Q&A on investing, blogging, babies, Louboutins, podcasts, and other random questions asked recently :)

by J. Money -

secret door

What up, what up!

Here’s a bunch of questions I’ve answered over recent months in case anyone’s been dying to ask them as well ;) Always happy to offer up some free advice, but remember you get what you pay for! Haha…

You can reach out to me anytime here and will always do my best to hit you back… Or for quicker responses, find me on Twitter! (@BudgetsAreSexy)

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“What are your thoughts about keeping finances separate while married? Of course its important to be on the same page about financial decisions that affect both parties, but what about for general day to day stuff.”

I think it works for a lot of people, and also doesn’t work for a lot of people, haha…

Usually older re-married people like it after having gone through a mess earlier in their lives, but most younger people tend to combine – at least in our $$ circles here.

My wife and I kept ours separate for the first two years but kept joint “house” accounts that paid for all our “together” stuff, and then eventually it just didn’t make sense for everyone to manage duplicate accounts anymore so we merged and been fine ever since.

I will say though that having a separate “do as you please” account can work wonders for each party, esp. the one that likes their freedom more and not having to explain every last transaction, haha.. So that’s always something you can implement to help ease the transition too :) Knowing you have some blow money to spend while all the major goals are being met.

“Hi J – Along with the 48% raise I’m getting with my new job (after 18 months un/underemployed) comes a 45 minute train ride to/from the city every day. I want to make use of that time on the train, and am wondering what your top three money-related podcasts would be. Ideas?”

Heyyyy – congrats! That’s some exciting news!!

I’m actually not much of a podcast listener, even after co-hosting my own years ago! Haha…, but here are a handful people seem to really love and which I’ve poked around before:

There’s also this one which literally *reads out* financial blog posts from our community, haha…

“My 13-year-old daughter is passionate about plants. Yup, plants. She has already amassed a lot of knowledge on the topic since her interest sprouted (pun intended) last year. She decided to start a blog about all things plants for a school project, and I’d like to encourage her to keep it going. Do you have any recommendations on books about blogging that aren’t too dry/boring?”

Yeahhhh! Go daughter! What a great thing to be interested in!

Has she ever heard of PlantsMap.com before? Send her a link to it as it’s like Facebook but for plants, haha… (and you can also buy markers for your plants there too, which would be kinda cool?)

I don’t know of many great books on blogging I’m afraid as I ended up learning by just watching others and then reading blogs on blogging (dailyblogtips.com was my favorite back in the day), but here are some popular ebooks on it from one of the best bloggers out there: https://problogger.com/learn/ I gave some of those to a friend as a gift years ago and she said they helped…

What about also maybe paying for her hosting/domain costs or something if you’re not already?  Or giving her money towards a blogging *conference* of some nature? (I can do puns too – zing!!). Blogging is fun, but it’s soooo much better when engaging with other bloggers in real life…

Or maybe you can even host a Plants Party?! Where all her friends have to bring a plant as a gift to celebrate? Haha… Totally just made that one up off my head, but it’s kinda good, right? ;)

At any rate, I’ll keep my eyes open if I come across some books, but please do tell your daughter that I approve 100% and am very excited for her. Blogging can open up so many more opportunities on top of just being fun, and to be involved in it at such an early age will set her down an incredible path as time goes on… Especially in today’s digital age.

Now get that Plants Party going!!! ;)
plants party
“Good morning! Would you mind sharing where you guys allocate your TSP money and the logic behind your decisions there? I also have a TSP account that I feed every pay check but I struggle with which of the funds to use (G, F, C, L). Right now I have most of mine in the C fund from a coworker’s suggestion (~75%) and some in L 2050 but I regularly question this.”

Well, the good thing is that ALL of their funds are pretty decent so it’s hard to go wrong whichever way you go :) It’s more of a matter of how much risk you’re willing to take on or not, which of course goes hand in hand w/ the potential gains as well.

Our TSP is my wife’s account who’s a lot more conservative than I am, so we just kept it nice and simple and put her in the Lifestyle Fund (I forget which year off my head – 2045 maybe?), but if it were my account I’d probably be 100% in the C fund :) Or maybe 75% like you are and 25% in the International fund. Basically because I’m more aggressive and can tolerate the bigger ups and downs and not as concerned with keeping some of it safer until much later in life.

Here’s a great series on investing overall if you wanna check it out – it really helped me wrap my head around things when I was first figuring things out: https://jlcollinsnh.com/stock-series/

Also – Here’s a popular allocation via the Bogleheads too which could be an option:

  • C fund – 40%
  • S fund – 30%
  • I fund – 20%
  • G Fund – 10%

“Hi J, Is there a good investing app for us Canadians?”

Have you ever heard of Wealthsimple?

