How Would You Pay Off Debt?

Let’s say you broke your arm and ended up owing a few thousand dollars unexpectedly. Or you have a running balance on a credit card and are tired of paying 10%-30% to use your own money over time. How would pay off that debt? Emergency Fund If you answered, “I’d use cash out of my emergency fund,” I’d give you a hug if I could. I personally would recommend a $5000+ emergency fund to absolutely anyone. More if you don’t have health insurance or have high deductible health insurance like me. My husband and I keep a $15,000 savings account just in case we are in a bad accident and have to hit our health insurance maximum out-of-pocket level. Having cash on hand to keep you on financial track when life happens is my number one suggestion. Other Options If you don’t have a few thousand waiting around, here are some more options: Earn extra money – get a part-time job or start a side hustle to earn extra cash. Sell stuff – this only works if you only do this once in a while and actually have stuff worth selling. Look into short term loans – look to see … Read more

Middle Class

The following is a staff writer post from MikeS.  He is a married father of 2.  So, with the cat, he ranks number 5 in the house.  He loves numbers and helping people. Please leave any questions or comments below for either Mike or Crystal. When it comes to financial articles, I usually fall for click-bait. Such was the case when I came across this article a while back.  The article discusses seven things that the middle class can no longer afford.  I consider myself middle class.  I am probably upper-middle class with and annual income around $100K.  So, naturally I was curious about the things I was supposedly unable to afford. Vacations This first item listed is vacations. This is not something that I have given up.  Granted I don’t take an expensive vacation every year, but my wife and I still get away for a few days.  I am saving for two big vacations.  One is a family vacation to Disney World.  I am expecting the cost to be about $10,000.  The trip is planned for roughly 3 years from now.  I have been saving for it for the last couple years and should easily have the money … Read more

5-Year Progress Check

The following is a staff writer post from MikeS.  He is a married father of 2.  So, with the cat, he ranks number 5 in the house.  He loves numbers and helping people. Please leave any questions or comments below for either Mike or Crystal. Just for fun, I decided to compare my budget today; to the budget I had in place 5-years ago.  This exercise isn’t something that I do on a regular basis.  It was prompted by a discussion I had with a coworker.  She is in the process of buying a house and that got me to thinking back on saving and buying my first house.  As I have said before, I have made decent progress over the past several years in managing my finances better.  How much better you might ask?  Let’s take a look. Income Five years ago, I had been with my current company for about 5 months.  My salary at the time was $79,000 a year.  Having a dependable income was precisely why I had left my previous job 5 months earlier.  The old job was commission based and I wasn’t a very good salesman.  Today, my annual salary is $95,000 a year … Read more

Two Different Planets – Money Views Differ

The following is a staff writer post from MikeS.  He is a married father of 2.  So, with the cat, he ranks number 5 in the house.  He loves numbers and helping people. Please leave any questions or comments below for either Mike or Crystal. I recently read a Wall Street Journal article that completely surprised me.  I guess it shouldn’t have, knowing how most Americans think these days about money, but it still did.  The article discusses how the writer and her husband have different views when it comes to money.  They recently experienced some financial bumps that have caused them to fall into debt.  She seems to think that they are doing just fine; while her husband feels that their emergency fund was inadequate.  You can probably guess which person I would agree with. It’s a Balance It is something that we all have to deal with.  How do you save enough for future unseen events or lifestyles while still enjoying life today?  I know it’s something that my wife and I have struggled with over the years.  I am of the saving mindset and my wife of the enjoying life mindset.  However, my wife has seen the … Read more

Feeling Mature about Your Family’s Finances

LBalke

The following is a staff writer post from Libby Balke. She’s an amazing writer, work-at-home mother of two, and has been married almost 8 years. Please leave any questions or comments below for either Libby or Crystal. We’ve been watching a lot of college basketball lately in our household, and one commercial has caught my attention. It’s for a financial services company, and the crux of the ad is “When did you know?” (I’m intentionally not naming the company, number one because this isn’t a sponsored post, and number two because I don’t remember the business’s name.) They’re basically asking consumers when they knew they were responsible adults; my husband and I both agreed that we started feeling like grown-ups when we were able to successfully manage our family’s finances. But we disagree on something to: exactly when that successful money management began. My Husband’s Case My husband believes we’ve been successfully handling our family’s finances from very early on in our marriage. We tied the knot during our last few months of school (grad school for me, undergrad for him), but by our eight-month anniversary, we were both gainfully employed, working full-time jobs with benefits. His version of success … Read more

Married… and Almost Out of Debt

LBalke

The following is a staff writer post from Libby Balke.  She’s an amazing writer, work-at-home mother of two, and has been married almost 8 years.  Please leave any questions or comments below for either Libby or Crystal.  🙂 When my husband said, “I do” – now nearly eight years ago – he wasn’t just agreeing to make me a part of his life til death do us part. He was also agreeing to take on the $55,000 in student loans I’d amassed during my undergraduate and graduate school years. It was a big change for my husband; as an athlete on scholarship, he’d attended the same school as I did, but without accruing a single dollar of student loan debt. For the first three years of our married life – the so-called “Newlywed” period – we didn’t worry too much about that original student loan debt. In fact, we made very little effort to pay off the debt, with the exception of the bare minimum monthly payments. During that period, we applied for (and were approved for) loan after loan after loan. First it was one vehicle loan, then another; we took out a loan for our first house back … Read more

How I Spent My Inheritance

The following is a staff writer post from MikeS.  MikeS is a married father of 2.  So, with the cat, he ranks number 5 in the house.  He loves numbers and helping people. Please leave any questions or comments below for either Mike or Crystal. Overall, I have made significant progress on my finances in 2013.  I am in a much more secure position now, than when the year began.  This is primarily due to large (to me at least) infusions of cash I received during the year.  The infusions came in 2 big waves, the first in the March/April time frame and the last coming in December.  The first wave was a combination of a performance bonus from work and the second was part of the inheritance I received from my mother’s estate.  The second was the remaining amount from the inheritance.  In total, they represented almost half of my normal annual salary.  Naturally, I was curious to see how it all ended up being allocated. Debt First up, I eliminated three debts.  The first was leftover medical expenses from when my son was born back in 2011.  I had hoped that I would be able to pay off … Read more