Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Marriage & Money

Just realized, after reading this, how important it is for a couple to talk about money.

My wife and I have been married for just over two years. We both work (military) and make approximately the same. We currently have separate accounts except for a joint checking and saving. The only thing that the joint checking is used for is to pay the mortgage for the condo (currently rented). We've agreed on a monthly savings amount and are preparing to see a financial manager. I've been more aggressive in my own saving and retirement than my wife. I guess this is an area we need to work on and why we are going to see a 3rd party for some guidance/mediation. Mrs G has felt as though she didn't have the money to save for retirement. I on the other hand, prefer to pay myself first and then make my buddget out of what's left.

As you can probably tell we are still at the his and hers stage. It will take some time to get to an ours stage.

When we got married, I had some baggage, $18K worth. I have a child from a previous relationship (who doesn't live with us) and she has two. Mrs G was gracious and pulled more than her financial share early in our marriage. That graciousness allowed me to pay off all debts. We each have a credit card with balances less than $1500. We have the funds to pay off the cc debt, but prefer to have an emergency fund, besides we should have it paid off in a couple of months. For the most part we pay cash for just about everything. My car is paid for but we still owe on hers. That bothers her. Granted we had the cars prior to marrying. Since we are now one, I guess I should be contributing to pay hers off sooner.

We currently take turns buying groceries every week. I would rather just put money into the joint checking and go from there.

Well, now you have a little history of me and my thinking. Hopefully as this blog grows, we will grow closer to that ours stage!

Peace & Prosperity

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Building Stable Financial Future

You may ask, "How do I start?" To start, you must know where you are right now. Know who you owe and how much you owe them. This means writing down everything, knowing where you spend money, how much money you have coming in and balancing the two. Include in the list savings, even if it is just $10/month and increase it periodically. I used this spreadsheet to begin.

Once you have all your bills and creditors written down, list your creditors from smallest to largest and knock out the smallest amount owed first. Some recommend that you list them in order of interest rate, but tackling the smallest amount first will give you a sense of accomplishment once paid off. Once you pay off one bill, apply the amount you were paying and to the next creditor on the list and so on until you have tackled the list. I believe Dave Ramsey calls this Debt Snowballing. Check out his book at your local library.

If you were like me, at times I had no choice but to use my credit cards to make it to the next payday. Do what you have to do, just do it in moderation.

Make up in your mind that you want to get out of debt and stick to your guns. This means, not going to McDonalds, but having a peanut butter and jelly or ham sandwhich with chips. The price you pay eating out once can fund lunch at home for a week. You can splurge every now and then but try to keep it to a minmum.

Back to savings. I think the best thing I've done was open an ING Direct account and utilize automatic deposits every payday. This is what is called paying yourself first.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Free Money

I mentioned in previous post "Free Money". I opened an HSBC account, which paid me $25 Bonus shortly after my initial deposit. I deposited $25, the min is a $1. At the time of opening , the interest rate was 4.25% (current 4.80%) which was higher than ING's 3.80% (currently 4.75, Winter Save up Promotion). I opened my ING account a couple years back. I love their interface and straight forward look. I am a creature of ease and working with HSBC seems tedious. We will see how the interest rate wars go, but I I will probably stick with ING. I owe a big "Thanks" to Jonathan at MyMoneyBlog!

I also opened a Sharebuilder account. Although it took a while (an extra 4 weeks), I finally received the $50 Bonus for opening account and purchasing stock. I would say it was relatively easy and painless effort, however I did experience a little technical difficulty with account set up. I don't know if I put my social in wrong or what, but now it is straight and I am $50 to the good! Thanks Neo!

Prosper.com has peeked my interest. I will be doing some research to see if that is a venture I might be willing to take on, nothing like making the money you have work for you. If anyone has any suggestions/experience (I know it is still early) drop me a note. (I know this doesn't fall under the "Free Money" tense, but I just wanted some feedback.

If anyone is interested in some "Free Money" from ING send me an email with your first name, last name and email address.

Hello Blog World!

I've finally done it! I took the plunge into blogdom. Been lerking around several sites over the past few months. Haven't made any posts, just looking at how others did it. I decided to create a place that I could share items that I find with others.

I intend to track my (our) net worth, so expect a lot of improvements as time goes by. I will also give much link love to all of those whom I have learned so much from. I will say it now, Thanks to you all for all that you do and the time you have spent compiling and sharing what you learn!

Link Love:

Boston Gal's Open Wallet - Currently my favorite finance blog

Consumerism Commentary - my first exposure to finance blog

MyMoneyBlog - If you want to know about free money look here!

Neo's Nest Egg - Another of my Fav's

SingleMom & Money - Gotta Give a Sista some Props!

You will have to check the side bar for more and forgive me for not posting more out, but in time if I can get this to function like I want, I think you all will be pleased!

Peace & Prosperity!