7 things you should ABSOLUTELY spend money on? Are there actually things you should "absolutely" spend money on?
Well, yes there are!
I know, it's a little weird right? A Financial Coach telling you that it's (sometimes) okay to spend money and sometimes you actually SHOULD spend it.
But, before you reach for those credit cards you're going to close and cut up (if you haven't already), let's talk about what it is I'm ACTUALLY encouraging you to spend money on.
This is a short list of things that will protect you and NOT a list of things that will likely provide a sense of satisfaction in the "consumer" or "materialistic acquisition" sense.
Rather, these are all part of what I call our "adulting spend" or things we spend money on to protect us and our families from the darker forces in this world.
Also, I'll throw out my normal disclaimer that this isn’t a “catch all” list for absolutely everyone in every situation.
In particular, if you’re struggling to pay your bills, using/paying for these products/services (except for the 3 free ones, that is) is not going to apply until we get you solvent (i.e. able to pay all your bills and then some). But they will apply as soon as you can financially swing it.
But if you’re out of debt, then this list is for you in particular.
By the way, if you’re struggling to pay your bills, here’s a post about how to help you with that: What To Do When You Can't Pay Your Bills.
While an emergency fund is technically is in the category of saving not spending, I want you to think about it as being “gone”. This means that once you've saved it, you can’t touch it for any other reason than for an absolute emergency. I want you to put it out of your mind as though you've spent it.
So, what is an emergency fund? Its cash savings set aside for when Murphy's law decided to kick it. It's $1000 in cash laid aside if you're in debt and 3-6+ months of living expenses set aside when you don't have debt.
This $1000+ is going to keep you from reaching into your purse/wallet for that credit card. It should actually cause you to go ahead and cut up all those cards and to actually close the accounts.
Many of our clients initially tend to think in terms of “best case scenarios”, particularly when it comes to income and jobs. I want you to start thinking in worst case scenarios. Not to be a negative Nancy, but rather to be prepared for the inevitable arrival of “Murphy”. He will show up, I promise. And when he does, it will be at the worst possible moment.
I speak both from personal experience as well as from what I’ve seen as a coach of hundreds of clients. Check out our post on How To Get Your $1000 Emergency Fund Fast for how to do it.
Again, if you’re at a bare bones subsistence level, meaning you’re having a hard time paying the basics, this can wait a little while. But not too long, especially if you only have it through a job. Remember, if the job goes, so does the life insurance.
This is no bueno especially as we age and develop any health issues. It will at best make the insurance more expensive and at worst potentially find is uninsurable.
With life insurance, we only recommend term life (as opposed to whole life or universal life) because it’s meant to be a risk management tool and not an investment tool.
We recommend that the death benefit (or policy payout upon death of the insured person) to be ten times (10x) the insured person’s annual salary.
Easy math version: a person with a $100,000 annual salary would want to purchase $1,000,000 in term life insurance.
Why 10x? Because when the insured person dies, the beneficiary (normally the surviving spouse) will take that lump sum and invest it in a vehicle (i.e. mutual fund, annuity, etc.) that will provide interest for them to (ideally) live on as interest income.
Equifax, Target, Home Depot, you name it, they’re spilling our specific identity data to criminals. It’s likely that, whatever the episode is (i.e. a credit card charge or fraudulent tax return filing) won’t affect our wallets directly, but the administrative effort will.
Having been through ID theft myself, I can tell you that, if I didn’t have ID theft insurance, I would have likely spent 100+ hours doing the “cleanup”.
The cleanup is, calling the credit agencies, making sure the damage is limited by calling other creditors. It's a nightmare and you want to be covered. Here are 3 Sobering Reasons You Need Identity Theft Insurance.
Here's a post about 2018's list of 107+ companies with data breaches. We strongly encourage you to see if any companies you do business with were on it. I was actually shocked to see LifeLock on the list. Yikes!
I use and recommend Identity Force. They saved my bacon back in 2011 when my ID was stolen to file a fraudulent tax return. Whatever you do, please get something in place with and administrative/recovery element as part of the overall policy.
Yes I know, this seems like an oddly self serving recommendation coming from a financial coach, but please hear me out.
