Don’t get caught in the buy low and sell high fantasy. Your path to best long-term results is boring AF.

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The Dow recently closed above 20,000. It seems like we’re still seeing a bull run, even with some losses. Indeed, even with recent drops, the Dow is still above 20,000. But will it last?

It’s tempting to try to time the market. But the problem is that, as humans, it’s hard for us to make good choices when it comes to investing.

We talk about the need to buy low and sell high, but is this actually practical advice? Let’s look at how likely this is for you to accomplish.

Concepts

  • What it means to buy low and sell high.
  • The realities behind trying to get in low and sell high.
  • Does stock picking make sense?
  • Downsides to frequent trading.
  • A look at indexing and how it works.
  • Riding the market instead of trying to beat it.
  • Why most people end up selling low — they have to.
  • Should you invest cash instead of having it just lying around?
  • The psychological downsides of trying to buy low and sell high.
  • The concepts of rebalancing and asset allocation
  • How to create “buckets” of money based on your time horizons.

This week’s DO NOWS are all about taking action for a better investing future. Consider opening an investment account and setting up an automatic plan to invest in an index fund or ETF. One good place to start is Acorns, which allows you to use pocket change to start investing in ETFs.

We also suggest picking up a couple of books to learn more about investing:

The Little Book of Common Sense Investing: The Only Way to Guarantee Your Fair Share of Stock Market Returns (Hardcover)


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Oblivious Investing: Building Wealth by Ignoring the Noise (Paperback)


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Used from: $16.36 USD In Stock

This week, our listener asks about investing with a small amount of money. The good news is that you can invest, even if you feel like you’re broke. We talk about different choices you can make when you’re running low on funds, and how to make the most of each dollar. You can also read our article on how to invest when you’re broke AF.

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Tara Falcone, the founder of ReisUP, was forced to adult at the age of 13 due to difficult circumstances when growing up.

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

Today, Tara Falcone from ReisUp joins Harlan and Miranda. Some of us delay adulting as much as possible while some of us have been forced to be responsible at an age when our friends were busy being young.

Find out why Tara had to start adulting at age 13 and how supporting herself financially changed her life.

Tara Falcone, CFP® is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, former Wall Street analyst, and Founder of ReisUP LLC. ReisUP is an early-stage financial services company dedicated to increasing investing education and access for everyday investors. Her mission is to empower people to “rise up” and play a more active role in achieving their financial goals.

Watch the video, recorded live, above, or listen to just the audio using the player below. Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast!

Hosted byHarlan L. Landes and Miranda Marquit
Produced byadulting.tv
Edited and mixed byHarlan L. Landes
Music bybensound.com

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Financial stability is a requirement for successful adulting. Here’s how you achieve stability and recognize it when you are stable.

If financial independence is the dream, financial stability is the first adult step along the path towards that vision.

On the final day of the year, fifteen years ago, I returned home from a weekend away to find my belongings on the lawn in front of the house I was renting. (I used the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine to fact-check myself using my old, anonymous personal blog, my first time reading those entries in over a decade.)

My roommate thought I was moving out at the end of December, and when I wasn’t around, she moved two people into the room I had been occupying for several months. I had been planning to move out at the end of January, and the roommate knew this. But my name wasn’t on the lease, so perhaps she thought she could do whatever she wanted.

A later entry brought back the memory of a related event: I visited that apartment again ten days later to pick up a few remaining items, and the new occupants were moving out because that roommate committed some kind of check fraud. But I digress…

Being forced out of my living space with no notice on New Year’s Eve was the end of a particularly bad year. I lost a job, lost my car, and lost my girlfriend. I had moved to northern New Jersey for a job I no longer had. I was in my mid-twenties, but I wasn’t financially an adult. I survived by spending on credit cards, avoiding student loan bills, and accepting help from parents.

With the necessity of moving in with family as 2001 became 2002, I vowed to turn things around for myself.

I wasn’t necessarily aware of the idea of financial independence, but thankfully, that is how I can describe my situation today. In early 2002, I just wanted financial stability. And I had to figure out how to get there.

How I became financially stable.

After college, I chose a career somewhere between education and nonprofit. The organization I was working for was meant to be a stop-gap while looking for a teaching position, but I did enjoy it, and I didn’t put enough effort into moving forward. It cost me more to work as a nonprofit employee than I was earning — and I wasn’t even spending a significant amount of money.

