Looky What I Found — Some Good Posts on Personal Finance Blogs

I was lookin’ around and came across some really good posts on some of the best personal finance blogs.  So I thought I would start a Weekly Top Picks.  So here goes, folks:

That smart feller J.D. over at Get Rich Slowly created a stir when he got to talking about the difference between a career and a job.  Some smart folks (like me) agreed with his take, while others didn’t have the same opinion.

Over at The Simple Dollar, Trent does a really good job reviewing the book Living Rich by Spending Smart by Gregory Karp.  Now if I can find time off from the pork and bean factory to read it, I’ll be in good shape.

Katie at Geezeo gives a great example of what time and interest can do in encouraging folks to do the best they can in getting their baby steps going and asking if they are big enough.

Frugal Dad has a great list of 75 tips for surviving tough economic times.  It was first posted on June 16, but it is still good.  Fortunately, I saw me and Beulah in a bunch of these.  There are some others we’re gonna try though.

In a great article, Patrick at Cash Money For Life discusses some ideas on figuring how much to tip for service.  Unfortunately, it appears that in hard economic times some folks forget that those tips are how Flo makes her living.

Hazzard at Everybody Loves Your Money takes on those who put off saving money in his 15 Excuses to Put Off Saving

Need some quick easy ieas for saving some dough?  Check out the 25 Ways to Improve Your Financial Situation in Under 10 Minutes written by Jeffrey at Saving Advice.  The credit cards frozen in ice trick was super!

Lazy Man and Money gives an alternative view on some of the benefits of using credit cards in a responsible manner.  This is for the faint of heart only as many of us don’t have the gumption to pay the entire balance off every month. 

Free Money Finance had a good post on reducing college costs.  Some of those we are already doing with our son Cletus. 

And finally, for a whole bunch of great posts on a bunch of different blogs, check out the 133rd Festival of Frugality: Bare Necessities Edition for some great money-saving tips.

Ya’ll come back now, ya hear.

That Dog Won’t Hunt and the Psychology of Debt…

One day, my youngest son Cletus and I were out quail hunting with our dogs, Daisy and Blue. Now Ol’ Blue was a hound that was getting on up there in age – probably around 12 years old or so.

 

 

How quail hunting works is that you send the dogs ahead of you and they sniff out the quail and kinda spook them and they fly up and you are able to take a shot at them.

 

Well, Cletus and I were walking about 100 yards apart and after a shot, I noticed that poor old Blue had gone to that final quail hunt in the sky – he had apparently had a heart attack and dropped dead right there on the spot.

 

Unaware of this, Cletus, who had gone a while since shooting his last bird, said “Hey, Pa, send Blue over here so I can take a shot.”

 

Looking at the lifeless body of my hunting dog, I turn to Cletus and said “Son, that dog won’t hunt.”

 

Okay, to be honest, the expression “that dog won’t hunt” has been around the South for a long time. It means basically that something is “no good” or “won’t work”.

 

I like to use that expression.

 

Today, I was watching my television and a commercial for a certain insurance company came on. In it, a man and his wife are unloading their shopping cart while buying insurance. The wife apparently doesn’t know that her husband has bought a motorcycle, and RV, and a boat and some other stuff.

 

The last part of the commercial says that the company has cheaper prices so that you can have more money to “buy more toys”, as if buying more stuff will make you happier.

 

And that just plays right into us folks that are in debt because of “I have to have it now”. It just works right along maintaining the psychology of debt.

 

“I can’t afford that now” — No problem, put it on a payment plan.

 

“We really need this, but we don’t have the money” — No problem, let’s take out a loan.

 

“Everybody has one of those except us” — No problem, put it on the card.

 

Well, let me tell you. That dog won’t hunt.

 

Companies spend a lot of money on advertising hoping that you will send some of your hard-earned dollars their way. If you buy or use their product, they make money. There is nothing wrong with making a profit and capitalism.

 

But, we have to be really careful not to let a company’s wishes divert our attention away from our own personal finance goals. We need to make sure we don’t get caught up in the whole psychology of debt.

 

It’s kinda like those Visa commercials that show a fast food joint shutting down when someone chooses to pay for their meal with cash. I don’t know about you, but I hadn’t noticed a single change down at the IHOP when I flash a $20 bill to pay.

