Micawber’s Favorites – A Roundup of My Favorite Financial Articles from November 2016

Here are some of my favorite personal finance articles from November 2016.  Enjoy!

We enjoy giving to people in need and causes we believe in but there is not a lot of slack in our budget for spontaneous giving.  We learned a long time ago that the best way for us to give is to make giving part of our plan – to include it in our budget.  Otherwise, it never seems to happen.  We do that but we often find giving opportunities during the month that we didn’t plan on but would like to contribute to.  The best way to handle these situations is to have an account just for spontaneous giving.  You fund the account each month, then when opportunities arise the money is available.  That is the idea behind this wonderful article that not only teaches you how to set up a giving fund but also shares some personal experiences of meaningful ways the author has used her giving fund to help others.  Great stuff!

Several years ago, when my wife and I got serious about getting out of debt, I created an Excel spreadsheet to track our progress.  My spreadsheet has served its purpose but is not nearly as nice as the free debt repayment spreadsheet featured in this article.  I wish I would have known about this before putting all the work into creating mine. 

Speaking of spreadsheets, did you know that October 17th of each year is National Spreadsheet Day?  I didn’t until I read this article.  It commemorates the day in 1979 when VisiCalc, the first spreadsheet program, was released.  That is just one of the fun facts from this article.  Another is that spreadsheets were invented over a decade after we first put man on the moon.  Landing a man on the moon and bringing him safely home is impressive enough, but doing it without the aid of spreadsheets is hard to believe.  Maybe it really was a hoax.  Like many of you I use spreadsheets every day, and I have a hard time imagining a world without them.  Yet they are a relatively recent invention.  When VisiCalc was released in 1979 I was just getting my driver’s license and couldn’t have cared less about the invention that would change our world.  How things have changed. 

Here is a link to a fascinating Planet Money podcast that recounts how spreadsheets were invented and how they have changed our world.  If you have a soft spot in your heart for spreadsheets I highly recommend it. 

This post describes a creative and fun family activity to teach kids about money.  It doesn’t just teach kids how to budget in general, but helps them understand how your family’s budget works.  After participating in this activity your kids will be much less likely to argue with you when you tell them something “is not in our budget.”  I wish I would have known about this when my kids were younger.   This is a great idea. 

A collection of 16 great quotes on gratitude and contentment.  Don’t wait until next Thanksgiving to read and discuss these quotes with your kids.  Gratitude is needed all year round.  And if you don’t have kids, share them with someone else or simply treat yourself. 

The Micawber Principle is all about creating freedom and happiness through living below your means.  This article contains an awesome chart that shows you how soon you can achieve financial freedom based on how far below your means you are currently living.  There is a lot of great information in this one chart. 

In this activity you drag pictures of possible retirement activities and locations into different baskets.  It is designed to help you think clearly about what kind of retirement you want.  This would be a great activity to do as a couple, and then compare what areas you agree on and what areas you differ on.  This is both a fun and useful activity for those of you who are getting close to retirement. 

I recently finished reading the best-selling book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth.  I loved the book and highly recommend it.  This article is a great overview of the book and how the concepts it teaches relate to personal finance. 

As you prepare for the holidays, here is a good reminder that often the best gifts we can give are gifts of time and service. 

Most of you probably think America would win just about any shopping contest, but after looking at retail data from 8 countries this article concludes that Canadians increase their spending on electronics and clothing in December far more than any other country (with America coming in a distant 2nd).  When it comes to increased holiday spending on food, America comes in dead last, with the European countries of Italy, France, and Spain on the podium.  Interesting!   

2 comments for “Micawber’s Favorites – A Roundup of My Favorite Financial Articles from November 2016

  1. December 14, 2016 at 9:44 am

    Thanks for checking out my guest post at centsiblyrich.com! It’s always nice to get featured like this…and thanks for the kind words!

    • Brent Esplin
      December 14, 2016 at 9:48 am

      Thanks for the fun idea for teaching kids about finances. Keep up the good work.

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