Where I Got Published Today: Lifehacker

When Is it a Bad Idea to Write Your Own Will?

Like it or not, you may want to contact an attorney before drawing up your will (and refer back to that attorney if you plan to revise the document). This could cost anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars, depending on the complexity of your estate. However, a well-written will can save your beneficiaries a lot of time and hassle, and it can help ensure your assets are distributed according to your wishes.

Find Out How Your Retirement Savings Compare to Others in Your Age Group

The Transamerica study suggests that my retirement savings might be higher than my generation’s average for two reasons: my annual income is over $50,000, and I have a graduate degree. (The more education you have, the more money you are likely to save for retirement—or so the study reports, anyway.)

I’d argue that my retirement savings are higher than average because both my undergraduate and graduate degrees were fully funded, because I have no children and live in a low cost-of-living area, and because I’ve spent the past five years writing about personal finance.

In other words: I’ve had some financial advantages that the average millennial hasn’t.

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Where I Got Published Today: Lifehacker

Let Your Kids Go Into Debt

There are a lot of reasons to give children allowances. Letting children earn and manage small amounts of money teaches them about budgeting, spending, saving, and giving.

Plus, if you’re in a home where allowances are tied to chores—or a home where allowances are given freely but extra money can be earned by completing certain tasks—children learn what it feels like to earn fair financial compensation for a job well done.

However, you should also teach your children what it feels like to go into debt.

Tie Your Financial Goals to Results, Not Numbers

There are two reasons why focusing on what you do with the money is more important than focusing on how much money you have.

First, because it’s always a smart idea to have a plan for your money. Sometimes there’s a specific plan: maybe you’re saving for retirement, for a down payment, or for a once-in-a-lifetime vacation. Other times, you’re saving and investing money now because you want more options in the future. (That still counts!)

On Storytelling and Perspective

So I wanted to give you a quick NEXT BOOK update!

First, the word count has ticked up considerably since I switched back to writing in the mornings instead of the afternoons.

(Current word count: 28,010.)

Second, I spent all of last week doing what I initially didn’t want to do with this book: jump out of the protagonist’s perspective and into somebody else’s head.

But I’m at the part of the story where the protag gets separated from the other characters, and so it felt like a natural opportunity to see what those other characters were thinking and feeling.

Maybe I’d set it apart from the rest of the book by making it a unique section, or something. Or maybe I’d like it so much that I’d go back and include multiple perspectives from the very beginning!

Nope.

None of that.

Turns out I hated it. I mean, it was a fun way to explore some of the secondary characters a little better, and I’ll use what I learned in the rest of the draft, but… it’s not their story.

Also, turns out those characters weren’t doing all that much, in terms of plot-relevant stuff. They had plenty of thoughts and feelings, but there was a limit to how much they could sit around and think about the BIG EVENT to come, or meet up after work to discuss how they felt about what might happen next (which can’t happen until the protagonist gets back).

So that was a learning experience, and a digression well worth taking, and an interesting reminder that my instincts, at least in this case, were correct.

This story is best told from a single person’s perspective.

It’s her Hero’s Journey, after all. ❤️

Where I Got Published Today: Lifehacker

How to See Beyond the ‘Money FOG’

If you let fear, obligation, or guilt control your decisions about money, you’re stuck in the Money FOG.

What does that mean? Essentially, instead of making thoughtful financial choices that help you achieve your long-term goals, you make more impulsive financial choices based on these three negative emotions.

When to Splurge on Your Kids

When are your children’s activities worth the money they cost? What about that big family vacation you’re planning—is it something your kids will remember fondly, or will they only remember it as a waste of money?

Where I Got Published Today: Lifehacker

Research Mortgage Lenders the Way You Research Restaurants

I don’t know about you, but before I choose a restaurant, I like to look at a lot of photos and reviews.

Even if someone else chose the restaurant—even if they say it’s their favorite restaurant and I’m going to love it—I still like to check the menu online and then look for food photos on Yelp or Facebook, to give myself the best chance of ordering something I’ll enjoy.

