Archives For Money

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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By Eric on June 5, 2014 +

“Nothing in the area of finances has so dominated or influenced the direction of our society in the last few decades as much as debt. It’s amazing when you consider credit cards have only played an influential role in American life since the 1980s. It was once unusual to finance a car purchase, and mortgages used be mostly for G.I.s who were getting their starter homes.” – Larry Burkett (Debt Free Living)

Debt-Free Living by Larry Burkett

I’m currently reading (listening to) Debt Free Living: Eliminating Debt in the New Economy by Larry Burkett (affiliate links: Book | Audio). The title tells you what it’s about, but I wanted to share with you, some insights from one of the chapters that really made me say… “ooohhhh! That explains so much!”

I often listen to books on my commute, and I’ll admit that this one (the narrator) is not that captivating, but the content is great. The first half of the book are a handful of scenarios of young folks and how they stumble into financial trouble, and later how they manage to dig their way out. There’s certainly bits of every story that are relatable, and the rest are helpful in understanding how easy it is to head down the wrong financial road early in life, like many of us have.

I want to share a history lesson with you from one of the chapters of the book because I think it provides some eye-opening context for the debt problem that is plaguing America at this time. Many people have been affected by the most recent recession (2008 ish) and while I’m usually more of a forward thinker, the past can give us some great lessons as we try to build our futures. Let’s dig in…

Interlude 1: Quick history lesson

There are many types of loans and extensions of credit that have become the “norm” in America over the past 80 or so years. The availability of credit hasn’t always been this prevalent. Here are a handful of types of loans that have become popular in the last century.

  • credit cards
  • car loans
  • 30 year mortgage
  • consolidation loans
  • finance company loans
  • parental loans
  • student loans

The author then asks this question: How did our culture change so quickly?

And in a sentence… the cycle of debt and credit changed everything…

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By Eric on May 29, 2014 4

There are a swarm of different budgeting tools available on the market today. Lots and lots of them. Probably too many to choose from, right? Deciding which one is right for you can leave you stuck giving up on budgeting all together. Fear not! Let me give you some ground rules for choosing a budgeting tool that will help you get control of your finances.

Budgeting Tools

When choosing the right budgeting tool, you’ll certainly want to spend some time figuring out all of the benefits and features that each offers, but what you don’t want to do, is NOT choose one at all. It’s better to choose one and use it, than to not be on a budget.

The Basics You’ll Need for Your Budget

The features that come with most budgeting platforms aren’t really necessary for the basic functions of budgeting. Budgeting is simple in that you are proactively telling your money where you want it to go, and then following the plan you’ve set up.

After it’s set, it’s simply a matter of executing the plan, or going back and moving things around. Much like a calendar, sometimes you have to move your appointments around.

  • Forecasting: A budget must be forward thinking. It must allow you to declare where the income will go before it’s actually spent. If it only shows where the money was spent, it’s just an expense tracker.
  • Saving: The budget platform should help keep track of categories that carry-over from month to month to build up savings in particular areas of your budget.
  • Mobile: At bare minimum the budget should be accessible to view while on the go. I’m not so concerned with being able to change it on the go, but being able to pull up the numbers to see if you have enough to make a purchase helps when trying to change behavior.

A Few Budgeting Tool Options for… Every Budget

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; the best budgeting tool is the one you will actually use. Keep that in mind if you’re in the market or just getting started looking for a budgeting tool.

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By Eric on May 22, 2014 10

I know she’s only two, but I just couldn’t wait any longer. I’ve wanted to try giving Rooney a commission for helping around the house for awhile, but wasn’t quite sure how to approach it. But, after reading Smart Money Smart Kids (affiliate link) by Dave Ramsey and Rachael Cruze, I had a few tactics in my tool belt.

I may have jumped the gun with a 26 month old (I’m really trying to just call her a 2 year old, but it’s hard! She’s developed so much in the past two months!). But a few weeks ago we were sitting in her room playing and waiting for Kelsey to finish getting ready before heading out the door. Rooney’s room looked much like this photo…

child commission

 

The Work

I’d had enough of stepping around, over, and on her toys and decided it was time we taught her how to pick up. That and I know that she’s a great helper at daycare when it’s time to pick up, so it’s certainly time for those good habits to be reinforced at home. I didn’t tell her I was going to pay her, because I wanted the money to be a reward itself.

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