Browsing Tag

money

Vlog

10 Passive Income Ideas I Made Work and How You Can Make Them Work for You!

28:14 10 Passive Income Ideas I Made Work and How You Can Make Them Work for You!

Through my desire to find freedom in my life I have worked on projects that produced passive income. Passive Income is important because without some sort of passive income you are constantly trading hours for money. If you find yourself unable to sustain those hours, you take a pay cut. I have come to understand that life is not going to get any cheaper. Traditionally that would only leave me one choice, work harder. The problem is that I don’t want to have to work harder and harder until I get old. I want some freedom in my life to enjoy life as I live it. This requires passive income.

In the following video, I discuss 10 Passive Income Ideas I Made Work for Me and How You Can Make Them Work for You!

Vlog

Investing at a Discount

Investing at a Discount

The stock market has been correcting. Some say that it is crashing but those who have control over their emotions and take an active role in managing their investments know that this is a correction. The stock market has done well for quite some time. It has not taken much intelligence to do well. During corrections, people get super emotional because they feel that the sky is falling. The stock market is crashing and all they can see is how much they lost just now. In this video, I discuss my opinion on what is happening and how I am reacting to it.

I am not a financial advisor so please take everything I say here and in this video as information and not investment advice.

Get a free stock when you signup for a free Robinhood account: http://share.robinhood.com/jeradh

Blog Income

December 2017 Side Income Report

December 2017 Side Income Report

Things are starting to get interesting as a lot changed this month. It is December, so most of my product affiliate links saw more action than normal but I also dove in head first into Cryptocurrency Mining. As I write this I am thinking back on what I was thinking when I decided to start investing in Crypto Coins and in Mining. I was a little scared, but I knew that I would miss the boat if I didn’t start right away.

In December I made a lot of changes to my investments. I don’t typically include investments as side income because I look at my investments as a long-term growth strategy. My strategy for buying and selling stocks is to continue to grow that portfolio into something I can use for retirement. The stock market has been good to me in 2017 but the growth is nothing compared to what has happened in Cryptocurrency in the last month.

I talked a lot about my mindset in a video I filmed on Building My First Ethereum Mining Rig, but I saw Cryptocurrency Mining as a less risky way to get into Cryptocurrency. If I was wrong, I could at least sell the mining rig or its components. Currently, I am posting weekly update videos to a new YouTube channel where I focus more on Cryptocurrency and Mining. It’s called AltCast. My goal is to talk about alternative forms of investing as well. Right now my topics are mostly Cryptocurrency and Crypto Mining.

I want to talk about the crazy things that have been happening in January so far but this blog is about December so I am going to try to stay on topic. You can follow me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. I will try to share as much as I can there as it happens.

Towards the end of the month, I filmed a course titled How to Build an Ethereum Mining Rig. I had built a few at this point and had been answering a lot of questions online. The course went live a few days before the new year so it only sold a few copies. I’m excited to see how the course performs through January.

Traffic to the YouTube channels continues to grow. State of Tech and the new AltCast got most of the attention in December even though I wanted to give Ditch Auto more time. State of Tech has seen some growth due to the mining specific videos I posted. I thought about doing more mining content for State of Tech but I didn’t want to get too far off topic so I created AltCast to discuss investing and Cryptocurrency.

With that said, here is my Side Income Report for December of 2017. I am looking forward to seeing where things go in 2018 as I continue to explore new ways to grow my personal income.

December 2017 side income total – $3705.40 (+16.98%)

YouTube

  • StateOfTech – $1351.56 (+21.33%) Subscribers: 24167 (+6.48%)
    This YouTube channel is part mobile technology review videos and part tech tutorial videos. There were a few videos added to the channel this month but we did add a bunch of videos right at the end of October that was specific to the Samsung Galaxy Note 8. Those videos tend to take off a few months after they go live.
  • Ditch Auto – $595.45 (+36.25%) Subscribers: 20692 (+7.28)
    This YouTube channel is similar to StateOfTech but for Photography. The videos that perform well are reviews and tutorials. Not a lot of content has been added to Ditch Auto this month.
  • Jerad Hill – $36.07 (-0%) Subscribers: 4626 (+0.37%)
    This is my personal channel which I do not post too often. I do plan to do a lot more on my personal channel in the near future. I am just trying to decide what I want my focus to be there.

