Growing up, we didn’t have much. One of my biggest desires was to one day be financially free.
I read books as a teenager that mentioned how to become a millionaire and live the life of your dreams.
I believed if I became financially free that all of my problems would go away. My relationships would be great and I would never have to be broke again.
The problem was I wasn’t rich. No matter how hard I work I felt like I had nothing to show for it.
I struggled with feelings of incompetence and self-doubt because financial freedom seemed like some big hairy audacious goal that I was never going to reach.
What Does Financial Freedom Even Mean?
Financial freedom didn’t mean anything to me. It was some arbitrary made-up idea that one day I could buy a yacht and cruise the world. I would have fancy cars and a jet and never have to work another day. I wanted to be filthy rich so everyone would know I made it.
But deep down, I was worried if I would ever be able to make it.
I eventually hit a wall and I didn’t believe it was possible to become financially free. It seemed too hard and I didn’t even know what it was that I was working towards.
Yes, I wanted to be free and never have to be worried about money again. But what does that even mean?
To me, it was like having a goal of being the fittest person in the world. If I want to obtain that status, will I get there without knowing exactly what that means?
No, that is the worst goal that anyone could ever set and they will never achieve it. Imagining up some idea without clear milestones is almost worse than not having a goal.
My goal was to be rich, but in all reality, I had no idea what I was working towards. I also wanted to help other people become financially free, but how could I if I didn’t know what that meant?
What I Learned About Financial Independence
But then one day I had an epiphany. I was detailing a car because that’s what I did as an undergrad. And while I was cleaning this car, I was listening to a podcast. It was a fairly new podcast and they were talking about this idea that was foreign to me.
I thought, I’ve been interested in personal finance for years. Why have I never learned this concept before? And that aha moment for me was when I learned what financial independence was.
Financial independence didn’t seem arbitrary to me. It seemed very attainable and actionable. Something that anyone could achieve if they worked at it for a set amount of time.
Financial independence wasn’t fluffy because it was by definition when you have 25x your living expenses. This concept had never been introduced to me. And if this is the first time you’re learning about this let me give you a quick overview.
I Finally Had Clarity
When your assets are 25 times what you spend in a year you have reached financial independence. By definition, you will never have to work again.
Why is that? Because you could withdraw around 4% each year to live on without ever depleting the principal balance. When I heard this, the light switch turned on. I thought, now I know what I’m working towards.
The other great thing about financial independence is the more simple you live and the less you spend, the easier it is to attain. All of the sudden, I wasn’t just focused on becoming rich and making a bunch of money, I also started to adopt minimalism, becoming more frugal than I already was, and learning to be grateful for the things that I already have.
But there was still one problem. After learning about financial independence, I realized it wasn’t easy. Hearing stories of extreme people doing some incredible things always made me feel like I wasn’t good enough and I needed to be more and do more.
It Can Be Hard But It’s Worth It
So I found myself also getting pretty extreme. It started to place some stress on our marriage. Before that, we never argued about money. We stuck with our money management system and it has always seemed to work great. But I started to feel I will never be able to get there, I will never be good enough.
And what I’ve realized again, is it’s not about hitting some number and then I will be happy. It’s about working towards a worthy goal and learning to enjoy the journey. So I went through a major transformation and mindset shift. I learned that if your goal is to be rich, you’ll probably never get there. But if your goal is to be financially independent, that’s attainable. But not only that it’s about what type of person you become along the way.
For me, the difference between financial freedom and financial independence is having clear actionable steps to how you are going to reach your goal. Financial freedom is no longer a goal of mine because it doesn’t mean anything. Financial independence makes sense in my mind that if I continue to do what I’m doing, over a 10 to 20 year period, I will get there.
Based on my experience, financial freedom is harder to define because it can mean so many different things to different people. Financial independence is more concrete and universal and is something that anyone can achieve with the proper discipline and the right plan.
In last weeks post, I mentioned that we bought a house. So today, I want to focus on first-time homebuyers programs.
Buying a house comes with an overwhelming amount of decisions that need to be made.
Things like, “is now a good time to buy,?”
“Which lender should we use?”
“Should we look for a for-sale-by-owner house?”
“Do we have money for closing costs?”
“Should we have the seller fix certain things in our offer letter?”
“What are the houses in the area going for?”
“How can we get the best interest rate?”
On and on it goes.
When we first started looking at purchasing a home, I was told, “make sure you take advantage of any first-time homebuyers programs.”
I thought, “that’s great that they offer incentives to become a homeowner.”
My plan was to find the best first-time homebuyers program. After shopping around at three different lenders we had six pre-approval letters each with different terms.
What is a first-time homebuyers program?
When you hear “first-time homebuyers program,” what do you typically think of? Down payment assistance programs, closing costs coverage program, etc.
