~The Financial Hack ©2015
I’m back from vacationing feeling relaxed and refreshed but slowly transitioning back to “the real world.” As I reflect on the good times, the smiles and the laughter, there was something different about THIS particular vacation. It wasn’t because Mista and I were together (although that had a lot to do with it,) and it wasn’t necessarily because I got to spend time with a great group of people (although they played an integral role in making my vacation more enjoyable~Happy Birthday Teresa!) but looking at my vacation canvas from a financial perspective, this vacation was like that of no other. But what was different about this vacation? I couldn’t put my finger on it at first, then it hit me…..
THIS WAS MY FIRST DEBT-FREE VACATION!!!
In all my years of traveling, I had never traveled DEBT FREE. A weekend getaway here, a few days there was fun, but it was nothing compared to the feeling from my past trip that still lingers. I casually strolled about the ship as if I didn’t have a care in the world. I could truly appreciate taking in the sea air, closing my eyes and slowly exhaling while watching the sun set from our balcony. For the first time in my life, I felt an overwhelming sense of “calm.”
The key to having the “ULTIMATE STRESS-FREE VACATION” is to travel debt-free. Being debt-free is a feeling like no other and traveling debt-free is an even greater feeling.
How many times have you vacationed and had the time of your life only to have those feelings of euphoria doused after returning home because of the dreaded credit card statement that is sure to follow?
If you are not debt-free, you should not take a vacation.
While traveling, I was able to read Michelle Singletary’s book “The 21-Day Financial Fast” ($15.99-Barnes and Noble.) She wrote of a speaking engagement where a young lady stood and proudly stated she was able to save approximately $2500-$3000 on an impending vacation. She was asked by Ms. Singletary if she had any debt, to which the young lady replied, “Yes.” Ms. Singletary advised her she should not take the vacation she saved for and to use the money to pay down her debt. I’ve got your back on that one Michelle. She spoke absolute truth.
In the past, I could never truly relax going on “vacation” even on those weekend getaways (sometimes alone) knowing I was in debt. I have passed on TWO trips to Africa and one trip to London because my finances were not in order. I felt if I was in debt, it was in my best interest NOT to go on vacation.
Now. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take time off from work. We ALL need that. However, if you are in debt, it is wise to use any monies saved towards a vacation to pay down debt and delay that vacation. NO SACRIFICE NO REWARD. Look at the big picture. It all boils down to discipline and delaying gratification. I’m sure this isn’t what you want to hear, but I promise you, If you follow this principle, you’ll thank me later.
Don’t misunderstand me. Just because I’m debt free, didn’t mean I broke the bank while traveling. Budgeting for my vacation was like budgeting for any other task. I gave myself a set amount to spend and even allowed myself to splurge a little (like arranging for car/limo service to and from the airport.) After calculating the amount it would cost to use the Park and Fly airport shuttle service coupled with the fact I saved boarding fees for my dog Sherlock because my Mom kept him, I was actually saving money, so why not? I was even able to purchase a few Christmas gifts with the spending money allotted for myself, so I still came in under budget.
So the message I pray you take from this posting is simply this: THE BEST WAY TO TRAVEL IS TO DO SO DEBT-FREE.
CHECK OUT MY LATEST POSTING PERISCOPE TV: THE ULTIMATE “STRESS-FREE” VACATION HERE:
As always, thank you for visiting my site. Feel free to leave your comments/feedback and/or email me at AndreaColeman@TheFinancialHack.com
~The Financial Hack ©2015
FINANCIAL DISCIPLINE IS KEY:
CREATIVE SAVING WITHOUT THE EFFORT:
CHECK EM OUT. THE “REPLAYS” WILL BE GONE BEFORE YOU KNOW IT.
Thanks in advance for watching and for your support.
~The Financial Hack ©2015
I’ll also be finishing up questions I didn’t answer last week regarding CREDIT. JOIN ME as we “Whip Your Finances Into Shape!”
Email your questions to me at AndreaColeman@TheFinancialHack.com
SEE YOU THERE!!!
I know I’m behind on my postings regarding Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. If you’re new to this blog, I explained I was taking this class to reinforce what I already knew about finance and to learn additional principles and new techniques and to simply see a picture of financial freedom through someone else’s eyes. Now, I don’t claim to know EVERYTHING about finance, but I do know how to handle money. Although I was irresponsible with it when I was younger, I promise you, I’ve got a GOOD GRASP on my money now. More like I’ve got in a “headlock.”
