A new year , a new tactic in helping get our finances under control.  I’ve listened to Dave Ramsey for years and figured that even though I was able to knock out 2 credit cards last year, maybe I need help getting to the finish line?

So today, I signed up for the Dave Ramsey My Total Money Makeover.  I have taken the time to get our remaining credit cards listed with the software and it was not as bleak as I thought. And more importantly, I think that even though it is going to be a hard journey to push through the remainder of debt, we didn’t get there over night and we certainly aren’t getting out of debt tomorrow, unless we win the lottery. So, for $90 a year, it was worth to be able to really be able to see and track where our money is going and visually see when our debts will be paid for.  I really think that this is going to be a great tool for my family to get ahead.

So My Total Money Makeover, here we come. I am ready to stand in the lobby of Dave Ramsey and scream that we are debt free.  Is now the time for you and your family to get some extra step, to help you over the hump?

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The Debt Update

3 credit cards have been paid off or down to a near to zero balance.

Now, the focus is being shifted to the other accounts and taking the money that was going towards those 3 accounts and piling it on the other accounts.

We are keeping our heads down and just trying to plow through the debt that is left over.  I am already feeling better about our financial situation and more importantly, were are going.


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I can not tell you how many times that my father and my grand father have told me to save today and not to count on having Social Security benefits available to me when I retire.  I am trying to take the necessary steps today planning for my future and for the future of my family. Here is what I am currently doing to ensure that we are financially set for the long haul, and not factoring in Social Security benefits into the equation.

  1. Pay off debt – this will allow for more money to be put in our savings and money market accounts.
  2. Invest – Even though I have stopped by individual stocks for now, I am investing about 8% of my current salary and my employer puts in an additional 2%. So, about 10% of my current salary is going into my 401 and I am hoping to have that up to about 15% in 2 years. I try with each pay raise to add at least 1 – 2% to my investment. And, to simplify my investment, I went with a target date fund, based on my year of retirement, so the fund managers will automatically adjust the holdings as needed each year. Going from more of an aggressive holding now, to a less aggressive and risky holdings the closer that I get to retirement.
  3. Save for college tuition – The more that we can save over the next 18 years, the better off that not only my wife and I will be, but more importantly, the boys will need to borrow that much less. I would like to be able to pay for the majority of their college tuition so that the boys can go to college without going into debt.
  4. Social Security – Though I am not factoring this  into my retirement, I did go to Social Security Estimation of Benefits to see that if I wait and work until I am 70, that my monthly take home will be over $2,800. However, if I retire and start drawing Social Security at the age of 67, then my monthly payment will be $2,100.

Planning for the future is important and I am a web developer, not a financial planner. So, if you have questions as it pertains to your financial goals, take the necessary steps to get the best information for you and your family. Here are two local resources:

Our children will have enough to deal with as they become adults, I would like to try to help them and teach them that it is ok to save and more importantly, how saving today can give them so much more in the future.



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Now that February is over, I have a chance to look back at our financial statements for January. A few quick highlights:

1) My Jeep is paid off now, so that will save us close to $400 a month.  I am deferring $250 of this savings into our Money Market and taking $150 a month and putting it towards my wife’s SUV. By making the extra $150 a month, this will cut 6 months off of the loan and that is if I add nothing else to principal.
2) We have 3 credit cards that have a $1,000 balance, so those are being attacked first. We are currently putting $100 a month towards these, but will increase that to $150 a month to reduce the monthly fees.
3) It also looks like one of my wife’s student loans will be paid for, which will free up another $50 a month that will be put towards credit cards.
4) There were a few unexpected bills that popped up, but I think that for the first time, that we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. It is a long crawl to get closer to the light, but at least we see the light.

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While doing some research on Alltop on Twins blogs, I came across this blog post that will help you save money today! Some of these ideas we have already started implementing. Here is the article: 10 Ways to Make Ends Meet on a Constricted Family Budget

Based off of their list, here is what we have done:

4. Restructure your debts –

We are actually following the Dave Ramsey approach and have listed our debts from lowest to least and have started making extra payments just to get them down the quickest.

9. Cancel subscriptions that you no longer use –

We just canceled 3 magazine subscriptions that we have no longer been reading as much. And since there is so much free content available and most of the magazines have their content free anyway. Saves money and saves space, because I often collect all of my magazines and read them all in one day.

10. Watch free movies and television through legal online sites –

Even though I have to say that I haven’t really gotten into the free movies, I do need to call Comcast now that our contract is up.  We don’t need all 5 of the movie channels now that we have the kids and honestly, we can save the extra money to use toward paying down additional debt.

We are probably more focused now than ever before to save money today. In order for us to reach our financial goals, we have cut out a lot, but still need to do better to have everything paid off sooner than later. And then we can put more money in our 401k and our boys college funds.

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Have you seen the news lately? Analysts are predicting $4.15 – $5.00 a gallon gas prices. So how does this affect you? Well, it is a chain of events.

1) Gas Prices rise.
2) Businesses pass along the higher charges to the consumer because the are losing money on their higher gas prices.
3) Food prices will rise.
4) People will not travel as much, thus the number of people taking vacations will decrease.
5) Because less people travel, the need for seasonal jobs will decrease because the demand is not there. Or companies can not afford to pay as much because of the higher gas prices and lay people off.
6) And unemployment rises again.

To give real numbers, here is what it will cost my family based on the following early projected gas prices for a fill-up.  And my wife and I each fill-up at least one time a week, sometimes twice a week. Because of these projected numbers, we will have to sit down as a family and make decisions on future trips and really look at the cost benefit of traveling out of state and maybe even out of town.

