Best 43 Quotes On This Independence Day

Best 43 Quotes On This Independence Day

Originally published on July 2, 2019, updated on June 30, 2021.

The Fourth of July is approaching, with images of fireworks, hot dogs, hamburgers, and apple pie. It is a favorite time in our household, sans the apple pie as my husband is allergic to apples. Last year was very different. Fireworks were silent due to social distancing associated with the coronavirus pandemic. Thanks to vaccinations, we are free to celebtate once again Typical events like baseball, concerts, and family reunions are back this year.

Our Fault Lines Are Very Visible And Needs Fixing

This time of year is a particularly good time to be proud of being an American despite our country’s faults. When you are raised by immigrants who loved their chosen country, freedom, security, and independence were always privileges. My mom valued being a citizen in America in her adopted country and fiercely taught me about financial freedom and independence, especially for women. 

However, fault lines have widened as realizations have sunk in that racial inequalities have not narrowed as hoped. in fact, they are reemerging and threatening our union. Peaceful protests are giving voice to needed change.

To help celebrate Independence Day this year, and every year (why not every day?) I am sharing some of my favorite quotes. You may notice that many of these quotes are apt for financial freedom and financial independence. So I took the liberty of sharing those as well. I have added new quotes to represent those who need to be heard.

Freedom and independence mean different things to different people. Today, and forever, our country needs to fix our faults. If we are to have another 244 years, we need to wipe out all our inequalities. Then we can say we are truly free as one.

America, The Beautiful

“It will be celebrated with pomp and parade, bonfires and illuminations from one end of the continent to the other.” –John Adams, Second US President

“Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth.” –George Washington

“How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes.”  -Maya Angelou, poet and activist

Liberty

“Where liberty dwells, there is my country.” – Benjamin Franklin

“May the sun in his course visit no land more free, more happy, more lovely, than this our own country!” – Daniel Webster

“There can be no true home without liberty.” – Harriet Beecher Stowe

Power

“America means opportunity, freedom, power.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“It does not take a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority.” – Samuel Adams

“America…it is the only place where miracles not only happen, but where they happen only the time.” –Thomas Wolfe, Of Time and the River, 1935 

“The essence of America-that what really unites us–is not ethnicity, or nationality, or religion. It is an idea–and what an idea it is: that you can come from humble circumstances and do great things. That it doesn’t matter where you came from, but where you are going.” – Condoleezza Rice, Republican National Convention, 2012

Let Freedom Ring!

“Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must undergo the fatigue of supporting it.” – Thomas Paine

“In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved.” Franklin Delano Roosevelt

“For what avail the plough or sail or land or life if freedom fail?” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“All we have of freedom, all we use or know, This our fathers brought for us long long ago”. – Rudyard Kipling

“Freedom lies in being bold.” – Robert Frost

“Freedom (n.): To ask nothing. To expect nothing. To depend on nothing.” – Ayn Rand

“We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it.” – William Faulkner

Education

“Education is the door to freedom.” – Oprah

“Lock up your libraries, if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.” – Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

“Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another”. – Toni Morrison

“Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.” – Mathatma Gandhi

“Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” Janis Joplin, Me and Bobbie McGee

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” Nelson Mandela

“He who has overcome his fear will truly be free.” Aristotle

Our Basic Rights

“Liberties aren’t given, they are taken.” – Aldous Huxley

“It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have three unspeakable precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either of them.” – Mark Twain

“If I follow the inclination of my nature, it is this: beggar-woman and single, far rather than queen and married.” – Elizabeth I, Collected Works 

Women

“I do not wish them [women] to have power over men; but over themselves.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

“My own sex, I hope will excuse me, if I treat them like rational creatures, instead of flattering their fascinating graces, and viewing them as if they were in a state of perpetual childhood, unable to stand alone.” – Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Women

“I’ll walk where my own nature would be leading, it vexes me to choose another guide.” – Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre

“People have only as much liberty as they have intelligence to want and the courage to take.” – Emma Goldman

“I think the girl who is able to earn her own living and pay her own way should be as happy as anybody on earth. The sense of independence and security is very sweet.” Susan B. Anthony 

Financial Freedom and  Independence

“The highest pleasure to be got of freedom and having nothing to do, is labor.” – Mark Twain

“Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom.” – Albert Einstein

“For it is in your power to retire into yourself whenever you choose.”  – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Erasing Inequalities For Once And For All

“To bring about change, you must not be afraid to take the first step. We will fail when we fail to try.” Rosa Parks

“Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future, and renders the present inaccessible.” Maya Angelou

“Without a struggle, there can be no progress.” Frederick Douglass

“There is no such thing as race. None. There is a human race–scientifically, anthropological.” – Toni Morrison

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” – James Baldwin

“To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violated the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker.” – Frederick Douglass

“I see what’s possible when we recognize that we are one American family, all deserving of equal treatment.” – Barack Obama

Gratitude

“Let not your mind run on what you lack as much as on what you have already.” – Marcus Aurelius

“All good things are wild and free.” – Henry David Thoreau

“Men spend the best of part of their lives earning money in order to enjoy a questionable liberty during the least valuable part of it.” Henry David Thoreau

“Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” Warren Buffett

Related Post: Gratitude Can Lead To Better Finances

 

America’s Greatness

“It’s never paid to be against America. We come through things, but it is not always a smooth ride. Warren Buffett

“From a standing start 240 years ago–a span of time less than triple my days on earth– Americans have combined human ingenuity, a market system, a tide of talented and ambitious immigrants and the rule of law to deliver abundance beyond any dreams of our forefathers.” Warren Buffett, 2016 Shareholder Letter to Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders

I have as big an obsession as Warren Buffett appears to have when it comes to prosperity and his gratitude to our country.

Thank you for reading! Do you have any favorite quotes on Independence Day? Please share them with us! Enjoy your holiday! Stay healthy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Travel Restrictions By State

Travel Restrictions By State

This week marks the official start of summer, and for most people, that means it’s finally time for a vacation.

