Can you invest in college? Get started now even with just a little money.

This is a paradox, or at least a frustrating fact.

The best time to invest is when you’re young. When you’re 18 and first able to begin investing in your own name, you’re in high school or college. When you’re in high school or college, education is your priority, and you probably don’t have a lot of income — if any.

So how do you invest for your future when you’re broke and still in school?

Also, you are (or should be) trying to avoid debt, so maybe you’re paying for college yourself by working. Unless you had the foresight and desire to keep the cost of your education as low as possible (by going to community colleges, matriculating part time, or receiving a full slate of grants or scholarships), you’re working, and likely putting any money you’re making towards paying for school.

Your environment is not conducive to saving for the future. Unless you’re receiving a lot of financial support, you’re probably struggling with money for the four (or more) years you’ll be in college.

But investing while you’re in college isn’t impossible.

An Adulting.tv reader wrote in to ask us how to invest while in college. And it’s a popular question because college students are told that investing early is the right thing to do, but have no idea where or how to start.

In college, if you’re even just thinking about financial priorities, you’re several steps ahead. Don’t worry about whether it’s better to start paying off debt early or save for the future through investing or savings accounts. There are a number of competing priorities for your money. Whether you tackle just one or spread whatever small amount of money you have across all the priorities, you’re going to end up in a better position than you would have otherwise.

Pay off debt, including deferred student loans. Avoid credit card debt. Build an emergency fund. Invest wisely. Overwhelmed yet?

No one expects you to do it all right away. But do something.

Don’t wait until after college to begin investing. The early bird catches the worm of wealth. If you wait four years while you’re earning that degree, it will take more money invested faster to make up for whatever gains you missed out on.

Be up front with anyone who’s helping you financially.

Communicating is an important piece of whatever strategy you want to use when it comes to anything with your money. If your parents are assisting you financially, whether paying for a portion or all of your education, providing you an allowance, letting you live at home for free or reduced rent, covering your health insurance, or anything else that might help you with money, keep them in the loop.

You may be eighteen or older, technically considered an adult, but if you depend on adultier adults, it’s only fair to discuss your financial plans with them.

They may provide some insight, they may decide to offer more assistance, or they may just be proud that you’re seriously thinking about your responsibilities and your future. They’ll definitely appreciate your honesty, candidness, and desire to take your responsibilities seriously.

Set aside a small amount of cash.

The more you can invest now, the bigger the money will grow. It comes down to the choices you make. Do you choose to spend every weekend partying and spending money on getting turnt? Or can you cut back some and set aside your booze money for later? Do you buy your textbooks full price, or can you locate used editions and pocket the difference?

Alcohol or no alcohol, every student spend some money on something that might not be necessary.

Cutting back is only one way to increase your flow. Bumping up your income has the same effect, and thanks to the numerous ways you can increase that income, you may have more flexibility than you would when reducing expenses.

You may be already spending all your time outside of your studies working to cover your tuition. But maybe you can add another couple of hours of work each week without affecting your education. Maybe you can ask for a pay increase. Perhaps you can multitask or squeeze another small job in there. I made some extra cash in college by teaching professors how to build websites. I also had a campus job at one of our libraries.

Maybe you have skills that people will pay for.

Just get started investing.

Even if you’re still adding to you emergency fund, paying your tuition bills, or paying off debt, you can set aside some of your cash for investing. These days, there’s virtually no minimum amount of money required to open a good investing account.

Recently, I opened an investment account at WealthSimple with no initial deposit, and I started sending $10 a week there. That’s less than the cost of one meal, and a great place and amount to start.

Don’t worry about picking stocks, studying companies, or thinking about how all the crazy things happening in the world affect the market or the economy. Just invest using a fund that tracks the stock market as a whole — an index fund — because it’s unlikely you’ll do better than that. Even professional money managers don’t, so don’t fall into any traps.

I’ll describe the investment you’ll need to choose.

See what resources your college has for you.

My college had — and still has — an investing club. Today, the club manages $1.7 million of the university’s endowment and offers resources for students who want to invest. The student organization claims to have a methodology that follows the gist of the best investing advice: track the entire stock market broadly and don’t chase down individual stocks. Trying to predict the movements of one company, whether it will succeed or not in the short-term, is basically gambling. It’s a bad idea.

But according to the financial reports the investing club has posted online, which aren’t recent, they would have done better had they just invested in a stock market index fund like the S&P 500 instead of choosing other investments.

So take a look at your college’s investing club. Get to know people for whom investing is a priority. But don’t necessarily follow every piece of advice you are sure they will bestow upon you. Put your money in a low-cost stock market index fund or ETF. That’s. It.

A service like WealthSimple will make that easy for you.

You might want to try these investing services while in college.

I’ve used many investing services, and WealthSimple is currently my top choice. It easily walks you through making the right choices, connecting your bank account, and setting up automatic withdrawals. If automatic withdrawals scare you, it’s understandable. But any job you have — on campus or not — should be depositing your pay directly into your bank account. Forget check cashing services.

Automatic withdrawals are really amazing and one of the best ways to build wealth consistently. You can “set it and forget it.”

If your job pays you in cash for some reason, take that cash and open a bank account. Almost every bank offers free accounts for students.

Here are the best investing services to use.

  • WealthSimple. Again, my top choice. It’s amazing that I can send $10, or even less, once a week, and start building a nest egg. In 30 years, that $10 a week will become $37,000 thanks to the growth in the stock market. And assume you’ll increase your contribution as you earn more money. Compounding returns will make you a millionaire over time.
  • Betterment. Another popular low-cost, low-minimum investing service. WealthSimple, Betterment, and some other services are called robo-advisors. A financial advisory firm or investment advisors are normally people who help you make investing decisions — though watch out for some because they are also salespeople who care more about their bonuses than whether you make the best choices for your own money. But robo-advisors take the human element out, and let you provide answers to a survey to determine how much risk you’re willing to take and provide you with a low-cost strategy for managing your risk and getting the best return.
  • Vanguard. The above two options are good when you don’t have $1,000 ready to invest. They’re also “managed” investment services, so they make the decisions about which funds to invest in. With Vanguard you can do it yourself — and I find that to be my preferred method. You can choose which vanguard fund you want to invest in. For example, VTSMX is the symbol for Vanguard’s total stock market index fund, which is incredibly low-cost, and you never have to worry about it losing more money than the stock market entirely. So if you save $1,000 before you start investing, you can open an account at Vanguard.

