We hit the $100k investment mark!

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Oh hey there!

Today I wanted to pen you a more personal post. One that outlines (and celebrates!) a recent milestone in our family….hitting the $100k investment mark!

Now for some of you this may be a ways off, and for some of you this may seem like nothing compared to what you have invested. Either way, it’s an accomplishment for us and one that I want to talk about. Personal finance is all about making it personal. Personally I don’t care where our neighbors, family members, friends, bosses, coworkers or other individuals are at. I care about where we are at and how far we’ve come (plus where we are going!) I hope you can adopt this mindset too.

Over the course of the past 10 years (mainly the past 5 however!) my hubby and I have invested a total of $100k into our different investment accounts. While that is an impressive accomplishment for us, I can tell you that it has not been all smooth sailing up until now.

When I decided to leave teaching to become a financial planner, our wallets took a hit. Not only were we missing out on stable income, I also left some stellar state benefits (including free healthcare!) My husband and I adjusted but also encountered higher than normal medical fees due to surgery and eventually, the birth of our first daughter. At this time we really cooled it on our investing. Heck - we were just trying to stay afloat from paycheck to paycheck! We also racked up a bit of medical and credit card debt and in my younger more foolish years, I sold out of some investments to pay that off.

Now while I definitely DO NOT typically recommend selling out of investments due to paying a fee and missing out on what that invested money would grow to, it felt like the right choice at the time to get us out of debt. Do I regret that choice? Not necessarily, but it definitely wasn’t one of my smartest financial moves.

That being said, we are now consumer debt free, and have very little car and student loan debt left (as well as a mortgage). If we wanted we could wipe out all debt with our savings, but I like balancing both savings and paying off the rest of our debt as the interest rates are quite low on what is left.

So how did we save $100k? Here is the backstory:

1) When I was 23 I opened a Roth IRA through Fidelity and started maxing it out ($5500/year at the time). I used part of what was saved when I turned 27 to purchase our first home. Although I no longer max it out due to needing more cash flow with me not working/working part time on my biz, we still invest in it each month automatically and plan to use some of the money penalty free to pay for our daughter’s education in the future.

2) My hubby opened his 401k through work as soon as possible, and starting saving into it up to the match to begin with. Since then we’ve increased the percentage that is taken out of his paycheck. I tell people to always put enough to qualify for the match - free money is free money! Although I don’t love that higher fees associated with 401ks/403bs they can work quite well as it’s money that never touches your hands and thus, has to be invested. ;)

3) When I started teaching, I put 10% into my 403b through my employer. When I left, I rolled it into an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) at Fidelity.

4) While working at Thrivent, my hubby opened a Roth IRA and started contributing to it.

5) When I started working as a Financial Planner, I opened up and contributed to the retirement plans offered (both 403b and then 401k). These were what I cashed out when I we paid off debt.

6) My husband’s company has a great Employee Stock Option Plan (ESOP) that we take advantage of. We can buy the company’s stock at a discount which is a great deal! In September, we plan to increase this percentage.

So that’s basically it! It’s been a combo of employer sponsored plans (such as 401k and 403b) and individual plans (IRAs and Roth IRAs)

As I mentioned we’ve definitely had some hiccups along the way, but I’m proud of us for bouncing back and recommitting to our investing goals. Even if we aren’t investing as much as we’d like to, it’s still something!

The reason I wrote this post was to encourage you to start investing or to continue investing (if you’ve already started!) We tend to get bogged down in the details of where or how to start. If you’re unsure what to do first, check to see if your employer offers a plan and if they offer a match. Then take advantage of that!

I’ll be posting more investment related blog articles in the future, so if there’s a particular topic you want to see or question you have you want me to answer, leave me a comment and let me know!

And as always, thanks for reading! I appreciate you letting me guide you on your financial freedom journey.

Until next time…

Cheers to your abundance!


How to Conduct a 5 Minute Money Date

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It’s Money Date Monday!

What the heck is a money date Monday? It’s the day/time you check in with your money, duh! ;) Kind of like those fun things you do with your friends or partner, but this time it involves #adulting.

Looking at your money does not have to be stressful or complicated. In fact, the more you do it, the easier it gets and less scary it seems!

Why review your money?

Easy. Because when you know what you’re spending money on throughout the month you are more likely to stick to your financial goals. If you have no idea where your money is going, it’s going to be really hard to pay off debt or increase your savings.

Why does it need to be a money “date”?

Money dates are important because if you don’t have a time scheduled to review your finances, it’s pretty likely something else will come up. If you have kids or a busy work life, you know that if you don’t schedule something, it doesn’t get done! Am I right?!

I like to use Mondays to review our family’s finances and am going to break the process down. It’s so easy in fact that you can do it within 5 minutes too! (and no, it doesn’t have to be a Monday but I just like the ring of it ha!)

Here goes!!!

How to Conduct a 5 Minute Money Date

1) Step one: login to Mint (or whatever financial tracking app you use)

Now if you manually enter all your numbers into a spreadsheet or even use pen and paper, then get out whatever system it is that you use. I love Mint personally because it automatically pulls from all our bank/credit card accounts and categorizes them, so I just have to log in to make sure the categorizations are correct and change the ones that are not.

2) Step two: review your balances

I like to start my money date by taking a peek at what our account balances are on all checking, savings, and credit card accounts. This gives me a good overview of what we have going on in our accounts and if something looks off from this macro standpoint I can investigate from there.

