long time.

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Budget Killer – Beauty Services

Woman Getting Facial TreatmentI used to go to a high end salon where I paid $60 per haircut. But after a few mediocre haircuts and an awful first experience getting my hair colored, I switched to a higher end salon near my office where I paid $90 per haircut (but stuck to coloring my hair at home from a box). It wasn’t until I pulled out my wallet to pay for my latest haircut at the overpriced salon that they informed me my stylist’s prices had gone up – to $120! I was flabbergasted. I asked why they didn’t tell me about the enormous price increase when I scheduled the appointment, and the woman said “well we increased our prices a month ago, I would have thought you’d already known about it.” I call bullshit. It was just terrible service. But terrible service aside, the place doesn’t take credit cards, and I didn’t bring enough cash to pay the bill and leave my stylist a decent tip, so I ended up having to stiff my stylist and leave him a crappy tip.

That experience was about 2 1/2 years ago now, and I’ve only had one $12 haircut since (more on that tomorrow). My fiancé will say it was at his request that I grew out my short hair, but it’s mostly because I was a lost child without a salon. But now my long hair looks beautiful, and it’s saving me a ton of money! And yet every time I walk by that salon, it’s full of people willing to pay $120 for a haircut and god knows what for color.

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Student Loan Debt: How to Manage it Early

Young GraduatesThis is a guest post by Stewart Bradley. Stewart Bradley is a contributory writer associated with the Debt Consolidation Care Community and has written several articles for various financial websites. Though he holds his expertise in the Debt industry and has made significant contribution through his various articles, he has interest in budgeting, mortgage, insurance, short term loans, bankruptcy, credit advice and more.

Given today’s amount of student loan debt and the repercussions that can be seen all around among the youth, it can be safely said that student loan debt definitely spells doom for your personal finances any day. It depends on the amount of student loan debt that you’ve accrued for it might lead to repayments that can last for over 30 years. Today you’re young and carefree, but slowly with the passage of time things are going to get difficult especially as far as your finances are concerned. Hence, it’s rather important that you start handling your finances responsibly as early as possible.

Tips to help you manage student loan debt

When in your youth, it’s advisable that you develop a pattern of financial responsibility that’ll ensure your loan gets paid off. The quicker you do this, the better it’s going to be for your financial future.

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Friday Rant – House Hunters

house huntersI haven’t ranted about anything lately. I think it’s high time. I watched a full episode of House Hunters for the first time this week. I’d seen clips of the show before, so I knew it was ridiculous, but it’s a special kind of experience to watch the show from start to finish.

In this episode, the couple seemed to have three main desires: a double driveway so one car doesn’t get trapped behind the other in the driveway, a big yard so the husband can take his riding mower out of storage, and to take a perfectly good house and tear half the rooms apart because of all the things that are “wrong” with them.

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