Monthly Archives: August 2014

Life Insurance… I HATE it, but I HAVE it

Why spend money on something I hate?

Life insurance is for those you love

Life Insurance… Personally, I hate it. I hate paying for something I will never use. Bottom line… The company takes my money, builds investor portfolios and fancy buildings with it, and gambles on when I will die.

Admittedly, I don’t have much personal experience with life insurance companies … after all, this article was not “ghost written“.

🙂

In my experience, insurance companies LOVE to take premiums, but HATE to pay claims. Many spend money to prevent paying a legitimate claim. Clients often get the run-around. “Oh, sorry… that’s not covered… Page 782, Paragraph 374, Subparagraph 42b… ‘Policy void if incident happens during any phase of the lunar cycle’.

Maybe I’m exaggerating… a little.

I have no problem if they don’t want to pay a fraudulent claim. However, the few times I have tried to collect on a legitimate claim, I have gotten the run-around, customer no-service, and excuses. I hope that does not happen if my survivors need to claim my life insurance policy.

Maybe I just have a bad taste in my mouth for life insurance because of the other types of insurance. Regardless, I hate life insurance.

However, I love my wife and children more than I hate life insurance.

If you are like most people, life insurance is probably not a priority in your mind. I rarely think about life insurance, except when the life insurance bill arrives. If you are young, healthy, and single, you may think you don’t need any coverage. Perhaps, you think, “I’ll worry about life insurance when I’m really old and decrepit … like when I’m 40 or whatever.” 🙂

However, if others depend on your income, TODAY is the day to think about life insurance.

Are you married? Do you have children? Would your family have a hard time continuing to live at the same quality of life without your income? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes”, you are a prime life insurance candidate.

Please, do not put this off.

Are you are single, but engaged? Are you married with no children, but you plan to have children? If so, meet with a life insurance professional first, before others need your income.

Chances are, you will live a long life. However, accidents happen, and people get sick. There are many stories of people dying without life insurance. There are many horror stories of families left behind, without life insurance. In addition to dealing with the grief of your loss, they often struggle to eat, pay the mortgage, attend college, or simply survive.

I am the primary breadwinner for our family. My wife makes a little extra money. She keeps a baby three days each week. However, if I died, she could not afford our modest lifestyle on that small income. On the other hand, if she died, I would need to hire assistance, since I work full-time, plus have a small business. I would also need to pay for occasional childcare.

If something happened to both of us at the same time (car accident, for example), we want to provide for the children’s needs until they are 18. We would also each have final expenses.

Therefore, both of us have an individual life insurance policy.

There are many factors to consider, such as,

  • If you need life insurance
  • What type of life insurance
  • How much life insurance
  • How long do you need life insurance coverage

Even if you are single, with no children, you may need at least a small policy. If you die, your family has to pay your final expenses. These may include your funeral, burial, or cremation expenses, or any final medical bills. Here are three reasons why TODAY is the best time to get term life insurance.

The policy from your employer may not be enough
My employer provides a year’s salary at no cost to the employees. For a single person, this may be enough. Likely, all you would have is your final expenses. However, I’m married, and have two children. I suspect my children would like to continue eating after that year is up. In addition, we have rent, utilities, dog food, sports, extracurricular activities… everything my family has come to expect and enjoy about my income.

You probably need more than one year’s income replacement… Unless you only plan to be dead for one year. 🙂

You will never be as young as you are today
This may sound morbid, but each day, you are one day closer to death. You are closer to the day the life insurance company will have to pay out your policy. The younger you are, the better chance they have to recoup the risk they take by insuring you, so the cheaper your life insurance policy will be. When you are younger, you are a relatively lower risk for the insurance company. Premiums might not rise exponentially year over year, but when you are in your 40′s, you will pay much more than if you were in your 20′s.

Your health condition could change tomorrow
When people are young, generally speaking, they are healthiest. Body parts generally still work like they should, young people rebound from illness and injury much more quickly, and they are usually sick less often.

Comparatively speaking, from today until the day you die, today, you are in your prime. Each day, everything goes downhill from here. Cheerful thought, eh? 🙂

If your healthcare professional finds a single indicator of a serious illness, such as cancer, diabetes, or heart disease, it may raise a red flag. This will likely increase your cost for life insurance. Once you have been diagnosed, from then on, you are marked.