3) Step three: review your transactions

I look through each transaction that occurred over the course of the past week to make sure that a) they are categorized correctly and b) there aren’t any strange transactions that I can’t place on there. You wouldn’t believe the number of times I’ve caught fraud on our account when conducing our money date! And then the transactions that are not categorized correctly I just quickly change.

4) Step four: check out your budget progress

This is one of the main reasons why I love Mint so much: they have the progress bars for each budget category that you have set. So when I look at these I can see how much we’ve spent for each category and how close we are to tapping out that month’s budgeted amount.

Now the point of budgeting is not to be super strict and obsess over every little dollar (well not in my world at least!). The point is to have an idea of what you’re spending your money on and use that knowledge to influence future decisions. For example, if I see we are getting close to tapping out our dining out budget but it’s only 3/4 through the month, I know we need to reign it in for the last portion of the month. Or if we haven’t spent much on other budgeted areas I will take that into account and assign those dollars to the category we are close to tapping out on.

5) Step five: pay off any revolving debt balances

So this is definitely an optional step depending on how you use credit (if you use it at all!) If you’ve read my travel hacking article (which you can check out HERE) I go into detail on how my hubby and I use credit cards to fund our love for travel. Now this method won’t work for everyone (especially if you have trouble overspending and are not able to pay off your balances in full every month!) but is super handy for those who want to rack up some rewards for the money they are going to spend anyway.

You can now set your credit cards to automatically pay in full before interest hits, however, I still like to pay ours down manually. This helps me feel more in control and assured that they are paid off and we will not be stuck with any interest. I typically complete step 5 every other week to align with my hubby’s paychecks. Again, this step is optional but I wanted to include it for those who use credit and like the idea of paying them off manually.

Alright - that’s it! That is how to conduct a 5 minute money date.

If you have questions on this method, feel free to leave a comment or email me at info@katieoelker.com. I’m happy to help in any way that I can.

What about you? Do you have a money date? How does yours work? Leave a comment below and let me know. I love hearing from you!

Until next time…

cheers to your abundance!

Katie O.

How to Talk to your Partner About Money

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Ahhh money. Let’s be honest, no one really enjoys talking about it. Especially not with another person. And even more so when that other person happens to be the person you share your finances with. Can I get an amen?!

Unfortunately money is the #1 reason why couples argue, and eventually end up splitting. Money was created by mankind to facilitate the trading of goods and services, but it has become much more than that. Each of us has our own unique money “story”, how we grew up with money and how we really feel about the stuff. Our attitude towards money is partly based on how our parents, grandparents and other influential people viewed and used money. You can see why when two people get together and share money, there can be differences! If you and your partner on not on the same page about your finances, it can cause stress on your relationship, and no one wants that!

Today I want to give you a few tips on how to talk to your partner about money to make it a little easier on yourselves.

Let’s jump in!

How to Talk to your Partner about Money:

1) Schedule time for it.

Plan a certain day and time of the week where you will sit down and discuss your finances and what’s going on. You can review your transactions together, look at your balances and bills, discuss expenditures coming up, or even just talk about how you are feeling about your current financial situation and brainstorm steps to improve it.

2) Make this time fun!

Pour yourself a glass of wine or beer, do it while taking a nice walk outside, turn on some music you both enjoy. Talking about finances does not have to be all doom and gloom. Find ways to lighten the mood.

3) Use “I” statements.

Instead of pointing your finger at your partner and their downfalls, use statements such as “I feel ______ when you do _____” to take the blame off. Instead of asking or demanding that they change their behaviors, state it as “I would like _______ to happen” The goal is to have an open and honest conversation about how you are both feeling, without offending the other or making them feel like they need to defend themselves.

4) Discuss your values, goals and priorities.

What do you really want out of life? What are the things you like to spend your money on? If you had unlimited money, how would you spend it? These questions can help guide you.

5) Find commonalities and make compromises.

Review those values, goals and priorities and determine what you both have in common. What are the areas you agree with? Disagree with? Then, outline a few that you do agree on and how you will send your money towards those as well as a few that you may individually value and how you will make that work. It may take some lengthy discussion and compromise, but when each partner is happy within the relationship then the relationship tends to run smoother overall!

6) Talk about the long game.

Speaking of goals, what does the long game look like for your family? Do you want to eventually own a home on a lake? (ahem, that’s us!) Try and retire a certain number of years early? Is it important that you take your family on a vacation each year (or save up for a special trip every certain number of years) or that the two of you get away as a couple? What things do you want to do that require some planning in advance?

7) Don’t sacrifice the short term.

It can be easy to get caught up in the fun of future planning. However, I hate to see couples suffer in the short term because of their long term goals. I truly do believe that life is meant to be lived well and enjoyed in the here and now. Because let’s face it, not a single one of us knows when our time will be up! Don’t forgo your happiness today for a future that is not promised. On the flip side, don’t sabotage your long term success in the short term by not fully understanding the bigger picture and how you will get there.

Alright you guys, that is how to talk to your partner about money in a nutshell! Which of these have you tried before? Which will you think about trying? Leave me a comment and let me know! I love hearing from you.

Until next time…cheers to your abundance!

Katie O.

P.S. - If you’re feeling discouraged about how you and your partner currently handle your finances, book a free consult call to see if I can help you get on the same path. The best part? It’s free! Click here to book.