Saturday, May 31, 2008
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Saturday, May 24, 2008
She also shed light on how spf works. (you may all know this but I didn't) The spf means that it will keep you protected "xx" times more than nothing at all. So if you're wearing spf 15, it will keep you 15 times more protected than nothing. So, since she's fair skinned, she said she would burn after a minute in the sun and so spf 15 would keep her protected for 15 minutes and then need to reapply. I'm more olive skinned and burn less easily so I'm guessing it would keep me protected longer. Kind of interesting...
Thursday, May 22, 2008
The challenge for this week is a physical one: get 200 minutes of cardio in before next Thursday. That is roughly five 40 minute workouts. Feel free to modify this (increase or decrease) if you need to.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
This weeks challenge is to get at least 5 servings of fruits/veggies in per day. If you are already doing this, increase your intake by 1 serving per day.
Here are some helpful reminders about what is a serving size:
- One medium-size fruit
- 1/2 cup raw, cooked, frozen or canned fruits (in 100% juice) or vegetables
- 3/4 cup (6 oz.) 100% fruit or vegetable juice
- 1/2 cup cooked, canned or frozen legumes (beans and peas)
- 1 cup raw, leafy vegetables
- 1/4 cup dried fruit
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Monday, May 12, 2008
Sunday, May 11, 2008
One of my favorite things about being a Mom is snuggles!! My little girl was a snuggly baby until she could move around and then she just wanted to move all the time. I missed my snuggly baby! But recently, she's returned and loves to cuddle with me and I love it!
What's one of your favorite parts about being a Mom?
Friday, May 9, 2008
To my husband and me, this is a huge part of our financial planning. We are still students (and will be for another 4 years) and so though our funds are limited, it is super important to us to donate to humanitarian aid. Our financial guide is Jacob 2:17-19-
17 Think of your brethren like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all and free with your substance, that they may be rich like unto you.
18 But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God.
19 And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.
(Book of Mormon Jacob 2:17 - 19)
I remember reading an Ensign article a few months back that encouraged us to pay our Fast Offering ... even if we can do no more than contribute the price of a few eggs.
It's amazing to me how the Lord's ways are clearly not the world's ways. The world teaches that if you want to be rich, you have to keep all your money to yourself. The Lord teaches to share that money with others, and then we will be rich. Of course, rich spiritually, but also temporally we will never be without.
Of course, all things in wisdom and order. You obviously can't deny food for your family to give food to someone else on the other side of the world. This isn't necessarily a "money saving" tip, but I view the principle of charitable giving and the doctrine of caring for our brothers and sisters key to our (Michael's and my) financial stability.
Thursday, May 8, 2008
I fully intend to spend my money. If I didn't intend to spend money, I would simply work less so that I could spend more time with the family.
My philosophy is that I deny many small things which I don't care about in order to buy big things which I do care about. The things that I don't care about are eating out, having a big TV, having nice cars, wearing the latest clothes, having 1000 HD channels, etc, etc. Here are a few of the big things that I am planning on using my money for :
- A house. I realize that I could spend frivilously and eventually get into a house in 20 years, but I'm not that patient; I want to get into a house sooner. Living frugally will enable me to do so.
- Retirement. I don't want to work at the age of 65-70 like some of my coworkers. I want to retire at a reasonable age. I don't know about you, but I would rather be serving a mission in retirement than working at Walmart at 65 because I didn't save enough. I'd rather be travelling the country to see my grandchildren in my retirement.
- Safety net. I don't know about you, but I have a HUGE piece of mind when I realize that I could be laid off tomorrow, and still be able to provide for my family for over 2 years without income. This freedom will enable me to take my time to find my next job instead of committing to the first job offer that comes my way.
- Vacations. I love vacations. Some of my best memories as a kid were of being on vacations with my family.
- Paying for kids. Kids are going to get a lot more expensive once they get older and start going to college, wrecking cars, and going on missions. Savings will definitely help here.
