Getting Financially Naked with Your Partner

He cast his eyes down and exhaled slowly. I could feel the nervousness emanating from his body as his leg twitched and he drummed his fingers on the table. My foot kept tapping the bar stool as I sensed our moment of truth had finally arrived. After several years of being together and it was time to get naked for the first time – financially naked.

Peach steadied himself, looked me square in the eye and told me his number.

Finding Out Your Partner’s Number

Peach&ErinFor other generations “the number” may refer to bedfellows, but millennials have a new type of number to be concerned with which carries a unique STD: sexually transmitted debt.

A vast majority of our generation carries some form of debt. It’s likely that even those of us who were fortunate enough to escape the clutches of student loans will eventually be yoked to them in marriage.

I made my college decision based on the desire to graduate debt free, but I’d fallen in love with someone without the privilege to do the same.

Peach and I casually chatted about money early on in our relationship, but it wasn’t until we realized marriage could be a possibility that I asked him to share his number. As a type-A personality, I wasn’t willing to discuss engagement or marriage without knowing the financial situation in which I’d find myself after the “I dos”.

Student loan debt is not a deal breaker to me, but credit card debt is a red flag and major cause for concern.

Fortunately, Peach never tussled with consumer debt but merely took out loans in order to finance his undergraduate education. He managed to pay for his graduate degree out of pocket by working full-time. A decision that kept us long distance for nearly 4 of our 5 year relationship, but a sacrifice worth making to save him tens-of-thousands of dollars.

Who Has to Share?

When Peach disclosed his debt burden, I in turn shared my net worth – a number very few people know. I believed it was unfair to ask him to strip down in front of me, while I got to stay bundled up in the comfort of being debt free.

There are plenty of personal finance enthusiasts who believe in complete transparency. Share your income, how much you pay for rent, what your investment portfolio looks like. We need to talk about money after all. While I agree it’s imperative money becomes less taboo, I also don’t feel a need to shout my net worth from the digital rooftop. Because I’m not transparent about my net worth, sharing it with Peach was an intimate moment for the two of us that showed him how much I trust and love him.

It also opened up the conversation for how each of us believes money should be handled in marriage.

What’s Yours is Mine – Seriously

Sharing our numbers didn’t mean we suddenly swapped ATM pins and ran to get a joint bank account. Instead, it provided a foundation in which we could create hypothetical scenarios about how to handle money if we decided to get married (an important conversation to a have after five years of dating).

Peach immediately became defensive that he would be taking care of his debt. A gesture I appreciated, but retorted wasn’t fair to a martial ledger. Why should he exclusively carry the burden of debt repayment, when our financial decisions before and after marriage would impact each other? We could combine forces and get rid of his debt in a relatively quick time.

This isn’t to say all married couples should have joint banking accounts. There are arguments for and against – and each couple must figure out the best way to merge money. But handling debt should absolutely be a team effort. Otherwise, it can quickly become a breeding ground for resentment.

Our current hypothetical strategy would be for two of us to live off my salary, while Peach’s salary would be used almost exclusively to pay down his debt (save for making contributions to an emergency fund and retirement account). This way, Peach retains ownership over his debt by making all the payments with money he earns, but I also feel part of the team by financially supporting our day-to-day expenses. Plus, I’d prefer he not waste money on an engagement ring, which frees up a chunk to go towards debt repayment.

Early Discussions Saves (or dooms) Relationships

Our early debt conversation made it easy for the two of us to be transparent in other money conversations. It also helped us develop a team mindset about finances before being legally tied to each other. We’re open about chatting money now, because we were willing to have uncomfortable conversations early. These conversations can also help people determine if a partner is actually is a good fit. Finances are a leading cause of contention in relationships. So, why enter a marriage if you can’t have honest discussions with your partner or see major red flags like credit card abuse, routinely missing payments or refusing to deal with existing debt? Love might make us blind, but it that isn’t a passable excuse to lenders, bankers and credit bureaus.

Posted in Debt, Millennials Tagged with: ,

The Consequences of Aggressive Debt Repayment

IMG_2303Jacquelyn Delcamp felt directionless and unmotivated.

Like many of her fellow millennials, the then 24-year-old manager for the ticket marketplace company Vivid Seats explored realms of the Internet for inspiration. She ended up stumbling upon the personal finance blogging community where she discovered the site Studenomics. After reading the blog, Delcamp decided to email the site’s founder Martin Dasko. The subsequent communication with Dasko motivated her to pay off $48,000 of debt in 10 months.