A recent Harris Poll revealed that 77% of Americans plan to take a trip this summer, with half traveling for the first time since the start of the pandemic. While travel restrictions are loosening by the day, if you’re crossing state lines this summer, take a moment to review the state’s travel guidelines before finalizing your vacation plans.

Alabama

There are no statewide travel restrictions for Alabama. However, Alabama’s Department of Public Health and Alabama Tourism Department actively promote health safety reminders to locals and tourists. Review Traveler Alert and Updates for more information.

Alaska

The state of Alaska has no travel restrictions.  You no longer have to show a negative test result before entering the state. However, they still recommend that tourists undergo pre-travel testing to avoid possible health risks. That means it’s time to do things without spending money, by exploring the stunning nature of Alaska.

Free testing and vaccination are available at participating airports, community testing locations, and vaccine clinics. For more information, check out alaska.gov for traveler updates.

Arizona

Aside from practicing safety protocols, Arizona has no active travel restrictions or quarantine mandates for visitors coming from other US states. COVID-19 Updates for Travelers are available at visitarizona.com.

Arkansas

As of June 2021, there are no travel restrictions in the state of Arkansas.  Please see arkansas.com for travel advisory updates and details.

California

As of June 15, 2021, visitors are welcome to enjoy California, with limitations on events and activities of  5,000 people and more. Even with lifted restrictions, California is advising basic health safety protocols like wearing masks in public, getting tested prior to travel, self-quarantine if unvaccinated, and getting vaccinated. Travelers can find recommendations from the California Department of Health at covid19.ca.gov.

Colorado

At the moment, there are no travel restrictions for visitors coming from other states. However, the government advises everyone, especially visitors, to practice responsible tourism at all times including.  Refer to Colorado Travel & COVID-19 for more information before visiting the state.

Connecticut

Connecticut lifted restrictions on March 19, 2021, but is requesting visitors to follow the health guidelines listed by CDC when traveling across the country. Check updates for Connecticut Travel Advisory before planning to visit the state.

Delaware

There are no active travel restrictions implemented in Delaware for visitors arriving from other US states.  Refer to visitdelaware for travel advisory updates and more information.

Florida

Florida currently has no interstate travel restrictions. With 43% of the state vaccinated, the government continues its effort of health and safety protocols. Before traveling to Florida, officials suggest vaccinations for all eligible Americans.  For more information, see Florida Travel Updates.

Georgia

Though no travel restrictions to, from, and within the state of Georgia. People are encouraged to follow health safety procedures and review health precautions before traveling. Refer to georgia.gov for traveler updates.

Hawaii

Interstate travel to and from Hawaii is permitted.  If you’re not vaccinated, a ten-day quarantine is still required.  Vaccinated travelers must present a negative NAAT test before entering the state. Hawaii Travel Updates provides more information for travelers interested in a Hawaii vacation.

Idaho

The state of Idaho is currently in the 4th stage of its reopening plan. Meaning, most restrictions are lifted and travel to and from Idaho is permitted. Check Idaho Travel Updates for the latest information.

Illinois

With the exception of the city of Chicago, Illinois does not have travel restrictions on interstate travel. Chicago requires visitors from high-risk states to present a negative test result no older than 72 hours or undergo a 10-day quarantine period. Make sure to check the Illinois Travel Order before visiting the state.

Indiana

There are no travel restrictions or pre-travel testing requirements for people arriving from other US states. Stay informed and check Indiana Travel Updates.

Iowa

There are no travel restrictions enforced in the state of Iowa. However, tourists will be encouraged to practice health safety at all times and sanitize properly. Traveler information and necessary guidelines can be found on traveliowa.com.

Kansas

Interstate visitors coming to Kansas still face travel restrictions.  People who have recently been on a cruise, attended a mass gathering, or have been in close contact with a person infected by Covid-19 are required to quarantine. Essential guidelines and the latest info are available on Kansas Travel Updates.

Kentucky

A 10 to 14-day quarantine is recommended for all travelers entering the state of Kentucky. In addition, unvaccinated people are discouraged from traveling. Check Kentucky Covid-19 Information And Travel Updates before making any plans to visit the state.

Louisiana

Louisiana welcomes visitors from other states with no restrictions. Transportation and non-essential establishments are now operating.  Stay informed with Covid-19 resources posted on the Louisiana Travel Association.

Maine

Most visitors coming from other US states are exempt from quarantine except noted by Maine CDC. Travelers coming from US regions with high infection cases will be subject to pre-travel testing and quarantine. Check Maine Travel Updates and Information before planning a visit.

Maryland

There are no imposed travel restrictions within Maryland, but the government advises people to avoid or limit out-of-state travel. Be well informed and check Maryland Travel Updates.

Massachusetts

Massachusetts is advising visitors to undergo a 10-day quarantine and to present a negative PRC test. Visitors coming from Hawaii, Missouri, Oregon, Washington State, and Puerto Rico or those fully vaccinated are exempt. Check Massachusetts Travel Updates and Information before visiting the state.

Michigan

There are no enforced travel restrictions to, from, and within the state. Basic health safety practices apply to residents and visitors. Helpful resources are available on michigan.gov.

Minnesota

As of June 20, 2021, there are no travel restrictions in the state of Minnesota. Check Minnesota Travel Update and Information before visiting the state and follow CDC’s recommendations for vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers.

Mississippi

There are no statewide travel restrictions in Mississippi. However, the state recommends masks while in enclosed public spaces and thorough disinfecting measures. Be sure to check Mississippi Travel Alerts and stay informed.

Missouri

The state has no travel restrictions. Travelers can visit the state with no testing or quarantine requirements. Keep informed on health and safety measures on  Missouri Travel Updates.

Montana

The state of Montana enforces no travel restrictions. The imposed quarantine on people arriving from other US states ended on June 1, 2021. Be sure to stay informed with Montana Travel Updates.

Nebraska

The state has not issued official travel restrictions for U.S. residents but advises a 14-day self-imposed quarantine if you’re visiting or returning from regions of the U.S. with widespread COVID-19 transmission. Important posts and related information can be found at visitnebraska.com.

