Category Archives: Life

Perfection Doesn’t Exist

Perfection is something that I thought could be obtained in some way. Actually, it almost caused me to quit writing this blog.

One of the reasons that I blogged so infrequently was because I was always trying to create the “perfect” blog post. Well, I’m here to tell you that perfection does not exist. It doesn’t exist in life, blogging and even finances.

“Once you accept the fact that you’re not perfect, then you develop some confidence.” ~ Rosalynn Carter

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to create the perfect blog post, have it quoted on various websites and have someone hand me a trophy (well, not really). You know what, that mentality caused me to not write at all! Pretty weird right? I wanted to be one of the best bloggers I could, yet I didn’t write. Makes a ton of sense! Seeking the unattainable caused me to not want to attain it.

Well, I am here to tell you that I am no longer seeking perfection. I won’t be seeking it with my writing or our finances. No more excuses. It’s just too stressful and unproductive. I’ve accepted the fact that I am not perfect and now I am going to build some confidence.

Enough about my life. So, how can you turn your finances around without seeking perfection?

Set Attainable Goals

If you have debt and finally come to the realization that it’s bad, you’re going to want to pay it all off in a hurry. Hell, when we first starting paying off our 150k, I was looking for the cure all medicine that could take care of the problem immediately. I wanted if gone, fast.

Unfortunately, you need to realize that there isn’t a magic debt elimination pill and it’s going to be a long and rough road. In order to make it easier, you need to set some attainable goals. Dave Ramsey tells you to list your debts from smallest to largest and then start working on the smallest of the bunch. That will allow you to reach certain financial victories much faster and it will give you some much needed confidence.

Reward Yourself Every Now and Then

When you do something awesome, reward yourself. I’m not talking about taking a trip to Hawaii here, but go out to eat with your spouse or catch a movie. My wife and I do this frequently due to the fact that we have so much debt. If we just sat on our asses all day every day watching our debt slowly go down, we would go insane. Sometimes you just need that interaction that getting out of the house does for you.

Another great tip would be to visualize the reward. If you have a special treat in mind, print out a picture and hang it on your fridge. Seeing it everyday will cause you to go that extra mile to save a few bucks here and there.

Follow People Just Like You

If I had to guess, I would say that most of you have some debt. It’s probably not 150k like us, but it feels like a lot nonetheless. Subscribing to blogs, going to Financial Peace classes and commenting on websites are great ways to get an extra boost in you financial plan. If you just sit on your butt and do nothing, you are doomed and won’t make any progress.

You’re doing the right thing subscribing to this blog. I hope that what my wife and I do financially helps you get through your troubles. Our ability to pay off debt should give you a ton of encouragement in your financial life. Just stick with it and you will see amazing results!

A Life of Quiet Desperation

This article was written by Steven, author of Hundred Goals, a blog about achieving your goals while managing your finances.  Steven writes about traveling the world while completing a life list of 100+ goals including Riding in a Hot Air Balloon and Giving Away $100 to a Complete Stranger.

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.

-Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854

Deep inside us is a smoldering desire for something more, something better, something…else.  We ponder the things in our lives that could be different, how our lives could be more satisfying, if only…  We dream of following the ambitions in our heart, of throwing caution to the wind and just focusing on being alive in the moment.

It isn’t that our lives are really that bad.  We have a nice home, a job that pays moderately well, a satisfying relationship with our spouse and great friends.  The children have everything they could ever need and there is always food on the table.  Life is good.

Life is good but you can’t help but wonder if it could be better, if you might be happier if only things had worked out differently.  What if you had followed your dream of becoming a veterinarian?  Sure, the money might not have been as good but maybe you wouldn’t feel like you have to force yourself out of bed each morning to get to the office on time.

It isn’t that life is really that bad.  You have a closet full of nice clothes.  A shiny new car is parked in the driveway (aren’t the neighbors jealous!?) and your new iPhone is the envy of all your friends.  Just look at what it can do! Life is good.

Life is good but you can’t help but wonder if it could be better, if you might be happier if only things had worked out differently.  What if you had followed your dream of helping underprivileged children?  Sure, that might have meant sacrificing some of the luxuries you have today but maybe you wouldn’t feel like your work has no value in the world.

It isn’t that life is really that bad.  Your kids have a great life.  They have everything you didn’t when you were growing up.  You know what it is like to grow up poor, having to go without nice things.  The last thing you want is for them to have to experience what you went through as a child.  The humiliation of having to wear old shoes on the first day of school.  Your kids deserve the best and that is exactly what you give them.  Life is good.

Life is good but you can’t help but wonder if it could be better, if you might be happier if only things had worked out differently.  What if you had followed your dream of starting your own business sharing your creative skills with the world?  Sure, that might have meant taking a risk and putting your faith in your ability but maybe your idea would have been a success and you could have been your own boss, free to control the direction of your company.

It isn’t that life is that bad.  It just could have been better.

2010 Financial Resolutions

It’s a new year and time for some resolutions. My wife and I have decided to go all financial resolutions this year in anticipation for some major debt butt kicking. We obviously want to complete EACH of these resolutions by year end. To be honest with you, I know we can do it. If we don’t, I want each and every one of you to call me a liar at the end of the year. Honestly. Do it.

