Author Archives: themoneystory

120k in student debt to debt free in 18 months

Does that sound crazy or what? Let me just start off saying this it is not my story. This is one of my High School friends who was able to get out of what we are starting to call “normal debt” or student loans.

Caleb’s story started off with him having the desire to go to a Christian University so he didn’t get the benefit of getting cheaper school going to a state school. Lucky he is a pretty smart kid and did all he could to get academic scholarships.

After Caleb meet his lovely wife Danae they soon realized together they had a little bit of debt. To be exact they had $120,963.30 in debt (Caleb was always pretty concise about things). As some of you can relate, starting off a marriage with this amount of debt can be hard so they knew they wanted to make a change.

At this time Caleb’s Dad just so happened to be teaching a class that Dave Ramsey created. So Caleb and his bride Danae decided to check it out. Caleb said from that day on it was hard for them not to want to be out of debt and they would do what it took to do it.

On a side note for those that are married it is much easier to get out of debt and become financial free when you and your spouse are both in board with the idea. Luckily for Caleb they both got the itch to get out of debt together. I recommend doing it as a couple like they did, it will make all the difference in your marriage and your finances.

Alright, so Caleb’s story! He talked about some of the strategies that are taught by Dave downloadRamsey in his Financial Peace University class. The key concept was the debt snowball. A debt snowball is what it sounds like. You start off with your small debts and once they are paid off  then add the extra money  towards the bigger debts while always paying at least the minimum payment on all but the smallest debt. The reason I like this strategy is because a lot of people don’t do well with long term goals. This way you are able to pay off the small debts and get the small victories very soon and then make it often. This can help get the momentum going just like a snowball rolling down a hill.

Caleb did more than just pay the minimum payments (if you do just that you will never get out of debt by the way). They cut their spending drastically (They don’t recommend this to everyone because it can be really hard to keep it up, just like that diet you keep giving up in March). Caleb said they ate out very rarely during this time and didn’t go on any vacations to help put more money towards their debt.

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Don’t believe the story still. Here is a graph.

In my opinion this helped shave a few months off on paying their debt off however, the big thing they did to cut cost was on what we think as a fixed cost, our housing. For 6 months out of the 18 months they house sat for someone and saved the money they would have spent on housing. That is a huge save! We spend on average 33% of our expenses in housing and they put all of that towards paying off their debt. If you can do a house hack I recommend it! There are many ways to do things similar. If you know of different ways or want to know leave a comment and we will start a discussion.

Near the end of my conversation with Caleb I asked him what he learned from this experience and it wasn’t how fun debt can be. He said that the  diligent are the ones that prosper. He also pointed out that his relationship with his wife became much closer. And that discipline = success.

One last thing that he told me was that the borrower is the slave to the lender. I want you to think about that for a minute. Most of my readers live in a country that was built on freedom. When you take on debt you cut back on your freedom. Think before you go into debt; is it really worth being a slave to have that thing I want?

It was a real pleasure to talk to Caleb and have him give me a brief highlight of his experience of doing what most of us think would be impossible. This is only a small part of his whole story. If you want to know more of the details of how he and his wife did this you can send him a message on Facebook. Click here for the link.

Comment below to share how you got out of debt or getting out of debt. We can also talk more about how Caleb did it.

Thanks for your participation and good luck out there this week!

Saving Money with Credit Cards

I personally have never had any credit card debt but I am sure that some of our readers have and they found out really quick that they did not like the amount of interest that piled up every month. I was planing about talking about the interest rates of credit cards, the bad ones and the “good” ones (they actually all suck). However, after thinking about it I don’t even look at those rates because I never plan on using my credit card for things I can’t afford.

This post is not for everyone if you already have a lot of credit card debt (look out for next week’s post) or your credit score is low this may not be for you. This type of saving is not for everyone because it can get you into trouble if you do not pay off the credit cards in total each month.

