Best Financial Moves You've Made

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills
cashisking500
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Best Financial Moves You've Made

Postby cashisking500 » Mon Jan 09, 2017 12:11 pm

I'm going to assume that most folks on Bogleheads are above average in terms of how they handle their finances.

To help some of the newbies (including myself), what are the best financial decisions you've made that have allowed you to be where you are today? (i.e. eliminate debt, particular investment strategy, etc.)

Thanks!

hiddensee
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Re: Best Financial Moves You've Made

Postby hiddensee » Mon Jan 09, 2017 12:13 pm

Never get into debt, invest steadily in low cost index funds.

gwrvmd
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Re: Best Financial Moves You've Made

Postby gwrvmd » Mon Jan 09, 2017 12:17 pm

Pick a solid portfolio asset allocation and keep adding to it. Otherwise do NOTHING.......Gordon
Disciple of John Neff

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bligh
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Re: Best Financial Moves You've Made

Postby bligh » Mon Jan 09, 2017 12:20 pm

The best financial move I have made for myself was deciding to live way below my means for my entire life. I have never been extravagant with my spending, but I wish I had done it earlier in my life.

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Sbashore
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Re: Best Financial Moves You've Made

Postby Sbashore » Mon Jan 09, 2017 12:24 pm

In my twenties as I walked my beat as a security guard, I used to mentally calculate how much I'd have in time if I saved X amount. Constantly varying the amounts, based on my ability to save. It was at a time in my life when I did not have much to save but set the stage for me as I progressed in life. That idea of being able to save as much as possible and still live a rewarding life along the way has served me well. I am now retired and enjoying the benefits.
Steve | Semper Fi

bigred77
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Re: Best Financial Moves You've Made

Postby bigred77 » Mon Jan 09, 2017 12:27 pm

Deciding from day 1 to set aside a healthy percentage of my income FIRST, and then live on the remainder.

hikeandbike
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Re: Best Financial Moves You've Made

Postby hikeandbike » Mon Jan 09, 2017 12:28 pm

In no particular order:

1. Got out of debt and never carry a monthly balance on credit cards.

2. Set up an emergency fund

3. Moved retirement accounts to Vanguard and switched everything to low cost funds.

4. Moved an annuity with a 2% fee at another broker to a 0.45% one at Vanguard

5. Decided to live below my means and invest the rest.

6. Found a partner who is frugal

7. Carry my weekly spending budget around in cash

ddunca1944
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Re: Best Financial Moves You've Made

Postby ddunca1944 » Mon Jan 09, 2017 12:33 pm

My best financial move was to. marry a debt adverse saver. Obviously that was not the main reason I married him, but it turned out tobe a great financial decision.
Last edited by ddunca1944 on Mon Jan 09, 2017 12:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

keystone
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Re: Best Financial Moves You've Made

Postby keystone » Mon Jan 09, 2017 12:34 pm

bigred77 wrote:Deciding from day 1 to set aside a healthy percentage of my income FIRST, and then live on the remainder.


+1. Started maxing out all the retirement accounts at a young age (~24) and then figured out how much money I had available to live.

It is MUCH harder when you do it the other way around.

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JDCarpenter
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Re: Best Financial Moves You've Made

Postby JDCarpenter » Mon Jan 09, 2017 12:43 pm

ddunca1944 wrote:My best financial move was to. marry a debt adverse saver. Obviously that was not the main reason I married him, but it turned out tobe a great financial decision.


+1. We married while still in school, grew into "real" adulthood together, and have planned jointly throughout our careers/child-raising. When both partners are into maxing tax deferred accounts, avoiding bad debt, and have the stomach for 100% equity holdings, you feed off of each other. (DW's high income also came in handy.)

It's gratifying to see and hear our 20-somethings and their mates talking spreadsheets and financials....
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goingup
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Re: Best Financial Moves You've Made

Postby goingup » Mon Jan 09, 2017 12:48 pm

Relocate to take promotions and increase pay
Maximize savings in 401K
Save 20-50% of income
.....more pay, more savings is the most important thing by far...
using low cost funds and staying invested in mostly equities has been very good but not as important as saving a lot.

