Save Money: by not guessing what’s for dinner

Do you get home from a long day at work and walk around wondering what is for dinner . Just to throw your hands in the air with exasperation say ” F it “and jump back in the car looking for your favorite eats. Well you might not know but you are suffering from a sickness that result in a chubs belly and endless amount of money being flushed down the drain.

I know it sounds terrible. Would you like to get the cure! It’s actually easy ( no pills involved) all you have to do is grab a pen and paper ,then start making some lists. That’s right a few list will get you back to sexy waist and pockets of money*

(Cut infomercial)

Ahh,  it’s the beginning of the month and it’s time for the usual routine here at the Roamer fort. Prepping the dinner menu for the month.

Let’s face it, a lazy moment is almost all it takes to jump in the car and head to a restaurant or to pick up the phone and order carry out when it’s time for dinner. Lets also admit that rarely do we save money by eating out, and to top it off its rare to get food of good quality or nutrient. And for goodness sake sometimes it doesn’t even save us the time.

Having to rush through our bed time routine with the kids because we decided to go out to eat is not fun and it doesn’t happen if we just cooked at home.

Here are a few tips on saving money when it’s time to eat.
When that hard long day comes it’s going to take a lot of will power to not take the easy and expensive way out so here are a few preventative steps to take before that day to make choosing the healthiest and most affordable option the easiest.

Make a list

I know sooo boring but whatever. I make lists, its my thing and it is helpful . Really you could probably open your pantry and refrigerator and whip up something creative with the ingredients you find,  but in reality creativity sounds like challenge/work and when I am feeling lazy a challenge is not what I want. So back to the list.

The list I’m talking about is a list of all the food you and your partner know how to cook.. Including all the different varieties( so not sandwich but tuna sandwich,  chicken  sandwich, avocado sandwich) and so on. The benefit of this list?  Well sometimes we go out to eat because we are tired of having the same thing all the time. Chances are that even though you know how to make 20 different dishes you actually stick to about 5-7 meaning you repeat them often in a month. Ugh, No wonder you feel like you have pasta and tomatoes sauce twice a week,  because you are!

Now you can be in awe at the variety of food that can be had at home( I like to remind people to relish  such knowledge because really most of us don’t know what’s what until we write it down). Now that we are armed with this information we can move on to step 2(* if your list is small 10 dishes or less it’s time to spruce up those cooking skills unless a lack of variety is not an issue for you or the family)

Make a menu

I use to make a weekly menu .. Then I wouldn’t have to guess on that night what was for dinner and I was set for a week. But man it was a pain every Sunday. Neither of us wanted to make it plus we still ended  up repeating meals weekly, so now we make monthly menus . So you can start slow and make a week one or go all out and make a monthly one. The point is that even if you have all the ingredients to make something you might still not make it because you have to pull the idea out of thin air. That takes more effort, not that I’m encouraging laziness, just encouraging efficiency. (Roamer tip, don’t forget about lunch on the weekends).

Spend where it counts

I use to be quite reluctant to spend a lot of money on chicken and beef. Compared to all the staples they were the most expensive items. 

Then I came to the realization that I could spend $ 10 for 2 cuts of beef and maybe $4 more for veg and rice… or I could buy only vegetables and ground beef( cheap meat) save $5 on the beef. Then get a craving for steak every other week and spend $50+ dollars on 2 adult plates and maybe a kids plate at a restaurant totaling $ 100 more a month.  Or with those $100 I could have bought 10 more serving of protein, so I got smart and started spending where it mattered.

Pretty much what it comes down to is planning ahead can cut out lots of the issues you can encounter. This is true for our finances and is also true for our meals.

It’s funny because it doesn’t only save you money but it saves you from all the extra hassle. Some people would say doing all this(lists) is a hassle but what about all the hassle you deal with when you don’t know what’s for dinner day in and day out. Blah! Give me 30 min Guaranteed instead of potential hrs and hrs of hassle stretched out over 30 days.

