Monthly Archives: December 2008

Wrapping Up The Year 2008

Resolutions and Goals

Last year, I published 15 resolutions and goals for 2008.  Let’s see how those worked out –

Personal Finance Goals

  1. Fully-fund 403(b)
  2. Fully-fund 2 Roth IRAs
  3. Fully-fund 3 ESAs
    • Again, not yet.  I am working to fully-fund these before April 15th, 2009.
  4. Increase Non-Retirement Savings
    • Unfortunately, not by much.  Keep reading for the reason why!
  5. Stay Out Of Debt
    • Yes!  I’ve been debt free since February of 2006!  It’s hard to believe that I’ll soon celebrate three years of freedom.

Blogging Goals

  1. Post twice-daily to No Credit Needed
    • I averaged about 30 posts per month, roughly 1 post a day.  Frankly, 2 posts a day is too many, especially considering that I have several other sites to manage.
  2. Release a new No Credit Needed Podcast Episode every week
    • No.  In fact, the podcast has been on pause for quiet some time.  I have a few ideas for restarting the podcast, so stay tuned!
  3. Improve the functionality and reach of the No Credit Needed Network
    • Yes and no.  The NCN Network charts are now automated, but I’ve closed the Network to new members.
  4. Establish relationships with bloggers outside of the personal-finance community
    • Yes.  I’ve connected with several other bloggers, podcasters, writers, and authors.
  5. Support my fellow personal-finance bloggers with comments and links
    • I have tried my best.

Health Goals

  1. Post daily to No. Calories Needed
  2. Lose 50 pounds
  3. Limit fast food trips to once a month
  4. Go one year without drinking a single soft drink
  5. Walk 30 minutes per day, at least 4 times a week
    • There’s no need to update each of these individually.  If you go over to No. Calories Needed, you’ll see that I’ve lost (more than) 24.6 pounds, that I have completely given up soft drinks and fast food, that I’m going to the gym four to six times a week, and that I’m completely changing my life.  I didn’t start last January, but I finally put it all together in September.  Click here for more information about The 929 Project – my plan to lose 90 pounds before September 29, 2009.

Family and Life

Back in April, my wife gave birth to our third child, a beautiful baby girl.  Our family is now complete, and there are five of us.  2008 was an amazing year for us, and we are really looking forward to 2009.  Everything I do, every article I write, every financial choice I make, I do those things for my family.  When you read an article here at No Credit Needed, you can rest assured that I am writing as a regular guy, someone who is trying to bless his wife and his kids.

Websites

No Credit Needed – I don’t usually write about site statistics, so I’ll just briefly mention that No Credit Needed had almost 1 million page views during 2008.  That’s pretty cool, but what’s even cooler, No Credit Needed is just a few subscribers away from 5000!  Come on, hook me.  Subscribe to No Credit Needed via RSS or daily Email and help push the site past 5000.

I want to thank the following sites for referring the most visitors during 2008 –

Get Rich Slowly

The Simple Dollar

Free Money Finance

Five Cent Nickel

All Financial Matters

Paid Twice

My Money Blog

Consumerism Commentary

Wise Bread

Mighty Bargain Hunter

Lazy Man And Money

Almost Frugal

Blogging Away Debt

The Digerati Life

My Open Wallet

Frugal Dad

No. Calories Needed – Until September, No. Calories Needed was a complete disappointment.  Now, however, I’ve lost (more than) 24.6 pounds, and I’m loving the No. Cals site.  I really hope you’ll visit the site and check out my progress.  I weigh in on Mondays.

No Credit Needed Network and No Credit Needed Podcast – As I mentioned earlier, I’ve closed the Network to new members and I’m still debating about whether or not to continue the podcast.  Both sites take a lot of time to manage.  Check them out, listen to the podcast, and let me know what you think.  Should I reopen the Network to new members?  Should I restart the podcast?

99 Changes – Back in May, I started my newest site, 99 Changes, my personal development site.  So far, I’ve managed to make 25 changes.  The 99 Changes articles are short and to-the-point.  I hope you’ll visit the site and see how I’m doing.

Social Media

Twitter / StumbleUpon – I hope you’ll follow me on Twitter profile and check out my StumbleUpon profile. These sites have revolutionized how I connect with others online and how I find information online.

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Sticking With TD Ameritrade

I mentioned in the last article that I would be opening two Education Savings Accounts – one for my son and one for my daughter.  I had been planning to open the accounts with Vanguard – the same brokerage that has my SEP-IRA – but I’ve decided to stick with TD Ameritrade – the brokerage where I already have my oldest daughter’s ESA.  While I really like Vanguard’s services, TD Ameritrade offers ESAs with no minimum contributions.  Vanguard, on the other hand, requires a $1000 minimum initial investment.  Right now, I just don’t have $2000 (for 2 accounts) sitting around,  and I don’t want to wait to open the accounts.  TD Ameritrade offers several no-transaction-fee index funds, my preferred investment options.

Strangely, TD Ameritrade does not allow users to open ESAs online.  Instead, you must print (or request by mail) account application forms and then mail them back to TD Ameritrade.  I printed out two sets of the forms, one for my son and one for my daughter, and I’m going to mail them tomorrow.

It feels good to have this done.  Now, all I have to do is fund the accounts!

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Working Hard To Get Ready For The New Year

I hope you had a Merry Christmas.  My family and I are finally home after a week away.  We had a wonderful time visiting with our parents, but it feels good to be home.  My wife spent most of the afternoon yesterday cleaning out our kids’ closets, making room for their new toys.  I’m working hard to get ready for 2009, and I’m taking several steps in an effort to simplify our finances.

Updating Inventory of Financial Accounts -

I’ve spent a few minutes updating my inventory of financial accounts.  This single-page document serves two purposes.  First, I use it to keep track of all of my account names, account numbers, and account passwords.  Second, if something were to happen to me, my wife would have easy access to all of our financial information.  Read more about the Inventory of Financial Accounts and print your own copy.

Opening Education Savings Accounts -

As soon as I publish this article, I’m going to open two new education savings accounts, one for my son and one for my youngest daughter.  I opened an ESA or my oldest daughter a couple of years ago, and I actually printed out an application for my son’s ESA a few months ago.  I’m actually thankful that I didn’t open the account at that time, because I’ve decided to go with Vanguard instead of my original choice, TD Ameritrade.

Consolidating Budget Categories -

I have been using the You Need A Budget financial management software for quite some time, and I am very pleased with it.  This year, I’m trying something a little different.  I am going to consolidate several smaller budget categories into just a few larger categories.  At this point in my financial journey, I have broken the habit of overspending, and I want my budget to be a tool, not a burden.  By consolidating, creating my budget will take a little less time.

Scheduling Automatic Contributions –

As soon as I open the education savings accounts, I plan to schedule automatic contributions to all of my after-tax retirement and education savings accounts.  In the past, I liked to manually enter my contributions, as a way to keep my head-in-the-game.  Now, after almost four years, I’ve moved past the need to micro-manage every detail of every transaction.  In the words of the info-mercial, I’m going to set it, and forget it!

Organizing Financial Documents -

I recently purchased a fire-proff safe and my wife and I are using it to store our marriage certificate, our kids’ birth certificates, our social security cards, and our wills.  Tomorrow, I’m going to go through several of our financial documents, and organize them for tax time.  I need to sort though last year’s documents and receipts, just to see if their are any pertinent tax-related documents.  I also have a retirement-specific form that I need to update for my employer.

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