Pay Credit Cards On Time

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If you can’t pay your credit cards on time, then you shouldn’t be using them. Your credit card shouldn’t ever be used to carry a balance. This is working against you.

If you use credit cards today, then you need to make sure that you always pay on time and with the most that you possibly can. If you have the money to pay it off, then it most circumstances you should.

You credit score doesn’t care how much money you have in your bank account, so you are best off to make sure you at least have a small safety net and then put anything else to paying off your credit card debt.

Paying credit cards on time is essential to maintaining an excellent credit score.

Set up a calendar or some type of reminder system that works for you. Make this a priority.

If you have ever made the mistake of not paying your credit card on time, then you are likely to understand to effects of this and how important it is to pay your cards on time every timephoto-1468942590368-0b8481b67239

How to Change an Ink Cartridge (Without Making a Mess)

Changing an ink cartridge should be a simple, routine task, but it can often end up in a mess or even in disaster if any of the steps are rushed or omitted. Many people dread changing a cartridge over, but sooner or later it has to be done, so it’s a good job online retailers like cartridgepeople.com offer such great deals. Here’s how to do it with the minimum of fuss and mess.

One thing to note is that when a cartridge has run out, you should leave it in situ until you have the replacement to hand, as this prevents the printhead nozzles from drying out and blocking.

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Miel’s Net Worth – Grow your Nest Egg

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As a finance blogger, I’ve shared my net worth with the world for the last ten years.

Each time I update it, I assess whether what I have been doing is serving me well, and adjust accordingly. I hope that this exercise helps inspire others that progress is possible—no matter where you start. Tracking success helps to achieve your goals.

After ten years of doing this, I still learn something each time I update my net worth.

When we look at the numbers, this means that without a salary, my net worth has increased by $96k over the last year. Here is my 2015 net worth, but the quick comparison shows slightly less equity in real estate (from selling one of my properties), and more money in cash, stocks, and retirement. This is an overall growth of 9% in a year.

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I assessed my net worth this time because I needed to refinance three properties as a condition of my divorce. Putting everything in one place helps to paint a clear financial picture for lenders.

When the task of refinancing first showed up, I was recently divorced and had stepped down from a steady W2 salary after a lifetime of that security. I would consider myself an entreprenuer and small business owner for more than a decade, but I always had a steady paycheck to de-risk my ventures. This strategy meant that I’ve had the advantage of never relying solely on income from my businesses. It has also meant that I’ve never had a simple, 40-hour work week.

Even though I’ve managed my streams of income and been hustling to build my businesses, without a steady paycheck it is easy to have the perception that I’m not getting ahead.

Assessing my net worth is a reality check. It shows how perceptions create financial realities. (Hint: sometimes, they are illusions.)

This reminds me of the lesson I reflected on last month: sometimes success is hard to recognize. It is easy to not give ourselves credit for progress and achievements, but we need to. After all, it is enjoying the journey that truly matters—even when, like I have, you are swimming against the current and feel like you’re going nowhere. For example, we first started posting a joint net worth at around $300k. With serious effort and focus we reached $352k and then plummeted back to $288k with the market crashing in 2008 and then slowly worked our way back up the the illusive $400k mark

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You are in the right place if you want to follow along the financial journeys of an accidental entreprenuer who was paying off $12k in credit card debt just twelve years ago and now has more than a million in net worth. The short story on what I’ve done to achieve this has been: saving and scrimping to pay for my priorities, saving the rest, being willing to take risks, and living by my values.

My experience has taught me the accuracy of the adage that wealth builds wealth. Grow your nest egg to have it work for you.

In peace and prosperity,

Miel

P.S. I think J$ over at Rockstar Financial should be motivated to do another blogger net worth round up before the end of the year. It has been two years since the last big update. I feel pretty solid at representing among the top twenty blogger net worths publicly posted.

