Thursday, March 13, 2014

Ultimate Side Hustle

This is an guest post from the Personal Finance Blog Debt Discipline:

I haven’t seen much on personal finance blogs about this topic, but in the ultimate side hustle story a New York woman quit her job during the Super bowl in front of 100 million people. If you haven’t seen the commercial sponsored by GoDaddy, here it is:
Gwen Dean was selected out of over 100 candidates who intended to quit their job to pursue their dreams of owning their own business. Dean told her boss Ted during the super bowl ad “I quit.” After the commercial aired she officially e-mail Ted her resignation. Ted was a good sport about it. Texting Dean back "You’ve got to be kidding. Wow. Great commercial.” Dean now the owner of PuppetsByGwen has been making puppets since 2008, but for the past 18 years she has worked as an operation engineer. She decide to quit pursue puppet making full time with the help of a GoDaddy web site. Here’s more about Gwen:


Side Hustle 101

Gwen followed the basic rules of the side hustle, follow a passion, build it in your spare time, continuing to work your 9 to 5, and have an online presences. It didn’t hurt that GoDaddy selected her to be part of the biggest television event of the year and the large amount of press opportunities that followed.

Do you have a side hustle? Is you side hustle strong enough to quit you day job?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Am I an Expert?

This is an guest post from the Personal Finance Blog Debt Discipline:

I have certainly increased my personal finance knowledge over the past 42 months. I have read a number of books on the topic, read countless information on the web, read blogs, started my own personal finance blog, listen to podcast on the topics, organized my own finances, helped family members get their finances organized, and have paid off over $88k in debt. I am very excited and grateful for the new information that I have learned. So much so that I’d like to be able to help others with their finances. That’s one of the main reason I start to blog. I want to do more, and have begun to think about ways to do that beyond just blogging. I have no formal education on personal finance. I do have a college degree in an unrelated topic. Based on my brief resume, would you consider me an expert on the topic? Would you take my advice?


expert

Phase Two

I ponder this question because as we reach our debt free goal later this year I’m beginning to think of our next phase of our personal finance journey. Having more financial freedom will give me the ability to pursuit things I’m truly passionate about. I know many feel the same way when they are enlightened about personal finance. The information is so simple and yet provides such hope that you want to share it with everyone. What I’m wondering is can I turn paying off $109k worth of debt into a side hustle for my family and help other get out of a financial mess they may be in. I have mentioned before that I often listen to Dave Ramsey. Although I have never attended I have heard great things about his “Financial Peace University” class. Seems like an easy way to jump into a teaching role in a pre-defined curriculum, I’m just not sure if the religious aspect of the teaching would be the right fit for me. When I was in college I worked as a teaching assistant in a High School video department for 3 years. I considered getting my teaching certification, but there were not a lot of opportunities for teaching in that subject area. Obviously teaching a weekly class is not going to replace my current income, but could be a start to getting me on track for something bigger.

Spend More Money

One of the things I have considered was to seek some type of formal coaching or counselor education. Most are certification type training and vary from a week-long program to several months. The costs vary as well, as little as $500 to well over $5000. Once we are debt free budgeting in this cost would not be an issue, what I’m trying to decide is if this type of certification is really needed. Would a certification as a coach or counselor be more appealing than life experience and paying off $109K worth of debt? I admit someone might question my credentials, thinking if I was so good with money why did I get myself into that amount of debt in the first place? My answer to that would be that was my former self, before I learned better ways, sticking to a budget for over 4 years, and cleaning up over $109K worth of consumer debt. That life experience must count for something. I will continue to research training options, and increasing my knowledge as we finish up our debt snowball in hopes to venture out beyond this blog as some point in the near future.

Do you consider yourself an expert in an area you’ve received no formal training? Who you take coaching/advice from someone without a certification in a particular topic?

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Interview Series: Reach Financial Independence

This is an guest post from the Personal Finance Blog Debt Discipline:

This is the Seventh in a series of personal finance blogger interviews with fellow personal finance bloggers. Today’s guest is Pauline from Reach Financial Independence.

Who is Pauline?  
Pauline: I am a 33-year-old French girl born and raised in Paris. After college I decided to go see the world and have since lived in Guatemala, Spain, the UK and Morocco. I came back to Guatemala a couple of years ago, and bought a little house last year that I am turning into a guest house. I blog at Reach Financial Independence about early retirement, lifestyle choices, achieving your goals and deliberate living. I also own Make Money Your Way where I talk about ways to make money with investing, real estate, improving your career and side hustles. I love to travel, run, swim, cook, read and try new stuff.  

Why did you start your blog?  
Pauline: I had written for travel blogs for four years, was burned out and wanted to write about personal finance and my lifestyle, which is not really the norm. Reach Financial Independence was born 18 months ago, and Make Money Your Way a year later.  

What are your favorite Blogs? 
Pauline: Too many to list! One of the first I really liked was I Will Teach You To Be Rich, as it mixed psychology with the money behavior and I found it fascinating to try to reason why you do the things you do.  

When did you first become financially literate?
Pauline: I guess as a kid. My dad lost his job and had us live like it was WWII, although he had a comfortable emergency fund and we were still going on holidays or to private school. I knew I always wanted to have a little more than enough, just in case. What was the last item you regretted purchasing? My laptop. The old one was dying, in Guatemala where I live choices are limited so I got a basic replacement and it is so slooow. I plan on donating it to the local school and buying a new one next month.

If you died today, would your family be OK?  
Pauline: They’d be sad, but they know where my will is, and no one depends on my income, so that’s a yes.  

What are you teaching (or will you teach) your kids about money?  
Pauline: I don’t have kids, I hope to teach them independence. From a parent, learning to earn your own pocket-money from an early age. From a day job, learning to diversify your sources of income and always keeping a cushion. From the consumer world, learning to buy only what you need, and never on credit unless it is a house.  

What’s your dream job?
Pauline: I thought it was travel writer and after doing it for over four years I was burned out. Now I run a guest house, which was also one of my dream jobs, and am learning that it is not all rainbows and unicorns. I am lucky because I have held those two dream jobs of mine, and don’t really need the income they generate so the day I get bored I can stop and look for something else. Again we’re back on the topic of independence that is really dear to me.  

What’s next? (write in question)
Pauline: Well at the moment I just bought a third blog which is taking quite a bit of my time, I have been running the guest house for a couple of months, and I am developing 90 acres of land in Northern Guatemala. Those are my main areas of focus for 2014. It is tough to get motivation when working for yourself but those are three things I truly enjoy for now so it makes it much easier.

If interested in participating in a future interview, please contact me.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Gambling Money Away

This is an guest post from the Personal Finance Blog Debt Discipline:

As I was recovering from the fact that football season is now over, having to wait almost 6 months until the next NFL football game, and cleaning up the carnage from our little Super Bowl party I got to thinking about money I seem to just throw away. I think it had something to do with the fact that I had just tossed my losing Super Bowl pool boxes in the garbage. I made a $35 investment that could have won me as much as $1050, not bad considering all I had to do was hand over my hard-earned cash. Well like many years past the $35 investment yielded me no return. It did however leave a bad taste in my month for coughing up my dough. I don’t want to be a sore loser because there have been years when I have won, but the losses have been far greater than the wins. As I trying to move forward without football and $35 for now, I wondered about other gambling money habits that I have taken part in over the years.

gambling

Bad Habits

 

Super Bowl Box – As mention above, I usually get in at least one pool a year.  

