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Meet The Frugalwoods: Inspiration or Manipulation?



Earlier this year, I read the book Meet the Frugalwoods.

I found their story fascinating. They created a plan to reach their goals and prioritized their spending and savings.

The gist of their story is they both had jobs in the non-profit sector. They quit their jobs and bought a homestead in Vermont. She writes about all the ways they try to save money and cut costs.

I did enjoy the book, mainly with how it motivated me to pursue our financial goals. But then I started to look into the Frugalwoods website and see other people’s reaction to their story.

Meet The Frugalwoods

Online Reaction

From what I can tell, Frugalwoods already had quite a blog following before the book was published. People were fascinated with her ideas and liked her story. And then I started reading the reviews on Amazon for the book.

It seems as though Frugalwoods made themselves out to be “middle class.” And when people started finding out that even after “retirement,” they make more than $200,000 a year, they feel duped.

Part of me can see why they feel that way. They thought they could relate to their situation and what they accomplished is accessible to them. When they find out that their situations aren’t lined up, it can take the wind out of their sails.

Pretending to Be Scraping By

The fact that they were able to save over 70% of their income, not including their 401k contributions, should have made it evident that their income is way more than the average.

If you have a family and make $50,000/year, the most frugal people aren’t going to get anywhere close to a 70% savings rate. But if you take home more than $200k/year, that becomes much easier. That means you could live off of $60k/year and save $140k/year. That amount of savings is going to build fast. And it makes sense how they were able to accomplish “retirement” in their early 30’s.

We don’t make $200k/year, but we definitely are way above average. I don’t pretend to be poor, and I probably would classify our income as upper-middle class.

I’m not ashamed about how much we make. We worked hard to get where we are, and we will continue to push things forward. But I’m not going to pretend we are poor either. Our struggles pale in comparison to where some other families are, and I know we are well off.

When we talk about our finances and ideas, I think it is essential to be transparent about our situation. Not necessarily sharing exact numbers, but giving people an insight into where you are at. Because that could inform them if they can replicate what you are doing, or if they need more income to do the same thing.

Defining Retirement

I honestly don’t consider what the Frugalwoods did as what a traditional “retirement” is, where you stop working. Because it is clear both of them do still work.

But the key is they work doing things they want to do, where it is 100% their choice. Maybe they are trying to pad their nest egg more or find enjoyment in what they do.

In either case, both of them are still working.

And that is totally fine. But people read their description of retirement and get confused. This is partly why they started calling what they did as reaching “financial independence” instead of “retirement.”

We can argue all day about the definition of retirement and how that should look. Having young kids does change the available options. The important point is reaching a spot where you decide how you spend your time, and not doing it only for the paycheck. This idea is what defines financial independence, and this is what I’m passionate about.

Learning What You Can

We all like to read stories that we can connect with.

But we all start at different spots, with different incomes and scenarios. Even if I am reading a story about someone who makes much more than I do, I’m sure there are things I can learn.

The point isn’t to try to invalidate other people’s experiences. Sure, maybe they had certain things easier.

But what matters to me is what I can start doing in my own life. This does a few things:

  • Validates other people’s stories
  • Helps prevent the need always to compare yourself with others

When we set ourselves against one another, we don’t do anyone good.

Don’t Feel Bad About Where You Start

We don’t choose where we were born, how we look, and our personalities.

Some people are going to make more or less money than me. The goal isn’t that we should all make the same amount of money because we are on different paths.

We can accuse Frugalwoods of misrepresenting their income class, and I think that has some valid points. But even with a high income, they’ve done some great things. And what they are doing appears to be making them happy.

Even if Frugalwoods could afford to cut back and not be as frugal, I appreciate how they haven’t let their income and net worth stop them from pursuing what matters most to them.

If I had as much money as them, would I be as frugal? Probably not. My desire to be frugal in certain areas of our finances is primarily driven by trying to increase our net-worth as quickly as possible. But even with some of our budget cuts, they take being frugal to a much deeper level than we do.

If I compare our lives to theirs, I might be tempted to feel guilty in not doing enough. But then I remember we are on our path and still figuring this out. Maybe being ultra frugal is more embedded in their genes.

