Turn Your Quarantine Clutter Into Money

I placed more online orders than I can count in 2020. And I justified all of them.

My front porch was filled with boxes containing all sorts of things: furniture (I needed to redecorate), paper towels (I needed to stock up), crafts (I needed activities), board games (more activities) and a treadmill (I needed exercise).

But if I’m being honest, I bought a little too much.

Take a look around your place. If your quarantine habits were even a tiny bit like mine, you could turn that clutter into money. Here’s how.

Too much stuff? Sell it

Perhaps you purchased more than you ended up using, like board games or video games. Or maybe you bought new products to replace old items and were left with a drawer of discarded technology.

Chelsea Lipford Wolf, co-host of the “Today’s Homeowner” TV show and host of the “Checking In With Chelsea” web series, says she made over $1,000 selling things online during the last six months of 2020 through Facebook Marketplace, an outlet for buying and selling locally.

You can, too. Look online for this or another marketplace that suits your needs. For example, Facebook Marketplace caters to local transactions, while other sites focus on product categories like tech or apparel. Read the directions to see how the site works and check for customer reviews or a Better Business Bureau accreditation before committing. Make an account, then get to work.

You can sell almost anything online — technology, furniture, clothing, video games and toys, to name a few.

Here are Wolf’s keys to making things sell:

  • Presentation. “You want the item you’re selling to be the focal point of your photo,” Wolf says. Clean it first, then take flattering photos in natural sunlight, preferably near a window. Get multiple angles.

  • Price. Consider what someone might pay for the item, then price it slightly lower to make it move. You can also check listings posted by other users to determine the going rate.

  • Particulars. Spell out everything in the description, including the brand and any imperfections. A more detailed listing means less back and forth with potential buyers. As the saying goes, “Time is money,” Wolf says.

Too much work? Consign

Depending on which site you use, you’ll have to write listings, package your items and send them either directly to the buyer or to the platform you used to make the sale. In some cases, you can deliver in person.

To save time and effort, take your stuff to a local consignment store instead. You’ll likely make less, but the store does the selling for you. Expect to pocket half of the selling price, Wolf says.

Other options? Give things away to family and friends. Donate to a local charity. And throw away items that have absolutely no use.

Too many temptations? Scale back

Once you’ve sold and donated what you can, fight the urge to impulse shop again. Keeping up your current habits could get you right back to where you started. One way to avoid that? Save first and buy later.

This approach is the exact opposite of putting something on a credit card and paying it off after the fact, says Pam Horack, a certified financial planner and the owner of Pathfinder Planning LLC, based in Lake Wylie, South Carolina.

Save money and wait to place an order until you can afford it in full. Horack says her family has a designated clothing account. When someone needs a new pair of shoes, the money comes from what they’ve set aside.

You can do the same with a general spending account. “If you don’t have money in that account, then you can’t buy it,” Horack says. “That needs to be your rule.”

There are also ways to stay busy without spending much, if any, money. Here are some of Horack’s ideas: Redecorate your house by moving around your furniture. Spend time outdoors. Finish up projects around the house. You’ll spend less and accumulate less stuff.

Too expensive? Buy used

But you can’t stop shopping altogether. For things you absolutely need, consider buying on the same websites you used to make extra money.

When you list products, you won’t sell them for as much as you originally paid for them. That means you can purchase things at a significant discount, too.

Consumers have been buying and selling used during the pandemic, according to Sara Beane, media relations specialist at technology marketplace Swappa. “Everybody is kind of strapped during this unprecedented time,” Beane says.

For example, the site saw a rush on laptops around back-to-school season.

Search used marketplaces by model and condition of the item. You’ll find many price points to fit your budget.

But before you hit the “buy” button, do some organizing, Wolf says.

“If you have so much stuff that you can’t see what you have, then you’re going to buy more than you need.”

This article was written by NerdWallet and was originally published by The Associated Press.