Nevada

There are no statewide travel restrictions, required testing, or quarantine periods in Nevada. However, travelers should follow CDC guidelines and other safety measures posted on Nevada Travel Updates and Information.

New Hampshire

There are no travel restrictions within New Hampshire. People who have recently traveled abroad (except for Canada) will require testing and to quarantine for at least seven days.  Stay informed by checking New Hampshire Travel Updates and Health Safety Guidance before planning a trip.

New Jersey

New Jersey ended their travel restrictions on May 1, 2021. However, residents traveling outside the state should check their destination location for Covid-19 travel recommendations. More resources can be found on New Jersey Travel Information.

New Mexico

New Mexico has no imposed travel restrictions at this time. Out-of-state arrivals are advised to self-quarantine for 14 days and take a Covid-19 test. If you are planning to visit New Mexico, make sure to check New Mexico Travel Information and Covid-19 Restrictions and stay updated while on the road.

New York

There are no travel restrictions enforced in New York. There are active health and safety measures on public transportation, in establishments, health facilities, and educational institutions. Basic protocols like wearing face coverings, social distancing, and hand sanitizing are in place. Check New York Travel Advisory for important updates and resources.

North Carolina

The state of North Carolina has no travel restrictions. However, basic health safety protocols such as wearing face masks and social distancing near schools and child care facilities, in specific public health settings, and on public transportation are required. Fully vaccinated individuals are exempt from these protocols. Covid-19 Travel Resources outline what you need to know when visiting North Carolina.

North Dakota

North Dakota lifted their travel restrictions on May 8, 2020. Self-quarantine and negative PRC test results only apply to visitors arriving from outside the country. For more details, check out North Dakota Travel Information.

Ohio

The state of Ohio advises travelers coming from high-risk US states to self-quarantine for 14 days. Bookmark Ohio Travel Advisory to stay informed while planning your visit to Ohio.

Oklahoma

There have been no travel restrictions issued in Oklahoma aside from the voluntary 14-day quarantine.  The state promotes following CDC recommendations for both unvaccinated and fully vaccinated individuals. Essential resources for travelers can be found on Oklahoma Travel Information.

Oregon

Though there are no travel restrictions issued in Oregon, all arrivals are encouraged to self-quarantine for 14 days. In addition, visitors are encouraged to observe health safety protocols and avoid unnecessary travel. Stay informed by reviewing their Covid-19: Resources and Updates.

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania lifted travel restrictions on March 1, 2021.  Residents and visitors should practice health and safety measures and stay informed on the Pennsylvania Travel Information website.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island is currently enforcing travel restrictions. Unvaccinated visitors from high-risk states must present a negative PRC test result or quarantine for 10-days. For added precaution and awareness, review the Guidance For Travelers.

South Carolina

South Carolina lifted travel restrictions on May 1, 2020. The South Carolina Department of Health encourages people to follow The CDC’s health safety guidelines. Further details are available on South Carolina Travel Information.

South Dakota

There are no travel restrictions issued in South Dakota. Visitors should be mindful while exploring areas near tribal lands as their health and safety checkpoints may be active.  For more, check out South Dakota Travel Information.

Tennessee

Tennessee has not issued statewide travel restrictions. Individual counties may apply restrictions as needed. Travelers are advised to stay updated on CDC’s guidelines and always practice health safety protocols. More information is available on Covid-19 Updates and Resources.

Texas

Texas ended its travel restrictions on May 21, 2020. People are encouraged to research the risk level of their destination before finalizing travel plans.  Check Texas Travel Alert for everything you need to know before visiting Texas.

Utah

Utah has no statewide travel restrictions. Pre-travel testing is not required, and a 10- day quarantine is needed only for those with COVID-19.  Utah Travel Information and guidelines for responsible travel are available to the public.

Vermont

There are no travel restrictions currently enforced in the state of Vermont.  While most residents have received their first dose of the vaccine, personal health safety measures should be continued. Interstate visitors can refer to Vermont Travel Guidance for ways to have a safe and fun vacation.

Virginia

The state of Virginia has no active travel restrictions for U.S. Residents. However, specific health and safety protocols still apply. Review Virginia Travel Information for more details and related resources.

Washington State

There are no implemented travel restrictions within the state, but travelers entering Washington are encouraged to self-quarantine for 14 days. Check Washington (State) Travel Updates and keep yourself informed.

Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. requires unvaccinated travelers to take a Covid-19 test within three days upon their arrival and another test within 3 to 5 days if planning to stay longer than three days. Residents of Virginia and Maryland are exempt from these testing requirements. More information available on Washington DC Health Guidance.

West Virginia

There are no travel restrictions issued in West Virginia. Visitors should be mindful of health safety regulations like wearing a face mask indoors unless fully vaccinated. Stay informed on West Virginia Travel Updates while exploring the state.

Wisconsin

Wisconsin does not have travel restrictions but strongly recommends vaccinations before touring or visiting the state.  Refer to Wisconsin Travel Information before planning a trip to Wisconsin.

Wyoming

Currently, there are no travel restrictions for out-of-state visitors. However, travelers are encouraged to seek information before exploring, follow health safety protocols, and be mindful of health safety regulations that could be present in some regions of Wyoming. Refer to Wyoming Information and Guidance for more information.

This post originally appeared on Physician on FIRE

Thank you for reading! Please visit the Cents of Money for personal finance articles.

 

What You Need To Know About A Sinking Fund

What You Need To Know About A Sinking Fund

We all have something special we’d like to buy for our home or in life. That old couch that has seen better days in your living room begging for a replacement or a vacation you thought about for a long time but keep pushing off because it is too costly. Paying for these significant expenses can be challenging for us, but a sinking fund may pave a better way.

Sinking funds can be a gamechanger for individuals and households. It is a valuable tool to add to your financial toolbox for savings. This strategy helps those who want to manage their finances better and gain peace of mind.

