"what is universal basic income"

 

Have you heard of Universal Basic Income? It’s a fringe idea that’s been generating a lot of discussion lately. But what does it actually mean? And who supports such a radical idea?

What is Universal Basic Income

The essential concept of Universal Basic Income is pretty simple. The government pays all of its citizens a monthly stipend. This money can be spent on whatever the individual wants with no oversight. Program advocates debate whether minors should receive a stipend. Some argue that parents should receive a smaller amount for each minor child while others argue that minors shouldn’t receive anything. Ultimately this detail would be up to the government implementing the program.

Universal Basic Income and Social Programs

Whether Universal Basic Income would replace or be in addition to the social programs that we already have is another huge topic of debate. Many argue that it should completely replace all of the social welfare programs that thousands of people rely upon. Why would people need food assistance, housing waivers, Medicaid, etc. if they are getting a guaranteed monthly stipend? Others argue that the stipend won’t always be enough to cover these essentials. They argue that we need to maintain some of these programs to ensure that no one is lives in poverty. 

How would we pay for Universal Basic Income?

And here’s where the idea gets incredibly unpopular! The number one source of income for most government’s is taxes, so increased tax revenue is the most popular choice for funding the program. People on the high ends of the income scale would probably pay more than their stipend in taxes to support the program. No one wants to pay more in taxes.

Other ideas for funding the program have been discussed as well. These include raising corporate taxes while closing some of the loopholes in the corporate tax code or raising tariffs. The main arguments against these ideas is that corporations would pass the costs along to the consumer, and higher operating costs would stifle innovation and potentially cost jobs.

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What are the arguments for and against Universal Basic Income?

There are tons of arguments both in favor of and against the program, and there is a lot of nuance in between. Therefore, I’m just going to lay out the basics.

For It

Proponents of Universal Basic Income argue that wages are too low and jobs are too scarce for people to lift themselves out of poverty. The argument is that if people were able to cover their basic needs (food and shelter) they would be more productive and have the time to develop in demand skills. People would also be more innovative and creative if they weren’t trapped in soul-sucking jobs. This would mean that we would have more art and more people pursuing their passions. A final argument in favor of universal basic income is that people would have more power to decline unfair wages and working conditions. This would force businesses to pay fair wages in order to be competitive. 

Against it

Opponents of the program argue that giving people free money will lead to a dependent society where nobody will actually want to work. Another aspect of this is that people would refuse to work menial jobs for minimum wage, so companies wouldn’t be able to find workers and would potentially be forced out of business, leading to less competition. Opponents also argue that it’s unfair for the people who do work to support those that do not. A major argument of this position is that it is way too expensive to pay every citizen something.  Those that work would be taxed an outrageous amount to support everyone else.

Related: What Are Family Values?

Is Universal Basic Income being used anywhere?

Some countries are actually toying with the idea of Universal Basic Income. Finland was the first country to do a trial run on the program. They selected 2000 unemployed Fins who then received a monthly stipend for two years. Although the final results of the study have not been published yet, initial reports from 2018 imply that the program wasn’t ambitious enough to work.

Individual cities and states are also testing out types of Universal Basic Income programs. Alaska gives all of its citizens a yearly payout of its oils and gas revenues. Though this was never actually considered a Universal Basic Income program, it has a lot of similarities.

 Hamilton, Ontario, is testing a program to determine if basic income is more effective at reducing poverty than existing social programs. Barcelona began testing their B-Mincome program in 2017. This program  provides a monthly stipend to residents in the poorest area of the city. Most of these pilots are still in progress, so it’s unclear what the final verdict will be.

Who Supports Universal Basic Income?

There are actually a few big-name proponents of the program. Most notably are billionaire entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, and Richard Branson. In all fairness, it would be impossible to list all the people who don’t support it, because there are so many. 

What are your thoughts on Universal Basic Income?

I’ve tried my best to not interject my opinion in this post (that’s for a different day!) but I’d love to know what your thoughts on the program are! Are you for or against it? And why?

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first year blogging

 

I am killing it with this blog thing! I made about $16 dollars during my first year blogging! Impressive, I know. I’m not trying to brag or anything with this post, on the contrary! I want to help you gain blogging success and see that making money with a blog is within your reach!

How I made $16 my First Year Blogging

No, that’s not a typo. I’m really bragging about making enough money to cover my domain registration for the year. Why? Because I’m sick of all the similar posts! I’m sure you’ve seen these all over the interwebs: “How I made 15 thousand dollars in One Month of Blogging!” and “How I make over 30 million dollars from my blog”. More power to the awesome people who are making a killing off their blogs, I don’t hold them any ill will (maybe 10% jealous) but they do make it seem incredibly easy and I think that’s unrealistic.

So what is realistic?

They are Selling you!

Realistically, those catchy headlines are designed to sell you a product about blogging. They are trying to explain how you too can become a multi gazillionaire overnight, if you would just buy this course or that course. Now, I haven’t taken any of the courses, and I’m sure some are super duper helpful, but please keep in mind that your mileage may vary. You may have more success than the person selling the course, but you may have less success. There are no guarantees, except that the person selling the course will make money off of you (again, not necessarily a bad thing).

They are also selling non-bloggers the idea of making money through blogging. And that is ok!! We are all (well, most of us!) in this game to make money. Hell, I have an affiliate link to Bluehost in this post! We all want to make money blogging, and it never hurts to invest in yourself and your business. Some of those courses do offer that opportunity (just do your research first and make sure you are picking the one that’s right for you!). My problem with those posts is that they make it seem too easy, and they never actually break down the numbers. They just feel like a sales pitch to me, and that’s not helpful.