Source: nerdwallet.com

Why You May Not Want to Be an Executor

Being asked to be an executor is an honor you might want to pass up.

Settling an estate typically involves tracking down and appraising assets, paying bills and creditors, filing final tax returns and distributing whatever’s left to the heirs. At best, the process is time-consuming. At worst, it takes hundreds of hours, exposes you to lawsuits and thrusts you into the middle of family fights.

Robert Braglia of New York, a certified financial planner, was executor of an estate where the woman disowned three of her four children and left most of her money to just one of her many grandchildren. That could have caused an uproar even if the family got along, which it didn’t: Two of the woman’s children were fighting over the woman’s ashes before she actually died.

“Even without conflicts — which there always are — it is an enormous job,” Braglia says.

Before you agree to take on this role, be clear on what’s involved.

You could be doing it for many months

The time involved in settling an estate varies enormously. A small estate with few debts might be distributed within six to 12 months. It may take years to finalize a large estate with contentious heirs, lots of creditors or assets that are difficult to value, such as a business or rare collectibles.

A survey by EstateExec, an online tool for executors, found the typical estate took about 16 months to settle and required 570 hours of effort. The largest estates, worth $5 million or more, took 42 months and 1,167 hours to complete.

That doesn’t necessarily mean the executor has to put in that many hours, says CFP Russ Weiss of Doylestown, Pennsylvania. An executor can use some of the estate’s funds to hire an attorney and other help that could be more efficient than trying to figure everything out on their own.

“If you have other professionals involved — an attorney, a CPA, an investment person or wealth advisor — they’re doing most of the heavy lifting,” Weiss says. “Executors are like the quarterback in the administration of the estate.”

Executors may also collect a fee, with the amount depending on state law or what’s specified in the estate documents.

You might have a tough time finding assets

Even with help, executors should expect to spend many hours finding documents, inventorying assets and debts, arranging appraisals, communicating with financial institutions and government agencies, managing property and keeping careful records. If the estate includes a home, the house may have to be emptied of possessions and readied for sale.

The less organized the estate, the more time it may take to track down assets. EstateExec CEO Dan Stickel said his father, who died at 69, rented multiple storage sheds without telling his children where they were. Finding the various backyard sheds was challenging enough, but then they had to sort through the dusty contents. Those included piles of newspapers, battered furniture and several bars of silver bullion hidden under a dirty tarp.

Even then, they missed something. The auction company Stickel hired to dispose of the rest of the sheds’ contents found a box containing $30,000 in savings bonds. Fortunately, the company returned the bonds to the family.

You could be sued

Executors have a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries, which means the executor is required to put the beneficiaries’ interests first. People are typically advised to choose executors who are responsible, honest, diligent and impartial.

“It’s an honor. If somebody asks you, it’s to say, ‘I trust you, and I trust you implicitly that you will handle my affairs in a way that’s fair,’” Weiss says.

But the fiduciary duty comes with potential legal and financial consequences. Executors can be held personally responsible for mistakes and other problems. For example, one child may remove items from a parent’s home that are bequeathed to another child. The heir whose items were taken could sue the executor for failing to secure the home.

Executors also may have to make judgment calls, such as whether to spend the estate’s money to fix up a house for sale and if so, how much. Unhappy heirs can sue over those decisions, as well.

Given everything that can go wrong and the time commitment, people should think carefully about whether they really want the job before agreeing to be an executor, says CFP Kate Gregory of Huntington Beach, California, who has settled both her mother’s and her husband’s estates.

Gregory says she would agree to serve again only if a family member asked, and only if there wasn’t likely to be a lot of conflict among the beneficiaries. Even then, she would want to see the will or trust documents to ensure there aren’t any unpleasant surprises that could cause discord. She also would insist that the documents name alternates in case she can’t or won’t serve. No one can be forced to be an executor, but Gregory says she would feel better about saying “yes” if she knew there was a plan should she later say “no.”

