Posts Tagged ‘debt’

The Deadliest Catch: Should You Mortgage Your Health For Wealth?

February 10th, 2010

A Fisherman Has Passed, A Legend Is Born

Last week, confirmed reports began to surface that Phil Harris, Captain of the boat Cornelia Marie on the Discovery Channel’s reality show “The Deadliest Catch”, had passed away as a result of complications resulting from a stroke he suffered while crab fishing in the Bering Sea. Here’s a quick video on Capt. Phil and his love of fishing:

Health vs. Wealth

If you’ve seen The Deadliest Catch, you know the captains and their crews not only have a crazy-dangerous job, but also live a hard life. Capt. Phil was a notorious smoker. The only time he appeared to take his cigarette out of his mouth was to either light up another one, or down a Red Bull energy drink, which he purportedly consumed several cases each week!

Capt. Phil obviously loved fishing, and would probably have done it for free. But there’s no doubt that fishing earned him a decent living. Unfortunately, to earn that living required that he be gone from his family for months at a time, chain smoke, eat unhealthy, drink Red Bulls incessantly, be sedentary, and have horrible sleeping patterns.

Living, or Making a Living?

As a lawyer, I’ve seen countless times where work has come at great cost to a person’s health, both physically and mentally. The same, however, can be said for nearly every profession. Special care needs to be taken to ensure a proper balance is cast between work and health. But understandably, we will often mortgage short-term health for monetary gain. Maybe you take a second job to earn extra money to pay off some debt, like Jeff Kosola, who blogs at Deliver Away Debt.

4 Tips on Mortgaging Health for Wealth

  1. Set A Goal — If you must sacrifice your physical or mental health for career or money reasons, make sure you have specific, defined reasons for doing so. You want a second job to pay off debt. You will work an extra shift because you’re saving for a car. You’re putting in extra hours now so you will be in a better career position once your children are born (a little more general, and perhaps not a great reason unless a definite career plan is defined).
  2. Spouse Must Be On Board! — It’s hard enough as it is to get on the same page with your spouse financially. Don’t mess that up by making unilateral decisions that deprive you of family time. Both should be in agreement of the specific plan to sacrifice short-term health.
  3. Be Reasonable; Reassess — Be reasonable with your lofty plans. You want to work 100 hrs/week and working 3 extra jobs? Great! Just don’t realistically expect to keep that up for 5 years. The more hours you plan on being away from quality time with your family each week, the shorter your “Health Mortgage Term” should be. You should also reassess every so often to make sure the plan is still on-track, and if you still have one (LOL) that your spouse is still in agreement with the “Health Mortgage Term”.
  4. Refinance — If for any reason the above 3 reasons begin to crumble, it may be time to refinance that “Health Mortgage”. Perhaps shorten the term, or reduce the number of extra hours worked each week. Hopefully the closing costs aren’t too high!

What About You?

Have you, or are you considering, a “Health Mortgage”? What do you think about a “Health Mortgage”?? I’d love to hear your experience or theories in the comments below.

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#041 — Are Your Credit Card Habits Changing For Good?

April 8th, 2009

Record Drop In Credit Card Usage

The Federal Reserve reported Tuesday that credit card usage & consumer borrowing (non-mortgage debt) has dropped at record levels.  Credit card spending fell at an annual rate of $7.8 billion, or 9.7%.  People are charging less and saving more.  That’s good news, right?

Lesson Learned?

In a vaccuum, decreased credit consumption is a victory in the battle against the bondage of debt.  Does that mean the Dave Ramsey’s and Suze Orman’s of the world have gotten through to the consumptive masses, and people are rejecting debt?  Hopefully, but studies show household debt decreases during times of recession and then, as creditors begin to make more credit lines available, consumers increase their credit card borrowing levels at the first sign that the economy is breaking out of a recession.

In fact, the reason the credit crunch is so huge during this recession, is because during the last recession (dot-com bust, 2001-2002), household debt actually grew because of low-interest rates and the break-out of credit card “teaser rates”.  So instead of a natural ebb & flow to credit availability, creditors have slashed credit card limits and increased minimum payments.  Basically, we’re now forced to double-correct our credit usage because our households kept on borrowing through our last recession!

