Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Retirement is not THAT far away

Retirement seems like such a long ways away. I’m aware that it’s hard to put away money when there is so much “cool stuff” to spend it on right now. But unfortunately, the cash won’t suddenly appear the day you walk out of your job. You need to work on it…NOW.

How much do you need?

Experts say you should have enough put away so that you can live on 8% of the money that you have the day you retire. So you need to figure out how much you think you’ll need. Keep in mind that most of us plan to have a whole lot of fun at retirement, rather than being stuck at home or *gasp* still working because we haven’t saved enough money.

Let’s say that you retire with $500,000. Sounds like a lot, right? But in order for that money to last you until you die, that would only give you $40,000 per year to live on. Hopefully you’ll be done with mortgages and car payments and debt but then so you won’t need as much. But realistically, that probably isn’t going to be enough.

So what if you have $1 million at retirement. Technically you’d be a millionaire, and you’d have $80,000 to live on each year. Depending on what you wanted to do in your retirement, that could be enough money. But really – are you on track to have a million dollars at retirement? I can promise you that just relying on your 401K/pension is not going to get you anywhere near that.

But of course, none of this will happen if you continue to battle debt year after year after year.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Ten Dollar Sale is Back!

The ten dollar sale is back! If you have not read The Total Money Makeover and/or do not have a strong handle on your personal finances, spend the measly $10 and buy his book...TODAY. This ten dollar investment will save you thousands - and will change your life.
Don't think you need to read this book?
Honestly answer these questions:
  1. Have you recently thought about bankruptcy or debt consolidation as a solution to your problems?
  2. Do you worry about money?
  3. Do you and your signifcant other argue about money?
  4. When you think of purchasing something, do you automatically ask about financing options that are available?
  5. Do you carry a balance on at least one credit card? (store cards count!)
  6. Do you own automobiles that have a total value that is equal to or more than half your annual income?
  7. Do you have more debt than you care to think about?
  8. Do you assume that you'll always have a car payment?
  9. Do you spend money on unnecessary items (clothes, entertainment, eating out, and other silly things) each month rather than saving that money and using it for debt?
  10. Do you think living debt free is only for people who make a lot of money?
How many of those did you have to answer YES to?
And now these questions:
  1. Do you monitor your income and expenses on some sort of software program, spreadsheet or piece of paper?
  2. Do you know exactly how much debt you have?
  3. Do you pay extra on your debts each month?
  4. Are you teaching your children good money management skills?
  5. If you lost your job today, could you comfortably pay all of your bills for the next 6 months without relying on credit cards or loans?
  6. Do you have a plan for your retirement?
  7. Have you written down your financial goals?
  8. Do you know exactly how much is in all of your bank accounts right now, within $25.00? ok, so I may be a bit obsessive about that...
  9. Have you and your significant other had conversations about the amount of money coming in, the amount of money going out, expenses that can be cut, or where you want to be financially 5 years from now?
  10. Can you go a whole year without having to pay any late fees or charges on your bills?

How many of these questions did you have to answer NO to?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hey! She's Posting Again!

When I’m not feeling well, I shower and dress – but that’s pretty much it. I have sympathy for those who have to look at me with air-dried hair and no make-up (sorry family) and for those who stop by unannounced (that’s your own fault, CC).

I made it through my Dad’s birthday on Sunday but mostly because I was asleep on the couch for most of the day. When I was awake, I was holding my head in misery. Maybe it was Dad’s way of saying, “See? You’ve got your own life to deal with. Stop obsessing about mine.”

On the money front, things are looking good for November. There was only one unexpected expense this month to the amount of $190.00. That’s considerably better than the new tires I had to buy last month. I’m always amazed at how rapidly the $4.00 here and $12.00 there reduces our debt. The lower the balance goes, the more intense we get about paying off the debt. I’ve never revealed the initial balance of our debt. When it comes down to our “debt free announcement” day, I’ll share it with you. I think you’ll be horrified at what we were facing just 18 months ago, as well as amazed that we were able to turn that situation around and become debt-free. But most importantly, along with being horrified and amazed, I hope you’ll be just a tad bit inspired. After all, that’s why I share all of this with you.

I’m already busy shopping for Christmas presents. As I’ve said in the past, Christmas shopping is more fun for me now because I’m not worried about how much I’m spending. One of Pool Boy’s side jobs (one of the many...) totally pays for Christmas, so we have the money set aside in a different bank account. What a nice gift that is to ourselves to not have our monthly budget screwed up because of a holiday!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Another Project Is Keeping Me Away

I'm around, just not here at the ole blog. I've been busy with THIS during the evenings. Want a chance to win free lodging in Mazatlan? A Great Wolf Lodge getaway? A chance to meet Jeff Gordon? Tons of other free stuff? If you know me in real life and want a raffle ticket (only $10!!), let me know. It's going to a great cause.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

It's boring to talk about health but I'm going to do it anyway

I’m not a big health nut. I’m not a runner (I’ve tried) or a dieter (I try to eat somewhat healthy all the time rather than fad dieting). So basically what I’m telling you is that I’m no poster child on what I’m writing about today.

But I have learned something over this past year – you oftentimes don’t get “redos” when dealing with your health. If you don’t pay attention to your health, sometimes it’s just too late.