Notice there aren’t a lot of options listed. To keep it simple, these are the only investment accounts I’d recommend. There’s no need to list 10 different investment accounts, because one of the above should suit every college student’s needs. Even yours.

What type of investment is best for college students?

There are investment accounts, investment types, and investments. The companies named above are investment accounts — or companies that offer investment accounts. Investment types are classifications that have to do with what the investment is for. And investments are the actual things — shares in companies, bonds, funds, etc. — that are held within those investment accounts.

If you are going to the Vanguard route, you will most likely be fine over the long term. Choose the Roth IRA investment type. Because this is a retirement account, it helps you be disciplined about your money. You won’t be as tempted to withdraw your money from the investment in order to buy something you don’t really need.

In return for holding onto your investment until retirement, you receive some tax benefits. There’s a yearly maximum (which may not be something you have to worry about while in college), but all of your investments grow tax-free until you reach retirement age and withdraw your funds. Otherwise, every year your index fund does well, you would have to pay some additional taxes (or your refund from the IRS will be lower).

You can also choose a Roth IRA if you invest with the WealthSimple or Betterment robo-advisors.

In other investment types, those that aren’t IRAs, you do have to pay attention to the tax bill. Mutual funds and stocks generate income, and all income is taxed by the government. As a student, you may wish to avoid or put off generating taxable income when you don’t have to, and that’s the benefit of a Roth IRA.

What investments are best for college students?

Stocks are simply the best investments for the long-term. Yes, even better than “real estate.” Just smile and nod when your roommate won’t shut up about his uncle who invests in real estate and real estate will never lose value and real estate is the only way to get rich.

Long-term is the best strategy to consider as a college student because it is the first priority for investments. And over the long-term, stocks perform the best. But you have to leave them alone and invest in a wide variety of stocks that reflect the entire market. The best way to do that is through the low-cost index mutual fund described above.

End of story. Period. Full stop.

What about the 401(k) while in college?

This might be surprising, but you can contribute to a 401(k) while you’re in college. 401(k) and 403(b) plans are retirement accounts that are offered by employers. If you’re working full time while going to school, see if your company offers a 401(k). Even if you’re working only part-time, have a seasonable job, or are an intern, you may have the option as well.

While investment options in 401(k)s aren’t always as good as what you might find at Vanguard for your Roth IRA, one priceless piece of the 401(k) is matched contributions. For example, your company might say that they’ll match everything you contribute to your 401(k), dollar for dollar. There is no better investment than doubling your money immediately. So you should definitely go for it.

Look for the investment within the 401(k) that is closest to an index mutual fund. Sometimes it’s the default choice, but sometimes it’s hidden.

One thing to watch out for is a vesting period. Some companies require that you stay employed for a certain amount of time before some of that matching money officially becomes “yours.” The matching contributions might not vest for a year, or might vest gradually over the course of a few years. You’ll still get the money you invested in the 401(k) to keep with you forever, but your company’s contributions might never materialize.

Also, your investments made in a 401(k) are done on a “before-tax basis,” so a contribution reduces the amount of income on which you have to pay income tax. And like a Roth IRA, your investments grow without any need to pay tax on gains. You will pay taxes on everything, however, not just the gains, when you reach retirement and withdraw.

It’s hard to know if you’ll stay with a company over the course of a few years — but from my experience, I know I’ve stayed with companies longer than I would have expected. Not while in college, though.

But shouldn’t we be concerned about the coming recession?

I would not be surprised in the least if we go through another recession sometime soon. Do not let this stop you from investing. If you’re in college today, you most likely remember something about the latest recession, the worst of which was from 2007 to 2009. Your parents might even believe we never really recovered from that period of time. But for the most part, the country recovered and prospered for a few years.

That won’t stop the next recession. Chances are, your investments will lose some value. That’s why you stay invested in a stock market index fund. It’s highly diversified, so you spread out the risk across hundreds of companies.

But when your investment loses value, as long as you’re focused on the future, you have the opportunity to invest more at a lower price. The only way the stock market has helped people grow wealth is by having these recessions. Investors who stay invested and take advantage of recessions as opportunities are the ones who see the most growth over a long period of time.

You only lose money when you sell your investments during a recession and you wait until the news tells you that the economy is great before investing again.

The bottom line: don’t panic when your investments lose value. If your other money habits are strong, like spending only what you can afford, building your marketable skills, knowledge, and employability (part of the reason you’re going to college — it’s not just to find a mate), and not making poor decisions, you’ll find ways to use a recession to your advantage.

3 investing tips for college students.

1. Start yesterday. You already failed at this one, but don’t give up. If you start today, tomorrow you will have succeeded with this very important suggestion. I was a big procrastinator in college, and maybe you are, too. I waited until the last minute to write papers and other assignments, study for exams, and perform research. Your future is hanging in the balance, and it’s so much harder to make up for lost time. Even a small investment today makes a huge difference in the future.