Powerball – Anytime the jackpot reached over $100 million my office takes up a collects and we play. For a $2 donation you get to split the jackpot with 40 other co-workers. Odds of winning Powerball 1 in: 175,223,510. For the record my wife works with someone who hit Powerball. She took home a little over 5 million.  

Lottery Scratchers – They are sometimes call instant games, these are the tickets that range in price from $1-$20. We used to buy these often for Birthday and Christmas. Since we have been paying our debt we have basically stopped.  

Gambling – I have been in a Casino or two in my life. I haven’t been in probably 15 years. When I did go I would play blackjack. The first time I ever gambled I won, probably not a good way to start.

 I do try to limit these activities now. I really want my money to be spent wisely and be used for paying off debt currently. Once in a while I can get caught up in the day-dream of winning the millions and quitting the day job. I think that's why so many people participate in these activities, the fantasy or the dream of dropping down a dollar and winning big. My mom in her mid 70's still plays Bingo twice a week. It's part social event for her and she has the money to lose. That is key, if you don't have the money to lose you should be participating in these activities. You can't expect to participate in any of the examples expecting to win. Using the rent money to try to win big is going to put you in a bad spot 99.9% of the time. I will control my daydreaming and continue to work hard on paying off our debt. I do think I’ll continue to make the office Powerball donation. I wouldn’t want to be the only guy left in the office after everyone else won the millions.

Have you ever participated in any of these? Do you have any other bad money habits that you know are bad but continue to do anyway?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Interview Series: Narrow Bridge Finance

This is an guest post from the Personal Finance Blog Debt Discipline:

This is the Sixth in a series of personal finance blogger interviews with fellow personal finance bloggers. Today’s guest is Eric Rosenberg from Narrow Bridge Finance.  

Who is Eric Rosenberg?  
Eric: A lot of my blogger friends know me as DenverEric (my Twitter name). I grew up in Denver and recently moved to Portland to follow a dream of moving somewhere that I chose myself. When I’m not at my day job in corporate finance or blogging, you can find me on my cruiser bike, DJing, planning flash mobs, exploring my city, or traveling hacking my way around the world.  

Why did you start your blog?  
Eric: I started my blog just after leaving my job working as a bank manager. I had already been blogging about politics, so it was easy for me to start my second long-running blog. I had lots of great, fresh information on how the banking industry works, and wanted to share my knowledge on banking, investing, mortgage loans, and general personal finance with a new audience. Over time, my blog has grown to include other writers and tips about all parts of your financial life. I have shared my journey of paying off my student loans, buying my first home, and aggressively saving for retirement.  

What are your favorite Blogs?
Eric: Well, my own of course! Okay, I know what you mean. When I’m reading other blogs, I like to read a lot about personal finance and travel hacking. I’ve become friends with lots of blogger by going to the Financial Blogger Conference (FinCon), and love to read my friends blogs first. I am a regular reader of PT Money, Beating Broke, Sustainable Life Blog, Punch Debt in the Face, Financial Samurai, and a lot of other quality blogs. When I’m getting an itch for travel, I like to read The Art of Non-Conformity, Nomadic Matt, Legal Nomads, and the Blond Abroad. The Points Guy and The Frequent Miler help me find new deals to travel free, or close to it.  

When did you first become financially literate?  
Eric: My first memory learning about personal finance was when I was about ten years old. My Grandpa Joe sat me down with a general ledger book and taught me to track my income and expenses so I would know how much I was making, spending, and the change in my assets. I didn’t think much of it for a few years, but that was the starting point of my interest in personal finance, investing, and my eventual career choice.

What was the last item you regretted purchasing?  
Eric: I try to live with a no-regrets financial lifestyle. I think it is totally okay to spend money on whatever you value and enjoy as long as you take care of the “have to” spending first. I also make myself wait for a few days before I buy anything expensive. I have a personal rule against buying anything expensive on a whim.

If you died today, would your family be OK? 
Eric: Well, they would be really sad. I hope! I don’t have any kids yet, and my finance does just fine supporting herself financially. I wouldn’t worry about anyone going hungry or homeless if I weren’t here. Once I do have a bigger family, I plan to get quality life insurance to make sure everyone is covered. If I were really smart, I would do it now while the rates are lower.

What are you teaching (or will you teach) your kids about money?
Eric: I’ll try to teach them the lessons my Grandpa taught me. I will teach them to spend less than they earn, track everything you earn and spend, invest for the future, and live with financial discipline. I always like to remind people that Warren Buffet didn’t get rich by spending all of his money, and I’m sure my future kids will hear that more than once growing up.  

What’s your dream job?  
Eric: For now, I have a great job that I’m lucky to enjoy and make plenty to cover my lifestyle. In the long run, I’d love to be a Fortune 500 executive or be 100% self-sustaining running my own business. I know they seem different, but to me they are similar. At the top of the ladder, you are really self-determining quite a lot of how your lifestyle works and can make big choices to run a company.  

How Did You Make Your First Dollar of Side Income? (Write in question)
Eric: I am a huge proponent of building multiple income streams. Whether you have a full-time day job or you run your own business, you never know when something will go wrong. Having back up money sources is hugely important. I made my first money outside of my main job writing online. I was doing quite a lot of Wikipedia editing those days, and I found I could write for sites like eHow and make a few bucks for doing something similar to what I was already doing. From there, it wasn’t a big step to starting my own blogs and building up several related income streams including advertising and freelance writing.

Eric Rosenberg has been blogging since 2006 and is the owner and editor at Narrow Bridge Finance, a personal finance blog designed to save you time, money, and headache when dealing with your money. He has a B.S. and MBA in finance and experience working in banking and corporate finance.

If interested in participating in a future interview, please contact me.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Hoston We Have a Puppy!

This is an guest post from the Personal Finance Blog Debt Discipline:

As I mentioned a few weeks ago we were looking to add a puppy to our family. I’m happy to announce we added MuShu this past Friday. He is a Shiba Inu. He is an amazing little boy. I realize it’s only been three days, but he is doing really well adjusting to his new home and family. We had a yellow Labrador for 13 years who passed away in July of last year. We have always been pet owners. Our family has had fish, rats and a guinea pig along the way. Growing up I had a number of dogs and cats and my wife was a dog owner. Our house has not seemed the same without a pet. So we knew we would add one soon.

