Personal Finance 

What is The Next Step?

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The guest writer is an engineer with no prior blogging history.

Let’s say you are a model of personal finance. You read an elite selection of PF blogs and always keep up with the latest articles in the investment magazines. You have done the following:

  • Paid down all your debt until all you owe on is your mortgage.
  • Maintain six months of expenses for your emergency fund in a high yield money market account.
  • Fully fund your and/or your spouses 401k, 403b, 457, etc.
  • Maximize your and/or your spouses Roth or Traditional IRA up to the allowable limit.
  • Invest some money each month in a 529 plan (and possibly even a Coverdell “Education” IRA) for each of your children’s future educations.
  • Set aside some additional money each month and at bonus time into a taxable brokerage account for such goals as that long-awaited trip to the Orient, the sunny vacation property on the water, or even retirement.
  • All your investments are properly diversified by asset type according to your goals, time frame, and risk level.

What else? What is the next step? For the last couple of years, I have been searching for the next building block. It has proven to be elusive.

As a hedge against possible monetary collapse, I bought gold coins. I have since heard that a better investment would be some sort of defensible and sizable stash of gasoline as that would be the best barter material. That isn’t feasible, so I’ll stick with my coins. At least they are pretty.

I looked into diversifying outside the stock market, something advocated by investment advisors such as Don DeWaay. However, unless you are an “accredited investor,” your opportunities for investment in what are mostly either real estate or oil exploration tax shelters is limited.

Until I find an answer to that “next step” question, I will just continue my journey with the fundamentals above. I look forward to reading sometime, somewhere what I’m missing in my journey to financial independence. Perhaps you know?

{ 16 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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16 Responses to “What is The Next Step?”

  1. wanzman says:


    With all that accomplished, the next step would be to start enjoying life and just be thankful for your blessings. No more worrying about finances. Money simply gives a means to some end….you have the means….find the end.

  2. Ronnie says:

    This post hit the spot. I often wonder “ok what now?”. I was so excited when I was paying my debts off. I guess because I felt something when I closed accounts, cut up cards, and received the title for my car. Since then, I’ve built up my 401k, and my Ameritrade investment account and now I’m looking for the next step. I guess the next step for me is to find a second income so I can invest more, so I can reach financial independence.

  3. Alex says:

    The next step is simple: EARLY RETIREMENT! To do that, you need money in non-pretax accounts (b/c you can’t access these until you’re 60)

  4. Dustin says:

    You say real estate is one of your options. Do you have an issue with getting a rental home?

  5. Anonymous says:

    How about giving to charities? Philanthropy?

  6. Frank Kelly says:

    Check your insurance for various events

    – health
    – life
    – auto
    – home (flood?)
    – long-term disability

    Have enough coverage? The correct deductible – not too small (higher premiums)?


  7. Foobarista says:

    I vote for early retirement. That is what we’re working towards. And I’d skip the Mad Max doomsday scenarios – if they happen, a few gold trinkets won’t help much; you’d be better off with weapons, ammo, and some skill in using them. Since I’m not terribly interested in living in such a world, I don’t bother.

    But if you’re seeking inflation hedges – and aren’t worried about the end of civilization – carefully researched real estate can’t be beat.

  8. plonkee says:

    I’d consider real estate (depends on the market in the area though), but my preferred option would be working out how to generate enough money in accessible accounts that I could retire early, or just switch to part-time working.

    I’d start planning plenty of trips abroad (which I do anyway) and I’d give more money away.

  9. Bob Meyer says:

    Coins are good, but food & water would be as practical if conditions change. I’ve been publishing BarterNews magazine since 1979 and the use of barter is growing worldwide because it’s a proven tool in both good times as well as bad. Sincerely, Bob Meyer

  10. Omar says:

    The ideas already mentioned are very good ones but I thought I’d throw out one that not too many people would consider. How about becoming self sustainable by installing a solar water heater and solar electric panels? That way you don’t ever have to worry about paying for your electric and heating utilities, you don’t have to worry about increasing energy costs and you get a good return on investment considering that there are federal and state tax credits that’ll cover approximately 50% of the cost!

