Happy Tuesday, happy people!! 🥳
There are 2 ways runners finish a race…
Amateur runners, when they are about 100 yards from the end and the finish line is in sight, they start to slow down. They’re so happy they’ve made it, they jog or walk through the finish.
Professional runners do it differently. They see the finish segment as a chance to go ALL OUT. A chance to overtake people. A chance to beat their previous record. Even though they are exhausted, they find a boost of energy somewhere and sprint through the finish line. To them, every second counts.
Something to think about this week… With 92% of this year gone, the finish line is in sight! How are you going to finish out 2023? Are you slowing down… or ramping up? 💪🏃🏆
Try a new “store-brand” item
Do you buy the same name brand goods with regularity? At least give the cheaper alternative a try!
Blind taste tests from Consumer Reports show that most folks can’t tell the difference — but you’ll save a good chunk of money buying store brands.
Pro tip: If you buy store brands at Aldi they come w/ a ‘twice as nice’ guarantee where you’ll get the money refunded and the item replaced if you’re not satisfied. Nothing to lose!
Let the deal drive the destination… ✈️
We’ve interviewed several travel experts on the HTM podcast, and one of the golden rules for cheap trips we hear over and over is:
Let the deal drive the destination.
Your travel budget stretches SO much further if you base your trips around dates and destinations that are massively on sale. Here are a few tips using Google Flights as a search tool.
Try this out when searching in Google Flights…
Leave the destination blank: Then move the map around or zoom in/out to the area of the world you’re interested in.
Choose “flexible dates” instead of specific ones: It lets you search for different trip lengths, anything within the next 6 months.
Filter for price: As you lower the price point, more cities and options become visible – not just major cities.
Also check out:
- 👨💻 New HTM Blog: A cornucopia of cheap travel tips
- 🎙️ Pod Episode 571: Jet-Setting for Little to No Money (with Brian Kelley, aka The Points Guy!)
- ✈️ Free flight alerts: Scott’s Cheap Flights! (it’s totally free, but you can also upgrade your membership in order to score the absolute best deals. If you do, use promo code: HTM20 and you’ll get 20% off your first year of premium if you’re a new user!)
- Travel Rewards: Top 6 travel rewards credit card
TOGETHER WITH MINT MOBILE
It all adds up…
It’s crazy how small little savings can be invested, compounded and then add up to huge amounts over time. $46k ain’t no joke!
For a family of 2, double that number.
For a family of 3, TRIPLE that number.
We love Mint Mobile! And they’re still offering the “buy 3, get 3” promo until Jan 15th. We know switching cell carriers seems like a massive pain, but it’s really not that hard these days and you’ll be thanking yourself later in life!!
Student loan forgiveness in limbo
What’s going on?
- The promised student loan debt relief (up to $10k or $20k, depending on your situation) is on hold. Courts have issued orders blocking the loan forgiveness, and studentaid.gov has stopped accepting applications.
- A silver lining for student loan borrowers though; the Biden Administration has extended the payment pause for anyone with federal student loans. You no longer have to resume payment in January.
So, when will payments restart?
It depends on how long it takes to get a court ruling on the forgiveness front. But you’ll have at least 60 days to prepare after that decision is reached. The latest date that payments are likely to resume is August of 2023 (although with changing political winds- who knows?! 🤷♂️)
What should I do in the meantime?
- Party like it’s 1999!! Just kidding — No student loan payments (and no accruing interest) means you can prioritize other financial goals like paying off other high-interest rate debts, saving, & investing.
- Just in case… be prepared for payments to restart early in 2023. A court ruling could come at any time and we could be talking about student loan payments resuming in February or March.
- Watch out for scams! Official updates will come directly from the US Dept of Education and any request for sensitive information like your your SSN is bogus — you can subscribe to updates here.
- All in all, don’t over-worry yourself with all the uncertainty and changes. Focus on what you CAN control 💪
On last note: There are new rules that should make it easier for some folks who are in precarious financial circumstances to discharge their student loans by going through the bankruptcy process.
