How to Cope with Money Worries: Advice from a Psychologist

Talking about financial troubles can be challenging. Laura interviews Dr. Jade Wu, a clinical psychologist and host of the Savvy Psychologist podcast, for wise tips. Listen to their conversation about helping others, asking for help, and getting better sleep when you’re worried about money.

By

Laura Adams, MBA
January 27, 2021

Savvy Psychologist podcast, where she uses evidence-based research to helps listeners be happier and healthier.

On the Money Girl podcast, Jade and I discuss a variety of topics, including:

  • How to use empathy and open-ended questions in financial discussions
  • The importance of creating a safe space when talking about money
  • Why accomplishing a small financial step is a worthy goal
  • How to evaluate your own emotions before starting a money conversation
  • Whether you’re helping or enabling someone by lending money
  • How to ask others for financial help when you need it
  • Tips to get better sleep even when you’re worried about money

[Listen to the interview using the embedded audio player or on Apple PodcastsSoundCloudStitcher, and Spotify]

When the worry window closes, do your best to move on with your day and stop worrying.

One of my favorite tips that Jade recommends is to use a “worry window”—giving yourself a set time, such as 30 minutes each day, when you allow yourself to dwell on your money problems. When the worry window closes, do your best to move on with your day and stop worrying. 

It’s also helpful to have a list of financial worries that are and are not in your control. When you fixate on something that’s not in your control, such as the pandemic or economy, shift your focus to something you can control. That might be making an appointment with a financial advisor, creating a financial plan, or looking for a new job. Creating solutions to your problems or getting expert advice is the key to solving them.

While you might have a lot to be concerned about, acknowledge that many worries simply aren’t in your control. Putting boundaries around your worry and turning your attention to actionable solutions will help you improve your financial life and overall well-being.  


About the Author

Laura Adams, MBA

Source: quickanddirtytips.com

Money Tips

14 Smart Money Moves To Make In 2021 – Best Money Moves Right Now

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Are you looking to make some smart money moves to improve your future?

The new year is a great time to start thinking about what you can do to improve your financial situation. You can use this time to look forward and start making smart money moves that will help you in the future.

For example, maybe you want to become better prepared for emergencies in 2021 – probably on a lot of people’s minds after the year we had in 2020. There are several easy money moves you can take if being prepared is your goal.

You could put together an emergency binder that organizes your finances, contacts, personal information, etc. It’s everything someone would need if they had to take over your finances. 

There are also smart money moves like finding affordable life insurance and creating an emergency fund that can help you be better prepared in 2021.

If lowering your bills is one of your goals for 2021, you may want to refinance your student loans, or make one of the easiest money moves and find a less expensive alternative to cable.

There are so many smart money moves you can make in 2021. Some are small and some are bigger, like taking advantage of your company’s 401(k) match, but all of them will help you improve your financial future. 

The tasks on this list will help you to gather important documents, obtain free money (hello, company match!), find life insurance, save thousands of dollars a year, and more.

Of course, not everything on this list will apply to each of you, but this list is a good starting point. If anything, these smart money moves will get you motivated to start taking control over your finances in 2021.

Related content:

Here are 14 smart money moves to make in 2021.

 

1. Take your company’s 401(k) match

Does your employer offer a company match?

If so, I hope you are taking it!

A company or employer match is when your employer contributes to your 401(k). And, a 401(k) is a type of retirement account that you get through an employer.

Because this is basically free money that will help you grow your retirement savings, this is one of the best money moves right now. I highly recommend taking advantage of your company’s match if you can!

It allows you to invest a portion of your paycheck before taxes are taken out, and the amount in your 401(k) can grow tax free until you withdraw. Once you reach retirement and take money out of your 401(k), the amount you withdraw from this account is taxed.

Your 401(k) is an account that holds investments, similar to how your bank account holds your money. You may choose to place investments such as stocks, mutual funds, and more in your 401(k).

Each company offers its own kind of match. For example, an employer may match 100% of your contribution, up to 5% of your salary. 

If you have this option with your job, I highly, highly recommend this as one of the smart money moves you make this year. Look into this further AS SOON AS YOU CAN!

2. Create an emergency binder

An emergency binder is a way to store financial information, like bank account numbers and passwords. You can store insurance information, personal details about you and each member of your family, information about bills, and more.

Having an emergency binder is so very important.

I know there are many, many families who would be very lost if something were to happen to the person who usually manages their financial situation.

Accounts could get lost, passwords would be unknown, bills may be forgotten about, life insurance may be hard to find, and more.

It’s best to keep a family emergency binder of everything just in case something were to happen, even if it’s something no one ever wants to think about. Having one just makes life so much easier, and it’s one of the smart money moves you should make this year. 

I recommend having an emergency binder if:

An emergency binder can help pretty much everyone and anyone.

This can be useful in non-emergencies as well. Creating a binder like this organizes all your family’s information in one place. It makes finding any piece of information quick and easy, and you’ll probably refer to it often.

My top tip is to check out the In Case of Emergency Binder to help you with creating your own emergency binder.

This is a 100+ page fillable PDF workbook.

 

3. Sign up for a complimentary $10,000 accidental death insurance policy

My friends at Harmonic have partnered with Making Sense of Cents, and they would like to give you a $10,000 accidental death insurance policy to encourage you to build your own personal safety net.

This company is simply looking to introduce more people to Harmonic, which is why they are giving away a complimentary policy. I share lots of free things on Making Sense of Cents – this is simply another item that I’ve negotiated for my readers. You have to be a U.S. citizen, though, to sign up. 

You can click here to sign up to claim your policy today! It takes less than 5 minutes.

This policy is slightly different in that it covers you in case you die in an accident – such as a car crash. Accidents are the number one cause of death for people ages 1-44, according to the folks in our government that track that sort of data.

Since this $10,000 accidental death insurance policy is at no cost to you, I recommend that everyone sign up for it. Whether you are single, have a family, have a dog, etc., it’s a no-brainer because this won’t cost you anything.

 

4. Find life insurance

Since we are talking about insurance, looking at life insurance is another one of the smart money moves you should take this year.

Surprisingly, life insurance is much more affordable than you’d probably think.

I did a quick search through PolicyGenius, and I was able to find a $1,000,000 policy for 20 years, for less than $27 per month.

Life insurance is money for your family if you were to pass away. And, if you are the sole or primary earner in your family, then there are probably a lot of people who rely on you financially. Life insurance is money that can be used to pay for funeral expenses, day-to-day bills, pay off debt, etc.

If you are looking for life insurance, I highly recommend looking into PolicyGenius.

PolicyGenius makes getting life insurance easy. A quote takes just 5 minutes and you can see comparable policies so that you can determine what is best for you.

You can click here to find a life insurance policy.

 

5. Shop around for more affordable car insurance

Shopping around for car insurance is something that most people do not do, and it can cost you tens of thousands of dollars over your lifetime.

By simply comparing insurance rates, you can save over $1,000 yearly.

You’d be surprised by how many people NEVER compare insurance rates, and how much money it can cost you.

In fact, a family member of mine has been paying around $2,200 a year for quite some time, and when I found out, I was absolutely shocked! 

I easily helped them find car insurance with better coverage for just $600 a year. Yes, they were able to save around $1,600 in literally less than 30 minutes. 

You can shop car insurance rates through Get Jerry here.

This company will allow you to get quotes from up to 45 insurance companies, and switching is super easy – you simply click a button and save money.

This is one of the quick money moves that can help you save money each month for years to come!

 

6. Have a money meeting

A new year is a great time to have your next (or first!) money meeting.

In your money meeting you may want to discuss things like:

There is no exact outline of what you should talk about in your money meetings because every financial situation is different. 

Money meetings help you get comfortable talking about your finances, and they make it easier to set goals and work towards them with your partner. I know talking about money can feel uncomfortable at first, but starting to have regular money meetings is one of the smart money moves every couple should take in the new year.

 

7. Start an emergency fund

An emergency fund is money that you have saved for when something unexpected happens, and I think 2020 showed many people why creating an emergency fund is one of the best money moves right now.

Your emergency fund can be used for something such as paying your bills if you lose your job (or if your hours or pay are cut), paying for a car repair, a medical bill, or something like a surprise leaking roof.

You can learn more at Why You Need An Emergency Fund and How To Start One Today.

 

8. Learn how to invest

Investing is important so you can:

If you want to learn how to live your best life in the future, investing is a great way to do so. And, you can even start investing with little money.

Investing is a smart money move because it means you are making your money work for you. If you weren’t investing, your money would just be sitting there and not earning a thing.

This is important to note because $100 today will not be worth $100 in the future if you just let it sit under a mattress or in a checking account. However, if you invest, you can actually turn your $100 into something more. Investing for the long term means your money is working for you, potentially earning you an income.

For example: If you put $1,000 into a retirement account that has an annual 8% return, 40 years later that would turn into $21,724. If you started with that same $1,000 and put an extra $1,000 in it for the next 40 years at an annual 8% return, that would then turn into $301,505. If you started with $10,000 and put an extra $10,000 in it for the next 40 years at that same percentage rate, that would then turn into $3,015,055.

