colorful knot

Do you feel financially secure? Photo credit ewanr

A recent survey was conducted by on how 1000 Americans felt about their financial security. Some of the results might surprise you. For fun let’s play along and see how we stack up to the respondents answers

Do You Feel Financially Secure?

These are real questions asked over the telephone in June 2012 to 1000 Americans. I’ll answer the question and then give the results of the survey.

How much do you have in emergency savings (checking, savings, money market)? 

  1. None
  2. 0-3 months
  3. 3-5 months
  4. 6+ months
  5. None of your business!
For us we’d be in 3-5 months range, but if we add in our allocated savings account the answer would be 6+ months.

Financial Security Index

How do you feel about your job security compared to 12 months ago? 

  1. More Secure
  2. Less Secure
  3. Same as 12 months ago
  4. I’m a robot and don’t have feelings.
I’d have to answer more secure. Since 12 months I quit my steady paycheck day job and have found that I can make it as an entrepreneur. 

Financial Security Index

How do you feel about the amount of debt you have compared to 12 months ago? 

  1. More comfortable.
  2. Less comfortable.
  3. About the same.
  4. Don’t know.
We had no debt 12 months ago and none today so #3 same for us. 

Financial Security Index

Compared to 12 months ago your total net worth (assets-debt) is:

  1. Higher.
  2. Lower.
  3. Same.
  4. Don’t Know

Our total net worth is lower due to pulling money out of savings for a few months. 

Compared to 12 months ago do you feel your overall financial situation is:

  1. Better today.
  2. Worse today.
  3. About the same.
  4. Don’t know.
Our overall financial situation is probably worse today than 12 months ago as I build my business(es), but we are much happier and have the freedom to do what we love. 

How did your answers stack up to the survey? 

Financial Security Index

Kid in goggles

The swimming pool is a great place to learn about life and love when you’re a kid. Come on admit it–you had a crush on the *lifeguard too.

Learning how to swim took practice, hours at the pool, and the guts to jump in and try. You might have been a natural swimmer or maybe you had to work at it.

Investing holds many similarities to swimming. Let’s dive in together…one…two…three…jump!

Learning how to swim is like learning how to invest.

1.Take Deep Breaths This is the first rule. Don’t breath the water–you don’t have gills. You’ll need a lot of oxygen in your lungs for swimming.  Investing is for the long haul (5 years or greater). Take deep breaths and prepare for long seasons of swimming.

2. The water is cold at first- If you just stick your toe in the water, that water is freezing. It’s not until you put your head underwater does the water finally feel normal. Investing seems odd, weird, even scary–until you finally commit and begin investing does it seem normal.

3. Kickboards and Practice- I remember using kickboards as I learned how to swim and even later to get my legs stronger. Investing takes practice and maybe even a few tools (dollar cost averaging) to help your investments become stronger.

4. Don’t forget the floaties (water wings)- As you begin to swim, water wings keep your head above water. Index funds are the water wings of investing and you’ll find that they work well even after you learn to swim. Sometimes simple is best.

5. Find an instructor you can trust- You might not want to learn how to swim from your crazy uncle Louie who hasn’t swam in 15 years. Don’t listen to you uncle’s investment advice either, unless he’s a millionaire. Find a teacher and advisor you can trust to learn about investing. (How to find an investment professional)

6. Get over your fear and jump in- Jumping in the water takes guts and faith in your swimming ability and the fact that you’ll float. You’ll need to get over your fear of investing and begin or rejoin the pool party.

There aren’t many other ways besides maybe real estate to prepare for retirement and your children’s college beyond being involved in the stock market. Take the plunge!

7. Wear Sunscreen- You’ve got to protect your skin from harmful UV rays. Protect your investments by diversifying your portfolio and preparing for inflation.

8. Invite Your Friends- Swimming is best done with friends. It’s hard to have a water fight with yourself! Ask your friends about investing, start an investing club, and include others in your investment decisions.

9. Bring Money for the Snack Bar- Swimming makes for a hungry tummy. Don’t forget to bring money to the pool for snacks, but only money that you can afford to loose. I think I always spent any money I took to the pool. Whatever money you invest, be prepared to loose it all.–it’s not likely this will happen, but don’t invest money you’ll need for your rent next month.

