Traveling Galore and FinCon14

Traveling Galore and FinCon14Hello everyone! I’m at #FinCon14 right now, and I’m really enjoying it.

I love meeting new bloggers, and connecting with bloggers I already know. FinCon is an awesome conference and it always gives me a lot of motivation.

If you see me at FinCon14, please say hello.

I am a shy person so don’t hold that against me. I might also be awkward… There’s a VERY clear reason for why I’m an online freelancer haha!

If you are new to my blog and heard of Making Sense of Cents through FinCon, the insanity that Pinterest seems to be bringing in this week (around 1,000 hits from Pinterest each day this week!), or you found me some other way, below is a roundup of 10 of my favorite articles on Making Sense of Cents.

  1. My Student Loans Are Paid Off – I finished paying off my student loans in July of 2013 and I haven’t looked back once. I paid them off right after I turned 24 and it was a pretty amazing feeling. To recap, I have three degrees and worked full-time all throughout college, yet I didn’t use a cent of what I earned to pay off my student loans while I was in college. Instead, I spent that money on junk!
  2. My Business/Extra Income Reports – My monthly income reports are some of most popular posts, and they are fun to write too.
  3. My wedding pictures – I recently got married, and in this post I uploaded some of my favorite pictures. Enjoy!
  4. I’m 100% Self-Employed – My Plans For the Future – I left my day job in October of 2013 for full-time self-employment. Life has been awesome since then.
  5. Frugality And Ethics – When Is It Stealing? – Is there a difference between being cheap and stealing? Would you ever use an item and then return it? What about complaining about something fake in order to get it for free?
  6. Pursuing What I Love or What Brings in the (Stable) Money – When I wrote this post, I still had my day job. It wasn’t a bad job and it paid fairly well. However, I wasn’t happy. What do you do when this happens? Take a leap of faith or feel stuck for the rest of your life?
  7. Living In A 200 Square Foot Tiny House – Could You Do It? – Tiny homes definitely interest me. They are affordable, cute, and really embrace minimalism. However, I couldn’t do it. Could you?
  8. Why You Should Start a Blog – I love blogging. Blogging has opened up a world of opportunities for me, and I can’t even imagine what life would be like if I wouldn’t have started on.
  9. How I Graduated From College In 2.5 Years With 2 Degrees AND Saved $37,500 – Graduating quickly is a big factor as to why I was able to limit the amount of student loans I took out and it also allowed me to jump start my career.
  10. How To Make Money Blogging – I receive several emails each week asking about how a person can make money blogging. Read this article if you are interested.

 

I can’t just talk about FinCon all day. Not everyone is here at the conference and I remember the first year I was blogging and how I missed it. It was a sad time and I remember how left out I felt!

Anyway, we’ve been doing a good amount of traveling recently. I haven’t talked about it much on my blog because I keep forgetting. I post a lot about our trips on Instagram, so make sure to follow me on there.

I’m currently in New Orleans.

Okay, okay, I’m only going to talk about FinCon one more time, but it’s just to talk about how I am in New Orleans.

We are currently here and staying in a rental home close to the hotel where FinCon is at. We got a great deal, and we can bring our pups. We also have a kitchen so you can’t beat that!

The main reason we drove was because we were going to go to Florida afterwards. However, something came up at the last second so we had to cancel that. Oh well, New Orleans will still be a blast!

I have a lot planned while we are here. Tons of business-related meetings, fun dinners with other bloggers, helping out with the Plutus Awards, and more. Oh yeah, and there are a TON of great sessions for me to attend as well :)

Also, if you are new to New Orleans, I did visit last year as well. Read my New Orleans recap if you are interested in trying any of the things I did last year. We had numerous delicious meals and it was a fun trip.

Memphis.

We weren’t in Memphis long, but we were there on Wednesday and Thursday of this week. We decided to drive to New Orleans and make a stop halfway in Memphis to visit Wes’s family. His family just moved there and we haven’t really visited much, so it was definitely needed.

Not much to say here except that I love family! And I love yummy food.

Colorado.

The picture above is from our latest trip to Colorado :)

We’ve been going to Colorado A LOT lately. Wes has been three times this summer and spent a total of four weeks already, and I’ve been twice for a total of three weeks.

If that doesn’t tell you we love the state, I don’t know what will. We did some 14ers (okay, I did one and Wes did two), and they were a lot of fun. We would have done more but it rained nearly the whole time we were there.

We went at the end of August and came back in early September. It was an awesome trip except for the one hour where my being cheap almost ruined the trip.

Luckily, our road trips have not been expensive at all. We have been lucky with finding cheap accommodations, affordable meals, and our new car gets great gas mileage. I see a lot more road trips in our future!

Are you at FinCon14? What are your plans for the weekend?

What trips do you have planned for the rest of the year?

 

Our Home Insurance Shot Up 69% In One Year (Never Filed a Claim)

Our Home Insurance Shot Up 69 In One YearThe other day I received our newest home insurance bill, and I was very shocked when I opened it.

Our home insurance rate jumped from just $650 last year to $1,100 this year, which is a 69% jump.

Yes, nearly SEVENTY PERCENT from the previous bill we received. There was no note or reasoning attached to the bill (I know they don’t do that, but it would be nice), all it stated was the new rate.

