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! :)


Friday, December 29, 2006

Rolling it all into ONE...

Making some new changes with our budget process and taking it one step further. In 2007, we have lumped together all our "yearly expenses" and aptly naming them 2007 yearly expenses (wow how original). The yearly expenses will consist of biannual and annual payments that normally catch up with us eventually; consisting of homeowners insurance (annually), real estate tax (biannually), auto insurance (biannually), water and sewer payments (bimonthly). This will total approximately $4500 per year. We set up a seperate account to pay for these charges when they come up throughout the 2007 year. Given this is only good for the 2007 year and this also allows us the flexibility to have lower monthly outgoing expenses to have to worry about. However we need to put a system in place for 2008 yearly expenses during the 07 year. Basically this system is to make it so I dont feel the pinch monthly from take home pay or have to budget an extra catagory during these months. We have paid our yearly membership to Sams Club and have been gathering discounted gift cards like squirrels for the baby's clothes next year (as if we're not going to get tons of clothes from all our friends/ relatives). So anyway I'll be posting our financial resolutions shortly because we do have alot of catch up to do. Also my wife's birthday is on the 4th!! Its exciting that we both get to be the same age for 8 months out of the year: its the big 2 - 6!! So I gotta get her something nice this year for being such a trooper and doing so well with the pregnancy :)

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Saturday, December 23, 2006

Happy Holidays

We are having family over and its going to be a bit hectic these next couple days. Tonight we went to a celebration mass at church and there was a real camel on display at their live nativity! Its funny because I dont recall seeing one of those in a while (maybe at a zoo when I was a child). Anyway, since we really dont have much to purchase this holiday we will just be saving to make sure we secure our emergency fund... maybe some last minute items for the Christmas dinner on Monday but nothing too extravagant. Probably wont be blogging for the next couple days, however whatever you celebrate, enjoy your holiday season too.

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Monday, December 18, 2006

When College is FREE...

Both my wife and I decided that after we've had student loan debt up to our eye balls and finally paid it off that we would never go back to borrowing again. The year before we got married, my 3 years of college debt had amassed to around $8000 big bucks. My wife finished her 4 year degree with a little over $15,000 (and this was after her parents helped foot half the tab!!) I cant imagine having to go back and pay that again, but we stood firm on getting rid of it!

Granted it took me a while to find an amazing job with great benefits however one of the best benefits is the Tuition benefit. My job will actually pay up to a PHD in whatever I want for FREE! How could I resist the temptation to start when my benefit kicked in! I started with a 3 credit calculus course and finished with an A. This semester I am still only pushing a 3 credit class. Some may ask, well why not just finish it up my degree as quickly as possible.... well I learned my lesson the first time I decided to take on a full time job and 12-16 credit hours of college. Something had to give, and it wasnt my job. I ended up having to retake 3 of the classes because even though it was "free", I suffered more in my GPA that year and TIME LOST, than I ever could recoup in free tuition dollars. We live and learn. Im on track again with a brighter path in mind, only this time, Im not going to be carrying that extra weight of debt on me.

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

We won a $50 Visa!

Rarely do we ever "win" anything but we did! My wife and I gave our input on some local places on the Verizon superpages website. Basically they wanted you to put up your thoughts and rate just local businesses around you. Because I grew in my town, I got a little crazy and wrote about most of my experiences at certain places. (hey I was bored at work and I wanted to give due credit where we had good and bad service) Anyway, I was contacted by Verizon last week to say I was one of the gift card winners. Today I got a $50 Visa in the mail! How cool!

This weekend we are going to her parents home to celebrate Christmas with her relatives. Im not looking forward to the drive, however Im sure there will be plenty of football, presents, and christmas cookies to keep me busy when I get there.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Family Matters: Our Strategy for 2007

Finished my last college exam today! To tell you the truth, this semester has been an annoying 16 weeks but I managed. Anyway, I'm planning on taking ONE class while our child is born and it will only be a 6 week class starting in January so it wont be too close to the arrival of the little one. Great now that we have that out of the way.... heres finances!

