By Request – 403(b) Plans

This is the first post in my By Request series where anyone can request a topic that I cover. I highly recommend this because it is basically getting someone else (me) to do some high level research on a personal finance topic for you!

This will be a short post because a 403(b) plan is pretty much the same as a 401(k) plan most people are more familiar with. Like a 401(k), a 403(b) is a tax-advantaged retirement savings plan that allows you to save for retirement! A 403(b) is typically offered instead of a 401(k) at non-profit companies (charities, etc), public organizations (schools, etc), and a few other places.

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Cell Phone Plans

When it comes to monthly expenses, a majority of people in the United States find that one thing that always makes the list is a cell phone bill. It has become more and more of a necessity these days to have a cellphone in your pocket and more typically it is some form of smartphone. I wanted to touch on where we are at today as far as cell phone bills go because I find not everyone understands a shift that happened recently. I am not going to dive too deeply into a single carrier but try to stay a bit more general. I will use AT&T for my examples as they are my carrier and I know their plans/rates offhand.

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5 steps to lower your internet bill – you won’t believe number 2!!!

Internet. The backbone of cat videos and listicles. It’s a wonderful tool that can bridge the geographical divide and allow us to binge watch Game of Thrones (even when it comes out way later than previous years).

Internet Service Providers are basically curse words when discussing the internet. They charge a lot of money for typically spotty internet coverage. They have questionable support practices and would prefer to see the internet become worse and worse. They are a necessary evil for now and here are a couple quick tips to potentially lessen the amount you are forking over to them each month. My tips are primarily focused on cable internet providers as that is who I have the most experience with. If you have DSL, the principles are pretty similar.

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It Pays (Literally) to Start Early

At the very least, read until you get to the pretty graph below. If your eyes glaze over after that, feel free to get back to your YouTube video of cats eating ice cream.

In my previous post talking about the difference between a 401(k) and an IRA I mentioned that regardless what type of retirement account you set up, it’s really important to start saving as early as possible. Now it’s time to drive that point home as hard as I can.

I can’t stress this enough – even if you can’t save a lot of money, just contribute as much as you can each month. One incredibly important fact is how detrimental it can be to wait to contribute to a retirement account. Let me throw some numbers at you so you can understand how this works.

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Differences Between a 401(k) and an IRA

Not to be confused with 401(k) vs. NRA. That wouldn’t even make sense.

In the last post I explained the differences between a Roth 401(k) and a Traditional 401(k). Both of those are retirement accounts that may be offered by your employer as an employee benefit. However, the reality is that many employers today do not offer a 401(k) to their employees. There are many other options for retirement savings and one of the most popular options is some form of IRA.

An IRA is an Individual Retirement Account and has the same purpose as a 401(k): save money for retirement. Also, an IRA is something almost anyone can set up as opposed to a 401(k) which is offered only through an employer!

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Understanding a 401(k)

Foreword – This got a bit dense but I tried to make it as bullet-pointy as possible. If you see all these things below and you’re like “nope, I’m not going to read all that” then at least read these next two sentences. The sooner you start contributing to a retirement account (even small amounts) the better! Seriously, read the example in this link (it’s short) to see how crucial it is to start putting money in a retirement count as early as possible.

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When I first started my job I was handed a giant binder full of employee benefits, some of which I was auto-enrolled in and some of which I had to opt-in to in order to participate. Needless to say, I was a bit overwhelmed.

One of these benefits was to choose to contribute to a Traditional 401(k), Roth 401(k), or both. I spent a decent chunk of time trying to decide which of these was the “better” option, or even what they are. (Hint: they are not signing bonuses of $401,000 that your employer gives you because you’re super good at what you do. Sadly.)

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The Very Basics of Health Insurance

This post could also be titled “Why Am I Paying Hundreds of Dollars Each Month and Then Still Owe My Doctor So Much Money?” It could be, but that is way too long of title.

Healthcare plans. It’s annual enrollment at your company (or on the public marketplace) and you have to evaluate your choices…but what do you even look for? There are some words and numbers you are going to want to pay close attention to. Here is a list of a few of them along with their descriptions.

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An Introduction

Personal Stats:

  • Aaron
  • 24 Years Old
  • Male
  • Bachelor of Arts, Computer Science
  • Programmer
  • Personal Finance Qualifications: I Browse /r/personalfinance a lot and google a bunch
  • Amount of $$$ currently invested: However much is currently in my 401k/Roth(k) (not much)
  • # of stocks owned aside from 401k: 0

When you look at those amazing qualifications above you’re probably wondering: “why would I trust this guy with my hard earned ca$h?!?!”

That’s fair.

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