“I want to make sure that I could resign,” she says.

This article was written by NerdWallet and was originally published by The Associated Press.

Source: nerdwallet.com

Why Financial Productivity Begins with a Positive Mindset

The following is a guest post by Orion Talmay, of Orion’s Method.

Dealing with finances can be stressful and leave you feeling overwhelmed. It’s all too easy to ignore mounting debts or believe you’ll never save up a significant amount of money. But taking control of your life and changing the way you think can make a huge difference. We take a look at why financial productivity begins with a positive mindset. 

The Impact of a Positive Mindset on Financial Productivity 

Whether you want to work your way out of debt or save up to buy a house, with the right mindset and some hard work, those financial goals are possible. However, you have to start by getting out of a negative thought cycle—if you believe there’s no point trying, then you’ll never achieve them. Therefore, you might be tempted to make choices that make your financial position worse.  

Even with a positive mindset, you won’t achieve your goals overnight. But it’ll put you on the right track to take more control over your finances. 

How to Achieve a Positive Mindset 

Achieving a positive mindset can be difficult, but you can adopt some proven techniques that’ll help you:

  • Take care of yourself
  • Know where you stand
  • Set achievable goals
  • Make small changes
  • Try to see the positive

Take Care of Yourself 

If you’re struggling with a negative mindset, you might slip into bad habits throughout your life, not just when dealing with your finances. Learn to take care of yourself and prioritize your own well-being. 

Start with the basics—make sure you’re exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet, and getting enough sleep. These might seem obvious, but a bad routine leaves you tired, stressed, and unhealthy, which all have a big impact on your mind. 

Treat yourself well, and get into a good routine that helps you stay in control. You’ll see an improvement in your physical and mental health, which puts you in a better position to make informed financial decisions. 

Know Where You Stand 

It’s tempting to bury your head in the sand when it comes to finances. However, not knowing exactly where you stand will add to your stress.

Open those bills and credit card statements you’ve been ignoring. Check your bank balance, work out your incoming and outgoings. Get a clear picture of your current financial situation and understand what bills and repayments you need to make and when they’re due. 

It might be hard to start with but it’ll improve your mindset and put you in a better position to get on top of your money. 

Set Yourself Achievable Goals 

It’s easy to feel negative if you can’t see a way out of your current situation. So, once you know exactly where you are, come up with some realistic targets that you can achieve within a certain time frame. 

For example, if you want to save up for something, set a savings goal and decide how much you can realistically put aside each month, and how long it’ll take to reach your target. 

The important thing with your goals is to make sure you’re sticking to them. If you put money towards debt or savings but you don’t have enough left to cover the rest of your bills, you’ll be tempted to borrow money from somewhere else. 

Make Small Changes 

Don’t try to overhaul everything in your life all at once. Make small, manageable changes that you’ll actually stick to and that will help you feel more positive. There are some really simple money moves that’ll make a noticeable difference. Start by looking at all your subscriptions and recurring payments—consider canceling the ones that you don’t use or can live without. 

If you buy your lunch during work every day, get into the habit of making it at home. Make small switches to your grocery choices, and try to stop buying things that you end up throwing out. Cut down on impulse buys—for nonessential purchases, make yourself wait a couple of weeks to consider whether you really want or need it. 

Try to make one or two small changes each week that you can follow through on. It’ll improve your mindset if you can stick with these habits long-term, rather than trying to do everything at once and feeling like you’ve failed when you slip up. 

Try to See the Positive

Often easier said than done, but try to get out of the cycle of negative thoughts. Revisit your goals each day to remind yourself what you’re trying to achieve and what you should be focusing on. 

When you have a negative thought, where something seems impossible or too difficult, stop and think about ways around it. Don’t get stuck on things that can’t or won’t happen and focus on solutions, workarounds, or breaking it down into smaller steps to get through it. If you struggle to focus on the positives, meditation can help you to manage your thoughts and give you more perspective.  

