Get on the same page about money! Become Unstoppable

One of the biggest hurdles on our road to becoming debt free and turbo charging our net-worth growth wasn’t the size of our monthly payments on our cars or the interest rate on the credit cards.

It was us.

My wife and I were just on totally different wave lengths all together when it came to money.

One of us was a penny pinching saver playing the “invest instead of paying off debt” game, and the other was a spender who paid the monthly payments but pretended the debt mountain wasn’t really there.

We saved money.

It was mostly by accident.

We used credit cards.. to earn “cash back” thinking we were smart and sticking it to the man.

Little did we know we were sticking it to ourselves.

SO much waste, on student loan and car loan interest, and spending WAY too much every month on the credit cards chasing that “cash back”.

Spender vs Saver

If you are the spender and they are the saver or vise-versa no matter how hard you each may try individually you’ll end just spinning your wheels making absolutely no progress.

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Not being on the same page lead to arguments and unneeded stress in our relationship. Per a 2018 study performed by Dave Ramsey we weren’t the only ones, money problems are one of the leading issues leading to failing marriages. Luckily, we had an “aha!” moment earlier this year and it happened on accident.

I stumbled upon a YouTube channel run by this guy named Dave Ramsey and a random episode was playing on our family room television when my wife came home from work. Our interests both peaked when the episode talked about a caller who had $200,000 in student and auto loan debt. We both sat there and intently listened to Dave’s recommendations.

After the episode ended it just “clicked” in both of us that we needed to get serious. It was a difficult discussion, a complete change in mindset. No more thoughts about investing and playing the game of beating out the interest rates on our loans, and both of us coming to realization of our total debt.

What We Did

We developed a Net-worth tracker spreadsheet that outlined all of our assets, liabilities, and monthly expenses. This spreadsheet gave us the “big picture” on our financial health and helped us track our progress.

We developed the 35/45/20 rule to follow. Which gave us a structure that we could both follow by giving us each an allowance that we could spend how ever we wanted while also automating our savings and investing.

We also put the credit cards away. Took them out of our wallets and switched completely to debt cards. Cash Back, Points, and/or airline mile rewards is a suckers game.

To jump start this new effort we also decided to use our emergency fund and started throwing all other income at the debt, any money left over from bills went to debt, including our tax returns.

Become an Unstoppable Team

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When both partners get on the same page and understand how both effect the big picture you become unstoppable. No financial hurdle is too big.

For us, not only did we pay off both cars, and all of our student loans, we increased our net-worth growth rate by 50% year over year. For example, hypothetically if we increased our net-worth by $20k last year, we are growing at a rate of $30k this year! Getting on the same page shook up 50% more money that previously was just being wasted!

So what are your thoughts? We would love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or send us an email via our Contact Page.

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Give Your Income a Plan – The 35/45/20 Rule

So you want to start making real progress on getting out of debt or building wealth, right? But where do you start? I’ll tell you…it’s not buying stocks or consolidating your student loans and it’s especially not by buying another lottery ticket.

No. You need to start on the ground floor by looking at yourself and streamlining how your most important tool, your income, is working for you.

If you are like most people… you’re itching for payday. As soon as the check clears your feeling pretty good, maybe even a little too good. A big lump sum, $500, $1000, $2000 or more, in your bank account that immediately starts burning a hole in your pocket… just wanting to be spent on new cloths, gadgets, or experiences. Hey, you earned it right?

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But what happens when the weekend is over or it’s the end of the month and your bills are due? How big is that pile of cash now?

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The problem is physiological. That single shot of cash is giving you an artificial high of “wealth” by feeling that you have more money than you really do.

So how do you avoid this trap?

You have to give your paycheck a purpose by developing a plan.

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I am going to give you the thought process that my wife and I currently use that helped crush our debt and accelerated our net-worth growth rate by almost 100% year over year.

You may have heard of the 50/20/30 rule – 50% of your post-tax income goes to needs, 20% goes to savings/debt, 30% goes to wants – i.e. fun stuff.

