This Blog is About

This blog is not about…but it is about…

In General Information by Gen Y Finance Guy32 Comments

In order to tell you what this blog is about, I first must tell you what this blog is not about:

Frugality – This is not another blog to join the frugality movement. That is already being taken care of very well with blogs like Mr. Money Mustache and the Frugalwoods. Although I would consider myself frugal in the sense that I try not to waste money on things that don’t bring value to my life. I am not very frugal when compared to the folks leading this movement.

I am not going to tell you how you can eat for less than $1/meal. I’m also not going to tell you to cut out your daily latte from Starbucks if that is something you really enjoy. I won’t even lecture you on spending money for a house keeper (which I have personally had off and on). People in the frugality movement tend to be more expense focused, where I prefer to focus the majority of my energy on income. As I wrote in this post, there is a natural floor when it comes to cutting expenses, but when it comes to income there is no ceiling.

This is not to say I will never talk about the expense side of the equation, but rather it is not the primary focus of this blog. I actually like to spend money :). Take a look at any of my financial reports linked on the financial stats page and you will see that I spend a lot of money. However, I also save a lot of money as well.

PeerStreet

Budgets – This is not another blog about budgets. This is a topic that J. Money has handled very well over at Budgets Are Sexy. Yes, budgets are a great way to get control over your finances. I have even been known to keep a budget myself. From time to time you may even hear from me about my own budget in my monthly financial reports. However, I don’t really have anything unique to add to the topic of budgets. And honestly I don’t find budgets all that interesting to talk about.

Although I personally have a budget, it’s not something I live and die by. I try to keep things simple. My goal is to simply spend less than I bring in every month (and save 50% after tax overall). This doesn’t always happen, especially during February through April, which tend to be our heaviest spending months.

Let’s just say you won’t see me spending a lot of time talking about budgets over here.

Mutual Funds – I absolutely hate mutual funds. More than 80% of the fund managers underperform the S&P 500 index, a benchmark you are paying them a fee to outperform. You are better off investing in a low fee, passive ETF index fund like the SPY (tracks the S&P 500) or VTI (tracks basically every US company from small cap to large cap).

Unfortunately, mutual funds are something I have to deal with in my employer’s 401K offering. Other than this I wouldn’t touch them with a ten-foot pole, let alone recommend them to anyone. Even the Oracle of Omaha himself agrees that most retail investors are better off putting their money into an index fund. That’s coming from someone that has made a living picking stocks.

Fundamental Analysis – I spend absolutely zero time looking at fundamental analysis. That means I don’t look at P/E ratios, return on equity, balance sheets, cash flow statements, etc. That is not to say these things are not important, but there are plenty of people that do this for a living.

Warren Buffet is probably the best in the world at this, if you really care about fundamental analysis, then go look at his 13-F filing that he is required to provide every quarter by the SEC. Its public and you can just piggy back off of his due diligence. You will be able to see exactly how much he paid per share, invest the same or less per share and you will be in pretty good shape.

Retirement – I actually hate the phrase. The word retirement causes me to cringe and leaves a bad taste in my mouth. This is likely because I watched my grandparents who were retired waste their golden years on a recliner in front of the TV. That has absolutely no appeal to me.

I realize that retirement means different things to different people, but I personally just don’t like the word. The only plan for retirement I have is to retire when I am “kicking daisy’s” as my grandfather used to say.

Retirement: the action or fact of leaving one’s job and ceasing to work. – Google Instant Search Result

I get the whole “leaving one’s job,” but what I don’t get is the “ceasing to work” part. People tend to overestimate the fulfillment you get from living your life in the pro leisure circuit. I get leaving the JOB, but once you stop working, your stop contributing. And I believe that contribution is a large piece of the fulfillment puzzle. Too often, work is mistakenly synonymous with the JOB. Yes, your job does require work, but work does not only apply to the effort you exert on the job.

Work: activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result.  – Google Instant Search Result

Okay, so maybe I am taking the definition of retirement too literal. But I think you get the point that this blog is not about early retirement. Actually come to think of it, this is actually the first post of over 115+ that I have even written the phrase on this blog. You won’t find any posts about my grand dreams for early retirement.

Travel Hacking – You won’t find me talking much about using credit cards to travel hack your way around the world for virtually zero money out of your pocket. The Richmond Savers and others have that covered really well.

