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Major Update

January 13th, 2011 at 04:11 pm

I forgot all about this place until Saving Advice sent me a birthday greeting in my email! Nice marketing, guys! I seriously need to update everything here.

I have been very, very blessed since I made my last entry in here. Here's the scoop:

1. My wife and I have absolutely zero debt! Debt free!

2. We drive a paid-for 2006 Saturn Vue.

3. We have $18,250 in a savings account for a down payment on a house. We just looked at a really cute house that's selling for $65,000, which is around the price that we want.

4. We have $10,000 in an emergency fund in addition to our other savings.

5. My wife gets to be a stay-at-home dog mom.

6. We tithe 10% of our gross income to our church. I'm just telling you guys because you don't know who I am. Tithing has been so amazing. If you don't do it, I challenge you to do it for a year.

7. We're making plans for baby #1.

8. We are contributing about 12% of our gross income to retirement. One of our goals for 2011 is to raise that to 15%.

9. We do all of this on one teacher's salary.

10. God is good. Sometimes I get scared that things are too good to be true, but we just keep having faith and pushing through hard times as they come.

Sim City and Loans

May 27th, 2008 at 12:29 pm

One of my best friends waltzed in to my apartment yesterday and showed me the most beautiful guitar I have ever seen. I don't know much about guitars since I am a drummer, but I do know an $1,800 Gibson guitar when I see one. It was dark with a burnt-orange sunburst in the middle of the body. Did I mention that he put $1,000 of it on a credit card that he won't be able to pay back for a LONG time?

I often wonder what makes one person borrow $1,000 for a guitar and another person put $1,000 in a savings account. I guess that there are several reasons that I am of the latter type, but one sticks out above the rest: Sim City.

Did any of you ever play the Sim City games? I first started with Sim City 2000. You started with a set amount of money. With that money, you paid for different types of zones: industrial, commercial, and residential. After you built roads and supplied power to the zones, citizens would start building houses, businesses, factories, and everything else that makes our civilization what it is.

As the mayor of your city, you had unlimited power to create and destroy. Well, you had unlimited power as long as you had the money. There was a budget to balance, and if you didn't have the money to build a road, you couldn't build a road.

Well, there was one way that you could temporarily get yourself out of a financial jam: you could take out a loan. I remember when I first discovered loans on Sim City 2000. I immediately took out as many loans as I could (Hey, free money!) and began building with reckless abandon. That lasted until the interest on the loans forced my little town in to bankruptcy.

I learned one very important lesson from Sim City 2000: do not take out loans. I don't know if the game designer was trying to teach a financial lesson, but it was impossible to pay off a loan once it was taken out. Through classical conditioning, my pre-pubescent brain associated loans with very bad things happening. I pulled every trick in the book to get through my undergrad with no loans, and it greatly pained me to take them out for my M.A.

I don't really know the point of this entry. With so many people in so much debt, maybe we could use a little more Sim City 2000 in our lives?

The Grand Plan: Part I

May 22nd, 2008 at 12:34 pm

I am getting married on May 31st. My fiancee and I are extremely excited, have known each other for a long time, have similar interests and values, and all of that other good stuff. One thing that I think is going to help us avoid a lot of fights is that we have similar values when it comes to money.

With that being said, I want to lay out our plan for the next five years to see what you all think. First, between the two of us, we have saved roughly $17,000 since we graduated from college. That is somewhere between nine months and a year of living expenses for us. With that safety net in place, we can proceed to debt.

In terms of debt, all we owe is for student loans. I currently have $9,200 and will only have a few thousand more to complete my M.A. I get a $4,000 raise when I complete my M.A., so we plan to throw all of that on to student loans until they are paid off. DF, soon to be DW, (If I understand correctly, DW means "Dear Wife"? Going on this assumption, DF is "Dear Fiancee.") is starting an M.A. in college administration, so that will ultimately throw $18,000 to $20,000 more in student loans on top of that.

Our plan is to live only on my salary and save all of DF/DW's salary. Assuming she makes somewhere around $30,000 each year, which is low-balling it, we could have $80,000-$100,000 saved up in five years.

If this does come to pass as planned, we have a couple options. The first option is to throw all of it on a house. The second option is to max out a Roth IRA and throw that rest on house. Beyond that, I don't really know. Any suggestions? Is this plan feasible?

State Budget Cuts = My Job in Danger

January 9th, 2008 at 04:40 pm

Well, Kentucky needs to balance its budget. That means education funding is about to be cut. Potential staff layoffs, hiring freezes, and other such wonderful things are on the horizon. Letters and memos have already been flooding through the state everywhere from community colleges, to state universities, to high schools: funding is being cut.

I pride myself on being an advocate of the free market. If a company can't compete, it shouldn't receive any help. The people who work in those careers should move on to more productive positions in the economy.

I may be faced with that now. The claim is art, business, home economics, and PE will be cut. Furthermore, I find it hard to believe that the 800+ students in my high school are going to receive English instruction unless there are the same number of English teachers as there are now. I guess I'm trying to say that I'm 70% sure that I'll have a teaching job this coming fall.

I don't like those odds one bit. Maybe I'm completely wrong. Maybe the last thing on anyone's mind is cutting English positions, but I'm the new guy. Other teachers there have houses and kids and tenure.

As I said before, I'm an advocate of the free market. I'll move on if I have to, but I'm not going to fib: it's going to hurt a bit.

This is why I save money. This is why I can't imagine living paycheck to paycheck. I currently have three month's living expenses saved up. With the three months of summer that I'll still have paychecks and insurance IF I don't have a job next year, that's at least six months of living expenses. I could feasibly have ten months in my emergency fund by the time next August rolls around.

It may seem like I'm blowing things out of proportion. I'm just saying that I see a storm coming, and I'm going to be caught right in the middle of it. I stand by my 70% chance of having the same teaching job next year. If I don't get rehired, I'll have plenty of money saved up. I'll easily find employment somewhere else.

Like I said, though, it's not going to be painless.