Money lessons I learned from my parents

Yesterday, my house was a complete and utter mess. The dishes had piled up, and the kitchen counters were cluttered with spices and groceries. The recycling was overflowing. UGH! Both Mr. Cents and I had several busy weeks at work, and the state of our house certainly reflected it. I had to get started on this mess. I scrubbed, dusted, sorted, tossed, vacuumed, and finally put things away. The house is starting to look like adults live here now.

Things my parents taught me about saving money and getting out of debt
Things my parents taught me about money that I wish I had paid attention to earlier.

My whole family will be here for the 4th of July which prompted my cleaning-spree.  Yesterday morning, my father called me to hash out a plan for this weekend’s visit. After talking logistics, I asked him about his newly found freedom from working. My father recently retired from the workforce after a decades as an engineer. He said he was enjoying staying at home and didn’t miss it. He talked about retirement savings, throwing around Warren Buffett quotes, and told me to make sure to use index funds! None of those fancy actively invested funds with expensive fees. Nope, those are just a waste of money!

Things my parents taught me about saving money and getting out of debt.
My dad would probably not be this coordinated.

It always amuses me that my dad likes to talk about saving for retirement. My parents never really talked about money when I was a kid. It was considered impolite to discuss things like salaries and how much debt you had. I remember the first time my dad told me how much he made (I didn’t ask him to!). We were discussing how his company recruited engineers and the salary ranges from starting to senior engineers. He visibly squirmed in his seat, very reluctantly told me his salary, and then asked me not to repeat it to anyone. My mother doesn’t talk about her salary either.

While neither of my parents like to discuss their income, they did have good spending/saving habits that I noticed even at a young age. My father always attacked debt with a vengeance. He hated debt and always told us to stay away from it. My parents paid off all of our family cars quickly, and paid off the house early. They saved money for when they needed it. When emergencies came up, we had the money to cover it.

Things my parents taught me about saving money and getting out of debt.
I SWEAR my dad’s cooking never looked this good. I would totally eat all of this.

My mother cooked at home, and we rarely ate out minus the occasional fast food meal while running errands. When my mom had to go out of town, my dad would “cook” dinner. His meals usually contained multiple varieties of beans or, his specialty, kielbasa sausage with fried peppers and onions. My friends, his food was….not good….at least not to little kids. My sisters and I would eye the kitchen warily, and when we realized he was making dinner, we usually asked (begged) to go to Grandma’s house. She would make us pizza if we asked, and, if we were good, grandpa made us milk shakes. Plus grandma had cable tv which meant cartoons! Another luxury my parents refused to get.

Looking back on it now, I realize how lucky I am. I had parents who figured out how to spend and save their money wisely. We always had everything we needed. I wish I had paid closer attention to how my parents used their money and applied their principles to my own finances earlier. I left college with lots of student loan debt. I’ve always had a car payment. We eat out way more than we should. Usually because we get busy at work and everything else kinda gets neglected (see first paragraph).

Things my parents taught me about saving money and getting out of debt.
I hope I’m as smart with my money as my parents are.

To be fair, Mr. Cents and I made some mistakes, but are working to rectify them. It’s working slowly but surely. Most recently, we paid off our water softener which was NOT cheap. We pay extra towards our mortgage and car payment every month. We could actually pay off my car right now but decided to wait until we recover from the water softener. We’ve made a pointed effort to reduce the number of times we go out to eat and cook more at home. Ironically, we actually fried up some German sausages this week so maybe my dad’s food wasn’t as terrible as I remember.

I’m proud of what my parents accomplished. I have two wonderful examples of financial savviness in my life. Not everyone has this, and I’m grateful. I’m also happy that my father is enjoying a well-earned retirement, and I’m sure my mom will join him soon. Hopefully the Cents family will crush this whole retirement thing as well as my dad has.

Do you have someone in your life that crushed it financially?

Top 5 financial podcasts – My favorites

A couple of years ago, my husband and I decided that we were going to have to make some dramatic changes if we were going to get our financial lives together, a goal we are still working on. But we needed schoolin’…So we turned to the internet and looked for financial advice on how to get out of debt.

After I stumbled upon the personal finance blog scene, I began looking into other ways to learn about all things personal finance. Since I have a long commute, I did some research into podcasts that I could listen to on my way to and from work. I came across a few that I really enjoyed and continue to listen to today.

There are couple of things that I look for in a podcast. One, I like lots of interviews. Personal finance is such a broad topic, and there are a ton of different ways to succeed. Hearing about the different ways others achieved financial independence, either by starting their own side business or making smart investments, is important for me to stay motivated. I even like hearing about how people have failed in their finances. The financial independence world seems more relatable when I hear about a blogger who had issues with saving money or struggled with student loan debt. Two, I prefer podcasts that have at least a second person to talk to when they aren’t interviewing someone. It feels weird to me when a single person just talks. Don’t know why.

