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Out of Posts for Reader Profile Friday :-(

If you are seeing this post, it means it happened again and I am out of Reader Profiles.  :-(

BUT, you can be the hero for next week!  Check out the general guidelines and feel free to send one over!!!  :-D

If you’ve already participated but have any updates to add, feel free to send over another updated profile too.  We all love updates!  Thanks!!!

Need Reader Profiles

Hi again!  As of right this second, I don’t have a Reader Profile for Friday.  :-(  If any of you would be interested, please check out the guidelines at http://www.budgetinginthefunstuff.com/bfs-reader-profiles/ and send one over to budgetingfunstuff *at* gmail *dot* com.  Just remember that it needs to be in a blog post kind of format, not just bullet points of info.

If you have already participated, you are still more than welcome to submit an updated profile – we all love updates.  :-)  Thanks!!!

Reader Profile Friday – Freedom 48

The following is a new profile for the BFS Reader Profile series. Today we are getting to know Julie from Freedom 48. Thanks for participating!

Personal Background

Hi! My name is Julie, I’m 29 years old and I live in Ottawa, Canada.  My husband Nick is 32 years old and we’ve been married for almost five years. We’ve been together for more than fourteen years… in fact we’re high school sweethearts! We live in a two story colonial house in the “old part of town” with our thirteen year old cat named Fluffy. We don’t have children yet, but hope to in the near future.

Financial Background

We bought our first home in 2003, while we were both full-time university students.  In 2009 we bought our current home, but kept the first home and rented it out to a wonderful family.  Our current home has a two bedroom apartment which is rented to two university students. The rental income has been crucial to our saving and investing and an integral part of our journey towards an early retirement.

I work as a clerk at a medical legal organization, making $40,000 per year.  My husband works as a statistician with the federal government, making $52,000 per year.  Our rental income totals $30,000 each year.  Our total take home income is $7,500 each month.

Our total expenses run about $4,000 per month.  The breakdown is as follows:

  • Mortgage/property tax (income property) – $800
  • Mortgage/property tax (our house) – $1,320
  • Condo fees (income property) – $331
  • Electricity (our house) – $100
  • Natural gas (our house) – $80
  • Water (our house) – $60
  • Cable & Internet – $95
  • Vehicle Gas – $150
  • All Variable Expenses – $1,065

Our only debt is the two mortgages. One will be paid off in seven years, and the other in fifteen. We try to keep our living expenses to a minimum.

Our Goal

Our top financial goal is to retire at age 48. We carefully track our income and expenses each month to ensure we’re staying on track.  We document every step of the journey on our blog www.freedom48.net . Our blog has been a key tool for keeping us accountable to our spending and saving.  We can’t bury our heads in the sand and ignore the facts… if we have to write about it!

While both of our jobs do provide a retirement pension, those pensions don’t kick in until we’re 65.  Therefore, if we want to retire at 48 we need to ensure that our savings alone will provide for a comfortable standard of living. We plan to live solely off of the investment income – so that the initial investment amount can be passed down to our future children and grandchildren.

Crystal’s Comments:  Sounds like you two like rental income as much as we do, lol.  And you are well on your way of hitting your age 48 retirement – cool beans!  Congrats!  Good luck with having those kids.  :-)

If you would like to participate in this series, please follow the guidelines found at BFS Reader Profile and submit your own story.  Everyone is more than welcome and you can stay anonymous if you’d prefer. Thanks!

Reader Profile Friday – Jennifer’s Journey

The following is a new profile for the BFS Reader Profile series. Today we are getting to know Jennifer from Jennifer’s Journey. Thanks for participating!

Personal Background

Hi! I’m Jennifer from jfersjourney.com.  I just started blogging about my journey through marriage, motherhood and life.  I’m in my mid-30’s (OMG), married almost ten years now, with a four year old daughter who looks just like me. We also have two dogs and a cat.

We live in Ohio, northwest of Columbus, out in the country.  We have just over an acre of land and currently live in a mobile home (3 bed, 2 bath). I work for a large automotive company, in the facilities department. I’ve been with the company for almost eight years now, in my current position for just over two years. I contribute to my 401(k) above my company match, and am fully vested in my pension. And I’m lucky enough to still have 100% company provided benefits.

My husband is a truck driver for a small local company. He is home every day, just long enough to sleep, eat, and say good night to the munchkin.

