MoneyUnder30.com

What’s The #1 Thing I Can Help You With?


This year is the 5th “blogiversary” of Money Under 30. As I plan for the next five years, I want your input.

What’s the number one thing Money Under 30 can help you with that you may not be able to get anywhere else?

Let me know in a comment.

WHY I ASK

Over the weekend, I was in Chicago at the first-ever financial bloggers conference with nearly 300 other bloggers. It was surreal to meet so many people I have been emailing with for years, and it was a chance to be inspired by bloggers who have taken their games to a higher level and are aiming higher yet.

While there, I reflected on what I’ve accomplished over the last five years, but more importantly, I also thought about where we can go in the next five.

Notice I said “we”.

When I started Money Under 30, I was just playing around. I thought blogging about my struggle with debt and musing about various financial topics would be helpful to keeping myself honest as I worked to get debt free.

About a year later, however, two things started to happen. For one, I started to realize that stuff I was writing was actually helping people. Two, I started making some money from the blog.

As you can imagine, both were motivating to keep writing. As I’ve worked, I’ve read all your emails and comments and have even done a survey or two, but I still find I choose the articles we publish mostly based on what I think will be interesting.

That’s not so good. 

In the next five years, I want the conversations to be driven by you, the readers.

You can see this in new features like Financial Checkups, but that’s just the beginning.

Today I’m asking for the top thing that this blog can help you with. But I’m asking not just for your top financial goal or the thing you most want to read about on a financial blog, but the top thing Money Under 30 can help you with that you cannot get anywhere else.

As this blog grows but the hours in the day do not, I’m going to have to make even more choices on what to cover. I’ll admit now, some of you will be disappointed that there won’t be as much content about ABC, and maybe too much content about XYZ. But to be successful as a blog (after all, I’m not The New York Times here), I need to focus on the one or two ways I can best help you.

Please be specific!

If you answer “pay off student loans”, that doesn’t help me very much and I won’t pick you to get some free money.

If you answer, “position my finances and my credit score to be able to buy a home before I turn 30 and pay off $100k of law school debt before I’m 40″ that’s better. If you include a reason you think Money Under 30 is the best place to get the content you’re looking for, that’s best!

Thanks for taking a couple minutes to help me out—and shape the future of this blog!

Leave a comment now…

As always, thanks for reading!

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About David Weliver

David Weliver is the founding editor of Money Under 30. He's a cited authority on personal finance and the unique money issues we face during our first two decades as adults. He lives in Maine with his wife and two children.

Comments

  1. Both my husband and I turn 30 this year so I’m not sure we really fit the target audience, but I’ve been following your blog for quite a while and we’ve made a lot of progress in our finances over the past 5 years or so. We’re now at the point that we’ve paid off our debt (outside of mortgage) and have 6 months emergency fund but are wondering “What next?” There are SO many options out there. Save for our next car? Up retirement funding? Save up to purchase real estate? Start paying down the mortgage? We don’t have enough left over to do all of those concurrently so we’re looking to focus on a couple, but it’s hard to pick just what. We also have a baby on the way, due next month, and realize that could really shake up our priorities. That’s a long way of saying that I’d like to see more about next steps and big life changes, but then again, I’m not sure that fits the audience for which you’re writing.

    • One of the reasons I’m doing this exercise is to check in with readers to see who you are, too. I turned 30 recently too, and if I find out that most of my readers are getting older with me (I guess we can’t help it), we may have to pick a new name for the blog – ha! Alternatively, I may find (like Katie says in the next comment) that targeting the post-grad demographic is exactly what makes this blog special, then I’ll stay focused on that…thanks for making that point.

    • I am in the same boat. At the end of this year, my husband and I will only have mortgage debt. We are already paying extra to it, but I am wondering what do do with the rest of our money we were paying to debt. We are maxing out our 401ks and cannot contribute to a Roth IRA due to income (traditional IRA’s don’t max sense either cause of our income). What should we do starting in January? Should we pay off our house faster? Should we buy a rental property? Should we invest in stocks? I feel like a lot of sites focus on how to pay off debt, but I am there…now what?

      • Deanna Burroughs says:

        This is exactly what I was thinking. We are almost out of debt except mortgage and I’m saying “now what?” Most other sites I see focus on how to get out of a mountain of debt or investing for the very wealthy but not much for us “normal” folks with middle class incomes trying to figure out how to make the most of our money.

      • One thing you may want to consider is contributing to a traditional IRA (without the deduction) and immediately converting it to a Roth. That allows you to bypass the income restriction on Roth contributions, and because the contribution to a traditional IRA isn’t deductible, you won’t be taxed on the conversion. Actually, you will be taxed on the gain, if any, between the time you contributed to the traditional and converted, but if you do it quickly, that should be little to none.

        • What? I have never heard of that. Does that really work??

          • Yes. There is no longer an income restriction on conversions to a Roth. So every every year, I contribute to my Traditional IRA and immediately convert it to a Roth.

  2. I read a handful of personal finance blogs (Get Rich Slowly, The Simple Dollar, etc) but what prompted me to put Money Under 30 on my Google Reader was the focus on my age group. I have my first real job after grad school now and I make a decent salary, as does my husband. I’m interested in how to plan for buying a house and having a child now we both have incomes (and we have a year or two cushion before either of those things happen). So I would say I’m interested in the transition from broke grad student with nose for sniffing out free food to a professional with a decent salary and goals and what the heck to do with my money so that I don’t fritter it away now that I have some!

  3. I just started blogging recently as well. I think it would be helpful to read about your journey as a pf blogger. What you have learned, what you would like to change if you could go back in time, where you succeeded, etc. This may be similar to what other pf bloggers end up doing (blogging about blogging), but I think your experience would provide you with a lot of material and credibility.

  4. Money Under 30 has become a trusted resource for my personal financial knowledge in just a few short weeks. What I value the most is how relatable the site is and how I feel the writers truly want to help and not just hear themselves talk. Thanks for letting me know that it’s ‘ok’ to ask for help and thank you even more for providing me the insight on how to become financially stable and ultimately prosperous.

    • *Sorry, I posted before I was finished!*

      What I’d like to see on Money Under 30 is a continuation of being relatable. I always prefer a targeted approach towards getting people to feel comfortable enough to open up. I would like to see more posts directed to the ‘beginner’ and finding different scenarios of ways to get help both through blog posts on this site or even as ‘recommended/further reading’ on other sites.

  5. Like several of the other posters, I am a little older than your target. Just recently turned 30. it would be great to see more information on being financially prepared for children. It is something that seems to be missed in both the financial and parenting blogs. How much should you have saved for baby supplies? What about college funds? How do you evaluate schools when looking for a home and how much should that play in the process?

    I just got out of a PhD program and my husband and I are trying to balance getting ready to have kids, purchasing a home and moving closer to family. The past couple of years have been rough on our life and our finances.

    I also just recently started blogging, so more information on how to be a successful blogger is always helpful.

  6. The under 30 crowd needs to learn how to focus on one goal at a time in order to reach financial stability. I’m 27, and I realized that the “multi-tasking” culture that I’m used to is a huge deterrent to financial stability. For years I tried to pay off student loan debt, invest, save for retirement, save an emergency fund and save for a replacement car all at the same time. I found that I got nowhere fast.

    After finding this blog, I added 2 income streams (freelance PR work and teaching a few classes at the local college) and focused all my energy on saving a $10k emergency fund. I did it in 10 months, and I only make 30k/year! Your blog works! I’m on to my next goal of paying off my student loans and can be comfortable throwing all my extra income at it because I have a well-funded emergency fund. I’m still contributing to my retirement since it’s matched, but I’m holding off on additional investments until my loans are gone (1.5 years if I keep earning extra cash).