1. Pay Off the Family Loan

This family loan we have is bugging the hell out of us. We know there’s no interest and we can pay it back at our leisure but it’s just ugly (sorry, couldn’t think of any other word for it). So, we are pledging that it will be completely gone (all $16,500 of it) by the end of 2010.

2. Accumulate No Additional Debt

This is a BIG one and should be on everyones list. One of the first steps in getting out of debt is not adding to it. If you only pay the minimum payments on your debts every month, but also don’t add any additional amount, you are making headway. That’s just my humble opinion.

This one will not be hard for us to complete. However, there are a few things that we would like to still do during the year that may require some planning. For example, my wife wants to take a master’s level class in the summer. We will not be taking out student loans but we will need to sock away some cash for the occasion.

3. Still Enjoy Some Good Old Fashion Relaxation

As you are probably aware, my wife and I want to continue to enjoy some things in life. We don’t want to be couped up in the house every week watching Redbox movies and eating Mac & Cheese non-stop. So, in order to get some relaxation, we want to take a trip to the beach. Mind you, I will be scouring for some amazing deals for the trip. We won’t be just throwing money at this trip. We want to do it frugally.

Actually, we have some family in NC that want to possibly rent a beach house with us. My wife’s family may also join us and it could really help out financially.

4. Relocate From My Job or Find Something Else

Some of you may know this, but others do not. I currently work and live in a different state during the week. I absolutely hate being away from my wife. It’s also a huge financial drain on us. It costs me an additional $400 in rent per month that we could be throwing at debt. Not to mention the added gas, groceries and parking expense.

I am currently in the process of applying for a position in the same company I work for now that is closer to home. It pays about 10% more and I won’t have to pay additional rent. It would help us eliminate that family loan a lot faster!

The hire date for the new job is in March. If I do not get it, I may have to start looking elsewhere for something. It’s just too hard to maintain two separate lives during the week. Even if I have to take less pay, it may be my only option.

5. Stick to the Budget

A big goal that we have in 2010 is sticking to our budget. We are currently using Mvelopes, which allows us both to view the budget when we are apart (it’s online). It’s a cool little program that is based on the envelope system. You place your money in “virtual envelopes” to spend in different categories. It has really helped us stay focused and pay off debt. If you are looking for a budgeting program, I would advise you to at least give them a shot. There is a 30-day trial included.

There really isn’t any way for you to monitor out budget, but I will be forthcoming with you if we get sidetracked from this goal.

Happy New Year! What are you financial goals?

My Call From a Debt Collector

Yep, it happened to me. Two weeks ago, while I was in my hotel room aimlessly staring at my TweetDeck, I got a phone call from a number that I didn’t know. Being the phone screener that I am, I let it go to voicemail. After what seemed like an eternity, I finally heard the sound that meant there was a message waiting to be heard. I decided to listen.

The first part of the message was a guy stating that this recording was for my ears only and if anyone not having the name Adam was listening, they were supposed to hang up. After about 15 seconds of that stuff, the guy stated who he was, where he worked and the fact that I owed them money. He left a reference number and told me to call them back. My first thought was that there was NO WAY I owed them anything. I have always paid my bills on time and if I did owe someone something, I would have taken care of it before it went to a collection agency.

Well, I waited about a week to call them back (surprisingly they didn’t call me back). I got someone right way and gave them my reference number. To my surprise, they didn’t ask me for any additional information before they got to the meaty stuff. Apparently, I owed my old apartment complex approximately $78. Really? It went to collections for $78?

My initial thought was “just give me the address so I can pay you with a money order”. However, I scrapped that thought and decided to fight. I told the woman that I wanted to check with the apartment complex to see what the charges were for. She told me I had a week and we hung up.

After that call, I immediately called my previous apartment complex (which happens to be halfway across the USA). To my surprise, they said that they would look into it and call me later that day.

A few hours later, I got the call back from the apartment complex. After some digging, they realized that they actually owed ME $78. Would you look at that, a $156 swing for little to no effort. I was completely relieved when I heard her say that. I went from feeling like a criminal to feeling like I just won the lottery.

I haven’t heard anything lately about this so I hope it’s getting taken care of. The apartment complex said that they would contact their headquarters and issue me a check. The collection agency said that they would verify my case with the apartment complex. Fingers crossed!

There were a couple of things that I learned from this whole ordeal:

1. Don’t Automatically Agree With the Collector

As I mentioned above, I almost caved immediately and paid them. I felt embarrassed that I had something in collections and just wanted it gone. Luckily, the collection company that had my case was rather friendly. Some collectors can be pushy and ruthless. Don’t let them push you around to the point that you just agree. Ask them to give you a detailed list of what the bill entails. Does it include late fees? Interest? Other charges? Make them prove it!

2. Don’t Give Them More Information Than Needed

Many collectors will want you to pay right away. In order to do that they will ask for you bank account information. Under no circumstances are you to give them that information! They will clean out your account no matter what you tell them to take out. If you agree with their assessment, send them a money order or certified check. When you mail it, make sure you send it certified mail so you have a signature showing they received it.