But such an aggressive debt payoff doesn’t come without consequences. Her story shows some of the negative side effects of paying down debt.

Read the full article on US News.

Posted in Debt, US News' My Money Blog Tagged with: ,

Welcome CBS Sunday Morning Viewers!

Welcome CBS Sunday Morning viewers! Here is recap about Broke Millennial and the pearls of personal finance frankness you can expect to find around these parts.

Broke Millennial started after a cup of coffee with a friend at 2 a.m. We were 23 and just entering our first real jobs after a cushy year of post-collegiate work as pages for The Late Show with David Letterman.

CBS Sunday MorningMy friend waxed poetic about her desires work in the New York City improv scene, however, her desk job as an assistant to major television network executives kept her from being able to actually pursue her dreams. But hey, the money was good, and she needed to pay rent.

I casually asked her why now wasn’t the time to go after dream of creating sketches and acting? She was young, no dependents and no student loan or consumer debt. Babysitting, waitressing or working as a barista could pay the bills – at least for a year or two.

“Yeah, but money just stresses me out,” she said. “I basically just don’t pay attention to it and then just hope I have enough at the end of the month to pay all my bills.”

*Light bulb moment*

I started asking my friends, relatives and random co-workers about their relationship with money. Some talks were tense – it’s still a taboo topic after all. Others quickly opened up about their confusion or stresses. But all the conversations had a similar tone; millennials were confused and didn’t have a good place to go in order to learn about personal finance.

Money fascinated me from a young age. In fact, it all started with a box of Krispy Kreme donuts, which ultimately turned into a love of talking about money. I didn’t major in business, finance or economics. Instead, I pursued theatre and journalism in college. It may make me a strange choice to give financial advice, but it enables me to speak and write about the topic in a relatable way.

Broke Millennial became a platform to share funny and embarrassing stories from my own life in an effort to get people comfortable talking about money, sharing their own experiences and ask questions.

This blog is an effort to help my fellow millennials learn about personal finance without a bunch of financial jargon or overwhelming equations. I rely on story telling with a hefty dose of sarcasm and humor.

It’s important to know that I’m not now, nor have I ever actually been, broke. The moniker spoke to me in January of 2013 as a way to describe the way many of my peers felt while balancing student loans, moving away from the safety of college and the transition into adulthood.

If this is your first time here, below are some posts from the archives you might find interesting:

You can follow on me on Twitter and Facebook as well as reach me at

Posted in About Broke Millennial

Don’t Be a 20-Something Idiot

I’ve been eerily quiet over the last few months, for reasons that will be explained in a later post, but a recent disturbance in the personal finance universe startled me out of my hiatus.

“I don’t have any savings, but I also don’t have any wants.”

The now viral post starts with such a simple, potentially innocent statement. A statement that could’ve led into an explanation for how the writer is struggling to make ends meet but pursuing her dream of being a [enter your millennial cliché here] or perhaps a more personal finance friendly tale about not saving because she’s so aggressive with debt repayment (still a bad idea).

Alas, neither of these theories played out in the subsequent 856 words. My fellow millennial spewed on about her justifications for why only reclusive squares have savings accounts in their twenties. Or as her article is so boldly claimed: “If You Have Savings In Your 20s, You’re Doing Something Wrong”.

As a fellow writer, I can only hope she’s paid based on clicks and that her sensationalist headline is an effort to secure a hefty paycheck. However, after reading through this article more than once, it’s likely my peer truly believes we 20-somethings should fritter away our salaries on #YOLO and indulge in all the hedonistic pleasure our salaries can cover. Or maybe dip into a bit of credit card debt on the way? Obviously your thirties are for getting your sh*t together.

The creation of a 20-something saver

Before I respond to Ms. Lauren Martin’s article point-by-point, it’s important you know a little more about me. Even long-time readers of this blog won’t know a lot of this story.

The moniker Broke Millennial has never accurately described me. Instead, I picked it as a nom de plume (I originally wrote anonymously) that I believed appealed to and often described my generation.

Tin CanI fell in love with saving money at an early age. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s coded into my DNA. I stuffed cash into candy tins and hid them in my closet. Eventually I upgraded to a bank account.

I was scribbling money goals into my notebook by fourth grade. Embarrassingly, I wanted to have $16,000 saved up to buy a red Mitsubishi Eclipse by the time I turned 16 and could get my driver’s license.

