Tag Archives: debtfree

Happy Birthday to Me

I wanted to revisit this post from last year.  You’ll find that it is still relevant.  Maybe not perfectly timed, but ok enough. However, I’m 30 now, and I only got two cakes for my birthday… Step it up next year.

I hope you are full whilst reading. I actually meant to post last night. Merry Thanksgiving and Happy Christmas!

Had a birthday recently.  Turned 29.

Just throwing that out there for anyone who wants to throw a big 3-0 party for me.  I like cake.

I got some stuff.  Ya know, few baseball cards, sack of marbles….. Petey.

I love birthdays.

My birthdays.

I don’t love yours that much.

I think everyone needs their own day, though.

So if you don’t have a birthday… GET ONE!

But you know what I love more than birthdays?


As of my writing this, it is September 30th and my smokin’ hot wife and I have already seen a house decorated for Christmas.

And you know what?

hate when other people hate when other people decorate “too early.”

Who’s the bozo who laid the rules for when you can or can’t decorate for Christmas?

Let.  Them.  Decorate.

I love the lights.  I love the trees.  (I hate Santa Claus).  I would love the weather if I didn’t live in Alabama.

I think it was 80 degrees last Christmas.

But in 2010 we had a white Christmas!  In Alabama!

Not all of us… but some of us.  And it was really cool (No pun intended.  But if there was, it’d be hilarious).

The best part is the build up.  Smokin’ Hot Wife plays the Christmas music right after Thanksgiving.

Bad Christmas music = Santa Claus crap

Good Christmas music = Jesus stuff

Might I recommend this one to get you in the Christmas spirit?


OK fine…. it’s not time for Christmas.

But I get excited about it because I have mastered the art of gift giving.


There is NO ONE who can give a gift like me.  I’m the world’s best giver.

I’m also humble.

Now, you may think that I mean I have the uncanny ability to pick out the greatest gift possible for any recipient.

No.  I suck at that.

One time I got Pops a wheel balancer because I heard him say he would rather have the simple kind than the electric one (I don’t know how else to explain it, get off me).

I even told Ned, “This is exactly what Pops wants.  Let’s buy him this.”

It wasn’t what Pops wanted.  He already had like three.

The first Christmas my smokin’ hot wife and I had together (I was but courting her at the time) I could not find her a gift to save my life.

Other than the fact that I was completely broke, the gift search was unbearable.  I went to antique shops, thrift stores, furniture stores, you name it!

I searched far and wide for the perfect gift… that was less than $30.

Eventually, I ordered a pillow online.  It was a decorative pillow (for those of you thinking Oh, great job, genius) with someone dancing on it… I think.

I thought it was a nice gesture, her being a dancer and all.  And pillows are used often, right?

Well, it was late being shipped.  By about three months.

So Smokin’ Hot Wife got very little for Christmas Day.

And when the pillow did come in, it was horrible.  It looked like it had been stitched together by a stitcher untrained in the arts of stitchery while it was being shipped.

It looked way better online than in person, I told myself and Smokin’ Hot Wife over and over and over.

All this to say… that’s not what I mean by I’m the world’s best giver.

The only thing I really mean by it is that I know how UNIMPORTANT it is to give gifts.

Calm down.


Let me defend myself.

I’ll do it in list form:

  1. I wish I could buy everyone I love a brand new car or house or bat cave or trampoline.
  2. I can’t.
  3. Is Christmas about receiving gifts?  Or giving gifts, for that matter?
  4. What have I done to deserve gifts for my birthday?  Live a little longer?  That’s not really my fault.
  5. Please, do not hesitate to send me gifts for my birthday and Christmas.

Are you aware of how much money this country ALONE spends on Black Friday?

It’s enough to provide a constant flow of fresh water to every single person on this planet


I don’t say this to condemn.  Only to put it into perspective.

Gifts are fine.  They are wonderful.  They are fun.

I’ll get some.  I’ll enjoy it.  I’ll give some.  I’ll enjoy it.

But if you put your entire November income (or more) towards Christmas gifts, you are foolish.

People do this.  It’s actually common.

I know the intent is pure.  The heart is kind.  These men and women do so because they want their children (or parents or significant other or whoever) to have a good Christmas.

I get it.  Really.

Listen, one year I got a pack of underwear for Christmas (underwear I needed), and I was excited about it!

It’s on video somewhere.  I pray it’s never found.

And I know how hard it is to say To the depths with society’s standards! during the most wonderful time of the year.

But we don’t have to deal in extremes.

We have already decided in our household that Christmas will be celebrated.  Gifts will be received and given.  There will be decorations.  There will be lights.  There will be trees.

Disclaimer:  1  –  I know it isn’t Jesus’ real birthday.  2  –  I know it’s an old Pagan holiday.  3  –  I don’t care.

But let’s limit.  Let’s budget.  Let’s not go overboard.

Our Christmas budget has already been set up.  And Christmas gifts have already been purchased (hope they like ’em… yikes).

Every year we know around September or October how much we want to spend on each person we are going to buy a gift for.

Then, we add it all up.

Then, we add another $20 or so to the total for anything that goes over a few pennies or dollars.

