Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Chicago Vacation

What up readers?  It is I, Old School, back and feeling refreshed from a weekend retreat to the windy city (although it was pleasantly calm while I was there).  The Mrs. and I took a short vaca to Chi-Town this past weekend and spent 3 days walking around the city.  I was bundled up pretty warmly as I tend to get cold, but the weather was pretty mild for this time of year.  The following will be a short trip breakdown.  You can even skip to the bottom for a very brief highlight reel if you don't want to read this whole article.

Start: We drove north to Aurora Illinois and hopped on the Metra, which is a commuter train to Chicago.  It cost about 1.50 per day to park, so we spent $4.50 to park three days.  Not bad considering the cheapest parking I saw in Chicago was $20.00 a day!  Then we hopped on the train for $14.00.  Total, that's only $18.50 in transportation, not counting the gas to and from Aurora.  Not bad, and I didn't even have to drive in Chicago (which I hate).

A bump in the road: No Old School vacation would be complete without some form of Murphy's law eh???  (If you don't know, I ALWAYS manage to have bad luck when on vacation i.e. weather, sickness, losing items).

Anyway as we were about to check into the hotel room that evening my wife went to retrieve her wallet from her purse, and it wasn't there.  @)#$.  At least the very nice staff at the Hilton let us check in with my i.d. and credit card.  At this point my wife is sort of freaking out, and I am not in the best of moods.  We head up to the hotel room, drop all of our crap, and proceed to call all of the credit card companies and banks to cancel all of her cards.  We could not remember if she had accidentally dropped it in the car/parking lot, or we did not know if she had been pit pocketed.

Deciding there was nothing to do that evening, we went to an Epic Burger (only place really open by the time we decided what to do), and called it a night.  The next morning we arose early, 5ish, and hopped on the earliest metra back to Aurora.  The weekend pass we got was nice, and at $14.00 total we at least got our monies worth:)  Once back in Aurora we discovered her wallet had slipped between the car door and front seat...PHEW!  Back to the train and to our vaca.

$32.50 in total transportation (not including gas), is not bad.  We did end up spending an extra two hours total with the wallet mishap...meh:/

Ice Skating: This was my favorite part of the trip.  I had gotten our skates sharpened at the local arena ($14.00) and brought them along with us.  We walked from the hotel to the arena in millennium park which was only about .9 miles away.  Once there it only cost $1.00 to rent a locker and then you can skate for free all day/night.  It was pretty awesome to be skating right in the middle of Michigan avenue surrounded by tall building and people.  I for sure want to go back and try it at night when the city is all lit up.  Since we have our own skates we didn't even have to wait in line to rent!  Being frugal kicks butt and really is easier/more enjoyable.

Christmas Symphony: This was the part of the trip that both of us found disappointing.  My wife had gotten some tickets ($100.00 total) for the Christmas Orchestra which sounded great.  The problem (in our opinion) was that the orchestra was joined by a giant choir.  If I want to hear a giant choir I can go to church every Sunday.  I was there to hear some sweet Christmas tunes, and enjoy the violin/other instrumentals.  I felt that the music was overpowered by the singing.  It was good, but it wasn't great.  I would not recommend it.

Heaven on Seven: Oh boy.  This restaurant.  Just WOW!  My wife and I love spicy food and this is a great Cajun restaurant.  We couldn't decide what we wanted so we said "Jimmy feed me."  This option orders you seven random courses from the menu, which will be brought out periodically and delight your taste buds while filling your stomach.  The portions were supposed to be samples, but my wife and I were very full at the end of the meal and it could have fed three adults comfortably.  Total cost of the meal was around $70.00 which is way more then I would normally spend, but that price includes some wine and a very nice tip for our waiter who was the bomb!  For a nice meal in Chicago that isn't too bad, and it isn't like we blow that kind of money every day.

John Hancock Building: Yes this is one of the more touristy things to do and yes we dropped about $50.00 in this place, but my wife like it and it was her birthday/anniversary.  I couldn't have cared either way, but it was her favorite part of the trip.  The tower had an amazing view at night.  Seeing navy pier and all of the buildings lit up for Christmas time was neat.  We also did the Tilt which is were you can stand against a glass section of the building and they will tilt you 30 degrees out so you can look more directly down...sweet!

Shopping: Yes we did do a little consumerism while in Chicago and went shopping, but we didn't by anything:)  We did visit argo tea to consume some holiday beverages, and we also went to B&N, Ross, House of Hoops, etc.  I must admit there was some cool stuff, but my wife and I really didn't want to lug any goods around the city for the day.  We also got to witness a mugging occur.  A lady was holding her cell phone out and away from her to take a picture (gotta keep that phone high and tight!).  The mugger simply ran by, grabbed her phone, and disappeared down the nearest subway station.  You always have to be aware of your surroundings!

ChrisKindle Market: Maybe I spelled that wrong but basically this market was started by the Germans and only happens around Christmas time.  The market now contains all nationalities and contains authentic foods, toys, ornaments, etc.  The market was very small and very crowded.  We both loved the market but it became too crowded for our tastes and we chose to leave.

That wraps up our trip.  Total we only ended up spending$550.13.  That includes all transportation, gas, shopping, events, everything!  Not too bad for a 3 day, 2 night trip.  We did walk everywhere since our hotel was pretty close, but I feel very good about this trip and my wife loved it as well!

Highlights:

- Total miles walked >10.  We walked a lot, love doing it, and feel healthy.
- Consumer goods purchased (not counting food)  TWO, just proving that you don't need to buy stuff to be happy.
- Being upgraded to a King bed/suite fo FREE just because we asked.
- Meeting (o.k. it was just a head nod to) Charles Tillman at breakfast on Sunday before he played against the Lions.

Merry Christmas everybody and Happy New Year!!!

Friday, December 12, 2014

The World doesn't owe you JACK SQUAT!

*Despite the cutesy name of this post and the picture below, this blog post is going to be pretty fired up.  Shoot I may even regret writing it some day, but I doubt it.  It may offend you, and it may contain cuss words so deal.  I usually don't set out intentionally calling anyone out in my posts, but today I just don't give a flip.  MMM offends people with his blog, and I figured what the hey so without further adu let the face-punching commence.

                                                              Image courtesy of Yahoo

That's right world.  I'm hear to let you know that I don't owe you JACK SQUAT.  I am writing this because I fear that our country in particular, America, aka the greatest freaking county on earth, is being over run by a bunch of slack-jawed, whiny a$$ babies.  You will know these people when you see them in line at the supermarket.  They are the inconsiderate jerks that check out in the self check out lane with a cart full of crap just because they couldn't be bothered to wait in a line with an attendant.  These are the people that don't crawl out of bed until 9:00 or later, who don't flip on their turn signals when merging (habitually), or who yell the loudest at the cashier for hitting a button wrong, but they can't possibly understand what it is like to work a crappy job because they haven't worked a day in their miserable lives.  They are the bottom feeders of society, the dredges of this country.  They drag us down! 

They raise their kids, (which they have multiple of so they can recieve more "aid"), poorly.  They lead their children into believeing that someone always owes them something and to never consider anyone else.  "Gotta get mine."  "The man always keeps us down."  "I deserve better than this." 

NO YOU FREAKING DON'T.  You people disgust me.  You leech off of others hard work and success and complain when you don't have as much.

How do I know this?
I will tell you how I know this.  I deal with your kids every day because I'm a school teacher.  Please don't brush this off as just another educator who is peeved.  Oh no.  It runs much deeper than that.  I see the entitlement first hand.  Our school hands out free breakfast items (which is great for those who actually need it, not for those whose parents are too lazy to work so they are on disability), and guess which items are left all over the school?  The free items...because when you don't pay for something who cares if it is eaten or even thrown away.  I mean sh#t, there is a freaking trash can every twenty feet, but the kids won't even get off their lazy you know what to throw it away.

I even asked one about it lately, and he/she stated it wasn't a big deal.  The janitor would pick it up.  It was their job after all.  AHHHHHHHH!!!!!  Are you FREAKIN kidding me!  Are you that entitled you would go out of your way to inconvenience another human being?

Then today I had some kids trash an area and squirt an entire bottle of toothpaste in a sink...for real.  Who does that?  Even if I had caught the kid, which I wish I had, then he would have been sent to the dean's, but he doesn't care.  Why should he?  His parent's don't care.  I guess that is why I am writing this... because parent's don't care.

I see these ja' bronies out and about in public, so I get the double dose.  I get to see their kid act out, then realize why when I see the scumbag of an adult.  A lot of parents are not adults anymore.  They are kids running around in adults bodies, but they aren't adults.  Adults don't think like this, or at least they are not supposed to.

Adults put others needs before themselves, adults aren't rude just because they think they are owed something.  If you are a real adult, then start acting like it!