Financial Breakdown

Our annual income has grown over the years to close to $100,000, we bring home about $6,000/month. Unfortunately, we do have a lot of debt.  We have a Honda Pilot, Harley Davidson, and a camper. All of which have monthly payments, which each more than my mortgage payment ($320/month).

Monthly Expenses:

  • Mortgage Payment $320
  • Cell Phone $300 (this includes our internet, along with a friends phone which he pays me $220 every three months)
  • Student Loan $182
  • Pilot $150/week
  • Bike $115/week
  • Camper $90/week
  • Doctor $25/week (Hospital bills from the munchkin’s ear tubes)
  • Daycare $125/week
  • Insurance $200 (this includes the house, three trucks, the bike, camper and my wedding rings)
  • Electric $120-300 depending on the season
  • Propane $105

(Crystal’s Comment:  That comes to about $3600 a month on the high electric months when you take into account 52 weeks in a year.  Not bad at all when you’re bringing in $6000 a month after taxes, right?  I think it’s pretty dang good and want to be there myself, lol.)

Our Goals

Our goals are to pay off either the bike or the camper this year, and the other next year.  This will provide us with enough to either pay off the Pilot early, or save it for a down payment on a new-to-us house. And we haven’t decided if we want to put another home on our lot or buy a house in town.  We go back and forth with this, but if we stay where we are then we have to follow the zoning regulations which will only allow us to put another single wide mobile home on our land.  However, if we move to town, then we will be able to get a larger house with an open floor plan.  And then there is the school district issue, hopefully they will still have open enrollment by then if we do decide to move.

I’ve been reading BFS and other financial blogs for the last year or so and finally decided to start my own. It won’t be strictly financial, more family stuff and whatever drama comes up in my life. At the very least, I’ll be able to look back and have a record of all the crazy things that happen in my life.

Crystal’s Comments:  I peeked at your site and laughed at the bumper sticker mentioned in one of the posts “I’m nuttier than a squirrel turd”  I need that sticker, hehe.  Overall, sounds like you have really clear priorities and live below your means, so kudos!  I have no idea if anyone cares what I think of their reader profile finance breakdowns but assume I should throw in my 2 cents, lol.  Good luck with figuring out your housing situation in the future.  And thanks for participating!

If you would like to participate in this series, please follow the guidelines found at BFS Reader Profile and submit your own story.  Everyone is more than welcome and you can stay anonymous if you’d prefer. Thanks!

Reader Profile Friday – Single Moms Income

The following is a new profile for the BFS Reader Profile series. Today we are getting to know Alexa from Single Moms Income. Thanks for participating!

Personal Background

Hi everyone! My name is Alexa I am a 26 year old single mother to two little girls ages two and four. I am recently divorced and trying to adjust to making it on my own. I have two jobs that both bring about the same amount of income. Job number one is bookkeeping for a department store and job number two is an insurance agent. I keep myself very busy between two kids and two jobs!

Income and Expenses

I bring home around $36,000 a year from both jobs combined. My expenses run just under $1800 a month so I still have a decent amount to save after I pay the bills.

After getting divorced I decided to buy a trailer and put it on an extra lot my family had so that I didn’t have to worry about a high rent or mortgage payment. I took out a $10,000 loan for this. It is a four year loan with a monthly payment of $226. This is the only debt that I have. I don’t view this as a bad debt, it is simply my cost of living just as your rent or mortgage payment would be.

Goals

I am a very goal oriented person and a finance nerd. My current goals are to try and keep my expenses low so that I can save enough money to be able to quit one of my jobs. I also am trying to start up a side business online. I have a few projects that I have been working on and I am giving myself a year to build up my online income to replace one of my current jobs.

I would also love to be able to invest in real estate. I have considered just staying put for a while and saving enough money to buy a rental home before buying a house for myself. I live in a small town in Ohio so foreclosures go for around $20,000 to $30,000 so this is also doable but probably won’t be for at least a couple of years.

Well that’s me in a nutshell. If you would like to learn more visit me at Single Moms Income.

Crystal’s Comments:  Wow, two kids and two jobs and savings!  Way to go!  Good luck on replacing one job’s income with your online endeavors. 

