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Tag: Savings

Hey there present-day Lisa – it’s me, future Lisa,

I just wanted to send you a big huge THANK YOU, because your smart savings plan has resulted in a kick-ass retirement for me and hubby. That’s right, we bought our flat in Paris, and we spend the days sipping red wine and sampling gorgeous French cheeses. C’est le paradis!

Remember that Louis Vuitton bag that you were going to buy in 2012, but instead chose to take that money and throw it into your 401k? Well, that decision has paid off for you ten-fold, because now that you are living the good life here in Paris, you can shop the boutiques all the days because you don’t have to work anymore. I know there were times when you had to sacrifice the wants and be responsible, but trust me, you are a lot happier now for it. You don’t have to rely on your kids to support you; instead, you get to spend precious time with your grandchildren because you don’t have to worry about working.

Retirement is great!

It seems like just yesterday that you took your first job out of college, and they handed you all the new hire forms, one of which was enrollment in a 401k plan. I know at the time you didn’t really know what it was, only that your parents told you that you should start saving, so you did. And that money grew. And grew and grew and grew and those years that seemed SO FAR in the future went by in a flash. Yes, the market went up and it went down, but overall those few dollars you saved back when you were 21 years old have grown into a few million dollars by now.

Plus, your husband was also super responsible and squirreled away lots of cash into savings all while telling you that you were “over-budget” for the month. Maybe he exaggerated just a little bit, but he knew you would want to spend it and he knew he had to save for your future. I just gave him a big thank-you kiss for that one! Merci, Mon Cherie!

When you were in your twenties, retirement seemed really far away, but now that you are in your late-thirties, you realize that time goes by faster than you want it to and now you have a family to think about. Making a few sacrifices now to invest in your future is not only the SMART decision, it’s the ONLY decision.

So thank you, again. I am off to grab a croissant and browse around the Louvre. They have a new Chagall exhibit and you know how much you love his paintings.

A bientôt,

Future Lisa

Retirement on a Shoestring

Sylvia Flores / 8 Aug 2017 / Personal Finance

Retirement? No. Work till your dead? Yes.

My father is older than my mother, although he is very much like the glamorous southern bell that admits his age to NO ONE. He had the tiniest pension in the world from his jet-setting career that may or may not have been used to purchase a house, and so, retirement is Social Security.

My traditional family halted dramatically when he chose to chase dreams rather than a paycheck. I mean, not that dad isn’t a show-stopping artist, because he is. And in his hay day, he was making some pretty large bills on paintings, because people used to have money to blow on art. Do you remember those days? You know, before the downfall of our economy, when we all had tons of (pretend) money?

Here’s a timeline of events:

  • Dad quits the job, becomes an artist, we move to Maui because Oregon’s economy went through a major bottoming out.
  • We live in a house the size of a shoebox (700 sq. ft.) and there are amazing amounts of tourist dollars from all over the world flowing through the island. Unrealistic sums of money. The kind you wipe your tears of joy with – if any of it was yours…
  • Hawaiian market bottoms out, my mother would like to be closer to her aging parents and sisters, and we move back to the family farm, which, if you are a Harry Potter fan, looks like the Weasley House.
  • Dad retires with a savings account in the teens (as in five-figures) and takes Social Security, which is well below the national average check of around $1,200 – in fact, it’s less than half of that.
  • Mom gets a job that she still works at today, and has a 401k plan through her work.
  • Health premiums are through the roof! Dad gets on Medicare, mom stops paying over $1,000 per month for his insurance.
  • Even with Medicare, dad and mom pay more in healthcare premiums than all other bills combined.

Okay, that brings us to a pretty current status. Mom works like a mad woman and supports my dad. She cooks, cleans, sews… all the stuff that moms used to do traditionally. She also has a firm grip on what it’s going to take to retire – for both of them.

