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! :)


Saturday, July 28, 2007

Does working hard ever pay off?

The question lingers does working like a crazy person really pay off? This past week I've worked a little over 50 hours while my wife enjoyed the company of our little 5 month old. Seeing as how I work my butt off from clock in to clock out, I havent seen any returns other than a pat on the back. I'm wondering does it ever come to a point of either burnout or that you are showered with praise, youre happy and then it goes downhill from there. I don't know how long I can keep the upbeat attitude and competitiveness of being a stellar employee. To my standards, I am stellar because everyone praises my performance or I get a noticable glance now and again from the superiors above me. That said, I feel comfortable with the teacher's pet rep and dont care about the envious eyes staring up at me. What has been bothering me, is that I dont know how long I can keep up with this pace. I know I'm going to burn out if I keep going like this and its not really the hours, its the content within those hours that I pack in before I head home. Maybe I need a stress makeover... Since today is saturday, im just going to relax and not worry about my job or money for a change.

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Setting goals and Sticking to them

Our family sets goals on a regular basis. Whether its next year, next month, or 24 hours from now, we plan it and map it out. I guess thats makes us a little bit OVER organized sometimes. Its hard to imagine that we would be where we are right now without some proper planning. Also if you take a look back at some of my earlier posts when we had opened our monthly bills only to find credit card statements, horrendous student loans and just up to our eyeballs in debt. I remember almost 4 years ago actually being on our home elliptical machine listening to some random music on a bulky ipod, not even having any baby thoughts on the brain, and thinking we need to get a plan together and get this debt cleaned up before we reach 30. I sat down that evening with an excel spreadsheet and got our finances in order. To this day, I still use the same formatted spreadsheet but the expenses column has shrunk dramatically from paying about 12 different companies every month to only 4... mortgage, power, cable, and wireless service. How did we achieve this before we were both 25 years old? We stuck to the plan and worked the budget making sure all our extra money was going towards our debt. Once that debt was gone, we never looked back. Its a great feeling. I guess we are at a crossroad stage in our life where we are building up our emergency fund and saving saving saving for that next BIG thing. Dont ask me what the next big thing is, I dont even know. So it comes back full circle again where we have to determine where this next batch of savings is going. Granted we are paying down our mortgage aggressively, our retirement accounts are going to be maxed this year and a child's college savings account is on the radar. All I know right now is that we have to set up some more goals and stick to them like the way we did the debt. The question is where to start...

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Friday, July 13, 2007

Break time from the hustle and bustle!

Decided to take a half day at work and just take a break from the overwhemling paperwork that accumulates. My wife's friends decided to come over too, during the same time... so I guess I'm playing babysitter for the time being. This week, moneywise our allocations have been all messed up because when I went on leave, they paid me entirely for my vacation, so now when I take half days, I dont get paid at all. This was interesting because I expected my check to be about $200 more since I took some time off last week. Did I mention that I get paid weekly? That helps the process because it allows me to take a look at our financial picture weekly rather than biweekly or monthly. Anyway, I should be back on track next week with my pay and hopefully the "system" won't screw up again. Since its a bit muggy today, I think I'll go for a walk before the rain starts coming down. I really just want to get out this weekend and maybe get a game of poker with the guys.

Small update on the 401k: Maxed 6% matching with employer, and nothing else.

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Monday, July 09, 2007

Foreign or Domestic?

Seeing how it was such a dreadful Monday at work, I wanted to just free flow for a while on the blog. The question is does it REALLY make a difference which vehicle moves you or drives you from point A to point B? I wrote about our current Toyota Highlander purchase a couple weeks ago, and bought into the whole idea that foreign somehow, at least in my mind, is better than a domestic vehicles. Honestly, people have their opinions and either are really for or against this issue as I have asked a few fellow colleagues. I really think that my next car is going to be a ford, chevy, or gmc, only because it goes against everything that I've thought about cars and I wanted to take a true test. So far my little compact mazda that I use to ride around town is at 130,000 miles and hasnt skipped a beat yet in almost 8 years. I have had it since the odometer read "2" (yes, TWO). I trusted that its going to take me to 200,000. Do Fords, Chevys, or other American perform to this standard, better or worse; Or did I just buy into the whole commercialism hype of japanese ANYTHING is just BETTER... im sure they are but I'VE never experienced it. I guess I have to find out for myself before I can judge that yes, a foreign car like a Toyota, Honda, or Mazda makes a "better" car.

