Why gym memberships can be a smart investment

Photo illustration of a woman using a gym membership

I've just come from the gym. My arms are so spent I can barely type. My glutes are killing me as I sit on my wooden chair. I am guzzling ice water and still sweating a little. An hour of concentrated exercise with a trainer -- part of my gym memberships -- has left me feeling both exhausted and accomplished. I love my gym.

My gym membership costs us $158.46 per month. I can hear the gasps of horror from the frugal corner: that's 1,901.52 a year! Over the next 10 years, that's almost $20K I could be putting into my Roth IRA. That's $5,704.56 we could be putting into the 529 college account for our second child (you remember him, the one we call Hope He Gets A Soccer Scholarship)! I could use that to open a stock investment account and invest in electronic-traded funds. I could purchase corporate bonds!

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More about...Health & Fitness, Investing

Survey: 71% of Americans are Behind on Retirement Savings

Photo illustration for retirement and investing

Knowing you aren't saving enough for retirement isn't a great feeling, but at least you are not alone.

A full 71 percent of Americans say they are behind on their retirement savings and more than half, 54 percent, believe they will never pay off their debt fully, according to a new national survey commissioned by Experian together with Get Rich Slowly and other top U.S. personal finance blogs. Entering retirement with a large debt load is risky, experts say, and older consumers are carrying more debt -- mortgage, credit card, even student loans -- into their retirement years than ever before, according to data by the Consumer Financial Protection Board.

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More about...Investing, Retirement

Best Lower Risk Investments for the Average Saver

Woman at a computer

Lower risk investments are becoming more popular now that interest rates seem fixed at historic lows.

Remember the thrill of bringing your savings account book to the bank when you were a kid? They would stamp it and -- ta-daaaa -- you had more money than when you walked in.

Fast forward to today. Most of us don't get that giddy feeling after making a deposit with the so-low-it's-not-even-worth-it interest earned on traditional bank deposit accounts like savings accounts, money markets and certificates of deposit.

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More about...Banking, Investing

Retirement Strategies: How are you Doing?

Woman reads book in hammock

Ah, retirement strategies. Either a dream or a worry, but either way, you need them.

Dreaming of retirement is part of the evolution of life. As a 20-something, you spend time envisioning the amazing career you'll have and the important work you'll do. As a 50-something, what you picture is a hammock, an ice-cold beer, and a good book. You picture retirement.

For years, The Husband has laughed about the retirees who snag the earliest oil change and dentist appointments simply because they are so used to getting up at the crack of dawn every day of their working lives. So in retirement, they keep the schedule. Not me. I. Am. Sleeping. In. My vision of retirement consists entirely of not having the alarm go off every morning. Never. Not for any reason.<

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More about...Investing, Planning

Our Journey to College…and Debt

This kid will graduate college in 2020 at least $24K in debt

It was all over the news last week that the college Class of 2016 will graduate with an average — an average — of $37,000 in debt, the most ever. This is a 6 percent increase over the Class of 2015 (those lucky dogs graduated with an average loan debt of $35K). Experts say that if these kids' starting salaries are more than their total debt, they should be able to pay them off in 10 years. That's a big ‘if.'

My family has been going through the college application thing for the last 6 months. Our daughter is a high school senior and in the late summer she will be heading off to college in New York City to start the next chapter of her life. By my husband's calculations, when she graduates in 2020, she will be about $24,000 in the hole. Yay us! Let me tell you how we did that.

First, my story of financing our child's education begins with two things you don't have: My Grandma and My Husband. So already you know that you cannot follow my blueprint exactly. First, My Grandma. She was the quintessential Frugal New England Farm Wife (although she had a college degree in nutrition). When My Grandpa died, she discovered she had a lot of money. A LOT. So she began doling it out to her kids and her grandkids, and when the grandkids had kids, they all got money for college. So My Grandma gave us a very nice chunk of seed money when our daughter was born 18 years ago.

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More about...Debt, Investing

Is an annuity a good investment?

Illustration of a chart and magnifying

Is an annuity a good investment? This is a surprisingly hard question to answer.

If you have ever met with a financial advisor about investments, chances are he or she may have proposed annuities as a good way for you to go. However, when you scan the blogosphere for posts about investing, you hardly ever read about annuities. You read about index funds, mutual funds, stocks and real estate and now and then about bonds … but hardly ever anything about annuities. Continue reading...

More about...Investing

How to Open a SEP-IRA

A graphic illustration about self-employed IRAs

Learning how to open a SEP-IRA, a self-employed individual retirement account, doesn't have to be complicated.

Here's the experience of Lisa Aberle, a Get Rich Slowly contributor who had been working as an independent contractor since 2010, along with working a full-time job, and in 2014 left that full-time job. That meant she no longer had access to a company-sponsored retirement plan and had to figure out the remaining path to retirement as a sole proprietor.

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How to Hire a Financial Planner (or Not)

A plant growing out of a coin jar to symbolize the growth of money

Millions rely on financial professionals to do their investing for them but not everyone knows how to hire a financial planner the right way -- or when to say no to one.

On the surface, the rationale for hiring a financial planner or advisor seems valid. People feel intimidated by the whole investing thing. It seems like a jungle out there and, to boot, most people know someone who lost it all with bad investments. Others believe they just don't have enough time to learn about investing or to maintain their investments on an ongoing basis.

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More about...Investing, Retirement

How to maximize returns while minimizing investment risk

Back in 2005, someone wrote that Priceline.com would be a good stock in which to invest. At the time, I used Priceline because I traveled frequently. I also knew of Peter Lynch's investing-for-success strategy, which boils down to buying stock in companies you do business with. I looked at the stock, which traded for around $20 to $25 at the time, thought about it … and passed. Was that smart?

Young investor with note that says "return on investment"

Had I invested $1,000 back then, that investment would be worth about $55,000 today, just 10 years later. Priceline is but one of a hundred maximize-return stories you hear every day.

Not every investment is that good. I could also have invested the $1,000 in Yahoo at that time. That investment, however, would only be worth $850 today. The same investment in Bank of America would be worth less than $400 today. We call that risk. Continue reading...

More about...Investing, Retirement