By law, you must report your diagnosis on any future life insurance application. If you hide it, you commit insurance fraud. If your fraud is discovered, the insurance company probably will not pay your policy when you die. After all, you obtained the policy fraudulently.

So, stop putting it off. Research your needs, then call a life insurance company!

There are many resources to help determine your life insurance needs. Following are a few I found helpful:

In a future post, we will talk more about life insurance. We will also talk about other insurance needs.

If you have life insurance, how did you decide the coverage amount? What was the reason you purchased the policy? What type of insurance did you purchase? Why did you choose that type of policy?

10 HABITS TO BUILD WEALTH

WILL YOUR HABITS BUILD WEALTH OR WANT?

Follow these habits to build wealth

I have been thinking about habits and wealth, and decided I would write an article listing ten habits to build wealth. We have two children, and have been trying to teach them about self-discipline / self-control, and the habits we build.

Habits are great things in some ways, as we can do things without having to really focus on what we are doing. They can be time savers. Unfortunately, they can also be hard masters when they are bad habits. They can trap us into doing “the same old same old”, and prevent us from seeing solutions and new paths to solve problems.

I will begin using a family budget consistently again. I also plan to begin using a budget for my small business. I believe living on a budget is one of the most important habits to build wealth. It is a habit I used to have, but life and busy-ness got in the way. I got out of the habit of using a budget. I would float from month to month, knowing approximately how much money was in the bank. However, I quit regularly budgeting.

I didn’t balance the checkbook. I never really planned for Christmas, vacation, birthdays, and other special occasions when we would need to spend extra money. I would move money from savings over to checking to cover, and I had a couple of bounced checks. The money was in the savings account to cover, but the credit union did not automatically move the money, so the checking account went negative and we got hit with an overdraft fee. No more.

If you are reading this blog, I am guessing you are interested in finances and in wealth creation. So, let’s talk about 10 habits to build wealth.

1. Budget – Prepare a budget each month, before the month begins. This is something Dave Ramsey preaches as a major habit to build wealth. This is the first month I started doing that again. I remember when I was doing a budget regularly; it felt like I had gotten a raise. I knew how much we had, how much we would need to spend, when we had money coming, and how much we should have left at the end of the month.

2. Self-Control – For those of us who believe the Bible, one of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control.

  • Be willing to say “no” or “not yet”. I waited three years to buy a new flat-screen HD TV because we don’t have cable/satellite, and we didn’t really watch much TV when we did have it. However, we do “rent” movies from the library, and we have a couple of game consoles. I had the money, and I went to various stores several times, each time, intending to buy. At the last minute, after walking the aisles, I would decide to wait.
  • Teach others self-discipline by example. I remind our children of that now… “It is ok to wait to spend your money. Daddy waited three years for a new TV.” Several times they were with us when I was looking at the TV’s. Frankly, I think they were shocked when we actually walked out of the store WITH a new TV. 🙂

3. Eat wisely – Don’t wreck your month’s budget for a few meals. Using your food budget wisely is one of my habits to build wealth consistently every month.

  • Most of the time, we choose to eat at home. We gave up a lot so that my wife is able to stay at home. One of the things we chose to sacrifice is eating out. Of course, when we were both working full-time outside the home, we ate out more often because of the convenience… we would both be getting home late, and starting dinner after we got home meant that we were eating right before bed. Now, she is home and has the flexibility to make healthy, filling, inexpensive meals.
  • Creating habits to build wealth require a little bit of ingenuity. I am only partially joking when I say we read the menu “right-to-left”… we look at the prices, then see what we will be eating. When we eat out, we do it inexpensively. However, we still spend roughly 2x as much per meal when we eat out, compared to when we eat at home. Of course, “nice” restaurants, or expensive meals would cost even more.
  • We usually eat at Mexican restaurants. Why? Because, first, coming from SE Texas, we love Mexican food. In addition, they generally offer free tortilla chips. We find ourselves munching on the chips before the meal arrives, and with our meal. We end up taking ½ our dinner home. I take leftovers to work for lunch during the week.
  • Often, R and I will split a meal. At a steakhouse, we each get a side salad (one usually comes with the entrĂ©e), and often, bread is included. By the time the steak is served, ½ is plenty for each of us. In fact, we usually don’t get dessert because we are comfortably full already.

