A Guide to Emergency Funds

Tyler Linsten Personal Finance

There is nothing more fundamental to a healthy financial life than a fully stocked emergency fund. And there are many guides to emergency funds, but this one is mine. Do you really need an emergency fund? Some people like to think they’re immune from needing an emergency fund, giving reasons like “I’m retired” or “I have too much debt” or “I’m ridiculously wealthy” or “I have a very stable job and no debt” or “I live in self-sustaining bunker.” But let’s get down to the definition of what an emergency fund actually is: An emergency fund is simply a stash of money you only touch in cases of, well, emergency. (More on the definition of “emergency” later) This means all …

GET or DreamAhead for College Savings? Choose Neither

Tyler Linsten Investing, Personal Finance

It’s (still) a mess, and Washington state taxpayers should be pissed. I’m not going to give you a great breakdown on how to choose between Washington’s two plans, GET and DreamAhead. No, this post is a short dispatch on why you should consider other options. Let’s take a quick, 30,000-foot view of the situation: Washington really screwed up its first shot at its GET (Guaranteed Education Tuition) program, a system designed to let residents prepay for college credit as an alternate means of saving for college. To put it nicely, this made for a chaotic experience for those looking to plan for college in the state. Here’s an example of how bad things were: So, yeah, that wasn’t good. Then …

Tax Refunds Are Down – That’s a Good Thing

Tyler Linsten Personal Finance, Taxes

Beware: AUTHOR HAS BEEN TRIGGERED I am strangely enraged by people who defend this weird desire to have a big tax refund. They tend to say, “I like knowing there’s something coming my way in April.” This is largely anecdotal, but I hear it all the damn time. Earth, to you Big Refund People: Your argument is terribly flawed and this is a supreme example of what’s wrong with personal finance in America. Disclaimer: None of this massive rant applies to lower-income folks who may have tax complications due to the Earned Income Tax Credit or other various matters related to income uncertainty. They have it hard enough and don’t need me sending bad karma their way. No, this is …

About That “Consider Firing Your Male Broker” Op-Ed

Tyler Linsten Investing, Personal Finance

Hopefully you’ve also fired your Mail Broker by now. Stamp prices are at record levels this week and he’s just sitting around doing nothing about it! This aggression cannot stand. In all seriousness, I’m actually referring to the controversial New York Times opinion piece penned by a financial advisor in New Orleans this month. To sum it up, she makes the case to fire your “male broker.” Wading into this topic is fraught with peril, but I’ll do it anyway because it’s my blog. Don’t mistake my maleness for generating my reaction. It’s my status as a fellow fiduciary fee-only advisor (and also a fellow CFA Charterholder!) that draws out my serious criticism here. Ms. DuQuesnay says she didn’t write …

Three Obscure Personal Finance Hacks

Tyler Linsten Personal Finance

Not to be confused with Three Personal Finance Plaques. I admit to doing weird stuff to save money sometimes. You (and especially my wife) might say I have a particularly George Costanzan approach. Season 3, Episode 2, “The Truth” Elaine (speaking to George): You’re extremely…careful with money. George: What?! Elaine: Forget it. George: I’m cheap? You think I’m cheap? How could you say this to me, I can’t believe it! Anyway, the truth about this post is that I only have one obscure “personal finance hack.” And it’s not really even a hack, so much as it’s literally about a kitchen utensil. I only told you it was three items because that’s called clickbait. Again, this is a post about …