1. I found a new job.

Instead of looking for my ideal career, my priority was earning money and getting back on my feet, taking control of my situation. Nothing is permanent. I could work on my loftier life goals while at least working somewhere during the day that would allow me the flexibility to plan for the future.

Without a car, I was limited to jobs that were accessible by walking or by traveling on the train. I turned to a technical temp agency. That’s how I earned money over breaks during college, and I knew I had many skills that would serve me well in corporate settings. I found something right away — an executive administrative assistant at a major financial firm.

This had no relation to my degree, but it was a job. And it paid 50 percent more than what I was earning at the nonprofit organization. Theoretically, I could even stay involved with the activity I was passionate about on weekends while working a “regular” job.

2. I designed a budget.

My dad helped me brainstorm a basic budget on the back of an envelope. That’s how I remember the situation. This budget had to take into account paying off a cash advance from my credit card, consumer spending on my credit card, and my student loans. I intended to move out and be less of a burden on family as soon as possible, so I budgeted for rent, as well. And savings for the future.

Partly because I wanted to stick to my budget and partly because I needed some self-reflection time to recover from bad choices, I also saved money in the first few months of my new job by staying in a fortress of solitude.

The budget was essential for setting myself up for financial stability.

3. I tracked every penny.

I used free software to meticulously track my spending, making sure I was staying within my budget and paying my bills on time.

You can only have a clear picture of where you’re going financially if you know where you are. It is incredibly easy today to get a full snapshot of your finances at any time thanks to technology. Apps communicate directly and securely with banks, so you all you need to do is check your phone to see where you stand. The app adds your bank balances and subtracts your debt, and the result is your financial net worth.

And beyond your net worth, you need to know how that changes over time, so you track your income and expenses, too. Today, I use Personal Capital and Quicken.

4. I started saving for the future.

It wasn’t enough to have a bank account whose balance was increasing every month. My new job offered a retirement plan with a matching contribution. Always say yes to a matching contribution. It’s free money.

How do you know when you’re financially stable?

To be considered financially stable — a true sign of adulting — you must meet these criteria.

  • You must be spending less than you’re earning. It doesn’t matter which side of the equation you try to improve, but it helps to focus on both your expenses and your income. You can only cut your expenses back so far — but income potential is unlimited. When you spend less than you earn, you have a surplus. The surplus allows you to have some control.
    • Living paycheck-to-paycheck — spending every penny you earn — means you have no surplus and you are not moving towards flexibility or control.
  • You don’t have to be debt-free, but you must be paying down your debt and not accumulating any more. If you’re able to make your minimum payments on your debt and then some, you’re in good shape.
  • You’re not relying on loans or gifts from family. This is the cornerstone of stability. You can make it on your own, just with your income and your expenses. It’s true that you may be in financial trouble if your income disappears, especially if you’re only beginning to establish savings, but for now, you are making it on your own.
  • You are building your future through savings and investment. Your nest egg might not be too big just yet, but it’s growing. You’re putting aside extra money to create an emergency fund and you have a systematic transfer to an investment account, preferably a low-cost index mutual fund.
  • Your friends support your goals. Don’t waste time around people who give you a hard time for being responsible. Often, when one starts acting more grown-up, the friends still wading through adolescence grow bitter. Or maybe you’re the last one to cross the threshold into actual adulthood.
    • People reach this point at different times in their lives. I wasn’t financially adulting until I was in my late twenties. Some start when they’re 40. And I’ve seen some sixteen-year-olds who are taking control of their future I never would have considered.
  • You’re moving forward steadily in your career. How you progress is often up to you, even when are faced with resistance was you’re trying to gain more responsibility, authority, and compensation at your job. You do know that often you have to accept more responsibilities before being granted more authority and increases in compensation. This type of success proceeds at different speeds, but you should always be aware of where you stand, and you make decisions that move you forward.
  • You have health insurance and you take care of yourself. Your health and well-being affect your ability to have a life of any sort in the future, so you watch your health and have an appropriate health insurance plan. You see a doctor once every one or two years, at least, if you’re otherwise healthy, and you see a dentist and dental hygienist every six months. If you need work, you get it done.
  • You pay your credit card balance in full every month. Credit cards can be great tools for people who are financially stable. They allow you to time-shift your spending, just like the DVR time-shifts The Walking Dead. They allow you to collect cash back and points that can be used for travel. But only if you avoid interest charges, late payments, and pay your balance in full every month.
    • This could be considered an “advanced technique,” and many people start messing with credit cards before they are prepared to handle the responsibilities. So watch out.

