Screw the huge salary and 80-hour workweeks. Do your benefits help you actually LIVE your life?

When you start a new job — including your first job — salary seems like the most important issue.

Making money is important. We all enjoy eating and most of us like to have a little fun, too. But it’s not just about the salary or the hourly wage. When my now-ex-husband got his first real job after, I was shocked, shocked, at how much easier life became with addition of benefits.

Health insurance is your BFF.

The biggest bonus was health insurance. We’d been paying for private health insurance for a decade, using my earnings as a freelancer to pay for everything. With his employer subsidizing our coverage, our premium was cut in half, and we had a better plan. I swear, one of the biggest disappointments of the divorce was the prospect of going back to being entirely responsible for my own health insurance.

Your employer might be paying as much as 68% of your premium if you have health benefits, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you are paying $250 per month for your health benefits, there’s a good chance they cost as much as $368. That’s a savings of $118 a month. It’s like making an extra $1,416 a year.

Paid vacation days are totes amazing.

Get paid even while you aren’t at work? Yes, please! If you can negotiate a package that allows you to take vacation days and still get paid for them, you are doing something right. It might be worth it to accept a little less in terms of salary if you don’t have to worry how you’ll make up the days you missed to attend SXSW.

Even if you don’t get paid vacation days, some companies are willing to offer extra personal days (although you won’t get paid). If you could take extra time off to live life, would you take it even if you aren’t getting paid? I would.

Nothing beats flexibility.

Money Isn't Everything: Are Your Benefits On Fleek?

There is nothing — nothing — I value more than freedom and flexibility. Increasingly, companies are offering benefits that include flexible work schedules. Thanks to technology, a number of jobs now come with location independence, and there are some companies that allow completely remote workers.

Even if you don’t get to work in your jammies or from the coffee shop every day, you might be able to negotiate telecommuting privileges for two or three days a week, or customize your schedule to come in earlier or later in the day.

I have a friend who is willing to accept a little less in terms of salary because his employer allows him to work three 12-hour days a week. That means that he has four days off each week, and is still considered full-time and enjoys health benefits. That level of flexibility is worth $5,000 a year to him.

How fierce is your retirement plan?

No matter how much money you make, investing can help you prepare for the future. The easiest way to invest is through your company’s retirement plan. Your money is automatically withheld from your paycheck and invested for the future. And if your company’s plan is truly fierce, you’ll get an employer match. That’s free money that goes toward your future, building your retirement portfolio. It’s hard to beat that.

Other epic benefits.

Companies are interested in attracting the best and the brightest, and if that’s you, there are plenty of other epic benefits that you might be able to enjoy at the right company — and that might be worth more than mere money:

  • On-site fitness center or a paid membership to a local gym
  • Meals in a cafeteria that serves actual food
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Career development and training resources
  • Equipment, such as a smartphone or a laptop
  • Attractive and diverse workspaces (including open offices, standing desks, and other innovative perks)

There are a number of companies willing to offer high-end perks, ranging from concerts to concierge services.

Before you get hung up salary, think of your preferred lifestyle. Your life is going to such if you work 80 hours a week with no time for true enjoyment. You might have a lot of money, but are you enjoying life now?

The right benefits can be worth more than a couple thousand extra dollars per year.

Like what you’ve read?

Join other #adults who receive free weekly updates.


For a limited time you’ll receive our new book, The Best Bank Accounts for Adults, when you sign up!

You don’t need big bucks to get a jump on everyone else.

Investing is one of those things that most of us stick in the “stuff I’ll have enough money to do later” file. We see investing as something you do when you aren’t broke af.

The best time to start investing is now, while you’re still young enough to recover from mistakes — and while you have time on your side. It seems like a hopeless situation. You should put your money to work, but you don’t have enough money to buy a couple hundred shares of Apple stock.

If you think you don’t have enough money to start investing, the good news is that you’re probably wrong. Even when you’re broke, chances are you can invest.

Use a company retirement plan.

Now that you’ve got a real job, there’s a good chance that you have the option to contribute to a retirement plan offered by your employer. Many of us don’t think of putting money in a 401(k) as investing, but it is.

Talk to HR, and have some of your money diverted to a 401(k). If your company offers a match, that’s free money that you can use to invest. You won’t miss what you never see, which is why an automatic contribution from your paycheck is one of the best strategies when you want invest when you’re broke.

Make dollar-cost averaging your bae.

The idea behind dollar-cost averaging is that you take a set amount of money each month (and you can start investing with as little as $25) and invest it. Buy as many shares as you can with that money. Dollar-cost averaging is especially effective when you use your money to purchase low-cost index mutual funds or ETFs.

Index funds and ETFs take all the work out of picking stocks. You get access to a section of the market, so the diversification is taken care of and you don’t have to worry about what happens when you choose wrong. I’m boring as hell when it comes to investing because I’m still into indexing. It’s how I roll.

If you’re putting money aside in a 401(k) from your paycheck, you’re already dollar-cost averaging. If your company doesn’t have a retirement plan, you can still open your own. Many companies will let you open an IRA and put in as little as $50 per month (or even less). Make it automatic and you won’t have to think about it.