- Spend more time with family. If you learn to consume less, you could afford to work less. This will enable you to spend more time with your family, which is what is really important. Could I sacrifice a plasma TV to spend more time with my family...I hope so.
As you can see, I fully intend to use my money for good causes. In my mind, it just clicks for me. I deny myself simple pleasures (which I don't really really really enjoy) like eating out so that I can realize my long-term goals more quickly. I don't deny myself anythign that I need or that I really want. The long-term goals are what is important to me. For some people, they prefer eating out and having nice cars to having a safety net in case of job loss or buying a house. I don't.
When I served my mission in Chile, I met families living in poverty who were happier than any family that I've ever met in the US. Money can't create happiness, but the lack of it can create misery.
I've never met a person who has claimed to have too much in savings. I have met countless people who have spent too much money on frivilous items which have prevented them from reaching their long-term goals.
The last point I want to bring home is that living frugally has not negatively affected my hapiness one bit. In fact, it has done quite the opposite. Knowing that I'm working towards my long-term goals is incredibly liberating to me. Was anyone else frugal in college? Those were some of the best times of my life.
Sorry about the random collection of thoughts, but I had to respond to the comments. I am a firm believer in financial freedom/independence. Living frugally is a very important part of that goal.
Another question, we have a savings account that draws decent interest, but not nearly as good as the previous one mentioned. I have to admit, I've just been too lazy to switch everything over. Right now, all of our loans, accounts, etc. are through the same bank and it's so easy to do my online banking. How do you switch to one of these high interest accounts, and how hard is it???
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
I'm Tiffany Baugh's husband, Brian. I'm an engineer at Boeing, but I am a wannabe financial planner. As I was finishing my senior year of school, I became completely disinterested in engineering, so I turned my attention to investing. We had a chunk of change that was rotting away in a checking account, so I decided to learn how to make the most use of it. Along the way, I think I have learned a thing or two about money. This post is meant to serve as a practical guide to getting richer through living below your means and investing wisely. I hope it helps.
In order to get richer, you have to spend less than you make. This is called saving. It is usually thought of as making more than you spend, but I challenge you to consider it the other way. In the first part of my post, I’ve tried to illustrate some practical ways to spend less than you make. I’ve tried to arrange my thoughts in order of importance.
Once you have savings, you should learn where to put your money. I’ve tried to address that in the second half of my post.
- Live under your means. If you want to increase your savings significantly, you will have to learn to live well under your means. The following principles have helped me considerably in my life:
- Understand needs vs wants
- Whenever I make a purchase, I ask myself if it is a need or a want. If it’s a need, I buy it without remourse. If it’s a want, then I have to do some more thinking. If you want to increase your net worth, this is the single most important principal that I could impart to you. There have been countless times that I have wanted to buy a new toy, but I’ve refrained because I didn’t need the thing. I use this skill daily.
- A budget can help you distribute your spending to satisfy your needs and wants. I’ve heard that they are very useful for a lot of people, but I don’t use them.
- Spend less than you make
- When you get a raise/bonus/tax rebate, pretend like you didn’t. You’ll magically increase your savings. Tiffany and I pretend like we are college students even though we’re making a hundred times what we were in school. It pains me when I hear of people blowing off their tax rebates on plasma TV’s which they really can’t afford. I am not going to alter my spending habits at all when my $1200 gift from the IRS arrives. It will go straight to savings.
- Watch out for recurring fees. They’ll kill you because you don’t even thin when you pay them. I’m talking about cell phones, tv, internet, car insurance, etc.
- Tiff and I pay $13/month for Comcast local TV. It was tough saying goodbye to ESPN (more so for Tiff than for me), but we hardly miss it at all.
- Tiff and I pay $100/year for BOTH of our cellphones. We have T-mobile prepaid phones which we use sparingly. We use less than 1000 minutes a year total. Tiff and I are able to get a hold of each other 99% of the time when we’re apart through normal phones at home/work. I don’t miss having my normal 1000 minute/month plan one bit.
