JSJ 273: Live to Code, Don’t Code to Live with 2 Frugal Dudes Sean Merron and Kevin Griffin

JSJ 273: Live to Code, Don't Code to Live with 2 Frugal Dudes Sean Merron and Kevin Griffin

This episode of JavaScript Jabber features panelists Aimee Knight, Cory House, and Charles Max Wood. Special guests Sean Merron and Kevin Griffin discuss how to live frugally. Tune in to hear their advice!

[00:02:14] Introduction to Sean and Kevin

Sean and Kevin are the hosts of the 2 Frugal Dudes Podcast. They are middle class software engineers. Sean works a 9 to 5 job, while Kevin owns a small business called Swift Kick. Swift Kick is a company that focuses on independent consulting, software development, and training companies for software development.

[00:05:50] Different Types of Financial Advisors

There is no legal reason that financial advisors have to work in your best interest. On the 2 Frugal Dudes Podcast, Sean and Kevin advise people to use fiduciary advisors. These types of advisors are not legally allowed to accept kickbacks from different funds. This means that they are more likely to help you to the best of their ability. They get paid for their services. Laws are currently changing so that everyone has to be a fiduciary advisor unless clients sign a specific form.

[00:10:00] What do I do with money left over at the end of the month that I can’t put into a 401K and Roth IRA?

They suggest that you put only the amount of money in your 401K that your company will match. Then, put the rest into a Roth IRA and max that out. Before you decide to do what next, you need to decide why you are saving money. When will you need the money? What will you need it for? Once you know the answer to these questions, you will be able to assess what your money will best be placed. For example, if you are saving to buy a house you need to put your money in a safe investment. A Roth IRA can be used as a savings vehicle or as an emergency fund. Sean believes that a Bank CD is the safest return you can get.

[00:14:30] Best Way to Save 

For those who are self-employed, it is a good idea to have two emergency funds – a personal and a business fund. Business emergency funds should have five months of personal salary. Kevin built his up over two or three years and uses it as self-insurance.

Sean says that the employee world is different. For him, he only keeps the minimum amount in his emergency fund. He knows that he is in a field where his job is in high demand, so feels comfortable with being able to get a job quickly. For others, this may not be the case. Have to evaluate how much to save based on how long you think you may need the money.

[00:18:50] What is the first thing people should be doing for their own financial well being?

Kevin follows Dave Ramsey’s advice.

  1. Basic emergency fund. He uses $1,000. Most emergencies fall under that amount of money.
  2. Get rid of all consumer debt. This includes car payments, credit cards, and student loans. Mortgage is not consumer debt.
  3. Grow an emergency fund to three or six months of expenses.
  4. Investments. Setting up retirement funds, paying for college, or mortgages.

Sean values early retirement so he focuses on that. What does retirement mean to me? What does rich mean? You should always track your money through a budget. Then you can funnel money towards emergency funds and tackling debt.

Self-insurance means that you don’t have to worry about funds. It helps lower your stress knowing that you have your finances in order. It is a peaceful place to be and opens up opportunities for you. If someone has stressors in their life – for example, their car breaks down – and they have no money to fix it, they now have car and money problems. This stress can then potentially lead to other problems such as marriage problems. If the money to fix the broken car would have been there, it would alleviate stress.

[00:28:23] Difference between 401k, IRA, and Roth IRAs

A 401k is an employer provided, long-term retirement savings account. This is where you put in money before it is taxed. With this plan you are limited with the funds you can choose from to invest in.

IRAs are long-term retirement plans as well. The first type of IRA is a Traditional IRA, which is similar to a 401k. You get tax reduction for the money you put in the account. You pay taxes once you withdraw money. A Roth IRA is where you already pay taxes on money that you are putting in, but don’t have to pay taxes when withdrawing money. You can withdraw contributions at anytime without being penalized, you just can’t take out any earnings.

Another thing that is potentially good for early retirement is a Roth IRA conversion ladder. This is where you take money from a 401k and convert it into a Roth IRA and use it before 60 years old to fund early retirement.

Traditional IRAs are good for business owners looking for tax deductions now. An HSA (Health Savings Account) can also be used as a retirement device. It goes towards medical expenses if needed.

[00:34:20] Are there tools or algorithms I can use to figure this stuff out?

There are some. Portfolio Visualizer allows you to choose different portfolio mixes and put different amounts of money in each one. Portfolio Charts is similar to Portfolio Visualizer but gives nice graphics. Sean created a JavaScript website to help people use to figure out early retirement.

The hardest part is calculating return because you have to estimate what your return will be each year.

[00:39:00] Put Your Money Somewhere

The only bad investment is not making an investment. Even making a bad investment is better than not having any at all. Inflation eats away at money that is just sitting.

[00:42:05] If you get one of these advisors what advice should you be looking for?

Need someone that tries to understand your particular situation. “It depends” is very true and your advisor should know that. No two people will have the same financial goals. They should want to help reach your goals in the least costly way possible. Other things they should be able to do is be honest and help you control your emotions during upswings and downswings.

[00:47:08] Why index funds?

As an investor, you can buy an index fund cheaper than buying the whole index. A mutual fund will try to buy and sell the stocks in that index in order to follow the index's performance. As an investor, you have the opportunity to buy into a mutual fund that handles it for you.

You don’t have to independently invest in companies either. You can invest in an index instead that will look at, for example, top performing technology companies. It is usually a better value.

[00:53:33] How much do I invest in my business verses putting money into a Roth IRA or 401k?

Sean thinks it comes down to retirement goals. At some point you will want money to come in passively and retire in the future. If you can passively put X amount of dollars into your company then it can be looked at as a form of investment.

Kevin evaluates his business goals every quarter. He creates a business budget based off of those goals.




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