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RyeWhiskey
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Re: Best Financial Moves You've Made

Postby RyeWhiskey » Mon Jan 09, 2017 12:58 pm

I'm 30 and found this forum perhaps 4 years ago. About a year after I got my finances together, I took a small amount of money (but enough to make it feel important) and bought three different penny stocks in my HSA brokerage account. Why buy big blue chip stocks when they are well represented in the index, I thought. As of this writing, two have lost 99% of their value and one has gained 40%. I will not sell any of these on principle because they constantly remind me that I know nothing, that individual stocks are cumbersome, volatile, and subject to mechanisms far beyond one guy.

The best financial move I've made was getting my need to feel special out of my system and setting up a plan to dump everything else into the Total World Stock Index for the long haul. :beer
This post was brought to you by Vanguard Total World Stock Index (VTWSX/VT).

123
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Re: Best Financial Moves You've Made

Postby 123 » Mon Jan 09, 2017 1:14 pm

I've always paid my bills on time. Never paid any interest on credit card expenditures (I pay them in full every month). Paid cash for every car I've ever bought and I only buy a new car every 12 or 15 years. I've always had an adequate emergency fund. I've always lived below my means. When I bought a house I put 50% down. I've always maintained an adequate financial cushion. Though I've been laid off twice neither time caused me any financial concern or worry, though the standard reaction I got from friends was "I'd be sweating bullets if I got laid off".

In terms of portfolio management I've reduced the number of accounts by consolidating them. Before I focused on Vanguard offerings I had a bunch of mutual fund account holdings which I consolidated at a single brokerage. For my first few years of investing I switched funds a lot until I realized that just making market average returns was probably good enough so I switched everything to the Vanguard 500 index fund (this was back in the 1980's before ETFs and Total Stock Market Index funds).

While I look at my accounts on-line at least every week or two I still believe in paper financial/brokerage statements solely for making it clear to my survivors where the assets are (I tell them but I doubt they really pay attention). I've recently started to make a game of reducing the number of statements (where I can) I receive so they only come quarterly, primarily with Schwab. Schwab send sends statements quarterly if there is no significant activity. To reduce my activity I try to focus transactions only in the last month of the quarter. I find this discipline makes me think longer term and tempers my actions if I get what I think, at the moment, is a "brilliant" financial idea.

I think it's important to keep track of what is happening in the business and investment communities. I've subscribed to the Wall Street Journal for many years (though I don't renew until I find a good discount or deal, who want to pay $500 or more a year?). I enjoy watching cable TV business channels (CNBC, Fox Business, and lately Bloomberg TV is often my favorite) in moderation. Since I primarily follow the 3 fund model I save so much on investment expenses that the cost of WSJ and cable are inconsequential.

I've kept my distance from anyone or anything that offers financial "help".

I'm financially conservative and don't gamble. We've been to Las Vegas numerous times to visit relatives and while we've enjoyed the buffets and surroundings we just have no interest in gambling.

I found a spouse who, though not interested in finances, is not an extravagant spender. We enjoy ideas and experiences, we don't exist to collect "things".

Finding Bogleheads a few years ago has made me more confident and relaxed in my investment and financial choices.

There's a lot to be said for living your life as simply as you can and enjoying all things in moderation.
The closest helping hand is at the end of your own arm.

BW1985
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Re: Best Financial Moves You've Made

Postby BW1985 » Mon Jan 09, 2017 1:17 pm

1. Never taking a car loan. (pay cash, save, move up)
2. Choosing degree programs that are applicable in the marketplace.
3. Finding BH's (max tax advantaged, index NOT individual)
4. Choosing a spouse who's on the same page.
"Squirrels figured out how to save eons ago. They buried acorns. Some, they dug up, for food. Others, they let to sprout, in new oak trees. We could learn from squirrels." -john94549

ponyboy
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Re: Best Financial Moves You've Made

Postby ponyboy » Mon Jan 09, 2017 1:19 pm

Marrying someone who shares the same financial goals I do.