 

They Make Money in Other Ways

One other odd thing that I noticed about some of these posts is that they often include freelance income, without any explanation of what that means. It’s one thing if they got the freelance opportunity through the blog, but if they are doing work off of Fiver or Upwork and crediting that income to blogging it’s a bit shady. The post would be more aptly titled “How I made 15 million dollars working from Home” (and I’ve seen those posts too, which are great because they are less misleading!). If you want to see an awesome income report that tells you exactly how a blog made money, check out A Mastermind Within. Every month Erik posts an income report, and it’s very well laid out and very transparent. That’s what I love to see in blog income reports.

So What’s the Point of this rant?

Ok, so maybe this post has been a bit ranty. But there’s a point, I promise! The point is that you shouldn’t feel discouraged if you aren’t a multi-millionaire after your first month or year blogging. Blogging is a long-haul game. It takes a long time for the search engines to trust your website, and it takes a long time to build a following. That’s all ok!

My other point is to give would-be bloggers a little perspective. It’s easy to get swept up in the “get rich quick” dream that some of these posts about making so much money in your first year blogging are trying to sell. Blogging is not a way to fast cash, it’s a labor of love. I love to write, share information, and connect with people; so, I blog. Yeah, I do hope to a make real money from it one day, and yeah, I have a bunch of affiliate links to support that cause. But I know that I’m nowhere near making tens of thousands of dollars a month from it, and that’s ok! If you love to write, give it a try! You can start your own website with Bluehost for as little as 6 bucks a month! (see what I did there?)

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But seriously, How did I make my $16?

Ok, I know you’ve all been biting your nails trying to figure out how I made my small fortune this year. The answer: Affiliates!Amazon affiliates, to be more precise (though I did make fifty cents with tailwind, which is a story for another post). A large chunk of that was bloggers supporting other bloggers (which is super awesome!) and some of it was organic. I don’t have any real way to differentiate between the two, but hey a sale is a sale.

What Do You Think?

Did you make as much money as I did in your first year blogging? How did you do it? For those of you that did invest in a course, do you feel like it was worthwhile? I’d love to hear your stories!

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"Buying a fixer upper"

 

Are you thinking of buying a fixer upper? We just did! We aren’t builders in any way, but we did know that there are a few items that we definitely needed to inspect and look out for when buying our fixer upper. Here are the things you should look for:

10 Details to Check when Buying a Fixer Upper

Major structural damage falls into the category of “Don’t buy this house!” bad. Some structural damage is so bad that the entire house will need to be destroyed! Unless you are shopping for land, this is a pretty hefty problem.

When buying a fixer upper, you definitely want an inspector to come in and check out the structure of the home. They will look for cracks in the foundation, unevenness, issues with grading, and other potential structural issues. Most of these things can’t be solved with simple DIY enthusiasm.

The Bad

Wood Issues

Pretty much every house I’ve ever see has a wooden frame of some sort, and it’s incredibly important to make sure this wood is in good condition before you buy. The major issues you will see with wood are termites and rot. These things can either be bad or “Don’t buy this house bad” depending upon how far the problem has spread.

Termites

I highly recommend hiring a pest inspector prior to finalizing the purchase on any fixer upper. An active infestation can cause thousands of dollars of damage, and can be costly to eradicate. The house we are buying does have some slight termite damage from about twenty years ago, but the infestation was eradicated quickly and there are no further signs of an active infestation. We will continue to have the house treated and inspected on a yearly basis to ensure they don’t come back. We will also slowly replace the damaged pieces.

Rot

Rotting wood is the second big wood problem you need to look for when buying a fixer upper. Wood rot is generally caused by moisture, so if there is rot on the inside structure, you know that water is coming in from somewhere (generally not a good thing). Wood rot on the frame of the house could lead to devastating structural issues. You can check out this blog post on wood rot for more information on how to find (and treat!) it.  

Safety Issues

Buying a fixer upper can be a super fun challenge, but we don’t want to do something that’s potentially dangerous. Therefore, you really need to check for safety concerns before you buy. Check for structural hazards such as weak floors “Don’t buy this house bad”, loose fixtures, and random old holes (seriously, most of the houses we looked at had random holes in the floor from old heating systems or whatever).

Electrical/Fire hazards

Electrical hazards are the most concerning safety hazard. Not only can they shock you, but they can also cause fires. Have your inspector check the grounding and the wiring to the best extent possible. Some older homes may need a complete rewire, which can get incredibly expensive. It’s also not something that you should try doing yourself, unless you are a trained electrician.  

Toxins and Chemicals

Toxins and chemicals are also a safety concern, though they usually can be mitigated. If you have little kids, make sure that you get the lead paint test. Most older houses do have lead paint, but as long as no one eats it or inhales it you should be perfectly safe.  You should also check for radon gas and black mold, as exposure to both can be incredibly toxic. These problems can usually be mitigated, but you definitely want to know what you are getting into before you buy.

Leaks/Water Damage

You need to inspect every portion of the house for water damage, because you never know where there might be a leaky pipe. There is some slight water damage on the living room wall in the house we are buying, and we identified its source as the second bathroom that was incorrectly added. We surveyed the extent of the damage, and it didn’t look like the water damage led to any problems with the wood. These are things that you definitely need to be aware of before you buy!

 

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The Good

And by good, I mean things that actually aren’t a huge deal but will make others pass on the home. There are tons of small issues that will prevent people who don’t want to do anything from buying a house, but that will make it a fixer uppers dream!

Carpet

Ugly carpet is kind of a big deal in central Pennsylvania. Pretty much every house we looked at had some type of ugly, stinky carpet. But bad carpet isn’t a big deal! Replacing a carpet is an easy, low cost way to greatly improve the feel of an entire room. You can even change the carpet to hard wood or vinyl. It will basically be a clean slate for you.