We started looking at different breeds, we want a dog a little smaller than our Labrador. My wife has a co-worker who owns a Shiba and we went for a visit. Needless to say we fell in love. We began to research, looking at local rescue, pet shops and breeders. We filled an application out at a local Shiba rescue, but still have not heard back. We were not thrilled with the pet shop experience and recommendations from others, so we were set on finding a private breeder. Our lab was purchased from a private breeder and we were very happy with the experience. We found a few local breeders and sent out e-mails just before the Holidays. All responses came back with no puppies available at this time. On New Years Eve we received a response back from a breeder who was only 20 minutes from our house. We set up a meeting and we instantly fell in love. Four weeks later we are proud owners of a new puppy!

shiba inu shiba inu

Puppy Budget

Now I'm sure you are wondering what this has to do with personal finance. Well a lot. As it turns out Shiba Inu’s are not cheap. This was a major budget decision for us. Here’s the breakdown:
  • Puppy - $2000
  • AKC registration - $40
  • Crate - $99
  • Bed - $25
  • Collar - $15
  • Leash - $22
  • Puppy Food - $ 14
  • Bowl - $15
  • Toys - $26
So our grand total spent is $2256. Wow. Before your reply please note this was all done with cash and all debt repayment remains on track. This was one of those personal, personal finances decisions for our family. We were able to cash flow this purchase. Sure this was a want and not a need, but after experiencing the fun and happiness with our new pup this weekend I’m so glad we did it.

Have you ever spent this kind of money on a want? What the purchase worth it?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Interview Series: One Cent At A Time

This is an guest post from the Personal Finance Blog Debt Discipline:

This is the fifth in a series of personal finance blogger interviews with fellow personal finance bloggers. Today’s guest is SB from One Cent At A Time.  

Who is SB?  
SB: I am a personal finance enthusiast with a career in software development. I am an immigrant in this country since 2005, after being born and brought up in India. I am 30 something technocrat who lives and breathes personal finance everyday when ever I get time from my day job and job as a husband.  

Why did you start your blog?  
SB:I was regular personal finance blog reader, I read sites like Get Rich Slowly, Simple Dollar, etc since 2006, after I came to this country in 2005 from India on a work visa. I wanted to learn the financial system here and ways I could save money being in a foreign land. Slowly I realized I was a bit different from these bloggers, I grew up in poverty in a third world country and frugality was necessity there, not a choice. I thought I could add values by putting my approach to personal finance in public. Being in the software industry, setting up a site and starting with my own blog was easy for me, what took real time though , was to acquire the writing skills that might fit the readers here. It took real courage to start with OCAAT, having English as my third language. I was inclined towards better financial management since the time I was learning maths and languages, it was the trait my father possessed and passed on to me. Then, combine that natural liking with an ambition to put my voice in public. All these things contributed to formation of the blog One Cent at a Time.  

What are your favorite Blogs?
SB:There are many but the names that readily come to mind are Daily Finance, Wise bread, Financial Samurai and Mr. Money Mustache. My earlier favorite’s blogs like Get Rich Slowly and The Simple Dollar are now less appealing to me these days.  

When did you first become financially literate?  
SB:I can't remember but as I mentioned in my about page, I first bought shares with money in my piggy bank when I was still in elementary school. since I grew up seeing scarcity of resources, I grew frugal and all basics of earning more money and hold on to it for as long as possible, were almost my born traits.  

What was the last item you regretted purchasing?
SB:The 2009 BMW 528i that I purchased in September. I cold have saved $10,000 and put it in my retirement fund instead. But overall I plan to sell it off in 3 years with a monetary loss (as cars are depreciating properties) of around $1000 per year which is equivalent to any other car.  

If you died today, would your family be OK?  
SB:Yes, the day I got to choose my first health insurance, I made sure that my wife gets 8 times my yearly gross salary as insurance amount. I have saved sufficient amount to go back to my home country and live happily retired. So in case I die, even without insurance money my wife can live her life without any monetary trouble.  

What are you teaching (or will you teach) your kids about money?
SB:Money is like the seed of a fruit, save it, plant it, nourish it, water it - at the end you'll get many more fruits. Even if they don't understand I'll take them (my to be kids) along whenever we set budget, we buy a big ticket items - like car, taking investment decisions or even while paying our bills. Even if they won't understand a bit of it, in their subconscious mind it'll register. And most importantly they would be interested to learn, interested to understand my moves. Giving practical lessons to the kids are far better than telling them not to buy things on credit when you don't have money. As much as they see their parents' frugal practices, they'll get it automatically. Seeing parents do their budget is to me the best financial lessons we could impart on our kids.  

What’s your dream job?  
SB:As I said earlier, I could retire now if I wish. But I love my job which is challenging and rewarding. I'd like to stick with the job till I find it interesting and worth it. Sure, being promoted here would all be my dream position. Director, Vice president, Senior Vice president are all I aspire to become. I am not looking for financial freedom. As I love to continue with my day job. I strive in company of other people. Earning passive income while having vacation is not something that inspires me a lot. I can only think of a job of investment banker and working for NGOs to help people in need as other jobs, besides what I am currently doing, as my dream jobs.  

One liner best financial advice (write in question)  
SB:Spend less than you earn

One Cent At A Time is a blog dedicated to all round well-being for everyone covering topics that include: saving money, smart spending, profitable investments and successful retirement planning, with extra touch on improving earnings.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Financial Complaints

This is an guest post from the Personal Finance Blog Debt Discipline:

We have tried to remain extremely positive over the long haul (43 months) during our debt repayment. We understand that the tightening of our budget and cutting back on wants will only be for a period of time. We understand getting a $109k debt monkey off our backs will be a spring-board for better things for the entire family. With that in mind we kept the financial complaints to a minimum. I started this blogs in hopes to share our story and hopefully inspired and help someone else struggling to get their finances in order. This was not always our way of thought; it took many years of mistakes and ignorance before we made a change. The changes happened for us when we hit rock bottom and began to educate ourselves about personal finance. This was done on our own, partly because we were tight-lipped about our finances for years and didn’t want to discuss our mess with anyone and partly that we didn’t want anyone to tell us how to manage our money.

Financial Complaints

Now that we have seen the light, we regularly talk about our success, we are proud of the turnaround and the progress we have accomplished. We try to share the information we have learned without being pushy. I gave all of the co-workers in my department Dave Ramsey’s “The Total Money Makeover” book as a Christmas Gift in 2012. No strings attached, I just explained to my co-workers how the book helped me. I sat down with an extended family member to review their budget and help point them in the right direction. I have helped my brother get on the right financial path after some trouble. My wife and I have pointed friends in the right direction with offering them a book to read a blog or web site to check out. Then there are those people who not matter what advice, or information you provide continue to complain about their financial situation. They complain and complain but never take any action. I have a few in my life today and the drive me crazy.

 

Financial Complainer Profiles

To protect the identity of the complainers, I will call them complainers one and two. Here’s an overview of their current situation.  

Financial Complainer One – As least once a week tells me he has no money, or can’t afford things, or is broke. I know the income for this complainer is at least $100k. The complainer often gambles, plays fantasy sports for money, eats out multiple times a week, spouse does not work, and drives a new car.  