Top 5 personal finance podcasts that I listen to the most. Learn about retirement, 401k, saving money, paying off debt, etc.
A list of my favorite podcasts that talk about personal finance and financial independence.

Here is a list of my favorite personal finance podcasts in no particular order:

Martinis and Your Money – check it out here.

I’ve been listening to Martinis and Your Money for about a year now. Shannon McLay has interesting guests including other entrepenuaers, bloggers, and authors. A couple of months ago, she had a guest who talked about her delicious-sounding custom cake business and some of the challenges she faced spinning her business up. This one really sticks out in my mind…probably because it was about cake AND money. Also, about once a month, Martinis and Your Money features a Happy Hour episode which includes other financial independence bloggers. I love these episodes! Very entertaining on my long commute to work. I wish Happy Hour was featured more often.

The Mad Fientist – check it out here.

The Mad Fientist is a classic and was probably the first financial podcast I listened to. I think I blasted through all of his episodes in a few months. There is usually quite a chunk of time between episodes although they are worth the wait. He never fails to score sweet interviews with amazing guests. Plus, he’s technically already retired from the rat race, so its nice to hear from someone who has actually achieved this early retirement thing.

Mo’ Money Podcast – check it out here

I accidentally stumbled across Canadian-based, Jessica Moorhouse’s podcast after I had binged on my regular podcasts and ran out of episodes. I am so glad I did. I learned about the second hand economy, side hustles, and other money saving techniques. She’s cheerful and upbeat which makes her episodes very not boring (important on a long commute), and she usually introduces guests I’ve never heard of before. There are a few podcast/blogs I’ve started following after listening to their interviews on her show.

The Money Guy Show – check it out here

These guys are honest-to-goodness professional accountants and investment advisors based in Nashville. I enjoy listening to their thoughts on investment funds, retirement, taxes, etc. They have educated me! Totally learned some stuff I never would have otherwise. For example, you can actually invest in an IRA in 2018 and have it count towards your 2017 taxes up until Tax Day. I had no idea! Both Brian and Bo offer insightful personal finance advice, all served with a southern drawl, ya’ll.

Millennial Money Minutes – Check it out here and here.

This podcast is interesting because its quick and easy, and features 2 personal finance bloggers in one podcast. Grant and Matt offer personal finance advice in episodes that are 5 minutes or less with the occasional 20 minute episode. They typically talk about everything personal finance related like what is minimalism to how to get a raise at work. Not the kind of podcast I usually listen to and at first, I had to get used to their format. I’m glad I did. I have to save them up so I can binge-listen during my commute.

These are just a few that I listen to, but easily the ones I listen to the most. What about you? Do you have favorite podcasts that you listen to regularly? What do you like about them?

Top 3 Mistakes I made with my 401k

Regret…. that feeling that creeps into your brain after you know you did something dumb. Sometimes in happens quickly, like yesterday after I knew I’d eaten too many french fries. Sometimes it take a while, like years, for you to realize that you made a dumb move.

Ben is watching. Don’t disappoint him. Contribute to your 401k.

There are definitely things that I’ve done (or not done) that I sincerely regret financially. Most of them have to do with saving money for retirement.

I started early, but not early enough. Pretty much any financial expert will tell you that its best to start saving for retirement as early as possible. The first job I had out of college, I didn’t take full advantage of their retirement plan. They contributed an automatic 1% of my salary to a retirement account regardless of whether I contributed anything. No matching, so I didn’t contribute. Plus, I knew that I wouldn’t be at that job long. My husband was looking for a job in a different state, and we were saving up for moving expenses. Still, if I had contributed just a LITTLE BIT, that money would be worth more now.

Save for retirement by saving money early, invest in your 401k, and max out your retirement contributions
Learn from my mistakes. Don’t make these three mistakes with your 401k. Save early and invest.

I saved, but I didn’t invest. My second job had a much nicer retirement plan. If I saved 5% of my salary, they would match it. Even though I’d never really thought about retirement before, I thought “yes! that’s free money!” I like free money, so I will definitely contribute 5%! But I had NO IDEA which fund to put my money in. I looked at my options and was just confused. WTH is an S&P 500 index fund? Sounds fancy. I didn’t trust myself to chose a good fund so I just checked the box next to the safest investment I could choose…bonds.  I SHOULD had done a quick google search on the other funds and tried to understand what they were. If I had, I wouldn’t have been afraid to invest in them. Also, this was just before the 2008 market crash. If I had invested wisely, I would have been contributing to funds at their cheapest price in recent history.  Ugh.

Avoid these mistakes with your 401k.
Invest wisely. Research your retirement plans so you understand what you are investing in.

I’m still not maxing out my contributions. This regret is going to be remedied soon! First, Mr. Cents and I are going to pay off our car and student loan debts, and then we are going to max out our contributions. If everything goes according to plan, we will pay off all of our debt minus our house in the next three years.

How about you? Do you have retirement-savings regrets?