Starting as soon as possible will help you avoid these scenarios:

  • You’ll having to work harder to earn more money to catch up to how much you want to have to be able to retire or be financially independent.
  • You’ll have to continue working longer before you’re able to retire, or you may never be able to retire at all. That’s one of the biggest worries today’s college students have, especially when looking at the economy and society.
  • You will need to delay buying a house or starting a family. With this, many college students are convinced that they’ll never be able to accomplish either of these goals in a reasonable amount of time, anyway.
  • You will eventually experience losing a job without any kind of cushion. You won’t be able to handle your expenses while looking for a new job, so you will go (further?) into debt and the repercussions for yourself and whatever family you might have could be disastrous.
  • You’ll never surpass your parents in wealth and success and will also trail behind the progress of your friends.

If some of these potential outcomes scare you, they probably should. Getting control of your finances involves knowing your income and expenses intimately while also making the best investment choices. It’s a lot of responsibility, but it is achievable.

2. Ignore some of your college buddies. All you need to start is a diversified, broad stock market index fund or ETF, or something similar, whether you open an account at WealthSimple, Betterment, or Vanguard. For some reason, investing advice is something people give freely when they know very little. Make one correct bet on a stock, and suddenly they’re an expert and a genius.

In no other way has “trust the process” been better advice. This is the process you must trust. Buy a low-cost total stock market index fund whenever you can, repeatedly, over the long term, and don’t sell until the very end. If you maintain that process regardless of what’s going on around you, you weather all the economic storms. Eventually, you’ll need to sell — what’s the point in accumulating wealth if you’re never going to use it? But keep your long-term investing funds invested for the long term.

When you get to the point where you have enough invested that you no longer can work, you can shift your investments around from “growth” mode to “income generation” or “value” mode. But that’s the process later on — not while you’re still able to build wealth through saving and working like you are in college and in the many years following graduation.

3. Don’t let investing be your only financial goal. If you establish good financial habits during college, you’ll be much more prepared to invest more throughout your life and reach whatever financial goals you’re likely to have.

  • Track your finances so you always know where you stand.
  • Avoid debt, and pay off any student loans as quickly as possible.
  • Start building a savings account that will eventually become an emergency fund when you are no longer in school and have to support yourself fully.
  • Don’t neglect your bills and other obligations.
  • Use credit cards wisely by spending only what you can afford to pay for immediately.
  • Put faith in yourself and don’t rely too much on parents or employers to take care of you.

Did you start investing while in college? How did you find the money?

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Don’t grow bitter and ghost. Here’s how to help your peeps out and keep your sanity.

I’m sure there are a number of people who read the name of this post and reacted with a, “Oh, HELL NO!” Paying for your friends potentially opens up a can of worms that none of us want to even begin to deal with.

There are a number of ways that you can find yourself “paying” for your friends. And several ways to pay for your friends include exchanges of time, goods, or even services. Has it been awhile since you’ve had to deal with that issue? Good for you! But, it’s a matter of time before you find yourself potentially paying for a friend.

Let’s walk through the moments when it’s ok to pay for your friends and moments when it’s not.

The friend payment tiers.

First, let’s acknowledge that there are different tiers (or levels) that requests for payments may find themselves. Let’s go through a couple of scenarios.

Scenario #1: You and your friends go hiking for the day. Your friend chips in and pays for gas because you’re driving. In this scenario, there is an acknowledgement that the friend is experiencing an expense that the other friend can contribute to.

But wait, there’s more! Before the day is over-you stop for a cup of coffee. Your friend (who gave you gas money) no longer has cash and you offer to buy them a cup of coffee. In this particular situation everything pretty much balances out. This friend normally is pretty good about remembering these types of situations, so you know that a cup of coffee is in your future.

A cup of coffee is usually around $5 or less so this situation shouldn’t upset your friendship.

Scenario #2. I recently had a friend pay for some other friend to attend a Tony Robbins event. My friend paid for everything-because this person CAN. They make around $200,000 a month (I kid you not) and have the ability to give gifts that in no way affect their financial life.

For the rest of us who aren’t making a couple of hundred thousand a month the question you need to ask yourself before paying for your friend is the following, “Will paying for this harm my finances directly or indirectly?”

If the answer is yes, then you should not offer to pay for whatever it is you’re paying for.

Loans vs. gifts.

I don’t loan money-to anyone. And, when you talk about paying for someone else’s expenses, whatever they may be, you’re basically talking about loaning someone money. Loaning money to a friend is a “Don’t Do it” zone.

If you’re the friend who is putting your other friend in the situation where they need to loan to you-not cool. I’ve been the friend who has borrowed money from a friend and it took YEARS to heal the rift that occurred because of it. I was borrowing money because I was broke and so it’s not surprising that I was unable to pay them back. I was a financial mess.

If you’re the friend who is being put in the position of loaning some money-you will have to ask yourself some questions. The most important one is: are you comfortable loaning money? And if you loan it, are you ok with potentially losing that friendship if your friend fails to repay you?

The next question you should ask yourself is: “can I help this friend by giving them a gift versus giving a loan?” Again, I don’t loan money to people. I give money and I typically have an account for family and friend expenses.

These expenses always come up unexpectedly and when it’s inconvenient for EVERYONE. I strongly recommend having a “my friend’s/family member’s money is funny-and I’m not laughing account.” But, the key is to never let anyone know that you have this account.

Hey, you slackers!

Has your friend picked up the tab for you several times in the past couple of months? If you’ve answered “Yes” then it’s time to do two things, pay back your friend and treat them to something nice. And, it’s also time to consider why this situation keeps coming up and your friend keeps paying for stuff for you.

We’ve talked about literally paying cash for things for your friends but we haven’t talked about other types of payments you may find yourself doing for your friends. Here’s a few examples of non-cash payments that you may find yourself gifting to a friend.

Driving your car-less friends around town.You’re basically always the designated driver (sigh). I hate to admit this, but I learned how to drive as an adult. My friends drove me around for YEARS. That means I now find myself (happily) driving people around town and into the mountains because I have YEARS of being driving to make up for.

Yep, I was that girl. I’m absolutely happy to drive people around as much as possible because I appreciate all of the times my friends drove me around town.