I brought in about $5,000 the first year of blogging from BFS (all in the last 8 months of 2010), $20,000 from BFS in 2011, and $15,000 from BFS in 2012 (I was a PR0 for about 7 months of 2012 which slowed me down).  I also made an additional $4000-$5000 just from staff writing in 2011, so making money online really is a great way to replace a small income.

If you would like to participate in this series, please follow the guidelines found at BFS Reader Profile and submit your own story.  Everyone is more than welcome and you can stay anonymous if you’d prefer. Thanks!

Reader Profile Friday: My Money Design

The following is a new profile for the BFS Reader Profile series. Today we are getting to know MMD from My Money Design. Thanks for participating!

Hello BFS readers!  I’m the writer / creator of My Money Design and I go by the anonymous name MMD.  My Money Design is a blog that is all about perfecting your “money design” – the way you do things with your money and life to help you get you closer to your financial goals.  For me, I end up spending a lot of time focusing on early retirement and how many investments plan to get me there.

About the MMD Family

I’m a 32 year old guy with a lovely wife of 10 years and two beautiful kids.  We live in the U.S. just outside of Flint, Michigan.  If you’ve never heard of Flint, it was actually the birthplace of General Motors.  Flint was also made incredibly popular in the Michael Moore movie “Roger and Me”.

Our Story

Unlike a lot of the Reader Profile stories I’ve read here on BFS, our story isn’t really one of overcoming debt.  Rather it’s about how two average kids got to where they are today, and where we plan to go from here.

My wife and I met in college and decided to marry at a very young age.  By the time we were expecting our first born, I was still finishing up my senior year.  She had just started teaching with a salary of $30K.  I was still working part-time as a server at a restaurant.

My first job (several months out of college) is still my employer today.  I took a job as an engineer making $35K per year – which was far below the median $60K my friends were making doing the same thing.  Given the circumstances of no other offers, no prior experience, and a child on the way any day, I decided to take it.  Thankfully it ended up being a very smart decision.

Rather than just accept that this was it in terms of income, we both had an insatiable appetite for more.  Like most parents, my wife and I knew that we wanted opportunities for our kids beyond what we could currently provide.  These were things like a house, access to college, family vacations, the whole nine yards!  So we both pushed ourselves harder.  We both went back to school and got Masters degrees while were working full time.  One funny story is that my son was born on the day of my accounting final!

I also quickly recognized that my employer had a generous profit sharing program where the most valuable employees would be paid a handsome bonus each year.  Rather than leaving this job to take my chances somewhere else, I did everything I could do to position myself as one of the top performers.  It paid off!

The Paradigm Shift – How Our Financial Goals Have Evolved

When you’re young, the only way you know how to do better or make more money is by working at a job.   While there’s nothing wrong with hard work, I began to realize that there were some serious flaws in this way of thinking.

For example, were there ways I could make money that DIDN’T involve working?  Of course there were!  When I was a child, I was fascinated by the concept of “interest” and how one can make money for literally doing NOTHING more than simply lending it to someone else.  This led me to be very passionate about learning everything I could about investing and safe-guarding my money.  But things didn’t stop there.

My obsession with passive income was only later amplified when I read a mix of good books like “Rich Dad Poor Dad” and “The 4 Hour Work Week” that demonstrated other ways of generating potentially unlimited income.  Looking for such opportunities is what led me to blogging and dividend investing.  The other great lesson I received was watching so many people lose their jobs / fortunes during the Great Recession of 2008.  I was seeing firsthand what the consequences of not having diversified income and taking on too much investment risk would do to you.

So with that, the focus of my wife and I shifted from “how can we make more money” to “how can we become more financially independent”.  That’s where the concept of the “money design” was born.  Now we have a very ambitious goal to retire in our 40’s.  If you’d like to see how we plan to do this, check out the latest update of our money design.

In a nutshell, we plan to achieve this through living in moderation, doing well at our jobs, utilizing all our tax sheltered retirement accounts, concentrating on building passive income streams, and continuing to be financially educated.  To date, our best year of combined income was just under $200K and our net worth is above $400K.

Why I Blog and What You Should Take Away

There’s nothing special about what we do.  We simply set a goal and never stopped asking what we can do to get there.  That’s what I promote week after week on my blog.  I want to help people accomplish the same things we achieve.

But there’s something else that’s great about blogging that I never realized until later.  It keep ME innovating.  I’m constantly trying to come up with new ways I can hit my goals and push the limits of how we can become financially free.