  7. One thing I notice on Money Under 30 is there’s a big, big emphasis on housing. Buying a house, mortgage-related issues, when and why to buy. Heck, it even has it’s own category on the top!

    But I feel like as someone under 30, the last thing I want to do is buy a house. Yes, I know it can be a great investment. But I’m not at that point.

    A quick search shows there’s not much on renting. There’s some good articles here (http://www.moneyunder30.com/renting-is-not-wasted-money and http://www.moneyunder30.com/how-to-save-money-on-your-next-apartment) but I feel like there could be more. Those articles are somewhat old. Have things changed in this market? Is it the best time to rent, or a better time to buy? I have so many questions about renting in today’s market. Where to look, what to be weary of, how to tell if the rent is fair and the landlord isn’t taking advantage of me, the poor renter.

    There’s so much that could be discussed, but it doesn’t seem to be here. I’d like to see that changed.

    From an article on this website, titled “Can My Landlord REALLY Do That? A Guide to Your Rights as a Renter”

    “I talk a lot about everything home-buying on here, so it’s high time we say a bit about renting.”

    My question is…BUT WHY?

    • David Weliver says:

      Valid point. One reason? I did a survey like this 2-3 years ago and a big response was “you never talk about buying a home”. We’ve swung in the other direction.

  8. Joy Harper says:

    How to pay off student loan debt of about 100k, making slightly more than that amount without staying on the 30 year plan and almost doubling if not tripling the amount of inteerest I will have to pay. Average rent 2000. No real bills, except a serious shopping habit. Please help. Should I double up payments and keep saving then pay off in a lump sum. I have done some mock ups in excel to determine when I can pay this off in total, based on my savings rate and student loan amortization tables. Ten years is my goal, but how can I do that, stay fabulous (and yes frugal).

  9. Home Sweet Home? says:

    Like many people in the US, I had always dreamed that one day I would buy a house and have financial security that way, watching the value increase over my lifetime, I have also fantasized about investing in a rental property or purchasing a duplex to rent out part of it. I have seen friends do this in the last decade, somewhat successfully but with a lot of financial stress. However, I move around a lot more than they do. With the changing financial climate/the “Great Recession”, I no longer see home ownership as the best way to be financially stable in my lifetime. You have written before on the benefits of being a renter. I am becoming more and more open to the idea of being a renter for life, especially because I move around a lot as a student soon to be professor. In academia, tenure and economic stability are harder and harder to achieve, you get post-docs for one or two years all over the country, and also jobs give you a 5 year timeline to get tenure or you have to move on.

    Am I wrong to think that I should adjust my financial dreams and accept a life of renting, rather than owning? Is owning a rental property even a good idea anymore?

    Thanks for any advice you might have about whether I should really be thinking about saving for a home at this point in my mid-30s or I should just focus on other financial options.

  10. Hi David,
    I would like information and tips on how to position myself for retirement and where to park my excess money. I’ve already created a 6-month emergency fund, contribute to my company’s 401k and have set up an IRA that I have maxed out this year (just opened the IRA this year). I am 30, make $55k/year and am not marrying a millionaire ;) I have no kids, but pay a hefty mortgage ($2200). Wondering what to do with the 15-20K that I have parked in a money market account. Thanks!

  11. What I would like to know is how to start investing.

    My wife and I, like most of the others that have left comments so far, are approaching 30. I’ve been fairly successful following your advice (and the general advice of others) and have paid down all our bad debt. Everything left is just some low interest student loans and a low interest mortgage. We’ve established a solid emergency savings account and already contribute that maximum to our retirement accounts. The next logical step for me is to get into investing.

    I already participate fully in my company’s ESPP (can’t go wrong with a guaranteed 15% return). I would like to know how I can approach investing when I don’t really have that much to play with starting out (ex: $1,000 – $5,000). A smaller amount makes it harder to diversify. Also, making too many purchases will just mean that the fees eat into earnings. My specific goals are mid-to-long term (i.e. 5-15 years). Should I focus on dividend paying stocks that possible allow a DRIP? Should I focus on growth stocks? Having already covered all the bases with my savings, I can afford to take a little more risk.

    Once again, I am mostly focused on starting, not maintaining, a portfolio.

  12. I would like to see more of what to do with a windfall. Many people our age experience death in our family (parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles etc.) and these people have us as the beneficiaries of their life insurance.

    Is it smart to pay off all of our debts, quit our job (or stop looking for one) and backpack across Europe, buy a home, invest in the stock market, fund our dream wedding, let it sit?

    This is crucial for Money Under 30 because getting a relatively large influx of money when you’re just starting out is different than getting it when you’re pretty much established in life.

    What do we do with a windfall of 50K, 100K, 300K, 1 Million, etc?

  13. I’d love to learn more about how I can graduate college without being completely broke. I want to know how to pay off my student loans while taking the necessary steps to do thing like buy my own car, buy a house, etc…I want to start off strong!

  14. Hello, I’m interested in learning more about investing, and specifically the specifics. I’m 24 now and have been saving for retirement for a couple years now because I know how important it is to start early. I’ve done a fair amount of research on the topic, but it seems like so much of the info is either way too general- basically definitions of investing options- or way too advanced for what I need right now- i.e. ratios and figures given with the assumption that I already understand what they mean.
    For the moment, my retirement funds are sitting in a target date fund, and while I know what that is and I know several of the ratios and figures associated with it, O haven’t been able to figure out if it’s the best option for me, whether I should maybe put a portion of my funds elsewhere, our how the fund I’m using compares to other, similar target date funds.
    I would like it if Money Under 30 could do a breakdown of different retirement investing options, including pros and cons of each and who they’re good for, and furthermore make a comparison of different funds within each type of investment option, for example a T. Rowe Price target date fund vs an equivalent Vanguard target date fund. I’m not looking for “you should pick this fund;” I’m looking for a comparison laid out in plain English so I can feel like I’ve made an informed decision, rather than hoping I’ve deciphered things well enough.
    I know that there are blogs and sites out there devoted to investing, but I feel that Money Under 30 could deliver this info to me in a more approachable way, and understands where I’m coming from as a young professional in a tough market just trying to get a good start on my retirement.
    Thanks,
    ~Hanna~
    P.S.- I would also appreciate if more of your posts were e-mailed out; I always read the e-mailed articles, but only sporadically visit the site and browse other ones. A lot of times I’m searching for something in particular, so I’m sure there are lots of great posts about things I hadn’t considered that I’ve missed. Thanks again.

  15. I would like a better understanding of which dedt to pay off first. Mortgage, student loans (multiple), car payments (multiple), hospital bills (multiple), credit cards, store cards; each of these has different intrest rates, payback lengths, tax incentives and more. Information to guide an under 30 on how to make the most out of these situations would be useful. Whether its strictly an article or intergation of a formula application to show how much intrest you pay on debt over the lifetime and other possiblities. I realize everyone will have their own unique situation, but a way to allow the app to personalize your own would be greatly appreciated.

  16. Jeff Sexton says:

    I would love to see a financial guide to live by for people under 30. Focusing on salary, in addition a breakdown of loans, expenses (rent, living, fun etc) and recommended savings.

    This financial under 30 guide would breakdown low, medium and high salary individuals, with low, medium and high amounts of loans and likewise expenses and finally savings. Get creative with the chart, vary interest rates, cost of living, make it interactive so i can see if i get that raise i am working for, what change i can expect to pay off loans and how much more i can save.

    Further breakdown, what if i got a part time job on the weekends, how that could help me going forward.