They’re here in the U.S. now, but originated in Canada and people seem to love them… Here’s our review from a while back if it helps: A Popular Fintech Company Comes to The U.S. (And Wants to Help You Invest Better)

Also – check out PlansWell.com, though I don’t know as much about them…

“My husband and I are expecting a baby in June (yay!), however, this will be our first child and so we basically have no idea what we’re doing. Ha! Now that you’ve been through this so many times already, I’m curious to know if you have any financial words of wisdom for new parents: things you thought you would need but didn’t, things you splurged on but wish you hadn’t, things you went cheap on and wish you hadn’t, products you love and can’t live without, things you’d do differently, etc.”

Hey, congrats!!! Your lives are going to change so much! They really are cute little things, which will also help make up for all the frustration that’ll come along the way, haha…

Here are some things we’ve learned over the years:

  • Join a baby board/forum online. My wife loves them! She interacts with others expecting around the same time, and they’re always asking each other questions and helping each other out
  • Realize the first month is going to SUCK with sleep. But then it gets 10x better!!! And again, they’re super cute, which helps :)
  • Make sure your husband helps with late night feedings so you don’t go insane!
  • Routine is KEY. Getting a good napping, eating, etc system down will make your life so much more peaceful (and the baby’s)
  • Babies play with anything! Especially things that crinkle or they can put into their mouths – so lots of board books, shiny objects, etc (that are safe, obvi)
  • You can get a ton of toys/clothes at thrift stores and especially yard sales at 1/10th the price. Will just depend on how comfortable you are with “used” stuff (but most times they’re rarely worn because kids grow so fast!!)
  • No toys/items that we really regretted. We just got the bare essentials ready for Day #1 and then picked up stuff along the way whenever needed… And now *EVERYTHING* is passed down to the younger kids for the win, haha…
  • A rocker was pretty important for my wife though since you’re ALWAYS in that thing.
  • Once they’re a few months old, NAPS are also important. We read some book that talked about putting them down in “waves” when you catch them being cranky and that did wonders for us. Our boys wouldn’t sleep but 20 mins at first, and once we tried that wave method he was sleeping for 4 hours a day. But every kid’s different, really.

And lastly, don’t take to heart everyone’s advice ;) People will dish it out left and right to you telling you one way is “the best” or the other sucks, etc etc, but really your situation will be completely different. And all babies are different so there’s no “one size fits all” type advice unfortunately. So def. keep asking questions like you’re doing, and try your best to not get too stressed out as your motherly instincts will do wonders along the way as well :) People have been having babies for centuries!

One last note that really stuck with me when I asked the nurse what the hell we were supposed to do as we were leaving the hospital the first time around, haha… She said, “Just love him. You can never love him too much.” Best thing anyone’s ever told me and been doing it ever since :)

happy baby gif

“Hey! This Saturday I am making a 75 minute speech on budgeting and the importance of a good credit score. I feel like I am going to have a hard time making this last 75 minutes, but I feel like the thing I can do to make it last is getting interaction between myself and about the 25 people in attendance. Have you ever done anything like this before? I was supplied with about 25 slides on a PowerPoint, so I will be lucky to make those last about 30 minutes. If I just come up with stuff to ramble on about, it will just make it boring for everyone watching.”

Hah – awesome! I actually HATE doing speeches so I admire all y’all who do them :)

Unfortunately that means I don’t have any personal tips to share here, at least from experience, however yes – I would 100% engage the audience and maybe even have them do an exercise with their own money?! What about having them guess their own net worths, and then giving them a homework assignment of calculating it when they go back home and see how far off they are?! Most people will have no idea! ;)

I’d also focus more on “Financial Freedom” than “financial management” as that always puts people to sleep, even though it’s practically the exact same thing. And use phrases like “never having to work again” or “being a millionaire” so there’s no way you’ll lose their attention ;) Maybe even use examples of bloggers from our community who have figured out The Dream to show it really can happen in real life?!

I wrote a post once on how to make this money stuff more interesting, so check out that one too and see if it jiggles anything around ;) Everyone *wants* to be free and have tons of money, but it’s all about getting them to actually *care* enough and take action!! So if you can get them to do at least one thing after your talk, I’d say you can call it a win and be proud of yourself.

“I’m approaching 45 and I’ve had all my retirement money in the Vanguard “target retirement” fund for my age group. For entertainment purposes only (I won’t sue you) what you are the pros and cons of moving to VTSAX at this point? I’m worried the stock market will crash. The Target Retirement funds are more conservative as I get older, but I’m concerned I’ve wasted time missing out on the growth of stocks.”

To be honest, if you’re feeling good with your target dates I’d probably just stick with them as you’re right – they’re much better about getting conservative over the passing years, and if they’re at Vanguard then you’re already getting them at super low management fees.

