How To Spend Your Tax Refund Wisely

tax refund

Enjoy Your Refund!

Tax season is here and to many of us that means one thing… Tax Refund!

I know there’s a debate whether we should be getting a refund or changing our withholdings to get more on our paychecks, but that’s a discussion for a different time.  Let’s not rain on anyone’s parade and let us enjoy our refund for now.

We all enjoy getting a tax refund.  It feels like we just won a scratch-off.  One of the reasons we love tax refunds so much is because we like to spend money and this is extra money that we can spend freely… or so I thought.

I used to buy all kinds of stuff with my tax refund – I bought my motorcycle with my tax refund – and it felt good for a few weeks.

That good feeling slowly faded when all that money was gone and I still had debt and almost nothing saved.

If this sounds familiar, here are a few suggestions on what you can do with your tax refund that makes you feel good for a long time.

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Save Money Like A Janitor

save money

Pay Yourself First

Last week I read about Ronald Read, a Vermont gas station attendant and janitor who was able to stockpile an $8 million fortune.  He passed away last year at the age of 92, but very few people knew he had that kind of money.  That is until a couple of weeks ago when he left most of his estate to his local hospital and library.

Mr. Read left $4.8 million to the hospital and $1.2 million to the library.

According to reports, he was a very humble person who drove a second-hand Toyota Yaris and who never splurged except on a daily cup of coffee and an English muffin with peanut butter at the Brattleboro Memorial Hospital.

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5 Reasons Why I Don’t Like Valentine’s Day

valentine's Day

You Heard Me

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and I can already see all the guys scrambling and trying to come up with something that makes them look like a good boyfriend/husband.

I know this is not going to win me any votes, but I really don’t like Valentine’s Day.

I just don’t like the materialistic aspect of it.  We have to buy even more stuff for our loved ones?  I thought that’s what Christmas was for.  Speaking of Christmas, most people are still broke from Christmas and now HAVE to spend more money to show their partner how much they love them.

But let’s put the HAVING to buy something aside for a minute and let me tell you of all the other reasons why I don’t like Valentine’s Day.

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Don’t Forget About Your Teeth

don't forget about your teeth

Your Teeth Are Important

Our teeth are a pretty integral part in our survival as human beings.  They help us with digestion by allowing us to chew food so we can eat more things other than just “mush.”  If we don’t properly maintain out teeth, it can lead to tooth decay and eventually tooth loss.  This can hinder our ability to chew a variety of foods.

Our teeth also help us with our speech.  Speech is affected by the way our teeth meet and by the movement of our tongue around our teeth.

Our teeth also help us trim our nails and open beer bottles – okay, don’t do either of those with your teeth – and they help us become approachable and find a mate by showing our teeth to people in a non-creepy way.

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What Is myRA?

myRA

Can myRA help?

We know about traditional IRAs and Roth-IRAs, but what is a myRA?  myRA is a new government-backed retirement account.  Last year, President Obama asked the United States Department of Treasury to create a new form of retirement account that could be used as a “starter” account for low and middle-income Americans who don’t have access to employer-sponsored retirement plans.

The program is not really designed to be your only form of retirement account, but a stepping stone towards start saving for retirement.

How Does myRA Work?

myRA works in a similar fashion as a Roth-IRA in which all contributions are made after taxes, and withdrawals are tax free. Contributions are invested in a United States Treasury security, which means you never lose your contributions.  The U.S. Treasury security earns interest at the same variable rate as the Thrift Savings Plan‘s (TSP) Government Securities Investment Fund.

This is a safe way to save for retirement, but it also means that the rewards are low. The average annual rate of return for this fund over the ten year period of December 2003 and December 2013 was 3.39%.

These returns are better than having your money in a savings account, but not better than investing in index mutual funds.  However, you can lose your money investing in index mutual funds, which is not the case when investing in TSPs.

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Goal Settings for 2015

goal setting

Aim. Shoot. Score!

