Survey Results

by Julie on July 18, 2014 · 3 comments

Thank you to everyone who took the time to take my two question survey this week.

Do you like seeing the results when you take a survey? I know I do, so I wanted to share these with you. (You can click on any of the charts below to make them bigger.)

Blog Topics

Screen Shot 2014-07-18 at 7.54.41 AMI was surprised (and happy!) that Saving and Investing was the clear winner here. We’re focused a lot on those two things at this point in our financial lives so I’m thrilled those are topics that you want to hear more about.

Same with Making Extra Money and Simplifying. Those are things I think about every day so I’ll try and put my thoughts to paper (or screen) more often on those two topics.

Screen Shot 2014-07-18 at 7.54.53 AM

I will continue to cover the other topics as well, using your survey results as a guide to how often I post about them. Even Blogging, which came in last, is still of interest to almost 20% of you so I’ll keep it in the mix too.

Posting Frequency

Screen Shot 2014-07-18 at 7.55.04 AMClearly you guys are a flexible bunch! You’re happy to let me decide.

I would like to pick up the posting pace a bit so I’ll be working towards that.

Final Thoughts

I received some lovely comments from you all. Thank you. Blogging can be a bit lonely so it’s nice to know that there are real people out there reading what you write.

Some of you left questions too, and I’ll be addressing those in future posts. Blog post ideas are always welcome, so never hesitate to contact me through the blog and let me know what you’re interested in.

Finally, if you didn’t take the survey and would like to, you can do that by clicking here.

Thank you again and have a wonderful weekend.

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How Big Should Your Emergency Fund Be?

by Julie on July 17, 2014 · 1 comment

The following is a guest post.Untitled

Today’s low interest rates make opening a savings account about as appealing as stashing your cash under a mattress. However, you need to have money set aside for major emergencies, such as job loss, health emergencies or other unforeseen crises. So how big should your emergency fund be? Popular financial experts offer different opinions.

Dave Ramsey: Start With $1,000Untitled2

Personal finance guru Dave Ramsey, author of “Total Money Makeover,” suggests that families stash away $1,000 and then use any extra cash to pay down their debts. Ramsey’s plan could work for you if you meet the following criteria:

Your debt is crushing your spirit. People don’t always appreciate the psychic weight that debt carries in their minds. If your debts consume your thoughts, then prioritize paying off debt over saving. Also, consider working with a credit counselor to negotiate high-interest debt down to a manageable interest rate.

You have enough insurance. Make sure that you have a term life insurance policy so that if something happened to you, the death benefit would pay for funeral expenses and provide for your family. Also, purchase long-term disability insurance before starting your debt payoff plan.

You have a secure job. If you have a recession-proof job or you’re part of a two-income household, then saving just $1,000 isn’t as risky. However, if you own your own business, you run the risk not only of an economic downturn but also of becoming a fraud victim (to learn more about fraud risks from a university that offers an MBA in Fraud Management, click this link). For small business owners, $1,000 might not be enough.

Mary Hunt: $10,000 Is the Golden Number

Mary Hunt, author of “Debt-Proof Living,” suggests saving $10,000 in an emergency fund. She suggests shoring this up by creating a separate “contingency fund,” in which you save a little bit of money each month for occasional expenses, like car registration or property tax. Hunt’s $10,000 might be a good starting place, however, if this sounds like you:

Your income fluctuates. If your income is project-based and not salary or wage-based, then you need a bigger cushion for those months when you’re between projects.

You have the right debt mix. If you have more low-interest debt, like auto loans or student loans, than high-interest consumer debt, then devoting some money to saving and some to paying down debt makes good financial sense. If you have a large credit card balance with double-digit rates, then you might start with Ramsey’s plan, pay off these expensive debts and then start saving toward your $10,000 goal.

You have other sources of funds. No one wants to drain their 401k or other retirement funds, but if you do have these available in case of a dire emergency, then setting aside just $10,000 while paying down debt is a reasonable option.