 

9. Increase your credit score

Do you know what your credit score is? Do you know how it can impact your life?

While I don’t think that you need to go crazy and obsess over your credit score, improving your credit score is not something that will hurt you.

Your credit score can impact the interest rate you receive on a loan or a mortgage, finding a rental home, attaining certain jobs, your insurance rates, even your cell phone bill, and more.

A credit score is a three digit number that shows others your creditworthiness, and is often used as an indicator to show how risky you are. A good credit score is usually over 720.

You can check your credit score with Credit Sesame for free.

If this is one of the smart money moves you want to make in 2021, here are some of the actions you can take to increase your credit score:

Learn more at Everything You Need To Know About How To Build Credit.

 

10. Get your free credit report

One easy money move that I recommend this year is to start getting your free credit report.

You can receive one annual free credit report from the three main credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian).

Yes, this means that you get one from EACH, so three each year. I recommend spacing them out so you can get one every four months.

You can read more about this here

 

11. Find an alternative to your expensive TV bill

Over five years ago, we decided to get rid of cable.

And, we haven’t missed it one bit. 

I know of many people who spend $100 each month on cable TV, many spend over $150 a month, and I even had someone tell me that they spend over $300 each month on cable.

If you’re trying to find ways to cut your budget, and you have an expensive TV bill, I definitely recommend finding an alternative. This is one of my favorite smart money moves in 2021 because there are more options than ever. There’s no reason to spend that much on cable ever again.

Learn more about your options at 16 Alternatives To Cable TV That Will Save You Money.

 

12. Track your money

Tracking your money is important when it comes to managing your money.

Luckily, there is a free, easy tool that allows you to do this.

Personal Capital is a free personal finance software that allows users to better manage their finances.

You can connect accounts, such as your mortgage, bank, credit cards, investment portfolio, retirement, and more, and it is all free.

You can track your cash flow, your spending, how much you’re saving, how your investments are doing, and more.

With their free financial platform, you can easily see all of your accounts in one place so that you can manage everything efficiently.

If tracking your money is one of the smart money moves you want to make in 2021, Personal Capital can help you reach your goal.

 

13. Refinance your student loans

Do you have student loans?

If so, then you may want to think about refinancing them. This is one of the smart money moves that can help you lower your monthly bills and possibly save money over time.

Student loan refinancing is when you apply for a new loan that is then used to pay off your other student loans.

This is usually a great option if you borrowed private student loans and your credit score is better now than when you originally took out your student loans.

By refinancing your student loans, you may qualify for better repayment terms, a lower interest rate, and more. This is great because it may help you pay off your student loans quicker.

The positives of refinancing student loans include:

Companies, such as Credible, help you to refinance your student loans. With refinancing, the average person can save thousands of dollars on their loan, and that’s incredible! You can save a lot of money with student loan refinancing, such as with Credible, especially if you have high interest federal or private loans.

Credible’s platform is similar to the way Expedia works for finding flights – with Credible, you simply search the available rates to find the best student loan rate for you. There is no service fee, no origination fee, and no prepayment penalty if you end up paying off your student loans faster.

To use Credible, it takes less than 10 minutes and just follow these steps:

  1. Fill out a quick simple form (2 mins) – It only takes one form to see the many different lender options.
  2. Choose an option you like (2 mins) – On Credible, you can easily compare the different lenders all in one place.
  3. Provide your loan details (3 mins) – After providing more information about yourself, it takes one business day to receive your finalized offer.

Before refinancing a federal student loan, though, you will want to think about different federal benefits that you may be giving up. You may give up income-based repayment plans, loan forgiveness for those who have certain public service jobs (including jobs at public schools, the military, Peace Corps, and more). By refinancing your federal student loans, you may be giving up any future options for these loan forgiveness programs.

However, keep in mind that by refinancing your student loans, you may receive lower monthly payments, lower interest rates, and more. This may help you pay off your debt much faster. For me, I didn’t qualify for any loan forgiveness, so refinancing would have definitely helped me if I knew about it back then.

 

14. Get a travel rewards credit card

Do you earn rewards with your credit card?

Using a travel rewards credit card means that you can gain points that you can use to get free or cheap travel. You can earn airline tickets, gift cards, hotel stays, cash, etc., all for simply using your credit card.

If you are going to pay for something anyway, then you might as well get something for free out of it, right?

If you travel a lot and/or already use credit cards, then signing up for the ones with the best rewards can help you earn free travel.

However, this is only a smart move money if you are able to use credit cards responsibly. Taking on debt to earn travel rewards isn’t a smart move!

Two cards I recommend include:

What should I do with my money in 2021?

It’s entirely up to you! Start by thinking about what your goals are for this year and your future.

Do you want to pay off debt? Start investing more? Reduce your monthly bills?

Those are all smart money moves to make, and the ideas on this list can help you work towards any of them. 

Remember, what you decide to do with your money in 2021 is personal. You may want to make steps towards quitting a job you don’t love, plan a vacation, donate more to your favorite charity, and so on.

It’s never a bad idea to focus on paying down your debt and finding ways to save money, but from there, think about what you want for your future.

What is the smartest thing to do with your money?

I believe that paying off your high interest rate debt is one of the most important smart money moves. Debt makes it hard to save or invest for your future, and the average person holds a lot of debt.

Having debt can keep you in a debt cycle that is hard to break free from, but you can learn how to become debt free and finally start focusing on your future.

What’s on your financial to do list for 2021? What smart money moves are you making?

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Money Tips

How To Start a Dog Treat Business At Home – How I Make $4,000 Monthly

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Hello! Are you interested in starting a dog treat bakery business? Well, good news, this article will tell you what you need to know. Plus, you can sign up for this free training workshop that will teach you how to start your own side hustle baking and selling dog treats.

Hi! My name is Kristin Larsen, and I run Believe in a Budget, a blog about personal finance and my experience with various side hustles. (It feels like I’ve tried them all over the years!)dog treat bakery business

dog treat bakery business

As I’ve written about before here on Making Sense of Cents, my favorite online side hustle is working as a Pinterest virtual assistant. Managing Pinterest accounts is a great way to earn an income entirely online.

But today, I’m here to talk about a completely different side hustle, one that can be run entirely offline if you want (or entirely online, or a combination!).

While I love being able to work from home (or anywhere) on my computer, there is something to be said about stepping away from the computer and doing work that doesn’t involve the ‘virtual world’ – work that requires you to move around a little instead of being planted in front of a screen all day long!

In the case of this side hustle, it involves moving around the kitchen baking up beautiful and delicious dog treats.

Yes, dog treats!

The side hustle I’m speaking of is starting a dog treat bakery and I’m so excited to share it with you today. As a successful dog treat baker myself, I know first-hand how in-demand and lucrative this business can be.

How do you start a dog bakery?

How I Took My Dog Treat Bakery from Passion to Side Hustle to Full-Time Job

My dog treat bakery story started over ten years ago when I was an interior architect and designer at my 9-5 job.

At the time, I was the proud dog mom of Bella, a sweet-but-very-high-maintenance pup. Her birthday was coming up and I wanted to give her a birthday treat that fit her ‘diva dog’ personality.

I went to the local pet store and perused the aisles, but all I could find were treats filled with ingredients I couldn’t pronounce that looked like they had been sitting on the shelves for years. After a disappointing visit, I walked out the door and decided that I was going to bake Bella a treat.

This was kind of laughable since baking was not something I had done much of in my life, but I was going to figure out a way to make it work.

I decided to do some research by going to a local bakery and spending a lot of time staring at the baked goods (awkward!), trying to figure out which one I could recreate for Bella. I finally decided on a pretty cupcake adorned with white icing.

I went home, researched dog-safe ingredients and got to work planning Bella’s birthday treat. After a quick trip to Target to buy a mini cupcake tin, I started baking.

About an hour later, her birthday cupcake was baked, iced and ready to serve. Despite its small size, it was a huge success she loved it!

As soon as I saw how much she loved her treat, you could say I became a little obsessed with making wholesome, healthy treats for her. Soon, I started gifting them to friends and family.

I went from developing a single cupcake recipe to developing over 20 different dog treat recipes everything from treat bones to cookies to brownies to cakes!

Pretty soon, the friends and family who were on the receiving end of my gifts were saying: ‘Kristin, our dog(s) LOVED your treats. Can we buy some to gift? Can my friends/family/co-workers/neighbors buy some?’

With those questions, Diva Dog Bakery™ was born!

My little ‘obsession’ quickly became a side hustle, first bringing in $100 to $200 a month, then over $500 a month, just selling through word-of-mouth. It was the easiest money I had ever made!

In a serendipitous turn of events, I ended up losing my 9-5 job a few months after I started Diva Dog Bakery™. It was during the Great Recession, so I couldn’t find a job in my industry anywhere. My unemployment checks weren’t enough and I was quickly going through my savings.