Why would you want to be normal? If you really want to change your life you have be different. We flipped the ratios around and currently live by the 35/45/20 rule. (A mouthful, I know!)

The 35-45-20 Plan

35% is your needs, or living expenses – rent, utilities, food, etc.

45% goes to debt payments or savings and investing. This portion swings wildly from debt payments to savings & investing depending on where you are in your financial journey.

20% is your wants – night out with friends, new shoes, movie tickets, etc.

If you think it’s nuts to only live off of 35% of your income check out our Ultimate Guide on understanding your budget and trimming the fat. 

Build a system of Accountability

How we held ourselves accountable to the above ratio was by developing an automated system for our income.

Instead of having our paychecks dropping into one checking account we started thinking of multiple accounts. This was taking “making a budget” to the next level, instead of putting the onus on us to constantly juggle and really blurring the lines of where the money was going from a single account we instead set our paychecks to direct deposit into 5 separate accounts…

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Checking Account #1 Fixed Expenses
Checking Account #2 Debt Payments/Investing (eventually)
Checking Account #3 Allowance
Savings Account #1 1 Month Emergency Fund
Savings Account #2 5-12 Months Emergency Fund

Checking Account #1 – Fixed Expenses – 35%

What are your “fixed expenses”? Think of the items that have a recurring bill, such as your rent or mortgage, utilities (water & electric), cable/internet, cell phone, groceries, etc. Think of expenses that typically don’t fluctuate significantly month to month. Write these expenses down… and add them up. Now, since some of these expenses fluctuate slightly due to external factors, such as hot summers and cold winters (i.e. A/C, Heating) electricity usage, and food prices, add another 10% to the total to cover that flux.

For example, if your fixed expenses add up to $1000 per month add another 10% on there, so you’ll have $1100 per month going into this account. If you get paid bi-weekly you will need $550 per paycheck going into Checking Account #1.

Checking Account #2 – Debt Payments – 45% to 0%

Depending on your income level, the status of your current emergency fund, or debt level this account will change in meaning as you progress on your financial journey. Like what was stated before…if you are getting paid bi-weekly whatever your total debt payments are every month you’ll need at least half of it going into this account per paycheck.

Checking Account #3 – Allowance – 20% 

So now take that lump sum of money and send 20% of that to what we will call your “allowance” fund. The money that you can use to spend how you want, going out to dinner, buying that fancy coffee every once in a while, or that new gadget. This is where living within or below your means comes into play.

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When my wife and I started living within 20% for the “fun” expenses our mindset started to change, we started adding more weight and value to the items or experiences we were buying. We don’t feel as if we are restricting ourselves here, we just ended up focusing on things that actually held value to us. Ultimately, we came to the conclusion that we were wasting so much money with our old habits, adding up thousands of dollars per year!

Savings Account #1 – Easy Access – 1 Month Expenses Emergency Fund

As we talked about earlier, having an emergency fund helps you handle life’s unexpected moments by giving you the money you need when you need it to avoid taking on additional debt. This account should equate to about 1 months worth of living expenses and should be easy to access, within less than 24 hrs. This account will be available when an appliance breaks down, or unexpected doctors visit. This account should not be touched unless an “emergency” happens.

Savings Account #2 – (5 – 12 Month) Emergency Fund – Online High Yield Savings Account

So this account should equate anywhere from 5 to 12 months worth of living expenses and should be accessible within 3 days or less. So we should be thinking of online savings accounts here. Your money is in a safe spot that is just out of immediate reach to prevent you from making impulse decisions.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Steps to using the 35/45/20 Rule – From Debt to Wealth

Alright, so lets go through an example of using the 35/45/20 Rule…

Step 1 – Build 1 Month Emergency Fund

If you are starting out without an emergency fund of at least a one month’s worth of expenses your first goal should be to create one. This may mean paying the minimums on your debt payments at first, with the remainder of the 45% going to building up that small emergency fund. Remember, you can’t focus on aggressively paying off your debt if your constantly reaching for your credit card to cover small expenses that popup outside the norm.Step 1

Step 2 – Eliminate Debt

When you’ve completed your small emergency fund can you now attack your debt with the full salvo of 45% of your income. Step 2How you go about this is up to you. What worked for us was “The Debt Snowball” method outlined by Dave Ramsey. Take all your debts ordered smallest to largest and contribute more than the minimum to the smallest debt until it is paid off. Then roll that money over and put it toward the next smallest debt, and so forth and so on until your debt is eliminated.