Amazon Affiliate

  • Amazon Product Links – $840.51 (+45.15%)
    With August being back to school, it makes sense that these numbers would be higher. The majority of the product links I have out there are for technology and camera equipment. We have not put out much content that includes product links so I don’t expect much growth here until Christmas shopping begins.

Google Adsense

  • Google Adsense links/display – $155.33 (+31.99%)
    I cut some of the fat on a couple of my websites which will initially produce a decrease in traffic. I deleted a lot of content that I did not feel was relevant anymore. Many of these pages would generate a click or two here and there from organic search, but I deleted it all so that the search engines could focus on crawling quality content.

Jerad’s Courses

  • Paid courses on Jerad.Courses – $74.00 (+100%)
    This is a new side income category. I have had this website live for a few years now but there has not been any paid courses on it until now. I expect a lot of growth here as I continue to produce content.

Udemy.Com

  • Paid courses on Udemy – $7.49 (-111.91%)
    I only have one paid course currently and that course is getting old. It needs to be refreshed. I have plans later this month to get new courses out that will be paid and to revise a couple of my existing courses to drive some return traffic to my instructor page.

Other Income

  • Other monthly revenue streams from side work – $645 (-34.62%)
    I turned off a couple of sources of this other income that I did not plan to maintain any longer. These sources really only brought in $20-75 per source and took an average of 3 hours per source. Not a good return on invested time, so they are gone.

I am excited about what 2018 will bring. I have a renewed vigor for improving my side income and a new goal I will announce with the January Side Income Report. I also plan to start filming some videos for my personal YouTube channel to discuss more on how I produce content that leads to the side income I am reporting in these blogs.

Thanks for coming along. If you have any questions, please ask them in the comments section below.

Blog Income

November 2017 Side Income Report

November 2017 Side Income Report

As predicted, November was a bit better than prior months. This happens often during the holidays. The biggest boost I saw in my side-income during the holidays was when the Hoverboard got popular. There was a couple of months where I was getting $2,500 to $4,000 just from Amazon Affiliate links alone. That died off of course as does any fad. Going into this holiday season I do not have any content that is somewhat going viral to help generate revenue. I have a few ideas that just are not going to make it in time unless I end up with spare time in December.

One area that saw decent growth was the Google Adsense links. Due to my recent hire, a lot of content was created for two of my websites that I have brought new traffic to those sites. Though there was only a small amount of growth in regards to the cost of producing that content, that new content will live on for months and hopefully will return on the investment.

This month I started looking into Cryptocurrency mining. I am very interested in mining Ethereum (ETH). I will be building a mining rig early December so there will be a new category in my side-income report. I plan to track what I have mined, it’s growth and the fluctuation in the market. Should be interesting to follow.

So let’s take a look at the report for the month of November 2017.

November 2017 side income total – $3124.74 (+32.44%)

YouTube

  • StateOfTech – $1091.08 (+32.59%) Subscribers: 21135 (+4.86%)
    This YouTube channel is part mobile technology review videos and part tech tutorial videos. There were a few videos added to the channel this month but we did add a bunch of videos right at the end of October that was specific to the Samsung Galaxy Note 8. Those videos tend to take off a few months after they go live.
  • Ditch Auto – $412.74 (+21.94) Subscribers: 19238 (+5.71)
    This YouTube channel is similar to StateOfTech but for Photography. The videos that perform well are reviews and tutorials. Not a lot of content has been added to Ditch Auto this month.
  • Jerad Hill – $36.02 (-6.15) Subscribers: 4592 (+0.20%)
    This is my personal channel which I do not post too often. I do plan to do a lot more on my personal channel in the near future. I am just trying to decide what I want my focus to be there.