Her 401k is the ONLY thing that ensures they have a future at all. Despite the fact that the market tanked and she lost over half of her savings – she spoke with her Advisor, and he said the following:

“Stay the course.”

Good advice. She did, and now her 401k has bounced back to where it was and on her current trajectory, she’ll be able to retire at around 66 (though she is going to try to wait to 70). Her house is paid off, but unfortunately, it is in the middle of nowhere, about 30 miles away from the nearest hospital, riddled with scary stairs, and lots of farm work…

I’ll tell you what’s going to happen. Our family is going to combine. Aunts, uncles, sisters, cousins, friends, whomever – we’ll live under one gigantic roof and combine resources. We’ll create the family compound and take care of one another. And it won’t be taboo anymore. Kids moving back home or parents moving in with kids will be the new show of success. If other countries can make it a successful go, so can we.

This week is America Saves Week, and did you know the scary fact that 1 in 3 Americans has more credit card debt than savings? In my younger days I would have been part of that 33%, but now I view savings not as a luxury, but as a necessity. As a parent, it’s not always easy to save, but there are some easy tweaks that you can make in your daily living that will help you grow your nest egg.

It’s time to do some math!

Let’s say you could trim just $10 a week off of your expenses. That is less than $1.50 a day, and if you saved that money throughout the year, you would end up with a nice wad of cash – $520 to be exact. If you took that money, threw it into a savings account or other investment vehicle that earned 5% interest, compounded monthly, you would have $2,323 after 30 years. That’s not bad for just trimming a measly ol’ $10 bucks a week!

Now let’s say you did that again next year. Your original $520 would have turned into $547, and if you add another $520 to it you’ll have $1,067. Using the same variables as above, in 29 years you’ll have $4,535. You can do the math to figure out the rest, but suffice to say, if you can save just $10 a week each year, in 30 years you’ll have a nice chunk of change.

So what are some ways that you can trim $10 a week for your expenses:

1. Coffee – drink less, make your own, or (if you’re lucky), get work to pay for it. Daily coffee runs are a budget killer; trust me I know! I used to go multiple times per day when I worked across the street from a cafe. Now it’s a bit more of a walk so I just make a cup in the morning at home. Since I drink regular brewed coffee, that was a saving of $2.00 a day. If you are a latte drinker you can easily save more.

2. Buy local, eat in season – Seasonal food that is grown locally is a lot cheaper than stuff that has to be shipped in from further away. Plus, it’s better for your health! If you live in an area that offers a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), then sign up pronto! Each week you will get a box of fresh fruits and veggies at prices that are usually less than at your grocery store. And it’s a lot of fun for kids to open up the box each week and see what’s in it. I subscribe to both Terra Firma Farms and Full Circle. Or check out your local Farmer’s Market.

3. Eat more meals at home – As a working Mom it’s not always easy or quick to get dinner on the table after work, but I try to minimize the number of times our family gets take out or goes to restaurants. Each Sunday I plan our meals for the week, usually around what veggies we have on hand, and I involve my son in this process. He gets to pick at least 1-2 dinners a week, and having a plan usually means we are less tempted to go out to eat. Usually, I can do any prep work the night before.

4. Don’t buy what you can make – Do you enjoy yogurt in the morning? Invest in a yogurt maker and make your own. It’s cheaper to buy milk than it is to buy single-serve yogurt containers, and you can control what ingredients you add. Got a craving for chips? Take some potatoes from your pantry, slice them with a mandolin and pop them in the microwave for a quick snack. Love soup? Make a big batch of soup on the weekend, divide into individual portions and you’ve got lunch for the week.

5. Have “date night” at home – As much as I love spending time with my son, it’s fun to have a date night with my husband every now and again. However, when babysitting costs anywhere from $15-20 an hour, that night out can quickly become very expensive! Rather than going out every time, we came up with date night at home. After D goes to sleep, we put the computers and mobiles to rest, and we do something fun together. Sometimes we queue up a movie from TiVo, play a board game or nosh on some wine and cheese. What’s important is that we spend time together having fun.