  17. I need help figuring out how to go about getting my student loan interest rates lowered! I can’t find any help anywhere–I know this can’t be the ultimatum! I have incredibly high interest rates–one loan is 30k and it has 11.25% interest! I have tried negotiating with Sallie Mae but they seem to think that I should be able to pay my monthly bill with no problems even if I end up having 20$ left at the end of each month after all is said and done. I have looking into consolidation but I am not eligible since the majority of my loans are private. My parents were never able to co-sign on them with me when I first entered college, which is why I believe the interest rates are so high. Any advice you can provide me to help improve my situation is greatly appreciated!
    Thanks!

  18. At the beginning of this year, my husband and I reached the point where we paid off our credit card debt, student loans and sold our Co-op (cashed out). I am now maxing out my Roth IRA, contributing up to my employee match in the 401(k), husband has a pension, DC and is also maxing out his Roth IRA, we have taken some of the co-op sale proceeds to (finally) fund an 8 month emergency fund, and placed the rest into a share builder account, mainly investing in EFTs and low risk (~4%) funds. We are currently renting, trying to establish and maintain a “budget” for our typical expenses so we never get into debt again, our FICO scores are fabulous (in the 800’s), yes that the FICO number and not the other companies number. So my question is “NOW what?” Our financial goal is now to save to buy a house, however in the NY area where we live this task seems quite daunting and very overwhelming, most houses that we’d be willing to live in are easily above 600k with over 12k in taxes. Moving out of the area is not an option due to nature of my husband’s line of work. I’ve been watching Suze Orman but I don’t think I’ve learned what we need to do next after we’ve done all of the above by following her advice thus far. We will be 33 and 35 in 3 weeks and we have no children. I recently started to follow you thanks to finding your “how much should I have in my 401(k) at 30” article which was pretty much how I googled my search one day! :)

  19. I am 29 and I own my own home but I am looking to upgrade as I start a family. I love money under 30 because it speaks to people in my same financial situation. I would like to see more information on real estate, specifically, purchasing a home and what % of your income should be spent on housing because I know this changes as you grow older. Additionally, I would love to see some posts on real estate investing for people in our age brackets. I have read that more millionaires are produced through real estate investing than any other investment vehicle so this would be a cool subject to learn about. Blogs like biggerpockets.com give information but I feel that it targets experienced real estate investors and it doesn’t deal with people who may have limited financial resources like younger people. Maybe we could learn more about that subject? Keep up the good work and I look forward to the next post.

  20. My husband recently got a new job that offers a pension plan and stock options (@ 15% discount). With both of us working, we have a strong flow of income. We are not sure what to do with these extra funds however and/or what plans we should be contributing to with his company, other than the typical 401k. We have no debt but our house. We also have one small child.

  21. I am looking for generation specific advice as we (your readers) all have to figure out how to have happy lives in this new economic and social reality. Traditional advice that I can get from parents and financial advisors is either inadequate or outdated.

    For example, my partner and I have chosen not to marry. We looked to your advice on how to handle the splitting of our expenses. We use your spreadsheet in Google docs, so we can both access and update it. But questions about how to build wealth as an unmarried couple continue. For instance, can we get car insurance together (for a multi-car discount) and is that even a wise move?

    I echo the sentiment of @Katie about transitioning to advice beyond just trying to scrape by. I am 28 and my partner is 31 and own a home together. We are trying to figure out how to protect our assets (home insurance, car insurance coverage, umbrella policies, and how to handle taxes) and how to protect each other (life insurance, wills). We lack savvy in this area and want to do the smart and prudent thing, but don’t want to be ripped off.

    Also, like @20’s Finances I am fascinated by your story as a successful (money-earning) blogger and always like to hear more about that.

  22. As a young Florida realtor, what Money Under 30 can offer that no other blog I’ve seen does is address the housing industry as it affects those professionals under 30 that fell victim to the big banks and builders. Many young professionals bought into the American Dream, worked hard through school, landed great paying jobs, had stellar credit and then society quickly bombarded them to purchase homes at the height of the market. Many young professionals listened to the masses and bought homes. Fast forward 5 years and most have foreclosed and short sold and now rent, they are trying to find employment, while improving credit, their credit cards have rewarded them by increasing interest rates to over 20% despite never missing a payment…. I think addressing this huge mess in a logical way to achieve the quickest bounce back towards financial freedom would be a great benefit to a lot of readers that I know are in this situation.

  23. I graduated from college in 2009 at the age of 20 just *knowing* I’d have a great job with great benefits, right? WRONG. Two years later I have an OK paying job with no benefits and as I prepare for the future, with marriage in the imminent future, I feel an obligation to plan, budget, save and invest in the smartest ways possible.

    I have started using your blog site for real world examples of people, just like me, who are paving the way for other 20-somethings. Money isn’t something that most people talk about openly…my close friends don’t at least. I find comfort in knowing that other people have struggled, but in the end, have made it work and above all, have prospered. I read this blog and follow you on Twitter because you are real. Even though you may not have ALL the answers…all of your posts are well researched and most importantly, they are written from the heart. Thanks for the continued motivation!

  24. A re-occuring theme – I’m 29 (Husband 30) with a new baby as well and have followed your blog. While, I’ve stocked a decent amount away for retirement ($60K each) and we have a $13K in liquid assets. With the new baby and additional daycare expenses ($1000/monthly) we’re try to continue our savings pattern, but struggle to only break even with a modest mortgage, student loans and living expenses. I joke with my husband we’ll have to sell his truck – but I’d like to see other people’s budgets. I feel as if we have decent salaries, live in a very modest home compared to what we were approved for, and just slide by paying everything on time with a little left over for entertainment – does everyone else in their late 20/early 30’s live on credit and pay the price later or does everyone make way more money than us ($130K combined)??

  25. The #1 thing I struggle with are not the daily “small” things I read about (eliminating pricey coffee drinks, running several errands together, etc.). Rather, I live frugally for weeks on end, to just blow it in, what I feel, a big way. For instance, I will run to 3 different grocery stores within the same week for maximum food savings. But, in week #4, I just say, “Screw it, I’m going to enjoy myself this weekend”, and go to Atlantic City or a big shopping trip. Coming home hundreds of dollars poorer sickens me and I vow never to do it again…a cycle that repeats itself. SO, my answer is “To maintain a consistent level of self control without feeling deprived” when it comes to discretionary spending.

  26. Adam Ferry says:

    What is your opinion on Private Student Loans. Unfortunately for me it was take out multiple Federal and Private Student Loans or not go to school at all. I have the federal loans consolidated and am on a 10 year repayment plan. The private loans are all of varying interest rates and terms. Do you have any recommendations on whether or not trying to consolidate those loans would be beneficial? There are few options for consolidating private loans so are there other ways to go about this? I’m just trying to look for a plan of attack on these loans or at least have it more manageable with having two payments compared to 5 different ones especially when I am looking to get a home soon and save up for kids eventually.

