Buy the Biggest House on the Block

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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. It happened again.  I fell for click-bait.  The title on the link was ‘Buy the biggest house on the block’.  My first reaction was “What idiot thought this up?”  Buying too much house is one of the biggest problems people have in managing their finances and here is someone saying buy the biggest.  The link was to a brief video interview with an economist.  As it turns out, she is preaching the same principles as most do when it comes to personal finance. The interview starts out with her saying the best piece of financial advice she every received was from an older colleague when she was starting out.  She had asked for advice on whether she should buy a car or not.  Her colleague informed her that there are two sides to the interest equation, the paying side and the receiving side.  Her colleague said you always want to be on the receiving side.  … Read more

Savings Struggles

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’ll admit it, I fall for click bait all the time, especially when it comes to personal finance articles.  My latest trap came from the following article.  The headline about the real reason Americans struggle to save made me curious.  My first reaction was people can’t save because they spend beyond their means.  Was there another underlying factor I hadn’t heard of?  Turns out, no it was exactly what I thought.  There was some other interesting or scary depending upon your perspective, information from the survey conducted by the Federal Reserve. Savings Struggles The survey revealed that 47% of those surveyed would not be able to handle a $400 emergency expense.  That really blew my mind, that something as small as $400 would cause people to have to borrow money.  That even isn’t that big of a surprise expense.  Simple car repairs anymore seem to run in the hundreds of dollars.  Most car or homeowners … Read more

Mortgage Refinance Odyssey

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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. My odyssey started back in October 2014 and did not end until the end of January 2015.  What I thought would be a pretty straight-forward process, turned into anything but. The Beginning of Mortgage Refinance I am not sure how or why I decided to start looking into a refinance, maybe I was just looking to cut another expense.  The thought crossed my mind in October and I mentioned that I might be looking to refinance to a coworker.  Since they had recently purchased a house, she referred me to her lender.  I’ll call them Lender A, so things don’t get too confusing.  I was looking to eliminate the mortgage insurance from my monthly payment. Since I didn’t have the 20% down payment when I bought the house, I was required to have mortgage insurance.  That mortgage insurance premium represents $300 a month.  When I contacted Lender A, they were sure that they could execute … Read more

Year-End Financial Grade

  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. There is one number that I am diligent about tracking at year-end, my net worth. I use it as my scorecard to see how I did financially during the previous year – here’s mine for 2014. My History As I have said before, I was in a pretty deep financial hole.  I am not sure exactly how deep it was, but my net worth was probably in the negative $30K range.  This past year was not my best year in terms of dollar or percentage increase, but it was solid.  My net worth increased about 22% over last year and about $23K overall.  I am pretty happy with that increase.  I’ll discuss where the biggest changes occurred and where I think I might end this year. Yay 401k! The biggest change, by far, was in my 401k. That represented almost all of the gains in my net worth.  Between my contributions, my company’s contributions … Read more

10 Rules to Eliminate Debt Revisited

personal finance rules 10

One of the first things I did after starting this site was to create an anchor around which to build it – I called it 10 Rules to Eliminate Debt and Change Your Life. It was billed as a way to not only get ahead, but if you are willing to follow all of them, to get beyond. Get Beyond What? Well, the main thing I knew I needed to do for myself, and to teach others to do for themselves, was to rewrite or reject conventional wisdom. If you buy into the traditional “retirement” or money advice, you will work until your 72, or if you wait until next year, the magazines will tell you the retirement age is now 75. Realizing that most money advice comes from people that want your money, not to help you keep your money, is one of the tenets this site is built upon. It may seem ironic that I wrote a set of rules for a site built on breaking rules, and I admit that, but it is what it is. Life is made of rules. Which ones you choose to follow will dictate everything. This site was and is geared towards … 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