Now that I have shown you a few ways to get started, what other ways can you save $10 a week?

I can still remember the day my parents gave me my very first credit card. I was still in High School, and they made me a user on their credit card. Since I had a part-time job I earned money every week, and they told me that I was free to use the credit card as much as I wanted, as long as I paid off my portion of the charges by month-end when they were due. My parents never were, and still aren’t the type to carry credit card debt; any purchases put on the card are paid off as soon as they receive the bill.

Looking back, this was a huge amount of freedom which they gave me, but it also helped to teach me a lesson in very practical terms. They showed me that they trusted me enough to be a responsible young adult, and I, of course, wanted to prove to them that I was one. Every time I used the credit card I wrote it down in my journal, and at the end of the month, I gave them the cash to pay off my purchases. It was a win-win for both of us and I learned very quickly the concept of “don’t’ spend money you don’t have.” Though I was still young, I envisioned replicating this same scenario with my own children someday.

Then I got to college, and THAT was a different story.

My part-time job went away and I no longer had discretionary income coming in weekly. My parents sent me money to cover living expenses and the sort, but that was to buy food, books and other items that college students needed. It certainly wasn’t enough to keep shopping or going out, and there were things I wanted. Not that I needed, but wanted. At first, I used my credit card for small things, like dinner out or some new clothes. Somehow I scrambled and managed to make the payment at the end of the month. But then it started getting bigger and bigger until one month I ended up spending a few hundred dollars on cosmetics at the department store, and when the bill came due, I couldn’t pay it.

My dad could have just paid it off or asked me to pay it in installments, but I don’t know if that would have had a great impact. Instead, he made me gather up everything that I bought, marched me (and the items) back to the store and told the clerk that I purchased them without having the means to pay for it and that they needed to be returned. I was mortified and horribly embarrassed, but it was the last time I used their credit card for a frivolous purchase.

Now that I am a parent, I plan to do the same with my son. I know that credit card companies actively pursue college kids on campus, but I plan to make him an authorized purchaser on my credit card long before then. I want him to understand cause and effect, how to responsibly use credit and be able to live by the motto – “Don’t Spend Money You Don’t Have!” Then, when he chooses to establish his own credit, I will have hopefully instilled good habits!

Crisis? What Crisis?

Sylvia Flores / 7 Feb 2013 / Ubiquity Insights

I did it. I put my house (crisis) up for sale. Now, I’m doing it FSBO for the moment—but I suspect that I will begin getting hit on by every real estate agent within a 20-mile radius. You want a piece of this? Yeah, you do.

One of my goals in 2013 is to get the heck out of debt and to get substantial savings in place. Another is to reduce the amount of crap I have. And that crap includes my underwater, in foreclosure home, which—by the way—could house a family of 8 comfortably. That being said, I am a family of two. We have about 2,000 more square feet than we could possibly need.


So far, I’m off to a bangin’ start for 2013. I’ve increased my contribution limit for my 401k to 10%. <— What?!? YEAH! That just happened! And with that 4% match from my company, I am feeling good that I am working towards securing my future while NOT leaving free money on the table. I love free money. (You complete me, free money!)

The thing is we are in a totally different America than we were in just seven years ago. Getting a $100K credit line (while being totally undeserving of such a thing) is no longer happening. One does not just waddle out and get a home loan without a soaring credit score. I’ll tell you what—I want none of it. You can take your credit and shove it, Wall Street!

I am reimagining my life.

What do I want to be when I grow up? Not a MORON.

How do I get there? I am embarking on an adventure of discovery; one where I am no longer giving into my “I want, what I want, when I want it, which is now” previous attitude. The house needs to go. My kids are in college. The last kid is moving out in a short 6 months  (booo). That means I need to find an apartment or a house to rent. And guess what—maintenance of said house as far as repairs and appliances and taxes? Not my problem.