The timing for setting up sinking funds could not be better. Americans have been saving more, as illustrated by the US personal savings rate of 14.9% for May 2021. The unusually high rate due to pandemic-related spending constraints compares to 7.6% at the end of 2019. So why not make your savings work better for you?  Setting up a sinking fund is easy to do and enhances your ability to save money for large purchases you will make in the future.

What Is A Sinking Fund?

Sinking funds have long been helpful for companies and bondholders to minimize risk. For example, when corporations need to raise capital, they may issue a bond that matures in 20 or 30 years. Bondholders receive coupons semiannually and the principal (their investment) at maturity.

Many bonds now have a sinking fund managed by a trustee who oversees the fund. Money is set aside periodically with a trustee for repayment of the portion of the principal. This action eliminates the need for a significant cash outlay for the company at maturity.

There is less risk of the company defaulting by using the fund if it doesn’t pay back the principal to bondholders. The fund adds protection and security for the bondholder that the company can pay off their debt. A sinking fund allows a company to raise capital with a lower interest rate to bond investors. As such, it improves a company’s creditworthiness.

A Sinking Fund For Your Household

Similarly, you or someone in your family can create a sinking fund, dedicating a savings account for a specific household expense that may be too large to handle without borrowing the money. We will explain later how your sinking fund differs from your emergency fund.

Once you determine what you want, say a new couch for $1,000-$1,500 for your living room, your sinking fund is for the sofa, not for another expense. You intend to save money to buy a couch, making monthly contributions to the “couch” sinking fund. Everyone has their budget, lifestyle, and timeframe for getting the couch or whatever it is you are targeting.

With a bit of planning, you can have what you need or want in your life without guilt. If you have your heart on a particular $1,500 couch within a year (i.e. 12 months), your monthly savings goal is to contribute $125 to the sinking fund each month.  Break the estimated spending amount into the monthly savings you plan to deposit into the respective savings account.

Without a fund, there is a greater temptation to pull out your credit cards for these large purchases. Your challenge is that you would have to pay your card balance in full or face a card balance growing on a compound basis at high-interest rates. There are more benefits to setting up a sinking fund for purchases than the downside of adding to your debt.

Sinking Fund Vs. Emergency Fund

Both your sinking fund and emergency fund are safety nets but for different purposes. An emergency fund is for the money you set aside in a savings account for unexpected costs you may face when losing a job, boiler breaks, a medical necessity, or pet surgery. Emergencies, by definition, are unknown as to timing and amount needed. You still have to pay bills, rent, or mortgage. Unplanned events happen, upsetting your finances. We recommend having your emergency fund cover six months of your basic living needs. You want to have access to liquid assets quickly.

The sinking fund is for saving money for a known purpose you expect to purchase in the future. Typically, your sinking fund is for a specific planned amount. You know its timing and have been saving for it. The point of having a sinking fund is not to tap your emergency money or a general savings account.

Just like you have loans for a house, car, and college, you are earmarking savings for larger items you want to purchase. Dollars are fungible and can go into a “car or house down payment” sinking fund. You can have a sinking fund by categories such as a house, car, vacations, Holidays, Christmas gifts, or charities. Alternatively, you can name these reserves by being more specific:

  • Kitchen remodeling
  • Sofa
  • Flat-screen TV
  • Refrigerator
  • Car maintenance and repairs
  • Down payment for Car
  • Down payment for House
  • Pet bills
  • Taxes
  • Vacations

Labeling the sinking funds is a personal decision based on your household and its relevant savings goals. 

How To Set Up Your Sinking Fund

 

1. Review Your Budget

Before setting up your sinking fund, you should a good grasp of your household’s budget. Budgeting is an essential tool for understanding your income sources less fixed and discretionary expense categories. Fixed living costs include your rent or mortgage, utilities, loan payments, and savings. You should have “savings” on your budget for when you are paying yourself first. Depending on how granular your budget is, you should separate line items for an emergency fund and the sinking fund. Pick a budget method that works for you.

When it comes to fixed costs,  you have less flexibility to reduce amounts. On the other hand, discretionary spending varies based on money left over.  You can learn more about different budgeting approaches here.

2. List Your Planned Purchases

Make a list of fund categories, break them down into more specific items. Then determine the target amounts for each. Name your sinking fund by its discreet type. Some funds may have higher amounts and longer timeframes. Divide each type total by the numbers from the planned purchase time. For example, if you are saving up for a new car’s down payment in two years, estimate the cost of the car is, say, $38,000, so you would want around a down payment of  $4,500. That equates to about $190 of the planned monthly contributions for two years or 24 months.

There is no set number of sinking funds though I would caution you about having too many sinking funds to manage.  This process is about organizing your finances to make things more effective and efficient for you. As in the sinking bond for businesses, you are the trustee or manager of the funds.

3. Where Your Savings Will Go For Purchases

You can open an FDIC-insured saving account for each type or have one large sinking fund with named sub-accounts. Keep in mind that the sinking funds are separate from your emergency fund and savings accounts. The type of accounts you should look for should be readily accessible and liquid, similar to the account you use for an emergency fund.

When you open a sinking fund for each type, each of your accounts differs from target amounts and timeframe. For example,  when you are saving money for a house makeover or a down payment for buying a home, you probably are looking to build a five-figure money chest. If so, you can look for higher-yield savings or a money market account. For smaller purchases and shorter timeframes, avoid accounts that require minimums that penalize you with fees for not maintaining a specific balance.  Essentially, you want safety and liquidity for the sinking funds.

Use Sub-Savings Accounts

Some banks, such as Ally, allow you to have a savings account and sub-savings accounts when you have multiple savings goals for concrete purchases.  You can automate transfers to each of your sinking funds based on varying monthly contributions. Having the ability to transfer money can ease the process for you. However, you will be receiving more monthly statements.  Consider the account details regarding fees, minimums, if APYs are different, and whether this works for you.

4. Need An FDIC-insured Account

Whatever you decide to do, each sinking fund should be in an FDIC-insured savings account that is readily accessible. For longer-term purchases, look for higher yields and minimize fees you may have to pay.