Well, there was my ordeal with a debt collector. Do you have any war stories of your own?

Big Changes and an Even Bigger Confession

Happy holidays everyone! If you are viewing this post on the site, you may notice a big change. I’ve changed the header, updated all pages and made the site easier to navigate. If you are viewing this in a reader or via email, click here to get to the site. I’ve made these changes for reasons that you will find out below.

The Big Confession

As you know, someone by the name of Chris has been posting on the site about his debt. Well, I am here to confess that I am Chris. When I first started blogging, I wanted to share our journey out of debt. However, my wife felt a little different about that. So, I thought I would create a pen name (Chris) to blog under. Did I get ya? Did you know it was me?

Lately, I have been talking to my wife about coming clean and she agreed that it was time. We have had great support from the readers here and over at Frugal Dad (where I am contributing weekly). We now want to share with you our journey out of debt on a more personal level. I think it makes it much easier to follow someone on this type of journey if you can connect with them. That’s why I now have my picture (and my wife’s picture) on the new about page. We want to get to know you and support you in getting debt free just like you will support us. Transparency is our new goal.

The Big Changes

I have also decided to change the way I blog. Long gone are the days where I talked about lipper fund averages and what the best reward credit card is. There are just too many bloggers doing that today. All future posts will be about our journey out of debt and how we live our life while in debt. If you read the about page, my wife and I want to continue to live a somewhat normal life while in debt. We won’t be eating beans and rice. We won’t be making our own deodorant. You never know when something will happen in your life and we don’t want to sacrifice everything to get out of debt 12 months faster.

I am going to try desperately to stick to a schedule. I want to post three times a week here (a post on Monday, a post on Wednesday, and a roundup on Friday). I will also continue to have a weekly post on Frugal Dad (every Friday). The posts will hopefully be a little bit meatier than in the past. I want to put out some quality things that will cause some great discussion here on the site.

Here are some other things that are changing:

  • I want to include many more guest posts.
  • I have removed all Google Adsense for regular readers. As long as you visit the site once every six months, they will not show for you.
  • Advertising will be limited to a single page and will not clutter the sidebar.
  • I want to include much more discussion.
  • I will be creating a free eBook sometime in early 2010.

These are just a few things that will be changing around here. Be sure to comment below about the new design, me being Chris, or suggestions that you want to see in upcoming posts.

Have a great holiday! 🙂

How Is Your Relationship With Money?

When I was coming up with a name for this blog, I kept thinking about how money is an integral part of everyone’s life (duh, right?). It’s used for almost everything that you can think of. My name searching led me the question of, “What is my relationship with money and how can I fix it?” Obviously, we all view money in different ways. Some people see it as groceries while others see it as the next Roth IRA contribution. Either way you look at it, we think about money every hour of the day. So, I want to know how you view your relationship with your money. Check out the categories below and see where you fit in!

The “Til Death Do Us Part” Relationship

Individuals who fall into this category have been great with money from the very start. They probably started out with a part-time job at the age of 16 and eventually bought their own car with cash. They spent their college years debt free because they worked their way through it and lived within their means. They began investing really early because they understood the power of compound interest. They have an amazing job and enjoy it every day. These individuals treat their money with great respect and will have a long-term relationship with it (because they will keep more of it).  Here are some common characteristics:

  • Net worth way above the norm
  • No credit card debt
  • Amazing credit score
  • Job they love (because it’s not always about money)
  • Ability to give, give, give

The “It’s Not You, It’s Me” Relationship

Individuals that fall into this category have an “on again, off again” relationship with their money. The probably had a part-time job in high-school because they knew it was important but spent most of the money on the movies and clothes. They went to a great public college because they knew they got more “bang for their buck” but used student loans to finance classes (and probably some pizza). They occasionally put money into an IRA when H&R Block reminds them to do so. They spend on their credit card and carry balances every once and a while. These individuals treat their money like a king some days and like a peasant others. Sometimes they save it and other times they spend it (on things that depreciate). Here are some common characteristics:

  • Net worth about average
  • Some credit card, student loan debt
  • So-so credit score
  • A job that pays good but sucks
  • Give, give, give to the credit card companies

The “Why Did I Marry You” Relationship

Individuals that fall into this category just can’t seem to hold onto their money. They probably had a job in high school but spent the money before it even hit their bank account (if they even had one). They accumulate things that have no meaning and depreciate in value. They went to an expensive college (or spent a lot of money on beer), racked up thousands in student loans, and probably graduated with a degree that had little meaning (if they graduated at all). They live paycheck to paycheck and float checks frequently. These individuals just can’t seem to hold onto their money. In other words, they can spend with it and accrue debt without it. Here are some common characteristics:

  • Ask “what does net worth mean?”
  • Many credit cards and all of them maxed out
  • If they got a car loan, it would be at 17%
  • A job that pays by the hour
  • Spend, spend, spend

So, where do you fit in? Can you think of any other “relationships” that should be mentioned?