My wife and I recently purchased a new (to us) minivan. We also own a 2001 Honda Accord and a 1994 Ford F-150. I drive the car, my wife drives the minivan. The old truck, at this point, is basically just a trash-truck – I use it to haul trash, carry things from the hardware store to home, and pull various trailers. The van is in great condition. The Honda is in good condition. The truck? The truck will crank – and it does what I need it to do, move stuff from point A to point B.
I really like the Honda, but my wife and I realized something a few months ago. When the new baby arrives, our family will no longer ‘fit’ inside of the car! My daughter is 8, and she rides in a booster. My son is 4, and he rides in a forward-facing car seat. The new baby, of course, will ride in a rear-facing car seat. We tried every possible configuration, but the seats simply will not fit.
We have some decisions to make. We can –
- Keep things as they are and simply use the van when we take family trips. This will require a little planning and would probably lead to some inconvenience.
- Sell the car, keep the truck, and buy a slightly larger car / SUV / minivan. This will solve the space issue, but we’ll still have 3 automobiles to insure and maintain.
- Sell the car and the truck, and buy a crew-cab truck, with room for all three car seats. This will reduce the number of automobiles from 3 to 2, but will increase monthly gas bills.
For those who might be wondering, we live in a area where we ‘have’ to have a truck
New Year’s Eve 2007, I shared my resolutions and goals for 2008. Let’s take a quick look and see how I’ve done, so far!
Personal Finance Goals
- Fully-fund 403b
- Yes! After some hesitation (due to the fact that our household income may decrease in 2007) I decided to fully-fund my 403b for 2008. The 403b is funded monthly from pre-tax income.
- Fully-fund 2 Roth IRAs
- Fully-fund 3 ESAs
- I have downloaded the paperwork required to open an ESA for my son, but it wil be a few months before I actually begin funding these accounts.
- Increase Non-Retirement Savings
- Stay Out Of Debt
- Post twice-daily to No Credit Needed
- Not quite, but I have managed to put out a decent number of posts.
- Release a new No Credit Needed Podcast Episode every week
- Yes (kinda). I did not release the first episode of 2008 until 2 weeks ago, but now I’m on a regular, weekly schedule. I was waiting for some new recording tools.
- Improve the functionality and reach of the No Credit Needed Network
- Yes. The site has been improved (and membership has continued to grow).
- Establish relationships with bloggers outside of the personal-finance community
- Yes. I have emailed three or four non-pf bloggers. I’m really working to establish relationships with several other podcasters.
- Support my fellow personal-finance bloggers with comments and links
- Yes, but I still want to do more.
- Post daily to No. Calories Needed
- No, but look for this to change in February.
- Lose 50 pounds
- Limit fast food trips to once a month
- Go one year without drinking a single soft drink
- Walk 30 minutes per day, at least 4 times a week
- My sister has talked me into running in a 5K, so I really, really need to get moving!
As you can see – When it comes to financial stuff, I’m cool. When it comes to weight loss / health issues, not so much. Throughout 2008, I’ll continue to track my progress (or lack thereof).
This entry is part of the MBN Group Writing Project for January.
I have recorded and released a new episode of the No Credit Needed Podcast. Click over and you can hear the latest episode – now with a awesome into- and outro-music! (By the way, if you are new to podcasting, click here to read a recent post about how to listen to free, online audio content.)
Here are a few of my favorite posts from the Money Blog Network.
JLP has an article about paying kids to study.
Flexo received an interesting call from his bank.
Nickel has some detailed information about the purposed tax rebate.
FMF summarized his 2007 net worth.
JD writes about marriage and money.
MBH will be saving his tax rebate.
Wise Bread author, Jeff Yeagar is embarking on a low-cost (very low-cost) book tour.
Here are a few of my favorite posts from my Blogroll.
David has information about the rental-comparison site, Zilpy.
SVB has some ideas for first-time real estate investors.
Paid Twice has some information about snowflaking.
Hazzard reminds us to pay attention to the details.
Jim explains the economic stimulus plan.
Jeremy writes about mysterious bank fees.
Lazy Man purchased some private stock.
Money Smart Life has a touching post about a grandfather’s legacy.
Sun compares active and passive funds.
Are you ready to get out of debt? Great! Here’s one method that works. In fact, it worked for me!
- List all of your debts (including or excluding your first mortgage).
- Make your minimum payments (on time) each month.
- Send extra payments to a single account –
- The account with the highest interest rate (or)
- The account with the lowest balance
- Continue to make minimum payments and extra payments, until first account on your list is paid off.
- Take the minimum payment that you were sending to the first account, combine it with the extra payments, and send this entire amount to the second account on your list.
- Continue this process of paying off accounts, combining those minimums with extra payments, until you are debt free.
Click here to see an illustration of how this debt reduction process works.
Once you get a hang of the process, here are some additional ideas that you might want to keep in mind –
- If you get a chance to move debt from a credit card with a high rate to a credit card with a low rate – do it! But, only if you understand the terms of the balance transfer. (Be sure to figure in any balance transfer fees, before you pull the trigger.)
- In most cases, you do not need a debt consolidation company. If you will create a plan, and stick to it, you can get yourself out of debt.
- It NEVER hurts to call your credit card company and ask for lower rates. (Also, you can call your phone company, cellphone company, satellite provider, etc. and ask for discounts. The more money you save, the more money you have for debt reduction.)
- Every dollar matters. Even if you only have two extra dollars to send, send those two dollars.
- Before you start sending extra payments, be sure that you have some money set aside in a ‘rainy day fund’. The amount of money in this fund will vary, according to the size of your family. (You’ll need this fund, just in case you have a mini-emergency. This fund will keep you from having to use your credit card. I always kept (at least) $1000 in mine.)