  27. What I currently like about Money Under 30 is that the content is generation specific, but communicates principles that have a far broader reach. To get more specific, I would like to see the content of the site grow in age, as you and your family, and your readers grow in age. As you have mentioned, you have hit the “30” mark. How does that change perspectives for you and your money? Most people in their 30’s are beginning to look at homes, starting to plan for a family, and finishing up on their student loans. I would also be interested in “looking back” content. Things you wish you would have done at 28, 27, etc. The reason I subscribe to MoneyUnder30 is because the content IS normally geared toward a younger crowd, and I feel like I can more accurately relate to many of the stories. One of my favorite segments you have done so far is the reader profiles…where people ask you financial questions based on their income, expenses, and life scenarios. I love seeing how other people my age are handling incomes, handling unexpected payments, and handling getting married/paying for a house. All of these things help me to gauge where I’m at, and where I would like to go with regards to specific changes in my lifestyle/spending habits. What I see as extremely unique about your site, and your audience mainly, is that not so long ago, most all of us were very broke college students. When we graduated, and finally took that first job…even little money seemed like a lot compared to what we used to have. All of the sudden we can afford the things we had to pass on in college, and all of the sudden we have a lot more to be responsible for. Some of my friends took their first jobs, made some money, and got terribly in debt. Others (like myself) decided that a PLAN for all of this new money was probably a better option. So rather than going on a spending spree, I became very interested in personal finance books, blogs, and courses so that I could take control of my money, rather than letting my money control me. Keep up the good work. The content has been good, and I think you are headed in the right direction. – long time reader, first time commenter

  28. What you can offer that I won’t be able to find anywhere else is how to become, or situate myself to become, economically independent under or near the age of 30, as you have done. While I don’t know your net worth, you’ve mentioned several times that you have two streams of income and that you don’t necessarily have to work at your office job. I think this is key for our generation. I am 27, and I have realized that I don’t want to work in an office 40 hours a week for 40 more years. I want to know how to set up my finances so that I can “retire” to even part-time work in the next 10 years, so that I’ll have the extra time to pursue passions, hobbies, travel, etc., without sacrificing my economic well-being. I think also that the answer can’t just be blogging or entrepreneurial activities. There are also other strategies for frugal people to save up, invest, and live off moderate incomes, and you’re the person to tell us about these, as well as the entrepreneurial routes. Remember, a lot of us under 30s don’t have children and don’t own homes. I want to be investing for my present self as well as for my retirement. You’ve done it, now show us the way(s)!

  29. Hi David,

    The #1 thing you can help me with is to continue to focus on transitional periods in life and how to consistently and realistically relate them back to one’s ever changing financial goals.

    What a lot of other blogs tend to do is forget that while you’re budgeting and goal setting and paying down debt, BIG life events happen. On the other end of the spectrum, some blogs ONLY focus on a single life event (like retirement). While I understand that they might be trying to keep their material broad or, inversely, trying to narrow down their target audience, I find that looking at these instances too broadly or too narrowly defeats the purpose. Nobody suddenly finds themselves in retirement, just as nobody experiences life without a few transitional periods. Being frugal and financially responsible is a continuous re-evaluation of priorities, and those can drastically change over the course of 5 years.

    I believe your strength lies in your ability continually relate back to your past, and to how much has changed for you since being an in-debt 26 year old. I started reading your blog 2 years ago when I was 24. I was $13,000 in credit card debt, owned a car I couldn’t afford, and was living way beyond my means. Your blog tuned right into how I felt, where I was coming from, and where I wanted to go. I am now 26, but I am also now engaged and saving for wedding. Note that I am not paying for a wedding, I’m saving for it, as in I’ve paid off all that credit card debt, got rid of that car, and can now comfortably put aside money for our big day. Again, I’m coming back to your blog and finding posts from you, your guest writers, and comments from fellow readers that help me so much more than any wedding website could, because you’re not concentrating on this one single life event, but rather how it relates to the rest of your life and finances. I’m also finding a lot of help in your retirement related posts written around the same time, as I too am trying to keep on eye on the future while juggling the financial demands of the present. While your posts on buying a house don’t really relate to me now, I know that once we get married and start thinking about starting a family, I’ll look forward to coming back and reading up on all your experiences and how I can apply that to my own life.

    As my mom used to say, money troubles know no age! Help me out by writing from your personal perspective of having experienced these transitions, and please continue to write about your life story with all its ups and downs. Please don’t let your blog become another faceless collection of bullet points outlining “Savings Tips” and “Top Stocks”! Life is all about events such as graduating, getting in debt, clawing your way out of debt, marriage, buying a home, raising kids, retirement, etc, and isn’t restricted to an age bracket. Just viewing the comments on this post prove that. While you may think you have outgrown your blog name “Money Under 30″, you haven’t outgrown your ability to relate your story to others and provide advice and insight so many of us are looking for.

    Thanks!

  30. Your target audience of people under 30 is what attracted me to your site initially. As a 29 year old dentist I’d benefit from content directed at young professionals entering the work place. A lot of what I read on other financial blogs is how to get out of financial trouble, but I’d appreciate some tactics on educating others on how to avoid these pitfalls and start their careers and personal lives on the right foot (ie. student loan repayment tactics, appropriate disability/life/umbrella insurance, budgeting rules of thumb). I would especially enjoy reading articles directed at small business owners and achieving financial balance between home and work (ie. setting up appropriate corporate entity, lean & mean business plan, start-up vs buying an established practice/business). Keep up the good work!

  31. I’m starting a new job soon. I won’t be eligible for a 401K until 1 year of employment. What should I do about my present 401K? Do I let it sit without contribution until I can transfer it? Or do I take it and invest somewhere else?

  32. I would love to see a sort of timeline for personal finance success–something that goes through “just graduated and need a job” to “married and bought a house” to “starting a family and really planning for the rest of my life.” As many readers have said, they started reading when they were younger and are now 30(ish) and ready for the next stage of life. But you still attract readers like me, who are in their early 20s and still learning to adjust from college to the real world. I really enjoy that your blog writes to my peer group while telling me the future won’t be so bad if I work hard–much better than other blogs that say it will take me years and years to make up for the poor economy and I’ll have to deal with being poor forever so here’s how to cope!
    A post every Monday on what to do just out of school when you’re in your first job, a post every Wednesday on transitioning to mid-20s and marriage, a post every Friday about late 20’s/30 on starting a family, managing a mortage and retirement savings and kid’s college funds…it doesn’t have to be that organized, but I would love to see advice for the stage I’m in right now and what’s coming up next so I can be successful right now and in my future.

  33. Hey David,
    The most important thing you can help me with is getting married. Here’s what I mean… I’m only around $8,000 in debt ,which by myself doesn’t seem that bad. But, when I’m trying to save up for a ring and get engaged, I feel like a financial hazard to my girlfriend. I’m a musician. I get paid pretty well for what I do, but I can’t seem to get my head above water. Thanks to your blog, I’ve been able to optimize a couple of my situations to stop so much waste and spending. I’d just like some advice o. How in the world I can make things look better on my credit before we get married so that she doesn’t have to take that credit score dive. the trick is our lives are moving us to Nashville early next year, something we can’t do until were married. So were under the gun. Anyway, thanks alot for what you do. If there’s one thing I like about your blog, it’s that you freely give what you know to help people make there lives better. Especially at an age where we can stop it before it gets horrible or uncontrolable. Based on what I believe that’s a form of love we find very valuable. Thanks

  34. Lisa Ballard says:

    At 26, there have been a number of life changes in recent years and many more coming up soon. I would like help to do three things.

    One, pay off student loans – which are the most important to pay off first, private or federal? Should I consolidate? If so, how do I do that. Is it more important to add money to savings or put that money toward student loans?

    Two, build my emergency fund. I have currently saved ~ 40% of my goal withing the psat year and a half. Do I keep that money in a savings or do I transfer it to another account?

    Three, plan for a wedding. In the next couple of years my boyfriend and I are looking to take the next step and I want to be able to afford a wedding we would love. Knowing that my parents will not be able to assist me with the wedding financially, I want to be able to contribute as much as possible. How do I keep a savings for this and an emergency fund savings separate?

    How do I plan for all three of these items? Where does my money go? I feel like I am spread so thin trying to manage at three at one time, I just keep putting money away in savings. Is there one I should focus on now? And then the others?

    Thank you so much!
    Take care,
    Lisa

  35. Leo Mikulich says:

    I would like to know how to best protect my retirement accounts and investments without exiting the market completely, given the market volatility. I’m taking a huge hit on them and I just want to stabilize them before Europe screws us.

