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Money Anxiety (AKA Buyer’s Remorse)

Money Anxiety (AKA Buyer’s Remorse)

If you’ve ever bought a house, then you are probably familiar with the idea of buyer’s remorse. It’s when that voice in the back of your head questions whether lending six figures of debt for this house is really worth it. Many of us assume that buyer’s remorse is a normal part of the home-buying process. If you are purchasing something as significant as your home, then it’s natural to feel doubts or regret. It’s not like you are signing your life away to a mortgage lender and committing to decades of debt. No big deal. Those feelings don’t matter once you sign the dotted line and walk into your brand new home. It’s impossible to go through such a life-altering experience without just a little bit of anxiety.

My problem is that I feel buyer’s remorse for almost every purchase I make.

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Emergency Fund: Only You Can Bail Yourself Out

Emergency Fund: Only You Can Bail Yourself Out

Emergency funds are a necessity. There’s no negotiation on this one. The personal finance community knows this, and I hope everyone knows this. Having even just $1,000 on hand can save you from years of debt. I’ve had an emergency fund without any idea of when I should use it. That cash cushion was always meant for some vague future where I’d be out of a job, injured, or otherwise thrown for a loop. It’s never been money that I intend to spend. There’s no guarantee that I will ever use it, but I still want to have it just in case. The thought of needing to spend it genuinely stresses me out.

Until I had to.

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Fixed Costs Matter More Than Everyday Spending

Fixed Costs Matter More Than Everyday Spending

2016 has been the year of slashing budgets in the Rustic Walks household. Our Frugal August Challenge showed us what a difference small changes can make, so we’ve whittled down our spending to focus on the essentials. But we realized that we only cut back on everyday expenses. The easy choices like packing lunch over eating out, buying less expensive coffee beans, or resisting the urge to buy every wool sweater in sight (this can’t be just us, right?). Things like our rent, utilities, and transportation have yet to be put on the chopping block. In fact, they are staying the same even though we’re moving to a new apartment.

That’s the thing about small changes. They’re easy, but they also make us feel like we’re making a difference. Of course saving $200 each year by cutting back on everyday spending is a step in the right direction. But what difference does an extra $200 make if other expenses are higher than they should be? How much money could we save if we reduced our fixed costs? Certainly more than $200.

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Minimalism vs Frugality: Two Philosophies, One Goal

Minimalism vs Frugality: Two Philosophies, One Goal

Nine months ago we discovered The Minimalists and fell headfirst into intentional living. The philosophy appealed to our habit of binge cleaning our apartment every few weeks. Clutter stresses us out, especially when it takes over our tiny apartment. We knew decluttering would help us confront our weak spots (like the black hole that is our closet), as well as get rid of useless junk that doesn’t bring value to our life. What we didn’t expect was the impact minimalism would have in another area: our finances.

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Tracking Spending: Falling Too Far Down the Rabbit Hole

Tracking Spending: Falling Too Far Down the Rabbit Hole

When I first started diving deep into the personal finance community, the first tenant of Personal Finance 101 that stuck with me was the importance of a budget. There’s no way to know where your money goes without keeping track of it. It’s the same as monitoring your data usage. When you get an alert that you’re about to go over your data for the month, you start hunting down all the Wi-Fi hotspots within a three mile radius so you can stay under the limit. Budgets mean nothing if you don’t keep track of your spending.

Unfortunately, my idea of budgeting was to spend whatever I wanted and hope that it stayed within my budget. Most months this strategy was a complete fail. I logged into Mint every day to check up on my progress, but as the month continued and my budgets teetered on going over I ignored the spending alerts in my inbox and carried on my merry way. Then I’d go over my budget by $100-$200 and wonder what went wrong. Mint told me that I’d gone over on groceries, shopping, and the illusive “Everything Else”, but it offered no advice on how to change my habits. Even worse, I told myself I would do better next month to make up for it, but I didn’t identify where I’d slipped up and what adjustments I should make.

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Our Financial Goals: Making Baby Steps Toward Saving

Our Financial Goals: Making Baby Steps Toward Saving

After we started our first jobs out of college, we fell victim to some serious lifestyle inflation. We were living large by traveling several times per year, buying clothes and electronics just for fun, and eating out almost every day. Of course we budgeted for these expenses, but we didn’t realize we were left with little leftover at the end of the month and living paycheck-to-paycheck. We just wondered where all of our money went!

Despite all of this, we thought we were smart with our money. We paid off our credit cards every month. We never bought anything we couldn’t afford, although there’s been some close calls! No matter what we always stashed away an emergency fund. Aside from those Personal Finance 101 principles, we thought we were free to spend the rest of our money. There’s no harm in living a little in your twenties! That’s what social media and advertisements told us. Have as much fun as you can before you hit thirty and have to start worrying about kids and mortgage payments.

At some point, we looked at our paltry savings accounts and wondered if we were going overboard. We thought about our future goals and how much money it would take to get there. Things like our cabin in the woods, early retirement, and side projects we’ve considered but never pursued. How can we possibly save for these goals if we fritter away our hard-earned money? We found examples of people who have created the life we envision without going broke, like Frugalwoods and Our Next Life. We were inspired to get our act together and start saving as much as we can.

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Why I’m Paying Off My Student Loans Today

Why I’m Paying Off My Student Loans Today

When I moved to Washington, D.C. with nothing but two suitcases, I brought with me almost $20,000 in student loan debt. I knew I had taken out student loans during college, but like so many bright-eyed, bushy-tailed graduates I had no plan for how to pay them.

For starters, I wanted them paid off early – by 2018. I absolutely did not want these loans hanging over my head for a decade. Five years would be plenty of time to make steady monthly payments while also building up other financial priorities. So I plugged my timeline into Mint and devoted any extra funds I could toward paying down my debt.

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