I was initially stuck in a ‘dog treat bakery = side hustle’ mindset,  so it didn’t immediately occur to me to try to turn my side hustle into a full-time business. But when my money was drying up, it finally clicked: I can turn this into a full-time business!

I went all-in on my bakery and hustled hard. I sold at multiple farmers markets every Saturday (shout-out to my parents who helped me ‘be’ in multiple locations at once!), started a successful Etsy shop and also sold products wholesale.

Pretty soon, I went from going broke to making a solid $3,000 to $4,000 per month… despite the economy being in the biggest downturn since the Great Depression. 

Needless to say, I was ecstatic!

The especially exciting thing about my earnings is this was nearly ten years ago when the dog treat industry wasn’t nearly as hot. These days, my efforts could easily bring in double that!

The Opportunities in the Dog Treat Industry (Why You Should Start a Dog Treat Bakery)

When I first started my dog treat bakery, the idea of buying homemade cupcakes or brownies or cookies for your dog was still considered a little ‘out there.’

These days, dog owners are much more tuned in to the idea of pampering their pooches and they’re willing to spend money to make it happen.

Here are a few interesting stats for you:

It’s never been a better time to get started with a homemade dog treat bakery!

How Much You Can Earn Baking Dog Treats at Home

If you just want to run a fun-but-profitable hobby, you can easily earn $500 to $1,000 a month with a dog treat bakery as a side hustle.

At this level, you can do all of the work yourself in just a few hours a week. If you have kids, you can also have them pitch in. A dog treat bakery is a great family business!

If you want to turn your dog treat bakery into a full-time business, you can scale it into four figures a month, or even five figures a month.

If you want to scale your dog treat bakery into a full-time business, expect to work 30 to 35 hours a week yourself. If you want to have a heavy farmers market presence, you will probably need to bring on some help for a few hours each week so you can have a presence at multiple farmers markets at the same time. (The best ones are usually on Saturday mornings.)

If things get really busy, you can bring on baking help, marketing help, shipping help and more! You can make this business as big (or as small) as you’d like.

Where to Sell Your Dog Treats

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, you can run your dog treat baking business in a way that suits your lifestyle. You can run it offline, online, or both!

There are so many ways and places to sell your treats, but here are a few ideas to get you started.

Offline:

Online:

How Much Does it Cost to Start a Dog Treat Bakery?

Like nearly all businesses, starting a dog treat bakery comes with a few start-up costs, but you will easily earn these back when sales start coming in, or you can even take pre-sale orders! (Have I mentioned that the profit margin on dog treats is amazing?!)

Typical start-up costs for homemade dog treat bakeries in the U.S.* include:

*Costs and laws outside of the U.S. will vary from what is listed here.

Are Dog Treat Bakeries Regulated?

Yes, but not nearly as much as ‘people food’ bakeries. (Good for would-be dog treat bakers, but a little sad for our furry friends!)

In the U.S., the exact regulations you will need to follow are decided by your state and sometimes your local area (e.g., county, city). This is easy information to find out by contacting the following agencies:

You can also contact your state’s business agency and tell them you want to start a pet treat bakery. Many states have information on file about pet treat bakeries that tell you everything you need to do.

Don’t be intimidated by this process – in most cases, all you have to do is fill out a few forms and pay a few small registration fees!

How to Get Started as a Dog Treat Baker

When I first started Diva Dog Bakery™, I honestly had no idea what I was doing.

Although I saw success pretty quickly, there was a lot of trial-and-error because I had no one to guide me. I didn’t know anyone who owned a bakery, let alone a dog treat bakery.

The one thing I definitely did right at the beginning – and what I recommend to you if you want to become a homemade dog treat baker – was to spend some time in the kitchen learning how to make treats.

Because I wasn’t much of a baker (and maybe you aren’t either), getting a little baking experience under my belt was very helpful.

I also tested out my treats on my dogs and the dogs of some of my friends and family. Dogs may not be able to talk, but you can tell pretty easily which treats they love eating and which treats they’ll turn their nose up at!

With this data, you can start to package up and sell the most-liked treats. You can scale it from there and start to build up your business.

If the idea of going it alone on a dog treat bakery business sounds a little intimidating, I’d like to welcome you to join the Diva Dog Bakery™ course where I’ll teach you exactly how to build a thriving dog treat bakery business!

Here’s what the course covers:

You’ll also receive valuable bonuses, including:

It has been so exciting to help new dog treat bakers launch their businesses! Cheering on every baking success and every business success is truly the best part of my day.

Lessons Learned from a Cupcake… and a Phone Call

I like to say that Diva Dog Bakery™ started with a cupcake.

But it really, truly started when, after gifting treats to friends, one of those friends called me and said: ‘Kristin, can I buy a bag of your dog treats?’

Until that moment, I had no idea that anyone would actually want to pay for the treats I had been making as a labor of love.

I learned a valuable lesson that day: there is a market out there for so many different products and services. Whether it’s a product or service that we dream up on our own or that we learn from a course, there is probably someone who wants to buy it from us.

We just have to figure out a way to make that sale happen… and then make it happen again and again!

Dog Treat Bakeries are a Great Business to Start

If you’re interested in starting a business that’s ‘outside the box’ of the typical online businesses, then I highly recommend starting a dog treat bakery. 

The industry is booming, the work is enjoyable, the profit margin is fantastic and (maybe the best reason of all) you have the cutest customers!

To get started on your dog treat bakery journey, I’m offering a free dog treat bakery workshop! Check out the sales page here and sign up for the free workshop.

If you have any other questions about starting a dog treat bakery after watching the workshop, just email me and I’d be happy to answer them.

Are you interested in starting a dog treat bakery?

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Money Tips

Energy Ogre Review – How To Save $800+ A Year On Your Electricity Bill

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I have partnered with Energy Ogre in this Energy Ogre review. All opinions are 100% my own. You can use Energy Ogre promo code MSOC to receive a free month of Energy Ogre service (the 13th month free).

Do you want to save money on your electricity bill?

If you live in Texas, then this article is for you!

Unfortunately, many households in Texas overpay for their monthly electricity bill.

But, that doesn’t mean you can’t change that.

There are plenty of ways to save money on electricity, and one of them is to use Energy Ogre.

Energy Ogre saves members $800 to $1,200 each year on average, so people are actually excited to get their electricity bill, instead of dreading it.

Energy Ogre shops the market for their members, and analyzes the available electricity plans from hundreds of providers, then selects the best one based on the member’s energy usage.

If you live in Texas, this is a really easy opportunity to save some extra money.

You can use Energy Ogre promo code MSOC to receive a free month of Energy Ogre service (the 13th month free).

What is Energy Ogre?

Energy Ogre is an electricity management company that monitors the market to make sure their members are on the best value electricity plan for their home. This gives their members access to the most affordable electricity plans.

Energy Ogre has helped thousands of homes, and the average Energy Ogre member saves over 40% on their electricity bills.

Energy Ogre saves you time and money, and I think that’s a no brainer!

They also have a free savings calculator that will tell you immediately how much money you will save, which I highly recommend. Just try it out to see if you can save any money.

You can sign up for Energy Ogre here.

How does Energy Ogre work?

Energy Ogre is super simple!

Once you sign up, they handle finding the best electricity provider for you, so that you can save the most money and have the best electricity plan for your household.

Then, they continually monitor your electricity contract to make sure that you have the lowest rate.

Luckily, in Texas you have the freedom and option to choose your electricity provider. However, many people don’t realize this or they think it’s too much of a hassle to switch. And, many times, most people simply don’t realize how much money that they could be saving each month!

How much is Energy Ogre?

Energy Ogre is a membership service that costs $10 a month, or $120 per year. This fee is separate from your electricity bill.

Even though Energy Ogre costs a little bit of money, you’ll most likely see great savings, as statistically most people are overpaying in Texas!

Remember, Energy Ogre saves members on average $800 to $1200 each year.

Is Energy Ogre legit?

Yes, Energy Ogre is paid for by members like you, instead of electricity companies. Since they are completely independent, you know that YOU are their focus.

Some of the tasks that Energy Ogre does include:

Yes, you could find your own electricity plan, but using Energy Ogre can save you a ton of time, and they know what they are doing. Energy Ogre reads all of the fine print, knows about all of the surprise fees, and they do all of the calculations for you.

So, you’ll be in good hands with Energy Ogre.

How can I cut my electricity bill?

If you want to cut your electricity costs even more, here are many other ideas that can help you save even more money:

  1. Instead of using your air conditioner, use fans. Fans use a lot less electricity than AC.
  2. Regularly change the filter on your AC or furnace.
  3. Unplugging unused electronics. Computers, TVs, chargers, and more all use power even when they’re turned off.
  4. Changing your heat or air conditioner temperature so that they turn on less often and use less power.
  5. Keeping your refrigerator doors closed, as it uses energy to cool it back down after you are done.
  6. Turning off lights around your home.
  7. Using a programmable thermostat. With a programmable thermostat, you can set the temperature at exactly what you want it to be for different times throughout the day. This way you don’t have to constantly change it as it will automatically change on a set schedule.
  8. And of course, sign up for Energy Ogre!

