What We’re Looking For When We Move

What We're Looking For When We MoveOkay, okay, I’ve talked about moving a lot in the past.

Last year, we were thinking about selling our current house and buying a new one in the St. Louis area again. But, then I left my day job for full-time freelancing and there were just too many things going on.

Good thing we put our home purchase on hold, because now we are thinking about leaving the St. Louis area and buying a home in a different state.

The two main states we are thinking about now are Colorado and Florida.

Yes, I know, these are two completely different states. Florida is hot and humid and doesn’t get any snow. Colorado experiences all four seasons and isn’t humid at all.

Below are some of the different things we are wanting and are thinking about when it comes to our potential move.

 

A beautiful area.

I used to really love the St. Louis area, but that was before we went to Colorado. After hiking and camping in Colorado, nothing in St. Louis is even remotely comparable.

I love how there are so many things to do in Colorado.

We can visit national parks, national forests, amazing trails, lakes, and so on. There are several outdoorsy things to do in this state and I think it would be impossible to ever feel bored if we moved to Colorado. Colorado is also closer to many other beautiful areas in the country, so it would be much easier to have beautiful outdoor vacations than where we are in Missouri right now.

What we love about Florida is the warmer weather and the beaches, of course!

We are also interested in getting a sailboat, and living in Florida would mean that we could travel the Caribbean potentially with a sailboat. That is a dream and sounds a little crazy though, and I’m not sure if that would ever realistically happen.

 

Good schools.

No, we don’t have children yet. However, we are thinking about having them in the next few years.

This means that we are looking into the school system for wherever we move. We forgot to do this when we bought our current house, mainly because we were so young when we bought and we knew we didn’t want children in the near future at that time.

The only way I really know how to check this though is with the website Great Schools. Does anyone know if this is a good way to check? Or are there better websites?

If you live in Colorado or Florida, or know of any school systems, please let me know. I’d love to hear!

 

Budget.

We will, of course, have a budget wherever we move. I’m not the type of person who could live in Los Angeles or New York City where the cost of living is extremely high.

I want a decent house that is within our budget. I’m not exactly sure what our budget will be, but somewhere between $300,000 to $400,000 I think would be good.

Also, we want a home with at least a little bit of land. At least one acre would be great. I just want a little bit a land, a pretty view, and possibly an area where I can attempt to grow a garden.

I’m not sure if all of this is possible in Colorado though. We have been looking at Realtor.com and Zillow and it seems like housing is a little bit more expensive there then it is here in St. Louis. $300,000 to $400,000 in St. Louis could buy you a 4,000 square foot brand new McMansion!

If anyone wants to help with a budget (how much is the average home in a city in both of these states?), cost of living, property and income taxes in each of these states, how is the social life like, and so on? I know this can vary greatly, but I would like to hear anyone’s input about these areas.

 

Not too, too far away.

Colorado is around 12 hours from where we live in St. Louis. That is definitely a long car drive, but it is something that we can do within one day. Also, a plane trip wouldn’t be too terribly long, so that is doable as well.

Florida would be a minimum of 12 hours from our home, and some places in Florida could even be 25 hours a way. That is definitely a long drive!

One reason why we are thinking about leaving the St. Louis area is because we don’t have much family here in St. Louis anymore. Wes’s parents and his younger siblings all just recently moved to Memphis, and my whole family lives in Chicago. The only person left here is my sister, and she is moving in 10 days for Chicago.

 

Would you ever move to a new area? Why do you currently live where you live?

What must a city have for you to want to move there?

 

Image: The picture above is one I took with my iPhone while we were driving when we went to Colorado in June. No editing or anything, that’s just how beautiful Colorado is!

How To Save 50% Or More Of Your Income

How To Save 50 Or More Of Your Income

Before I started blogging, I thought a good percentage to save each month was anywhere from 10% to 20%. I have even read an article where a “finance expert” recommended 5% for retirement savings because they said it was good enough.

Now that I look back on those figures, that is just not nearly enough.

However, that’s what many news articles will tell you. They will tell you that anywhere from 5% to 20% is all you really need. That might work for some, but that’s just not good enough for me.

Recently, I was talking to someone who told me that they save around 85% of their after-tax income each month. I thought that was absolutely insane, but I was a little jealous.

This person goes a little to the extreme in order to save this crazy amount of money each month, but they are happy and that’s all that matters, right?

Right now, we save around 60% of our income. That amount could be a little bit higher but we recently had our wedding (and shoveled a lot of our money towards that), we have been traveling more (we have bought a fair amount of camping and hiking equipment in the past 2 months), and a lot of my business income each month goes towards taxes.

Here are different ways to save 50% or more of your income:

 

Make more money.

Making more money can really help you reach an income percentage goal of over 50%. This is because there is usually only so much money you can save, but the amount of money you can make is endless.

You could work a part-time job, a full-time job, multiple jobs, start a business, freelance, and so on. You could also search for passive income and bring in more money with minimal effort.

There are so many things you can do out there to try to make more money.

I recommend reading my article from the other day Would You Rather Work For Less Money Or More Money? I know of a few finance bloggers who have worked or are working jobs that pay extremely well (but are not jobs that they love), so that they can retire in their 30s. Yes, it’s extreme, but every person is different.

 

Lower your budget.

Okay, one of the reasons for why I am able to save so much money each month is because of the amount of money I make. I am not going to try to hide that.

However, just because you make less money does not mean that you can’t save money as well.

