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Archive for June, 2008

Goals Review – June

June 30th, 2008 at 10:20 am

This month had the good and the bad. I didn’t pay much debt back this month, but I did make good progress on life insurance and my will.

My goals for 2008 are:

1) Pay off debt (except mortgage) by October 1st
. DONE a) Pay off CC by April 1st
. DONE b) Pay off Car 1 by June 1st
. c) Pay off Car 2 by Aug 1st
. d) Pay off wife’s braces by June 1st
. e) Pay off son’s medical by October 1st
2) Invest $15,000 by year end
3) Invest $15,500 in 401(k)
4) Review and reallocate retirement funds by end of Q1
5) Will by end of Q2
6) Life Insurance by end of Q2
7) Save $4,000 for college by end of Q4

1) Pay off all debt but the mortgage by October 1st

Total Debt
06/26/2008 - $17,645 ($656 paid)

Car 2 (3.9% interest rate)
06/30/2008 - $929 ($0 paid)

Wife's braces (0% interest rate)
06/26/2008 - $1,716 ($156 paid)

Son's medical (0% interest rate)
06/09/2008 - $15,000 ($500 paid)

Wife's medical (Not included in total)
06/01/2008 - $4,498.52
06/25/2008 - $1,498.52 ($3,000 paid)

On April 17th, I wrote: “Somewhere between now and being debt free, there will be these hills that will test my resolve to the core.”

In the first quarter, I was finding my pace. By April and May, I was cruising along. Let’s add some more aggressive goals.

And then June hit. I got hit with a 1,500 medical bill, then 1,800, then 500, and finally 600. At the end of the month, I just got hit with 4,400 in medical bills. This is my Heartbreak hill. 4 consecutive hills. Once you get over one, there’s another one.

I knew this day would come and I know the next stage – Just grind it out. To make my goals, I just need to grind the remaining debt out over the next quarter, after I hit these hills.


2) Invest $15,000 by yearend
This will be started in Q4.

3) Invest $15,500 in 401(k)

Invest $15,500 in 401(k)
06/27/2008 - $10,210 invested

Right on target to finish this up in October.

4) Review and reallocate retirement funds by end of Q1

DONE

5) Will by end of Q2

DONE

6) Life Insurance by end of Q2

Took the physical and handing in my application. Just waiting for it to be reviewed.

7) Save $4,000 for college by end of Q4

Looking for 4th quarter on this.

Summary

Even though I am in the nasty part of my debt marathon (4,400 in new medical expenses and just having to grind it out this quarter), I feel good that I got the will and life insurance done. You see, this year (2008) is really about laying the foundation to my financial house. I feel good, surprisingly. I mean, if I look at 1 year or 6 months ago, I am in a far better place. I have traction and I just need to pull through.

So Murphy may have won this month, but the guy in the mirror is telling me to grind it out. So Murphy, enjoy the spare bedroom while you can. The guy in the mirror has me on point, focused, and fired up. So, I’m coming after YOU this quarter.

“In this world of change,

June 25th, 2008 at 09:37 am

nothing which comes stays, and nothing which goes is lost."

---Anne Sophie Swetchine


Very odd. Almost like a slap in the face. You might even say rude.

Since none of this describes the BA I know, I choose to believe BA had no choice but to leave the community without posting a note.

And with that, I bid BA a fond farewell and all the luck, happiness, and success in the real world.

Much like a close friend who passed on, BA will be watching and reading our blogs from a far. He was taken away from us in his prime as a blogger.

BA will always be remembered for being candid, approachable nature and his starnge love for Bed Bath and Beyond.

So I say, God speed fellow blogger, God speed. And may you find happiness and comfort in your life.

Do you know what to day is?

June 24th, 2008 at 08:31 am

June 24th. So?

So, in 6 days, the quarter ends. That’s right half the year is over, gone. Next week, you will have less then 6 months to accomplish all of your goals for 2008.

Are you going to make them all? Why? Lack of focus? Lack of commitment?

5 years from, where do you want to be? What are you doing this year to get there? After you accomplish this year’s goals, what’s next? Every step you take, brings you closer or further away from your goals.

5 years from now, I have 2 goals. To be working on what I want to work on and investing in real estate.

My big goals for this year are easy: have a fully funded emergency fund and pay of all consumer and medical debt. I also have some other goals but these would be my 2 primary.

Next year, I will start paying down the mortgage to get it from a 30 year to a 15 year. It will probably take me more then a year to do this but you got to start somewhere. And how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

Year 3 and 4 is to start saving up to buy my first property. And year 5 is to own my first rental property.

Each year builds on the next and each missed goal causes me to take more time to reach what is really important to me. And short term goals that do not support this are given a secondary status.

So 6 months down and 6 months to go. I am still on track for my big goals for the year, which dove tail to my big goal for 2009.

So time to reevaluate our long term goals and make sure all of our goals over the next few years are bringing us towards that master goal.

So let’s keep the focus people. No excuses.

The Best Father’s Day Gift….

