Let’s Talk About Finances!

If this post is totally unrelatable/boring/annoying please let me know in the comments and I won’t do any more finance posts! 

The other day I wrote about how I bought my house. I think it was the first time I really talked about finances on this blog, but it made me wonder if finances are something we should talk about more? Mostly every one who reads here is around my age, and therefore certainly has money on their mind. Whether that’s learning to budget better, wanting to save for a house, just trying to pay the bills or needing to put more money away for retirement, we’re all thinking about $$$.

Today I want to talk about how I got my finances on track. Just five years ago I didn’t think it would ever be possible for me to buy a house or save enough for retirement and now I feel confident about my finances. That all came down to one thing for me: taking a good hard look at my spending habits with a financial advisor.

When I turned 25 I started seriously thinking about my future and what I wanted it to look like.

Meeting with a Financial Advisor

I didn’t know anything about financial planning so I decided to meet with a financial advisor. My goal was to find a way to plan for three things:

1. Paying off my student loan.

2. Saving to buy a house.

3. Being able to retire early.

Before I met with my financial advisor I was asked to send a few things over in advance of our meeting including: bank statements, 401K statements, student loan statements and credit card statements.

I was scared to send these things to a stranger, but I took comfort is knowing that his job was to help people get on track. Surely he must meet with people from all walks of life.  I couldn’t be the only person just treading water, unsure of what I needed to be doing to meet my financial goals. I learned a lot of things in school but how to pay my taxes and how to save for retirement were not on any syllabus I ever received!

My advisor went through all of my statements before we met and put together a 3 year, 5 year and long-term plan for me which we covered in our first meeting. He looked at my income, savings and bills and then told me how much of my money I should be allocating to various things each month. He told me how much I needed to save and put into investments in order to retire early and maintain a high quality of life.

My advisor looked through my spending habits and brought some things to my attention. He didn’t tell me that I should cut back on any one thing (eating out, Starbucks, etc.) he simply showed me how much I was spending on these miscellaneous items each month and let me come to my own conclusions.

Basically I Was Throwing Money Away!

Seeing the amount of money I was spending each month on things like eating out and getting Starbucks made it easy for me to decide for myself that I had to make a change. Shamefully I was averaging about $700 per month on eating out and getting coffee sometimes usually twice a day. Those $5 coffee purchases add up quick!

When I exclaimed “OMG, this must stop!” my advisor told me to ease into it.

I didn’t say “I will never eat out again” because that’s not reasonable. Adam and I often eat out as a social activity with each other, with friends and with family. Sure there are other things we could do but eating out is convenient and it’s enjoyable!

Instead of scaling back to $0 I scaled back to spending $250 a month on eating out. That meant my grocery bill went up a bit higher but not nearly by as much as it cost me to eat out. Now I do little things like making my own coffee at home. That alone saves me about $200 per month!

The additional ~$450 I started saving went to good use! I could pay extra on my student loan payment to meet my goal of paying it off. I also put part of that $450 into my savings account which eventually helped me put a big down payment on my house. I also started investing which is helping me to pad my retirement savings. I have an IRA through my employer but I opened an independent investment account as well.

Investing and Saving 

I don’t manage my own stocks, but I would like to someday! A coworker and I were just talking the other day about how to pick good stocks. She said she invests in Trojan because she can’t envision a near future in which condoms aren’t needed. We also discussed how toilet paper companies are probably safe to invest in! 😀 One of my goals this year is to learn more about stocks and to use that knowledge for good!

I can’t recommend seeing a financial advisor enough if you feel unsure about your future or meeting your money based goals. Many times one of your employee benefits will include free sessions with an advisor, and if not many banks offer free meetings with financial advisors. I paid to meet with someone I found on my own, but Adam has met with the financial advisor provided through our bank (Bank of America) and has had really good experiences!

You may be thinking that your finances are too out of whack to even think about meeting with an advisor. Maybe you don’t have any savings at all, or you’re not contributing to your retirement plan. That’s okay, even more of a reason to meet with a financial advisor!