What I’d really like you to remember is that regular people can WIN when it comes to money.  All you need to do is stay ahead of the curve and be willing to do what others do not.  Even though building wealth can feel like chipping away at a tall mountain, never stop asking yourself how you can get more efficient at doing it!

My question for the readers: What strategies have you found that work for building wealth and reaching your financial goals?

Crystal’s Comments:  Great profile!  I have been a bad Crystal and haven’t been reading enough other blogs for the last year or so.  MMD’s financial views seem very much like my own and I should have known that, lol.  Looks like you are off and running towards early retirement!  Go, boy, go!!!

If you would like to participate in this series, please follow the guidelines found at BFS Reader Profile and submit your own story.  Everyone is more than welcome and you can stay anonymous if you’d prefer. Thanks!

Reader Profile Friday: I Got Outta Debt

The following is a new profile for the BFS Reader Profile series. Today we are getting to know Joe from I Got Outta Debt. Thanks for participating!

Personal Background

My name is Joe and I’m just under 50 (Just barely….).  I’ve been married to a wonderful woman for 24 years and have 3 great kids, one of whom is engaged to be married sometime in 2013… or maybe 2014.  We lived in TX for 15 years before returning to Virginia Beach, where my wife grew up.  Our oldest daughter lasted here for about 2 years before she returned to Texas where she now lives.

Personal Finance Background

We Got Outta Debt in January of 2012 by paying off our $68,000 in credit card and car loan debts.  It took us a little over 3 years and we were fortunate that I was able to earn some extra money from bonuses my company paid for me traveling.  Of course, the downside there was that I was traveling.  In spite of the recession, I was able to switch jobs, get a raise and not have to travel (as much). So I went from 50 weeks a year to around 10!  My wife also went from a substitute Kindergarten Assistant during the ‘Get Outta Debt’ years to starting full time as a Kindergarten Assistant.

We’ve built up our Emergency Fund to about 4 months, which we feel comfortable with, and have been adding to various focused savings accounts – Christmas (coming in handy this time of year) as well as vacation, car replacement,etc.  Our gross household income is just over $100k and we’re currently contributing 6% of my income to 401(k) and will be doing 50% of my wife’s (school teachers don’t get paid much). Once we’re in a little better shape with cash on hand, we’ll probably bump up both of our 401(k) contributions. Right now, my company doesn’t have a matching program… yet.

We have 2 paid off cars, both around 10 years old and have some life in them. Fortunately, since I work mostly from home, my mileage on my car is pretty minimal.  If I go 50 miles in a week, that’s a lot!  My commute is from the bedroom to my home-office.

Blogging

After reading Crystal’s book, I dipped my toes into blogging (http://igotouttadebt.com) and have had a fair amount of traffic. I wish I could be doing more, but this full time job thing keeps getting in my way. :-)  Don’t get me wrong, being too busy is MUCH better than not being busy enough.    I  have taken some time to put together an ebook that talks about our Debt Free Journey in the hope that our story will help others get the motivation to Get Outta Debt.

(Thanks to Crystal for being an inspiration to me for taking the chance.. and for giving me the first review on the book!)  (Crystal:  You are very welcome!)

I was extremely happy to see that my ebook went to #1 Sales Ranking on Amazon in the  Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Nonfiction > Business & Investing > Personal Finance > Budgeting. Here’s a link to the video showing the event!

Goals

One of our more immediate goals is to help pay for our oldest daughter’s wedding.  The proceeds of the ebook are going towards meeting that goal.  We’re also working on beefing up our savings accounts for the vehicles.  We’d love to keep these cars going as long as possible, but when we have to buy, I’d prefer to pay all cash.

After that, the goals are fully funding the 401k and then paying down our primary mortgage.  A next book will probably be focused on that goal.

Please stop on by my blog (http://igotouttadebt.com) and say “Hi!”

Crystal’s Comments:  Good luck with the wedding costs and then saving for your two cars!  It sounds like you and your wife know how to budget, wow!  Congrats on the debt freedom (and for deciding to tackle it to start with)!

If you would like to participate in this series, please follow the guidelines found at BFS Reader Profile and submit your own story.  Everyone is more than welcome and you can stay anonymous if you’d prefer. Thanks!