I’m a sucker for new tests, and Laurie over at Well Kept Wallet just put out a fun one to determine how financially stable we are. There’s 20 questions to it, but most of them you should be able to answer in 2-3 seconds. The ones that take longer you can save for later to extend the joy ;)
Here are the 20 questions below, along with my answers next to them. I’m going to guess I’ll do fairly well considering all I do is think and write about money, but if not I give you full permission to call me out :) And then I’ll retire this blog shortly thereafter.
Time for the fun! Let us know how you score afterwards…
The Financial Stability Test:
(The more you say “yes” the better)
- You’re at peace with your money situation. Yes. I’m always scheming to make it better, but deep down I’m truly content.
- You don’t fight about money with your spouse. True. Thankfully I married someone frugal! (Now if only I could get her in that mobile home…)
- You don’t use your credit cards often, or if you do, you pay them in full every month. True. I use our USAA card for everything to get the cash back, but we pay it off in full every month.
- You’ve got a fully stocked emergency fund. Not any more :( We’re very thankful to have $20k stashed which would last us about months, but just two years ago we were hovering around $80,000 which would give us a year+ of safety. Thankfully we’re back on top now and re-filling ‘er up, but just shows how fast life and business can change! Gotta squirrel away those nuts when you’re able to!
- A job loss wouldn’t mean you couldn’t pay your bills. We’re okay there. If the internet exploded and I lost my blogs, we’d be able to last for a little while until I found a different way to hustle. We’re already used to living on one income anyways, so it kinda feels like we’ve had a job loss for 5+ years anyways :)
- Financial emergencies don’t invoke panic. Truth. This is the biggest benefit to having your money down. You still get super pissed off when something stupid happens and sucks up money, but the feeling doesn’t last nearly as long as when you’re living paycheck to paycheck. One crazy event can wipe you out in a heart beat, so always good to be one step ahead for whenever that happens… Cuz something *always* does :(
- You’re okay with spending money on special occasions. Absolutely. Hoarding money can get old (and bad for you) fast, so you have to be able to let loose here and there and live it up a little. Nothing wrong with splurging when it’s budgeted for (build in a “splurge” category! Then you’ll really love budgeting! haha..), you just can’t get all hardcore and get yourself in trouble.
- The thought of being generous with your cash sounds exciting and not panic-inducing. Yes. And although I suck at giving back at times, any time I do it’s not even a second thought as to whether “I can afford it” or not. If anything, I always feel like I need to be giving away more than I do – something I’m currently working on.
- You’re happy about your financial situation. Yup! Hard to complain, even though I do at times ‘cuz I’m a human!
- Saving money has become a habit. Oh yeah. You don’t even think about it once it’s habit. And when you rock services like Digit or Acorns you don’t have to *do anything* either!
- Others’ opinions about what you have/don’t have don’t concern you. True. I’m hard enough on myself – I don’t need others to be chiming in! (Unless they’re there to help me.)
- Paying the bills never requires an in-depth plan. True. I automate half of them, and the other half I pay manually once a month at the beginning of every month. It’s all done and forgotten about within 30 mins.
- Retirement and/or kids’ college expenses are covered by a solid, working plan. False to Kids’ college. I contribute when I can, but I’d be lying if I had a plan in place. Lately all the money we’ve put in their 529s has come from gifts. As for retirement – Always working on that! :)
- Your debt-to-income ratio is below 30%. Yup! In 2013 it was 19% (then it took a dive in 2014), and now we’re back to 20% in 2015. To calculate this, divide your total monthly debts by your total gross monthly income. For us right now it’s about $10,000/mo income and $2,000 debt (mortgages). So 2,000/10,000 = 20%
- You’re thoughtful about purchases. Yes. A little *too* thoughtful at times.
- Avoiding/eliminating debt is a priority for you. Not really. But only because our debt consists of only mortgages and not consumer debt like credit cards (or else I’d be crushing those as fast as I can!). There was a time I really wanted to pay off our house and took on a crazy aggressive strategy, but right now what excites us most is figuring out our ideal lifestyle while still growing our wealth. And investing our $$ right now does that better.
- You budget. Or else you’re so good at spending wisely that you don’t need to budget. A little bit of both. I used to budget religiously, but now I pretty much just look over the #’s every now and then to make sure we’re all good. No more tracking every penny and getting hardcore about it like we used to (which is def. recommended if you’re just starting out). The foundation has long been set and now we enjoy the confidence budgeting gave us!
- You have a plan for the unexpected. No. Unless the plan is “tapping our emergency fund?” Or “having insurance?” I suck at planning for the expected, no less the unexpected, so I admire all those who can plan ahead like that :) All I try to do is earn as much as I can – and then save as much as I can – so hopefully I’m covered in the future.