This thought was brought about by a huge Ford plant closing down in my area and literally hundreds of people are going to be without a job in the next couple months. Maybe American-made isnt what it use to be and maybe the term "community" doesnt apply in business anymore. It just sucks to hear stuff like this.

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Friday, July 06, 2007

Purchasing New Tires!

I decided that it was time...its been over 90,000 miles, balding and frankly was starting to be unsafe, so begins my search for new tires. First of all having a sporty compact car, they come up with some of the wierdest tire sizes... Mine being 195/55/15 to be exact. So I start the online process as normal froogling, comparing sites, even calling around and checking ads in the local paper for specials. To me honestly, a tire is a tire... there are a couple quality specs like you dont want to get a low heated spec or crazy slick tires either. My hunt bought me to Ebay where I found a special was going on in the state right next to mine; obviously making the shipping cost lower. The total for 4 brand new tires shipped would cost me $228.10 so about $57.02 per tire which is alot better price than what I was quoted at the local places here. On the plus side they were a fantastic brand, Kumho Solus with excellent ratings. I decided to pull the trigger, add delivery confirmation, and wait. Two days later, the tires arrived by Fed Ex and I stored them in my garage.

They stayed there for another week, while I called around to do the mounting and balance work. I fully expected to pay at least $100, but I did my insane calling around and found that actually Walmart's Auto Center was the best price wise, about $60 or so for the entire job. However I decided not to go there. We went to our Sears Auto Center, which was about 5 minutes away from my house and paid about $22 more than the Walmart quote. In my head, first it was much closer than the walmart and would save me on gas. And second, I imagined that Sears would do a much better job, and was worth it to pay them an extra 20. So yesterday, I drove down to the Sears, dropped my car off for about an hour and picked it up. The guy there was nice enough to explain what they did and exactly what I was being charged for.

So here was the final rundown-

Four New Kumho Tires: $228.10
Mounting/ Balancing/ New Valve Stems: $88.68
Total: $316.78

Another vehicle maintenance mission COMPLETE.

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Enjoyed at great 4th of July!

Our baby's first 4th of July was pretty uneventful for her; however all her aunties and grandma came to visit. Today we hosted the cookout here in our home for our little get together. It was nice that how many of my siblings are still in the service industry that we could all still arrange to have a few hours of holiday time with each other. The only thing we really purchased in the whole ordeal was a small rectangular table cloth and some festive napkins which we got at Party City for 50% off which came to a $1.86 after tax. We also stopped by the local target to get some charcoal for the grill. $5.60 a bag. Since I dont really know the pricing on charcoal, I bought it and was overwhelmed that people pay that much to heat something on a grill. I can plug in my george forman and go for crying out loud. I mean the grill does have a certain taste to it and the smells of it make it almost "feel like the 4th of July"; so i guess it was worth it bringing back a little nostalgia. Then it was mostly a pot luck and everyone brought something. Of course, we ended up having too much food and I invited a friend over to help finish some leftovers off; and this guy never turns down food. You know there are people out there like that. Anyway, we unfortunately did not see any fireworks because the little one *(and US) were so tired, we decided next year is going to be a GREAT year for her in an umbrella stroller at the local park! Needless to say, it was another great 4th.... which reminds me, my birthday is in a month!

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Sunday, July 01, 2007

First Week being the SOLE breadwinner

Last week was my first full week back after being on a 4 month childcare leave. Its amazing that I didnt stay out longer, but my finances probably would not have permitted me such a luxury. Oh well, it actually felt great being back and everyone congratulating me on the birth of our first little one. I was only to perform training exercises and 'getting into the groove' techniques at work because being back after that long, it does shift your reality a bit. Honestly, I really didnt even think about work when I was out, which was in itself my own personal vacation. But it feels good too, being the sole breadwinner, and does put a little pressure on the male ego. Not only do I have to actually work, I have to work harder and smarter because I have a family to support and can't really afford to lose this job. Its a good thing now too that my wife has left her full time job to stay at home with our infant. She is able to get pretty much everything around the house done; chores and all. She likes to space out her time though and make about 1 "trip" outside per day during the week. Because we know its going to be a hectic week with the holiday approaching, that we get the grocery stuff done today, rather than on Monday or wednesday when all the hot dog buns and hamburger condiments are gone. Since I'm off for the 4th, we planned a nice day out, and seeing shes only 4 month, we decided not to go see the fireworks but cookout still and enjoy time with family. Also small reminder, on Thursday, shes going for her shots! *sigh* last time she was really upset. thinking we should give her some baby tylenol before we head out.

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Emergency Fund
2007 Roth Contributions
$8,000 Total

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