Time for The Talk. No, not the kind of “talk” you give your kids when they’re young. This talk is about their finances, and final wishes. Yeah, that’s a tough talk to have. And an even more difficult one to start. “Hey, let’s talk about what’s going to happen to you and your finances when you die”. Depending on your parents, that might just work.

For my own personal situation, I was pretty fortunate. My mom – who basically manages my parents’ finances and such – really just started talking about it one day. She already had plans of adding her children to titles and accounts, power of attorney, DNRs and such. She said she has it covered and gave us any info we would need at the time. Nice! Where’s my EASY button?

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We’ve all seen them. Those pesky little articles and calculators showing you how to calculate the amount you’ll need at retirement to manage x dollars a year. I kind of view these calculators and articles like I do a winter weather forecast here in Chicago. I look at all the forecasts from the local news outlets, and then pick the one I like most. That seems to work! Well, it may not work with retirement, calculating the money that you think may work – but it feels like it should with how overwhelming it is to review “estimates”.

Seriously though, Nicole and I have spent quite a bit of time reviewing, reading, estimating, running all those calculators just to make sure our comfort level with savings will be enough. I am hopeful in having enough by the time we retire so we can manage. But ideally, Read More →


I recently attended a meeting at work held by a financial adviser. Even though my husband and I are already contributing to 401ks and Roth IRAs, I wanted to make sure there wasn’t anything new out there I wasn’t familiar with. There wasn’t. However, it made me happy to see many of my coworkers show interest in opening a Roth IRA. Until the meeting, many of them hadn’t realized the main benefit of a Roth IRA – the ability to withdraw contributions penalty free if necessary. Once they learned that, they realized it made more sense to grow their money in a Roth IRA than sticking it in a bank account which, on average, earns less than 1%.

This got me thinking. We as a society have failed at educating the public on how to properly handle their finances. Why is it that we take 12 years of general education courses, which include subjects that we may never use again, yet we do not have a mandatory course on personal finance? It should be taught in all high schools because it’s so very important. It’s something we all will deal with throughout our lives, and while learning other subjects helps make for a well-rounded individual (assuming the material is absorbed – how many people do you know who after 12 years of English courses still can’t spell or string together a coherent sentence?), properly handling one’s finances is a skill everyone needs. It doesn’t matter if you live paycheck to paycheck or make six figures (or more). Haven’t we all read stories of high-paid celebrities (or lottery winners) who are completely broke? How does that happen? Poor financial choices stemming for lack of knowledge, that’s how.

Every time I think about it, I feel frustrated. Imagine how many people wouldn’t be in the poor financial position they are today if they had been properly educated beforehand. Knowledge is power! People would be less stressed out if they felt financially secure. Sure, some people do everything right and they still struggle to make ends meet due to low paying jobs, lack of education (don’t even get me started on the cost of a college education and how much debt people start out with – that’s another post altogether), or medical issues which quickly rack up debt, but many people get themselves into trouble financially even though they are earning a very healthy income. They either spend more than they earn buying unnecessary things, dining out too much, or just budgeting poorly, or they don’t leave any room in their budget for contributing to retirement and savings, thus putting themselves at risk should their income disappear for any reason.

That’s another thing that bothers me – people who say, “I just plan to work until I die” because they either love to work, or they don’t feel they have any other option. But the harsh truth is that regardless of whether you want to work, there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to do so. You could get laid off and have trouble finding a new job, or become too ill to continue working. Better think about that now while you’re young enough to do something about it.

Another thing that worries me is how many people figure they’ll rely on social security when they retire. But look at the facts – social security is uncertain. I don’t believe it will be completely gone by the time I retire (could you imagine the ramifications???), but I do believe the predicted payments I’m seeing on my statements will have decreased by as much as 25% by that time. And even if they don’t, you really can’t live that well off social security alone. It would break my heart when I used to work in customer service for the cable company and an elderly person would literally start crying on the phone because their cable wasn’t working and it was all they had for entertainment due to living on a fixed income. I decided I didn’t want to end up in that situation which is one of the reasons why I’ve prioritized saving for the future. It’s just hard watching the people around me not do the same even though they have enough disposable income to go out to eat, attend events, etc. Priorities, people!

Remember: no one cares about your future as much as you should. Start planning now. Educate yourself about finance since our schools are failing us in that regard. I wish someone had stressed the importance of saving when I was in my early twenties. We didn’t really start saving until about a year before Joe and I were ready to buy a house. Luckily we were still young enough (27 for me, 34 for him) that time was still on our side, just not as much as it could have been.

While you should start saving now regardless of your age, if you’re very young I stress it even more. Because after 20+ years of working you may grow disillusioned with the whole concept and want out, but you won’t be able to afford it. You’ll be shackled to a lackluster existence because you didn’t plan ahead. Don’t let that happen. Educate yourself!


There’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately as my fortieth birthday looms on the horizon – what’s the point of saving for retirement if I don’t take care of my health now?

I’ve read too many stories of people who saved their whole lives only to die before, or just after, retiring. I’d hate to think all the careful planning would be for nothing.