Finally also make sure you have easy meals on hand. For me this is stuff that requires very minimal preparation. I am including my Avocado sandwich as and example for one of our lazy dinners.

To summarize

Make a list of all the meals you know
Create a menu
Make a shopping list
Spend where it matters
Have an easy to whip together meal for lazy days

My Avocado Sandwich Recipe 

Ingredients: Eggs, Avocado, Onions, Spinach,Bread, Lemons, olive oil

1. Add olive oil to pan, Scramble eggs in a pan, cook/brown onions

2. Rinse spinach and lime, Toast bread, Cut avocado

3.Assemble Sandwich, Squirt lemon juice before adding second slice of bread. ENJOY! you could even add a side of carrots

food

* result vary and are 100% dependent on what you eat and that money saved is not wasted in some other area

What Tips do you have for cutting food costs?

A love for Reading: Introducing the reading list


When I was young I loved the library, we went often. We would kill hrs there weekly. I got to know the layout really well.  I knew where all the math books were and the music books. I knew the kids section, teen. I knew exactly where to find  Edgar Allan Poe, Stephen king and Mary Higgins Clark. I searched for time travel books and read entire series ( Animorphs and A Wrinkle in Time). It was amazing, I loved it.

Somewhere along the way I was given a sheet to track all the books I was reading. I liked that too, it was great to go back to it. I still have it.

A year or 2 ago it made me sad to think I hadn’t read in so long( not counting curious George or other children’s books) but I realized I had been reading. It was just in smaller snippets, I had been reading posts online. So in that spirit I thought my blog is a great place to build my new list. It will taunt me and encourage me to pick up a book and carve at least a few hrs a month to read for myself. It might also inspire you and give you some good books ( or blogs)to check out.

Knowledge  really is power

Money

  BiggerPockets (real estate blog)
  MrMoneyMustache (blog)

Child

    Janet Lansbury (blog, check out my review)

Creativity

 Steal like an artist (book) 7/14

* I will try my best to keep it useful
** excited to be bringing reading higher up on my to do list

Do you have any recommendation? What was your favorite book?

RIE, a parenting philosophy that makes sense for baby and wallet

A review of why the RIE philosophy mixes well with people who go against the grain. A practice where money and babies don’t collide.

On this blog I have set 3 main goals for myself, not just of things I want to talk about but of things I want to learn more about and get better at. The journey includes retirement, travel, and parenthood, the common denominator is using money as the tool that ties it all together.

So why would someone who is budget conscious like Janet Lansbury’s blog , well simply put the child rearing philosophy she speaks about does not encourage immersing your baby or any child into a sea of toys and one trick ponies. Parents are encouraged to let children develop on their own. That means no walkers, jumping seats or spending time in any other restrictive apparatus.  She explains how children can find entertainment in nature, explore and be creative . That means no on toys that are flashy and distracting.

What does this add up to?  Financially big saving. By deeming most of what we currently believe to be necessary for our kids as unnecessary an even detrimental to their natural development. We end up with encouragement for limiting items, no one is on the hook for “depriving” their children of these worthless toys. Instead you learn to tune in to your children and when they can just be, you are free from having to buy an endless parade of toys to entertain them. 

I found Janet’s blog long before I found MMM. I recommend you to check it out. I think it’s very compatible with the goals here.
I am attaching two posts, I think it is as good a place as any to start, but like with any blog you need to poke around and at least read several article to get an idea of some of the intricacies in the parenting philosophy.child time

So having kids doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, and actually I believe you’ll find if you spend more time and less money that baby and budgets don’t actually collide.

http://www.janetlansbury.com/2013/12/rie-parenting-basics-9-ways-to-put-respect-into-action/

http://www.janetlansbury.com/2013/07/unexpected-toy-find-2/

Did you check it out? What did you think?

