The American Dollar
One industrious American family's focus on a financial goal of freedom. Through worldly personal finance education, here is our story.
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Our Story: Both my wife and I are 27 years old and have gone through financial hell and back. Now we are on track to financial freedom, however we are not financial advisors or professionals, just everyday people. Share our journey from a negative networth and email us if you have questions or comments! :)


Monday, March 27, 2006

Murphy is beating me down!!!

I sat down at my desk today sipping the morning coffee thinking... Could my situation get any worse?? Murphy (from murphy's law) has set up camp where I am and decided to stick around this weekend. First, due to my stupidity and rushing I left my phone in one of the break areas at work. Of course thinking some honest person would give it to security or lost and found, I was mistaken. However security helped out as much as they could by sending out a building wide email if anyone finds it. I guess in the end, I'll have to deal with my loss. Flush a $200 dollar blackberry phone down the drain. My replacement is on its way already. Not just that it had all my information on it and emails, documents, etc. Ok so the phone thing I could deal with. I was extra tired this morning being a Monday and while Im driving down one of the side streets that I work on, a patrol car stops me. DEEP SIGH!! The trooper stated that the reason why he pulled me was because my car was rolling through an intersection. Of course, I practice the my-foot-is-on-the-brake while looking for any oncoming traffic to my left move before I see its clear to go. He says that I was rolling through and I told him my brake lights were on the whole time so its not like I plowed through with any disregard. Anyway, got the ticket, more than likely im going to pay it. I dont even think I should go to court for this, should I? Well thats my day so far, so at least I can look forward to lunch!

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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Emergency Fund finds home at ING!

Decided to open a new ING account seperate from my debt reduction savings. Here I will house my $1000 Emergency Fund which was currently held in a regular savings account at my bank. Ive dealt with several people at ING and think their customer service is outstanding. ALso the turn around time with money being put BACK in your account IN CASE of an emergency is also a plus. Interest aside, they are far superior than my personal banking institution.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Overdraft Fees Hit MY Account!!

Got hit with not only ONE but TWO overdraft fees today! This goes to show that not matter how much you are involved daily with your money, it can happen. Im very very very responsible when it comes to my money, so when this happens, I go into CRAZY mode. I went to my account this morning and to my shock... -3.02, in the red negative balance showing on one of my checking accounts. We decided to go down to one salary starting this month and are still working on the little budget things. I set up 2 checking accounts and both linking to the same savings account (opened ONLY for the sole purpose of overdraft protection SAFETY and a tiny little emergency buffer outside of our regular emergency fund, which in the savings account I dont plan to touch either). Getting to the core issue, I called one of these cubicle dummies at my bank and was outraged. After going into the whole story, the representative told me that this account was not linked to the savings overdraft. I tried my hardest to stop from "going off" on this poor girl who also had the audacity to say that she could link it NOW after the fact and to just "pay the fees". Now I vented my frustration on her for about 20 minutes because I didnt realize how she could misunderstand what I was talking about. After about 20 minutes of being on hold, she said that based on my account history and my time with the bank, she could waive the fees. I was more upset AFTER she said this. BASED ON MY ACCOUNT HISTORY! You should be waiving it BECAUSE your people didnt set up the correct accounts when I OPENED the account. ****Ok i digress, it was my fault in the first place for not balancing the gas correctly in the account and going over. I admit to that because that was MY fault and my lesson. At the worst, I should have been hit with the $5 balance fee from the savings account.*** I thanked the girl and went about my business. Now what have I learned from this ordeal that took about an hour of my life, well number one: manage your money more carefully and stick to the budget. Number two: never trust what someone tells you over the phone as, its been handled. 9 times out of 10, it gets done with no questions asked. Its that one time that you wished you got a confirmation number or their name to reference that you spoke with them. Make sure the representative notates this. Number three: If you find an error, report it immediately. You dont want this hitting your account and running the risk of this happening with your next one or two or MORE transactions. Number four: Have a cool head. Emotions are BAD BAD BAD with money situations and at one point during the conversation, I had to take a step back and find my focus. I was being blinded by being so frustrated and upset that I wasnt listening to anything she was saying. Finally number five, prepare prepare prepare... even in the face of us acting like automated robots when it comes to money, we are still human and have to plan for these contingencies. What if they didnt budge and give me my money back? I would have had to prepare for this possibility as well. Thank goodness, everything went as planned. Hopefully you are never put in the same situation that I was in this morning.

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Friday, March 17, 2006

Our "Baby" Budget... How Cute!