Financial independence is the next step after financial stability, but it could take a lifetime to achieve. Imagine if you no longer had to rely on your job. Imagine if you could live the life that you wanted to live, go where in the world that you wanted to go, and do anything that you wanted to do — without any concern about what the financial consequences would be.

That is financial independence. And you can’t get there without financial stability first.

Are you financially stable? If so, when did you finally achieve it?

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Broke AF? Worried about your debt? You might think you can’t invest, but maybe you can. Here’s how to decide what step to take next on the road to financial freedom.

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One of the best ways to build wealth for retirement is to invest.

Putting money in a retirement account now is a good way to get a good start on building a nest egg that leads to financial independence later.

But what if you have debt?

Can you invest when you have debt and feel broke AF? Does it make sense to pay off your debt before you begin investing?

This week, we talk about the considerations that come when trying to decide whether or not to start investing when you still have debt.

Concepts

  • The importance of investing.
  • Ways debt can slow you down.
  • Are you really ready to invest?
  • Can you balance paying down debt with investing?
  • Have you taken care of other areas of your finances, like an emergency fund?
  • Tips for making investing more effective.
  • How to decide if it makes sense to invest instead of pay down debt early.
  • Different types of debt and which you should tackle first.
  • The importance of being able to sleep at night.

Don’t forget to listen to our “Do Nows” this week. We’ll take a look at how to create a debt payoff plan, open an investment account, and assess how much you need to start saving today to hit your retirement goals.

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

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Stop believing investing myths. The truth is that you can probably start investing today and build wealth for future.

You know you need to invest.

It’s time to get off your assets and put them to work.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of myths surrounding investing. It’s easy to be intimidated by investing when you think about the jargon and you’re concerned about what the stock market is doing.

Before you assume that investing just isn’t for you, get the full story. Here are five investing myths keeping you from leveling up with your money:

1. I need a lot of money to get started.

It’s a good thing this is bullshit. You can totally invest even when you’re broke AF.

First, you can open an investment account with many brokers with $0. Many brokers will let you invest between $50 and $100 a month if you sign up for an automatic investing account.

There are even startups, like Acorns, that allow you to invest your pocket change. Use dollar-cost averaging to start investing consistently. Eventually, you’ll want to boost the amount you invest each month. But the important thing is to start investing early.

2. I don’t have enough assets to get help investing.

Many of us feel more comfortable when we have someone to help us make investing choices. Sadly, there are money managers that do require you to have a lot of assets before they will even look at you.

But that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck.

Thinking that you need a human person dedicated to your investment management is one of the biggest investing myths. Get over it and embrace the technology available to us.

The rise of robo-advisors can be a great help to anyone with few assets and a desire for a little direction. You won’t get personalized help from robo-advisors, but you will get an idea of how to start, and someone else to guide you.

If you want a little more personalized direction, but don’t have the asset count for someone to straight manage things for you, consider a fee-only financial planner. At the very least, one of these folks will help you create a map for the future for a flat fee.

3. I need to understand how to pick stocks.

Honestly, you shouldn’t go anywhere near stock picking until you have a little experience with investing.

When you start investing, it makes more sense to start with index mutual funds and ETFs. These are groups of investments that have something in common. Personally, I prefer all-market index funds that follow everything publicly traded on U.S. exchanges. I also like S&P 500 funds because they offer access to a wide swath of the market.

Index funds and ETFs allow you take advantage of overall market performance rather than relying on your ability to get it right with a few individual stocks. Over time, the market generally goes up; it’s never gone negative in any 25-year period.

Start with funds. Learn a little. Get your feet wet. If you still want to pick stocks later, use not-for-retirement money to experiment.

4. I have to know how to “win.”

Do you have a competitive nature? If so, you might be tempted to think that you have to beat the market.