Paint/wallpaper

Wall décor is another cosmetic issue that can make a house look terrible. Everyone has different tastes, and the majority of people selling homes in central PA have horrible taste in wallpaper. I wish they had awful taste in paint, as that’s far easier to fix! But ugly wallpaper isn’t a deal breaker. It’s harder to remove, but it’s not a major problem with the home. Don’t look past a fixer upper because the walls are ugly.

Dated

The fun part of buying a fixer upper is renovating a dated room for modern use! You may run into all sorts of old features such as seventies shag carpet, fifties appliances, and closed off rooms (I read somewhere that it was improper to have guests see your kitchen back in the day, is that true?). Making an older home shine with modern glory is the absolute best part of buying a fixer upper. I’m excited to make that happen!

Minor Fixes

If you want to pass on a home because of minor issues, you probably shouldn’t be buying a fixer upper. There are tons of small things that can be wrong with any house, labeled DIY or not. Some have creaky stairs, leaky faucets, or windows that stick. Others have small holes in the drywall or missing outlet covers. Homes with a lot of these issues may fall under a fixer upper, but they are easy to fix so don’t look past a home because of these defects. It will be fun to stretch out your DIY muscles with these easy smaller tasks!

What else?

For those of you who have been in the fixer upper game before, what are some other major things that you should check out before committing to a fixer upper? What do you wish you would have done differently?

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fixer upper

I’m buying my third house! But this time, I’m doing something a bit different (and kind of scary!). Instead of buying a completely updated ready to live in home, we are buying a fixer upper!

Why would we want to buy a fixer upper?

We decided to buy a fixer upper this time around because we didn’t want to have another mortgage. I’m already paying over $1200 a month on the Georgia house (though I’m renting it out now, so I can call that an investment!) and I didn’t want to add to the debt load. We also both thought it would be great fun to learn some DIY skills and make the home our own. Be on the lookout for a YouTube series about it!

The financial perks of buying a fixer upper

Buying a fixer upper can be a great financial decision. In our new market, property values aren’t very high to begin with, so you can find an amazing house for a super low price if don’t mind doing some work. We are buying a giant 4-bedroom Victorian style home for just over $50K! You can’t get that kind of deal in most areas (though to be fair, no one really wants to buy a house in this area). Buying a fixer upper in inflated real estate markets can also be a great idea. You can get a house with great potential for an amazing bargain! It’s definitely a great way to get the type of house you want without having to pay top dollar.

The Costs of Buying a Fixer Upper

Nothing is without its downsides. The biggest issue with buying a fixer upper is that you actually have to fix it up! You can either hire contractors to make the needed renovations, which can get crazy expensive, or you can opt to do most of the work yourself.

Brian and I are going to try to do the majority of the work ourselves and document it all on YouTube (and here, of course!) so you can see where we fail and how we succeed. However, we’ve already decided that we are going to leave anything potentially dangerous or that could cause major issues to the professionals (mostly electrical and major plumbing issues). We don’t want to make anything worse!

Thinking of Buying a Fixer Upper?

Resale Value

There are a few things that you need to take into consideration if you are thinking of buying a fixer upper. First, is the resale value.  Look at the cost of renovation versus the potential resale value of the home. The housing market in Central Pennsylvania is not good. There aren’t a lot of nice homes on the market, and the ones available don’t sell for more than $115k. If we can stick to a renovation budget of $30K, we might be able to make an additional $30K when we eventually sell it. Because of these tight margins, we have to be very careful about the amount of money we put into it. We don’t want to put so much money in that we can’t recoup it when we do eventually sell.

 

buying a fixer upper

 

Potential Rent

Some people buy fixer uppers with the intent to fix them then rent them out. This is a great option for building your real estate investment portfolio. However, you do need to make sure that the rental market in your area is worth the hassle. Do you want to do all that work to fix up a house to make a net of $100 per month? Probably not. Look at all of your costs (purchase price, potential mortgage payment, and renovation costs) and compare those to the potential monthly rental income to get an idea of whether this would be a good option. It could work really well in some markets, but could be a money pit in others.

What you want

Although the money parts (resale or rent) are important considerations, they not the only considerations. We plan on living in this house for a long time (and hey, maybe property values will increase some day!) so we do want to make it our own. We don’t want to get too excessive with the renovation costs, but we also want to build a home that works for our needs (a great thing about a fixer upper is that we have the ability to do that!). Our goal is to make the house a home.

If you are buying a fixer upper with the intent to live in it, deciding on what you want is the most important part. If you plan on living there for a long time, making it your own is more important than the resale value or potential rent.

What was your experience with buying a fixer upper?

Have you every considered buying a fixer upper? How did it turn out? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments!

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Yep, you read that right. Partner’s in Fire is doing a No Spend Year! Ok, so maybe the catchy headline is a tad bit misleading. Maybe we should call it a “No Frivolous Spend Year”. That doesn’t sound nearly as exciting though, does it?

What a No Spend Year means to us

The main point of our no spend year is to stay away from unnecessary spending all year. Our goals are to pay off our debt and recoup our savings. We also decided now, in January, what we will be spending money on this year, and the challenge is to not deviate from that decision, for the whole entire year!

What we Can Spend Money on this Year

Obviously, it’s impossible to go an entire year without spending any money. We need to eat, we need to live somewhere, we need utilities, and we need to drive to work. We also aren’t complete fuddy duddies, so we need to have a bit of fun. The important thing is to decide now what that fun will be and to not deviate from it.

Mandatory spending

We’ve all got bills to pay. Our mandatory spending this year is the same as it will be every year. We need to pay our taxes, utilities, gas, and food. This mandatory spending category covers all of our monthly bills. This is what we will spend each month on bills:

 

Taxes PA house 150
Home insurance PA House 100
Georgia house mortgage 1200
Georgia house maintenance 200
HBs Car 300
Stupid Decision Car 300
Car Insurance (all three cars) 300
Phones 300
Utilities 300
Groceries 800
   
   
   
Total Monthly Bills 3950

 

4k per month seems like an awful lot, but remember we are renting our house in Georgia out, so the tenets are paying the costs of that, and sometimes my ex pays for the stupid decision car and insurance (though not always). Also, these bills are for two people, four cats, and two giant dogs (hence the slightly high grocery bill).