If you live in Texas, Energy Ogre can help you save hundreds of dollars a year.

You can use Energy Ogre promo code MSOC to receive a free month of Energy Ogre service (the 13th month free).

What do you do to save on your electricity bill each month? How much is your monthly bill usually?

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Source: makingsenseofcents.com

Money Tips

7 Income-Producing Assets You Need To Know About

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Real estate, rental income, stocks … boooooriiiing. These 7 investments can potentially provide an income stream from a very unexpected source!

By

Jim Wang
January 19, 2021

millionaires have 7 streams of income. And most of them are boring. Common examples of income-generating assets include your classics like real estate (rental income, depreciation benefits, equity appreciation) and dividend stocks (dividend income is taxed favorably), which I love.

But every so often, there’s one in there that sounds as exciting as going to Vegas and always betting on black.

Today, I want to talk about those obscure investments. Those weird, you only hear about them in the movies, oddball investments that can produce cash flow. I don’t want the obscure ones that don’t produce cash (invest in whiskey, art, or some other collectible … that just makes you eccentric), these have to produce a stream of income.

Maybe the stock market has you spooked. Maybe you simply have enough in equities.

Maybe you want income but all the income-producing assets you know of are boring (or you have enough) – who really cares about certificates of deposit, Treasury bonds, and dividend stocks. If you wanted them, you would’ve gotten them by now (or you have and want even more diversification).

Today, you’ll read about some truly interesting assets that you’ve probably never heard of before:

I will reference different websites and companies in this list as examples. I haven’t used a single one of them. These are not endorsements.

1. Crowdfunded real estate

Crowdfunded real estate is a relatively new phenomenon. It’s when you can invest in a little piece of real estate as part of a “crowd” of investors. This lets you diversify your real estate holdings without the work of buying and selling properties.

You have some companies, like RealtyMogul, that curate deals and offer you a piece of the investment. There are others, like Fundrise, that run funds that do the investing and you can buy shares of those funds. In both cases, you diversify your risk across several investments and can generate passive cash flow in the process (as well as equity appreciation).

If you aren’t an accredited investor, here is a list of real estate investing sites for non-accredited investors.

2. Peer-to-peer lending

Peer-to-peer lending is older than crowdfunded real estate investing but follows the same principles. You act as a bank, lending money to borrowers, but are able to diversify your loans across a variety of different borrowers with varying levels of risk. By funding loans with $10 and $20, you can deploy thousands of dollars across hundred of borrowers that, hopefully, are not correlated.

3. Mineral rights

Mineral rights are exactly that—the rights to extra minerals from the earth for a specific plot of land. They may be called mineral rights, mineral interests, or mineral estate, but the term is clear. It gives the owner the right to mine and extract minerals from the land.

When you own the mineral rights, you own any valuable minerals trapped in the land.

This is lucrative because when you own the mineral rights, you own any valuable minerals trapped in the land. The most valuable minerals are oil and gas, gold, copper, diamonds, and coal. In the United States, most of the value is in finding oil and gas.

When you own a mineral right, you can reach an agreement with a miner or extractor to receive a royalty based on production. For example, it’s not uncommon for the Lessee (the miner) to pay the Lessor (owner) 1/8th value of what is produced.

If you want to buy mineral rights, do your homework!

4. Structured settlements

Structured settlements are an interesting asset.

Let’s say you slip and fall in a store. You sue the store, because they were negligent, and you reach a settlement with the store. They offer to pay you $5,000 a year for 20 years. You see this a lot whenever there is a settlement on a massive scale with multiple claimants. The responsible party has to do this or they might go bankrupt. If they go bankrupt, no one gets paid.

Structured settlements are fine, except sometimes the person getting the money needs the whole sum. Or they don’t want to wait. That’s when an investor can offer to buy it from them. At this point, it’s really an annuity to the investor.

This area has a bad reputation because sometimes the parties involved don’t behave honorably. They might take advantage of someone in a bad situation and offer a lowball amount for a settlement. Whatever the case may be, the instrument itself is aboveboard.

Continue reading on Wallet Hacks …


About the Author

Jim Wang has been writing about money for over 15 years, most recently at WalletHacks.com. His software engineering background has given him the skills to distill complex financial concepts into easier-to-understand ideas people can use to take control of their lives and build wealth.

Source: quickanddirtytips.com

Money Tips

Should You Start A Blog In 2021? 8 Things You Need To Know

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Should you start a blog in 2021? Is blogging worth it in 2021?

Are you thinking about starting a blog this year?

should you start a blog in 2021

should you start a blog in 2021

Perhaps you’ve been thinking about starting a blog for some time, but you’re afraid that you have waited too long.

Every year I get the same questions from people who are thinking about starting a blog but are worried that it’s too late.

In fact, when I started my blog, I had people telling me that I would be wasting my time because it was too late for new blogs.

I also have friends who have started blogs in the past year or two, and were told the same thing.

Yet, all of us are making money and working as full-time bloggers now.

I still remember the early days from when I first started my blog.

I was so clueless when I first started my blog. And, it seemed like a very random thing when I first heard about blogging, but I decided to go ahead and create a blog of my own.

Making Sense of Cents was started simply as a way to keep track of my own personal finance journey. Most people in my life didn’t even know I had a blog.

It’s so funny to think back to when I first started my blog, but I’m so glad I gave blogging a chance. I can’t imagine how different my life would be if I had listened to the people who said it was too late to start a blog.

Because of how blogging changed my life, I love telling others about it. That’s exactly what I’m doing today if you are on the fence about starting a blog.

Blogging helped me pay off my debt, quit my regular job, travel full-time, and more. The best part is that I love what I do. And, as you can tell from my business income reports, I now earn a great living from my blog.

Related content on blogging for beginners:

If you’re wondering should you start a blog in 2021, read to find out why I think blogging is still worth it in 2021.

Should you start a blog in 2021? 8 things you need to know about starting a blog for profit this year.

 

1. It’s not too late to start a blog

2021 is not too late to start a blog, but you will want to get started! I hear from so many bloggers who have delayed launching their blog because they are afraid.

Well, you won’t know if you will see success with your blog unless you start one.

So, start as soon as you can!

 

2. There’s plenty of room for new bloggers

I often hear “but there’s so many blogs out there now.” Yes, there are many blogs, but there is still room. It’s all about finding your own voice and attracting your own audience.

I am still finding brand new blogs that I love, and it’s exciting watching them grow.

Everyone is different, and everyone has their own point of view.

 

3. Is blogging still profitable in 2021? Yes!

Companies and brands are investing more in advertising on blogs than ever before. Sponsorships are through the roof, and affiliate programs are growing like crazy.

When I first started Making Sense of Cents, sponsorships were more difficult to attain, and affiliate programs weren’t anywhere near as important as they are now.

And, I only forecast that to continue to grow well into the future.

Companies are increasing their marketing budgets, specifically to grow their market and audience through blogs.

And, that’s where you and I come in!

Related tip: Sign up for Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing and learn how I went from $0 in affiliate income to over $50,000 per month.

 

4. Blogging is a lot of fun

I really enjoy helping others improve their financial situation, reading blog posts from other bloggers, finding new people to talk to, working on my blog, and especially writing.

I love waking up each morning to work, and I no longer dread work like I did when I had my day job. 

Blogging is both challenging and rewarding, as there is always something new to learn. And, it’s a lot of fun to reach and connect with new people through your blog.

  

5. Creating a blog is affordable

A blog is very affordable to create.

I spent less than $100 total for the whole first year of Making Sense of Cents.

If you are interested in taking the steps to learn how to create a blog, I have a tutorial that will help you create a blog of your own for cheap, starting at only $2.75 per month for blog hosting (this low price is only through my link). In addition to the low pricing, you will receive a free website domain (a $15 value) through my referral link if you purchase at least 12 months of blog hosting.

This means you can learn how to start a blog in 2021 and make money for less than $50 a year. I started my blog with super cheap blog hosting, I designed it myself (even though I had no experience ever doing something like that), and more. 

I did pretty much everything myself so that I could save money, and while it was a learning experience, it was well worth it.

 

6. You will be your own boss

With blogging, you can be your own boss. You can decide what type of business you’ll run, decide on your schedule, your goals, and more.

I love being in complete control of what I do, and becoming self-employed may allow you to feel that way as well. I enjoy deciding what I will do each day, creating my own schedule, determining my business goals, handling everything behind the scenes, and more.

Running an online business (and being your own boss) may not be for everyone, but it’s something I enjoy.

Plus, I love having a flexible schedule and being able to travel full-time!

 

7. You do not need previous experience

In order to become a blogger in 2021, you don’t need any previous experience. You don’t need to be a computer wizard, previously be active on social media, or know how to create a blog.

