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Spending Report: August 2017

Having a strong understanding of where your money is going is the first step on any financial journey. In Managing Our Finances with Mint, I talk about how Mrs. NFF and I use Mint to track all of our financial expenses and which categories we use to segment our spending. At the end of the month, I find it useful to go through our monthly expenses to how we did, and how to respond to unexpected changes to our spending. I hope by sharing my assessment with you, can you take a similar approach with your own spending self-assessment.

August 2017 Overview: Total Spending – $7,199 read more

Evaluate your Finances Like a Financial Analyst

As you travel along your journey to financial independence, it is enticing to only focus on your net worth and reaching some goal you’ve set for yourself in the future. However, to really assess the health of your finances and ensuring the best odds of hitting your financial goals, there are other metrics as well that you should at least be monitoring. To get an idea of what metrics to look at, we head to the headquarters of assessing the financial health of organizations: Wall Street.

Financial Analysts make livings on finding the companies that are going to increase their value (also known as Net Worth) in the shortest, most stable way possible. I’m not arguing that Wall Street is any good what they do (see: Index Funds: The Gold Standard of Stock Market Investing), but we can still find the things about Wall Street that do work well and use them to our advantage. One body of research we can use is around metric. There are several basic metrics that the Financial Analysis use to assess the health and future potential of a company. By adopting those metrics slightly, we can apply them to our own finances and paint a picture of how we’re going. read more

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The Baby Box: Our First Baby Purchase

What is a baby box?

The baby box dates back to 1930’s Finland, which at the time was a relatively poor country with a high infant mortality rate of 65 per 1,000 births. To reduce the mortality rate, the Finnish government began providing new expectant mothers with a starter-kit of baby essentials, designed to give all children, regardless of their situation, an equal start in life. Included in the box were clothes, sheets, toys, and a bed in the form of the box itself. Fast forward ~80 years and Finland has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world (2.3 infants per 1,000 births versus 6.5 in the US).

The baby box concept is beginning to expand in the US, particularly as a way to reduce infant mortality and SIDS. In the last few years, Alabama, Ohio and New Jersey have started provided new mothers with a baby box after they watch online videos about safe sleep habits and SIDS, and complete a short quiz. The box itself acts as a place for the baby to sleep as an alternative to bed-sharing, a primary risk factor in SIDS. Additionally, the contents typically provide all the basics you need for a new baby, a huge value particularly for low-income parents. read more

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Managing Our Finances with Mint

A guide to using Mint – Our Approach

Knowing how much you make and what you spend your money on is Personal Finance 101. This is the fundamental building blocks of wealth building. If you income is greater than your spending, your net worth will go up. If income is less than spending, your net worth will go down. It is that simple.

Before you dive into new and exciting ways to grow your income, reduce your spending, and find ways to grow your savings, it is important to know where you’re starting from. Only one you know where you are can you know the best way to get to where you want to go (in our case, financial independence and early retirement!). read more

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