Step 3 – Build Up a 5 – 12 Month Emergency Fund

After successfully eliminating your non-mortgage debt your next goal is to strengthen the rest of your emergency fund. Start throwing that 45% into Savings Account #2 until you hit that 5 to 12 month equivalent number. It is up to you what that amount is… be it 5 months, 12 months, or any number in between. This account is your fall back for extreme emergencies, job loss, significant health issues, etc.

Step 3

Step 4 – Wealth Building & Investment

So now this is where the fun starts to happen… Your non-mortgage debt is gone, you have a strong emergency fund set aside… now what?

Don’t fall into the trap of seeing all this freed up income as giving you the right to start a shopping’s spree. Stay focused!

It’s time to start building real wealth.

Checking Account #2 changes it’s meaning now to “Investing”.

Step 4

How you define “Investing” is up to you.

You may start saving up for your first home or your first investment property.

You may start to dabble in index and mutual funds in a taxable investment account.

Or maybe a little bit of everything… that is ultimately up to you.

What matters is that when you start to leverage 45% of your post-tax income to “investing” and wealth generation you are now way outside of the normal. Stay there.

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Plan, Automate, Execute!

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If you made it this far.. congratulations! Hopefully you followed all that…

So in conclusion, by giving our income a plan and a purpose while also automating our paycheck we changed our mindset, and ultimately our path to financial success. The 35/45/20 rule may sound like a challenge but you have to break outside the norm if you want to achieve above average results. This process has amplified our net-worth growth by 100% year or year by eliminating our debt and supercharging our investing potential.

Let us know your thoughts on the 35/45/20 Rule or whats plans you’ve had success with! We would love to hear from you.

So what are your thoughts? We would love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or send us an email via our Contact Page.

If you liked what you’ve read please be sure hit the “like” button and share! If you want to receive the latest articles please be sure to subscribe.

 

Pay off debt early or invest?

You see it everywhere, invest, invest, INVEST. Invest early or you’ll never retire!!

How do you invest effectively when your handing your hard earned money hand over fist to creditors or lien holders? If you have student loans, credit card debt, and/or auto loans are you just running in place? Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that you’re thinking about investing but are you seeing all options with eyes wide open?

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The average annual percentage (APR) rate on a undergraduate loan is around 4.5%, up to 6 to 7% for a graduate loan!

According to the Federal Reserve the average APR rate on a credit card is 15%.

The average APR rate on a 60 month auto loan is around 5.4%.

The average return of the S&P 500 over the last 20 years was 6%.

Do you play the “making money on debt” game? “Well, after my retirement contributes, and other essential expenses I have $1000 extra per month to allocate, my $35,000 auto loan only has an APR of 5% with a $660 monthly payment and I can put the remaining $340 into the stock market every month which typically returns 6-8% per year…so I am in the green! Right? Right…?”

On paper, that may be true. It is generally recommended that if your investments are projected to generate higher returns than the interest generated from your debt it would make sense to invest in those funds in lieu of paying extra on the debt.

But!…

There are no guarantees in life especially when it comes to the stock market. If you invested that $35000 in an index fund tracking the NASDAQ at the height of the dot.com bubble in 2000 it would have taken you all the way to 2015.. 15 years to break even (back to a gain of 0%), or another way of looking at it…your money would have performed worse than a savings account or CD.

But you know what is guaranteed? That car payment that comes out every month. It is SO guaranteed that if you fail to pay the bank can take that car right out of your driveway. Not only will you be without your wheels but all the money you paid up to that point.