Why a Positive Mindset Matters

Everyone feels unmotivated and disenfranchised from time to time. It happens to the best of us. However, if you really dig deep and find what’s causing your low energy, you’ll be better equipped to find the root and weed it out. Try to channel your energy into more productive outlets, and make changes whenever they take a toll on your mental state. That’s the key that’ll enable your long-term success. 

Having a positive mindset is the foundation for taking control of your money and becoming more financially stable. Setting yourself goals, addressing bad habits, and learning how to get a handle on your thought processes will help you to manage your finances and put you in a better position with all aspects of your life. 

Source: credit.com

Unanticipated Side Effects: The COVID-19 Pandemic and Working Women

The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged individuals and families around the globe, with a disproportionately large burden falling on the shoulders of working women. This ongoing crisis has exacerbated demands on women who juggle the responsibilities of a career with a primary caregiver role at home. According to a recent report from LeanIn.org and McKinsey, one in four women have considered “downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce” due to lack of flexibility at work, housework and caregiving burdens and burnout.

Every situation is unique, and the decision to make a career change is a deeply personal and individual one. Women who are contemplating taking a step back from work should consider carefully evaluating the financial implications of this shift, consulting with their partners about how it will affect their families, and seeking guidance from a financial adviser about the impact on their long-term financial plans.

Steps to take before ‘stepping back’ from work

Before moving forward with a career exit or major downshift, there may be smaller steps you can take to alleviate the pressures of balancing work and family — both financially and otherwise.

For starters, reaching out to your employer to discuss your concerns may yield a modified working arrangement that meets your needs, such as reduced hours or flex time. You may also be entitled to benefits or other resources to help reduce feelings of burnout and financial anxiety. Keep in mind that research shows companies where women are well-represented in leadership roles are 50% more likely to outperform than their peers — in other words, you may have more negotiating power than you think.

In addition, now is a good time to reassess your long- and short-term goals for your career, finances and personal fulfillment, as well as to write them down, if you have not recently done so. Having a clear sense of what you want to accomplish in various areas of your life will help ensure that the decisions you’re making align with those goals. (Research also shows that people who put their goals in writing are more likely to accomplish them.)

From a financial standpoint, there may be budget adjustments within your control that will make reducing hours at work more financially feasible. Take stock of the cash flow basics: your income vs. your spending, where the money is going each month, and where you can easily reduce expenses.

Contemplating a career change from every angle

If leaving the workforce or scaling back to a part-time role still feels like the best solution, it’s important to examine the complex implications of that decision for your personal life, your career and your finances. While it is most often women who make changes in their professional lives in response to COVID-19, involving your spouse or partner in your plans is crucial. Both parties need to understand your household’s current financial situation, your collective goals, and the pros and cons of your decisions. Contemplating these questions, and talking them through with your spouse or partner can help prepare you for what will likely be a significant shift on multiple fronts:

  • If you are in a two-income household, is your partner’s income sufficient to support your family’s needs?
  • If you decide to shift to part-time work, will that change or reduce access to benefits you and your family receive from your employer (health insurance, group life or disability insurance, or a 401(k) match)?
  • Can you still afford to contribute the same amount to your retirement account if your income is reduced?
  • If you quit your job or cut back to part-time, how will the resulting reduction in income impact your long-term financial security and future Social Security benefits?
  • Should you decide to return to the workforce in the future, how will taking time away affect your career?
  • Is there an opportunity to stay engaged in your career and professional network via freelancing or consulting work?
  • Will stepping away from your job lead to feelings of resentment or regret? Are there other areas of your life from which you derive a sense of purpose and fulfillment?

How your financial adviser can help

Before making any major decisions, you may also want to loop in your financial adviser to help you evaluate your options in the context of your long-term financial plan. An adviser who understands what you’re trying to accomplish, your current financial circumstances, and your long-term goals can walk you through different courses of action and establish a plan to move forward. I’ve found that for many people, having a plan goes a long way in alleviating stress and anxiety around financial issues.