I am usually not a goal setting person, but since January is the month of setting goals/resolutions, then why not set some goals for myself as well.  I almost never set goals because I usually fail at them, but last time I set goals I did pretty well… see Oktoberfest Writing Challenge.

For those of you who don’t remember, in the Oktoberfest Writing Challenge I was challenged to write at least 500 words every day for the month of October.  Even though that challenge was a lot of fun and one that I completed, I will not be doing that challenge every day for 2015.

From everything that I’ve read and heard, I have to set realistic goals, and writing at least 500 words every day for 365 days straight is not realistic.

I do, however, have some pretty realistic goals that I will try to accomplish this year.

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Happy 2015!!!

happy 2015

Happy New Year!!!

It might be a little late to wish everyone a Happy New Year, but I’ve been on a break these last few weeks.  But don’t worry my friends, I’m back and better than ever.

This is just a short “welcome back” post.  I really just want to wrap up what an awesome year 2014 was for me and my close ones.

I mentioned in a previous post that Kate and our friend K-to-the-J-to-the-M got a new job, which is very exciting.  Kate is freaking out a little bit because it is going to be something completely different than what she has been doing since graduating college 8 years ago.

This month she spent a LOT of money on clothing because she didn’t really have anything that was “business casual” – one of the perks of being a chemist and working in the lab is that you can wear whatever you want.  But now she’s out of the lab and has to dress the part and her $10 plaid sneakers from Payless won’t cut it anymore.

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Why You Should Diversify

diversify

Be ready for the next Enron

The other day I was on Netflix scrolling though all the options and trying to figure out what to watch.  I like watching series on Netflix because I know exactly what I’m going to watch and I don’t have to waste time scrolling through the options.  But I had just finished watching the last season of Peaky Blinderswhich is awesome btw – and I like to give movies and/or documentaries a chance before jumping into another series binge.

This quest lead me to a documentary about Enron titled, “Enron: The Smartest Guys in The Room.”  I have to admit that even though I had heard about Enron – I knew it was a large company that went bankrupt in a matter of days because of some type of corruption – I didn’t know what really happened.

I should have known this because it was such a big scandal, but I just wasn’t interested in anything related to finances, money, or investing at that time.  Now I blog about personal finances, money, and investing so I decided to be more informed about these things.

I recommend everybody to watch this documentary or read more about Enron’s collapse because it taught me a few things.

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We Are All Winners!!!

we are all winners

We all like good news!

I must say that it has been a pretty awesome last few weeks for Kate and I as well as our friends.  And I don’t mean it because we got to go on an awesome vacation or because we had two Thanksgiving dinners, but because there has been some pretty exciting news in our lives.

No, we’re not having a baby.  I just want to say that before I start getting hysterical calls from my mom.

Actually, our friends En and Em just had their second daughter, baby A. Good job, Em!!! And congratulations to En as well for his contribution.  She couldn’t have done it without you.

Bringing a new member to the family is by far the most amazing thing that could happen, but there were other things that happened to us that were somewhat cool.

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It’s Official – Bars Are Not My Thing

Beers are overpriced

Beers are overpriced

I remember those college days when going out was a bit of a ritual.  I didn’t even start getting ready until 9-9:30 pm because “nobody goes out before 10 pm.”  I never really tried to look too sharp because that wasn’t really my style, but I always tried to look good thinking that maybe that day was the day when I was going to meet someone… or “hook up” with somebody like the youngsters say.  I got a few numbers but that day was never THE day.

Either way, I always had fun when I went out to bars, but I have come to a point in my life where going out to bars is really not my thing.

Boys Night Out

Because all of us are either married with kids, are engaged or in a committed relationship, finding time where all the guys can get together is sometimes difficult without prior planning.  So about a month ago, we decided to plan a boys night out because he hadn’t hung out together in a while.

We settled on this past Friday, which happened to be the day before my brother’s birthday.  It was a great opportunity to hang out and also celebrate my brother’s birthday by going out to dinner in New York and then having some drinks at a bar in Hoboken, NJ.

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