Browse Tag: Personal Finance

Update: Chase Freedom Announces 5% Cash Back Categories For Q4 17

Financial IndependenceEarlier this year, I wrote about our attempt to optimize our credit card usage to maximize potential rewards.

Since we aren’t frequent travelers, I focused on finding a card with attractive cash back features, rather than a card with great perks for world travelers. We signed up for a Chase Freedom Credit Card in the spring, which has been a smart financial decision thus far.

As a reminder, Chase Freedom offers 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases in specific spending categories each quarter, and 1% cash back on everything else. Our Fidelity Rewards card offers 2% cash back on all purchases.

To date, we’ve earned $260 in cash back since getting the Chase Freedom card, including sign up bonuses, but the pace at which we earned rewards from our new card slowed dramatically during the third quarter.

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Dumb Financial Decisions: Selling My Potential Rental Property

Financial IndependenceAlmost twenty years ago, when I was single and in my mid-twenties, I purchased my first home after several years of renting.

It was not fancy.

It was a simple two bedroom townhouse, with a one car garage, and a postage stamp of a backyard.

I got a great deal on the place, as I was able to purchase it as a foreclosure for well under $50,000. I dumped my life savings (outside of my retirement accounts) into the purchase, so I did not have a mortgage, which was a huge benefit as I tried to rebuild my financial safety net.

After living in my townhouse for over four years, I decided to return to school full time to pursue a master’s degree in an effort to change careers.

And then I made a financial decision I thought was prudent at the time.

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The Financial Advantages of Blogging About Personal Finance

Early RetirementIf you’re reading this post expecting to learn how to make unimaginable riches on the Internet, my deepest apologies, but you are in the wrong place.

I have only been blogging for three months.

Retiring On My Terms has not generated one cent of income, while costing hundreds of hours of my time, in addition to expenses for web hosting.

And I still have no clue how to effectively use Pinterest, even though I have heard it can be an incredible social networking tool.

That said, the discipline required to think and write about our finances on a regular basis has already paid great dividends to the ROMT family. I’ll highlight a few of the ways our finances have improved as a result of the time I’ve spent blogging.

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Geographic Arbitrage: The Least Expensive States for Retirement

Geographic ArbitrageGeographic arbitrage is a popular concept in personal finance.

It involves working or living somewhere where you can earn more or spend less than if you worked or lived someplace else.

For example, someone who works remotely from home might decide to live someplace with a lower cost of living. Or a doctor might choose to work someplace where high demand for his or her specialty results in a larger salary. Or a retiree might move from a high cost of living area like New York City to a less expensive state or country, so the money they earned over their career has more buying power.

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ROMT’s FIRE Prowess Score

FIRE Prowess ScoreLast month, The Green Swan introduced a new FIRE metric that has received a lot of attention, the Swan FIRE Prowess Gauge.

FIRE Prowess is easy to calculate. It’s simply the change in your net worth, divided by your gross income, for any time period.

FIRE Prowess = Change In Net Worth / Gross Income

Most of us will have FIRE Prowess scores between 0.0x and 1.0x. The higher your FIRE Prowess number is, the better you are doing at increasing your net worth.

Numbers above 1.0x mean your net worth is growing faster than your income, which is an incredible result, presumably driven by both a relatively frugal lifestyle in the context of your income, and strong investment results.

A negative number means your net worth is headed in the wrong direction, which could be caused by spending more than you earn, a job loss, borrowing money to purchase depreciating assets, poor investment performance, or many other factors.

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Investing 101: Bank Products

Bank ProductsLast month, I started a series of posts about investing, to help build a foundation of knowledge for readers who are newer to the topic.

As I noted in my initial post, bank products are probably the most familiar type of investment to many readers, and include products provided by your local bank or credit union, such as savings accounts, checking accounts, money market accounts, and certificates of deposit.

We’ll start with a list of things to consider before investing in any bank product, and then go into more specific details about the primary types of investments you can get at a bank.

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My Costly – and Depressing – Trip to the Dump

DumpThe ROMT family tries to live a reasonably frugal and environmentally-friendly lifestyle.

We have our own vegetable garden and berry plants to provide a small, but healthy, portion of our diet.

We try to encourage the ROMT children to be members of the clean plate club.

We’re certainly not conspicuous consumers, and try to purchase only things we need.

We donate what we can’t use anymore to family, friends, local charities, our church, or Goodwill.

We recently embraced solar energy.

And we recycle everything we can.

Even so, we still have a way of accumulating junk.

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Lessons on Financial Independence from My Visit to Sears

SearsLast week, I had the opportunity to visit a Sears store for the first time in about a year.

Since my previous visit, I’ve read many articles about the decline of traditional retailers, particularly Sears, but this represented an opportunity to see how things were going at Sears with my own eyes.

As someone in his mid-40s, I can remember when Sears was one of the premier companies in the United States.

Sears was founded in 1886 (I can’t remember that!) and Sears Roebuck & Company was a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average from 1924 through 1999. Growing up, the Sears Wish Book was required reading for my siblings and I, as it provided an almost unimaginable list of options to hope for on Christmas Day. Sears was still the largest retailer in the country when I headed off to college, and at the time also owned Allstate Insurance Company, stock brokerage Dean Witter, the Discover card, and real estate company Coldwell Banker, in addition to many other businesses. The Sears Tower in Chicago was the tallest building in the world for most of my life. Even today, brands associated with Sears, such as Craftsman, DieHard, and Kenmore, are still well-known to many Americans.

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Smart Financial Decisions: The Best Purchase Of Our Frugal Vacation

Retiring on my terms

Last week, I wrote about our decision to spend less than half of what we spent last year on our family vacation this year.

A year ago, we stayed at a luxury oceanfront resort.

This year, we stayed at a nice inn, which was about half an hour away from the public beaches.

There were many perks at the luxury resort last year, one of which was that a staff member would help bring your chairs and other belongings down to the beach, and set up a large beach umbrella or portable tent for you.

While this was nice, it also made me a bit uncomfortable. I’m a grown man, in reasonably good shape, with a wife and two children. I don’t need someone to carry chairs or set up a tent for us.

I know some people are all about the service, but I am all about self-sufficiency.

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Investing 101: The Basics

As someone who has been investing for decades, I often assume every reader has a similar background to mine.

But in reality, that’s not the case.

This is a good thing, because if every potential reader had the same experiences, knowledge, and perspective as I, there would be no reason for anyone to read anything I write!

In the first couple months of Retiring On My Terms, we’ve discussed a wide variety of topics:

InvestingGarage Sales.

Solar Energy.

401(k)s.

The cost of long commutes.

And even old water heaters.

Today I’m beginning a series of posts that will hopefully help build a foundation of knowledge around personal finance and investing for those who are newer to these topics.

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