Living Paycheck to Paycheck | How this NEW Method Provided Financial Independence

Living Pay Check to Pay Check is NEW Financial Strategy
Spenders Rejoice

Living paycheck to paycheck has gotten a bad rep.  Wouldn’t you agree?

“You need save more or you’ll never be financially set”, the financial pundits scream.  I mean you turn on the TV, radio, or check out any personal finance blog and that’s the message.  If you’re anything like the normal consumer you’re probably tired of being chastised for living paycheck to paycheck.  

There Shame in Living Pay Check To Pay Check

My family and I live paycheck to paycheck and couldn’t imagine living any other way.  This lifestyle has allowed us to fund the girls college education, save for a comfortable retirement, and payoff debt.  This wasn’t accomplished by “saving” or being frugal.  

I am not a fan of savings or being frugal.  In fact, practicing this will set you back hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Savings are for the birds I say.  

Savings accounts are not intended to make you wealthy.   The only person getting wealthy is the financial institutions themselves.  Look around,  how many of these institutions are in run-down buildings?  I see none. These buildings are fancy, climate appropriate, offer you popcorn, and have smiling attendees ready to serve you.  

The last few months, a couple approached us and in discussing finances they brought up their savings accounts.  Their concern was how much they earned over the last year.  As you can imagine it was a measly annual percentage. Fortunately, for them this wasn’t their only “retirement” account.  They were wise and bought real estate. 

Seeing this statement I was livid.  We took immediate action and set them up with a certified planner and invested the money in a mutual fund.  You continue to leave your money in a bank and the pundits are correct, “you’ll never be financially set”.  The banker is financially set but the patrons not so much. 

On the topic of frugality I’ll save that for another day.  This only serves to emphasis the scarcity mentality and very contrary to an abundant lifestyle.   Let’s get over the Great Depression and the 2008 financial meltdown.  

Small Savings

But Joel, don’t you save anything?  We do! We save only enough to cover 6 month’s living expenses.  That’s It!  I refuse to let the bank make any more money off of me than necessary.  

How can you afford to fund college tuition and retirement living pay check to pay check?

Let me show you the method we have used to live paycheck to paycheck and have enough for tuition and retirement.  (You may want to take notes here. I’ll wait for you to grab a pen and paper).  The method is called zero-based spending plan.  Spenders rejoice! 

“Spend” all you earn

The premise is this,  you want to be able to “spend” all your income.  Whether it be weekly or monthly, single earner or combined income.  Let’s walk through a zero-based spending plan.  

Get your FREE Google spreadsheet download to follow along.

The Process- Zero Based Spending Plan

My wife and I are paid on a weekly schedule.  Our zero-based spending plan includes the number of pay periods corresponding to the month.  We love those five pay period months!  

 

  1. Having the spreadsheet in front of you is recommended. The very first cell,’B2’, will be the total $ amount you have left after spending everything. It should be ‘0’.  See where the name came from now?  Screen Shot 2018-06-28 at 9.51.36 PM
  2. This simply means you “spent” all your money for that week.  When using the Google Spreadsheet there is no need to enter any number in ‘B2’. The spreadsheet will calculate the dollar figure as you enter all expenses in column ‘A’.
  3.  The next cell, B3, is your take home pay or your income.  This is what you are paid.  In our household we tithe to our local church and this is the first line we “spend” the money.  The spreadsheet will deduct that from the starting “Take Home $” amount. 
  4. Next, enter all your expenses you have for that period.  Continue and work the spreadsheet for all pay periods.  Note that not all bills are on the same pay period.  Split the expenses as they are due.  This needs to be paid on time to keep from getting late charges.  
  5. It’s recommended that the spending plan be done weeks in advance.  I shoot for 3 months out as my expenses are similar.  Again, this has been my practice for the last 11 years and have it done.

Irregular income

If your income is irregular,  varying from pay period to pay period, take the lowest pay period from the previous year.  This dollar amount will be your starting point. You want to lowball here and have a little extra than to shoot high and not have enough to cover the expenses.  On the expenses you take the highest from previous year and use this as a starting point.  

Don’t get frustrated if the spending plan doesn’t….This may take a few tries before you’re able to get it down perfectly.  

Simple enough correct?  Who would have thought that spending would be so much fun and at the same time allow you’re achieving financial independence.

You can learn more about us here.   

How Can I Get Consistent Returns?