Choosing between the Baby and the Budget

When numbers like $10,000 on baby’s first year get thrown around regularly, and anecdotes like it cost half a million dollars to raise kids these days. Well it isn’t a surprise that most parent or would be parent feel the walls closing in even as they choose the decor for baby’s room.  $10,000 is what baby center says it will cost ya for baby’s first year. Well I’ll have to disagree as many comment-er on that page did because we just welcomed baby number 2 last year and as far as I can tell those numbers are wacko!

We just celebrated the first birthday of our youngest (a little girl) and it was a nice relaxing event. Our one year celebration was just us and it was nice to not have to worry about all the extra activities you add on to your plate when you plan a big shindig.  We just focused on enjoying the moment.

Thinking and talking about big first birthday bashes makes me see floating dollar signs being flushed down the toilet.  A one year old definitely does not request or need all that frivolous spending.

I’ll put my dollars in the bank to buy myself some extra freedom, and more quality time with the kids thank you. So  now that I’ve hinted at the big expenses for a first birthday if you choose to go that route lets also rewind and see what my baby costs were for the first year.

How much money did we spend on baby?

First Year Expenses, $10,000? I don't think so.
First Year Expenses, $10,000? I don’t think so.

So lets look at each section and do some explaining.

Diapers

Ah diapers this by all is considered to be the black whole and cash eating machine. With my first I had considered cloth diapers but it just didn’t make sense at the time since we were both college students. I hear they save you a bundle but I’ve never had the chance to test them out. With my second I didn’t even consider it since again we were both working so Disposable it was.  So what was my number for the first year with disposables? Well I can definitely say we bought in bulk none of these 30-60 count stuff for $19. We went straight to the 112-150 count for $29, we used coupons, and we bought when target would have a sale(credit a $10 gift card). All in all I don’t think it was that bad but I know I could have done better.

Formula

The joys of nursing. Some women can’t nurse, and there is nothing they can do about it. Other women CHOOSE not to nurse and all I can say is financially that is a horrible idea. I’m not even going to get into the debate about how breast milk is the best thing for baby.  But FORMULA! that stuff is expensive! Especially if you need it for every meal. So how did we keep that cost down? Well first we predominantly nursed and only slightly supplemented. However, to further keep costs down you should try the following. Sign up for the manufactures club. Enfamil has something of the sort and it was really beneficial. At the hospital we left with a parting gift, bottles and bottles of ready to drink formula. Then we also got a box at home with 36 more of the ready to drink formula.  They also send coupons to save $5-$7 on their product purchases. Nursing is still the most affordable, so I say give it a real shot. With the first child nursing was a piece of cake, with the second it was a disaster lots of crying from mom and baby, but they advise you to stick with it for 3 months. You know what, once we got to 3 months it wasn’t a disaster anymore. So if you can give it a shot not only will your baby thank you, so will your wallet.

Clothes

Since we found it more exciting to not know baby’s gender the first little Roamer had neutral clothing for up to 6 months. This worked out great for little Roamer number 2 which we also did not find out gender till delivery.  This meant I could reuse baby clothing  from first baby. We also aren’t to proud to accept hand me downs and a generous coworker gifted us a whole year of outfits.  Also while out one day we were gifted a nursing cover from a complete  stranger … sure it was a bit of an awkward situation for us but hey it was free! So if you want to keep costs down ask friends and family if they have any left overs from their baby. Looking forward I am checking out Craigslist for her next batch and I see big lots selling for $45 or $1 per item. So that looks like a great resource as well.  When it comes to clothing Appreciate family, friends, and even strangers generosity.

