The Brooks’ Story: How We Got Out of Debt, Saved, and Are Working Our Way Towards Financial Independence

This post has been written by Sarah Brooks, a freelance writer fighting for financial independence within this world of materialism and consumption. Take a look at her awesome story below and her discoveries from her journey so far.

As a consumer living in America, we are surrounded by debt. Whether we’re adding to it, maintaining it or trying to claw our way out, debt is everywhere we turn. Debt is also a necessary evil—you have to have it in order to build your credit, but how much is too much?

When my now-husband and I met, the last thing we really cared about was our finances (just like everyone else, right?). We went on awesome vacations, purchased new computers and televisions, decorated our new apartment and didn’t think twice about going out to the bars a few times per week. Even though I majored in finance, being young and in . . . → Read More: The Brooks’ Story: How We Got Out of Debt, Saved, and Are Working Our Way Towards Financial Independence

That Was the Exact OPPOSITE of What I Want My Life to Be Like

Evil glares, loud conversation, irritable looks, and a plethora of canned goods. This is most definitely NOT what I want my future life to be like, but this IS what I witnessed yesterday.

I raided my cupboards and my fridge yesterday, only to discover that it was time to spend some more money on food. Off to Aldi I went, the land of $2.69 milk, $1.29 eggs, and $0.89 bread. It truly is a marvelous place. However, it seems that not everyone thinks so. The moment I walked through the doors my ears started ringing with old lady bitterness. “What are you looking at that for?! We don’t need it!” shouted the 70+ year old woman at her old, but seemingly capable husband.

They dressed poorly and were noticeably price conscious of every single item that they put into their bags. Their general demeanor wreaked of negativity and frustration. Their . . . → Read More: That Was the Exact OPPOSITE of What I Want My Life to Be Like

Reinvest Your Profits to Grow Your Wealth Exponentially

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Have you ever purchased something that you hoped would increase your income? If you just read that sentence twice and have a blank stare on your face, then I suggest you keep reading. If you nodded in agreement, congratulations! I am so excited for you and hope that you can learn even more about wealth-building assets from this post.

The Typical American Citizen

For quite some time now, the average American citizen has learned how to spend absolutely everything that they earn each month, with very little (if anything) left over for savings or investments. In the example to the right, the family earns $2,800 a month in after-tax revenue. Their monthly expenses include their home mortgage, food, clothing, utilities, car payments, gas, insurance, and then a plethora of smaller items, which somehow end up totaling the same amount as the income line. It’s nearly magic how the expenses . . . → Read More: Reinvest Your Profits to Grow Your Wealth Exponentially

How Many Retirement Years Will That New Car Cost You?

As I was leaving work the other day I spotted a brand new Infiniti QX70 SUV, and I admit it… I drooled a little. This car was absolutely gorgeous and I know that I would look soooo good behind that steering wheel. Since I have no debt (outside of my mortgage of course), I’m sure I could qualify for the loan and start driving one tomorrow, but how much would this really cost me? And not just the cost in dollars, but how many years of retirement might this purchase cost me? Would it just be a couple of years or would this move be the difference between retiring with a dark, full head of hair, or a white whispy combover?

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The Initial Cost of the Purchase

These luxury SUVs sure are gorgeous and they do have many of us drooling, but how much do they really cost? Many . . . → Read More: How Many Retirement Years Will That New Car Cost You?

How Much Is Your Hobby Costing You? Is It Worth It?

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Every single one of us tends to judge our friends’ spending habits. “They spent $3,000 on their weekend vacation? That’s crazy!” But, all the while, you may be spending $5 each day on our fancy Starbucks lattes, which probably isn’t the wisest way to spend your money either. No matter how irresponsible our friends are with their money, I am sure that there is something I can find in your bank transactions that is pretty stupid too. It is just human nature, and quite frankly, we all need to have some hobbies and they will ultimately cost us money.

Some Money Wasting Hobbies

Scrap-booking Softball league High-tech gadgets Coffee/Lattes Golfing Dance Boating Camping Stamp collecting Sports card collecting Fashion (designer clothes, purses, accessories) Home decor Fishing Hunting Shopping Photography Attending sporting events/plays/musicals Bicycling/running

Did I mention a hobby that you can relate to yet? I hope so. Each one . . . → Read More: How Much Is Your Hobby Costing You? Is It Worth It?

