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What is your #1 advice for beginner investors?

Hello there!

Dan Mac over at Dividend Growth Stock Investing has started a new series where he ask questions to dividend growth bloggers from around the web and then published those in a blog post. He started it off with asking bloggers what their favorite dividend growth stock was.

This time it was “What is your #1 advice for beginner investors?” Lots of great advice by some of the best dividend growth investing bloggers out there. I was lucky to be able to participate and you can find the post here @ 22 Bloggers Share Their Top Investing Advice. Check it out! 🙂


Best and Worst States for Taxes

I was scrolling through my twitter feed the other day and came across this article from CNBC titled “The Best and Worst States for Taxpayers” and thought it was quite interesting. It showed the results of a study by WalletHub, a financial social media company, and ranked each state from 1-50 based on what an average American citizen (with a median income, median home price, etc) would pay for taxes in each state.

Wyoming came in at number 1 for best place while New York came in dead last. New Yorkers pay 39% above the national average in taxes. Among the other states that ranked high for best taxes included Alaska at 2, Nevada at 3, Florida at 4, and South Dakota at 5. My home state, Maine, came in at 42 which is not surprising given the large amounts of money our state government spends each year.

As I’m currently in the military, I really don’t have a say where I live but continue to pay taxes for my home state. When I get out, maybe taxes is something I should consider when finding a place to live. I haven’t thought much about it before but may want to, especially since I want to keep my expenses as low as possible in order to make early retirement/financial independence work. Plus, looking at the map on the site, from a very quick informal analysis it looks like the states with lower taxes also have some of the better economies  and job markets right now. Texas at number 7 seems like it always comes in among “best places to live/work” lists that spring up on the news every so often and has been a place for a while that I’ve thought about moving to someday.

How about you? Have you ever thought about moving due to taxes? Has your state’s taxes affected any of your financial decisions or goals?

The Ups and Downs of Life and Finance

Today was a very up/down day. What is an up/down day you ask (since I just made up that phrase)? 😉

It is a day where some really good things happen and then some really bad things happen.

First the bad part. This morning, my supervisor informed me that my leave (vacation) for this coming June was going to have to be cancelled due to low manning. We’ve lost a lot of people recently and they couldn’t afford me to take the few weeks off in June that I had put in for. Sucks, but it had to be expected with the number of cuts recently. Normally I wouldn’t be that upset since I will still be able to take leave later in the summer around August/September but I specifically planned for June since that is when my younger brother graduates high school, which I really didn’t want to miss. I’ve been planning this trip home for the last year and once it was approved back in December of last year, have been telling all my friends/family that I will be home in June. Now I’ll have to let them all know that I won’t be able to make it. 🙁

Now for the good part. Today I won “Airman of the Year” for my squadron, the military equivalent to winning an Employee of the Year award. Awesome right? All the hard work and dedication I put in to my job paid off and I got recognized. There was an award ceremony where the annual winners at all the different levels of the organization (AIrman-lower tier, non-commissioned officers (sergeants), middle tier, and officers-upper tier) were all recognized.

So how does this all relate to personal finance you ask? Well in the field of investing, whether that be dividend growth stocks, index funds, mutual funds, or even bonds you are going to have good parts and bad. A good part would be getting a nice dividend raise from a company you own stock in, like the annual raise Coca-Cola gave its shareholders last month. A bad part could be getting a dividend cut from one of your stocks (like General Electric during the 2009 recession) reducing your income, or for you index investors, having the S&P 500 drop by a significant percent, leaving you with less of a retirement nest egg to live off of.

The important take away is to never get too carried away with the ups or downs of both finance and life. Don’t go celebrating and blowing a bunch of money just because your investments went up because you know there will be harder days in the future to prepare for. Same with me and my award, I can’t let that go to my head and give me an excuse to slack off at work, I need to continue working hard each and everyday. When you experience that huge investment loss, don’t abandon your strategy. Stay the course with your budgeting and investing, and push through it so you can continue to reach your goals. Maybe it will be a little harder, but what is life without a challenge? In my life, I’ve got to remember that although I’ll be missing my brother’s graduation now, at least I’ll still be getting a chance to visit my family this year, even if it is a little later in the year than expected.

Just remember in life and your finances, there will be ups and downs, sometimes even in the same day. You just can’t let them affect you too much and keep remembering, it will all balance out in the end.

SFZ is now on Rockstar Finance!

Yup, the Starting From Zero Blog has been added to Rockstar Finance’s Blogger Net Worth Tracker page where J. Money from Budgets Are Sexy tracks over 45 personal finance blogger’s net worths. Each link brings you back to the blogger’s latest net worth post on their blog (or Balance Sheet posts as I call them, being a Business Management major and all 😉 ). As you’ll see, my latest post from February has been added.

So if you have some time, check out the page and see how Starting From Zero stacks up to the other personal finance bloggers out there. The page is some really good motivation to start tracking your net worth and work on increasing it.


Hello and welcome to Starting From Zero!


I know what you’re probably thinking, “Great, just what I need, another personal finance blog to read.”


Yes, this will be “another” personal finance blog. But before you go, first hear me out on what Starting From Zero will be about. Most blogs in the personal finance community are usually written by individuals that have been out of college or in the workforce for quite a while, made some financial mistakes in their past, and are now trying to build a better financial life for themselves and choose to share the journey with their readers. That’s not the case with me, although like most everybody, I have certainly made some financial mistakes in my life.


Relative to most P.F. bloggers, I’m pretty young. Just turned the big 21 within the past 6 months and got into personal finance and investing as a hobby through the internet about 2 years ago and actually started investing a year ago. So technically I’m not starting from zero, I have had a year of investing experience which I will be sharing with you all here in the coming posts. But a year ago I was truly starting from zero both in investing knowledge and my investment account balances.


My Financial Goals

My main goal is to be financially independent by the time I turn 40 years old. I plan to do this through a combination of dividend growth and index investing and would eventually like to start my own business.


What can you expect from this blog?

Well you can expect me to share every part of my financial journey towards financial independence including financial goals, portfolio management, and my income/expenses. I want to be as open as I can in order to show that it really is possible for anyone to get started on the path to an early retirement or simply a financially secure one for those of you who aren’t into the retire early thing (which is cool too, some people just love their job). Being such a young age I really want to be able to share my journey with other young people (but people of all ages are welcome here!) to prove it is possible to learn how to invest at a young age and to hopefully help young people become more knowledgeable of their finances.


Please feel free to comment below and introduce yourself here at Starting From Zero. Thanks for reading.