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  • KaiM
  • January 18, 2019 06:01:29 PM
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A Little About Us

Want to retire early? Looking to be financial independence? Join us on our journey to F.I.R.E. We post tips and tricks for those we want to attain early retirement.

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Finance Tools We Recommend

It is difficult to keep track and invest our money when we are busy with work and family. Here are a list of finance tools that we recommend to help automate tracking and investing. New article post Finance Tools We Recommend appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE...

In our digital age, there are a lot of tools that can help us track, invest, and improve your finance. Without these tools, I would go crazy keeping track of using paper and pen or even an excel sheet (which I used to do before). Now with these tools widely available for free, everything can be automated to help attain our FIRE and other financial goals much easier.

These finance tools help us have a better picture of our financials including the goods and the bads to assist us in making decisions (some of these tools are part of affiliate program links). Here are the tools we use on a regular basis and we highly recommend you consider having under your tool belt.

HSA Investment

Lively

While working toward your FI goals, you can use Livelyme to make the most out of your healthcare saving. See how Health Saving Account is one of the most tax advantage account out there.

What we love about Lively: 

  • 100% free for individuals and families.
  • Easy and secure way to contribute or transfer money from your existing HSA plan.
  • Fast support team to help resolve any questions you might have.
  • Ability to invest your HSA money through TD Ameritrade brokerage.

Wealth Management Tool

Mint

Do you have a lot of accounts that need to keep track of? Well, I do! Mint simplified everything into one single page. It also alerts you when there is unusual spending or charge on your account.

What we love about Mint:

  • One place to look at all your financial accounts. 
  • It’s simple to link your bank and investment. 
  • Help you create a budget. 

Personal Capital

If you want a personal financial advisor and an awesome dashboard to keep track of your fiance and retirement plan, Personal Capital is your tool. The 360-degree view financial dashboard is free to use without signing up for their financial advisor service. I use personal capital a lot to monitor my monthly cash flow since I have all my credit cards and checking accounts linked.

What we love about Personal Capital: 

  • In-depth financial tools that include net worth tracking, budgeting, and cash flow. 
  • Free financial retirement planner. 
  • An analyzer for how the fee would impact your retirement plan. 

Stock Brokers

Robinhood

Want to exchange stock for free? Robinhood is one of the forerunner’s commission-free stock brokerage before everyone else. A pioneer of commission-free investing gives you more ways to make your money work harder.

What we love about Robinhood: 

You can buy different stock portfolios without paying any fees.  

Buy and sell Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin, and other cryptocurrencies commission-free.

Commission-free options trading. (wow so many free ways to invest!)

Charles Schwab 

Charles Schwab is now also commission-free trading and it comes with all the stock analysis tools that Robinhood doesn’t have. Schwab offers a wide range of investment advice, products & services, including brokerage & retirement accounts, ETFs, online trading & more.

What we love about Charles Schwab: 

  • You can buy different stock portfolios without paying any fee.  
  • Buy and sell Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin, and other cryptocurrencies commission-free.
  • Commission-free options trading. (wow so many free ways to invest!)

Credit Score Monitor Tool

Credit Karma

Having a high credit score is important when you want to borrow money. A great credit score will help getting a lower interest on your loan which will help you save money. 

What we love about Credit Karma: 

  • Monitor and check your score anytime for free.
  • File your tax for free!
  • Tips on how to increase your credit score.

Automatic Investing Tool

Acorns

Do you need help investing automatically? Acorns can round up your morning latte bill and use the spare change to invest. Acorns allow you to invest your spare change automatically.

What we love about Acorns:

  • Start using the service for $1 a month. 
  • No commission fee. You only pay $1 to start using the service.
  • Micro-investing and Robo-investing

What are the finance tools you are using? Leave us a comment below.

New article post Finance Tools We Recommend appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE Journey.


How To Use The Velocity Banking Calculator

This article is an instruction on how to use the velocity banking calculator. For the actual calculator go to https://weonfire.com/calculator/velocitybanking/ New article post How To Use The Velocity Banking Calculator appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE...

