Roth IRA: As Old As a Millennial

Previously I wrote about the Roth IRA turning 20 this year (in 2018). The Roth IRA first became available in January 1998 when it was signed into legislation (thanks to Senator William Roth of Delaware). 20 years later it is still the single greatest retirement account for all individuals…especially us Millennial’s who are in low tax brackets. Stock market returns are really, really hard to predict. You know what may be even harder to predict? Your tax bracket at retirement!

In my past blog post on the Roth IRA turning 20, I also stated that if you had maxed out your Roth IRA since day one back in January 1998, you could expect to have a total balance of over $194,000 today in 2018! Maxing out your Roth IRA since 1998 would have costed you $81,500, but you would more than double your investment by having a balance of nearly $200,000 today.

We Millennial’s obviously couldn’t take advantage of the Roth IRA since 1998, considering our age and when we actually began working and truly were eligible to contribute to a Roth IRA of our own. I want to use this post to looking ahead and encouraging all Millennial’s to not only opening a Roth IRA, but maxing out a Roth IRA.

Did you know that if you open a Roth IRA today, in 2018, and max it out every year ($5,500/annually), you could end up with close to one million dollars? Based off a 10% annualized return over 30 years, an initial investment of $1,000 with an annualized contribution of $5,500 could net you a total of $922,000! That means you paid $458/month for 30 years ($165,000 net investment) and ended up with nearly $1,000,000.

What if you made the same investment but only for 35 years? Say from age 25-60. You would end up with over $1,500,000 by the time you were 60 and looking to retire (early).

If your timeline were even longer and you could invest that amount for 40 years (age 25-65), you could end up with nearly $2,500,000 by the time you were 65.

The Roth IRA Turned 20 in 2018

The Roth IRA (Individual Retirement Arrangement) first became available in January 1998. 20 years later it is still the single greatest retirement account for all individuals. The Roth IRA was established by the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 (Public Law 105-34) and named for its chief legislative sponsor, Senator William Roth of Delaware, hence the name “Roth” IRA.

For the first four years (1998-2001) the max Roth IRA contribution was only $2,000. Over the next three years (2002-2004) the max was $3,000. The Roth IRA saw another $1,000 increase in its max contribution over the next three years (2005-2007) to $4,000. It then again increased to $5,000 over the next five years (2008-2012). Today the maximum Roth IRA contribution still stands at only $5,500, where it has stood since 2013.

If you invested in a Roth IRA since day one through this past year (January 2008 to December 2017) you would have invested $81,500 of your own money. But how much would you investment be worth today? Based off a 10% annualized return your Roth IRA would have approximately $194,003. More than double your initial investment based off returns.

2018’s 10 Best Mutual Funds for Millennials

Looking for the best mutual funds of 2018 for Millennials? Look no further my Millennial friends, here is my list of the 10 best mutual funds for Millennials. I can’t guarantee that you will become a millionaire via these 10 best mutual funds, but I do know that with consistent investments via dollar-cost-averaging, while holding forever, will certainly get you one-step closer to one day becoming a Millennial Millionaire. Simply stay the course and keep on investing, regardless of market conditions. This is your surest path to wealth and financial independence.

2018’s 10 Best Mutual Funds for Millennials

  1. Target Date Funds (2050, 2055, 2060)
  2. Small-Cap Value Index Fund (VSIAX)
  3. Total Stock Market Index Fund (VTSAX)
  4. 500 Index Fund (VFIAX)
  5. LifeStrategy Growth (VASGX)
  6. Total International Stock Index Fund (VTIAX)
  7. Emerging Markets Stock Index Fund (VEMAX)
  8. REIT Index Fund (VVIAX)
  9. Balanced Index Fund (VSMAX)
  10. Intermediate-Term Bond Index Fund (VBILX)




My aforementioned list of the top 10 mutual funds for a Millennial is made up of all Vanguard funds. I absolutely love Vanguard and their funds, which are the lowest cost funds out there. Keeping your fund expenses low is extremely importing, and that’s what Vanguard has set up to do.

Target Date Funds

Number one on my list of the 10 best mutual funds for 2018 are target date funds. The three biggest players in the “target date funds” space are Vanguard, Fidelity Investments, and T. Rowe Price. They are virtually all identical, except that Vanguard is about 50 basis points cheaper, e.g. about 0.50% less to manager and that is why Vanguard target retirement funds win-out in my book.