10. The cool kids jump off the high dive- Diving off the high dive takes practice and a lot of guts. There is a lot of prestige and also a chance you’ll hurt yourself. Investing in complex instruments and advanced trading practices also have a high risk/reward factor. Many times they are just not worth the risk.

Man jumping off high dive

Photo credit TenZeroNine

11. Swimming is Fun- Don’t forget the purpose of swimming is fun! If you’re not having fun investing and having trouble sleeping at night, then you’re doing it wrong. Investing should be fun or at least tolerable. Get help if your investment plan is causing you angst or sleepless nights.

12. Everyone Swims Differently- I swam a lot as a kid and was even on the swim team for a few years (backstroke was my style), but investing wasn’t as natural for me. I had to learn and continue to learn how to invest wisely and find which investing style (stroke) is best for me. Find what investments work best for you and stick to regular investing.

*For the record I married a hot lifeguard.

Are you ready to join the pool party and begin investing? What keeps you from investing or helps to keep you in the investing market? 

Photo Credit lizbadley (Creative Commons)

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icecream truck

What is your favorite from the ice cream truck?

Summer is officially here! The kids are out of school, the ice cream truck is making the rounds, vacations are beginning, lazy pool days, the NBA season is finally over (good try Thunder) and baseball can carry us through to the Olympics.

Summer is here and it’s time to let the fun begin. You work too hard, relax a bit–but keep an eye on your dollars or they might slip and slide down the wet banana to the mud pit at the end.

Good clean frugal fun is what I’m talking about. Save money, have fun, and enjoy your summer with this collection of articles I’ve read this week.

Frugal Vacation and Travel Savings

Pack Right and Save on Baggage Fees- I’m sure you hate bagge fees too. Learn how to be a better packer and avoid paying those fees.

A Simple Way to Save Big on Traveling This Summer - Blowing money while on vacation is easy, but MoneyNing has some frugal tips for vacation.

How to Travel Cheap at the London Olympics- There is still time to go to the London 2012 Olympic Games. The Frugal Toad proves you can have affordable lodging in London and other advice for the 2012 Olympics.

Fun fact: I was an escort runner to 3 torch runners for the 1996 Olympic games. I didn’t get to hold the torch, just run beside the torch for several miles while it traveled though Birmingham, AL.

Frugal Summer with Children

Get Your Kids to Read and Save- Reading and Saving? Wow! Sounds like millionaire bootcamp by Enemy of Debt.

Summer Reading Activities and Reading Lists- Great reading lists and printable rainy day activities.

Stay Cool in the Summer: 5 DIY Popsicles by ImpusleSave- My favorite is the Oreo! Yum.

More Summer Frugalness

Great Summer Reading for Your Summer Solstice Weekend by Young Cheap Living

BBQ on a Budget- Grill + Meat by the pool is my idea of a good summer day. (no offense my veggie eating readers-tofu burgers too!)

6 Tips to Rockin’ Yard Sales This Weekend- I love a good bargain and the trill of finding something I need at a garage sale. Great tips and funny article from Budgets are Sexy.

10 Cheap Summer Dates in Los Angeles- In Los Angeles and on a budget, no problem!

What are your summer plans? What frugal summer tips do you have? 

Photo credit Leap Kye (Creative Commons)

Not a Planet :-( News flash: Pluto isn’t a planet. In case you weren’t around for the announcement in 2006, Pluto is now a dwarf planet. I was busy too and didn’t have a clue.

The International Astronomical Union voted that pluto didn’t meet the criteria to be a planet.

  • A planet must orbit the sun- Pluto does this
  • A planet has to be roundish–Pluto kinda fits this.
  • It must be the dominant gravitational object in its orbit. –This is what got Pluto demoted by the  IAU. Watch the video if you’re like me and didn’t understand.

Why Pluto isn’t a Planet Video


What? Yes, everything your teachers told you in school was a lie– a fabrication….OR they told you the best truth based on the facts and knowledge at hand.

Facts change and orbits change and we have to change our way of thinking as the telescopes get bigger– behaviors and rules have to change based on the new paradigm.

Financial Rules That Change

Financial rules also change. Things that were once a given have been turned on their heads with the recent recession.