This year we are updating the kitchen, so Smokin’ Hot Wife and I are limiting our Christmas gifts for each other in something I like to call “kitchens are expensive.”

A tradition that was implemented by Smokin’ Hot Wife’s mother years back was to limit her children to $100 each for Christmas every year.

She had 3 children, so I think that’s pretty reasonable.  She has maintained that method over time as well, which I believe is even more reasonable (not raising her teenagers’ limits), a method we will most likely implement with our children.  When they are older.  2-year-olds don’t need $100 worth of anything other than diapers (I must be honest, though, we want to get our 2-year-old a tricycle… we’ll probably spend $100 on him this year).

Methods such as these are wonderful tools, but I would caution you to reduce that limit if the original becomes unsustainable, i.e. those children all become married and start having kids themselves.

$300 quickly turns into $800.

If you can’t afford it, don’t do it.

If your children are upset that they didn’t get more than what your limit allowed, your children are ungrateful snobs who want to be, or already think they are, better than everyone else.

Christmas is fun!

Don’t make it stressful.  Do not conform.

God and Money

When Jesus said “You cannot serve both God and money” in the book of Matthew, what he actually said was “You cannot serve both God and mammon.”

According to the Textus Receptus (Wikipedia, duh) the Greek spelling of mammon refers to “a Syrian deity, god of riches.”

Before you get all “Oh yea, Jesus was talking about one of his buddies!”

“Can man make for himself gods?  Such are not gods!” – Jeremiah

The people knew mammon.  It wasn’t a strange word to them.  It is a strange word to us.

Right?  It is strange isn’t it?  You don’t use it often do you?  If so, you’re a weirdo.

It’s fine if you’re a weirdo.  I’m the weirdest person I know.  I’m just saying that if you use mammon often in your day to day speech…. it’s weird.

Anyway.  What is it?  If it obviously isn’t the god of riches.

“It is the Lord who makes rich, and our toil adds nothing to it.” – a Proverbist

Mammon is the spirit that rests on money.  And it is not a good one.  If it was a good one, Jesus would have said “Serve God and He will give to you Mammon.”

Before you stop reading due to another wacko Christian lesson, just hear out my practical teaching.

I want to explain the specific instances where I feel the pull of mammon on me and my personal life.  I have been convicted of it in the past and ignored it completely, telling myself that this is the last time or I’m not hurting anyone.

I’m going to chance some transparency and confess some personal shortcomings.  Prepare yourself for my imperfections.

Ever been to a casino?  (Oh boy).  I have.  It’s so much fun.  No clocks.  No windows.  Lots of flashy lights.  And GAMES!

Granted, the games were created to take all your money, but who cares?  Let’s play ’em!

***Quick disclaimer, my stance is not against others gambling, my stance is against ME giving in to the pull of mammon ever again.***

But I’ve been to Vegas.  I’ve gambled.  I’ve been up in money, I’ve been down in money.  And here’s a common thought that I think all conservative gamblers use (that I certainly used myself):

I have not spent more than I intended to spend.  I will not spend more than I brought to gamble.  This is my absolute maximum.

We who think this way DO stick to our budget.  We really won’t go over our set aside amount.  We really do show self-control, and we think that in doing so, we are defeating the pull of the spirit that rests on money.

I don’t think we’re putting up much of a fight.

I’ve walked through casinos thinking I see how people can give their lives over to this.

Not convinced?  I have a question:  if casino games were played without money, without betting the money and without the chance of receiving money, would you still play?

I wouldn’t.  Hence, mammon.

I’ve played fantasy football in the past.  There is an entry fee, winner gets a lot.

I hate fantasy football.

If there is anything that can take me back to my years of temper tantrums and inexplicable cursing, it’s fantasy football.

The funny thing about it is that if we didn’t put money on it, I would quit halfway through the season, or earlier depending how bad I’m doing.

I know lots of people can play fantasy football without money included.  That’s cool.  Good for you.  I can’t.

I don’t know how you do.  That sounds so boring.

I hate it.

I play it because I have a chance to win a buncha money.

Hence, mammon.

Then, there’s poker.

Yea, Texas Hold’em…  Sigh…

I used to be good at it.  We would play regularly.  It was a long time ago.

But it still comes around fairly often.  And when it does, I play.  And when I lose, I’m sooooooooooooo angry.

And when I win, I’m thrilled because I just won money.

Let’s step back a bit.  Have you ever played poker?

Have you ever played without money?

Poker is the MOST boring game alive if played without money.  The only thing that makes it fun is money.

I’m not sharing my opinion here.  I’m certain that no one would have fun playing real Texas Hold’em if there were no money involved.  It’s awful.

I have said and thought exactly what you may be thinking now:  Poker requires skill, though.  It’s not a gambling game.  You can be good at it and increase your chances of winning on most occasions.

The fact is, I don’t disagree.  But again, do you want to play without the chance to win money?

I don’t.


And time consuming.

I’d rather watch tv at home with Smokin’ Hot Wife after the babies are asleep, eating Twizzlers and drinking Coca-Cola.

Sometimes I’ll add some chocolate in there.

Anyway, hence, mammon.

