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!