First we updated the net worth sheet for December finally. We have been saving like squirrels to make sure this "winter" doesnt make us "hungry" (plug for "over the hedge" :P)... basically is the emergency fund ready for our family in '07. I have been using scratch paper long enough and have put numbers in the spreadsheet. We will have 6 months saved when my wife leaves her job in June to care for our child full time. I figured our average monthly expenses cost $1600, which equate to ~$9600 or rounded to $10,000. Ok, now that we have 10k socked away by June and NOT TOUCHING, I will also have an additional $1600 in our BANKING savings account. We have a single checking and savings account at our local bank. At the beginning of every month I will move $1600 for all our expenses from the savings account to the checking account. Every month, I will "fill up" the savings FIRST with $1600, and then with the rest of our money, we can allocate to whatever catagory.

Here is what we've already accomplished for 2007:
(Estimated based on averages for 2006 but numbers are actual dollars saved)

$2405.63 saved for Home Insurance and Real Estate Tax for 2007
$600.00 saved for 2007 Bimonthly water and sewer costs
$208.00 paid for 2007 + 2008 Vehicle registration for both vehicles
$1400.00 saved so far for 10k emergency fund
$100.00 saved for baby's college fund (LOL its a small start)

This way we will be ready and that $1600 monthly looks more and more realistic because Im not worrying about having to pay these bigger above expenses. For 2007, I'll be opening new catagories for 2008 and maybe put in an extra fund for a NEW used vehicle :). Of course this is after we maximize our retirement, which we have not been maintaining like we should. *tisk tisk* The only good thing is that Ive been contributing my employee match at 6% and our previous 401k rollovers look healthy. Closing out our years of being 25 (wife turns 26 in Jan), we are at $29,796.54 on retirement to date. 4 year outlook, we need to be closer to $100k by age 30, that way compound interest can be our best friend. I like to keep things as SIMPLE as possible. Of course, life happens and we can't be 100% prepared for everything, so lets do the numbers, come as close as we can and just have some fun too!

Side note: start car fund (man that new 07 camry and cr-v look nice!)

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Some friends are not talking...

Off the topic of money for just a moment, I want to discuss a myth. With the whole baby situation, Im beginning to believe that it is true that when you become a parent you start associating with only people that have children. Maybe it IS true because your existing friends don't know what you are going through or you just dont have that much in common with them anymore. Anyway, this all came about because I had dinner on Sunday with one of my close friends from college, whom does not want to have kids EVER. This said, when we have conversations about the baby room or topics dealing with pregnancy and just general child rearing, it feels like we are stuck in a rut with no traction... so I switch the topic. On the plus side, my wife has several of her coworkers that have kids that have begun to START to hang out with us. Maybe its just coincidence that we are being included now. Who knows, but I'll go ahead and end this rant. Moneywise, we are currently stopping our retirement funding to keep building the emergency fund. So far we've amassed only $1200 because we spent roughly $1500 on the baby room so far. (pictures to come!!) Im hoping that this kid comes out to be a girl because we have this running joke that our future son is going to say "I cant believe you thought I was going to be a girl". Percentages are 70/30 right now in favor of a girl by our latest sonogram. I just hope we have a girl for the sake of not having to return everything. Lastly, I have my FINAL class exam this evening so that will leave me with more time to blog! :)

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Monday, December 04, 2006

Theres alot of baby "stuff"!

It was an interesting weekend but I got through it. I finished some coursework and test for my class, so all I have to do is go to my final exam next Tuesday and I'm good to go. I've decided that its going to be hectic enough for the next couple months and won't take advantage of my company's tuition plan next semester. Because it is FREE and paid for, I may take a couple certification classes but nothing too rigorous given our baby's arrival in late Feb/ early March. Needless to say, we finished getting our crib, purchased the combo set drawers and the bedding to fit on the mattress. I can't imagine all the "stuff" we are going to get from our friends and family, I told her that we shouldnt be buying any more stuff. She insisits on picking out at least one outfit per week and because there was a sale at JC Pennys on baby attire on Friday, we went that night and picked up some MORE outfits. Is there such a thing as too much baby stuff? At least I know the baby won't run out of clothes! Sitting here at work, knowing that I have to stay late til about 7pm, I want the day to go by as fast as possible. :)

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Emergency Fund
2007 Roth Contributions
$8,000 Total

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