Each week, we ask a personal finance or business expert for their money pro tips. This week we talked to Carlos Oyaga, licensed Policygenius adviser.
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How do you budget? I keep a spreadsheet that lists itemized cashflow for each month of the calendar year. Focus is to keep housing costs under 25%, maintain a similar lifestyle even after windfalls and raises, and save and invest the surplus. In the coming years I am aiming to achieve the savings rate exercised by FIRE (financially independent, retire early) proponents.
Last thing you resisted buying: A pair of $20+ Smartwool socks
How did you resist it? Shopping with my wife helped — we keep each other accountable on our finances!
Last thing you splurged on: Our third anniversary dinner
Why’d you OK the splurge? We are really into food and this restaurant was featured on Netflix's Chef’s Table — we thought it’d be OK to splurge on a special once-per-year celebration.
Current money goal: Saving for a down payment on a home
How you’re working toward it: We have a target date for when we want to buy, and we want to have minimum 20% downpayment to avoid PMI (private mortgage insurance), plus 3% for closing and moving costs. So we came up with a monthly savings goal and are "paying ourselves first" each month so we can have the funds available by our target date.
Money book, podcast, or blog you recommend: Little Book of Common Sense Investing: The Only Way to Guarantee Your Fair Share of Stock Market Returns by John C. Bogle, the founder of Vanguard Group and creator of the index fund.
Most common money advice people want from you: “How do you tackle debt?”
What you tell them: Avalanche method — make at least minimum payments on all your debts, and accelerate payments toward the note with the highest APR.
Money thing you’re most proud of: Most recently, we paid off one of my wife’s student loans with the highest APR and have funded our emergency savings fund with six months worth of monthly expenses (That's huge! Congratulations! — ed.)
Best financial advice your ever got: Financial planning is a simple concept, don’t spend more than you earn, have clear goals and a roadmap on how to get there, and stick with your plan. Additionally, it is important to have asset allocation and diversification strategies, or more simply put, don’t put all your eggs in the same basket.
Worst financial advice you ever got: Put all your money in cryptocurrencies!
#1 money tip you give to people: Be aware of your finances, spend a few minutes per week analyzing your budget, and create a financial plan to achieve your goals
What would you do with a $1 million windfall? Sleep on it, wake up the next morning and make sure the $1 million is real. Then I would pay outstanding debts, plan trips, max out my savings account within the FDIC limit, buy two investment properties, donate to an organization that our family supports, and invest the rest in index funds.
Image: Nastia Kobzarenko