The person who I mentioned above who saves 85% of their income makes around $3,000 a month. Yes, so that means they spend $450 a month. I know this isn’t possible for everyone, but if this person can cut their budget then I’m sure others can save more than 20% of their income.

There are many different expenses that you can probably cut out of your budget or at least lower. Just because you are lowering your budget doesn’t mean that you are going to hate life.

Some expenses you can lower or ways to save money include the below. Like I said, everything isn’t for everyone, but even a small change can help you out.

  • ATM fees. Why do people do this to themselves?
  • TV. Cut your cable, satellite, etc. Even go as far to go without Netflix or Hulu.
  • Restaurant spending. Start eating at home more! Become an amazing at-home chef and make your family love your new found skills :)
  • Bring your lunch to work. When I had my day job, I always brought my lunch. This was to save money, but also because I hated wasting most of my lunch hour driving somewhere to get food.
  • Pay bills on time. The goal here is to try to avoid any late fees.
  • Shop around for insurance. This includes health insurance, car insurance, life insurance, home insurance and so on. Insurance pricing can vary significantly from one company to the next. When we were shopping for car insurance last, we found that our old company wanted something like $205 to insure one car for one month, whereas the new company we have now charges $50 a month for the same exact coverage. INSANE!
  • Fuel savings. Combine your car trips, drive more efficiently, get a fuel efficient car, etc.
  • Trade in your car for a cheaper one. For us, we are car people. Cars are one of our splurges. However, if you only have a nice car to keep up with the Joneses, then you might want to get rid of it and get something that makes more sense.
  • Live in a cheaper home. I’m not saying you need to go live in a box, but if you live in a McMansion then you may want to think about a smaller home. This way you can save money on utility bills and your mortgage payment.
  • Learn to have more frugal fun. We don’t spend anywhere near the same amount of money on entertainment as we used to. There are plenty of ways to have frugal fun.
  • Cut your travel budget. There are plenty of ways to travel on a budget. One way is to start earning credit card rewards. I like the Barclaycard.
  • Lower your cell phone bill. Instead of paying the $150 or more that you spend on your cell phone bill, there are companies out there like Republic Wireless that offer cell phone service starting at $5. YES, I SAID $5! If you use my Republic Wireless affiliate link, you can even get $20 off their already super cheap prices.

I spend less money than I used to and I am happier than ever.

 

Are you trying to save 50% or more of your income? Why or why not? What is your savings rate right now?

What are you doing to reach your goal?

 

Image via Flickr by Sheila Sund

Confession: I Let Money Control My Life

Confession: I Let Money Control My LifeI’ve talked about not letting money control your life before, and I recently came across the topic again.

The other day someone told me it’s impossible for a personal finance blogger to not worry about money. They were saying I should be telling everyone that being controlled by money is actually a good thing.

I have to disagree though.

I don’t think that in order to be in charge of your financial well-being that you have to bow down to money and let it completely control your life.

Even though I say that though, I still let money control my life a little bit.

I’m not as bad as I used to be, but I still let money control my life more than I should.

Here are some of the things I constantly think about: 

  • I worry about bad business months. Yes, I know I publish my monthly income reports and I am doing well, but as a freelancer I still have the occasional week or two almost every month where everything seems completely dead. Also, sometimes I think about how life is almost TOO good to be true, and I wonder when it will all come falling down on me. I know, I am such a Debbie Downer!
  • My emergency fund is too large. Yes, that IS possible. Our emergency fund is around a full year of expenses right now. I am weird and I just don’t feel comfortable with it being any smaller. This means that I’m not investing this money more aggressively even though I am young. I am losing out on money and I don’t know if this is something I can ever change.
  • Home repairs. I sometimes act like my home is going to collapse. I don’t know why I’m like this. We’ve never really had anything major happen with our home, but whenever the smallest thing happens, I tend to worry that it’s going to cost $10,000 to fix. In reality, there would have to be something significantly broken in order for it to cost that amount!
  • I sometimes compare myself to others. When I say “compare,” I’m talking about comparing how I am financially doing to how others are doing. I read a lot of personal finance blogs and it just seems like all of these people are professional savers, whereas I’m just nowhere near as good as they are.

 

Here are some of the things to think about if money is controlling your life.

 

Money is just money.

This is something I always have to tell myself when I start having a money control freak out. Money is JUST money, and nothing else. Money doesn’t lead to happiness. Sure, it can make life easier sometimes, but life isn’t all about it.

Life will go on and freaking out about money doesn’t change the situation you are in. You need to actively change your life.

For me, I would always calculate our budget. I’m talking like every single day. I would spend hours upon hours trying to figure out our budget, financial goals and more. And, if I wasn’t on track it would upset me.

However, living with regret and being upset doesn’t change your situation!

If you want to see change, you need to actually do something.

 

I need to stop comparing myself.

I’m not talking about comparing myself in a keeping up with the joneses way. I’m talking about comparing myself to others who may be doing better financially.

For example, I came across an article recently that stated that the average person my age should have like $200,000 saved for retirement already. I thought that amount was absolutely insane, and I felt upset that I’m not at that level. Then, I started reading the comments and others who were even younger than me were saying that $200K seemed low.

HA, who are these people?

I then all of a sudden wanted to start saving even more. Yes, I make a decent income, but all of that is before taxes (and taxes take out a significant chunk). For me to have been at the level that these people were talking about, I would have had to take some drastic measures by now.

 

Does money dominate your life? In what ways? Are you trying to change that?

 

Image via Flickr by TaxCredits.net