Over time, you’ll grow your portfolio through consistency.

DRIP it up.

How to Invest When You're Broke AF

I like to invest in index funds and ETFs that pay dividends and automatically invest them. Many brokers and companies offer DRIPs, or plans that take dividends paid out to you and automatically use the money to buy additional shares.

Investing in dividends makes sense because dividends are payouts companies make based on the number of shares you own. Use DRIPs to automatically buy more shares, and your next payout is larger. You can buy more shares and then get a bigger payout. It’s a beautiful cycle. My decision to use dollar-cost averaging with DRIP funds is the reason that my portfolio kept growing, even during the Great Recession.

TBH, DRIPs seem pointless at first, especially if you invest when you’re broke. Who cares if you got a 20-cent payout? With automatic reinvesting, though, the cycle continues and eventually, as you stick with the dollar-cost averaging to buy more shares, and as your payouts get bigger, everything builds on itself.

Use your pocket change.

If you are absolutely certain that you can’t spare $50 a month for investing, consider using Acorns. This app connects to your bank account and automatically rounds up your recent purchases and puts the difference in an investment account. The fees aren’t my favorite, but if you aren’t investing at all, and this will get you started, it’s better than nothing. This is a good way to at least get started.

You can also use the myRA if your workplace doesn’t offer a retirement account, or if you work part-time and aren’t eligible for your employer’s plan. You can contribute as little as $5 per paycheck to the account.

Commit to your money.

Once you start investing, look for ways to invest more. Don’t forget to increase the amount you invest as you earn more and climb the career ladder. The spare change you invest now won’t fund your future. But it will give you a good start and help you start a habit that can benefit you for the rest of your life.

Like what you’ve read?

Join other #adults who receive free weekly updates.


For a limited time you’ll receive our new book, The Best Bank Accounts for Adults, when you sign up!

Can you rent forever and still be an adult? We think so. Here’s why we love renting.

Should you buy or rent? You’ve heard about the importance of homebuying as a life and money milestone. But do you really need to buy a home to be an adult?

We wade into the homebuying debate — on the side of renting. Miranda has actually owned a home, and never wants to again. Harlan has never bought, and he’s not sure he wants to deal with a mortgage and all the expenses that go into owning a house.

Miranda and Harlan tackle the homebuying debate and look at why it seems like such a big deal, and talk about how you can rent forever and STILL be an adult.

Concepts

  • There seems to be a lot of handwringing over millennials and their low rates of homeownership. Why are millennials reluctant to take the plunge?
  • Why does society place such an emphasis on homebuying?
  • What are the main points of the homebuying debate?
  • Tips for deciding whether it makes more sense for you to buy or rent.
  • Reasons that renting can be a good lifestyle choice.
  • The difference between buying property as an investment and buying a primary residence.

Where do you stand in the homebuying debate? So you think buying is preferable to renting? Or do you think it makes more sense to be an eternal renter once you move out of your parents’ house?

Become a Friend of Adulting

To get Adulting delivered directly to your device, subscribe using iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, or your app of choice.

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

Resources

The AtlanticWhy millennials avoid buying homes
The New York TimesBuy vs. Rent calculator
AnnualCreditReport.comCheck your credit report

Like what you’ve heard?

Join other #adults who receive free weekly updates.


For a limited time you’ll receive our new book, The Best Bank Accounts for Adults, when you sign up!

Your savings account is a freeloader. Put your money to work by investing now.

When I want something in another room, I send my son to get it. It’s what kids are for. The best way to get work done is to get someone else to do it for you.

That’s the principle behind investing. When you invest, your money does the heavy lifting. With $25 and a willingness to automatically transfer money into your investment account each month, you can enjoy the benefits of letting your money work.

Get Off Your Assets

No one likes freeloaders. If someone is sleeping at your place, you at least want them to do the dishes. When your money sits in a savings account, it’s sleeping on the couch without helping out with anything.

You’ll never build the wealth you need for financial freedom if you don’t move your assets. Once you have built up a comfortable emergency fund, stop relying entirely on that savings account and open an investment account. It’s easy enough, even if you only have $25 to start.

An Open Relationship with Your Money

Don’t be loyal to one bank account or investment account. It’s ok to work your assets in any way that helps you build wealth.

Start with your company’s tax-advantaged retirement account. If your company offers a 401(k) and you contribute, you’re investing. Use that to your advantage, and take the biggest match possible. Many people don’t think of company retirement plans as investing, but it is.

You don’t need to be a one-account investor, though. If you have the right information, you can open an account with an online discount broker (like TradeKing or E*Trade), robo advisor (like Betterment), or a “traditional” company like Vanguard or Fidelity.

Get your money out there to make an effort with others. I was pleasantly surprised the other day to discover that my regular effort with my money has been paying off. I’ve been contributing to a travel fund, and my money has been busy. It’s worked for me, and with the help of compound interest, is already offering a great return.