4. Treats in moderation – Treats are nice, but moderation is one of the habits to build wealth.

  • Drink water (usually free, and better for your health), instead of paying for sodas.
  • Instead of paying $5-$8 each for a dessert at the restaurant, go buy a ½ gallon of ice cream and some toppings. Bake some cookies or brownies, add your ice cream, and make your own “lava brownie”. You can have dessert once a week at home for the next month for what you would spend on one dessert per person.

5. Garden – Besides producing food, gardening teaches patience, which is one of the best habits to build wealth. Just as you can’t pull up the plants after a week and look at what is going on underground, you shouldn’t pull your investments out and mess with them on a whim.

  • Start a garden. Food from your garden is better quality, better tasting, and better for you. Once you overcome the initial startup costs, the food is also less expensive. Research Square Foot Gardening.
  • If you can’t garden (apartment dwellers, etc), find a local farmer’s market.

6. Have a side hustle – Working hard is one of the best habits to build wealth.

  • I got the term “Side Hustle” from Michelle at Making Sense of Cents. She began her “side hustle” blog in her spare time, built it consistently, and eventually, her part time work grew into a more-than full-time career. Michelle is now in business for herself, and does blog management, website management, ghost writing, web design, and freelance writing, among other things. You can hire her if you need those services.
  • Another blog I like is ClubThrifty.com. Holly is another hard working entrepreneur. I have learned a lot about blogging and ways to earn additional income from her site.
  • Long before I had heard the term, I have had a side hustle. At various times over the past decade, while holding a full-time day job, I have delivered pizza nights and weekends for Dominos, delivered newspapers seven days per week before going to my day job, and picked up many extra shifts at my current day job employer. I often worked 12+ hour days, sometimes seven days a week, sleeping in my car on my lunch hour. Not what I wanted to do long-term, but it can really help provide additional money in the short-term.

7. Start a business – Currently, in addition to my full-time day job, I also have a small business. I guess it could also be considered a side hustle.

  • I am a mobile DJ. I average over 100 events per year. It is something I am very good at, and I make excellent money doing it. I have considered doing it full-time, but I’m the sole breadwinner, the industry is feast-or-famine (at least in my geographic area), and I need to provide health insurance.
  • Finding legal ways to have a business pay for things you need is a habit to build wealth. Many things in your personal life can be tax deductible if you have a business. In my case, for example, I am able to use business income to pay for my cell phone, internet service, alarm monitoring, part of the rent & utilities, some fuel & maintenance on my vehicles, office supplies, music (as a DJ, I have to purchase music), and other things. Obviously, check with your tax professional for details for your individual situation. … Actually, having a professional to help guide you with tax and legal matters is also a habit to build wealth!

8. Give – Giving is one of the most important habits to build wealth.

  • Give your treasure. Give money and help meet the needs of others.
  • Give your time. Your time is important also.
  • Give your talents. Use your abilities and bless others.
  • Give to a local charity, where you can see that they are using the money well.

9. Education – Never stop learning. Learning is one of the most important habits to build wealth.

  • College can be a great investment in yourself, if you do it the right way.
  • The first two years of most college degrees are primarily a re-hash of the last two years of high school. If you are/know a high school junior/senior, take a CLEP test as soon as you finish a course. The material is still fresh in your mind, and if you pass the CLEP, you now have a college level credit for the class. That is one less class you will need towards your degree, one less semester you are stuck in a classroom. CLEP tests are also less expensive than the course and books for college.
  • Consider earning your Associate’s degree first. Many Associates degrees pay as well as or nearly as well as a Bachelor’s degree. If you decide later you want the Bachelor’s, the credits will generally apply, so you are already half way there. You are potentially earning an income two years earlier, and have two years more “hand’s on” experience.
  • See if your employer will cover or reimburse some of your expenses for education. Taking advantage of programs offered for free education can be a great habit to build wealth.
  • Intern for a local business. You don’t have to be in college. Do you know someone in your future career field? Offer to work part-time for/with them for 3-6 months. See what they do on a daily basis. Make sure this is REALLY the career you want, and gain practical experience in the field.
  • Educate yourself. If you know you are not interested in climbing the corporate ladder, you may not need a college degree. You can still take college courses. I am a sophomore, almost a junior, based on the number of college credits I have. I simply took courses I was interested in. You can take online courses. You can check out relevant books from the library. You can learn from YouTube. You can just roll up your sleeves and jump in for on-the-job learning.