Speaking of having a plan, it’s also important to keep in mind that financial planning is not a one-time exercise, but an ongoing, dynamic process. You should check in periodically with your adviser, let them know of any significant changes in your life as they happen, and adjust your long-term financial plan as often as needed. In addition, your financial adviser can be a valuable resource in ways that go beyond answering your financial questions. Believe it or not, due to an adviser’s vast network, they can help clients do everything from finding attorneys to review new employment contracts and updating estate planning documents to collaborating with eldercare experts and long-term care specialists, and more.

For women balancing careers and families, the COVID-19 pandemic has piled additional burdens onto plates that were already full. No matter how you ultimately navigate these challenges, taking stock of all your options, involving your partner and your financial adviser in planning, and making decisions that are rooted in your long-term goals can help ensure the best possible outcomes for you and your family.

Senior Wealth Adviser, Boston Private

Kathleen Kenealy, CFP®, CPWA® is the Director of Financial Planning and a senior wealth adviser for Boston Private. She specializes in working with successful individuals and families to manage, protect and grow their assets. Kenealy provides guidance on investment, retirement, philanthropic, estate and tax-planning strategies.

Source: kiplinger.com

Personal Finance Tips from the Year of the Ox

We’ve survived 2020, and people are hoping to put aside the struggles of a global pandemic, a contentious election, civil unrest and destruction. The effects of 2020 are still being felt by everyone, but there are ways to channel good energy.

On the 2021 Western calendar, Feb. 12 corresponds to the first day of the first month of the traditional Chinese calendar and marks the start of the Chinese New Year, also known as “Spring Festival” – the longest and the most significant celebration for Chinese families across the world.

The Chinese calendar is based on lunar and solar cycles, with New Year’s celebrated on different dates every year. The lunar calendar outlines the 12-year repeating cycle of the Chinese zodiac. Each year is named after an animal: 2021 is the Year of the Ox.

According to Chinese culture, oxen are a sign of honesty, diligence, strength and dependability. On the negative side, oxen are opinionated; they hate challenges and failure and believe strongly in themselves.

According to the Chinese Zodiac, when the Jade Emperor held a race across the river, the Ox was predicted to win first place, as he was a talented swimmer. However, out of kindness, he agreed to carry the Rat during the race. Just before they reached the finish line, the Rat jumped off and landed in first place, and the Ox had to settle for second place.

How to Use the Personality of the Ox to Be Successful in Finances and Life

Think Outside the Box

The pandemic has taught us to engage in anything that helps us to be creative in problem solving. Oxen tend to be stubborn and follow all the rules in the book. They aren’t easily influenced. So, when faced with a challenge, think about other solutions. For example, if you need to work but can’t meet people face-to-face, try online solutions. Most people are working from home and are available online. People are getting hired on JobVite and on social media platforms; use this opportunity to increase your visibility.

Dependability Is a Good Thing

2020 was an unpredictable year, and 2021 has been volatile so far as well. People crave stability, and this is the time for the Ox to shine. For example, given the pandemic effects, most workplaces are understaffed. You can develop another task or responsibility that demonstrates your value in the workplace.

In personal finances, being dependable does not mean saying yes. Think about the benefits and consequences of making an investment or purchase. According to the Associated Press, 69% of households have less than $1,000 in emergency savings. Talk with your partner about reducing any superfluous expenses in your household budget. For example, if you have a gym membership but you haven’t been there due to the pandemic, think about cutting that cost. Another example is evaluating your monthly subscription services.

Don’t Be a Bull

Oxen can be stubborn and their tempers can flare, causing conflicts. With everything going on in the world, people are on edge. Always think about self-care. Relax and take care of yourself; you can try breathing exercises or yoga classes. Don’t be stuck at home the whole day — get out and walk around with your pet or by yourself. Change your scenery and take the opportunity to wind down. All will be well.