These are all things that you will learn as you go.

Nearly every single blogger was brand new at some point, and they had no idea what they were doing. 

I’m proof of that. I had just learned that blogs existed when I started Making Sense of Cents, and I definitely didn’t know that bloggers could make money. I learned how to create a blog from the bottom up and have worked my way to where I am today. 

8. There’s a ton of valuable free resources

One of the great things about starting a blog in 2021 is that there are many free resources that can help you get started. 

In fact, I didn’t spend any money in the beginning in order to learn how to blog – instead, I signed up for a ton of free webinars, free email courses, and more. Since I didn’t know what I was doing, I knew that I didn’t want to spend a lot of money.

  1. I recommend starting off with my free blogging course How To Start A Blog FREE Course.
  2. Affiliate Marketing Free Cheat Sheet – With this time-saving cheat sheet, you’ll learn how to make affiliate income from your blog. These tips will help you rapidly improve your results and increase your blogging income in no time.
  3. 8 Easy Tips To Make Money From Sponsored Posts On Your Blog – Sponsorships on your blog are a great way of earning a living online. Learn how I made my first blogging income, and how I’m now making $10,000-$20,000 a month with sponsored partnerships! 
  4. The 2021 Publicity Calendar – The 2021 Publicity Calendar contains 179 story ideas, dates, and hooks to help you create endless media attention and buzz! If you want to get featured in magazines and popular websites, this is something that you will definitely want to sign up for.
  5. The SEO Starter Pack (FREE Video Training) – Level up your SEO knowledge in just 60 minutes with this FREE 6-day video training.
  6. 7 Surefire Ways to Boost Your Blog Income Overnight – This free ebook gives great tips on how to increase your blogging income.
  7. Facebook Ads For Bloggers 101 – This free training will show you how to increase your blog’s traffic with Facebook ads. This is the top area I’m working on this year, and I recommend you do the same!

 

Is blogging worth it in 2021?

2021 is a great time to start a blog.

The online world is still so new, and each year there are new ways to monetize and grow your blog.

For example, it wasn’t until the past couple of years that companies and advertisers started realizing the value of online influencers, such as bloggers, and that means even more opportunities to earn money blogging.

Before that, it was mainly celebrities that companies advertised with, but now, it is actually shifting to bloggers and other online influencers (such as Youtubers and Instagrammers!).

The online world is a huge place, and it is just going to keep growing. Every blogger earns a living in slightly different ways, and everyone has a different message and story. Plus, there are so many different ways to earn money blogging, and I expect that the options will continue to grow.

 

If blogging is so wonderful, then why doesn’t everyone start one?

Blogging is not printing money.

It’s not a scam, and it’s not a get-rich-quick scheme.

Learning how to earn money blogging is work, and just like with all jobs – not everyone wants what you want.

And, for every successful blog out there, there are probably hundreds of bloggers who will never earn money blogging. While you can earn money blogging, not all bloggers will.

It would be like saying that 100% of people who start a business will see success. That is just never going to happen – businesses fail, business owners have a change of heart, and others just don’t find it enjoyable.

I know I am always talking about the positives of blogging, but I also like to mention how it’s not the easiest.

After all, if blogging was easy, then everyone would do it and everyone would make thousands of dollars a month.

But as you know, that’s not the case.

Not everyone is going to earn money blogging because it can be a lot of work! Most new bloggers quit just a few months in. A few months is not enough time to see if your blog will be successful. It took me six months before I started to earn money blogging, and I only earned $100. 

It’s funny and weird to think about what life would be like if I would have quit back then.

I’m constantly learning something new when it comes to blogging, and that is why I enjoy it so much.

 

How To Start A Blog FREE Course

With this free course, I show you how to grow a blog from scratch, from the technical side (it’s easier than you think – trust me!) all the way to earning your first income and attracting followers.

Each day for seven days, you will receive an email in your inbox that will help you from the beginning, and I will teach you how to start a blog in 2021 and make money.

Below is a quick summary of what you will learn in this free 7-day course:

Please sign up for my How To Start a Blog Free Course by clicking here or signing up below.

What do you think: should you start a blog in 2021? Do you want to learn how to start a blog and get paid?

How To Start A Blog FREE Email Course

In this free course, I show you how to create a blog easily, from the technical side (it’s easy – trust me!) all the way to earning your first income and attracting readers. Join now!

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Money Tips

The Right Amount of Emergency Money to Keep in Cash

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Not sure exactly how big your cash reserve should be or where to keep it? Laura answers listener questions and explains how to build your emergency fund and keep it safe so you’re always prepared for what happens in your financial life. 

By

Laura Adams, MBA
January 19, 2021

Investing money means you could get relatively high returns, but that you could also lose some or all of it.

Even though savings accounts currently pay very little interest, that’s the price of keeping money completely safe.

If your emergency money is invested rather than saved, it’s subject to volatility, which means the value could plummet when you need it. Having cash in a bank savings or money market deposit account means that it’s safe no matter what happens in the markets, but you won’t earn much. And that’s okay! Even though savings accounts currently pay very little interest, that’s the price of keeping money completely safe. Again, remember the purpose of those funds isn’t to grow but to be your safety net.

Make sure you always have enough cash on hand to protect yourself from an emergency. I recommend that you maintain a minimum of three to six months’ worth of your living expenses in your bank account at all times. 

Tena, I like that you’re also thinking about retirement but make it a separate goal. It’s better to make regular contributions to your 401(k) and max it out when possible than to empty your savings. Tapping a retirement account for a potential emergency isn’t always possible, and if you do take an early withdrawal before age 59.5, you must pay taxes plus a 10% penalty.

I recommend that you maintain a minimum of three to six months’ worth of your living expenses in your bank account at all times.

To calculate the right amount of emergency savings, tally up your living expenses. They are just the basics—like housing, groceries, medicine, transportation, and existing loan payments—not necessarily a full replacement of your income. 

For instance, if you could get by on $3,000 per month if you lost all your income, then always keep a minimum of $9,000 ($3,000 x 3 months) in reserve. But having a six-month reserve or more is even better since finding a job could take that long.

When you have extra money or more than a healthy minimum cash reserve, you might consider investing amounts above that threshold. But it’s critical to evaluate the cash reserve you need based on various factors, such as the number of breadwinners in your family, your job stability, marketability, ongoing expenses, and financial goals.

RELATED: 3 Emergency Fund Mistakes to Avoid

Should you invest emergency money?

Vivian W. asks another question about investing emergency money. She says:

I’m 28 years old and currently save about $20,000 per year. I live with my retired mother, who is 66 and didn’t save enough for her retirement. We both have $113,000 in high-yield savings and a CD but want to invest part of it. However, I’m not sure how much cash we should keep in the bank for emergencies. Also, should I be maxing out my Roth IRA every year?

Thanks for your question, Vivian. As I previously mentioned, my recommendation to keep a range of at least three to six months’ worth of your living expenses in savings. You could consider investing the excess. Your cash reserve is like having an insurance policy for you and your mother’s safety. 

Vivian, everyone should be investing for their retirement, in addition to maintaining a healthy emergency fund. A good rule of thumb is to invest at least 10% to 15% of your gross income in a workplace retirement account or IRA. The maximum annual IRA contribution for 2020 and 2021 is $6,000, or $7,000 if you’re over age 50. Since you can save $20,000 per year, I would definitely max out your Roth IRA every year.

Should you buy a home with emergency money?

Another common question is whether you should use emergency savings as a down payment on a home. Ann C. says:

I’m 21 years old and will graduate from college in May with a full-time job that starts in 2022 in a large city where I’ve never lived. I have enough savings to make a $20,000 down payment on a home. It seems like spending $1,000 or more per month on rent would be a waste and make it harder to save for a home. Do you think I should own or rent?

Ann, thanks for your question and congratulations on your upcoming graduation, relocation, and new job. That’s a lot to celebrate!

If spending $20,000 on a home would leave you with no cash, you can’t afford to become a homeowner yet. Buying a home is not an emergency. You always need to maintain a healthy cash reserve no matter whether you own or rent.

Buying a home is not an emergency. You always need to maintain a healthy cash reserve no matter whether you own or rent.

Additionally, becoming a homeowner comes with lots of additional expenses on top of your mortgage payment, such as insurance, property taxes, homeowners association fees, furnishings, repairs, and maintenance. Don’t get me wrong—I’m a big proponent of being a homeowner and investing in real estate when you can afford it. 

Ann, since you’ve never lived in the city where you’re going for your new job, I’d recommend renting for several reasons. One is that you need time to get to know a new city and see where you want to be relative to your office. Renting gives you time to understand what the traffic is like, whether public transportation is an option for commuting, where you like to spend time when you’re not working, and the state of the real estate market.

I don’t recommend buying a home unless you’re sure you will live in it for at least three to five years. If you start your new job and don’t like it, you might need to sell a home that you just bought to relocate to another part of town or a new city. That may not be a problem, but it’s a bit risky. 