Millennial Millionaire

Millennials, you have to start investing now. The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago…the next best time is today. Same goes for investing. Millennials should begin investing right now and make saving regularly a habit, and prioritize paying yourself first above all other financial obligations.




Cost of Raising a Child in 2017: 9-Month Old

How Much Does it Cost to Have a Baby?

My wife and I are first-time parents and we are now 9-months into the “parenting” process. I made it a goal to track all of our childcare expenses so I could truly report on the cost of raising a child. I invite all of my personal finance readers to follow along our journey as I diligently track all expenses involved in truly raising a child these days in middle class America.

Prior to us having a child I did some research and the consensus was that it costs roughly $14,000 per year to raise a child, which equates to roughly $240,000 (without college). Don’t get me started on how much college will cost for my child

The consensus from my research was it costs $14,000/annually to raise a child in 2017. Well, we are three quarters of the way through year one and we have spent just over $5,000 on our baby girl thus far. It is very early and she is still very young, but we are on pace to spend less than half of that $14k per year average. However, its obvious that what we spend in year one will (and should be) far less than what we’ll probably spend in, say, year 5 and/or 14 and beyond when expenses really increase to raise a child. But I like the pace we are on and currently setting.




How Much Does It Cost to Raise a Child?

We are 9-months in and thus far we have spent $5,220 on my daughter in total. We have lucked out and received a number of hand-me-down clothes and toys, as well as a ton of gifts and gift cards from our baby shower that are still holding us over. We are nearing the end of our baby shower gift cards, but I estimate that we have about $100 left to various stores.

Child Care/Nanny

We use a part-time nanny to watch our daughter two days a week. We consider ourselves very lucky though, as we have a nanny who comes to our house twice a week, a nanny our daughter loves, who really doesn’t costs us that much.

My wife is off two days during the week and then a family member watches her another day, so we only need to “pay” for two days of child care. Thus far we have spent a grand total of $4,160 on childcare/daycare.

Cost to Raise a Child in 2017: 9-Month Old

  • 1st month = $414
  • 2nd month = $105
  • 3rd month = $545
  • 4th month = $643
  • 5th month = $520
  • 6th month = $866
  • 7th month = $650
  • 8th month = $707
  • 9th month = $770
  • Since inception (March, 2017) = $5,220




The 10 Commandments for Individual Investors

Book Review: Winning the Loser’s Game: Timeless Strategies for Successful Investing by Charles D. Ellis

I recently completed one of the greatest books on investing, written by one of the most influential investors of all time. That book is Winning the Loser’s Game: Timeless Strategies for Successful Investing by Charles D. Ellis.

If you do a search for the best books on investing, Ellis’ Winning the Loser’s Game is always in the top 5. It’s a great, timeless classic on personal investing that is simple and concise. Ellis tells great, and often very funny, stories to convey his points, as well as compelling data to support his claims.

Charley Ellis lays out the most important investment lessons for individual investors. Those looking to save, invest and retire wealthy through diligent saving and investing in low cost index funds must read this book. He lays out the easy and successful ways to get rich (slowly) through proper investing. It is required reading for all my Millennial personal finance readers. Regardless of your investment knowledge, the sound money management skills laid out in this book are a must read for all audiences.

10 Commandments for Investors

One of my favorite parts of Winning the Loser’s Game: Timeless Strategies for Successful Investing by Charles D. Ellis is his 10 commandments for individual investors. Below are the 10 commandments for investors, which is a great guide for Millennial investors.

1) Save, save, save. Invest and save for your future happiness and financial security, as well as an education for your kids. This is the foundation of financial freedom and one day becoming financially independent to do whatever you want, whenever you want.

2) Stop speculating. The more you read up on investing the more you hear every reputable financial advisor insisting you only invest in low-cost index funds. Well some people just have to “play the market” to satisfy and emotional itch. If you do, try to limit yourself to 5% or less of your portfolio and be sure to track your performance carefully. You may stop “playing the market” faster than you think.

3) Don’t invest for tax purposes. Don’t believe in tax shelters or tax-loss harvesting. Don’t do anything in investing primarily for tax reasons. You absolutely should invest in a Roth IRA (or Traditional, but I strongly prefer Roth) and maximize contributions to your tax-sheltered 401(k) every single year. But, outside of these accounts, don’t overthink it.