These programs allow prospective first-time homeowners to purchase a house with little to no money down and/or little to no money in closing costs. Such loans like the USDA loan require no money out of pocket but this was not available to us in our area.
On a typical conventional real estate investment transaction you’re required to put down 20%. For a $200,000 house that’s $40,000. Most people starting out don’t have that kind of cash sitting around so it’s not uncommon to have loans that only require 3% — 5% down for a primary residence.
Even at 3% down, we’re talking $6,000 and with closing costs, we’re easily talking about a minimum of 10K being due at the closing.
What about those people with good jobs and good credit they just don’t have $10,000+ laying around? With a first-time homebuyers program, this person could own the house with zero money out of pocket.
Now that sounds like an awesome plan!
Are they the best option?
Some of the pros of using a first-time homebuyers program:
You want to become a homeowner but don’t have the money for a down payment or closing costs. This works for many first-time homebuyers.
You have the money but don’t want to dump it into your house. You’d rather use it for something like pursuing a higher rate of return in the stock market or starting a business, etc.
Lastly, you don’t qualify based on the normal terms and a first-time homebuyers program could get you into a house.
These are all perfectly good reasons to use such programs.
But is it the most optimal thing to do?
I compared the prequalification letters trying to decide which one was going to be the best. The biggest thing I focused on was the interest rate.
These were our three options:
3% down with up to 6% in closing cost assistance
3.5% down FHA loan
5% down conventional loan
With 2 & 3 we didn’t have help with closing costs and were required to put down more.
It would have made sense to go with the first option of only putting 3% down and paying no closing costs!
The second loan is an FHA loan with 3.5% down that was touting no PMI. Most lenders require Private Mortgage Insurance if you have less than 20% equity in the house. With this loan we would have to put $5,320 down and pay all of the closing costs (make sure you negotiate closing costs with the seller. It was a mistake we made).
The third option was a conventional loan with 5% which required us to pay PMI and pay for the closing costs. This is the one we decided to go with.
These might not seem like big differences but here’s how much in interest we would have paid over the life of the loan for each loan.
The difference between #1 and #3 is $65,912!
The question I have to ask myself is would I rather work an entire year or put down an extra $3,040 now in order to save myself $66,000 in interest? I think yes.
When you stack this on top of all of the other things I’ve mentioned on my blog, like cutting expenses and decreasing fees, you’re cutting years off your working career and you’ll be able to reach financial independence much faster.
I get that not everyone could put 5% down or more (especially in really expensive cities). And in no way am I shaming you if you did use a first-time homebuyers program.
My purpose in writing this is to point out the pros and cons of first-time homebuyers programs so you can make the most informed decision possible on your home purchase.
In our case, we decided the most optimal choice was not to use one.
My son will be 15 months old in four days and he’s becoming a handful. Getting into things, climbing onto things, eating dirt, throwing food, throwing fits, and deciding randomly when he would prefer to be awake than asleep.
It’s a lot of work.
I don’t know how my wife is able to take care of him, me, and the house, while still running a business. She deserves an applause. 👏🏼
We by no means have it all together but she does a great job! I can be a father, provide for my family, and still pursue my passion because of the workload she covers.
Saves us a lot of money as well! Cooking meals, being the daycare, doing the laundry, taking our son to the doctor, grocery shopping, the list goes on and on. She should easily be making 60k per year if not more because that’s how much she saves us each year.
So, how impactful are mothers? I’m sharing a video with you that will explain exactly what I’m talking about.
To all the mothers out there, thank you for all that you do! You are appreciated.
Be sure to watch the video below. It’s a good one!
Moms throughout the world give up their lives to raise their children.
My plan was to share a different blog post but switched it up in light of mothers day yesterday.
I’m also grateful for all that my mother did to raise me. I believe I was perfectly parented by her. She instilled in me the desire to work hard. She helped me discover my passion and gave me a lot of self-awareness. She helped me learn to respect others and to give rather than take. She has been an example to me of love and perseverance.
Yesterday, our little man turned one. It’s hard to believe he’s already a one-year-old!
As you can see he didn’t enjoy his cake.
I’ve been wanting to write about the cost of having a baby but didn’t want to publish anything until a full year had passed. I’ve also had a lot of people ask me to do a cost analysis of having a baby.
We’re at the age now that friends and family are popping out babies left and right and we can’t keep track of them anymore.
New parents always want to know how much it costs to have a baby in the first year. Obviously, it depends on each family circumstances but it can be frightening having no idea how much a little one is going to cost that could potentially flip your finances upside down.
Today, I’m sharing what it cost for us to raise a child in the first year of introducing him into this world.
According to a2010 USDA report, the average middle-income family will spend roughly $12,000 on child-related expenses in their baby’s first year of life.
We kept track of our expenses in the past year and categorized those that were related to our son, Everett.