  36. I would like to know how to balance spending and saving.

    I am 27 years old, and I want to live frugally, fully fund my Roth IRA, and save for a house. But, being 27, I also want to have some fun, go on a vacation with my boyfriend, go on dates OUT, buy a nice comforter or some decorations for our apartment.

    I am looking for a real, honest answer on how to achieve the balance. I’m not looking for how to make my own “staycation” or how to plan a date at home. Instead, how to balance saving for tomorrow and living for today. Thank you!

  37. What would help me the most is something beyond the usual advice for people under 30. The assumption that everyone under 30 is a financial trainwreck is inuslting and beyond useless for anyone who does actually have their stuff together. Pay off credit card debt? What if you never had it to begin with? There is a real need for advice for twenty-somethings that are in a good financial position with minimal student loan debt (under 50k for myself and my husband combined), who already own a home (but are looking to sell and can afford to take the loss), and are maxing out Roth IRA contributions and getting the full match at work. Should we use extra money to eradicate student loans with low interest rates (3% roughly), put that extra away into traditional IRAs, or use that money to create more equity in our homes either through extra mortgage payments or improvements? Right now that answer isn’t particularly pressing as we’re using the extra to save a larger downpayment for our next house when we sell our condo, but a year ago before we decided to sell, that was very pressing. We love the psychological benefit of having our student loans wiped out before having children and it would free up money each month, but is that the best use of our money? I can’t imagine we’re the only ones with our acts more or less together who want to do more when we’re young, before having kids (or after), but don’t know what to do and the advice geared toward that age is all about getting yourself out of the bad situations you are apparently supposed to have gotten into.

    I’m willing to bet there’s also a need for advice for people like me who bought in fall of 2006 and are now in possession of a house that was meant to be a 5 year house but that is now worth much less than they paid but who are ready to move on to the next stage of their life and their next house. Is the windfall on the back end of purchasing their next house at a substantial discount worth the loss they’ll take on the front end selling their place? This is largely intangible and based on the situation, but what are the financial implications? It’s hard to get a read on the complete financial picture when you’re in the thick of it emotionally. Fo us we think it’s worth it and we know we can afford it, but what are the long term implications of say, foregoing a year’s contributions to ROTH IRAs (which are tanking thanks to the world markets currently and have lost a lot of their value over the last few years) to put that toward a larger downpayment for a new house and closing costs?

    These are complex situations that most financial sites assume most people don’t encounter in their 20’s but I can assure you that at least once couple has.

    • Learning about how to evaluate whether or not to refinance an underwater mortgage and the options to consider if your in that situation would be helpful. The breakeven point seems so far away, I openly wonder if saving for the “next” house is more beneficial, especially if your considering a move in the future. Also properly evaluating if renting the home is a viable option to consider.

  38. More effective ways to pay off student loan debt…my husband and I each have $100K (he has a JD and I have a PhD) – I make $40K per year but have great benefits at a university, and he just left a job making $92K for a financially uncertain but happier future working for himself. When I say ways to pay off student debt I am talking ways to earn additional money, payment strategies, negotiating with your lender, etc.

    I would also like to see stories about people that exemplify the “you can have whatever you want, but not everything you want” idea – for example, people who have given up on owning their own home, or on having kids, or on going back for another degree, because there is something in their life they wanted more. The PF blogs are full of people who are surprised when they are told they can’t have it all (people who write in wanting to save for retirement, a new house, an SUV, and 5 children’s college funds simultaneously while they travel the world) – I think more stories focusing on sacrifice and prioritization would be something unique and different compared to a lot of the blogs out there.

  39. My situation: recently married (1 year in December-yeah!), we have collectively $100 K in student debt (already consolidated) from both of our Graduate degrees. We rent and both work making $75 annually. Own no property and have no children. He is 31 I am 28.

    I would like to learn more about home buying and retirement savings. How much should student debt be paid down before purchasing a home? Is it better to buy sooner than later given the current housing market? Is owning property to diversify retirement savings beyond 401K’s and IRA’s practical before student debt is paid?

    As a side note, I am so glad to have found your blog! I intend to be with you even if you progress to to Money under 40!

  40. My wife and I recently got married (I’m 27, she’s 26) and collectively make about $160,000/yr. We have no idea what to do with the money we want to save each month. We both have 401ks through our employer and about $20,000 in liquid savings but otherwise we aren’t sure of a good, semi-liquid option to put our money that will earn more than 1% APR. We want something that’s accessible in case of an emergency but also earning a decent rate as opposed to continuing to stick it in our savings account. I know stocks are an option but with the volatility in the market, we’re concerned about it vaporizing overnight. Some sort of guide on what to do would be extremely helpful for people in our situation!

    • You could look into getting a CD. I know Ally has some 1- to 5-year options that offer a little over 1%. CDs don’t make good long-term investments, but if you want semi-liquid, they’re probably your best option. Ideally, you will leave your money in the CD until maturity, but if you got into a pinch, you could always pull out with a fairly small hit. My wife and I just opened a 12-month CD at 1.09% with $500. We can cash out right now and get $499.85 back if we had to. Between now and the maturity date, that amount will get closer to $500 and I’m guessing it will surpass $500 around month 8 or 9.

      Our intention is to have $6k in our Money Market account and then put $500 into 12-month CDs each month for the next 12 months. This will act as our emergency fund and hopefully the CDs will get a little more interest than the Money Market and if we make it through this year without an emergency, we’ll never be more than a month away from a CD maturation.

  41. Channeling marketing guru Simon Sinek, I think a critical section would be to “Start with Why.” Why do we want to do all of this financial responsibility stuff?

    Paint the vision for me of what the life beyond 30 looks like if I live up to the financial rigor. Also, paint the counterpart for me of what the life beyond 30 looks like if I go the way of the financially sloppy 20s-something. Convince me that all of this stuff you’re pitching will create an incredible outcome. That is my request for your blog.

  42. Like many other commenters, I’m looking to learn how to best balance savings and debt. I’m 24, make $65K, own a condo, max out contributions to my 401K (taking advantage of that company match!), and am seriously considering going to grad school part-time. Although my company has a tuition refund program, I’ll have about 10K+/yr for 4 years to pay myself. Should I (a) get a loan and continue my savings/401K contributions, (b) reduce my 401K contributions and drain my savings to avoid needing a loan at all, (c) some combo of a+b, (d) …
    I’m not sure what makes the most financial sense.

  43. I’d love to read more about the impact money has on relationships, and how people in their 20s can successfully navigate the transitions between being single, in a relationship, engaged and finally married. Each of those stages has its own nuances and challenges, and I’d love to learn about things like:

    — What are the benefits of combined accounts? How soon is too soon to combine your finances?
    — How do you emotionally transition into combined accounts? I’m so used to being the only person in charge of my finances that the thought of someone else making transactions is a bit frightening.
    — What is the best way to handle it when one person has zero debt, and the other has large student loans?
    — What exactly should you sit down and talk about every month to make sure both people are on the same page, financially?
    — How does getting married change your financial situation in regard to taxes, insurance rates, etc.?
    — What are some clear financial steps you need to take once you’re married? (i.e. adding each other to your bank accounts and credit cards, changing your beneficiary choice from your parents to your spouse, etc.)
    — What can you do while you’re engaged to prepare for a financially cohesive marriage?

    I’ve read a few books on this subject, but most of them are geared toward people who are older and in a different financial stage of life. One of my favorite things about Money Under 30 is that it takes a broad topic and zeroes in on the impact it has on people in their 20s. This time of my life is confusing enough as it is without having to get financial advice that’s geared toward middle-aged adults!

    • Check out “The Complete Financial Guide for Young Couples” by Larry Burkett. He touches on everything: budgeting, insurance, buying a house, investments, etc. My wife and I got it when we went through a pre-marital class and it was helpful.