Furniture

Crib?  I’ve never actually owned one. For my first well we were poor college students and we moved so frequently across the US that a big bulky piece of furniture just didn’t make sense when you are trying to fit everything including baby in a car. My first survived and thrive just fine in a Graco pack n play with the bassinet conversion. He did have a crib for a 3-6 month stint when a family member loaned us one.  Luckily we kept those items and when baby 2 came well we used what we had.  I definitely caught a lot of flack for not having a crib from my family but I just didn’t see the need to upgrade. So making a price comparison it looks like the pack an plays range from $70 to above $200 depending on the add on and configuration compared to cribs which start at $200 and go up to the thousands(does that include a mattress? i don’t know). This is  buying new so you have lots of room to save here. Plus with a pack and play you also save by not buying all that unnecessary bedding which is dangerous for a newborn anyway (SIDS anyone)

All the other furniture went like this Car seat? Yes and new. Old car seat was past the 6 year mark so new it was. Stroller? bought as a set with car seat.High Chair? found on Craigslist Used $45, the cheapest new was $95.

Food

Well this post is turning to a book so I’ll keep it short. We heard of baby lead weaning which means you go straight to solid food. Soft solid food but none of this puree stuff. This meant a lot of saving in the food department. Did you know Gerber or whatever cost $1 for about 5 oz. For that price you can buy a bag of carrots and get multiple days of meals. Turns out cooking baby food is really easy. So we did that and only supplemented with packaged food for convenience. This is obvious in our chart  food costs.

Medical

Sheesh it took me doing the research for this article to really realize this cost. In the first year my baby had 3 emergency room visits at $100 a pop. These incident were by far the most costly expenses. I never knew what a nursemaid elbow was with my eldest but now I do and I feel so sad that my youngest baby got them, but the worst part is that apparently after they get them once they are more likely to get them again until their stuff is all set at age 5. I had the ER visits with my oldest as well, but I didn’t have insurance back then so those were like $500 a pop. So I can see the costs adding up for those who don’t have insurance.

So that should cover most of the costs. However, I’ll assume that I lost a receipt somewhere and make that $1,300 a nice round $1,500. Even so I don’t see any other costs that I missed and that means out of the $10,000  my total amounted to about 15% . Now lets assume that this is likely the case and that child expenses are grossly overestimated. Well that means that raising a kid to 18 really shouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg and that the expenses are well within your control and open for interpretation.

I did not follow the fast growing ridiculously lavish first birthday trend.  My daughter did not receive a pile of gifts, I didn’t buy fancy decorations and order a custom birthday cake piled high with sugar and fake coloring. I didn’t hire a professional photographer either ( I know how to work a camera and I don’t need Photoshop magic changing reality). Maybe some people will say she missed out, some how I don’t think she’ll ever complain.

So what have you done to cut baby costs? Do you feel your missing out? Do you really need to choose between the Baby and the Budget?

 

7 years of travel: The power of looking back

How well do you remember your past?

I would not consider myself a traveler. It is more a goal and aspiration. In comparison to some family members with less means than myself, I have been to fewer places. And I definitely learn a lot from travel hackers ( by default I guess that means I don’t know a lot ) but I guess I haven’t given myself enough credit. Sometimes looking in the past has it’s benefits…

During the application process for a job I was asked to provide my addresses for 7 year to do a background check. 7 years!
I knew I moved around a lot for school but I guess I never thought of it before. As it turns out I had a really hard time coming up with 7 yrs of history but after some digging these are the stats I have to report.

Where have I lived?

So within the past 7 years I have held an address in all the following cities for 3 months or more.

    • Flint, MI.
    • Costa Mesa , Ca
    • San Leandro, Ca
    • San Francisco, Ca
    • Anaheim, Ca
    • Bellflower, Ca
    • Norwalk, Ca

(Can you tell I really like California) 😉

Now I know what you are thinking.. you are probably saying “Wait a minute that doesn’t look so bad. Why did you have such a hard time gathering that up.” Well in reality even though I have only live in 7 different cities in the past 7 years my housing situation was more complicated then that.

In that time I have lived in 14 different houses/ Apartments. That is a lot of addresses to try and remember. But I guess that’s the life of a wanderer( Hence the Roamer).  No but really it was due to my University’s school schedule.