4) Don’t view your home as an investment. A home is not a good financial investment and never was. But a home can certainly be a fine investment in your family’s future and happiness. Your goal should be buy a modest home that you can afford and that your family will love. Then, pay the mortgage off and live there forever. That’s when your house becomes a good investment.

5) Just say “no” to commodities. Dealing with commodities (oil, gold, silver, corn, livestock, etc.) is really only price conjecture. It is not investing because there is no economic efficiency.

6) Be very leery of stockbrokers and mutual fund salespeople. Their job is not to make you money, but to make money off you. Now not all stockbrokers and mutual fund salespeople are bad, but you must be very careful and watchful when dealing with one.

7) Don’t invest in new or “interesting” investments. Stick to the basics, total stock indices, REITs, emerging markets, etc.

8) Don’t invest in bonds just because you heard they are conservative and safe. Bond prices fluctuate nearly as much as stock prices do. And bonds are terrible against one major risk – inflation.

9) Come up with goals and write them down. And then stick to them. Write down your long-term investing goals (retirement and college), home payoff, retirement income and net worth goals. It’s best to review these goals annually to ensure you are on track.

10) Don’t trust your feelings. When you feel overjoyed, you’re probably in for a bruising. When you feel disenchanted, remember that it’s darkest just before dawn, so don’t take any action. Less is better when it comes to investment activity. Set it and forget, and keep investing.




How Much Does it Cost to Have a Baby?

Are you and your spouse considering starting a family? If you’re like me then you are doing your due diligence prior to beginning this magical, lifelong journey that is parenthood.

I did a lot of research prior to us having our first baby and it was really hard to find any great info. My health insurance gave me an “estimate” based off my standard PPO or high deductible plan. My estimate was $3,000 for everything. But, it was a bit off…and we didn’t have any complications whatsoever.

Hospital and Delivery Cost to Have a Baby

I have made it a point to track all of our child care expenses for my Millennial personal finance readers. And now I finally have all of our medical bills back for the birth of my baby girl, so I can now post exactly how much it cost us to have her (delivery, hospital stay, anesthesia, and baby).

Item

Total

Insurance

Net Total

Delivery $1,654.00 $581.88 $1,072.12
Lab Work $96.00 $91.97 $4.03
Hospital Stay $17,213.80 $14,561.79 $2,652.01
Anesthesia $6,176.00 $5,906.12 $269.88
Baby $4,288.56 $3,750.16 $538.40
Baby’s 1st Dr Check $300.00 $268.04 $31.96
$4,568.40

Cost of Raising a Child in 2017: 7-Month Old

How Much Does it Cost to Have a Baby?

My wife and I are first time parents and we are now 7-months into the “parenting” process. I made it a goal to track all of our childcare expenses so I could truly report on the cost of raising a child. I invite all of my personal finance readers to follow along our journey as I diligently track all expenses involved in truly raising a child these days in middle class America.

Prior to us having a child I did some research and the consensus was that it costs roughly $14,000 per year to raise a child, which equates to roughly $240,000 (without college). Don’t get me started on how much college will cost for my child

So the consensus was from my research that it costs $14,000/annually to raise a child in 2017. Well, we are halfway through year one and we have spent just over $3,000 on our baby girl thus far. It is very early and she is still very young, but we are on pace to spend less than half of that $14k per year average. However, its obvious that what we spend in year one will (and should be) far less than what we’ll probably spend in, say, year 8 and/or 12 and beyond when expenses really rise to raise a child. But I like the pace we are on and currently setting.




How Much Does It Cost to Raise a Child?

We are 7-months in and thus far we have spent $3,743 on my daughter in total. We have lucked out and received a number of hand-me-down clothes and toys, as well as a ton of gifts and gift cards from our baby shower that are still holding us over. We are nearing the end of our baby shower gift cards, but I estimate that we have about $200 left to various stores.

Last month our biggest expense for our daughter was her new swim lessons. This month we didn’t have any expenses like that. We just had the usual, nanny care and 529, as well as some actual baby food and a couple outfits.

We bought baby food because my daughter is now transitioning to actual food, along with her formula. We are virtually only feeding my daughter formula now, as my wife is now longer producing breast milk. So our baby food expenses may begin to increase a bit. We also bought two new fall weather outfits for her now that the weather is beginning to change in our state.

Child Care/Nanny

We use a part-time nanny to watch our daughter two days a week. We consider ourselves very lucky though, as we have a nanny who comes to our house twice a week, a nanny our daughter loves, who really doesn’t costs us that much.