My moneymaking capabilities took a small detour when we moved overseas and I couldn’t work on the books. Summers were spent traveling around America on home leave visiting friends and family (tough life, I know).

Without a work visa, my younger sister and I created some entrepreneurial endeavors such as an obviously unlicensed pet-sitting business and a baby sister’s club. We had some stiff competition from legitimate hired help (nannies and maids) many families in our expat community used. But we both got the taste of building businesses and making money.

Fast-forward to college and I had elected to go to school on scholarship so I could come out debt free.

This made me determined to build a nest egg during school, so I could pursue my dream of moving to New York City without having to ask my parents for money.

So, I got a job as a resident assistant (yup, I was that person).

During this time of life I had very few expenses. I paid for insurance and all other costs associated with a car (but no loan, it was bought outright). I paid for my cell phone. Otherwise, money was mostly for road trips and going out with friends.

I didn’t need the resident assistant money to make ends meet or pay for school, so I started squirreling it away for my “New York City” nest egg. I wanted to save $10,000 by the time I graduated so I could move to the Big Apple with some breathing room.

I surpassed my goal.

Just like Ms. Martin, I too moved to New York after college graduation. I also still live here (4.5 years later) and have spent my twenties exploring what the city has to offer. Unlike Ms. Martin, I do not remotely feel that living in New York City (or any place else) during your twenties requires that you make it rain and scoff at the idea of saving.


A Life-Living Millennial and Avid Saver Responds to Her Points

The most offense line in the whole post reads: “You can’t make a mark on the world if you’re too cheap to live in it.”

Not to be melodramatic, but history isn’t made by those out bar hopping in New York City in their early twenties, spending a month’s worth of groceries on buying a few rounds, then drunkenly hailing an Uber and screaming YOLO when it’s 3x surge pricing.

History is made by those will to take a stand against the status quo. Those trying to better the world around them. Those mindfully contributing to society.

History is made by people like: Malala Yousifazi, Mahatma Gandhi, Rosa Parks, Clara Barton, Martin Luther King, J.K. Rowling, Oprah Winfrey and Warren Buffet.

Yes, women and men like Kim Kardashian and Jordan Belfort (the Wolf of Wall Street) temporarily imprint on society and undoubtedly would nod and smile in agreement with Ms. Martin’s article.

The landscape of modern consumption is also changing by people Ms. Martin would undoubtedly deem cheap. Enterprising individuals who have undeniably started to make their marks on the world by creating wealth and then being able to unplug from mainstream jobs to live their lives on their terms and inspire others to do the same.

But I’ll step down off my soapbox to specifically address Ms. Martin’s points:

She says: When you’re too worried about your bank statement, you’re not making your own

Broke Millennial responds: Ms. Martin is a clever writer, but I’ve grown weary of her thesis that money equals power and the ability to create history. As Frank Underwood said, “Such a waste of talent. He chose money over power. Money is the Mc-mansion in Sarasota that starts falling apart after 10 years. Power is the old stone building that stands for centuries. I cannot respect someone who doesn’t see the difference.”

She says: When you’re saving for yourself, you’re refusing to bet on yourself

Broke Millennial responds: First, Ms. Martin fails to understand a basic mathematical concept rightfully dubbed the eighth wonder of the world, but formally known as compound interest.

[Feel free to skip this section if you hate when numbers prove saving makes sense.] 

Let’s say you start squirreling away $200 a month on your 23rd birthday and do it consistently until your 30th birthday.

84 months x $200 =$16,800

Certainly no small sum. But let’s see how much that will be by 65 (an average retirement age).

Figuring a conservative average return of 7%, that $16,800 saved in your twenties would be worth $179,366,57. Get a return of 9% and you’re looking at $342,954.66. Not chump change for a small habit in your 20s. Calculate for yourself here.

Saving $200 a month also doesn’t mean you have to stop networking. Going out with co-workers doesn’t come with a $200 coverage charge. In fact, that $200 would be better spent on a seminar to learn how to negotiate. Negotiation is what will truly help get those big raises.

Second, she assumes people quietly building a nest egg aren’t betting on themselves. In reality, people amassing stealth wealth (as fellow blogger Financial Samurai) calls it, can create opportunities to be financially independent and explore whatever project they see fit.

Perhaps the argument is that you need panic, a lack of money and to be hitting near rock bottom in order to get the best out of an entrepreneur. That may work for some, but not everyone needs to be hanging on by the skin of their teeth in order to find success.