Amazon Affiliate

  • Amazon Product Links – $530.89 (+57.02%)
    With August being back to school, it makes sense that these numbers would be higher. The majority of the product links I have out there are for technology and camera equipment. We have not put out much content that includes product links so I don’t expect much growth here until Christmas shopping begins.

Google Adsense

  • Google Adsense links/display – $112.49 (+48.73%)
    I cut some of the fat on a couple of my websites which will initially produce a decrease in traffic. I deleted a lot of content that I did not feel was relevant anymore. Many of these pages would generate a click or two here and there from organic search, but I deleted it all so that the search engines could focus on crawling quality content.

Udemy.Com

  • Paid courses on Udemy – $26.52 (+124.18%)
    I only have one paid course currently and that course is getting old. It needs to be refreshed. I have plans later this month to get new courses out that will be paid and to revise a couple of my existing courses to drive some return traffic to my instructor page.

Other Income

  • Other monthly revenue streams from side work – $915 (+33.0%)
    I turned off a couple of sources of this other income that I did not plan to maintain any longer. These sources really only brought in $20-75 per source and took an average of 3 hours per source. Not a good return on invested time, so they are gone.

Overall I am pretty impressed with this month considering the low effort. As I mentioned before, the holidays often boost these numbers. It is much more challenging to maintain these numbers during the rest of the year. I am sure December will be good and will probably be a decent month assuming the mining of Ethereum (ETH) goes well.

I plan to do some filming early in the month to try and get a few videos that would make sense for the holidays done, but I am not sure if I will have time. Hill Media Group is keeping me pretty busy going into December. Unless that lets up a bit, the December income report will just be true passive income.

Blog Income

October 2017 Side Income Report

October 2017 Side Income Report

I did mention last month that October was going to see a decrease in side income revenue. To recap, this is due to my inability to put much time into the below-listed channels. In August and early September, Hill Media Group saw an influx in new business, which left me with little time to work on my side-income channels. With that said, it is cool to see that I can take my eye off of these channels and still have some income from them. I recognize that I can not ignore them forever, but a month here or there is not going to kill them off.

Next month will show some growth due to the holidays approaching. Much of my content revolves around technology and photography gear so people often look for content to help make purchase decisions. I don’t see having much time in November to work on content but I am going to try to get a few things out at least.

October 2017 side income total – $2359.31 (-3.56%)

YouTube

  • StateOfTech – $822.89 (-9.53%) Subscribers: 20156 (+4.35%)
    This YouTube channel is part mobile technology review videos and part tech tutorial videos.
  • Ditch Auto – $338.48 (-3.15%) Subscribers: 18199 (+5.64)
    This YouTube channel is similar to StateOfTech but for Photography. The videos that perform well are reviews and tutorials.
  • Jerad Hill – $38.38 (+17.66%) Subscribers: 4583 (+0.31%)
    This is my personal channel which I do not post too often. I do plan to do a lot more on my personal channel in the near future. I am just trying to decide what I want my focus to be there.

Amazon Affiliate

  • Amazon Product Links – $388.10 (-26.46%)
    We have not put out much content that includes product links so I don’t expect much growth here until Christmas shopping begins.

Google Adsense

  • Google Adsense links/display – $75.63 (-30.6%)
    I cut some of the fat on a couple of my websites which will initially produce a decrease in traffic. I deleted a lot of content that I did not feel was relevant anymore. Many of these pages would generate a click or two here and there from organic search, but I deleted it all so that the search engines could focus on crawling quality content.

Udemy.Com

  • Paid courses on Udemy – $11.83 (+100%)
    I only have one paid course currently and that course is getting old. It needs to be refreshed. I have plans later this month to get new courses out that will be paid and to revise a couple of my existing courses to drive some return traffic to my instructor page.

Other Income

  • Other monthly revenue streams from side work – $688 (+32.82%)
    I turned off a couple of sources of this other income that I did not plan to maintain any longer. These sources really only brought in $20-75 per source and took an average of 3 hours per source. Not a good return on invested time, so they are gone.

