Money Management

We manage our money from anywhere in the world with a laptop, the Internet, an ATM card, and a credit card.  Learn more here.

Tracking Spending

If you don’t know where your money goes, it makes it very difficult to make improvements and reduce waste.

2 online tools will do the tracking for you if you use a rewards credit card as your first choice for spending (see below.) If you are a “cash only” person then manually recording each transaction is necessary. We manually track our cash and use Personal Capital to track our other transactions

Personal Capital is a little more sophisticated and provides a solid investment overview, including mutual fund and 401k fee analysis.

Mint.com is primarily a spending tracking tool and does a great job with intelligent auto-categorization.  Sometimes it tries to offer advice, and does an OK job with it.  For example, it often tells us we don’t have an emergency fund and should build one, which is a strange thing to tell somebody in our financial situation.

Savings

Our primary savings account pays amongst the highest interest rates in the industry and offers easy transfer options.  This is where we keep our cash buffer.  Sign up at the link above and get a cash bonus.

Credit Cards

We use cash as little as possible, preferring to take advantage of the many perks that credit card companies offer.  In this way we get cash back, minimize fees, and even a free flight or two.

For our primary card, we looked for one that offered cash back and no foreign transaction fees.  This puts us several percentage points ahead on every purchase.

Our backup card, is an airline card that offers free mileage with each purchase.  Paying an annual fee for these cards is usually worth it if you get a free flight.

See how we scored over $10,000 of free travel.

Investing

Do you have a high savings rate and are ready to invest? Have you read all of Jim Collins’ stock series? If so, then check out these two companies:

Vanguard is the leader in index funds. They are an investor owned company, which means they work to make you rich, not some investment adviser. If he is so good at managing money, why is he still working for a living?

Fidelity is where we keep 90% of our money. We use them for online bill pay, cash management, and stock and ETF purchases. We exclusively use our ATM card from Fidelity because they reimburse for ATM withdrawals

83 Comments

  1. Frank

    Hi Here, Very interesting and inspiring blog you have. I was wondering if you have any tips or advice on how i can convince my wife to live a similar life style? I was also wondering your breakdown for investments. Are you mostly invested in EFT’s or individual stocks?

    Thanks,
    Frank

    Reply
    • Go Curry Cracker

      Hi Frank

      We are mostly index funds. As for your wife… nobody is ever convinced of anything, they have to come to the idea on their own. You could certainly start taking steps yourself, such as riding a bike to work instead of driving. Maybe the improved physique and your obvious dedication to the cause will be inspiring

      All the best

      Jeremy

      Reply
  2. Ila

    Why do you use Fidelity to put all of you investments, instead of Vanguard.

    Reply
    • Go Curry Cracker

      Vanguard is a great choice

      99% of our investments are in Vanguard ETFs

      When I started working, my 401k was at Fidelity, and there is no cost benefit to move it away

      Reply
      • Alex

        Hey GCC! I recently came across your blog and being just a few years away from 30, I have become very inspired to retire early. I have been checking out the JLCollins stock series and I have been focusing on (surprise surprise) Vanguard’s index funds. Any reason you decided to stick with the ETF route instead of purchasing the VTSAX directly? Obviously there is a steep minimum on the VTSAX that the ETFs do not have but it seems as though going direct will have less fees? Again, I am new to all of this so I realize I might be missing a few of the pros/cons between the two… was hoping you might shed some light on this.

        Reply
        • Go Curry Cracker

          For the most part, the ETF and the Admiral fund are the same (same 0.05% expense ratio)

          If you are just getting started, and plan on doing regular/monthly purchases, the mutual fund will have less fees. I almost never trade, and when I do it costs only $8

          Reply
          • Debu

            Hello GCC
            you inspired me, I love reading your blogs. I am very new to investing and graduated in 2013 from Engineering grad school and started a job. Currently I am 26 year old.

            I had 2 questions, which I need your opinion on:

            1) I looked at my employer provided 401k and it has only the high ER and turnover investment options from fidelity. I am in a dilemma if I should be using that or not? I don’t want the high fee to erode my savings. You mentioned now you had 99% of your investment in Vanguard but initially they were in fidelity through 401k, how did you manage that?