She says: When you have something to bank on, you have nothing to reach for 

Broke Millennial responds: Again, Ms. Martin keeps referring to a few thousand. I’m not sure of her definition of wealth, but as some who had over $10,000 tucked away by 21, I can assure you that you don’t rest on your laurels with four (or even five) figures in the bank. Creating wealth should be the ultimate pusher to keeping building more. Once you get a taste…

She says: When you live your life by numbers, you strip yourself of poetry

Broke Millennial responds: Umm, funds in the bank mean I can have experiences without going in debt, worry about making rent or draining my last few hundred dollars to go make a memory. My savings habit (and a lot of frequent flyer miles from growing up as an expat) meant I got to book a spontaneous trip to France in college. I could book a trip to Texas on two weeks notice to visit my best friend just because. I can buy tickets to Broadway shows without waking up at 7 am on a Saturday for rush tickets. I can spoil my loved ones with shared experiences or nice gifts. All this comes without the pain of worrying about going overdraft or only being able to pay the minimum due on my credit cards.

She says: When you die, you can’t take your money with you

Broke Millennial responds: Got me there! You can’t take it with you. But having money remaining and no debts means your family doesn’t have to pay for your funeral. It means you can leave assets to your loved ones or charitable causes. It means there are no lingering debts to burden those already stricken with grief about your passing.

She says: When you deprive yourself, you don’t learn how to TREAT YO SELF

Broke Millennial responds: Listen, I love a good Parks and Rec reference as much as the next person, but why do we keep equating saving to deprivation?! Saving money doesn’t mean you’re just clocking out of work to return home, log into your bank account, cackle with glee then sit in darkness until you head back out to work.

And the notion to not waste your youth worrying about expenses sounds like setting yourself up to be eating cat food in retirement. #JustSayin’

(I imagine it would be something like this…)


She says: When you care about your 401k, your life is just “k”

“When you’re 40, you’re not going to look back on your 20s and be grateful for the few thousand you saved. You’re going to be full of regret.”

Broke Millennial responds: If you can only save a few thousand, you’re doing something wrong.

Sorry, perhaps that snarky response comes from a position of privilege. However, I will say your 63-year-old self who wants to retire would certainly appreciate the difference in saving $200 a month through your twenties verse waiting for your thirties. Just saving $200 a month for 40 years, with no additional increase, starting at 23 (and a 7% interest rate) means $482,119.16. Waiting until you’re 33 cuts that more than in half to $228,228.34. And put money in a 401(k) for heaven’s sake!

The one solid piece of advice in her article

Ms. Martin’s entire article is predicated on the advice from a friend: “Don’t save money. Make more money.”

It’s absolutely excellent advice. In fact almost the entire personal finance blogging community is based on the notion of spending less and making more in to build wealth quickly. Ms. Martin may not like to save, but she does seem to be equating spending more with making more. Does she truly think making more money means she won’t succumb to lifestyle inflation and continue spending her paycheck? Saving in your 30s? Psh, let your 40-year-old self deal!

You should invest in yourself. You should buy professional clothes to wear to a job interview. You should do happy hours with co-workers and go out to lunch with a mentor and probably not alienate yourself entirely from your company culture. But this should not be used as an excuse to sink into consumer debt or live in a state of arrested development trusting your future self to clean up the mess.

After all, how long are you going to be okay squandering your most precious commodity in exchange for a paycheck? Saving is the only way to remove the golden handcuffs.

My fellow millennials, please, don’t be a 20-something idiot.

Posted in Financial Literacy, Millennials, Saving money Tagged with: ,

The Magic Formula for Financial Success Post Graduation

Yes, I know I haven’t posted in ages. Things have been a bit busy in personal, work and freelance life. While I get original content cued up, I hope you enjoy this piece…

Okay, this was HS graduation..but it's a great pic.

Okay, this was HS graduation..but it’s a great pic.

College graduates around the country are currently coming down from the post-graduation highs and either waking up to screeching alarms way earlier than they ever had class or the sinking realization that getting a J-O-B is crucial to adult-life survival.

First paychecks might get blown on rounds at the bar in celebration of being a successful adult, after all student loan payments don’t kick in for another few months. The lucky ones getting a signing bonus could be tempted to splurge for an upgraded set of wheels or an above budget apartment. There are just so many mistakes a 22-year-old with limited financial experience is likely to make.