Lastly, and certainly not least… ly…

I look at my bank account often.  I normally do it to keep watch over my flocks, but many times I’m checking to make sure we are stable.

I find security in the money that we have.  Honestly, it’s detrimental to my faith.

This is perhaps the greatest (and most disguised) form of mammon known to me.

That’s enough of that one.  You don’t need anymore.

However, if you have found, or will in the future find, yourself in the same position as me, with similar convictions, how will you resist or avoid the pull of mammon?

Don’t know.  Peace.

Ha ha ha ha…

Really, though.

Remember I’m in the midst of this, I don’t have a plan yet, but I know how I am.  I hang around fire and I get burned.

Our head coach in college (when he was sober enough to attend meetings) always told the same story.

He had one particular guy who had played for him and eventually succeeded in the NFL, can’t remember his name.  Please don’t ask.

Coach asked his former player what the secret was that allowed him success when so many others failed.

The answer?

Dogs with fleas.

“Dogs with fleas?” you ask?

He went on to explain that when clean dogs hang out with dogs with fleas, the clean dog gets fleas.

Now I’m not saying my company is poor.  I’m saying that I can’t allow myself the flashiness of a casino floor without the overwhelming urge to play the games.

I can’t allow myself around a poker table and expect to sit back and watch.

I can’t allow myself the “luxury” or I’ll get fleas.

Don’t want fleas.  We had ’em once.  You may have read about it.  Impossible to get rid of.

In the next few months, I hope to share a real gambling story.  Until then, mine will have to do.

Do not conform.  Screw debt.

Be Is For Brooke

On separate occasions have I been asked about meal planning/how to buy groceries/etc.

I did not want to write about it.  Still don’t wanna write about it.  Probably not ever gonna write about it.

Good news!  I don’t have to.  Because a gal I know from college has done so much better than I could have.

Brooke Elias has laid out incredible shopping and meal planning methods in her blog.  Click on her name (the one I just typed) and you will see her website.

Seriously, I have never planned the way she does with groceries.  Her way is better than mine.  Trust me.

Do not conform.

Food, Finance, and… Fones

If there is food in front of me, I eat it.  There is no but I’ve had enough or well it’s not healthy food so….  or I had fried chicken last night.

No.  If there is food in front of me, I eat it.  Period.

Also, I don’t work out so much anymore.  And when I do go to the gym, I get bored easily.  I walk around looking for things to do because Smokin’ Hot Wife is in a class, and if someone is at a station, I move on to something else.

You wouldn’t believe how often “someone is at a station.”

I end up walking… slowly… for like an hour.

I’m also addicted to my phone.  It’s not something I even want to do.  It’s just there beside me so I’ll pick it up to check my messages and put it down.  After I put it down, I’ll pick it up to check my messages.  It happens time and time again.

I don’t know for sure, but I think these are the same habits that addicts fight.  These three areas are the most recent in my life that have surfaced unapologetically.  They have all made me realize the lack of self-control that I possess.

Now, I have to wage war on my eating patterns, my workout habits, and my cell phone.  But how do I do that?  I’ve obviously had thoughts before to rid myself of all that which hinders me from my better self.  Even more obvious is the fact that nothing has changed.  Why is that?

Well, there is another story about a habit (that is none of your business at this time) that I was trying to break in college.

One day, upon deciding that this particular habit had controlled me for long enough, I wrote out a schedule for every single day.  My wake up and eat times were planned down to the minute.  Homework, walking to and from class, naps, watching Shrek, you name it, it was on my schedule.

What’s more, I stuck to my schedule every day.  And I controlled my terrible habit for 3 months.  Fascinating, right?

But then I regressed.

Or relapsed.  Whatever you wanna call it.  And why?  Because I lacked another tool:  accountability.

Has anyone ever said anything along the lines of You are the only one who can truly hold you accountable… ?

If so, they’re wrong.

What has this to do with money?  You may find yourself asking.  Hang on, dang it.

I wrote a short book about how to budget, and it’s a great tool.  A budget is a plan.  It is the underlying factor of ALL wealth and stability.  The book I wrote can help you build a budget, but unless you have some even more basic behavioral issues handled, creating a chart in a spreadsheet won’t amount to much.  Rarely is the issue one of incompetence.  Everyone is smart enough to write numbers on a piece of paper.

A brilliant man once said that budgeting is telling your money where to go, not asking where it went.

If it isn’t already clear, the first step is planning.  Budgeting is just that, a plan.  Plans can change.  Life happens.  “Emergencies” present themselves.  So don’t treat your plan as God’s Holy Word.  Give yourself some grace, and practice step 2:  self control.

Setting a budget is easy.  Writing down a plan is easy.  Sticking to a plan is not.

I have set up specific plans for all three of my current struggles.  I’m not going to share them with you because I don’t know what any of that has to do with why you’re broke.

Challenging myself to stay on track with these plans is the method I’ve chosen in order to strengthen self-control.  I don’t know if it works.  I only know that God’s actual Holy Word puts significant emphasis on the subject.

A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.

–  Proverbs chapter something verse something…

I don’t know exactly what that means… I just want my walls standing at all times.