  44. So I read a lot of financial blogs, mainly because I’m a hot money mess. Obviously nearly everything is helpful when you know nothing. However, coming from a place of knowing nothing about what to do with my finances I find it most annoying when I’m told ‘to invest’. Yes, thank you, I’m aware I should invest, but what does that MEAN!? I followed all the advice to enroll in my work 401K, but what the heck is that money doing? Currently all I know is that I told them that I’m 26 and don’t plan on retiring for a long while. I looked at the nuts and bolts of my ‘portfolio’ and I’m completely lost. Same goes for investing in the stock market for shorter long term goals like providing for children I have yet to even think about concieving. How does one go about buying a stock? I went on ING sharebuilder and there are so many options within options it’s mind-boggling! I didn’t expect it to be easy-peasy but I feel like I need to learn a new ‘finance’ language to even muddle through. Help!

  45. I like your blog because it focuses on a specific age group and is easily relatable and as clearly shown above, has a built in community of like minded under 30-somethings. My question is similar to many others and has to do with student loans. While I see many people speaking of their accelerated attempts to pay off their loans, I would like to see a financial guru (yes you) speak about income based repayment (IBR), income contingent repayment (ICR) and public service loan forgiveness. Income based repayment caps the amount paid to 15% of AGI that is above the 150% poverty level. I am a lawyer and I currently work in the public sector and will qualify for student loan forgiveness in 10 years, but I’m torn between making very small affordable payments under IBR that increase as my adjusted gross income increases, and just getting it over with and attempting to pay it off. What’s your advice?

  46. My first thought was: How do I actually DO this stuff? Whether it’s choosing a mutual fund, saving for a specific goal, or navigating tax season, I always appreciate straightforward, detailed instructions.

    So many times I read in magazines or see on TV shows blurbs like “Once you pick a mutual fund” (for example), and I think to myself…How? No one ever taught me this stuff, and I can convince myself that anything works a certain way when, in fact, it does not. Even if you can’t devote the time to write up a tutorial, it would be very helpful to have links to places like Khan Academy that do have this material already available.

    That said, I think that you do a wonderful job on your blog, and you have already taught me so much. I always tell friends to read your blog and start paying themselves first. Thanks again!

  47. I read this blog, for age appropriate investing advice, because most publications, blogs, or periodicals regarding finance are specifically targeted to middle aged to retiring individuals/couples.
    Investment options and strategies for life goals do differ greatly when you have a decade or two more to wait on growth.
    Many of the articles deal with 20’s to 30’s topics such as student loans and budgeting with entry level job incomes.

  48. Also evaluating if paying off student loans with low interest rates
    is beneficial, vice focusing on other financial goals. My current
    understanding is
    it is not, due to the tax benefits on interest and repayment
    benefits during times of hardship if necessary. Evaluations
    like these would be interesting as well.

  49. Stephanie says:

    Unlike any other personal finance blog, I think Money Under 30 is the outlet to help young professionals start things right! Sure, we may be burdened by more educational dept than any other generation, but for many of us, we’re just beginning our first careers out of school, and we need a guide to learn how to create financial stability early on. More than anything, I want to stay out of the financial mess that my parents are in. This blog is the roadmap and early intervener for any twenty- (or twenty-ish) something who needs guidance on becoming financially stable and free of financial burdens by the time we’re too old to read this blog!

    Specifically, I’ve gained so much from your posts on multiple streams of income. I’d love more posts on this subject. Any suggestions for applying additional income to either 1) aggressively pay down $25k in student loan debt; or 2) expand my side work to become more sustainable and profitable would be very useful!

  50. HAPPY 5TH BLOGIVERSARY!!!!!!! I wish Monday Under 30 many more years of success!

    David,

    Is becoming a home owner by age 22 (this January) a set up for disaster for such a young age? I’m still in school, I work full time, and I know I’m at great standing with my credit and have a good amount saved for my 401k. My family is very supportive of me, and are more excited than I am of having the opportunity to own. I am concerned that I may be setting myself up for financial ruin?

    -Denise

    • David Weliver says:

      Denise, I don’t think buying a home @ 22 is necessarily a set up for financial disaster (if you do it right). But do you want to be committed to a home so soon—both financially and physically? That’s what I would spend a long time thinking on. Thanks for the kind words.

    • I bought my first place when I was 20 and only making $23k a year. It was just a one bedroom condo but I was still proud of it. Also, the condo was a good fit as I didn’t have to worry about all of the exterior maintenance on the place, just the interior. It was a good way to get my feet wet in home ownership. I’m now 24 and just bought my 2nd place earlier this year, this time a single family home. It’s a LOT more work but I still enjoy it. Also, instead of selling the first, I decided to let someone else pay for my mortgage on it and currently rent it out. Real Estate has always been in interesting investment to me so once again, my first place is helping me get my feet wet in that world.

      Just make sure you think it all through and don’t over burden your budget and I wouldn’t do it until YOU feel ready for it.

  51. P.S.

    This is a super amazing blog! It’s a site I would definitely refer to several of my peers. I haven’t been able to read all of the articles that are available on this blog, but I think another helpful topic would be something along the lines of “Dating with Debt”. I’m not requesting love advice, what I am requesting is how to bring the topic of debt in the conversation. Dating is hard as it is. Bringing debt in the equation seems harder. Is there such a thing as a financial deal breaker?

    • It’s interesting you bring up that point, Denise. I recently began dating someone seriously and have a good job but have loads of student debt from graduate school and I had no idea whatsoever when to bring that up in the course of dating and getting to know someone. Thankfully she took it really well, but I can imagine someone in her situation not wanting to continue on as a result of all my student loans.

  52. I don’t think monetary targets are the unique thing this blog could bring me. What is unique is the topic (money issues and investing for people und 30 years old).

    It would be amazing to combine your solid advice with the experiences and challenges of the community this blog has created and how they have overcome these challenges: You set out the principles and techniques and the community shares how it went in real life – the life That happens while “we are making other plans”.

  53. I am 23 years old and I’ve just bought my first townhouse. I’ve been living with my parents since birth so I’ve been able to save money. I’ll be moving into my new home in about 6 weeks and I need to know how to start long term financial planning ( ie I’ve always just put money in the bank and bought things as I needed / wanted them). Now I’ve got to literally start from scratch and buy everything from a fridge to couch to blinds etc. Where do I start from a financial perspective? What’s the best way to set up a new household without killing my savings and still be able to put money aside for future goals? I don’t want to feel broke for the next 5 years!!!

  54. What I would like to see is diversification in the articles. I think we can all recognize that everyone is in a different situation. It seems like most every thing else out there in the financial blogoshpere assumes that you are either 40 and married or a walking financial disaster. I would like to see more of a focus on different target audiences within the Under 30 crowd. It seems like everything has been focused on buying houses and being married, which is great for those who are closer to 30 and I can understand that you personally are at that point in your life. However, I think that it would be great to maybe start some different categories that target the different situations. I think there are two main dividing factors: income/debt situation and single/married status. You could have a section for married couples and a section for singles, since both groups need different advice on the same subject. Also, not everyone makes $35k and has $50k in student loans. I suspect that many of the readers are financially responsible, hence why we enjoy this blog. Some of us have no debt and high incomes, so it gets old reading about how to handle sudent loans and how to budget on a low income. I would like to see more about what those of us who are doing well should be doing now in a proactive way to avoid the financial pitfalls that so many of those before us have made.

    To tell you the truth, I think you could do very well laying out a “financial roadmap” for each situation, say for low (<$40k), middle ($40 – $80k), and high income ($80+). Each roadmap could adress how to handle the core financial issues: budgeting, student loans, debt, cars, housing, investing, insurance, etc. Also, under each subject adressing both married and single people. That way the advice could be targeted and even more helpful on an individual basis and no one is left out.

