When you don’t know what you believe, everything becomes an argument. Everything is debatable. But when you stand for something, decisions are obvious.

Jason Fried (REWORK)

When planning your finances, save for retirement before saving for your children’s college. They can get a scholarship for college, there’s no scholarship for being old.

The Death of Debt

Debt is a monkey (or boulder) on the back of many American families and our country as a whole. Money is one of the top reasons couples fight and ultimately divorce. I don’t know about you, but I want to kill anything that could be a top reason to create division in my marriage. For that reason, and many others, we decided to fight debt to the death in our family.

If we really want to be free, as a country and as individual families, we’ve got to kill the debt.

The Bible says it best:

“…the borrower is the slave of the lender.” – Proverbs 22:7b

How true is that?

Almost 3 years ago, my wife and I decided to make getting out of debt a top priority. At the time, I had some student loans, we had racked up credit card debt, had a mortgage with a high interest rate, two car loans, and little to nothing in savings. I was making more money than I had ever made, but we were still headed in the wrong direction. The debt and spending were out of control. For the future of our family, something had to change.

We talked about it and agreed we needed to start walking the walk. It’s hard to point the finger at the Federal government’s budget when I was barely balancing my own at the time. I knew what to do, I just wasn’t doing it.

To help catapult us in the right direction, we took a Crown Financial class at a local church but ultimately ended up following Dave Ramsey’s Seven Baby Steps and a combination of other techniques & tools.

We took steps to drop spending wherever it was possible, especially recurring expenses like Satellite TV and eating out. We used the free (and great) mint.com to track our spending. We setup an initial emergency fund by making savings AUTOMATIC.

Setting up an automatic transfer each week out of your checking account and into the savings account (even a small amount) can ad up huge overtime. Don’t let your self decide if you want to put that money in savings that week, make it automatic. This was a huge thing I learned from the Automatic Millionaire.

We’re still working our way through Dave’s steps, but as of this month, we’ve paid off all debt with the exception of the mortgage (which we also got refinanced to a lower rate). We’re now working on growing savings a little more before investing more heavily in our retirement plan.

The freedom from marching away from debt is an incredible one. It takes time, sometimes a lot of it, but if you have a plan and stick to it, it will change your life.

Or goal, Lord willing, is to have our mortgage paid off before the kids graduate from high school.

Start with step 1, save a little weekly to get at least $1000 in an emergency fund. Then start the debt snowball, along with a detailed budget, and you’ll be surprised how fast it all starts to fade away.

You can do it!

I worked my tail off for 15 years and all of the sudden I was an overnight success.

Dave Ramsey

When the iPhone debuted, it was widely criticized for having no buttons/keys. Now people [Samsung] think the iPhone’s design is ‘obvious.’

Dan Frakes

Pro-life Conservatives & Women’s Rights

sometimesleftalwaysright:

Thanks to Senator Todd Akin, Obama and the left are nearly beside themselves in glee that the primary campaign subject of the moment has shifted to exaggeration about what the pro-life movement stands for. Make no mistake, Akin’s statements about rape were wrong and ignorant — I’m not defending him or his statements, but I am defending the philosophy of being pro-life.

I know this is a sensitive subject with a lot of emotion on all sides and many very personal stories. After-all, some estimates say that almost 40% of all US women have had an abortion. I personally know several people who have been through it themselves. I’m may make some enemies with this article, but the latest outcry against the pro-life movement over one ignorant senators comments should be defended.

Many people will argue that because I’m a man, I have no right to even have an opinion on the matter. Men don’t only have the right, but the responsibility to defend children, even the unborn ones. It is a heart breaking epidemic in our country and around the world. Almost 4,000 babies are aborted EACH DAY in the United States alone.

The assertion is made by many that those on the right, who are pro-life, do not care about women’s rights and that we somehow want to control a women’s body. We have no desire to control someone else’s body, except when that body could do harm to others — even an unborn child.

Conservatives believe in the right for a woman to choose — we simply believe that the choice happens before sex, not after.