Ethelred
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Re: Best Financial Moves You've Made

Postby Ethelred » Mon Jan 09, 2017 1:19 pm

Some things that have worked for me:

1. I live below my means.

2. Along with my family, I invested time and money in my education to allow me an interesting and well-paid job.

3. I found a great spouse who also follows points 1 and 2, even if I wouldn't describe her as frugal.

4. I held a lot of my employer's stock in a share save scheme and in company stock awards, and allowed it grow for years, becoming something like half our net worth. I sold half of the stock at 15% below the peak and half at 0.5% below the peak. The share price is currently 50% below the peak, and will take years to recover. I was incredibly lucky, and I don't recommend it to anyone, but it is still one of the best financial moves I ever made.

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steve roy
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Re: Best Financial Moves You've Made

Postby steve roy » Mon Jan 09, 2017 1:24 pm

Saying adios to my financial advisor. Getting out of individual stocks and into mutual funds (mostly index). And buying two houses at the bottoms of two markets.

JoinToday
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Re: Best Financial Moves You've Made

Postby JoinToday » Mon Jan 09, 2017 1:31 pm

123 wrote:Finding Bogleheads a few years ago has made me more confident and relaxed in my investment and financial choices.


This was the key for me also. I was fortunate to be a saver, and BH provided the foundation on which I stand. I am now relatively relaxed in the face of stock market noise and future uncertainty.
I wish I had learned about index funds 25 years ago

katzmandu
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Re: Best Financial Moves You've Made

Postby katzmandu » Mon Jan 09, 2017 1:37 pm

Using Bogleheads, Financial Samurai and (back in the day) MMM to get the ship righted, get serious about saving and develop effective strategies for investing and obviously staying the course through different markets.

If the last 10 years are any indication, I've definitely made the right choices and will have snapped victory from the jaws of defeat when I can finally step away from my desk for good.

A great 2017 to everyone.

leonard
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Re: Best Financial Moves You've Made

Postby leonard » Mon Jan 09, 2017 1:40 pm

Getting rid of the mortgage. I'll go ahead and hit this with a broad brush - my experience with mortgage originators, mortgage lenders, and escrow companies have shown they are at best incompetent and at worst, unethical and untrustworthy. I am glad to have these particular financial intermediaries out of my life. Forever. Will never deal with this group of "service providers" again.
Leonard | | Market Timing: Do you seriously think you can predict the future? What else do the voices tell you? | | If employees weren't taking jobs with bad 401k's, bad 401k's wouldn't exist.

Dottie57
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Re: Best Financial Moves You've Made

Postby Dottie57 » Mon Jan 09, 2017 1:41 pm

#1 Saving as much as I can and putting it into 401k. Without the 401k I am not sure I would have figured out how to fund retirement.

#2. Buying a small home and staying put. Small home= small expenses.

BW1985
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Re: Best Financial Moves You've Made

Postby BW1985 » Mon Jan 09, 2017 1:48 pm

Dottie57 wrote:#1 Saving as much as I can and putting it into 401k. Without the 401k I am not sure I would have figured out how to fund retirement.

#2. Buying a small home and staying put. Small home= small expenses.


"Staying put" is also very helpful. Buying, selling & moving are expensive.
"Squirrels figured out how to save eons ago. They buried acorns. Some, they dug up, for food. Others, they let to sprout, in new oak trees. We could learn from squirrels." -john94549

RadAudit
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Re: Best Financial Moves You've Made

Postby RadAudit » Mon Jan 09, 2017 2:00 pm

Best financial move?

When I came to the realization that I didn't either know or didn't want to take the time to learn how to (financially) successfully invest using individual stocks. And thus began the long march to investing via index funds. (I was a slow learner.)
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jimbok_mb
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Re: Best Financial Moves You've Made

Postby jimbok_mb » Mon Jan 09, 2017 2:01 pm

1. Marry someone with like financial behavior/goals.

2. Start saving for college as soon as child is born and contribute yearly. Turn out children that can take care of themselves and who are fiscally responsible.

3. Live below means.

4. Be your own investment/financial manager and keep expenses low. Educate yourself as necessary. Keep things simple.

alfaspider
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Re: Best Financial Moves You've Made

Postby alfaspider » Mon Jan 09, 2017 2:21 pm

1) Going to law school
2) Marrying a person without expensive tastes and high earning potential (though the financial was hardly my primary consideration :happy )
3) Purchasing my house
4) Investing steadily in low-cost index funds without trading or timing the market

bravodelta38
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Re: Best Financial Moves You've Made

Postby bravodelta38 » Mon Jan 09, 2017 2:48 pm

Our best financial moves fall into two categories: luck and deliberate. Most often, these moves fall a bit into both columns.