            2) I read your article on case for 100% equity. Another great article. When you were starting out did you contribute to traditional IRA’s and roth IRA’s? I am new to all this and have none if them yet. What kind of investments are good to use with these kinds of accounts? Is there a major disadvantage of just opening a taxable account at Vanguard and then build all your portfolio using that?

            Reply
            • Go Curry Cracker

              Hi Debu

              I still have my old 401k at my employer, which is managed by Fidelity. But it has Vanguard funds as an option

              If your 401k has no index fund, it is still worth doing for the tax deduction and company match. I would contribute as much as you can to get full match, and then contribute more to a Traditional IRA.

              See this for more details, which also addresses your 2nd question.
              https://gocurrycracker.com/turbocharge-savings/

              Good luck!

              Jeremy

              Reply
              • Debu

                Thank you Jeremy 🙂 My company currently don’t have any match in 401k.

                Thank you for inspiring me.

                Reply
              • erin

                My employers 401K account automatically defaults new enrollees to a ‘target date’ fund when signing up. I am debating on leaving my funds in target date or moving them. The only index fund offered is Vanguard 500 ADM, Vanguard Extended mkt index and Vanguard small cap index. Should I stay with the target date fund or move to the Index funds that are offered? They also have a Vanguard life strategy growth fund that has a relatively low expense. TIA.

                Reply
                • Go Curry Cracker

                  Target Date Funds are OK as long as the fees aren’t high. Those 3 Vanguard funds are great options

              • Michael

                You mentioned to someone in the comments to fund their 401k up to the match and then use a traditional IRA. Do you suggest a traditional IRA over a Roth because of using the Roth conversion ladder?
                I really enjoy reading your blog! Thank you for all you do!

                Reply
                • Go Curry Cracker

                  The decision of Roth vs Traditional is dependent on marginal tax rates today vs in retirement. If you will have years of conversions at 0%, then definitely Traditional is better than Roth now. But if taxable income is low and contributions to an IRA would be at the 0% or 10% marginal rate, then a Roth now is better.

  3. Ila

    Thank you for your earlier response, but, in your Money Management section, under Investing, you write, “Fidelity is where we keep 90% of our money”. So, how does this make sense when you also say” 99% of our investments are in Vanguard ETFs”. I’m sorry to be a stickler, but you two have just become my most desired people to learn from and I don’t understand what seems like a contradiction. What am I not understanding? Also, because we have, with the exception of liquid money, all of our investments at Vanguard and I’d like to comprehend why I might want to invest with one over the other.
    I’m reading everything I can that you appear to have ever written for your blog. Lastly, my husband and I are in our mid-60’s, with our only child in her second year of a very expensive private college, and we’re only one-fourth of our way toward the retirement savings we’ve thought we should have. And, it looks like my husband is about to lose his job which has paid well and has been our saving grace, financially.

    Reply
    • Go Curry Cracker

      It’s like buying Tide detergent at the grocery store or Amazon.com. Either way, you buy the same product

      Fidelity is a brokerage company. You can use them to buy anything. We used them to buy Vanguard ETFs

      You can also buy Vanguard ETFs or Mutual Funds directly with Vanguard

      Same same

      Sorry to hear about your husband’s job, that is unfortunate 🙁 I hope that with one door closing another one opens.

      All the best

      Jeremy

      Reply
  4. shannon

    So I came across your article and realize what I’m missing in life, a savings plan! Lol, seriously though, where do I even begin? It all seems great yet so overwhelming to find a starting point. Thoughts? We currently have money with Fidelity as well.

    Reply
    • Go Curry Cracker

      A savings plan is a good thing to have 🙂

      A good starting point is to read the book, Your Money or Your Life. You can get it from the local library

      Otherwise, the process itself is quite simple (albeit not easy)

      Pay yourself first, spend what is left over
      Track every penny you spend (see links above for two options)
      Target a high savings rate
      (we saved 70% for years, less at the start, more at the end)
      Invest the difference (See Jim Collins’ Stock Series)
      Wait. Compound interest takes time to work

      Reply
  5. Dan

    Hello! My name is Dan. I am in my early twenties and have yet to keep track of my spending. I know roughly how much money I have and how much I spend but I do not record the details. I don’t save receipts. I am guessing I should though. Do you just record what you spend and what you earn? Then what do you do? Many Thanks

    PS I love your blog! Its great to know that this is possible

    Reply
    • Go Curry Cracker

      Hi Dan

      I write down each transaction in an Evernote file and then enter that data into an Excel file, which is what I use to generate our monthly expense reports.