True they won’t grow *as much* as going “all in” like with VTSAX, but to your point they also won’t crash as hard either so it’s really just a balancing act and what will help you sleep better at night. And personally, losing out on a few thousand dollars in the grand scheme of things is not worth the stress. If you’re able to retire comfortably on whatever you end up with, then that’s a great position to be in :)

Another route you can do though if you want to go *a little* bit less conservative is to create your own portfolio of – say, 3-4 different index funds – where you can set the %s of each rather than have Vanguard do it with the target dates. In this route you’d pick up VTSAX, but you’d also pick up a bond fund and an international fund/etc and then tweak the % of each. It’s more manual work to do over the years, but it would give you ultimate control as well. Provided you don’t freak out and go TOO conservative when things are crashing all around you, haha… because you know they WILL crash at some point!

Here are some articles I’ve found over the years that talk about these different types of index portfolios:

“So I am on a super tight not so sexy budget, and found a pair of my dream shoes (New Christian Louboutin) in my size at the thrift store. I felt like Cinderella. I debated if I could afford them and if I did get them, would I every wear them for over an hour before buying them, and I ended up getting them. The price was $29.99 and I had a 20% off discount bringing it to $23.99 and then also a $5 off coupon which lowered it to $18.99 + tax. I have had these beautiful shoes for 3 weeks now, and I put them on the dresser and look at them everyday. I try them on and walk around (only on carpet). I love them but don’t see myself wearing them outside or ever having a place to wear them to. I have thought about selling them as I should be able to get $800-$1000 easy, and know who I would sell them to. This money would help put a chunk into my school loans and help me open up an investment account. I would never ever buy these shoes at full price or even for what I could sell them for. So what to do – sell or keep? These shoes are the ones with the famous red soles, and if worn the resale price would drop to $200-$400.”

Wowww – nice score!! It sounds to me that you already know what you want (and should) do here, so I’d say hawk those puppies and call it a win at the end of the day ;)

No point in holding onto something you’re never going to use again? You’ve already soaked the thrill out of them and those shoes are meant for walking! (Or more like strutting – hah!)

It would be a different story if you did end up wearing them every day, but for whatever reason you’re not so I think it’s finally time to let them go :) Good luck!!! Now just find 1,000 more deals like this and you’ll be set!

louboutin gif

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And then here are some more personal Q&A’s from a recent interview I did over at GreenBacks Magnet :)

“What are you reading right now? What’s on your night stand?”

I’m reading a lot of books on the history of my hometown, which I’m told is even more boring than finances ;) There’s also a book on Benjamin Franklin that a reader mailed me – “Franklin’s Thrift: The Lost History of an American Virtue” – as he knew I’m a big fan of his habits.

“One thing people may not know about you?”

I have mild O.C.D. as well as A.D.H.D., and I also hate public speaking… which sucks, because you could really grow an empire in this field if you love getting in front of a crowd! Here’s an awesome article I just came across btw for anyone else who suffers from “reading O.C.D.” (It’s a thing!) –> How I Overcame My Reading OCD

“What’s your favorite ’80s and/or ’90s jam? What’s on your ipod? Would you let us hook up your ‘Recently Played’ list on Spotify to our office speakers?”

Haha… I love old school rap, mixed in with a little pop and folk music for good measure. You could hook up my iPod Nano if you wanted (remember that one???) but it’s stuck in the 2000’s as I rarely download anything and tend to stick to the radio or vinyl… I love me some Johnny Cash or Chuck Berry action!

“Do you consider Monopoly to be a game that you play with friends or enemies?”

FRIENDS!! Why would you play it with enemies??? The only real problem with Monopoly is finding people who will actually *finish the game* with you since everyone bails after only like 30 mins!! The worst!!

“What’s in your wallet? How did you start building wealth?”

I’m super minimalist with my wallet (it’s actually a money clip), and I only keep a credit card in it, my debit card, and then cold hard cash along with my drivers license. Although now I realize your question is more about my proverbial wallet isn’t it? Haha…

For that I max out all my retirement accounts every year using Vanguard index funds, or more specifically – the VTSAX fund (I keep my investing simple too!). Went from $50,000 to $800,000+ by mainly doing that, along with of course cutting back and finding other avenues of income along the way.

“What would your autobiography be called?”

“Normal Guy Gets Lucky and Can’t Believe He Writes Down His Thoughts For a Living”

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To check out the rest of that interview, visit: “A Look Behind the Man and the Mohawk: An Interview with Budgets are Sexy” Thanks Miriam! Fun questions! :)

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kate May 30, 2019 at 6:10 am

I got married at 39 (I’m now 41) and my preference is to keep money separate. We split all bills down the middle including groceries (doesn’t matter who chose what is in the grocery cart) but everything else is seperate. For so many reasons: I’m a YNABer, he is a freeballer, I like to save up for fancy name brand things, he has been wearing the same hoodie for 10 years, I am a low risk investor, he is more willing to take a risk for a higher return, etc. It just works for us and that’s the main thing!

