Some people love to pore over their finances to optimize their savings like a fine-tuned machine. Myself, I prefer to stick my head in the sand and hope my bank account just manages itself. Felix Salmon, senior editor at Fusion and co-host of Slate’s Money podcast, is here to help us sort dollars and cents.
This Week’s Discussion
Save more and spend less. I think most of us have that part figured out, but there’s a lot of minutiae to money management and new options that let you skip having a bank account at all. Felix espouses the utility of reloadable debit cards, for example, which let you store your money sans bank fees. Almost like cash under a mattress without the mattress. There’s Chase Liquid, Amex Bluebird, and newer upstarts like Simple.
For a lot of people, the 800 pound gorilla in the room is credit card debt (an £800 gorilla would be $1005 US dollars, by the way). You should always prioritize paying off credit cards before other debt since they have the highest interest rates. Felix even recommends you take out a loan to pay off cards through a place like Lending Club, if you can, as loans usually have much lower interest rates. And never pay to check your credit score; there are a lot of free options like Credit Karma.
And if you have enough money to actually start investing—“enough” meaning that you have over six months of your budget saved up, says Felix—you can try a company like Vanguard or Wealthfront. That’s just skimming the surface of our discussion, so pour yourself a glass of wine, invest your time, and listen to our entire discussion with Felix Salmon.
Our Upgrades of the Week
Every week we like to round out the show with the little upgrades we’ve made in our own life. This week it’s puzzles, wine, and collective bargaining.
- Melissa: Melissa subscribed to the New York Times crossword puzzle so she no longer has to wait until the weekend to get her puzzle fix. With digital access to the entire NYT crossword puzzle archives, she can now do a puzzle every darn day if she wants.
- Felix: Felix treated himself to a bottle of Frank Cornelissen’s Contadino, a $26 red wine from Sicily. His theory is that spending a little more on a nice bottle of wine is the closest you can get to literally buying happiness. And he shared the bottle so I agree.
- Andy: I didn’t make any small changes this week but reflected on what has actually improved my life in recent years: unionizing. We organized in 2015 and eventually joined the Writer’s Guild of America East, and our union has brought much-needed stability through a few storms, as well as a direct way to voice our concerns with management. Consider organizing in your workplace.
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