If you don't contribute something valuable to the market and you can, then stop sitting on you a$$ and get a job.  I'm tired, as is half of America, of you receiving government assistance because guess what...its not the governments money dingle berry.  ITS MY MONEY!  ITS YOUR NEIGHBORS MONEY WHO GOES TO WORK EVERYDAY, AND ITS THE MOTHER F'N JANITORS MONEY THAT CLEANS UP YOUR KIDS CRAP BECAUSE YOUR KID DOESN'T KNOW WHAT THE FRICK A TRASH CAN IS!

Stop making it soooo hard to get ahead in this country, or at the very least stop yelling at the cashier because that person has more class than you will ever have.  Stop being a piece of S#$T and treating people like S&^T.  Most of us have had it.  We won't take it anymore.  If you want to live in miserable conditions, then keep it to yourself, because the rest of us won't join you.  We have more heart in us, and more desire, and more fight then you.  WE WILL WIN!  When you are ready to join us fine, we'd like that, but until then...

if you are one of those adults who needs to grow up and refuses, punch yourself in the face.  It will save the rest of us the trouble of doing it for you.

Nailed it! 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Net Worth Update: Negative November Edition!!!

Pull up a log round yon fire and unbuckle your pants from over indulging in yet another glutenous Thanksgiving.  I am about to regale how a hard November for the Old School family ended well.

Mint says my net worth is now...

- $131, 493.00

This is a difference from last month of....

 - $ 952.22

Hmmm....well how that number wasn't supposed to go down!  Well it did, so let me explain why.

Firstly I had an unexpected surgery on a decaying tooth.  OUCH!  Well actually the surgery was pretty painless, it was afterwords that kinda sucked.

Secondly The bill from my wife's ex-doctor showed up this month finally and we payed it.  It did not show up in last months mint statement so I believe it kind of screwed up our net worth.

I lost a little traction in the month of November due to a couple of other things as well.  Mint seemed to be giving me hick-ups within the budgets and I could never get them to line up with what I had set them up for.  The reason for this is because our credit cards were just being entered as fees/payments in mint and the money was not being actually distributed to the proper categories.

For example: One credit card bill would contain gas, medical, and groceries...but I could not figure out how to enter the money into separate categories once mint processed the credit card fee.  If someone knows how to do this PLEASE leave a comment at the bottom of this article, pm me, email me, or send me a freaking carrier pigeon and I will love you forever.

I have since gone back to using spreadsheets and receipts.  Works fine and the wife likes it better anyways.  I still do use mint to track basic accounts, investments, and expenses.

This whole ordeal did lead to me having a minor breakdown at the monthly budget meeting.  My wife was trying to explain things to me, and we had about a bazillion (ok like 16:) accounts set up and I just could not figure everything the freak out, so I freaked out.  My wife is very laid back when it comes to this sort of thing so she allowed me to give my input and we changed it up a bit.  This is what our accounts look like right now...

1. Emergency Fund                  $5,785.49
2. Checking                              $295.62
3. Chase Sapphire Preferred  - $99.90
4. Wife's Card                        - $371.08
5. Mortgage                           - $161,824.69
6. Wife's 401k                          $12,446.35
7. My Roth                               $553.24
8. Wife's Car                            $9,222.00
9. My Car                                 $ 2,500.00

(I still can not get Mint to accept my other retirement account, they just don't have the support yet.  So for now I still have to manually check my 403b:/  Def first world probs).

We cut our accounts down to 9 which is much more manageable for me, even if we add 2 or 3 more accounts.  It just was to much for me to see 16 accounts hanging out with money going everywhere, much to confusing!

Goals:

1. Savings: I still have the goal set for 7k and I want to hit that by the end of the year.  Is it doable?  Probably not:)  But you have to have goals or otherwise you won't achieve them.  Currently I'm short $1214.51 just in case you are curious.

2. So usually I reserve this goal for retirement and this month is no different.  I need to find out how much money I have hanging out in IMRF (this is a separate retirement system for school support personal).  Before I became a teacher I worked as a teacher's aide and contributed the minimum amount to IMRF.  I now need to see if I can roll that money over to an IRA, ROTH, etc... with taking the least possible tax hit possible.  That is my goal for this month.

3. Side hustle nation: I am indeed a member of side hustle nation and so far have made a whooping $1.09 off of my buying and selling items.  It isn't great, but it is a start.  I look at it as a learning experience that I am getting paid for.  (The profit is factoring in all expenses like gas, shipping, fees, etc...)  I think I will post better results for the month of December, because if I don't the Mrs. has threatened to shut the operation down:)

All kidding aside November may not have had a positive financial outcome, but it did boast my favorite holliday.  I loved Thanksgiving and extremely grateful for all that I have.  I will continue to write, and update everyone about the Old School Family's success and failures.

Gobble Gobble... and get ready for that cruddy Christmas music till June!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Was today Black Friday?

Was today black Friday?  I think that as a kid I just used to think of it as the day after Thanksgiving and I knew I didn't have to go to school!

I guess today was black Friday.  I guess I did go out and shop, but not an extremely early hour and not to score some great deal.  I just went to my local Ross to browse the inventory for items to buy and resell.  I also happened to be looking for Christmas presents for the wife.  (This year we have set a $25 spending limit on each other).  I also happened to be out eating lunch with my wife who still had to work today, so it wasn't a trip just to go to Ross:/

I had the day off and really took advantage of the quiet time around the house.  I cleaned, did some laundry, read, and fixed myself some delicious meals of leftovers from yesterdays feasts.

Even though I was out and about, the store that I went to wasn't overly crowded.  Maybe it was because there wasn't a "doorbuster" or maybe all the crazy people had already left:)

At any rate I guess I don't think black Friday is really black Friday anymore because it all starts on Thursday.  I have a deep dark confession to make and I almost feel bad... I went out on Thursday.  I went to Wal-Mart and bought presents there for my mother and father.  (My brother tagged along). 

The items (kept secret just in case momma and poppa are reading this) saved my brother and I about $60 in total.  Nothing huge, but nothing to turn down either.  I think we were in the store a total of 1.5 hours.  While there I didn't witness too many fights, but I did feel slightly guilty for taking part in the consumerist ways on Thanksgiving.

I had already spent some lovely time with the wife's family, and then spent some time with my family so it isn't like I missed out on anything or left any party early.  I still have a dirty feeling in my gut though, because I am what you would call a purist.  I like Thanksgiving to stay on it's own day, and black Friday to stay on Friday.  By supporting the retail giant, I merely encouraged and voted with my dollars to continue having stores open on Thanksgiving.

Hmmmm:/  I'm guessing (because I haven't read every other blog yet) that most blogs are highly discouraging of buying items today, or yesterday.  Boycotting consumerism for two days...I just didn't get on board this year.  Usually I do, I mean I really didn't want to go but the lure of deal ensnared me.  I'll be interested to see what everyone spent on black Thursday/Friday this year and sadly know that I was a small part of it.

Oh well.  Continuing on with my consumerist ways I applied and received my first credit card, a Chase Sapphire Preferred.  I did so based upon Noob Travelers recommendation.  If you haven't been to his site just click on the link above and check it out for some awesome travel tips.

Basically this card also goes against some of my beliefs because it is a credit card.  If you don't know I am a huge Dave Ramsey fan and he hates credit cards (please don't hate me Dave:)  I just couldn't turn down the offer to earn points for travel, and save them up to take my wife on a nice trip to Europe someday, or wherever she would like.

I know, it's been a rough week for some of my core beliefs, but I continue to press on.  I suppose all of this change is just part of life, learning and growing.  Check out this link for a much better written article on growing up and dealing with change.

As I continue to grow and write I hope that some of what I learn and share can be used by the few readers of this blog to enhance their own lives.  If I make a mistake first then perhaps others can avoid it by reading.  If I make a positive change first, the perhaps others can implement it as well.  So I guess what I'm thankful for this Thanksgiving is my ability to write and help others...

That and ham.  I love me some ham.


Saturday, November 22, 2014

THE GREEN EYED MONSTER

As a quick aside, I recently passed 1000 cumulative views on my blog.  WOOHOO!  It may not be much, but I always enjoy tracking my progress, and blog views let me know someone out there is reading or at least looking at my blog:)

S u c c e s s, that's the way we spell success.

                                                              Photo found on yahoo images

What is wrong with Success?
I get the feeling that many people in America tend to only try for a little while.  When they can't hit their goals they fall into a very mundane lifestyle, following the masses to work everyday, spending most of what they make, not planning for the future, and in the end looking up and hating where they are.

Then to make matters worse they talk about it with their co-workers, neighbors, friends, etc...

"I can't get ahead."  "Life always seems to screw me."  "Other people are lucky, maybe I'll catch a break one day."  "Johnny is so lucky, he got a promotion."

After we start to get down on ourselves and can't figure out why we are not making it, something sinister starts to crop up.  JEALOUSY.  ENVY.  THE GREEN EYED MONSTER!