- You buy appreciating as opposed to depreciating assets. Nowadays, yeah. Even my hobby – coin collecting – is all about appreciating assets! Haha… Though that wasn’t planned. We still have cars though that are always depreciating. No way around that unless we ditch them.
- Large purchases don’t create a damaging ding in your finances. Truth. Though the largest things we “purchase” are items like insurance and grocery bills. We rarely splurge on stuff that costs a lot of money just ‘cuz we’re content with other less-expensive items.
Let’s see, what did we get here…. 16 out of 20 – woo! Not perfect, but who is? (Watch – some of you will score a perfect 20 ;)).
Here’s the key below to see where you rank. It’s skewed more positively because Laurie is super sweet and positive herself, so if you need a better kick in the ass just share your answer with Mr. Money Mustache and see what he thinks ;) He’ll set you straight!
- 16-20: You’re kicking it!
- 11-15: You’re doing very well!
- 6-10: You’re off to a good start!
- 0-5: You’ve got room to grow.
Brave enough to share with us? Drop your score in the comments below and let’s see how many of y’all I’m “Kickin’ it with”… And as always, this is more for fun and learning about ourselves than any real competition. The only person who will ever care about your score (and money) is you! So if you’re not happy with the results, it’s time to take some action and change that.
PS: Check out Laurie’s original post for more details on each of these 20 questions. She elaborates a lot more on them and might help you answer them better.
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What amount do you consider a “large purchase?” To me a large purchase is anything that costs more than a day’s pay.
That’s a good way to look at it. I was just assuming anything over $500 or something.
I wish credit scores were graded like this. I didn’t do too bad!
We’d be a perfect 20/20. It’s really re-assuring.
If I got fired tomorrow, we could last for 6 years (would dip into IRAs and the like). Obviously we wouldn’t want to do that but holy moly is that re-assuring.
YNAB is our big helper for “unexpected.” We put money every month into a genera car repair fund and a house repair fund. It lets us plan for those bumps in the road monthly instead of just worrying when it hits!
Dayyyyyum son – that is incredible!
I’m sure you guys are in a similar boat. Just take your non mortgage NW and do the math on it. The 10% early withdrawal would suck but it can still cover a lot of your expenses!
And think about all the quality time with the kids! LOL
ahhhh, i guess yeah – if we cashed out our 401k and IRAs we’d be able to last a while – hah! hadn’t thought about that one before, but I kinda like it :) (though I’d never do it!)
Oh wow, 6 years is truly incredible! I wish I could say the same :D
19! (full disclosure: we’re in a saving phase for another house – so easier with a big cash reserve)
These are great questions! Gives us a really good and realistic benchmark.
Thanks for sharing!
I also score a 16. Though I consider our similar-size emergency fund well-stocked. I guess it all depends on your expenses, and you’ve shared about your mortgage payment before. It’s interesting to hear about your shift in the mortgage-payoff. We were attacking it pretty aggressively and now are conflicted because of the math of investing instead. We knew this all along but had a sort of emotional desire to pay it off. I guess if that’s our big urge to spend, we must be pretty stable!
I always flip-flop on it and just go with whatever’s exciting me at the time. Can never go wrong with that – even if one is technically financially better than the other :)
I’m kicking it with you! We are in the same boat as you when it comes to paying off debt. We only have our house and the interest rate is low so we would rather invest everything and just take our time paying off the house.
I’m kicking it with you as well. I think it is hard to have a plan for the unexpected because if it’s unexpected how can I plan. We have good emergency fund so to me that’s a plan for the unexpected.
Currently I would say I’m at 13-14 based on a few answers that would probably be 50/50 yes or no. I do like that some of those answers would easily be changed to a ‘yes’ in a few months after I pay some more debt down, and build my emergency fund back up. So for now I’ll stick with ‘doing very well’ and hopefully I’ll be able to join you in ‘kicking it’ down the road ;)
There’s always room for more to kick-it with – keep going! :)
I’m in that 16-20, and I’d say we’re doing alright. even with a possible layoff and loss of an income, we’d still have the same lifestyle, not the same savings rate of course, but we’d still even hit FI just 3 years later. Woohoo, compounding interest! Yeah, I’d say that counts as financially stable. It feels pretty good, I just say.
I was just thinking about how you don’t need to save any more once you hit early retirement. I can’t even imagine how that would feel cuz we’re SO used to it our whole lives! How weird to just spend money going forward??
I have some work to do according to this quiz (but I already knew that). Thanks for sharing this with us – I love quizzes too!
I don’t quite understand what they mean by “you have a plan for the unexpected” – surely if you’ve got a plan for something, it’s at least a possibility so therefore would never be totally unexpected? :( Anyway, I assume this is another way of asking about the emergency fund situation (the “unexpected” being a job loss, illness etc).