Gas Prices at $4.15
Gas Prices at $5.00
My SUV 16 gallons
My wife’s SUV 15 gallons

See the trend here? Gas prices rising will only hurt our economy, plain and simple. And normally, I wouldn’t get on a soap box about gas prices, except for 1 primary reason and that is, there isn’t a logical reason as to why the prices are that high. And no, I am not one of those that believe that we should cut off our oil dependency immediately and go to electric cars. And I don’t because the technology in my opinion is not refined to the point that the number of cars can be put out on the roads and maintained if there are problems.

Do we need to look at alternatives to oil, absolutely. But, we also need to drill and harvest the oil that we can control and not be so sufficient on overseas oil. Until then, our gas prices will continue to rise, as the demand is greater than the supply. Though I did hear that the demand for oil has sifted from the US to India and China, which I thought was pretty interesting.

From what I have read, the Keystone Pipeline would have increased jobs by 20,000,and  increased oil so that we never have to import another drop of oil and the current administration rejected the project.  Sometimes I wonder if politicians forget why they were elected and allow the political game to become the focal point and not the voters that elected them to office.

Here is a crazy idea, let’s do what is best for the residents of the US and not what is best politically.  $5.00 a gallon for gas, is not and will not help this struggling economy.

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To help prepare our two boys for their future, we setup a savings account for them at our credit union. To start off, we put $25 a month, per child to open the accounts, but have tried to maintain depositing another $50 per child a month. We have also been able to add about another $200 per due to gifts from their christening at church. This year, instead of gifts from both my grandparents and also my wife’s grandparents, they will be giving them money for Christmas to help with our long term savings goals for the boys.

A few things to consider:
1) Setting up an account at your local credit union. The benefits that I found were: no monthly fees, higher interest rates, and they provide a monthly newsletter, so when the boys get older, they will be able to color the handouts and also learn more about saving money.
2) Ask parents/grandparents for money for your children than a gift, esp. when the children are young. Why get a toy that will have a short life span, when money can grow in interest over the years.
3) You are teaching your children a valuable lesson about money and saving money. Our goal is $50 a month per child, not factoring in interest, gifts from others, etc. So by the time the boys are 18, that will be a nice starting point for the boys.

Hope these help.

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In this economy, I think that everyone has to budget their money. And with twins, it is even more important, because their Doctor visits, Diapers, Formula, clothes, daycare, etc. So my wife and I sat down and looked at where we were financially and started making some tough decisions on what we needed to cut out. I will break out what we did before the boys were born, what we have done since the boys were born and what we are working on now.

Before the boys we did the following:
1) Read the Dave Ramsey book The Total Money Makeover
2) Used the Debt Reduction Calculator and we keep this updated on a monthly basis. This allows us to know where we are at any point in time each month.
3) After we found a nanny and decided on a price for her to keep our boys, we started taking what we would be paying her each week and putting it into savings. We needed to see what life would be like without that money. And because I have been asked a few times, we used to find our nanny and were very pleased with the service.

What we have done since the boys were born:
1) Canceled our gym memberships and instead, we take the boys to the mall and use that as our family exercise. This has saved us approximately $80 a month.
2) Cut back on eating out. We are fortunate that our boys are pretty well behaved and are very laid back when we are out in public, but cuts needed to be made and that was an easy one. So instead of eating out 2 – 3 times a week, we only eat out 1 time every two weeks. We now cook more at home and cook more so that we have enough leftovers for 2 – 3 meals. (I’m working on an entry on recipes and sites that can help with cooking) This has saved us approximately $80 a week, and actually probably closer to $100 a week if you factor in taking our lunches now.
3) Coupons and more coupons. See more about what we our coupon experience. This has saved us approximately $25 – $30 a week.
4) I would stop at Starbucks at least 5 days a week and wouldn’t think twice about it. Now, I only go once a week. A savings of $20 a week.
5) Hand Me Downs – Don’t judge. The reality is that kids only wear clothes usually a few times before they have outgrown them. With twins, double the cost, it only makes sense to hook up with someone with older kids that have outgrown their clothes, it definitely saves a lot of money.

What we still need to do:
1) Almost 2 years ago during a snow storm, pre-twins, my wife and I upgraded our Comcast package to the $200 a month plan. Now, we watch only a few channels, primarily The Food Network and sports, so we will need to scale our cable package down.  And we love Comcast and the service that we have gotten thus far, we just don’t need to spend $200 a month right now.
2) Signup for the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University class.
3) Learn how to process our own food to cut down on paying for solid foods.
4) Increase our coupons, as this appears to be a huge savings for us.
5) Buy in bulk. Unfortunately for us, our house is small, which makes buying in bulk very limited, but when we can, we do stock up on the essentials, like diapers, formula, toilet paper, paper towels, etc.

I hope that these tips help. I have a feeling that this will be updated on a regular basis. If you have any ideas/suggestions, please feel free to share them with us.

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The day that we found out that we were pregnant, my first thought was “How much is this going to cost me? Weddings, college tuition, etc.” Then a few days later we were told, be open minded to twins and then it really hit, 2 weddings, 2 kids going to college at the same time, etc. With all of the added costs, we are limited in what we can do financially, but college is important and the cost is only rising.

Instead of my wife and I carrying the entire burden of paying for our son’s college tuition, we have asked that our parents contribute instead of buying them Christmas gifts and Birthday gifts. And since I have been a member of USAA for the last 20 years, we are looking at the USAA college savings plan.

Talk with a financial planner and ask what they recommend for the best way to pay for your children’s college tuition. But start as soon as you can, as the cost of college is only raising.

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