Is Frugalwoods Trying to Manipulate Us?

I do get the sense they are sincere with their audience. That what they are writing about is true to what they are doing.

But I also do feel like them considering themselves middle class to be semi-offensive. I don’t consider us to be middle class, based on our income.

Maybe they do this in an attempt to relate more to their audience. The idea is that by them believing in the belief that their income is similar to most people’s, that what they accomplished becomes inflated.

I’m learning that not everyone is willing or desires to be as transparent as I am. I’m not saying this to make myself look good or “wise.” But some people are more self-reflective than others, and I think this is one of my strengths.

In either case, even after I found out about what people thought about Frugalwoods, I still do believe this book is worth reading.

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The post Meet The Frugalwoods: Inspiration or Manipulation? appeared first on Your Money Geek.

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Why We Purchased



I am excited to announce that we purchased

If you are a Horror fan, you will likely be familiar with CrappyPasta; it’s the sister site to the widely popular CreepPasta horror-themed short story website.

However, if you are into money, side hustles, or just follow Your Money Geek to learn how to sell used panties online, you may be wondering what CrappyPasta is.

Likewise, if you are a CrappyPasta fan, you probably wondering; what happened to the site and what’s “Your Money Geek?”

Meet Crappy Pasta

CrappyPasta was the sister site to the popular horror website, CreepyPasta. Stories that did not quite meet CreepyPasta’s editorial guidelines were often given a home on CrappyPasta.

Some of the stories just needed a little TLC, some were bad, some were soooo bad they were entertaining, and others were pretty much like WTH.

What I loved about the site is it was an excellent opportunity for writers to take their first step into writing. Additionaly, the site offered some valuable feedback for authors to improve their work.

Also, the site contained enough neat ideas amongst the train wrecks it made shorting though all the posts fun. It’s kinda like digging through the 5 dollar movie bin at Walmart. 😉

The Potential of CrappyPasta

The CrappyPasta website has been dormant since 2017, it was not publishing new stories, and the site needed some love. Most of the posts didn’t have images, there were broken links galore, and most of the posts were (are) in need of significant formatting and spell checking.

I enjoy a silly story as much as the next guy, but walls of text make it hard to appreciate even bad posts. 

However, the site had over 4k posts and nearly 35k comments, so clearly, people enjoyed the website, and it was worth saving. So that’s where Brian and I stepped in and decided to acquire the site.

About Brian

Not much is known about Brian, we met on social media a year or so ago and bonded over our shared interest of Z Nation and sci-fi. All I know is he is not allowed back in Chicago because of the Walker Stalker Con incident and that he will be the head geek in charge of running the Geek Short Stories side of the website.

Why We Moved the Content to YMG

We could have kept all the content on the existing site; however, we felt moving the posts made the most sense for a few reasons.

  1. Running one site is easier than maintaining two
  2. We felt that the CrappyPasta and Your Money Geek (YMG) audience shared similar interests, i.e., video games, sci-fi, horror, movies, etc.

What will Change Post-Merger?

Short answer; not much.

However, we are implementing a few changes.

  1. We have rebranded CrappyPasta to Geek Short Stories.
  2. The quality of the stories will improve. We are committed to maintaining the charm of user-generated stories; however, posts will be edited for grammar and formatting.
  3. We have implemented sticker guidelines to publish submissions.

What Can Crappy Pasta Fans Expect?

We are committed to archiving most of the CrappyPasta website and will spend the next several months fixing up and improving the nearly 4k posts YMG has inherited from CrappyPasta.

  1. Readers can still comment and offer suggestions on posts
  2. Authors can solicit advice and feedback from readers.

Additionally, I hope that CrappyPasta readers will check out or geek posts and even some of our killer personal finance content. However, if you are just interested in short stories, you will find all your favorite CrappyPastas under the Geek Short Stories category tab.

If you would like to submit your own Geek Short Story, you may review our guidelines here. We are committed to bringing you the best in geek culture and personal finance. If you have a question or suggestion, leave us a comment or content us on our handy contact form.

The post Why We Purchased appeared first on Your Money Geek.