PS: A note to Cinderella: Keep the shoes! Sounds like they make you happy every time you look at them! And it kind of feels a bit like a “law of attraction”/positive visualization situation too!

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2 J. Money May 30, 2019 at 2:06 pm

Gotta be careful with those Freeballers! Haha… Although they’re usually the more adventurous ones in the relationship which helps spice it up a bit ;)

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3 Rho | Their Money Goals May 30, 2019 at 8:29 am

We gotta work on that autobiography title haha.

I’d say the first couple months with a new baby suck sleep-wise. We’re 3 months in with #2, and he’s finally starting to wake up less often, but we’re still up twice most nights. #1 didn’t sleep through the night until 5 months. Only 2 months to go… Completely agree that their overall cuteness makes up for it, though. :)

The deal on the Louboutins was crazy! I’d get them authenticated to make sure they’re not replicas before trying to sell.

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4 J. Money May 30, 2019 at 2:10 pm

OOOooh good point on that last one! Always forget there are forgers and fakers out there! I’d say that if it came with the box and all the paraphernalia it’s probably legit, but people are getting good at even faking those things too so who knows… We have authenticaters in the coin collecting industry who will put coins in special containers once authenticated, but now manufacturers all over the world are faking those so you have two things to watch for now – the coin AND the plastic containers, ugh!

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5 Christine May 30, 2019 at 8:37 am

I had to read a post that had Christian Louboutin in the title, out of sheer curiosity!

I think I may have found your blog originally looking at how couples budget, or maybe not. Anyway, I thought when I got married at 41 that we would keep separate accounts and contribute to a common household account. My husband thought differently, and honestly, once I started to try to budget, I was thankful we did—for the same reason you state, J. I manage the money for the most part and if I had to keep track of where money was coming and going constantly, I’d go even more nuts than I do. Do I sometimes go crazy when I see him spend too much on a power cord when he forgot his and has to buy one at the airport where he works? (Just a hypothetical-ha!) yes. But, it’s forced conversations which are ultimately about shared goals and dare I say been educational for both of us. And when we had separate accounts, I was actually much more picky about who was paying for the groceries or who owed what for what and trying to balance it all out.

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6 J. Money May 30, 2019 at 2:13 pm

Glad it’s been working out for you more or less :) My wife could care less about anything money-related, so i’m sure she was THRILLED to learn I loved this stuff, haha… And thankfully I married someone more frugal than I am!

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7 Megan May 30, 2019 at 9:57 am

My husband and I got married 9 months ago at ages 31 & 36 and combined finances and set a budget right after we got back from our honeymoon. I love having finances combined for the following reasons:

– I am less likely to pull through a drive-thru or make an impulse purchase (accountability)
– We are mostly living off of my husband’s income and using mine to pay down debt/build savings (mutual goals)
– As another individual commented, it encourages us to work through our differences of opinion, compromise, and discuss how we can spend (or save) so that both of us are fairly comfortable (communication)

There are special circumstances where keeping things separate works better, and I do like the idea of separate spending accounts/pocket money. overall, combining works very well for us.

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8 J. Money May 30, 2019 at 2:14 pm

Congratulations, Megan!!!

My wedding present to you is free access to all Budgets Are Sexy articles from past to present – you’re welcome :)

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9 Megan May 30, 2019 at 3:17 pm

Thank you J. Money! I have been reading for awhile and I always love your stuff.

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10 Kris May 30, 2019 at 3:25 pm

We’re expected to have our baby in June as well, it will our second one and I couldn’t agree more about napping…take as much as you can because those first few months will take a toll. All the feeding, changing diapers, crying will take a lot of you but enjoyable at the same time because of all the love we will have for the baby. Gonna be an eventful summer for us.

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11 J. Money May 30, 2019 at 4:03 pm

Will you be getting a different sex or on a roll like me and getting the same??! :) (Or are you risking it and not knowing anything until THE BIG DAY!!!?!! I’ve wanted to do that with ALL of mine but my wife never lets me, and the one year when I told her to just find out herself and not tell me she didn’t really try hard enough to hide it, haha…)

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12 Eric May 30, 2019 at 5:26 pm

Regarding the “VTSAX” vs Target-Date question… another related resource for those that prefer TDF’s is “Two-Funds for Life” https://paulmerriman.com/2-funds-for-life/

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13 J. Money May 31, 2019 at 6:34 am

Cool, thx!

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14 Tonya May 30, 2019 at 10:09 pm

Loved this post! Thanks the compilation of great questions. My memoir will be called “I hope there is vodka in hell”.

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15 J. Money May 31, 2019 at 6:35 am

Haha… nice :)

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