Category Archives: money
I am very excited to start this year with some new awesome self-tracking projects and experiments! For now, the major emphasis remains on areas like sleep, fitness, diet, cognition, and psyche, but I will be covering a bit productivity and finance, too. Here is a quick preview of what I am tracking (and working on) this month.
Lately, I have been thinking about scientifically sound approach to measuring personal financial fitness. By financial fitness, I mean both financial solvency and proficiency: the degree to which person is financially prepared for the retirement and unforeseeable events in the nearest future (e.g.,sickness, loss of job, etc.), and is managing finances efficiently. Considering that almost one third of Americans do not save or contribute to 401k enough, and almost two third do not believe they will have enough money to live comfortable after they retire, financial fitness should be regarded just as important as physical and mental health (in fact, health and finances are often correlated: financial problems are often cited as a main cause of stress). And just like mental and physical health, financial health should be measured and monitored. But is there an objective indicator of how financially fit are you? In this post, I propose a new, quantified-self approach to measuring financial fitness.
Your credit score is one of the most widely used quantitative indicators of your creditworthiness. This three-digit number (it ranges between 300-850) is used by financial institutions and businesses to gauge the risk associated with lending you money or offering certain incentives. In the US, the original formula was developed by Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO, hence the FICO score), but lately, three other credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) have been offering their own comparable versions, such as VantageScore. The score and report can be directly obtained from either of these organizations, either via one-time purchase, or through the subscription to credit monitoring services. In this post, I will briefly discuss two alternative sources that offer credit scores, absolutely free and whenever you need it: CreditKarma and CreditSesame.
In my previous post, I described my favorite tool for budgeting and tracking expenses, Mint. However, using Mint requires access to the Internet, which may be inconvenient at times. And, of course, there are always concerns about security and privacy: if website gets hacked, your financial information may end up in the wrong hands. The chances of that are very low, because Mint uses bank-level encryption to sync and store transactions data. Still, If for some reason, you prefer to stay away from the web-based app, I recommend you to take a look at the mobile app that I have been using for over a year prior to switching completely to Mint: Ace Budget 2.
Personal finance is one of those aspects of our lives where accountability and objective measurement are of outmost importance. Any financial book or blog, whether it is about becoming rich, starting your own business, or getting out of debt, will mention financial discipline, and in particular, budgeting and tracking expenses, as one of the prerequisites for success. The true financial freedom implies that you have control over the money, not the other way around, and the accurate tracking of your expenses is the first step towards the freedom. The tracking also helps you to ensure that you live within your means and to meet your savings goals. There are two tools that I have been personally using to track my financial fitness, and in this post I will briefly discuss the first (and primary) one: Mint.
Speaking of the current tax reforms debates, let me chime in and share this excellent link to “Where Did My Tax Dollars Go?” visualization tool. Plug in your wages and tax filing status, and see how your tax dollars are being spent (well, the tool uses 2009 tax and 2010 budgetary spendings data, but the pattern should hold for more recent years, too, and it is still very informative).
It’s that time of the year again! My lease was up for renewal, and even though monthly rent went up 50 dollars, I decided to sign it. I am still within my set limit of “monthly rent <= 33.33% of monthly paycheck”, and I love this studio apartment a lot, because of the convenient location, beautiful window view of Hudson river, and decent size. I, however, could not resist temptation to use www.rentometer.com to look up rents for studios in my area.