My house is a money pit.

My taxes every year in this pit are insane. And maintenance of the beast? Don’t even get me started. What I can save conservatively by finding a place for rent will get me out of debt within this next two years. Maybe even one year. And guess what? My house is not my retirement. My retirement plan that is compounding interest.

Resolutions. Why not?

2013 is going to be an awesome year. First off, the Mayan Apocalypse didn’t happen. But the looming retirement crisis still is—so what are you going to do to make sure your future self is secure and happy?


So, as I alluded to in my last post, I upped my contributions to 10%. Now, based on that, I am still going to fall short of the roughly $1.5 million I need to retire comfortably by about $579K.

It seems ridiculous, doesn’t it? $1.5 million seems like a huge amount. But considering that I would like to retire at age 67 and that I intend on living pretty similarly to how I live now—lots of travel, a little house on the beach, etc.—that’s what I’m going to need. And that $1.5 million suddenly seems really low if you are considering unforeseen medical expenses or who knows what, and where the heck are things going to be in 29 years? That’s what I’ve got. 29 years. Maybe 32 if the job market still loves me when I’m 70.

Beware. Scary statistic ahead.

I mentioned this horrible statistic in a previous blog: American workers are falling short of what they need to retire by about $6.6 TRILLION dollars. Because we aren’t saving enough, we have this nasty thing called elder poverty. Can you imagine, living, learning, and working your derrière off for 67+ years, only to find yourself struggling to make your next meal?

DUDE. There is no way that is going to be me.

I’m consistently impressed by young peeps like my friend MattBrown, who has been saving since he was knee-high to a grasshopper. He’s also a 20-something, so he’s sure to have that retirement cash cow to rely on, and he may even be able to retire sooner than 67. I’ll tell you what. I am going to continue to be aggressive about saving. What’s the next goal for me in contributions? I want to raise the roof to 15%. With that, I’ll have more than is anticipated for me to retire, and that beach cottage in a foreign country with 365 days of sunshine? SECURE.

Well, that’s just great. Here I was, relying on the Apocalypse to happen on 12/21/12, and it didn’t, so now I have to behave responsibly and save for retirement and such, for the foreseeable future. Which sucks because I seriously was planning on becoming a debt-free planetary being in my super sleek, sexy, and all paid for interplanetary spaceship. The bumper sticker on said spaceship would read:

“Thanks Mayans! That’s one way to get out of paying taxes.”

Since the debt-free spaceship idea is out of the question (for now), I’ve got to really start thinking about where I can cut back in order to start saving. I’ve got some calculations for you, based on my current age of 39 and wanting to retire at age 67. Now, we’ll have this calculator for you soon, so I can’t reveal it to you just yet—but in the meantime, here are a couple of my habits and what they could mean savings wise at retirement, if I cut them!

By the numbers:

What I’m CuttingRetirement Savings
3 glasses of wine per week ($6 per – think more like a bottle)$100,831
4 meals out per week ($25 per)$420,128
2 packs of cigarettes per month*$12,927
Impulse purchases per month (at $40 a pop)$155,124

*Look. I’m trying to quit, it’s a start. Right?!

Over a half a million dollars. Shut up. Okay, seriously. SHUT UP!

Now, if you are a coffee drinker, you might be taking that top number that is wine, and instead of saying you’ll cut out 4-5 lattes a week. That is a lot of lattes. And think, this is me here, who is 39. If you are, for instance, 25 and retiring at 67, those 3 glasses of wine or 4-5 lattes per week would add up to a hot $295,068, give or take a latte.

It doesn’t take a genius (clearly, I’m the one doing the calculating) to realize what small goals and small changes can do for your bottom line.

So what small changes can you make?


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© 2018 Ubiquity Retirement + Savings / Privacy Policy
1160 Battery Street, Suite 350, San Francisco, CA 94111 / Support: 855.401.4357