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 »

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 »

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 »

Obsessing Over Finances — When Does it Go Too Far?

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“My wife is undeniably right; I have found a relatively healthy thing (financial independence) to obsess over. I guess it’s better than constantly straightening my fork at Red Robin. Where it probably crosses the line is in the form of my hyper sensitivity to spending, and my overall monitoring of the expenses.”

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Let me just being this post by saying that I’m not a Doctor. If you’ve read any of my previous posts on this blog at all that should be almost as abundantly clear as me making statements such as, “I am not a squirrel,” or “I am not a log cabin.”

So when I talk about things such as my OCD, keep in mind that I’ve only self-diagnosed myself (with the constant “help” of my wife), and am really talking out my ass about the subject in general. It should also be stated that, whether I suffer from a mild form of it or not, I am in no way making light of people dealing with this disorder in any form.

I have some quirks that I very rarely notice, but others pick up on. An example would be that if I sit down at a table at a restaraunt, I straighten the silverware and napkins so that everything is perpendicular and/or at a nice right angle.

If I’m sitting in a meeting and I put my sketchbook on the table, I’ll meticulously adjust it until its bottom edge runs as parallel as possible with the edge of the table.

I tend to obsess over details like this, but at the same time I allow pure and utter chaos to enter my life at other times. As I type this I’m staring at my desk which is cluttered with car keys, vitamin bottles, pens, post-it notes, a hard drive, and for some reason and empty Ziploc bag that has been on my desk for weeks. Not sure what was in it, and equally not sure why I haven’t just thrown it away. I’m 93% positive it was not a human toe. I think I threw that bag out ages ago.

Yet when I find that thing that latches onto that obsessive part of my brain, it’s really hard for me to shut it off and let go.

When it comes to this condition manifesting in my job, it’s actually served me pretty well. I have taken an entry level job at one of the most well-known companies in the world and no college degree, and turned it into a role as a senior member of my team with a college degree and 2 additional two-year certifications to boot. All because I love my job and am obsessed with growing as much in it as I can.

When I was studying to become a digital animator, I would literally spend 5 hours a night and another 20 on weekends at my computer after work, honing my skills. Sometimes I’d get home at 7:00pm, and work until 3:00am, only realizing far too late that I was only going to get 4 hours of sleep that night.

So that kind of obsession is mostly good. My wife and kids will sometimes tell you that the hours Dad works can suck, but otherwise it’s provided a great life for us.

When it comes to things like wanting a new gadget, car, or other similar non-essential item, I get obsessed with finding and buying it as soon as I’ve officially made up my mind to get it. There have been times where I have driven 3 hours for an iWatch that I could have easily waited 2 days to get in the mail, paying more in gas and final price, just to have it now. This is a good part of the reason why I am in the financial situation that I am right now.

When it comes to a videogame I love, I’ll spend hours, days and even weeks playing the game and attempting to master it. I would be scared sh*tless to ever add up the number of hours I’ve put into videogames, but I can at least partially justify it since I work in the videogame industry.

So that kind of obsession mostly bad. Or at least that’s what my wife told me I had to say.Read More »

Why I Turned Down an Offer to Have My Debt Paid Off for Free

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This person who many believe to be cold and have has even been described to me as seemingly “soulless” had just extended an offer to me to pay off a little over $100,000 in debt, with nothing in return.

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This is going to be a weird post to write, because I don’t want to go into to many details and risk revealing anything about the person at the heart of the post. So if I’m vague, please understand it’s not because I don’t want you to hear the details!

Let me also just get this out of the way so that you can check out of this post if you were looking for some kind of salacious story involving some kind of “Indecent Proposal.” From that standpoint it’s boring, and has absolutely nothing to do with anything of a sexual nature.

Sorry to disappoint.

I’ve got an “acquaintance” who is very well off financially. To most people who knows this person, they are somewhat cold and emotionless. They are often seen as lacking of empathy and almost robotic in nature.

I am the type of person who sees this kind of personality as a challenge. I’ve always kind of been this way. I like difficult personalities, and I take a tremendous amount of satisfaction in myself if I can not only break through their wall, but ultimately develop a friendship with them.

So if I see someone who is outwardly cold or always seems grump, I start engaging with them. I chat and crack jokes, and in the early phases it’s almost always met with the expected response of furrowed brows and clenched teeth.

But over time I find that one thing it might be a joke that made them barely smirk, or that one subject I brought up that they responded to briefly. Then I start to build!Read More »