Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I love pay day!

You know, most people love payday's because it is that tangible moment for all the hard work and long hours put in over the last 2 weeks (or whatever your pay period may be.

I am clearly the "nerd" in our family because I love payday because it is the day that we get to go to the bank, take out cash to re-fill our envelope system and pay down debt! Every two weeks, our debt takes a little dip downward...and that gets me excited - what a geek!

I would love to hear from some of those who are debt free (or are well on your way) as to what happens with that excitement, energy once you have paid it all off! What will pay day mean to me when that happens? My first thought...WEALTH!

Go get 'em!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Setting investment goals

Most people dream about a nice retirement, sending their kids to college debt free or building their dream home. The problem is that many people don’t know how to make their dreams become a reality. The first, crucial step in achieving your investment goals is writing them down.

Sounds weird doesn’t it? However, the act of physically writing down your goals really does help. It works like a switch, taking your goals from a distant dream to a vision that is ready to go to work. Yet, this important step is often overlooked. As a result, many people fail to reach their goals simply because they skip this first step.

To help make your goals a reality, be sure to:

Briefly list any short-term goals. The keyword here is “brief.” Think bullet points. The more detailed list comes later.

Short-term goals can be things you want to save for or purchase within the next two to five years. An example of a short-term goal might be buying tires for the car, finishing furnishing the house or taking an overseas vacation. Classify these goals as needs or wants.

Make a list of long-term goals. Again, make a brief list. Long-term goals are things you want five years or longer from now. Long-term goals are likely to be retirement, buying a home, or college savings. Ask yourself questions that help you determine what specific goals you have, based on where you are in life. For example, if you're in your early thirties, you might already be dreaming of a nice retirement or owning your first home. Ask yourself which will make you the most happy and give you a sense of peace.

Dig in to the details!

Now is when you get into the specifics. First, list your goals with the most important at the top and the least important at the bottom. Next, it’s time to get more specific with your goals. Instead of just listing retirement as a goal, give it a number by writing down how much money you want to have in your retirement account.
Finally, all good goals have a time limit. Give yourself a specific time limit to reach the goal. If you’re 40 years old, then you might give yourself 20 years to reach your retirement goal. Do this for each goal you wrote down.

Here’s a short example:

Retirement – Have $820,000 in retirement fund by age 60.
College funding – Save $25,000 in eight years for daughter’s tuition.
Dream house – Build our $300,000 dream home in next 20 years.

The Main Tip:
Your job as an investor is to determine in clear and simple terms what your short- and long-term goals are. Remember, it’s your money, so be intentional. Once you have your list of goals, sit down with a trusted investing professional to help you further prioritize and reach your goals.

props to www.daveramsey.com and his team for the useful information!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The importance of a will

You know, as we looked at our mounting debt, I never really gave any thought to having a will. I mean...nothing divided amongst many still amounts to nothing. But now, as we see the end of the tunnel ahead of us..and are on our way to building real wealth with our income, trusts* estate planning* and wills are in the forefront of my mind. Not to mention, we have small children who will need to be taken care of in the event we go together.

So, this is friendly reminder! Plan for the unthinkable. If you have a will..has it been updated? Do you have all your assets in your trust? Are you plans the same as they were then..or have things changed.

We were thinking about using www.legalzoom.com and would love to hear any other suggestions folks might have!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Work at home for alternate income

Has anyone had any experience with some of the "work at home" positions such as blogging for income or call center outsourcing?

We are always looking for ways to stay with our children, but fill the 24 hours here with ways to pay off this anchor around our neck...

Hope you are all seeing the light - and it's not a train

Monday, September 21, 2009

Free Books!!

As we started our venture out of debt, the one thing we kept struggling with was the many good books that are available to read, "My Total Money Makeover" "The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom" and many others, was how do we afford books at $20-$30 a pop when you are trying to get out of debt?

This is just a plug and a reminder that your local public library is FREE! With the invention of on-line book buying, Libraries have become an after-thought. But, you can get a ton of good books - not just finance related- at your local library..and it's FREE!

And, for parent's, there are usually weekly activities for the little ones like story time and craft time!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Blog Spotlight: Budgets Are The New Black

We have been following Jolyn and her blog for a while now and absolutely love it!

Jolyn states in her profile that she is the "Wife of one Air Force man. Mother of three well-traveled children. Just another woman of this world saved by His Grace until His Kingdom comes. Welcome to my domain."

We share a lot in common...car, budgets, three kids and trying to hold it all together. We strongly encourage you all to visit her space!


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Did you bring the "Dave Ramsey Book"

Have you ever wondered how getting out of debt impacts your kids?

Last night, we were walking through CVS and the requests started coming in! We need halloween candy buckets! Oooh! We should get that! Oooh! Do you see that car, can we get that? (You know the drill). Then, our oldest looks up to me and says "Did you bring the Dave Ramsey Book?" and I replied "no". Without any further discussion, our two boys went from the "I want's" to "oh, look at that!" without ever asking for anything the rest of the night.

The "Dave Ramsey Book" is his Envelope System for carrying and tracking cash for the budget.