The argument is often made that a woman has the right to do whatever she wants with her body. But do we really have the right to do whatever we want with our bodies?

The reality is, we don’t have the right to do whatever we want. We don’t have the right to put drugs in our bodies, we don’t have the right to shoot ourselves, we don’t have the right to walk around naked, and we don’t have the right to use our bodies to hurt others.

Conservatives believe in women’s rights — including the hundreds of thousands of baby girls that are aborted each year before they have a chance to become women.

We try to rationalize the abortion of a child by saying “it’s just a fetus” — at what point do we accept that it changes from “just a lump of cells” to a human being? After-all, doesn’t our own Declaration of Indepence say this:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Right to Life — that would be a good organization name. When do those inalienable rights begin? Is it when our heart first beats? (That’s around 6 weeks.) Is it once they have 10 fingers and toes? When is it too late to terminate the life of a child? When does that right start and stop? When do we change from disposing of a baby to doing everything we can to save their life?

In the United States (which has one of the most liberal abortion laws in the world), it’s legal to abort a baby up to 24 weeks. At that point the baby has fingers and toes, hair is growing on their skin, their lungs are developing, they have a heartbeat, and brainwaves. At what point do they become a HUMAN? Apparently at 25 weeks according to the US Government.

Do we accept this as a nation? Really?! Does a woman’s right to choose trump the right to life that the baby has? When does that baby gain it’s rights?

Abortion is heart breaking for so many reasons. If anything, it’s not a great right for women, it’s a great crime against them. We have become a country that’s more concerned with saving sea turtle eggs on the beach and bald eagle nests than we are our own species. We act so concerned about genocide and abandoned children in other countries but have somehow accepted that’s it’s ok to abort thousands of our own daily.

Many people claim it’s against freedom and liberty to restrict abortion, but what about the freedom and liberty of the child?

Another guy that many on all sides of the aisle regard as a beacon for liberty and freedom is Ron Paul. I’ll leave this with his words on why he is pro-life. It’s a powerful store of the reality of abortion…

View Video on YouTube

I’m pretty sure my experience raising 3 boys will qualify me to work with monkeys at the zoo when I retire.

I put up my thumb and it blotted out the planet Earth. It made me feel very, very small.

Neil Armstrong

R.I.P. Cable and Satellite TV

Almost 2 years ago, we fired out Satellite company. Not because they were doing a bad job, quite the opposite, we were watching way too much TV and also spending too much on it.

In an effort to really trim down recurring expenses in our budget and free up some personal time, we decided to get rid of DirecTV. This was a big move for us at the time because we had been pretty glued to the tube.

Now some of you may be thinking: go cold turkey from TV? seriously? Well, not quite. We made a transition away from Satellite and onto a combination of a few other things (one drug to another I suppose).

A good friend (Adam Fischer), had mentioned they used a local HD antenna to pick up all of the local stations (ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, etc.) and it all came in crystal clear and FREE! That’s what I’m talking about! I did a little research and ended up purchasing an HD antenna from Amazon.

It clipped right on to our now inactive DirectTV dish and plugged into the same cable that went into the house. I use http://antennaweb.org to know which angle to direct it and the compass on my iPhone to find the right degree.

Went in side, clicked scan for channels on the TV and BAM! we had live, HD TV, for FREE!

The majority of what we use the live HD antenna for is sporting events, otherwise, we use a combination of Hulu, Netflix, and RedBox for other entertainment. We have an XBOX that we get Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Instant Videos and others on which is more than enough entertainment.

I took a $100/mo DirecTV bill and replaced it with a one-time cost of $35 for a local HD antenna plus a monthly bill of $7 from Netflix and $7 from Hulu for a total monthly TV bill of just $14. We took the extra $86/mo and put it toward some debt that we had outstanding (we’re now debt free, except for the house, more on that in another post).

After two years this way, I can’t see ever going back to the Cable/Satellite route. I’m happy to answer any questions if anyone else is considering this move. It’s a huge money saver!

There is only one way to avoid criticism: Do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.

Aristotle