Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A High Flying Valentine

The last couple weeks have been pretty busy for me, so I haven't gotten around to this, but I wanted to share the Valentines Day gift Jessi got me.

In case you didn't know, she's pretty awesome.

Hanging across the closet in our office (or man cave as she calls it) were 8 paper airplanes. Here are a couple close-ups. Apparently she used an origami website to come up with different plane ideas.

 I like airplanes (coming soon... my Top Gun review), and so this all by itself was pretty cool.

My job was to unfold each one and see the gift inside. Some examples included:

  • Good for one batch of cookies of your choice
  • Good for one trip to Yogurt Extreme
  • Good for giving me one chore to do for you for the month

I've already collected on a couple of them: the lawn looks excellent right now, and the peanut butter chocolate chip cookies tasted excellent. I'm looking forward to all of them. It's been making for a fun month instead of just a day.

Thanks Jessi for being my Valentine!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Four Principles of Money Management

Jessi & I are once again teaching a finance class. This last week we hit upon a topic that I think is SUPER important. I told our students that if this lesson is the only one they remember, I consider the entire class a success.

In this lesson, we cover four basic money management principles. These principles set the foundation for anything you want to accomplish. Here they are:
  1. Spend less than you earn
  2. Avoid the use of debt
  3. Build an emergency fund
  4. Set long-term goals

In the class we shared ideas for each principle:

1) Spend less than you earn
Make a meal plan, watch fewer movies, shop around for better service prices (phone, cable, insurance, etc), ride your bike to work. There are literally hundreds of ideas to save money, just to a web search if you need ideas.

2) Avoid the use of debt
Remove credit cards from your wallet, pay with cash, set spending limits where you have to check with your spouse if it's above, use the service optoutprescreen.com to opt out of receiving credit card solicitations by mail (learn more).

3) Build an emergency fund
Start with a small weekly/monthly amount that automatically gets transferred ($10? $30? $100?!). Set a starter goal of $1,000 - this will get you through most 1-time emergencies. Define what "an emergency" actually is.

4) Set long-term goals
Pay off student/car/home loans, save up to pay cash for a used car, save to buy a cabin/boat/home, retirement. I like this one because it's always inspiring!

A couple over-arching ideas:
  • All four are tightly integrated. You can only reach your goals by spending less than you earn and avoiding debt. You can only build an emergency fund if you spend less than you earn. You'll decide to save money when you're working towards a goal. See? They all support each other. If one gets off quilter, the others will also suffer.
  • When making changes, treat them like experiments: "Let's not eat out for a whole month as an experiment. If we hate it, no big deal." Make sure to set them for reasonable amounts of time - most often only a month or two. By treating it as an experiment, you'll be more willing to try something that's uncomfortable at first.

So there you go. These are pretty basic, and if you master these it will change your financial future in profound ways.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Furry February Starts Today

What is quickly becoming a beloved tradition starts again today. That's right men, put away your razors, kiss your significant other one last time, and embrace your grizzly side.

Furry February is here.

It's the wonderful time of year when men get to save 10 minutes getting ready in the morning, and test their man-hood against vicious eye-rolling-looks for our significant other. Sometimes it takes more from you... to do less. Furry February is just such an occasion.

If everything goes according to plan, you'll be set up perfectly to start Mustache March with a ridiculous 'stache in place.