I’ve made several cross-country relocations to big cities and have always rented first to get to know the new landscape and my employer. That gives you plenty of time to figure out the parts of town you like and fit your budget. 

Renting gives you more mobility and freedom when you’re in an uncertain situation. Also, in many big cities, it’s less expensive to rent than buy a comparable property when considering the total costs of ownership. So, take the time to evaluate your options carefully.

RELATED: 8 Steps to Buying a Home You Can Afford

Should you keep emergency money at home?

You might wonder if keeping some amount of your cash reserve at home is wise. There’s nothing wrong with keeping a small percentage of your emergency money in a safe place at home. It could be helpful in a situation such as a natural disaster when there are widespread power outages. 

Typical homeowners or renters insurance doesn’t cover cash.

However, be aware that typical homeowners or renters insurance doesn’t cover cash. So, if your money gets stolen, lost, or destroyed in a fire or storm, you don’t have any recourse.

How to build your emergency fund

If you haven’t started an emergency fund, accumulating several months’ worth of living expenses can seem daunting. Depending on your income and financial situation, it could take years to achieve. That’s okay—just get started by taking small steps every month. 

Your emergency savings should be a moving target that you reevaluate every year.

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we never know what’s around the corner. Your emergency savings should be a moving target that you reevaluate every year. 

The first step is to accurately figure your monthly living expenses. As I mentioned, they include housing, utilities, insurance, food, loan payments, transportation, etc. Add up all your current financial needs and obligations for yourself, your family, and third parties that you couldn’t or wouldn’t want to cut if your income was significantly reduced.

The second step is to estimate how long you could potentially need your emergency money. I recommend saving no less than three months’ worth of living expenses. But your unique situation might call for considerably more. Here are some tips to help you determine how much you should set aside:

If you’re not a disciplined saver, try automating your emergency savings. Ask your employer to split your paycheck between your regular checking and your emergency savings account. If you get a paper check or are self-employed, set up an automatic monthly or weekly transfer from your checking into your emergency fund. 

Ask your employer to split your paycheck between your regular checking and your emergency savings account.

An emergency fund is one of the most critical financial “must-haves.” It should be large enough to get you through a crisis, easily accessible, and in cash to ensure its safety and liquidity, no matter what’s happening in the financial markets.

So, there’s no time to spare in getting started. Once you have a safety net in place, you’ll have a fantastic sense of security and peace that no matter what happens in your financial life, you’re prepared to tackle it.


About the Author

Laura Adams, MBA

Source: quickanddirtytips.com

Money Tips

Two Years Without Health Insurance (and What I’m Doing Now)

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Two years ago, I was unsatisfied with my options for health insurance. The premiums were rising even as the quality dropped in the form of an ever-increasing deductible. I am guessing that you might feel the same way these days – most of us Americans are in the same boat.

I felt like I was being squeezed from both ends and it was starting to piss me off. So I decided to take some action, by doing the math for myself using a spreadsheet. I needed to answer the question, “Is this insurance really as bad a deal as I think it is?”

Sure enough, the risks and rewards of the coverage did not justify the premiums, so I decided to try an experiment and simply drop out of the market and insure myself. In other words, just rolling the dice and going through life with no form of health insurance at all.

Doubling down on the bikes, barbells and salads, I did my best to eliminate any risk factors that are in my control, while accepting that there are still much less likely but more random factors that are not.

Figure 1 – DIY Health Care

Almost two years and $10,000 in premium savings later, I have found the experiment to be a success: I have slept well and not worried about the fact that I could be on the hook for a big bill if I did ever need major care. And as luck would have it, I also enjoyed the same good health as always over this time period – probably the best in my life so far because the extra healthy living has been working its magic.

But.

This situation has not been quite ideal, because my life is not a very useful model for everyone to follow. Most people don’t have the luck of perfect health, many have a larger family than I do, and very few people are in a financial position to self-insure for all possible medical bills.

Also, I found myself wishing I had a doctor that actually knew me, who I could call or visit on short notice if I ever did need help.

Finally, I wanted to switch back to having some form of insurance so that I could learn about it and write about it as time goes on. But was I really willing to be part of that unsatisfying and broken insurance model?

Then something magical happened: I learned about the new and vastly improved world of Direct Primary Care physicians.

What is DPC?

DPC is a fairly new trend in the US, but it is also a return to a very old tradition: a direct relationship between you and your doctor, with no insurance company in the way. 

As a customer, you pay for a monthly subscription (somewhere around $100), and in exchange you get unlimited access to super elite, personalized medicine for the vast majority of your medical needs. Diagnoses, prescriptions, skin conditions, stitches, even fixing a broken bone if you don’t need surgery. All covered, with no co-pay and in an environment that feels to me like Presidential-level health care, in striking contrast to some of my past experiences where I felt like an anonymous numbered ticket in a sloshing sea of bureaucratic institutional medicine.

Oh, and direct email, phone and text message contact with your doctor, prescriptions over phone or video call, and in some cases even house calls depending on the practice and the situation.

Through some sort of magic, the Direct Primary Care model offers much better medical care and much lower prices, at the same time.

How could it be? It’s because of the incentives.

Figure 2: The Insurance Model for Health Care

In our famously broken US healthcare model, an insurance company is wedged in between you and your doctors, and it has different objectives than you do.

You just want the best overall health for yourself, and when the shit does hit the fan and you need medical care, you want it to be quick, effective, and at minimum cost. And you don’t want to be hounded with years of stressful stray bills after an expensive medical procedure.

Your Doctor wants to help as many people as possible and make a good living, without having to wade through a sea of paperwork or stress or lawsuits.

Your Insurance company wants to make as much profit as possible, which means maximizing the amount they collect from you, and minimizing the amount they pay to your doctor. In theory, they benefit from helping you to stay healthy. But they have also developed elaborate contracts (putting in as many loopholes as possible to allow them to drop your coverage or deny claims), become masters of delaying payments, limiting which procedures and tests they will authorize doctors to do, and just generally throwing the biggest monkey wrench into the system that they can.

Over the decades, there has been a complex battle of lawmaking, lobbying, compromise and complexity to try to regulate away some of these problems. Sometimes the new laws help, sometimes they don’t, but the end result will never be optimal simply because there are a lot of people involved, and big crowds of humans make for slow and shitty decision making.

The Direct Primary Care Model

Figure 3: The Direct Primary Care Model

With DPC, it’s just you and your doctor. You both have the same incentives, but now the model works much better because there is no chaotic and expensive force in the middle to mess things up.

And because you operate on a subscription, the doctor gets paid whether you come into the office or not. At the same time, you are free to come in whenever you do need something, at no additional cost. So she has an incentive to keep you healthy, so that you have no need to come into the office in the first place. 

On top of this, you get to decide together what is the best course of healthy prevention and treatment, without the overhead and complexity of constantly fighting with insurance companies. This drastically cuts the costs by eliminating the large staff of paper-pushers and attorneys that you normally need to operate a medical office, and frees up the doctor to spend more time with each patient during each visit.

How could the doctor possibly make a living with such low fees?

As it turns out, a small practice with one or two doctors and a few credentialed medical assistants can handle over 1000 subscribers while still giving each person much more time than they get under the old model. At $100 per month, this is $1.2 million in annual gross subscriber income, which is enough to pay everybody well, and rent a suitable clinic space. And as you scale up the operation, some economies of scale on things like space and equipment make it even better.

Just as importantly, running a practice like this tends to make a dramatic improvement in a doctor’s quality of life. It’s better medicine, with more flexibility and less hassle and stress. No wonder this model is growing rapidly and has become a favorite of physicians who happen to be MMM readers, as I hear from more of them every month.

Direct Primary Care is now a nationwide movement, with many hundreds of practices spanning the country and many more opening each year. Today’s screenshot of https://mapper.dpcfrontier.com/ shows the current state of the market. 

Direct care locations everywhere

In fact, it turns out this whole trend might even be a Mustachian-originated phenomenon, as I joined my own local practice called Cloud Medical, met the founder Dr. David Tusek, and he revealed halfway through our introductory visit that he was both a founder of DPC pioneer Nextera Healthcare in 2009, and a lurking reader of this blog for several years before I discovered him right here in my own town. 

A note for locals: if you are considering joining Cloud, mention that you would like the MMM discount to save a further $12/month! (we have no affiliation, they are just looking to expand the practice and I’ll remove this notice if they fill up)

My experience (so far) with Cloud Medical

Cloud Medical’s Longmont office – definitely a step up over past medical office experiences! (although they do need to add a proper bike rack)

I signed up with Cloud this past summer, about five months ago. Although I have been feeling great, I figured it was time to put myself through an extensive battery of “middle-aged man” tests just to make sure I am not missing any hidden problems. 

