Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Hitting the Brakes

These past few months, I have been researching real estate. I have been looking at home/condos/apartments for sale in our area. I have been researching the cost to build an apartment over the garage to rent out. I have been watching a ton of HGTV (Scientific, I know).

I have been so ready to hit the gas and move forward. I want to move forward, dive into the real estate market, and make some money. I know that real estate has a great return on investment. I know that you can make money on real estate. I know that there are opportunities out there for people with money to invest. 

But, I have also known that if we were to invest in real estate, it would mean taking out a loan. And, I would be lying if I said, I had not at least considered it. 

Did you notice what is missing from above? How about the We.

See, these were plans I was drawing up in my head. I was ready to take my knowledge, my research, and move forward in my direction.

It was not until one day as we were driving around looking at houses, that P said "Babe, I feel like we are going 40 mph, and thats a good speed for us, but it seems like we are suddenly trying to go 70, and I am not sure we are ready for that speed."

That kind of took the wind out of my sails, but it was something I needed to hear. We have been walking along the Dave Ramsey baby steps, and things are going really well. We are on Step 6, paying off the house early.  The great thing about the Dave Ramsey baby steps is that they are small, attainable goals. The negative side to the Dave Ramsey baby steps is that they are small, and often slow moving. 

It really comes down to being content where we are. We ARE doing the right things financially. We ARE moving at a great speed. We ARE making progress on our goals. We ARE living frugally. There are so many things I want for us, but we believe that you have to walk before you can run, and we believe in a set of principals that teach us that "the borrower is slave to the lender." Proverbs 22:7
We worked really hard to get out of debt, to build our emergency fund, and to pay cash for everything we own. The only debt we have is the mortgage, and we are working really hard to knock it out in a few years. 

For me, I really need to look at where we are and where we came from. I need to realize that its a process, and we are working hard to build a strong foundation for tomorrow, and the many tomorrows after that. In finance, some people gamble, and win big, and many others gamble and lose their pants. They play a high risk game, and for every winner there are a dozen losers who wish they would have done it differently. The way we handle our money is not right for everyone, and I am ok with that. I also need to be accepting of where we are, its the tortoise that wins the race. 

That man of mine is wise, and a great partner for me. He listens, lets me dream, lets me fantasize, but then will bring me back to reality.

Have you ever made a risky financial move? How did you fare?

Friday, October 25, 2013

Friday Confessions

Here are my weekly confessions:

1.I gave the thumbs up sign 7 times in a 2 minute conversation. When did I start giving the thumbs up sign? And how much excitement or confirmation does someone need from me that I would do such a thing.

2.Sometimes when I have to sneeze, I just sneeze on P. He thinks it funny to shout or make a sudden movement when I am about to sneeze. To get back at him for steeling my sneeze, I sneeze at him.

3. I wore socks with flip flops. The kind of flip flops with strap that goes between your toes. It was wildly uncomfortable, and I looked like an idiot, but I didn't care.

4. We got Subway sandwiches. I finished my footlong before P even finished his 1st 1/2.

Fess up friends, tell me what you did wrong this week.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Meet me at the Barre

I have an addiction, and its to Pure Barre. For these past few months, I have been taking classes 3 times and week, and its AMAZING!

Pure Barre is based on ballet and Pilates principals. The idea is to use the ballet bar to do small movements to tighten and strengthen your muscles. Each class is 55 minutes long, and you do a warm up, do some light weight work, then move to thigh work, seat work, abdominal work, then stretching.

I have run and lifted weights my entire life, but I have never had my legs shake within 2 minutes of doing a work out. I kept reading and hearing about what a great workout is was, and how hard the classes were. Honestly, I was a bit cocky going into my first class. Within 5 minutes of class, I realized I had highly overestimated myself, and underestimated the class. I was sweating and shaking during the warm up.

For me, the hardest series is thigh work. You do three exercises in thigh work, and I have not been able to do a full thigh exercise with stopping. Trying to work while your legs are shaking uncontrollably is really freaking hard. There are times that I am so sore the next day that it amazes me that I didn't actually lift weights.

In class, you are constantly tucking, flexing, pointing, and moving.Some of the exercises are embarrassing to do, but when you are in a class of 20 other girls doing the same moves, its not so bad. Plus, each exercises is set to a different song, so they are blaring great music, and every class is totally different. You never know what variations of work you are going to do each day, which is exciting, and keeps you on your toes.

Pure Barre is not cardio, so you don't lose weight, but you really tone, strengthen, and shape your muscles, and lose inches of your seat and thighs.

This class is amazing, and I am so addicted.

Any Pure Barrer's out there? What do you think?