We recently just launched our new Velocity Banking (VB) calculator. It was a long time coming since our first Velocity Banking article on this site more than a year ago. We have the idea for a VB calculator for quite some time now but never got around. We finally published it this week! This article is an instruction on how to use the velocity banking calculator. To go to the calculator click here

#1 Enter Information For The Calculation

Loan Info

  • Loan Amount : what’s the amount of your loan right now. 
  • Annual Interest Rate: Enter a number from 0.01 to 20. This is your annual percentage rate (APR) of your loan.
  • Loan Period: Enter a number from 1 to 360. This is the duration of your loan in terms of the month. 
Loan Information

Extra Payment

  • Extra Payment Amount: Enter a number from 1 to 10,000. 
  • Frequency: The only option is “Monthly”.
Extra Payment Information

Velocity Banking

  • Total Monthly Income After Tax : This is the amount of money that land in your bank account when you get paid.
  • Total Monthly Expense (including mortgage) : Any bill that you have to pay each month. If the money is coming out of your bank account, then it’s an expense and needed to be accounted for.
  • Number of Chunking: how many times do you want to use velocity banking. In simpler terms, how many times are you planning to use a loan to pay for another loan? Enter a number from 1 to 100.
  • HELOC/LOC Interest Rate : Enter a number from 0.01 to 30. This is the APR for the second loan that you are using to pay off the first loan. 
  • Chunk Amount (HELO/LOC Amount): Enter a number from 5000 to 500,000. This is the amount that you will use to pay off the first loan.
Velocity Banking Information

#2 Click “Next” to Complete

#3 The Summary Table

In the summary table, you will see a table showing traditional mortgage vs extra payments vs velocity banking. 

  • The total interest is how much money you will pay toward interest during your loan duration. 
  • Loan duration (months) is the amount of time it takes for you to pay off the loan according to the 3 different scenarios. 
  • Number of Chunking: this only applies to velocity banking. This is the number of times you use velocity banking to pay your loan.
  • Best solution for you indicated with a green checkbox is the lowest interest rate out of the 3 scenarios. 
Summary Table

#4 Click “Click To See Calculation Table”

Scroll down to the bottom of the web page and you will see 4 different tables: amortized mortgage table, an amortized mortgage with extra payment, amortized mortgage with velocity banking, and line of credit table. 

To expand the table, click on the table you want to see the detailed calculations. 

Loan Calculation Details

New article post How To Use The Velocity Banking Calculator appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE Journey.


Our Financial Reflection – April 2020

For an introvert April is a lovely month! I get to stay at home all day long and chat with my friends online whenever I like it. The COVID-19 brought the stock and small business to the downturn. Unfortunately, our finances took a big step back as well. New article post Our Financial Reflection – April 2020 appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE...

For an introvert April is a lovely month! I get to stay at home all day long and chat with my friends online whenever I like it. The COVID-19 brought the stock and small business to the downturn. Unfortunately, our finances took a big step back as well. It doesn’t look like we will go back to “normal” anytime soon. California is still on lockdown until the end of May, but even then I don’t see how we can go back normal.

Things That Went Well In April

If you followed us from last month, we decided to move to a new house in the middle of the pandemic. Our decision turned out to be great! During the shelter at home, we stayed home 99% of the time. The other 1% is for grocery shopping and buying essential products. Our new place has a lot more room for us to roam around compare to the previous housing situation. Before, our limit was a converted garage room. Now, we have a living room and kitchen. The extra rooms help with both of us working from home and having meetings at the same time.

Things That Went South In April

I have another toothache. It was difficult to find a dentist that would do a root canal now because most dentists are close until June. I email all the dentists in my network to see if they are open. I was surprised to get an appointment the next day. Compare to last year, I had to wait 3 weeks to get an appointment with the endodontist. I’m happy this time the endodontist did make me pay the co-pay or else it will be another $300 out of pocket.
Working from home (WFH) have never been tougher for Mr.WoF. He used to WFH a lot and it was very relaxing for him. Yet, during the sheltering in place, Mr.WoF is working all day non-stop on three different projects. Working from home means working all the time for him and he can’t take that many breaks. He is currently the most stressed out ever since he started at his current company. So even though we are working from home, he now has less time working on side projects than before.

Financial Reflection

We both lost money playing stock options. At first, we gained $600 each and we thought we would be able to gain more. So, we bought more options and we lost money. The lesson here is we don’t know how to play stock options and should not gamble our money. We thought we could take advantage of the volatile market to makes some quick buck.
The second lesson for this month is to invest in the total stock market. Mr.WoF likes to pick individual stocks and he picked Boeing. I also own some Boeing stock as well. Much of our gain is wiped out with Boeing dropping by as much as 60% :(. We can only pray that the stock will rebound while we keep holding it.
Commercial Real Estate is much like a stock. It depends on which tenant is renting. Our first tenant is paying rent as normal during the pandemic. But, our second tenant does even want to pay enough to cover the mortgage. They want to have zero rent until the rest of the year. We hope that the government loan will be able to help us cover the mortgage while we are looking for an alternative.
To take advantage of the low stock market, we increased our monthly investment to our 401k.