Benefits of A Sinking Fund

 

1. Better Budgeting

When you have a good understanding of your budget, your fixed living costs, it is easier to plan for discretionary spending. You can decide what amount you can contribute to your specific sinking fund each month without becoming a hardship.

The better your budgeting, the better you can plan for your savings goals and spending. It is easier to save money when you have an intended target to set money aside for that purpose.

2. Conscious Spending

When you set up your sinking fund, you essentially are planning to buy something you need or want for your home or life. It is an act of conscious or mindful spending when you are intentionally saving for something. You know the specific couch you will buy, have a plan, and focus your attention on that couch.

By taking time and doing comparison shopping, it is less stressful and more enjoyable anticipating the arrival of something new that you specifically want to get. You are not at that stage where salespeople will push you into an impulsive purchase you’ll regret. You are more in control of your spending and more likely to negotiate where and when possible.

3. Delays Instant Gratification

The need for instant gratification is all around us, with social media ads tinkering with our brains. The present bias plays a significant role in our leaning toward immediate pleasures. It causes us to favor the present over the future with immediate rewards. With effort, you can counter tendencies to overweight decisions that can cause overspending with planning.

With your sinking fund in place and growing closer to your spending goal, you can delay instant gratification. You have your mind not just on your expected purchase but on other things as well. Setting goals for one part of your life makes you more purposeful about your needs and wants. Achieving something on your list can be very fulfilling.

4. Avoids Adding Debt

Overspending can lead to higher debt, significantly rising credit card balances. Card balances are especially higher cost and challenging to handle. As in the sinking fund for corporate bonds, a household sinking fund can help us avoid reaching for our credit cards to pay for large ticket items. Increasing our monthly savings by earmarking money to contribute to a specific account that earns interest is the path to better financial health.

Saving first, spending later, and avoiding debt where we can, can improve our creditworthiness.

5. Peace of Mind

Having peace of mind is priceless. While you may not be able to get rid of every stress you have, planning out expenditures for important things you want to get or do can help your mindset.

Drawbacks

 

1. Don’t Have Too Many Sinking Funds

You may get good at organizing your finances. The next thing you know, you have too many sinking funds, overlapping purposes. That reminds me of an ad for Post-It notes, stating that they should be used “for the little things you’ll forget,” and then you see yellow Post-Its all over people’s foreheads. You get the picture. You don’t want to create chaos. The sinking fund process should help to organize where your savings should go.

2. Sinking Funds Are Not Interchangeable

When creating sinking funds, they are separate from each other. Keep contributing to each based on the estimates you determined. Try to label them as discreetly as possible, so it is not confusing to you. If you wanted a couch and estimated $2,500 for it, but found the one you love for $1,800, then you can reallocate your savings to other areas. Sometimes you under or overestimate the expected cost, so make changes but don’t blur the lines.

3. Keep Emergency Funds Separate

Having an emergency fund is essential, and its purpose is different from any sinking fund. Don’t transfer funds from your emergency account to your vacation account. That’s cheating, and if an emergency arises, you want that fund to be there for you in its safe and sound place.

4. Don’t Forget Savings For Other Goals

Saving for retirement and investment accounts is vital for your long-term future. Make sure to automate contributions to your 401K retirement plan, if sponsored by your employer, and for your Roth IRA. You should contribute some of your savings to investments, whether you are managing the account or you have a financial adviser to do so.  Over the longer term, these accounts grow faster than savings bank accounts, depending on your respective investments (i.e., stocks, bonds, real estate), and benefit from compounding growth.

Final Thoughts

Establishing sinking funds by saving for large purchases can be beneficial. It is a terrific organizational tool that enhances your mindfulness. By being thoughtful about your spending, you will reduce your need for instant gratification while reducing your buyer’s remorse.

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Benefits Of A Generator When Outages Impact Your Home

Benefits Of A Generator When Outages Impact Your Home

Updated

“We Have Power!”

Craig, my husband

How precious those words were when we regained utility services.  Our family, among many, endured a multi-day outage caused by Hurricane Isaias. It is truly one of the more disruptive events that can happen. Typically, you don’t get a lot of warnings when outages occur. The best you can do is be patient and go with the flow (pardon the pun!). Then hope your electric utility company is on the ball.

The benefits of a generator are significant when outages impact your home.  With two houses in different locations, I thought we would finally reap the benefit of having two locations despite having dual outages. We quickly relocated our family to the rented house, which had a standby generator. Little did we know that the owners’ generator wasn’t working. It only sputtered out error messages. At least the rented house had water but nothing else. I soon realized that we would have to empty our two stuffed refrigerators filled with fresh and frozen food, including meals I always prepare ahead of time. What an unfortunate waste! Suddenly buying things on sales didn’t feel like a bargain anymore.

Power Outages Are Pains In The A** But Keep Your Perspective.

Yes, we had candles, flashlights, and other supplies. It was our first outage, not counting brownouts. I was proud of our teens as they handled themselves quite well in the initial days. However, by the fourth day, they were getting anxious about being out of touch with friends and schoolwork. Having a puppy made things a bit harder for us, especially feeding time when we didn’t have yogurt for him.

However, it was essential to keep our perspective. Falling trees hurt no one. People go through a lot more worse conditions as a result of emergencies. We were safe with temporary inconveniences like no toilets or showers, no wifi, TV, or lights. However, I wanted to understand what we can do about this in the future as we did have some costs to bear. Both Craig and I work from home with deadlines to meet, but the power outage silenced our computers.

We received a modest amount of recovery from our respective utility companies. Our budget took a hit as we had to spend more money dining out for all our meals, bought water and jugs to flush our waste, and gas for the generator we borrowed. The banks were closed during the first few days of the outage though we had cash on hand. An emergency fund is particularly important to have for events like this. We suffered no damages to windows or the house from falling trees.

Aging Electric Infrastructure Means More Outages Are Likely

When a power outage occurs, whole communities as retailers as well as businesses overall get impacted. No one cannot operate without electricity. Experiencing a power outage has become far more common in the US in the past decade due to our aging infrastructure. The US electricity grid was built in the 1890s and updated piecemeal as new technologies became available. However, electricity is still our primary power source.

