Save With Purpose

Saving With Purpose

Several years ago, my wife and I were in New York City. It had only been about nine months since I had brain surgery and I was still very unstable. Sometimes I wonder why we took that trip because it took all I had to stay upright and she was holding onto me with a bear grip the whole time to keep me steady.

We were walking down 34th street and trying to hug the buildings to stay out of the way of pedestrian traffic as much as possible. It was a sloooooow walk.

Before long, a group of three teenage girls walked by and one of them glanced over her shoulder and said “Walk.With.Purpose.”

Brat!

She had no idea what I had been dealing with.

Save With Purpose

What’s Your Purpose?

I think about what those girls said that day as it relates to savings and it takes on some significance.

What is the purpose of your savings?

Actually, there can be many reasons for saving. Some good and some bad.

What?

What could be bad about saving?

Well, biblically speaking, I think about Luke 12:13-21 “The Rich Fool” who hoarded money and possessions. Greed to the point where you have more than you know what to do with but only want more isn’t a good thing. What’s the point? When you die, you aren’t taking it with you.

There are many good reasons to save though. In today’s society, it’s important to save towards retirement so that you can have the life you want when and if you decide to stop working. Ask around. It’s tough to live a decent life anywhere on social security alone.

Save with purpose Priority

Emergency Savings.

Emergency savings are important to cover those unexpected events that always seem to come our way. However, $1000 can cover just about everything that can go wrong. It doesn’t matter if the A/C in your house goes out or your car breaks down. Unless the car engine or transmission is gone, you can pretty much fix just about anything else with your car for $1000. Broken windows in your house, repairs to you air conditioning and even a water heater replacement can be covered by that money.

Specific Savings.

These types of savings are for a specific purpose. Want to take a trip to another state? Save some money. Buying new living room furniture? Save something for that. Kids college? There are accounts for that too.

What Should I Save For First?

I would think the emergency savings would come first. Having that account allows you to fix just about anything without having to go into debt using a credit card. The alternative would be to use a credit card instead, which only means paying interest that could have been planned for in advance.

Don’t have an extra $1000 laying around for an emergency fund? That’s ok. Start where you are. If you can save $100, or $50, or even $5 this week, start there. Put the money aside and next week, work on adding more to it. Even at $5 per week, at the end of a year, you’ll have $260. That’s a whole lot better than having $5 and your car needing new tires.

What do you do to save money? What is the purpose of your savings?

Save. With. Purpose!

———————

If you need help with the purchase or sale of a home, reach out to me for more information about how I can help you get where you want to be.

I’m never too busy for your referrals.

Patrick O’Connor – CHMS, GRI, Realtor®

Ebby Halliday, REALTORS®

Plano, TX

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Is Paying Off Debt, Saving?

I’ve thought about this on and off for a while and it comes down to the definition of saving. Am I saving money if I purchase something on sale or is it only saving if I am putting money in the bank? What if the bank is only paying 0.05% interest on my savings but the cost of living is going up 3%? Am I still saving if I am putting money in the bank?

What a tangled web we weave!

That brings me to the point of this post. Am I saving money if I pay off debt? In my mind, the answer is a resounding – YES!

Let’s look at the credit card first. For this argument, I will assume that there is a balance on the credit card of $5000 and the interest rate is 12.9%. In that scenario, the minimum payment is $200. The overall amount you will pay if you simply pay the minimum payment is $6763.82. It will take you Nine Years and Eight Months to pay it off. That all assumes that nothing else has been added to the account.

When I think about that, and the idea that I need to be paying $200 every month for over nine years, I immediately get to a place where I think paying off that debt is saving. There are just so many other things I could do with an extra $200 every month. Then I think about how the credit card company is getting $1763.82 over that time for doing nothing! They loaned me money and now, by the time it is over, I will have given them all that in return for the “privilege” of using their service. It’s likely that most, if not all, of the items I purchased with that credit card, are no longer in my possession.

Pay Off Debt - The Little Debt-Free Book

The Frustration Mounts!

Don’t feel bad. These are the feelings I went through while I was trying to pay off debt. The Little Debt-Free Book: A Personal Journey was written because I wanted to try and help at least one person realize how much money they were working for that was no longer theirs.

I have a question for you. How many hours per month do you need to work just to pay the minimums on your debts? Include everything from the mortgage, the car payment, student loans, and credit cards.