I got round the 17 mark – only because I’m not sure how contented I am about my financial situation since even though it’s going fine, I’m not retired yet, so things could be even better!
I just checked the original post and seems like it’s more about *having insurance* to protect you – oops, haha… I def. have that!
Here’s what they put for it: “A financially stable person generally has some type of plan for the unexpected, whether that means life insurance, disability insurance or a hefty emergency fund.”
Ah, that makes sense! So they weren’t asking about the zombie apocalypse then :)
Do you think there would be a benefit to taking the additional money paid on your mortgage and investing in a stock market index (in a taxable account) and allow that money to grow over the years to pay off your mortgage early? For instance, we have a 15 year, 3.5% mortgage and pay an additional $135 every month (this matches what our rent payment was before we bought the house). If we take the $135 and add an additional $215 every month and invest it in a taxable account over the course of 10 years there would be $64k assuming an 8% return and we could pay off the house 5 years early. Do you think that would be beneficial or would all of the benefit be eaten up because of the tax implications?
Oh man, I’m all about different ways to scheme like that, haha… I think that could def. work, but with all things you just have to be comfortable with the risk and maybe it not working out so well. Though it would be hard to not come away with more than a 3.5% return after all those years. I bet you if you did it you’d end up just keeping the $$ there and letting it ride farther, haha… I really don’t think there’s a wrong way to do any of this stuff though because both routes help grow your net worth. Just comes down to personality and goals!
It is always nice to see a listing like this come out to help give a little peach of mind that your financial situation is doing a bit better than you think. I like to keep a mindset of never settling and always working to make our situation better and better and sometimes that can make you think you aren’t in as good of a place as you are. It is nice to have a little outside validation that your situation is pretty good!
Just the other day we were explaining our views on college costs to our son, and he kept changing the subject to Thomas and dinosaurs! If that’s what he thinks is important, our plan is surely a lost cause.
Haha… they’ll wise up one day… like when they go to pony up the $$ for college ;)
Looks like we’re doing pretty good. That’s what I expected. I’m surprised to see kids’ college expenses are covered by a solid, working plan as I’ve never heard any employer doing that. Am I missing something here?
I think “working” is more about a plan that works vs employer. I’ve never heard of employers offering college assistance to your children, but I’d love to see that! Sign me up! Haha…
I’m kind of content with my money situation. I’m very comfortable with how I make money and how I can continue making money in these ways. I also love what I’m doing. The only place where discontentment lies is that I’d like to make more money. But I’m building. I’m really excited to see where I will be in one year’s time!
I like the idea of it but it seems like things should be weighted, rather than everything being equal… then again, these types of things are good for getting the conversation started (either in your own head or with your partner), so it doesn’t need to be precise… good stuff.
I scored pretty well! I feel good about my finances, especially when #5 was just put to the test. Losing my job this summer has made me grateful my finances are in order. I haven’t had to dip into emergency savings yet and there has been no real panic. I live well below my means and my only debt is my house. So far, so good!
Impressive about the non-panicking! That’s the hardest part! :)
Fun! I love quizzes that don’t involve math! Or grades! I answered ‘yes’ to all but #16. We’re in the same boat as you–our only debt is our mortgage and we’re not paying it down early thanks to our super low interest rate. I think for us the biggest thing is that we don’t worry about our money–it’s the most liberating feeling on earth and it’s a gift we gave ourselves through frugality (awww, I’m so sappy about being frugal!).
Woohoo! I love being an “A student”. ;)
The implicit theme for all these questions seems to be “do you worry about…”.
As Mrs. FW says above, living worry-free when it comes to personal finance is sweeeeeet!
Cool quiz. I got 17 so I guess I’m doing okay. I have a mortgage but use the same idea as you of building up my investment portfolio first. With interest rates so low paying down the mortgage isn’t my priority right now. My short term goal right now is to reach financial enlightenment where I’m never worried about making inadequate income to support myself ever again.
Just like you, 16/20.
Great minds. :)
Quite happy with my score of 16. It makes clear where there is room for improvement. A goal to work on in 2016!
Q18: a plan for the unexpected… Is that not a little weird, after all, it is unexpected. I am with you: insurance and an emergency fund should do the trick. Maybe there you should put a yes?
Thx for sharing this.
Yeah, I probably should have put a yes as when I went back to the original article to check it out I saw that it was indeed more of an “insurance” thing. Still though, I suck at planning so I should get a mark there somewhere anyways, haha…
I scored a 16/20. I should be happier, but I am not happy about my financial situation. I have bigger financial goals than I have income. The issue is a lack of trying. I’m at a new job that pays less than my previous job and I’m dragging my feet on investing more of my savings.