New House Spending

Our biggest purchase during our no spend year is undoubtedly the new house in Pennsylvania. We are paying cash, so it’s going to wipe out the majority of our cash holdings (reason number one why rebuilding that this year is of utmost importance!). The house itself was a steal – 52K for a huge Victorian Style home. It’s a fixer upper, so we will need to put some money into renovations this year. We just got the inspection completed, and there don’t seem to be any major problems that make the home unsafe or unlivable, but there are a lot of cosmetic problems and a few things that will cause major problems down the road if they aren’t addressed soon. We are expecting the renovations to cost about 20K.

On the plus side, we thing that if we put that money into the home and make it nice, we will greatly increase the value, and we will most likely make money on it when we decide to resell it. We are also going to save money by doing a lot of the renovations ourselves!

Visits

We aren’t going to be total fuddy duddies during our no spend year. We’ve already decided that we will take two trips this year – one to Los Angeles to visit my friends and family, and another to Savannah to visit his. Both of those locations offer us free places to stay, and we can drive to Savannah to save even more money.

We decided that we can budget some money for these trips this year because personal relationships are the most important things in the world, and we don’t want to lose sight of that while trying to save money.

Fun

We are going to severely limit the amount of money that we spend on having fun this year, but we can’t have zero fun. Therefore, we decided to talk now about what are “fun” spending will be. Brian really loves video games, and he’s going to go back to streaming on Twitch as soon as we get settled into the new house. So, we decided that he can buy four new video games over the course of the year. This isn’t a lot at all for an active gamer, but he’s willing to make the huge sacrifice to ensure that we get all our stuff paid off.

We are also going to buy a Nintendo 64 and some of the old school games (especially Mario 64!). This console will provide us with hours of inside the house entertainment, so we won’t be crazy bored.

The final fun spending thing that we are allowing ourselves this year is a few day trips. We are definitely going to take Brian’s daughter to the Hershey theme park and Philadelphia, but we are also considering heading to New York City or Boston for a quick get-away. We want to take advantage of all the awesome stuff that super close to our new location!

Eating Out

Ok, we are realists. We know that it’s basically impossible to not eat out for an entire freaking year. That’s just not going to happen. Therefore, we allowed ourselves two nights a month for eating whatever we want. The BF really sucks at not eating out, so this is going to be a huge struggle for him. Getting him to bring a lunch to work every day rather than go to whatever fast food place is closest is going to be a huge struggle for me. But I think we will get there.

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What we Can’t Spend Money on this Year

Travel

Travel is one of my biggest budget busters. I’ve been on at least one international trip every year for the past five years. I’ve spent close to ten grand every year on it! I love to travel, to explore new cities, foods, and cultures, so this limitation is going to be really hard on me. But it will be worth it to ensure that I’ll have the opportunity to travel even more in the years to come.

Shopping

No new clothes, no new shoes, no new toys. This is going to be rough for both of us! The majority of our unnecessary spending has been on frivolous stuff that we find at malls (who remembers the crappy Zelda chest from My Boyfriend Sucks with Money?). If we are going to succeed at this no spend year and achieve our budget goals, we need to totally eliminate this type of spending. It will be easier for me than for him, but hopefully giving him the four games will help. It’s going to be a rough year!

Eating out

Yes, we are giving ourselves a little leeway here, but for the most part our no spend year includes no eating out. That means bag lunches, dinners at home, and learning how to cook. Thankfully I have the Healthy Eating Ultimate Bundle which will help me plan out or meals and learn how to cook tasty delicious meals. Maybe we can even start cooking as a couple’s activity! That would be fun!

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Going Out

I’m a homebody, so this is way easier for me. But the BF loves going out to bars for tasty adult beverages. This is a huge budget buster! One tasty adult beverage costs almost eight bucks! And who (other than me) has just one? One night on the town can easily cost over fifty bucks, and that’s just unnecessary.

We are also going to severely limit other types of going out. Movies, bowling, mini-golf, arcades, coffee shops, malls, and anything else entertaining are all on our no-no list. Sure, we may do one or two of these things this year, but they will be few and far between. Instead, we will have free fun at parks, hiking trails, and at home.

Who’s with me?

So who is with me on the No Spend Year Challenge? Lets all work together and keep each other accountable for sticking to our plans! We can do it!

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"Goals for 2019"

I’m super excited about 2019! I just moved to a new state and started a new job, so 2019 is basically the start of a brand-new journey. I definitely took these challenges into consideration when thinking about what my goals for 2019 should be! A lot of thought went into this, especially after failing at most of my 2018 goals. I still want to achieve most of those things, but I also realized that I need to be a bit more realistic.

Goals for 2019

Personal Goals

Be Happy!

My most important personal goal for 2019 is to just be happy. It’s not always easy. Life can be hard sometimes (especially right now, when we are renting a small room an hour away from work, don’t have all of our babies with us, and don’t know when our next paycheck is coming due to forces outside of our control). But my goal is to try to remain positive. This rough patch will pass, and 2019 is going to be an amazing year.

Healthy Eating

Healthy eating is one of my top goals for 2019, as it was for 2018. However, after the first two months of 2018, I totally failed at it. This year, I have an amazing plan to stick with it for the entirety of 2019 and beyond: The Healthy Eating Ultimate Bundle. It’s an amazing product that has over a thousand dollars’ worth of recipes, e-books, meal planning, and e-courses for only $37! This all in one bundle makes it super easy to stick to your healthy eating goal for this new year. You can read my blog post about it here, or you can just check out the website for yourself! With the ultimate bundle’s help, I’m not going to fail at healthy eating this year.