 Places I have Traveled to in my last 7 years

Not only have I lived in 7 different cities in the past 7 years I have also had a chance to visit quite a few places. These are the stats of places I have spent 2 or more nights at.

  • Dearborn, MI
  • Madison, WI
  • Port Huron, MI
  • Salt Lake City, UT
  • New River Gorge, WV
  • Yosemite, CA
  • Kentucky
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Chicago, IL
  • Oil City, PA
  • Philadelphia, PA
Things I’ve seen

I have also had the chance to  spend a few hours and briefly pass through sites such as, Niagra Falls, from Canada side,  The Rock and Roll hall of fame in Ohio, Frank Lloyd Wrights  house Falling Waters in PA, Hearst Castle,CA; Zion National Park, UT; The Grand Canyon, AZ; The Saint Louis Arch, MO

So why do I say all this ? … How is it going to help?… Well I guess really this post is more about reflection. Sometimes life happens so fast you miss what’s happening. And I’m glad to know that even though trips haven’t been as grandiose as I’d like( India sigh Japan , China,  3 months studying abroad) .  Sure it might not have been what I wanted it to be, but it’s surely nothing to scoff at. I have found a way to feed my passion even if it means getting to know my backyard better. For example my time in San Francisco was really amazing specially with the random meeting of an Asian tourist an impromptu dinner date in china town and late night walk through the city will be a memory and story I tell for the rest of my life. To realize that those story like adventure don’t just happen to everyone but happen to me too.

So take a break retrace your step and realize those amazing accomplishments you’ve already done, you have a few… But if you really feel you don’t, take control it’s your life, you only have one… Realize there are challenging,attainable goals to be reached, but don’t sacrifice your future self, save and pay for them out right. There are adventures to be had in your own backyard if you are open to the possibilities.

Maybe I’m not such an inept traveler. I think it’s pretty good for 7 years of travel.

– The Roamer

Feel free to share with me your accomplishments. Lets inspire each other.  

University Debt Freedom

Hello Sunshine, Hello breath of fresh air, Hello Freedom!

Today was the day, I recently sent in the last payment on my last student loan and today I received the marvelous confirmation that proves it all.

When I started this student loan repayment journey it was 2011 and I was over $46,000.00 in the hole. The school loan companies(government included) in all their infinite wisdom gave me 10 years to pay it all off.  How thoughtful and generous of them??

Let me see I thought I am 23 soon to be 24+10=34. I would be 34 years old when I would finish paying off my loans! 34! really? No thank you. Plus what about all the interest? Lets see if I did my math right it would come out to about $18,000 that’s a total of $64,000 after everything is said and done. Nope. Nope. Nope.

I knew from the very beginning there was no way I was just going to give $18,000 away.  I mean that is what you do when you pay interest. No, instead I figured out what my payments needed be to pay it all off in 5 years. Heck, I even did the math to pay it off in 6 years in case I had some emergency or something but that was it, 6 years was my MAX and 5 years was my goal. That goal included dropping extra cash that came my way with things such as tax refunds.

5 year plan

With the 5 yr plan I would only give away ~$8500 in interest with a monthly payment of $880 and $2500 in tax refund money. This would save me about $10,000 and 5 yrs of worry and stress paying everything off by Jan 2016.

What really Happened

Its Early 2014 and I already reached my GOAL! Paying off my student loans in 3.25 years. I’ve included a table below to show how it all breaks down. Now the numbers on the table are ball park calculations using 7% interest rate but that’s not 100% since really my loans ranged from 4.5% to an ugly 10.63%. Even my payments for year 3 are the average. The way it really went down was starting off with the $880 payments to finish up in 5 years and then upping it all the way to $1480. With extra cash dropped in when it came along (tax refunds) . But I wanted you to get an idea and the difference in the interest rates is no joke even if you do think I’m off $100 its still several thousand dollars difference for every year you add on.

Isn't math fun!

Isn’t math fun!

