Today was a Good Day

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We’ve learned many lessons this year, among them how to actually appreciate and value the things we purchase. It has made us a stronger family unit, and it has helped to instill values in our children that will hopefully help them in life for many decades to come.

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At the beginning of 2019, my wife and I were in a really bad spot. We owed an insane amount of money on credit cards (6 figures), and we were making $3600 a month less than what we needed to pay our bills. We had no savings, we had very little in our 401k, and we were almost certainly going to lose the house we had bought just 6 months prior.

We committed to solving our debt crisis once and for all, and we knew that part of doing that meant we had to set some really large stretch goals to keep us honest and aggressive in our efforts.

I told my wife, “We need to set a big number in terms of the debt we want to pay off this year, and it needs to be large enough to frankly make us uncomfortable.”

We set our golden number for the year at $50,000.00. Fifty-thousand. A FIVE, AND THEN A BUNCH OF ZEROS. That was a stupid number, and there was probably no way we would come close, but damn if we weren’t going to try!

When I have set similar lofty goals in the past, it has rarely worked out well…

Dave at age 10:
Goal: “I bet I can jump this canal on my bicycle!”
Result: Broken bike, broken bones.

Dave at age 22:
Goal: “I bet I can beer bong this entire 5th of whiskey!”
Result: Waking up in that same canal, wondering what happened to my pants.

Dave at age 35:
Goal: “I bet I can put a flat screen TV in each room of my house!”
Result: See paragraph 1 of this post.

So needless to say, I was somewhat pessimistic about the financial goal I had set for us to achieve, and I had a lifetime of results (or lack thereof) to back that pessimism up.

And yet today, a month and a half early in fact, we hit our goal.Read More »

This One Tip Will Get You Out of Debt and to FI Faster Than Any Other

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By spending less, you’re “eating better.” You’re not wasting your money on dumb purchases that you really don’t need, just as you aren’t filling your face hole with Ding Dongs and lard.

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I have done a LOT of research over the past 10 months. I have read books and blogs, listened to podcasts, attended seminars, watched YouTube videos, and met with one incredibly trustworthy and knowledgeable financial planner.

Here are just a few of the books I’ve read:

  • Rich Dad, Poor Dad
  • Start Late, Finish Rich
  • The Automatic Millionaire
  • The Millionaire Next Door
  • The Simple Path to Wealth
  • I Will Teach You To Be Rich
  • The Latte Factor
  • The Total Money Makeover

Podcasts I have (or continue to) listen to:

  • Bigger Pockets
  • Choose FI
  • Motley Fool
  • The Money Guy Show
  • Mr. Money Moustache

You get the idea.

I have spent the better part of a year listening, absorbing, planning, and evaluating how to get out of debt, and how to get on the road to financial independence once and for all. It’s why I’ll pay off over $50,000 worth of debt this year alone, and it’s why I have a plan to be totally free of credit card debt by the end of 2020.

In the process of doing this, I think I’ve hit on something big that I want to share with all of you. Once I understood it, it changed my life totally, and given me the understanding of the mindset I need to really achieve my goals.

The one thing you need to do to pay off debt and achieve financial independence is…

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 »

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 »