      All credit card transactions are tracked automatically by Personal Capital, as are ATM withdrawals

      Looking at the sum of all transactions by month is critical, as it can find big holes or poor spending patterns. For example, someone might think they are spending $20 a month on coffee, but really they are spending $120. The former doesn’t seem like a big deal, but the latter might make somebody realize they would be better off making it at home

      This gets the efficiency habit started

      Reply
  6. Jack K.

    Hello Curry Cracker (I love curry!)

    My wife and I are both retired, early 60’s, no house no debts. After retirement, I decided to manage my own portfolio. Between my wife and I, we have 7 accounts (Margin (1), 401K (2), Keough (2), Roth IRA(2)). Total of about $1M, with a ratio of about 60% fixed income – 40% stocks.

    It’s becoming to be a nightmare allocating the right assets with the right account.
    If you have all your portfolio money in ETFs, did you balance it between fixed and stocks? If you have $1M portfolio, did you divide it into 4 or 5 class of assets?

    How do you do it? What’s your balanced portfolio? Can you share the asset class you are invested in?

    Thanks for any insight!

    JK

    Reply
  7. Timothy

    Any reason not to go with GE Capital Bank which has higher interest rates? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Go Curry Cracker

      If the rate is higher, going with GE is great. I used to chase yield with our cash, but now that I have automatic transfers and bill pay, keep our cash supply low, and yield is generally low, I don’t do it anymore

      Reply
  8. NA

    My husband died in Feb now I’m having to decide what to do with 401k plan of 560,000 to either roll it into at ira or keep in 401k .I’m 56 and stay at home Mom taking care of our disabled daughter . I will be able to live off his work pension I will get each month but not much to spare .I don’t have any mortgage to pay and live a very simple life .I’m just wondering what you would do ??

    Reply
    • Go Curry Cracker

      Hi NA, I’m very sorry for your loss.

      In the decision of keeping the funds in the employer’s 401k plan or rolling to an IRA, the deciding factor should be fees. If the expense ratios are less than 0.1%, then there is no reason to do a rollover. If the fees are higher than that, they you can get great index fund options from Vanguard for 0.05% +/-.

      Reply
  9. Lars

    Just came across your blog. Congrats on your achievements! I was wondering if you’ve written a How-To guide for someone who would like to get started on the path to early retirement in terms of transitioning out of your full-time job? You mention the areas in which you save/invest (401k, IRA, HSA, and Vanguard Index Funds). Did you just set a goal for net worth based on what you decided you would need as income and go from there? Did you invest in any municipal bonds for tax purposes?

    Reply
  10. CA

    Great blog! Very excited to have come across your blog. Congrats! Do you have any feedback regarding Betterment?

    Reply
  11. LA

    Hello, your blog is such a great inspiration. Thank your for sharing all of this important information.

    I will be graduating from college soon with a large amount of student loan debt. I would like to pay this debt off as soon as possible, but however, I am not familiar with the stock market or investing, for someone whose not familiar with investing, where would you recommend I start investing? Is it possible to pay these student loans off way sooner than expected through investing? Can you provide me with any helpful advice and recommendations please?

    Reply
  12. Ezabel Arezoo Razy

    What credit card are you using abroad that has no foreign transaction fees and gives you money back?

    Reply
    • Go Curry Cracker

      We use various card, depending on what goal we are working towards at the time. See some examples here.

      Reply
  13. steph

    Schwab is another company that reimburses ATM fees with the freedom (no fee) card and if you get the Sapphire card (fee after the first year) you have the no foreign transaction fee benefit for your credit card purchases. We have enjoyed their services/benefits while traveling in the U.S. and abroad. Not sure how they are for the rest of their services offered.

    Reply
  14. caitie

    my partner and I are in our mid 20s. we have an 8 year old and another on the way. together we make about 70k a year. between our rent, cars, and debt consolidation loan we can feel the financial struggle to get things together. any tips on where we can start?