Going into the holidays, things tend to slow down a bit. I hope that as the end of the year approaches that I will have extra time to work on content. Another area I plan to spend time in research is cryptocurrency. I have been watching Bitcoin since it’s inception and have had a lot of interest in mining. Perhaps mining will become another side-income channel in the future.

Check out the September 2017 financials.

Blog

We’re ok, because we saved

Savings

Prior to getting married I wasn’t very good at saving money. I guess I didn’t really have a reason to save money unless there was something that I wanted which required saving for. A little over eight years ago I was engaged to be married, didn’t have hardly any money in my bank account, and nothing in my savings account. It was at that point I realized that I needed change because I might have been okay up until then existing without a backup plan, but I was not about to enter into marriage without a plan.

I ended up selling off a lot of stuff including DVDs that I never watch and my home entertainment system to get some money in our bank account. After that, I started saving whenever I could. Still wasn’t as good as some people who manage to save a large portion of their income however I was doing much better than I ever had in regards to saving.

After about eight months of marriage it was quite obvious that building a savings account was going to be one of the most important things that we did together. We ended up miscarrying our first child and were denied coverage by our health Insurance provider. That instantly put us $20,000 in debt. Thankfully, besides some savings, I was also able to empty and old 401(k) that I had never touched to pay everything off. Now our small savings account was depleted.

We continued to save when we could. We could’ve saved more but we like to travel and eat out occasionally. We were then blessed with our first born child. Being self-employed, private medical insurance is pretty expensive. Our health insurance plan had a pretty high deductible and maximum out-of-pocket responsibility. That year, we ended up emptying our savings account once again, to pay off medical bills.

When our firstborn was six months old, I decided I would be more productive if I moved my office out of our third bedroom and into an actual office. That meant taking on a bit of overhead and at the same time, I hired an employee. We still tried to save when we could and thankfully we had a few good months where we were able to save a lot.

Our second child was born in February so we met our max out our out-of-pocket responsibility with our insurance the calendar year before he was born and during the first two months leading up to his birth. Our oldest had fallen and broken his leg two weeks before his brother was born which resulted in me being off work for a couple of months to help my wife with our newborn son. My oldest son was in a body cast from his waist down which made him very difficult to pick up and move around. Thankfully our savings and the success of one of my businesses was experiencing carried us through this time.

Later that year our oldest ended up in the hospital again with an infection. Thankfully it was during the same calendar year that we had already maxed out our out-of-pocket responsibility, so we just had to pay our co-pays on everything, and I missed a few weeks of work. At this point, we were able to pay off everything immediately without carrying any additional debt.

The next year was kind of up-and-down. My business was busy some months and very slow others. I had hired a couple of employees here and there which did not pan out like I had hoped so overhead was higher than usual. My oldest son also started preschool that year. We had decided to try the preschool at our church, which was not exactly cheap. Our savings allowed us to send him there without worrying about sacrificing by sending him to a cheaper school where we didn’t know anybody.

Then our daughter was born, so we maxed our out-of-pocket again. Let me remind you of the $10,000 maximum. Yes, it still hurts to think about it. In hindsight, we could have delivered our children in Costa Rica for a fraction of that. Our savings account came to the rescue again. This time, I put the payment on a credit card with points for Amazon.com and immediately paid off the credit card.

We had outgrown our home and it was time to find a new home to rent. We had been renting, which also allowed us to save more money because we did not have to spend it on repairs and other costs associated with home ownership. Still, we could have been saving more, but we enjoyed several vacations and still enjoyed going out to eat often. The increase in living expenses took some time to adjust to. During the week we were planning to move, my wife came down with a pretty bad infection that had her in the hospital for over a week. Thankfully our family stepped up and helped us move, and the savings account once again helped us avoid debt.