But in this time of celebration and uncertainty, one rule should reign supreme when making money decisions: the less than 50 percent rule.

Read the rest over on

Posted in DailyFinance

The Day I Got Bullish with Money

I’m not what you’d call a risk taker. In fact, I’m more along the lines of a classic goody-goody. The worst thing my teachers would say about me on a report card was that I could sometimes get “too talkative”. The most daring thing I’d do in class would be passing notes. I didn’t lie to my parents or get trashed at parties in high school. You get the picture.

To this day I’m still an avid ruler follower. I don’t have major regrets in life based on my behavior. So why am I painting such a lame picture of myself? Because for some reason I’m incredibly risk-adverse in life, but very bullish with money.

Recently, I started chatting about money on an afternoon stroll with a good friend. I was pleading with her to move a significant chunk of her money out of savings and into an investment – any investment – just to stop earning 0.01% in interest. I tried going the common sense route and explaining just how little she was valuing her money by leaving it sitting some place earning less than inflation. Then she countered with a common response: “I’m pretty risk adverse.”

I suddenly realized how much I defied a major millennial financial stereotype. I’m not afraid of the stock market. In fact, I’m afraid not to be investing enough. It bothers me to have too much of my money sitting in my savings account.

I began to analyzing my bullish feelings towards money and came to the same conclusion I always do when it comes to my relationship with finances. It’s my parents’ doing.

The stock market crash in 2008 hShow me the moneyappened my first year in college. I rarely saw my parents during this time of my life because I lived in the United States while they lived in China. There was no going home on weekends for me. Instead, I got to head home (to China) during Christmas vacation and summer vacation. I’d get to see my Dad a handful of times in between when he’d come to America on business trips.

Suffice to say, I never had to be around tense conversations about money as everyone started to see their stocks plummet. I was almost blissfully unaware anything was happening other than hearing the occasional senior stress about finding a job after graduation.

It’s easy to tell I didn’t major in finance or business in college.

By the time I tuned into the world’s financial panic, it had probably been about a year since the stock market took a major tumble. And yet, I didn’t feel concerned about my parents’ financial state. My home had always been relatively open about money, and while I didn’t know exactly how much my Dad made, I trusted my parents would be transparent about any financial difficulties.

Still, I figured it would make sense to check in.

My Dad and I were driving along in the car one summer during my family’s home leave (when we’d all visit the States). I started to ask basic questions about investing and the panic the world seemed to be experiencing.

In his infinite wisdom, my Dad turned to me and nonchalantly said how much money he and my mom lost in the market in 2008.

My mouth dropped open.

“How are you so calm about losing that much money,” I sputtered.

“Erin, you need to learn that the stock market is cyclical,” he explained. “There have been big drops before and there will be big drops again. But what gets you in trouble is when you get scared and try to take all your money out.”

By leaving his money sitting pretty, and making some savvy buys during the crash, my Dad ended up coming out of 2008 very much ahead.

Optimized-economic crunch

[Check out my love letter to millennials from the stock market]

I didn’t start investing until a couple years after this poignant conversation (one big life regret), but my Dad’s words have made me a rather bullish investor. I don’t take major risks with my investments, but I do put far more into the market than your average millennial. Dips in the market don’t send me running for the panic button. I believe investing is not only a risk worth taking, but also necessary for financial wellness. My money certainly deserves better than a high interest savings account (even those accounts with more than one percent).

Read other stories of getting “Financially Real” and celebrate financial literacy month!


Posted in Financial Literacy, Investing, Millennials Tagged with:

Why Owing Uncle Sam Made Me Smile

This post is part of the TaxACT #BeatTheDeadline blog tour which shares tips on how to make tax time a smooth and easy process before the April 15 deadline. TaxACT provides the tools and guidance to help you confidently file taxes easy and fast. Do your own taxes today at TaxACT. You got this.

For all the things I adore about finance, which I assure you are many, I just can’t get hyped up for tax time. Maybe it’s the needing to sit still for about three hours while I file or the general anxiety that I’ll massively screw something up resulting in an audit. Or that I won’t screw anything up, and still have to prove everything to Uncle Sam’s boys at the IRS. But one thing occurred this season that resulted in a little smile – I owed money back to the government (both State and Federal).
[taken from Giphy]

Yes, I’m serious.