 My Advice

So here is my advice for any graduating students use the grace period to your advantage and start paying some dollars right away. If it means you are not pay interest great for you.

1. Do the Math

Unfortunately nobody is going to advise you about this, thinking of what’s best for you. Most people will try to get you to extend the life of the loan to minimize the payment per month. That’s like buying a pizza on credit and by the time you actually pay it off it cost you $100 buck. Would you pay $100 for a pizza? Not likely so forget about the monthly payment for a little and do the math to figure out what it really is going to cost you down the line. Some interest rates are so high that by the end of it you end up paying double what you owe. Does that sound like a smart thing to do?(refer to pizza example and hopefully be saying no). I mean you could have gotten a second degree or gone on vacation with the interest you’re paying.

2. Pay Attention

Don’t submit extra money and assume it’s going to the most logical place. I have a secret its not! Yup this is the most annoying thing of all but as you learn about finances you’ll realize that you want to pay off the loan with the highest interest rate first. But nope the loan companies wont do that, that just makes to much sense they will most likely apply it to the loan with (GASP) the smallest interest rate. Well of course they would this means they can keep extracting from you the biggest amount of money. So PAY ATTENTION, CALL as many times as you have to make sure your money is going in the right place. For people with big balances this could be thousands of dollars in extra interest.

I’m really jazzed about this life event, And I hope this makes you realize that doing a little math can save you thousands upon thousands of dollars. ..And even though I am glad I got my education I don’t want to pay anymore then what its worth.

Do you have Student DEBT ? When will you reach freedom? Will you do the math to get there sooner?

-The Roamer Out

 

 

Challenge: Save for your Emergency Fund

What do you do if you have an Emergency?

DUDE, My car just died
Honey, I need a root canal
The pipes burst, and water is dripping form the ceiling
I just got laid off

Lets face it an emergency can happen to anyone. Unexpected expenses can be a financial disaster waiting to happen.  Usually when an emergency happens you are stressed out enough with out having to add the financial stress of “How am I going to pay for this?”

So why put yourself in that situation?

As you have learned finances are in your control you have the power to cut out the fluff to make room for what really matters.  Do you want to have to deal with financial stress when your already stressing about some other emergency? NO!  Great! So lets get started.

Building your Emergency Fund Safety Net

Now I know there are lots of financial levels out there from the paycheck to paycheck to the savvy investor. This is for the beginners.

Level 1

This is for the paycheck to paycheck people. We have got to get out of this routine. Living paycheck to paycheck means you have no room or money to absorb any sort of financial emergency. This is a dangerous game to play. However, the good news is you probably have money to save it just keeps getting sucked up by you fun pile. So your challenge is save $1000, every month find a way to scrape together $100. Sure this might seem hard but its doable. You know that fun pile I mentioned it probably includes shoes, restaurant meals, clothes, lunches out, new gadgets, excessive driving. Lets say you go out every day for lunch at work and spend about $10. $10 x 5(days a week)x 4 (weeks)=$200. Take lunch to work 2 days a week and you’ll save $80.  Skip out on one dinner date out and instead prepare something new at home that is probably another $30. See $100 not so hard.  Now that you have it build it to $1000.  Remember this is not for a new TV.

Level 2

So you already save money, you pocket about $150 a month into your saving account. The problem is you don’t really have a safety fund because you keep using it to go on awesome vacations or buy new gadgets. Chances are you could probably handle a small emergency couple hundred dollars or so but you’d still be a fish out of water if you had a major expense or lost your job. Lets fix that. Your challenge is to save enough to cover 1 month of expenses. Your rent, Utility bills, insurance, car loan payment and so forth. Some expenses in your month are probably flexible like food, and entertainment. So you can adjust your spending in case of an emergency. For example cut down on meat  and eat more beans and rice and vegetables. But either way lets get you to an actual safety net. Your challenge is to figure out your necessary monthly expenses and save that amount. Put it somewhere and don’t touch it. IT’S FOR AN EMERGENCY. Then you can go back and start saving for that next trip you want to take. For now.