In 2015, we had saved more money than I have ever had been able to keep for more than a week. We had used credit for a few things, but with zero interest. I had saved money only to empty it out for bills so many times that I was doing whatever I could to avoid having to touch our savings. I had a few investment accounts that were not doing much that I was occasionally contributing to. The months of May/June have become expensive months for us because there are multiple things that come due. We now have two children in school as well. This June, we had school tuition, car insurance, renters insurance, business liability insurance and workman’s compensation insurance all due at the same time. In the past, I would pay several of these monthly because I didn’t want to touch that savings account. This time, we decided it would be best to pay everything in full so we would have less monthly expense to worry about. This proved to be a good decision leading into the holidays.

One of my employees was to have his first child with his wife and I wanted to be able to give him some time off for that. Because of savings, I was able to do that. A couple of days before Christmas, our landlord informed us of a rent rate increase followed by a notice to vacate the property (a story for another day). Our savings will once again play a role in keeping us comfortable.

I understand that was a very long prelude into a post on the importance of savings but as you can see, it is important. Most people do not think about savings and live outside of their means. They put expenses on credit cards and spend money that they should be saving. We will all encounter unexpected expenses and it is our responsibility to pay for them. Nobody owes us anything.

I could have purchased a home with cash had it not been for the cost of health insurance and what we have had to pay in premiums, deductibles, and out-of-pocket expenses but it is my responsibility to pay it. Taking a cheaper route was not an option when it came to the health of my children.

One fear most self-employed people have is disability. We do not have the same disability options as those who are w2 employees. Since I do not pay into disability, I would not have it for long if something were to happen to me. This is another important reason for savings. Making sure you have at least 3-6 months of money saved so you could afford to live should you need time to recuperate from something is extremely important. There is a much higher chance that I would get hurt and have to take time off from work than be taken out completely (life insurance).

Saving money can be hard

I began saving money by taking money from my account immediately after placing it there. Before I could even come up with a purpose for that money, I had put some in savings. For me, it had to be automatic, so I set it as an automatic transfer from my bank account. I even transferred it out of the bank account I had a debit card and checks for because I knew it needed to be a couple of days away from my main account.

Saving is a sacrifice

Saving money means not spending it on something. This can be hard because there is no shortage of things to want. As a photographer and someone who loves tech, every day is a new challenge for me. Just today, a new handheld rig for my camera came out and I just know how awesome it would be to shoot video with that rig. Do I need this new $2200 rig? No I do not. That has been my problem over the years that has kept me from saving more than I already have.

Saving means showing restraint. It means saying no sometimes. I have found that putting a few days between me and available money is enough time to keep me from spending it on something that I think I need right now. I make impulse buys quite often if the money is there, so I have to remove the money and put it somewhere else.

You have to be vigilant

Even if all you have to save each month is $20, that $20 should get put in savings and forgotten about. Having my money in a savings account at another bank made it easy for me to forget about it. When I looked at my checking balance I saw what I had to live on. If it was enough for some fun, we would have fun. We are still battling with being consistent. Some years the first half of the year has looked much better than the second half. Being self-employed, I don’t receive a paycheck every two weeks. Some weeks I get paid, others I don’t.

You have to want it bad enough

My motivation was my wife. I didn’t want her to suffer the hardships I had put myself through by spending all of my available funds with a week or two left in the month. My wife and I both were not very responsible with our money before marriage. Our rude awakening was our first encounter with medical expenses. Sometimes you need a good kick in the pants to get on track.

You have to automate it

As I mentioned before, if you are bad at saving money, you have to automate it. I think that automating the process is good for anybody, even if they are good at saving. Though I don’t have a regular paycheck, I have some recurring income that comes in each month. That is my baseline savings. Once that hits the account, a chunk of it is transferred away. Later that month, once I have enough money in the account to cover the next months expenses, the rest is put in savings.

We used to handle vacations by just paying for them out of savings, or if I had extra money in checking however, that has changed too. We now have automated savings set up for a variety of things. I started this just shy of a year ago for a few items and setup a few more late last year. We have separate savings accounts for the following items and each savings account gets something each week. You can set automatic transfers for any dollar amount, even $1.00.