Maybe your friend has helped you out with your new puppy, every time you went on vacation, saving you hundreds of dollars in boarding fees. Now, they have a dog. It’s time to offer to puppy-sit their dog and give it the love that they gave yours.

Maybe your friend has babysat your teeny tinies a couple of times. If your friend doesn’t have kids, think about what would make their lives better? A grocery gift card (plus cash). A special experience? If your friend has kids, it’s a no brainer-just babysit their kids and call it even.

The longer you’re in a friendship with people the more your boundaries may get blurred. Don’t take your friends for granted and check in from time to time to make sure you’re both on the same page in regards to financial expectations within your friendship.

Are you usually the lender or the borrower? What boundaries do you have to make sure your choices don’t ruin your friendships? Let us know in the #Adulting Facebook community.

 

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You’re not a bad person for borrowing money to get a college degree. You may be smarter than some financial “experts” lead you to believe.

You finished your bachelor’s degree and you’re out in the real world. You’re feeling real pressure to find a good job along your career path. It’s those massive student loan bills. You dread opening them because they remind you of the four or more years you lived without a major concern about your finances.

Now your college education seems like a burden. What did your bachelor’s degree get you, anyway? You’re 22 and you don’t have a job yet. Or you’re 30 and you’re still not sure if you’re on the “right” path.

If you haven’t been ignoring the reality of your debt, with your head in the sand like I was for a few years after earning my bachelor’s degree, you’re fully aware that student loans — like all debt — reduce flexibility in your life. You can’t afford to delay your career. You can’t even afford to go out with your friends (but you probably will anyway).

And if it feels a little unfair that all you did was earn a college degree like your parents, it might be. The cost of a college education has grown much faster than income for most Americans.

While your parents could have afforded their education at a state college on their own by working through college, the economy doesn’t make that as easy today. At the same time, college students and millennials are told en masse by society (and maybe you’ve heard these a few times):

  • “You have no work ethic.” (What? I’m working harder than everyone I know just to survive!)
  • “You expect everything to be handed to you.” (NO. I just expect to be able to get by and be treated decently.)
  • “You want the best of what life has to offer without putting in the effort to achieve it.” (I’m more than willing put in the time and effort, but I’m not convinced that the system is set up for us to do more than chase a target that’s moving farther away faster than I can run.)

You’ve been set up to fail financially by the world while you were a teenager, and that same world does blame you unfairly. Well, we all have friends who embody the millennial stereotype — but not you, right?

Is college no longer worthwhile?

Financial experts are now making headlines by tearing apart the idea of higher education. Whether it’s due to the evolution of the curriculum over the years, or the lasting effect of the recent recession on the idea that the only worthwhile type of education is one that leads directly to a job that in high demand, loud voices are encouraging alternative paths.

When someone tells you striving to get the best education possible was a stupid mistake, and you should have gone to a trade school to learn a skill instead of getting a degree, don’t take it personally. And don’t feel bad. These are the two most important financial justifications for pursuing a college education:

But return on investment (ROI) isn’t the only benefit of a college degree.

Ignore the financial experts.

Here’s some more good news for those who are being told their degree is worthless.

If you grew up in a middle class environment, some of the opportunities colleges affords the world are privileges you all ready have. And financial experts take advantage of those who don’t recognize their own privilege, especially when it comes to talking about debt. Whenever the unemployment rate is high, we find more encouragement in the media of entrepreneurship as the singular path to a lucrative life, replacing of education.

You have probably heard at least one person tell you that education is overrated and the best path to success is starting a business. You don’t hear that most businesses fail and that a college education still plays a major role in financial aptitude, even for entrepreneurs.

  • A good educational foundation greatly improves someone’s ultimate entrepreneurship goals by enhancing the cognitive, business, and life skills that good entrepreneurs need.
  • Many of your anti-education role models had other types of assistance that you might not have, and the louder they talk about their success, the more they’re hiding about their privileges.

Sure, you should try to keep your cost of education low. Grants and scholarships are better than loans, of course. But now that you’re out of college, the goal is to manage the debt you do have, not allow the world make you feel guilty for prioritizing your future livelihood over buying a house immediately upon graduation.

So here’s what you can do.

Here’s the four-step plan to dealing with student loan debt.

1. Recognize that your debt does not make you a bad person, nor did you (necessarily) make a bad decision to pursue a college education. Yes, you may need to make some sacrifices now to manage your finances responsibly, but in most cases, the degree will be worth it.

That will be true even if you decide to change your career path, away from the focus of your degree! Any bachelor’s degree is better than no degree. If you didn’t screw around too much in the four-plus years it took you to pursue your undergrad education, and if you took a variety of courses and exposed your brain to a diverse array of ideas you wouldn’t have considered elsewhere, your education will never be worthless. It will continue to help you with whatever life you decide to live.

2. Get organized and pay attention. You can’t ignore your bills forever, so don’t even start ignoring. Tackle your responsibilities head on — and your student loan debt may be the first real responsibility you have in life for which there are consequences.

I ignored my bills for too long. Working at a low-paying nonprofit organization after college didn’t help. But I figured my life out and found a path that allowed me to totally eliminate all of my debt. This path wasn’t related to my college degree but I know that I succeeded thanks to my college experience.

3. Look at some of the options for helping you eliminate student loan debt. If you have federal student loans (and these are almost always better than private student loans), you can look into income-based repayment plans. If you’re just starting out in your career, you can lower your monthly payment to help you with cash flow.

You may qualify for loan deferment, so your payments are put on hold, and in some cases, you will not need to pay more interest while you wait for your deferment to end. If you don’t qualify for deferment, you may qualify for forbearance, which also gives you a grace period on your payments. But with a forbearance, you’ll still accrue more interest while you wait.

If you’re a teacher or you have a public service job, you may even qualify for the cancellation of some federal student loans. That’s not the only way the government is willing to help you. It is possible to get a tax credit for the student loan interest you pay.

