Automation is a buzz word among financial advisors. And for good reason too. There are simply too many benefits of automating your finances for someone who cares about accumulating money to ignore. Whether direct depositing money into a savings or retirement account when you get paid, setting up automatic bill-pay, or investing in no-hassle index funds, automation can mean less stress, guess-work, and precious time managing your personal finances.

Complete automation can also have some serious disadvantages as well. Becoming aware of them can help you make more informed decisions about how — and how much — to use this strategy.

Here are three possible downsides to “set it and forget it” finances.
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401k vs roth ira
Almost every week, I read an article telling me how big of a nest egg I need to retire comfortably, and almost every time, I think about my own retirement funds and try to compare it to the guidelines. Yet, every single time, I ask myself:

Is the retirement savings being referred to a post or pretax amount?

It seems like minor detail, which makes the point all the more important. Pretax retirement savings does not equal post tax funds. Make sure you take this into account when you do your retirement planning, or risk a true awakening when you can least afford it.
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zero-waste lifestyle
I hardly ever recycled (other than turning in soda bottles and cans for Michigan’s $.10 deposit) growing up, and I shrugged it off as too much of a hassle in early adulthood — especially when I lived in rural areas that didn’t provide curbside recycling pickup. It wasn’t until I moved to Washington a few years ago that recycling truly became a habit for me, and now I can’t imagine not doing it.

Recycling protects the environment for only a small cost to us. It’s a good way to redeem waste, but what if we could create zero waste in the first place?

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money talk taboo
Whether at a family reunion or a business lunch, we all know to avoid topics like politics and religion if we want to stay out of arguments and avoid making people feel uncomfortable. Another taboo topic that can be even more uncomfortable for people to discuss is money – specifically, personal finances.

Americans consider money as one of the hardest topics to talk about with others. In many cases people think personal finance is even harder to talk about than death, politics and religion! Knowing how passionately we tend to feel about the rest of these topics hints at the emotions tied to the money we carry in our wallets and bank accounts.

And talking about money doesn’t get any easier inside our homes either. Although we could discuss the many reasons we have for avoiding money talk with family and close friends, let’s look, instead, at five advantages of talking about it more in both private and public circles:
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save money on babies

The first time I walked into Babies”R”Us when pregnant with my first child, I felt overwhelmed almost to the point of hyperventilating. There were so many products out there — and it felt like every single purchase I made would determine my child’s fate.

Four years and another baby later, it’s clear to me now that baby gear manufacturers and retailers probably want you to be panicked. It’s much easier to sell unnecessary items to frightened and overwhelmed parents, since you’ll be happy to buy any product that will help you feel more in control.

But just like any other purchases, some baby gear is worth the investment, while some will clutter up the nursery until you have a yard sale a decade later.

Here are four baby products worth spending extra money on: [ continue reading… ]

side gigs

Since job security is almost as hard to find as well-rested new parents, we have to create our own financial stability by building multiple sources of incomes. That can mean taking on freelance work, starting up our own businesses, or pursuing a potentially lucrative hobby.

With the average worker now holding 10 different jobs before age 36, the only way to guarantee a little bit of continuity is to take matters into our own hands. Here are nine ways to get started:

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