My wife is off two days during the week and then a family member watches her another day, so we only need to “pay” for two days of child care. Thus far we have spent a grand total of $2,400 on childcare.

Cost to Raise a Child in 2017: 7-Month Old

  • 1st month = $414
  • 2nd month = $105
  • 3rd month = $545
  • 4th month = $643
  • 5th month = $520
  • 6th month = $866
  • 7th month = $650
  • Since inception (March, 2017) = $3,743

 

September

Item Price
529 contribution $50
Child care $560
Baby food $20
Clothes $20
Total $650




Personal Finance 101: Build an Emergency Fund

In this personal finance 101 series I am going to focus on why all Millennials need to establish an emergency fund. The general consensus from virtually all financial experts is that you should save between 3-6 months worth of living expenses as your emergency fund, aka your “rainy day” fund.

How Much Should I Have In An Emergency Fund?

Unfortunately, most American’s have less than $1,000 in savings. According to MarketWatch, more than 60% of American’s have less than $1,000 set aside for an emergency fund. And more than 20% have no savings account whatsoever. So unfortunately most American’s can’t afford what life throws at them; car repair, water heater, ER visit, etc. Let alone a layoff!

As I stated earlier, I believe most Millennials should have 3-6 months living expenses set aside as their emergency fund. That number does vary based off your current situation. Is your job stable? Are you salaried or self-employed? Are you single or do you have dual income? Everyone’s situation is different. But if you have a stable job that you feel very secure in, then I think you are correct leaning towards the low end of 3-months living expenses. But if you are self-employed and your pay varies based off contracts/work, then you should absolutely skew higher on the emergency fund side and aim for 6-months.

Do You Have $400 for an Emergency?

I was recently listening to an episode of Motley Fool Answers, one of my favorite money podcasts for Millennials, and they too were discussing how most American’s don’t have enough money in savings to cover a $400 emergency. This was actually a study done by the Federal Reserve, and it wasn’t just for low income families, as it even applied to families with a $100,000 income.

That is just terrible. And I am sure most people don’t think they need it because they can simply put an emergency expense on a credit card. Says the person who probably has a boatload of credit card debt, I’m assuming…




How Much Is In My Emergency Fund?

I am a Millennial and I am married with one child. I personally have 5-months of living expenses in my emergency fund. I am salaried and in a very secure position with a very stable company. My wife, however, is self-employed but her income has been consistently stable for the last decade. We also both max out Roth IRA’s each year. I have no intentions of using these for an emergency, but they are there just in case. Especially my Roth IRA because I already have a well funded Roth 401(k) at work, with a healthy company match.

To be honest, my wife and I never really established an emergency fund until about 2 years ago. I started getting hooked on Dave Ramsey and we began to budget and manage our personal finances much more diligently. We now have no debt, other than our house, and a fully funded emergency fund. The peace of mind we’ve had the last couple years because of this emergency fund is indescribable. We sleep better at night and we rarely stress out about money. It is a fantastic feeling.

Emergencies Happen

Just this past summer, our emergency fund saved us from some major stresses. It May we had saved up to re-sod our backyard, which costs us $2,500. Big hit, but we saved up for it. But then life hit and our emergency fund got taxed. In June our hot water heater went out and that costs us $1,200. Then in July our garage door broke and we had to replace that, which costs us another $600. August was light, thankfully, but then in September my 10-year old SUV needed some work; rear brakes and a new sway bar. That too was another $600.

Our fully funded emergency fund saved our bacon big time this summer. We were able to take from there, then replenish. But then we were hit again. But we again replenished our emergency fund.

On this same note, I recall reading a number of stories about Houston families and residents who were unable to evacuate prior to Hurricane Harvey making landfall on August 25, 2017. It saddens me that so many people not only didn’t have an emergency fund, but they had virtually no money in savings to get their family to safely. I read a few stories that since the storm hit at the end of the month the family was out of money, because they obviously live paycheck to paycheck. Gas, hotels, meals and safety wasn’t an option for them at the end of the month.

Stories like this should be a teachable moment for us Millennials. Save for an emergency…and save aggressively now. Stop putting it off.

Did you know that if you saved just $25/week for 2 years you would end up with $2,600. If you can triple that to $75/week you would end up with $7,800. Now that probably doesn’t fully fund your emergency fund, but its a great start with very doable, and very conservative savings amounts.