Hidden Benefit of Financial Security

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. Living in the Northeast, as I do, heating my home is a significant annual expense.  Since, I have been living on my own, I have used the three main types energy, gas, electric and oil.  It has been difficult to compare the costs between the different types as the sizes of my homes or apartments have varied.  The cheapest by far was when the heat was included in the rent, but I can’t seem to get my mortgage company to cover that now.  I bring this up because it’s time to renew my oil contract for the winter.  I have several options that I can choose from and I am actually making a change from last year.  In case you have to go through a similar exercise, I’ll take you through my thought process. The Plans The first option is simply to have the oil company automatically deliver and charge whatever the spot price of … Read more

Changing a Need to a Want

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 made a change to something I had previously considered a need, dry cleaning.  I don’t have to wear a shirt and tie to work, as my workplace is business casual, but I prefer it.  I have been wearing a shirt and tie for work since my internship in college.  I have also been going to the dry cleaners once a week.  In the last few weeks, I have been rethinking that habit.  I have the money budgeted for the dry cleaning expense, but I began to question whether that’s where I wanted my money to be going. Expenses Trending Upward Over the past several months, I have been seeing a couple of my expense categories trending above their respective budget allocations, namely food and what I call house.  Other than I think the kids are eating more, I can’t say for sure what is driving the increased food spending.  I just know it’s … Read more

The American Dream

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. The headline, as designed, caught my attention. “The American Dream is out of reach.”  It being a CNN Money article, I was curious to see what is was about.  Apparently, CNN Money had conducted a poll and about 60% of the respondents said the American dream was out of reach.  I think there are a lot of pessimistic people in this country. The American Dream The simplest I way to describe the American dream is that children generally end up in a better position financially than their parents.  I am sure that is what my parents wanted for me and it is also what I want for my children.  Now, better is of course a relative term.  My dream is certainly not for them to become the next Bill Gates or Warren Buffet.  That would be nice though.  No, my dream is that they are more financially secure.  My hope is that I can teach … Read more

Paying For Past Mistakes

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 have been a couple of instances recently where past actions or decisions have come to back to haunt me financially.  One instance is me now having to pay for not taking care of my health in years past.  In the other instance, I was not able to take advantage of the best financial option and as such, incurred increased expenses. Sweet Tooth I have always enjoyed sweets.  For as long as I can remember, I have had an addiction to sugar.  Unfortunately, I was not diligent in taking care of my teeth.  I brushed, probably not very well, didn’t floss nor did I visit the dentist regularly.  As a result, I have had numerous cavities and subsequent fillings.  I shudder to think what the lifetime cost has been for me.  This came up recently because I had a filling that began to fail.  The filling represented such a large percentage of my tooth, that … 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

Who Am I and What Do I Know About Debt?

As the name of this site implies, I am married with debt. This does not mean I am married “to” debt – actually we are getting a divorce! But seriously, I just recently turned 30, have been married for 7 years, and have two daughters (age 6 and 1.5). I am currently an overworked state employee working for my state legislature, and my wife teaches 2nd Grade in a private school. A few years ago we seemed to be on the upward mobility trajectory. Then my wife lost her well-paying job as a public school teacher, and our earnings were sharply reduced. At that point I nearly freaked out and lost my mind, preparing myself for homelessness and the soup kitchen. At that time we only had one child, yet I was absolutely terrified – we had no emergency savings and tens of thousands of dollars in debt, including a large credit card balance. We were lucky to land on our feet as my wife found a (lesser paying) job, we never missed a bill payment or did without the necessities. After the near-disaster, I began to tackle our debt. We paid off approximately $20,000 in credit card debt, but … Read more