Let’s look at a few financial rules that have changed. 

1)  3-6 months of emergency savings is enough- As a trained Dave Ramsey coach, I believe and have taught this too.

However many others and myself have found that 3-6 months isn’t enough, especially those who have been out of work. The new paradigm for many is 6-12 months of savings for an emergency fund is needed.

2) Finding a job is easy and quick- While this might be true for some fields it takes longer to find a job.  Gettting hired in the “new normal takes more work and the competition is more fierce.

3) A college degree equals success- This has never been true, but the recession has proven this.Millions with college degrees are unemployed or underemployed. It isn’t about the degree, but about what value you can bring to your employer.

4) A student loan is ok, everyone gets a loan- Indeed, almost everyone who has attended college in recent years has graduated with debt. The nation has over 1 trillion dollars of student loan debt! 

We are witnessing the student loan bubble bursting and people saying crazy things like “I’m not going to send my son to college.” Times are changing.

5) Everyone can afford to go to college- The past few decades of subsidized loans have made college more attainable to the masses. But with soaring college inflation costs not everyone can afford the debt that comes with a college degree.

6) It takes a lot of money and loans to start a business- This also hasn’t been true in the past, but people like Chris Guillebeau are highlighting the fact that you can start a business without debt and low start up costs.

Read what I learned from his book The $100 Startup.

We have a “new normal.” The new normal isn’t always as black and white as personal financial experts once thought it was. New shades of grey exist that cause us to examine each personal situation differently.

The only thing that remains the same is change and we all have to keep learning to keep up to date with new financial changes.

If you subscribe to, I’ll do my best to inform you of any financial rules that change.

What other financial rules has the recession changed or shown to be false? 

Photo by Crilix (Creative Commons)

Urban Garden: Pepper Plant in Milk Jug

Our urban garden experiment has been going for a bit now and we’re seeing some fruit from our labor! If you’re just turning in, we planted a garden on our apartment’s balcony in 5 gallon buckets, milk jugs and assorted pots.

We’re learning a lot about gardening…this stuff is tough work.

“The sign of a good gardener is not a green thumb, it is brown knees”.-unknown

Urban Garden: Fruit

After weeks and weeks of watering and fruit has been spotted! The cherry tomato has dozens of green baby tomatos. We should be eating salad soon!

Tomato Plant

The 2/6 pepper plants have baby peppers growing, the others are flowering so they should be fruiting (is that what you say?) soon.

Pepper Plant

Urban Garden: Bugs and Disease

Geez this garden thing was supposed to be easy. Hey we live in the city, how did the bugs and disease find our plants?

Something is eating our potato plant

Mystery holes in potato plant.

It seems something is chomping on our potato plant. Possible culprits:

  • Colorado Potato Beetle- This little bugger likes potatoes and maybe even peppers. Haven’t seen one yet, so I’m sure it’s the culprit.
  • Flea Beetle- Another beetle. No sign of this one either.
  • Aphids- Could be potato or peach aphid. These guys munch and spread disease.
  • Slugs- I’ve read that slugs come out at night and munch on plants and disappear during the day…I’ll have to go out at night with the flashlight to investigate!
  • It could be we just got a diseased crop that happens occasionally.
This will take a bit more investigating, but now I’m on a mission to find out what is eating my potato plant.

Our 3 squash and 3 zucchini plants have powdery mildew. Gross I know. It looks like athletes foot.

White Powdery Mildew on Squash

White Powdery Mildew on Squash.

Powdery mildew likes hot dry areas and could be caused by too much shade and overcrowding. I’m pretty sure we’ve overcrowded and over planted our 5-gallon buckets, I’ll try separating and giving them space.

We’re going to have to try a water spay made of 1:10 milk solution. We’ll have to wait for the “June Gloom” to dissipate as you need a sunny day.

Urban Garden: Failures

We’ve only had one fatality so that’s good odds. The basil plant bit the dust weeks ago. It seems it got neglected in the watering rotation.

We’ve got our watering rotation down now. Every other day and it seems to be working out. Our toddler even gets in on the action to water a few plants with a cup.

How is your garden going? Have you ever dealt with potato bugs or white powdery mildew on your squash?