Financial Complainer Two – Had to move out of their primary residence due to a pay freeze at work and could not afford mortgage. House is currently being rented. Living rent free at a family members house to save money to hopefully return to own home. Spouse does not work and still drives a new car. I agree these profiles are very different.

From the outside looking in FC1 seems like a wiener, someone who has the money to support these habits but just likes to complain, but FC2 has a really financial emergency that forced them to move out of their house. The common thread for both FC1 and FC2 is that they have not taken any action or made any changes to improve their situations. I never try to preach to others in need of help. I simply will talk about our success and see if the other person will inquirer how we succeeded. If they do I can point them in the right direction in a number of books, web sites etc. I never want to make some feel like I’m talking down to them. I have tried to offer help in both cases, books, web sites, etc. As of today I’m not aware of any change with FC1 or FC2. I struggle when I hear FC1 and FC2 complain, because I know change is possible. We were $109k in debt, we had max our 5 credit cards and we found away to dig ourselves out of the mess. I just don’t know how else I can help.

How do you help someone who doesn’t want help, but continues to complain about their situation?

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Interview Series: Money Life and More & Adventuring Dollars.

This is an guest post from the Personal Finance Blog Debt Discipline:

This is the fourth in a series of personal finance blogger interviews with fellow personal finance bloggers. Today’s guest is Lance Cothern from Money Life and More and Adventuring Dollars.  

Who is Lance Cothern?  
Lance: I like to think I'm a regular person, just like everyone else. Professionally, I am a corporate accountant and I am a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in the Commonwealth of Virginia. In my spare time, I run two blogs, Money Life and More and Adventuring Dollars. I'm married to my beautiful wife, Tori, and we have a dog, Daphne. No kids yet!  

Why did you start your blog?
Lance: I started my blog because I love personal finance and I wanted a platform to share my thoughts on the subject. I had been reading blogs for years and I finally decided to give it a whirl. It has been a blast and I'm very glad I started blogging!  

What are your favorite Blogs?
 Lance: I'm more of a nomad when it comes to blogs. I read whatever looks interesting. I've recently discovered Out Of Your Rut and Hull Financial Planning, both blogs which regularly have great content.  

When did you first become financially literate?  
Lance: I'd say I started in high school with my first job. I saved almost all of my earnings for college and was lucky enough to graduate debt free. My wife, on the other hand, graduated with over $80,000 of student loan debt. Thankfully, it is now almost all gone!  

What was the last item you regretted purchasing?  
Lance: I can't think of anything in particular that I've really regretted purchasing. In general I almost always regret it when I buy a cheap item rather than a quality item. I spend more money replacing it than if I would have just bought the quality item to begin with.

If you died today, would your family be OK?  
Lance: My wife and dog would be OK, but they wouldn't be able to retire today. We're only in our mid twenties though with no kids, so I think that's OK. My wife could pay the house off and worry about getting her life together and finding someone new to spend the rest of her life with without having to worry about money in the immediate future.  

What are you teaching (or will you teach) your kids about money?  
Lance: Oh man, that's so far away, but I hope to teach my kids a ton about money! I want them to know the value of a dollar (or probably a $20 bill by then) and how to manage their money to live their lives they way they want to live, not how American culture tells them how to live.  

What’s your dream job?  
Lance: My dream job would probably change constantly knowing me. Ideally, I know I'll have found my dream job when work doesn't feel like work and I'm excited to get the job done!  

What one thing do you wish more people would think about in their daily lives? (write in question) Lance: I wish people would think about living life how they want to live, not how culture dictates we should spend our lives. Don't think you have to have a fancier car than your neighbors if all you care about is getting from point A to point B. Don't feel like you have to climb the corporate ladder if that isn't what drives you. Make a plan that can support yourself and your family and live your life the way you want to live. You can't have everything, but you can have what you want most if you put your mind to it.

Lance Cothern blogs at Money Life and More and Adventuring Dollars when he isn't working or wandering around town. Lance and his wife, Tori, are almost done destroying over $80,000 of student loan debt which he has blogged about extensively on Money Life and More.

If interested in participating in a future interview, please contact me.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

My Parent’s Financial Story

This is an guest post from the Personal Finance Blog Debt Discipline:

I don’t ever recall my parent’s specifically sitting down with me to talk about the topic of personal finance. I do remember asking questions along the way when I was old enough and aware of money and the cost of things. Even thought we did not have a formal talk my parents did teach me about personal finance. This is my parent’s financial story.

We were the classic middle class family, I’m the youngest of five, and both of my parents worked. My mom was at home with us until I was old enough for school and then she went to work. My older sibling helped with me after school, until I was old enough to do so myself. My parent’s combined income was somewhere in the $40-50K range. We never went without, my dad was a good provider and would take on side hustles to help fund vacations and Christmas.

He worked for the local water company and would take overtime when he could. Being in the plumbing trade he would take side job and install water services into home that had well water. This was a family endeavor. My brothers and I were his crew. When I was very young I would assist by handing him tools or helping him measure cooper, etc., but as I got older I was helping digging holes, running copper, etc. My brothers and I would be paid after the job. My dad always priced the job based on the cost of materials and then added in the labor costs, some job needed a bigger crew and would cost more. I recall the calculations he did by hand to come up with the overall job cost. This side money always had a purpose whether it was used for vacations, birthdays, or Christmas shopping. My dad often worked overtime, weekends, overnights, and Holidays. He explained to me the concept of time and a half and double time and depending on the situation the type of overtime he would earn. He also returned to military service as some point. He service in the Navy out of High School (Korean War Vet) and went into the naval reserves. This was another source of income for the family. My mom worked in a factory type job, never earned a big income, but worked to help bring in some extra money.

financial story

I asked questions about the checkbook and how it worked when I was 7 or 8. They used to use it in the grocery store and I wanted to understand what these things called checks were. My mom explained how it worked and they the ledger kept track of the money in their account. It wasn’t until the mid-eighties that my parents had their first credit card. This was not their first experience with purchasing things on credit. I recall a man coming to our house on a monthly basis, he was there to collect a Fingerhut payment. My parents had purchased some furniture on payments. Fingerhut is a mail order company founded in 1948. They are still in business today. At some point in my childhood the Fingerhut man stopped coming around, I don’t even recall any crazy credit card stories growing up. I know they were used for renting cars or purchasing air travel. Our typically family vacations were camping trips in the Northeast, we visiting upstate New York, Vermont, and Maine. We drove to Disney world in Florida a few times. So I don’t ever think there was excessive spending because credit cards were not imbedded into the way of life-like they are today.

My parent’s cash flowed most of my college tuition. I had a few small scholarships and a small loan. My parents retired in the early 90’s when my dad was 55 and mom was 53. They sold their home in New York and moved to Sunny Florida. (State law requires this) In retirement they collected a pension from my dad’s water company job and earned an income from his active naval reserve service, until he retired and earn another pension. In retirement they began to travel, taking trips and cruises. Enjoying retired life for 18 years until my dad became ill and passed away in 2008. I helped my mom sort things out of after his passing. My dad had done a good job leaving life insurance, and each of his pensions would continue with my mom. She was now collecting social security, so she end up with 3 sources of income each month to live on. I help sort out her bills. I was surprised to see how many credit cards my parents now had open. There were 4, each with balances. They were paid off and closed. It took a couple of years for my mom to get settled, but she ended up returning to the northeast from Florida and is doing well today.