That’s what got me. I was working so many hours per month just to pay the minimum payments! That didn’t include the things I was paying cash for. I realized how much of my “life-time” I was spending working for someone else. Why? Because I wanted whatever it was that I had purchased at the time – right away. Almost everything I currently have, I will no longer have in nine years. I’ll be lucky if I even have my car in nine years.

Pay It Off!

By paying off all my debt, I was able to work the hours I wanted to work, save what I thought I could and still spend quality time with my family doing the things that mattered – making memories! Vacations, gifts, college, cars for the kids, and just spending more time together.

What is more important to you? Getting the latest phone or getting out of debt and spending time with the ones you love?

It’s a choice we all make every day.

Is Paying Off Debt Saving

But Is It Saving?

Simply the amount you are NOT spending on interest is saving! Think about it. If you paid off all your debts and simply put the interest you had been paying on those debts into a Mutual Fund, how much would you be able to put into a mutual fund every year?

Not having debt gives you a raise in the amount that you were paying in debt. So, back to the beginning. If you no longer had $5000 on a credit card, paying $200 per month, at the end of a year, just taking that $200, you could have $2400 in a mutual fund making money for you instead of working however many hours you needed to pay that bill.

I challenge you to pay your debts and be in a place where money is no longer an issue in your life.

Read about my journey and see if it makes sense to you.

———————

If you need help with the purchase or sale of a home, reach out to me for more information about how I can help you get where you want to be.

I’m never too busy for your referrals.

Patrick O’Connor – CHMS, GRI, Realtor®

Ebby Halliday, REALTORS®

Plano, TX

5 Types of Financial Roller Coasters

There are many reasons people get in trouble with their finances. If any of these describe you, reach out for help. There are solutions to each of these types that anyone can implement in their lives. Take a look.

Feast or Famine

Financial Roller Coaster

Have you ever met those people who are on an extreme rollercoaster ride with it comes to their finances? The type that seems to be doing fine one day, and the next day you hear they are barely scraping by.

Maybe it’s the people who buy a new home and they are all excited so they go out and buy a whole bunch of new furniture on credit. They are euphoric until the first bill comes in and then they are in panic mode.

Or it could be the person who pays off all their debt and the next thing you know, they are bringing stuff to the pawn shop to get to the next payday. Suddenly, the sell and buy scenario is a regular thing at the pawn shop.

The Slow Death

Financial Roller Coaster Wilted Flowers

These are the people who consistently live above their means. Unfortunately, a lot of Americans live this way. They spend $1.22 for every dollar they make. It’s a slow death because they overspend just a little but over time, that extra $0.22 adds up.

Maybe it’s the couple who is living vicariously through their children and can’t say no to them. You here them say stuff like “I’ll never let my kids go without like I did when I was a kid.” Whenever they go to the grocery store, they have to buy their child a toy – because – well, that’s just what they do. Right? Their kids are in all kinds of sports through school and other after school activities. It’s exhausting!

The Train Wreck

These are the ones you feel sorry for. This is the couple who has the breadwinner that has a heart attack. The person survives but is told they must retire right now! Of course, they planned on working for another ten years but now they have to figure out how to live on $35,000 per year instead of the planned $55,000.

The divorced couple. Neither one makes out ok from this situation. They both end up broke in the process due to lawyer fees, split accounts, etc. All their accounts are frozen during the process so they have limited funds to work with while they are going through the divorce. When everything is finally done, they both struggle for years trying to make all their finances work again on an individual basis.

Apocalypse

Here the spouse has died and there is no more income. Maybe they have been diagnosed with a disease that will take all their finances. A natural disaster takes place and they lose everything only to find out that their insurance won’t cover half of it.

Living on Prayer

This is the person who makes a decent living but never saves any money. When they turn 65 (or whatever the retirement age is for them) they talk to a financial planner only to hear that they can’t retire because the only money they have to live on is what they can sell their house for. If they sell their house, they will have a little money but that won’t last long. No planning was ever considered.

Steps to Avoid Tragedy

Financial Roller Coaster Money

Here are a few steps you can start to take now so that you don’t become one of the people described above.

  1. Live beneath your means. This means putting something from every check aside for later in life.
  2. Don’t make compulsive purchases. 50 years ago, if you didn’t have the cash, you didn’t get the item. It can still work that way today
  3. Make sure you have some type of medical insurance. Sure, the cost is out of control right now but if you don’t have it and something happens, all your plans go out the window.
  4. Have some life insurance. There’s nothing worse than seeing someone lose a loved one and not have enough to live on going forward. It’s a gift for your spouse and your family.
  5. Save. Save. In our current society, it’s all about instant gratification. Believe it or not, you can live with less stuff and still have a happy life.