June 16th, 2008 at 02:17 pm

True, my oldest son is 3 and Father’s day is a foreign concept to him. To him, it means my wife having him construct a work of art and pick a card. But he doesn’t understand the true gift he gave me.

You see now I am a role model. He studies everything I do. Do I yell at people, grab stuff away, do I tell lies, do I follow through on my promises?

Being around him, I have to be on my best behavior. I have to be polite. I have to be supportive and understanding. If I make a promise or give my word, I have to deliver. I can’t say well not today.

I promised him that we would sleep in a tent the other weekend. Well, won’t you know, they sprayed chemicals on my lawn. So, I set the tent up in the bedroom and we camped there. He told me scary stories about ghosts riding alligators (or at least that’s what I thought he said).

See, being a role model, means you are under constant scrutiny. You have to mind your p and q and dot you I and cross your t. Sure, he pushes my buttons, but he’s only testing me, making sure I’ve learned the lessons he has taught me.

So I want to thank you son, for the greatest present ever – making me a better person and expecting me perfect but accepting me as dear old dad – a work in progress.

Mid June Update

June 16th, 2008 at 07:30 am

A few posts I was comparing my journey to the Boston Marathon. I had just past the halfway point at Wellesley College and the cute coeds were cheering me on.

I had found my pace and was just cruising along and was about to hit a downhill stretch. That was May. And it was easy. I had to use different muscles but still not to bad. I was setting up June to pay off 2 debts and then BAM.

Right in front of me for the next 5 miles. Sit 4 long uphills. With Heartbreak Hill being the last.

Well June starts and I receive an email from a Hospital with about $7,000 bill. Eeek. I got the final bill over the weekend (Happy Father’s Day!!!) for about $3,400.

Well no one said running a marathon would be easy. So, I’ll probably reduce the car fund and then pay off this bill. It basically throws my debt snowball off a month.

So, time to take a quick drink of water, make sure my laces are tight, and attack this hill.

I can’t wait to get over these hills and then see the final 5 miles where a few nasty hills (my wife’s birthday party about $2k and a week off in September where I don’t get paid) will test my resolve. After this hill, I just need to grind it out to the finish line.

As an aside, if this happened last year, this would have been more then an inconvenience. This would have completely deflated me and put me in one foul mood.

Sometimes, it's hard to say goodbye

June 9th, 2008 at 10:24 am

I was reading Mom-sense’s blog and it struck a chord with me.

So, I owe $929 on my second car. I haven’t been paying it off. I have been putting the money aside to pay off in one lump sum. Well, I currently have over $12,600 saved and ready to go once I save up the rest.

Unfortunately, I have become quite attached to this $12,600. You see, it was brought a sense of security and safety. I know that the $12,600 well take care of almost any emergency including 3-4 months of being laid off. Especially in these uncertain times.

But alas, this money is not meant for the emergency fund. This money is meant to pay off the second car and help get us out of debt.

Now, the emotions start coming back of a little fear, stress, and anxiety. I’ll be back out there with a flimsy safety net. My wife was feeling the same way I was. Maybe we could keep it and just start saving for the car again.

As long as the fear and anxiety doesn’t rule you, it is good. The fear has caused to take a step back to re-evaluate where we are, where we are going, and what are priorities are. It also has helped to focus what are next steps are and general timeframes around those steps. And lastly, it has made us aware of some of the risks to our plans.

Re-evaluate and affirm – YES!!! Rule us – NO!!!

So in the next few weeks, this money plus another $929 will leave our accounts. What we will be left with is the memories of what it will feel like when we have no more debt.

So I thank you dear friend for helping us, but I must bid you ado in the next few weeks.

Commentary - Peter Schweizer: Conservatives more honest than liberals?

June 2nd, 2008 at 09:55 am

The headline may seem like a trick question — even a dangerous one — to ask during an election year. And notice, please, that I didn’t ask whether certain politicians are more honest than others. (Politicians are a different species altogether.) Yet there is a striking gap between the manner in which liberals and conservatives address the issue of honesty.

Consider these results:

Is it OK to cheat on your taxes? A total of 57 percent of those who described themselves as “very liberal” said yes in response to the World Values Survey, compared with only 20 percent of those who are “very conservative.” When Pew Research asked whether it was “morally wrong” to cheat Uncle Sam, 86 percent of conservatives agreed, compared with only 68 percent of liberals.

Ponder this scenario, offered by the National Cultural Values Survey: “You lose your job. Your friend’s company is looking for someone to do temporary work. They are willing to pay the person in cash to avoid taxes and allow the person to still collect unemployment. What would you do?”

Almost half, or 49 percent, of self-described progressives would go along with the scheme, but only 21 percent of conservatives said they would.

When the World Values Survey asked a similar question, the results were largely the same: Those who were very liberal were much more likely to say it was all right to get welfare benefits you didn’t deserve.

The World Values Survey found that those on the left were also much more likely to say it is OK to buy goods that you know are stolen. Studies have also found that those on the left were more likely to say it was OK to drink a can of soda in a store without paying for it and to avoid the truth while negotiating the price of a car.

