FCN – Putting together an estate plan, my thoughts exactly

After my father-in-law passed away and we spent the last 2 weeks beginning to sort out their financial issues, I came across this post at Five Cent Nickel about finally getting around to putting together an estate plan. If you do not have an estate plan or a will already drawn up, please get started on it. It will help everyone just when they never think they would need it. Sudden emergencies pop up, and Five Cent Nickel shows us how they are beginning their plan.

For the sake of those around you, please look in to setting things up for the future. Please.

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One thing I have learned this week…

This last week we had a very important family member pass away.  It has been a very difficult time for all of us, and we will of course slowly get through it. But if I have learned anything this week, it is to make sure that there is someone else in your household or family that knows your financial situation.  Where the bank accounts are, the brokerage accounts, the insurance policies, any savings, etc.  In this case, we are trying to put together the financial pieces of this family member, and it is very difficult as only he knew where anything was.

So for those out there that might happen to stop by this brand new site, please….make sure someone knows your financial story.

I am hoping to get this site up and running next week when we get back.  I do hope you will come back.


Save money the easy way…spend it wisely!

Let’s face it…the reason you get up and go to work in the morning is to make money so you can then spend your money, right? I mean, some of you might love your jobs or do it for selfless reasons (aka my teacher wife), but we all go to work so we have money to spend on the things we want (or actually need). That being said, we are also supposed to save a percentage of our money so we can (insert reason here, whether to buy a house, retire, change jobs, etc). So, here is my big idea on how to save money by spending it, and at the same time help the environment: buy compact fluorescent lightbulbs. “You want me to go to work all day to buy lightbulbs? And this is supposed to help me save money?” Well, yes, I do. And here is why. When you replace all the lightbulbs in your house with compact fluorescent ones, you will cut your monthly utility bill. The more lightbulbs you change, the more money you can save. We just recently started changing all our our bulbs, and our monthly electric bill DOES go down, albeight slightly, on a monthly basis. Added up over the long term (these bulbs last 10+ years, compared to regular bulbs) that can add up to a lot of savings. You can learn more about them here:


At the same time you are saving money, you can be happy about the fact that you are putting less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. So go ahead…pick up some new lightbulbs, save some money on a monthly basis AND help the environment!


Say it with me..”No, I don’t need more junk mail nor credit cards”

Ok, I know you NEEDED that 9th credit card that just showed up in the mail…I mean, how could you turn it down when they offered you 21% interest for 12 years, a free Geo Metro, and a trip to Siberia? Everyone I know gets offers daily in their mailbox for new credit cards…they hunt us down and send them out. But aside from the fact that people should be trying to get OUT of credit card debt, it is also a complete waste of paper that fills up landfills (if you dont recycle), and it makes your mailperson have to lug them around all day. (Like they dont carry enough junk mail to you already.) Anyway, there is a way to stop these offers from clogging up your mailbox…


From the site:

“Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the Consumer Credit Reporting Companies, are permitted to include your name on lists used by creditors or insurers to make firm offers of credit or insurance. The FCRA also provides you the right to “Opt-Out”, which prevents Consumer Credit Reporting Companies from providing your credit file information for firm offers of credit or insurance that are not initiated by you.

Through this website, you may request to:


Opt-Out from receiving firm offers for 5 years

Opt-Out from receiving firm offers permanently

Opt-In and begin receiving firm offers. This option is for consumers who have previously completed a request to Opt-Out.

If you choose to Opt-Out, you will no longer be included in firm offer lists provided by these four consumer credit reporting companies. If you are not receiving firm offers because you have previously completed a request to Opt-Out, you can request to Opt-In. In doing so, you will soon be among the many consumers who can significantly benefit from having ready access to product information on credit and insurance products that may not be available to the general public. ”

To be honest, we did it a few months ago, and we rarely get the offers anymore. And I was really looking forward to getting my new Geo…..



How we paid down our debt and saved money at the same time..it can be done!

I have been reading a lot of posts at different financial websites lately about the trouble people are having paying off their credit card debt while trying to save a little extra money for themselves. First of all, anyone doing their best to pay off credit card should be commended, as we all need to be free of this “bad” debt and get ourselves some “good” debt. (For some reason that still makes me cringe, but I suppose there are good reasons to have debt, such as owning a house or going to school.) It is hard work to pay off years worth of charging up those cards, and even though it seems insurmountable, it is in fact possible to both pay off the debt and save some money at the same time. One of the biggest concerns about getting out of debt is how to come up with that giant minimum payment due and then trying to add an extra couple dollars to that as well. You know, that dreaded white envelope that shows up once a month, that you carefully put on the desk only to be opened later when you have taken your medicine, put on safety goggles and pulled up a comfortable chair that you will not fall out of. Sometimes it might say this:

Total balance: $ A Hell Of A Lot Of Money
Minimum Payment Due: Sell your first born child then we can talk
Due Date: Yesterday

So you think to yourself…”Self, how are you going to pay this without selling a kidney when you cannot even afford gas for your car?”…and here is how:

Two words….Weekly. Payments.

Huh? They don’t send me a bill every week, you idiot, how am I supposed to pay them every week? Now, I don’t know your individual banking habits, but for us, we use online banking. It makes everything so much easier! With online banking, you can schedule a payment to your credit card every week, no problem…you don’t need to get a bill from them to pay them! If you don’t use online banking, you can still pay them every week, but you will need the payment address, your account number, and your checkbook. Just write that check out and mail it in every Friday or whatever day you decide.

As for the advice from personal finance professionals to always add a little bit extra to your payments to help you get out of debt, here is where weekly payments can help you out. If your minimum payment due is $200 every month and you find that hard to come up with once a month, you could pay $50.00 per week every Friday. That way the $200 minimum is taken care of, and you only had so suffer a $50 loss each week. What if you added $10 to that weekly payment? You would then be paying $240 to your credit card every month, but only be missing $60 every week. Make sense? Weekly payments help by:

1. Taking away the fear of that once-a-month $200 payment.

2. Help you budget more effectively, as you only need $50 per week to go out the door.

3. By padding that $50 with a little extra money, you can pay off your card faster with only a tiny bit of extra pain every week.

4. By paying weekly, your average monthly balance continuously drops, saving you money in interest every month and on the life of your repayment plan.

Lets move on to saving some money for yourself. I know it seems impossible to save any money when you owe a lot to credit cards, but this is ESSENTIAL to always do. You never know when a financial problem is going to come up that needs to be taken care of, and having a little bit of money in the bank will help soften the blow. So, for saving money, its kind of the same idea as the repayment plan. Every week, shuffle a few bucks away into a savings account or money market account, such as the one from INGDIRECT. We have 2 accounts with them and never have any problems, and their customer service is great. (If you would like a referral for a bonus $25 in your account, please contact me. You get $25, I get $10, we both win). Over time, a few bucks a week will add up to a nice emergency fund that can take care of smaller problems instead of you having to whip out that credit card you have been trying to pay off!
So in conclusion, the best way to both pay off debt and save money is to do it on a weekly basis. It hurts a lot less to split your minimum payment due into 4 payments and make them every week than it does to try to come up with that giant one time payment. Also, for savings, you wont miss a few bucks a week….even just $10 every week into a savings account would add up to over $500 over the course of a year, and that’s not even counting the interest you would be earning as well.

Whatever you do, just keep paying that debt. If there is a single goal you should strive to achieve, its seeing that credit card bill show up on that normally dreadful day, and have it read:

Total balance: $ Free And Clear
Minimum Payment Due: Nothing…take the family out to dinner and put the rest in your savings account.
Due Date: Wont you please charge something so we can charge you interest?

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