Friday, October 18, 2013

Friday Confessions

1. I actually used the phrase, "bless her heart." I am now the stereotypical southern woman.

2. I ate so many cookies I lost count. I know we got to double digits. I have shame.

3. P criticized my hair. I responded, " if you don't like it, go to beauty school you big queen."

Fess up peeps!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Keeping my mouth shut

Sometimes its really hard to sit by and listen and watch others make mistakes. Especially when its in  an area that you know a lot about. Can I get an AMEN from the crowd?

Last week, one of the guys that works for me needed help with some paperwork. He needed to take a loan against his 401K. I helped him with the paperwork, and explained what some things meant. In my head, I was thinking "NO NO NO NO NO NO" don't do this. But, I kept my mouth shut, and didn't say a word.

Today, he came into my office super happy and excited. He explained that the reason for his good mood was that the money he took out from his 401K had already come in, and he was so happy because he didn't think he would get it for a few weeks.  He told me he was planning to give some money to his mom, some to his son, but he was really excited because now that he had the money, he would take his wife to the fair this weekend. My hands were in my lap, and I smiled and said "Well, I am happy for you, and I hope you have fun!" All the while, my fingers were digging into my thighs, as I cringed inside. Yes, the State Fair of Texas is going on right now, but I don't think it is a big deal, but apparently others do.

Not everyone wants to hear about Dave Ramsey this, and his plan says that. Sometimes I can be a know it all (or a lot of the time depending on who you ask) but he is making a huge mistake in my eyes. I wanted to badly to tell him, to lecture him, and to set him straight according to the path that I think is correct.


Judgmental witch, table for 1.

My path, my way, my thoughts, my views, my my my.

Sometimes, the best thing we can do is love others and show joy and excitement to them when they need it. To realize we don't have all the facts, and to understand sometimes we are not invited into the conversation. Sometimes we don't get to the be the teacher, advisor, or all knowing wizard. Sometimes, people choose their own paths. And, sometimes, its best to keep your mouth shut.

What would you have done?

Friday, October 11, 2013

Friday Confessions

Top of the mornin' to ya friends.
Its time to get our weekly confession on, so here goes.

1.I wore the same shirt to work 2 days in a row. No excuses, I just did it. I hoped no one would notice, or at the very least say anything.

2. I bought a large package of Oreos last night. The package is already in the trash.  P and I went to town and dominated a full package of cookies in less than 12 hours. I feel sick and ashamed.

3.We have a king sized bed, but sleep on less than 1/2 of it.  Apparently during the night, I move so far over that P has to basically hang off the bed b/c I have rolled so far over there is hardly any room for him.

4. I took my dog on a walk, picked up the poo in a plastic bag. I then left the bag on the ground, in someones yard.

Happy Friday. Fess up friends.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A New Venture

I am starting up a new venture! 

These past few weeks, I have really taken some time to be quite, and figure out a way to create an avenue for my "side hustle." There are so many bloggers out there who inspire me, and show daily that you don't have to be a slave to the desk. You can venture out on your own, work hard, and create your own path. Plus, Dave talks to people every day who are looking to generate extra income, and he is constantly telling them to start their own business on the side. Why work for someone making 10.00 an hour, when you can make $15.00 providing a good or service yourself. 

I put some thought into it, and I kept thinking about the tools in my wheel house, and realized that I have all the tools I need to create a tutoring business on the side. I am good with kids, I taught for years, I am certified, I have my masters, and I am a good teacher. There are, at least 5 schools within a 5 miles radius from my home. 

I have the idea, now I just need to find my students. I was not really sure how to go about finding the students, until one day I realized that I could print my own material. I wanted to create something cute and fun, but still looked great. 

I ended up using a company called Signazon.com. Y'all, I am so glad I did. They made the experience so easy. Rather than making business cards, I decided I wanted to make something bigger, something harder for kids to lose when they grabbed it on the way out of school. I was not sure what I wanted to do, so I looked on the site for a while, and then it struck me---postcards. 

I logged onto the site, selected the post card feature, and they had a ton of templates, and I spent hours looking at them all. I ended up creating my own, and was so pleased with how it turned out. Its bright, has big font, and reminds me of a chalk board. 

What do you think?

They turned out AWESOME!! I already have an appointment to give a stack to a principal this week!! 

Like I said earlier, I used Signazon.com, and I could not have been more pleased with the post cards themselves, or the service I received. As someone who works in the customer service industry, this is perhaps the most important component for me. If I receive bad service, I can't let it go, and I remember that experience, for ever. But, on the flip side, when I receive good service, I want to tell EVERYONE I know.