While it’s fun to think you can outperform the market, it’s foolhardy to focus on such a goal. Investing myths lead you to believe that it’s not worth it unless you’re “winning” against someone.

The truth is that you don’t need to be better than anyone. You just need to focus on your own goals. Stop worrying about how your friends invest. Don’t tie your self-worth to whether or not your portfolio does better than the market.

You don’t need a portfolio that’s bigger than someone else’s.

What you need is a plan to meet your personal financial goals.

Rather than obsessing over whether or not you are “winning,” look at whether or not you are going to hit your personal milestones. Perform a retirement assessment. How much do you need to retire? How much should you set aside (perhaps in index funds!) each month to reach that goal?

As long as you are on track to meet your goals, it doesn’t matter whether you beat the market — or your co-worker — at investing.

The worst thing you can do in any financial situation is compare yourself to others. Compare yourself to you and move forward.

5. I’m going to lose everything if the market crashes.

We all remember the market crash of 2008 and 2009.

It’s one of the reasons many of us are afraid to invest today. One of the most persistent investing myths is that you will lose everything during a market crash.

Do you know what I did when things looked ugly at the beginning of 2009?

I bought more shares of my favorite index funds.

For the most part, you only lock in your losses when you sell low. I stayed the course during the last couple of market events and even added to my portfolio. You get more bang for your buck when you buy during the dips.

While you’re young, you can afford to let it ride when you go through these crashes. As you get closer to retirement, you can consider moving some of your assets out of stocks and into bonds and/or cash. That way, your portfolio is somewhat protected close to the time you will actually need to start using that money.

But, for now, chances are that you can get through whatever the market throws at you.

There will always be down markets, bear markets, and crashes. Don’t react with panic and unload when you will guarantee losses.

Bottom line: investing is your best bet.

If you want to build long-term wealth, you need to get over the investing myths. Investing is your best bet for building financial independence in the future.

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Do you want to make the most of today’s money for tomorrow? Make it rain for your future self.

One of the best times to set aside money for the future is now, while you’re young and compound interest can work longer in your favor.

Even if you think you don’t have enough money to invest, the truth is that you probably do. And one of the best things about using accounts that offer tax-free investment growth when your young is that you pay taxes at a lower rate.

If you want to make it rain later, the right planning now is the way to go.

Roth IRA

The Roth IRA is a solid choice when you have your first job. (There is also a Roth 401(k), so if your company offers a retirement plan, ask if there is a Roth version.)

With a Roth account, you make your contribution after taxes are taken out of your paycheck. However, this isn’t such a bad thing when you consider that right now you’re probably making very little anyway. Your taxes are lower than they might be later on.

A Roth account is all about the tax-free investment growth. When you withdraw money, you don’t have to pay taxes on it like you do with a “regular” retirement account. The longer you invest in a Roth IRA, and the longer the money grows, the bigger your benefit later on because you have the potential for more gains the longer you grow your account.

It’s a huge deal to not have to worry about paying taxes when you withdraw from your account.

Health Savings Account

If you want to level up your tax-free investment growth, consider opening a Health Savings Account (HSA) and contributing regularly.

The HSA offers a unique chance to invest because your contributions are made before taxes, so you get a tax deduction. Later, if you withdraw the money for qualified expenses, you don’t have to pay taxes on that money, either. Money in the HSA is truly tax-free — as long as you use it for qualified health care costs.

You can’t immediately invest the money in the HSA, though. Most of the time, you can only invest after your account balance exceeds $2,000. If you make regular contributions, you will get to that point and be able to enjoy tax-free growth.

In order to qualify, you need to have a high-deductible health care plan. As long as you don’t have really high health care costs, this type of plan can be great. It’s usually less expensive than other plans, and you can put your savings in the HSA.

I like to think of my HSA as a health care retirement account. I don’t actually use it now. Instead, when I am older, I’ll withdraw from my Roth IRA for income, and use the HSA to pay for medial co-pays and other medical costs. It will all be done with money that I won’t have to pay taxes on.

Now is the perfect time to start putting your money to work for you. Your taxes are likely the lowest they will ever be, and you can keep your expenses small, too. Focus on tax-free investment growth today, and you’ll be more likely to enjoy financial freedom later.

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Congratulations on landing your first real job! Before you get caught up in your work, take some time to navigate your surroundings.