70% of married couples argue about money – ahead of fights about household chores, togetherness, sex, snoring and what’s for dinner. Think about the best time to talk money, maybe right after a rough day is not a good idea. Make notes about what you want to discuss, problem-solving strategies and why it is important to discuss. If tempers flare, stop the conversation and go for a walk or write down your thoughts in a journal. If you find you can’t discuss finances, seek a counselor or another impartial third party to help mediate the situation.

Here’s to a new year and a new you!

CEO, Blue Ocean Global Wealth

Marguerita M. Cheng is the Chief Executive Officer at Blue Ocean Global Wealth. She is a CFP® professional, a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor℠, Retirement Income Certified Professional and a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. She helps educate the public, policymakers and media about the benefits of competent, ethical financial planning.

Source: kiplinger.com

Bimodal Spending: Say “Hell Yes!” or “No”

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I had a creative brainstorm this week. An idea—that I’ve dubbed bimodal spending—overtook my mind. And now I want to convince you to adopt it in your life.

Bimodal?

First things first, let’s define bimodal.

Out in the real world, it’s common to see normal distributions. They occur when most data clumps around the average, and few data are dispersed at the extremes. A normal distribution looks like this.

Image result for normal distribution

Many of us are also familiar with uniform distributions, where data is spread evenly among a range. A uniform distribution looks like this:

Image result for uniform distribution

But a bimodal distribution, as the name implies, has two (“bi”) modes. It has two distinct peaks, which often occur at opposite ends of the range. A bimodal distribution looks like this:

Image result for bimodal

What is Bimodal Spending?

My creative conception is that we should apply a bimodal distribution to our spending.

Bimodal spending asks you to say either hell yes! or no! to major expenses. Go whole-hog, or go not at all. No middle ground. Keep in mind: the significance of hell yes! fades if you say it too much. You can’t just say hell yes! to everything.

Think of all the things you enjoy. If you’re like me, the list is long. Food, travel, hiking, sports, music. Oh, reading and blogging! Spending time with friends and family. Fostering dogs. I like lots of things!

If I’m not careful, my “passion graph” would look like this:

I love everything! passion graph

I could spend $1000’s on each of these pursuits. I could buy lots of stuff, go on lots of adventures. But is this stuff worth it?

I say no. It’s not all worth it. Only some are worth it. We know that luxurious spending brings less fulfillment as we spend more. Why? One limiting factor is time. I don’t have the time to devote to each of these pursuits.

If I try everything, then I’ll spread myself too thin. Being spread thin is not enjoyable. It’s not optimal.

That’s why I’m reimagining my “passion graph” to look like this: a bimodal distribution.

Bimodal spending passion graph

If something is hell yes!, then I’ll devote time and money to it. But if it’s only “kinda fun” or an “occasional pastime,” then I want to prune it from my budget and schedule.

From Bimodal Passions to Bimodal Spending

I want to focus my “fun money” on my hell yes! passions. I want to “rout all that was not life”…or eliminate that which doesn’t light my fire (thanks HDT!). So how does that translate into a bimodal spending distribution?

I want my dollars to either go towards:

  1. Basic life needs
  2. Hell yes! passion activities

It should look something like this:

Bimodal spending graph

Either the bare necessities or the true marrow of life. Not much in between.

Anything in the middle of the graph will bring me little “fulfillment per dollar.” I want the dollars I spend to do good. Sometimes that’s through charity, giving to others, contributing to group activities, etc. But if I’m spending on myself, I want to squeeze out as much fulfillment as I can.

Here’s a gentle reminder:

Look at the stuff all around you.

That stuff used to be money.

And that money used to be time.

I don’t want to spend money (a.k.a. my time) on average stuff. I’ll pay for the necessities. And after that, I want my spending to make me say, “Hell yes!

Bimodal Spending = Pareto Principle

Bimodal spending is a rehash of the Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 Rule. Focus 80% of your fun spending on your favorite 20% of activities.

