Amanda Stanhaus

Category: Financial Literacy

Big City Move

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One year ago, I moved from a big city to the biggest city of them all, New York City.

I wanted to ensure my life as a New Yorker was extra fab, so I saved up before my move.

The following are fab things that I forwent to save $$ and the cool things I replaced them with:

-gym membership…free running group at running store.

-luxury mascara…Maybelline mascara.

-artisanal sandwiches…bagel with cream cheese handmade at Chez Bettie.

-handcrafted lattes…shot of espresso.

-cocktails …whiskey neat.

-purchase songs from iTunes…stream NPR’s All Songs 24/7 Music Channel.

-Amazon book purchases…library books loans.

-weekly mani & pedis at Spa… weekly mani & pedi at Salon Bettie.

A funny thing happened, once I moved I stuck with these habits.  Why spend more $$, when I can spend less?

Happy Weekend!

(Originally published on Amanda Stanhaus’s financial literacy blog XO, Bettie.)

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SEP IRA

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Translation: Simplified Employee Pension- Individual Retirement Account.

What’s simplified about this type of IRA? The contribution. Regardless of status (AKA both Queen bees and low men on the totem pole), employees receive employer contributions that are the same percentage of their individual compensations.

Cool! Sign us up, right?

One flaw is that we, as employees, don’t have a say in whether we have a SEP-IRA or not. Employers are the ones who set them up, and determine the percentage that determines the $$ contributions. Another potential con is that a company is not required to annually contribute. So if business is bad, there may be no contribution that year.

Want more info? Check out the IRS’s description.

I know SEP-IRAs will not be a reality to many people. But it’s my new life goal to understand almost all of the IRAs. Tomorrow my goal will be complete when I explain SIMPLE IRAs.

(Originally published on Amanda Stanhaus’s financial literacy blog XO, Bettie.)

Warby Parker

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Warby Parker is about as fabulous & frugal as I am.

Why fabulous?

Warby Parker’s online store is flawlessly functional. Search by color, frame shape, and width.

I found a few that I liked, so I tested them out with Warby Parker’s free home try-on program. Once I bought the pair I thought was the most fabulous, I was glad to know that someone in need would be given a pair.

Now that I have my glasses, I wear them non-stop, except when I am inside, of course. And I’m staying in touch with Warby Parker on TwitterInstagram, and Tumblr—Warby Parker is the funnest to follow!

Why frugal?

Because each pair is $95! I know, ridiculously cheap in comparison to what I have spent in the past. Why did I spend so much in the past? I did some research, it seems that this one company, Luxottica, owns everything related to glasses and charges prices as they please.

Thanks for keeping me fabulous & frugal Warby Parker!

(Originally published on Amanda Stanhaus’s financial literacy blog XO, Bettie.)

Birchbox

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Mid-month sample surprise? Yes, please!

For just $10 a monthBirchbox surprises me with samples of goodies they think I will like. They know my beauty preferences and have been spot on with their recommendations.

So spot on in fact,  I usually buy the normal sized product from their online store. And theyreward me for being a loyal customer with reward points that can be redeemed for $$ off my purchase.

Ladies, I would not have discovered my new favorite beauty products without Birchbox.

Jump on the Birchbox bandwagon!

(Originally published on Amanda Stanhaus’s financial literacy blog XO, Bettie.)

Taxes & Freelancing

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Pro: SmartAsset is paying me to write personal finance articles for them. My first article can be read here.

[Commence happy dance!]

Bernie reminded me I will have to pay taxes on that $$.

[Conclude happy dance.]

Con: Uncle Sam is never far away.

Tax time will be much more pleasant if we constantly keep track of all income sources.  That’s why I’ve created an excel sheet to keep track of my incoming $$.

(Originally published on Amanda Stanhaus’s financial literacy blog XO, Bettie.)

Betterment

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I know I need to take myself out of the equation when building a fully diversified portfolio.

Otherwise, I buy stock to meet men. (Ex. Berkshire Hathaway & Warren.)

Plus, I’m pressed for time, yet I know my twenties are a prime investing time, thanks to compound interest.

Enter, Betterment and its belief in Modern Portfolio Theory.