10. Under promise and over deliver –  Surprise those you work for, whether your boss, a client, or a co-worker. Do more than you promise to do. Come in earlier than you are expected to. Stay a few minutes later. Instead of only providing 10 habits to build wealth, throw in a few additional bullet points. 🙂

What are your top three, top ten, top twenty habits to build wealth? What habits are you weakest in, and how do you plan to change? What habits are you strongest in?

10 Creative, Simple Ways You Can Earn Money Quickly

10 Creative Yet Simple Ways Anyone Can Earn Money Quickly

I saw an article about a book by Kylie Ofiu, called, 365 Ways to Make Money; Ideas for Quick $ Every Day of the Year.

The article’s author said this book inspired her with some ideas for ways to earn money quickly. I have not read the book yet, but I would like to soon. The article got me to thinking about ways to earn extra money quickly. I came up with ten, but there are tons more.

Obviously, borrowing money is not a great option to get money quickly. At some future date, you have to pay the money back, generally with interest on top of the original amount you borrowed.

Instead, try some of these ideas to earn money quickly. Most of them are not hard to do, nor do they require skilled labor or specialized training. You may get your hands dirty, or have sore muscles, though. A few of the ideas are potentially unpleasant for a short period of time, but they are still better than borrowing money in many cases.

So, with no further ado… here are my suggestions for 10 creative ways to earn money quickly.

  1. Haul junk – If you have a pick-up truck, you can earn money quickly. After moving a couple of years ago, we had dozens of moving boxes that needed to be removed, and stuff that we no longer wanted (after we packed it, moved it, toted it, and unpacked it 🙂 ). Fortunately, at the time, we had a small pickup truck to haul them away. Now, we don’t. Once a month or so, I really wish I still had a truck. Also, about once a quarter, I have stuff that needs to be hauled to the local dump, but is too dirty or bulky to easily take in the car or van. Be the “guy with a truck”, and work efficiently, and you can earn money quickly with your truck… which is normally, a depreciating “asset”.
  2. Clean out garages – This is a perfect complement for the first idea. I would love someone to come to my house, and help me clean out and organize my garage. I have duplicate tools and extra DIY supplies. This is stuff that I have bought more than once, and more than I needed. Why? Because when it was time to do the project, I simply could not find the original I purchased, so I had to go buy another one. I’d pay someone 50-100 bucks cash if they worked a few hours to help me organize my garage… how’s that for a simple way to earn money quickly?
  3. Sell your junk – “So, now that my garage is organized, what do I do with all the extra DIY supplies and tools that I have duplicates of?” Take all the extra stuff and sell it! Garage sale, anyone? If you don’t want people wandering around your garage, list it on eBay.
  4. Flea Flippers – Buy old or flawed furniture, or home accent pieces, knick-knacks, etc. Shop at Goodwill, flea markets, garage sales, or ask your family members. Add a coat of paint, a little elbow grease for cleaning, or some decorator accents, then and resell. Check out “HGTV’s Flea Market Flip” for ideas. Just be careful not to fill your garage back up with junk, or someone else will earn money quickly by cleaning out your garage again! 🙂
  5. Selling cast-offs – Buy items at discount and list them on Craigslist. You can often pick up free items from the curb (just be sure the owner has put them out for haul-away… you don’t want to be arrested for trespassing or theft). You can also list on Ebay, but be sure to charge enough to cover your selling and shipping fees.
  6. Sell your talents – Craigslist, Fiverr, and Elance provide platforms to sell your skills or talents. Are you great at editing videos? Do it for people who don’t have a fast computer. Are you knowledgeable about graphic design? Create a logo for a small business. Have a beautiful or professional voice? Create personalized phone greetings for businesses, or voice drops for DJ’s. You can earn money quickly while doing something you enjoy!
  7. Mobile car washing – I spent Sunday washing my business van and my wife’s van. I spent about four hours washing and hand-waxing both. That’s four hours I could have spent working on my business, if someone had come to wash them for me. Go to a high density condominium complex. Ask the management if you can post flyers for a car washing service. Offer to wash and wax cars right in the parking lot. Upscale apartment/condos will generally have tenants who have nice cars, and disposable income. In many cases, you can use the complex’s water. Make sure you talk to the management first, so you’re not breaking any laws. Maybe grease the skids by offering to wash the manager’s car at no charge.
  8. Paint numbers on trash cans – Use stickers or stencils to paint the residence number on the cans, to help the owner identify the proper trash cans. Some municipalities provide this service when they deliver the can to new residents, but if not, this can be a simple way to earn money quickly.
  9. Paint numbers on curbs – Use stencils with black and white spray paint cans to paint residence numbers on curbs at the street. A neighborhood I used to live in near Houston had a guy come through about once a year doing this on a Saturday morning. He would earn money quickly by painting your house number on the curb in front of your house. He parked at the end of a street, walked down one side and back up the other, with a couple of cans of white spray paint, and a couple of black, plus a simple set of stencils. It would take him 10 minutes or so to earn $10 cash, and part of that time was chatting with the homeowner. This makes it much easier for guests to find the correct house/condo in the dark. It could also be a lifesaver if emergency services needed to find a specific residence quickly at night. You could do an entire street within a few hours.
  10. Rent out a room – A friend called a property management service and rented out her home while she was working out of the country for two years. Another blogger I know rents a spare bedroom in her 4 bedroom house, and they barely even see the tenant. Apply this extra money straight to your principal and pay down your mortgage quicker. Check references and do a background check on the potential renter, or use one of the new sites like airbnb if you want to list a room for tourists.