I guess in the few short weeks that we have been on this journey...we really are changing our family tree! (Btw, my kids openly detest Dave Ramsey, his 'money' book, his TV show and would gladly go back to the "old ways" anytime! - lol)

The really cool thing in all this..our kids know what cash looks like...they watch it dwindle..and they watch us prioritize! Maybe our kids will NEVER have to debt snowball...that would be awesome!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wal-Mart prints checks??

So, we opened a new checking account and were told by the bank that 150 checks would be 32.50 plus shipping. I was shocked and said "Then we won't use checks..." Well, I know you can't really do that.

I did find Wal-Mart prints checks! The traditional (old, ugly..but they work!) checks are $6.96 for duplicates. I think shipping was $2.00 or something.

This saved us over $25.00! Can you imagine? In this day and age, banks still charge these outrageous fees for items like this? ugh!

There is always a better solution out there if something seems to high!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Blog Spotlight: Mom's the word

We haven't had the opportunity to recommend any blogs to our follower's yet. But this one caught our attention based on the story "Everything I learned about life, I learned from coffee cake."

My wife and I are huge coffee cake fans. It is really how we economize...our philosophy is that "Any cake served with coffee is COFFEE CAKE...and COFFEE CAKE is a morning food!" Have you ever had chocolate cake with coffee at 8am? What a great way to start the day!

So, give Mom'stheword a look. She is a great, diverse blogger with a lot of good information


Monday, September 14, 2009

Thank God for payday!

I say that as a praise to God and in celebration that we have made it through the pay period.


Our envelope cash system had $662.00 in on 9/29. My wife shopped and fed for our family of 5, we had two birthday parties with gifts to buy - My wife continues to amaze! She walked into the toy store and said "I have a $20 budget, show me my choices". She is playing to win!!

And, that darn jeep needed an alignment, not an unknown cost - so there really was no stress there!

The great news is We still have $135.00 in cash today!

Truly, living on a budget and making each dollar sit down and take a number certainly makes you feel like you have more money! It is making a difference in our lives!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The "Negotiator"..

My wife is awesome! The "clunker" jeep is on the mend and the final thing is an alignment. WOO HOO!

So, we couldn't get into the tire store closest to us, so she picked another on. The price of an alignment at our store of choice was $56.00 and the cost at the one that could get us in was $71.00. The first words out of her mouth, "Do you price match?" Could I love this woman more? SHE IS INTENSE at getting this thing paid off. She will never cease to amaze me.

A reminder....EVERYTHING IS NEGOTIABLE! And, by the way...they did price match!

Way to go, honey!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Freedom is never FREE

In memory and respect for those lost on 9-11-01 and the years following.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

What's the deal with cars??

OK..for any of you reading this that are still in high school - or even Community College with vocational classes - TAKE AUTO!

So, the other night I was at guitar class and I got a call from my wife that when I left, our car (not the new clunker jeep) left behind a puddle of some reddish fluid. C'mon....this was supposed to be old reliable that we didn't have to worry about!

Dave Ramsey talks about Murphy of "Murphy's law" fame. I cannot stress enough the importance of having some little contingency of money set aside before you start getting out of debt for little emergencies like this. The great thing is... it keeps what you have set aside for credit card payments going to the credit cards...and you can still keep driving.

I can honestly say, and I am sure anyone who is on their way out of debt can attest, with a little money set aside and a light at the end of the tunnel...these little fluid leaks and stuff become a minor irritant as opposed to a life altering event!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Half way there!

It just dawned on me that we are half way through paying off this $59,000 beast! Hooray!

One of the things that I have noticed when you start to pay off your debt..is that you tend to want to reclaim power over every aspect of your life. Over this past holiday weekend, we actually spent the time at home (let's call it a stay-cation) and worked on getting our house organized. We cleaned our storage room ( a lot of junk), raked yards, mowed, weeded. And, it hasn't stopped. We are now starting to go through the house and get it straightened out.

All this to say is that I didn't realize how powerful getting a hold of money would be. We are control freaks...and are getting freakish about getting a hold of EVERY aspect of our lives!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Replacing luxury with function

As I have previously posted, we actually did sell our 2004 Lincoln Navigator for $17,000 and paid debt with that money. We held back $5000.00 for a new "beater" car. The only two requirements were that it had to fit all 5 of us and have 4wd because we live in the mountains and are blessed to get snow.

After a lot of looking...we settled on a 1999 Jeep Cherokee Sport
It's green..the color of money..and we paid $3,600 for it. That leaves us $1,400.00 for any little repairs, registration and (a priority to my wife) tint the windows. Look at us? How responsible are we? We not only paid cash..but we held money back just in case we needed it! WOO HOO!

I am not sure where "Murphy" (from Murphy's law fame) was hiding in that darn truck...but he was either under a seat, in the glove box, or somewhere.

1. We knew that there was a noise when it was driven and backed-up. We decided it was the transmission and hopefully minor. We took it to a horrible transmission shop were they held it hostage for 6 days doing their "diagnostic checks" and finally decided that the transmission had to be rebuilt at a cost of $3500.00. My Godly and intelligent wife called our mechanic who told her to get it out of that shop ASAP and take it to AAMCO (http://www.aamco.com/). It ended up being fluid change and adding Pozzi additive to the rear differential to the tune of $168.00. Dodged a bullet there!

