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total money makeover

Money

One Simple Tool to Keep Christmas from Breaking the Bank

December 2, 2014

It’s that wonderful time of the year once again…

Christmas time. Well actually it’s currently Advent but you know what I mean.

For some of you, it snuck up when you were least expecting it despite the fact that Christmas always falls on December 25th.

Oops.

I fully admit to being one of those people this year. Having a baby on November 10th meant that my time to mentally and financially prepare for Christmas sort of went out the window. Until yesterday…when we had the Teixeira Family Budget Committee Meeting and we had $0 in the Christmas category.

That means Christmas expenses are going to come solely from December’s budget…which is doable by cutting costs elsewhere but we should have saved for the past several months in smaller chunks.

I’ve read the statistics. The average household is planning to spend over $861 on Christmas gifts this year. To us that sounds like a LOT and we don’t plan on spending anywhere near that. To others that might be about right or nowhere close to what you plan to spend. We simply want to write this blog post to be a blessing to all of you, no matter what your Christmas budget may be this year.

For those who have saved up or are like us and all of a sudden need to squeeze Christmas into your December budget, there is a tool designed to help you keep track of your Christmas spending. This way Christmas spending can be budgeted and tracked – reducing damage to your bank account, financial peace, and relationships.

Why are we using Dave Ramsey’s My Christmas Budget web app, and why you should too:

1. No Fighting.

We don’t want to have any money fights associated with Christmas. Not only does setting aside a specific overall dollar amount cut down on the potential arguments but this app lets you break down spending by person or event on your list. That way you can’t even fight over how much to spend per person or worry about going over or under budget for the important people in your life.

2. No Guilt

Budgeting = Freedom. I can go to the mall and joyfully spend lots of money (to me) in one fell swoop without guilt since I know my budget won’t lead me into harms way. I can be guilt-free about walking to my car with a dozen store bags since I know it was all planned and accounted for. Ahhh, I can feel the peace now.

3. Keeps My List Organized

When I am out shopping I always forget who I am out shopping for or who I already bought gifts for etc. The app allows us to track who we’ve shopped for by name and even enter the details of what we purchased for them.

4. Balance and Intentionality

I love how the app allows me to take my overall Christmas Budget and spread it out over the people and gift exchanges I plan to be part of. This helps us think in advance about what we want to spend on certain people, why we want to spend that amount, and what items may fall into that budget realm….making shopping even easier.

That’s why we are using Dave’s Christmas Budgeting app and a few reasons why you ought to download it too!

Protip: You can use this website like an app by visiting it on your iPhone in Safari, then clicking the share button (square with an arrow coming out of it) then selecting “Add to Home Screen.”

Have a wonderful rest of your Advent season as you prepare for Christmas!

Money, Our Debt-Free Story

Our Debt-Free Story: Part 3 – WE’RE DEBT FREE!!!

September 2, 2014

This is Part 3 of a 3-part series. Be sure to read about Our “We’ve Had It!” Moment and Our Secret Weapon.

We left off in part two when we were knee-deep in debt but with gazelle intensity and a laser focus to pay it all off ASAP. We even shocked ourselves and beat our “debt-free date” by nearly five months!!

How did we do that?

Let me tell you…

So there we were, Spring 2012, with between $15,000-$18,000 of student loan debt left to go when we got the tax return funds and threw it towards the loan. The numbers fell significantly that month and momentum started rolling like crazy.

At this point, we sort of snapped and went scorched earth. We also found out we would likely be moving in two months time, so we started thinking about all the things we could purge from our household and turn into quick cash to pay towards our loans.

Sometime in April, I gathered up items from our house in the living room and began listing them on Craigslist left and right.

Bicycles. Nintendo. Lamps. Throw pillows. An HDTV Television. A desk we dug out of a dumpster. A chair we got for free.

If it wasn’t nailed down, it was on the “discuss to sell” list. In a two week window, we had people at our town house nightly, one after another, purchasing items from our living room garage sale. 🙂

We ended up with a couple thousand dollars from our sales…but still had to live in the place for a few weeks before moving. Yup, it was rather uncomfortable sleeping on a blow up mattress, having no lamps, furniture, or Nintendo to play with. But we were brimming with happiness and joy at seeing more progress on the student loans. It became like a game to sacrifice more and more so we could see the debt fall quicker…so we happily played board games under a light bulb on a string in the closet.

