Friday, August 16, 2013

Milestone Reached: 80% Debt

When I graduated high school and was first in the driver seat of my own financial situation, I figured debt was always just a fact of life and we all had to learn to deal with it.  I understood the general rule of 'spend less than you make and you'll be okay.'  But emergencies always popped up and I didn't understand how to let my money work for me.  This was the basic formula behind my financial disaster.

During 2010, I found myself drowning in a financial mess.  Debt was always piling up, and in fact maxed out by the end of the year.  I knew something had to change and fast.  After doing some research online to help me, I discovered Dave Ramsey and began listening to his show and reading his work, I was fascinated and instantly hooked.  As part of a New Year's resolution, I wanted to begin tracking my finances closer (to the penny in fact!) at least every month, to make sure I was going in the right direction.

In January 2011 I had a net-worth of $-531.06.  At first I couldn't believe it!  But after looking at the big debt figures and the smaller asset figures, it all began to make sense.  Every month since then I have been tracking my finances and have never given up on that resolution!

I just updated "My Big Financial Picture" page and found the current debt level was below 80% of my original peak debt levels.  This is great news!  Since January 2011, I have gotten rid of over 20% of my debt!  And let me tell you, it feels great.

Without the power of compounding, I should be debt-free about 10 years from now.  Being in my mid-30s, I would still have plenty of time to build my assets and continue working if I want.  I stress the "want" part because once I'm completely debt-free, I will have 3 rental houses (paid for) that will more than cover my expenses.

But WITH the power of compounding, I'm projecting myself to be debt-free in under 6 years.  To make sure this happens, I will continue monitoring my financial situation and celebrate my successes.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

"Assault on Wall Street" From an Investor's Point of View

Recently I had the opportunity to watch "Assault on Wall Street" for its great action.  This was a great film for entertainment, but in reality, an even greater film from an Investing perspective.  Without giving away any of the plot, I wanted to highlight some mistakes the main character made that reinforced what I have recently learn through investing.

Lack of Diversification: 

 The main character had his entire 401k in a single fund.  This fund tanked and he suffered big time, because he had no diversification.  If he had his money spread out amongst other things the effects really wouldn't have been as devastating, even in the peak of 2008.  Why was he invested like this?  Because he let his Broker handle his funds for him.  Which leads me to point number 2.

Use of a Broker: 

The main character used a broker, and a bad broker to make things worse.  I once heard Dave Ramsey say that 'Brokers are no good because they are "broker" than you are,' or something to that effect.  I find truth here.  If they were so good at managing money, they would have all of their money invested in the best ways possible and wouldn't care for silly commissions and bonuses etc.

Importance of good Health insurance: 

This guy's insurance was terrible and had a spending cap.  Long story short~ his family finances were wrecked because of this.  Yes maybe you can have a lower premium and have a higher deductible, which is fine.  But be sure to read the 'fine print' and know what you are paying for.

ARM's are bad. 

What will the interest rate be in the future?  Only a few people truly know- which makes this a losing game.  If you must have a mortgage on the house be sure its a fixed rate (with no penalty for pre-payment).  This way there will be no surprises with your monthly payments and you know exactly what is going on with the details of the loan.

Got nothing?  Smokers will still smoke.

I know this is just a movie.  But when I see the main character smoking cigarettes after completely losing everything and having no money, I believe any smoker would still find a way to do the same.  This would be a plus for MO, PM or LO etc.

Chaos everywhere?  Guns may be the only valuable thing.
In the film the main character is forced out of his house and the only thing he grabs are his guns.  I see truth here too.  If your world 'goes off a cliff' and everyone is in a panic, I can't see precious metals having any value.  Items that satisfy a personal need would have value during desperate times (tradeskills would be important too).  People would barter and get things they need.

If you haven't watched "Assault on Wall Street" I would recommend it.  Aside from all the action, you may pick up on the same ideas that I had, and the investor inside of you, could find even more.  Have you seen it?  What do you think?

Disclaimer: I am not a financial planner, advisor, or accountant. The financial actions mentioned were only suited for my own risk tolerance, strategy, and ideas. Copying another's financial moves can lead to large losses. Each person needs to do their due diligence in researching and planning their own actions in the financial markets.