If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard prospects/clients say, ”I’ve been listening to Dave Ramsey for years”, or “we went through FPU (Financial Peace University) 7 years ago," I’d have a like a half-ton truck full of nickels.
Usually, upon a small expansion in the conversation I then learn that they’re still carrying debt on some level or are not properly preparing or positioning themselves for retirement.
The truth is, most people would benefit greatly by spending what amounts to a month’s worth of cable tv expense to sit down with a financial coach, review their budget, assets, liabilities and see where they could make some adjustments or improvements.
If you think might be ready to look into coaching, reach out to us for a free 15 minute chat. We’ll ask you a quick series of questions and help you understand if it might be right for you in this moment in time.
You can learn more about the process by checking out our Financial Coaching page. Another great post if you're not sure is: The 4 Most Popular Reasons People Seek Financial Coaching.
Don’t worry, we’re not going to try to convince you whether it is or it isn’t, but we can provide some valuable insight and points to consider if you're truly serious about destroying your debt.
Be honest with yourself (and with me) for a moment. How many time have you reused that one or two passwords that are easy enough for you to remember but complicated enough (so you think) that someone else wouldn’t be able to hack them? Have you reused it 5 times? 10 times? 20+ times?
If you’re anything like I was, it’s closer to 20 times.
Now, with that in mind think about the websites that you are reusing passwords for. Were they on last week’s list of 107+ companies that were hacked in 2018 alone? Is it your bank, credit card company, social media account?
These are all things to consider as we march forward in this wild wild west of technological advancement and its affect on the safety/security of our identities and personal data.
I highly recommend Dashlane as that's what I've been using for a couple of years now. LastPass is another provider that is very good as well.
This is a free tool that allows you to check all of your bank, credit and investment accounts in one place for the purposes fraud detection and for general tracking.
So, continuing our theme of identity protection and security, I want to recommend another tool I've used for several years called Personal Capital.
Personal Capital allows you to aggregate (a fancy word for collect) all of your accounts (i.e. bank, credit, investment, I've actually written an entire blog post about the benefits of using it and how I overcame my initial skepticism in using it myself.
It's a post called, Track All Of Your Accounts In One Place - An Introduction To Personal Capital.
Why is this important? Let me give you an example to illustrate.
About 3 months ago, I was using Personal Capital to check my account balances like I do every day. During the course of looking through one of my bank's debit card charges, I noticed an unfamiliar charge (unauthorized as it turns out) charge made from a retailer in the UK.
I was able to contact my bank immediately to flag the charge, have it removed and send them to investigate the incident. So, by using Personal Capital, I was able to fend off a fraudster from stealing from me without breaking a sweat.
That is a great example why you would want to use Personal Capital. I highly recommend it, AND it's free!
This one is going to be the nerdiest recommendation, but that doesn't make it any less important.:)
So what's a VPN anyway?
You can think of a VPN as a way to hide your online identity behind a secure wall. And this wall has a huge mirror on the outside (facing the enemy) that points your would be enemies to a completely different location than the wall you're actually behind.
Everything you do online is tracked based on your device's IP address (short for "internet protocol" address). So your computer, smartphone, tablet, etc. each has a unique address that can be tracked and monitored by bad guys.
A VPN basically serves as that "wall" between you (your IP address) and your enemies which makes you more secure whether you're at home, at Starbucks, at the airport, using your laptop, tablet or smartphone.
A VPN masks your real IP address from the bad guys. I could go into WAY more detail but, suffice it to say you need one and the one we use and recommend is Nord VPN by KeepSolid.
So there you have them. 7 things I'm giving you permission to spend money on when you actually can.
If you have any questions about any of the recommendations or products, PLEASE don't hesitate to reach out. I know a ton about all of these as I use the and recommend the to clients and subscribers who have questions all the time, so please don't be afraid to raise your hand.
0. Stop All Retirement Investing (Until Step 4)2. Starter Emergency Fund of $10003. Eliminate Debts Smallest To Largest (a.k.a The Debt Snowball)4. Full Emergency Fund of 3-6+ Months’ Expenses5. Invest A Minimum of 15% Income Into Retirement Accounts (and increase savings rate to 50%+ if possible)6. College Funding (if applicable)7. Pay Off The Home Mortgage8. Build Wealth, Serve, Be Ridiculously Generous And Go FI (Financial Independence)!