Net Worth December 2015

Ice PondsPhoto: Salt Sand and Smoothies

This month was a little rough. I ended up spending a little bit more than I expected. There were a few expenses that came up that I didn’t plan for, but it seemed to work out alright.

Total Cash and Bank Accounts (+$1,900.88): I get a small amount added to my life insurance policy every month. This month it was $59.08. I also was able to get paid on a few days of vacation time and sick leave that I didn’t use this year. This was added to my monthly balance.

The extra added will be used to pay down some of the expenses that happened this month.

IRA (+$18.73): My investments did alright. I ended up getting a dividend payment from Vanguard for both my bond index and total stock market index. I look forward to seeing how the stock market will pan out now that the Federal Reserve has raised interest rates. I plan to re-balance my portfolio at the end October 2016.

Credit Cards (+$1,629.61): I had to get my car sensors repaired, and my wife needed a laptop for her business. These two expenses added up to over $1,500. I also invested in purchasing Shun Knives that I got at 65% discount of the MSRP. These knives I plan to hold on for the rest of my life.

I plan on sticking to my plan of paying down my accounts in order from highest interest to the lowest.

Tax Loan: (-$270.71): I should be done paying off this debt by the end of February at the rate I am going. I’m excited to check this debt off this list.

Car (-$235.53): Slow and steady will pay this one off in time.

Student Loan (-$129.53): This is by far the hardest thing for me to get rid of. It’s also going to be the last thing I’ll end up paying off. The interest rate on this isn’t too bad at 4.47%.

Misc Loan (-$3.27): This account isn’t a big deal for me to have sitting around. It is a loan from one of my life insurance policies, and I don’t pay any interest until my premium payment is due.

I will reveal my plan paying minimal interest on my life insurance policy in a later post.

Overall Net Worth (-11,631.57) Increase (+929.04 or 7.4%) So far so good growing my net worth with only cash. I don’t expect January to do very well with my IRA at the rate the stock market is going.

Personal Finance in Paradise – 3 Steps to Achieve Your Goals (which helped me pay off $35,000 in debt)

Stairway to Heaven  pc: @ricahyokoi

The New Year is coming around and about time when I personally start thinking about my goals for the the next year. I feel it’s always good to update yourself on how you are doing on your goals. Another good habit is to continually make new goals as you complete others that you have finished.

One of my goals is to go to the CrossFit box here in Honolulu at least 2 to 4 times a week. Sometimes I don’t go because I’m not motivated. It’s good for me, but at the same time we all go through the love-hate relationship at the gym.

My current financial goals are to payoff at least $10,000 of debt, which will also increase my net worth by $10,000.

In my studies and my own personal practice, there are practical ways to reach your goals, which are easy to do and also easy not to do. when I was able to pay off $35,000 of my debt, before I was married, I followed the following steps:

1. Define Your Goal

This is where you decide what you really want. My goal was to get rid of debt, and I had choices to make. Like I said above, my goal is to pay off $10,000 of debt. This is attainable and specific.

A good outline is using the SMART criteria for goal setting. It’s a good way for you to gather your thoughts, and to know the general idea of where you are going.

Specific – target a specific area for improvement.
Measurable – quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
Assignable – specify who will do it.
Realistic – state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
Time-related – specify when the result(s) can be achieved.

2. Plan what what small steps you’re going to take

Define the most important tasks that you can make so that you can get to your goal.

Be specific  with what actions you are going to take. Some people call this having a black-and-white goals, meaning that there will not be any gray area of what you can and cannot do.

For instance if you’re going to pay off a specific amount say $650 a month to your credit card bills. there is no gray area, it is a specific number and you know what you’re going to have to do.

3. Define your “Why”

Getting to your goal is easier when you know what you’re trying to achieve and why it is good for you. My why was getting to travel to Taiwan, and be able to fly around the country with friends.