Practice self-control.  You are stronger than you think.

However, you’re also weaker than you think.  The habit I fought in college has gone away, but it wouldn’t stay away if not for accountability in the form of my wife (accountability is beautiful in my case).

When it comes to your budget, who are you nervous to lie to?  Who would be disappointed in your spending?  Who are you certain would not buy in to your justification for making your last purchase?  Whoever it is needs to be your money buddy.  I don’t call them accountability partners anymore.  I got tired of using the term years ago.

Money is just like any other area.  You are smart enough to plan a budget on your own.  You are strong enough to stick to that budget for months…. And you are NOT strong enough to finish the race alone.

Do not conform, and screw debt.


I wasn’t going to write about this for today, but something strange happened the other night when I was hanging out with Reginald.

We call him Reggie for short, but I’m considering calling him Reg (not like reg in regular but with a j sound) at times when I don’t feel like talking so much.

Maybe I just wont’ call him any of those because it isn’t his real name.

Anyway, Reggie and I found this website:


And if you have a mortgage right now, I want you to use it!!!

Ever heard of amortization?  Well it’s dumb.  All it means is the loan officer takes as much interest as possible first.  They just named it something fancy so we wouldn’t bother with understanding it.

I wasn’t and still am not sure if amortization schedules are uniform throughout the banking/credit union world, but this website seems to think that they are.

So go to this website if you have a mortgage, and figure out how to pay that bad boy off early.

I’m not going to give you my information, but I’ll tell you a little bit of that won’t give anything away.

If I paid the minimum on my mortgage for the entire 30 years, I would pay over $140,000 in INTEREST ALONE.

I don’t want anyone to ever do that.  If you need to get a 30 year mortgage that’s fine.  It’s more attainable than a 15 year unless you want a tiny house with minimal payments.

But if you get the 30 year, go into it with the expectations of paying it off early.  This website will help you formulate a plan.

We recently started paying 15-year type payments on our 30-year loan.  According to this website, that will reduce our mortgage payments by almost 13 years!

As I played around with the calculator, Reggie says, “I know what you’re next blog post is gonna be about.”

Oh Reggie….

You don’t even know me.

Everyone else should be excited.

In my case, if we paid just $20/month extra towards our mortgage, we would pay our mortgage off a year early and save nearly $6000!!!

In the grand scheme of things, that isn’t a ton, but it’s still 6 thousand less than what the bank wants.

Seriously, if you have a mortgage, use the link.  Get excited about it.  Formulate a plan, and implement it.  I want you to pay your house off early.  As early as possible without living in misery.

Short and sweet this time.  Just use the website.  Stop giving the bank money.  When you’ve finished your house payments, I want the bank to say

Well dang… we didn’t make any money off of them.

Do not conform.  And screw debt.


Cash is King?

My friends in 1776 (we talk on the phone all the time) would have some words for those of you who say cash is king.

King’s didn’t fly so well with these guys.  They made it clear.  And red.  And white.  And blue.

You know who rules the finance world?  The rich man.

You know who doesn’t know what it’s like to be poor?  The rich man.

You know who says cash is king?  The rich man. And the middle class who use the rich man’s context in their empty pocket lifestyles.

I’ve been spending a lot of time reading about and hearing from people who have the perfect plan for building wealth and paying off massive amounts of debt and so on and so forth…

You know who they are?  Rich people.

Now, I’m not saying cash is a bad thing.  I just want to rearrange the way we think about it.

In most cases across the country, the common folk will be taking out a loan at some point or another.  I hope it isn’t for anything silly, like a hamster or a trailer hitch, but I can’t tell you what to do.

Just don’t do that.

When you decide to take out this loan, though, I need you to listen to me and not your financial guidance person, whether it’s your real estate agent, your loan officer, or your dear sweet mama.

First, and foremost, I hope you have money to pay down on the loan.  That means that I hope you have cash.

But wait, you say, all smugly and uppity-like, I thought you said forget about cash!?!

Hold your horses.  I don’t know where that phrase came from…

Just hold ’em!

Secondly, I hope you have enough cash to pay a significant amount on that down payment.

What?  Is that not profound?

Third, pay more money every month than your minimum payment, another recommendation that requires cash.

So what’s the difference in my cash and banks’ cash?

1.  Down Payments

You will need a down payment on a significant loan (mortgage).  Once upon a time, you needed a significant one to avoid stupid wastes of money.  Now, however, banks will gladly let you borrow $300,000.  If you don’t have money for a down payment?  They’ll let you borrow a second amount for whatever you need for the down payment!

The banks’ cash is money they want you to keep in order to pay them more in the long run.  My cash is the money I want you to spend in order to not have to pay more than you have to.

2.  Significant Down Payments

Your bank will tell you that you want to have some cash left over.  And I agree that you do not want to deplete your savings.

But the more you put down up front means the less you will pay in interest.

But sir, you say again, a $200,000 mortgage vs a $210,000 mortgage only affects your monthly payment by like…. a little bit.

Dude… I have the mortgage formula saved on my phone.  I know exactly how much a mortgage costs every month in any given situation.