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TaxHawk 2020 Review – Excellent Bargain Tax Software



For the past several years, TaxHawk and it’s partner site, FreeTaxUSA, serve up almost identical services at identical prices. 

However this year, TaxHawk is working to differentiate itself by offering an extra tier of services to the TaxHawk site. They even created a new logo! 

The new “Deluxe Plus” tier is designed for people willing to pay for Live Chat and Phone Support.

Should you use the new Deluxe Plus tier or any of TaxHawk’s other offerings this year? See how TaxHawk ranks on our list of the best tax software.

We explain the ins and outs of TaxHawk’s tax filing software in 2020.

TaxHawk 2020 Logo

Quick Summary

  • Easy navigation and inputs
  • New Deluxe Plus tier with more support options
  • Great pricing for the options offered

TaxHawk Details

Product Name


Federal Price

Starts at $0

State Price

$12.95 per State

Preparation Type




TaxHawk – Is It Really Free?

TaxHawk offers free Federal Tax filing for all filers. That includes anyone from side hustlers, to people with student loan interest deductions, individuals with HSAs, and even self-employed people.

But TaxHawk isn’t 100% free. If you have to file a state return, you’ll pay $12.95 per state. It is worth noting that TaxHawk has a built-in calculator to help you appropriately pay taxes in multiple states (if that’s necessary), but you’ll have to pay extra for each additional state.

TaxHawk Pricing And Plans

TaxHawk has three pricing tiers. In all three tiers, the price for state filing is $12.95 per state. Read the notes below for more information on how these pricing tiers compare to FreeTaxUSA.




Deluxe Plus***

Best For

All Tax Situations

Priority support (email)
Audit assistance
Unlimited amended returns

Deluxe features
Live chat support
Phone support

Federal Pricing




State Pricing




Total Cost




* TaxHawk and FreeTaxUSA are identical on the free level.

** FreeTaxUSA Deluxe costs $6.99 vs. TaxHawk’s $5.99. However, FreeTaxUSA comes with LiveChat support at the Deluxe Level.

*** TaxHawk comes with Phone support and FreeTaxUSA does not.

Is TaxHawk Secure?

TaxHawk gives users multi-factor authentication. You can decide between email and text as your second-factor of authentication. Generally, text messaging is a more secure second-factor of authentication.

We strongly recommend adding two-factor authentication as we previously discussed in ways to prevent identity theft.

TaxHawk Navigation

Aside from TaxHawk’s different pricing structure, the difference between it and FreeTaxUSA are negligible.

TaxHawk’s navigation is a hybrid between guided and self-guided navigation. Unlike some of the more robust services (for example TurboTax, H&R Block, or TaxSlayer), TaxHawk doesn’t ask detailed questions about your income.

But, once you “enter” an income section it will ask helpful questions to guide you to the appropriate part of the software. One thing that I appreciated about TaxHawk’s navigation was the “help bubbles” sprinkled throughout the software. The help bubbles helped to define tax jargon. The bubbles also gave details on “what’s allowed” compared to what isn’t allowed.

On top of the help bubbles, TaxHawk has a “Where do I enter” link on the right hand side of software. This robust list gives links and information about where to enter every form and topic I could think of.

TaxHawk’s best navigation feature is its “Summary”. The summary section gives details on the income and deductions that you claimed. The details make it easy for you to check your actual entries against your “gut” or what you think you earned this year. This should make it easy for you to see if you’ve accidentally missed any critical information or “fat-fingered” anything you’re entering.

TaxHawk Summary

TaxHawk Ease Of Use

Overall, TaxHawk is fairly easy to use. But it does have some downfalls, especially for filers who don’t have experience filing taxes.

TaxHawk doesn’t allow any imports, which means there is a high potential for errors. Additionally, the navigation isn’t as robust as some top of the line products. That means that users might get lost if they don’t understand how to file taxes.

TaxHawk Knowledge Articles

TaxHawk serves up relevant knowledge articles in a “Top Issues” and “Help with this Page” links on the right hand side of the screen. Users can also search TaxHawk’s knowledge base using a search bar. The articles themselves tended to be an appropriate length, and most included hyperlinks to relevant sections. Many of the articles give details on what constitutes a business or deductible expense compared to a personal expense.