Let me get this out of the way here: Happy St. Patricks Day! Dont drink too much and stay safe! Moving on, Im happy to report that the budget is ALIVE AND WELL! Since we are DINKS (dual income no kids), we think of our budget as our "baby". This beautiful living breathing balance in our lives is forever changing. Since we have started the envelope system, we have found so many shifts in how we use our money. I'm notating the catagories that we over budgeted for and making these adjustments for next month. I've also tried to decrease our monthly bills by doing a little budget tweaking. For example, we currently rent a modem from cox cable, which with tax in my area comes out to $11.94 monthly. I just purchased the same modem for $36.50. Unless the modem breaks after 3 months, I say its a great long term buy and that frees up a pizza or ten in gas every month. Also a couple more items, I'm also cancelling my online game which costs $15 a month and working diligently to remove and try to lower our cellular services, which we pay now $75 approximately a month. Cracking at every expense making each of my dollars count! Thinking not only one day at a time but overall long term, will make our house debt (mortgage) go away quicker and for us to adapt to our budget.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

No Time for ANYTHING!

It is true, that if you have alot of work on your hands, you have no time for anything. Relaxing is out of the question and sleeping seems to get in the way of this as well. Even though I picked up some more shifts at work and have been at home less, I find that leaves even LESS time for shopping and spending money. I know that when Im home on the weekends sometimes all day Saturday and Sunday doing nothing, we seem to find a way to entertain ourselves by going to the movies, mall, finding stuff that we WANT to buy or that maybe the house "needs". Then we make trips to home depot and want to remodel this or fix up that and then we have spent about $100 or so on something that really could have been thought and planned through. So heres a toast to work and keeping busy! My wife has conferences to go to and is busy with school tasks, so we both are keeping busy with each other. Also we find that the time that we are together, its a more valued time and have no wasted minutes, just fun. Ive also started to go on a weight reduction/ gain... Im perfectly happy with my mass and want to have a more muscular template to work with this summer. So Im on a daily regime to get this worked out by Summer/ Fall weather. We are also planning something tropical in the winter to travel to; of course this is always finely tuned to the budget. We are still on track of the living on 1 this month and plan on socking away almost $2600.00 each month. Budgeting her $2200 on our living expenses will be posted shortly.

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Friday, March 10, 2006

Federal Refund

At what point would you seek professional guidance with your money? I'm on track with my investments with ROTH and 401k for this year and working on paying down the home. Perhaps I should wait til I'm done paying down the house. It will be a couple years out, I know but its good to have the pioneer to help me out. Until then, I guess I'll blog!

On a side note, we received our federal tax refund in our checking account today for $400. I'm glad that we even had a refund; its going straight to savings. We don't have any kids or that many deductions. I'm trying to get that as close to a zero refund as possible. My HR depatment helped me out a lot. The weekend is full of budgeting and FUN. (the two are synonymous)

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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Finished Sallie Mae

Killing Sallie Mae Debt today! $5565.73 going to them today. Feels pretty good to get that one done. Plus they pumped up my interest rate to 5.75% and I thought it was at 3.5%.... anyway, just glad im done with it. They estimated that I would be done with my payments of $80 by the end of 2010!!!!!

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Saturday, March 04, 2006

Growing EQUITY in my home

While I was browsing online at the property values in my area, I came across my state's land records. The city/county basically lists the value for the home, the amount for property taxes, home dimensions and so forth. I put in my home's specific parcel or lot number in my area (they use something called a GPIN). I found that starting in 7/2006 my home value jumped about 18%! This is mostly due to the land value moving rapidly from $55,000 to $85,000 and additional home improvements made to the home. I was so excited I told my wife and she insisted that we are on track to make more major improvements to the home. Im going to list on the blog what changes we plan to make this year to further the value (while of course still paying down the mortgage). Updated the online networth today too.

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Friday, March 03, 2006

Seperate Checking Accounts

Ive seperated the checking accounts, BUT FOR A GOOD REASON! We decided to go down to 2 living on 1 income, a thought from Kate Spills the Beans. Since we are trying to live on LESS than we make, we opened another checking account with Bank of America. I have changed my direct deposit with my company which was fairly easy and have begun the process of living on just the wife's paycheck. This will allow us to save approximately $2500-$3000 a month, used towards finishing the emergency fund and beginning tackling our mortgage. I recently have been added to the NCN Network run by No Credit Needed (NCN). Follow the journey with us over there and with many other debt haters too!

Through signing up with Bank of America, they gave me their bonus code of B60 to get me a $60 credit for opening the account, which I "should" receive in about 30-45 days. I like when there are added reasons to open a checking account with no strings. I only need to finish linking it to my ING account when my checks get here.

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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Balancing The Stupid Budget!

Living on 1 income is going to be a little tougher than I imagined. This month we put aside all of my income directly towards another checking account. We are aiming to live on her salary only and trying to live within the means of the budget. I'm optomistic but the numbers are telling me that I'm going to come up a little short this month. Tonight we plan to sit down and go through the budget again and see where we can cut and win this month's budget war. March has 31 days and we made it to the 2nd and havent spent anything yet! :) Its about winning the little battles I guess.

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Emergency Fund
2007 Roth Contributions
$8,000 Total

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