The banks don’t even know the formula.  They just plug numbers in and POOF! out comes this magical piece of paper that says you owe them crap loads of interest.

Forget about cash, and forget about monthly payments.  When it comes to applying for a mortgage, look at the interest.  Fight the interest.  It is not your friend.

The banks’ cash is money they want you to keep in order to pay them more in the long run.  My cash is the money I want you to spend in order to not have to pay more than you have to.

3.  Monthly Payments

Interest that you pay is NEVER your friend.  I don’t care who says otherwise, if they are billionaires, if they have multiple finance degrees, if they are world renowned philanthropists…  I don’t care.   They’re wrong.

There is not one single thing that will benefit you from paying interest that will overshadow the fact that you are paying interest.  Not one.  Nope.  Not even that.  Whatever it is you’re thinking.  Nuh-uh.

You know what happens to interest the next month after you’ve overpaid on your loan?

It goes down.

It’ll take some time and effort to alter the pattern of your mortgage interest, but it is possible, and if you intend to pay all the interest they’re asking of you on a 30 year mortgage, you’re being robbed.

If you can afford it, make the sacrifice, and pay off your home early.  I’m telling you, the minimum payment is making somebody rich, and it ain’t you.

The banks’ cash is money they want you to keep in order to pay them more in the long run.  My cash is the money I want you to spend in order to not have to pay more than you have to.

Again, not profound?

I just told you to spend more of your money upfront and every month… when the world tells you that cash is king.

Am I leading you astray?

I wonder why the bank is telling you that cash is king…

Because they profit on your interest!

It blows my mind that the same people telling you that cash is your best friend are also people telling you that you need one of their credit cards.

Spare me.

Paying more now saves you later.

I’m seriously not saying to not have cash.  You need available money at all times that you can grab when you need it.

If I’m ever rich, I will max out at least 2 bank accounts with money that I never intend to invest, that I can take at any time.  (I said if I’m ever rich… which means other money would certainly be tied up in investments).

The rich people don’t tell me to do that even now.

I really don’t understand that.  If I need a car, I’m buying it and leaving with the title.

If I want to invest in some real estate, I’m closing as an owner, not a borrower.

It’s impossible to do these things when financial advisors are constantly telling us to write them a check so our wealth will grow (which, again, I’m all for building wealth, but their ideas are contradictory).

So I want cash.

But while I’m entering a mortgage or I’m already in one, interest is overwhelmingly more evil than cash is good.

I know you’ve all heard it said, The borrower is a slave to the lender.


There’s no need to look for hidden connotations behind the word.  It is spelled out clearly for us.

An example:  We need a car loan.  We get one.  The loan officer DEMANDS full coverage insurance.

Nothing wrong with full coverage insurance.  Nice peace of mind.  Not un-affordable.  Cool.

BUT they demanded it.  We cannot have the loan with them without full coverage insurance.


Another example:  We need a house.  We got one.  Needed a loan because we don’t have 200 grand lying around.  The loan officer DEMANDS a termite bond.

Nothing wrong with a termite bond.  Nice peace of mind.  Not un-affordable.  Cool.

BUT they demanded it.  We cannot have the mortgage with them without a termite bond.


The loan officer controls the entire situation.  You have no word in the matter once the papers are signed.  You don’t own the car.  You don’t own the house.

Did you know that the bank can, at any time throughout the life of your loan, demand that the balance be paid in full?

It’s true.

And… freakin’ scary.


Please don’t misunderstand what I’m saying.  You need cash, I’m only challenging the way the world worships it as all sovereign.

Again, I hate interest way more than I like cash.

And, as my friends in 1776 would say, We recognize no sovereign but God, and no King but Jesus!

Do not conform.

Yes, I Would Like a Receipt

A pet peeve of mine is when anyone refers to something that irritates them as a pet peeve.

Another pet peeve of mine is when I’ve finished pumping gas into a vehicle, I’ve pushed the button next to “yes” after being asked if I would like a receipt, and the screen beeps and tells me to see cashier inside for receipt….

Why did you ask me?  The convenience is no longer available if I have to walk inside.

So I leave all grumpy and Smokin’ Hot Wife is like “What’s wrong?  What happened?”

Ya know because based on the way I’m acting, someone just hit me with a milkshake.

So I tell her and she’s like “Oh my gosh, is this really something to be upset about?”

And I’m like “Well… Yes.  Why haven’t they replaced the roll of receipt paper?”

And she’s all like reasonable discussion blah blah blah.

And I’m like “I don’t have time for reasonable discussion.  I want my receipt.”

“Well go inside and get it!” says she.

“Absolutely not,” says I.  “I will not be led to the slaughter by some gas company who thinks they can tell me what to do.”


So anyway… receipts.

I mention Pops a lot it seems.  But it was Pops who always told us to keep our receipts.

It’s for record keeping purposes.

These days, you can keep track of all transactions on your computer because internet.

I still like to get receipts most of the time, though.  I don’t like that, in some cases, it takes a few days before the transaction shows up on my bank account (or credit card account).

When we were poor, this really was dangerous.  If I didn’t record a particular transaction in the budget, we were at risk of spending money (that the bank account showed we had) that was already accounted for.

