Monthly Archives: March 2008

Paying Bills Vs. Money Management – The Difference Between Surviving And Thriving

I’ve been working for almost twenty years. For most of my adult life, I dreaded ‘paying bills’. For three weeks, bills would pile up on the counter top – waiting to be paid. At the end of the month, paycheck deposited, I’d sit down to sort through the pile. After checks had been written and placed into payment envelopes, I would sit back, blurry-eyed, and think, “Man, what are we going to live on? I just paid all of our bills – and we have ten cents for groceries!”.

Sound familiar?

Here’s how I went from ‘just paying the bills’ to actually managing our money.

1. I created a basic, easy-to-understand budget. I use the You Need A Budget. system for creating my monthly budget.

2. I had a heart-to-heart talk with my wife about what we wanted from our future. We both agreed that we needed to learn more about debt reduction and money management. We established a system for discussing finances and we made money management a family priority.

3. I started opening bills as soon as I received them. This simple exercise added a much needed element of discipline to the process. I struggle with organization and procrastination. I made a commitment to myself that I would deal with each bill, as it arrived. Three minutes a day, spent thinking about finances, saves me hours of worry.

4. I spent some time – away from the television – learning about various retirement, savings, and checking accounts. I then opened a Roth IRA for myself and my wife opened a Roth IRA for herself. We made a commitment to fund our retirement, thus ‘forcing’ ourselves to live under-budget. We also opened various other types of accounts, including Education Savings Accounts for our kids.

5. I created a super-simple method for organizing my bills and financial documents. If I need to retrieve a bill stub, I can do so in less than five minutes.

Not only did I put the above ‘systems’ into place, I also had a change in my mindset. Instead of viewing myself as a paycheck-to-paycheck guy, I began to think of myself as a money manager. I now treat every dollar, every single dollar, with great respect. And, I’m willing to invest the time it takes to learn about personal finance. It’s amazing what can happen when you couple determination and a good plan.

Get up, grab that stack of bills, and deal with them. Stop putting off the very important financial choices that you need to make. Consider the long-term impact of your spending and borrowing habits. Open your eyes and see – really, really, really see – the bright future that can be yours, if you will begin to work for it, today.

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Inside Baseball: Analyzing My Site’s Traffic

I usually refrain from ‘blogging about blogging’, but March has been a banner month for No Credit Needed. As you can see from the graphic in the right-hand column, No Credit Needed now has more than 3000 subscribers. Traffic to the site also reached an all-time high. So, I wanted to take an opportunity to thank those sites that sent traffic my way.

Social Networking Sites / Online Aggregators / News Sites

Stumble Upon – (Click to see all of my stumbles and to add me as a friend.)
Money Blog Network
Personal Finance Alltop
Carnival Of Debt Reduction
Finwikian (Click to visit my Finwikian page.)
Festival Of Frugality
MSN Money Central

Personal Finance Blogs (Which Sent A Minimum Of 100 Visitors)

Get Rich Slowly
Free Money Finance
The Simple Dollar
Paid Twice
All Financial Matters
Five Cent Nickel
Consumerism Commentary
Frugal For Life
Lazy Man And Money
My Money Blog
Mighty Bargain Hunter
Chief Family Officer
Wise Bread
The Digerati Life
My Open Wallet
No. Calories Needed (My weight-loss site)
Be Thrifty Like Us
My Dollar Plan
Cheap Healthy Good
Blogging Away Debt
Million Dollar Journey
My Two Dollars

The personal finance blogging community rocks! It will be a long time before I do another ‘blog post about blogging’ – but I did want to thank my fellow bloggers for such an awesome month. I hope you’ll visit their sites, and let them know that ‘NCN’ sent you!

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New Long Distance Plan And A New Riding Lawn Mower

I’ve spent the last two hours, trying to get in touch with a customer service representative from my long distance provider, MCI.  After 11 phone calls, six disconnections, and five transfers, I have decided to change service providers.  Our local phone company has begun to offer a bundled plan of long distance / local service / and DSL.  I might go with them.  I’ll run the numbers and do a little research and let you all know.  Ninety-five percent of our calls are made intra-state, so I need a plan that offers low in-Georgia rates.  The MCI plan is unlimited long distance.  I signed up with them more than five years ago – and they’ve steadily raised their rates.  I’ve been meaning to shop around – and this latest customer service issue has given me the motivation to actually do so.  I won’t go into the details of the issue, except to say that it could be resolved in less than one minute, should I actually be connected to the right person.  But, the financial department refers me to the customer service department – and the customer service depart refers me to the financial department.

Funny side note – After getting disconnected for the fourth time, I received an automated phone call from – MCI – asking about my customer service experience.  Unfortunately, I didn’t know which customer service agent I should ‘grade’, because, I’d already spoken to seven of them!

On a brighter note – I’m looking for a new riding lawn mower.  I had two older lawn mowers, and I sold them last fall at a yard sale.  The grass has just started to green and I need to make a purchase, soon.  It would have been great to have purchased a mower at the end of last summer, when prices were lower, but, I wasn’t ready to buy then.  I love spring-time and I can’t wait to get in the yard and spruce things up.

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