This is the motivator for you and only you. There will be trials that you will go through reaching toward your goal. Getting on to the road of wealth creation is a marathon. Sometimes you just want to quit.

4. Take Action and Celebrate the Small Wins.

People find it more motivating to be partly finished with a longer journey than to be at the gate of a shorter one.

Once you start, you’re already that much closer to the finish line than you might have thought.

For your money this is where you track your expenses when you make them, and to enter it into a program like Quicken where you can see what you have done with your money. This allows you to have a history of what you’ve done, and it lets you know where you have spent your time.

It’s also writing down your expenses at the end of the day. It’s a transitional habit because you become more aware of what you are spending your money on, and you know you have to be accountable for tracking where every cent and dolalr goes.

While I’m Crossfit, and I’m looking at the countdown timer to see how much longer I have until the clock with hit 00:00 or counting the reps until I’m done with the workout, I celebrate the time passing by  doing another rep or seeing the clock tick away. I know that I’m almost done with the workout no matter how grueling it can be.

The steps are easy to do and also easy not to do. at least, for me, it gives you a framework of setting goals and achieving success.

Personal Finance in Paradise – Let Me Introduce Myself

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My name is Mike

I’m the creator of Personal Finance in Paradise. The reason behind why I started this blog is because I hate debt.

Prior to getting into debt i had quite a bit of savings, and I used it all on trips and training in other parts of the country.

I’ve been in debt as far as $66,500 and having not much to show for it, and I felt that I needed to do something different with my life.

I looked and searched for all of the ways possible to get out of debt. I read online for specific tips and tricks, even paid for a program that said it would pay off $25,000 in debt be 24 months with an annual net income of $40,000. (Come to find out that program lied, and I believed the impossible). I continue to read both secular and non-secular ways of how people do with money.

I’ve been around the block. Making bad mistakes along the way, and trying to find out the best way possible to get out of debt.

A Few Examples of Bad Decisions

I cosigned two loans that the original payers defaulted on, and creditors came after me for that as well. I was able to fend off those creditors and point them into the right direction.

Creditors called me, and I was able to fend them off. They tried to subpoena me, and force me to tell them that I owed a debt that I didn’t own personally.

I’ve had an “a wide” set of experiences in my life. At the top that all off I do live in Hawaii. That’s one of the most expensive places in the world to live.

Sometimes you you may have seen that you get a two bedroom home here in Hawaii for the price that you would get a mansion out in Texas. The goal of this site is to keep not only myself accountable, but to also teach my experiences to help you get out of debt as well. My goal is to reach out to you who have been in my situation.

Some of this may sound not so “grammatically correct”, because I’m not a grammarian nor am I a grammar Nazi. I’m using a program called “Dragon Dictate” to record my voice  and put it down here on the website. So going to apologize ahead of time that this may not be completely grammatically correct.

I’ve heard it said that “smart people learn from their own experiences, and wise people learn from the experiences of others.” My goal is to help you to be wise.

I’m excited to hear from you, and I’m glad that were going on this journey together.

Personal Finance in Paradise – Veteran’s Day – How You Handle Your Money: Mindset

How mental accounting affects your spending

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It’s Veteran’s day!

I want to thank all the veterans who have served our country. Thank you for being able to protect the freedom we take for granted and are able to take part of today.

Let’s talk about how we label money affects our buying decisions as some of us shop online and at the stores.

The Scenario

Let’s say this morning you wake up and start the day off great with a good breakfast, and you even got to sleep in. Then you go online and start shopping at your favorite clothing store site. You see a great looking shirt that you think you would look great in, and you buy the shirt on credit. For the moment, it makes you happy, and you don’t give it a second thought because you can just pay it off later.

Later in the day, you go on a hike with a few friends and you have a blast being in the sun. On the way home, you see your favorite coffee shop, and you haven’t had anything to eat since breakfast. You remember that they the best coffee cake. You and your friends decide to go take a peak. Once inside, you find that your favorite barista is working. You ask him to make a large iced caramel macchiato. You have a few laughs with the barista, and he gets your name wrong again on your cup. You pull out your credit card again, and you notice you have a dollar and some change in your wallet. Feeling generous, you place the money in the tip container as you leave.