Luck:
1) Having a spouse with similar financial mentality (we were together before we really understood our financial selves so some of this was certainly learned together).
2) Not purchasing a house in the middle of a housing bubble after relocating for a new job.
3) By not buying a house, having the freedom to take a much better job in another part of the country when my industry and job security began to erode.

Deliberate:
1) Investing in a college education for myself and DW.
2) Quickly realizing that we were not getting ahead despite significant increase in income post-college. (Student loan, credit card, auto and medical debt.)
3) Resultant from item (1), visually capturing the extent of our debt and developing a plan to deal with it.
4) Once the above debt was addressed, refusing to allow lifestyle creep take our newfound cash flow.
5) Paying ourselves first in priority order as detailed in BH wiki.
6) Clearly setting priorities in our life and aligning spending of any money remaining after paying ourselves to these priorities (including increasing savings both to keep lifestyle creep at bay and to retire early). Then vigilantly tracking expenses and evaluating our behavior on a monthly basis.
7) Buying a small home that we can afford and can't fill with stuff.
8) Now that we have our first child, having a sturdy emergency fund brings immeasurable peace of mind.

At this point, we've been doing this for so long that it is second nature.

Also, I'm sure there is a lot that I am forgetting.

In hindsight, getting our financial education earlier is the best financial move could have made.

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Phineas J. Whoopee
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Re: Best Financial Moves You've Made

Postby Phineas J. Whoopee » Mon Jan 09, 2017 2:56 pm

1) Becoming educated beyond any reasonable expectation, using debt financing as necessary; then
2) Paying off my school debts aggressively; followed by
3) Saving and investing the amount I formerly paid my creditors.

That got me off to a decent start. The rest is its consequence.

PJW

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praxis
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Re: Best Financial Moves You've Made

Postby praxis » Mon Jan 09, 2017 2:58 pm

Out of a list of My Top 10 Best Financial Moves, here are my top 3 based on impact on our bottom line:

1. Marrying someone with similar goals, values and earnings.

2. Staying 30 years with one company and benefiting from rising salary, bonuses, company car, 401K matching, expense account, stock options (starting salary 1976= $11,000).

3. Investing carefully with help from Joe Domingues, Charles Givens, Howard Ruff, Mark Skousen, NAIC, Chuck Carlson, Archie Richards, Diehards
and finally, from Bogleheads, who have helped me put it together with peace of mind.

Thank you
Last edited by praxis on Mon Jan 09, 2017 3:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Wolfpacker
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Re: Best Financial Moves You've Made

Postby Wolfpacker » Mon Jan 09, 2017 3:07 pm

Pay yourself first -- 10% of total income toward retirement. You'll be (very) glad you did.

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InvestorNewb
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Re: Best Financial Moves You've Made

Postby InvestorNewb » Mon Jan 09, 2017 3:12 pm

Finding this forum at the age of 30.
My Portfolio: VTI [US], VXUS [Int'l], VNQ [REIT], VCN [Canada] (largest to smallest)

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Earl Lemongrab
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Re: Best Financial Moves You've Made

Postby Earl Lemongrab » Mon Jan 09, 2017 5:27 pm

It's a bit hard to say. I did many of things people mention. I got an education, a good-paying job that I could work at for a long period, lived well below my means, saved, etc. My investing for the first 25 years or so was haphazard, with much of the time and money spent in CDs and such. At that time, I had about 650K. Then about ten years ago, I put together a real investment plan and implemented it (holding through the 2008 crunch). Now I have almost 1.7 million. So what was the best move?
Last edited by Earl Lemongrab on Mon Jan 09, 2017 5:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
This week's fortune cookie: "You will enjoy doing something spontaneous this weekend." Apparently that meant working on a dead PC, but I didn't enjoy that much.

