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February 23, 2018

I paid $2,350 towards my student loans this month. This payment came with the added bonus of paying off my 6th loan in full. I now have 3 loans remaining. My new balance is $9,286.91. Stay tuned for more!

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Don’t Make This Mistake!

Don’t Make This Mistake!


I will be the first person to tell you that I love going out to eat. For as long as I can remember, my instinctual response to the question “Want to go out with us?” has always been “Are y’all eating somewhere?”. And I’m not the only one… from 2015 to 2016 Americans spent more money on restaurants and takeout than they did on groceries. While there is nothing wrong with indulging in your favorite eateries from time to time, moderation is key. Not only can overindulgence take a toll on your waistline, it can affect your wallet as well.


Food is one of the largest expenses in your budget. After your house payment, it is more than likely your largest monthly expenditure. However, it is often times neglected whenever we start thinking of ways to buckle down on our finances. This is a big mistake. Not only are there several ways to save some dough while eating out, statistics show that staying at home is by far the more economical option. In fact, eating at home costs about half as much as eating out. When you take into account that the average American spends just under $8,000 annually on food costs, we’re talking about a decision that could save you literally thousands of dollars.


Like most of our advice here at the Money Dojo, it won’t always be easy to break old patterns of behavior. They were easy, that’s why they became habits. But, much like all other facets of life, the harder you work for something, the more rewarding it is whenever you achieve it. In a time where most Americans don’t have the cash set aside to be able to pay for an unforeseen emergency, can we really justify spending twice as much on our diets?


This transition from eating out (mostly) to eating at home (mostly) will not only benefit your pocketbook, it will likely make you healthier as well. Our main focus is obviously finance, but we’re also big proponents of health and fitness, and the positive effects they have on our quality of life. Having all the money in the world doesn’t do you much good if you’re not healthy enough to enjoy it.


Instead of paying for a 300% markup at your favorite restaurant, try creating that meal at home for a third of the price. If you have a habit of eating out 5 or 6 times a week, cut it down to 3 or 4. You don’t have to go cold turkey, small changes can make a big difference. Whenever you multiply these small changes over a month or even a years time, they will save you thousands of dollars. I don’t know about you, but I can think of a few things I could do with an extra thousand dollars.


Put away the takeout menu, and pick up the spatula. You’re cooking dinner tonight! You get to pick the meal, the ingredients, and the portion sizes. Now if we can just figure out how to get the dishes to clean themselves….


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When to Save, Why to Save, How much to Save

When to Save, Why to Save, How much to Save


Saving is not a natural impulse. There are too many things we want right now. We want that new pair of shoes. We want that big screen TV. We want to keep up with the Joneses. Often times, these non-stop wants we are experiencing distract us from the big picture. We should be asking ourselves questions like “When do I want to retire?”, and “How much money will I need annually in my retirement?”. For a quick refresher on how to save your first $1,000 click here. No one dreams about busting their back, working hard in their career their entire adult life, just to retire with too little, and be pushed right back into the workforce. Situations like these are why we started the Money Dojo. Everyday people don’t have the time to drown themselves in economic theories and statistical algorithms; they want to know when, why, and how.


When: Now. If you’re a young twenty-something year old reading this, fantastic. You’re at an advantage. If you’re a little more seasoned, that’s fine too. You’ll just have to work a little harder to get to where you want to be. Regardless of your current situation, you can’t go back in time, so you’ll have to make the best of what you have now. Just for a little perspective on the effect time has on saving, consider this: Katy is a 25 year old, who plans to retire by the time she is 60 years old. Every month she contributes $1,000 to her retirement account. Expecting a mere 5% annual growth (which is entirely realistic), Katy will have $1,138,035 in her account when she decides to retire. Philip, on the other hand, didn’t decide to start saving for his retirement until he was 40 years old. He too wanted to retire at age 60. Philip began to contribute $2,500 a month to his retirement account, and got the same 5% return. When it was all said and done, Philip actually contributed $180,000 more to his retirement than did Katy. Philip’s final total however, only $1,041,557. The reason saving right now is important is because of interest, and the huge effect it has on your money over time.


Why: 69% of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings. 28% have nothing at all. Social Security may not even be around whenever much of today’s younger workforce decided to retire (barring a major rehaul). Even if it were around, it isn’t likely that you will be able to survive on Social Security checks alone. Simply put, you save now so you won’t have to work your entire life.


How Much: Generally, we advise you to put away at least 15% of your paycheck each month to savings. 15%, however, is just a benchmark. You should save as much as you can every month. For some people, that may be 30%, for others 10%. We’re all at different places in our financial journey. At the risk of stating the obvious, the more you can save, the better. The more you save now, the more you’ll have to spend later.


Saving is a choice, and no one can make it for you. Just like with all of life’s choices, you may have to give up something that you really want right now, in order to set yourself up for a successful future.


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