Now I am not saying not to invest, investing is an incredible tool for wealth generation but you need to weigh that option to where you currently are in life.

So let’s fleshing out the scenario above.
Scenario 1 – Regular Debt Repayment Schedule with Remainder Invested:

Each month after paying off your rent and all other bills you end up with $1000 to do with what you want. Your car, “old reliable”, just bit the dust and now your looking for a new ride.

You end up getting bit by the “new car bug” and end up with a shiny new car that costs around $35,000 (the average price of a new car in the United States). You didn’t put anything down because why would you do that! You were approved for a “new car loan” with an APR at 5% with a loan term of 60 months. The same month your first car payment comes due you realize you should start investing! So you also open up your first investment account and put the remainder of that $1000 to work each month, approximately $340.

Now let’s see how the numbers shake out over the next 5 years…

Car Loan Typical Payment Schedule

Investing Remaining Monthly Funds

During your standard loan payment period you end up paying around $4630 in interest and have an investment account balance of around $23,700 using an average return of 6%.

Doesn’t sound too bad, so let’s look at how the numbers turn out by focusing on debt repayment first.
Scenario 2 – Accelerated Debt Repayment Schedule with Remainder Invested:

Alright, so you just bought that shiny new car and you just realized you REALLY hate car payments and wondered why you didn’t just fix “old reliable”. So you decide to try to pay off your loan as quickly as possible by forfeiting investing and focusing all $1000 per month to the car loan.

Car Loan Accelerated Payment Schedule

Investing All Funds Starting at Month 39

It takes you 38 months to pay off the balance and end up paying $2,915 in interest.

At month 39 you open up that investment account and start investing aggressively using all $1000 per month. At month 60 you end up with an investment balance of $23,194. Wait a second… if I just invested $340 a month like Scenario 1 it would have $23,700 in my investment account, what gives!

In Scenario 1 you paid $4630 in interest, over $1700 more than in Scenario 2. Where as your investment account in Scenario 1 only generated $500 more than your investment account in Scenario 2 by the end of year 5. By aggressively paying off your debt early and then aggressively investing not only did you have a car that is free and clear owned by you 2 years earlier but you also came out ahead overall by $1200, the difference in interest paid and investment return between Scenario 1 and 2!

Granted this scenario can be played out a million different ways. You could have received 0% financing, crazy 15% financing, the stock market gaining 0% per year, or 20% per year, or even losing 20% per year. If you try this out on different types of debt such as credit cards with 20% APR or student loans at 12% (yes, they do exist), it can blow your mind.

Depending on your financial health your miles may vary. Also, no plan is perfect and past performance should not be used a predictor of the future. The stock market typical behaves in cycles, with ups and downs, booms and busts.

On paper everything can look great, awesome lets do it! But when it comes into putting it into practice that is when all hell can break loose. People are emotional and are prone to making decisions not on clear and concise thought but on joy, anger, and fear etc.

“No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy. Not when the enemy is me.”

Lois McMaster Bujold

By focusing first on aggressively paying off debt not only do you have the added benefit of actually owning your car, or no longer having to think about your student loans, or credit cards, you end up having this incredible feeling of freedom and piece of mind. No longer will you have the weight hanging over your head of monthly payments.

““Whatever interest rate you have — it might be a student loan with a 7 percent interest rate — if you pay off that loan, you’re making 7 percent. That’s your immediate return, which is a lot safer than trying to pick a stock or trying to pick real estate, or whatever it may be,”

Mark Cuban (Billionaire)

…..Or your the above average person, read the above, and decided to squash that “new car bug” and ended up creating Scenario 3 – fixed old reliable, had no debt at all, and invested that $1000 per month for 60 month instead and now sitting on a nice little nest egg. Cheers!

So what are your thoughts? We would love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or send us an email via our Contact Page.

If you liked what you’ve read please be sure hit the “like” button and share! If you want to receive the latest articles please be sure to subscribe.