With this continued surge of momentum, we saw the debt fall below the $10,000 mark in early May 2012!!

To keep the gazelle-like intensity up, we decided to sell my car and drop down to a one car family. It sounds harder than it was, since we actually work together. The times we actually needed two cars was far and few between. This got us some extra cash to throw at the debt and lowered our car insurance bills and gas costs.

To top it all off, we had unusual circumstances that summer. We moved out of our apartment in May but didn’t find a place in Denver to live straight away so we put all our belongings in a storage unit. We traveled that summer working on our fundraising and staying with family. Upon moving to Colorado, a family invited us to stay with them while we searched for housing. With those circumstances, we didn’t have any rent and minimal food expenses from June through August, which was a MASSIVE help in our debt snowball.

In late July, we saw the numbers really plummeting and we were just ITCHING to get it all paid off the next month. We received a few special donations in larger lump sums which gave us the extra cash flow to pay the loans off earlier than we ever anticipated. We kept living on a bare bones budget and scraping money our of thin air, hoping we could have an August debt-free date.

On August 15, 2012 we had finally scrounged up enough to sink our last loan and become 100% debt-free!!!!

Wahoooo!! 🙂

To celebrate, we made doughnuts and started forming a plan for the next baby step, the fully-funded emergency fund! A few months later, we traveled to Nashville and did our Debt-Free Scream on the Dave Ramsey Show. Someday we will tell our “post-debt-free story” and the unique challanges and freedoms that come with each baby step.

Until then, here’s wishing financial peace for everyone reading this! You can enter our Financial Peace University Giveaway to jump start your journey!

Money, Our Debt-Free Story

Our Debt-Free Story: Part 2 – Our Secret Weapon

September 1, 2014

This is Part 2 of a 3-part series. Be sure to read about Our “We’ve Had It!” Moment.

Welcome back!

At the end of our Debt-Free Story Part One, we left you hanging with us having our “I’VE HAD IT!” moment.

We were officially sick and tired of being sick and tired. We didn’t want to see hundreds of dollars being shipped off to Sallie Mae on a monthly basis. We were inspired to kick her to the curb using Dave Ramsey’s baby steps.

There we were, fuming with excitement, so what did we do next?

The budget.

We had our very first “Teixeira Budget Committee Meeting” on December 30th, 2011 to plan our January budget.It was quite simple back then. We grabbed a pencil, paper, and some envelopes for cash. (vital to all beginner budgeters…since when cash is gone it’s gone and it’s a built it “stop” to spending)

Looking back, it was actually hilarious since we fumbled our way through varying categories and were bad at estimating the cost of things. I think we budgeted $50 for groceries for the month. Yea…that needed adjusting! 🙂

Despite being bad at budgeting from the first go, we had tremendous amounts of zeal and passion for it. We were finally a team. We were on the same page. Nothing could stop us from getting that very first baby step done – $1,000 in a mini emergency fund.

We found a way to shuffle the budget around to compensate for our under-funding certain categories and over-funding others and by the end of January we had baby step one completed! We were on track to paying off our student loans within one year’s time.

We then turned our gaze towards that pile of debt. As the months crept by, we not only got better at creating a budget but also sticking to the budget! We found that the more realistic we were about our budget and stuck mostly with cash, we were having great success not over-spending or feeling guilty for the spending we did do. By cutting discretionary spending, it allowed us to begin throwing more lumps of mula towards our loans.

We cut our lifestyle. HARD. We wanted to literally live like no one else…so later we could give and live like no one else.

Here’s what I mean by cutting our lifestyle based on a typical monthly budget back then:

  • Blow money: $0
  • Entertainment: $5 (a couple red box dvd’s)
  • Restaurants: $0
  • Vacation: $0
  • Groceries $120
  • Gas: $50
  • Clothing: $0
  • Date Night: $5 (an ice cream cone to share)
  • Birthday gifts: $0
  • Vacation: $0

Obviously we had some fixed expenses like rent and healthcare but every category relating to our lifestyle was bare bones. It actually was barely enough. Sometimes we rode bikes to work when we were almost out of gas money. Or we would make pb&j sandwiches for days on end with baby carrots and celery on the side when we wanted to stretch the grocery funds. Or instead of buying a new mattress, we slept on a (clean!!) donated mattress from someone’s old RV.