With the doctor’s guidance, I did a very thorough blood test, plus an electrocardiogram scan of my heart performance and ultrasound Carotid artery scan which involves a practitioner lubing up your neck and sliding a Star-Trek-style probe around on it while recording images of your body’s most critical plumbing to check for signs of clogging. Plus the usual checks of an annual physical exam. All clear.

I also finally got around to a long-awaited diagnosis and prescription for my Adult Attention Deficit Disorder condition, something which took me seven years to get organized enough to achieve, paradoxically one of the crippling effects of ADD. Although this is a very personal health detail, I mention it here because there are many friends and readers who also suffer from this condition, and I encourage you to learn more about it and seek help if appropriate. It can be life-changing.  I found this process was much easier in a DPC environment, because of the more personal nature of the doctor-patient connection. 

This DPC model addresses perhaps 90% of typical medical needs in-house, and a “menu” of optional specialists knocks out another 5%. 

Cloud and other DPC practices have a “menu” of standardized prices, typically much lower than traditional offices. Full PDF here.

But there is still a chance you will need the more rare (and expensive) services of a hospital or specialist. In this case, your DPC physician can provide referrals and guidance to allow you to get the right help at a discounted, direct-pay price, or even handle your needs with a conventional insurance company.

Part Two: But What About Bigger Expenses?

Health share options, with the one I chose (Sedera) in the center.

At this point, you can add another layer of protection: High deductible conventional insurance, or a health share membership which offers a similar end-result while being careful not to be classified as insurance. 

A Disclaimer before we begin:

I think of health shares as a form of “emergency medical bill reimbursement”, rather than full fledged insurance. They are suitable for mostly-healthy people who want financial protection in the event of a major medical event. But they are not insurance, and often not too useful for someone with an existing, expensive condition.

Update 11/12: This blog post has triggered lots of fine-print-reading and discussion among readers, which led us to follow up with various insurance and health share companies.

The final word on one issue of debate: most conventional insurance and health shares do not cover voluntary abortions, while they do cover medically necessary ones, just under the different name of “Maternal Complications”.

Health shares in particular also don’t offer much ongoing drug reimbursement, which includes a lack of coverage for birth control. While I disagree with this policy, from a practical perspective it just means you need to budget for this expense separately.

For situations where a health share membership falls short, the subsidized and regulated insurance available through employer-based plans or the state exchanges via the Affordable Care Act, are probably a better bet.

But with all that in mind, I still chose one for myself, so let’s get into it!

Health sharing groups started out catering only to members of certain religions. Then a provider called Liberty Health Share opened up the market slightly while still requiring some fairly specific spiritual affirmations.

The latest incarnation is a company called Sedera* , which has addressed some of the shortcomings of earlier companies, has far less religious basis, and now seems to be the place that most of my more analytical friends and their families are ending up. Even my DPC physician Dr. Tusek is now recommending Sedera.

Sedera is worth a whole separate article in itself, and in fact I am starting a dedicated page for questions and answers and discussion on the experience. But for now, we’ll take a shortcut and just say that I was convinced and willing to give it a try, so I signed myself up as a Sedera customer.

A quick comparison of the closest standard insurance plan I could find on the standard Colorado health insurance exchange, versus what I got from Sedera (click for larger version):

For me, Sedera cuts my monthly cost in half, even while delivering better coverage.

Another thing I like about all this is that there is no concept of “in network” and “out of network” doctors or hospitals. You can even use hospitals in other countries while traveling, and get reimbursed in US dollars after you return home. It’s simpler, cheaper and more flexible.

So in the end, by combining DPC with a health share membership, I am hopefully ending up with the best of all worlds:

This all sounds good to me, but it is important to state that this is an experiment. I still don’t have much experience with the US healthcare system – it helped deliver my son in 2006, and then repair that same boy’s broken arm in 2016. Conventional insurance offered some halfhearted support for both of those expenses, but aside from that I don’t have many stories to tell. 

By collecting more information from readers and from my new helpers at Cloud Medical and Sedera, we should be able to make more sense of all this. And hopefully continue to expand and improve this new, better form of health care so it is accessible to more US residents.

If it gets big enough, we might end up solving this whole problem together – better, cheaper health care for everyone.

But What About the Affordable Care Act?

I think that DPC and ACA could work together perfectly – we keep the idea of the personal relationships, the subscription-based model, and the open and competitive pricing from hospitals for all procedures. But we just don’t need conventional insurance companies. If our society wants to help less-wealthy people to afford the best health care (which I think is a great idea), we could just subsidize their DPC memberships and offer a public insurance option at low or zero cost which covers hospitalizations. The reason this is better than the ACA: direct care and no insurance companies.

Conclusion

My past articles and experiences have shown that for many of us, a big hurdle when considering early retirement or self-employment is “what about health insurance”? Hopefully the is DPC + Healthshare method will put that question to rest for many of us. After all, shouldn’t our career and life choices be separate from our healthcare?

—–

Interested in Learning More?

A long-time friend of mine (and fellow early-retiree, and co-owner of the HQ coworking space) Bill and his family have been Sedera customers and enthusiasts for about two years. So much that he even took it upon himself to meet the company’s management, sign himself up as a representative to streamline some of the inefficiencies he perceived when joining, and then teach me about the whole thing.

Because of that, I am sharing Bill’s Sedera signup link in this article. His is unique among the Sedera affiliates in that he charges zero administrative fee, typical brokers charge $25 per month and up.

https:/sedera.community/thefireguild1

*note: Sedera does pay its affiliates a small referral fee for new customers, which does not affect your monthly bill – in fact, this link offers a lower price than subscribing directly through the company’s website. Thus, we believe this is the lowest cost way on the Internet to get this coverage.

As mentioned above, I’m giving Bill his own page to maintain on this site, where he can share his ongoing research and updates and answer questions: mrmoneymustache.com/sedera

Further Reading:

I was quite moved by this piece that Cloud Medical’s Dr. David Tusek wrote about “the ten heartbreaks” that led him to work since 2009 towards accelerating this better way to do healthcare.

An interesting story from Bill’s hometown, from a doctor who took this path way back in 2013:

South Portland Doctor Stops Accepting Insurance, Posts Prices Online
(from the Bangor Daily News)

Source: mrmoneymustache.com

Money Tips

Let the Roaring 2020s Begin

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First some great news: because of your support in reading and sharing this blog, it has been able to earn quite a lot of income and give away over $300,000 so far.

The latest $100k of that happens at the end of this article. Please check it out if you want to feel good, learn more, and even join me in helping out the world a bit.

As I type this, there are only a few days left in the 2010s, and holy shit what a decade it has been.

Ten years ago, a 35 year old MMM and the former Mrs. MM were four years into retirement, but not feeling very retired yet. We stumbled out of 2009 with a precious but very high strung three-year-old, a house building business that was way more stressful than it should have been, and a much more rudimentary set of life skills. It was a time of great promise, but a lot of this promise was yet to be claimed.

Ten years later, despite the fact that I have one less marriage, one less surviving parent, and ten years less remaining youth, I am in an even better place in life right now, and would never want to trade places with the 2009 version of me. And on that measure alone, I can tell it has been a successful decade.

This is a great sign and it bodes well for early retirees everywhere. Compared to the start of the decade, I am healthier and stronger physically, wealthier financially, and (hopefully) at least a bit wiser emotionally. I’ve been through so much, learned so much in so many new interesting fields, and packed so much living into these 3653 days. A big part of that just flowed from the act of retiring from my career in 2005, which freed me up to do so many other things, including starting this blog.

It has not always been easy, in fact the hard times of this decade have been some of the hardest of my life. But by coming through it all I have learned that super difficult experiences only serve to enrich your life even more, by widening your range of feelings and allowing you to savor the normal moments and the great ones even more.

Ten Years of Learning in Three Points

I think the real meaning of “Wisdom” is just “I’ve seen a lot of shit go down in my lifetime and over time you start to notice everything just boils down to a few principles.

The books all say it, and the wise older people in real life all say it too. And for me, it’s probably the following few things that stand out the most:

1) This Too Shall Pass: nothing is as big a deal as you think it is at the time. Angry or sad emotions from life traumas will fade remarkably quickly, but so will the positive surprises from one-time life upgrades through the sometimes-bummer magic of Hedonic Adaptation. What’s left is just you – no matter where you go, there you are.

2) But You Are Really Just a Bundle of Habits: most of your day (and therefore your life) is comprised of repeating the same set of behaviors over and over. The way you get up, the things you focus your mind on. Your job. The way you interact with other people. The way you eat and exercise. Unless you give all of this a lot of mindful attention and work to tweak it, it stays the same, which means your life barely changes, which means your level of happiness barely changes.

3) Change Your Habits, Change your Life: Because of all this, the easiest and best way to have a happier and more satisfying life is to figure out what ingredients go into a good day, and start adding those things while subtracting the things that create bad days. For me (and quite possibly you, whether you realize it or not), the good things include positive social interactions, helping people, outdoor physical activity, creative expression and problem solving, and just good old-fashioned hard work. The bad things mostly revolve around stress due to over-scheduling one’s life, emotional negativity and interpersonal conflict – all things I am especially sensitive to.