If you’re in credit card debt, your car payment is a struggle to make or you’re otherwise feeling sick about your finances now is the time to speak with an advisor. Did you know that a financial advisor can provide you help in lowering your credit card interest rate? And also provide advice on how to refinance your car loan into one that is more affordable?

There are so many little tips and tricks for saving money and spending money wisely that the general population (aka most of us) just don’t know! I really think meeting with a financial advisor was one of the best decisions I ever made.

BTW this is my favorite financial advice blog to read!

Ask me anything about what its like to meet with a financial advisor!
-I can’t give you financial advice but I can tell you about my experiences! 

Do you invest in stocks? How do you choose which stocks to buy?

Was this post unrelatable/boring/annoying? 
– If it was please tell me!

21 comments

  1. Lisa @ Mile by Mile

    It can definitely be eye-opening to see how much we spend on certain things! Rob does financial stuff for work so a few years after we started dating he helped me to set up a budget and figure out how to pay off my student loans. I think even the budget alone helped a ton because I was monitoring what I was spending each month. I let him deal with stocks but I’ve made sure to focus on saving as much as possible.
    Lisa @ Mile by Mile recently posted…30 Minute Glute Burning WorkoutMy Profile

    1. Kristina

      That’s so nice that you’re married to a finance guru! I definitely know monitoring my spending has helped me to increase my savings. Before I just kind of flew by the seat of my pants and put very little away for retirement!

  2. Megan @ Meg Go Run

    Paul is having a consultation tomorrow with an FA! I can’t go because I have to work but I will go to the next meeting. I have no clue what to expect! I guess today I am going to have to think about our goals… pay off our house, retire early!
    Megan @ Meg Go Run recently posted…Last Man Standing Race Recap 2017My Profile

    1. Kristina

      That’s so great! Those are the two best goals! You guys are in good shape. I bet your advisor will be so excited because you are such an easy case! haha

  3. Susie

    It’s hard to see past my student loan debt at times — but remembering that I’m not in it alone helps!
    Susie recently posted…Let’s Catch Up!My Profile

    1. Kristina

      I hear ya! I know student loan debt can feel crippling. For me when I started being able to put a little more than the minimum payment towards the total each month it made me feel so much more in control! I also started obsessively reading stories about people doing crazy things to pay off all their student loan debt in 6 months to a year and that was super motivating!

  4. Schlub

    I thought this post was extremely beneficial. Everyone can use more information on how to improve their finances. I’m off to see if my bank offers a financial advisor 🙂
    Schlub recently posted…Some HUGE and EXCITING NewsMy Profile

    1. Kristina

      Go go go, do it! It’s so eye opening!

  5. Heather [is probably running]

    Meh. I feel like I mostly have my financial stuff in an okay position (not perfect, not terrible). So posts like this aren’t really of interest to me. BUT Richard’s comment prompted me to check if my credit union has advisors available and they do. And they’re FREE. So now I think I should try to improve a few things.

    In other words: I don’t know how I feel 😛
    Heather [is probably running] recently posted…WIAW #2My Profile

    1. Kristina

      Hahaha I hear ya. Thanks for the feedback!

      I think you should go! Adam went to the free advisor at our bank for the first time this year and enjoyed it. He mostly just got confirmation that what he’s doing is right and he’s on track to meet his goals, but it’s nice to get that confirmation!

  6. Lisa @ TechChick Adventures

    You made a lot of good points in this post. Alan and I did see a financial planner, and also took a class on investing. It helps to know the lingo and concepts! We used to hold a lot more single stocks, but we’ve moved almost all of into several mutual funds for diversification. The majority is in index funds. We invest with Vanguard and Fidelity. They’ve been great!
    Hope you & Adam are on the road to early retirement AND financial freedom!! It sounds like you are headed in the right direction.
    Lisa @ TechChick Adventures recently posted…Training Tuesday 1/10/17 – GCM edition!My Profile

    1. Kristina

      That’s so cool that you took a class on investing – that’s what I need to do!!!

