Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Buying toys

For those of us out there that are trying to do right things with money such as get out of debt, save, invest, and give (you know - wealthy people activities), all of us probably deal with seasons in our lives in which we want to go out and buy some "toys."

Toys can range from sports cars, motorcycles, sports equipment, RV's, campers, etc. Toys are all the things that we really want NOW but can't necessarily afford today (or wouldn't be a wise purchase to make). In a previous post, I put together a listing of my family's current needs and wants. Fortunately over the last several weeks, I've been able to check off a couple of these need items from our list.

Well, at the bottom of our goals and wants list, I have listed the installation of a ball and hitch on our (debt free) Odyssey van as well as the purchase of a pop-up camper. I've got the impulse to really get these 2 items done sooner than later while my daughters are still young and would enjoy this type of family activity. When they get to be teenagers, I know they probably would not enjoy camping as much. Another benefit (for us) of owning a pop-up camper is saving on hotel bills (over the long term) due to making trips to Ohio and Michigan to see my family, summer vacations, etc.

An additional benefit I see with this camper purchase is a restructuring and a rethinking of our vacation time. Instead of taking one BIG summer vacation trip, we could just take a few days here and there throughout the year and get away on a more regular basis.

My biggest requirement on this purchase is that it needs to be a cash purchase - zero debt! So, over the last 8-10 days, I have been scouring Craigslist looking for a deal! If I can find just the right used pop-up camper, I'm planning on walking into the deal with cash in my hand and doing some serious negotiation.

This cash purchase is going to be a bit of a stretch for our family on the front end, but I believe it will save us money on the back end. More importantly, though, I believe having a "toy" such as this will bind our family together in a positive way.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Doing rich people stuff

When Dave Ramsey talks about personal money management, whether it's through his radio show, FPU, Live Events, or books, one HUGE emphasis he makes time and time again is that we need to think like rich people and do rich people stuff.

Doing rich people stuff includes things like:
  1. Zero debt
  2. Live on less than you make
  3. Give generously
  4. Always ask "how much," not "how much a month"
  5. Drive used, paid for vehicles
  6. Have a plan; monthly budget
  7. Set goals - think short and long term
  8. Save, save, save

So are you thinking like a rich person or a poor/middle class person? Start thinking like the rich, and soon you'll be there over time!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Seth Godin on personal finance

I'm a big fan of marketing guru Seth Godin and I've read a number of his books and tried some of his marketing ideas for my side business (

I was catching up with some of my favorite blogs yesterday, and I was pleasantly surprised to see some sound personal financial advice from Seth. Boy, he sure sounds like a Dave Ramsey fan!

Check out Seth's personal finance post here.

Great post, Seth. Hope your a Dave fan! If not, your advice is awesome anyway. It's time for America to wake up and get out of debt as quickly as possible, especially with America's current financial challenges.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Getting Unstuck - follow-up

One of the great benefits of blogging is that it's somewhat therapeutic - blogging is very related to journaling in the sense that you're getting your thoughts down in writing, giving you more clarity on what you need and desire.

A few posts ago, I blogged about feeling stuck personally and financially and the steps I was preparing to take to get unstuck. Here's a brief update on where I'm at:

  1. Emotionally and mentally I feel much better than last week. I have accepted that our current situation is just a season of our lives that will pass, probably in 2-3 months. My brain is now focusing on solutions not my family's problems! That's a huge step.
  2. I purchased the 4 books I mentioned in that previous post. Already halfway through the 4-Hour Workweek - great book; I highly recommend it.
  3. I sat down with my wife and we went over the June budget together. That went well, and I also shared with her my little needs/goals picture chart. So far, so good.
  4. One of our big needs is tires for my Jeep. I placed an order for those and they should be installed at the end of the week.
  5. My oldest daughter's behavior is improving as a result of 3-4 weeks of counseling, so things are being to look up for the Jones' family.

Just remember, action is the key to getting yourself unstuck. Small goals with identifiable action steps will begin to clear the logjam from your life.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Financial Peace University Update (Session 13)

On Sunday afternoon, we had session 13 of Financial Peace University, our final week! This was the bonus lesson and "graduation day" for those that have gone through the class. Session 13 is on the topic of "The Great Misunderstanding." This lesson covered giving and stewardship.

Here's what Dave Ramsey's organization has to say about this 13th session of FPU:

Week 13 - The Great Misunderstanding

Dave teaches us the importance of being good managers over the blessings we have been given and the need to share them. Congratulations on finishing the class!

Key Points

  1. The Great Misunderstanding, the paradox, is that we believe that the way to have more is to hold on to what we have more tightly.
  2. A steward is a manager, not an owner.
  3. Give the first 10% of your income to your church or favorite charity.

This was an awesome lesson taught by Dave. It was a very emotional time for many of us, especially after Dave set us up with stories about his middle daughter and son. Thanks for making me cry, Dave!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Getting Unstuck - needs and goals

In yesterday's blog post, I mentioned that today I was going to post a listing of our current needs and goals list that we're working on for the remainder of 2008. OK, so here we go!

  1. New set of tires for my 1995 Jeep Grand Cherokee - approx. $600-700
  2. New headliner for my Jeep interior - approx. $200-300
  3. I need an eye exam and new glasses - $200-300


  1. 3-month Emergency Fund: $12,000
  2. Dave Ramsey Financial counseling training: $4,000+
  3. 10-year wedding anniversary trip: $2,500 (est.)
  4. Ball and hitch install on our 1998 Honda Odyssey: approx. $280
  5. Used Pop-up Camper $2,000 - 3,500

The current needs that we have should be relatively easy to take care of over the next couple of months. The goals and wants may take us a little longer than I like, but we'll just enjoy the journey as we go through the process!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Getting unstuck - creating forward momentum

In a couple of previous posts, I expressed a few of my current financial frustrations. I have felt "stuck" financially, especially after a devastating tax season, not receiving my stimulus check yet, and unexpected emergency-type expenses. Now that my family is debt free, I feel like I'm having a "wilderness" type experience; a time of testing to see if the Jones family is really committed to being debt free and building wealth over the long haul. I find myself wavering, beating my head against the wall trying to get the financial log jam broken so we can move forward in our family's finances.

I have faith and belief that we will move out of our current financial state soon, but I'm doing some things right now to hopefully get momentum moving along faster. Here's what we're doing:
  1. My wife felt that she needed to go back to work part-time to help pay for some of our current unexpected expenses. She started that job about a week and a half ago.
  2. Yesterday, I ordered 4 books from that I really want to read some books to help get me "unstuck," mentally. The books I ordered were: The 4-Hour Workweek, Get Unstuck! The Simple Guide to Restart Your Life, Seven Practices of Effective Ministry, and Creating Customer Evangelists: How Loyal Customers Become a Volunteer Sales Force.
  3. Over the last 2 days, I have been putting together a picture needs and goals chart; I'm trying to get clear in my mind what our financial priorities are for the remainder of 2008.
  4. Since it's the end of the month, I will be working on our June budget. I plan on having my wife work with me on seeing what we can trim out of our budget, and I plan to share with her my needs/goals picture chart. I'd like to post multiple copies of this around the house as reminders to us on what we want to accomplish right now.

Tomorrow, I'll post the list of these picture needs and goals that we will be working toward through the rest of 2008.