I share this story because as I look for answers on why I wasn’t better prepared to handle money when I entered my earning years it helps put things in perspective. My parents, managed pretty well from what I remember. They lived within their means for the most part, trying to earn more money at any opportunity they could. Any early bump in their financial road was Fingerhut, living beyond their means, they continue on a good track never spending extremely, taking modest vacations and always providing for their family. I own them a great deal of gratitude for funding my college career. In retirement they enjoy themselves, they let credit cards something new to them creep into their financial picture and accumulated a small amount of debt. All in all they did a good job raising 5 children on modest salaries.

What I’ve learned

 

To work hard and look for other earning opportunities – this was a key for my parents and has served me well.  

I need to do a better job preparing my children – my parents gave me the basic, I need to go above and beyond that for my three children.

Ignorance isn’t bliss – credit cards were new to my parents but not an excuse for abuse.

I grew up with a credit card in my pocket at all times. My parents gave me one for emergencies when I was in college that I used sparingly. As a college student I was able to apply for one in my own name and this is where the living beyond my mean began. I used it for all types of thinks early on mainly gas, and food. After graduating and landing my first job I increased credit card spending as I justified purchases by being able to pay the minimum payment. This snowballed when I got married and we purchased a house, we didn’t wait to save money to perform improvements we borrowed more. We justified it by saying everyone has a 2nd mortgage. After that credit cards continued to increase and with little things here and there. Once we knew we were expecting our third child a new mini van was in order. So in a matter of 10 years we racked up $109K in debt. Looking back now there were some help that we overlooked that may have help prevent us from racking up these bills.

A year or two after my wife and I were married, my in-laws gave us a Suze Orman Book. I don’t recall which book because I never read it. I wasn’t going to let my in-laws tell me how to manage my money with some book. Wow, what a big mistake that was. Who knows if I read that book what path it might have set us on. We finally woke up when we hit rock bottom in the June of 2010. Which I’ve talked about in a previous post called powerful information.

Did your parents set you on a good financial path? What are the most important things you’ve learned from your parents financially?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Giving

This is an guest post from the Personal Finance Blog Debt Discipline:

I was catching up on some podcasts this weekend, one that I regularly listen to is “The Dave Ramsey Show” I don’t usually have the opportunity to listen to his show during the week as my day job gets in the way. I’ve been a little behind on my podcasts and was catch up on a number of December episodes. I listened to Dave’s last live show before Christmas. It was from 12/20/2013. The topic of the show was giving. Dave took calls from all over the country with stories of giving. It was truly an amazing show and if you have a chance to listen to it I would highly recommend it. There were a variety of stories from a Church parish giving $50 to each of its members to spend on someone else, Teachers in a school in Chicago taking a collection and anonymously give students $25 dollar gift card, donations being collected for a family in upstate New York whose dad was killed in a robbery.

giving

There were many other truly amazing stories about giving. I have listened to the podcast a few times now. I have asked my family to listen to it as well. I was really touched by it. These stories really help keep me motivated. I want to be able to be in a position to be able to help others with my money in the future. My goal in the future is to be able to have the wiggle room in our budget to be able to take part in acts of giving like I heard on this podcast. I believe it will first start with my own children, changing our financial situation has a lot to do with them. I want to be able to provide better for them, teach them better then I was taught on how to handle money. I’d want to have the free cash to pick up the tab at dinner for family or friends. Having expendable dollars to help others in need, or take part in random act of kindness. These are the things that beyond my own situation excite me about being debt free.

What motivates your financial situation? Have you ever taken part in a random act of kindness?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Interview Series: The Student Loan Sherpa

This is an guest post from the Personal Finance Blog Debt Discipline:

This is the third in a series of personal finance blogger interviews with fellow personal finance bloggers. Today’s guest is Michael Lux from The Student Loan Sherpa.  

Who is The Student Loan Shepra?  
Michael: One of millions of college grads who finished school with no real appreciation for the impact that student loans would have on his life.  Now I share my experiences with others to hopefully save a few people some time, money, and heartache.  

Why did you start your blog?
Michael: I started my blog because I knew there were many people just like me.  I also I knew I had information that was not readily available, so I saw the blog as an opportunity to reach out and help people.  

What are your favorite Blogs?  
Michael: I like any blog that offers a unique point of view or relevant personal experience.  It’s easy to write articles about how too much credit card debt is bad, I like the one’s that put something out that that nobody else does.  Mr. Money Mustache is a great example.  I don’t always agree with him, but he is one of a kind.  I respect that.  

When did you first become financially literate?  
Michael: I don’t think I am, and I really don’t think anyone else out there is.  I suppose we can debate the financial literacy of Warren Buffet, but the point is that there is always more to learn.  There are always new concepts.  The financial rules seem to constantly be changing, so I think its dangerous to believe you have it under control.  

What was the last item you regretted purchasing?
 Michael: I’m really racking my brain on this one.  I’m quite happy this isn’t an easy question to answer. After some thought, I will go with the triple steak burrito at Taco Bell.  It wasn’t up to the delicious standard I have come to expect from TB, and my digestive system was similarly disappointed.

 If you died today, would your family be OK?  
Michael: I would hope that they would be devastated I was gone, but from a financial standpoint I think they would be ok.  I would expect my life insurance to be more than sufficient.  

What are you teaching (or will you teach) your kids about money?  
Michael: I think the most import thing would be to teach them that money is not the most important thing.  It is simply a means to an end.  Money is not how you keep score in life, nor should it be valued above the things that are truly important.  

What’s your dream job?
Michael: Professionally, I’m in my dream job.  I also love that I have the opportunity to blog about a subject I’m passionate about when I am not at the office.  

What is your best piece of advice? (write in question)  
Michael: Do the math!  I find myself saying this when I answer emails and when I write articles.  Financial questions may seem like simple black and white issues, but the reality is that there is so much gray.  The only way you will ever know what is best for you is to crunch the numbers.

 Michael Lux is an Indiana attorney and the founder of The Student Loan Sherpa, a website dedicated to helping people navigate the burdens of student loan debt.

 If interested in participating in a future interview, please contact me.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Holiday Hangover

This is an guest post from the Personal Finance Blog Debt Discipline:

There is good news for us early in the New Year, we won’t be suffering from a Holiday hangover. We used cash for all of our purchases this year. We had an incredible Holiday season. My wife and I celebrated our wedding anniversary the week before Christmas with a very nice dinner out. We possibly started a new Christmas Eve tradition by going out to another awesome meal with the family. We spent and average of $350 per person on our shopping list. We hosted a party at our home featuring Bagna Cauda with family and friends. The two dinners out and the party cost us a total of $850.