Don’t Let History Repeat Itself

Use this double-correction recession to your advantage, and resist the urge to increase credit card spending when our economy begins to break out of this.  Practice delayed gratification by saving up to pay for things.  It is character-developing.  Use blog post and financial personalities to motivate yourself to get out of debt.  If you think you’re in too big a hole, consult some professionals about options prior to filing bankruptcy!  The point being, you need to eliminate past mistakes and work hard to put yourself into a position where financial mistakes won’t happen again.

Proverbs 22:7 (The Message) says “The poor are always ruled over by the rich, so don’t borrow and put yourself under their power.” Other versions say the borrower is servant, or slave to the lender.

With a deep recession and slashed credit limits, you have been forced to change your habits… for now.  What habits you default to when times are good again economically?

Are you subjected to the power of the rich?  Are you a servant?  Who owns you?


photo by Andres Rueda

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#027 — Don’t Laugh, It’s Paid For!

March 16th, 2009


We paid off our car!

It is definitely tough economic times out there for everyone, so I wanted to share a bit of positive news on the home front.

While the Lovely Miss H has permanent employment, I have been working in project-based, temporary employment.  The bad news is that it is temporary.  The good news is I can work nearly as many hours as I want.  So the past few months I’ve worked a lot of hours.  I finally figured out how much we had spent compared to our February budget, and the surplus was enough to finish paying off my wife’s car, a 2004 Saab 9-3.  I just logged off of an internet chat with a bank representative confirming we had paid in full, and that the title will be mailed within 10 business days!

Consumer debt is gone

Just want to send a small thank you to Dave Ramsey and his debt snowball methodology.  Yes, there may be mathematical flaws within a particular snowball of debt, but the psychology of “quick wins” in reducing debt cannot be denied, particularly when you’re married and you need two people to consent to a financial plan!

After 26 months, through full employment & layoffs, over-spending & saving, emergencies & good times, our consumer debt is now gone.  We haven’t been the best at paying down our bills, but we remained true to the overall goals & financial principles.

So now you’re rich, right?

No, far from it!  We’ve got so much educational debt, that I think our student loans took out student loans.  A married couple both going through college and grad school without a financial plan will do that to you!

Our next step is to build up an Emergency Fund to a reasonable level.  My car has 185,000 miles on it, hers is over 100,000.  We both commute about 75 miles round-trip each day.  We will need those replaced at some point, so I’d like to be ready with enough money to pay cash for our vehicles.  Now that our vehicles are paid off though, it makes me want to drive my lovely 2000 Nissan Maxima until it dies.  Instead of impressing people with a nice car, I’ll be impressing myself with how long this car can stay around.  This shift in thinking is much easier on the pocketbook.

The Journey Continues

There are always hiccups, bumps, and bruises along the way, but we will enjoy this minor victory, and use it as motivation to keep focused on our long-term goals.

What about you?  Have you had any financial victories or setbacks lately?  Tell me where you are in your journey.

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photo by dreamweaver1619

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#021 — Texas Independence Day & Your Finances

March 3rd, 2009

Texas Independence Day

I was listening to the news yesterday morning, and I was reminded that it was Texas Independence Day.  On March 2, 1836, Texas formally declared independence from Mexico, citing reasons including:

  • The Mexican government invited settlers to Texas promising constitutional liberties and republican form of government, but Mexico reneged on these promises and established a military dictatorship.
  • Texas’ affairs were decided in the distant provicial capital of Saltillo, without much input or understanding.
  • The right to keep and bear arms was denied.
  • No system of public education was established.
  • The settlors were denied freedom of religion.

Your Finances

Each reason for Texas’ independence cited above reminds me of being stuck in an ever-increasing household debt load.  Sure, if the only problem was they felt their voice wasn’t being heard all the way in Saltillo, then maybe it was bearable.  But you add the denial of faith, guns, and education, and Texans had enough. 