                                                           Photo found on yahoo images

Dang OSC, adding two pics in one blog!  You must be passionate about this!  I am.  Back to the topic at hand...

Envy creeps into our lives in a rhetoric that sounds like this

"Did you know xyz makes this amount of $$$$...NO WAY!  He/She isn't worth that much, I could do that."  "I can't believe that those people make that much money for singing,playing a sport, endorsing products."

Envy has become a mainstream movement.  Don't believe me?  What was the Wall-Street movement all about?  Turn on your T.V. and listen attentively for a couple of minutes.  If you don't have a T.V. pick up a newspaper.  Usually there is always a story about some greedy businessman who is avoiding taxes or doing something illegal or "morally wrong."

Why I witnessed some main stream envy just the other night...
The other night on ABC news they aired a segment entitled "Who can you trust?"  The segment was not bad, and I enjoyed watching it.  They highlighted a girl who became friends with other young women and then stole their identity, bad nannies, and of course Craig Newmark.

Wait, who is Craig Newmark?
Craig Newmark is the guy who invented Craigslist.  You know, that little site that we in the PF community love so much.  You can buy and sell items locally so you don't have to pay shipping fees. I liken it to an online garage sale that runs year round.

Now regardless of what you think of Craig, which would be opinion and not fact, here are some facts about the man.

1. He is very wealthy, probably worth over 400 million dollars.
2. He has worked hard for a long time, serving at IBM, Charles Schwab, and been a board member on many charitable programs helping veterans, cancer patients, etc... (In other words he has donated a lot of money to a lot of good causes).
3. He provided a program, Craigslist, that has helped millions of Americans buy and sell online.

So what is the problem with Craig you may ask?  He doesn't sound like a bad guy, certainly not a child beater like the nanny, or an identity thief.  Why was he featured in this segment?

People, a lot of them apparently, don't think Craig is a good guy.  They think he is evil because he profits from Craigslist.

They say that Craigslist is at fault for allowing individuals to sell illegal items on its site without regulation.  The particular item that was brought up was a Bumbo baby seat.  This seat was not safe when originally invented, and children could fall out of the seat.  Now I am by no means a genius, but when I look at one of those original bumbo seats I don't think for one second that it looks "safe" and in fact.... I don't think the NEW ones with "improved safety harness" are that safe either!

Regardless, the old bumbo seat was recalled.  Not everyone got the memo.  Bumbo seats can still be sold on Craigslist.

Then ABC really laid on the sob story by allowing a family to come on and tell of how their daughter was tragically injured while in a bumbo.  The dad put her up on top of a kitchen island, turned around or left her unattended(this part of the story wasn't highlighted), and the little child managed to fall off the counter and hit her head on an open dishwasher door.  I feel terrible for this family by the way, and am no means trying to attack them...but at what point do you say this was an accident.  No one is at fault, and if anyone is at fault then ask why do you leave your infant unattended on top of a counter?

Regardless, ABC tried to pin the blame on Craig for not setting up stiffer regulations on his site.  The whole story was garbage!  It smells like a turd ABC.  Craig is not responsible for what people sell on his site.  The PEOPLE are responsible for what they sell and buy on Craigslist.

Never heard about buyer beware?  I understand some reasonable regulation, but come on people.  Take some personable responsibility.  There will always be dishonest people and there will always be someone who finds a loophole to commit a morally questionable act or crime.

ABC even caught some of these people in the act trying to sell some of the bumbo seats....

"We are from ABC news.  Did you know that there was a recall on these seats and that they were potentially dangerous to kids?"

In the persons mind, Awww S(*&^ they got us, gotta get out of this somehow...

"No.  I had NO idea.  A terrible thing could have happened.  I'm glad you informed me of this danger, and I will be sure to throw this item away."

ABC then rolled some footage of them stopping Craig as he was walking, and asked him some very pointed questions.  Questions which really didn't have a good answer.  Craig simply didn't answer them and walked away.  I also find it funny that he asked to talk to the news anchor's boss...lol.

This story makes Craig out to be a villain.  Most of the American public probably thought by the end of the story that Craig is some rich, greedy, big bad businessman who doesn't pay his taxes, makes too much money, and keeps the little man down by profiting from allowing questionable moral activity on his site.

That all may be true.  It is of my personal opinion that is false.  I think Craig is a hard working guy.  He got to where he is today because he provided a service which improved the way we buy and sell online.  How many people who were outraged by the story are still going to use Craigslist, and still complain about how much money he makes?  That doesn't make any freaking sense!

I digress.

The main point of this article is to highlight the obsession American's have with what other people do and how much they make?  When we let Envy creep into our lives it destroys who we are, and any shot of having success leaves us faster than a wicker chair crumpling under a large person.

Take some personal responsibility.
Get up early, leave your job late.
Save more.
Don't wonder why, ask how.
And for the love, stop reading this stupidly long post and go accomplish something!

Schools out.     



    

Monday, November 17, 2014

Building our House (Part 3: The End?)

So here we are, finishing up our house.  The appliances were bought, the drywall was being finished, the windows were framed, and thanks to a painting party our trim and walls were painted.

Having that painting party saved us about $5000, and if you don't know how to paint it isn't that big of a deal to learn.  If you look up some good tutorials on you tube and practice on some discrete areas, you will get the hang of it in no time.  Grab some buddies, order some after painting food, and prepare to save! (I should note that I was busy with other work, so my in-laws, parents, and wife painted most of the house/trim:)


Where did this leave us?

Well at this point we had already spent a significant amount of time and money(10-15k) out of our pocket to make sure our house stayed within the original loan amount.  I was not going to go over budget gosh dangit!

So after all this work we realized we were still going to be over budget in the flooring category.  Not a problem said my fantastic father.  I can help you install the floors.

Carpet?  Noooo.  Heck no.  So we still paid the installers to carpet the 3 bedrooms.

Interlocking engineered hardwood purchased at Lowes.  Yes indeedy.  My father grabbed his trusty jig saw and table saw while I bought a rubber mallet and the flooring.

The flooring came out to about $700.00, which of course we paid for out of pocket.  This saved us about 3k up front on materials.  Then we worked on the floor for a couple of days, each evening after we were both off work.  This saved labor cost, although I'm not really for sure what the labor cost would have been.  Needless to say thank you Pops, you saved me quite a bit and instilled some great knowledge.

We also cut some costs and saved about 2k in our cabinet budget.  We still have really nice cabinets done by a wonderful carpenter who I call the wood doctor.  Seriously the guy is a genius when it comes to kitchen and bathroom layout.  Well worth every penny, we just didn't want a lot of fancy bells and whistles.  We are simple folk.

The mistake

Ah yes.  No house would be complete without the man making some sort of major mistake during the building process.  I decided that would be our master shower.  I thought for some reason that after tackling all of those previous projects I would try my hand at tiling.  Let me just say that Mr. Money Mustache makes it look very easy to do.  I can take an easy task and turn it into a difficult one.  One that ends up costing $6,000.  One that should have cost much much less.  I'm not going to go into great detail, but lets just say that I called in a pro (although much to late) and will not be tiling anytime soon. I am pleased with the work the pro did, and he did it at a reasonable price and on short notice.  Kudos to him, thumbs down to me:( 

The sad part is that if I had just called in a professional in the first place, the shower would have cost about 2k less.  SUCK!

Then there were various misc expenses like the gas line for about 8k, lights and fans for $600, etc and various other projects we did like hang the shades, fans, fixtures, but I digress... we were finished!!!


The End?

So at the end of the day, and house building, we moved in.  Since we had very little in the way of possessions it only cost us a moving pizza party and we didn't have to rent or hire any people/equipment.  Overall we came in on budget.

Down Payment: $11k
Out of Pocket/Cash Flowed: $15-20k
Mortgage: $171,293.00

Total: $ 200,293.00

 Whoa.  Kind of hard to believe that I spent that much money on a house, now that I see the total.  I guess that I could have scrimped on other materials, but ultimatley my wife and I are very happy with the finished product.  Do we have granite counter-tops with vaulted ceilings?  No.  We have a modest 3 bed, 2 bath ranch with plenty of time to make finishing touches.


*Unfinished touches...

So we left a few things unfinished to make it under budget and those include....
- Patio, Sidewalk, and Driveway (Sidewalk done by me this past summer, others still to be done)
- Wood Stove (put in by me recently, just in time for winter!)
- Shutters (put on by me this past summer)
- Gutter guards (yet to be done)
- 2 bedrooms left unpainted, but primed (yet to be done)
- One back wall in kitchen left unpainted (yet to be done)
- Basement unfinished (yet to be done)
- Downspouts buried (done by me this past summer)
- Landscaping/planting grass (done by me this past summer)

Things you learn from building a house and staying on budget...
1. You can do things you never thought possible with a good attitude, a little help, and persistence.
2. If you sacrifice in the early times, you will be under control during the tough ones. 
3. Sometimes you have to know when to throw in the towel and admit you were wrong.
4. Have more saved than you think you need, because you may need more than you thought.
5. YOU CAN COME IN ON BUDGET!!!  Don't let anyone tell you it is not possible, you just have to keep a very close eye on the house, hire the right people, and realize that you may not get everything you want right away. 