If you need help with your finances, reach out to local organizations that help in this area. A good place to start is Consumer Credit Counseling. Find support groups and courses that can help turn things around.

What are some ways that you have avoided these tragic scenarios? Comment below.

 

Why Get More Credit?

Credit, Bad – Debt-Free, Good

Credit Cards

If you’ve read any of my previous blog posts about credit, you know that I’m not a fan of people getting all kinds of different credit. I am a firm believer that being debt-free is an amazing way to live. You never have to worry about where your money needs to go, how much you need to make to pay all those various bills, or worry about what will happen if something happens like a job loss or a medical diagnosis.

You may also know that I am now a REALTOR®. I want to help people learn about that process so they can get into a home that they can afford without stressing about the increasing costs of ownership.

My Friend Paul

Paul Nolte

As a REALTOR®, a trusting and honest relationship is established. If you are a seller, I represent you in any negotiations once a Listing Agreement is signed. If you are a buyer, I represent you in any negotiations once a Buyer’s Representation Agreement is signed. Without an agreement, you are on your own when it comes to navigating the contract paperwork and any negotiations.

Paul Nolte is one of the partners and a preferred Mortgage Loan Originator from Home Team Mortgage at our Ebby Halliday, REALTORS® office in the Plano/Willow Bend area.

We’ve had several conversations about clients who need help getting a loan. One reason a contract will fall through is an issue with credit. That’s why it is so important to start working on your credit immediately, preferably six months before you want to purchase a home.

Paul has provided an article on how to improve your credit when preparing to purchase a home.

My Take

Debt-Free

Although I can appreciate having a variety of credit avenues open to show credit worthiness, sometimes, that is not a good thing for people.

If you have a habit of keeping a balance on your credit cards, then maybe a better way would be to keep one credit card and maintain control of your spending.

I was divorced in 2002 after an almost 15-year marriage. After six years, I managed to pay off my debts and only kept one credit card. Over time, I had several car loans for various lengths of time and maintained a zero balance on my credit card. With a credit score over 800, I had no problems qualifying for a loan for a house.

Everyone needs to decide their own path when it comes to finding a great home. If you choose wisely, your credit can help you achieve the goals you want. However, if you neglect what is happening with your credit, it may prevent you from getting that house.

Trip-Ups

Here’s a brief list of things that can trip you up when trying to purchase a home.

  1. Missed payments on loans.
  2. Late payments on credit cards
  3. Late utility payments
  4. Eviction
  5. Bankruptcy
  6. Foreclosure
  7. Too much debt-to-income ratio. If you owe more than about 36% of your income towards bills, you may not qualify for a loan.

There are also ways people can sabotage the loan process.

During the contract period, you start to purchase items for your home:

  1. Riding mower
  2. Refrigerator
  3. Washer and dryer
  4. Vacations

Once you are under a contract, do not make any changes that could affect your credit or your debt-to-income ratio. You’ll have time to purchase those items after you move into your new home.

Reach out to me so we can work together to make sure any credit issues are addressed before trying to purchase a home. Visit my business website for contact information.

Get the Pre-Underwritten Brochure!

 

Allowance

Allowance

Who Me?

Have you ever thought about giving yourself an allowance as a way to save money?

Yes you.

You know, like we give to our kids or how you got one as a child.

Budgeting, like a lot of things, takes discipline. When I was paying off debt, and even today, I gave myself an allowance just like the kids. Everything else in the budget was accounted for. I created a zero dollar budget. A zero dollar budget is simply allocating all your money in a given pay period so that there is nothing left over. Every dollar has a place.

The allowance was for me to spend on however I wanted to. If I wanted to buy lunch at work, it came from there. If I wanted to buy a movie or go to the movies for that matter, it came from my allowance.

What’s In It For Me?

WIIFM

I still give myself an allowance. Since I am now married, my wife gets her own allowance.

The cool thing about an allowance is it allows us the freedom to do what we want with it. Many times, I try to save my allowance so that I can do things for my sweet wife. We even have a standing joke that when I start spending my allowance, she says “So you’re spending my money?” She knows that I try to save some of my allowance to buy nice things for our anniversary, her birthday, Christmas and other occasions as I see fit.