Now that you you’re successfully navigated the interview and hiring process, you get to take a big step forward in your career by starting it. Or, if your job isn’t exactly in your career path, at least you’re working.

Before long, all of your job’s roles and responsibilities will be clear, and you’ll start making your mark. You may get a little overwhelmed with your new environment, so take some time now to deal with some of the tasks that are essential at the start of your first real job. Ignore these tasks, and you will miss opportunities to set yourself up for long-term success. Don’t blow it.

1. Get a true sense of your take-home pay.

Surprise! Your paycheck is a lot smaller than you expect it to be. A $40,000 salary after federal, state, and local taxes might leave you with only $500 a week. For reals. Even less will end up in your pocket if you have an automatic enrollment in a retirement plan.

You may get some of the money withheld for taxes back when you file your tax return, but your net pay, what you take home, is what you should focus on right now, not your salary.

2. Figure out your new budget.

Now that you know how much income you really have to work with, write down your new budget. Start with the things you need, like your rent or mortgage payment, your food (groceries), and your transportation to and from your workplace. Set aside as much as possible for savings. You’ll need something set aside for emergencies. Then try to fit in some of the luxuries, like dining out, entertainment, vacations, and nicer clothing. If you can.

If you can’t, just hang on for now. You can’t have everything you want in life the moment you start your first real job.

Read this article to see how to make a budget based on priorities. Once you make the budget, track it, so you stay within its limits or realize that you need to change your assumptions about your spending.

3. Open bank accounts if you don’t have any.

It still surprises me how many newly-minted grown-ups don’t have bank accounts. When you get paychecks for working, not cash, you need to have at least one bank account, a checking (debit card) account. Don’t take your paychecks to check-cashing places or Walmart. They charge fees that add up quickly.

Instead, find a free checking account with free debit cards. You might want to check with whatever bank has a branch closest to you, and ask about free checking and free debit cards, but some communities don’t even have any bank branches.

It might be easier to just go online. Ally Bank and Capital One 360 are two of my favorite free online checking accounts.

Once you open your checking account, you can tell your supervisor or human resources department at work that you want to set up a direct deposit. Your paycheck will be sent directly to your bank, so you just use your debit card when you need to pay for anything or go to an ATM when you need cash.

4. Invest some of your income.

6 Life-Changing Tips When Starting Your First Job

If you don’t start investing right now, you will always be trying to catch up. First, make sure you’re enrolled in your company’s retirement plan, if the company offers one. If the company doesn’t offer a 401(k) plan, a 403(b) plan, or anything else, you’ll have to start investing on your own. Put money aside for a few months, and open a retirement account at Vanguard.

Choose a Roth IRA if you already have a plan at work, or a traditional IRA if you don’t. Invest in a broad index mutual fund, like the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund (VTSMX), for now. It’s a low-cost way to save for retirement, and keeping your costs low is the most important factor in building wealth over the long term.

5. Understand your benefits.

Your employer may offer some benefits, including health insurance, disability insurance, life insurance, free lunches, a weekly chair massage, or personalized humanoid robot butlers. You’ll only find out what you get by reading all the information you receive your first few days on the job.

If you have a choice, and you might for something like health insurance, review the information carefully and ask around for advice. It’s good to know what your health insurance options are, and what’s covered, in case you need to use them.

6. Learn about your company’s culture.

Getting ahead and succeeding in your job isn’t just about your job performance or doing all that is expected of you. You’ll also need to be able to fit in — without losing your individuality, of course. Spend lots of time with your coworkers. Observe how people behave and present themselves on the job and listen carefully to important discussions. Look for the clues, both subtle and obvious, that will lead you towards making a good impression. Much of this is based on mimicking the behavior of the more successful people at your level.

Use this time exploring the culture to work on your communication skills (ask questions!) and build relationships with people in your workplace.

The most important thing about getting started is not to expect to be treated like a superstar on your first day on the job. You’re a unique snowflake, that’s for sure, but so is everyone else. As the new girl or guy, you have to put in time and effort before you are able to reap the rewards of great benefits, a salary that reflects your worth, and personal freedom.

You’re not entitled to the best of what your employer (or life) has to offer just by showing up, but when you put in the hard work and prove yourself, success will find its way to you much easier. After some time.

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