In your personal finances, maybe one credit card is manageable, and adding a $400 car payment no big deal.  But once you add monthly payment obligations for another car, a boat, student loans, and a house — well maybe then you feel as if a military dictator has moved in with you!

At some point, you have to say “enough is enough.”  Take charge of your finances.  Declare independence from your debt, and map out a game plan to find success.

I know for me, the moment I declared independence from debt was when I realized my student loans would be around as long as my house payment would!  It was frustrating to see a lot of hard work result in decades of student loans, without a huge benefit in return.  Our household created a list of debts, and implemented a household budget.  We now save for trips and bigger purchases and pay for them in advance.  My hope is we can do that with our next car — hopefully our current cars will stick around long enough to make that happen!

Tell me the moment when you realized you needed a Declaration of Independence from Debt.  Leave me some comments below!

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#019 — Would You Upgrade to 1st Class?

February 23rd, 2009

This Wednesday, I’m headed to Southern California to be in my college friend’s wedding.  I got an amazing deal on the flight — $220 including fees & taxes, round-trip from DFW!

I don’t know about you, but all I usually hope to do is avoid any disasterous experiences when I’m flying.  Except the last time I flew to California.  That was the time I upgraded to 1st class.

I know, I know.  I didn’t need to fly 1st class, but I’ll give you my excuses justifications *ahem* reasons why I did it anyway.

My Excuses / Justifications / Reasons for Upgrading to 1st Class

I went out to California to visit family for Christmas.  My wife was already out there on business, so we met up out west and spent time with family.  We ended up booking the same flight home to Texas, except her company booked her a first class ticket, and I was back in coach with all the other riff-raff :)   Being the good husband that I am, I agreed to check into upgrading so we could sit together on the flight back home.  Turns out the upgrade was ‘only’ $100.

Could I have taken that $100 and paid down a student loan?  Sure.  But sometimes it’s fun to enjoy luxuries.  We’re very careful to pick and choose ours, and always make sure they fall somewhere within our budget.  It also fell within our allotted “Christmas Trip” budget-line, so we were okay with it.

The 1st Class Experience

I loved it.  By the time everyone else was boarding the plane, you were already stretched out and a chapter into your book.  Plenty of leg room for my 6′3″ frame, hot towels, a meal on an otherwise meal-free flight, and of course, free alcoholic beverages!  And no, I didn’t try to drink $100 worth of mixed drinks to make up for the price of the upgrade! ;)

The closest experience I can relate it to is going to a professional basketball game, and sitting court-side vs. the nosebleed seats.  You just never want to go back to the cheap seats after the experience!

Taste the Snowball

Our debt snowball will be rolling for quite some time.  A quick victory of knocking out a small debt can keep you motivated to continue snowballing the larger debts.  Every so often in little ways, I like to be able to have a taste of the good life; or “taste the snow” in my snowball.  It keeps me motivated to continue my debt snowball by reminding me that today’s sacrifices will pay off with future reward and security.

Sometimes you have to lose a battle to win the war.

What about you?

Well I’m back to flying coach this week with a smile on my face and even more determination to knock out our debt. 

Any comments on my choice to upgrade to 1st class? 

Have you lost some financial battles to win the war??

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photo by Richard Moross

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#002 — New Years Resolutions? It’s Never Too Late!

January 21st, 2009
It’s never too late to be who you might have been.
George EliotEnglish novelist (1819 – 1880)

The New Year has come and gone.  The world keeps on moving.  Headlines depict stories of airplanes landing in the Hudson and presidential inaugurations, and they provide us with fuzzy memories of those resolutions we vowed to uphold oh so long ago.  What, if anything, can we do about it?  Here are some tips & thoughts on New Years Resolutions.

The Bad News

Resolutions alone do not work!

All a “resolution” does is merely promise to do something.  It is a declaration of intent; or a statement that you resolve to act upon something.   Especially when coupled with the New Year, resolutions are almost wishful thinking from the start if you examine a person’s attitudes — and I’m as guilty as the next guy!  Here’s some typical New Years resolutions (with their corresponding underlying motivation included):

  • I really should quit smoking; I know it’s bad for my health.
  • I need to lose some weight and eat healthier.
  • I need to start working out.
  • I gotta get a handle on these bills and start saving for retirement.
  • I’d like to spend less time at work & more time with my family.

