How You Should Be Spending Your Money, According to a Financial Planner

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iStock

It would be nice if financial rules of thumb applied to everyone equally, but that's often not the case. People in different income brackets have different priorities, which is why telling everyone they should be spending a flat percentage of their income on necessities like food, housing, and transportation doesn't always make sense. In his book Rules to Riches, financial planner Mark Baird accounts for this variation by adjusting the common percentage guidelines based on income levels, as CNBC reports.

In some spending categories, the rules stay the same no matter how much you're making. Baird recommends that every household earning between $25,000 and $300,000 annually save or invest 5 to 20 percent of their income each year, for instance.

Other financial areas have more variation depending on how much money you're bringing in, though. If your income is $25,000 a year, Baird says you should be spending 18 to 23 percent of your earnings on housing. But if you make $50,000 or more, you should aim to spend 15 to 20 percent. In general, people earning lower salaries should set aside higher percentages of their income for food, clothing, transportation, and medical bills, while those earning more money should plan to spend more of it on taxes, insurance, and charitable donations.

As is the case with any spending-related guidelines, these recommendations shouldn't be taken as law. The money you put toward housing, taxes, and transportation will vary depending on where you live. If costs are especially high for one bill, see if you can cut spending in another part of your life. It's not the end of the world if you spend slightly less on charitable contributions than Baird recommends.

Check out the guidelines for households making $50,000 a year below. You can head over to CNBC for the full chart.

Taxes: 20 percent
Charitable Contributions: 10 percent
Savings and Investments: 5 to 20 percent
Housing: 15 to 20 percent
Transportation: 8 to 10 percent
Food and Beverage: 6 to 10 percent
Clothing: 3 to 5 percent
Furnishings: 2 to 4 percent
Personal Care and Cash: 3 to 5 percent
Medical and Dental: 3 to 5 percent
Insurance: 6 to 8 percent
Education and Self Improvement: 1 to 2 percent
Installment Payments: 3 to 4 percent
Entertainment, Dining, and Gifts: 1 to 3 percent
Vacations and Holidays: 2 to 4 percent
Miscellaneous: 1 to 2 percent

[h/t CNBC]

Friday’s Best Amazon Deals Include Digital Projectors, Ugly Christmas Sweaters, and Speakers

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Amazon
As a recurring feature, our team combs the web and shares some amazing Amazon deals we’ve turned up. Here’s what caught our eye today, December 4. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers, including Amazon, and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Good luck deal hunting!

Google Is Tracking Everything You Do With Its ‘Smart’ Features—Here’s How to Make That Stop

Maybe you don't want Google seeing how many exclamation points you use in your emails.
Maybe you don't want Google seeing how many exclamation points you use in your emails.
Taryn Elliott, Pexels

Since we don’t all have personal assistants to draft emails and update our calendars, Google has tried to fill the void with ‘smart’ features across Gmail, Google Chat, and Google Meet. These automatic processes cover everything from email filtering and predictive text to notifications about upcoming bills and travel itineraries. But such personalized assistance requires a certain amount of personal data.

For example, to suggest email replies that match what you’d choose to write on your own—or remind you about important emails you’ve yet to reply to—Google needs to know quite a bit about how you write and what you consider important. And that involves tracking your actions when using Google services.

For some people, Google’s helpful hints might save enough time and energy to justify giving up full privacy. If you’re not one of them, here’s how to disable the ‘smart’ features.

As Simplemost explains, first open Gmail and click the gear icon (settings) in the upper right corner of the page. Select ‘See all settings,’ which should default to the ‘General’ tab. Next to ‘Smart Compose,’ ‘Smart Compose personalization,’ and ‘Smart Reply,’ choose the ‘Off’ options. Next to ‘Nudges,’ uncheck both boxes (which will stop suggestions about what emails you should answer or follow up on). Then, switch from the ‘General’ tab to ‘Inbox’ and scroll down to ‘Importance markers.’ Choose ‘No markers’ and ‘Don’t use my past actions to predict which messages are important.’

Seeing these settings might make you wonder what other information you’ve unwittingly given Google access to. Fortunately, there’s a pretty easy way to customize it. If you open the ‘Accounts’ tab (beside ‘Inbox’) and choose ‘Google Account settings,’ there’s an option to ‘Take the Privacy Checkup.’ That service will walk you through all the privacy settings, including activity tracking on Google sites, ad personalization, and more.

[h/t Simplemost]