Or you can push the ratio even further. Spend 95% of your fun money on your top 5% activities.

The other 95% of your “fun” activities? Spend as little there as you can. They aren’t hell yes! They’re milquetoast. They’ll only pull resources away from the activities you truly enjoy.

Whatever the ratio you choose, it’s amusing that Pareto rears his insightful head yet again!

Ramit’s Rich Life

Bimodal spending is reminiscent of Ramit Sethi’s “rich life” idea. To quote Ramit, living a rich life means having the:

“Ability to spend my time and money on the areas that are important to me.”

Ramit Sethi

How does Ramit suggest you pursue your rich life? Simple. He tells you to “spend extravagantly on the things you love, and cut costs mercilessly on the things you don’t.” 

That’s bimodal spending!

Categorize your pursuits as “things you love” and “things you don’t.” Or create a bimodal passion graph!

Spend extravagantly on the right side of your passion graph. And cut mercilessly on the left end of your passion graph. Ramit Sethi is a bimodal spender!

Anecdotal Examples of Bimodal Spending

Friend-of-the-blog Martin loves travel and fine dining. It’s one of his passions. That’s why it made sense for him to spend two weeks in Lima, Peru, and plan a meal at Central (considered one of the best restaurants in the world).

It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The memories of the trip still bring him joy today. That’s a hell yes!

But I contrast Martin’s love of travel against my interest in golf. At one point in life, I had enough time to golf 3-4 times a week. I practiced putts for hours. I could draw and fade the ball. I wasn’t great, but it was a serious pursuit.

But now I only have time to play once a month. I’m constantly out of practice. I don’t have time to regain the skills I once had. I still like golf, but it’s not a hell yes! anymore. That’s why I’m making it a no.

I’m not going to spend $500 for a new set of golf clubs. I’m not going to spend $1000 for a membership at a golf course. For me, those things aren’t worth it.

My hell yes! spending lies elsewhere. I’ll buy $200 hiking boots and a top-of-the-line laptop to support the Best Interest. But not new golf clubs (even though I do like golf).

But Mark (another friend-of-the-blog!) absolutely loves golf. He plays as much as he can. He’s traveled to Ireland to play historic courses. He plays in the rain and snow (because you’ve got to make the golf season count in Rochester!).

New clubs and a course membership help Mark live his Ramit Sethi “rich life.” Golf is a hell yes! for Mark.

Different strokes (get it?!) for different folks. We each get to create our own passion graph and plan our bimodal spending accordingly.

Bimodal Spending in Everyday Life

Even down in the “bare necessities” categories (food, housing, etc.), I’ve found that bimodal spending helps me feel more fulfilled.

Cars: I don’t love cars. I don’t want or need an expensive car. I want to spend as little on cars as I’m able (here’s the Best Interest’s breakdown of car expenses). I plan to drive my Toyota into the ground and then continue to pay for efficient function over form.

Groceries: I love cooking and baking for people. I want to spend extra money to make sure my pizza has the highest-quality cheese. I want to spend money on imported vanilla extract.

But for most meals, I’m spartan. All I need for breakfast are a couple eggs and a slice of toast. 95% of my meals are simple. 5% are extravagant. That’s mostly no and a little hell yes!

My laptop: This example is meta. I’m writing this post on a 5-year-old HP laptop whose cooling fan sounds like a weed-eater. RNGGG-RRNNGGG.

It’s a $250 model that’s way past its prime. But the Best Interest is certainly one of my passions. To support the blog—and soon-to-be the Best Interest Podcast!—I’ve been saving up for a new MacBook.

I’ve waited and waited on buying a new laptop because I didn’t have a hell yes! reason to spend that much money. But now I do! I’ve been budgeting for the laptop for a few months, and now it’s time to pull the trigger.

Dining Out: My girlfriend loves dining out. And I certainly enjoy it too. We’ve started saving our dining-out dollars for hell yes! dining experiences (COVID notwithstanding).

