I have noticed a trend involving wealth building that is all wrong. I see it in comments on other personal finance blogs a lot lately. I am sure it has been there all the while and it only jumped out at me recently for whatever reason. The misinformation is so important it needs clarification.
The comment goes something like this: I am not saving right now because I am paying off student loans/credit cards/car loans/making extra mortgage payments. When you pay down debt you ARE saving and also building your net worth. The real question is: How can you balance debt reduction with retirement savings for maximum net worth building?
Paying down debt removes the most caustic item on your balance sheet holding back wealth creation. Debt interest is an expense you can only slay by destroying the debt (paying it off). Debt is not a bad thing in and of itself when used as a tool, but most consumer debt is bad. Mortgages are the exception if used properly.Read More
Grandpa told us stories of how they increased fuel economy during World War II rationing years. The technology has advanced over the years, but the goal is the same: increase the miles traveled on a gallon of gas. Today we call this behavior: hypermiling. Rationing is no longer the motivation. Saving money and reducing our personal impact on the planet are the two main drivers (pun intended) behind hypermiling today. I will share the best methods I use to achieve 46 miles per gallon in a 2007 Toyota Camry. If you are willing to work the technology harder your results will probably be even better.Read More
A cold north wind raised goose bumps on my forearms. The year is 1982. I am 18 years old with no idea how I am going to live my life. My dreams are to own a business and make lots of money. You see, my family is very poor. Just money. That is the goal.
The wind gusts, reinforcing the goose flesh. The family farm finished bankruptcy only months before. My whole life plan was over; farming is no longer a viable job opportunity, the only thing I know. Our farm house was a shotgun shack. (A shotgun shack is a building where you could shoot it with a shotgun and the pellets would pass through without hitting the building. The old farm house had plenty of holes.) By some miracle we kept the house and a few acres of land from creditors; the rest was gone.
My dad’s life was over, too. All he knew was farming and now the farm was gone. He started a business repairing silo unloaders. The competition was tough. Life in the 1982 Rust Belt was no fun. Work was scarce; opportunities few. Unemployment reached toward 20% in our local community.Read More
Reducing spending is my favorite pastime, more fun than a Pokémon or any other video game. Finding new ways to reduce costs provides me more pleasure than any other activity I engage. I bike to work as often as feasible, blasting my transportation costs to a minimum. Our home hot water is supplied by a geothermal heat pump. In the summer there is no reason to keep the geothermal on except for hot water so we put it on a timer, reducing our electric bill to almost nothing. (We use hot water in the evening to hand wash dishes and wash up after working outside.)Read More
From an early age I practiced picking out conversations from a crowd. It’s a neat little trick for a business owner to have. When you think I cannot hear you I may actually be listening in closely. Conversation in a crowded room takes skill with multiple conversations amped in volume so you can be heard over the cacophony. Picking out a select voice from across the room takes a lot of practice.Read More
One of the all-time great pleasures people receive from reading personal finance blogs is stalking the blogger. For some reason peeps want to know what the heck we are spending our money on. Who am I to upset the apple cart? Stalk away.
Below is a table showing my spending for 2015. I know, I know, you expected this months ago. All I can say is: Better late than never, you little stalker, you. My obsessive-compulsive way of recording stuff in my life allows me to break down my spending patterns for you. There were a few surprises when I reviewed the numbers. I will provide some explanations after the table.
In the future I plan on listing my annual spending once per year only. My columns listed here are exactly how my personal records read, minus the description. The miscellaneous column catches a lot of stuff I could break out, but since most months have only minor miscellaneous spending, I elected to keep it simple.Read More
The lottery is back in the news with promises of a rich reward for a very small number of people who randomly pick numbers matching the officially drawn numbers. The odds are hundreds of millions to one. But you can’t win if you don’t play. Just one ticket, one little ticket. A single dollar. Better buy two; make that three.
Lottery sales shy rocket when the jackpot rises to mega levels. The impossible odds are still just as bad when the jackpot is massive. The one question I don’t hear people asking is: If nobody won the last time they drew numbers and millions played, what chance do you have of winning?Read More
There should be no battle between good and bad debt. Debt is not good or bad in and of itself. Debt is a tool that can be used to simplify personal and business finances or can be used with reckless abandon. The internet is filled with advice on debt. In one corner is Dave Ramsey and his ilk claiming all debt is bad and should be avoided at all cost. In the other corner is Donald Trump and his “There is never too much debt” mantra. Only rarely is someone smart enough to discern between the two camps and provide appropriate advice on debt. Today your friendly Wealthy Accountant will be said smarty-pants.Read More