How about you? How do you earn money quickly? What ideas do you have to earn money quickly, but haven’t tried yet?

Budgetopolis, a budget blog!

Welcome to Budgetopolis, a blog about budgeting!

And… we are live!

Image related to a blog about budgeting

Budgetopolis – a blog about budgeting for families

I welcome you to join our community. We are a brand new personal finance and budget blog, started in August, 2014. I got the idea for this blog from Michelle at Making Sense of Cents, and Holly from ClubThrifty.

Budgetopolis is intended to become a lively, fun community for those who are interested in personal finance, family businesses, and more. As the name implies, this is a budget blog, to talk  about budgeting. I am just starting to use a budget for our family again. I want to see how others use budgets in the “real world”, and I hope you will share real life examples.

This budget blog is run by me, Andrew. This is my very first blog of any kind, so I’m learning how to run a blog. 🙂

I am a 40-something husband, father of two, small business owner, and employee. We live in the SE USA.

I am the primary breadwinner for my family; I have a corporate day job with a very large flooring manufacturer. In addition, I have a mobile DJ business. I have been a DJ for about eight years, and in business for myself for three. Once I figure out how to “do” this budget blog successfully, I plan to add a blog for DJ-related topics to my DJ business website.

My dear wife is the backbone of our home, as a stay-at-home mother, scheduler, and “domestic engineer”. I jokingly say she was a “certified Early Childhood Teacher” for 12 years. Then, after teaching kindergarten for two years, she was “certifiable”. 🙂 She is now a “recovering” public school teacher, and traded her classroom with thirty kids for a classroom with one student, our youngest daughter.

I started this budget blog in part because I am trying to learn to use our personal budget better. I am also trying to learn to use a budget for my small business. I want to share budget and financial tips with you, and to learn tips from you. I hope to gain a better understanding of how to live within my means, and how to increase those means to better provide for my family.

You are welcome to share this budget blog with others of like mind. I hope you will share comments, tips, and suggestions on this blog. Budgeting, personal finance, coupons and other money savers, small business, family business, increasing income, decreasing expenses… anything related to money and wealth building for families. Please let me how to make this site better.

I plan to share real life examples of family budgets, both from “budget gurus” and from “us regular folks”. I would also like to share ideas for small family businesses, cottage industries, “side hustles”, legitimate work-at-home systems, blogging for profit, and other ways for people to make money in their spare time, from their home. I love the idea of being in business for yourself, especially if you can share the business and work with your family!

Again, welcome to Budgetopolis! Thank you so much for visiting. I truly hope you will stay with us!