Thirsty Thursday Thoughts

Welcome to this week’s edition of Thirsty Thursday where I tell you all about the random thoughts in my head and you sit back and enjoy my craziness.

This week I wish I was drinking: some sort of coconut drink. I’m inspired by The Single Dollar and wish I too was on a tropical vacation!

1. Trader Joe’s is SO MUCH more expensive than Safeway. The difference could very well  be in what we buy at each store, but I was pretty amazed to go back into my beloved TJ’s after a few weeks of Safeway shopping, and proceed to rack up a $100 for a little less than a week’s worth of groceries. We tend to buy much more prepackaged food at TJ’s than we do at Safeway, so I think that definitely has an influence over our grocery bill. I’ve also noticed that TJ’s doesn’t always carry non-organic items so I end up buying organic zucchini for $2.50, and spend more because of it. Lastly, they tempt me with their treats and easy to make meals that I randomly pick up instead of sticking to my grocery plan. Damn those marketing geniuses.

2. We’re going backpacking for one night this weekend and of course it’s supposed to rain. Seattle has been beautiful for the past, oh, about 3 weeks in a row but as soon as we decide to spend more than 4 hours outside the rain commences. I’m really hoping that it will be delayed a day or two and we can enjoy beautiful views of the surrounding mountains, but if not I guess at least we’ll get some backpacking in the rain experience?

3. Last week I brought my lunch and made coffee every day. It felt awesome and I was shamelessly proud of myself. One of the first things you read when you google “how to save money” is “bring your lunch to work” but it’s easier said than done, isn’t it? So getting that crossed off the list felt great and I’m hoping I’ll be able to do the same this week. Usually we try to make sure that we have enough lunch fixings to last us Monday through Friday and pretty much eat the same veggie/hummus/cheese sandwich with either a side of carrots and a cheese stick, or sometimes we get really fancy and buy a bag of chips instead. Planning ahead is key for me to stay on track and achieve our budgeting goals, and I’ve found that grocery shopping on the weekends with a plan in mind helps a lot with that. I already failed on the coffee front this week since I was in need of caffeine after dying on the stair master before work yesterday morning, but buying a 12 ounce drip coffee one time per week for $2.04 is still better than doing it five times per week.

4. Newlywed financial advice can be found in every corner of the internet, and at times it can be overwhelming. Our first job as husband and wife was to combine finances, and then we tracked our spending, made goals, and finally began paying down the debt we have. I think our next step should be figuring out what to do with our money once we’ve saved it, and whether or not we should be putting cash towards retirement or into another fund. I tweeted about this earlier, but the Newlywed Money Bootcamp looks like an awesome package for those of us just getting started in our marital finances. Mary Beth over at Workable Wealth seems like a relatable, genuine, and smart woman that I would trust to know what’s up in the financial world. I’ve also made an appointment with a TIAA-CREF advisor, since what little retirement savings we have is being switched over to that company. I literally have no idea where to start with retirement planning, or if we can even combine our retirement plans and make one large one for both of us, so hopefully an advisor can give us some basic tools and we can go from there. I’ve also considered checking out some free financial planning sessions at the University of Washington, and think it would be good for Mr. M&M and I to get the advice of someone who knows what they’re talking about, as opposed to me rushing home and spewing out the blog topics I read up on.

What are you Thursday thoughts? Any ideas on financial planning or other random thoughts you have right now?

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11 thoughts on “Thirsty Thursday Thoughts

  1. Glad I’m being inspirational 🙂 I’m back in the upper midwest now and I already miss the Caribbean. Oh well. Regarding retirement planning: by all means talk to the TIAA-CREF rep, but I can’t advise you strongly enough to pick an index fund (the broader and lower-cost the better) and just do that. Make sure you’re not paying ongoing fees to financial advisors if at all possible. You’ll have a chance to shift investments when you graduate/get a different job, so the important thing for now is just to make sure you’re in something low-cost. Good luck!

    1. Thanks C, I’ll look into low cost index funds (is that the same or similar to an ETF?) and start to put our money somewhere that it can grow. Luckily the TIAA-CREF rep is free, and hopefully will help us with some basic things. And you’re right, once we graduate we’ll hopefully be making more money and can start shifting it around if we need to!

      1. OK, I confess I don’t really get the difference between an ETF and a broad mutual fund like an index fund. I read about the difference, but I couldn’t understand it, so I figured it was probably at a level of complexity that was unnecessary for me. They seem like they fulfill the same purpose in a lot of people’s portfolios (being very broad, diversified funds). An index fund is a mutual fund that tracks one of the major stock market indexes — you can get one that tracks the S&P, the Dow, etc. The one I bought, VTSMX (VTSAX if you have over $10,000 — same collection of stocks, lower expense ratio) is Vanguard’s Total Stock Market Index Fund, which tracks the U.S. stock market as a whole. This is a summary from J$ who does the same thing: http://www.budgetsaresexy.com/2014/06/lazy-one-fund-investing-strategy/

        and this is an extended explanation of the strategy: http://jlcollinsnh.com/stock-series/

        As both point out, this is a very aggressive position. In 15-20 years, with retirement closer, I will likely move about 1/3 of my portfolio into other things — bonds, whatever — but I was convinced by Collins’ argument that I didn’t need an international index also, since the major U.S. companies (covered by VTSMX/VTSAX) do a ton of foreign business.

      2. You are THE BEST! Thanks so much for your wisdom, I find the type if investments we could make to be incredibly confusing and often paralyzing, so hearing first hand advice from a PF blogger really helps. I’ll look into the index fund you mentioned, and also need to figure out what investment company to go with (I’m thinking Sharebuilder since we already have a Capitol One account). As my Dad (a portfolio manager) pointed out, we do want a higher level of risk earlier on in our careers, so VSTMX sounds good to us. I also need to pick his brain about very basic investment principles.

      3. I ought to disclaim that I’m just some chick on the internet so don’t take me too seriously 🙂 But yeah, I think I settled on a strategy that makes me happy. I like Vanguard, where my Roth IRA is, and I expect that when I want to open a taxable account I’ll keep using them. It’s nice to have everything in one place.

  2. I’m glad I found a Seattle blogger! I have a secret crush on Seattle and keep daydreaming about moving here and buying a bungalow. Looking forward to reading more.

    You can’t technically combine your retirement tax-advantaged accounts (ie your account is legally in your name only), but you can treat all your money as one big pot for asset allocation purposes if you want. I don’t think you can go wrong with big reputable firms like Fidelity, Vanguard, or TIAA-Cref.

    1. Yay for Seattle! I think it’s a wonderful city, if you ever get a chance to move here you should 🙂 That’s good to know about combining our retirement incomes, I’ll have to see if we can continue to contribute to each fund or if we would have to open a new account with them. I’m guessing the latter because our accounts were from a previous job. Thanks for the comment!

  3. Oh Trader Joe’s is the devil! Sometimes I walk out of there and feel like I have spent $50 and have only bought a few things, ha! I pretty much go to Safeway 99% of the time, but it’s not nearly as fun as shopping at TJ’s. Good job saving money on lunches and coffee. It’s a daily struggle with me and Starbucks.

  4. Some of my friends swear by Trader Joe’s but I never understood the hype. It sure rained a lot this past weekend in Vancouver. I’m sure you guys saw a bit of rain down in Seattle as well. Hopefully you didn’t get too wet on your backpacking trip.

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