  55. I like the above comment (Drew’s) quite a bit about dividing out categories. Ideally these categories would take you from where you are to where you want to be – Realistically. Not, I make $10/hr and I want to retire when I’m 30! You have covered this very well for the low income/high debt moving up into a more stable situation (regarding yourself) but I agree with Drew in that we are all starting from a different point and have different goals. What are Our goals as a generation? How are we coping financially and are we as Lost as the major media outlets like to say. Is anyone following their dreams or is everyone sitting in their childhood bedrooms economically stuck? Who is Occupying Wall Street? I have friends who run the entire gamut financially, from stuck at home to struggling grad students to former lawyers-turned-yoga teachers to people like me working regular desk jobs. What makes them different and what drives these decisions? You could set up profiles of a specific type of person (more like a caricature than a real person) and map out what they are doing with their money now and what they could be doing better. There are problems with the write in advice format in that it is so specific it is less useful than a general profile might be.

  56. I’m 21 and a senior at a liberal arts college. I want to begin paying off student loan debt(65k) while finishing graduate school and be able to get married, buy a home, and be financially stable enough to start having kids before I’m 30.

  57. Christopher says:

    It seems like there are a ton of resources and topics out there for people under 30 who have lots of student debt, credit card debt, or are simply trying to buy a house. I think a large subset that these blogs miss is that there are a lot of 22-26 year olds who are interested in growing wealth or saving for retirement that dont have those debt loads from early-twenties nor do they yet need to seriously think about buying a house. The people in this group are making 40-70k a year, have 6 months of the income in a savings account, put around 5k a year into a 401(k) or Roth, but are unsure what to do next.

  58. Arthur P. says:

    Hi David,

    I think what would be beneficial, besides the valuable advise in managing and saving money, is to give ideas on how to bring in additional income, because ultimately it is the only way of getting ahead as soon as possible. So, second job ideas, investing in the stock market, freelancing, entrepreneurship, and others.

    While it is important to know how to manage finances, the value of the advice they get here may be diminished if they don’t have much to manage.

    Thanks,
    Arthur

  59. Nicholas Dautovic says:

    Hello David,

    Thanks for a great resource. I’ve been a member now for about 5 months, and this is a great point of reference for 20 and 30 somethings to get some relevant, timely (and most importantly) actionable information.

    My situation is a bit niche, and so my request is pretty specific to my demographic. I’m a professional living in Greater Cleveland, Ohio and working Downtown. What’s unique about me is that I was born with (and have been dealing with since birth) an otrthopedic condition which confines me to a wheelchair during most of the business day. I tell you this information, because most able-bodied individuals do not realize (nor should they) that disabled individuals of all types face some pretty unique financial challenges which can and do affect financial budgeting and planning considerations.

    Would you be open to a blog “mini-series” discussing financial considerations (investment options, potential sources of subsidized income from various sources, trust fund options that mitigate the chance of disqualifying from sources like Medicare and Social Security, etc.)

    With the aging populating making up a large portion of the spending population, per capita, combined with the return of many veterans overseas who are temporarily or permanently disabled, this may be a very timely topic of discussion for the 20-30 yr old crowd.

  60. Hi David,

    Congratulations on your five-year blogiversary! Since you are seeking specific requests for financial advice, I figured I would share my slightly unconventional medium-term goal and ask for your thoughts.

    I am a 27-year-old engineering graduate student with two years left in my program, which provides a stipend of about $20,000 per year. This is approximately the same income I’ve had over the last five years, so I can’t complain about taking a big financial hit to go back to school.

    With a bit of extra motivation from reading your blog, I finished paying off my $30,000 in undergraduate student loan debt this past summer. Eliminating this debt has been a challenging but extremely rewarding experience. I would like to remain debt-free for the foreseeable future.

    Now my fixed monthly expenses are about $800 for rent and utilities; this figure will be reduced to about $500 next May, when my lease expires and I can find a more-affordable housing arrangement. Monthly, I spend an additional couple hundred dollars on food and other non-routine expenses, such as vehicle maintenance and gifts. Whatever is left over (typically, $100-200) goes into my very-low-interest “Around The World Fund.”

    As the name of my savings account implies, I am hoping to take some time after graduation for an adventure. This might take the form of working as a crew member aboard a circumnavigating sailing vessel, or may be on my own via more conventional means of transportation. Either way, I am hoping to get around the globe without getting into a world of debt. To this end, my fund presently sits at about $1500, and I’d like to have at least $10,000 in this fund by the end of 2013.

    On a basic but serious level, I wonder if my present plan of simply trying to reduce costs and save as much as practical will get me there (literally and figuratively). There must be a smarter way! What are the pitfalls of my present plan? What do you recommend I do instead?

    Thank you for any insight or advice you can offer. I’ll be sure to send a postcard if I can make this happen!

    Take care,

    Kevin

  61. Erin McAlear says:

    Hi David!

    I came across your blog just a couple months ago, but it’s been a great help to me so far, and look forward to what you decide to write about next. Like Christopher mentioned above, I am out of school, debt free and working to save; however, where I differ is that I do not make 40-70k a year; I do not have 6 months of the income in a savings account, and I do not put around 5k a year into a 401(k) or Roth. My unstable teacher’s salary is enough to live off of, but changes about every six months, which makes it difficult to save.

    One of the first things I read here was that if I want to save more money, I have to make more money. This indeed makes sense to me, and I am currently working to build a small business to do just that. What I would like to hear about from you is how do you know how much money to invest into a new company or idea, especially for web-based adventures? There’s the old saying you have to spend money to make money, but how do I know what is a realistic amount that won’t throw me back into debt?

    I think this would be a good next step to your blog because it builds off of information you have already provided, giving us a new layer to work with and improve upon.

    Thanks so much!

    Erin

  62. David Weliver says:

    First of all, WOW guys. I’m overwhelmed by your awesome responses. You all deserve to win the $50 :) THANK YOU!

    While I can’t do that, I can promise to take your suggestions in and use them to build some content that I think is gonna help you nail your goals in the upcoming months and 2012. Thank you again for sharing.

    I’m closing the $50 contest now and will email the winners soon, but don’t let that stop you from sharing your thoughts…

  63. The topic of money and finances has always been a secret topic. No one just openly tells their friends, “hey, I just opened up this savings account at this bank” or “dude, I’m trying to figure out if I should invest in this International Growth Fund or this Future Investors Fund”. I think what makes this site successful is the combination of your advice and the experience of the community. I’d like to see everyone be willing to offer up suggestions and recommendations or provide lessons from personal experience. I think you’ve done a good job of doing that with the articles and always ending them open for the community to respond.

    Perhaps as the blog and the viewers get older, you might need to create some spinoff sites. MoneyUnder30, MoneyInYour30s, etc. Maybe you could do some polls or have us create profiles so that you can track our ages and interests as we get older (or as newer younger viewers come around).

  64. Sean Murray says:

    What I am most interested in are contemplations, discussion and advice about financial planning in a world that seems to be more complicated and push more onus on the individual than in previous generations. As I think about the topics I discuss with my friends and family I think of the following: 1) Defined contribution plans have replaced defined benefit plans 2) There is a real possibility that Social Security will be drastically different. 3) The outlook for education expenses for ourselves and our children are both more important to incur and more expensive than ever. 4) We have to contemplate our home as a potential liability. 5) Investment choices for retirement and other investment options seem highly risky or struggle to keep up with inflation. 6) Health insurance choices and expenses are numerous and varied (HSA, FSA, HMO, PPO) 7) All other types of insurance have a ton of options.