My biggest issue is when I said no to the ‘giving’ questions. That use to be no problem with a higher paying job. I donated monthly and whenever asked with no hesitations. I know exactly what I need to do next, but don’t move on my plans. It’s all a self-imposed issue and I’ve yet to break free. Stuck here until I push myself.
Ack – sorry to hear!
I wonder what it’ll take for you to jump in and rock it again? For me it’s usually an article or something that just shakes me one day and for whatever reason I take charge. Like yesterday, actually. I woke up and had this sense of urgency to complete a project I’ve been pushing off for weeks and told myself I wasn’t going to sleep that night until it was done. I got it out the door by lunch time and felt on fire all day! Why I didn’t do it before I’m not sure, but we all work weird like that sometimes…
Anyways, I hope you find that something to get you to take action – and soon :)
This is a cool test to put finances right in front of your face and not in the beach somewhere buried like the coins you find. Asking these questions is like waking up the sleepy non-budgetor who doesn’t track their finances. Financially stable is a myth in this society unless you read PF blogs, and don’t live at the malls. Talk to you soon. Good test Laurie. I scored 20, yeah right. HAHA
You know I love financial tests as well, and think that this one asked some great/thought provoking questions. I got a 16 as well but that’s because of kid’s college and the debt situation like you and I am comfortable with that.
Coming in at a 19 out of 20. So, very pleased. Good questions. Working to replenish the emergency fund, but not sweating it. Glad we had it for 2 (yes, 2… It sucks) new AC units for the house, braces for Kash, jr, major auto repair and dental surgery for me. I still budget….I totally love to do it each month. :)
I have realized that I am on my way to doing good -again after recovering from a short period of financial overspending on 2 kids in college, the big mini-mansion, the multiple rental properties and the bursting bubble. We recovered and weren’t bitter about it. Had a blast and now we are finishing up the cleanup and climbing to retirement after our next big life adventure. Love the sharing you do here. It keeps me on track.
Love to hear that, Nita! Thanks for chiming into the discussion!
It looks like I am at 18. and my DTI is 22% – For a few months my expenses were as high or higher than my income but the dip into savings actually never hit below my emergency fund minimum (yay! emergency fund, and boo medical crud).
I like the quizzes! It reminds me of reading Cosmopolitan when I was a teenager! We’re a solid 15. We really need to build up our cash buffer after paying down a ton of student loan debt this year.
Haha… that would actually make a great tagline for a blog – “The Cosmopolitan For Money”
I enjoyed reading the comments, takes me back to younger days. We scored 20/20 but I’m 59 and at that age a lot of us haven’t made a house or car payment in longer than we can remember. A lot of us have 7 figure 401k’s. A lot of us are working for entertainment and because it is hard to say no to a paycheck that seems huge compared to what we got most of our careers. We just aren’t that active on forums like this. But if you are interested and actively working toward having a sound financial future, like you good readers, it is hard to screw up. You’ll find it easier than you think to hit your financial goals.
Interesting insight, steveark. I hadn’t thought about the “hard to say not to high paycheck” part when you’re probably at your peak during those years. I catch myself saying “yes” to projects I don’t want to do myself just cuz I can’t get over how much it pays, haha… Hell. I won’t even write a blog post for anyone for under $500 which is ridiculous! There was a time I’d gladly accept $5.00 :)
Fun quiz! I seem to be doing pretty well, although certainly there is always room for improvement!
19. My wife and kids not as frugal as me. I tell them I shop at Walmart so that they can shop at high end stores
Haha… thank goodness there’s someone there to represent that precious money! :)
I earned a 14, which is really great for us. My husband started a 100% commission-based job this year, which has a history of earning less than $35,000 its first year. For a family of four to be living debt-free on $35,000, not totally behind or panicking at every mistake is truly a blessing. Can’t wait til we’re a 20!
Oh wow – that IS incredible! You guys set yourself up nicely over there for this change in employment. Hope those commissions only rise over the years! :)
Most of my answers are also YES! It means I am somehow stable as well. One that got an answer NO is the “You have a plan for the unexpected.” This is what I and my wife are working on as we know being prepared can mean something very advantageous in our case.
It can absolutely be advantageous. I always felt like I was living in fear of something happening that was going to ‘break the bank’. Now that we are prepared, we know that we can handle any emergency situation or something unexpected.
Fun quiz. Depending on mood, I can get 20 or deduct 5 (am hard on myself).
I married late, and most of that -5 I would ascribe to “what to do if something crazy happens to her”. But she is a high net-worth individual, while I’m squarely in the solid category. On my own, I don’t have any concerns.
So I’m always aiming to get her covered in some way. Like life insurance, and spare emergency funds. But this doesn’t keep me from doing what I do to save for the future.