We forgo a few “average” dining-out experiences and save those dollars for unique and memorable experiences.

I’ve had my fair share of $10 burgers. They’re great. But I’d rather save my dollars to widen my palate’s horizons.

The Second Peak

Is bimodal spending such a cool concept that it will take over the personal finance blogosphere? Or will it fade like a wispy cloud lost in the Andes Mountains?

If you enjoyed this article, share it! There are easy sharing links below.

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This article—just like every other—is supported by readers like you.

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Source: bestinterest.blog

Stimulus Checks 2021: What You Need to Know

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With two stimulus checks under our belts, planning is currently underway for President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief package. If passed, it would supply Americans with a third round of stimulus checks.  

A quick recap—the first stimulus checks made the rounds in April 2020. Individuals with an income of up to $75,000 received $1,200. Meanwhile, married couples who made up to $150,000 received $2,400, along with $500 per child. The second wave of stimulus checks, coming in at only $600, arrived in December 2020 and January 2021. Married couples received $1,200, with an additional $600 per child.

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With almost a full year between the last stimulus check over $1,000 and now, people’s finances are suffering. In a poll published by NPR in September 2020, 63% of those polled in Houston, TX faced serious financial issues due to the pandemic. Additionally, 57% of those polled reported that someone in their household either lost their job, were furloughed or had their hours or wages reduced since the pandemic started.  

Needless to say, people need financial relief. And while it looks like a stimulus relief package will probably pass, there are a few details still on the table. The biggest points up for debate? Who should get a stimulus check in 2021—and how much they’ll get. 

Who Will Get a Stimulus Check?

President Biden has been adamant that the households that qualify should receive a $1,400 stimulus check. Based on the most recent proposal under consideration, households earning $75,000 or lower would receive $1,400 checks. Meanwhile, married couples who earn $150,000 or less would receive $2,800, along with $1,400 per child. 

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While it looks like this plan will stick, it’s worth noting that a group of Republicans have created a plan that’ll send $1,000 checks to individuals earning $40,000 or less and couples earning up to $80,000. This relief package targets lower-income households while leaving out a lot more people than President Biden’s plan.

When You Can Expect Your Check

In order to speed up President Biden’s stimulus relief package, Democrats are using a budget reconciliation process. In a nutshell, this would allow Democrats to approve the stimulus package without Republican votes. While the stimulus package is being sped up, a few more details have to be ironed out before the package is drafted and voted on.

All that to say—it could take several weeks for you to get your $1,400 stimulus check. Even when the package is passed, it still has to be signed by President Biden and sent out by the IRS. So be on the lookout, but know that you’ll likely have to wait at least a few more weeks. It is worth noting, however, the House is planning to get the stimulus package approved in the next two weeks.

How Should You Spend Your Stimulus Check?

Ultimately, how you should spend your check is up to you. Everyone is in a different financial situation, so you might spend your check differently than others. But if you’re wondering how to spend your third check, you have a few options:

  • Use it to cover the basics. If you’ve been struggling to pay for your basic needs, like groceries and rent, you can use your stimulus check to cover the bills. 
  • Pay down debt. The past year has taken a toll on a lot of our finances. If you’ve racked up debt in 2020, you could use your stimulus check to help pay down some debt. 
  • Put it in savings. It never hurts to save some money for a rainy day. You can put some or all of your stimulus check in a high-yield savings account until you need it.
  • Donate it. If you’re doing pretty well financially, you might want to consider donating your stimulus check to a good cause or to support small businesses.

Again, you should take a serious look at your finances and your needs before you decide exactly how to put your stimulus check to use.

The Next Round of Stimulus Checks Will Probably Happen

As of right now, things are looking pretty good for the third round of stimulus checks. But who qualifies and who doesn’t could still be on the table. In the meantime, if you need some financial guidance, take a look at our COVID financial resource guide.

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