 

Or they can bring out Dan Marino and Larry the Cable Guy all they won’t, but buying some overpriced food is not gonna change my weight problem if I can’t curb my appetite or actually get off my rear end to burn some of those calories up.

 

And I don’t know about you, but my dear wife Beulah can put on all the Victoria’s Secret underdrawers that she wants, but she don’t ever look anything like those gals that they got prancing around on all those commercials.

 

It just don’t work that way in real life. Those dogs just won’t hunt.

 

So, don’t let those subliminal messages advertisers use make you pay some other “stupid taxes”.

 

A change in personal finance philosophy…

I was driving down the road one day and I turned the radio off of my favorite country and western station to one of the “talk shows” on the AM dial.

 

It was this feller on their talking about money and debt and paying “stupid taxes”.  Now I know some of you don’t put much stock into this “Dave Ramsey” man, but for me, what he was saying was making a whole lot of sense.

 

Now just so you know, I don’t always agree with some of the things he says, and I haven’t completely “drank the Kool-aid”, but I must admit that I have taken a couple of swigs.

 

When he talks about a borrower being a servant to the lender and how folks can’t concentrate on putting God first in their lives if they are always worrying about money – well, that struck a chord with me.

 

So, I sat down with Beulah and we have decided to start incorporatin’ some of these ideas in our daily lives.  We really already have and we didn’t even know it. 

 

Like take for instance, we worked like dogs putting everything we had to paying off our home loan the first time.  That was Dave Ramsey.  We used to write down our income and expenses and figure out where all our money was going.  That was Dave Ramsey.  We always have kept a little emergency fund for those big unexpected expenses that crop up.  That’s Dave.

 

Now we are going to try and follow some of his principals again and try to wipe out this big black eye of a debt that we have, save some money for retirement, and give more to folks who need money more than we do.

 

Since I get paid from the pork and bean factory on the 15th of the month, we will start this whole exercise on July 15th.

 

Stay tuned and ya’ll come back now, ya here.

My mistakes in personal finance…

It was in 2001 that we made our 1st big mistake. By that time, our oldest son, Junior, was about 17 and a junior in high school. When he would bring his girlfriend or other friends over to the house, me and Beulah would have to leave the living room so he could entertain in private. Because we only had one television set in the house, this meant that I would miss “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” on the nights Junior had his friends over.

So we decided to build a room onto the back of the house to be a kinda entertainin’ room so I wouldn’t miss my TV shows. We didn’t have any money in savings because we had been spending about everything we had on useless crap like “Big Mouth Bill Bass” wall hangings and “Catching Bigger Fish” infomercial products and stuff like that. So where do we get the money for this home addition? How does a home equity loan sound to you?

1st mistake – room addition — $30,000.00.

I don’t even remember the terms of the loan or what it even said. I just know that there was something about a “balloon” and “points” and some other terms that sounds like fun, but really isn’t.

Next mistake, Junior goes off to college. Nope, we didn’t do any kinda college savings or planning. Remember, “When you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” It was okay when Junior was attending the local junior college, but when he went off to the Big University, it got pretty costly. But it was no problem – we had good credit.

2nd mistake – Junior’s college — $8,000.00

Now things went along pretty good here because Junior worked part-time as a meter maid on campus at the University and paid some of his bills and we were able to pay most of his living expenses. But, tuition and books was what ate our lunch.

About the time that Junior graduated, Cletus started college. I never did like the idea of paying rent to some apartment and getting nothing out of it in the end, so brilliant businessman that I am came up with the notion that was the next part of our financial crisis. I always wanted an RV to go camping in. Cletus needed a place to live at the Big University, so I figured I could kill two stones with one bird. I buy an RV, Cletus lives in it while he’s going to college and, in the end, I get my RV that I always wanted. How to pay for it? Who cares, put it on credit.

3rd mistake – Buying an RV — $12,000.00.

Now what I failed to realize is that you can’t just pull an RV with just any old vehicle. So, I just had to have a new Ford F-150 extended cab pickup truck to haul my new toy around. My local Ford dealer was happy to sell me one and finance it, too.

4th mistake – New F-150 extended cab pickup truck — $25,000.00.

So here I sit, $75,000.00 in credit in the hole, and payments that are eating my lunch.