    Reply
    • Go Curry Cracker

      Debt is a toxic evil that will steal your retirement

      Pay it off like your life depends on it (it does.) Then eliminate at least one car.

      Reply
  15. Anna

    I used to hold all my investments with Fidelity but rolled them over to Merill Edge since they have no trading fees if you also have a connected Bank of America account. They do require that you get direct deposit set up into the account and maintain a balance but since I trade quiet often – it’s cost effective for me. I love your blog!!

    Reply
  16. Debra

    Hi first of all well done you two! I am a single mum of an 8-year-old, single income and just purchased my first home.

    It is impossible for me to save 70% of my earnings but I do manage to save and pay a mortgage as well (by taking in a housemate etc) what would be your tips for someone like me, who is doing ok but could do better?

    I am from New Zealand (we don’t have 401k but is that the same as superannuation?..we can’t draw on that until retirement age so not an option for us kiwis).

    Would just appreciate your feedback or opinion for single parents wanting to get ahead who aren’t on a large income – you must have some tips or advice. 🙂

    Reply
    • Go Curry Cracker

      Hi Debra

      I believe a 401k is similar to a Superannuation, but am not familiar with the details. In the US, you can withdraw funds from the 401k before retirement age (59.5) if you follow the rules. I’m not sure if the same option exists in NZ.

      When it comes to becoming FI, savings rate is everything. That involves either increasing income or spending less.

      All the best

      Jeremy

      Reply
  17. Ashley

    What if your 401k has no index fund options, high fees, and your income is too high to contribute to a traditional IRA? My husband and I are debating whether maxing out 401k still makes sense in this scenario. Yes, we would save on taxes, but we would also pay more in fees and potentially be invested in funds that are not our first choice.

    Reply
    • Go Curry Cracker

      It depends. Everything in investing is a compromise, and sometimes the 2nd choice is good enough.
      Once you leave this employer, you can immediately roll the 401k into a Traditional IRA and change the investments to low-cost index funds. If early retirement is a goal, hopefully you will have this opportunity sooner than later. The fees aren’t a huge deal when compared to 25%+ tax savings over a decade or two (crudely, 99%^30 = 74%)

      Reply
  18. Steve

    Hi Jeremy,
    Really great site, thank you for sharing all the info.
    I’m in the UK so a lot of the jargon you use is unfamiliar but I think I get the general principles and it is still really useful.
    My only question is around mortgage/property. Sorry if you have addressed this somewhere I’ve not read yet.
    I had been of the mindset that having my mortgage is ok because as long as I pay it off as quickly as possible, AND save other income, then at the end I have an asset the value of which counts towards my total investments. What are your views on mortgage debt? And/or property as an investment?
    Thanks!!

    Reply
    • Go Curry Cracker

      Hi Steve

      Welcome! I’m not familiar with the UK property laws and taxes thereof.
      But from an investment and quality of life perspective, we will be Renters for Life. This is in part based on experience of owning a home that was a great investment (but not really.)

      Some people do really well with Real Estate investments, if bought specifically for that purpose and run as a business. In that case, I would prefer to own multi-family / apartment buildings, which have better scale.

      Cheers

      Jeremy

      Reply
  19. Riley

    Hi Jeremy,

    Love the blog, it’s very inspirational.

    I have a question about how you maintain a USA based home address when you are living overseas? All the investment and checking accounts need a mailing address. Do you use an address where a friend or family member lives? Could a P.O. box be used?

    Thank!

    Reply
    • Go Curry Cracker

      Hi Riley

      We use a friend’s home address. Most services need a physical address, which can be provided from a company such as Traveling Mailbox.

      Update: we’ve been using Traveling Mailbox for many months now and love it. See our review.

      Reply
  20. Marcella

    Ah, so jealous (and happy for you guys!) that you just spent time in Chiang Mai. My favorite place in Thailand. I’ve just started a Roth with Vanguard and have the Total index. I’m wondering if you’d share any thoughts on how to find a good fund for dividends that hit that 4% mark you took advantage of (mentioned during your interview in a Forbes). How about bonds? What do you look for there? Thanks so much, happy travels!

