Blog Roundup (3-1-13)

I always love sharing my favorite blogs with people, so each week I’ll be giving you guys a roundup of the posts I’ve really enjoyed reading.

If you like them, make sure to subscribe and follow these great bloggers on Twitter and Facebook to share the love!



  • Think you’re immune to ads? Think again. Get Rich Slowly mentions some grocery store sales tactics you may not realize are being pulled on you.
  • We could all use a reminder to be kinder to ourselves. Live Love Work gives us 33 ways to do it.
  • Then go and make someone else feel great with The Possibility of Today’s 10-second challenge.
  • Cool free stuff (maybe?): I like that the founders of Take Our Stuff are torn over the coolness of this week’s giveaway. If you like miniature guns, go sign up! (And if you don’t, they have a list of reasons why maybe you should. Pretty funny stuff.)

Are there any great posts you came across recently? Share them with us in the comments!

Finding a Work-Life Balance can be a Pain in the Butt

thurn and taxis board game

[The following is a guest post from Crystal at Budgeting in the Fun Stuff, who has been a full time blogger since July 2011. She also writes and co-owns Richly Reasonable.]

Hi, my name is Crystal and I never intended to be a workaholic.  Really.  I spent my early 20’s thinking that workaholics needed to get out more, develop some hobbies, make some friends.  Then I discovered blogging and blog advertising when I was 27, and I have been trying to find a good work-life balance for the last 3 years.

Balance is Important

When I first jumped into blogging in 2010, I just saw it as a really fun hobby.  I did put a lot of time into it, but I fit it in around my day job and time with family and friends.  But in 2011, I decided to turn it into my full time job.  That’s when I sort of stopped existing to everyone I knew “in real life”.

I worked and commuted for a total of 45-48 hours a week at my day job.  But then I also fit in 40-50 hours a week at home taking care of my online world.  I usually only hung out with my husband and anyone else about once a week without a computer in my lap.

The payout was quitting my day job in July 2011, but that didn’t actually free up any of my time.  I just kept taking on more and more clients, started handling more and more emails, and started accepting every freelance gig that I could get.  The few close friends I had were really supportive and completely understood what self-employment entailed, but I missed them.  I missed just hanging out with my hubby or catching a movie with the group.  I missed having any social life at all that wasn’t email-based.

Finding the Work Balance

By early 2012, I knew that I needed help with my business, and I needed to work somewhat normal hours so I could have a life outside of the internet again.  My husband actually quit his day job in January 2012 to take over the record keeping and some emails.  That cut about 20 hours for me weekly, so I was down to 70-80 hour work weeks.  As he learned, those hours balanced out a little more.

Now I work from home for about 60 hours a week and hubby is working about 30 hours at his computer.  About half of my hours are spent blogging, which he doesn’t do.  But he does work on the side as a varsity sports official for football and softball, so we each have our own hobby jobs.  We are both satisfied with our work life, so at least we have the “work” part of the balance taken care of.

Finding the Life Balance

Finding a good balance in our social lives has been a bit more difficult.  We had a hard time connecting with anyone else after we graduated in 2005.  But we made some very close friends in late 2009 and connected with another close group of awesome people in late 2012 (yay for board gamers!!!).  We love hanging out every spare minute that we can find.  That isn’t exactly balance…but for now, it is what it is going to be.  We enjoy our friends and if hanging out 5-6 times a week is a bit much, so be it.  ;-)  We still find the time to take care of the basic chores and aren’t falling behind on work, so that is the definition of balance for us right now.  I’m sure as our friendships mature, we’ll actually have free time again, but I see pure free time as over-rated thus far.

What is your work-life balance?  Are you trying to fit in more work time or play time?  What suggestions would you have for others?

Think you’ve got what it takes to be a guest poster? Contact Em at em [at] blondeandbalanced [dot] com to learn more.

photo credit: viZZZual.com

Are you letting “future you” pay for today?

Pregnant  woman with money. Family budget.One of the things that I think gets many people in hot water with their finances is the idea of a “future you”…a somehow much more well-off version of yourself in the future who will be able to handle all sorts of things you can’t handle right now.

Really want that widescreen TV but you don’t have the funds to pay for it right now? Just open up a store credit card…future you can take care of the payments.

Hate the idea of giving up your daily lattes and pricey car lease? That’s OK…future you will be making a lot more money, so you can worry about putting aside for savings then.

Want to blow that raise on extra dinners out and a celebratory vacation? Why not…future you can deal with building up a retirement account. Right now, you deserve to enjoy what you’re earning!

The trouble with a “now” mindset

I know a lot of people who are stuck in debt or carrying big mortgages they’re having trouble swinging, who have all said at one point or another that they feel like they “sold” their future for stuff.

They weren’t thinking, in the heat of the moment, about how long they would be saddled with payments or what they would do years down the road if someone got sick or lost their job. They were keeping up with the Joneses, or living in the now, and they never stopped to consider what all that extra spending would do to their “future selves.” It makes me so sad, but I know it’s part of our whole “instant gratification” culture. It’s no wonder so many people fall into these traps.

Are you considering “future you” when you make your financial decisions?





photo credit:  SalFalko

Obtaining Money From Your Retirement Plan

Hammer and Piggy Bank

[This is a guest post by Toi. Think you’ve got what it takes to be a guest poster? Contact Em at em [at] blondeandbalanced [dot] com to learn more about becoming a guest poster yourself!]


When the chips are down and you need money fast, it may make sense for you to obtain money from your retirement plan. After all, you’ve probably been contributing to the plan for years, and you won’t need to use the money for retirement any time in the near future.

Unfortunately, adopting this mindset may be a big mistake that could end up costing you a great deal of money in the future. Here are some things that you should think about before deciding to obtain money from retirement products:

Decrease In Funds

Borrowing from your retirement plan has a wide variety of effects that can be felt immediately as well as far into the future. One of the biggest effects that this borrowing will have is the reduction in funds in the account. Not only are you removing the money you’ve put in; you’re also limiting the account’s ability to earn interest. The entire reason for saving for retirement is to have money available to use after you have stopped working. If you start taking money out of the plan, that is money that cannot be used during your retirement years.

Increased Taxes And Fees

Money obtained from a retirement account may be subject to additional taxes and penalty fees, costing you more than other types of loans or credit. Some of these penalties may be avoided if you’re able to pay back the money into the account within a predetermined time period, but most withdrawals from retirement accounts are made due to financial hardship, lessening the chances that you will be able to return the money. If you cannot pay the money back in time, tax-free deferrals into your account that were withdrawn will be taxed at the maximum amount allowed at tax time.

Lower Payouts After Retirement

Withdrawing or borrowing money from your retirement account can result in lower payouts during your retirement years. The amount that you receive each month during your retirement years is based on the amount of money in the account and the length of time you expect to be making withdrawals from the account. If you would like to see how the withdrawal could affect your account monetarily, use one of the various annuity calculator programs available on the internet to calculate the changes. What you discover may change your mind about the wisdom of borrowing money from your retirement account.


Photo credit:  Images_of_Money