I can not begin to tell you how much more I enjoyed the Holidays this year, knowing that we went into them with a spending plan and knowing I would not have a lump in my throat when the January bills came in. I truly noticed an emotional difference during these Holidays. There was no stress, no fear when shopping, and really enjoyed the giving more. I am fortunate to receive an end of year bonus from my company which funded 95% of these purchases. This also allows us to spend a little more on our 3 children then we might normally do. This will be the last year we rely so heavily on my bonus to fund Christmas. We are going to be debt free in November and in our 2014 Goals stand up, we except to pull that in by a few months.

This has already got me excited for the Holidays again and got me thinking of being able to participate in some random acts of kindness. I just heard of one at a local Starbucks where a man purchased a $90 gift card and gave it back to the shop to be used for random drive thru customers. These random acts have been popping up across the country. I can’t believe on January 6th I’m already looking forward to Christmas again.

 

January Blues

January can be a tough month for people who accumulated debt over the holidays. Typically the New Year has you thinking of resolution or goal for the next 12 months. So it’s important to not sit back and feel sorry for yourself, but rather begin to take action. Here are some tips to help get you motivated.  

Access the Damage – You spend it, now own it. Review your bills and get the information down on paper or incorporated into your budget. You’ll need this information to help develop your plan.

Don’t continue – Don’t allow the spending to continue, put the cards away.  

Develop a plan – Once you know how much debt you have and stop spending you need to figure out the plan to attack it. Use any one of these techniques to accomplish the payoff, debt Snowball, lowest balance first or highest interest rate first, etc. Can you squeeze any other areas of your budget to pay extra on this debt?  

Start Saving – Begin to work on you plan for he next holiday season. Maybe try the 52 week savings plan. In the plan you save money each week of the year, equal to the week. So on week 1 you save $1, on week 2 you save $2 and so on and after 52 weeks you will have $1378 saved. So shake off that holiday hangover and get your butt in gear. It’s up to you to take control and make some changes before the next holiday season.

How did you fund your 2013 holiday expenses? Do you have a plan for 2014?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Interview Series: The Wealth Gospel

This is an guest post from the Personal Finance Blog Debt Discipline:

This is the second in a series of personal finance blogger interviews with fellow personal finance bloggers. Today’s guest is Ben Luthi from The Wealth Gospel.  

Who is Ben Luthi?  
Ben: I’m a 27-year old dude and live in Northwest Arkansas with my wife, Kilee, and our dog, Paisley (No, we’re not from there, which is why my grammar is…well let’s just not go there). Anyhoo, I love love love traveling, the outdoors, being active and reading classic literature. I lived in Germany for a couple of years and dream almost every day of going back, and I am obsessed with food, especially German food.  

Why did you start your blog?
Ben: I started The Wealth Gospel in August 2013. After being unemployed my first six months out of college, I took a job in July out of desperation because we were out of money. Not knowing when I would be able to move up or find a better job elsewhere, I decided to start a blog and build it as a side business. Although I’ve made just a tiny amount off the blog itself in the last four months, I’ve gotten a lot of freelancing opportunities and am earning about half my paycheck on the side.

What are your favorite Blogs?  
Ben: Oh man, where to start?! I was reading Mr. Money Mustache and Good Financial Cents long before I ever thought about starting my own. Budgets are Sexy was the first one that sowed the seed of blog love in my heart, so I owe J. big time for that. He’s also done a little consulting for me and it’s given me a huge boost, so I highly recommend getting with him if you are just starting out! Holly over at Club Thrifty has been a huge inspiration for me on the freelancing side. Other than that, it would probably be a little too intense to list all my other faves, but a few are Broke Millennial, which is an awesome read for young people, Frugal Portland, who has a hilarious personality and is the perfect resource for peeps living in the Portland area, and Financial Samurai, whose posts are always well thought out and sophisticated.  

When did you first become financially literate?  
Ben: I’ve always been a saver by nature, but it wasn’t until I read Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover in 2009 that I started really thinking about any of that stuff. Although there are a lot of things I don’t agree with Dave about, it was really a great way to get my feet wet and it got me thinking about a lot of things that I had never really considered before.  

What was the last item you regretted purchasing?  
Ben: I know this is going to sound lame, but I honestly can’t remember regretting something I purchased. For the most part I’m pretty boring. I should say, though, that I should regret going on a cruise to the Bahamas and taking a week trip to Anaheim while my wife and I were in college. We had the money to do it at the time, but ended up having to take out student loans later because we had spent the money. But I love traveling too much to really regret it :)  

If you died today, would your family be OK?  
Ben: Indubitably! I won’t say exactly how much life insurance I have, but it’s enough so that my wife will never have to worry about money again. I know some people who think it’s a waste to have a lot of insurance when you don’t have kids, but personally, I believe in an afterlife and I’d prefer to not die and then get that brought up for the rest of eternity (that was a joke). But really, I’m pretty passionate about life insurance, although I definitely don’t judge other people who feel differently about it.  

What are you teaching (or will you teach) your kids about money?  
Ben: No kids yet, but we’re definitely hoping that will change soon! From what I’ve observed of my siblings, I can tell that it’s difficult to teach your kids about anything, really, because they can still choose to do what they want. But I actually wrote an article a few months ago about a few things I’d like to teach my future spawn, so I’ll let you read about it there.  

What’s your dream job?
 Ben: Oh baby! Let’s talk about this for a minute or two. My dream job consists of a Timothy Ferriss-like online business that allows me to do minimal management and maximum world travel and culture experience. But that’s a little ways out, so the next step for me right now is to become a full-time freelance writer so I can work from home. The goal is to accomplish that by the end of 2014, so anyone looking for a writer or know someone who is, drop me a line :)

If you could have one super power, what would it be? (write in question)  
Ben: If I could have any super power, I think it would be the power to make anyone near me wet their pants. Can you imagine the power you would have? Walk into any public place and people would go out of their way to make you happy. But, of course, with great power comes great responsibility. I would just need to figure out what that would mean...

Ben Luthi is a freelance writer and personal finance blogger who writes regularly at The Wealth Gospel. He is passionate about helping people find their true potential and align their behaviors with their goals. He’s a chips and salsa connoisseur and his spirit animal is Warren Buffett. You can follow him on Twitter @thewealthgospel or like him on Facebook.

 If interested in being a part of this interview series please drop us an e-mail.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

New Year Resolution

This is an guest post from the Personal Finance Blog Debt Discipline:

I’m not a big fan of the term resolution when it comes to making them for the New Year. I always joking with family and friends that my New Year resolution is to stop making resolutions. I prefer to make goals for the upcoming year. I guess the word play is just semantics, but when looking for the Merriam-Webster definitions for each word, I think goal is truly a better fit.

 res•o•lu•tion • the act of finding an answer or solution to a conflict, problem, etc. : the act of resolving something • an answer or solution to something

goal • something that you are trying to do or achieve

new year resolution
Image courtesy of Satit Srihin

So I will be setting goals for the New Year. Before I do I think you need to follow a few rules when setting goals for yourself. The goal needs to have detail and not be vague like “I going to lose weight this year.” Instead if you say I’d like to lose 12 pounds by April this gives you a true way of measuring what you are trying to achieve. You should also document your goals and set reminders in your calendar, mobile phone, e-mail, etc. This will help remind you during the year and allow you to check in on your progress. I believe you goals should be a mix of easily obtainable goals and ones that will push you. You don’t want to set yourself up for complete failure, but don’t want to just have all easy goals that will be completed in no time. Having the right mix/ balance of different levels of goals will help keep you motivated.