    Reply
    • Go Curry Cracker

      We don’t strive for 4% dividends, but instead just track the market via index funds. We use the 4% rule as a guide.

      I don’t care for bonds at all, but if you want them in your portfolio I would use a total bond index fund such as BND.

      Reply
  21. Gerald

    Vanguard ETF/Mutual funds. plays 7.5 %… so for that why not just invest in bank interest rates? instant access to money not 100% risk of losing it all and rates were once 5%….

    Reply
    • Go Curry Cracker

      This is the only 100% guaranteed way to lose it all due to inflation and taxes.

      Reply
  22. Kathy

    Just found your blog! My retirement dreams are a bit different than yours – I am not as much into traveling year round and I enjoy having a home to come back to when I do travel! I am still gonna study some of your financial stuff to see if I can learn from it. I am trying to do some things with some investment real estate (which I actually like to be involved in). I am working on building my 401(k) and other stock investments to provide some passive income as well.

    I am much closer to traditional retirement age than you are, but I want to have a “fun” retirement instead of just subsisting on the bare minimum like so many people do. I know that one key is income coming in apart from a traditiional job. Another key is a good amount of savings/investments that I can rely on to keep my future secure. I definitely do my best to take advantage of all the tax breaks that I can in order to keep more of my money for myself…. Real estate is actually a great vehicle for that if one can stand being a landlord.

    Reply
    • Go Curry Cracker

      Financial independence just enables you to do what you want without concern for $. There are a lot of good ways to live, and a lot of different ways to get to freedom. Good luck!

      Reply
  23. Kris

    Hi there,
    Enjoying your blog. We have plenty in retirement accounts, I believe, 1.2 million in ESOP, 281,000 in 401K, $70,000 in Roths and about $100,000 in extra real estate. No debt. We don’t have enough liquid cash (about $125,000 today) to retire now (ages 53) and make it to 59 1/2 without pulling early with the penalties. I’m not entirely opposed to the penalties to live a more preferred life but am wondering what you think? We are currently putting $24,000 a year in 401K. What if we stopped that and started putting that much (or more) into an EFT or savings account? I have just moved some cash from Betterment to Vanguard based on your Betterment blog. Thanks for the help. Regards!

    Reply
    • Go Curry Cracker

      Then you lose the tax reduction you would otherwise get for your 401k contribution.

      You can access those funds before Age 59 1/2 without penalty via a SEPP or a Roth IRA conversion ladder. At age 53, the SEPP option is a good way to go. See this post for examples: http://www.madfientist.com/how-to-access-retirement-funds-early/

      Reply
  24. John

    Hello. I’ve just recently read your blog and it’s really inspirational. Just wanted to ask if you know and recommend any comapny for investment in the stock market, being a non-american personal investor. Any inputs on this would be greatly appreciated

    Thanks.

    Reply
    • Go Curry Cracker

      Schwab, Etrade, Fidelity… I believe (but am not positive) that these companies will work with foreign investors.

      Reply
  25. Anna

    Mind sharing who you use for car and home insurance?

    Reply
    • Go Curry Cracker

      We don’t have a car or a home.

      For a time we used GEICO, since we were Berkshire Hathaway stockholders.

      Reply
  26. Ally

    I’d like to sell out of my Fidelity mutual funds and buy VTSAX, but Fidelity charges a $75 fee. All of our money (minus checking/savings) is at Fidelity. In this case does it make sense to open a Vanguard account in order to buy Vanguard funds and avoid fees, or do you recommend buying the Fidelity fund FSTVX that most resembles the VTSAX? Thank you for helping!

    Reply
    • Go Curry Cracker

      You could purchase the ETF (VTI) instead of the Mutual Fund. That is what we did.

      Reply
      • Kris Kramer

        Why the ETF and not the straight Index fund?
        Thanks!

        Reply
        • Go Curry Cracker

          They are virtually identical, but Fidelity charges $75 to purchase the Index fund (mutual fund) and only $7 to purchase the ETF.

          Reply
  27. Jorge

    I always try to control my spending, but for lack of discipline I handle losing control.

    Reply
  28. May

    I just discovered your blog and I love it! I have a quick question regarding Personal Capital. I signed up recently and I’ve been receiving quite a few calls asking me to talk to their advisor. Do you just let them know that you are not interested or is this part of the deal? Thanks so much for sharing your tips!

