Times will get tough — but you can be ready

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One of the formative periods of my life was the Great Recession of 2008 and 2009. It’s an event that I think defined my cohort. We graduated into one of the worst economic periods in history, and if the studies are right, it might have set us back financially for the rest of our lives.

Strangely enough, even though the Great Recession had such a large impact on my life, it barely registered as an event to me at the time. I was insulated from it by the fact that I was in college and had no money. …

You can do better than most investors by using only a single fund — here’s how

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There’s a common misconception that investing has to be complicated. You need to have a ton of different investments and asset classes and do all sorts of things to get your portfolio just right. And if you don’t create the perfect portfolio, you’ll inevitably end up broke.

But the truth is, investing doesn’t have to be complicated and it certainly isn’t about creating the perfect portfolio. In fact, since none of us can see into the future, creating the perfect portfolio isn’t even possible. The best we can do is good enough. That is, invest in a way that’s going…

It’ll be harder for some, but no one accidentally pays off their debt. And it’s never an easy road.

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One thing that I beef with is when someone tells me that paying off debt is easy to do if you’re making a good salary. Maybe I take it too personally, but it does feel like a knock on my accomplishment. After all, I managed to pay off $87,000 worth of student loans in 2.5 years, but I also had a good salary that made it possible for me to do it.

Was it easier for me to pay off my student loans compared to if I had been making less? Of course. But getting rid of my student loans…

A mindset shift that will help you avoid lifestyle inflation and save more money

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By almost any measure, I hit the jackpot when I graduated from law school back in 2013. I had worked really hard for three years and managed to land a six-figure job at one of the largest law firms in the country. Here I was, a 26-year-old kid making a salary that put me in the top percentiles of income earners in the country (and definitely near the top of income earners at my age). Before this job, I think the most money I’d ever made in a year was about $20,000.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the…

There are so many low-cost options — so why do so many people still pay too much to invest?

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One thing I’ve always wondered is why anyone would invest in expensive mutual funds (I typically define an expensive mutual fund as one with an expense ratio of around 1% or more). Since there are many mutual funds with expense ratios of 0.1% or less, it’s never made much sense to me why anyone would invest in anything else. Why pay ten times more to invest your money when you can get the same thing for much less?

A problem I have is that, as someone who writes about personal finance and investing, I fall into a sort of personal…

And it means you can stop worrying as much about your investments

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There’s an interesting thing that happens when you stop paying so much attention to what the market is doing. Nothing.

I gave up on following financial news a while ago because, frankly, it made me way too angry. Every article would always be the same — some guy predicting a big market crash for whatever year was coming up. It seems like the best way to make a name for yourself is to just keep predicting recessions and crashes. Even if you’re wrong, no one seems to care — you just make up some excuse for why you were wrong…

Just ball out the right way.

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One of the things I’ve done over the years is pick up a ton of different side hustles — side hustles that are, to be frank, probably “beneath” someone with my level of pedigree and prestige.

After all, I went to a top law school and worked at one of the largest law firms in the country. Despite this background, in my spare time, I do things like deliver food on my bike with apps like DoorDash, Uber Eats, and Grubhub, dogsit and walk dogs with apps like Rover and Wag, charge electric scooters with apps like Lime, rent a…

A breakdown of how much I had to pay to get rid of them

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One of the best things I did coming out of law school was paying off my student loans as fast as I could — I did it in just 2.5 years. With my student loans gone, I removed a huge fixed cost in my monthly budget, giving me a lot more freedom in the career decisions I’d ultimately end up making.

Interestingly, even though I knew how much in student loans I had paid off, I had never actually looked at what I had paid over those 2.5 years. …

You just have to be willing to look for it.

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One of my favorite comic strips of all time is Calvin and Hobbes, the story of a precocious 6-year old kid and his stuffed animal tiger — seen as a stuffed tiger to everyone else, but very much alive when viewed through Calvin’s eyes.

It’s a comic that really spoke to me from the moment I first discovered it as a kid — a combination of funny, heartwarming, meaningful, and just generally good stories. Even though many viewed it as just a newspaper comic strip, it was really much deeper than that, with strong storytelling that could rival any book…

Dealing with feelings of what-ifs and what-could-have-been

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Sometimes, I like to go on LinkedIn and see what people are up to. I like LinkedIn — I think it’s more interesting than Facebook or Instagram. Looking at what someone shows you of their life is one thing. But seeing someone’s career progression over the years is more insightful. After all, we spend most of our waking hours working. LinkedIn gives you a window into what someone does for most of their day.

As I was browsing LinkedIn the other day, I noticed that a bunch of people that I went to law school with made partner at their…

Kevin Ha

Writer, Side Hustler, & Blogger at FinancialPanther.com. I write about personal finance, financial independence, and side hustling in the gig economy.

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