Now you may find me write a post from time to time on credit card hacking if the sign up bonus is worth enough to talk about. A perfect example is a post I did a while back talking about getting over a $1,000 for signing my wife and I for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. But those will be few and far between.

And…………..

Well, there are a lot of other things this blog isn’t, but what is it about?

Simply, this is a blog is about BUILDING WEALTH REACHING FINANCIAL FREEDOM!

It’s not your run of the mill “Get Rich Slow” type content, but instead it’s aim is RAPID WEALTH BUILDING.

In order to build wealth rapidly I believe the FOCUS needs to be on earning more, not spending less. Living below your means is one of the core tenets to wealth building, but I think it is often interpreted incorrectly. You don’t have to live like a starving college student eating Top Ramen.

The restrictive way to live below your means is to remain expense focused, and I don’t know about you, but this tends to put me in a scarcity mindset. The alternative method of living below your means is to expand your means by earning more, which conversely puts me in a state of ABUNDANCE.

When you earn more it naturally becomes easier to save more. Now this is not to say you should not control your expenses and let them run wild. Instead I recommend following the law of 50/50. With this law you spend 50% and save the other 50% (guilt free) of your after tax income.

Following this allows you to save money very quickly, while at the same time allows for proportional lifestyle inflation (meaning you get to spend more). Your savings rate is the most important variable to achieving rapid wealth (even more important than the compound returns you earn on that invested savings).

The last piece of the wealth puzzle is investing the difference between what you earn and what you spend (ideally 50%). I think Todd Tresidder of Financial Mentor defined wealth building the most succinctly when he said:

Spend less than you make and invest the difference wisely.

Most people fail at building wealth because they’re only taught the “Get Rich Slowly” method. Results don’t come fast enough and people decide it’s just not worth it. They don’t realize there’s another way.

The goal of this blog is the HUMANIZE FINANCE in order to make it interesting and relatable. This is why I share my financial life with all of you here on this blog. My hope is that I will present things in a unique and interesting way. If you want something different than average, you have to do things differently than average people.

My sincere hope is that my transparency (and what I think is a unique perspective) will inspire you to take the helm of your own financial ship and be intentional with its direction. I truly believe that anyone can reach financial freedom, if they are willing to do things differently.

If you earn an average salary and have an average savings rate, then you can expect an average result! That means you will likely have to work at a job you may or may not enjoy until you’re 65 and then maybe you can retire IF you’re lucky (that’s a big IF).

Hey, there is nothing wrong with average. If you’re happy with average, then by all means keep doing what everyone else is doing. Not sure how you feel about that, but I have no interest in living an average life. I want EXTRAORDINARY.

Most people don’t want to live below their means in order to reach FINANCIAL FREEDOM, because that’s painful (at least in the conventional sense). They think it involves cutting out all the joy in life. You know what I’m talking about, those financial gurus that tell you that in order to get rich you need to cut out the $5 lattes and stop going out to eat.

Then after 40 years (or more) of diligent and above average savings and super low spending, you will be a millionaire. Basically, you have to live like a college student and suppress all the things you want to do in life and then when you’re old you will be rich.

Okay, that doesn’t sound like the plan for me either.

The good news is there is another way. This site is here to show you the OTHER path to financial freedom. There is a way where you can have your cake and eat it too. I believe and hope that over time I will be able to convince you of the following:


In order to reach financial freedom you can choose to live below your means by cutting expenses to the bone and living in a state of scarcity or you can expand your means and live in a state of abundance by increasing your income and enjoying the $5 latte or other indulgence of your choice.


Not only that, but if you’re diligent you can reach financial freedom a lot sooner than anyone has ever led you to believe.

Ultimately this blog is about FREEDOM. It’s about acquiring the resources to live the life of your DREAMS. It’s about the freedom to live life on your terms.

WEALTH IS THE MEANS NOT THE END!

-Gen Y Finance Guy



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Comments

  1. I think the 50/50 concept is a good one to live by. And if you can live happy by saving even more then you can reach freedom even faster! Thanks Dom

    1. Author

      TGS – Totally agree! Was just discussing this with my wife on the way to start our vacation. We have some very large increases to our income coming over the next 6 months. The thing we discussed is, that we should have no problem increasing our savings rate in excess of 50%, which will allow us to reach financial freedom even faster.