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Buying and renovating a House

Since I just moved to a new location, I have to buy a new house (no one rents to crazy cat people, such a shame). The area that I moved to has tons of options for cheap houses – but most need a bit of work. I’m ok with that though! It’s always been a dream of mine to renovate a home, and the property values in this area will make that dream a reality. In fact, we just put in an offer for an amazing Victorian style fixer upper, so keep your fingers crossed for us!

Maintaining our relationship

I feel kind of weird about putting this out there as a goal for 2019…I mean we all know what happened last year. The key difference this year though is that I actually want to achieve it. I love my boyfriend with all my heart and I’ve never felt so supported and loved in a relationship. And, he didn’t make me put this! I don’t feel like our relationship at this point needs a lot of work, but I also don’t want to get complacent. I want to show him how much I appreciate him every day. And maybe, by this time next year, my goal will be to maintain our marriage.

Money Goals

I learned last year that you should never ever have net worth goals based on the potential performance of the stock market. That was an epic fail! So, my money goals for 2019 are things that are more within my control.

Debt repayment

My number one money goal for 2019 is to get my credit card paid off. I wrote a guest post on Arrest Your Debt late last year about getting myself into a credit card hole, and I’ve been working hard to get it paid off. Unfortunately, with moving expenses and a car repair, I’ve had to increase my credit card debt in the past few weeks.  This year, my credit card debt is going to be my top focus. If all goes well, I should have it paid off by April.

Build up Cash

I’m basically wiping out all of my cash holdings to buy a new house (but hey, I’m going be mortgage free!). So, my next goal of 2019 is to rebuild my cash holdings. This actually shouldn’t be that difficult without the mortgage payment. My goal is to rebuild twenty thousand dollars’ worth of emergency savings by the end of the calendar year. That’s a lot, but I definitely think it’s doable!

Maintain my Investments

I’m not going to change my investment allocations for the new year, so this should be an exceedingly easy goal to achieve. I’m going to keep investing in my 401K at a rate of 6% (and getting the match) and I’m going to continue investing my $100 a month into my Vanguard account. Easy Peasy!

"new years goals for 2019"

Blog Goals

Increase readership

I still have yet to hit 1000 users in any given month on my blog organically. My number one blog goal of 2019 is to reach achieve this. I’ve been so close in recent months that I definitely think it’s achievable (maybe even this month!!). My next readership goal is way more ambitious. I want to get to 25k users a month so that I can join Mediavine’s ad network. I don’t know if that’s going to be achievable in 2019, but I’m going to go for it!

Make some money!

My second blog goal for 2019 is to make some money! I love blogging because I love to write and I love offering valuable information to my readers. But it would be nice to get some compensation for it. I think last year’s goal of 1100 was really ambitious for a brand-new blog, but I don’t think it’s out of reach for a blog that’s been around the block for a year. I’m going to keep that as my goal, and I’m going to achieve it! You can help me out by shopping at Amazon through my affiliate link(hint hint wink wink).

Social Media Goals

I failed at pretty much all of my social media goals last year, but that’s ok! I’m just going to have the same goals for this year! I can definitely get to 5000 twitter followers by the end of the year (I’m only 1500 away, so I should be able to get there by March!). I’ve finally figured out that it’s pretty easy to gain followers on Pinterest just by following others (I know, rocket science, right?) so I should be able to get to 5000 on there this year as well.

My goals for Facebook and Instagram are a little different this year. I’d love to gain more followers on both platforms, but I’d rather focus on building a better community. Therefore, my goal on those platforms is to share more meaningful content rather than to build a following. If I keep sharing interesting, engaging content, the followers will come. And they will be engaged, which is way more important.

Travels Near and Far

As you can see, my goals for 2019 have kind of excluded my other website, Travels Near and Far. I realized last year that it’s just way too much to work full time and to run two blogs. Therefore, my focus is going to continue to be Partner in Fire, and I’ll just maintain the Instagram account for Travels. When I achieve financial independence, I’ll go back to travels near and far and make it as amazing as this blog is.

Your goals

What does 2019 have in store for you? What are your New Year’s Goals? Let’s partner together and help each other achieve all of our goals for 2019.

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healthy eating bundle

Happy New Year! Are you ready to start this year off right? So am I! So, as is tradition, we’ve established some great new year’s goals for 2019. I’m going to keep you in suspense on most of them so we can focus one that is incredibly important: Healthy Eating.

Healthy Eating for 2019

Last year, my new year’s goal was just to lose weight. I practically starved myself during the last two weeks of my challenge, but I did lose 20 pounds! Which I promptly gained back as soon as the challenge was over.

The thing is, making your goal to lose weight doesn’t work. You try fad diets and go no carb for a few weeks, and yeah the pounds melt off but its not sustainable. I love food, there is no freaking way I’m sticking to any type of diet that is going to limit me. I need a way to incorporate healthy eating into my regular schedule.

That’s why I’m so thankful that I found the Healthy Eating Ultimate Bundle. It has an entire year’s worth of meal planning and recipes for every type of diet. And they even have snack and dessert recipes! We all know I wouldn’t survive without snacks and desserts. I mean, what kind of life is that?

"healthy eating"

Healthy Eating Ultimate Bundle

But the great thing about the Healthy Eating Ultimate Bundle is that it includes so much more than recipes. I mean, I could troll recipes.com if that’s all I was interested in (though I do have a really hard time finding good recipes there unless I know exactly what I want to cook and need a recipe, which rarely happens. Do people really scroll through online recipe databases to get meal ideas?). Anyway, the Healthy Eating Ultimate Bundle is way better than that. It offers thirty different meal plans for tons of different scenarios – from vegetarian meals to kid’s meals, crock pot meals to quick meals, and even for party hosting and themed meals. It also has meal plans for meal prepping and for frugal eating! There are plenty of meal plans for everyone no matter what they are into! It’s freaking amazing!