    

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Fantasy Football by the Numbers

What can I say, I love football.  I really enjoy watching the games on Sunday and have been involved with fantasy football since 2006.  Well that is great you might think, but what the heck does fantasy football have to do with personal finance.  Not a whole lot...

at least when you think like a rational human being.  But I am not normal.  Far from it.  So without further ado lets break down my line up in financial terms...

Quarter Back: Andrew Luck
This position in my league is really the breadwinner.  Delivering constant points you might say Luck is my big cap stock or my index fund.  QBs in my league need to always be putting up points, but they are rarely drafted until later rounds (unless it is a brees, manning, or rodgers). 

I got my hands on Luck at pick number 77 in the 7th round.  At that late he was a steal!

Wide Receivers: Demaryius Thomis, Calvin Johnson, T.Y. Hilton
In my league we don't play PPR we play standard scoring format.  In other words your wide outs do not get points per reception, they only get points based on yards and touch downs.  I went with the zero back strategy this year and drafter D.T., Keenan Allen, and T.Y. Hilton.

How did I end up with Calvin "Megatron" Johnson.  I bought low.  When Megatron was hurt his owner was shopping him low and approached me with a few trade options.  I decided that I should probably part with Frank Gore (even though Gore was coming off of some really nice games).  I hope that Megatron is fully recovered and plays well through out the rest of the season.

Keenan Allen was shipped away in a meaningless trade because he became as useful as a poopy flavored lollipop.  He was a bad stock, and fortune smiled upon me when I was able to rid myself of him.  We all make bad picks once in a while.  The key is to not let that bad pick stick around to long, or it will start to smell up the rest of the team or portfolio. 

D.T. and T.Y. are actually proving pretty useful and putting up some nice points.  They were essentially small cap funds when I drafted them and have had some very nice returns, but they often fluctuate in points per game.  One week can be boom and the next week can be bust.  So far it has been mostly boom for one and bust for the other so they work well together.

Running Backs: Frank Gore, Bernard Pierce, and Knowshon Moreno
Well this category was not my strong suit, or even close.  I waited until round six to snag Gore.  He gave me some useful weeks and then I traded him for what hopefully will become a productive Megatron.  Gore was kind of like the hot stock that Kiplingers always touts.  By the time you read about buying, you should probably be thinking about selling.

Pierce was a bust and I dropped him from team, traded for him later, and dropped him again.  I made a mistake twice with him.  He became kind of like our financial mistakes that we can't quite seem to get over.  I liken this to buying a lottery ticket.  Even though you don't win, you look around at others occasional fortune, convince yourself that you can do it to, and repeat your stupidity.  Congrats.

Moreno would have been a great snag at pick number 125.  He was going to be Miami's feature back and scored 19pts right away.  Then he injured himself.  So he sat on my bench for weeks until he came back.  Then he injured himself again because he came back to early (ala What is going to happen to Romo this week?).

You might be wondering why I am still writing and not pounding my head on the table due to a horrible RB core...

I didn't give up.  I dropped, traded, and scoured the waiver wire.  I picked up Ahmad Bradshaw and Fred Jackson.  These two backs were not drafted and have become substantial pieces of my team.  They provide a good lesson in that where others see no value, there often is.  Nothing risked, nothing gained.  Now hurry back from injury F-Jax and lets get back to domination!

T.E. Julius Thomas
My tight end was actually my second pick of the draft.  He has turned in some bad weeks, but I am confident that he will regain his dominance.  He has a ways to go maturity wise, but I am confident in Peyton to develop him as a tight end. 

Defense: Seahawks
One would think that this would have been a safe pick.  At pick number four however I made a big mistake and probably left points on the board.  I figured Seattle would put up at least 15pts a week for me.  NOPE!  This is like the stock you buy, and then it instantly tanks.  So you hold and hold and hold.  Then you hold some more.  I don't even know why I am still holding, but I just can't bear to release them until they contribute something. 

Kicker and IDP: I simply stream the kicker every week and look for high individual tackles with my individual defensive player.  Not a whole lot to say about these two positions.  They are not exciting.  They can win games for you however or lose them.  Kind of like how your insurance policies aren't exciting.  You don't really pay attention to them until you need them.  Then they can really save your bacon.  So make sure they are in place!

Bench:
In my league we are allowed to have 5 bench spots.  Currently this is the breakdown...

QB: Phillip Rivers and Ryan Tannehill(picked up Ryan for bye week 10-he will go if he doesn't perform)
WR: Doug Baldwin and Mike Evans
RB: Bobby Rainey
T.E.: Dwayne Allen

I know that is 6 players and I only have room for 5 but since we are on week 10 (colts/chargers) some of these jokers are playing:)

My bench is kind of like an emergency fund.  You need to make sure you have it set up, not to earn great returns(pts), but to be there in case of emergency (bye weeks).

So that is my fantasy football team, currently 6-3 and second out of twelve.  I have put up the most points so far though!

7 Financial Takewaways
1. Invest in a variety of ways (Index, Small Cap, Mutual Funds, etc...)  Diversify!
2. Make sure you have a breadwinnner or minimize risk as best as possible.
3. Take some risk, and cut the crap when your gut tells you to.
4. Don't buy just because the experts are touting the merits of an investment or assest.  In fact that may be a good time to sell.
5. Sometimes you have to make the same mistake twice (or more) before you learn from it.  Better late than never.
6. Check to make sure your insurance policies are covering your butt!
7. Make sure that emergency fund is in place and accessible, you never know when you may need it.

That's all for now football freaks, see you on the waiver wires!


Friday, November 7, 2014

Old Schools Net Worth Update: October Edition

Hello there boys and girls, gents and ladies, ghouls and whatever the female version of a ghoul is.  It is time for another Old School Net Worth update.  To be honest I am a little afraid to look, because I know I have been slacking lately in the finance area.  I don't know why but for some reason October was kind of a "I'm not feeling very frugal, and I want to go out to eat" type of month.  So without further ado let us take a look...

Mint says my net worth is now...

$ -130,540.78

That is a difference from last month of

+ $1716.55

Well that isn't exactly a great big step in the right direction, but it is not a step backwards either.  I'm going to go ahead and tell you what I've been up to lately, why I haven't written, and other boring stuff you probably won't read:)

I have been extremely busy lately.  Who hasn't?  I have been working on getting into a masters program, taking care of some last minute outdoor projects, and working on coaching a tennis team.

My wife had an unexpected medical bill that we sort of cash flowed to the tune of $1300.  This bill however, was not entirely her fault.  The office manager did a poor job explaining what was being done, did not give her a guesstimate of expenses, and proceeded to send a test out of network.  What normally would have been a $20.00 test turned into a $1800 bill that she negotiated down to $1300.  These people are just fortunate that my wife handled the situation, because if I had gotten the phone I would have let them know exactly where to stick that bill.  On a side note, no matter how sick or bad you are feeling at the office, always make sure you know what they are doing to you, and always ask where they are sending your tests.  Make sure it is in network!  /Rant over.

On to happier pastures.  With the recent freezing my wife is feeling a lot better.  Nothing alive means no pollen which means no allergies for her.

GOALS:

1. Savings: Kind of went backwards on this goal as we went down to $5400.  Had to pay for that medical bill somehow, and we simply don't make enough money to cash flow the entire bill and continue with our other goals.  So the goal of $7000 still stands and we will hit it!

2. I did complete my goal with my 403b and met with the companies advisor.  Seems I have saved about 5k in my 403b.  Currently it is in a target date fund so that is fine for now.  I know target date funds are not great, but right now since I am young it is set up fine the way it is.  Since I now have access to it online I can adjust it or mess with it as I see fit, which was the goal in the first place.

3. I took J. Moneys Craigslist challenge and posted a few things online.  I did not do a great job posting them, but got the hang of it quickly.  I sold a pair of old turtle beach headphones the other day for $25.00...sweet!  I then turned that $25 into house supplies that we needed so I offset my housing budget by $25 this month, all for a pair headphones I never used any more!

*4. Just remembered....I am going to fill out some paperwork on a Flex spending account, so YAY for lowering my taxable income!

Anyway that is all I have for now, but I'll be finishing up my House building series soon, and maybe talk about my obsession with fantasy football, or other musings I come up later.  I also am in the process of writing a short mystery novel for kindle because you can never have too many hustles at once...right?

Hustle on.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

National Cat Day

Somewhere I read that it is national cat day.  Do I know if this is true...no.  Am I going to take this time to shamelessly promote my cat and post a picture of him?