I know others pay rates much higher than what we’re paying, and I guess we’ve been lucky.

However, considering the fact that we’ve never filed a claim since we bought our home 5 years ago and that we live in a cheap home, such a big jump in our annual home insurance bill definitely stood out to me.

So, I did some research.

According to ValuePenguin, the average annual home insurance bill in Missouri is $1,022.

This means our new home insurance bill isn’t too off, but considering our home is significantly below the average home value in Missouri (our home is 40% cheaper than the average value of a Missouri home stated by Realtor.com), it is still a little odd to me that we are paying so much more than others in the same area.

Also, when we first bought our home, the average home insurance bill in our zip code was only $450.

 

What causes home insurance bills to jump or be higher than average?

Around 1.5 years ago, we had two tornadoes in our subdivision.

One was at the beginning of our subdivision, and the other was at the end of it.

It was a freak occurrence and very scary. I’m assuming this is what caused our home insurance to go up. A few houses have been completely rebuilt and they are still working on one or two other homes.

There are other reasons why home insurance bills may be higher as well:

  • Do you have dogs? We have two dogs, but neither of them are on the list of “bad dogs” that home insurance companies don’t like. It is sad, but certain breeds will lead to higher home insurance.
  • Home “additions.” If you have any additions to your home such as a pool or a trampoline, they will most likely add to your home insurance bill.
  • Weather. Weather can be a big reason for why your home insurance is higher than usual. If there is the possibility of hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, or other disasters, then your home insurance may be higher than the average.
  • How old is everything? When was the last time your plumbing, electrical system, roof, and so on were replaced? If nothing has been replaced in a long time, then you may be looking at higher home insurance rates.

[Read more...]

Retirement, Financial Independence, and Living Life

Retirement, Financial Independence, and Living Life

This is what a happy life is to me.

After two very long posts this week, DIY Wedding Ideas – Worth It Or A Waste Of Money and How Much Money Should I Save Up For A House, today’s post is a somewhat shorter (and a rambling) one.

Lately, we’ve been home “shopping” online a lot.

It’s almost become an addiction.

Okay, who am I kidding? It is an addiction. Luckily, shopping for homes online is a free hobby of mine.

My favorite websites right now are Zillow and Realtor and I look at each a few times each week. We don’t plan on moving for around two years from now, but it’s still something we plan on putting a lot of thought into.

Before you think both me and Wes are crazy planners, I do want to say that it’s mainly just me who is crazy. If Wes had his way, we would have moved yesterday.

We want to move to a new state (Colorado is winning right now), and the next home we buy will probably be our “forever” home. We plan on living in it for a long time and possibly retiring in it.

The whole thing sounds a little crazy, even to me, especially since we are only 25.

 

What is a happy life?

Colorado is exactly how I imagine a great life (and retirement) would be. Whenever we visit the state, we are always amazed by how beautiful it is and we even love the air (it’s not humid like in St. Louis where you are constantly walking in a sea of mist).

With our future move to wherever we end up deciding on moving to, we have been thinking a lot about what a happy life is.

Every time we talk about possibly moving to Colorado, it always leads to us saying something similar to “this is how I imagine retirement would be. This is a happy life.”

Some think we are crazy, but why do so many people think you can’t enjoy your life until you reach retirement? Why do we have to wait to like where we live until we reach retirement age?

There are plenty of ways to save for retirement, while also enjoying the life you live right now.

My dad passed away in his 50s, before he was even able to retire. Well, technically, he “retired” when the doctors told him he only had a few months left to live. So, he spent his “retirement” in a horrible way. He worked extremely hard his whole life and saved for retirement religiously, and it’s something I’ve always admired. However, I don’t want my whole life to be all about working.

I want to be able to enjoy life now, instead of waiting decades down the line to possibly (sorry if that sounds morbid) enjoy myself.

 

Anyway, what does retirement mean to me?

Since we plan on moving somewhere enjoyable soon, does retirement mean anything to me? That is a question someone asked me recently. They said I would have nothing to look forward to in the future.

Retirement to me means financial independence. I want to have freedom when it comes to my career and also when it comes to how I enjoy my life.

I don’t see myself ever not working, unless I was prevented in some way (such as medical reasons). I like the motivation that work brings, and I like what I do. However, I understand that my feelings about everything may change in the future, and that is why financial independence is something I want to strive for.

 

How do I plan on reaching retirement?

I’m definitely not one of those people who plans on cutting everything in their lives in order to reach retirement. I still want to enjoy life, take vacations, spend time with friends and family, and more. However, I think doing all of that, reaching retirement, and living a fun life is all possible at the same time.

I plan on reaching retirement through a mixture of cutting expenses, growing my income, and hopefully adding some passive income to the mix. Thanks to several different personal finance bloggers (mainly Paula at Afford Anything), I have been more and more interested in getting into real estate and renting out places both long-term and short-term (such as through AirBnb or VRBO). That is a passive income area I would like to get into.

Even though I am no where near retirement, I do want to live an enjoyable life right now though.

 

How do you see yourself in retirement? Living in another country? Working still?

What does a happy and successful life look like to you?