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czeckers
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Re: Best Financial Moves You've Made

Postby czeckers » Mon Jan 09, 2017 5:42 pm

High savings rate.
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GreenGrowTheDollars
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Re: Best Financial Moves You've Made

Postby GreenGrowTheDollars » Mon Jan 09, 2017 5:48 pm

1. Stayed married to a great spouse with similar views on savings.
2. Began saving for retirement in our early 20's.
3. Stayed invested in the market in good years and bad.
4. Didn't chase the latest hot thing on investments.
5. Didn't let the tax tail wag the dog.

Traveller
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Re: Best Financial Moves You've Made

Postby Traveller » Mon Jan 09, 2017 6:08 pm

Same as many:
1- picked a degree that had high earning potential
2- worked my rear end off during college to graduate with very little debt
3 - avoided carrying debt from day 1
4 - intentionally avoided hcol areas to live in
5 - never pulled cash out of my home and always put extra in whenever moving or refinancing
6 - married like minded person and STAYED married to her
7 - lived within means and saved a reasonable amount all the way
8 - never financed a vehicle

I'm 47 and just did my annual financial plan review with my wife and realized I can retire now if I wanted or needed to. The steps aren't sexy but they work. :beer

DetroitRick
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Re: Best Financial Moves You've Made

Postby DetroitRick » Mon Jan 09, 2017 6:15 pm

The best moves for me, in no particular order:

1)Controlling my investments myself from the beginning, and gaining the requisite knowledge to do so very early on
2)Avoiding a spending-driven lifestyle and saving for the future (while still enjoying life, traveling a lot, and avoiding a miserly mindset)
3)Buying much less house than I could afford
4)Investing in an education and career that suited my needs and abilities
5)Finding a spouse that shares these and other key values (okay, not exactly a financial move, but important, and certainly has a huge financial impact)
6)Careful use of credit

Sandtrap
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Re: Best Financial Moves You've Made

Postby Sandtrap » Mon Jan 09, 2017 6:17 pm

Never borrow money for anything. (including cars and homes)
Pay cash for everything.
Old fashioned self-sufficiency == Never lend "anything", never "borrow" anything".
Avoid debt.
Avoid bad influences.
Live frugally -- find happiness in what can't be bought.
Always lay-up on short par 4's. :sharebeer

jhwkr542
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Re: Best Financial Moves You've Made

Postby jhwkr542 » Mon Jan 09, 2017 6:29 pm

Probably best to divide this into two categories: maximizing earnings and minimizing spending/maxing savings (offense and defense, if you will).

First category:
1. Going to medical school and picking a good paying field
2. Landing a good job in said field

Second category:
1. Finding WCI and bogleheads and getting educated
2. Every change made as a result of #1

kbrinaldi
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Re: Best Financial Moves You've Made

Postby kbrinaldi » Mon Jan 09, 2017 6:35 pm

Track everything. Make a spreadsheet with annual income, taxes, expenses, portfolio value, etc. Using Yodlee or Personalcapital makes this much easier. This allows you to understand where you are financially, set realistic expectations and possibly motivate you to higher levels of saving (or spending).
:sharebeer

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burt
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Re: Best Financial Moves You've Made

Postby burt » Mon Jan 09, 2017 6:37 pm

Dottie57 wrote:#2. Buying a small home and staying put. Small home= small expenses.


Ohhh how I wish I was able to do that. I would be "setting pretty" if I was living in my first house for the past 40 years.
House would have been paid off at age 40.
Job changes, lay offs, relocation's, are darn expensive.

burt

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blueblock
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Re: Best Financial Moves You've Made

Postby blueblock » Mon Jan 09, 2017 6:41 pm

This is pretty minor as these things go, but when I was in credit card debt in my early thirties, my accountant brother suggested that whenever I charged something to enter it into my check register, as if I'd written a check for the amount charged, so that when it came time to pay the bill, the money to pay the bill in full was available. This small practice made me realize that available credit is not at all like having money to spend and set me on the path to living within my means.

On a more macro scale, when I retired in 2015 I rolled over my 401K into the Bogleheads' three-fund portfolio and love the simplicity and low fees.

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JDaniels
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Re: Best Financial Moves You've Made

Postby JDaniels » Mon Jan 09, 2017 6:48 pm

bigred77 wrote:Deciding from day 1 to set aside a healthy percentage of my income FIRST, and then live on the remainder.