The Best Part

But my favorite part of the Healthy Eating Ultimate Bundle is the courses – specifically the Flavor Crash Course by Courtney Polivka. This course teaches you how to cook without having to rely on recipes! It teaches you how to craft your own culinary masterpieces by learning about different flavor profiles. It also shows you how to combine ingredients for the most flavorful results. This is an amazing course for people (like me) who are clueless about cooking. This course alone costs $200, so even if you buy the bundle just for this course you are getting an amazing freaking deal! It’s only $37 dollars for the entire bundle!!

This Deal Doesn’t Last

The one negative thing about the Healthy Eating Ultimate Bundle is that this deal is only available for a very short time. You have to act now to get access to all the awesomeness in this bundle! After January 7, this deal goes away for good! But wait, there’s more! (I’ve always wanted to say that!). If you purchase the bundle before January 4th, you gain access to the 30 meals in 30 days challenge. This early bird special is a great way to get into the habit of preparing healthy meals right away – as they say, it takes 30 days to make a habit.

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Lets start this New Year Off Right!

So who is with me on starting this New Year off right with an awesome Healthy Eating Ultimate Bundle? Click here to purchase your bundle today for only thirty-seven dollars. You don’t want to miss this amazing value!. It’s a great way to get your year off to an amazing start.

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Thirteenth Month Update

Welcome to our thirteenth month update! Now that we’ve surpassed the one-year mark, we really feel like a legitimate, established blog. I think that shows in how well we did for the month without having the time to do a lot of marketing! Let’s see how we did!

Posting

I am truly amazed that I was able to stick to a consistent blogging schedule this month. We had a whole lot going on in our personal lives with a big move, starting a new job, and the holiday season. But even with all of that craziness, I still managed to publish a post every Thursday and Sunday. I consider that a huge win!

We did fail at recording and posting new episodes of “My Boyfriend Sucks With Money” though. In fact, we accidentally packed our microphone up in the moving pod, so we won’t be able to record a new episode until we buy and get settled into the new house. That might be awhile! In the mean-time, you can binge listen to our previous episodes on I-Tunes!

Readership

Astonishingly, we were able to grow our readership this month in comparison to last. With 805 total users, our thirteenth month was one of our best yet!! The month we got featured on Rock Star Finance is still number 1; it’s hard to top that kind of traffic. But we will get there organically someday soon!

thirteenth month

Traffic Drivers

Direct Hits

Direct hits were still our number one source of traffic this month. We had 315 users via direct hits this month. Most of these are coming from our email subscribers who are super awesome and visiting whenever we post. We love you subscribers!! And if you aren’t yet subscribed, just fill in your info to get updates directly to your inbox!

Social Media

I did a lot better at social media this month than I did last month, but I’m still not where I’d like to be. We had 236 users from social media this month, which was a pretty good improvement on last month. But still, with everything going on in my life, I haven’t had the time to be as active as I’d like to be. My social media game will definitely improve once we get settled. I’m hoping that won’t be more than three more months from now.

Twitter

I rocked it on Twitter this month. I had 82 users from Twitter during month 13, almost double my twitter traffic from last month. I’m pretty sure being featured in the Money Mix’s daily round up helped, because I wasn’t as active this month as I have been in previous months. A lot of my Twitter friends also have been sharing my posts, and that helps a lot. Thanks Twitter friends! I’m sorry for not reciprocating as much this month (and in advance…next month!).

Pinterest

I did do better on Pinterest during my thirteenth month than I did in my twelfth month, but not by a lot. I have yet to break 100 users from Pinterest in any given month, and that’s with using tailwind to pin to group boards, pining to tribes, and sharing other people’s content. I’m working really hard on creating nice images for the platform with calls to action as well, it’s just not something that I’ve been able to crack yet. If someone wants to do me a huge favor and check out my main Pinterest board to tell me what I’m doing wrong, I’d be eternally grateful!

Facebook

Although I didn’t post interesting things on my Facebook page like I would have liked to, I still got a pretty decent turnout from Facebook during my thirteenth month. I got 69 users visiting from Facebook this month, a small but relevant increase over last month. A slow and steady increase is an increase, right?

Instagram

I failed at Instagram yet again this month. It’s been so hard to find the time to take and edit pictures for the platform that it falls to the wayside. I don’t want to be spammy and just post blog header photos, so I haven’t even tried to get users from this platform. I still got 6 users from it without putting in any effort, so that’s a huge win, right?

Organic search

Organic search was our third biggest driver of traffic this month, but it did increase by 15 users over the previous month. I tried writing a post specifically related to the major search terms that people have been using to find my site (barista fire), and I think that helped improve my traffic from organic searches. I’m also still working on improving my DA through link building and positing engaging content.

Referral Traffic

We had 55 users coming from referral traffic this month, which is fairly in line with what we saw last month. However, the referral sources look pretty spammy, so I’m guessing most of these users were bots. I did get featured on an awesome year end round up by Smile & Conquer, so some of those users came from that. Many Thanks!

Content

I’m really proud of the content that I put out this month (but I always am, why put out content that you aren’t proud of? We posted some awesome content about Barista Fire and Geoarbitrage that I think are extremely relevant to the concept of financial independence. We also posted about the Best Cash Back Apps and Using Acorns for Investing, which I think are super helpful topics for our readers. Moving forward, we are going to continue to write awesome content that is engaging and helpful.

Monetization

I did dabble a bit more in monetization this month, publishing a nice little gift guide for the holiday season. And, I did get some sales from Amazon this month! That’s a step in the right direction. I’m working on other avenues of monetization as well, so hopefully I’ll have more information for you on my next update!

What’s Next?

