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Archive for August, 2011

Good Ol' Fashioned Financial Common Sense

August 25th, 2011 at 01:39 pm



Occasionally, some well-intentioned soul makes the argument that having an emergency fund or planning for retirement means that you’re “a pessimist” or that you “don’t have enough faith,” and you “just need to trust God more.” Now I can appreciate people’s varying points of view. But there are times that I just want to say “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” Of course I don’t actually yell at them…that would be rude…but I do think it.

With all my heart, I want you to be debt free and prepared for the future, which includes a 3-6 month emergency fund and a solid retirement plan. Would that mean you don’t have enough faith or that you’re a worry-wart? I don’t think so!

Consider this famous story from Aesop’s Fables, circa 600 B.C. You may have read it before, but its’ wisdom is worth revisiting. You may remember that Aesop also gave us the morals of such stories as The Boy Who Cried Wolf and The Tortoise and the Hare. I think he was on to something!


The Ant and The Grasshopper


In a field one summer's day a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to its heart's content. An Ant passed by, bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest.

"Why not come and chat with me," said the Grasshopper, "instead of toiling and moiling in that way?"

"I am helping to lay up food for the winter," said the Ant, "and recommend you to do the same."

"Why bother about winter?" said the Grasshopper; we have got plenty of food at present." But the Ant went on its way and continued its toil.

When the winter came the Grasshopper found itself dying of hunger, while it saw the ants distributing, every day, corn and grain from the stores they had collected in the summer.

Then the Grasshopper knew...

It is best to prepare for the days of necessity.



Of course, this concept of preparing for the future goes back even farther. Consider the words of the wise King Solomon, circa 1,000 B.C.:

Go watch the ants, you lazy person.
Watch what they do and be wise.
Ants have no commander,
no leader or ruler,
but they store up food in the summer
and gather their supplies at harvest.
-Proverbs 6:6-8


The moral of the story:

Become debt free, stay debt free, save up a 3-6 month emergency fund and plan for future expenses and your retirement. That’s just good ol’ common sense!



Yours In Freedom,

Clint



The original post can be found here: Debt Free

11 Key Actions That Helped Us Become Debt Free

August 11th, 2011 at 12:48 pm




You may have noticed by now that I’m a little bit fanatical about living debt free! Helping people realize that dream is our passion! But that wasn’t always the case. Being on this side of the debt-chasm feels great! But getting here was anything but easy.


To start, let’s take a look back at how we got into debt in the first place.

Katy and I started our life together in sunny San Diego, CA. She was in college and I was just beginning a career in real estate. Translation – we were broke! Our brilliant solution was to live on credit cards and Katy’s student loans. One year after our wedding, I was offered a ministry position in Texas. That meant more stable income and lower cost of living. So it made perfect sense for both of us to buy (finance) newer cars and a big screen TV. Fast forward two years where we set at our kitchen table, breaking through our denial and finally coming to terms with over $50,000 of debt. We were overwhelmed, stressed and completely insecure in our financial situation.

From that day at the kitchen table, it took us 16 months to break the chains of debt and open the door to the life we desperately wanted. There were 10 key actions we took that made our debt free dream a reality. They’re the same actions you can take to finally break free of the weight of debt and financial stress.


1. Started Talking
One of the biggest hurdles we had to overcome was to simply start talking about our money situation. We’re both very independent and it was challenging to learn to talk and work together. But if we hadn’t, we never could have become debt free.
Learn how to eliminate money fights.

2. Acknowledged That Our Debt Was a Problem
Like everyone else, we had believed the lie that debt is just part of life. When we finally took a close look at our finances, we realized that debt and payments were bleeding us dry. We also recognized that it just might be possible to live without debt. So we made the decision and the declaration...NO MORE BORROWING MONEY!!

3. Began Learning
We recognized that we didn’t really know how to take control of our money and get out of debt. So we enrolled in a financial Bible study at church and started learning.

4. Got Coaching
The knowledge was invaluable, but we still needed help to apply the knowledge. We made the decision to get coaching from people who were further along this journey. Being coached and mentored helped us apply the knowledge and formulate a specific plan for freedom. There is no way we would have stuck with the process if we didn’t have people pushing us, guiding us and holding us accountable! This was the best investment we ever made!


5. Developed a Spending Plan
A solid budget is the key to anyone’s financial success and we were no exception. Learning to live on a budget was painstaking at first. It was staggering to see how much money just blew with nothing to show for it. Once we decided to tell our money where to go, we suddenly had a lot more of it. And the feeling of being in control was a huge stress relief.

6. Cash Envelopes
There were some budget categories we would tend to overspend on. Groceries, restaurants and entertainment were the toughest for us to control. We chose to implement a cash envelope system for these areas. When we made our monthly budget, we would withdraw the allotted amount of cash for these categories and put the money in an envelope. Once the cash for that month was gone, we had no more to spend in these categories. Instant accountability!

