Category Archive: Money Management

Day 2: More Calls More Money (Saved)

It’s Day Two of my plan to reorganize my finances and improve this website.  Today I spent some time making a few phone calls and working on organization.  Here’s what I accomplished (and what I didn’t) –

My first goal was to call our satellite television provider and discuss options for lowering our monthly bill.  My wife and I had discussed getting rid of the service altogether, but we decided to wait for one more year.  Our reasons were pretty specific:  We have slower-than-average internet speeds at home – and our kids love to watch live sports.  So, we decided, that if the provider would lower our costs, we’d renew our contract for one more year.  I know that there are options for live sports over the internet, but for now we are sticking with our current provider and our app-less television.

I made the call this morning and after a bit of discussion – reminding them of our status as long-term, on-time, customers AND mentioning the fact that their competitor is offering much of the same programming at a reduced rate – we managed to reduce our monthly cost by nearly 30%!

Like most folks, we have cellular phone service.  Two of our kids are old enough to have phones, so we have four phones in our household.  Living in a rural area, service can sometimes be spotty – and we are really happy with both our current phones and our current coverage.  I made a few calls and did some research, and I am still looking for ways to cut our monthly rate, but stay with (basically) the same service.  I didn’t accomplish much, but I didn’t waste my time, either.

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As far as mundane tasks go, I’m not sure anything is more mundane than backing up files and organizing emails.  I have three computers, a tablet, and a cellphone – and each of them contain various files that needed to be backed up.  I’ve tried several solutions, but here’s what I ended up doing:

I made an offline backup of each device, using a couple of handy 1 TB Western Digital hard drives.

I made an online backup of each device, using Google Drive (one account per device) or OneDrive.

I have backups that I’ve made at various times, scattered over other drives and services.  Now, each device has a dedicated storage solution and account.  It feels oddly satisfying (and more secure) to have this done.

Finally – email.

Apparently, I love creating email addresses, using them for various websites or personal use, and then forgetting about them.  I’m embarrassed to say just how many email addresses I’ve used over the past 20 years – but today, one by one, account by account, I organized them.  I deleted spam, I made replies, I moved email to archives, I updated passwords.  Legit, I spent hours, searching through emails, organizing them, and forwarding accounts.  As it stands:

I have now established one, primary email account for personal email and one, primary email for business-related emails.  I also manage email accounts for various web properties and my job.

I organized those as well – and have bookmarked and organized all accounts, in one bookmarks folder, for easy access and updating.

Step by step, I’m working to improve my organization, save some money, and make this a better site.  The above tasks were less-than-exciting, but they pave the way for further improvement.

Please consider subscribing to No Credit Needed via email or rss – and follow me on twitter.com/NCN and facebook.com/NoCreditNeeded to keep up with my progress.  I’d love to hear from you via social media or here in the comments.  Have a blessed day!

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Day One: Getting Started

It’s Day One of my plan to reorganize my finances and improve this website.  Today’s tasks took just a few minutes each to complete – and set the groundwork for future steps.  Here’s what I did –

I checked our credit scores.  We are considering a mortgage refinance in the new year, after we file our tax returns, and I wanted to be sure that all of our credit information is up-to-date and correct.  I was pleased with what I saw – but will look for opportunities to improve our score.

Side note:  I mentioned this in a post several years ago:  While we do not routinely carry balances on our credit cards, we will use them from time to time, just to keep the cards active and in good standing.  I am not a credit score expert – but I assume that this helps to improve our score.

I sorted, paid, organized, and filed all available bills, through the end of 2017.  Our paychecks arrive near the end of each month.  Our most recent arrived, today, and our next paychecks will go towards bills in January.  I like the idea of a clean-slate, so I went ahead and paid all of our December bills, today.  Obviously, new bills might arrive over the next month, and we will pay them, but I’d like to start January with as little baggage as is possible.  Plus, it will be cool to enjoy the holidays without stressing over the writing of checks or the sending of payments.

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I updated our financial accounts information spreadsheet – with information about current balances, web addresses, contact numbers, and logins.  My wife and I can use the information spreadsheet when planning our budget.  It’s also a great tool for measuring our progress throughout 2017.  We keep the information sheet in a secure location.  By the way, I’ve used various programs, websites, and apps for keeping up with all of our various accounts – and I still prefer a simple spreadsheet and printout.

I own and manage several websites.  Some are active, while others are inactive.  I need to decide, long-term, what to do with each.  Today, I took the first step towards consolidating and organizing my various sites.  I logged into my various domain registrars and web hosts – and made a list of when each domain will expire, how much each domain costs per year, and when future website-related payments are due.  I need to consider what to do with each of these domains and sites – but organizing this information was a good (and necessary) first step.

Side note:  I have a couple of domain names that might be of some value.  I have no idea how to sell a domain name.  I should research this process.  Add that to the list!

Today was Day One – and I’m excited about what I was able to accomplish.  The tasks themselves were relatively simple, but I now know where I stand and I am more prepared for 2017.