Does that answer your question?

So what does my cat bring to the table other than furballs, pooping near the litter box if it is not to his specifications, and costing me money?

I could answer cuteness, but that sounds pretty fru fru.  I think I will go with a NATURAL BORN KILLER.  That's right.  My cat, Fitzgerald, is a death machine.  He is a mouse's worse nightmare.  If you happen to be a bug in the wrong place, Fitz might kill you too.  Because of this, Fitz is my pal.  He makes sure the mice don't come in, and I make sure he has a nice place to sleep.

So in honor of national cat day, and his birthday which was a week ago (1 year old), I salute you Fitzgerald.  May you bring many years of happiness to our family, and many rodents to their death!

Meow.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Up to no good...

What have I been up to lately?  I certainly haven't written in a while, and find myself sliding through October with a bit of laziness in regards to this blog.

Work: So outside of this blogging gig, (which I don't actually do for the $), I have a full time job.  My job takes up a lot of time, but lucky for me I love my profession.  Teaching is always pretty fulfilling, and even though it sucks sometimes, it really makes me happy when I think about it.  So even though their are long hours spent grading, writing, and thinking up new curriculum, it sure is a blast when a kid tells you they enjoy your class.

Blogs: I have not been writing on my blog...but I have been reading other blogs.  It is in fact a little bit of an addiction.  I don't know if I'm addicted to reading the other pf bloggers, but I do know that I am addicted to giving my mind a workout and learning new information that helps me conquer life (cue evil muhahahhahaha!)  I also recently started reading the wall street journal's guide to personal finance that they put out years ago and the information I'm ingesting really remains valid today.

Football: Admittedly a time waster, I love football.  I love football so much I indulge in playing fantasy football.  Something about the speculation of numbers, stats, etc...gives me a little high.  This is also why I don't gamble, because I know it would be easy for me to become addicted.  Luckily the only thing Fantasy Football costs me is time, and I can stop anytime I want, I swear:)  Watching the games on Sunday/Thursday also takes time, but it is a great relaxer.  I also recently got a shout out from J. Money about me being a cowboys fan.  I don't know if he was trying to rub it in that his redskins beat my cowboys like a grand canyon donkey, but I'll take it.  So I'm giving a shout out to J. Money and his recent POST, about how he became a millionaire at age 27!  That is great, and I give him my sincerest congrats.  Although I'm his age, I'm a long way off from that mark and I know what kind of dedication it takes to keep pressing on towards such a huge goal.

No Good: O.k.  So now that you have had your readers fill of fluff and good stuff, we turn to a more serious topic.  How is all of this mediocrity affecting me?  If you guessed poorly, then congrats you won the prize.  Even though I wasn't participating in "harmful activities" i.e. drinking while driving, I wasn't choosing to be very purposeful in my actions.

In other words, I have been letting life happen to me.  This is not a good thing.  Whenever you let life happen to you, be ready for a whoopin'.

I am not saying that watching football, reading blogs, or working is bad.  In fact, I believe all of these activities to be very beneficial.  I do not believe that letting them happen is without benefit either.  What I do know is that I tend to be "up to no good" when I don't have a plan and carry along about my merry way.  It may seem good for a while, but eventually without a plan you will fall off track.  Luckily I realized this after only one month of bad behavior.  If I hadn't the results could have been disastrous.

So remember that planning activities, and even your leisurely activities, is beneficial.  Planning always yields a result, whether good or bad, and usually results in critical thinking.  Critical thinking obviously is a great tool to develop and utilize.  Then you won't have to worry about being "up to no good."

"If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail" - Ben(jamin!) Franklin

10/29 update* P.S.  Ironic that I mention Benjamin, because I just got mentioned on the Stacking Benjamins podcast!!!  Woohoo...I'm a little behind on my listening but the putting yourself through college without debt episode is where my review of the show is actually read, on the show.  Sound confusing?  Well just listen when there is about 17 minutes left and you will hear a review by OLDSCHOOL27, and yep that's me!

Also you should listen to the podcast just because its great as well!  Here is the LINK.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Cowboys Fan Here: I admit, it's sad.

Yes.  I admit I am a Dallas Cowboys fan.  Yes, I also admit this fact makes me sad some times.  Usually it is because for some reason the Cowboys will throw a game away in the fleeting seconds of the fourth quarter.  Sometimes it is because despite the hype, I know that this season can't possibly be "the season."

Well today we have hit a new low Cowboy nation.  I'm not sad because we are losing, in fact quite the opposite is true.  We are winning.  Do I buy into it yet...what can I say?  We beat the Sea-hawks and they seem pretty legit to me.

No.  The simple reason I am sad is because of THIS.  That is correct, we employ a thief.  Not even a grand thief, or a smart thief, but some guy who steals underwear and a sample bottle of cologne.  Sadly he makes 495 large a year.  In other terms, four hundred and ninety five thousand FREAKING DOLLARS!  Was he stealing because he couldn't afford the items?  I doubt it.  More than likely it probably is a habit.

Regardless of all that, it got me to thinking of what I would do if I made 495k a year...

So here is what I would do if I had a salary of 495k for only one year.

Now I don't really want to get very complicated with this answer since it is just a quick post, but lets assume I paid 25% in taxes and ended up taking home $371,250.  I don't really like that number so lets just round down and make it $370,000 or $370k for short.

Lets say on average I spend $48,000 a year for all of my expenses, including house payment, lights, food, etc.  I take my $370k and pay $48,000.  I am left with $322,000.  Dang.  What do I do now?

I guess I could pay off my house.  I have approximately $165,000 left on the house, after paying my mortgage off that leaves me with $157,000.  Then I would probably set up a car fund, and for me a super nice used car would probably be about 20k.  I would still drive my current car until it crapped out, I just want to be prepared!

Now I have $137,000.  Hmmm... well lets beef up the emergency fund to 20k too.

$117,000 still left.  I guess I could set aside 15k for a nice vacation my wife wants to go on.  Down to $102,000...

Whoops.  Almost forgot the tithe.  10% of the original number comes out to $37,000.  So now I'm down to $65,000...man this is getting difficult.  I guess if I really wanted to splurge I could have someone finish our basement off for 40-50k.  That would leave me with 15k.

I really don't have anything left to do with that 15k so I would probably just give it away:)

Here is the breakdown of what I would have accomplished with a 495k salary...
1. House completely paid for with finished basement...
2. Emergency Fund of 20k
3. Car Fund of 20k
4. 15k for nice vacation with the wife
5. Gifts and tithe of 52k
6. Living expenses of 48k

Well I think that pretty much sums it up.  Exciting.  Nope.  Some may ask why I didn't invest any of the money (or why my math may be slightly off lol)?  I would reply that with all that I accomplished I could invest a lot more of my future income due to the fact that my house would be paid off.  This is just a silly fun make believe game any way so lay off me ya Kill Joys! 

*Side note: Tony Romo if you wanna toss me the 495k that is laying around in your sweat pockets, feel free:) 

P.S.  Tony, I would also settle for an autographed jersey from the future super bowl MVP.  HOW BOUT' THEM COWBOYS!

What would you do with 495k a year?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Building our House (part 2):

For those of you haven't read part 1 just click this here LINK and you can check out where we left off.  For those not wanting to read part 1 or for those who have already done so here is a quick refresher...

We left last time with the simple fact that we were 4-5k over budget.  This left us with a few options, work, cut expenses, and save more so that we could come out on budget.

The Framing: After all of the concrete curing, and french draining, the real progress began.  The house was quickly framed in the basement, the sub-floor went on, and then the main floor was framed.  Next the trusses went up, sheeting went on, and the roof was ready to be done.  (During this entire process, every day after supper at about 5:30 my wife and I would drive out to see progress on the house.  This also allowed us to clean up after the construction crew.  I am not sure how much money this saved us, but I know it didn't hurt in the end!  Cleaning up the materials leftover allowed construction to run smoothly and much more efficiently.  Very few man-hours were spent cleaning our building site, so that was a sweet bonus!)

Now I'm not construction genius, far from it in fact.  I tend to be like lightening with a hammer and never strike the same place twice.  I did however have a willing grandfather and father who said they would help me on the roof.  The 3 days we spent roofing turned out to be a blistering 103, 107, and 105 respectively.  I wish I had MMM's attitude about the experience, but I didn't.  I'm not going to lie when I say it sucked.  Rolling out the paper went fast, but the actual shingling was a bit more tricky.  There was some conflicting opinions on just how to shingle, and I have a hipped roof so nobody on my crew had any experience with this type of roof.  In the end it all worked out and we haven't had a leak yet, so advantage us! 

We managed to save about 2k on labor, so now we were only about 3k off of our budget.