I’m not going to suggest consolidating your loans, unless it’s with a federal consolidation at an interest rate that’s lower than what you have now. Now there are private companies willing to refinance your student loans, and there are some disadvantages; namely, you lose all the advantages for borrowers mentioned in this section.

And watch out; these private lenders pay financial “experts” bounties for signing up new borrowers through websites, and thus there are many more positive reviews on the internet than there would be otherwise. Still, you could end up saving some money — in exchange for a fee and limited flexibility — when you refinance with a private lender.

4. Pay it off consistently and regularly. Work out a plan to pay the student loans off well in advance of your schedule. Student loans will stick with you even if you need to declare bankruptcy (almost always), so do what you can to get rid of them as soon as possible.

And then celebrate! Because not only did you pay off your student loans, but you received a college education, and will most likely be better off in life than people who say you made a bad choice for getting a college education.

What about consolidating those student loans?

Getting a little technical, each year you borrowed money for college initiated a new loan. So you might have several different loans with different interest rates. I wrote above that I would only suggest consolidating this loans under certain circumstances.

The best option, if you have federal loans, is for a federal consolidation. But you may have private student loans, as will many students who have to borrow more and more to afford the education they’d like to pursue. You might want to consider using SoFi to consolidate. SoFi is a private lender that is focused on student loan consolidation. It takes less than two minutes to find out what interest rate you qualify for.

And if you do qualify, chances are good you can reduce your monthly payments. And if you’re struggling at the beginning of your career, allowing yourself some financial space to breathe may be worth the extra time it’ll take to pay off in the end. But you should carefully consider any important financial decision, think about the pros and cons, and put yourself in your future self’s shoes.

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It’s time to get in shape by striking a pose.

Just about everyone has thought “I should try yoga” at one point or another. Chances are you have a friend or family member who can’t stop talking about it, and for good reason – research shows that beyond its many health benefits, yoga may actually be good for your brain.

But actually getting into yoga can seem intimidating. The culture around it promotes an all-or-nothing mentality, and most practitioners advise joining a studio or hiring a teacher to get the full benefits. That’s great for some, but not everyone has the time, money or inclination to make that kind of commitment.

Thankfully, yoga is like most kinds of fitness – you can dive in headfirst or just dip your toes in the water. There are plenty of simple, effective poses you can learn at home that will also challenge and invigorate you.

Here are some of the best basic poses to promote strength, flexibility, and mindfulness. Remember to start slowly, taking the time to learn each position correctly.

Bridge Pose

Lots of people suffer from back pain and poor posture issues because they lack the ability to fully utilize their glutes. That can be because they lack the necessary strength, or just because they struggle to activate their glutes properly. This pose tackles both issues.

How to do it: Lie supine on the floor with your arms at your side, knees bent and heels as close to your butt as feels comfortable. Push your feet and arms into the floor while squeezing your glutes, lifting your buttocks until the thighs are about parallel to the floor. Make sure your knees remain directly over your heels. Hold the position for up to a minute, then slowly lower yourself to the starting position.

I do this pose regularly to help develop the glute muscles that I don’t work in my normal exercise routine. This is probably one of my least favorite poses, but I know it really works.

Downward-Facing Dog Pose

Even if you’ve never had an interest in yoga, you’ve probably heard of this pose. It’s one of the most well-known yoga techniques because it offers great benefits while also being easy enough for just about anyone to attempt. It stretches everything from the shoulders to the ankles and provides a challenging core workout on top.

How to do it: Get on your hands and knees, with your knees directly under your hips and your hands slightly in front of your shoulders, pressing into the ground firmly. Exhale and tuck your toes as you lift your knees off the floor, pushing your pelvis towards the ceiling.

Then, draw your sit bones towards the wall behind you as you straighten your legs without locking your knees. Stay in this pose anywhere from one to three minutes, deepening the stretch as you go. End the pose by bending your knees to the floor while exhaling.

You can do even more by adding this pose as part of a general sun salutation which will get your heart rate up.

Garland Pose

You may have heard this pose referred to colloquially as the “third world squat” or “slav squat” by crossfitters and bodybuilders, but this deep stretch is beneficial for just about anyone – especially those who sit at a desk all day.

When you spend that much time sitting, your hips tend to get incredibly tight, which can lead to posture issues and lower back pain. This pose forces those hips to open up, as well as aiding in ankle mobility that affects the whole lower body.

How to do it: Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart, feet angled out anywhere from 15 to 30 degrees. Keep your chest and head high as you push your hips back, sitting down into a squat position as deep as you can safely go.

Make sure to keep your hips back so your knees do not come in front of your toes, and use your elbows to push your knees out. You may have to adopt a wider stance with your feet angled further out at first, but you should eventually be able to bring your feet closer together with a straighter foot angle. Hold this position for at least a minute, then exhale as you straighten the knees to stand.

Find the Time

If you’re like me, finding the time to do anything extra seems impossible, so that’s why I try to incorporate stretching into my regular routine. For example, I try to do a Garland Pose while I’m brushing my teeth or while I’m waiting for my dinner to heat up in the microwave.

These yoga poses are easy to tackle, but only if you start out slow. Try doing one a day until you’ve built up a habit. Then, add another pose. No matter how crappy you’re feeling, aim to complete your exercises. You’ll feel better in the long run.

Are you a yoga practitioner? Any tips you want to give? Let us know in the #Adulting Facebook community

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Reclaim your time! Get all the things done – just not all by you.

Consider how much you’re paid per hour. Then, consider how many hours a week you spend on tasks that you’d rather not do or that distract you from higher-paying opportunities. Are you saving money or losing money by doing jobs for yourself that someone else might do more efficiently?