We are going to stick with our goal of trying to get over 1000 users, we were super close this month! My other big goal is monetization. As I’ve been regularly saying, we have found some new affiliate partners that we will be working with shortly, so we hope to be able to report success with those.

Our biggest focal points for monetization at this point are affiliate marketing and increasing our readership to gain access to better ad networks. Maybe someday we will venture into sponsored posts, but at this point that isn’t our focus.  

What are your thoughts? What else can we do to improve our readership? I’d love to hear your ideas!

thirteenth month update
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"2018 goals"

Last January, I posted a very lengthy (and ambitious!) article about all of my goals for 2018. Today, we are going to go through each goal and see how we did.  Welcome to the inner workings of Partner’s in Fire, and hopefully my mistakes can help you when you set your goals for 2019!

2018 Goals Recap

Relationship Goals!

My number one goal in January of 2018 was to work on my relationship with my ex. This is one goal that I’m extremely happy to have failed at! After we broke up, I wrote a post about how terrible the relationship really was, and I’m so thankful that I was able to escape it.

I honestly think that this break up had a ripple affect across the rest of my goals. It’s easy to spend all of your free time working on side hustles and other projects when you don’t actually want to spend time with your partner. I knew even back then that the relationship was bad and I needed to get out, but I just didn’t have the strength.  I immersed myself in projects to avoid confrontation. 

In fact, the only reason my top goal of 2018 was to work on my relationship was to placate him. He would’ve gotten upset if I didn’t include it. That alone should have told me how toxic it was. I mean, it did, and I knew way before that how toxic is was, but it really is hard to escape a toxic relationship. If any of you lovely readers are in a similar situation, please please please reach out to me. I’m here for you and I absolutely won’t judge any of your choices. I’ve been there and I get it.

Increase Net Worth by 50K

I’m not nearly as happy about my failure on this goal. My net worth actually decreased by 15K! And that’s after it grew by quite a bit in the first two quarters.  Apparently having a net worth increase goal that relies on external factors like the stock market isn’t the best idea ever.  Lesson learned.

 My net worth loss was due to the drastic changes in the stock market over the past few months – especially December. Market crashes happen, and I’m not actually that upset about it because I’m still invested for the long term. I’ve just been buying stocks on sale for the past few weeks!

I know this is the time of year that everyone is looking at their portfolios, and due to political factors things aren’t looking good. But stay the course! I know it sucks to see such huge losses, but as long as you still have a long investment time-frame, you will be fine.

Blog Goals

My main blog goal of 2018 was to publish at least two posts per month. Win! I actually did way better than that! Outside of my 6-week hiatus, I posted two blog posts almost every single week! I failed at making my blog profitable; my goal was to make a whopping $1200 and I only made $17.00. But hey, 17 bucks is 17 buck! I started a few more affiliate programs late in 2018, and I think those are going to increase my profits for the coming years. 2019 is going to be a great year for Partners in Fire!

I failed epically at all my blog goals for my other website, Travels Near and Far. I didn’t edit any of my older posts and I didn’t write any new ones. It was super ambitious to think that I’d have time to do both. I did not.  Well, maybe I would have if I had stuck to the two posts a month goal, but instead I decided to put all of my energy into Partners in Fire, and I think that will pay off in spades in the future.

Social Media Goals

I actually achieved some of my social media goals! I got over 1000 followers on Instagram and over 100 Facebook likes. My Twitter and Pinterest goals were far more ambitious, and I didn’t quite reach those. I ended 2018 with about 3500 Twitter followers and only about 1000 Pinterest followers. I know I’ll reach the 5K mark on Twitter in 2019, and maybe I’ll be a bit less ambitious about Pinterest.

However, I did learn that it’s not really the quantity of followers that you have but the quality. My ex built up the Instagram account before we broke up, and it was horrible. There were tons of “follow for follow” types of accounts following me. I had to drop all of those and rebuild with an authentic following. I lost a lot of followers while I was doing that, but I think the quality of new followers is much better. Its much better to have 10 real followers than 100 fake ones.

The only social media account I even tried to grow for Travels Near and far was my Instagram account. And guess what, I got to over 1000 followers! Then I lost about 15 of those because that’s how Instagram is. Does it count as a win if I achieved it then backtracked?

Health goals

Do you remember me talking about the biggest loser competition at work? Well guess what, I won! I lost 22 freaking pounds in about 2 months last year! And then I used the next 10 months to gain about 15 of those pounds back. So…still kind of a win? I do still feel pretty healthy, I think losing 20 pounds was actually way too much for me. I could probably stand to lose about 5 pounds right now, so maybe I’ll try to be a tad bit healthier next year.

Unfortunately, I totally failed at my other health goal. I was going to mediate every single night! That lasted about a month.  But it’s definitely something I want to get back into!

Gardening

One goal I actually stuck with in 2018 was making a garden! We built a cute little fence to keep the dogs out and planted all of the things! Unfortunately, I was a bit ambitious, and other than getting some ginormous zucchini, the garden was basically a fail. You can read all about it here! But the important thing is that I tried it, and I learned to be less ambitious for next year. I think I’m going to stick with one or two tomato and cucumber plants.

Side Hustles

 The only side hustle I worked on this year was the blog, and like I said above it was not profitable. But I’m going to keep at it! I’m constantly improving my blogging skills, and I know that 2019 will be an awesome year for Partners in Fire.

The side hustle I really failed at was my resale hustle. I didn’t even go to one garage sale in 2018. There was probably cool stuff on sale in Georgia too! Oh well. Maybe I’ll get back into that now that I live in Pennsylvania. There’s probably a bunch of cool old stuff here too!

So what did I do this year?