How Quickly Could You Retire If You Had No Debt?

Our culture today is all about making a large income and buying a bunch of stuff on credit to “enjoy life to the fullest”, but in my experience, this often leads to discontentment, stress, and a constant want for more. One would think that the higher income earners would have a ton of money socked away in the bank, ready to retire at any time, but this isn’t how it typically works is it?

If one’s salary is $50,000 a year, they might finance a brand new Chevy Malibu. If their salary bumps up to $100,000 a year, they finance a mid-level Mercedes. If they are earning $200k+, they suddenly find themselves in an $80,000 Infiniti SUV and an executive home on the lake! As the pay grade increases, so does the lifestyle. As for that savings account, it might be a little beefier, but nothing like it could be.

. . . → Read More: How Quickly Could You Retire If You Had No Debt?

How Well Are You Training For Your Financial Future?

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Have you ever run in a race (like a 5k or 10k – or more for those of you that are truly crazy) and took notice of the other runners? There are some runners that don’t stand out with what they are wearing – they might have plain jersey shorts and a simple cotton shirt – and then there are other runners that have all of the gear (the $200 shoes, the heart rate watch, the synthetic shirt, and music with earbuds). So based on their gear, can you tell who will win the race? Of course not. On the same note, if you look at what people own, can you tell who will have the best financial future? No sir.

My 10k Observations

I ran in the Fifth Third Riverbank Run yesterday, which was certainly an experience! With over 4,000 people running in the 10k, and more than . . . → Read More: How Well Are You Training For Your Financial Future?

How Much Is Enough For Retirement? Just Answer One Simple Question

find a deal on real estate

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Do you have any idea how much money you really need by the time you retire? If you don’t, don’t feel bad. To be honest with you, even I have never calculated how much I would really need in order to retire. So how can we begin to figure out a number that will allow us to retire and live our lifestyle of choice? Well, I have searched around a bit for an easy answer and I found that even the “simple” answers are complex.

MSN Retirement Calculator

MSN has a retirement calculator on their website and it looks something like this:

This, however, is still pretty complex. When I put my numbers in there, it was saying that I need $250,000+ per year to live… yeah… I don’t think so. You may use this tool, but I am going to give you a much simpler process to . . . → Read More: How Much Is Enough For Retirement? Just Answer One Simple Question

How to Hedge Against the U.S. Dollar with Silver

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Do you ever wonder if the U.S. dollar will soon inflate so high that it becomes basically worthless; leaving all of your hard work in the dust with nothing to show for your life’s work of efforts? With the DJIA soaring above $16,000 and the nations debt flying out of control, I am sensing that it will soon become a reality. The only question is, when is soon? To be honest, nobody knows. Even the experts can’t say for certain when you should start getting rid of your paper dollars and hoarding water and food in your basement.

I am by no means a doom and gloom, create a bunker and settle in for a complete world meltdown kind of guy, but I do foresee financial difficulties coming in the future for the United States of America, and the world financial difficulties will soon follow. The question I ask . . . → Read More: How to Hedge Against the U.S. Dollar with Silver

Should ETFs Be In Your 401k?

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Lately, ETFs or Exchange Traded Funds have gained more attention in 401k plans. It’s quite easy to understand why because ETFs hold many advantages over other investment types. However, as of today, ETFs only make up under 1% of the total assets in the United States defined contribution plans. If ETFs are so good, then why hasn’t it been making a bigger impact on 401k plans?

What’s There to Love about ETFs?

You will see that there are several reasons why ETFs are currently the talk of the town. First of all, ETFs have low expenses, and it doesn’t have the usual 12b-1 fees regularly found in 401k plans because of the transparency it practices. Aside from that, research shows that these low-expense funds have consistently bested high expense funds for each period and asset class examined.

[Mutual Funds vs ETFs]

This is highly advantageous since it can lower . . . → Read More: Should ETFs Be In Your 401k?