Archive for March 2006

Why should you be debt-free?

It allows you to focus on the truly important things in life – like your child losing their first tooth! You can go on paid-for vacations. You don’t have to juggle all of your bills with each of your paychecks.

It let’s you have a life. Become debt-free today. All you have to do to become debt-free is tell yourself “NO!” at least 1,349 times.

It is soooooooo worth it.

I am pumped up!

I am pumped up!

I am excited about having a financial plan that works! I am excited that my wife is highly involved in our financial plan! I am pumped up about setting goals and achieving them! I am inspired by others who have taught me extremely valuable financial planning skills! I thought that I would list a few reasons I believe that our financial plan works well.

  • My wife is involved and on-board with our financial plan 100%
  • Our financial plan is realistic and is not full of stuffitis
    If we do not have the money for something, we start budgeting some money toward it every month. It is amazing how fast we can save up money to pay cash for something if we will just tell ourselves to wait!
  • We drive two 10-year old vehicles that we maintain very well. If you have ZERO car payments, you can gain some serious traction toward financial success! (By the way, insurance is waaaaayyyy cheaper on two beater vehicles)
  • We budget each month’s income and expenses EVERY SINGLE MONTH! The expenses of every month vary greatly. June is wedding gift month. New babies are always showing up. Insurance is paid quarterly. License plates are paid annually. If you plan your expenses every single month such that INCOME MINUS OUTGO EQUALS EXACTLY ZERO, you will WIN!
  • We do not rush into large purchases quickly. One of the glories of not having the money available to pay cash for something is the fact that you will be forced to think about it for awhile while you save toward that purchase.
  • We pay cash for our purchases. Yes, we pay cash for our purchases. Even if it is a new (new to us) car, we will have to pay cash. That means we will have to save up for it. That is a big deal and a paradigm shift for many Americans, but think about it. If you never have a car payment, you will never owe the bank again for your car. You can save a ton of money in interest and continue to build toward a successful financial future.
  • We hang out with like-minded people. If you hang out with the I gotta get me one of these or the We can’t live without going on four cruises a year or the We eat out every single night or the We could not live without our Jaguar (and $700 a month payments) folks, we would risk catching their bad case of Stuffitis.
  • We set goals with dates included. If you do not have a goal, you will hit it every time. We listed Dave Ramsey’s 7-steps to financial freedom and put a date next to every one of them. We have been early on some. We have been late on some. We have been very early on others. The bottom line is that we have a plan, and we are working the plan.
  • We periodically review our spending. Sometimes our spending still becomes ridiculous – in both ways – too little, too much. Going a year without buying any clothes or shoes for our child is probably too little. Spending money on dining out every single day for lunch is probably too much. A review gives you some insight as to where you can make improvements.

I hope this helps you out some!

New Marketing Campaign: VISA takes Life!

In a surprising move, VISA has changed their marketing campaign from “Life Takes Visa” to “Visa Takes Life”. After an exhausting study of their account holders and their payment patterns, Visa believes that the “Visa Takes Life” slogan more accurately reflects the company’s actual focus.

In an interview conducted with Olova Themoney, senior marketing advisor of Visa’s brand management team, Olova explained the reason for the change. “I love the money. We at Visa can regularly charge interest rates over 29%. We can even adjust the interest rate higher if we see that the account holder is not paying on-time at another creditor. Even if the account holder is paying on time to all creditors, if we deem their level of credit to be higher risk, we can change the interest rate. I love the money. The great thing is that people try to complain, but our highly trained customer disservice team has developed an unpenetrable system that ensures that I never have to hear about it.”

Miss Themoney was asked how she could feel that any part of this activity was morally acceptable. She responded, “I love America! I love Americans! We put the American flag on many of our credit cards. To answer the moral issue – there is no moral issue! We are able to generate profits which allow us to take care of our families. Nothing different than any other American enterprise. The great thing is that we can increase the interest rates. The increased rates cause the balance owed to hit the credit limit, and that starts generating a whole new stream of revenue in over-the-credit-limit fees. This continues to increase the balanced owed. Eventually the person cannot pay on time and then we get to generate another important stream of revenue in late payment fees. The best thing of all this is that Americans will just go get another job to pay us! They will work overtime. They will not see their family. They will not be able to turn to anyone for money except for us! We have them as loyal customers for life. I think that it is incredible that we can have a customer for their entire life! We are marketing to children in middle schools now which enables us to have 60 and 70 year long customer relationships. How great is that?”

IT IS NOT GREAT! IT IS NOT ACCEPTABLE! LIFE DOES NOT TAKE VISA! If you are not careful, VISA will take your life.

Do you have a life, or are you just spending all of your time desperately working to pay off your stinking VISA card? CHOP IT UP! DONE! FINISHED! NEVER AGAIN!

Money Tips

  • Negotiate with service providers on major purchases (like a crown at the dentist or a surgical procedure at the doctor). The world is full of service providers – get a deal!
  • If you have kids and a spouse, get good level term life insurance!!! You can get good quotes at Zander.
  • Budget for a vacation and put your spending money in an envelope (or a set of envelopes). This will guarantee that you will not exceed your budget.
  • When planning a large expenditure, let friends, co-workers, and family know what you are saving for. Many times, they will be able to locate that exact item in a slightly used state for 25% of the price of new.
  • Use Microsoft Money to track your money. It allows you to see exactly where you are spending money and generates some cool reports to help you think about your options.
  • Use Microsoft Excel to develop your monthly budget. It takes out all of the calculator/pencil erasing time and allows you to focus on the actual expenses/income part of the budget. It also prevents you from getting pencil erasor all over your clothes!
  • Keep copies of your monthly budgets. After doing 12 months worth of monthly budgeting, you will be able to pull up your previous year’s budget for the same month and ensure you are not forgetting an upcoming expense. Plus, it is just plain fun to see the progress you have been making!
  • Plant a garden. It is a great time for family to work together to create something that will yield excellent food dividends! That saves money! Check out this web site to buy some seeds if you want. I love Burpee.
  • Sell some junk out of your garage or basement. You don’t use it anyway. So what if you used to use it. Get rid of it and turn it into something cool – like a paid-off credit card that has been shredded.
  • Review your spending habits in detail at least once per year. Where could you tighten up the budget? Where do you need to start spending more money? What could you do to take your personal finances to the next level? Do this with your spouse!
  • Teach your children about money! Do this through paying them commissions for completing chores. Show them the mutual fund you have set up for their college tuition. Have them send half of their birthday money to the mutual fund so they truly understand that their money is working for them so they can achieve something far in the future (or maybe next year if you have a high school senior!)

I hope this helps out some. I would love to hear some more tips if you have some.

I’m more convinced than ever!

I’m more convinced than ever that it is an absolute necessity to get my finances in order now! Over the last few days, I have met with people who shared example after example of people in their mid-40s, mid-50s, and mid-60s who are flat-broke and are paying a heavy price for a lack of financial planning. My heart is broken for them and their situations! If only they had known the basic financial principles of compound interest and that the borrower is slave to the lender! If only they had taken the time to think about the future and develop a plan. If only …

I resolve here and now to do everything I can to not say “If only …” Life is too short, too unpredictable, too fun, and too awesome to have to worry about preventable financial disasters. I want to focus on helping others overcome larger life issues. I want to make a difference in people’s lives. If I do not have a sound financial footing with a great financial plan, the impact I will be able to make will be marginalized. God has not called any of us to live marginalized lives!

Will you take the time today to ensure you have a sound financial plan? Will you take the time today to act on that plan? Join me in resolving to do everything you can to never say, “If only …”