I opened a Betterment account, deposited my $$, set my preferences (timeframe, goal, and risk tolerance) and then I let Betterment take over.

Betterment utilizes low-cost index ETFs across a variety of market sectors to create a diversified portfolio with an asset allocation that reflects my preferences. Betterment takes care of the dirty work (rebalancing, reinvesting dividends, etc.), so my $$’s growth is maximized and my costs are minimized.

Read about the philosophy that Betterment uses as its investment strategy. Sounds like a good plan, right?

(Originally published on Amanda Stanhaus’s financial literacy blog XO, Bettie.)

SIMPLE IRA

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These should be called SUPER IRAs.

Employers are required to contribute! I know, super duper.

While limited to companies with 100 employees are less, those employees are a lucky bunch. Even if the employee does not contribute (but we will always contribute), the employer must contribute 2% of the employee’s annual compensation to the IRA. And if an employee contributes (like we will), the company matches the contribution up to 3%.

Want to know more? Check in with the IRS.

Mission accomplished—I understand almost all of the IRAs. To review, that’s Traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, and SEP IRAs.

(Originally published on Amanda Stanhaus’s financial literacy blog XO, Bettie.)

Purchasing a New Wallet

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How much $$ should I spend on the wallet that holds my $$?

We, of course, want the $$ to be well spent. For a specific #, to each their own.

The following was my thought process:

Functional

My wallet needs to hold all my cards, plus stash my cash. And, I must be able to easily access both…don’t want to be the person holding up the morning coffee line. Plus, I need to discreetly, externally store my precious monthly metrocard. Therefore, I chose a  continental wallet with an exterior pocket.

Distinct

I would rather not have to go on a search and rescue mission to find my wallet in the dark abyss of my carry all purse. Therefore, I chose polka dots.

Long-lasting

I want this daily-used statement piece to be around for a while. Fabric wears & tears. Leather scratches. Therefore, I chose patent leather.

Hope you enjoy wallet shopping as much as I do, it’s my favorite type of shopping.

(Originally published on Amanda Stanhaus’s financial literacy blog XO, Bettie.)

Crowdfunding

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Ladies, while we do like to stand out in a crowd, we want to be in the know about the current crowdfunding trend. While I say trend, I do think crowdfunding is here to stay.

Now when we need $$ to make a certain something happen, we can create a crowdfunding campaign, build a community around our certain something, and raise the $$ we need to get it done.

FYI: not all crowdfunding platforms are created equal. Let me explain.

Donation-based Crowdfunding

(Psst: this means when we give $$ we get goodies as a reward.)

Have a creative itch? Use Kickstarter.

Have a group vaca to plan? Use Crowdtilt.

Have a [insert whatever] that needs $$? Use Indiegogo.

Investment-based Crowdfunding

(Psst: this means borrowers pay interest and investors are rewarded with a $$ reward.)

Have a loan that paid for grad school? Use CommonBond. (I know…it’s my second mention in a week, I’m a fan.)

Have personal credit card debt or a small business that needs $$? Use Lending Club.

I give us all permission to stick with the crowd — just this once.

Good luck crowdfunding!

(Originally published on Amanda Stanhaus’s financial literacy blog XO, Bettie.)

Equal Pay

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Ladies, we are paid less then gentlemen.

How much less? The numbers vary, as The Wall Street Journal and NPR both explained.

77 cents for every dollar a man makes.

This number is calculated by comparing annual earnings of women to men. Some suspect it because on average women are in career fields (ex. education) that pay less than men (ex. manufacturing). Plus, women work fewer hours.

88 cents for every dollar a man makes.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this number is calculated when men and women with a 40-hour work weeks are compared.

?

Regardless of how the figure is calculated, (ex. similar hours, similar responsibilities) women always come up with the short end of the stick.

Despite partisanship in Congress, President Obama signed two executive orders promoting paycheck transparency. Barry said it best, “Pay secrecy fosters discrimination.”

I recommend using Glassdoor and PayScale to see how much $$ others are raking in.

Go get those equal paycheck, ladies!

(Originally published on Amanda Stanhaus’s financial literacy blog XO, Bettie.)