So while I can’t control everything, I have found that the more I work to design those happiness creators into my life and step away from things that consistently cause bad days, the happier and richer life can become.

Speaking of Richer:

I recently read two very different books, which still ended up pointing me in the same direction:

This Could Be Our Future, by former Kickstarter cofounder and CEO Yancey Strickler, is a concise manifesto that makes a great case for running our lives, businesses, and even giant corporations, according to a much more generous and person-centric set of rules.

Instead of the narrow minded perspective of “Profit Maximization” that drives so many of the world’s shittier companies and gives capitalism a bad reputation, he points out that even small changes in the attitude of company (and world) leaders, can lead to huge changes in the way our economy runs.

The end result is more total wealth and happier lives for all of us – like Mustachianism itself, it really is a win/win proposition rather than any form of compromise or tradeoff. In fact, Strickler specifically mentions you and me in this book, using the FIRE movement as an example of a group of people who have adopted different values in order to lead better lives.

Die with Zero*, by former hedge fund manager and thrill seeking poker champion Bill Perkins sounds like a completely different book on the surface: Perkins’ point is that many people work too long and defer too much gratification for far too long in their lives.

Instead, he encourages you to map out your life decade by decade and make sure that you maximize your experiences in each stage, while you are still young enough to enjoy each phase. For example, do your time in the skate park and the black diamond ski slopes in your 20s and 30s, rather than saving every dollar in the hopes that you can do more snowboarding after you retire in your 60s.

Obviously, as Mr. Money Mustache I disagree on a few of the finer points: Life is not an experiences contest, you can get just as much joy from simpler local experiences as from exotic ones in foreign lands, and spending more money on yourself does not create more happiness, so if you die with millions in the bank you have not necessarily left anything on the table. But it does take skill to put these truths into practice, and for an untrained consumer with no imagination, buying experiences can still be an upgrade over sitting at home watching TV.

However, he does make one great point: one thing you can spend money on is helping other people – whether they are your own children, family, friends, or people with much more serious needs like famine and preventable disease.

And if you are going to give away this money, it’s better to do it now, while you are alive, rather than just leaving it behind in your estate, when your beneficiaries may be too old to benefit from your gift anyway.

So with this in mind, I made a point of making another round of donations to effective causes this year – a further $100,000 which was made possible by some unexpected successes with this blog this year, combined with finding that my own lifestyle continues to cost less than $20k to sustain, even in “luxury bachelor” mode.

And here’s where it all went!

$80,000 to GiveWell, who will automatically deliver it to their top recommended charities. This is always my top donation, because it is the most serious and research-backed choice. This means you are very likely doing the most good with each dollar, if your goal is the wellbeing of fellow human beings. GiveWell does constant research on effective charities and keeps an updated list on their results – which makes it a great shortcut for me. Further info in my The Life You Can Save post.

Strategic Note: I made this donation from my Betterment account where I keep a pretty big portion of my investments. This is because of tax advantages which multiply my giving/saving power – details here at Betterment and in my own article about the first time I used this trick.

$5000 to the Choose FI Foundation – this was an unexpected donation for me, based on my respect for the major work the ChooseFI gang are doing with their blog and podcast and meetups, and their hard-charging ally Edmund Tee who I met on a recent trip. They are creating a curriculum and teaching kids and young adults how to manage their money with valuable but free courses.

$2000 to the True Potential Scholarship Fund, set up by my inspiring and badass Omaha lawyer friend Ross Pesek. Ross first inspired me years ago by going through law school using an extremely frugal combination of community and state colleges, then rising to the top of the pack and starting his own firm anyway. Then he immediately turned around and started using some of the profits to help often-exploited immigrant workers in his own community with both legal needs and education.

$1000 to plant one thousand trees, via the #teamtrees effort via the National Arbor Day Foundation. I credit some prominent YouTubers and Elon Musk for promoting this effort – so far it has resulted in over 20 million trees being funded, which is a lot (roughly equal to creating a dense forest as big as New York City)

$5000 to Bicycle Colorado – a force for change (and sometimes leading the entire United States) in encouraging Colorado leaders and lawmakers to shift our spending and our laws just slightly away from “all cars all the time” and towards the vastly more effective direction of accommodating bikes and feet as transportation options. Partly because of their work, I have seen incredible changes in Denver, which is rapidly becoming a bike utopia. Boulder is not far behind, and while Longmont is still partially stuck in the 1980s as we widen car roads and build even more empty parking lots, these changes slowly trickle down from leaders to followers, so I want to fund the leaders.

$5000 (tripled to $15,000 due to a matching program that runs until Dec. 31) to Planned Parenthood. Although US-centric, this is an incredibly useful medical resource for our people in the greatest need. Due to emotional manipulation by politicians who use religion as a wedge to divide public opinion, this general healthcare organization is under constant attack because they also support women’s reproductive rights. But if you have a loved one or family member who has ever been helped during a difficult time by Planned Parenthood, you know exactly why they are such an incredible force for good – affecting millions of lives for the better.

And finally, just for reasons of personal and local appreciation, $1000 to the orchestra program of little MM’s public middle school. I have been amazed at the transformation in my own son and the hundreds of other kids who have benefited from this program. They operate a world-class program on a shoestring (violin-string?) budget which they try to boost by painstakingly fundraising with poinsettia plants and chocolate bars. So I could see that even a little boost like this could make a difference. (He plays the upright bass.)

You could definitely argue that there are places that need money more than a successful school in a wealthy and peaceful area like Colorado, and I would agree with you. Because of this, I always encourage people not to do the bulk of their giving to local organizations. Sure, it may feel more gratifying and you may see the results personally, but you can make a much bigger difference by sending your dollars to where they are needed the most. So as a compromise, I try to split things up and send the lion’s share of my donations to GiveWell where they will make the biggest difference, and do a few smaller local things here as a reward mostly for myself.

So those are the donations that are complete – $99,000 of my own cash plus an additional $10,000 in matching funds for Planned Parenthood. But because environment and energy are such big things to me, I wanted to do one more fun thing:

$5000 to build or expand a local solar farm.

This one is more of an investment than a donation, but it still does a lot of good. Because if you recall, last year I built a solar array for the MMM Headquarters coworking space, which has been pumping out free energy ever since. My initial setup only cost me $3800 and it has already delivered about $1000 in free energy, more than the total amount used to run the HQ and charge a bunch of electric cars on the side.

So, I plan to invest another $5000, to expand the array at HQ if possible, or to build a similar one on the roof of my own house, possibly with the help of Tesla Energy, which is surprisingly one of the most cost-effective ways to get solar panels installed these days. These will generate decades of clean energy, displacing fossil fuels in my local area while paying me dividends the whole time, which I can reinvest into even more philanthropy in the future.

What a great way to begin the decade. Let’s get on it!

* Die With Zero is not yet released, but I read a pre-release copy that his publisher sent me. The real book comes out on May 5th

** Also, if you find the scientific pursuit of helping the world as fascinating as I do, you should definitely watch the new Bill Gates documentary called Inside Bill’s Brain, which is available on Netflix.

Source: mrmoneymustache.com

Money Money Tips

Bible Verses About Wealth

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When you don’t have money it can seem like the only thing that’s important.

When you do have money, keeping it and acquiring more can seem just as important, or even more so.

In this day and age it’s important for all of us to get a reminder that wealth is fleeting, and that while it can be useful, it can also be fools gold. It’s meant as a tool, and we can’t take it with us.

Today I want to look at a selection of Bible verses about wealth. The verses talk about how God has promised to provide for us, how having wealth means great responsibility for good stewardship, and why the desires for wealth can be so deceiving and easily become a false idol in our lives.

Bible Verses About Wealth

Bible Verses About Wealth

Bible Verses About Wealth

God has told us that he will meet all of our needs.  He will meet our needs, but we need to be careful of allowing money and wealth to become our master and our central focus, either by having too much, or too little.

We need to be good stewards of what He’s given us, and to use what he has given us for His glory.

1 Philippians 4:19 And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

Matthew 6:26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

Proverbs 23:5 Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.

Luke 16:13 No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Proverbs 22:7 The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.

Luke 16:10-12 Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?  And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?

Proverbs 28:20 A faithful man will abound with blessings, but whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.

Deuteronomy 8:18 But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.

Proverbs 28:19 Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits will have plenty of poverty.

Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Matthew 6:19-21 Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Bible Verses About True Wealth In Christ

While we’re not told that being wealthy is wrong necessarily, but we are warned against allowing our money and things become idols in our lives.

Instead of allowing money to become the central focus of our lives, we need to look to Christ to fulfill all our desires.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Ephesians 1:17-21 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.

Colossians 2:6-7 Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Have your own verses about biblical financial principles that you believe shed light on the truth about how God views our relationship to money and to Him?

More Bible Verses About Money & Related Topics

Bible Verses About Wealth

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Source: biblemoneymatters.com