Level 3

This is the level we all really want to get to but it might be really daunting to those of us who live paycheck to paycheck. In this level you have cut your spending so much so that you automatically have about 25% of your earning free to save. Since you have breathing room in your budget you can absorb an emergency with out even needed to withdraw on your emergency account funds. Plus since you have extra room your emergency fund has grown steadily and is able to handle 3-6 months of your expenses and if you keep it up well its just going to keep on growing. However, in this stage you run the risk of sacrificing your opportunity cost. So figure out how much you need for 3 months and start investing the rest. You can always sell shares if your 3 month emergency blanket isn’t enough.( but that’s a different upcoming post.)

Finally

Finally I am currently checking out online banking. Some of you are probably veterans and well aware of that system so this is for the newbies. I know how comforting it can be to have your money in a brick and mortar bank, Like Chase or Bank of America but WAKE UP! those banks aren’t even paying peanuts for all the money you are going to start saving. Online banks at least offer a much higher rate. So do some research and test them out. (Post on that also up and coming). This will make sure you earn the highest interest you can on your safety funds.

Don’t wait for that horrible surprise emergency. You’re in charge of your finances so start today get the ball rolling.

What level are you in? How will you meet your challenge goal?

 

Life is a strict teacher

I’ll be honest I also started this blog because sometimes I felt  like it was hard to relate to the pack leader Mr.Money Mustache himself. This guys is the alpha dog in early retirement ( plainly seen by all his followers) ….but as I was saying sometimes its hard to relate to this guy. He’s already retired, he only has 1 kid and he didn’t have to try to juggle raising that kid with work. He doesn’t have to juggle living now with living later. He’s already retired and free to do as he pleases. It’s an inspiration but sometimes hard to relate.

So I said, HEY.. I have to juggle work and kids, I have to budget for a 5 person household, I still have debt. I still work in the rat race and am learning about investing. I can be that middle link! I can help people relate and spread the message, So that they too can get their financial house in order, climb out of debt, learn about family and work and balancing it all. Then still be able to enjoy money building new experiences(travel). I’m not so untouchable that people can’t relate. I’m not so extreme.

UGH! but then…then I read some articles or hear complaints from friends and I have to bite my tongue and cross my arms to keep myself from shaking some sense into them.

Meh! maybe I am not as chill as I thought. Even at my much lower level of badassity compared to MMM and the mustachians some of my suggestions might still come off as extreme compared to my target audience.

So I’ve become slightly concerned with how to deliver my content. I want it to be useful, attainable. Then I realized that this is my house and my journey and being genuine is key.

The Roamer has jumped lots of hurdles since the MMM sun cleared the clouds and if the Roamer is better off well, that’s just the truth.  That’s the reality. So this is a heads up. The Roamer will say things that are critical of your spending. Especially if it sounds like this stuff

Oh I’m so broke that I can’t pay the gas on my lifted truck
or
Oh I just bought the newest gaming system, yeah playing is the only way for me to relieve all this stress from this mountain of student debt.
or
Can you lend me $100 I’m low on cash and my payday loans ran out

Critical is GOOD. You only fix something when you realize that it is broken. So lets identify the problems, then we can work on the solutions together. After all life is a strict teacher.

-The Roamer

Happy New Year Debt!

Narrator Note:  So I've been pondering how best to make this post. I know it's an important one and highly needed to set the baseline of what I, The Roamer, am working with in regard to debt and to better highlight any accomplishments. So, I decided to take the plunge and just keep it short and to the point. 

The Start of 2014 greeted the Roamer clan with the following debt numbers, savings, and retirement contributions.

Student loan debt $9046.44 with 6%

Toyota loan $8902.75 with 2.99%

Honda loan $17,479.69 with 1.99%

That’s a grand total of $35,428.88

With a joint saving account with ~ $11,000.00

Actively contributing to a 401k 15% of one earners income so less than 15% of our total earnings.