Did we need to do this?

No.

We were squeezing thousands of dollars from our budget every month. We could have decided to be a little softer on ourselves. Seen more movies. Gone out to eat. Taken a road trip. Bought whatever we wanted at the grocery store.

But at what cost? Months and possibly years longer to get out of debt. 

We wanted it done NOW. Our desire to become debt free was so intense we literally were willing to sacrifice everything but necessities to meet that goal. We would rather suffer a short but intense time of delaying gratification than several years of lukewarm spending/paying debt.

In March, we got tax refund and combined it to the funds we’d scraped up our of that month’s budget for an extra large payment towards the student loans. That is when we started to really feel momentum pulling us. Dave calls it the “debt snowball” since it starts small and over time gets larger and larger with more momentum.

We were officially weird and gazelle-intense. Friends and family thought we were taking things just a little too far….and that is exactly where we wanted to be! 🙂

The debt started falling rapidly and with every dollar thrown at it, our confidence and excitement grew. We quickly went from first-time fumbling budgeters to budget pros with a goal no one could stop us from reaching!

Stay tuned for next time as we talk about how we were able to beat our initial goal of a one-year debt payoff by nearly five months! And jump over to win a FREE Financial Peace University class membership!

Money, Our Debt-Free Story

Our Debt-Free Story: Part 1 – “We’ve Had It!”

August 29, 2014

This is Part 1 of a 3-part series. Be sure to read the whole story!

Since we are running a Financial Peace Giveaway, it only seemed right that we formally share the story of how we became debt free.

This will be a three-part series and this post is the first installment. We hope to offer encouragement in sharing our experiences and perhaps a few laughs along the way.

So, let’s take a trip down memory lane back to yesteryear….

name-my-car-3In a Delorean.

Since we’ve all not-so-secretly wished we could travel in one.

The story begins on  warm summer’s eve when a guy with long hair walked up and  asked me to get ice cream later that night. I said, “sure.” He then high-fived me and ran away.

That guy was Jonathan and we’ve been inseparable ever since that first ice cream cone.

Our first conversations about money began that Fall. We both declared we had some students loans and had them on auto payments…student loans we likely never needed to take if we had both saved and worked through college. Whoops. Not a very deep or informative conversation but it got the ball rolling.

In late Spring…Holy Thursday to be exact, we got engaged and that is when the real shackles of debt began to rear their ugly heads. Now we had a wedding to plan with varying expenses and a honeymoon to pay for. Naturally we began to talk more details about what sort of financial means and baggage we were carrying at the time.

We were sitting in my car when the bomb dropped.

Between the two of us we had $24,500 in debt!!!

displeasedHere’s the breakdown:

Amanda: $8,000 student loans 

Jonathan: $13,000 student loans + $3,500 on a credit card 

What’s weird is I didn’t freak out about the $21,000 in student loans but I FREAKED about Jonathan’s credit card debt. Something about credit cards has always scared me and I just cringe at the thought of paying 17.235% interest or whatever they are. Gross. 

At that point, I had some savings I was holding onto. Why was I sitting on student loan debt with savings in the bank? Don’t ask. I really have no idea. Upon arriving back at my house, we got out of the car and I logged into my bank and transferred Jonathan the funds to pay off the credit card immediately

Later on I learned  Dave Ramsey says I shouldn’t have done that until we were hitched. Whoops.

It was paid. I felt instantly better.

Throughout our engagement we both began to read Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover. It rocked our world. All the testimonies from individuals and families who have worked Dave’s plan and obtained financial freedom were inspiring. We started listening to the radio show and with every “debt-free scream” that aired, I would start to cry. We felt the weight and burden of debt and knew we wanted it gone as soon as possible.

But.

We had that thing called a wedding to plan.

We wanted to apply all of Dave’s principles right away but we were waiting to merge bank accounts until after the wedding and there were too many urgent tasks in the way that kept preventing us from starting to budget on our own.

We let the principles take a back seat and knew that after the wedding, there was no turning back.

We were going to do this.

We were going to kick Sallie Mae to the curb and never look back.

We were going to be debt-free and that is all there was too it.

We were finally “mad” about our debt.

And Dave Ramsey always says the first step to getting our of debt is saying, “I’VE HAD IT!” and being sick and tired of being sick and tired. We had arrived at that point.

In Part 2, we will talk you through how we got started working the baby steps as a married couple.