Now that you have read the disclaimer let’s get down to business and talk about how you can save money using credit cards. First thing first, is that when you just use cash or a debit card you are just spending your money in full (that’s what poor people do). When you use a credit card that has some type of rewards you can get points, miles or cash back. I have seen as little as 1% back and high as 5% back. So instead of spending 100% of your money, you are spending anywhere from 99% to 95% of it. Okay okay, that’s not a lot of money but if your spending that money anyway why not save the little you can and go on a vacation or buy Christmas presents. This is low hanging fruit that almost anyone can take advantage of and it doesn’t take any time.

Low hanging fruit

Actual low hanging fruit

My wife and I didn’t do anything fancy last year and still made over a $100 in cash back from our Discover cards. We did this while I was in school and we didn’t spend a lot of money. This doesn’t take any extra time. This is something I would recommend to anyone that has the discipline to pay off their credit card at the end of the month. The second you leave a balance on the card the interest starts to eat up your savings.

I know you are all thinking “credit card companies want me to not pay my bills so they can make money!”. False!! While it is true that they can make money when you don’t pay your bills They still make a lot of money by you paying every month and then they don’t have to worry about the risk of you not paying them back.

evil credit card people

Credit card company CEO when you do or don’t pay your bills

For those that don’t know, every time you use a credit card they charge a convenience fee. The majority of the time the company you are using the credit card at pays that fee for you. That is how they still make money. I am telling you this so you know by doing this you are not cheating the system. They are making money off you either way so why not make some money off them as well. Am I right or what? As my wife always says “You are always right Logan”. Well… Maybe that is a little exaggerated but this one is a no-brainer.

If you want to take it a step farther here is my next suggestion (This is for people who have excellent credit scores). This strategy is good for people who subscribe to Dave Ramsey and don’t care about their Credit Score because this would be the only thing you use it for.

Here is the trick use the credit card signup bonus (once again I would not recommend opening new credit cards if you are already in a lot of debt, get out of debt first before you start on this). Right now I am looking at a few cards one is the  Capital One® SavorOne  that has a signup deal of $150 back after you spend $500 in the first 3 months and the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Via® that you get $200 when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months. If my wife and I do this we could make $350 in the next 3 months just by spending what we normally spend!

I am not going to try and be an expert on what credit cards are the best to use. The two places that I have learned the most about how to use them better is Nerdwallet and ChooseFI. I am going to put into practice what I have learned (as I recommend for you to do). I will let you know how it goes in the next few months.

Please remember this is just a place to pass around ideas. There isn’t the right and only way to do something. Don’t take the lazy bum approach and find out if this is a good idea for you or not.

Good luck out there this week!

Lessons from Monopoly Money

My passion for personal finance may have started as a young kid when my mother started to teach us about money and how it works in the real world. My mom would always have new rules and gimmicks to try and get us to be more productive around the house and to keep us out of trouble. They would always come and go and I had gotten to the point where when a new one started up and I didn’t like it, I would just wait it out and it would be gone in a week or two. Then one summer she came up with an idea that did not go away for a few years…

I’m not sure where she came up with the idea but it stuck. She had taken an old game of monopoly, most likely with some missing pieces, and used the money to make a small economy with me and my siblings. We all started the summer off with a set amount of money. Then my mom started to strip all the joys of summer away by putting a monopoly money value to all my favorite drinks and snacks… My summer was ruined. I now had to do chores to make monopoly money to eat all the food my parents paid for… Absurd right? Little did I know that my mom was trying to do more than just ruin my summer.

Here are just some of the things that my mom made us pay for with monopoly money. We had to pay for things like:

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My main drink as a kid.

  • Snacks/any food that wasn’t part of a meal
  • Drinks other than water or a drink during a meal
  • Watching TV or a movie (paid by the half an hour)
  • Playing video games (paid by the half an hour)
  • Sleeping on the couch on the weekend (a weird thing that my siblings and I really like for some reason)

I think we had more things and I hope that my mother comments on this post to tell her side of the story.  We could make money by doing chores and reading books. I think there were more things that we could do but I don’t remember all of them. It was just things that I didn’t want to do during my summer break.

We always got paid once a week and my mom would buy a bunch of silly toys at the dollar tree that we could buy right after payday and only at that time. I being the type of kid that likes to save my money stopped buying the cheap dollar store toys with my paycheck and started to save.

