Listing Forward

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It’s that time of year when everyone makes resolutions.

So I figured, “why not do my readers a solid, and make their lists for them?”

The only hesitation I had is that these lists often contain items like;

1. Eat more chard.

Or

2. Exercise to the point of exhaustion on a daily basis.

Sad-Clown

Psyched to begin?

So one might get the idea that this will be a list of distasteful chores.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact if you take me up on my offer and adopt this list, not only will you end 2014 better traveled, in a better financial situation, and happier, but you’ll probably have a great time doing so.

And so without further ado, the official Miles Dividend M.D. New Year’s Resolution List (click on hyperlinks for more detailed posts relevant to the item):

1. Figure out your savings percentage. Just doing this one simple calculation will give you an idea of how many years you are on track for to achieve financial independence. This will make motivating yourself to accomplish the other items on this list a snap.

2. Check your credit score. This is a necessary first step before diving into the miles game, which is a rewarding endeavor if there ever was one.

3. Adjust your paycheck so an additional 10% of your income goes into your savings account. It’s likely that if you do this, you will not even notice a difference in your quality of life. But in doing so you will be taking a definitive step towards your own financial freedom.

4. Assuming your credit score is above 700, apply for six rewards credit cards, plus a bluebird card. Once you’ve accomplished this you will be well on your way towards traveling for free for the rest of the year.

5. Read a book about investing. The importance of this cannot be overstated. You need to develop your own investment philosophy, that will allow you to stay on course during the next bear market. Here’s a good one to start with.

6. Put all of your expenses that you can on your new credit cards. And use manufactured spending techniques to offset the expenses which cannot be put on your credit cards (i.e. mortgage payments, car payments, student loans…) if you’re willing to do this little bit of extra work, hitting your hundreds of thousands of miles worth of sign up bonuses should be a piece of cake.

7. Sign up for Personal Capital (It’s free), and take a look at all of your current investments. If any of your mutual funds have expense ratios above 0.5%, search out better options within your retirement plan. Keeping costs down is so important to your future retirement plans. This is the first step to making sure you can do just that.

8. Get organized! You’ve got a bunch of credit cards that you are responsible for now. Come up with a system to pay your bills on time and pay them in full. If you’re not willing to do this, then you’re not ready to reap the rewards of the miles game yet. (but honestly, it’s not that hard.)

9. Using your newly earned book smarts (See item # 5) figure out your ideal asset allocation. Write it down. Now rebalance your portfolio so that it reflects this ideal. Plan on doing this again no later than next year.

10. Book yourself a trip using miles. Woohoo! Now Figure out exactly how much money you just saved and invest that amount in your retirement accounts.

(11. Eat less meat, more vegetables and fruits, less refined grains and junk food, more whole grains and whole foods, and exercise more.)

Feel free to disregard number 11. I very well might.

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