Monday, December 19, 2016

This is Why

This is why Americans are fat. This is why we can't get ahead. This is why, this is why, this is why....I make a call for personal responsibility. Unless you are disabled or have extenuating circumstances most of us have to accept that our financial situation is related to choices before we can change it.  Short term poverty is a real thing that happens to good people. I have been there and some of it was due to my own choices, well if you get down to brass tacks much of it was due to my own choices. They were hard choices. Nevertheless our money and lack or abundance of it is mostly due to our emotions. If you get a divorce and your income drops from $90,000 to $15,000 because you are not the breadwinner that is very challenging and you have to make some hard choices (I speak from experience as this was me). You have to choose to eat differently, spend differently, work differently, have child care differently. For me it meant working more, much more. Saving more. Eating out less. Christmas was $50 a kid rather than $250 to $300 a kid. It meant parents got a hug and some cookies.
Today as nearly every day I see someone blame the price of healthy food as the reason we are fat. Get to work on studying this and you will find that this is baloney. You can still eat beans and brown rice cheap, eggs are cheap, bananas, oranges and apples are cheap. You can eat peanut butter and jelly much cheaper than you can eat a happy meal.

If you are struggling you may have to stop and get creative or simply think outside of the box. Would your loved ones rather go on a long walk with you or have a new candle? Would your loved ones rather share a humble meal of homemade soup and cornbread and a great movie on NetFlix or have you take them to $100 dinner and a play if they know you can't afford it.

Money is not the root of all evil. Money can save lives. Money can build hospitals. Money can buy coats. Money is simply an expression of energy exchanged. I work and what I spend my money on is a choice. I do not have to live in a $1000 a month house, I can choose one for $500 a month. I do not have to drive a new car I can purchase a used car that I saved for or used a tax return for.                          
Frugality buys freedom.

Here is a simple scenario of living percentages for an average family in Arkansas. $40,000 average family of 3 

*Use tax return to pay debt, buy a used car, or save for Emergencies or to buy a house:

40,000/ 12 is about $3333 a month after taxes $2600 
+Income $2600 
- House 25%  $578
- Utilities, phone, wifi $260
- Food $75 per person per week $900
- Car, insurance and gas 10% $260
- Health insurance 8% $220 
- Copays, clothes, etc $382 

Granted this would be very hard. I know because I have lived it. 

If you are still struggling: 

  • Take a second job. 
  • Figure out how to sell some things (have a garage sale, take your clothes to resale).
  • Downsize your home.
  • Sell your car and get a cheaper reliable car. 
  • Consider optional housing like living with a relative.
  • Studying eating healthy cheaply
  • Exercise at home and drop the memberships
  • Drop cable and use Netflix, Hulu or a Roku
  • Get your haircut/ colored a little less often. 
  • Ask yourself before every purchase is this a need or a want. Wants come after needs are met.
  • Get with people who think like you.
You must handle your emotions to handle your finances.

Wishing you the best.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Grandma was Right

What can we learn from our grandparents and great grandparents to reach financial independence.

1. Spend less than what you make.
2. Avoid credit cards. And you can't get out of debt by borrowing.
3. Your home loan by bank standards should be 25% to 33% of your income. This will be taxing on you and will make getting out of debt hard. Shoot for less. I like to try for 20% or less. If you and your spouse net $4000 a month shoot for a house payment around $800.
4. Always have at least $1000 emergency fund.
5. Pay all your debts next.
6. Then save up three to six months income.
7. Invest 15% or the max you can in an IRA or your company retirement plan after you are out of debt and have six months emergency fund.
8. Avoid commercials and advertising as much as possible.
9. Pay off your car.
10. Drive an economical car.
11. Have a plan for financial independence that includes: Getting out of debt, saving, and living on what you make.
12. Have a plan for low cost to no cost entertainment.
13. Keep your house stocked with nutritious food.
14. Cook.
15. Pack a small cooler or lunch box and carry "car food" to avoid the temptation of eating out.