It’s somewhat counterintuitive to think that hiring someone to do things you can do for yourself may be better for your money and your family. However, if you’re paid $30/hour, does it make sense to perform a task that someone else can do for $15/hour? No. It makes more sense to continue working for $30/hour, pay someone else $15/hour. You still net $15.

Of course, most of us can’t contract our every routine task, but even freeing ourselves of one such task can produce great results. Here are nine tasks you may want to outsource to have more money.

Grocery shopping.

Once upon a time, having your groceries delivered to your house was only for the richest of the rich. Today, it’s way more popular for even us commoners to have groceries delivered to our houses or ready for pick-up at the grocery store.

When I go to our local grocery store lately, there are as many Amazon shoppers as there are actual patrons. I think this is a good thing.

Grocery shopping is mundane and can take up way more time than it’s worth. Companies such as Amazon, InstaCart, and Peapod save hundreds of thousands of people from this chore and letting them focus on higher returning activities.

Cooking.

My husband and I love cooking, but with building a business and him still working a W-2, we just don’t have the time. We don’t want to resort to fast food because we like to eat healthily. Therefore, we hired a personal chef. Before you start claiming that we’re the richest of the rich, just know that personal chefs can be reasonably priced.

We hired a personal chef who recently graduated from culinary school and she’s building her resume. We’re happy to have her experiment on us. It saves us money and time and is helping her start her career. Once a week, she comes to our house and cooks several lunches and dinners for us that require minimal preparation on our part. Our diet is healthy and diverse.

You don’t have to hire a personal chef, though. Hello Fresh and Blue Apron deliver meals direct to your door. Bigger cities are even getting their own meal delivery services. In Denver, we have The Spicy Radish. A simple Google search may help you find a local delivery service in your area.

These services provide a healthy, diverse menu that requires minimal involvement on your part. It’s one less thing to think about that day, which reserves your time for more important thinking, and the meals save a great deal of time preparing.

House cleaning.

How much time each week do you spending cleaning your home? Or, when was the last time your home was clean? What would you rather be doing, or how could you better spend your time?

I love my cleaning ladies! I love a clean house, but I don’t love cleaning. The toilet bowl needs to be clean, but I’d rather spend my time building my business and with my husband. The last thing I want to do with the few spare hours a week I have is clean my toilets.

This helps the economy and others, in addition to helping me. I spend my time making money doing what I do best and pay someone else to do what they do best. Plus, they do in two hours what would take my husband and me six hours.

Home repairs & maintenance.

This is exactly what I did recently. My husband and I decided it’s time to sell our condo. Before we put our place on the market, we decided we needed to do some touch-ups and repairs to our place.

None of it is major work, but it would take a major amount of our time if we did them ourselves. We’re capable of doing them, but we’re not proficient. Plus, we’re growing a business, and our time is better spent growing our business than painting, scraping, and sanding.

Therefore, we’ve contracted out most of the work. My husband and I each make more money per hour than what we’re paying any of these professionals per hour. Plus, they do a better job.

Everyday errands.

Do you have a bunch of errands you’d love to take off your plate? Need pictures hung on your wall? Need that new Ikea furniture to be put together? Urgently need something delivered across town but can’t get away from your desk?

Your time and money are better spent closing your next deal and hiring someone from Task Complete or TaskRabbit to complete your task. Thousands of people are freelancing to do simple to complex tasks for others as a side hustle.

Travel arrangements.

Have a big trip planned but haven’t planned it? Let someone better skilled, better educated on travel and better connected to plan it for you. Sure, you can book your flight from St. Paul to Austin, but what about the bigger trips to Playa del Carmen or Lisbon or Sydney?

For bigger travel, we always use our travel agent. We’ve had her for years. We don’t pay more than we would if we booked all the travel ourselves, but she uses her systems and connections to make better accommodations for us. She finds those hidden deals and gets us the special perks that we wouldn’t know about or think to ask.

This saves us money or gets us more for our money while we’re still working for our money.

Email and calendar management.

For some people, it makes sense to hire an assistant to manage personal emails and calendars, book reservations or plan an event. Get Friday offers personal assistants that can handle all matters from personal to professional.

Managing personal emails has nearly become a full-time job. Managing all that you do along with yours and your family’s personal calendars is like herding cats. Hire someone to help you become more efficient and organized, then you’ll waste less of your precious time on little tasks.

Lawn maintenance & gardening.

After putting in 40 to 60 hours a week, some people like being outside and working in their garden. Others, like me, hate it.

Free up your personal time by hiring someone from CraigsList or Angie’s List to take better care of your lawn and garden with better equipment and skill than you. They’ll do a better and faster job, and you’ll be freed to relax and rejuvenate alone or with your family or spend more time making more money.

Laundry.

Laundry is another task that many of us would do well to pay someone else to do. The cost to have someone pick up, launder, and then return your laundry can range between $1 to $3 a pound. For many people, this often equates to $20 to $25 per week. If you’re like me, you spend more than that on a bottle of wine on a Wednesday night.

Plus, with their equipment, they can clean your clothing better and more properly. Likewise, they can save you countless hours of folding, so you can spend more hours growing your business and bank account.

We may love the idea of saving a few dollars here and there by doing certain tasks ourselves, but when you look at both sides of your personal balance sheet, it may make more economic sense to pay someone to do some of these tasks for you. You might save $20 doing a job yourself, but you could earn $30 by hiring someone to do it for you, and that’s money.

Do you outsource personal tasks we haven’t listed here? What are the pros or cons you’ve found? Let us know in the #Adulting Facebook community.

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You don’t have to be rich to start developing millionaire habits.

The best way to support Adulting.tv is to subscribe and leave us an honest review. Thank you!

We’re doing a special swap episode with Miranda’s other podcast project, Money Tree Investing. Check out this other podcast for discussions about investing and money. In this episode, Miranda talks to co-host Joe Saul-Sehy about how to manage money like a millionaire.

Plus, keep an eye out. In December, Adulting will make an appearance on MTI with a special swap episode!