See you next time! Until then, jump over to our FPU Giveaway post to enter for a chance to win one of three FPU memberships!

Adoption

Building Our Family Piece by Piece: Day Eight

August 21, 2014

Eight days down.

One more to go.

We are EXCITED to say that today we reached our goal to meet our phase one funding goal of nearly $13,000 for the home study completion and out-of-state agency fee.

Sometime Wednesday evening the final donations came in that tipped us over the goal…and a few more came in only a few minutes later, taking us beyond the $13,000 we needed at this time. We absolutely will incur more than that in agency expenses, so every extra dollar is still going towards the adoption. We just have that much less fundraising to do later on when we find out any extra expenses.

Here are the stats we saw on Wednesday:

On day eight we sold a total of 66 puzzle pieces, totaling $1,650!! 

Total overall stats thus far are now as follows:

  • 555 pieces sold

  • $13,875 raised!!!!

  • 106% of current goal of $13,000 (WAHOO!)

  • 55% of original goal of $25,000

Here’s a picture of the puzzle progress:

DSC04146

Looking great!

Again, despite the fact that we met our goal, if anyone still wishes to purchase a puzzle piece, feel free to jump on board. The extra expenses will come but we won’t know the final amount until it’s all said and done.

Thanks again for all who have donated! May God bless everyone who’s walking alongside us in this journey.

Thank you again for all who are joining Team Baby Teixeira! :)

Keep coming back each day for new progress updates!

Click here to learn more about the puzzle fundraiser!

 

Money, The Home Buying Process

House Hunting: Dave Ramsey Style: Part 3 – Buy Your House

May 26, 2014

This is Part 3 of a 3-part series. Be sure to learn How to Prepare, and How to Find Your House.

Welcome to the third and final post in the House Hunting: Dave Ramsey Style series!

In this last post, we will discuss the ins and outs of the home buying process from the offer all the way to taking possession of a property.

boredNo, this is not the most glamorous part of home-buying. It’s not as simple as just giving someone money and getting keys to a house in return. If only. I will not attempt to bore you. Actually I will attempt to do quite the opposite and keep this topic fun and informative!

Let’s dive back in where we left on in the last post…we chose the town house strategy.

What happened from that point forward?

lazyDid we laze about, dragging our feet, and cross our fingers together that we would get the town house?

In a dream world maybe. And definitely NOT in the Denver market.

Thankfully our real estate agent (who’ve I’ve been raving about all along) is up to Dave Ramsey standards of being “high-octane and high-protein… meaning she rocks! This is what our last week has looked like in a nutshell:

race car

An intense collaboration of several people under tight timelines.

This past Sunday afternoon (one week ago…wowzers!) we saw the town house and really really liked it. We felt like we were at home. The next step was to tell our realtor we wanted to put an offer in and everything got accelerating from there. Now, I really wish I could tell you everything Barbee, our agent, pulled together in the following 36 hours…but I can’t give away all her tactics! She’s that good and I can’t compromise her edge by revealing all on this blog.

Before she would allow us to offer a bid on the house, we were advised to go back to the neighborhood we wanted to buy in and spend time walking and talking with people. Jonathan and I hopped in the car, went back to the town house development, and walked around for nearly 3+ hours. We met lovely people and asked them LOTS of questions – we wanted to research the good, bad, and ugly before we committed to wanting to live there.

Fortunately the people were great. Lots of families in the area. The HOA is very healthy and we actually met the VP of the Board. I asked if I could apply to get on the board and she said there was a spot that just opened. PERFECT! When buying into a townhome, you need to get on the board!!!!! Who else but YOU will make sure they are spending the money correctly, honestly, and in a healthy way? We won’t let our largest asset be at the mercy of others ideas and opinions. We are planning to get. in. there. and be part of the choices.

We also want to get involved, meet people, and serve the community in a meaningful way. Bonus!

After walking around, we wanted to move forward with the bid…although we were getting nervous. We watched at least ten others tour the town house while we walked around! I know it’s over reacting, but this is how big the crowds were in my mind.

crowdWhen we called our agent that evening, she already knew there were already three offers on the table (all over asking price) with anticipation of four more by the end of day…and they were going to take offers for two more days. GULP!!!