I failed on basically all of my 2018 goals. But that’s ok! Things change, and when they do priorities also change. I set these goals thinking I would be in a terrible relationship. As it turns out, when you are in a good relationship you actually want to make time for your partner. Who would’ve thought? I didn’t have the time to focus on all of these things, so I focused on my new relationship and on building Partners in Fire. I think that was the right choice, as I’m incredibly happy in my relationship and I’m happy with where Partners in Fire is heading as a blog.

Lessons Learned

Although being ambitious in goal setting is a good thing (why set goals that are too easy to achieve?), I learned that being too ambitious isn’t always the answer. My goals for next year will be a little less ambitious and a little more thought out. I’ll make them difficult yet achievable, and I won’t spread myself too thin. I can’t do everything, and it was silly to think I’d be able to.

How did you fair with your 2018 goals? Did you achieve them? Did you realize that you were overly ambitious as well? Tell me what you learned about goal setting in 2018!

"2018 goals recap"
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"you need acorns for investing"

Have you tried using the app Acorns for investing yet? I just downloaded it, and I don’t know why I waited so long! Acorns is a great way for regular folks to start an investment portfolio – it’s straightforward and you don’t have to put up thousands of dollars. So, let’s see how it works!

Using Acorns for investing

Free Five Bucks Just to Start

In order to start using Acorns for investing,  you need to get the app. If you use my referral code, we can both get five extra bucks! What are you waiting for? Download it here! Then, you can refer your own friends and everyone can get five bucks. That’s a super easy way to get free money into your portfolio!

After you download acorns, it will ask you a series of questions about your risk tolerance and your investment time frame. The app will choose a balanced investment portfolio for you based on your answers.

Next you need to link a bank account. You won’t be able to set reoccurring investments or round up investments without one. If you have multiple bank accounts, you can link all of them to really maximize your round ups.

Acorns asset allocations

Acorns may not be so great for skilled investors who really like to do their own research and want to know exactly what all of their holdings are. Acorns doesn’t provide that information.

What Acorns does tell you is your allocation between small caps, large caps, emerging markets, real estate, international stocks, and bonds (both corporate and government). This is great for novices, you don’t have to do tons of research on stocks or mutual funds to decide which to invest in. The app does it for you. And it shows you a fancy graph of your allocations!

"Acorns for investing"

Types of accounts

There are two different types of Acorns accounts, and you can set up both if you would like. There is the Acorns core account, which is the one you will automatically get when you sign up for Acorns, and then there is the Acorns Later account, which is basically an IRA (Individual Retirement Account). I think it’s awesome that Acorns decided to offer an IRA feature; since so many people don’t have access to 401Ks through their employers, and don’t have enough money to start investing in traditional IRAs.

Ways to Invest

A great thing about Acorns is that they have tons of different ways for you to invest. Whether you are a shopper or a saver, an auto-pilot investor or an active investor, Acorns has an option for you.

Round Ups

My favorite way to invest with Acorns is through their round ups feature. The funny thing about this is that I hesitated to use round ups because of it! I generally use cash for all of my purchases, so I didn’t think it would be useful. Oh how wrong I was!

You see, the round ups feature isn’t just for debit card purchases. Acorns can find round ups to invest from any purchase – I’ve rounded up my monthly internet, phone, and insurance bills to add money to my Acorns account! Another great thing about the Round ups feature is that you can chose whether or not to automate it. I’ve chosen to automate and round up all of my purchases, but you can manually choose which purchases to round up as well.

Reoccurring Investments

You can also set up a reoccurring investment from your bank account into your acorns account every week. The reoccurring investment can be as little as five dollars a week and as much as twenty dollars a week. This is an easy way to automate your investments.

One-time investment

If you don’t have the cash in your budget to set up a reoccurring weekly investment, you can also manually invest any amount over five dollars as a one-time investment. You can do this as little or as often as you’d like. It’s a great way to put part of that bonus or tax refund to work for you!

Investing by Shopping Online

A super cool feature of Acorns (that I don’t really use because I don’t do a lot of online shopping, but it’s really freaking awesome for those who do!) is that you can get cash back to invest from shopping online through certain retailers. It’s basically like E-bates, but instead of getting cash back in your pocket, the money gets put into your Acorns investment account. Tons of stores have partnered with Acorns to help you invest – Air B&B, Amazon, Express, Barnes & Noble, Bed, Bath & Beyond, World Market, E-bay, and way too many more to list. The offers vary by retailer, so you’ll have to log on to see if what your favorite store offers. You also have to shop through the Acorns app, so you can’t double dip with other cash back apps like E-bates.

Learning about Investing

Another great feature of Acorns is the “Grow your knowledge” feature. This feature not only gives you information on how to use the Acorns app, but there is also a wealth of articles about credit, debt, saving money, and investing basics. This feature also has a curated section of the trending news in investing. It’s a great way to learn more about investing, and can help turn the novice into a pro.

Fees

Nothing in this world is free, and acorns is no different. Acorns charges a monthly fee for its services. Most Acorns users will pay only one dollar a month for their account. Acorns Later (the IRA) users will pay two dollars a month.

Once your combined Acorns accounts reach one million dollars, the fee structure changes. Rather than pay one dollar, you will pay .01% of your portfolio value.

Is Acorns right for you?

Acorns isn’t right for everyone. If you aren’t going to invest regularly, either through roundups or through a reoccurring investment, the one-dollar monthly fee will eat away at your holdings rather quickly. However, it’s so easy to do one of those things that this shouldn’t be an issue for most people.

Acorns is the best way for people who don’t make a lot of money to start investing. It’s one of the only programs I’ve seen that allows you to start with as little as five dollars, and invest such small amounts. We all know how difficult it is to save up the three thousand dollars necessary for most mutual funds, and it’s awesome that there is a product available for regular people who may not be able to achieve that.

Get Acorns today

What are you waiting for? Get Acorns today and start investing now! And if you already have Acorns, I’d love to hear about your experience with it!

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