According to the Department of Energy, 70% of our transmission infrastructure is over 25 years old. Gretchen Bakke, who wrote The Grid, said in a 2016 NPR Interview said that our electricity grid has become increasingly unstable and underfunded.  Significant power outages averaged fewer than 5 per year from the 1950s to the 1980s. Since 2010, there have been more than 100 major outages annually. Bakke pointed out that renewable power sources have grown dramatically, but our aging infrastructure cannot integrate them into energy sources.

Our electric grid cannot be fixed quickly and will require significant capital expenditures. Yet, not doing so will guarantee that outages will become more commonplace. Moreover, the modernization of the grid is key to the future of our economy. If we don’t update our grid, we will lose efficiencies, cost savings, the ability to fully integrate wind and solar technologies, and provide better broadband internet to rural and poor areas. On the latter point, the pandemic has highlighted the digital divide that has existed for years.

Severe Weather Causes Outages

While hackers can impact our power systems, severe weather conditions such as hurricanes cause a significant percentage of power outages. As if the year 2020 wasn’t challenging enough with the coronavirus pandemic and a severe economic downturn, the hurricane season was historic. On June 9, 2021, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that the record-breaking Atlantic hurricane “..draws to an end.” The NOAA predicts an active 2021 hurricane season in the likely range of 13 to 20 named storms, of which six to ten could become hurricanes—just saying.

Should We Get A Generator?

The sad state of our infrastructure is a big problem that needs fixing on a broad scale. Unfortunately, Biden has not yet signed the infrastructure bill.l So besides using our voice and vote to get our grid in better shape, what can our family do to better prepare for more outages?

Towards the end of the ordeal, our friends, who had their power restored faster than ours, lent us their portable generator. It provided some relief. The wifi allowed us to communicate again and we had one of our refrigerators turned back on. Of course, Tyler made sure that he could use one of the large screen TVs for his video games. Having some power back got us thinking about getting our generator for our rural home.

Was this power interruption a once-in-a-lifetime experience, or could it happen more often? If the latter, does getting a generator make sense for us? We had to throw out a lot of food in two refrigerators and freezers that we had recently acquired and supplies and dining out the whole week for a family of four. Suddenly a $750 portable generator starts to make sense. It fits into our budget and may give us peace of mind.

Related Post: Steps To Buying A Home Through Closing 

Benefits Of A Getting A Generator

 

1. Staying Comfortable And Safe During Emergencies

Having a generator would restore some of our daily routine activities quickly and potentially automatically. You can remain in your home rather than having to pay for a hotel. Determine the size and type of generator and what are your basic needs assuming you can’t have it all. 

 For example, there are tradeoffs you need to consider. For us, we want to keep the heater or AC working, power for the bathrooms (this is the hardest to lose), TV and cable connections, security systems, refrigerator, a few lights, and being able to use your computer.

 A generator is essential for families with health problems that may require the use of medical equipment. Simple things like opening your garage door and having a coffee are tiny benefits are pleasant but not vital. In addition, having a backup generator provides some peace of mind. When you are without power, it is very stressful for you and your family, including your pets.

2. Maintain High Indoor Air Quality

Without a generator, the indoor air quality deteriorates as open doors and windows will let in pollen, dust, dirt, and such. A generator is beneficial to keep your HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system running. HVAC systems bring in fresh air from the outside to provide better indoor air quality. Fresh air is an essential comfort for those with asthma or severe allergies. Within 48 hours, your food spoils and smells up your home. Also, high humidity can cause mold in your home.

3. Preventing Damage To Your Home

A generator allows your sump pump to keep working. This helps to prevent possible flooding in your home when there are heavy downpours or snowstorms. It can prevent pipes from bursting by maintaining power to your boiler to heat the house.  When power comes back on after a few days, clean your refrigerator of its spoiled food. It is a lot of work, and you may feel like you need to buy a new refrigerator. It keeps the water flowing for homes with private wells. In rural areas, generators are more commonplace to maintain electrical farm appliances and gardening.

4. Add Value To Your Home

Depending on the type of generator you get, it can add value to your home and help you rent it out. Typically, you will receive the most significant benefit from a system that provides coverage for your whole house and is a standby generator rather than a portable generator. In addition, some insurance companies may give discounts on the homeowner’s premium if you have an automatic standby system.

Portable Generators versus Standby Generators

In 2020, less than 3% of American homes had standby generators, while 12% had portable generators. Generac has 70% of the residential generator market, although several other providers of these units.

Portable Generators

The cost for portable generators is significantly less than the standby generators, likely accounting for the higher percentage in US homes. The national average cost is $750 (ranging $200-$2,000)  for the gas-powered with about 5500 wattages.  These units vary by wattage, with gas being the most common fuel type over natural gas, liquid propane, and diesel. The portable unit requires manual hookups using several extension cords that may add cost. An electrician can provide a transfer or switch to connect your appliances to the generator for $500-$800. There is no other installation as your unit should operate 20 feet outside of your home.

It is a manual system, easy to operate as our son, Tyler, actually put it together for us.

Some portables have automatic shutoff features if it detects too much carbon monoxide.

How Many Watts Do You Need?

Power output is measured by wattage. The amount of wattage you should get is determined by how much coverage of your home and the respective appliances you need. Consumer Reports says that 5K watts will cover the basics of a typical home though it really should be based on your family’s needs. Some units go to 10,000 watts or more. The most significant portable I saw was 17,500 watts. To give you an idea of respective wattage, here is the required wattage:

  • Refrigerator – 600 watts
  • Sump Pump – 750-1500 watts
  • Portable Heater – 1500 watts
  • Window air conditioner – 1000 watts
  • Lights vary from 60 – 600 watts
  • Computers 60-300 watts

A portable generator can do the trick for some, but likely not for all of your needs.

