Today Was a Good Day on the Road to Financial Independence

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2019 has already proven to be the most stressful, gut-wrenching, slap-to-the-face wake up call that we could have ever received, but by the end of this year it also has the potential to be one of the most fulfilling and personally rewarding ones we ever lived through.

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If you’ve been following this blog for any period of time, you know my situation. If not, here is a very brief recap:

At the start of 2019, my wife and I came to full terms with our debt and the stinky butthole of a situation we had gotten ourselves into. We sat down and added everything together and found that we had $126,310.77 worth of combined credit card and student loan debt.

On top of this, we were paying out close to $3600 a month more in bills than we were bringing in from income. We had absolutely zero in savings, and we were very much at risk of losing our home that we had just purchased in June of 2018.

Since then we have been scrambling to stay afloat, at times barely even eating to save money. We have taken side jobs such as my wife’s now steady gig caring for dogs via Rover.com, and targeted our debt with every ounce of energy we have.

Today I wrote checks for $23,347.12, $1,660.84, and $2763.12 to pay off and close 3 more accounts.

It was a very good day.

If you haven’t been paying attention to the graphic on the right, here it is in it’s most updated form:

debttracker

The devil is in the details though, so keep reading to see exactly how the numbers break down…Read More »

Being in Debt Does NOT Make You a Dumb*ss. Staying in Debt DOES!

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My ability to attain a relatively successful career meant that I probably wasn’t a flat out dumbass, regardless of what my wife might lead you to believe. My inability to manage personal finances, however, meant that I was undoubtedly ignorant in regards to the subject.

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I was the first male in my family to graduate from high school. Truth be told, I had a half-uncle who graduated high school about 6 years before me, but I’m choosing to ignore that to make for a better story.

Side Note: Yes I said my uncle graduated high school six years before me. My grandfather re-married very late in life and had a child with his new bride. Don’t ask, folks… it’s Smalltown, USA.

So like I said, I was the first male in my family to earn my high school diploma. My dad dropped out either his Sophomore or Junior year, and I’d be surprised if my grandpa made it much past the 8th grade. They were taught that school was for chumps, and the moment you had identified a career, schooling had served its purpose.

Yet both my father and his dad were incredibly bright. My dad still has an amazing knack for Marketing, even though I doubt he’d know that is what it’s actually called. He knows he’s good at “selling people stuff,” but could give two sh*ts about the terminology or psychology behind it. Both he and my grandfather started highly successful businesses, despite their lack of formal education, and both took chances that I to this day don’t have the courage to take.

So I didn’t have a lot to live up to in terms of expectations. If I had dropped out of high school early, I’m sure my parents would have been slightly disappointed, but it wouldn’t have been the end of the world.

While my older sister blazed through both high school and college earning a 4.0 degree at both along the way (along with things like Class Valedictorian, President’s lists, scholarships, and the like) I maintained a rock solid 2.5 GPA, mostly due to sports and… well… not really caring about school.

Again… I didn’t have much to live up to.

I did manage to graduate high school, and then attended one year at university, dropped out thanks to a job offer from my father, and later in life returned to get a degree and several certificates. In all, I’ve probably completed around 6-7 years of post-high school schooling of some kind, and now have a successful career in videogames.

Take that, weirdly-young half uncle!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 »

On the Road to Financial Independence I Traded My Muscle Car in on a Corolla

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I drove a muscle car for a long time because it fed my ego. I liked how people turned to watch as I drove by. I liked people (usually dudes) commenting on it when I was fueling up. I liked feeling powerful stomping on that pedal. So you would think I would regret a decision like this one.

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I didn’t wake up Wednesday morning and think to myself, “Hey, Dave ol’ buddy ol’ pal, you know that hot and totally rad Dodge Challenger you’ve got sitting in your driveway? You know the one with the 392 Hemi and that awesome shaker hood with the blower? Yeah that’s the one! Whadda’ ya’ say we trade that sucker in on the most practical daily driver we can possibly fine. Something like say… A USED TOYOTA COROLLA!”

And yet that’s exactly what I did.

I wouldn’t say it was a total spur of the moment decision. I’ve been knee-deep in financial independence books, blogs and Facebook groups, so I had slowly been coming around to the idea of buying something more practical for what is essentially a shuttle for me to and from work.

Yet when I arrived at work Wednesday of this week, I had no clue that by day’s end I would have traded the face-melting monster machine in on the face-massaging safety wagon.

We are in the midst of refinancing our house, because we could use the extra bit of change it will provide each month. (Don’t bother debating on whether or not that’s a sound decision. It’s already done, short of signing in two weeks.)

Our home loan agent called with closing costs, and I freaked out because they were more than we were originally quoted. Things escalated quickly, and before I knew it, I was chatting with an agent at a reputable Toyota dealer here in my neck of the woods about trading my car in.

I had just reached my breaking point in terms of being stressed about my finances constantly, and yet driving around in a car that costs me $40-$60 bucks a week in gas alone. Plus I didn’t actually go anywhere with it. 99% of my car’s use is driving me to and from work. That’s it. On weekends we mostly drive my wife’s vehicle. So why did I need a gas-guzzling, high insurance, high payment vehicle to do that?

Turns out I didn’t!Read More »