  65. One of the reasons I started my blog is to publish real life information and seek feedback from outside on how I am doing.

    You articles are great, but it would be more enjoyable to read more personalized and see how do you do.

  66. student reader says:

    I’m a junior college student in a 4 year BFA program, and I’d like to:
    Make a financial plan for myself before the end of the school year
    Pay off $80,000 in student loan debt before I’m 35 [21 now], although if possible I’d like to fulfill my pre-college plan of paying it off and having $20,000 saved by the time I’m 27.

    And specifically, should I use extra money I have now to invest,
    pay off my debt, or what? I have reasonable confidence in making a
    percentage of about ~1-5% per trade if I invest in stocks, but I have
    been too busy/distracted/forgetful to invest before now.

  67. Zach Farmer says:

    I want to see more articles about investing. Is it a good idea to get an online account and pick stocks, ETFs, etc. yourself or should you go to an advisor and let them place your money in mutual funds? If you go the online route, is E-Trade the best service or are there other good options? What trends and statistics do I look for to best indicate future performance? Should I go income stocks or growth stocks? Thanks for everything you do.

  68. Brynnie Mc says:

    I am a recent college grad with about $65,000 in student loans (federal and private, almost split exactly). I had anticipated that my Sallie Mae loans would be significantly higher than my public in terms of interest, but upon the end of my deferment period, I’m noticing my stated interest rate for private loans is at around 2-2.5%, while my Fed Loans are at the expected 5-6.8%. To my understanding, my private loans are a variable interest rate – but I had always expected to put any extra funds towards the private to snowball my payments the most efficient way possible. Am I correct in thinking this can’t possibly be the true interest rate? Or is the economy so bad that my variable rate private loans are in fact cheaper than my federal ones and I should, for the meantime, put all my extra funds towards the federal payments?

    Thank you for your advice!

  69. Christina says:

    I just got my first credit card that isn’t attached to my parents’ accounts. I’m wondering how the credit company determined what limit to give me and having a hard time finding detailed info on this.

    Also, I agree with the comments about exploring things from different situations. For example, I’m a freelancer who works from home and my income has quite a swing from month to month.

    Thanks.

  70. I am not sure if you are still looking for suggestions, but I thought I would throw my 2 cents in. The topic that applies most to me is prioritizing debt repayment. My wife and I have student loans, car payments, and some credit card debt. We do not own a home, but it is something we would like to do in the future. I am not always sure which of my debts is the best to pay off first. Thanks and keep up the good work.

  71. I have paid off my debt and am currently building my 6 month emergency fund. Next I would like to save for a large down payment on a house. While I am okay with the 0.5% interest on my emergency fund, I would like to get a better rate of return on my house savings. I am active duty military and must move every 4 years, so buying a house now does not make sense (I lost $26K selling my last house 2 years ago). So where should I invest my house savings money if I will not need it for the next 5 years?

  72. David Palmer says:

    I am not sure of what you personally can provide that any other financial blogger couldn’t do just as well. What you can do is use your personal insight to give us the valuable knowledge we have come to expect and cherish from you. What I would like to see from you is an in-depth step by step guide to setting up various accounts. Show us how to set up X account with Y broker. These websites are frankly scary and we only have so much money to mess around with. You however can work out a situation with these companies where you can get into there systems and ‘set up’ accounts so we can see how to work the system with out shooting ourselves in the our collective feet.

  73. You have a lot on home-buying, but one angle I think would be worth investigating is the notion that home buying prices are often gauged in the $/sqft metric rather than the total cost and services rendered. Also investigations into the total lifetime costs of houses (energy efficiency maintenance, etc). Similarly for car buying.

    I realize this blog does not focus on the environment, but home and car purchases are the biggest decisions we have both in personal maintenance costs and costs to the planet. I think that’s worth a mention and could be an interesting look from a personal finance perspective….

  74. Best discount shopping websites (approaching the holidays) such as Amazon vs. Slickdeals, Kayak vs. Priceline, Carmax vs. Zag vs. Truecar, etc. Which specializes in which category (i.e. electronics, clothing, travel, cars, furniture) Most people know about a couple of these websites but most likely don’t know all of the best. Hopefully, you could gather a large amount of reader feedback, check them out with some research, and then report back (or give readers some homework to do the same :)

    I would also love hearing about entrepreneurial ideas. How to use small savings to begin side-projects or even new businesses. How people think of ideas to begin and what are the steps to take and things to consider before making the leap.

  75. Hello David!

    First let me say that I truly appreciate this website. It has been a valuable resource to me and the wealth of knowledge that I have gained from this site, I have passed it on to loved ones and friends.

    I am 29, married, with 2 children and a stepdaughter. The kids ages are 2, 13, and 15. I would like to go back to school to get my 2 year nursing degree and my Bachelor’s in Health Information Management. I have exhausted my loan limits and I would really like to know how I should approach this without having to go into additional debt. Also, I have a question that I have seem numerous answers for but would like a more definitive answer. Is it good to make bi-weekly payments on credit cards or any other debt? Will it help raise your credit score? Thanks!

    • Is your husband working? Have you looked into applying for other forms of financial aid like grants or scholarships? Do you think you could manage working while going to school, perhaps as a student worker?

      As far as paying off debts with bi-weekly payments. The only reason this would be beneficial is if the interest compounds daily (or at least something more frequent than monthly). Really the only benefit to paying bi-weekly is that it makes payments more regimented and routine. Also, bi-weekly will add up to an additional month’s payment each year (52/2 = 26 vs. 12×2 = 24). Just don’t pay someone to make bi-weekly payments for you. You’ll get stuff in the mail all the time for this. Here’s a hint: you can mail an extra check on your own.

      The best way to reduce your debt is to spend less than you make (first of all) and pay extra on your principal, however that works best for you. Either making extra payments throughout the month or paying extra in addition to your monthly payment (which is essentially the same thing).

      • Thank you Chase! This information was very beneficial. My husband and I both work FT. I have looked into other forms of financial aid, but I never seem to qualify or the award is given to someone else. I may need to dig a little deeper when it comes to other forms of aid. Thanks again for your advice!

  76. Hello David,

    I would be interested in articles dealing with tax strategies, particularly for newlyweds whose combined income may be high enough to trigger AMT. Other changes in tax treatment for married people can also come as a surprise (for example, only getting one $2,500 student loan interest deduction instead of $2,500 for each partner). Also, tax witholdings for people who select “married” status apparently calculate witholding under the assumption only one spouse is working. It was seriously not cool to check a pay stub in October and find that my husband and I are underwithheld by several thousand dollars because the system assumes it is the 1950s and every couple has one breadwinner.

    It would be great to see all these potential tax tangles addressed in one place, for everyone who is thinking about getting married soon or those of us who are still getting used to it.

  77. Michael Huang says:

    Hi David,

    I really appreciate the work you’ve done to writing and managing MoneyUnder30 and would love to hear more about your experience setting up the business side of it. I wonder if you would write about the budgeting for your business, doing your taxes and claiming tax write-offs. Do you have someone professionally do it? Did you always start off that way? What are some financial management tips you can offer folks who make a small amount of money on the side?

    Thanks.

    ~Michael

  78. More of a suggestion on practice than content: Why not an $10 or $25 award every week for the most helpful comment? Maybe even a +1 on the comments to help decide. As this post demonstrates, you have a thoughtful community that reads your blog. Perhaps incentivizing participation and sharing knowledge will bring them out of their shell more often, and create a greater resource for everyone.

  79. I would love to see an article about HSA accounts. My understanding is that once I am 65 I can pull that money out for anything. I am self employed so I am maxing out my Roth IRA. Is my best option to max out my HSA next?