Even though we are in our FOURTH WEEK of Financial Peace University, and I did tell you I would post weekly about my takeaways from each class session, I thought I’d better get you guys up to speed…. There’s so much information and so many thoughts and ideas running around in my head, I can’t wait to share them with you, but “baby steps” I must take. I thought about bringing you guys up to speed in this one blog, but I get so excited and passionate about the possibility of helping someone else, I’ve got to literally blog one class session at a time. I’ve been known to be quite long-winded when blogging, so brevity shall be my focus. I’ll save the wind-bag for my book.
NERDS VS FREE SPIRITS.
Think about that for a minute and if you ponder it long enough, you can figure out which is which. What may surprise you is which category you fall into. Or not. I knew I was a NERD before we even completed the questionnaire. I answered 9/10 questions, NERD. Yep. 100% Grade “A” NERD. And I wasn’t surprised.
NERDS are your “do it by the book” kind of people as it relates to money. They set goals, create budgets and follow them to a tee. If you’re married to a NERD, the NERD can create a monthly budget and tell you, “There’s no need to discuss this, it’s correct. BECAUSE I CREATED IT.” The FREE SPIRIT… Not so much. FREE SPIRITS are just that, FREE SPIRITS and they don’t like to be micro-managed and told what to do especially when it comes to money. I’m not in any way suggesting FREE SPIRITS are careless and irresponsible with money. A FREE SPIRIT will take care of their necessities and save as well, but what’s “left over” is theirs to play with. If the FREE SPIRIT sees something they wish to purchase, a piece of art, home décor, tools from Home Depot or whatever tickles their fancy, if their business is handled, they feel entitled to do so, and technically, they most certainly are. The problem is, the rigid, strict by the book Taurus (strike that,) I mean NERD, may become frustrated and deem the FREE SPIRIT as being frivolous. Quite the opposite.
When I was married, my ex-husband and I had many disagreements over finances. He was a FREE SPIRIT. He was the type that wanted a front loading washer and dryer when there was absolutely NOTHING wrong with the washer and dryer we had. He did his part and contributed, but when it came to saving, I felt he could have done more. It was more like me telling him “YOU NEED TO DO MORE!!!” Yes, those caps lock were intentional. We all know the majority of marriages that end in divorce do so not because of infidelity but because of money issues. Now money wasn’t the only issue my marriage faced. It just seemed to be at the forefront of every argument. I was trying to build and save and it seemed as though all he wanted was to do was spend.
One would think a union between a NERD and a FREE SPIRIT is an unlikely one, but that simply is not true. As long as there is a little thing called BALANCE and COMPROMISE, it can work. There have to be some discussions about money and budgets… You have to discuss who’s going to handle making sure the household bills are paid monthly, how much you intend to save, and where your money is going. AND YOU CERTAINLY DON’T WAIT UNTIL AFTER YOU SAY “I DO” TO HAVE “THE TALK” ABOUT YOUR FINANCES. Lay all your cards on the table. YOU ARE A TEAM and as the saying goes, “There’s no “I” in team.”
TIPS FOR THE NERD: Once you’ve meticulously prepared your ZERO monthly budget (meaning all monies for the month are accounted for.) When you subtract monthly bills, household/car expenses, entertainment, etc. even down to your FREE SPIRIT’S “play money,” you should have a zero balance because all income for the month, yes EVERY penny, is accounted for. In a perfect world for the NERD, the FREE SPIRIT agrees to, signs off on the budget and the round table discussion is over. Umm Errm. It’s not that simple. If you attempt to force a budget you’ve prepared on them, your FREE SPIRIT will probably have some FREE CHOICE WORDS for you. Here’s how you side-step a potential land mine:
Present your budget to the FREE SPIRIT FIRST, explain why you believe certain changes if any should be made, THEN SIT DOWN AND SHUT THE HELL UP! As Dave Ramsey said during the webinar, the NERD has approximately 17min27sec of a FREE SPIRIT’S attention, then they’re totally checked out. (HOLLA IF YA HEAR ME!!!) Your budget meeting doesn’t have to turn into a weekend summit where you don’t leave the kitchen table until a resolution is agreed upon. Allow your FREE SPIRIT the chance to give their input and my precious NERDS, LISTEN TO THEM. Don’t be so quick to dismiss their ideas and suggestions, otherwise, that may be your first and last budget meeting.