8 behaviors to consider when investing
8 behaviors to consider

Recent studies have shown that female investors enjoy more consistent returns with consistent performance

If you’re a man reading this chances are the title either disturbed you or you are ROTFLOL, rolling on the floor laughing out loud.  Not what you thought about investing did you?  This hurt!

If you’re a female you might have had a hunch that you’re better than your hubsand but couldn’t prove it.  Until now that is.  Please don’t gloat about this.   

Ok, maybe gloat for a minute or so.

In a book authored by Louann Lofton, Warren Buffett Invests Like a Girl and Why You Should Too, she brings forth research indicating that women have enjoyed more consistent returns with consistent performance. The author looked over Mr. Buffett’s investment strategy and he too demonstrated all behaviors listed.

Consistency is what you want.  

Why should you take her word? 

You’re right you shouldn’t but consider that the research she presents was conducted by several teams and all concluded that women are better investors.  Better investors in the sense that they are consistent. 

Eight temperament behaviors that the women from the book exhibited are:

  1. Trade less than men do
    1. Will ignore market conditions and not act on a whim
  2. Less overconfidence
    1. Know what they don’t know and are not afraid to question it
  3. Take less risk
  4. Less optimistic
    1. It pays to be pessismitc and a realists
  5. Value research and consider different view points before investing
  6. Peer presssure does not influence their choices
    1. Men will fall into the peer pressure for fear of rejection
  7. Learn from their mistakes
  8. Less testosterone
    1. Are naturally inclined to take less risk

Women in the studies did not necessarily pick better stocks but they had the fortitude not to trade or sell when the market was tanking. 

The men money took the money and ran.  The goal to any investment is to ignore the noise and hang on to the stocks for the long term.  The author suggests that investments need be long term and Warren Buffett is of the same logic too.   

Let’s be honest with ourselves.  It’s ok to say we don’t know.  The study highlighted women’s honesty in admitting they knew what they don’t know.

As an example, the author mentions Mr. Buffett’s tendency to avoid technology companies.  These are outside his comfort zone and he avoids them.  He wants to understand the business before acting on.

Start to hone in on the eight identified temperament behaviors and your portfolio will thank you.

Struggling With Your Finances

How this psychological behavior is causing you to lose lots of dollars

loss aversion
The pain of losing is twice as strong as the gain

Hey, did you notice an increase in your paystub?  You may want to check it out.   If you did, you are part of the 90 percent of Americans who will have experienced a positive net gain in their take home money.

But have you given much thought to what you will do with that extra money?

Chances are you haven’t given it much thought.  Honestly, I have not done much with mine yet.

Unfortunately, you and I will struggle to save that extra income because it is so much fun to spend rather than save.  Who can relate?

Wait, I have a mental condition?

Yes, we all do!  There is  a psychological behavior that will keep you from saving.  This behavior is known as loss aversion, or the hate of losing.  Loss aversion is a psychological state of mind where the “pain of losing is twice as powerful as the pleasure of gaining”.

We know we need to do something smart with that little extra money and yet we choose to do nothing.   This same behavior is seen  in different areas of one’s life:  health, spiritual well-being, education, and list continues. We know the benefits gained from each of these actions are great, but the pain of losing time, money, relationships, or other resources will keep you from taking action.

Look around your influential circle of friends and you may see the benefits experienced by overcoming loss aversion.   These benefits did not happen overnite.  They probably battled loss aversion at some time yet they did something about it and they took action.

Inaction breeds company and it will have an impact in many areas of your life.

Now that we know that loss aversion keeps us from investing let’s explore the solution

The more steps or actions an activity requires the less likely we are to take a step forward to bettering ourselves.   For example, we need to get in shape and for some reason we believe we need a new workout wardrobe, hire a trainer, and post your accomplishments.  These are but a few things that keep you from taking action.  So many unwritten rules to follow it seems.  But disregard those and get going.

 Let’s look at savings and retirement

The lingo alone will drive one insane!  Annual percentage rate, annual percentage yield, certificates of deposit or CD, bonds, IRA, 401K, etc etc!  That is why your accounts have not grown or you have not started.  According to a report, 50 percent of Americans don’t participate in their 401Ks and reasons stated include: feeling overwhelmed with the many choices, laziness, and struggle with deposits.  I remember feeling all the mentioned emotions as I enrolled in my company 401K.  Trying to be in compliance with company policies, understand vacation policy and now 401K!

The struggle was real and I’m glad I took that plunge. I was afraid to ask questions. Here’s an MBA student who has no idea how to invest, I thought they would say.  I had no idea or direction and no one to turn to.