You need to refill the smaller units that hold 3-6 gallons of gas often. According to Motley Fool, it takes about 34 gallons of gas for an average portable generator size for two days use. A gallon of gas price of a gallon is higher in 2021 at about $3 now (versus $2 a year ago). When the unit runs out of gas, it stops working. Running out of gas could be a problem as you don’t want your refrigerator to stop working.

The Drawbacks of A Portable Generator

While we find the portable generator is probably the way to go for our family, you should know a few negatives. First, as mentioned, portable generators will not restore every inconvenience, so you need to figure what is most important to you. Second, your mobile unit may use many extension cords all over the house unless you have a transfer or switch. Third, these lines may be unsightly for some people and pose a danger if you aren’t careful walking around.

You need to monitor the system periodically to run out of gas and stop running your appliances. The portable unit is not a good choice if you travel a lot. You don’t want to leave it running outside your home unattended. As it is noisy, your neighbors probably won’t appreciate you leaving it on either.

Standby Generators

These units are far more comprehensive in their coverage of your entire home during an outage. They are automatic and will turn on upon the outage and off when power is back on. That means there should be no power interruption. The automatic feature eliminates the need for fuel storage as it is hooked up to an existing gas line. It has the potential to increase your home’s value and possibly to get discounts on homeowner insurance. On a personal note, the fact that the standby generator did not work as hoped in our rented home makes me a little biased against this kind of unit.

The Drawbacks For Standby Generators

For these reasons, standby generators are more expensive, ranging from $7,000 to $9,000 for an installed 10,000-watt generator. According to Remodeling magazine, comparing cost versus value, a $12,860 standby generator increases the value of your home by $6,940. That is a 54% recovery of your generator’s cost. The unit may take up significant outdoor space, require regular maintenance, and an inspection after installation. Like the portable unit, it is noisy when operating as well. You will have to run it periodically.

Final Thoughts

Our first major power outage last summer that lasted a week was a drag on our family, as it has been for many others. Unfortunately, we will likely see more power outages in the future. The benefits of a generator when outages impact your family are significant.  As a result of our experience, we prepared our home to purchase a portable generator as insurance. Losing food, dining out for every meal, and inconveniences were annoying in this challenging year. The more significant issue is the aging infrastructure plaguing our country. It is partially the cause for outages and inefficiencies and the lack of broadband internet for many Americans. That has been part of the lesson learned I wanted to share in this article.

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Self-Discipline: Follow These 12 Steps To Make A Habit

Self-Discipline: Follow These 12 Steps To Make A Habit

Developing self-discipline isn’t easy. Procrastination is the enemy of self-discipline. Here’s a perfect example:

“I’m going to start the keto diet tomorrow because I want to lose 20 lbs for my wedding. I’m trying to be more disciplined about how I eat.”

Does that sound familiar? Most of us like to talk about how we’re going to work on our self-discipline regarding fitness and finances or just life in general. We all know that we should improve our self-discipline to get better results and get more done.

We don’t know where to start, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when developing self-discipline. That is why I wanted to address this topic today based on years of research and to try everything out personally.

How can you build self-discipline? Let’s look at 12 ways to develop self-discipline even if you’ve already tried everything.

People have accused me of being disciplined in the past. Often, I don’t know how to respond. Why? In my mind, I feel like there’s always more to get done. I’ve done my best to test out different ideas and try to create a disciplined life to get more done and save more money for what I want to do.

In this article, we’re going to look at what you need to know about self-discipline and the different ways that you can develop self-discipline right now, even if it feels like you’ve tried everything.

What You Need to Know About Self Discipline

Most information out there on self-discipline is just annoying and unrealistic. It’s easy to feel discouraged when advice surrounding self-discipline in a self-help book feels condescending.

In the perfect world, we would all wake up at five in the morning, meditate for 20 minutes, and then go through our day without any interruptions or temptations. In reality, this isn’t what happens at all. Life comes at us quickly. We start the day off with the best intentions and still waste time or not getting much done. We don’t always eat the best, nor do we get as much done as we should.

There are two things that you need to know about developing self-discipline:

  1. You’re not a bad person if you have cravings or are not constantly feeling disciplined. You’re not a robot, and that’s okay. Don’t let anyone on social media shame you for not being perfect.
  2. You can always work on your discipline. You don’t have to stay stuck at your current level. That is a skill that can be developed and worked on over time. Nobody’s born being 100% disciplined, just like nobody’s completely undisciplined.

Are you ready to get started?

12 Ways to Develop Self Discipline

I’ve put together the best tips that I could find, along with actionable quotes from books and authors that have helped me develop self-discipline over the years.

Here are 12 ways that you can develop self-discipline.

1. Set Small and Realistic Goals

Are you setting realistic goals? Have you thought about starting small to make some progress?

Too often do we fail to stay disciplined because we set unrealistically audacious goals. We don’t even know where to start or how to begin, so we end up doing nothing.

In the book “Essentialism” the following point is brought up on setting small goals:

“Instead of starting big and then flaring out with nothing to show for it other than time and energy wasted, to really get essential things done we need to start small and build momentum. Then we can use that momentum to work toward the next win, and the next one and so on until we have a significant breakthrough—and when we do, our progress will have become so frictionless and effortless that the breakthrough will seem like overnight success.”

The trick is to set small and realistic goals to not set yourself up for failure. Develop an abundance mindset to help you to achieve success.

2. Stop Trying to Do So Many Things at Once

Social media has convinced us that we need to be the hardest workers in the room who constantly work on various projects. That couldn’t be further from the truth. To develop self-discipline, you need to ruthlessly eliminate it from your life and figure out what you need to focus on.

In the classic book “The One Thing” Gary Keller brings up an excellent point on accomplishing your goals:

“It is not that we have too little time to do all the things we need to do, it is that we feel the need to do too many things in the time we have.”

Try to focus on one thing at a time so that your mind isn’t all over the place. It’s much easier to be disciplined when you’re only working on one important thing.

3. Change Your Environment

Did you know that your environment could be holding you back? There’s a reason so many people work out of coffee shops; or why CrossFit classes are such a hit.