      We have gotten to a sweet spot in our spending, where we have plenty of budget to allocate at $10K month, that we are no longer that interested in increasing our spending. We realize we have certain things that we have been allocating income to like house projects that are almost done. So, instead of increasing our spending budget, we will have $10-$20K free up to spend on other things. This is going to prove useful in the “feeling” of extra spending money, while banking all of our additional income.

      Cheers!

        1. Author

          XYZ – Automation goes a long way in helping to ensure a 50% or greater savings rate.

          Cheers to you!

  2. That’s the great thing about personal finance and also the personal finance community. The overall goal is to keep some of what you bring in and there are many ways to do this like you mentioned above.

    We can cut focus on the expense side with strict budgeting, couponing, down sizing, etc. We can focus on the income side by getting that promotion, side hustling, dividends, real estate, etc.

    There really is an area for everyone and you fill a good area. Thanks for the post and the blog!

    1. Author

      Level Up Money – There is something for everyone. I look at the PF space as an all you can eat buffet, you get to pick and choose what looks good and leave the rest behind. Custom solutions 🙂

      1. That’s a good way of putting it.

        Each person has their own taste and what works for one may not even register for another.

  3. The problem I struggle with when using “gross income minus taxes” as the denominator is that it doesn’t incentivize you to monitor or reduce your taxes. You can have a 50/50 savings rate if you have income of $100 minus $30 of taxes and save $35 OR income of $100 minus $40 of taxes and save $30.

    Of course, the reality is that you and I definitely focus on taxes. It just doesn’t get picked up in the “gross income minus taxes” calculation of savings rate, which I think does a disservice to monitoring spending vs saving.

    For now, I’m sticking with using gross income as my denominator in calculating a savings rate, even if that means my percentage is lower. It feels more accurate.

    1. Author

      Very true Biglaw Investor!

      And you are right I am just as focused on reducing taxes as much as possible. Although I only report my after-tax savings rate, I do track it using gross income as the denominator as well, in order to get a gauge of tax efficiency.

      In 2015 my after-tax savings rate was 44%, while my gross savings rate was 37%.

      In 2016 we are tracking to an after-tax savings rate of 50%, however, our gross savings rate is still only projected to be at 37%. There were things in 2015 like the tax credit that we got for installing solar on our home that we won’t have this year. And our taxable income will end up being about $100K higher than it was in 2015.

      We are currently trying to work on producing more passive income that is taxed are capital gains vs. earned income tax rates, to help dilute our effective tax rate. However, our earned income is still growing at a much more rapid pace.

      If you have any tips or ideas, I am all ears.

      Cheers!

      1. Producing passive income taxed at the capital gains rate sounds like a good idea. We could always start a private equity fund together and take advantage of the carried interest loophole. I’m game if you’re game!

        Thanks for shedding some light on your gross savings rate. So far this year I’m at gross savings rate of 33.34%. Ouch. I sense a friendly rivalry starting. You’re only a few percentage points ahead of me.

        1. Author

          Game on! Let’s talk in a year about starting a PE fund 🙂

  4. I have the same mindset about abundance rather than cutting costs. Infinite potential vs limited and depressing.

    I was wondering if your 50% savings rate was after taxes, good to know. I’m excited to start tracking this after all the wedding / honeymoon expenses are paid!

    1. Author

      Very nice Brian! When do you get married again?

  5. Since you are focusing on income and want to inspire readers. It would be good for you to help share ideas a practices for increasing your income.
    Simply working harder at a job sounds exactly like what you mentioned earlier there is a limit to your income when working for someone else.
    Would love to hear about your side hustles to increase your income.

    1. Author

      Thanks for the comment Jason!

      Agree, working harder at your job is not exactly actionable. These days outside of the blog (which earns about $300/month on average) I don’t have many side hustles. However, depending on how long you have been a reader, you may have missed some posts I did on this earlier in the blogs history. I wrote a whole post on the anatomy of a side hustle where I earned an extra $18,000 (at $100/hour) starting a digital marketing & analytic’s business.

      I also talked about doing a little credit card hacking when cash incentives make sense.

      There was the post on investing in a commercial REIT. It pays a 7.5% dividend.

      There are also several posts on what I do to sell options to create income.

      I have a post scheduled soon on P2P lending.

      Will try to post more of that kind of stuff as time and real life examples come about.

      Cheers!

  6. Enjoy the holidays in costa rica. It is a geat country.

    The 50/50 rule is our goal as well. That really boosts you wealth creation. Our turbo will kick in once the mortgage is paid off.