- Tiff and I pay $13/month for voice over IP (VOIP) phone service, with unlimited long distance. Since we can’t live without broadband, I figured that we ought to get the most use out of it. VOIP quality is fine. It’s better than cell phones but worse than land lines. We use viatalk (viatalk.com) and like them fine. I believe they have a promotion right now for 2 years of service for $200. That’s better than the promotion that I locked in to.
- We take advantage of internet promotions, which give away internet for free for the first 6 months. Once the rates go up, you can switch services to qualify for the new internet promo. We switch between Comcast cable internet and Earthlink broadband every 6 months or so. The great thing about this strategy is that Earthlink uses Comcast cable, so you don’t need some installation guy coming to your house every time you want to switch. It’s as easy as a phone call. We save TONS of money each year by doing this. If you are too lazy to do what I just mentioned, simply call up your current provider and ask them to match a competitor’s promotion. 99% of the time they will give you a cheaper rate so that they don’t lose your business. Info here: http://www.mymoneyblog.com/archives/2005/08/how_to_save_138.html.
- Car insurance. Tiffany and I have gotten some pretty sweet discounts at Geico by following the counsel provided here: http://www.mymoneyblog.com/archives/2006/12/pentagon-federal-offering-3-year-cds-at-625-apy.html. We save about 15% a year on car insurance by simply by opening up a checking account at PENFED.
- Develop cheap hobbies. Some of our favorite cheap hobbies are playing board games, hiking, biking, going on walks, and reading.
- I could go on forever about board games. I’m not talking monopoly or sorry. I’m talking about german strategy boardgames like Settlers of Catan,
, Ticket to Ride, etc. Alhambra
- Eat out less frequently. It pains me to the core every time I go out because I realize how much cheaper I could eat at home. It’s so bad that when it’s my birthday, I request to eat at home instead of going out. If you do go out to eat, don’t order drinks, sides, or deserets.
- Never, ever, ever pay bad interest. I would categorize education loans and mortgages as good interest. Anything else would fall under the bad interest category, including cars.
At this point in the post, you’re probably asking yourself if I could be any more stingy. Let me try to explain why in the heck I care about minimizing expenses. I like to save money because I understand the significance of saving a dollar. In order to spend a dollar, I have to make over a dollar because of taxes and tithing. If I assume a 25% tax rate, I would have to make $1.33 to spend a dollar ($1/0.75). If I pay tithing, I would have to make $1.54 to spend a dollar ($1/0.65). When you save $1, it’s the equivalent to earning $1.54. This is an incredibally empowering topic which a lot of people don’t understand. For us members of the church, I believe it to be especially important, since we pay tithing and usually live off of one income.
One of my coworkers is a single guy with a lot less financial obligations than me. He doesn’t pay tithing or support a family. He shares rent costs with a roommate. I would think that our salaries are almost identical, but he cannot manage to stay out of credit card debt. We, on the other hand, manage to save about 30% of our income. It just goes to show you that it’s not how much you make; it’s how much you spend.
Now that we’ve learned how to maximize savings, we should have some extra change laying around. In this next section I’ll try to explain what to do with it.
Invest your money wisely
- Own a home if you can. Unfortunately, after being out of school for 1.5 years and living in an overheated
real estate market, we have been unable to cough up the 20% required for a house. Fortunately, through living the principals mentioned in the first section, we’re getting close. There are countless benefits to owning a home. I’m looking forward to building equity in a house, never having shared walls again, and having a juicy tax write-off some day. Seattle
- If your employer matches any retirement contributions, you must take advantage of that. When you fail to take advantage of your employer’s matching, you are literally throwing money away. This is a tough principal for a lot of us young folks to grasp. When I was an intern at my company, I didn’t take advantage of the company matching because I was a dumb kid. I didn’t understand what a 401(k) was or why I should take advantage of employer matching. I’ve wised up over the past several years, and I’m kicking myself for my wasted opportunity.
