HR 2146: Cops, Firefighters, and EMS – Don’t Fear Failing Pensions

chinese proverb

Start today

HR 2146 has the capacity to be a game changer for many of the nation’s public safety employees. In 2015, President Obama signed into law HR 2146, and suddenly hundreds of thousands of cops, firefighters, and EMS providers can retire at 50 and access their 401k without a 10% penalty. The public safety employees have to separate after age 50, so leaving at 49 will not help them. Additionally, they have to leave their 401k and their 457b plans with the employer. This is not an issue, as it is normally the case that extremely low fee companies cater to public safety employees. The entire act is a huge benefit when you consider the news dealing with the pensions of public safety employees. Continue reading

Health Savings vs. Flexible Savings Accounts – What’s the Difference?

HSA lake

Crystal clear

The Health Savings Account (HSA) may be the most beneficial and yet largely understood employer benefit offered at my employer. People often mistake it for the Flex Spending Account (FSA), believing that any money they put into the HSA will have to be spent by the end of the year. This lack of clarity is preventing people from taking advantage of each account (especially the HSA). Let’s dig in and see what benefits we can get from each. Continue reading

Five Important Books that Changed How I View Things

I enjoy reading books, but I am not really into novels or fiction. I enjoy reading biographies that explain about people who are significant in history. Sometimes, those people are still alive and then I get to hear about their experiences in their own words. One such example that I recently enjoyed is Playing To The Edge by General Michael V Hayden, a former CIA/NSA director.

What follows is a listing of books that drastically changed my viewpoint, approach to important subjects, or taught me something useful I didn’t know before. I recommend reading all of them. If you have a smart phone and a library card, many of them are accessible for free using the Overdrive app that works with your local library. I read/listen to many of my books using that app. I have highlighted what each book taught me as a heading before the description. Continue reading

The Stink of New Car Smell

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white honda civic

Here is the fancy white car. 10 years old this December.

I still get letters in the mail offering to reduce my monthly car payment or buy the car back because the 2008 Honda Civic seems to be in short supply at the Honda dealerships in the area.

I can see it now. A bevy of people banging at the door of the many Honda dealerships near me, begging the malevolent car sales team to sell them a Taffeta white 2008 Honda Civic with two broken door actuators and a trunk light that has never worked reliably. Moving like zombies from one dealership to the next, eventually the dealerships capitulate and send out letters to everyone who owns one seeking their assistance before the hordes revolt.  Continue reading

The Myth of Sacrifice

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sacrifice manatee overlord

Manatee Overlord should try Atkins.

It has happened to you. You have been hanging out with your friends and one of them brings up a subscription service that you don’t subscribe to. Whether it is Netflix, Amazon Prime, Sling, Cable, NFL Ticket, etc., when your friend learns that you don’t subscribe to that service, there will sometimes be a level of surprise, maybe even shock. “What do you mean you don’t have a Netflix subscription? How could anyone bear to live a life of such sacrifice?”

The lack of a Netflix subscription seems especially likely to induce the aforementioned incredulity. It doesn’t matter which service or luxury you have in your life, it is likely something you could do without if you so desired. If you decided that you could do without it, then perhaps your life could be made better by the cost savings, lack of clutter, or whatever the case may be.

How Sacrifice is Really Not Sacrifice

So equate this line of reasoning a step or two further. Continue reading

Future Value Calculators: Because… Numbers!

future value calculators

A calculator older than I am. Also, not a snake.

There is a resource that is available to you right now for free that if used just one time has the potential to make you excited about investing in a way you could not expect. In fact, you probably have one installed on your computer right now. You can use Microsoft Excel to complete a Future Value equation and determine the amount of money something can grow into given consistent investing over a long period of time and a given interest rate.

Ok. Take a breath. This isn’t going to be hard, and you don’t have to use Excel. So if you’re not a wizard in Excel, you should use this free future value calculator from calculator.net. Alright. Click on that link so you can benefit fully from the following exercise. Good! Now, let’s start playing with numbers.

BUT MATH IS SCARY, RIGHT???

Before we do, a word on my philosophy when it comes to numbers and math. I disliked math a lot in middle school. Actually, I hated it and here’s why: SHOWING YOUR WORK IS A RIDICULOUS REQUIREMENT. Continue reading

How the Oregon Trail Can Help You Deal with Annoying Phone Solicitors

annoying phone solicitors strategy

Sorry about that.

“Is Angela Berry there?”

I hear this question at least once a month, sometimes several times a month. Although I have had my phone number for nearly a decade, about four years ago I started receiving phone calls from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) asking for an Angela Berry*. The first dozen or so calls I politely told them that this was not Angela’s number, and that I needed them to take my number off of their list. I hoped this would be the end of these annoying phone solicitors. Each caller was polite, apologetic, and insisted this would be the last time they would be bothering me with a request for Ms. Berry.

Turns out, they are all liars. I kept getting the phone calls during all hours of the day. I think the latest one I ever got was 10:30 PM. Well, as I was sitting down considering the ignored nature of this blog, deciding which of the half-written articles/blogs I should complete, I got another phone call from the DNC asking to talk to Angela. To that end, I decided to employ my continued strategy when speaking with this particularly annoying and persistent phone solicitor. Continue reading

Be Your Own Financial Advisor

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dehydrated water joke photo

Some financial advice is nearly as refreshing.

When it comes to investing, there are many professionals out there seeking your permission to invest your money with the promise of “beating the market” or “securing your retirement.” When I became interested in the financial topics I careso much about now, I looked into possibly reaching out to such a professional and seeing if there was any hope for such claims.

I’m glad I never bothered with them. They are at best a drain on your investments and at worst, taking advantage of you to further their own gains. Continue reading

Sometimes the Things You Own…

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Toyota Tundra Save Money

…end up owning you.

Earlier this year, I met with a friend of mine who was looking to sell his 2007 Toyota Tundra. It was a fantastic truck. He had previously let me borrow it a few times in order to move furniture. It had leather seats, a V8, a locking tool box, a six disk CD changer, loud exhaust, and a remote start to top it all off. Although it was a nine year old truck, it was in great shape. Continue reading

Vision in Leadership

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vision bible verse Proverbs 29:18

Truth.

Imagine for a moment you are the chief executive of an organization. You must have worked quite a long time to get to that level of leadership, spending countless hours at many lower levels in order to rise so high. Now, you’re the one at the rudder. It will be your vision that determines where the organization goes. You get to decide how to steer the organization through difficult times that are sure to come. This allows you the opportunity to lead your constituents to great times by deftly maneuvering the ship, or you could also fail to find calmer waters and prosperous lands. You could very well crash the ship on the rocks.  Continue reading