When Trying to do the Right Thing Financially Bites You in the Ass

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If you make it to the bottom of today’s post, there is a reward for you! True story.

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My wife and I are in the process of refinancing our house. When we bought the home a year ago, it was about as painless of a process as buying a home can be. There was some grunt work on our parts, but by and large it was what you would expect; chasing down bank ledgers, getting statements, providing numbers, signing papers, etc.

This year we wanted to refinance. It has only been a year, but the interest rates have dropped enough that it meant freeing up some cash each month that we could then focus on debt in the short term, which was critical given our situation.

What we have found is that the process of refinancing has been FAR more imposing than the original purchase. Not only has it taken months of work to make it happen, but it has also required me to provide what seems to be the same information several times over.

At a certain point in the refinance process, I was also working on getting some debts consolidated at a much lower interest rate (%29.99 > %13.99), but before I did this I asked our loan officer if this would affect anything. I was told it would be fine, since my credit rating was already verified and the interest rate of the refinance was locked.

Smash cut to Thursday morning when I got a call from the same loan officer asking me why there was brand new debt on my profile. I remined her that it was the consolidation loan, and here response was, “Well, Dave, you personally took this debt consolidation loan out, and when you had originally asked me about it, I thought it was to consolidate your own debt. Instead you used it to pay off debt that was in your wife’s name, hence it now shows as new debt on you, and thus we probably can’t secure the loan for you at this time.”

Let’s unpack this for a moment:Read More »

The Idea of an Economic Recession Makes Me Gassy

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The Thursday Think Tanks are semi-random thoughts that may not necessarily fall directly into the category of finances, but I still feel are worth sharing. Read at your own risk!

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I’m a nervous person by nature. I don’t think most people who meet me get that impression, as outwardly I think I come off as pretty self-assured and confident. Yet when it comes to things like playing my guitar in front of people, giving presentations at work, or speaking at conferences, I am a MESS on the inside. I’ve had a fair amount of experience in all of those situations, and yet every time I get insanely nervous!

When I get nervous, my stomach has a tendency to gurgle and bubble. Part of it stems from an old surgery I had on my small intestines many years ago, but the way it manifests is by bubbling and fizzing so loudly that it’s easy for people in the same room I’m in to hear it.

I’ve been in particularly stressful work meetings before where the presenter has had to stop and ask, “Dave, do you need us to take a break so that you can grab a snack or something?” thinking it was stomach loudly growling out in hunger. I usually don’t have the heart to tell them it’s not hunger, but the impending sense of doom I’m currently feeling. No sense in two gurgling stomachs in the room.

Another key area that affects this condition is stress over finances. In the time since we came to terms with our financial shortcomings, I have had many nights where my stomach sounds like a stinky bog “glorping” and “blooping” outside of a witch’s window as she dines away on small children. It usually really kicks in as I am laying next to my wife in bed, trying to shut my super-chatty brain off, as she is also attempting to fall asleep. This elicits one of the following responses:

“You’re thinking about finances again, aren’t you?”

“What has you stressed out now?”

“Things are going to be fine.”

“That thing won’t quit. Can you please go sleep in the guest bedroom?”

Over the last month or two, things have gone smoother as we’ve got our finances back on the right track, and as a result I’ve spent less nights in the guest bedroom. This is great, because the guest bedroom tends to be where our largest house spiders seem to congregate at some kind of giant-hairy-house-spider-key-party, which makes my stress levels rise, which makes my stomach gurgle so much that it prevents me sleeping due to the sound of the walls rattling. I hate spiders.

Seriously. I f*cking hate them.Read More »

Perspective and Why My Debt is Different from Your Debt

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But the really killer thing is that you can do it! No matter how bad off you think you might be, there are ways to dig out. Seek guidance, ask for support, read and learn, and find ways to solve your financial problems. The sacrifices to do so might sting quite a bit, but they’re only temporary, and then you’ll have the life you want to live.

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For the most part, I would say that anyone I’ve let in on my personal financial crisis and efforts to remedy that crisis have been wildly positive. Close friends and family have told us they are proud of our efforts, some have told us we’re finally “adulting,” and still others have said we have inspired them to get their own financial lives in order. All of this is GREAT!

But there’s always one…

There’s always the butthole in the crowd who has to throw shade. I borrowed that term from my dear, personal friend, TayTay, or as she’s commonly known, Taylor Swift.

So in our case, it was one person who just had to make a comment about how much money I bring in from my job. It went something like this:

“Well sure, it’s easy for you to project paying off $50,000 this year. We don’t all get bonuses and stock vests that we can just throw around.”

I distinctly remember the “throw around” part, and while it initially made my blood boil, after I had calmed down a bit, I realized I may be causing folks to have a skewed perspective of me.

So here goes…

Let me begin by saying that I make a great living, and I feel incredibly fortunate. As a guy who spent the first part of his young adult life working an insanely difficult manual labor job on a cattle farm, I understand that I have very little to complain about both when it comes to my income and the environment that I now work in.

The next thing I’ll say is that I do make more than the average person, and I also have more debt that the average person.

So instead of focusing on dollar amounts, let’s talk in percentages so that nobody focuses on income or anything like that.Read More »

Tuesday Tip Jar: Author David Bach

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Welcome to another “Tuesday Tip Jar” where I will share awesome savings and financial tips as I find them. I might not have something for you every Tuesday, but when I do, you’ll find it here!

