Archives For Eric

By Eric on August 19, 2014 6

The most frequent personal finance struggle that I hear (by a long shot) is this… “I know that I need a budget, but I just don’t know where to begin.” Followed by similar comments of “It’s too complicated” or “I’ve tried before, but couldn’t stick to it.”

Budgeting & Planning for Emergencies Workshop

Come learn about budgeting & planning for emergencies!

If any of these phrases resonates with you, I’d like to tell you about a live event I’m co-hosting in September with a few other awesome people. Erin Smith from Restoration Coaching and I are co-hosting the event while my good friend Justin Bennett with Strong Tower Consulting presents a presentation proven to help you create a spending plan you can stick with.

If you are in the Des Moines area and want to start taking control of your finances, I’d love to see you at the event. Details and registration are available here.

P.S. If you are not in the Des Moines area, is this something you’d like to see as an online event? We’re trying to gauge interest for future events like this, so speak up in the comments!

By Eric on August 14, 2014 8

Last Friday I was reminded in three different ways that being a dad is awesome. First at the Men’s bible study. Second, was when Kelsey sent me a video about “How to Dad” (video below). And, Third was a blog post on Design for Minikind by Erin Loechner about a day in the life of a dad.

Being a dad…a noble calling of which we have a massive responsibility. The tasks are endless, the work never ends, and sometimes the rewards are hard to see. Take heart fellas and enjoy the awesomeness that is being a dad.

Because there will be days of craziness, and if you’re living in toddlerville like we are right now, you might even have a day like we had Tuesday. The morning started with a huge tantrum, and the evening ended with a trip to Noodles of which Rooney took one bite and then screamed at the top of her lungs. It seemed like it might of been hot or spicy, but it was neither. So, we boxed up our meals and went home. And…we’re still not sure what was wrong with her, but she kept whimpering all evening, and wouldn’t eat or drink anything.

In those moments we feel helpless. This parenting stuff is hard. But, for every day like we had on Tuesday, there are probably 100 awesome days. If this sounds like a roller coaster… that’s because it is one…

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By Eric on August 7, 2014 5

The internet is flooded with opinions on how you should handle your money. The opinions vary among the big topics such as debt, budgets, savings, credit cards, and consumer loans. If you don’t know where you stand on handling your finances, you’ll quickly find conflicting views.

Which is why I thought I would share some of my favorite personal finance sites. As a disclaimer, this in no way means that I agree with 100% of the views of any of these sites, but some come closer than others, for sure. The important thing is to find the truth and then be able to dismiss information that is off base from time to time.

Recently, moneytips.com set out to determine the top 50 social influencers in personal finance and wealth. I wanted to share the list and whom I follow, plus a few others that didn’t make the cut.

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By Eric on July 24, 2014 1

Our Freaking Budget

^FYI -That’s not the Williams family

Today, I want to introduce you to a really awesome family: Joanna, Johnny, and Sally from Our Freaking Budget. I wish I could remember how I first stumbled on their site, but I was instantly entertained. Like the Williams family, they’re a young family trying to make the most of their hard-earned cash. Joanna is a recent stay-at-home mom.

You can imagine the witty humor that comes with a blog titled “Our Freaking Budget.” After introducing myself to them, we thought it would be fun to do a collaboration so that you could have another source of budgeting inspiration. So, let’s get into the Q&A…

What caused you to start y(our) freaking budget? (Both the blog and the budget)

A few months before college graduation, we realized we were about to exit the grace period on making payments, and a budget (as despised as it was) would probably help prepare us for that day. A short while later, a friend lent us The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. Besides making us feel like terrible, vain, keeping-up-the-Jones-ers, it helped us feel like our financial future was completely up to us. We spent the next two years paying off $20k in student loans, building an emergency fund, and doing it all in one of the most expensive cities in the country — NYC.
We started the blog about a year after we’d become debt free and just a month before we entered the wide world of parenthood. We wanted to hold ourselves accountable to our freaking budget and goals, and since we both enjoy writing and design as a creative outlet, a blog seemed like the way to go. It’s been really fun learning, commiserating, and sharing with a community of fellow millennials trying to figure all this money stuff out.

How long have you been budgeting?

Since the beginning of our marriage, we’ve always tried to live within our means, but we didn’t actually start tracking our spending and keeping an itemized budget until a couple years into our marriage. While it’s been a source of stress and anger at various times (especially when shoes are on sale for Joanna and LEGOs for Johnny), we’ve never looked back once. Our finances wouldn’t be where they are today without our love/hate relationship with our budget.

What budgeting tools (applications) do you use?

For our day-to-day spending, we use HomeBudget, a budgeting app that requires manual entry for every.single.expense. It’s tedious, but it helps us to constantly look at our budget and truly “feel the pain.” (I promise we’re not masochists.) We like Mint and other automatic budget trackers, but we’ve found that they’re not as effective for keeping us on track. Manually tracking our expenses help us avoid relying on checking Mint at the end of the month and crossing our fingers that we didn’t go overboard on anything.

What is your least favorite budget category to save for?

We both have a really hard time justifying buying clothing because it’s so expensive. So we just don’t wear any. Kidding. The whole idea of spending money on clothing seems so frivolous, and yet, we both enjoy having nice clothes and looking nice — who doesn’t? Once or twice a year, after our closet has looked very sad for months, we usually give in and buy ourselves a few shirts or something.

What budget category gives you the most trouble each month?

Food. We’ve made huge strides to get this category down over the last few years, but throw in a 30-pound 18 month old girl in the 99th percentile of height and weight and we’re scratching our head on ways to save some months.

What financial goal are you currently working toward?

For the last few years, we’ve been saving up for a house. But we’re not feeling particularly house hungry just yet, so we still don’t know when the day will come that we’ll sign our lives away on a mortgage. We’re continuing to add to that fund each month. And while we’re committed to remaining a one car (and scooter) family for as long as possible, we’re also considering replacing our Toyota Corolla with a more snow-friendly car before the Utah winter smacks us in the face again this year.

Well, there you have it. Be sure to hop on over to Our Freaking Budget and keep up with how they’re doing. Their writing makes personal finance entertaining! Not always an easy thing to do.

I’ve answered some similar questions on their blog today as well. Check it out and let us know what other questions you have in the comments. 
By Eric on July 15, 2014 2

One of the hardest parts of getting rolling with a budget is understanding where to put money that you’ve saved during a particular timeframe once that timeframe is over. We didn’t spend the money, but need it to be accounted for later. Budgeting and saving should go hand-in-hand, but can be confusing at times.

For example, you saved $300 for Vacation this month, but now it’s time to start the next budget and you’re not sure what to do with that money to ensure it goes toward Vacation and doesn’t get spent at the grocery store before it’s needed.

Saving for Vacation?

And if you’re doing this for multiple categories and have a few different savings accounts it can get very confusing quickly. Which sucks, because budgeting is very simple, but can be complicated by banks who try to make you think you’re budgeting, when in reality, you’re just looking in the rear view mirror and seeing your spending history.

Let’s start with why a budget is better than just looking at your bank statement…

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