Stop Living Paycheck To Paycheck

paycheck to paycheckI ran across a great article written by Mary Beth Storjohann at Workable Wealth, about breaking the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck.  In the article, an estimated 1/3 of all US households are living paycheck to paycheck.  It’s pretty scary, but very easy to see and/or understand why.

People, especially middle-class workers, continue to live right up to their means.  What’s worse is, most also continue to rack up debt in the process.  Once the debt overcomes them, they have an incredibly hard time ever getting ahead.

I remember these days myself and that’s why I enjoyed reading her article because it reminded me of all the things I actually did right to get myself out of the hole and ahead for good.  Take a look at her article HERE.  Follow these simple, easy to understand guidelines and stop living paycheck to paycheck for good!

Check out other related blogs on my site at Middleclasssuccess.com

 

 

 

 

No Pets = Lots of Extra Cash

dogs and moneyFor all you animal lovers I don’t want to sound harsh, because in all reality I really do enjoy pets myself.  Outside of the companionship they bring, the truth is, most are expensive to own and maintain.  I didn’t really see this until after I’ve lived without a pet for several years now.

Most of my life I’ve owned a dog.   Although I really love dogs, now that I haven’t had one (or any other pet) for about seven years now, I’ve seen some huge savings in the process.  Food, vaccinations, vet bills…it’s really crazy how much money we spend on our pets.  Most people I know really spoil their pets too, spending tons of money on them buying toys, treats or luxury items to treat them like another child in the family.

At my work I know a few people that own horses.  After I started learning about owning a horse, I couldn’t believe how expensive they actually are to own.  Feeding them alone costs a small fortune!  Boarding them, vet costs with vaccinations or special care….holy crap!  The money they spend on these animals is unbelievable.   It’s like a small mortgage to own and maintain these animals.

Even for dogs, every time any of my family members travel they normally board their dogs and pay hefty sums of money to have them taken care of.  You can easily rack up hundreds of dollars for boarding your dog just during a short vacation.   For me, I really enjoy the fact that I can go on vacation any time I want to and don’t need to find someone to take care of my pets or resort to paying to board them.

I imagine I’ve likely saved hundreds or even thousands of dollars in the past seven years, by not owning a pet. Nothing against pet owners, I just continue to look for ways to make/save extra cash.  The way I see it is, no pets equal lots of extra money for me to invest or pay down debt.  It’s a win-win situation!

 

 

 

Is Good Beer Worth The Money?

BeerI have to admit, I love beer, especially a good craft brew.  So, when it comes to buying beer, is it really worth it to spend the extra money on a micro-brew?  The answer is, absolutely!

Of course, this is just my opinion on the matter…but seriously, if you really love beer like I do, why waste your hard earned money on a lame ol,’ average beer?  Unless you plan on just getting blasted drunk (which I don’t do, or don’t recommend doing) why not enjoy a rich, full-bodied, craft brew.  Most good beers are really worth the few extra bucks it costs, in comparison to regular mass-produced beers.

Everyone that knows me and/or reads blogs on my website www.middleclasssuccess.com, knows that I am pretty critical about my spending.  I’m constantly evaluating wants-versus-needs and my financial priorities regularly.   Still, all of us need to have (and enjoy) those little things in life that help us sit back and relax or even keep our sanity at times.  For me, a great craft brew is a treat to myself for my dedication, hard work and effort I put in every day to support my family and my goals in life.  It also let’s me just appreciate the fine art of making beer.  Can any of you relate?

So, forget about Bud, Miller, Coors or any of those other lame domestic beers and start shopping for an amazing craft brew that will excite your taste buds a little.  Where I live in Colorado, we have so many great brew pubs around the state, I can literally go to just about any neighborhood and stop in for a great craft brew right off the tap. If you are not as privileged as I am with the proximity of brew pubs, stop by your local liquor store and glance at the rows of fine micro-brewed beers from around the country….you are bound to find a favorite to add to your list.

I’m also a fitness enthusiast, so obviously beer is not a regular item in my diet.  As much as I love and enjoy it, it does slow me down a bit and it’s not great when you’re trying to maintain your waist line.  Either way, a good craft beer is my way of  spoiling myself a little every now and then.  Maybe you need to be spoiled a little too!

Enjoy and drink responsibly.  Cheers!

 

Retirement Savings In The US, A Sad State Of Affair

no-retirementDue to the fact that pensions seem to be a thing of the past, workers today are forced to rely on self-directed savings plans for their future retirement funds.

As millions of people are approaching retirement each year, how are forecasts looking for average American worker and their retirement savings accounts?

Among recent articles, one particular piece from the Financial Times (UK) really stood out to me.  According to the author, in one New School study of US Census data, people aged 50 to 64 in the bottom three income quartiles, or 75% of all adults in that group, averaged less than $28,000 in total retirement savings as of 2011.  And a sizable 77% of those aged 50 to 64 in the bottom income quartile didn’t have a penny of retirement savings.   The rest were not much better, with 66% of the second quartile, 41% of the third and even 22% of the highest having zero in retirement account dollars.

Other studies, including a 2013 survey from the Employee Benefit Research Institute, found similarly grave results for soon-to-be retirees, with 43% of workers aged 55 and older reporting they had saved less than $25,000.

The author also points out another issue that continues to sabotage future retirees accounts, is the continual trend of dipping into accounts for loans or early withdrawals.   A survey of 4,100 workers from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies found nearly a 1/4 had taken cash out of their accounts already, most often paying heavy penalties in the process.

These statistics reflect a sad realization that a high percentage of American workers will be unable to sustain current standards of living in retirement.  This is especially true as more people are living longer on average.  This will undoubtedly put a heaver strain on Social Security, as their last (or only) resort of income to support themselves.

It’s interesting to see articles come out of the UK related to issues, such as retirement for US workers.  It seems to give a more realistic and unbiased perspective, in my opinion.  All in all, it’s just another sad reminder that most Americans are not disciplined when it comes to their finances. Most, simply do not plan at all.  How many people do you know that don’t want to think about, or even discuss retirement?   It’s amazing to see patterns of massive spending, with no real consideration for their future financial standing.

I believe most middle-class people, simply think it will all just work out somehow and they will find a way to get by.  Even if that means working in their 70’s or 80’s, if they are lucky enough to have good health (that’s another thing most people don’t even account for, good health).

Obviously this trend can be changed with the right mindset and dedication to financial goals.  Let’s not allow ourselves to fall into one of the statistical categories mentioned above!  Start saving today, be aggressive and disciplined in your financial goals and don’t be one of the those middle-class folks that are “hoping” things will just work out.  Plan accordingly and later in life you will thank yourself!