  7. Ana

    I used to be afraid of looking at my bank statements, and at my balances… I had some trouble with spending more than I was making when I was younger, and instead of dealing with it, I used to hide from looking at it. Then one day, I sat myself down and forced myself to make a budget, and stick to it.

    You make a lot of excellent points, I’m going to review meeting with a financial advisor, especially because one of my goals is to pay off my credit card this year. Thank you Kristina!
    Ana recently posted…Pennsylvania; Seeing, Running and Eating : The Bucket ListMy Profile

    1. Kristina

      I was in such a similar position as you! When I was in college I made some poor decisions, and some smart but expensive decisions. Like when I adopted Cecil he had some medical issues that cost me $2,000 within the first 48 hours of adopting him. I put that on my credit card because I was just an intern making a small amount of money, and then I only made the min. payment on that credit card for a long time. When I finally paid that card off it felt so good! Cecil was well worth the money, but having the credit card debt follow me around for a long time really stunk!

  8. Dana

    I am a bit of a finance geek and only got my stuff together a few years ago. I was completely green to investing and now manage my own portfolio (I keep things pretty simple and am a big fan of mutual/ index funds.) If you ever want to chat about $$ I’d be happy to 🙂

    1. Kristina

      That’s so awesome that you manage your own portfolio – I am very impressed! I will def reach out! I want to learn to manage my own portfolio!

  9. Kristen @ Glitter and Dust

    How ironic – my husband and I have a meeting with our financial planner on Tuesday. The only debt I have is student loan debt, but I will be applying for loan forgiveness after 10 years because I work for the state. I’m really unsure of how loan forgiveness works and am looking forward to talking to someone with expertise. I also want to learn more about retirement and what we should be doing with all of the cash we have sitting in the bank.

    Posts like these are really insightful – thank you for sharing!
    Kristen @ Glitter and Dust recently posted…New Plans, New Goals, New YearMy Profile

    1. Kristina

      That’s so nice that you’ll be able to get forgiveness, and it’s obviously well deserved.

      I know exactly what you mean about being unsure of what to do with your cash. That’s how I felt too. I knew it wasn’t making me very much money sitting in savings because interest rates are so low, so getting advice on ways to invest was so helpful! Now is the time in our lives when we should be making moderately risky investments because we have a long time for them to work themselves out even if they take a dip in the short term!

  10. Susan

    I was so very lucky to have my mom teach me by example of how to be really smart w/ money!
    From a very young age, I started saving for retirement and keeping a rather large “rainy day” fund. We do invest in stocks and have mutual funds. We have an IRA and a 401 K (Rick is self employed so that is the IRA and I have my 401K thru HPE). I am in charge of all our finances so I keep this list and all the important documents for Rick so he would know where everything is (just in case). But, I gotta say, in addition to teaching me how to save she also really stressed the importance of living! Yes, I may shop for bargains and use coupons. We only eat out as a treat. I stay out of stores to avoid really unnecessary purchases … BUT when it comes to travel, going to sports, going to concerts, buying gear for our activities (running, skiing, golf) or treating ourselves out to a nice steak we don’t even think about the money. I work really hard on that balance because as much as it can make you feel good to have a lot of money saved, if you are not enjoying the journey, what’s the point, right?

    1. Kristina

      That’s so awesome that your mom taught you to be smart with money. I feel like I learned by trial and error (in my younger days there was too much error, haha), but I’m in a really comfortable place now. It feels good to be here, but I wish I knew “then” what I know now – I could be so much closer to retirement! haha

      I love the balanced approach you take in all aspects of your life. I really need to be more like you all.the.time.!

      1. Susan

        You are doing amazing, girl! I admire you in so many ways so we can learn from each other. And also remember…I am YEARS older so those years allow for a lot of trial/error, mistakes, learning and growth!

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