My 2014 Goals

Paying off all consumer debt by November – We are on track to do so, we are attempting to pull this in by 2 months and be complete by August.

Involve our Children more in Money/Budget discussions – They have been involved all along, but as we get closer to our debt repayment completion we want to educate them on the next steps.  

Continue to change my eating habit to lose another 25 pounds – I have made some significant changes over the least 2 years and have lost 40 pounds. Mainly stopped eating bread and began to exercise more. My wife and I received a vitamix as an Anniversary / Christmas present for ourselves so there will be a lot of fresh juice and smoothies in my future.  

Finish an e-Book about our debt story by the time we are debt free – I have started it a few times; I have an outline, but have been side tracked.  

Add a puppy to our family – We lost our yellow lab of 13 years this year and the family is looking to add a new puppy to the family.

That’s what I have so far. I’m sure the goal list will be updated during the year. I don’t think you should limit yourself to setting goals to just during the New Year. It’s certainly a good time to start or update, but should not be they only time you are thinking about goal for yourself or family.

What are your top goals heading into 2014?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Interview Series: Life And My Finances

This is an guest post from the Personal Finance Blog Debt Discipline:

This is the first in a series of personal finance blogger interviews with fellow personal finance bloggers. Today's guest is Derek from Life And My Finances.  

Who is Derek from Life And My Finances.com?  
Derek: I was born in West Michigan and have always been fascinated with numbers. If Albert Einstein didn’t first coin the phrase that compound interest is the 8th wonder of the world, I just might have.  

Why did you start your blog?  
Derek: I first started my blog back in August 2010 (wow, time flies!) in order to make some extra money so I could move back home from Southern Florida. It did the trick and I’m happily back in Michigan again!  

What are your favorite Blogs?  
Derek: My personal favorite is Financial Samurai, then Get Rich Slowly, and then Smart Passive Income.  

When did you first become financially literate?  
Derek: I have been financially literate all my life (my parents were excellent models of this), but I really began to understand the power of cash flow and debt freedom when I was 25 years old. This new mentality has really served me well over the past 3 years.  

What was the last item you regretted purchasing?  
Derek: I think through my purchases far too much to regret them, but the closest thing to a regret was my 2004 GMC Sierra that I planned to sell quickly for a profit. While I did still make $600 on the deal, it wasn’t easy and it came with many headaches.  

If you died today, would your family be OK?  
Derek: Considering I am a family of one, yes, everyone would get along just fine! ;) And actually, I have willed all of my assets to my parents, which will make their retirement years so much easier financially.

What are you teaching (or will you teach) your kids about money?  
Derek: When I have children, I will teach them that (1) money should not be wasted and (2) anyone can earn as much money as they want, as long as they work for it.  

What’s your dream job?
Derek: I dream to survive on my real estate investments. After I pay my mortgage off next year, I plan to begin investing in multiplexes. After just a few purchases, I should easily be able to say “see ya” to my full-time job and then begin to pursue other self-employment opportunities.  

Do you ever feel like you don’t fit into this world? (write in question)
Derek: This is my feeling every day. I don’t watch television and I do my best to earn money outside of my day job. Just with these two things alone I am considered a weirdo at work! Not to mention that I am trying to pay my house off in 3 years instead of the typical 30. Some people just shake their heads at me, but how awesome will it be when I can live on less than $1,000 a month, but am earning more than $5,000? They can keep shaking their heads all the way to their grave as far as I’m concerned, because they will never be able to retire, while I will have the option in my mid 30s! ;)

Derek began Life And My Finances back in 2010 and still continues to teach people about personal finance today. Visit his blog to learn more about him and what he is doing for his readers!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Holiday Traditions

This is an guest post from the Personal Finance Blog Debt Discipline:

I am so looking to some time off from work and some quality time with my family. We have a number of events planned over the next week. Some will be new and a few will be old Holiday traditions that we have shared for many years. It nice to have these traditions to look forward to each year, it’s also nice to change things up every so often. We for the first time I can remember will be eating out for Christmas Eve dinner. Although different than what we have done in years past we are looking forward to it and just possibly started a new tradition going forward in 2013.

holiday traditions

Christmas

We always decorate the tree as a family, we watch Holiday movies and listen to music leading up until Christmas day. We open gifts on Christmas morning, but typically allow one gift to be open during Christmas Eve.

Bagna càuda

Bagna càuda, (from the Piedmontese "hot bath") is a warm dip typical of Piedmont, Italy. The dish, which is served and consumed in a manner similar to fondue, is made with garlic, anchovies, olive oil, and butter. The dish is eaten by dipping raw, boiled or roasted vegetables, especially peppers, broccoli, mushrooms, squash, celery, cauliflower, artichokes, and onions. Raw seafood such as shrimp, langostino, scallops and oysters along with fillet mignon or sirloin steak is used as well. It is traditionally eaten during the autumn and winter months and must be served hot, as the name suggests. Originally, in Piedmont, the Bagna càuda was placed in a big pan (peila) in the center of the table for communal sharing. We have hosted a Bagna càuda party for the last 10 years. This tradition has been on my wife’s side of the family for many years. We invite family and friends to participate. We typically host between Christmas and the New Year. We always try and invite someone new to the party to introduce them to the incredible meal and the smell of garlic!

Lebkuchen

Lebkuchen is a traditional German baked Christmas treat, very similar to Gingerbread. This was another tradition that has been passed done on my wife’s side of the family from her grandmother. The process for making the dough takes an hour or two, but the key is to let it sit for up to 2 weeks before rolling and making cookies. This is typically a family event, with our children assisting cookie cutter selection, baking, and tasting usually is left up to me. We often share the cookies with family and friends. Depending on how well the Christmas Eve dining event goes it may be added to the list as a keeper tradition going forward. I’ll keep you posted. One tradition that I have begun to think about as we near our debt freedom is giving back more, possibly in the forms of more random acts of kindness or donation of time helping to serve meals to the less fortunate. I think these are great teachable moments for our children and great remembers for my wife and I.

Wishing you and your families a very Merry Christmas!