Newsy news news…
Another one bites the dust… BlockFI has filed for bankruptcy — the latest in a series of crypto companies that had significant exposure to FTX. 😢
Car Rankings 🚗
Consumer Reports just released a handful of new annual survey reports… Here are some good ones… Most reliable car brands (🏆 Toyota), best SUVs under $30k (🏆 Subaru Forrester) & Electric Vehicle Reliability (Toyota 👍, Tesla 👎)
Open Enrollment 👩⚕️
Healthcare.gov is great if you don’t have healthcare through your employer. (A lot depends on your household size & income in particular). It’s worth your time to go through the steps in order to get various quotes bc of the extensive subsidies that the federal government offers. The Kaiser Family Foundation actually has a great calculator that can help you figure out what likely subsidies you’ll qualify for and how much that will lower your premium amount.
Apparently here’s where home prices are headed in 2023. This is based on CoreLogic’s analysis of 392 different housing markets in the US.
“Stealth Workers” 🧑💻
A new trend on the rise — it’s when you lie to your boss and say you’re working from your home office… but in reality you’re out galavanting around the world on vacation and logging in only for meetings. (And while you might be tempted to pull the wool over your bosses eyes, lying has a way of catching up to you and screwing you over later! Be warned 😉)
Black Friday 🛍️
Despite inflation, shoppers hit a record $9.1Billion in spending on Black Friday 😳! We hope all you HTM listeners kept your spending under control!!
HOW *YOU* MONEY
Gav & Mandy, 34y/o from Los Angeles, CA 🌤️
Occupations: VP Healthcare Operations & Teacher
Salary (combined): $290k – $385k (depending on bonuses)
Paycheck deductions: 401k/403b/457 -$6,600. Taxes/Health/Union Dues: -$5,300.
Rent: -$3,535 for rent + renters insurance. -$350 in additional costs (i.e. utilities)
Other expenses: -$4,100/m
Leftover savings each month: ~$5,000!!
How are you investing your excess savings each month?
We max out tax advantaged accounts first: teacher pension, 401k, 403b, and 457b plans. $500 goes to a fund for short term life goals in the next 1-5 years. This amount increases and decreases depending on personal circumstance. Currently our contributions are low. The remainder is invested in a portfolio of low cost index funds with tilt to small cap value funds. This is across tax advantaged and taxable brokerage accounts.
Biggest “craft beer equivalent” splurge:
Food ingredients. I love to cook and like to splurge on dishes to cook for family and friends. (pic attached!!)
Best savings hack/advice:
No matter how much money you make, save 10% of pre-tax income for after tax saving and investing (in addition to tax advantaged accounts). I started this habit when I made <$40k a year and have continued it. It is the #1 thing that contributed to our financial stability and success. Budget for what you need, not what you make. Future raises get invested. Avoid lifestyle creep.
What’s your biggest money challenge right now?
Managing lifestyle creep. It’s easier said than done.
Recent money win and how did you celebrate?
Not a “win” per se, but generally feeling pretty lucky. We had an elderly relative pass away this year and we were able to make two last minute, cross country trips (one to say goodbye, another for the funeral). We easily spent $6-7k on flights alone. I feel very fortunate to be able to do that without it being a financial set back. Celebrating with some quiet gratitude.
**Editor’s note: For those of you who have access to a 457 plan, you can contribute to BOTH a 457 and 403b (and even max both out) if you have the income to do so. Pretty cool to see Gav & Mandy achieve this IRL. With a high combined income it’s important to take any tax advantage available to you.
If you’re up for being featured in a future newsletter, we’d love to hear from you –> fill out the How You Money form here (we only post once you give permission!!)**
That’s it for now. Wishing you an awesome day and fun-filled week ahead!
Best friends out 🍻
* Advertiser Disclosure: How to Money has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. How to Money and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.
* User Generated Content Disclosure: Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.
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