When you’re ready to spread a little more canvas with your money, keep the following in mind:

Get personal. You’ll need identifying information to open an investment account. Your name, address, birth date, Social Security number, and bank account information will be needed.

Have your personal information ready. Even if you open an account using the Internet, having it nearby keeps you from being timed out of the session before you’re ready.

Index funds are better to start. They aren’t sexy, but index funds, which follow set groups of stocks, such as the Dow Jones Industrial Average, or the S&P 500, can be an easy way to get the most out of your investing dollar. You don’t have to pick stocks (which can get tricky), and you enjoy instant diversity.

Do it in your sleep. Put your assets to work while you sleep. Schedule automatic transfers from your account to the investment account. Most brokers offer an “automatic investment plan.” Sign up for it. It’s better when things happen while you’re not thinking about.

Start small. Even if you’re broke af, you can still afford to invest. With some discount brokers, it’s possible to automatically invest $50 a month. You eventually need to step it up and show your investment account some love, but starting small gives you the chance to let your money begin. The long your money is at it, the greater the chance you’ll see bigger results down the road.

But you still need to boost your contributions over time. As soon as you can, increase the amount you invest. You don’t want to sit on your assets when you have them. They should be out working hard for you.

The following, from Calculate My Wealth, shows you how you should be working your assets. Start investing $100 per month at age 22, and do it until you’re 65, and here’s what you could have:

invest

Unlike investments, that savings account is definitely a freeloader.

Like what you’ve read?

Join other #adults who receive free weekly updates.


For a limited time you’ll receive our new book, The Best Bank Accounts for Adults, when you sign up!

You aren’t really adulting until you have your own place. Here’s how to make it work.

Are you ready to move into your own place? Chances are that your first place will be a little on the shabby side — at least it should be if you want to say that you really did it right.

Before you move out, make sure you have an idea of what you’re getting into. In this episode we talk about what you need to know when you get into your first place, from how to choose a location, how to make sure you have enough money, and what you need to look for in your lease. We’ll even tackle the thorny issues related to roommates.

Concepts

  • Can you afford to get your own place?
  • Tips to make your first place more affordable.
  • Reasons to consider something cheap to start.
  • What you need to know about signing your first lease.
  • How to look for a good roommate.

Become a Friend of Adulting

To get Adulting delivered directly to your device, subscribe using iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, or your app of choice.

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

Resources

U.S. Bureau of Labor StatisticsA look at millennials and moving out.

Like what you’ve heard?

Join other #adults who receive free weekly updates.


For a limited time you’ll receive our new book, The Best Bank Accounts for Adults, when you sign up!

Let’s be honest: when we talk about being a cheap holiday Grinch, it’s about the money. The good news is that you can spread holiday cheer without breaking the bank.

Are you a cheap holiday Grinch?

As an adult, you need to realize that you have responsibilities to others. During the holidays, society expects you to give to others and tips a little extra. You don’t want to be the cheap holiday Grinch that others despise.

We take a look at giving, how to properly tip, and what it means to spread holiday cheer.

Our Do Nows help you identify who needs a tip, as well as strategies to help you enjoy the holidays without breaking the bank.

Concepts

  • The realities of holiday tipping in our society.
  • Who should you be tipping? And how much should you give?
  • What makes you a cheap holiday grinch?
  • How to enjoy time with family and friends during the holidays without spending more than you can afford.
  • Tips for writing a holiday note or card to add extra holiday cheer.
  • How to maintain relationships throughout the year.

Become a Friend of Adulting

To get Adulting delivered directly to your device, subscribe using iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, or your app of choice.

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

Resources

Country LivingInexpensive and easy DIY gift ideas for the holidays.
Emily PostVisit the Emily Post Institute for tipping etiquette

Like what you’ve heard?

Join other #adults who receive free weekly updates.


For a limited time you’ll receive our new book, The Best Bank Accounts for Adults, when you sign up!

Want to reach your dreams of financial independence? Start investing, even if you’re struggling.

As an adult, it’s time to start thinking about money and the future. If you want build a secure future, investing is important.

It’s scary to start investing, though. It can be intimidating to figure out which stocks to pick. Plus, how can you get started when you don’t have a lot of money?

In this episode we talk about how you can start investing, no matter how little you have. We also share tips for choosing investments that are a little less risky, and can help you begin taking advantage of compound interest and building it up over time.

Use the Do Nows in this episode to start investing today by opening an account with a low-cost investment broker and setting up an automatic plan.

Concepts

  • Reasons you should start investing ASAP.
  • What are some of the barriers to investing?
  • How to overcome investing barriers like fear and a small amount of money.
  • Strategies to employ when you first start investing.
  • The differences between stock picking and indexing.

Zeal081707C

S&P500_(1950-12)

Video Clips

Become a Friend of Adulting

To get Adulting delivered directly to your device, subscribe using iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, or your app of choice.

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

Resources

ReutersAn overview of the myRA investment tool
BloombergReasons millennials worry about investing, and how to overcome those issues

Like what you’ve heard?

Join other #adults who receive free weekly updates.


For a limited time you’ll receive our new book, The Best Bank Accounts for Adults, when you sign up!