Dad had high blood pressure and his cholesterol sometimes gave him fits. I knew he was taking medication for high blood pressure but really didn’t know much about it. I did not know what he could do, what he couldn’t do, how it would affect him, etc. I certainly did not know it could kill him. High blood pressure is nicknamed the “silent killer” because that’s what it can do – silently kill you. You may not even know you have it until it’s too late. Now we are all wishing we would have researched the heck out of high blood pressure so we would have handled it differently. In fact, I remember a specific conversation in my office one day about his high blood pressure. He was laughing about what the doctor said to him, “Usually when I see people with blood pressure this high, they are not standing upright!” We laughed. I’m no longer laughing. Dad doesn’t have the chance to say, “Ok, you got my attention now. I’ll work on my health.”

More about high blood pressure.

Another health issue that is affecting my family is alcohol. As I type this, my Dad’s parents and siblings are rushing to Texas to my uncle’s bedside at the advice of his doctor. Alcohol has destroyed my uncle’s liver to the point where he will not survive very much longer without a liver transplant. And do you think those who have consumed a lot of alcohol in their lifetime are at the top of the organ transplant list? Not so much. The important thing to note is this: You don’t have to be an alcoholic to suffer liver damage. I’m not against the occasional drink (or even drinkS) now and then, but I’ve witnessed how destructive alcohol (and any drug for that matter) can be. For me, it’s not worth it. Just like my Dad, his brother Al cannot say, “Ok, Ok. I’ll be healthy from now on.”

More about cirrhosis of the liver.

So what’s ailing you? Overweight? Unhealthy eating? Lack of exercise? These things may seem minor, especially if you are young. Our main goal here on Earth is to stay here as long as we can. Please don’t wait until it’s too late.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Fill Your Mind

As you can see on my sidebar, I'm currently reading Half Time: Changing Your Game Plan from Success to Significance. I just read a paragraph that I think it worth sharing because it is so true.

Author Bob Buford says,

"One way or another, our minds will be filled with something. I shudder to think of what kind of person I would be today if I had given myself a steady diet of talk shows, soap operas, tabloid journalism and the like."
His point is to make sure that you are continuing to learn new skills and ideas that will make you a better person and make your life more successful. If you consistently fill your head with the garbage mentioned above and never take time to learn a new skill, focus on where your life is headed, and make changes to things that may be wrong in your life, where will you end up? As the saying goes, "Garbage in, garbage out."

Sunday, November 09, 2008

It Arrived Today

It's funny, the things you think of in the midst of the worst ordeal of your life.

In those first few days after Dad's death, one thought kept coming into my mind. "Damn. The email will arrive and it will shatter me when it does." Well, today it arrived.

My Dad was a book lover. He was always had at least one book in progress. It's a trait I was lucky to inherit.

For his birthday, I always bought him Amazon gift certificates. While some people make think that's a boring blah gift, I really think he loved them. Granted, he had all the money he needed to buy the books he wanted but I still think he enjoyed getting "free" money to spend on books. As some of you may know, Amazon will send you a reminder when certain days are coming up. I had it set up to remind me about Dad's birthday so I would make sure to have his gift certificate ready for him.

Today the email arrived.

"Dad's birthday is coming in 7 days, November 16."

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

More Cash Available For Debt Payoff!

Entreprenuers are thinking of new businesses to start every hour of every day. Sometimes you can zone in one on idea, get your cash saved up to get it started, and get the whole family excited about it. Then when you sit down and try to determine how you will fit this new venture into your already-too-busy schedule, the idea dies.

After many weeks of discussion, soul searching, planning, thinking and praying, I believe Pool Boy's latest idea died tonight. While I was always supportive, there was a small part of me that didn't think this was the right thing for our family to do right now. We had everthing needed to make it successful, except for one important thing - TIME. Pool Boy finally realized this as well. This would not be a positive thing to bring into our lives right now.

Soooo...I mentioned above that we had cash saved up for this venture. Every penny Pool Boy made this summer was stashed away in a separate bank account for safe keeping. I think I know a good place for this money to go!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

One Big Thing

As of this writing, only 7 people submitted responses to my survey. ­­­==========>

And I had waaaaay more hits on my website than that. So that tells me one of three things about those of you who did not respond:

  1. You are not willing to admit to the world that you are ignoring your debt.
  2. You don’t have any debt.
  3. You didn’t see the survey.

If it’s number 2, you are awesome. If it’s number 3, it’s ok – I won’t take offense. If it’s number 3, what are you waiting for? No matter how much you ignore it, you’ll have to deal with it sooner or later.

On with the blog post:

I went to an amazing jazz concert last night by The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. I have a personal connection to one of the main members of the Orchestra, Dick Oatts. He was a high school friend of my Dad’s. I remember “Friend Dick” coming over to our house a lot when I was little. I was always scared of Friend Dick and hid in the laundry basket whenever he stopped by for a visit. Anywaaaay…

Friend Dick is now a professional saxophone player and is quite famous among the New York City jazz scene. As I watched Friend Dick from the audience, I couldn’t help but be amazed at what he had accomplished. He was doing what he loved and making an obscene amount of money doing it.

Friend Dick was one of the lucky ones to have figured out what his “one big thing” is and went for it. What is your one big thing? What interest, activity or job do you have that is so exciting to you that you think about it every single day? What are you known for? How do you want people to remember you when you are gone?

If you don’t know what your “one big thing” is, I hope you figure it out before it’s too late. Mine is still developing . I feel so strongly about living without debt and the freedom it can give you, I want to help and guide others down that same path. At some point I hope to do even more outside of this blog, such as teaching Financial Peace University classes. The thing I like about my “one big thing” is that it’s not something that’s even going to make me any money - at least that’s not the plan. If your “one big thing” does bring you more money, you are one of the VERY lucky ones!

So start focusing on something you care strongly about. Don’t look at your life at the age of 40 or 50 and think, “Is this all the better it gets?”