  • Basic Savings Account (Our main savings account)
  • Insurance Costs (Health, car, home, business, etc.)
  • Children’s School Tuition
  • Charity (Used to help people in need)
  • Adoption (We are planning to adopt and have a savings account for adoption expenses)
  • Children’s savings accounts (Somewhere to put their birthday money and save for their future. Once for each kid.)
  • Travel Fund
  • Racing Fund (For Quarter Midget racing expenses)

My prayer is that we will be protected from having to clear out savings accounts for unplanned expenses. We don’t have a lot of money saved, but we could weather a small storm or two. Since using a bunch of our savings to pay for items in full, we have been able to save even more. Instead of paying for school tuition out of our main savings account, we set up a separate savings account for that. I took the projected amount we would need for tuition that would be due in June of 2016 and divided that by 52. That amount is taken out each week and put into savings. As of writing this, that account is already more than half way to paying tuition in full. No surprises.

We often allow things to surprise us even if we knew they were coming. Last year I knew that our kids school tuition was coming up, so it was a bit of a surprise when I realized how much it would be with two kids now in school. Our goal this year is to automate even more savings until we are to the point where even future big expenses such as cars are saved for.

In Closing

What are some of your savings goals? Have you been able to save? If so, what method worked for you? Saving money is an ongoing exercise in restraint. It’s like dieting, you have to put off what you want now for a later payoff. Our goals are to be able to pay for our next vehicles in cash, save at least 50% to put down on a house (this goal may change to save to buy a home with cash), continue to pay our children’s school tuition, and be able to take a vacation each year.

Blog

Son Buys First Apple TV Show

Teaching kids about money

A few months back, I had a heart to heart with my son about how iTunes works on the Apple TV. This came after he had purchased a couple of $2.99 shows on the Apple TV without my permission. Apple does not make it easy to set parental controls on the Apple TV. If you enable parental controls, you have to use a four digit passcode for just about everything, even launching Netflix. We often let our kids select their own shows on Netflix because we have a kid-safe profile set up for them. I would have to give them the four digit passcode so they could get into their Netflix shows, but that would be the same passcode that would allow them to purchase shows. Kind of a lost cause.

Tonight, my son came across a show he really wanted to see. It was a Paw Patrol Christmas Episode. I explained to him that the show had a cost of $2.99. I said to him, “The show you want to watch is not free. It will cost us two dollars and ninety-nine cents to watch that show.” After explaining to him what I meant by “cents” by using play money in the toy room, he expressed an interest in paying for the show himself. I took the opportunity to turn this into a teachable moment.

My kids each have a piggy bank. It’s not in the shape of a piggy, it’s in the shape of R2D2, but we still call it that. When they earn money for going over and above what they are asked to do, or a task outside of their regular responsibilities was completed, we occasionally give them some change. We don’t compensate them for everything, we actually don’t compensate them very often at all. However, my son wanted to buy this show and was prepared to pay for it with his own money.

Teaching kids about money

He brought out his piggy bank and we counted the money he had. He had enough for the $2.99 show. I took some time to discuss what spending money on a show would leave him with. I explained that if he spent $2.99 on a show, the next time he was at a store with us, he might not have enough money to get something that he really wanted. His response was, “I don’t need anything, I just got a lot of new toys for Christmas. I can wait until my Birthday.” I explained to him that his birthday was six months away and that he would need to save up again if he wanted to buy something before his birthday. He was ok with it. He really wanted to buy that show.

We counted our $2.99 and set that aside. We then counted what was left. He had $2.08 remaining. I explained to him that he was about to use more than half of what he had in his piggy bank. He was still ok with his decision. I also explained that he would only get to buy one show, because he did not have enough to buy two shows and that this show was only 24 minutes long. He said, “It’s ok, I can watch it twice.” Smart kid.

