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 »

Four Eggs on Six Figures

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I will not for a moment claim to have a life as hard as some folks do in this world. Not even close. So please don’t think that I don’t have perspective. I’m not looking for you to feel bad for me, but instead providing insight into the sacrifices that my family and I have had to make. I’m also giving you insight into just how badly we had “effed up.”

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In my very first post on this site, I talked about not being able to afford to buy my son a piece of pizza at a lacrosse game. I mention that while this is not unheard of for many families around the world, it was just plain silly that I couldn’t do so given my six figure salary.

I’ve had several people ask me just how bad things got, and just how close my wife and I were to a financial catastrophe when things hit rock bottom in January. I think some like to see just how far we’ve come and encourage us to keep going, and frankly I think a few are just buttholes who want to revel in how far down the drain we had swirled.

“I knew they bought a house they couldn’t afford.”
“Well what did they expect? They ate out 5 nights a week and bought new cars every other year!”
“If Dave could just stop buying television sets for a minute, they might have the money to pay the bills!”
“How can you be that fiscally irresponsible?”

Buttholes aside, I do think it is important to share our lows. If this blog is only about the highs and wins, it doesn’t really do anyone any good.

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Tangent: I’m now actively recruiting for my new band, Buttholes Aside, and we are looking for a bass player. Must be willing to wear spandex. Serious inquiries only.

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My wife and I need to be reminded of those lows, and reminded of the sting of those lows, even if we have made tremendous gains.

Trust me when I say that last part was by no means boastful. I can see that stat tracker in the column on the right just as well as you can, and I know we have a LONG way to go, but allow me to explain how far we’ve come…Read More »

Friday Five: The First 5 Things You Should Do if You Are in Debt

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The “Friday Five” are five items to help you in your journey to financial freedom. They might be 5 tips, they might be 5 tricks, or they might just be 5 items of thoughts. In any case, it’s Friday, and I’ve got 5 “things” for you, so here we go!

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As you can see, I’m trying something new with the Friday posts here. I like having some themes that I can dock to, such as the “Thursday Think Tank,” and the “Tuesday Tip Jar.” On top of this, I feel like you kind of don’t want a long post getting in your way on a Friday, and would prefer just to get out there and enjoy your weekend.

So these “Friday Five” posts will be a bit shorter, and get right to the heart of the matter, of hopefully providing you with 5 items you can use to help with your financial health and success.

So here goes! We’re going to kick the first one off with the first 5 things you should do if you find yourself in debt.

Back in January, my wife and I found ourselves in a buttload of debt. If you aren’t familiar with some of these fancy financial terms such as “buttload,” just know that it was a LOT. If you check that fancy little diagram/chart in the right column of this site, you can see we were just north of $126,000 in Credit Card and Student Loan debt.

Even though it took us years to get into this position, it was a smack in the face once we took a hard look, put it all together, and realized just how bad off we were. We didn’t really know what to do first, and just felt an initial sense of helplessness.

Debt can be super-scary, and you may not know where to begin. So let me give you 5 good initial areas to focus on if you find yourself in a similar situation:Read More »

The Push/Pull of Saving Money vs Paying Off Debt

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“It’s a teeter-totter. One side can’t go down without the other coming up, and unless you’ve done something horribly wrong and are a really awful playground equipment jockey, you can’t get both sides to come down at the same time.

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I’m not the brightest bulb in the knife drawer, so when I talk mathematics, I like to keep it simple enough for even me to understand. So here goes…

Simple math dictates that if you have 10 dollars to spend, you can spend less than 10 dollars, but you certainly can’t spend more.

Am I with me so far? I am? Great! Let’s move on.

If we carry that same analogy forward to how my wife and I used to operate my life, if we got 10 dollars, we would immediately spend that 10 dollars on dumb stuff. Then we would hit a point in the month where we needed additional money for legitimate reasons, but again… we only had that 10 dollars. So we would instead charge things on a credit card. Simple!

Simply stupid.

Listen folks, we didn’t get into our current situation by making smart choices. We made the financial equivalent choice of stepping right into the ring with an MMA champion because we watched a Jackie Chan movie from our couch and thought “it all looked kind of easy.”

Now that we’re over that way of thinking and have firmly placed our life back on track, we don’t have the credit cards anymore. I almost said, “as a fallback,” but that’s like saying, “We don’t have the pit of spikes to catch us if we fall off of this tightrope anymore.”

The 10 dollars we have is now the 10 dollars we have.

In our situation, we had some money in a 401k, but literally no money in a savings account of any kind. So now we have two things that we need to accomplish:

  1. We need to pay off our debt.
  2. We need to put some money into savings.

Dave Ramsey’s approach to this is wildly aggressive. He basically says you should get $1,000 into an emergency savings fund, and then divert every remaining penny to paying off your debt as quickly as possible.

David Bach on the other hand goes for an approach of splitting any funds you have almost 50/50, with half going towards savings until you’ve got 3-6 months worth of salary built up, and the other half going towards debt.

Almost 7 months into this process and I’m still not sure which one I side with.

Read More »