Suze Orman: Eight Months of Living Expenses


Suze Orman, host of CNBC’s “Suze Orman Show,” says that an emergency fund should be no less than eight months’ worth of living expenses. Orman chooses this figure because on average, it takes eight months to find a new job after sudden unemployment. Orman argues that in today’s economic climate, having a substantial emergency fund makes good sense. Her advice is right for you if:

You’re terrified of not having enough in savings. If the idea of not having enough money saved keeps you up at night and neither Ramsey’s nor Hunt’s totals calm your anxiety, then build up that emergency fund to the eight-month mark.

You don’t want to tap assets. Someone with a lot of assets might be unwilling to sell in case of an emergency. If tapping into your 401k is anathema, then build a big emergency fund.

Your job isn’t stable. Artists, entrepreneurs or others who don’t work traditional jobs might find themselves without income for long periods of time. In these cases, an eight-month fund provides major peace of mind and allows other investments, like retirement accounts, to remain undisturbed.

Final Thoughts to Take to the Bank

When saving to cover your expenses, don’t just think of big ticket items, like the mortgage. Save enough to cover all non-luxury expenses so that you’re sure to have enough set aside. Finally, no financial planning expert has all of the right answers. Choose ideas that work for you and your family, create a plan and stick to it.

Dave Ramsey image by Jessica Adkins from Flickr Creative Commons.

Suze Orman image by mefam from Flickr Creative Commons.

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Imagine Yourself Rich: Who Would You Be Then?

by Julie July 17, 2014

The following is a post by Sam Peters. Dang! The old lawn mower is really on its last legs. Whatever it is, it is likely terminal. It’s missing a muffler, anyway. Now, like an old dog that has begun to snap at the postman and look at the cats with real hunger in its eyes, […]

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A Two Question Survey

by Julie July 16, 2014

I’m popping in to ask if you’d take a minute to take the two question survey below. I’d be most grateful! Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world’s leading questionnaire tool. Receive future posts by email Email Address

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Found Money: a 2 Year Update = $43,082

by Julie July 7, 2014

I’m a big believer in little amounts of money. Two years ago, in July of 2012, I wrote about the $318 in proceeds from my garage sale and what I was doing with them. I didn’t realize it at the time but that was the first of what would become regular found money update posts. Since […]

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Happy 4th, Some Housekeeping, and a Found Money Reminder

by Julie July 3, 2014

Happy Thursday and Happy (almost) 4th of July to my US readers. I wanted to pop in to say hi and – for some of you – this may be the first time you have heard from me in a while. That’s because I’ve switched email subscription services, and that shouldn’t interest you at all unless you […]

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Enjoy fireworks and sparkling cash bonuses

by Julie June 30, 2014

Offer details: 360 Checking®: Earn $100 when you open a 360 Checking® account. Sign up for fee-free 360 Checking®, make 5 Debit Card purchases or 5 mobile deposits with CheckMateSM within 45 days and snag a cool $100 on day 50. This has to be your and your joint account holder’s (if you have one) […]

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Financial Thoughts from a New Student College Orientation (with Some Actual College Cost Numbers)

by Julie June 30, 2014

Last week, Tom and I accompanied Grant to his new student orientation at Saint Louis University (SLU). It was a day and a half event, so we drove down on Wednesday evening and back on Friday afternoon. St. Louis is a four hour drive from Kansas City and I was pleasantly surprised to find that […]

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New Home Purchase Applications Surged in 2014

by Julie June 28, 2014

The following is a guest post. November 2013 was not a good month for the housing market. The month saw a 16 percent drop in home sales from October in addition to continued falling prices (for the fifth consecutive month). And with falling sales and prices come fewer sellers, as homeowners decide to wait to […]

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An HSA Mid-Year Update (When Things Don’t Go As Planned)

by Julie June 17, 2014

When I started this post a few weeks ago, it was going to be a very different one. A more boring one. But things didn’t quite go as planned. A little background: earlier this year I wrote about our need to make a health insurance change and our decision to take out a high deductible health […]

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