Category Archives: Financial Peace University

Budget Shopping: Challenges of Living in a Small Town

*I apologize, I had trouble publishing this post. Every time I published it, it appeared blank on wordpress.com and I had to completely redo it. I kept saving it as a I went, yet it still appeared blank. Even the saved revisions appeared as blank. Why? I have no idea. This fourth attempt is short… but at least it appeared!*

So I was frustrated today. I had to buy my first pair of new jeans in over 6 years. Why? Because living in a small town creates interesting budget challenges.

I once lived in Colorado Springs, which is one of the 50 largest cities in the United States. I had no trouble going to the Salvation Army, Goodwill, or some other thrift shop to find a couple pairs of jeans which did not have heavy wear marks or holes. That is not true for me now living in a small college town. Here I found only a few pairs of jeans in my size… but they had holes in them. Maybe it is related to the economy being down. Maybe people simply cannot afford to donate good pairs of jeans. Maybe it had to do with the size of the town because there were more people in Colorado Springs who donated (but that seems to create a paradox because wouldn’t that mean there were also more people who needed clothing in Colorado Springs?)

Whatever the reason, today I was forced to buy new jeans.

Marathon training is great. But I was not expecting my legs to become too large for my pants. A nice problem. However, I did not realize how expensive it would be until I started to look for pants at the local thrift shops and failed to find a single pair. Today I spent more money on three pairs of new jeans than I have ever spent. Not cool… especially on the budget of a graduate student. Oh well…

Budget Shopping in a Small Town, http://www.ishism.com

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Marriage Before Cars

I miss my Honda Civic. It was a 2007 Honda Coupe, and when I took it for a test drive it only had 18 miles on it. The picture above is similar to the one I owned.

But now I am a graduate student, and my wife and I share a 1998 Oldsmobile.

My wife takes me to school in the 1998 Oldsmobile. We had to get rid of my Honda because it had a car payment, and we would not be able to afford it with me in grad school.

I can bike to school, but I live 5 miles from the campus… and there have been car to bike accidents in town which makes biking to school, especially five miles, feel unsafe. So my wife drives me. Most of the time I do not even think about the Honda Civic (aka, the best car I ever owned). It feels better to know the only debt we have is my college loans. And for our marriage it was financially responsible to get rid of the car payments, which I was falling behind on because they were so big.

Occasionally I got stuck on campus for a few extra hours, or had to go in early. But in general, I have not really thought about the Civic. And in general I have not thought as much about even having a second car.

So what prompted this sense of car loss? Last week, my wife and I went to Seattle for a bucket list event… we saw the Irish Rovers. She has wanted to see the Irish Rovers her entire life. Not only did we have front row center seats, we were able to get autographs and our pictures taken with them. It was amazing! And we rented a car for the drive because of the age of our car… and the car we rented was a Toyota Camry. It was similar to my Honda Civic, and I enjoyed driving it. That reminded me how much I miss my Honda Civic.

I am sure in a few days the sense of car loss will dissipate. But for now, I miss the independence of having my own vehicle, I miss how new the Honda Civic felt… and I miss how nice it felt to drive. Dear Honda Civic, whoever is driving you now… I hope they appreciate you as much as I did. Miss you!

NFL DRAFT Curse: “Money”

I love the NFL. I will not be shy about it. The NFL is my first, second, and THIRD favorite sport to watch. That being said, I will be studying for classes while watching the NFL Draft this weekend (grad school keeps me busy). When watching the draft I like hearing stories about the rookies although it will be hard to top the story which inspired “The Blind Side.” I also like trying to figure out each team’s strategy when they are drafting.

One of the things I keep in mind is that these are still young men. Yes, they are giants. Some of them could probably crush my skull with their hands. But they are still REALLY, REALLY young. And if they are taken in the top three rounds of the draft, they are going to make a lot of money. If they are drafted in the first round they are going to make a ton of money… millions.

NFL DRAFT CURSE: “MONEY”

But a storyline that the NFL (like other pro sports) is trying to avoid is the pro-athlete who ends up bankrupt. Believe it or not, an athlete can make millions of dollars and still end up bankrupt. How? Various reasons.

But one of the key issues for athletes, as is the same for winning the lottery, is that many people did not grow up with a lot of money. If a person doesn’t grow up with money then he/she doesn’t know how to manage it. Normally this person may get help from dad or friends (who did not grow up with money either).  So no one in his/her immediate contacts has experience with managing a lot of money.

Going from being poor to being a multimillionaire IN JUST ONE DAY is like going from being unable to swim to trying to win 8 Gold Medals in Olympic swimming. It doesn’t work.

My wife and I went through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University to help us get our money management skills under control. My wife is amazing, but she is also my second wife. My first marriage ended in divorce. One of the key reasons my first marriage failed was because of finances. Financial issues end many marriages.

We have switched to Dave Ramsey’s cash system. It is hard, especially considering that we are living on the income of a graduate student because my wife is still unemployed. We do not use credit cards. In fact, we paid off the last credit card this month. The cash envelope system has worked well during our first year of marriage. We have had some tense discussions about money. But in general, because we use the cash system and because we have a monthly budget… the discussions are usually short, and we aren’t mad at each other. We are frustrated because we don’t have more money… but the discussions have never been about one of us spending money without telling the other (which could result in both of us spending money from the checking account and then the checking account becomes overdrawn).

My wife and I talk about our money. We pray about our money. We do our best to be accountable for it. It has worked well for us.

If people who inherit millions, or win it in the lottery, or who make it into the NFL Draft this weekend… if they took more accountability in managing their money accounts, there would be less issues with pro athletes going bankrupt after making $50-million.

I don’t remember the exact quote, but Dave Ramsey said something like: Money is called currency for a reason, because it moves. Most people don’t understand the “moving” part of money… and when they stop taking accountability for their money… they don’t know where the money moved to, and thus end up bankrupt.