We don’t have a problem sharing with you what we spent on a child. Honestly, we thought that we had spent way more but were surprised to find out that it didn’t cost as much as we thought.
In fact, the total net out of pocket cost may surprise you as it did us!
We didn’t just buy everything
It’s easy to think as a new parent that you have to buy everything for your new baby. But, many things are honestly a waste of money.
We’re generally pretty frugal and try not to buy things we don’t need. Our son has everything he needed to live a healthy and happy life in his first year. We didn’t just buy things because other people told us we “needed” them.
Some purchases we thought were a must have, but some of those “must haves” we didn’t use or only used for a little bit and then forgot about them. So we could have saved even more money when it comes down to it.
We’ve been told each year gets more expensive
Most of the food costs have been in the past few months. My wife nearly made it a year nursing and we didn’t start buying formula until about 9 months.
But now my son is eating real people food and he eats like a tank. There are some days that he eats more than I do and he’s one. That’s no joke.
Our total costs including Amazon, supplies, clothing, formula, medicine, food, doctors, health insurance, and more.
Here’s what we spent in the first year of having a baby:
Amazon – $112.46
Baby Food – $225
Baby Supplies – $172
Bedding – $200
Car seat and stroller – $324.81
Clothing – $129.02
Diapers – $960
Formula – $213.22
Medicine – $160
Pharmacy – $80.54
Discretionary – $200
Liberty Healthshare monthly premiums – $1,320
Doctors Visits – $1,700
Co-insurance for baby delivery – $2,107
Co-insurance for Kenzie’s doctor appointments – $700
Liberty Healthshare Reimbursement – ($3,215)
Total paid – $8,504.05
Total reimbursed – ($3,215)
Out-of-pocket – $5,289.05
Child Tax Credit – ($2,000)
Total cost to have a baby in the first year – $3,289.05
Looking at our expenses we were under what we thought a baby was going to cost.
Factoring in the child tax credit which doubled in 2018 from $1,000 per child to $2,000, making it easier to afford a baby.
We spent more money than we would have if we didn’t have a child, no doubt, but it felt doable for us and it was worth every penny.
We were blessed to have a healthy kid who has had no health problems. My heart goes out to all parents that weren’t expecting their newborn baby to have health complications because this can really be hard on a family.
We also saved money because we have great friends and family who helped us out with most of the upfront costs with a baby shower. We really didn’t need to buy clothes or toys in the first year.
We’re blessed to have amazing grandparents that helped cover the cost of certain items. If it wasn’t for the grandparents, friends, and family we could’ve easily spent thousands more.
How to save money in your first year
Don’t let people convince you cannot afford to ever have kids.
If you are frugal and are willing to do what it takes to make things work, then you can easily come in under $5000 for the first year, even without nursing.
Having a newborn doesn’t have to become a financial crisis. If you get a realistic grip on the expenses you’re likely to face, do some advance planning, and learn the art of the baby deal, you should be able to save a bunch.
I was tired of how expensive health insurance was getting so we looked into other alternatives. So we signed up for a healthshare ministry in January 2018 to lower the costs.
A healthshare ministry is different than health insurance. A group of people pay a monthly premium, pool their money and pay each others health bills. Everyone covers the costs of healthcare of each member.
When we have to pay for a doctor’s visit or a hospital stay we pay out-of-pocket (at a discounted rate) and then submit our receipt to Liberty Healthshare and they will reimburse us for the cost.
It saved us a lot of money paying $119 per month for my son. The only problem is at times it can take months to get reimbursed and there are some other drawbacks. I’m not saying you have to switch, especially if you’re employer helps you out, but it’s made sense for my family.
Get your finances in order
We started preparing way in advance. Before we knew we were going to have a kid, my wife knew she wanted to work from home. So she decided to start her own business a year before she got pregnant.
Because she works from home we don’t have transportation costs or daycare costs.
A few other things you may consider before you have a baby is paying down credit card debt, refinance your home if mortgage rates are low, save extra cash by working a part-time job and saving for expenses or your child’s education.
Look at your benefits
Before you have a baby look at your options your employer has to offer you. Sometimes your employer may offer maternity leave, discount daycare costs, healthcare coverage, etc.
Don’t just buy everything
Like I mentioned at the beginning of this article, you don’t have to buy everything to feel like you’re a good parent. Distinguish between needs and wants and consider getting used items and also selling those items that you don’t need.
There’s no doubt that when a baby is born, your life will change forever, and that includes your finances. But with a little planning and a couple of strategic decisions, you can make it work — and it will all be worth it!
Tom Brady does deserve some respect though. No one has done what he has done and I love watching professional athletes perform at a high level and what he’s been able to do is incredible.
With a viewership of the Super Bowl at a 10-year low, the game and the commercials weren’t too exciting.
The population in America is 320 million and viewership was just over 100 million people this year (31%). Which means nearly 70% of Americans didn’t watch the game.
