Category Archives: Financial

Budget Setup

Budgeting Guide
This budgeting guide linked above, showed up in my inbox today from Dave Ramsey. It’s a fast, easy, and simple read on how to get started on a budget for you or your family. Most everyone knows that simply starting a budget is the probably the hardest part, and sticking to it comes in a close second. If you don’t have a budget, or you simply don’t know where every dollar you spend is going, I encourage you to spend 10 minutes and look over this booklet.

One suggestion that I will make that the booklet does not is incorporating into your budget. Once you have a budget setup, it takes time and some math to roll over balances each month into their new categories, and all your expenditures need to be entered into the budget. While doing this manually can help teach discipline, I think it can often lead to failed budgeting. Enter where your math and transactions are electronically followed and done for you. Easy! Give it a try, the booklet and Mint are both free.

New Card

Thanks to my sister’s recommendation, we are switching our credit card over to Capital One’s Venture card. We can earn double miles on airline travel which will help me earn free flights a lot faster when I have to commute to LA or NY. Also, no foreign transaction fees are a plus when I am out of the country so often. Finally, we love that we can customize the front picture of our card and can do so each thirty days. Even though the picture can be used for security purposes (like a big picture of your face) we decided to have fun with it. This is us on a cruise in 2009, snorkeling in Grand Cayman. Fun! If you want one for yourself, just click our picture.

Mint QuickView

For you users out there who use Macs, Intuit has brought yet another free tool to make following your finances even easier. It’s called QuickView, it lives in your menu bar, and it shows you nearly everything you could want to see on the Mint website in a nice simplified overview. QuickView is a tiny program and uses almost no system resources when in the background so I set it to run when I login. A really snazzy feature is that transactions show up as little notices and you may categorize them right from the menu — no more logging into the site to fix errant category descriptions. So basically, right from your menu bar, you can get your complete financial overview, see trends and graphs, sort transactions, and follow your budget. It’s even got a password lock option for the super private folks.

My sister and her husband got us onto Mint, and we’ve loved it ever since. Combined with the principles that Dave Ramsey teaches about always staying on top of your finances and being gazelle-intense about watching every penny to get rid of debt, Mint’s QuickView is a great addition in the arsenal of weapons to control your money. We’ve paid off over $60,000 in debt simply by following Dave’s common sense advice and using Mint to track where it all really goes. If you are in the same boat or want to get there, I would start reading Dave Ramsey here, sign up for for free here, and check out QuickView by clicking the Mint leaves above. Good luck, and happy saving!

Credit Report

I was browsing Dave Ramsey’s website and came across I’ve seen so many gimmicky ads on television promising access to a free credit report, but the fine print reveals that they all have strings attached, like “Offer involves enrollment in . . . ” so the report is free but the attached strings are not.

Luckily, we all get access to our credit report for free as stipulated by government regulation. You are entitled to one report each year and the big three credit bureaus will allow you access to yours annually. Enter Annual Credit Report. It is recommended by Ramsey because it truly is free, with no strings attached, and works with the credit bureaus directly. TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian are the three credit reporting agencies that hold the keys, as the gatekeepers, to what your credit report is made up of, and thus the determination of your FICO or credit score. You’ll still have to pay (about 8 bucks) for your actual score, but if your report is good and clear, then your score will be good, no matter what the actual number is.
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Do you struggle at all with your finances? Do you hate to budget? Do you want to budget but don’t because of the hassle of receipts and keeping track of spending? Do you have too much month and not enough money? Are you saving enough for retirement? Are you paying unnecessary fees to your bank or credit card for low balances because you aren’t keeping track of your money? Are you overspending on too many areas of your life? Do you wonder where all your hard earned money goes each month? Do you want to save for that new toy or vacation but never seem to make any progress in your savings account? Are you on track to have six months of expenditures saved up in an emergency savings account for when the car dies or the hot water heater breaks?

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I’m a “Bose-o”

Have you ever had one of those ideas that was supposed to be so helpful but ends up causing way more trouble than it was worth? I had one of those on Saturday night. I was assigned a short trip for work, just two days, so I elected not to take my large LuggageWorks rolling bag, and just take a small backpack.

It turns out that not having my regular bag threw me out of my normal rhythm of placing my Bose QC 15 noise canceling headsets BACK into my bag from the seat back pocket where I keep them for landing. I arrived in Atlanta after a nice ride with my headsets. Unfortunately, I didn’t leave the airport with them, or my iPod that was inside the headset case.

Some lucky soul found a very expensive early Christmas present, either on my seat or in the seat-back pocket. I realized my mistake just after exiting security so I headed over to lost and found. Delta amazes me: the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson airport is the busiest airport in the world, measured by both passenger volume and aircraft handled. As large as it is, Delta has only one person who works the “Lost and Found” counter. I waited at this counter for 90 minutes for someone to show up, not knowing when the employee would return.
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One down, one to go

This past month, Laura and I came one step closer to our goal of being completely debt free. So far, we’ve followed the financial roadmap that we talked about a few days ago, and are debt free except for the house. If or when it comes time to buy another house, we plan on either paying cash for it, or at the most, getting a 15 year fixed rate mortgage. As for now, we are still paying off the mortgage we do have.
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