But more significantly was the mindset we were actively only concerned with quickly paying off Student loan debt and had even just financed a new car in September. Effectively increasing our debt.

So there you have it the baseline for 2014

First Understand, Then Escape Plan

I.

So, since the last post, there was lots of time to accept the challenge and calculate your financial health by figuring out your net worth. Lots of articles these days claim Americans are in a sorry state financially so maybe(and very likely) the numbers you saw didn’t leave you feeling warm and fuzzy. Nope they most likely  made you feel upset and maybe even angry.  The uncomfortable truth for many is plain and easy to see. Maybe the idea of ignorance is bliss jumps to your head, but before you go dig your head in the sand realize the awesome power of knowledge.

I know a little ditty that goes ” If you can’t see , you don’t know,  and if you don’t know you can’t control”

The great news is now we see it, now we know and now we can control it.

No longer will you be just a lowly passenger on your financial journey. No it’s time to grab your traveling wallet and sit in the drivers seat. The time for action is now.

II.  The Escape Plan

Now it’s my understanding that any negative net worth is due in large part to a lack of savings, but even more likely to a big PILE OF DEBT! Now who here is in any sort of debt? ( I am) And who thinks their debt constitutes an emergency?  Sorry to tell you but Debt is an emergency! You need to acknowledge it!

So now what? Well I can tell you what I did. If this sounds good follow along and implement the plan.

1. STOP ADDING DEBT

Your goal is to get out of this mountain of debt.  Don’t add more , Don’t take any detours. No more buying on credit if you can’t pay off the balance in full before you get charged interest.

2. Track your spending, get in the know

I did this for 3 months when I was starting out. Figure out how much you are spending in all the categories: rent, food, restaurants, utilities. After seeing how much I was spending I could move to step 3.

3. Make a Savvy spending chart

In other words budget. Now is the time to tackle your spending. Identify the areas you can cut down on and do it! Like I said debt is an emergency which means, you can’t afford to go to those $15 a pop movies,( If I need the big movie screen experience I wait till they come out in 2nd tier theaters only $2 a pop) just wait for the Redbox. You need to brush up on the haggling skills and get better deals on insurance and phone plans. Possibilities to cut down are endless.

4. Build your safety cushion

Shoot for $1000 . The point of this money is that if you have an emergency you will be able to cover it without going into debt. (it’s not for a vacation or new big screen t.v.)

5.Pay down that Debt.

Once you have that small safety cushion its time to put the pedal to the metal. Figure out the debt with the highest interest rate.  For me it was my student loans, start to roll the money in! I designate big money to student debt. Go heavy, debt isn’t going to destroy itself. I have been actively contributing 15-25% of my paycheck since 2011. More then 3 times higher then the minimum payments, more then some people contribute to retirement. Like I said debt is no joke, and I can see the light at the end of the dark tunnel.

III.

Now you can bask in the awesome feeling of power.

Calculate your new arrival date. No longer is the future shrouded in the smog of uncertainty.  You have a plan and if you stick to it you know when you’ll arrive.

Maybe its just me but I get a happy feeling knowing that I have control of my life. I’ll be honest even married with finances always being a group discussion I have been the one to put the challenges on the table. Cutting  down on eating out at restaurants didn’t faze me, but my spouse wasn’t happy about it. So yes even with the awesome power of control you might experience some discomfort. But I’ll ask you this… Isn’t the destination, that light at the end of the tunnel, ridding yourself of debt worth some discomfort.

Or in a true travel analogy.  That discomfort is like being on a plane. Most don’t like the hassle of waiting, boarding, fighting for over head cargo space and being cramped in your seat. But we deal with the discomfort because the destination is worth it. In the end we’ll be somewhere new and exciting, and we will get to stretch out and breath some fresh air. Don’t remain trapped because of the chance of discomfort.

The destination is worth it. Start the journey.