I looked over at my wife, who had been listening to our conversation and confirmed that she was ok with the transaction that was about to take place. She nodded yes. I explained to him that I was going to buy the show for him and that I would take his $2.99 to pay for it. I explained to him that when we buy shows that cost money, that money is taken from Daddy and Mommy’s bank account just like we took money from his piggy bank to pay for the show.

We purchased the show and it started to load. I asked him if he wanted to play the show now and share it with his brother and sister, or save it for later when he could watch it alone. He said that he wanted his brother and sister to be able to watch it with him. I then told his brother and sister that they were going to get to watch a show that their brother paid for. They both said, “Thank you brother,” and they watched the show together.

After the show was over I asked my son if he thought the show was worth $2.99. He said that it was and that he would like to watch it again tomorrow.

It’s hard to teach kids about money these days. We live in a world where we just swipe a card to get immediate gratification. I want my children to grow up knowing that money is real and it’s a limited resource. It takes hard work to get it and even harder work to save it.

What are some money saving teaching moments you have had with your children? If you have a moment, please share them in the comment section below.

Blog

Pay Your Bills On Time

People don’t talk candidly enough about money these days considering how much of our lives is centered around it. There are a lot of people offering their expertise on money but it seems that they want your money for that advice. There also seems to be a lot of people giving advice on what you should do with your money when they don’t seem to have their own stuff in order. I am not that old, but I have experienced enough ups and downs to have felt both ends of the spectrum when it comes to what to do with money when you have it and what to do when you owe, but don’t have any money. None of it includes avoiding financial responsibilities.

I don’t know why it’s so hard for people to pay for things on time. When I was in my early 20’s, I didn’t pay for things on time because I spent my money on other things I didn’t need so money was not there to cover my obligations and I owned up to that. Now that I am a bit older, I simply don’t spend my money (as) impulsively and do not take on financial responsibilities I am not confident I will be able to sustain over time. I also recognize that my money is also my wife’s. It’s not that hard. There are times you can not afford things and there are times you can. There is nothing wrong with that and in today’s society, it is understandable. Staying above water simply means having self control with your spending. However, less are responsible these days which means the business whom money is owed loses. Prepare for the possibility of a setback. The only insurance you can really count on is your savings account. I grew tired of “being caught off guard” by unplanned expenses so I started saving by cutting back on other things. Our savings account has floated us across many “setbacks” and once we are in the clear, we begin rebuilding the savings account. I understand that not all things are avoidable, but planning for a situation is the first step to surviving it.

I have came to realize that most people do not change. Most people get set in their ways at an early age and never change. This goes for good and bad habits. When it comes to paying your bills, some people pay them on the very last date possible and others pay them right as they come in. I have even found that some people figure out how late they can be with out penalty and will purposely wait as long as possible before paying their bills. This must be stressful to manage.

I have watched people walk away from homes that they signed the mortgage on with their own signature or let their car get repossessed because they decided they don’t want to pay for it anymore, only to turn around and buy a new home or car in the next year or two. Totally irresponsible.

Bills used to be a major stressor for me. I’m not going to lie and say that still are not a contributor to my stress but I have found a way to keep them from bringing me down each month. Though I loathe the pile of bills that seem to come through the mail each month at around the same time, they don’t bother me as much as they used to because I pay them right as they come in. I don’t let them sit on my desk staring at me. I used to have this organizer on my desk where I put the bills I had to pay. They would just sit there staring at me while I worked reminding me that I was working for them. I never had much money in my bank account so I could never pay them off. I also had a slight mentality that the companies sending me the bills were evil and did not deserve my money until the last minute possible. What a weird way to live, allowing the bills to sit there and control that much of my daily mental expenditure.

After years of impulse spending and a savings account with a zero balance, in early 2007, I cut back on everything. I moved out of the house I was renting all too myself to share a house with 4 other people. I cancelled just about every service I had except for my cell phone, car insurance, gym membership and internet. I sold off pretty much everything I owned that I did not have an immediate use for and I started tithing at church on a regular basis. I also had been dating the woman who is now my wife and knew that I did not want to bring all of these bad spending habits I had developed in my 20’s into a marriage. I had always envisioned having my stuff together before getting married and at this point, I did not.