Expense

Our money went to pay for essential items, food, and rent in April. We did spend more money on getting take out to deliver through Uber Eats and DoorDash. Most of the credit card expense this month is from grocery shopping and buying essential household items for our new place.
We do not have any fun expenses since nothing is open! We don’t usually have high expenses for extra-curricula activities anyways. Yup, we are hermit crabs.

BillsTotal% Changed
Credit Cards$2,029.63-49.50%
Loan$16,331.00-3.09%
Rent$2,550.000.00%
Grand Total$20,910.63-10.72%
April 2020 Expenses

Looking Foward

Bay Area extended shelter in place until the end of May. I’m looking forward to continuing to work from home and having zero traffic in May.
Mr.WoF is working hard to develop our app (planning to beta launch in September). Hopefully, he will have more free time after his projects are done. I hope the COVID-19 curve will decrease by June so life can go back a little normalcy.

Overall

To our surprise, our retirement accounts are up this month! Thinking about it now, I guess the market did bounce back a bit from the horrible month in March. We would be up even more if we did not buy Boeing :(. I think this time we really learn our lesson and just buy a total market instead.

Type of InvestmentSavedGoal% Changed% Completed to Goal
Passive Income$597.00$10,000.00-69.86%5.97%
Retirement$182,664.18$600,000.0015.80%30.44%
Investments$264,786.97$1,200,000.001.13%22.07%
Grand Total$448,048.15$1,810,000.006.29%24.75%
April 2020 Financial

New article post Our Financial Reflection – April 2020 appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE Journey.


Saturday Night Read – Stimulus Check

Wondering how to spending your $1,200 check from the Cares Act? Click here to read how our FI community is planning to spend their stimulus check. New article post Saturday Night Read – Stimulus Check appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE...

The federal government passed $2.2 trillion to help people who affected by the Covid 19 pandemic. This is calls the CARES Act program. The act includes an increase in unemployment benefits, student loans forbearance, stimulus checks send to everyone who is eligible, and many more provision for self-employed, small business et al. 

This stimulus check aimed to help people who lost their job because of a temporary business closer. Stop slow the spread of Covid 19, the non-essential business has to remain close. Giving people free money will take a lot of discipline not to spend it all. Here are some suggestions from around the FI community on how to spend your stimulus check.

The Smartest Ways to Spend Your Stimulus Check by Dough Roller

So how should you spend your stimulus check? Obviously, boosting your emergency savings, paying off debt, or investing for your retirement are always great choices. But, beyond the TP and canned foods, what are some smart items to purchase if the coronavirus quarantine could stretch into August (or later)?

Coronavirus Stimulus Check by Frugal Rules

One reason Americans are receiving a coronavirus stimulus check this spring is to pay for essential bills. Many families live paycheck-to-paycheck, and this check can be a big help.

You may buy these essential items:

  • Groceries
  • Food staples
  • Medicine
  • Utilities
  • Rent

It’s best to assess your situation to see what essential items are necessary.

What should you do with your stimulus check? By Money Saved Money Earned

So, what should you do with your stimulus check?

The answer will depend on you, but we’ve put together a list of things you could choose to do with your stimulus check depending on your circumstances. Each of these options is designed to give you the most bang for your buck and to benefit you and others that need the most help during these times.

Looking for more information about the stimulus checks? Click here for more

New article post Saturday Night Read – Stimulus Check appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE Journey.


3 Mistakes every Commercial Real Estate Investor needs to avoid!

Sadly, my commercial real estate ventures is not doing so well. Here are my 3 Mistakes every Commercial Real Estate Investor needs to avoid! New article post 3 Mistakes every Commercial Real Estate Investor needs to avoid! appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE...

Sadly, my commercial real estate ventures did not survive through the Coronavirus pandemic. Last year, our investment group and I bought a steak house in Texas. We were able to negotiate the property price for less than expected. For the first month of owning the property, everything was great! The tenant paid on time and the property in good condition. 

It all seems like the perfect investment in the beginning. 10% cash on cash return without doing any work and just collecting rent money from the comfort of my home. However, things started to go south during our second month of owning the property. Here are 3 Mistakes every commercial real estate investor needs to avoid that I learned while owning this property. I should have listened to my own advice on reasons not to invest in CRE.