For years I’d heard my Dad’s general grumblings about how getting excited about a tax return is shenanigans. You’re giving the government a free loan all year and then you’re supposed to get excited when Uncle Sam returns money that’s rightfully yours without interest?

[taken from Giphy]

This year I joined my Dad’s team. Instead of getting all excitable about a couple thousand bucks back from the IRS and New York State/City, I kept that money and invested it in the market so I could get some return on it before forking it over.

I’ve also started to owe more money to the IRS because my freelance income is steadily increasing. This is because taxes are taken out of contract gigs upfront and the amount I pay in taxes all year from my full-time job doesn’t eclipse what I owe on side hustle income (I do pay some taxes during the year, I just don’t “over pay” if you will). Yes, this means I have to start looking at quarterly estimated taxes in 2015, but that’s an entirely different topic.

Let’s get back on track and overview how I prepare for owing Uncle Sam money come tax time.


1. Collect all my documents – and hound a few clients for 1099s

Whether you plan to owe the IRS or have the government owe you, don’t start filing without first prepping all your paperwork. Here’s what I needed this year:

  • W2: I had two because I switched jobs in April
  • 1099: A handful from clients who hired my freelancing services
  • 1099-DIV: tax form on investments
  • 1099-SA: tax form for distributions taken from my HSA (health savings account)
  • 1099-R: tax form for 401(k) roll overs (even though I didn’t take a distribution)

I’ve never paid an accountant to handle my taxes and always use tax prep software.

2. Save 75 percent of my freelance income

Freelancing is income I make in addition to my day job salary. I don’t need any freelance income for my day-to-day living, so I elect to put 75 percent away in savings (much of which goes into investments) and 25 percent gets earmarked for my travel fund.

By saving 75 percent, I never stress about having available funds to pay off the taxes owed. Even when I need to start paying quarterly taxes I’ll be in good shape thanks to this strategy.

I know a lot of my peers see a tax refund as a great way to save or in their minds, be saving all year. I prefer to have the dedication to handle my savings and finances myself and not leave it in the hands of the government. Even if that means I owe $1,600 on April 15.

3. Max out a traditional IRA (for the tax break of course)

The IRS restricts how much you can put into an IRA when you have a company-sponsored retirement fund. In 2014 I made less than that threshold and was able to contribute to a 401(k) with a match and fully contribute to an IRA ($5,500).

While I’m a big fan of Roth accounts, I elected to max out my traditional IRA in 2013 and 2014 to take the tax break. This year, I anticipate I won’t be able to fully contribute to an IRA due to income restrictions, so I’ll put some towards traditional and the rest into Roth.

4. Invest in the stock market throughout the year

I’m all set on the emergency fund and don’t have any debt. Thanks to these two factors, I keep a significant amount of my money invested. I prefer to owe the government because I can make my money work for me all year and then cut Uncle Sam a check come tax time. Now, if you also share this mentality it’s important your money isn’t just sitting in savings, losing value to inflation, because then you might as well give the free loan to Uncle Sam.


It’s up to you, but I wouldn’t leave my money sitting in a 0.01% interest rate savings account at Bank of America, Chase, Wells Fargo or Citibank and I sure don’t plan to let Uncle Sam use it for free.

Beating the tax deadline doesn’t have to be stressful. With TaxACT, everything you need to confidently prepare and e-file your taxes is right at your fingertips. You got this. File your simple or complex federal return FREE today with TaxACT Free Edition

Posted in Taxes Tagged with: , ,

The Compromises Millennials Make to Be Homeowners

Lauren Bowling of L Bee and The Money Tree

Lauren Bowling of L Bee and The Money Tree

For millennials who head down the aisle and start decorating nurseries, a mortgage is a scary prospect to add to an already heavy debt load. It makes sense that they’ve delayed the homebuying process compared to previous generations, as only 36 percent of homeowners are age 35 and younger, according to the census.
Ultimately, if millennials want to exchange rent checks for building equity they have to make a few compromises. Here’s a look at how some millennials overcame their homeownership challenges.

Dealing with Debt and Homeownership

It could take a decade (or decades) for many members of the millennial generation to ditch student loans and become debt-free, but that doesn’t mean they want to delay homeownership until their late 30s or early 40s.

Instead, millennials are coming up with resourceful ways to balance the debt of a mortgage with their financial situations.

Read the full article on US News My Money!


Find out what Allie and Josh Hines gave up in order to buy their home!