Here's what happened:
I placed my order, and the postcards had my phone number on them. When I checked out, I put my phone number on the order form, but, I entered the number in incorrectly. Someone from Signazon.com called me, to confirm that the phone number on the post card was actually the correct number. They were worried that I entered the wrong number on the card, and they were going to reprint the cards for me, for FREE, if I had! WHAT? Who does that anymore? I was floored, to say the least. I thanked the gentleman on the phone, and as I hung up, I shook my head in disbelief. That kind of service is so rare these days. That is the kind of service that you remember. That is the kind of service that keeps you coming back. I can tell you without a doubt, I will be using Signazon.com again. 

While this is a sponsored post, all experiences are true, and all opinions are 100% my own.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

What would happen to the US economy if we all got our financial house in order? , th

Last week, I harnessed the power of twitter, and tweeted Dave Ramsey. I know not everyone follows his plan, but P and I do. For us, it makes sense to save money, dump debt, and give to others. His plan is simple, easy to follow, and there is a clear ordered progression.

While 95% of what he does is focused on personal finance, he is knowledgeable in all areas of economics and has a finance degree, and understands complex economic and financial issues.

Given that we are in a fragile economic climate and given that our government and those charged with running it are acting like children, it seems as if we are on the edge of a cliff.

The question I posed was this: How would it affect the US economy if every family was debt-free?

The answer came in 2 parts:

Answer 1: If everyone were to dump all of their debt by the end of the year, the economy would collapse. So much of our economy right now is based on debt, that if we rid ourselves of it immediately, we would be in trouble.

BUT, its a big BUT, Answer 2 was very different.

Answer 2: If everyone began dumping debt now, and took a slow systematic approach, and in a 10 year period we weaned ourselves off of borrowing, the financial picture would look drastically different that it does today.

First, if over the next few years, we stopped using the credit card, and began to rid ourselves of the consumer debt, something drastic would happen---the middle class would begin to explode with wealth. When we are no longer sending payments + interest to credit card companies and are instead putting that money into investments and savings vehicles, our wealth and net worths would increase, drastically.

Additionally, he pointed out, that as people dump debt and amass wealth, they actually spend more once they are out of debt, rather than less, because they have more money to spend.

The consequence of this happening would be that certain sectors of the economy would either have to change or disappear. Credit card companies would either go out of business, or they would need to change their business and offer debit, rather than credit cards. Then, and one of the most beneficial consequences is that predatory lending companies would shut down. No more pay day loan companies that charge 36% interest on a 200.00 loan.

Second, once we rid ourselves of the consumer debt, and began to break our dependence on things like student loans, car loans, and mortgages, and pay cash for these things, the rate at which we amass wealth would rise exponentially. Studies have shown, that many of the wealthiest Americans, are now, and have always been overly generous givers. Imagine if the middle class was able to give 10% of their money to churches, missions, and charities. We, the people could help make poverty disappear, because as we begin to accumulate more wealth, we also begin to give more, because we have fewer payments. The private sector is much more capable and efficient at running operations and systems, because they have to be accountable. Think about this, if you found out that a charity you donated to had been misusing funds and not working towards its mission statement, you would STOP giving to them, and find another avenue to give to. That means that we really could and would see a decline in poverty.

This in turn, would begin to lift up the lower class, and would in effect begin to end the cyclical nature of the welfare system. The welfare system in our country is set up in such a way that it makes people dependent upon the government, and almost prohibits them from seeking out other wealth building avenues. If the private sector began to give in a big way, in the way that we should, we could eliminate the need for welfare, and begin to help raise each other up on our own, without having to depend on the government. This would allow us to shrink the size of government, and reduce the scope of their work. THEN, as we need them less, we would begin to take back control of our government and they would no longer wield power over us; we could then transition power back to where it belongs, the people.

Also, so much of the financial market is based on consumer confidence, that we have these major peaks and valleys. By creating a more stable and sustainable economy, we could begin to rid ourselves of the extremes and create a more stable financial market, which again, would lead to the building of wealth.

In the end, even Dave admitted that he does not think this is likely to happen, because we are going to continue to make poor choices, and behave in ways that make us vulnerable. It may be a pipe dream, but its a pipe dream worth shooting for.

It breaks my heart to see so many of us struggling. We live in the richest country this world has ever seen. We have the ability to make money, grow our wealth, and create opportunity for ourselves and for others.

I am passionate about personal finance, and financial coaching, If you need help understanding some of  Dave's thoughts or principals, please feel free to leave me a comment or email me. I am not paid by Dave Ramsey to say these things, I have seen what his plan can do, and how it can change lives and family trees because it did for us.