Red Flag #1 Unpaid Tax

During our investigation of the property, we found that the property tax was not paid in full last year. The previous landlord was willing to cover the tax payment plus giving us a discount to help to smooth out the deal. Maybe, we were inexperienced back then. BUT, this should have been a major red flag to cancel the deal! 

Our investment group decided to continue with the deal. I was reluctant to invest in the property knowing this. However, my thought back then was there is a guarantee to take out our money if we don’t agree with the outcome within 2 years (turn out this is another red flag) so I went ahead and invested in the property.

Red Flag #2 Regional Business

There are different types of tenants (residential, local, regional, and national). Residential is people who rent a house/room a.k.a us because we are renting a room right now. Local mom & pop are businesses local to the area. Regional tenants are businesses that have multiple locations in a few states. National tenants are businesses that have businesses all over the United State. 

Our original plan was to buy a property with national tenants. We extended our requirement to the regional tenant this time because the return of investment is perfect for us on this steak house. 

The major thing about the regional tenant is they don’t get much attention. What I meant is with the national tenant there is a ton of news coverage. If a national tenant changes CEO, lay off people, record earning, there will be reports about their action on the media. With regional and local businesses, everything is very secretive and difficult to find information about the current business status. 

Since there wasn’t any news about our steak house, it was difficult to assess if our steak house is a stellar tenant or the opposite. One month into our lease agreement in July 2019, they stop paying rent and requested to have rent reduction until the end of 2019  and will pay back rent every quarter starting 2020 because they didn’t make enough profit. As you know coronavirus causes many businesses to shut down during this time. Unfortunately, our steak house continues not to have enough profit to pay rent is what they say. 

Red Flag #3 We Thought We Can Read

Previously in red flag #1, I mention the 2 years money back clause. We originally thought that this clause meant that we can withdraw for any reason. However, it only mentions that if the analysis was incorrect then you can execute the clause. Now that the Steakhouse is not paying us rent, I’m having a hard time trying to invoke this clause.

I guess that’s why people say always have a lawyer to go over any property transaction paper to save you some future headaches.

In Summary

These are the 3 major red flags that I learned with my mistakes when I bought a regional steak house. I hope that you can learn from my mistakes about buying commercial real estate. While it might have seemed like the perfect investment opportunity at the time. It is now turning into a disaster. My advice to everyone is not to invest so much in investment that you don’t fully know the outcome of. You won’t know how something will play out until you are in it and learn for yourself. So until you do, make sure to not lose all your hard-earned money. 

New article post 3 Mistakes every Commercial Real Estate Investor needs to avoid! appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE Journey.


Saturday Night Read – Tax Refund

Here are some ways to put your tax refund to help your financial future. Plus an interesting data visualization regarding American effective tax rate. New article post Saturday Night Read – Tax Refund appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE...

Tax day this year has been delayed until July 15th for a Federal Tax return. Many states are also extending the deadline automatically for everyone. In California, the deadline is now June 15 for 2019 tax filling. So we have more than two months to file for your tax return. This is in response to the current COVID-19 pandemic we are facing. 

However, if you are expecting a refund then you should think about doing your tax now. What should you d with a tax refund? Here are some ways to put your tax refund to help your financial future. Plus an interesting data visualization regarding American effective tax rate.

6 Better Ways to Use Your Tax by The Frugal Convert 

“Even if you receive a few hundred dollars, those will add up in the right account. Think about it like this, you are paying your future self with money that would otherwise be spent on unnecessary items that you won’t remember in a year.

By using your tax refund wisely, you’ll be setting yourself up for success and wealth.

It’s one of the best decisions we’ve made and continue to make every year that we receive a tax refund.“

8 Smart Things to do With Your Tax Refund by Money Saved Money Earned

“a tax refund should be treated like any other paycheck and be used wisely to improve your finances. While it may be tempting to spend your refund on fun things, think about a refund as an opportunity to impact your financial goals.

What you should do with your tax refund depends on your specific situation and goals, but with improving your finances in mind, we’ve come up with a list of some of the best things you can do. “

Visualizing Unequal State Tax Burdens Across America by Visual Capitalist

“What percentage of your income goes into Uncle Sam’s pocket?

Your answer will vary depending on how much you earn. Data shows that low and 

middle-income families pay a much greater share of their income towards state and local taxes than wealthy families.”

Want to read more on tax? Click here to learn more.

New article post Saturday Night Read – Tax Refund appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE Journey.


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