Posted in US News' My Money Blog

The Golden Egg: A Financial Easter Tale

Reading the Hunger Games brought back flashes of my childhood Easter egg hunts. When it came to neighborhood and Church hunts, my sister and I were Career Tributes. We possessed ridiculously high competitive drives and uncanny abilities to duck, dip, dodge and dive for the best eggs and find even the most deviously hidden gem. When it came to the Easter egg hunt in my home, I wouldn’t even make it to the Cornucopia before being taken down by my younger sister.

11110575_10152927107691137_2179577367266844733_nWhy am I drawing such a gory illustration of the childhood experience dedicated to snatching colorful, candy-filled eggs off the lawn?

Because in my home, Easter eggs quickly phased out of being filled with candy and instead contained cold-hard cash.

And one egg held more money than almost all the rest combined: the Golden Egg.

My parents used Easter egg hunts to teach us the harsh reality that life simply isn’t fair. A set amount of eggs would be marked with E and C to guarantee a degree of sportsman-like conduct, then the rest would be free-for-all and only one Golden Egg lay hidden. (Harry Potter’s quest for the Snitch also gave me heart palpitations).

Cailin and I would be held in the garage (or bedroom when we lived in an apartment in Japan) and then unleashed to grab all the eggs we could. Inevitably we’d pause to do an egg count and determine how many remained before running back, unconcerned with the remaining regular eggs and solely focused on the Golden Egg.

Hunt circa 2006

Hunt circa 2006

She's lethal I tell ya!

She’s lethal I tell ya!

My sister gives off a nonchalant, “I’m not competitive” vibe while I’ve been known to flip the occasional board game and debate points in mini-golf. But underneath her cool, calm façade lurks the heart of a Golden Egg seeking ninja with the ruthlessness of Frank Underwood.

For a solid five years in a row, Cailin snatched up the Golden Egg. One year even finding it buried in a container of fish food for koi. Overall, I’d say the score is something like 10-3. She’s probably made over $300 from defeating me in Easter egg hunts.

I dealt with defeat, after defeat, after defeat – but my parents never offered to hide two Golden Eggs. Never tried to sneak an extra few bucks into my basket. Never snuck me special clues to help my quest to defeat my sister. Instead, they let survival of the egg hunters play out and occasionally even mocked my completely inability to find the egg first (maybe I’m Golden Egg colorblind).

Much like the Krispy Kreme donut lesson and the paying for 50%, this became a cornerstone of my financial education.

Unlike my participation-trophy-winning peers, I learned at a very young age that when you’re not first you’re last (I think that makes five pop culture references in this post). And that money is never distributed equally – even on a relatively level playing field.

Even though I couldn't always hide my frustration.

I couldn’t always hide my frustration.

At 25-years-old, my parents still indulge me in yearly hunts. Now, my cousins substitute in for Cailin when she can’t make the cross-country trip to crush my spirit.

The Cousin Ringers

The Cousin Ringers

Somehow, I still manage lose the Golden Egg, despite being within inches of its hiding place. As my father aptly described this year, I’m the Buffalo Bills of Easter egg hunts.

The Golden Egg loss is more upsetting than Wide Right

The Golden Egg loss is more upsetting than Wide Right

One day, the Golden Egg shall be my precious. Until that day, I continue to learn how to take a beating and keep coming back. Not unlike my feelings on why it’s important to invest. I may be in a down market, but one day it’ll swing back in my favor and there will be glorious returns.

Head over to my Dad’s blog to read his take The Golden Egg – A Politically Incorrect Easter Story

Posted in Random Tagged with: , ,

Hack the Cost of Healthcare with Medical Tourism

The following article is a guest post from Chelsea of Broke Girl Gets Rich.

‘Affordable’ Health Insurance = Basically Useless

Even though I was able to save almost $1,000 for my 2015 premium costs during this years’ open enrollment period, I still can’t get over what a joke it is that the “Affordable Healthcare Act” has skyrocketed my premium costs and my out-of-pocket expenses, rendering my health insurance basically useless.

I didn’t use it one single time in 2014.

The only reason I keep it is to save myself from an emergency bill of $90,000+. At least if that happens, I’ll “only” have a $6,600 bill to deal with.

There has to be a less expensive way to deal with this.

But, whether or not US politicians and health care leaders figure out how to pass an actual Affordable Care Act any time soon, there is a way to get insanely affordable, quality healthcare: fly overseas.

Yes, I’m serious. Get on a plane and go to a doctor.