It’s a terrible idea to ever look at your bank account available balance and spend based on that number.  At least it is for us.  Most of the time, that number is not indicative of how much money we have to spend.  It is often tied up in different things:

  • Jesus money set aside for giving
  • credit card accounts pending payment on Friday morning
  • $30 in gas that hasn’t showed up in 3 days

You get the idea.  Save the receipts.  Throw them away once you’ve recorded your transactions in your budget that I hope you have.  If not, Budget Like Me: Screw Debt.

Also, it is still wise to maintain receipts from major purchases, those that require spending hundreds (or thousands) of dollars.

I sincerely hope you can find all the paperwork for your house and automobile transactions quickly and without thought.

Keep up with the big stuff.  Never throw it out.

You can even find an old beat up filing cabinet, spray paint it navy blue, and keep all your important stuff in it.

I don’t know who would do that, though. Probably weirdos.

Do not conform.  And screw debt!

Gold Credit, Green Credit….

Very recently, a social media friend posted the importance of immediately getting a credit card after college in order to build credit.

I nearly fainted.  I consider this ignorance.  And it’s advice like this that fuels my desire to write about money and to urge people to pursue financial freedom.

I despise this credit score crap.  The better your credit is, the more reliable you have been deemed, and the better interest rates are available.  And if you have poor credit, you have been deemed not so reliable, and the not so good interest rates are available.

How does that make sense?

Sir, your credit score is sitting at 340.  Unfortunately, the best interest rate we can offer is 18%.  Logic says we shouldn’t give you a loan at all, but we will because we care about you.

The reliable spender should not be punished, I should clarify.  But why make the difficult situation more difficult?

However, I need to be clear that I don’t think having a system in place is a terrible idea.  It has its perks for an economy that is in need of nourishment and can’t rely on another government bailout.

If you’re my age-ish, you may remember the housing market crash in 2008.  If you don’t remember, they made a movie about it recently.  Pretty neat.

Before the crash, banks were giving loans to anyone and everyone.  It didn’t matter whether or not they could afford it.  It didn’t matter whether or not they’d ever be paid back.  They just threw the loans around like they were $0.05 pieces of bubble gum that lose their flavor after 2 chews from a Macy’s Day Parade float.  With a big Snoopy balloon.

Then, 2008…

Banks:  Mr. Government… we need your help.  Haha.  You won’t believe what we did… No, it’s worse than that… Yes, that’s right.  We really screwed up.  Well, we can’t really get out this hole without help so can you spot us 10 billion?

Government:  Oh yea that’s fine.  We never budget anyway so we have plenty of money that we can use on whatever we want without angering tax payers at all. Keep your doors open.

Anyway, I hate that we need a system, I hate that people get all worked up over their credit scores and reports, and I hate all the discussion and chatter about it.  It’s mostly thoughtless nonsense, but I hear about it nearly every week, and that’s only because I work from home most of the time and don’t see anyone and don’t watch television much.

I can imagine most of you hear about it daily.  I’m sure of it.  It has obviously secured its hold on us, just as the Devil schemed.

Your credit report is just an overall record of your paying for stuff.  It has detailed information about your debt vs. payoff history.  If you want a more elaborate explanation, you won’t find it here.  Rest assured, it isn’t that important.

What is important, or at least what everyone is so bent out of shape over, is how to improve your personal credit score.

I’ve had people scoff at me for not knowing my credit score.  I let them get to me and I did that free credit score thing.  And I checked it a few times.  And then I was told that every time you check it, it drops!  Every time someone runs your credit, your score drops.


Either no one can tell you why because they don’t know, or someone will tell you a reason why and will believe that it’s a logical, solid system.  Person #2 is making lots of money off of your credit.

I quit concerning myself with my credit score.  I’ve never paid for a credit report on its own.  Why should anyone have to?  It belongs to you.  It’s your history.  It’s your personal stuff.  How can anyone hang on to your private, personal history of anything, regardless of what it is, and demand that you pay for it in order to see it?

Either no one can tell you why because they don’t know, or someone will tell you a reason why and will believe that it’s a logical, solid system.  Person #2 is making lots of money off of your credit.

It obviously doesn’t do any good to check it frequently.  Whenever you go to buy a house and apply for a loan, they will run your credit, charge you for it in closing costs, and give you a copy of the report.  The seller will often times pay the closing costs, depending on your location, situation, and negotiating skills, resulting in a free report for you.

I’ve also had people ridicule me for not getting a credit card.  I never listened to those guys.  I had enough debt to pay off.  I didn’t have time, I thought, to deal with them.

Well, let me hit you with this piece of information:  without getting a credit card and without paying for a credit report, I have excellent credit.

All the banking folk scream at me like Ay!  You need a loan?  I’ll hook you up!

Why?  Because they know I’ll pay it, and they know I’m a safe commission.

Let me tell you how.  While a portion of my advice is to differ from my aforementioned friend, most of my advice is to FRET NOT!

Not what you were looking for?  I figured.  Just keep reading.

