Archives For Money

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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By Eric on July 1, 2014 10

A few weeks ago, at the start of a two week heat wave in Iowa, we started having problems with the air conditioning system in our minivan. And by problems, I mean it was dying a slow death.

Snookie's Malt Shop

 

I basically only drive the minivan when we’re headed places together as a family. Otherwise, Kelsey is the primary driver and hauls herself and Rooney to and from work/daycare. Kelsey jokes that I have supersonic senses, because I tend to have a weird heightened observation when something seems out of place. For example, I walked in the house after church this past Sunday and could instantly smell that Kelsey’s straightener had been left on.

Other times the situation is a bit more obvious, I just know that it’s not a good thing. Like when the rear brakes were going out on the minivan. I got in the van, put it in reverse (with my foot slightly on the brake), stopped, looked at Kelsey and said “How long has that noise been going on?” Kelsey replies, “Oh, yeah… I meant to tell you, it’s been doing that for awhile.” Yeah… at that point all you could hear was metal on metal! Yikes.

So when I hopped in the van this time, the air system was making a funny noise, and we had a similar conversation as above. Ugh! Car problems are annoying, but having a DIY spirit as I do (and a Dad who used to be a mechanic), I called him up to see what my options were. “I don’t know how to fix A/C systems, son.” Dang it! He is human after all…

Into the shop the van went for an assessment of the damage. $900 was the damage and the kicker was that one of the parts was on back order, and it would be  a couple weeks before the part was in. Gulp… It was pushing 90 every day and with Iowa’s humidity, it was going to be a rough few weeks for the Williams family. And by rough, I mean a total first world problem where we had to drive around town with the windows down.

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By Eric on June 26, 2014 5

I’ve had many great coaches throughout my life, mostly on the athletic field. Coaches who encouraged, motivated, challenged, and taught me how to be the best that I could be in the respective sport, or classroom. I’ve also had a few bad coaches whose styles gained them no respect.

If you’ve had a great teacher, mentor or coach that’s helped you do something you couldn’t otherwise have done on your own, you know the importance of having someone take the time to show you how to do something, teach you something you don’t know, and share wisdom and insights to propel you toward your goals.

Since starting cleaning up our own financial mess, and figuring this personal finance stuff out, I’ve wanted to accomplish two things with what I’ve learned…

  1. Be a good steward of the gifts I’ve been given.
  2. Help others do the same.

While not perfect in either of these things, I’ve definitely found a passion that hasn’t gone away. I’ve been writing about personal finance tips among many other things that are important to me for years now.

So, I finally went to Nashville and got some world class training from Dave Ramsey’s team. And while I was there, I got to meet some other awesome people with a similar mission as me and even got to meet Dave Ramsey himself!

EricandDave

Having a plan, and working toward good stewardship of our finances has done so much for our marriage, family, and future, and has provided a freedom that I can’t help but share with others.

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By Eric on June 17, 2014 2

I’ll cut to the chase on this question “I’m single, do I need a budget?”. Absolutely. I think everyone who has money coming into their hands needs a budget and a plan on how it will leave their hands. Without a budget, our spending is not intentional and it won’t properly reflect our values as it should.

That’s the easy answer, but recently I was reflecting on this question (yes, I think about it often).

I’ve never been single and on a budget. Kelsey and I stumbled into budgeting together and have had each other to lean on as we’ve tried to figure out how to budget our money, get out of debt, and build wealth. So, I don’t really know what it’s like to have to intentionally budget money while being single.

Although I got a taste of it recently as Kelsey and Rooney headed out of town to visit family and I stayed behind to work on finishing our basement. Finishing being a loose term here, the project may never get finished at this rate…

Anyway, I was home alone with some food money in case I needed to get some groceries or something to eat. It was a weird feeling to be home in an empty house, essentially knowing that I could do whatever I wanted until they got home, but there were a few motivators that kept me on track while my family was away.

  1. Purpose: I stayed home to get work done in the basement. This was the first time Kelsey and Rooney traveled without me. It was kind of a big deal for us as a family and I didn’t take that lightly. I wanted to make the most of the time I was away from them.
  2. Accountability: I knew that Kelsey and Rooney would come home and progress in the basement would reflect how my time was spent.
  3. Quality Time: I was missing out on quality time with my family. A whole weekends worth. I didn’t like that. But, since that was the decision we made, I wanted to be sure to get as much done as possible.

What do these factors have to do with being single and needing a budget? Well, I’ll tell you that when I wasn’t working, the temptations for going and spending money were prevalent. Nobody was there, nobody was watching. And I ended up caving eventually, but not how you might think…

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By Eric on June 10, 2014 6

Have you ever found a useful tool that’s been around awhile and once you realize how much time or money it could have saved you over the years, makes you go “grrrr!!!” No, just me? OK… well… that’s how I feel about Ebates.Ebates big fat check

Ebates is a cash back service that pays you back for shopping online. Kelsey has had an Ebates account since 1999 if you can believe that (further, can you believe she’s had the same hotmail account since 1999?). She was an early adopter of the interwebs, but still, the sad part is that we only recently started using Ebates about a year ago. She kind of forgot about it, and I didn’t really know about it.

Although Ebates offers great incentives for shopping online, the service can be a bit confusing at first, but I’ll share a few tips to make sure you don’t miss out on cash back for online purchases in the future.

(Disclaimer: don’t just buy things for the cash back. Only use Ebates as a bonus to purchases you would otherwise be making online.)

How does Ebates work?

Ebates has partnerships with over 1,700 stores. And these are not the obscure stores in the far corners of the internet. Many of the biggest stores online are available for cash back. A few stores that we use frequently include…

  • Target
  • Old Navy
  • Gap
  • Expedia
  • Jack Threads
  • eBay
  • Buy Buy Baby

Ebates has gotten a lot easier to use since they’ve added the cash back button so you don’t have to visit ebates.com anymore to get in on the savings (this used to be quite annoying and cumbersome and the reason we haven’t used eBates more since 1999). No matter how helpful the tool, if you don’t remember to use it, it’s worthless.

How to Sign up for Ebates

The first thing you’ll want to do is sign up for Ebates on their website. You can do that by clicking here (tell a friend referral link).

Ebates Sign Up

 

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