How Much?

Pinch

How much should you allocate towards an allowance?

Initially, I gave myself $10 per pay period. That was right after the divorce from my first wife. $10 was more money than I had in my pocket for more than a decade. I never had money so having $10 in my pocket was a treasure.

Maybe $10 is too much for you right now. Maybe you can afford to give yourself $300 per pay period as an allowance.

Before you decide on an allowance, you should make sure that a lot of other things are being taken care of first. Are you paying all your bills on time? If not, then maybe you need to sacrifice a little so that you can catch up on things. Are you saving anything in the event something happens where you need some quick cash? Where will the money come from if you need the air conditioner fixed at your house? If your answer is a credit card, then maybe you need to sacrifice your allowance until you have some money set back.

Live With It!

The allowance is just that – an allowance. I allow myself to spend this money however I want to. No strings attached.

However, that’s all I get. Nothing more.

When I run out – I need to wait until the next payday before I can get anymore.

You need to decide what the right amount is for you.

The bottom line is that the more you focus on getting out of debt, the more you will be able to give yourself an allowance later.

The choice is yours.

 

 

The Paperback Is Here

TLDFB-Paper

Long Time Coming

Well, I finally got my book, The Little Debt-Free Book, published as a paperback version. This version was submitted on January 31, 2015 for review. It took another day for the review process to be completed before I was able to order the proof copy.

Next Step

The proof copy arrived at my house this week and I was able to look over every aspect of the book in physical form. After reviewing the book, I had to go back to Createspace.com and authorize the release of the book on Amazon.com and Createspace.com. The book is now available on both of those sites.

Unexpected Outcome

A really cool thing has happened during this process. Recently, I gave a speech to a group of women at a shelter who had escaped domestic violence. Afterwards, the lady who runs the program told me that they would be interested in using my book as part of their program. Now that’s cool!

I have always hoped that the book would be able to help someone who struggles with their finances. Now it is becoming a reality.

Another unexpected thing was that Amazon immediately discounted the price of my book. After some research, I found out that if the book is available in more than one location, then Amazon reserves the right to keep the lowest price. The book is also available on Createspace.com so Amazon has discounted the price by 10%. That’s a good deal for anyone wanting the book. It saves them money.

Ending Thoughts

I know that there are a few people who have purchased the Kindle version of the book who have wanted the paperback for their kids. This affirmation is wonderful. I hope to reach more people with public speaking and this book in the future.

The Fine Print

First Things First

My apologies for being late with this blog post. I have been trying to post weekly since I began this blog and this is the latest posting that I have had. Things should be better next week.

Contract

Contract1

Contracts are everywhere! When you buy a house, sign up for cable or Internet Service, purchasing a car and any number of other things. If you rent a place, it is called a lease. Contracts are there to protect the supplier. However, when something changes and you need to be out of a contract, you end up paying quite a bit to get out of them.

Buying A Home

My wife and I recently purchased a home. However, we are in a lease with the place we are renting for a couple of months to come. Cha-Ching! Breaking the lease means extra money so they can list the place earlier. Even though they are going to list it when we leave, they charge extra in the hope they can rent it before regular lease expiration. If that happens, then we don’t have to pay for all the time on the lease.

Cable

We recently made the decision to eliminate cable. We had given up TV for lent anyway so it was not a hard decision. Cable companies are a pain. When we first purchased the home, we thought we would just transfer the cable to the new location. Because we had only been with them for nine months, there was going to be an extra fee of $100.00 to move it to the new location. When we called back to cancel instead, they came up with all these offers in order for us to keep it. Free transfer, reduced billing, even a suspension of services for a mere $20 per month for up to nine months. We could reactivate it at any time within the nine months and pick up the contract where we left it off. What a bargain. For $30 per month for the remaining months in our contract, we could pay to cancel the service altogether. We opted to cancel altogether. Can you still get TV via an antenna?

Decisions

If at all possible, I am going to try to avoid contracts with service providers except in the case of utilities, etc. since we will be in our new home hopefully, for a long time.

What contracts do you have and what is the cost of getting out of those contracts if you need to? Think about it the next time you get ready to sign up for another service.

Savings Challenge Update

Here is the status of our savings challenge.

Savings Challenge 3-11-2014

Our balance now is $530.68. Getting there. How about you?