TIPS FOR THE FREE SPIRIT: Yes your NERD tap dances on your last good nerve every time there’s a meeting regarding money. Understand, your NERD doesn’t mean to be bossy and unreasonable (hopefully not,) it’s just that they want to be secure and financially stable, not just for themselves, but for the both of you. Remember. YOU ARE A TEAM. Compromise. For example. Are you able to cut your play money to $300 a month as opposed to the $500 a month you’ve allotted to appease the NERD? The NERD may have originally suggested cutting your play money to $250 a month. You countered and suggested $300. By compromising, the FREE SPIRIT STILL has a significant amount of money to play with, and the NERD is happy because they got their way (which was reducing the amount of your play money to contribute more towards savings.) This is how successful budgeting in relationships should work. It should always be a WIN-WIN situation for both the NERD and the FREE SPIRIT.
Remember: HAVE DISCUSSIONS, FIND A MIDDLE GROUND AND COMPROMISE. You’ll have a much happier and successful marriage when you do.
Whelp. So much for the brevity I aimed for. I pray you enjoyed this blog posting just the same. Wishing you much success on your financial journey.
~The Financial Hack ©2015
On a previous posting (September 15th) I mentioned a faster way to save your money was to save your singles (as in dollar bills.) As of yesterday’s count, I have saved $30. That’s an average of $10 in singles saved per week. If I continue to save at this rate, in one year, I will have $520. That money can be used to take a mini-vacation, invest, buy Christmas/birthday gifts, add it to my emergency fund or just simply save it. The options of what to do with the money are endless.
The way to accomplish “saving your singles” is to use the cash method. Withdraw your budgeted allowance at the beginning of each week… AND STICK TO SPENDING ONLY WHAT YOU’VE WITHDRAWN. Today, it is so easy to whip out and swipe our debit cards. My bank has the “Keep the Change” program, where the remaining change from a debit card transaction rounded up to the nearest dollar, is deposited (usually into a savings account) that’s tied to your checking account. I’m sure your bank has something similar. “Keep the Change” can be beneficial because it is often used as overdraft protection. The problem is, some banks charge a fee each time overdraft protection is applied. I try to keep a “cushion amount” of $200-$300 in my checking account to avoid these fees. The “Keep the Change” program works for some people, but how many people do you know actually allow the money from the program to accumulate over time, then withdraw it? I don’t know any. For me, the temptation to spend it is too great. Technically speaking, the only reason I keep the Keep The Change/overdraft protection savings account is to avoid paying the monthly fee for my checking account. I prefer the “Keep the Singles” method better. Truth be told, there’s something about the “tangible.” I can see the dollar bills, I can hold and count the dollar bills, and most importantly, I can sock the dollar bills away in my piggy bank… Then hide the piggy bank. Out of sight, out of mind right? Problem solved. Money Saved.
Let me know if you incorporate the “Save Your Singles” method or a similar method of saving money by commenting below. I’d love to hear from you.
~The Financial Hack ©2015
TIP TUESDAY: If you’re leery about “playing the stock market” and may be looking for a “safer” way to grow your money, consider purchasing a Certificate of Deposit (or CD for short.) CD’s are issued by banks, credit unions etc. and have the advantage of offering more competitive interest rates (APY) than traditional savings accounts. Check your banking institution for minimum amounts to purchase CDs as they can vary with each institution.
Some people may think you need large sums of money to purchase CDs. FALSE. $500 can easily get you started. REMEMBER, build your emergency fund of $1000 FIRST, then save an additional $500 and purchase a CD to start. Again CDs are a great way to save money because they yield higher rates. Wouldn’t you rather your money earn in upwards of 4% or better as opposed to <1% on a traditional savings account? I would. NOTE: The longer the duration of your CD, the higher the interest rate. For example, a 30 day CD may garner an APY of 1.75% whereas a 60 month CD may garner a higher APY of 5-6%. Keep in mind the percentages given are approximations ONLY. Unlike a traditional savings account, there is a penalty for partial/early withdrawals which will hopefully keep temptation at bay. Once the CD has reached its maturity, you’ll have the option to cash out, roll it over for the same duration of time or change the duration of your CD based on current interest/market rates. If you do nothing, the CD will automatically roll over for the same duration of time at the current market rate of interest.
Now, I am by no means advising anyone to take their savings and put it all into CDs. A Financial Advisor wouldn’t advise that. As a matter of fact, they would advise against it. NEVER put all your eggs into one basket. A well balanced financial portfolio is certain to yield pretty “decent” returns.
What has been your experience with CDs? Please let me know below. If purchasing CDs sounds like something that may be of interest to you by all means, visit your banking institution for more information. GOOD LUCK!!!