Lowes and a NICE gift:

We were shopping in Lowes for various house items/supplies when we ran across a killer deal for a wahser/dryer, dishwasher, and stove.  The total price of all these items came out to just above 2k.  Our original plan was to pay for all of the appliances within the loan.  The bid was about 6k for all appliances.  So even with the un-purchased fridge and microwave we would come in 3k under.

We were still about 3 months away from needing these items, and I really did not want to pay out of pocket as I knew there would be other items competing for our cash in a short amount of time.  My wife's parents agreed originally to loan us the cash, but then graciously gifted us the money.  Big thank you to them as we were now back on track and on budget!

Unexpected: 

Oh boy.  Here we go again with more unforeseen expenses.  First we had about 3k in additional gravel that had to be trucked in for our driveway.  Dang that wet spring!  Then our bid for our flooring went south as it was going to be much more expensive than originally thought (to the tune of 4k).  On top of that our wood stove instillation and cost was going to be about 1-2k over budget.

Wiring:

What is a man to do?  Having a mental relapse sounded fun but it would have done nothing to fix the problem...so I decided to take on some more projects and pay for some more materials out of pocket.  First I had a buddy who agreed to teach me a thing or two about wiring.  I want to tell you right now that turning off power to the entire house is totally worth it as I was shocked a few times throughout this process because I thought I had turned off the correct area.

Overall I spent more time than anything on this project.  I learned how to run wire, hook up boxes, switches, fixtures, etc... all from scratch.  I knew nothing about wiring and learned a lot in a few short days.  Thanks again to my buddy(s) for helping me learn and helping me wire.  I consider the knowledge I gained the most valuable as opposed to the money I saved.

We ended up spending about 2-3k in the overall process for materials, wires, fixtures, and advice.  We ended up saving about 2-3.5k on the original bid.

(Note that I did have a professional come by and install the box, house hookup, but that was covered in a separate section of our original bid).

Where did this leave us?

Rounding third base and heading for home, we were still over budget in some key areas such as the wood stove and flooring.  In the next post I will address how we fixed those problems, and how we finally got finished and moved in!

Happy Columbus Day!       

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The "hidden" Cost of Use

What am I referring to in the title my savvy saving friends? 

If you guessed the hidden cost is referring to "wear and tear" then you win!!! 

Oh.  You seem disappointed.  Maybe you have already left the page and clicked on the next funny cat video in your que, but if you are still with me let me explain...

Every time you use an item, it slowly begins to devalue.  Many people often look at what the item costs to operate initially and not what the item costs to operate in the long haul.

For Example... Opening the garage door.  Millions of people have electronic garage door openers.  I mean c'mon!  They are freaking awesome and a great luxury item to own.  If I didn't own one I would have to open my own garage door every time I wanted out or in. 

We don't really treat the garage door opener like a luxury item though do we?  We hit that button like it is going out of style.  Get home, garage door goes up/garage door goes down.  Wife gets home, garage door goes up/garage door goes down.  Playing with the kids outside or running an errand?  No problemo man, just press the magic button.

The super frugal people out their may cringe at the energy usage, but for the most part we go about our lives hitting the button like its part of the wack-a-mole game from chucky cheese.  Then one day our fantasy world comes to a screeching halt. 

The motor breaks, the spring looses tension, or other various parts wear out.  Well what the bleepity bleep happened you think as you thumb the phone book looking for a repair guy.  Or maybe you are a frugalpants and plan to just get the parts and fix the door by yourself (By the way, I have helped with garage door repair and it isn't as fun as it sounds and is quite dangerous to boot).  "These things happen" you might say noting that "stuff just isn't made as well as it used to be."

All of these wise words may be true or they may not be.  What is true is that you can can actually save yourself some heartache by limiting your use of an item!  In our example instead of opening the garage door and closing it multiple times an evening, maybe once would do.  It will take some extra thought at first but eventually it will become a habit and save major wear and tear on the door.

Too often in our society however, we don't think like this.  Got wet clothes...throw them into the dryer.  Don't want to wait to drop off a book or movie/run an errand...hop in your car.  Don't want to re-use a glass all day...throw it into the dishwasher.

I know that some items are made cheaper, but the majority of wear and tear that causes an item to break is unnecessary use.  Sure we all like to conserve energy, but what about actually conserving the item?  Using an item less means less wear and tear, which in turn means a longer more efficient life.  Once you get the hang of thinking like this down, it won't be long before you too are avoiding unnecessary use of items.  This will of course, lead to saving money down the line when you don't have to replace your older but well cared for model or item.

....This article was inspired by thoughts in my head, as I opened the garage door:)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

10 Minute Pep Talk

So I have about 10 minutes before I have to hang the laundry up and I figured I might as well throw out a quick concept which I try and use in my life...

Where you are is the sum of your actions.

In other words, whatever your current situation is, it is a direct result of your actions.  So if you are not where you want to be, look no further for the problem than the mirror!

That's right.  But old school you say I don't, I can't, I won't, I shan't, blah blah freakin blah.  That is what is coming out of your mouth.  BLAH.  That is how you are choosing to live your life.  With BLAH!

WHY the frick would you take your power and give it away?  Does life kick you in the teeth sometime?  Yep.  Do bad things happen that are out of your control?  Absolutely.

It doesn't matter.  Like Rocky said life will beat you to your knees and keep you there if you let it.  Don't let it.  That is the simple solution.  So what if your teachers hate you at school.  So what if you are surrounded by an ocean of debt.  So what if you were beaten, hated, born with a disability, etc..

The only thing you can do to improve your situation is to improve your reaction to the events you experience daily.

Bring it every day!  Bring it so hard that you fall into bed at night exhausted and wake up happy.  Bring it so that no one can say anything negative about your efforts.  Write down what you want, stick it in your pocket, and pull that list out on the daily.

In fact, right now, I want you to write down three things that you have always wanted, like really wanted.  Now pick one out, get off your butt, and go get it.  Do whatever you have to do (legally!) and go get it!  No excuses.  Leave a comment below with what you chose, and what you are going to do.

Once you get what you want, do you feel different.  Maybe, maybe not...but the important thing is that you learned how to win.

GO WIN... Now I'm going to go fold the FREAKIN LAUNDRY YEAH!!!!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Old Schools Net Worth Update: September Edition

*For those of you astute readers out there you may have noticed that I changed my last net worth post to read first edition.  I did this because I miss wrote September when in fact September had not yet happened.  So without further ado here is the September issue of Old School's net worth...

Hot off of Mints' press reveals that my net worth is now...

$-132,257.33

O.k.  Well lets see where I was last month...

$-134,908.26

That is an improvement of...

+ $2650.93

Woohoo!  O.k.  It may not be hitting the jackpot, but it is a step in the right direction.  How did this change occur?

1. Payed down the mortgage a little (We always put a little extra on our mortgage).
2. Saved some money and hit our $5000 in savings goal
3. Carpooled to work and spent less on fuel

The vehicles we currently own did not really depreciate, which doesn't really matter to us because we plan on driving them until they die.   

My ROTH actually went up by about $20 and my wife's 401k went down by about a $100 bill.

I have NOT YET accomplished my goal of meeting with a rep that is in charge of my 403b, BUT I did schedule a meeting with him for this next week.  I will meet my goal for September in October...better late then never.

We blew our savings goal out of the water quite by accident.  Last time I posted that I wanted to have at least $5000 in savings.  We actually now have $6501.27 in savings.  We accomplished this by overpaying into escrow for property  taxes.  Whoops...but at least this was not a major bleepity bleep whoops that causes heart stress, this was a calming whoops.  So we ended up with an extra $1500 being deposited into our savings account.

GOALS:

1. So now that we have $6500 in savings I want to shoot for $7000.  It is only about $500 away and I want to keep saving until we reach 10-15k.

2. Complete my goal that I set up last month and figure out what the heck is going on with my 403b...I need to take charge!

3. We reduced spending last month so I would say we should continue to look for ways to cut costs in our budget or increase the amount of tax shelterd dollars we are putting away.  I really should look into my companies HSA and other avenues to save some cash.

4. I also talked last time about making mo money!  Well I haven't made anything yet but I have started to de-clutter my house and taken on the CRAIGSLIST RULE!  If you don't know about this I suggest you head of to J. Money's page and check it out.  The premise is that you turn your garbage into gold and rid your house of junk at the same time.

That is all for now friends, but don't count me down and out yet.

PEACE!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Building our House (part 1):

This building our house series of posts is going to be about what I underwent to obtain my first piece of property...and then what I had to accomplish to put my first house up.

No it isn't a tiny house.  Too bad because I really like the idea and the small amount of money required to build one.  My house is a modest 3 bed 2 bath ranch.  It has a full size basement (unfinished) and a 24x24 garage. 

When we moved in we did not even have a sidewalk!  Oh the humanity!  The horror.  I ended up building the sidewalk myself.

In fact I put a lot more work into the place then I originally thought and the place still cost us over 200k!!!  I am getting ahead of myself.  First we must go back to where we once were...