No, not for a regular checkup – but for any non-emergency health procedure or surgery that would otherwise cost you an arm and a leg.

How I Reduced Thousands of Dollars to Less than $300

DSCN5233Here’s the thing, I’m self-employed, so the only “affordable” health insurance policy I could find was $140 per month, and I have to pay $6,600 out of my pocket before my insurance company so much as hands over a penny.

But I’m kind of lucky in the sense that life led me to living in India for two years, where healthcare is readily available and inexpensive.

Before moving out of India in November, I went on a doctor appointment spree: any doctor I could think of, I visited.

I knew I could never afford to do the same thing once I arrived in the US, and I was due for some check-ups.

Here’s the breakdown of my costs in rupees to dollars.

  • Dermatologist consultation & removal of four moles: ₹2,600 = $44
  • Eye exam: ₹120 = $2
  • Fling designer frames: ₹1,590 = $26.50 (normally $100+ in the US)
  • Carl Zeiss lenses: ₹1,020 = $17
  • 1 Year of contact lenses (Bausch & Lomb): ₹3,000 = $50
  • Dental consultation: ₹200 = $3
  • Dental x-ray: ₹200 = $3
  • Orthodontist consultation, teeth molds, realignment tray: ₹3,500 = $58
  • Gynecologist checkup: ₹400 = $7
  • Pap smear: ₹620 = $10
  • Infection medication: ₹65 = $1
  • Ultrasound: ₹1,305 = $22
  • 1 Year of birth control pills: ₹2,580 = $43

Pretty awesome, right? And again, that’s the costs without health insurance.

Why I Might Be a Medical Tourist Again

In my last week in India, I went to the gynecologist for a routine checkup. She discovered a pin-head-sized cyst on my cervix.

She assured me that it was nothing to worry about at the moment, but that I should get another checkup in three months—there was a tiny chance, that if it grew, it would have to be removed in an out-patient procedure involving anesthesia.

I looked it up online, and she was right—chances are high that I won’t have to do a darn thing about it.

But if I do… um… it’s costly.

My dad recently had an out-patient procedure on his eye, and his bill for just being a patient in the hospital for four hours (not to pay the surgeon or the anesthesiologist or anything) was $24,000. No, that’s not a typo. Thank goodness his company provides decent insurance, right?

So if I do have to get it removed, and I do it in the US, I’m spending $6,600. No question about it.

But if I go to India to have it removed, it’s about $1,500 for a cheap round-trip ticket, plus $160-$195 for the procedure (my doctor’s estimates of ₹10,000 to ₹12,000, maximum), plus the hotels, transport and food, which for one month can cost an average of $400 for everything, staying in a decent but simple hotel.

So that’s $2,100 instead of $6,600.

A $4,500 savings. (I don’t know about you, but that’s more than I earn in a month.)

I’d say it’d be worth jumping on a plane.

Medical Tourism is Expanding Popularity

It turns out I’m not the only one who’s stumbled upon this incredible money-saving hack. Centers for Disease Control estimates that 750,000 Americans go abroad every year for some kind of medical treatment, mostly for the purpose of saving money.

Patients Beyond Borders has a little higher estimate, guessing that 1.2 million Americans went overseas for medical treatment in 2014, and that the medical tourism market is worth up to $55 billion.

This money-saving thing is a real deal: has a chart of cost comparisons for different countries on a procedure-by-procedure basis. The prices are from 2013, but they can still give you a great idea of what you’d end up spending.

For example, Lasik eye surgery (which usually isn’t covered by health insurance at all), costs $4,400 for both eyes in the United States, $1,800 in Costa Rica, and just $477 in Malaysia.

Choosing the Right Doctor

I realize some people claim that health standards may be lower in some of the places people travel to for medical tourism, especially the cheaper countries—and that may be true, to a point.

But I was in one of the cheapest places, where you can save up to 90% on a medical procedure, and I had nothing short of an incredible experience with all of my doctors. The offices were clean and the treatment was very thorough. (Though I would suggest avoiding public hospitals in India, opting for private care instead.)

To make sure you get the best care possible, all you need to do is contact a few doctors ahead of time and ask for a consultation. These meetings are not expensive and will help you find the doctor (and office) you feel most comfortable with. I saw two dermatologists before choosing the one I liked the best to remove my moles, but other than that, I had no problems with the first doctor I went to throughout my entire stay in the country.

Posted in Guest Post Tagged with: , ,

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