Translation of that information in the Denver market = Any bid we offer had to be competetive ie. over asking price. But, we don’t just have money to give away like Aladdin…

throw money

Our agent gave us some suggestions and advised somewhere in between $5,000-$9,000 over asking price. I got online and research all other town homes in the area for sale and the past month’s worth of sales and from that information we came up with our number within her recommedations. We felt good offering it but knew it may not be enough…

This is where Barbee’s expertise came in. She’s never lost a house unless it was a over money. That gave us tremendous confidence since we’ve heard friends tell stories about losing houses. We weren’t worried about that with her…but we also knew our offer might be less than others. This is the part where I can’t reveal exactly what Barbee pulled together but I can tell you the outcome:

They chose us and we beat out TWO cash offers for more money!!!!!! 

oprah

That is incredibly hard to do but Barbee did it. I am confident that without her we would not have gotten this town house. We were actually sitting at Ikea when we got the news. Amazingly, we walked out only having bought a french press. Who goes under contact on a home at Ikea and doesn’t leave with new furniture? I think we were too in shock.

Here’s where the post gets technical. I provided links to general summaries of a few things I mention, in case you have not heard of them before.

This past Tuesday night, minutes after hearing we were chosen, we got to see our contract online with not only our signatures but the seller’s!!! 🙂 We watched Redfin update our property to “pending.” EEEP!

This past Wednesday morning we dropped off the earnest money at the Title Company. Down the line we can purchase title insurance. Dave Ramsey says DO IT!!! We plan to.

This past Thursday morning we did the home inspection. A few minor things came back. For example, a bathroom door didn’t shut all the way (not because of structure issues -watch out for those!!). No biggy. We also checked radon levels and they came back in the “safe” zone. Whew!!! We measured all the rooms and began to dream about decorations. Pintrest will be my new best friend!

Yesterday we reviewed the inspection report with our agent and submitted requests for the seller to fix various small things throughout the house. We hear back on if and what the seller will repair this upcoming Wednesday.

Tomorrow we meet with our mortgage broker to lock our rate and sign a few other documents. She then orders the appraisal for the property.

Then we wait.

wait

The seller has to purchase another home in the meantime and we wait to hear about when closing will be scheduled based off that. This is where we are slightly vulnerable…what if they don’t find a house? Then we lose this town house and are out some money. Very unlikely but a possibility.

And more waiting….

The Lord knows I need it.

When the seller finds a house, we will then set up our closing date where we’ll become the owners!! Now the seller may need a day or two in the property (while we own it) to move out before she can get into her new home. We’ve drawn up a contract for how that time will look – utilities, who’s insuring the property, etc. Should be a smooth transition with little risk transferred to us.

From that point, it’s just signing papers at closing, packing, and moving into our first home! 🙂

For those wanting the bullet point version, here you go:

  1. Research the area. Meet people. Weigh Pros and Cons. Study recent sales and know what the dollar buys in the area.
  2. Buying a town house or condo? GET ON THE BOARD!!!
  3. Draw up an offer and have your agent submit to the seller’s agent. (You want a high-octane, high-protein agent on YOUR side) Get an Endorsed Local Provider.
  4. Go with a mortgage broker over a bank (in most cases) as they can close quicker, communicate more personally, and advocate for you.
  5. Put down your earnest money if you go under contract. (Varies but ours was $1,500)
  6. Schedule an inspection. ($300-$500) Make sure they look for mechanical, electrical, and structural issues thoroughly.
  7. Check radon levels and don’t forget to do a sewer evaluation (unless sewer is owned by the HOA…which it is in our case).
  8. Submit requests for repairs by the seller. Accept or end contract based on response from seller.
  9. Get title insurance. ($300-$500)
  10. If buying more than basic sub-division, get a land survey.
  11. Lock-in your interest rate (if taking a mortgage). Find out exact closing costs. Calculate if it’s worth to “buy down” your interest rate. To buy down, you pay more at closing but your interest rate is lower over the life of the loan. For us, the cost difference between our rate and buying it down would take us 6 years to recoup. Not worth it since we don’t plan to stay in the town house that long. We’re better off paying more at principal monthly. If we were staying longer? I would buy it down.
  12. Come prepared to sign documents and provide money due for down payment (hopefully you have at least 10%) and closing costs (can range from $1,000-$5,000).

WHEW!

I hope that was fun and educating, as that was the goal!

When we finally move, yall will get some photos! 🙂