The Beginning: The land grab

Getting a piece of land shouldn't be that hard.  Especially when we had someone (grandpappy) who was generous enough to deed us the property.  Well it isn't that easy and this is partially why I am writing this.  To remind myself of how difficult the process was so I will NEVER EVER want to repeat it.  If this post also helps you build a house well then that is a plus as well.

First we had to get the land surveyed, staked, prepped for legal description.  That cost us a cool 1000 buckaroos.  I of course was novice and thought that somehow getting this property was going to be um how shall we say...free.  How wrong I was...

Next we had to record the plat, record some other land info, and get a quit claim deed.  Ok.  $169.50 later and we are ready to go.  This was actually a pretty good deal in my opinion as we had to have a lawyer draw all of this up for us and sometimes lawyers can get pricey. 

Next came one of the worst run arounds I have ever put myself through.  The dreaded local government and zoning!  I had to go through about a million steps before finally getting the lot approved for building which included
  • Finalizing plans with our builder (we changed at least 5 times and our builder was very understanding and patient with us).
  • Getting pre-approved for a loan (good thing my wife works at a financial institution).
  • Visiting the health department so I could pay them money to tell me it was ok to build
  • Having the soil tested to make sure it was ok and revisiting the health department to deliver the samples to them (Still ok to build!)
  • Making sure the taxes are current (So they made my grandpa drive down and pay in full before they split the plot)
  • Many other steps that I can't even remember at this point all designed to make sure you could only get one thing done at a time
  • Down payment to loaning institution $11k and some change Ouch!
After a week of driving around and dealing with some nice people who had to follow some stupid laws I finally ended up with the property in my name.  I can't remember exactly but I believe that filing my plot, fees, etc... ended up being an additional $1500-2000.

So after all of that and $2500-3000 dollars later I ended up with a gorgeous 2.1 acre lot.  This was a whole lot cheaper than if I had purchased the lot for fair market value.  Thanks papa!

 Electrical Service and the Foundation

Next up was getting the electrical service set up and good to go while the foundation was being put in.  We had two major problems at this stage. 

First major problem was that our foundation was being dug right after it had rained for almost a month straight.  The walls continually wanted to fall in so it took more rock then expected to make sure the walls held steady.  It also took more rock for the driveway because the ground kept swallowing it!  Rock ain't cheap.  Neither is the excavator or labor...so there went an extra $933 that was unforeseen.  We also ended up paying for some more copies of the blueprints at this stage ($100).

The next step didn't cost any extra money, but it did cost time.  The electrical company I was dealing with was not exactly friendly to put it mildly.  First I called the lady months in advance (like December before we built) and she said just to wait and call her back the month we were planning on building.  O.k.  Whatever.  So I call her up.  She is on vacation.  Nice!  Anyone else that can help, NOPE.  Double nice!  When she finally gets back it takes me a couple dozen tries to get a hold of her and then it takes a couple of weeks for them to come out and hook up temp service...great!  The only really fortunate part of the whole thing is that the builder only had to have his crew on generators for about a day because of how long the concrete took to cure and the foundation to be established.

The UNKNOWN

These expenses were all unknown to us and certainly a shockWe now had to either pay out of pocket for these expenses, or go under budget in other areas of our house.  This meant sacrificing certain items we may have wanted.  The other option was to get down and dirty and do more work than originally planned.

Total money out of Pocket so far: $15069.97 (obviously we knew about the down payment, but the extra 4-5k was shock to us).

In the next post of this series I will lay out how my wife and I used all three strategies listed above to hit our goal and come in on budget somehow:/

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Why I dislike pensions (but I'll take it if it's there)

Pensions.  What the heck is a pension?  A fixed amount, other than wages, paid at regular intervals to a person or to the person's surviving dependents in consideration of past services, age, merit, poverty, injury or loss sustained, etc.: or at least that is according to THIS website.  

Well hey that doesn't sound too bad does it.  I myself as a public school teacher have been part of a pension plan ever since I got my first job.  You may think I would be excited to be a part of this plan, but I am not.

In fact I am downright fearful.  First of all the state that I live in is known for corrupt government officials who have been part of various schemes that involve lining their pockets with a bunch of taxpayers money.  That money is probably also taken from the state teachers pension funds...so that blows.

Second, I don't have any control of how that money is invested or saved.  I would much rather have that money to invest, save, or spend at my leisure.  That means once my money exits my paycheck, not voluntarily btw, I lose all control of it.  That drives me nuts!!!

Some people may not be bothered by this.  Some people may tote the merits of a pension as guaranteed income for retirees.

The main problem with this is that you may be the last man holding the bag, aka the guy still living when the pension fund runs out of money.  Stacking Benjamins just did an excellent podcast on this and I highly recommend you listen to it.  (It is much better than this article:)

In fact, our pension system is flawed in the fact that if the money is not invested well as a whole or not enough people want to become and stay teachers then the fund runs out.  The only solution is to hire more teachers or make the new teachers work longer to collect later and less.  That is where we currently sit.

I (supposedly)  would have to work until 70ish under the new laws in my state to receive full benefits.  The state can kiss my hairy you know what if they think I'm working that long, but I am sure other teachers look at this and think that is the way it has to be.  Would you want a 70+ year old teaching that wanted to retire some 8+ years earlier.  I wouldn't!  They would be grouchy all the time and not really be an effective teacher.

So what is the solution?  Well I don't have a very popular solution but I think it would work.  GET RID OF THE PENSION!  That's right.  Just do away with it.  As an ex:  Anyone who has 10 years of service will still receive a pension, everyone else is on their own for savings.  Harsh.  Yes.  Absolute.  Yes.  Will it work?  Maybe.

Results are inconclusive.  People may or may not save more on their own for retirement.  Those who have retired or will who count on the pension may or may not make it, but they should be able to.  The point is that our current system is not working and we are heading for a giant fiery wreck at the end.  

The question I have for all of my fellow teacher's is that are you willing to risk it?  Are you willing to be dependent on something so far out of your control that you won't fight for getting that money back?  Are the perceived pros worth the impending cons?

How do you feel about pensions?  Yay or nay? 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Old School's (negative) NET WORTH!!! First Edition

O.k.  So this post is probably long overdue.  After all I do blog a lot on personal finance and I notice most other bloggers throwing their net worth out their so I probably should to.  I guess I just have been a little nervous to do so.  I mean after all, telling a bunch of people who you may or may not know isn't exactly normal in America.

Most people in America act like they have money and really don't.  I act like I don't have money and I really don't.  Then their are those who act like they don't have money and they really do.  I want to be the third option.

We all have to start somewhere so I guess I will just give you the lowdown on my net worth via Mint.  The only thing I don't really agree with on Mint is that the value of my cars is assessed.  I know I can change this setting but I really don't want to, and I don't factor in the value of my house either.  I figure the house is a liability really until I pay it down, because I can't cash it out...well I could but then I would be renting again and that is not my goal:)

According to Mint at this very moment my wife and I are worth....drum role...

-134,908.26

Well that sucks.  I suppose I can celebrate slightly in the fact that we started at -167,032.95.
We do not have any consumer debt, medical loans (yet), or car loans.  The only loan we currently have is our mortgage which sits at 163,507.90.  Our house is a modest 3 bed, 2 bath 1200sqft ranch (basement unfinished so far) on 2 gorgeous acres of woodland.  We built the house/had the house built in 2013 and have been living in it for almost a year.  I may write an extensive post later on building but for now I'll give you some more specifics on our current situation.

Mortgage:     $163,507.90
Savings:        $4,679.63
Vehicle #1:   $9,222.00
Vehicle#2:    $2,500.00
Wifes 401k:  $11,661.19
Roth IRA:     $488.58
403b:            $ Unsure

I will not factor in checking and a few other saving accounts that we have because that money is already spoken for in the form of everyday bills, insurance, and annual expenses.

What I take away from this is that we are light on cash, but I am figuring that is due to paying medical bills out the wazoo.  That happens when a member of your family has a chronic illness.  There is nothing to be done and just a way of life so you just have to suck it up, make the best of it, and move on.

I am also getting my butt handed to me by my wife in the 401k department.  I know that I have some money in a 403b I set up when I first got hired, but I am not actively managing it currently and need to be better about that.  My wife also started before me in her career but she is still whipping my butt, something that will change this following year;)

GOALS:

1. I think that we should aspire to save $5000 in savings.  It is only $320.37 away so I know that we can do it.  Ultimately I'd feel pretty comfortable with 10-15k in the bank, but for now 5k seems do-able.

2.  I need to find out how much money is sitting around in my 403b and start to do a better job of managing that.  Right now I'm pretty sure the money is invested in a really crappy annuity, but that is my fault for just putting the thing on stupid auto pilot.  So my goal is to make a meeting with a rep and get it straitened out.