I soon had a large amount of savings stashed under my mattress (if you are doing that 428f15636ea134786ef800d5852fea1dw-c300636xd-w685_h860_q80with real money you are reading the right blog because we are here to help you stop doing that). Next thing that happened is I learned a great lesson on what interest can do for you. One of my siblings wanted to sleep on the couch and was short the amount needed to pay for it. I wanted to help him so I made a deal. I told him that I would give him a hundred monopoly dollars if he would pay me one hundred and ten monopoly dollars when he was paid next. He accepted and I made ten dollars without doing one chore. That was the best ten dollars I have ever made, even if it was fake.

$500

It was raining these after a few weeks.

My siblings learned that they could do more things by just paying a little more money and I learned that I could use my money to make more money. I thought it wasn’t fair to just charge ten dollars for everything so I just charged 10% for everything the borrowed. Soon after starting loaning money I was rolling in those orange $500 dollar bills that we all like to have when we are playing monopoly (may be the only thing people like about monopoly).

There is a lot to unpack in this story but I want to talk about the power that interest can have on your money. A large number of people don’t save any money (if that is you, there will be a post just for you) but to those that do leave it in their savings account. Those people are getting about .001% back each year so, it is more than stuffing it under your mattress. However, you are still losing money each year by doing that due to inflation. (Inflation means that the money we have today is worth less tomorrow. An example is this year you can buy bread for $1 and next year bread costs $1.03.) Inflation is usually pretty small the normal rate is about 2-3% each year. Comment below if you want more information about inflation. I can also make another blog post about that.

What inflation means to your savings account is that by keeping your money in a savings account you are actually losing money each year. In order to avoid that I would recommend investing your money. There are many different ways to invest. The main two that I am doing currently are real estate and mutual funds. I will be putting some more material up on how to invest in mutual funds and real estate in a later post. If you have questions now please feel free to email me at Themoneystory@gmail.com.

Next week I am going to talk a little more about interest but the bad kind on your loans and credit cards. If you are thinking “O, that sounds like something I don’t want to know about” this post is for you. I also am working on make a page about budgeting so those that have asked about that it is coming soon!

Good luck out there this week!

 

Blog Post #1

As my wife and I were getting ready for bed, I was talking about the IRA that my work offers. As usual, her eyes started to glaze over and then she said “STOP! All you do is talk about money and I want to talk about something else”. To be fair she may be right… I was that kid in middle school who had a budget and planned to save my money to buy the new Pokemon Stadium game for the N64 instead of buying candy or something dumb.

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The most important thing when I was ten

My wife asked me what I talked about with my friend earlier that day (after she told me to stop talking about an IRA). I told her “we talked about stocks and bonds!” She rolled her eyes and said, “did you get him to talk about it or did he ask?” I may have started that conversation… and maybe talked the whole time as well….. I just really enjoy talking about finances and learning as much as I can about it. Then when I learn something new I want to share it with everyone!

 

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My very patient wife and me

I woke up the next morning thinking about the conversation we had and realizing, I really do enjoy learning and talking about money. My hope is to make this a blog and a community where people can talk, learn, share and teach about money and finance. I really want to see how other people have made money work for them and hear their stories. Please comment on this post and future ones with your stories and how you succeeded or failed, I can talk all day (ask my family) but I want to hear other peoples stories so that we can all be inspired to make changes in our lives.

One of my main goals in life is to teach as many people as I can about finances and let them know it is not scary or hard. I think a lot of people have a misconception that people don’t want you to learn about finance. In reality, the more the general public knows about money and how to use it right the better off we can be as a society (just have to beware of greed, that is a whole other topic though).

If you do have a story that you want to share you can also email them to me at themoneystory@gmail.com and I may use your story to try and teach others how to understand how finance works.

Next week, I will talk about how my mom taught me and my siblings about personal finance using monopoly money and how I may have become a loan shark…

*Disclaimer: I do not know as much about finance as Dave Ramsey but I do think I am funnier than him. I  want to get people more excited to learn about money and not be afraid to look at their finances.