Gift Return Guide, Stocks Set to Surge, & DIY Pest Control

January 10, 2023

Happy Tuesday HTM family!!

Ben Franklin once said —> “Your net worth to the world is what remains after your bad habits are subtracted from your good ones.

Hmmmm… ๐Ÿค” If that’s true, increasing our net worth means simply:

a) making small adjustments to remove (or do less of) the bad stuff we do regularly
b) solidifying, repeating and improving upon the good stuff we do regularly!

Just something to keep in mind this week as you’re setting new routines for the year. Habits can be your best friend, or your worst enemy. Choose wisely ๐Ÿ’ช


DIY Pest Control ๐Ÿœ

This is a pic of Joel ๐Ÿ‘†๐Ÿ‘†๐Ÿ‘† (taken a few years ago)

Joel & Matt do their own preventative pest control at their homes and rental properties each year — it’s one of the easiest savings hacks for home owners! Not only does it save you from paying professionals (DIY costs like $2 per year vs. $400 for professionals, not kidding) but you also stop pests upfront, *before* they cause real expensive damage to your place.

Here’s a DIY Pest Control blog post Joel wrote – and here’s the food/pet safe mixing solution and spray bottle we recommend!

Try it! It’s not as hard or dirty as you think. (then stick all your saved money into your Roth IRA!!! ๐Ÿ˜‰)


WTD with Gifts You Don’t Like

We’ve all been there… “Wow! Thanks for the new scarf Auntie Julie”, you say trying to act happy even though it’s bright purple and you live in Arizona and wear scarves exactly zero days each year. ๐Ÿคฆโ€โ™€๏ธ

Did you get a gift this Christmas that you won’t use?… (study’s show at least 52% of you did)

It’s tempting to stick things in your closet or garage and store them for a bunch of years. But this just adds clutter to your life and doesn’t actually help anyone.

So, here’s what to do instead:

1) Know the return window. Most retailers won’t accept returns past Jan 31st, but some have return cutoffs even earlier. Time is of the essence if you don’t want to be stuck with a gift you don’t like.

2) Be upfront with the giver and ask for a receipt. “Thank you soooo much, but after thinking about it for a few weeks, I don’t know how much I’ll actually use xyz. If it’s returnable, I’m wondering if I could exchange it for something else?”.  If you are honest and genuine, people usually respect this.

3) Try returning things without a receipt. If you don’t want to tell the gift giver (but you know where they bought your gift), there’s a chance you can return the item without a receipt. Walmart, Target, Costco, and even many small retailers will give you store credit, gift cards, or offer exchanges for items in new condition with tags.

4) Sell it or donate it. Gift cards can be sold online, toys can be donated to hospitals, clothes can be given to shelters, and household items can be sold on Craigslist or FB Marketplace. Whether you want to get money for it or not, it’s up to you. The main point is to get it out of your house and into someone else’s that will make use of it.

5) Pay it forward. Re-gifting is perfectly acceptable. As long as it’s thoughtful and truly helps the new recipient, there’s no harm in passing gifts along to another person. Sometimes it even makes a fun backstory!

I know there’s some guilt attached when disposing of things that people thoughtfully bought for you… But the truth is collecting and storing things for no reason can be a bigger burden in the long run. Minimalism = freedom.



Free, Automated Investing

M1 Finance is like Vangard’s more tech-savvy younger brother. It’s free to open brokerage accounts or IRAs, and has no management or trading fees!

The biggest reasons M1 is great for beginners is because it offers low minimums, fractional shares, and automated investing. This means with as little as $100, you could automatically invest it across multiple index funds, and the diversification split is maintained as you continue to grow and add more money over time.

We’ve written a full blog post on M1, check it out! (Oh, and they’re also planning to launch a HYSA early this year for members, offering a 4.5% APY!!)


Setbacks and Comebacks ๐Ÿ“‰๐Ÿ“ˆ

Stock market investors got beat up in 2022… Going back over the last 100 years, the S&P 500 had it’s seventh worst year, ever. Ouch ๐Ÿ˜“

But, here is the good news… Big setbacks are usually followed by mammoth comebacks!

Check out the chart below via Yahoo Finance ๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿ‘‡

Historically, 1 year after the stock market bottoms out, an average 40% recovery happens. And 2 years later, there’s a 54% average increase in value!

So for anyone out there nervous about investing this year… Hang in there. Downturns are normal, and so are recoveries. Don’t let the former scare you off from participating in the latter!

**An important note: We aren’t technically in a “recession” (yet). This bear stock market may continue for a long while before a killer recovery starts. But since nobody knows when that will be, it’s important to keep investing as usual. That’s the only way to guarantee you’ll participate in 100% of the upswing!**

Good resources if you’re feeling nervous:


Noteworthy Happenings…

Home Loan Limits ๐Ÿฆ
Beginning in 2023, the FHFA (Federal Finance Housing Agency) has increased the limits on what is classified as a “conforming loan”. This is great news for home buyers in high cost markets, because now they might not need a Jumbo Loan that comes with additional scrutiny and fees. Bonus: Here’s an interactive map that shows the loan limits for each county in the US.

Middle Class? ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™‚๏ธ
Here’s how much money you need to make to be considered “middle income” in 20 major US metros. (While this stuff is fun to check out, please don’t read too much into these labels. True wealth isn’t about how much you make, it’s about how much you KEEP.)

Car Payments ๐Ÿคฎ
New stats from Edmunds show that 15% of folks who buy a *new* car are saddling themselves with a $1k per month car payment for years on end. That. Sounds. Awful. If you can… buy a used car!!! Here are the best used cars for the money, per an iSeeCars study!

Travel Interruptions โœˆ๏ธ
Our hearts go out to any of y’all that had travel delays or cancellations the past few weeks. Southwest Airlines was the worst offender for flight cancellations, but check out their website to make sure you get your refund and possibly a reimbursement for additional expenses incurred.

2022 Recap ๐Ÿชž
Via Washington Post, here are 10 charts that show where things stand for the economy. Inflation, gas prices, interest rates, home prices… Some of it’s good, but most of it’s bad ๐Ÿ˜….


Goals for 2023?

Cheers to everyone who shared their new years goals over in the HTM Facebook group last week!

Just like Amy’s post above, many folks mentioned maxing out IRAs, Roths or 401k accounts! But here are a few others that were cool to read about:

  • “get our first rental property up & running. Debating between STR (Airbnb) and Mid-term rental (traveling nurse, etc).” – Susan T.
  • “Focus more on experiencial wealth rather than money wealth for 2023. At CoastFi and not interested in early retirement” – Andrew L.
  • “ignore the noise” – Paul C.
  • “invest in home repairs that improve quality of life” – Patricia K.
  • “Give away 5k throughout the year” – Joel O.
  • “save up enough to buy a new family car with cash. Weโ€™ll happily drive our cars til the wheels fall off, but that time is approaching” – Hilary A.
  • “Our small goal, (but big to us,) is to eat everything thatโ€™s been sitting in the freezer.” – Molly E.

Love the variety here! And it’s a refreshing reminder that not all goals have to be focused specifically on money. ๐Ÿ’ช

A final call to action: if you’re not already a member, join the millions* of lovely folks in our Facebook group! Be a part of an encouraging & helpful community who are all working to get wealthier, just like you!

(*jk, we’re a few short of a million!)

Cheers to a great week ahead!

Best friends out ๐Ÿป


***some of the links in this newsletter are affiliate links and we receive a small commission if a product is purchased. Don’t worry, we only recommend stuff that we believe in ๐Ÿ’ฏ***

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