- Invest in low-cost mutual funds. Just like the principles described in the first section, cutting costs is one of the best ways of guaranteeing superior performance on stocks. I invest exclusively in index funds, which are like mutual funds in that they hold a variety of stocks, but they are passively managed. What this means is that a person isn’t actively trying to guess what the best stocks are going to be. Rather, the index simply tries to follow a pre-determined mix of companies. The S&P 500 and DOW are the most common
indices out there. There are countless PhDs out there who swear by passive investing. I’m not as smart as them, but I’m smart enough to read their books and believe them. US
- If you have money left over, put it in a Roth IRA. Each year, you are allowed to put $5000 per person in this tax-sheltered account. The Roth differs from the traditional IRA or 401(k) in that you pay the taxes now, but you never pay taxes again. That means that when I withdraw from my Roth IRA in 40 years, I won’t pay a penny of taxes to the government. One of the greatest advantages of the Roth IRA is that you can touch the principal (money that you have contributed) without penalty at any time. When you do this, you don’t have to pay taxes, since the money has already been taxed. Traditional IRAs or 401(k)s impose a 10% penalty upon withdrawal of funds in the event that you withdraw before retirement.
- Open up a Roth IRA at Vanguard. It is hands down the best brokerage out there. Vanguard has the lowest fees out there, and they have a wide variety of index funds to chose from.
- Invest in yourself. The leaders of the church have told us on many occasions to “get all of the education that you can.” It’s a powerful statement that has inspired me to go back to school for a graduate degree. Investing in your education is simply the best investment that you can make. As the world becomes flatter and flatter, it is getting more and more competitive. Having an education will be paramount in remaining marketable through these times. Thirty years ago, all it took was a high school diploma to be marketable.
- Open up a money market savings account. These vary from traditional savings accounts in that their interest rates don't suck. Current money market rates are around 3%, though they were as high as 5.5% before the federal reserve started slashing interest rates over the past 6 months. WAMU has one of the best rates in the country right now, at 3.25%. Sign up here: http://wamufreechecking.com/FreeChecking/index.html?appType=FC&AffiliateID=cj&CreativeID=whoohoo
- At any point in time, Tiffany and I only have $50 which is rotting away in a checking account. Everything else is invested or making interest.
- Since money market accounts have a limit of 6 withdrawals a month, we simply buy everything ever on a rewards credit card and pay it off in full every month. This way, we have far less than the 6 transactions a month. If we owe a friend $5 bucks or something, it comes from our checking account.
Sorry about the length of this post. This is a subject that I’m incredibly passionate about. I hope that it has done somebody some good. I’d better get to bed before I get myself into more trouble with the wife.
The Richest Man in
A Random Walk down Wall Street. This is hands down the best book which I’ve read on investing. It’s pretty technical, so you may want to read my next recommendation.
The Little Book of Common Sense Investing. This book is a quick read and gives a convincing argument for index funds.- Brian
Monday, May 5, 2008
1. Some gas can burn off if cars are left out in the sun. Try to park in a covered area or garage when possible.
2. More weight in your car requires more gas to make the car move, like a stroller in the trunk.
Anyone else have ideas to share?
How do you save money on groceries?
I, like Steph, was really impressed with the amount people spent on groceries several weeks ago. I spend more than most it seems. What strategies do you utilize to keep your spending low?
Sunday, May 4, 2008
Friday, May 2, 2008
1 - Take care of my car.
2 - Handle the finances.
3- Take out the garbage.
Well, I learned to take care of my own car (including putting in a new catalytic converter) and got really pretty good at managing my finances (including long-term retirement etc.) but I never got to the point where I could take out the garbage unless I absolutely had to (thank goodness for good roommates who did it). Now Phil does the garbages (and actually, the car care and finances too).
What chore do you just refuse to do and who ends up doing it instead of you?
Thursday, May 1, 2008
I'll put some of the discussion questions from the back of the book in a comment. If you'd like to talk about any of them, great, and if not I'd love to hear any other thoughts you had while reading it!