According to James Clear in “Atomic Habits,” it’s more important to change your environment than it is to try to rely on will-power:

“The people with the best self-control are typically the ones who need to use it the least. It’s easier to practice self-restraint when you don’t have to use it very often. So, yes, perseverance, grit, and willpower are essential to success, but the way to improve these qualities is not by wishing you were a more disciplined person, but by creating a more disciplined environment.”

When you want to improve your self-discipline, consider changing the environment.

Here are a few examples of how you can make this happen:

  • Don’t keep a bag of chips on the table when you’re trying to lose weight.
  • Have a specific space for work so that you’re not trying to finish that article while you’re on the couch watching the evening news.
  • Hang around with people who are working on similar goals.

4. Make It Easy to Stay on Track

Whatever you do, try to set yourself up for success by making it easy to stay on track. The trick is to set everything up so that you don’t have to struggle to stay disciplined.

How can you make your goals easy?

  • Know yourself.
  • Work within your limits.
  • Focus on progress over perfection.

On that note…

5. Hold Yourself Accountable

Are you being held accountable? The truth is that most of us can’t stay disciplined on our own. We need people around us that will keep us accountable so that we have a responsibility to do what we said we would do.

How can you hold yourself accountable?

  • Hire a coach so that you’re financially committed.
  • Find co-workers/friends on a similar path.
  • Make your goals public.
  • Write your goals down everywhere.
  • Use a planner to track your progress.

It would help if you were held accountable to ensure that you’re going to follow through.

6. Know What You Want to Do

Too many of us set vague goals. We want to be healthy or wealthy. We wanted to be more disciplined, but we don’t know what that discipline looks like.

James Clear brought this up in the aforementioned “Atomic Habits” book on habit building:

“Many people think they lack motivation when what they really lack is clarity. It is not always obvious when and where to take action. Some people spend their entire lives waiting for the time to be right to make an improvement.”

Direction is much more important than speed.

Speaking of motivation…

7. Never Rely on Willpower or Motivation

Willpower is the last thing that you should rely on. You won’t always feel motivated. You won’t always feel like doing the right thing. The trick is to change your environment, hold yourself accountable, and set small goals so that you never have to worry about being motivated 24/7.

8. Ignore the Noise

There’s no easy way to say this. You have to avoid the noise. You have to find ways to ignore the noise to focus on what matters to you.

You can’t develop self-discipline if you allow any of the following to distract you:

  • Everything that’s happening on the news
  • Notifications from 8 different social media apps
  • Arguing with strangers on Facebook
  • Getting upset over every comment that you read

In the book “The Daily Stoic” this point is brought up on focus and attention:

“Think of all the interests vying for a share of your wallet or for a second of your attention. Food scientists are engineering products to exploit your taste buds. Silicon Valley engineers are designing applications as addictive as gambling. The media is manufacturing stories to provoke outrage and anger. These are just a small slice of the temptations and forces acting on us—distracting us and pulling us away from the things that truly matter.”

You’re going to get pulled in every direction. You have to do whatever you can to block out what doesn’t matter so that you can accomplish your goals.

9. Think of Why You’re Doing This

I’m not one of those corny motivational people. I want to remind you that it’s important to remember why you’re trying to accomplish that goal that requires you to develop self-discipline.

Here are a few things to consider:

  • You want to lose weight to be healthier so that you can live longer to meet your grandkids.
  • You want to pay off that debt so that you can finally quit your job.
  • You want to save up so that you can take your partner on that dream vacation.
  • You want to grow that side hustle so that you can follow your dream of being a writer.

That leads to the next point.

10. Find What You Enjoy Doing

Too many of us focus on goals that we don’t even care about.

“Everyone’s motivated at something. It just depends on the thing. Even the people that we say are unmotivated are suddenly really motivated when they’re playing video games. I think motivation is relative, so you just have to find the thing you’re into.” — Naval

You’ll develop more self-discipline when you focus on goals that interest you and keep you excited.

11. Celebrate Your Wins

Being disciplined isn’t just about saying no to everything. It’s okay to celebrate along the way. I’ll even say that celebrating small wins is essential to developing self-discipline for the long run. We all need to look forward to something.

12. Identify Obstacles That Are Holding You Back

You have to figure out what’s holding you back from being more disciplined. The goal is to eliminate your obstacles so that you can replace them with more productive activities.

This one quote opened my eyes to distractions and obstacles:

“Most people don’t want to acknowledge the uncomfortable truth that distraction is always an unhealthy escape from reality. How we deal with uncomfortable internal triggers determines whether we pursue healthful acts of traction or self-defeating distractions.” — Nir Eyal

When things aren’t going your way, you must take a step back to identify the barriers holding you back to know what you need to work on to develop self-discipline. Remember that success is the best revenge.

What if you find yourself still struggling with self-discipline?

It’s pretty much impossible always to feel motivated. You won’t always do the right thing, and you’re going to make plenty of mistakes. There’s nothing wrong with admitting that you’re human. The goal will always be for progress over perfection.

I turn to this excerpt from BJ Fogg on building tiny habits:

“Most people operate under the assumption that they’ve got to go big or go home. They think that in order to kick a bad habit, destress, or make a pile of money they’ve got to do something radical. Go cold turkey. Sell their house and move to the beach. Put all their chips on the table. Go all in. Those who take these extreme measures and succeed are lionized.

If you’ve ever watched a special about an Olympic athlete who’s been training twelve hours a day since she was three or a successful businessperson who sold everything and moved to Italy to find true happiness, you know what I’m talking about. There’s nothing wrong with taking bold action. Life and happiness occasionally demand it. But remember that you hear about people making big changes because this is the exception, not the rule. Narrative drama comes from bold action, not from the incremental progress that leads to sustainable success.”

The key message to remember is that it’s important to focus on the next small task in front of you instead of worrying about 20 different things that you have to do. You won’t develop self-discipline overnight. That will take some time and effort.

Good luck with developing more self-discipline. Don’t forget to enjoy the ride.

This article originally appeared on Your Money Geek and has been republished with permission.

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