The Good News

You will succeed if you create a Plan to follow through with your resolution.

A resolution identifies your wishes.   A plan adds integrity to your words by providing a detailed course of action.  A good plan will keep you on track and give you a sense of purpose.

Tips for Setting Goals

Like others, I advocate setting S.M.A.R.T. goals, where your goals are:

  • Specific — be particular about what exactly you want to accomplish
  • Measurable — make it something that you can tangibly evaluate.  Give yourself check-points or building blocks that you can use as markers of success.
  • Attainable — (see below)
  • Realistic — similar to Attainable, make it something within reach.  If a goal is too lofty to begin with, you will quit because you don’t give yourself the psychological boost of accomplishment.
  • Time-based — set a time by which you accomplish your goal; a goal with an open-ended time frame will put you back at “resolution” status.

However, I would alter the “A” to stand for Accountability.  When setting goals, accountability is key.  If you’re married, a spouse is the perfect accountability partner for your household finances.  Working out with a buddy is a great way to stick with your fitness goals.

My Financial Goals for 2009

In discussing this year’s overall financial outlook with The Lovely Miss H, we’ve come up with a few financial goals we hope to attain and we have a plan for success:

1.  Pay off H’s Car Loan

Back in 2006, we bought a 2004 Saab 9-3 on eBay (a post for another day!).  With an expected bonus, the remainder of this note will be paid off no later than February!  This is personally exciting to me, because this will be the final consumer debt remaining on our snowball.  Only student loans to go!

S.M.A.R.T. approved

2.  Pay off My Bar Study Loan

Balance-wise, it is a very small educational loan.  But we want to just pay it off to use the extra $50/month to add to our snowball!  Plan is to have done by February as well.

S.M.A.R.T. approved

3.  Establish a “tweener” Emergency Fund

If you are extremely focused and intent on paying off your debt in an 18-24 month period, Dave Ramsey recommends a “baby” Emergency Fund of $1,000 to protect you from falling off the wagon back into credit card debt.  Once this is paid off, you then fully fund your Emergency Fund with 3 to 6 months expenses.

Since our student loans are a little more long-term than the consumer debt we’re about to pay off, we want to establish a “tweener” Emergency Fund of $10,000 by July.  This would give us a little more cushion so we can begin to attack & pay down our student loans.

S.M.A.R.T. approved

4.  Pay off H’s Parent Plus Loan from College

A moderately-sized loan in our world, we took this loan back over from H’s parents after getting jobs.  We just thought it was the right thing to do.  We believe it is attainable to knock this out in the 2nd half of the year, and have it paid off by December.

S.M.A.R.T. approved

5.  Begin saving for future car

I drive a 2001 Nissan Maxima with 180,000 miles on it.  It’s been a decent car for me, but eventually we will need to replace it.  In order to avoid getting back into car payments, we need to start saving.  Unfortunately, this remains in the “resolution” department, because no specific time-frame has been put on this goal.  Just proves that even us cool kids on the Internet aren’t perfect either!

NOT S.M.A.R.T. approved

It’s Never Too Late!

The beauty of the New Year is that it makes a great marker on the calendar to begin anew.  But like the quote above says, it is never too late to get started!  If you have a Plan that puts integrity to your Resolution, any day is a great day to start!
What are your experiences with New Years Resolutions?

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January 19th, 2009

Welcome to, and thanks for stopping by to check out my site!  To a certain extent, my personal finance journey reminds me of our presidential election and the upcoming inauguration day.  Here are some parallels between the two that are at most funny, at least light-hearted and amusing, and no matter what, a little cheesy :)


Was this baby kissed by your favorite politician?
Was this baby kissed by your favorite politician?