2. We took it to our mechanic the next day for oil change, check the "washy feel" and because (low and behold) we were unable to put gas in the truck - it just sprayed back. Well, of course, give even a good mechanic the opportunity and they will "maximize" their profits. So, they fixed the fuel issue to the tune of $220.00 and checked the brakes for $19.99 and changed the oil for $40.00. So, we are $290.00 there.

3. The other recommendations from the mechanic were a tune up to the "tune" of $300.00 and replacing some front end parts (tie rods, bushings, etc) to the tune of $600.00. We are blessed to have wonderful friends who actually work on cars and he agreed to do it if we bought the parts...so $900.00 worth of repairs for $190.00. Woo hoo...cooking with steam..

4. Uh oh, there's Murphy. We were driving home from Church on Sunday and - oops! There goes the fuel pump! Back to the mechanic and $668.00.

5. DMV still wants their money. $147.00

So, how did we do?

Transmission: ..................$168.00
Maint/Gas issue ..............$290.00
Front end/tune ................$190.00 We love Chris and Jen!!
Fuel Pump ........................$668.00
DMV ..................................$147.00

Total .................................$1363.00

Not bad..and it is running great. OK, so when our friend changed the serpentine belt, the AC started to scream like a dying pig...but that's a little adjustment.....lol

Our advice: If you are going to buy a use car...know about cars, know someone who knows about cars...and check out http://www.edmonds.com/ for historical information about cars! We are still in the ball-park of our budget. And, hopefully, we have left Murphy on a curb somewhere for someone else to pick up :)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Dave Ramsey has a great segment on his Friday night Fox Business News show called "Plasectomies". It is viewers video's of them destroying their credit cards and getting intense about their debt.

I recently started guitar lessons at a local community college. What a deal: 17 lessons for $56.00 (about $3.00 lesson) as opposed to the $100+ I have seen.

Check out this video...guess what my guitar pics say?


Ca$h for Clunker$

Ok, this is a whole new twist to the US Government's Cash For Clunkers program.

In 2007, we were expecting the arrival of our daughter and knew that the 1999 PAID FOR Isuzu Rodeo (did I mention it was paid for) was not going to hold our family of 5. My wife had went back to work on a short-term project making great money. We created a budget of $20,000.00 (it's funny to say budget - that's the amount we were willing to finance) for a new truck that would hold all of us comfortably and get us through the snow in the winter time. We knew we were going to buy used..because we were really smart at this point and we were going to let someone else pay the depreciation on the car...and we were going to get a deal.

We will skip past the part where we obviously either had a stroke or lost our ever-loving minds...but we end up driving off the lot from CarMax in a 2004 Lincoln Navigator with every upgrade known to man! I mean..the DVD system had THX surround sound, the seats were both air-conditioned and heated, the running boards "popped" out to greet you.. it had it all! And, the price tag (remember we set a budget of $20,000) was $32,000.00. We got a whopping $2,500 for our PAID FOR Isuzu Rodeo and ended up financing $30,000.00 or so. We looked great in the car...we all loved it...the kids called it the "Alligator" and we had personalized plates on it G8R CRW (for the 'Gator Crew). But, sadly it was all a big old lie and we really couldn't afford it, but my wife's job made the almost $700/month payments - so we were surviving.

My wife had stopped working and we were straddled with this looming $27,000 debt load and no additional income to pay it. So, we "CHASEd" down some credit cards and got 0% financing for 1 year to "HELP" us out...are you seeing how we go from bad to worse here??? I mean, debt did so much for us in the first place, we just needed to expand our horizons!

So, this past August, 1 year in to our own "Total Money Makeover" my wife came down to my office and said "I think we need to sell the truck." We listed that think on www.Craigslist.org on Monday and by Thursday, the truck was on it's way to a new home in Idaho..for $17,000.00

So, let's look at the math of buying a new-used car that someone has already "paid the depreciation down for you".

1. We gave up our paid for 1999 Isuzu Rodeo for $2,500. (You'll laugh at the next post were we talk about the 1999 Jeep we bought to replace the Navigator).
2. We went an additional $29,0000 in debt.
3. We sold the truck 2 years later for $17,000 still leaving approximately $15,000 from the original purchase on our debt books. Dave Ramsey (http://www.daveramsey.com/) calls this a "stupid tax".

So, what did we do with the money we got? We paid down $12,000 in debt and we set aside $5,000 for our new "clunker". So in reality we still have about $15,000 of the truck still on the debt books...about half...and we don't have the beautiful truck any more...but we don't have the maintenance costs, cost for premium fuel, and most importantly, we don't have the burden of driving around a big old fat lie.

But, what we do have is intensity, commitment and motivation! This is what is looks like to get intense about getting out of debt. Sacrifice. Achieve. Win!

"Live like no one else, so later you can LIVE like no one else" -Dave Ramsey