7. Increased Income
When we made up our minds to become debt free, we went into “work our butts off” mode. We quit our hobbies, worked overtime and picked up extra projects and consulting work. I was in a commission-based position and I worked to become the best salesperson I could, in order to increase my income. It’s hard work and sacrifice! But it’s only temporary and it’s worth it!

8. Sold Stuff
Oh, we sold some stuff! Books, DVD’s, video games, board games, clothes, electronics, old jewelry, exercise equipment, furniture, unused wedding gifts... I’m talking garage sales, Ebay, Craigslist, Amazon... We realized these “things” weren’t nearly as important as being financially free!

9. Emergency Fund
Our first big milestone came when we had saved $1,000 as a beginner emergency fund. This safety net kept us from turning back to credit cards when emergency expenses came up. Once we became debt free, we saved up a full 6 month emergency fund. Talk about financial security!

10. The Debt Snowball Plan
There are plenty of plans for getting out of debt. But the Debt Snowball is the best, because getting out of debt is all about changing the way you think and behave. It’s much more akin to weight loss than it is to math homework.
What is the Debt Snowball plan?

11. Specific Goals
One of the most significant things we learned from courses and coaches was to set specific goals. We set a goal to be debt free within 18 months. We wrote it down, we posted it around our house, we told other people about it and we got accountability. Goals are powerful...we hit ours in only 16 months! We never would have become debt free if we didn’t have a specific plan, specific goals and the accountability to keep pursuing them!


Yours In Freedom,

Clint



Join the conversation…what specific actions are you taking to help you become debt free?

The original post can be found here: Debt Free

How to Save $1,393 with 4 Easy Phone Calls

August 3rd, 2011 at 12:12 pm




So you’ve heard about making BIG sacrifices to win with money. You’ve been told you need to get on a budget and cut out all discretionary spending. You’ve been told to cut out lattes, personal care, and eating out. And I know you’ve heard the phrase, “you have to give something up to get what you want.” And all these things are true. But there are some small, easy changes for those of you who want a big return with little to no change in lifestyle.

One Thursday, I got out my laptop, my phone and I started making some calls and saving some money. These are the changes we made and the money we saved…and you can do it too!


1.) Change Your Internet Provider
With new internet providers popping up all the time, you should be able check out a few that offer a low introductory rate for one year. You don’t have to sign a contract and you can always switch again once the introductory rate is up. We were paying $62 a month and with 1 quick phone call to a new provider we reduced that to $14.95 a month.

Annual Savings: $565.00

Side Bonus: We had the great pleasure and satisfaction of cancelling with a crappy provider that gave us horrible customer service! That one felt good!



2.) Lower Your TV Plan
How many channels do you really watch? With services like Netflix and Hulu, there is no reason you NEED over 200 channels. We called our satellite TV provider and switched to a less expensive package. If we really need to watch something that doesn’t come on our basic channels we just stream it from the internet. We went from paying $56 per month to $20 per month. The savings really do add up!

Annual Savings: $432.00

Side Bonus: The lack of “mindless” entertainment forced us to become spontaneous and interact more. Now we create our own entertainment and have more fun!



3.) Lower Your Cell Phone Plan
We called our cell phone provider and had them do a quick audit of our phone bill for the last 5 months. The sales rep told us we were consistently under our minutes and our text messaging plan. We switched to a lower plan that saved us $26 a month.

Annual Savings: $312.00

Side bonus: The sales rep told us about a new free service they offered to all customers on the plan we switched to! Don’t be shy to ask about new promotions and services.



4.) Report Home Security Upgrades to Your Insurance Company

Have you invested in a home security system? It could even be a deadbolt or a fence. We had actually already reported our upgrades to our insurance company. But you could save around $7/month for a newly installed home security system. Instant savings for a 5 minute call.

Annual Savings: $84

Side bonus: While you are on the phone with your insurance company, you could ask about any additional discounts available to you. You’ll never know if you don’t ask.


FINAL BONUS: Once you are debt free, you can begin putting the extra $1,300 annually into a retirement account that is earning around 8% (or more). If you start at age 30, over the course of 35 years, you will have added an extra $250,000 to your nest egg. Not too shabby for 4 phone calls!


It pays off BIG to shop around, and I think you’ll agree that it’s completely worth the time and effort. If you have a busy schedule, you might consider taking a ½ day or a full day off work to make these calls. And don’t think of this as just cutting your expenses. The process of making these calls and learning about your options will create a deeper awareness of your entire financial situation. It’s a big step towards taking control of your finances and creating a more conscientious mind set.

Now get to it!


Yours In Freedom,

Katy


The original post can be found here: Debt Free

Join the conversation…what other quick and easy changes could you make in order to save big? Leave your comments below.'

The original post can be found here: Debt Free