Please consider subscribing to No Credit Needed via email or rss – and follow me on twitter.com/NCN and facebook.com/NoCreditNeeded to keep up with my progress.  I’d love to hear from you via social media or here in the comments.  Have a blessed day!

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Big Goals Require A Bold Plan

It’s confession time.  For the past six months, I’ve been coasting.  After more than a decade of focusing on our personal finances, I took the gas of the pedal and relaxed a bit.  I spent rather freely, wandered away from our budget, and stopped writing.  It was fun (sorta), but the time has come to get refocused and rededicated.  The new year is coming fast and we want to be prepared and excited, not broke and unorganized.

I have a plan for the next few weeks – a plan that will hopefully help us reach our financial goals for 2017 – and beyond.  I have outlined what I hope to accomplish, both with our finances and with my various web sites.

This post will serve as an anchor post – and I’ll link to it and from it, as I move step-by-step through each part of our plan.  Bookmark this post and check back often – and subscribe to No Credit Needed to keep up with our progress.

First Update: Day One, Getting Started

Leave comments with suggestions and thoughts about our plan.  My stretch goal is to eliminate by 25% of our monthly expenses – and increase by 25% our monthly income.

The following is a basic outline of our plan – some quickly-typed-out ideas.  Over the next few days, we’ll flesh out each idea, each step, and I’ll write corresponding posts.  I literally have dozens of ideas for improving our finances and removing clutter.  I’ll be writing about these over the next few weeks!

Personal Finances:

1. I need to update our list of financial accounts – including credit cards, checking accounts, savings accounts, retirement accounts, mortgage information, and insurance accounts – with current information.

2.  My wife and I will then create a brand new zero-based budget, incorporating current expenses and income.

A.  We will take a look at both fixed AND variable monthly expenses.  We have already decided – we need to be eating more meals prepared at home – and we need to reduce our daily convenience spending.

3.  I will login to Credit Karma and Discover and check our current credit scores.

A.  I need to do some research on the impact of credit line increases on credit scores.  If there is a positive benefit, I will contact each credit card company and request an increase in our available credit.

4.  I need to start gathering documentation – tax and salary information – for a possible mortgage refinance.  Any positive change in our credit score should impact any new mortgage rate.

A.  We are considering slowing our debt reduction progress and stock-piling a bit of cash.  We have several major purchases in the next few years and we do not want to have to borrow any more money.

B.  We will explore several options for refinancing.  Our goal is to increase monthly cash flow, because we have several major expenses coming up in the next few years.  We will crunch the numbers and (hopefully) make the wisest choice.

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Online Content

1. I plan to create a publishing schedule for my main site – No Credit Needed.

2. I need to do a much better job of monetizing No Credit Needed.

A.  I will research and apply for content-appropriate advertising and affiliates.

B.  I will write periodic posts, seeking site-wide advertisers.  By the way, if YOU are interested in advertising your family-friendly product on No Credit Needed, contact me, and let me know what you have in mind!

3.  I need to focus on producing content for my other sites.

4.  I plan to learn more about promoting my site(s) via social media – and growing relationships with other content producers and consumers.  By the way, please take a minute and follow me via twitter.com/NCN and facebook.com/NoCreditNeeded.

5.  I need to regularly encourage readers to sign up for No Credit Needed updates, via email.

6.  I have an inventory of unused domain names.  I plan to research possible resale value – and consider launching new sites.

7.  I may begin to create video-content and audio-content for several of my sites.

A.  I need to research the best audio and video tools available for content producers.

B.  I need to promote new YouTube channels – but ONLY after I have learned how to produce user-beneficial content.

Remove Clutter, Reduce Monthly Expenses, And Make Some Extra Money

1.  I will sort through our closets, my shed, our attic, and various other “storage” areas in our house – and we WILL sell, sell, sell the things we no longer need, use, or want.

2.  I will contact every, single, one of our service providers, including, but not limited to, our cell phone provider, our satellite television provider, our internet provider, and ask for discounts and reduced rates.

A.  The time may have come for us to cut-the-cord and eliminate our television package.  I need to do a bit of research, because there are some sporting events that my son and I really enjoy.

3.  I have a couple of opportunities to take on some extra work – mainly part-time stuff in the evenings.  I need to run the numbers and decide if these opportunities are worth pursuing.

4.  I need to contact other content-producers and seek out writing opportunities.  If you are a fellow personal finance writer – and we’ve never connected – or it’s been years since we last chatted – contact me and let me know what you are up to.  I look forward to meeting new folks – and reconnecting with others!

Take a minute and bookmark this post.  I’ll also link to it in the right-hand column of this page.  I am excited about our new focus – and I’m looking forward to developing the above mentioned ideas.  The new year is right around the corner, and we plan to hit the ground running, energized and prepared.

I will update this post with links and plan-modifications, as well as results.  Blessings!

Side note:  Just so you guys know I’ve not been a complete slacker – I’ve been dealing with some now-resolved health issues, which were affecting my ability to sleep.  I’m all good now – and have a renewed focus and lots of energy.

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