This is what I did and I highly recommend it to all. After a few months, you don't even miss the percentage you're saving and investing from your daily financial life.
"The poor long for riches. The rich long for heaven. But the wise desire tranquility."

cheesepep
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Re: Best Financial Moves You've Made

Postby cheesepep » Mon Jan 09, 2017 6:53 pm

Become a dividend growth investor. See my money rise every year. Allows for much more independence in my job. I love doing it also.

Also buy many, many shares of JPM a few months back and recently sell them. Huge profits for such a short time.

Trader/Investor
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Re: Best Financial Moves You've Made

Postby Trader/Investor » Mon Jan 09, 2017 6:59 pm

The best (luckiest) financial move I made was after being banned by T Rowe Price in 94 moved my accounts to INVESCO and Strong. In the 90s and till around 2001/2 you could trade their funds with impunity capitalizing on datelining, the new fund effect, market's ebbs and flows, and more. I would hate to think where I would be now financially had I moved my money to any other firms in the 90s.

PhilosophyAndrew
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Re: Best Financial Moves You've Made

Postby PhilosophyAndrew » Mon Jan 09, 2017 7:18 pm

My best financial moves were both educational, and each one pushes against what may be Booglehead orthodoxies about higher education (I'm about 30 years past my BA):

(1) Earn my degrees in philosophy, which provided me with analysis, thinking, and communication skills that have proven extremely valuable in the marketplace; and

(2) Attend elite institutions of higher learning, which allowed me to maximize the benefits of (1) by being inspired to learn and grow by some of the world's best students and professors.

travellight
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Re: Best Financial Moves You've Made

Postby travellight » Mon Jan 09, 2017 7:18 pm

Displaying great skepticism when my best friend at the age of 16 first informed me of this cool thing called "credit cards" and that it allowed you to buy whatever you wanted and you never had to pay it back.

LBYM even in childhood. I had little red packets of money as gifts up to age 9 that I never spent. It must be in my genetic programming.

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FelixTheCat
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Re: Best Financial Moves You've Made

Postby FelixTheCat » Mon Jan 09, 2017 7:23 pm

Picked a good career with decent pay/benefits.
Felix is a wonderful, wonderful cat.

Rodc
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Re: Best Financial Moves You've Made

Postby Rodc » Mon Jan 09, 2017 7:25 pm

Got a good degree to develop marketable skills.

Bought a modest house in a good location and never moved (23 years ago).

Bought modest cars and kept them a long time.

Do not try to keep up with the Jones'.

Started investing the day I got my first real job.

Kept debt very low.

Never got divorced. (at least not yet!).

Managed to never get fired or laid off. I suppose I could get fired now, but I would just declare retirement and throw a party.

Waited to have expensive vacations until retirement and college funds were in good shape.

Took very good care of my body. Note that also takes some fortune.

It ain't rocket science.
Last edited by Rodc on Mon Jan 09, 2017 7:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
We live a world with knowledge of the future markets has less than one significant figure. And people will still and always demand answers to three significant digits.

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Phineas J. Whoopee
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Re: Best Financial Moves You've Made

Postby Phineas J. Whoopee » Mon Jan 09, 2017 7:27 pm

PhilosophyAndrew wrote:My best financial moves were both educational, and each one pushes against what may be Booglehead orthodoxies about higher education (I'm about 30 years past my BA):
...

I wouldn't call them orthodoxies. The posters against higher ed, or graduate ed, or non-STEM ed, are the loudest, but I see no reason to believe they're the most numerous.
PJW

SQRT
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Re: Best Financial Moves You've Made

Postby SQRT » Mon Jan 09, 2017 7:36 pm

My best move, as defined by most successful, was leveraging up to buy my employer's stock and riding their options to the end. Probably was too risky at the time but certainly paid off. I know this isn't what people like to hear around here and I don't necessarily recommend to anyone else. But the facts are the facts and you asked. I was and still am very lucky.
Last edited by SQRT on Mon Jan 09, 2017 7:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

carolc
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Location: New Hampshire seacoast

Re: Best Financial Moves You've Made

Postby carolc » Mon Jan 09, 2017 7:40 pm

Learning from the Bogleheads site...really.

carolc


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