What are some of your favorite Holiday traditions?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Feeling Blessed

This is an guest post from the Personal Finance Blog Debt Discipline:

It has been a busy couple of weeks. Lots of preparations for Christmas, my wife and I celebrated our wedding anniversary, several Christmas parties attended, two school winter concerts, and still the big day only 2 days away. Still with all this going on there has not been any overwhelming moments. All things have been handled with no major emergencies. This feels different then in years past. Different in a good way, as I sat down over this past weekend thinking back over the past few weeks I truly feel blessed. I say that and don’t believe I’m just caught up in some pre-Christmas hype. These are some of the reason why I’m feeling blessed.

 
feeling blessed

Christmas Budget

My wife and I sat at lunch for a quick bit to eat while out Christmas shopping. We took time to review receipts and write spent amounts in the spreadsheet we had. The spreadsheet has our Christmas blueprint, gifts items, and budget for all we planned on purchasing gifts for this year. I looked at my wife and said looks at us, we have never been this organized, and never work together like this in the past. It made me realize how far we have come. This was a change for us from years past, but a really showed we were in sync, communicating, in agreement about budget. It felt really good.

Blog

I have seen steady traffic increase in the blog since I started back in August. I have made some nice friendships with fellow personal finance bloggers. We continue to support one another with guest post and twitter mentions. It’s a great community. I have had the opportunity to share my family’s story recently with brokeGIRLrich and Get Rich Slowly and both posts were received very well. The response has been incredible in terms of feedback and traffic. In 5 short months I’m very happy with Debt Discipline’s progress.

Reconcile

Just this weekend I received a phone call from a family member who’s been estranged from my family for some time. We have grown apart over the past 10 years for a number of reasons, mainly because of the things going on in their personal life I would rather not expose my three children too. The call was to ask if we could start over and get back to a relationship we once had. It took courage to place the call and I’m sure it wasn’t easy to do. I’m hopeful that this is the end of the bad things that drove us apart and the beginning of something new. So many good things going on right now and still have so many good things planned with family and friends over the next week.

Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Interview: Debt Discipline

This is an guest post from the Personal Finance Blog Debt Discipline:

It’s that’s time of year when you typically reflect on the year that was. I thought I’d sit down with myself and get to know myself a little better.

Who is Brian?  
Brian: I’m a father of 3 children age 14, 14 (fraternal twins) and 11. My wife and I have been together for 17 years, married for 14. I have been with the same company for 19 years. We didn’t start to get our finances together until 2010.

Why did you start this blog?  
Brian: After learning so much in a short period of time about personal finance and getting our finances on track I began to want to help others. I started the blog to share my family’s story with debt, help others and maybe make a little side income.

Have you helped anyone so far?  
Brian: I have in my personal life. I have sat down with family members to help review their finances, budgets, etc. I have helped my brother get on the right path with his money. We share our stories with friends and I believe we have changed a few peoples thoughts on their money.

What other blogs do you follow?  
Brian: The first blog I found back in 2010 was “Punch Debt in the Face”. I read Budgets are Sexy and Get Rich Slowly regularly. There are so many great blogs with unique points of view. I try and read as many as possible and comment. I often feature them in my week end round up.

What’s special about Debt Discipline?  
Brian: Like some many other blogs I just think it’s my point of view and my personal story. We are a family of 5 struggling with over $109k in debt and we have managed to pay off over $84K of it back so far. I think that is an amazing accomplishment and I want others to have the same success we have.

How do you stay motivated?  
Brian: I blog about our finances, read books, and read blogs. I listen to a number of pod cast. I still get a smile on my face when I hear people on the Dave Ramsey show do their debt free scream. I image my family doing that next year. I keep reminding my self what it will be like in 11 months when we have an extra $2k per month in our budget. Most of all my children keep me motivated. I want them to never know debt, to start off at a young age on the right path with money and never struggle like their mom and dad have.

If interested in participating in an interview, please head over to Debt Discipline and drop me an e-mail/

Is there anything else you’d like to know about me, my family or Debt Discipline?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Employees Choice

This is an guest post from the Personal Finance Blog Debt Discipline:

The career web site Glassdoor recently release its 2014 Employees Choice Awards honoring the best 50 places to work in both the large (over 1000 employees) and medium (250-999 employees) categories. It is an interesting compilation as the results are generated based on employee feedback and rating of the companies. I’m sad to report that none of the companies I have ever work for have made the list, my wife on the other hand has 2 on the top 50 included the company she is currently working for. Based on her level of frustration some days I guess she wasn’t part of their survey. Looking over the list there are some common themes that reoccurred throughout employee reviews.

employees choice

Company Pros

  • Work-life balance – no after-hours commitments, you leave the office at the office.
  • Travel – get to visit some real great places on the company dime.
  • Culture/ Work environment - great atmosphere that forester’s communication and growth.
  • Creativity – allowed to have input to the process and projects. No idea is a bad idea.

Company Cons

  • Work-life balance – too many after-hours commitments, takes time way from family.
  • Travel – get to visit crappy places and travel takes you away from home often.
  • Contractor/consultants – too many guns for hire.
  • Culture/ Work environment – bad moral, gossip rules the office, can’t communicate ideas.
  • Changing Priority - priority changes so frequently you can never get anything done.
There are some slight differences in the list, but it really seems like it’s a matter of perspective a glass half full / half empty type situations with employee feedback. What I did find interesting was there was not much feedback on salaries or benefits within the comments. Glassdoor does give you a salary range breakdown by position section for each company listed, so maybe this influenced the comment section of the results. I would still think you would want to mention if a company was compensating you good or bad in the comments. I want to work for a company that has great leadership, which allows all levels of employee’s to have a voice, offers good benefits, and offers a competitive salary for the position. I know these sound generic, but in over 20 years in the work force I have not always experienced these things.

Have you ever worked for any of the top large or medium companies on the list? What do you look for most in a company?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Counting Stars

This is an guest post from the Personal Finance Blog Debt Discipline:



Today’s post is dedicated to a song I can’t seem to get out of my head, “Counting Stars” by One Republic. I’m sure you are familiar with the song. It’s all over the radio right now and it the top ten on the pop charts. If not, give it a listen. Be warned its pretty catchy and might be stuck in your head for the rest of the day. Now I’m sure you are wondering what this has to do with personal finance. Well the word money is clearly in the lyrics, but digging in deeper my interruption of the lyric I believe the song has a lot to do with personal finance.
“Lately I been, I been losing sleep Dreaming about the things that we could be But baby, I been, I been prayin' hard Said no more counting dollars We'll be counting stars Yeah, we'll be counting stars”
Seems to me someone is losing sleep over their financial situation and has stopping counting their money and is dreaming of a better life.
[Chorus] Lately I been, I been losing sleep (hey!) Dreaming about the things that we could be But baby, I been, I been prayin' hard (hey!) Said no more counting dollars We'll be counting stars Lately I been, I been losing sleep (hey!) Dreaming about the things that we could be But baby, I been, I been prayin' hard (hey!) Said no more counting dollars We'll be, we'll be counting stars
And again in the chorus dreaming about things we could be or have. Continues to lose sleep over their current situation and is praying for help.

One Republic front man Ryan Tedder recently said he wrote the song about money problems he and his wife had when they were first married. Hi struggles when his first got into the music business to make steady income. What do you think? Do you like the song? What do you think the lyrics mean?