About this time, I find out that the meaning of the “balloon payment” has to do with being a clown for signing up for that kinda stupid deal because the interest rate jumps up and bites me worse than a rabbit being let loose at a Rotweiller show.

Payments are eating me alive, so I did what turned out to be a semi-smart move. I used a debt consolidation loan. It allowed me to roll all of those debts into one smooth easy payment on a 30-year note. The only problem that I see is that it won’t be paid off until I am 76 years old, if I make it that far. And the even bigger problem is that we are still spending everything we make on our stupid lifestyle.

Then something happened that changed my life for good.

To be continued …

Why do I need debt relief? or How did this happen to me?…

I never meant to get into debt like I did.  I know probably very few people ever do.  That would be like taking a stick and whacking a beehive with it just to get the bees out of the way so you could get to the honey.

 

So how does a fairly smart feller with an inkling of common sense get to this point?  I know that question is on your mind because some of you are in the same boat.

 

Well, the real answer I guess is that we failed to plan.

 

Someone once said “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”  Or was it “If you plan to fail, you fail to plan.”  I don’t rightly know. 

 

Anyway, whichever it is, it is true.

 

Our story goes a lot like this:

 

My wife, Beulah, and I were married in 1980.  I was 20 years old and she had just turned 19.  We have always had a pretty good marriage.  Things were going pretty good for us in the beginning.  I took a job at the local pork and bean factory making some pretty good money as a bean-filler. 

 

We bought us a nice little manufactured home (Rednecks like to call them trailer houses or mobile homes, but I like the term “manufactured housing” because it just sounds classier.)  We paid it off pretty quick and started having some kids.  Joe Bob, Jr. (I’ll just call him Junior from now on) was born in 1983 and Cletus, our second son was born in 1987.  In 1993, our daughter, Romalee, was born.

 

 About 1988, we decided to build us a home and so we did.  Between the money we had saved up and the money we got for selling the trailer, we didn’t owe that much.  And so, we just decided that we would pay off our home loan as quickly as possible.  And that’s what we did. 

 

By 1990, I had got promoted at the pork and bean factory to being the pork engineer, which mainly meant that I was in charge of making sure there is 2 pieces of ½ inch by ½ inch squares of bacon in every can.  It meant a pay raise and we just kept on living like I was still a bean-filler and paid off that whole mortgage by 1995.

 

So I was 35 with no mortgage and no debt.  I was a dad-gum genius.  People would come and ask me personal finance questions and all and I pretty much thought that I knew it all. 

 

I was putting about $300 a month into my 401K at work… which is another story unto itself.  But that was about the only saving that I was doing at the time.  Remember, if you “fail to plan, you plan to fail”.  Well, I didn’t know it at the time but I was on a collision course for disaster.  And I didn’t even know it.

 

To be continued…

Howdy to all my new personal finance blog friends…

Howdy!

 

And thanks for stopping by…

 

This is the story of a good ol’ country boy from Central Texas and his family’s attempt at getting out of debt.

 

Now I know what you’re a thinking – “Joe Bob, there are hundreds of stories just like yours out there.  What makes yours so special?”  Well, the answer to that is:

 

Nuthin’…

 

My story is pretty much the same story as thousands of folks out here in this great country of ours.  It looks a lot like this:

·     We start our lives

·     Things go pretty good for a while

·     Life happens

·     All of a sudden you look up and you owe a bunch of folks some serious money.

And then, you really get to thinkin’ that you’re stupid or something or you let the mess that you’re in somehow to start to define who you are.  But really, you are who the Good Lord really meant for you to be:

 

A smart, special person who along the way just made some bad decisions with your personal finances.

 

So now it’s time to step back, take a big ol’ deep breath, and get to figuring out how to get outta the mess you are in.

 

Does that sound familiar?  Well, now, that’s right about where I am right now. 

 

I have this here big goal of getting myself out from under roughly $74,000.00 in money I owe in the next 7 years.  That sounds like some pretty tall cotton to hoe, I know.  But there it is…

 

And somehow while you are watching the Pitts family climb outta this hole, maybe I can give you my take on some of the things happening in the world of personal finance and life in general. 

 

Heck, maybe we can teach each other a thing or two and make everybody’s life just a little better.  That would be plumb wonderful.

 

So come and share some good old Texas hospitality with me and let’s help each other out.

 

Ya’ll come back now, ya hear.

 

Joe Bob

 



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