I don’t like writing in list form, but all the cool kids are doing it so…


This is a post in itself, and I won’t dwell too deeply for now, but just know that it is not necessary to get a credit card in order to build your credit.  Yes, it can be a decent tool, but it is not, by any means, necessary.

There is ONE way and one way ONLY to use a credit card.  And it is NOT to get one as soon as possible and to spend freely.

Advising someone to get a credit card in order to build credit is like advising someone to go to church in order to go to Heaven.

Sure, it’s a good tool.  But it certainly isn’t so cut and dry.

Particularly, those of you who are in debt, I advise you NOT to get a credit card until you have a better grasp on your finances.  Then, you can read my future post about how to go about choosing the right card, using it properly, and getting free money with it.

This will upset the man.  Because the man wants your money.  But he can’t have it.

Bottom line:  you do not need a credit card in order to build credit.


No, don’t spend money you don’t have just so you can have cool stuff.  But many places will offer 0% financing for a certain period of time on certain things.

I’m basing this idea solely on the assumption that you will not go out and buy a television with your loan money.  Please don’t do that.

If and only if you have a bit of spare money, and you want a new flat screen or you need a new dryer, dishwasher, face-lift, etc., find out how many months you can pay with no interest and subtract 1.

For instance, say you spend $600 on a 50″ flat screen after taxes and all, and you have no interest for 12 months.  Subtract a month.  Then divide your total price by the number of months.

600 ÷ 11 =  $54.55.  Always round up to the next dollar,  $55.  This is your minimum payment every month.  And if you pay this exact amount for 10 months, your 11th month balance will be $50 and you’ll not spend a penny on interest.

The reason I want you to subtract a month is because you won’t get your first statement until about two months after your purchase.  I’m not sure how they are counting.  It should be that your first statement is month #1, but I will not put it by them.

I don’t assume anymore because I got really tired of the response.  For a while, I hypothesized.  And while I realize it is part of the scientific method backed by some data and experience, I still don’t enjoy that it is only considered an educated guess.  Therefore, my new word is deduct.  It’s what Sherlock does.

Now, we will deduct that whoever we bought our flat screen from started counting months before they started sending us statements, and, thus, they’re at month #2.  I have not tested this process, and I won’t.  If this method ends up paying off the product a month earlier than it would accrue interest, we’ve lost nothing.  Just do it.

The reason we are setting up our own minimum payment is because whoever you bought from will set you up a much smaller monthly payment so that you will continue paying into interest after your 12 months are up.

Now, there are a few places who will only offer these interest free purchases if you purchase via credit card.  Their credit card.

Again, I warn you against credit cards, but if you follow the method above and ONLY have a balance on the card when paying off a non-interest accruing purchase, you’ll be fine.

[Aside from that type of purchase, NEVER keep a balance on a department store credit card.  They will eat you alive and smile while they do it.  Every store has them, and every store paints a pretty picture.  If you know how to use a credit card (there’s only one way) and you are able to juggle a hundred different ones, be my guest.  I don’t particularly enjoy focusing on so many.  And I don’t recommend it.  Lots of stuff to forget.]

These types of payments WILL build your credit.  Don’t rush.  This is a marathon, not a sprint.

I hate that analogy… running sucks.

And another thing about these purchases…


I’m referring to purchases that are attainable, obviously.

I don’t mean save up $150,000 before you buy a house.  I don’t mean save up $20,000 before you buy a car.

What I mean is, if you want a $600 television, but you also want to finance it (interest free), I would advise that you have $600 readily available at any time so that you can pay it off at a moment’s notice.  That number will decrease every month, but still have the money ready.

Now, I understand this isn’t always possible.  But if it isn’t, make sure the purchase you’re making is not a 60″ plasma.  Maybe buy a much needed mattress instead which, in my and the general public’s opinion, is a very necessary investment.

If you have the money to pay cash on your vehicles and homes, you likely aren’t reading this.  But you guys would be surprised how many rich people don’t have their funds together.  They’re always broke and have their money wrapped up in other junk because they listened to too many people tell them they needed to have all this stuff and to build their credit and to invest in the future and to have a retirement and life insurance plan and now their monthly bills outweigh their income.

It would be wonderful to pay cash for everything.  The fact is, it isn’t possible for the vast majority.  But what do you need?  Up to this point in my life, college, a house, and a vehicle are the only things worth borrowing money for.  And even then after much thought and consideration.

No, having the cash and saving it will not improve your credit.  It is just a surefire way to make sure your credit doesn’t get worse by suddenly being unable to pay off a TV.  But setting up an interest free payment on something will show the score keepers that you did have a debt and you did pay it off.  It will build your credit.


If you have student loan debt, there are several options available to have them forgiven after a certain period of time.  There are likely more options on their way.

I’m certainly not against loan forgiveness.  As I’ve said before, the motives behind human acts are pure.  And Sallie Mae can afford to forgive some stuff, I promise.

However, when I was paying back my loans and was told of the different ways to have them forgiven, I really thought it was more work than I wanted to do.  I also had a sort of sense of responsibility to pay it all back and have nothing left hanging over me, as if Sallie would one day show up at my doorstep and say Hey.  Remember that time…..

But forget student loans.