~The Financial Hack ©2015
Excitement for me still lingers in the air and I have yet to come down from my “financial high.” Last night was the first night of a 9-week webinar series with Dave Ramsey. The widely talked about “Financial Peace University” was being offered at a location that was a five minute drive from where I live. I call it fate. With work kit in hand I strolled into the classroom with my “learning hat” on. Dave spoke on the 7 “Baby Steps” we needed to take as we started on the path to financial freedom. I thought, “Wow, I’m already doing/have done these things so I’m in good shape,” but there’s always room for improvement. There’s always room to learn more, or to build from what you already know. One word that remained a continuous emphasis during his webinar presentation was the word “DISCIPLINE.” This is something I’ve stressed throughout my Financial Fitness Boot Camp postings. Discipline is the key to financial freedom. Delaying gratification is a key to financial freedom. Sticking to a strict budget is a key to financial freedom. Eliminating debt is a key to financial freedom. Now who wouldn’t want those keys in their possession? These are my words, not Dave’s. Sometimes however, reinforcement is needed to show us we’re on the right track…. that we have the right mindset.
Dave’s presentation was filled with so much useful information. His passion and enthusiasm is what keeps me hanging on to his every word. I will share STEP ONE of the seven baby steps:
BABY STEP 1: CREATE AN EMERGENCY FUND ACCOUNT OF $1000 ($500 if your income is less than $20K per year.)
I’ve spoke of maintaining an emergency fund in previous blog posts. Your emergency fund account is for just that…. EMERGENCIES. This account is NOT for purchases. It is for the unforeseen mishaps that occur in life. Car and/or house repairs, an unexpected medical expense, or perhaps a school or extracurricular-related expense regarding your child(ren.) Whatever the case, having an emergency fund alleviates the pressure and stress of wondering, “How am I or how are we going to pay for this?”
FYI…. BE SURE TO REPLENISH THE ACCOUNT.
I could say so much more about what was said in last night’s class but I chose to highlight what I thought was most important and each week for the next nine weeks, I will share with you what I believe is the most important takeaway from each session. I could have easily mentioned how DISCIPLINE was most important or how taking responsibility was important as well, but I would hope by now, you’ve already taken responsibility, are serious and you’re ready to implement the necessary “discipline” to reach your financial goal(s.) You’re way past that. It is now time for action.
This is an excellent class for the person who’s “sick and tired of being sick and tired.” It’s for the person who wants to control your finances instead of allowing your finances to control and dictate you. The Financial Peace University kit comes with so many useful references, I can’t wait to sit down and go through it all.
I highly recommend couples take advantage of this class. A fairly large percentage of marriages fail not because of infidelity as most people think, but because of money-related issues. It only strengthens your bond if you’re not only on the same page spiritually and mentally, but on the same page FINANCIALLY as well. Remember, you’re working as a team.
Some of you may be thinking, “Oh, we’ve heard this type of story a million times,” or “It’s the same recycled message,” which in a lot of cases is true. What differentiates each story is the way in which it is told. Everyone’s circumstances are different. Although I don’t know him personally, I look up to Dave Ramsey as a mentor and I admire him greatly. His story is unique, but so is the story of anyone who was once drowning in debt, attacked that debt “head on” and was triumphant in its defeat (if you haven’t guessed, I’m always brushing up my writing skills) and everyone, including myself, has a unique story to tell.
I hope my postings will prove useful to you. It is my goal to educate and coach those who may not know where to begin on their road to finding “financial freedom,” “financial peace” or my personal fave, becoming “financially fit.” I would also like to focus on the “financial fitness” of our youth as it will prove beneficial to them in the long run. Proverbs 22:6 (KJV) says: Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it. The sooner the child is educated about money, the more sound decisions he will make regarding it when he is older. The longer that child has to save, the more he will have to invest and “give back” whether it’s through the church and/or to others.
If ONE person finds the information I provide beneficial, I’m doing my job. It is my sincerest prayer I am doing just that. Thank you all for reading this post.
~The Financial Hack ©2015
CLICK THE LINK BELOW TO FIND A DAVE RAMSEY “FPU” LOCATION NEAR YOU!!!
A couple of months ago, I mentioned how I save all my coins and cash them in yearly. This year, I deposited approximately $300+ in coins into a separate savings account. But why should I stop there? Truth is, I don’t have to. In addition to saving my coins, here’s yet another easy way to save….
SAVE THOSE DOLLAR BILLS!!!
If I save my coins, why not save my dollar bills too? Starting today, I’m going to see how many singles I can save by September 15, 2016. Who dares to accept this challenge along with me? Are you ready? Synchronize your watches in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…. GO!!!
Cha-Ching…. Now watch those dollars add up.
~The Financial Hack ©2015