    Our “budget” is in place. It became a habit. Weekly, i follow the big high lights to see if we are doing ok. No detailed budget at our house.

    1. Author

      Thanks Amber Tree! Costa Rica has been amazing so far. Love that it is light out so early. It is a beautiful country.

      Cheers!

  7. Good article, as a fellow higher spender I also try to stay focused on the savings rate instead of the expenses but it’s hard to fault the expense focused mindset. Most people have more control over expenses than income. Plus, increasing income usually means less free time where as cutting expenses usually equates to more.

    Keep delivering that balanced message though, I love the articles.

  8. I’m very jealous of your trip to Costa Rica. We have good friends who grew up there and love to boast of the beauty in their homeland. Someday, we will visit.

    I am glad that you highlighted your attempts at transparency, because I think this is one of your greater strengths as a blogger, Dom.

    Mrs. Superhero and I are currently striving to get closer to that magic 50/50 balance. Like you said, I’m not interested in living an austere lifestyle in order to do so, which means we need to boost our income just a bit. With some tweaking, I think we’ll get there in the next year.

    1. Author

      Thanks for the kind words finance super hero!

      Glad you are working towards that 50/50 balance.

  9. My parents both retired ‘early’ (before 65) due to circumstance with their work. I want to have the financial freedom to weather that sort of ‘storm’. I’m also envious of their time to ‘spend’ as they please, being involved in charities, or just enjoying a gorgeous morning (instead of commuting). I’m looking for financial flexibility / freedom. 🙂 We’ll see how that works out.

  10. Well said. I am all about being frugal without sacrificing quality of life. You will be surprised that there are so many great things in the world are free. Niagara falls charges no admission fee whereas we have to pay $50-100 for Canada’s Wonderland amusement park. Our condo has a outdoor swimming pool and jetpool that make the summer really entertaining that are included as part of rent. Mutual funds investing isn’t really recommended due to its high fee although I own a bunch of bank stocks that make a fortune out of those fees.

    It is really about understanding the environment and make the best out of it. 🙂

  11. I think you should pay me $1 every time you use the words frugal, budget, or mutual fund. I will consider it my side income. Enjoy the vacation!

  12. I couldn’t agree more about the mutual funds. When I did a IRA Rollover and used the funds to pick dividend growing stocks, my retirement savings started growing. Those mutual fund fees really eat into a retirement account balance.

  13. I think what you mean is that you hate actively managed mutual funds as 80% of them under-perform the indexes. B/c hello, index funds are also mutual funds, just that they are passively managed. So you can’t say that you hate mutual funds in one breath, but then go on to say you like index funds. Just a clarification. Thanks for the write up.

    1. Author

      Sure NDY! You can say that index funds are mutual funds. But I still tend to differentiate betwee passive index ETFs and passive index mutual funds. For two specific reasons:

      1 – the stock like liquidity, which is better than mutual funds.

      2 – the ability to sell options against ETFs via covered calls or short puts.

  14. And that’s why I love your blog 🙂 I think our perspective is pretty much identical (my love of lattes is well-documented), except for one point: early retirement. I define it as when you stop working for someone else, and spend your time only working on things you love, during the time you want to work on them. Root of Good had a really good post about this recently.

    I don’t want to spend my days in a recliner in front of the TV either, but I’d like to think I’m creative enough to fill my time with writing, working out, cooking, hanging out with kids, hubby, friends, family, travel, consulting here and there when there’s an interesting project, etc. to fill my years post-early retirement.

    I struggled with the concept until I redefined it that way, because I love what I do. I love my current job, but I also love my whole job sector, so my career path is looking pretty bright. I can’t imagine having to walk away from a CMO or even CEO job, but I know that I’d love having the freedom to do so without thinking about the financial repercussions.

    1. Author

      I feel you PIA. There is a high probability I enter the C-Suite this year and don’t see myself walking away anytime soon.

  15. I completely agree! I used to get so distracted in wanting to cut costs and tracking every dollar I spent when I realized that my time is better spent increasing my income. I’ve done it mostly in my 9 to 5 and have been successful selling stuff on Craigslist recently. As long as I don’t go absolutely nuts and stick to reasonable spending then my savings rate will be fine.

  16. Love the post GenY…been focusing on my income lately and trying to raise it through various methods. I really need to work on the 50/50 rule…really speeds up wealth building. Great job and if you keep writing, I’ll keep reading.

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