Let’s focus on your other debt that has no chance of being forgiven.  The credit card folks are relentless.  No grace there.  Mortgage?  Gotta pay for that.  Auto loan?  They want their money.

The worst thing you can do for your credit or your sanity  prior to paying off loans is to obtain more loans.

If you have a loan accruing interest, and you have the cash to pay it off, PAY IT OFF.  This came up with Ned recently.  He’d heard that paying it off immediately will have a negative impact on credit.  I’m not saying it doesn’t.  But even if it does it isn’t as bad as paying interest.  Interest is not your friend.  Ever.

If you want to see a prime example of what not to do, look no further than our beloved federal government.  It seems their idea of eliminating debt is to spend more money, or, as I like to call it, pure stupidity.

First of all, quit using your credit card.  Second, pay it off way quicker than what they’re asking you to do.  If they had it their way, you’d never pay it off.  When you come out of debt, your credit score will rise.


This is one that’s so overlooked it isn’t even funny.  There are so many utilities that we rely on:  water, sewage, gas, power.  Even if you rent you still usually have to get these set up in your name.

Well, set ’em up in your name.  Always pay on time.  Always pay the full balance due.

As a matter of fact, pay early to ensure your payment isn’t lost (which rarely is the case with all the online stuff these days).

If you are late or you underpay, your credit is affected (effected?  Never have known the difference).  And said effects are negative.

I happen to know for certain that there are specific companies who will reward you for paying all of your other bills on time.  When I switched our auto insurance from one company to another and they saved me $60/month, I asked how in the world they were able to do that for the exact same coverage.

Paraphrase:  Ya credit real good, man.  Ya pay ya bills on time.

I really cannot stress the importance of not being late on a payment.  Not to mention late fees and penalties and the like.  Before long you owe double what you paid last year at this time!

Do I need to remind you to budget?

Budget, good.  Late, bad.

Don’t make them come looking for you.  They’ll bring the cops and all.  They might bust your door down, and you can’t afford new hinges.

I’ve read that if collections gets a hold of one of your bills, it stays on your record for 7 years.  So obviously we don’t want to go there.  Just pay it.  If you’re already late, get current ASAP.

Important note:  ASAP is an acronym for as soon as possible.


You can still go to the bank.  You can deposit checks and continue your weekly transactions and withdraw some dollars and such.

What I mean is avoid the loan officer banter.

I’m sure these guys are good people for the most part.  I’m sure they don’t intend to harm anyone.  But just think about their job for a minute.

They are paid a modest to moderate base salary with bonuses and raises based on commission.  That means that the more they sale, the more they make.  And there’s nothing really horribly wrong with that.

Other work environments are run the same way.  Pops has his own bike shop.  Do you think he’s going to make any money if no bikes show up for repair and maintenance?

My job is even set up to be paid as you complete jobs.  I don’t have to find my own work or convince people to buy my product, but it’s still based on performance.

As a matter of fact, I would prefer this method as a business owner.  If you want to get the most out of your employees, tell them if they do not work, they do not get paid.  You’ll have the best staff on the planet.

However, this method does have a flaw, and to know the flaw is to simply put yourself in the position of the loan officer.

A man walks into the bank to dispute a charge on his account that he did not authorize.  After you have settled the matter, you remember your training and ask him if he is interested in a credit card with your bank.

Now,  do you really think it’s beneficial for the man to get a credit card?  Do you really have this man’s best interests in mind?

You’re only doing your job, right?  (I hate that excuse, by the way.  So were the Nazis).

This is the problem:  the loan officer wants/needs to make more money, and he will do so by making a sale.  I can’t fault him for that.  If I was forced to have his job, I would do whatever I had to do in order to provide for my family.  I honestly wouldn’t care if the guy got a credit card and couldn’t pay it or racked up loads of debt.

I got my commission.  I’m happy.

And that’s why you avoid them until you’re ready for a house or car loan.  They can and will be helpful when the time is right.  But I wouldn’t go near them for advice on how to get out of debt or how to build credit.  For these purposes, they are our enemies.  They want what is best for them and their employer.

If you follow these guidelines, I guarantee you will have decent credit.  It’s after we’ve experienced financial freedom that we can focus on getting the good credit.  It’s just crucial to understand that decent credit is good enough.

No one will deny you a loan.  And really, we want to avoid loans altogether if we can.  So if you have a house and a car, you’re sitting in a good spot.

I know things can happen, and it really doesn’t hurt to keep your credit up.  But let’s just be smart about it.  You know why you keep hearing that you need to build your credit?  Because most of the people telling you to do it are the ones making money off of your ignorance!

It’s worth noting that Smokin’ Hot Wife has no credit.  None.  When our loan givers ran our credit for our house, she didn’t even pop up in system.  And you may read that and think

Oh no!  What is she gonna do?

What shall become of her?

Where will she go?

Somebody do something!

Goodness gracious, peeps.  Where Does Your Hope Lie?

You want good credit?  Great!  It can absolutely be beneficial.  But it isn’t the end of the world if you don’t have it.

Hey, my way is proven.  You may follow it and share it if you must.

Do not conform.

P.S.  Merry Thanksgiving!  Eat!