    Reply
    • Go Curry Cracker

      I’ve never spoken to PC on the phone, but I get a voice mail from them maybe every 6 months? I hear from others that you can let them know you aren’t interested.

      A “do it yourself” approach with low cost Vanguard index funds will in all likelihood provide greater returns than the PC investment services, but their portfolio and cash flow tracking tools are second to none.

      Reply
      • May

        Thank you for your quick response! Like you, I am completely invested in Vanguard index funds so I really wasn’t looking to work with anyone at PC. I just wasn’t sure if I had to.

        Best wishes you to and your family. I look forward to following you on your blog 🙂

        Reply
  29. Amanda

    Hi. Amanda from Australia. I turn 60 in 2017 and would like to retire. I am in an Industry Fund ( members only,low fee) Currently 40 def: 60 growth . Is that too conservative? Bit nervous as had to sell house in 2009 due to investment losses. Husband not on same page financially.( 100 penny hopefuls equities not doing well) We do own a business prob worth $900k but if lease not renewed in 2022 then worth nothing . We own our home worth $2milI ( not a big deal in Australia expensive real estate ) Guess whilst I need security my question is should I be taking more risk or would I perhaps not recover my losses in a down turn within my time frame ? What is your opinion given my age ? Thanks in advance . Love the blog. Amanda

    Reply
    • Go Curry Cracker

      Hi Amanda. It’s impossible to say… An important factor is how much you spend relative to your total investments, whether you have other income sources (pension, Social Security, etc…) Read the details of the 4% rule as a guide. 60/40 has worked well in the past for US markets.

      Reply
  30. John

    Hi GCC,
    I also have 95% of my savings invested using Fidelity, ishares etfs instead because thru fidelity their have same expense rate and are commission free.
    My question is. Do you use Fidelity GO or you do it yourself? I’m on FG but thinking to do it myself..not sure what to do…any advice?

    Reply
    • Go Curry Cracker

      Hi John, I do it all myself.

      Reply
  31. John T

    HI GCC – I’ve been reading your blog and really enjoy it thus far – thank you. Regarding your suggestion for a Checking/Savings account, I’ve been using Kasasa Cash for the past 5 years and get 2.5% in my checking account up to $25k and then 1% for the Savings account. The catch is you need to make 10 transactions / month on their debit card, get e-statements and pay one bill electronically / month. Easy to do. This provides some nice income and gives me a place to keep my emergency cash. Best of all it’s only offered by local banks with great credit ratings. Check it out and let me know your thoughts.

    Thanks again
    John

    Reply
    • Go Curry Cracker

      Hi John,

      Kasasa is a good option. Since we are outside the US most of the time, it doesn’t work out to use debit cards due to foreign transaction fees. I do have an account at BECU that pays 4% on the first $500 on both checking and saving. The rest we put in the 360 account.

      Reply
  32. Margie

    Hello,

    Thank you for sharing all of your accomplishments! I’ve truly become inspired.

    I’ve read many pages in your blog and have started reading “The Simple Path to Wealth”; however, there is still a good bit of confusion and I am quite overwhelmed as well.

    Please correct me if I am mistaken: If I want to retire early it would be a good idea for me to open a brokerage account and purchase index funds outside of my IRA. I am looking into the index funds from Vanguard.

    I have an account at Fidelity with an IRA and a Roth IRA. The Fidelity rep told me that VTSAX is not available (because it is an Admiral Fund) and if I want to buy VTI there is a $4.95 fee every time I make a purchase.

    If I am planning to accelerate savings and purchase an index fund every month it seems like it would would it be better for me to open the brokerage account directly with Vanguard and avoid the $4.95 fee even though it would be easier to have everything in one place. What is your opinion?

    The Fidelity rep also told me that I would have to pay taxes on any profits in the brokerage account even if I reinvest those profits Is there a way to get around this?

    I apologize if my questions have been answered elsewhere.

    Thank you!

    Reply
    • Go Curry Cracker

      Having a taxable brokerage account is not required for early retirement, but saving upwards of 50% of after-tax income is. $60/year isn’t a ton of money when you are saving that much, but if you would prefer not to pay it you can open an account at Vanguard and/or do as Mark suggests in the comment below.