3.  Reduce spending, and increase earning.  The first part I can do.  I just need to not spend money on foolish things...which may be hard because I have a bachelor party coming up and I know I'm going to spend some dough on that.

Increasing my earning is where it gets difficult for me.  Two jobs is out of the question currently unless I were able to snag a paper route.  I have toyed around with other ways to make money.  I always read J.Moneys side hustle series and tried to get the old synapses firing in my brain.  I have a few ideas but I'm not going to share them until I start making some money...hopefully they pan out instead of falling flat on their face like many of my schemes do!

Well until next time keep on rolling that proverbial boulder up the hill and one day we will meet together at the top and laugh as we push it down the other side.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

It ain't all Candyshops and Lollipops

What, you may gasp as you read the title.  I mean I know life is hard for me (the reader), but I just figured all you financial blogging guys and gals had it all figured out.  You may have been misled into thinking we are some sort of superhuman specimen's who never experience pain, heartache, or trial.  Maybe you think that we don't struggle like you every single day.

Nay.  I say nay to this nonsense.  I in fact have been misled into this thought process a time or two.  It isn't real popular to blog about repeated failure or trial but I assure you all bloggers struggle the same as you and I.

Here are some reason's that we as readers may believe that life is all peachy keen everyday for pf bloggers...

1. Highlighting the Highlights:  
I think it goes without saying that most people only write about the highlights or successes.  It in fact is actually a cultural phenomenon, I mean just take a look at facebook, twitter, etc...  No one wants to share a bad picture or tweet "Just ate breakfast."  Everyday life is boring, so the mundane must be transformed to "Just ate a sweet strip of Canadian bacon and washed it down with a nice swig of african chi." #Awesome!

O.k.  So maybe that was a little overboard and I'm not saying it is bad to write or read flowery language, but the problem that we/I have is getting caught up in thinking that is what everyday life is supposed to look like.  Instead of enjoying the really great experiences we have, we must tweet the fleeting moments and then make them the sole focus of our lives.

So read the highlights, but also know that to get to that highlight the writer probably had to struggle quite a bit to get to the top of the mountain.  It's OK to struggle.

2. Reading the Goals and not the missed shots
This point follows along the same line of thinking as not getting to read about the mundane details of life, those details that we live with everyday.

Often times pf bloggers will write about goals and net worth and achievements like they shot 95 or 100%.  They may mention one or two slip ups but for the most part it is all smooth sailing right?

WRONG!   Once again I think it is safe to say that to start and continue a PF blog to successful levels you must be willing to make mistakes.  The Great One aka Wayne Gretzky, said that he would miss 100% of the shots he did not take.  YOU WILL TOO.  You must make mistakes in order to hone your craft.  You have to screw up and mess up or you aren't trying hard enough.

It takes perseverance, and tenacity every single day to reach a long term goal.  Some days are not going to be as good as others.  Sometimes you will have setbacks or complete meltdowns within your plan.  Everyone does, even if you don't get to read about it, so keep pushing forward.

3. PF Bloggers Attitudes..."They're GREATTTT!"
That's right.  Just like Tony the Tiger used to say, personal finance bloggers have great attitudes for the most part.  They know how to take a crappy situation that would frustrate most, and turn it into a positive one.  This is actually why I love reading most pf blogs, because of the splendid energy and attitude most have.

A perfect example is this article by MMM.  If you have not read it do so and be prepared for some SaWeetness.  I personally would have been in quite a funky mood if I had faced what MMM did, but his attitude is GREATTT!

It is awesome if you have this attitude and I encourage you to strive for it, but don't worry if doubt passes through your mind time and again.  These PF bloggers go through it too.  I go through it.  Just because writers may mask their struggles with positive attitudes does not mean they can not relate to you/I as a reader.  We can.

So pick up your boots, buckle your belt, and get ready to kick life so hard in the teeth everyday that you win.

Monday, September 1, 2014

30 Ways you Waste Money "mini" Article Review

So for those of you who don't know there is quite the plethora of information out there on personal finance.  I am always reading new articles trying to gain more information and hoping for a leg up on the game of life.

When I started this journey I read MSN money, Kiplingers, and Yahoo Finance.  These sites were easy to access and viewed by thousands of people.  I figured that these articles would surely have truthful information that would lead me to success.  Oh how wrong I was:)

I don't know how or why but one day I came across Mr. Money Mustache.   Man was I blown away!  Here was a guy who laughed in the face of mainstream financial advice.  Soon I discovered GRS, 20somethingfinance, and others.

These guys know there stuff and are not afraid to show their bottom line aka what they actually have in the bank.  I mean, wouldn't you rather take advice from someone who is willing to show their portfolio versus some random writer on MSN?  I know I would and I do!  I'm not trying to discourage you from reading from these other sites, but I would encourage you to read them with a more critical eye which is why I am reviewing a recently published article by Kiplingers.  Here is the LINK to the article if you would like to follow along as I poke a few quick holes in some of the advice given.  Remember that these "holes" are merely my opinion and that you should always use critical thought when reading my opinions. 

The first tip they give in the article focuses on consumption. 

BUYING AT THE WRONG TIME.  I would rather focus on reduction rather than consumption.  The premise of the tip is fine.  Don't buy an item at full retail and try and buy at the end of each season during mark downs, etc, however,  I prefer to just not buy.  Do I need new clothes every season?  NOPE.  I believe this tip misses the importance of highlighting the wrong time.  The wrong time in my opinion is when you don't actually need an item, you simply buy because of receiving a good deal.  It isn't really a good deal if you didn't need the item in the first place.

TOSSING FOOD BASED ON THE EXPIRATION DATE.  I know that not a lot of people are going to agree with me on this one, but I will not eat food past the expiration date.  Sorry but not sorry.  I don't want to get sick and deal with the medical bills or the sorrow of having my stomach pumped.  Instead I would say plan your meals and food consumption so you never have to worry about expiration dates.  If you check in the store before you buy then you can avoid a lot of this mess all together.  See an expiration date approaching...try and use up the item or make something with the item and freeze it for a later date.

OVERSPENDING ON GAS AND OIL.  This one is kind of obvious.  I like the tip about not spending for premium fuel or changing the oil every 3000 miles.  Most people already do this.  Also buying a slightly used fuel efficient car to replace a gas guzzling monster is a great idea too.  The advice does not mention a reduction in use.  Why wouldn't you ride your bike or walk instead of driving if you could?  How about a bus or other form of public transit?  If you must drive could you carpool or consolidate trips?  Think before you just go hop in your vehicle and drive two doors down to your friends just because it is a little "too hot or chilly" out!

These are just three of the pieces of advice in the article that I found to be troublesome.  I'm not saying the article didn't have good advice.  I just want you to think before you act on advice you read from a big supplier (like Kiplingers, yahoo, etc...).  In fact you should always think when processing information that is going to affect your financial life.  Does this apply to me?  Will this information be harmful or helpful to my situation?  Can I take this advice and improve upon it?

Remember that you want to improve your life and "get mo monies".  To do that you are going to have to use critical thought and not just follow the masses, even if that means ignoring some of the very advice on this blog:o

Garbage in, Garbage out.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Routine

Phew.  It has been a while since I have had time to sit down and let my fingers unleash some creativity (or garbage:) upon my dell.  The reason I have been long to post is that I have been busy establishing a routine since summer has ended and school has resumed. 

Here is an example of what my life currently looks like

5:15: Wake up/Read
5:30: Work out
7:00: Shower and get ready to work
7:20: Work day begins
3:30: Work day ends
4:00: Get home and prep dinner
5:00: Eat dinner
6:00: Clean up/Other chores, usually outside work
7:00: Watch an hour of t.v. or so (depends on what shows are on)
8:30: Shower and off to bed/Read
9:30: Finish reading/Lights out/Sleep

Looking at my routine after having typed it out is kind of weird.  I know that I do all of these things on a daily basis and it is kind of what makes me who I am.  I am slightly OCD so having a routine is very important because I feel more successful when I stick to a routine.  I also believe a routine helps with discipline and I love having discipline in my life.

Although many do not see discipline as pleasant, I take comfort in knowing that a little pain now makes for a better tomorrow.  I also feel that discipline makes the sweetness in life that much sweeter.

For Example: If I ate steak everyday I would tire of it and chowing down on a nice T-Bone would lose the excitement it normally brings.  If I hold off and only eat steak once in a while not only do I get the dietary benefits, and the "new/special" taste benefit, but I also receive the anticipation/reward.  It is almost like I allow myself a trophy for being good and waiting.  I know this sounds childish, but trust me it works.  Try it.  The next time you want to buy or eat something you know you shouldn't, throw in a stipulation.  ie... If I make an extra $500 next month I can buy myself that $100 dollar weather tech jacket I have been eying.

So I guess that is today's post.  Not real deep or mind blowing.  Simple to read, simple to apply, see you next time, bye.