Another survey by Barna Research found that political liberals were two and a half times more likely to say that they illegally download or trade music for free on the Internet.

A study by professors published in the American Taxation Association’s Journal of Legal Tax Research found conservative students took the issue of accounting scandals and tax evasion more seriously than their fellow liberal students. Those with a “liberal outlook” who “reject the idea of absolute truth” were more accepting of cheating at school, according to another study, involving 291 students and published in the Journal of Education for Business.

A study in the Journal of Business Ethics involving 392 college students found that stronger beliefs toward “conservatism” translated into “higher levels of ethical values.” And academics concluded in the Journal of Psychology that there was a link between “political liberalism” and “lying in your own self-interest,” based on a study involving 156 adults.

Liberals were more willing to “let others take the blame” for their own ethical lapses, “copy a published article” and pass it off as their own, and were more accepting of “cheating on an exam,” according to still another study in the Journal of Business Ethics.

Now, I’m not suggesting that all conservatives are honest and all liberals are untrustworthy. But clearly a gap exists in the data. Why? The quick answer might be that liberals are simply being more honest about their dishonesty.

However attractive this explanation might be for some, there is simply no basis for accepting this explanation. Validation studies, which attempt to figure out who misreports on academic surveys and why, has found no evidence that conservatives are less honest. Indeed, validation research indicates that Democrats tend to be less forthcoming than other groups.

The honesty gap is also not a result of “bad people” becoming liberals and “good people” becoming conservatives. In my mind, a more likely explanation is bad ideas. Modern liberalism is infused with idea that truth is relative. Surveys consistently show this. And if truth is relative, it also must follow that honesty is subjective.

Sixties organizer Saul Alinsky, who both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton say inspired and influenced them, once said the effective political advocate “doesn’t have a fixed truth; truth to him is relative and changing, everything to him is relative and changing. He is a political relativist.”

During this political season, honesty is often in short supply. But at least we can improve things by accepting the idea that truth and honesty exist. As the late scholar Sidney Hook put it, “the easiest rationalization for the refusal to seek the truth is the denial that truth exists.”

Peter Schweizer is the author of “Makers and Takers: Why Conservatives Work Harder, Feel Happier, Have Closer Families, Take Fewer Drugs, Give More Generously, Value Honesty More, Are Less Materialistic and Envious, Whine Less ... And Even Hug Their Children More Than Liberals” (Doubleday).



Source: http://www.examiner.com/a-1419425~Peter_Schweizer__Conservatives_more_honest_than_liberals_.html

Goals Review – May

June 2nd, 2008 at 05:00 am

All and all a pretty good month. Executive summary: all lights are green and we are on target.

So, let’s jump into things, shall we?

My goals for 2008 are:

1) Pay off debt (except mortgage) by October 1st
. a) Pay off CC by April 1st
. b) Pay off Car 1 by June 1st
. c) Pay off Car 2 by Aug 1st
. d) Pay off wife’s braces by June 1st
. e) Pay off son’s medical by October 1st
2) Invest $15,000 by year end
3) Invest $15,500 in 401(k)
4) Review and reallocate retirement funds by end of Q1
5) Will by end of Q2
6) Life Insurance by end of Q2
7) Save $4,000 for college by end of Q4

1) Pay off all debt but the mortgage by October 1st

Total Debt
05/31/2008 - $18,301 ($4,756 paid)

Car 2 (3.9% interest rate)
05/31/2008 - $929 ($4,100 paid)

Wife's braces (0% interest rate)
05/31/2008 - $1,872 ($156 paid)

Son's medical (0% interest rate)
05/31/2008 - $15,500 ($500 paid)

I was hoping to pay off $5,500 this month, but it didn’t happen. I had camp, preschool, and a bike for the wife to pay for. And I used some money to shore up some budget items. Mainly, a party we will be having in August. I think it’s going to cost $1,500 to $2,000. So, I should start saving for that.
Still I am on target to pay off the second car and my wife’s braces this month.

2) Invest $15,000 by yearend

I am currently on track to start this one in September Looks like we will start hitting this in September. I upped this goal from $10,000. A little more aggressive, but what the heck. Aim for the stars and settle for the moon.

3) Invest $15,500 in 401(k)

Invest $15,500 in 401(k)
05/31/2008 - $8,621 invested

Right on target to finish this up in October.

4) Review and reallocate retirement funds by end of Q1

DONE

5) Will by end of Q2

Made the call to the attorney. I should have this completed end of June or July. So yes SCFR, I am finally getting it done.

6) Life Insurance by end of Q2

Just got a packet for additional life insurance. I’ll probably schedule the physical for this week or next.

7) Save $4,000 for college by end of Q4

This is also a new goal for this year. Aggressive – yes. Achievable - yes


Summary

I can’t complain. I seem to be achieving my goals while adding new ones. I added $9,000 in savings goals.

As long as I stay on point and focused, they should be achievable.