      A taxable account is taxed, so yes, any dividends or realized capital gains in that account are subject to tax. Your Federal tax rate may be 0% on qualified dividends and long term capital gains if your income is less than $100k married / $50k single. Your State tax rate would also apply.

      Reply
      • Margie

        After reviewing https://gocurrycracker.com/turbocharge-savings/ once more I see that it would be best to max out my Fidelity IRA and employer retirement plan (a Simple IRA) before putting money into a taxable brokerage account, right?

        My employer Simple IRA does not offer an index fund at all. Looking at the “Simple Path to Wealth” it seems it would be best to contribute to a Target Fund. I’m thinking maxing out the employer Simple IRA contribution before putting money into a taxable brokerage account would still be the way to go (because it will reduce my taxable income and there is a company match), right?

        Returning to the taxes subject. I was not able to deduct my entire IRA contribution for 2016 (income combined with contributing to an employer sponsored plan). It seems like contributions to the IRA are not helping reduce my taxable income. Is there a benefit to going ahead and maxing out the IRA contribution before opening the brokerage account?

        I could also contribute to an IRA in my spouse’s name, but again if it does not reduce taxable income what is the benefit of an IRA contribution over a taxable brokerage account?

        Thank you again for your help and time!

        Reply
  33. Mark

    Margie, you can use ishares commission-free ETFs instead of Vanguard. They became cheaper than Vanguard’s lately. Instead of VTSAX or VTI, in Fidelity I use ITOT (the same VTI etf but from Ishares). The AGG bond fund is free but there is a better one, the IUSB.
    They are all comission free and you can buy every month without paying a penny in commissions.
    As per the tax part of the question, I’ll defer to Mr. GCC

    Reply
    • Margie

      Hello Mark,

      Thank you for sharing.

      My question is how do you know that ITOT is the same as ETF VTI?

      Also, how do you know that IUSB is better?

      Thank you,

      Margie

      Reply
  34. Mark

    Margie, with some research. Just check out the holdings companies on both funds, the return history (you can use https://www.portfoliovisualizer.com/ for that). Also expense rate of itot is 0.03% while VTI is 0.05..the lowest out there at the moment. If you want to know more https://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=149603.
    The IUSB is a total bond market index fund. It has hundreds of bonds w/ different maturity yrs…it’s more diversified than AGG or BND but quite comparable…it’s just the one I use and recommend but you should do your own home work to decide.

    Reply
    • Margie

      This is very helpful, Mark. Thank you.

      Reply
  35. SnackySnack

    Hello GCC!! I stumbled upon your blog a couple weeks ago when I Googled something like “European Budget Itinerary”. Then I started reading your savings and investing stories and I thought…Hey I can do this! (Or something like it) So first thanks for helping me to think beyond my (probably postponed while I get my savings up) Epic European Adventure. My question/issue: I am an American citizen living and working in South Korea. I was planning on buying Admiral Shares in/from Vangaurd in a few months. Is it really true that they don’t open expat accounts?? I realize that you opened your accounts before you started traveling fulltime. I would like to start investing as opposed to sitting on cash that won’t grow. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    Reply
    • Go Curry Cracker

      Welcome SnackySnack

      Technically, non US residents cannot purchase mutual funds. But they can purchase ETFs.

      Vanguard as a matter of policy chooses not to open new accounts for non US residents. But, theoretically, if you have a US address there is no way for them to know where you reside.

      Or you can open a brokerage account at any of the various brokerages and buy ETFs.

      Reply
      • SnackySnack

        Thanks for the welcome and immediate response! I understand. Will look into all of the above. Truly appreciate your response. This little hiccup seemed like a pretty big deal a few hours ago. There always options. I’ll have to keep that in mind and stay focused. Thanks again and again GCC!!

        Reply
  36. BooksAreForever

    Hi GCC – Do you have a recommendation for tax prep software? I don’t think I’ve seen you mention if you do your taxes yourself with software or by hand or if you use a tax accountant. Thanks for your advice!

    Reply
    • Go Curry Cracker

      I do our taxes myself, but use TurboTax to make it quick and easy.

      Reply

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