  11. thomas says:

    As said above, enjoy what you do have , be appreciative.
    I like the alternative energy idea of getting solar/wind/geothermal, get it all net metered and the utility will be writing you checks every month, since by law they are required to buy the extra energy you produce.

  12. Ben says:

    Congrats on getting your finances in order! If I were you, I’d look at ways you could earn extra money for yourself. Try and start some small business, over time your experience and income will grow. In my mind, this is another way of diversifying; you’ll have another income stream in addition to your investments and career income.

  13. Shadox says:

    Personal finance should be a boring thing. If you have done everything you need to do put everything on auto-pilot and cruise along.

    Life is for having fun and for sharing it with family and friends!

  14. John says:

    This is most certainly NOT all. You’re off to a better start than 90% of your peers, but there are several next steps, some of which have been alluded to, others not.

    Other than your six months ’emergency fund’, have you mapped out low cost insurances (and supplemental insurances/funds…’AFLAC’ should ring a bell) for the more common physical emergencies life often has in store? If you can insure the insurance for $20 a month, you may want to do so.

    How about the cost of a new or ‘new to you’ automobile…has the total for that been saved up yet? Buying outright saves thousands in insurance premiums and you negotiate a far lower price from a position of strength…

    Have you purchased your own forclosure ‘fixer-upper’ so you can live ‘rent free’ and plough your income into assets rather than bills far sooner than most? If you can’t do it alone yet, have you tried to syndicate it with a couple of hard working and like minded friends?

    Have you planted the seeds for several non-correlated income streams yet? Some folks here have referred to a couple. The write-offs alone can mitigate the thin profits for the first few years…

    Do you invest from an LLC owned by your self directed IRA yet to minimize tax impact now and in the future?

    Have you established your own mastermind group of folks your age (5-7 professional and non-professional folks) who share insights on politics/finance/business trends? If you have, have each of you kicked a small amount into an investment club to possibly ‘get there’ faster than you each can on your own?

    As Fred Meyer alludes to…have you developed top-notch sales/bartering/negotiation skills yet? These alone are ‘old school’ money and force multipliers…not ‘incrementals’.

    Have you established a fund that pays for financial education monthly, quarterly, yearly?

    (Sigh)….there are so many other issues –

    We all have miles to go before we sleep my young padawan (lol)…and sleep is highly over-rated. You’ve had a nice rest, now get back to work. You don’t want to be in your mid forties and behind the power curve. ( I speak from hard won experience and feel I am still behind said curve…even though I am highly liquid with little to no debt.)

    MOST IMPORTANT – find a mate that shares your values and knows that life can be like standing back to back in a knife fight at times…and can still find the humour in it. Priceless!!!

    Read, Read, Read, Apply, Apply, Apply and Simplify, Simplify, Simplify…you’ll be lightyears ahead of most in short order.

    Wishing to come off as helpfull and not ‘preachy’, all the best going forward…


  15. Dean in Des Moines says:

    Giving. I don’t see that listed anywhere.

  16. Tim says:

    can’t comment on what the next step is, because there are no goals listed in the post. i’ve assumed that you’ve figured out how much and at what time you want to retire and you have maxed out your contributions towards that end; however, i don’t believe this was addressed. if not, then you need to invest more to meet those goals.

    if the retirement goals are being fully funded, then you have to determine what other goals you have. until then, you cannot and no one else can prescribe or recommend what the next step should be.

    i don’t see anything about estate planning, health/medical and life insurance (locking in now may be more beneficial), etc.

    you can always contribute more towards your taxable investments. i’m not a fan of gold coins, simply because any precious metal is only worth the scrap cost of the metal or the face value of the coin. remember, coins need a buyer. you could buy shares in gold rather than gold coins.

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