TaxHawk Extras

To get priority email support, unlimited amended returns, and audit assistance, you need to upgrade to the Deluxe version of the software. The cost is $5.99. To get phone and live chat support, you have to upgrade to the DeluxePlus version of the software which costs $10.99.

It’s important to note that TaxHawk doesn’t offer support from a tax filing professional. You have to be confident in your filing to use the software.

Who Should Use TaxHawk 2019-2020?

TaxHawk is an excellent bargain choice for 2020. While the software isn’t free, the high quality combined with the low price make it a worthy consideration. The interface improvements have really made it user-friendly this year.

As far as upgrades go, the Deluxe tier seems like a useful addition for just $5.99. The Deluxe Plus pricing tier may be a good choice for users who are likely to need last minute filing help, but otherwise users should skip it.

New filers should probably avoid TaxHawk because of the lack of guidance. You’ll find better alternatives with H&R Block or TurboTax.

Overall, TaxHawk offers a tax product rivals the best tax software, but it offers much lower prices if you’re comfortable without much navigation.

The post TaxHawk 2020 Review – Excellent Bargain Tax Software appeared first on The College Investor.

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Equity Adjustment with Raise?



Hi all – throwaway since information will get personal. Sorry for length.

31(M) Based out of Philadelphia, PA. Construction Superintendent

TLDR: With same construction company for nearly 7 years, 2 role changes and 2 rounds of raises in past year, but am I underpaid? What are "Equity Adjustments" for pay?

Salary increase timeline:

Before Dec 2018 – $66,000 base (OT eligible)

Dec 2018 – increased 4.5% to $68,973 (OT eligible)

Mar 2019 – increased 10% to $75,870 (OT eligible)

Dec 2019 – increased 9% to $82,698 (OT eligible)

I've been with my company (large engineering, procurement, construction management firm) for nearly 7 years. I've worked on construction sites nearly my entire time of employment and I would classify myself as a dedicated worker and general producer. I do what needs to be done for the sake of the construction job – a lot of nights and weekends and generally long days (I haven't had a timecard with less than 45 hours since the spring). I've always gotten the highest or second highest marks on my annual review. I am also compensated for OT worked on a standard time basis (annual salary sets my hourly rate). I entered the company as a Field Engineer and have a bachelors and EIT in Civil Engineering.

In the past 2 years, I've become very much involved on the production/management side and was promoted to a Construction Superintendent around March 2019. This came with a 10% pay increase and the justification in my HR file was listed as "Adjustment – Internal Equity".

In July 2019, the Project Manager of my current project (who was also responsible for another 2 projects on the site) left the company and his day to day duties were passed onto me. I didn't inherit all duties as a lot of the overall financials and internal team management is handled by the Site Program Manager. I did inherit a lot more project cost control, change management, safety responsibility, and client interaction. If nothing else, I've been able to learn A LOT over the past few months. The project was originally scheduled to finish around November 2019. External issues on the site, change in scope, and additional adds will extend the project likely through February 2020. I didn't push the issue for an additional raise in July as I'd just received a substantial raise and to become a Project Manager would forfeit eligibility for OT. Doing some back of the napkin math, I would have needed a substantial increase (~15-20%) to offset losing that.

We've just completed annual reviews and raise announcements and I again received the highest mark. The company standard is a 3% "Merit Increase" each year and I received that and an additional 6% "Equity Adjustment".

In doing research online, it stated that typically equity adjustments are not based on performance and are:

"Equity adjustments are salary changes outside of the normal salary programs (promotion, reclassification, merits, etc.) to remedy salary issues such as external pressure in high demand areas, internal salary compression, and/or retention considerations. Equity adjustments are not granted to reward performance. "

When I check Glassdoor for Philadelphia, PA for Construction Superintendent and Construction Project Manager, I'm in the average compensation range and probably even a touch over that when you consider still getting OT pay. If you factor in experience in role, I'm even better still.


Does the fact that I'm getting equity adjustments mean that I'm continually at the low-end of salary range for my position? Should I be asking for a raise before the next project? I don't know what my role on the next project will be yet or even where the next project is.

submitted by /u/equitypayQ

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