If you’ve got a financial tip you think others would benefit from, please send it to me via my contact page at the top of the blog!

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Today’s quick tip comes in the form of the author who originally inspired me to get serious about my finances and dig out from my debt.

I listen to a podcast called, “The School of Greatness” hosted by Lewis Howes. While the pretentious name of the podcast might initially be off-putting to some, the fact of the matter is that Lewis has guests on of all shapes and sizes that focus on helping you to make your life better. Subjects have ranged from meditation, to inspiring stories of overcoming odds, to financial improvements, and everything in between.

Back in February or March, he had New York Times best-selling Author, David Bach, on his program. David was getting close to launching a book called, “The Latte Factor,” and was on a promotional tour for it.

I was impressed with how straightforward David was, and how relatable his approach seemed to be. He wasn’t about complex algorithms and financial wizardry (at least on the surface), he was about simplifying the process of saving and building wealth. For a dumbass like me, this was music to my broke ears!

While “The Latte Factor” hadn’t hit shelves yet, I liked what David had written enough that I went home and researched some of his previous books. One that struck a nerve for obvious reasons was his book, “Start Late, Finish Rich,” that focused on how to build wealth rapidly if you made some less-than-optimal decisions in the first half of your life.

The book was wildly encouraging, making sure to reinforce time and time again that it’s never too late to start saving and investing, but also reminding readers that the longer you wait, the less you’ll have later in life.

After finishing “Start Late,” I moved on to what most people know David for, which is his book, “The Automatic Millionaire,” and then eventually his latest book which is a fiction/financial education story called, “The Latte Factor.”

I don’t want to give David’s techniques away, because I think it’s important that you read his advice in the full context of his books, but I will say that they have helped to totally change my life. I am now (slowly) building some wealth, while at the same time finally paying off the debt that has been crushing me all these years.Read More »

Putting Our Money Where Our Mouth Is

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I hope you get some ideas from this post that help you tackle your finances. This blog has been beyond cathartic for me, and I hope it’s helped a few of you. If you’re in a situation like we were (are), get serious about finding ways to fix your problem. Everyone’s situation is different, but I can almost guarantee you can find at least something in your spending habits that will help!

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We all have those friends who make proclamations that we can tell are destined to fail from the moment we witness said friend’s plan of execution. Here are a few of the more common ones I’ve encountered:

Musician

The Proclamation: “I’m going to get serious about pursuing a career in music, and be a Lead Guitarist for a metal band!”

The Execution: Purchasing of “the 100 easiest riffs in rock history” book from the used bookstore and practicing for 30 minutes a week in the garage.

The Result: Lead Line Cook at Chili’s.

Weight Loss

The Proclamation: “I’m going to dedicate to finally shedding these extra pounds and getting my summer body back!”

The Execution: Cookies.

The Result: Beaches are overrated anyway.

Acting

The Proclamation: “I’m going to make a legitimate run at finally being a serious actor.”

The Execution: Booking a commercial for a local Kia dealership in your hometown… in Iowa.

The Result: Iowa.

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There are lots of examples like this, but you get the idea.

So, when my wife and I decided to make the proclamation that we were going to do away with our debt and seek true financial independence once and for all, I was deeply concerned that we would fall into a situation like this where our intentions were pure, but our executions left much to be desired, and thus we’d be in the same mess two years from now.

As of this past Friday however, I’m now convinced we will achieve our goals. Trading in a car that I loved and put so much of my identity into (right or wrong) on a used economy vehicle has helped me prove to myself just how serious I actually am.

While this was the decision that ultimately convinced me, I thought it might be beneficial for some of you in similar situations to see what we’ve done since January of this year (2019 for those who might read this in the future) right up until now:

Credit Cards
When we started this journey, we had 12 (!) credit card and student loan accounts. Here is the breakdown of how we’ve tackled each:

  1. Toys R Us (29.99% interest) – CLOSED – Paid off. GONE!
  2. Bank of America (23.99%) – CLOSED – Paid off. GONE!
  3. Lowe’s (23.99%) – CLOSED – Paid off. GONE!
  4. Furniture Store (23.99%) – CLOSED – Paid off. GONE!
  5. Wells Fargo Loan (17.49%) – CLOSED – Scheduled payoff is September 2019.
  6. Care Credit (29.99%) – CLOSED – Scheduled payoff is September 2019.
  7. Macy’s AMEX (27.99%) – CLOSED – Consolidated to 12% Marcus account.
  8. Macy’s Store (27.99%) – CLOSED – Not a typo… we had 2! Consolidated to Marcus.
  9. Discover (14.99%) – CLOSED – Scheduled payoff 2020.
  10. First Tech PLOC (13.99%) – ACTIVE – No charges since January.
  11. Navient Private (7.5%) – NOT ACTIVE – Scheduled payoff is sometime before I’m 80.
  12. Navient Federal (4%) – NOT ACTIVE – Scheduled pay off is sometime before I die.
  13. Marcus (12%) – NOT ACTIVE – Not a revolving line. Scheduled payoff 2020.

In total, we have closed all of our accounts but 1, which is the lowest interest rate and has a very low credit limit, allowing us a safety net while we build savings. Of the closed cards, we have paid off 4, and will close out two more before the end of the year. We are going to work as hard as we can to have all of them eliminated by the end of 2021, or 2022 at the VERY latest. By the end of the year alone, we will have paid off close to $50,000 in credit card and student loan debt!

Not bad! So how did we do it? Keep reading!Read More »