A presidential campaign has become a long and drawn-out process, hasn’t it?  Dozens of months before the actual election, politicians come out of the woodworks to test the waters.  They form their exploratory committees.  Pollsters are put to work and seed money is raised.  You take a trip or ten to New Hampshire to gain popularity with those voting in the “First in the Nation” primary in hopes your campaign gains traction.  Finally you declare your candidacy, attend debates, shake hands, and kiss babies. Other candidates drop out and your platform takes you to the top.  You win your primary, continue to campaign, and victory in the general election is in sight!

My Personal Finance Journey
Likewise, my personal finance journey has been a long, drawn-out process.  This quest and awareness really began about two years ago, and I’ve been soaking up knowledge and fundamentals on personal finance ever since.  I realized our family had too much debt, and wanted to right the ship before ten or twenty years went by and we can’t figure out where our money went and why we’re not achieving our financial goals.  This awareness hit me on many different levels, including family relationships, spiritually, and career-wise.  So I started to test the waters.  At first it was casually mentioning to friends about books I read or segments of radio shows like Dave Ramsey’s that I had heard.  Most importantly, my exploratory committee (aka my wife!) was on board with the campaign to get on track with our finances.

While I didn’t make any trips to New Hampshire, there are certainly many opponents faced in my journey.  But because our family has chosen to establish and execute a plan, we’ve been able to defeat our primary opponents that can prohibit financial growth – opponents like unemployment, income fluctuations, and consumer debt.

While the debt dragon is far from slain (pesky student loans!!), I’m on an established track that will lead to financial success, which in turn, bleeds into all areas of my life.  I have gained traction.  There are plenty of obstacles still to overcome, but we have won a significant victory in that our habits and mindset have changed.

Whether Republican or Democrat, both presidential candidates campaigned on change.  And in our finances, we voted for change – a change in the way we think, act, and relate to our finances.

Victory has been achieved!  The podium is yours.  Cheesy music like “Simply the Best” or “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow” plays in the background as you enter the stage.

The candidate appears to the people (in Obama’s case, perhaps a million or more in person!), thanks supporters, remains gracious to opponents, and promises all constituents the best leadership and representation possible.

My Personal Finance Journey

***I enter the stage.  My political music of choice?  Let’s go with “Only in America” by Brooks & Dunn.  It’s Patriotic, inspiring, with just enough of a cheesy country music twist to be appropriate for a victory speech.  A country group may not do well with the East Coast demographic, so I’ll have to double-check with my pollsters.***

That's right, Brooks & Dunn would play my inauguration.  You know you're jealous!
Brooks & Dunn would play my inauguration. Don’t be jealous!

First off, special thanks particularly goes to my buddy PT from Prime Time Money, who has provided me tons of information and strategy on how to start a personal finance blog.  I also want to give a big shout out to Lance, Chief Creative PixelMonkey at, a great friend who has helped me with domain names and server setup.  And of course, my wife, The Lovely Miss H, who is with me on this fun choose-your-own adventure we call life.

I want to thank all of my readers, because without you, none of this is possible!  I hope you find it helpful, at least slightly entertaining, and something you can relate to.  Money and Personal Finance touch on almost every area of our lives, and I hope the chronicles of my ups & downs help increase your financial awareness in a positive direction.

After being sworn in, the new president begins his honeymoon phase where he settles into his new role.  Current issues such as unemployment, the credit crunch, and on-going War on Terror are on the people’s minds.  However, it is in these first 100 days where the president sets the agenda for the foreseeable future of his administration.  New and incomprehensible issues can and will pop up, but the tone and fundamentals of the administration begin to be set.

My Personal Finance Journey
Similarly, we do not know what will happen with any of our personal finances, including my own.  New issues can, and are as we speak, popping up that change parts of the equation.  However, there will always be fundamental personal finance issues we all deal with.  I have many post ideas and I look forward to setting the tone of this blog with these fundamental posts.  However, I also plan to give flexibility to this site’s path to allow for changes in my life and the readers desires. is a reflection of my personal finance passion, and I plan on following where it leads.  I look forward to interacting with many of you who join me for the ride!

I am Jason (at) MyMoneyMinute (dot) com, and I approve this message.

Baby photo by alopezc72

Brooks & Dunn photo by sergio_leenen

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