Then in the evening, you take it easy and you go to a movie with your friends. You have a great day celebrating veterans, sharing some laughs, and enjoying life. Then later in the month you get your credit card statement, and you are confused on why you spent so much. What happened?

Mental Accounting

Why did we decide to go out and spend more money than we wanted? We’ve fallen victim to mental accounting. It is a concept where we treat dollars differently depending on where it comes from and how we have labeled the use of that money. The difference is that when we pay for merchandise with cash or with checks we see immediate consequences. The obvious answer is that that we have less money to spend.

We place less value on money we put on credit cards because we do not see the immediate consequences. At the same time, we don’t see that buying merchandise on credit is more expensive because of the interest that gets charged when we use the card.

Small Amounts of Money

People who have harder time holding onto small amounts of money, like putting small amounts into tip jars, have a harder time saving money. It’s because that the money we have wasn’t labeled for anything important. I”m not saying that you shouldn’t be grateful and tip your barista, it’s that if money isn’t labeled for a specific use, we will find a way to spend it.

Takeaway

To get around mental accounting, place money in accounts that are labeled for a specific purpose. For instance, a savings account, which was marked for the down payment of a house. We would be placing a higher value on the account because it limits what we are willing to do with the money.

Pre-spend money before you have the chance to spend it yourself. Let me say it this way, have your money sent over to a savings account, or investment account before you have a chance to see it in your account. Psychologically it’s much easier to set your money aside this way than by writing a check to your savings or investment account.

Track your spending at the end of the day, and keep a list of your expenses.

Have a great veteran’s day. Please feel free to comment, and let me know if there’s anything you want me to talk about.

10 Things Americans Waste Their Money On

Dave Ramsey posted a while ago 10 Things Americans Waste Their Money On, and they are:

  1. Credit Card Interest
  2. Deal Websites
  3. Appetizers
  4. ATM fees
  5. Overdraft Fees
  6. Speedy Shipping
  7. Designer Baby clothes
  8. Unused gym memberships
  9. Premium cable packages
  10. Daily coffee trips

I agree that some of these are wasteful, for instance #1 and #4.  There shouldn’t be any reason why you should be paying fees on things you could get for free.

My personal experience with the top ten are

  • Credit Card interest – Since I have a balance transfer on my credit card, the company is trying to have me pay interest. I will be paying the remaining balance this month so that I won’t have to deal with that anymore.
  • Deal websites – I don’t shop on deal websites, but I do occasionally take part on deals when it comes to getting cheaper quality clothing. I like to shop at H&M or take advantage of workout clothes from Hylete.
  • Appetizers – If and when I go out with my wife or friends, sometimes I’ll order an appetizer as my main dish. It comes out faster and it’s generally cheaper than a whole meal.
  • ATM fees – I don’t pay these ever.
  • Overdraft fees – I have an overdraft account that helps me speed up the process of paying down my debt.
  • Speedy Shipping – normal shipping is fine for me. I’m not in a rush for immediate gratification.
  • Designer baby clothes – I don’t buy these
  • Unused gym memberships – I go to Crossfit a 3-5 times a week. So my membership is fully used.
  • Premium cable packages – My wife pays for Netflix, and I tend not to spend too much time watching TV.
  • Daily coffee trips – I don’t drink coffee

What do you think of the list above? How do you compare to what Dave Ramsey thinks people waste their money on.

Money Moves October 2015

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Welcome to Money Moves for October. This is the section for review and to reflect on the things I have done and what could have been done better for the month. I hope you find it interesting. Hopefully it will help you make better decisions for yourself.