Little did I know that before our first anniversary we would endure many financial setbacks from medical bills and other insurance related expenses. Our first large setback was a medial bill our insurance declined to be responsible for that ended up costing us $25,000 out of pocket. I had to empty my only retirement account to pay for that as well as use the remaining money left over after selling my truck and paying off the loan. My wife and I shared a car for a year.

Once we recovered from that expense I started dumping any spare money I had into savings. I wanted to have enough in savings to cover living expenses for at least 6 months if not more, so I saved. It’s easier to save these days if you think about it because you can set it to automatically transfer. It’s actually smarter to do it this way because it just happens and you don’t have to remember. If I had $250 in my checking account, $100 would automatically transfer each week. I never turned it off, even if all I had was the $100 left that week after paying bills. Eventually I was able to put more in savings and get to the point where we had enough money in savings to cover at least 6 months of living should something happen to me. Little did I know that shortly after achieving this level of savings I had never seen before my son would break his leg.

When Liam broke his leg, it was 2 weeks before Cohen was born. My wife was in no place to be lifting a 28lb toddler brandishing a 15lb bilateral long leg hip spica cast. I was a full time stay at home Dad for somewhere around 45 days while my wife and oldest child recovered. Savings came in handy. Bills still got paid on time even though their frequency shot through the roof for a couple of months. A year later, we had another hospital stay that lasted a week.

Today our savings account is not where it once was, we have had some expenses here and there that have made it harder to put money away, but still to this day, $100 automatically goes into savings each week and more if possible.

I believe that the main thing you have to get over is trying to keep up. There is no way to keep up with everybody else. We will always find something to be jealous over. Once you get that thing, whatever it is, that everybody else on your block seems to have, the next thing will come. Get over having to have those things and you will find extra money around in your checking account each month, money you can use to save and even take a vacation from time to time. If you can take a step back and watch what other people are doing with their money, you will see how ridiculous it looks for the most part. We are on Earth for a lot of years, even though it doesn’t seem like it at times. We make crazy spending decisions in a day that can effect the next 30 years of our life. It’s time to change that. I have wanted to buy a house for 13 years now and haven’t because I am not ready to commit to that just yet.

You can’t avoid everything. At the time of writing this, I could not handle another $25,000 expense all due at once but I have the right kind of insurance not only for medical but for everything else as well. Should situations arise, I know that I am covered to a reasonable extent. Though I get frustrated at just how much insurance I pay for each month, it is pocket change compared to how much the last several years since starting a family would have cost me out of pocket. I am not advocating the idea of storing up as much as you can in savings. I want you to live life and enjoy your time here as I am. I take my family places and vacation as often as possible. I want to live life and enjoy it while I can. I am not promised tomorrow, I just want to live responsibly enough so that should tomorrow come, I could afford it.

If I could leave you with one thing it would be to show some restraint. Don’t keep your credit cards near your computer where you could be tempted to spend money online and don’t take them with you when you are going out shopping. Get a savings account with a different bank so you can put your savings there. Doing this makes it harder to transfer money to an account it could be spent from. The savings account I use, came with an ATM card, but I cut it up. The only way to get money in or out is to transfer it to my checking account at another bank, which takes 2-3 days. 2-3 days is enough time for the “need” to have something to go away. It sounds silly, but all you need to do is put up a few obstacles between your ability to spend the money you have. Stop caring about what your friends have. They will be more jealous of the vacations you can afford to take then you could ever be of their shiny new toy that spends 99% of it’s time in the garage (not that jealousy should ever be a motivator to do or have anything).

I hope that this post helps someone save a bit more. I can’t recall even 50% of the bad spending mistakes I made in my 20’s. All I know is that I spent a lot of money on stuff I don’t have today and that if I had prevented all of that with the maturity I have now, I would most likely have at least $500,000 in savings.