Don’t let that hold you back! Take action.  My experiences have shown that the first step you take, is the most important one.  Over time you will become more educated and can make wiser choices in your finances.

Turn the challenges into solutions

You might have heard the acronym KISS- Keep It Simple Silly.  Try taking advantage of automatic contributions.   Let the accounts withdraw from your check before you have time to spend it.   If you don’t see it you will not miss it.

Understand as you save more it does not necessarily mean you will spend less.  If you have a budget in place this will keep you focused on your goals.  I’m old school and prefer to look at spreadsheets when using my budget.  There are apps that keep this process simple.  Don’t see saving or investing as a present loss but a future gain or victory.  Keep focused on your goals.

Helpful bits

We are visual creatures.  We like wooing and awwing over beautifully created pictures.  I can spend hours on hours looking through Pinterest and Instargram.  Do the same for  your finances.  Use visuals rather than figures to help you achieve goals.

For example, instead on fixating on a $500,000 retirement, use visuals that that money will help you reach.  Visuals such as vacations, nicer home, or activities you enjoy doing with your family and friends.

Don’t allow loss aversion keep you from achieving your goals.  Learn to focus on the gains and not what you will be losing.  Remember the pain of losing needs to be dealt with.  Keep reminding yourself of the benefits or gains you will be able to enjoy.

How have you been able to overcome loss aversion?  Care to share?

 

Women Outlive Men

How prepared will you be when you retire? Now is the time to take hold your finances.

The Social Security Administration Reported That Women Outlive Men

Women Outlive Men

This Got Me Thinking…

Does Jessica Know What Our Retirement Accounts Consist Of?

I figured women outlived men.    Men are risk-takers and most men would agree that this risk is fun!   I recall my brief thought of being a bull-rider at the age of 23.  That idea lasted for a split second and am grateful it did.

There are the exceptions. My grandfather is approaching 96 years old while my grandmother passed away almost 35 years ago.

According to the Social Security Administration, Jessica is expected to outlive me.  This motivated me to bring her up to speed on our net worth, asset allocation model, taxes, IRA to Roth IRA conversions, etc.

I typically handle the finances but  needed to immerse Jess in investment terminology and options.  Finances are typically seen as a men’s world and the reality is they need to be managed by both spouses.

As a Result I Developed a Cheat Sheet To Guide Her

I have put together a guide that I have used to grow our retirement account.  This includes an overview of different types of retirement accounts, our portfolio and asset allocation model.    

The idea of making more money in retirement than in our working years is a reality and not a dream.   It’s exciting to know that we have changed our family legacy!  My daughters will not have to go into debt to pursue their college education or worry about retirement.

And more importantly, Jess will have been educated on retirement.

I Challenge You To Make Retirement a Reality

I share this cheat sheet not to boast but to encourage and motivate you to start or evaluate your retirement strategy.  Trust me, retirement will sneak up on you and you’ll need to be ready.

Growing up in low-income home I believed retirement and investments were for a select people. That is no longer my mentality and hope you believe the same.

It gets easier the more you investing you do.  You develop your financial muscles 💪🏽.  Investing has been part of our strategy for over 14 years.  There is no reason that you should not be able to retire.

Retirement is for all.  It does not discriminate or is it exclusive to one social economic group.

How A Masters Degree in Business Did Not Provide the Financial Guidance I Needed

While I am proud of having received an MBA degree I was ashamed that my finances were in rubbles.  The degree taught me how to do great research as many papers were written.  And the personal finances class I might have missed at some time.  I had to learn to manage my personal finances on my own and  at a high expense. 

Financial Disruptor

This tagline has brought some healthy conversations.  I believe that anyone can be a financial disruptor.  A disruptor is defined as a person that prevents something, especially a system from continuing as usual.  

That usual was our finances. It wasn’t until we started budgeting, eliminating debt, and investing that we disrupted our finances.  Action was taken and  Financials were Disrupted.  I say we because it is a team effort.  Jess, myself, and the kiddos.

Ready to See What We Are Doing For Retirement

The available guide details our portfolio and asset allocation model.  The model is not unique to our financial situation and can be mimicked.  Most asset models can be duplicated as majority of investors place their funds in large capital, small capital, international funds, and stocks. These terms are defined in the reading.

Feeling motivated?  You can sign up to receive the FREE guide.

Disclaimer:

I am not a licensed professional. I do play one at the Gallegos’ residence and have done well.  Those are the words of my financial advisor.  You can expect the material you read to be educational, informative, and entertaining.