Concepts

  • How do millionaires manage their money?
  • Looks at practical steps to help you manage money like a millionaire.
  • Reviews millionaire habits.
  • Learn about financial priorities.
  • Ideas for treating your money like a resource.
  • Practical tips for managing your money today so you can be a millionaire later.

Don’t forget to check out other great articles on Adulting.tv for information that can help you make your millionaire dream come true. These articles and resources will get you started on the right path to manage money like a millionaire:

Make $200 a Day With These 57 Side Hustle Ideas

3 Easy Ways to Start Investing When You’re Broke AF

Book Review: Set For Life by Scott Trench

Book: The Best Bank Accounts for Adults

Lifestyles of the Financially Independent

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Join the Friends of Adulting! Please leave an honest review on iTunes. We would really appreciate the feedback!

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Getting life insurance sounds like a real adult thing to do. Unless you don’t need it. Then you’re just wasting money. Don’t waste money.

It doesn’t get much more adult than buying life insurance. Coming to terms with your own death is a rite of passage as we grow older, and purchasing a life insurance policy is a sign that you care about what happens to your family after you’re gone.

But sometimes, it’s also a waste of money.

Accepting the reality of your own mortality and looking to protect your loved ones after you die is noble, but the funds you would spend paying for a policy can often be put to better use.

Life insurance has a very specific function, financially, and it often just doesn’t make sense to pay for it if you’re not at a certain stage in life. Imagine paying for car insurance when you haven’t even gotten your license – that’s the kind of situation many people put themselves into.

If you’re wondering whether or not it’s financially sound for you to purchase a life insurance policy, read ahead for more information.

When you don’t have kids or a mortgage.

I called my insurance agent the week after my husband and I got married and asked him if we needed to buy life insurance. He only asked me two questions: did we own any property together and did we have any kids? The answer to both questions was no, so he suggested we hold off.

Yes, if either one of us dies, the surviving party would have to change his or her lifestyle to compensate living on one income. Rent would be a bigger struggle, but neither of us would have to think about how to support a child or how to carry a mortgage by ourselves. Some days it seems odd that I don’t have life insurance even though I’m married, but I know it makes more sense to keep it this way.

However, we’re preparing to purchase life insurance next year once we buy a house. Getting out of a mortgage can take a while depending on the housing market, so it’s more necessary for a childless couple with a mortgage to buy life insurance than a couple that’s renting. If your partner dies while renting, it’s pretty easy to get out of the lease and move to a more affordable spot.

When you buy it for your kids.

During a staff meeting at my last job, someone brought up the idea of buying life insurance for your kids. I was confused. “Isn’t the whole point of life insurance to replace someone’s income?” I asked. But they disagreed.

Most of the parents in the room said they had bought life insurance for their children, in case something happened. But buying life insurance for your children, who don’t provide any financial value, is a waste of money.

Think about it: life insurance should prevent a family from having money problems if one of the earners dies. Since children don’t bring in any money (unless your kid is a famous child actor), your income would stay the same in the event of their passing – and your expenses would decrease. It’s also incredibly rare for a child to die before the parent, especially in their youth, so the odds of actually benefiting from a policy are extremely low.

Instead, you’re better off saving any money you’d pay for life insurance in an emergency fund, which will cover any potential funeral expenses. You can also put that money towards a college fund.

When you’re buying whole life insurance.

Most financial experts, including the legendary Dave Ramsey, tell people to buy term life insurance instead of whole. Whole insurance bills itself as a life insurance policy combined with a savings account. They claim that a user can build up cash value in his or her policy that the family can redeem once they pass away.

Because a whole life policy is designed to cover the customer for their entire life, it’s much more expensive than a term life policy. For example, when I input my information into a life insurance form, it tells me I qualify for a $25/month term life policy with a $500,000 payout. A whole life policy with the same benefit would cost $408.45 /month.

If you invest the $383 difference every month in an index fund earning 7% annually, you’ll have $1,011,550.80 in 40 years, or more than double the cash value of the whole life policy. Plus, you’ll have access to those funds any time – no waiting for an insurance company to pay out.

When you’re retired.

A few years ago, a friend of mine lost her father. As we were commiserating about the situation, she mentioned that his insurance policy had lapsed only within the last year. She remarked on what a shame it was that her mother wouldn’t be able to get any life insurance money.

Most retirees don’t need life insurance, especially if they don’t have a mortgage. Remember, the point of insurance is to substitute lost wages or pay for current bills. Since a retiree usually has few expenses, it’s not necessary for them to have a life insurance policy.

Have you purchased life insurance yet? What factors did you consider before taking that step? Let us know in the #Adulting Facebook community.

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Let’s be real. Stock funds are probably your best bet. But here are some other ideas for investing to build wealth.

The best way to support Adulting.tv is to subscribe and leave us an honest review. Thank you!

After you’ve been through a couple stock market crashes, it’s hard to get excited about investing. In fact, many millennials are wary of investing — especially investing in stocks.

On the other hand, we’re told that investing is an effective way to prepare for the future. So, can you build wealth without stocks?

It’s possible, especially if you forget notions of stock-picking. In this episode, we’ll look at how to build wealth without stocks, providing different ideas that you can implement to help you grow your nest egg.

Concepts

  • Reasons many people don’t like the stock market.
  • How the news can influence how you think about the stock market.
  • A look at some of the ways people feel the stock market is stacked against them.
  • Why you need to develop multiple sources of income.
  • How to use real estate to build wealth without stocks.
  • Different business ideas that can help you grow your wealth.
  • Using P2P lending as a way to build wealth without stocks.
  • Exotic alternatives like cryptocurrencies, forex, and precious metals.
  • The risks you need to be aware of if you decide to try to build wealth without stocks.
  • Why you should consider funds (even if they are stocks) as one way to grow wealth over time.