Let’s begin with what the end of the month with my my financial report card. It looks something like this:

Net Income from Work  $2652.99
Expenses $2652.99

Reoccurring Monthly Expenses:
Rent: $1045 1 bedroom 1 bath. It’s Hawaii, rent is expensive
Car Payment: $316.97
Student Loan $202.05
Life Insurance $187.51
Extra to debt 130.98

Assets:

Cash value in 2 life insurance policies $16,276.48
SEP IRA $11,630.85
Total: $27,907.33

Liabilities

student loan $20,023.06
Car loan $10,015.61
Chase credit card $3448.54
miscellaneous loan $6312.88
Total: ($39,800.09)

Current Net Worth: (11,892.76)

A few things to note, I had my credit card paid off, but  I had an idea a few months ago that  I could do a balance transfer and continue to use my credit card without paying interest due to the CARD Act. I wanted to continue using my credit card to take advantage of the 1% cash back, and it would benefit me as long as I continued to pay my balance off in full. I confirmed it with a representative, and he confirmed that I could use my credit card and not be charged interest.

When I got the statement the next month, I found saw that I was charged interest. I had to talk to two different managers to find out that the initial guy was wrong. I have nothing against with balance transfers, if you have a plan to pay it off and get the right information. To say the least, the idea bombed, and I get to have a nice conversation with my credit card company to reverse the interest charge.

 Another thing you might notice is that my expenses are exactly what I make in a month. I pay for all of my purchases in the same month that I charge them, and I am paying more toward the principal balance of the loan. Essentially, I am using the debt snowball method of paying down my debts.

My checking account is attached to a personal loan account where an overdraft amount is taken out to cover any charges that I make beyond what is in the account. There is no fee charged if I use the overdraft amount, which is really nice, and I am able to pay down my balances on my debts a little bit faster.

Using the debt snowball method and using all of the money in my checking account; I save a little bit on interest charged daily.

I have cash value in my whole life insurance policy (actually it’s 2 policies) that I use as a bank. Cash value life insurance has many living benefits, and being able to use the money in your policy as a “banking system” gives a person a lot of flexibility when purchasing something and being able to grow and get dividends on the amount in the policy as well.

The last thing to note is that I received income from my employelr in a retirement fund. As you can see above income, from the SEP IRA, has been into the 70% stocks and 30% into bonds. Using Fidelity as the brokerage firm, the money is invested into a few stocks of Netflix, a total stock index fund from Vanguard, and a total bond index from Vanguard. I did that so that I would have the ability to have growth in the stock market and pay the least amount of fees possible. I’ll talk about fees and how it hurts the growth of your investment in the future.

Plans for the Next Month

I’ve finalized how I am going to pay off the debt in the most efficient way. I’m going to pay off the remainder of my credit card balance with cash that is in my whole life policy. That way I won’t have to pay any interest on my credit card, and I no longer have to call my credit card company to reverse the interest charges.

Paying myself back for the loan balance I have taken out at my insurance company. The policies do not accrue interest on a daily rate like credit cards, and interest is only charged to me when my premium is due. That means that I pay my premiums in in July and October, and if there is an outstanding balance, I pay interest then. Also, I’ve got it set up where I don’t have to pay interest at all on the loan by filling up my policies before the billing statements come out.

Setting up this website and making it look presentable. I’m doing my best at getting this website started with a little mishap of setting up the domain and host of the site. As this site begins to grow, I hope that I can add more to it in the future.

Welcome to Personal Finance in Paradise – What This Site is About

Welcome to part two of my financial adventure. I’ve been wanting to heart a blog and put my thoughts out into the world so that people can learn from what I have been learning. I feel that people can learn from my mistakes and also from my victories along the journey.

I hope you get to share some thoughts with me along the way, and that we are able to learn from each other.

I’m excited to be able to go on this journey with you, and that we are able to be driven to grow your net worth, destroyed debt, be able to construct good habits around money, and change your mindset along the way to become prosperous during the journey.

I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks for joining me