Find Out Your Real Hourly Wage With This Calculator

Khe Hy, at RadReads, has put together a spreadsheet to help us calculate what we’re actually earning. You input your income, the number of hours you spend at work, your commute time, the amount of work you do on the weekends, and how much time it takes you to unwind from work every day—plus a bunch of other figures such as your effective tax rate and the amount of money you spend on work-related stuff, from clothing to happy hours.

Where I Got Published Today: Lifehacker

Here Is TurboTax’s Actual Link to File for Free

If you’re looking for TurboTax’s free file option, you probably won’t find it by visiting TurboTax.Intuit.com.

Instead, you’ll want to visit TurboTax.Intuit.com/TaxFreedom.

Don’t Go Into Debt for Your Kid’s Extracurriculars

A new survey suggests that over half of Americans have gone into debt for their kids’ extracurriculars—and that might not be such a good idea.

According to CompareCards.com, 62% of American parents have picked up debt in order to let their children practice soccer or ballet. Nine percent of those parents owe more than $5,000, and nearly a third owe more than $3,000.

Where I Got Published Today: Lifehacker

Treat Your Financial Fitness Like Your Physical Fitness

What if we started treating our finances the same way we approached our fitness endeavors—by doing what we can, modifying when we need to, and slowly getting stronger?

How to Pay for Your Pet’s Healthcare

Covering the cost of your pet’s healthcare—whether it’s a standard checkup or a more complicated procedure—can be expensive.

Should you take out a pet insurance plan, with deductibles and copays, or create a special savings account to cover your fur baby’s care? What about healthcare credit cards like CareCredit? How are they different from ordinary credit cards—and are they worth it?

Where I Got Published Today: The Write Life, Lifehacker

The Write Life: How to Write a Good Pitch

One of the most common mistakes people make is failing to state the story they want to tell.

What do I mean?

Well, writers often say they want to write about something. “I want to write about Famous Person X.” “I want to write about gender in the workplace.” That’s an idea, not a story.

Lifehacker: How to Take an Affordable Vacation

Are you planning on taking a summer vacation this year?

According to a new Bankrate survey, only 52 percent of Americans are planning a summer vacation in 2019. The biggest factor keeping us from taking our much-needed summer break? Cost.

Lifehacker: If You Want to Retire Early, Invest in Rental Properties

Paula Pant at Afford Anything has done the math—and if you invest in rental properties, you’ll be able to withdraw 6% instead of 4. This means you’ll get a bigger monthly payout after retirement, and you might even be able to retire earlier than you expected.

Where I Got Published Today: Lifehacker, Bankrate

Lifehacker: You Might Be Eligible for a TurboTax Refund

Call 888-777-3066 to talk to a TurboTax representative and get your filing fee refunded. ProPublica reports that multiple taxpayers have successfully requested and received their refunds, so if you’re eligible, go ahead and make that call.

Lifehacker: For Better Financial Outcomes, Study Math Instead of ‘Financial Literacy’

So, if you’re an adult who wants to prepare yourself for the financial challenges of the future, focus on getting good with numbers. Learn how to identify which banks or investments offer high interest and low fees. Ask yourself whether you’ll get a better return on your dollar by putting it towards debt repayment or stashing it in an index fund. Remember that financial-guru tips like “pay off your smallest debt first” or “wait to claim your Social Security benefits” might be helpful, but you should always do the math on your own.

Bankrate: Tend to spend? These are great credit cards for big spenders

If you can afford to put a lot of money on your credit card every month — and pay it off in full — you need a credit card that rewards big spending. Many of the best rewards credit cards are designed for average spenders. If your spending goes far beyond the average, you’re going to want a credit card that offers better-than-average rewards.

Bankrate: What is Credit Card Churning, and How does it Affect your Credit Score?

Credit card churning is the practice of opening many new credit cards to claim lucrative sign-up bonuses. After you earn your sign-up bonus, you either cancel the credit card (often to avoid paying an annual fee) or simply stop using the card. Credit card churning is especially popular among “travel hackers,” who collect multiple sign-up bonuses and redeem them for free flights or hotels.