Plus, even if I live well into my 90’s, I want to be healthy enough to get around on my own. I envision visiting forest preserves and taking vacations, but that won’t be possible if I am in poor health.

Coincidentally, I was at the library earlier this week when I came across this book.

A Short Guide to a Long Life

I devoured it in a single night. Unfortunately, I learned that while I’m doing some things right when it comes to my health, there is definitely room for improvement.

Things I’m doing right:

Working out 20-30 minutes 3-4 times a week on my elliptical machine
Eating fruits & vegetables
Getting at least 6.5 hours of sleep every night (although my body prefers 8-9)
Keeping my stress levels low

Things I’m doing that are a detriment to my health:

Eating processed foods and junk food
Not eating any fish
Not pushing myself harder on the elliptical machine or doing any weight training
Taking vitamins & supplements
Not having correct posture
Sitting too much

I’m sure there’s more but there’s only so many things I can tackle at once.

Eating properly is a tough one because all the foods I really enjoy are not the most nutritious things to eat. I don’t eat fried foods constantly, but I do like red meat, bread, and potato chips. Plus I love to bake. Eating is one of life’s greatest pleasures, and while I do eat fruits and vegetables, I wonder how much of the “bad stuff” is affecting my overall health.

I will try and add interval and weight training to my schedule, however. I have been doing the interval stuff a little already, but no weight training. I can do that while I watch TV. That could also help with the whole sitting too much thing if I stand while doing it.

The vitamin thing really throws me because I’ve always heard vitamins are good for you. Now studies are showing that multivitamins in particular are linked to a higher risk of mortality. I do not take a multivitamin, but I do take a few single vitamins for very specific health reasons:

  • Vitamin D since my levels were low before I started taking it
  • Vitamin B12 to help with a balance issue
  • Magnesium to help with a balance issue as well as to promote better sleep
  • Probiotic for digestion (plus I’ve found it helps me not gain weight as quickly)

I read in the book that taking a low-dose aspirin daily minimizes inflammation in the body. Inflammation contributes to the development of a host of diseases, including cancer, so this week I’ve started taking one of those as well.

In addition, I’m trying to improve my posture. My back hurts already because it’s not used to it, but I will suffer through the discomfort for the long term gain of a longer life expectancy (according to the book).

Changing things for the better is not going to be easy, and I will admit right now that some things might not change because I know myself too well and I don’t want to give up the foods I love, but I will try to cut back on the junk food. Everything in moderation, right?

What things have you changed recently to adopt a healthier lifestyle?



I heard it mentioned somewhere on a show we were watching about someone looking into opening a Roth IRA for their (minor) child. This piqued my interest. Knowing the value of compounding interest and market performance over the long term could be huge, I decided to start doing a little research and thought I would share what I’ve found.

Keep in mind, as we’ve mentioned here on our about page, we’re not finance experts by any means; we’ve had no formal training or any certifications. Our writings are all based off of personal experiences. And don’t listen to me! Go do some research yourself. Google is a wonderful tool. Google-ize it! **I really should trademark that phrase**.

Like the Stones said, “time is on my side”!

First, let us cover the benefits of opening a Roth IRA for your child and you!

Let’s assume a single $1,000 contribution is made when your child is 10 and nothing more is invested. Assuming a 5% rate of return, your child would have nearly $11,500 after 50 years. Yes, that many years! Remember, this is for retirement. Add a $50/month contribution starting after that initial $1,000 and your kid could have over $130k after 50 years. Talk about a little going a long way!

There’s a nice side benefit if you include your child on what you’re doing as well – you’re teaching them the importance of investing and saving for retirement. And being able to hand this off to them as they get older and can take over contributions for their future? Priceless!

And remember – With a Roth IRA, contributions can be withdrawn at any time without penalty.

Of course there are rules. The maximum limit applies to the child just as it does to an adult: $5,500 for 2014. Your child can contribute all income up to the $5,500 annual limit. For example, if your child earns $2,000, they can contribute just up to the $2,000. Likewise, if they earn $12,000, they are limited to the annual amount of $5,500.

Of course, there’s a stipulation and it’s this – the money put in the account has to qualify as income. It’s easier when one has a W2. However, income from mowing lawns or babysitting also qualifies. If there’s no W2, do yourself a favor and document it really well. How much was paid, who for (if you’re adding to more than one child’s Roth IRA), how long, what type of work, etc. And it should be realistic; you wouldn’t pay your kid $200 to mow the lawn for an hour.

The custodial account will have to be opened by you since they are a minor. Not a big deal, just be aware you’ll need to provide info on yourself as well.

What’s next?
In my opinion, it’s a great opportunity to get your child on the road to having a financially secure retirement. We all have examples of could haves and should haves. This is a good opportunity if you have children too young to start contributing on their own. And if you have young adult children now is a good time to encourage them to start putting money aside for retirement. Roth IRAs are quick to set up online with any of the major financial institutions. Many can be started with as little as $100. Putting a little away each month will add up because time is on their side!