Use this week’s DO NOWs to evaluate your situation, figuring out what kind of risk tolerance you have and thinking about what investments might be most appropriate for you.

Our listener question this week deals with the investing systems you are likely to see advertised everywhere. We talk about how you can tell legit systems from the shady offerings.

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Resources

Millennial feelings about investing

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Life and love-handles happen. But it doesn’t have to end there or cost a lot to get back into shape.

Popular exercise and diet trends are all over the board. Their results are often inconsistent or short in duration.

One thing about them that is consistent, is that they’re expensive.

This doesn’t have to be so. Here are economical ways to get back into and stay in shape.

Move it.

The biggest misconception about exercise programs is that complex and expensive choices are better. You must join a fancy gym with shiny equipment and super-fit reps wearing high-end lycra clothes. The more hip sounding the program’s name, the better the results.

These things simply aren’t true. Just move!

Walking consistently comes up in studies to be one of the best exercises people can do. If walking isn’t enough insanity for you, jog or run. If you want to work your quads and hamstrings more, walk, jog or run up and down steps. Malls, office buildings, maybe your apartment building, tracks, and fields are great places for these exercises.

If you have a bike, ride it. If you have access to a low-cost pool, swim in it. If these are too boring for you or you don’t have time for these, house chores and gardening are great exercises. Just get off the couch, turn off the Netflix and move.

Cook it.

It’s a tough truth, but what and how we eat affects our physical shape more than how and how much we exercise. Every single calorie counts. If we’re eating more calories than we’re burning, being out of shape is the result.

Despite all our modern conveniences, we’re busier than ever. This often means we can’t find time to cook at home and opt for dining out or getting take out. Even the healthiest options in most restaurants have more calories than anything we’d cook at home.

A cheap way to get back into and to stay in shape is to simply cook at home, and keep what you cook at home simple. Don’t use more than five ingredients per dish, and avoid processed foods and anything wrapped in cardboard or plastic.

Schedule it.

Humans are creatures of habit. Schedule your exercise for the same time of day every day and make exercise a habit. The key to getting back into shape and staying in shape, whether you focus on diet, exercise, or both, is being consistent.

It will feel difficult at first, but when your mind and body get into the habit of working out regularly and consistently, you’ll find getting to your workouts easier. When exercising becomes routine and your exercises become easier, increase the intensity of your exercises. That’s when you’ll start to see real results.

YouTube it.

If you don’t feel knowledgeable enough to exercise without the guidance of a pro but can’t afford a pro, use YouTube. Search for “exercising” in YouTube. You’ll get 712,000 results. Surely not all 712,000 results are worth your time but you can find good ones and they cost a lot less than any pro.

From yoga to cardio, to Pilates to tai chi, find the exercise programs and the exercise pros that work for you, and watch yourself lose the weight without losing your money.

Don’t pitch it.

Aside from the expensive gym membership to that gym you never go to, one of the biggest costs of becoming a fitness fanatic is the fitness clothing. Truth be told, most of us don’t need a high-performance moisture wicking, organic microfiber.

Do some people need these? Yes, professional athletes. Are you a professional athlete? If you answer no, then don’t waste your money on pro-quality exercise clothes.

Older t-shirts, including undershirts, are perfect for your new exercise program. Unless your gym shorts or pants will get you put in jail and can’t stand on their own, they’re probably good enough. Heck, even brand new, expensive yoga pants could land you in jail. Save yourself the money and the risk.

Don’t pay for it.

What’s the best price? Free. Local community centers, YMCAs, and colleges often offer free exercise classes or training. This can be to market the facility or to help a new exercise facilitator gain more experience before they start charging a fee. Sometimes it’s an exclusive, one-time offer or part of a package. Likewise, exercise studios and gyms offer free classes or a few free days to experience their facilities.

This strategy may not last forever, but it can kickstart your new exercise regimen. This can, also, provide you with enough information to ensure that you get the most from your YouTube exercising from higher above in this list.

App it.

If you want to just do it, there’s an app for it. There are tons of apps that can help you with anything from running to lifting weights. So, if you do pay to workout at a gym, you don’t have to pay for a gym trainer. Even if you don’t want to work out at a gym, you can find an app that supports your home-based exercising.

See my list of nine apps to help you live healthier, many of which will also help you live wealthier.

Borrow it.

How many friends or family members do you know with exercise equipment collecting dust or doubling as a clothing tree? Help them make space in their home by offering to take their equipment off their hands. You could probably negotiate a serious discount off the original price or even get it for free. My parents had weights, a weight bench, and a treadmill in their basement that they never used, and they just wanted to get rid of it. Some lucky person got a new home gym for free.

If you don’t have friends or family with this problem, you can find “gently used” equipment online or at consignment and resale shops. Just be careful to not fall into the trap of thinking that because everything is cheaper than the original price that you need to buy everything.

As you can see, getting back into and staying in shape doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. In fact, I’d argue that if you can get back into shape with the low-cost and less shiny methods above, you’re more likely to stay in shape.

Do you have any other low-cost tips for getting fit? Let us know in the #Adulting Facebook community

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Crush those student loans.

Once in a while, we present Adulting.tv LIVE! Subscribe on YouTube to hear about future events, and share your questions about or suggestions for our next discussions!

Show Notes

Chonce Maddox joins us to talk about paying down student loans. Like many saddled with student loan debt, Chonce has struggled to make ends meet. In this special episode, recorded live on the Ally podcast stage at FinCon.

Chonce is a successful freelance writer who covers personal finance topics for a variety of outlets and writes at MyDebtEpiphany.com. In this episode, we talk with Chonce about setting intentions, changing your money mindset, and using all the tools available to you in order to pay down debt and crush student loans.

Listen to the audio podcast above.

Hosted by Harlan L. Landes and Miranda Marquit
Produced byadulting.tv
Edited and mixed bySteve Stewart
Music bybensound.com

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