Since its inception in 1967, between 30% to 50% of all Americans have watched the big game each year.
Nevertheless, the Super Bowl is still a great day for businesses and the amount of consumption has continued to increase year-over-year.
So how much was consumed on Super Bowl Sunday and what are the prices people are paying to enjoy the game?
American adults said they spent an average $81.30 for a total of $14.8 billion for the Super Bowl.
The biggest spenders are those ages 35-44 at an average $123.26 while the lowest are those 65 and older at $40.97.
According to the National Chicken Council, approximately 1.3 billion chicken wings were devoured as well as 10 million pounds of ribs.
The largest pizza business in the world, Domino’s, reports that it sold nearly 2 million pizzas from their company alone.
Men’s Journal reports that 325.5 million gallons of beer were guzzled down on Sunday.
According to The Packer, American’s spent an estimated $58.4 million on avocados and $227 million on chips.
Those are some pretty crazy numbers if you think about it. I mean, 1.3 billion chicken wings! I can’t even imagine what it would look like to see 650 million chickens walking around in one place.
By the way, I find these numbers interesting and don’t care if you consumed a bunch of chicken wings and ribs. I had my fair share of delicious brisket along with many other great tasting dinner items at the Super Bowl party we went to!
Tickets for the Super Bowl started around $2,900. Ticket prices this year dropped after the announcement that the Patriots would be returning to the Super Bowl.
The price tag for a 30 second commercial in the year that I was born was $800,000 (1.429 million adjusted for inflation).
Business Insider said CBS is charging over $5 million for a 30-second advertisement slot in this year’s Super Bowl, which is on par with NBC’s pricing from last year.
As you can see, the Super Bowl is a huge revenue generator and another day when Americans consume an absurd amount.
There tends to be a spike in the birth rates in the city whose team won the Super Bowl. You should see more babies born in the end of October beginning of November in Boston. However, I’m sure the excitement of winning the Super Bowl for New England fans has dwindled.
It’s safe to say we live in a consumer society. I have nothing against the Super Bowl, I love football. And getting together with friends and family is never a bad idea. What bothers me is how the entire thing is set up to entertain and market to us so we will continue to consume. Not because we need to but because the advertisements tell us we should.
This constant consumption leaves Americans still unsatisfied and it almost becomes an addiction. A car company comes out with a new vehicle and we feel we’ve got to have it. The same goes for everything else we consume.
It seems as if it’s set up to make us want more and more and that we should never be content with what we already have.
Ever since my wife and I got married, instead of partying on new years eve, we make an effort to get away for a few days and reflect on the past year. This year we got to do that early by visiting Park City, Utah to spend some alone time and set goals for the new year.
Each day during the year, I write in my phone 3 magic moments from the previous day. It doesn’t happen every day but at the end of the year, I have hundreds of magic moments. We take the time to read through these and by the end we can’t help but think of all of the incredible things that happened.
Things like, “my son fell asleep with his feet by his head because he was sitting up in his crib and just fell forward and I helped him lay down.” or ” I spent all day with my wife and son because I had no classes.”
When you take time to reflect, it’s hard not to feel grateful for everything that happened and it gets me excited for the new year!
In our annual state of the union, we do what we like to call a “budget party.” We take some time to go over our annual spending and compare it to last years spending. We track our spending using Mint.com which makes it really easy.
2018 was an incredible year for my business, personal growth, family and so much more. The new year is one of my favorite times of the year because it’s a great way to look at things with a fresh view.
Instead of having vague goals like spend less or eat healthier, we try to have clear numbers to base our goals off of.
No screens after 10:00 pm
Create an above average, outstanding relationship by focusing on Kenzie’s needs, loving her the way she needs to be loved and communicating effectively
Spend quality time with my son
Take Fish oil, Multi-Vitamins, Vitamin D and a Protein Drink every morning
I will drink one gallon of water a day for 365 days
I will eat 3500 calories a day of leaner food. Not just eating everything in sight but to eat more intentionally
I will lift heavier weight focusing on Bench, Military Press, Squats and Deadlift
Max out my Roth IRA
Eat out only 4 times a month
Launch my blog/business
Become a creator instead of a consumer
Move to Texas
There were more goals but I obviously can’t share everything with you!
I have my goals set in place for 2019 and I’ve done the same thing every year for the past 10 years. Maybe this will help you set goals if you haven’t taken the time to do it yet and would like to.
I focus on eight areas of my life and break them into sections. These eight areas are:
Once I have each area defined, I try and set at least three specific goals in each section. I may be guilty of setting too many goals but I did try to simplify it this year. Personal development is something I’m crazy about!
Hi, I’m Scott. Welcome to my website! I’m an Accredited Financial Counselor, husband, and father. I hope you’ll join me on the journey of reaching financial independence through simplifying how you manage your money.