Bartering Criteria For Making a Fair Trade

bar·ter
ˈbärdər/
verb
  1. 1.
    exchange (goods or services) for other goods or services without using money.
    “he often bartered a meal for drawings”
    synonyms: trade, swap, exchange, sell

    “they bartered grain for salt”
noun
  1. 1.
    the action or system of exchanging goods or services without using money.
    “it will be paid for by a mixture of barter and cash”

I’m kind of torn about whether to barter. Growing up I always thought that bartering was a good thing, and you were lucky to score a trade. Yet, lately I’ve been rethinking it.

My money-guru, Denise Duffield-Thomas, aka The Lucky Bitch, firmly believes that bartering is devalues yourself. She feels that regardless of how fair the trade that bartering always makes a bad bargain.

Now that we have our beach cabins, we’ve actually have something worth a trading. And so far, we have taken advantage of this asset:

  • We’ve bartered with friends who run a side web hosting business, once for a stay at the cabins and another time for donating it the Alameda School Auction.
  • After paying for my first coaching package, my friend/coach Lou Radja was willing to take his family to the beach in exchange some extra sessions.
  • When legally forming an LLC, our lawyer Lori Beight was the one to propose bartering our cabins for her services. (She had visited once before with Rotary friends from an auction donation and knew that her husband “who is a real snob” really loved the cabins).

In each case we obviously entered into the trade with a win-win in mind. We’ve got a cabin that sits empty on some weekends and we have a need for services that friends offer.

Yet, I’ve been rethinking it lately, and feel like I need to set my own criteria for any future barters. It feels especially important since the whole point of a barter is that both parties get what they want without having to exchange money.

  1. We were already planning/needing to buy the service in the immediate future.
  2. We each make an itemized calculation of the value, and any discrepancy in either direction is paid at the time of agreement.
  3. We put it down in writing. It doesn’t have to be a legal document, probably just an email or maybe Google Docs.
  4. When either proposing a barter or being asked one, give the other person some time to think about whether it really works for them. We don’t want either party to say yes just to be nice.
  5. Set a timeline for the barter itself. When do you want the exchange to take place? Does it expire?
  6. Accept either an agreement or a polite decline with grace. Politely decline if the proposal doesn’t meet the above criteria.
  7. After the trade has happened, make sure to document it for tax purposes.

Reflecting about it, I realize that part of the challenge with bartering is that it happens with friends and family who also want to do business with you. So, you obviously want both relationships to be long term and mutually beneficial.

I don’t want to feel used, nor do I want to swindle anyone else. Hopefully, by using my own criteria, we’ll be able to continue to make friendly exchanges with good business practices in place. I think the key is to make sure no one is devalued in the process.

Have you bartered before?

How do you make sure it’s fair for both parties?

Peace,

Darcy

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Introducing Adam & Miel’s Money

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When Sustainable Family Finances began, it was initially about creating a lifestyle that balanced finances with a desire to live in alignment with our values.

Now the meaning of Sustainable Family Finances feels like a balance of creating a cashflow positive lifestyle.

If you have followed Sustainable Family Finances, you’re familiar with Darcy as the original writer and with me, her identical twin sister Miel. In covering our ongoing adventures in finance, we’re now introducing my husband Adam, whom I manifested out of thin air in 2015, and married in July 2016.

On the list of qualities manifested was “Has his shit together.” This was very specifically thought out. While money and finances were important to me, and had in fact been central in my first marriage, I also realized that there was more to it than just having money. For me it was more about lifestyle alignment and potential.

Having the freedom to do what we want to in our lives.

I recall that when Adam and I met up to volunteer at the Oregon Country Fair that I thought it was somewhat suiting that Adam, a start-up CEO for InStove, had a beat up Toyota Corolla (that my dad now proudly drives). This was notably a closer match than most folks to my 1999 Volvo with 250k miles. Of course I would fall for him.

While Adam’s car choice reflected his financial situation, I also saw this as a smart and frugal choice. So while his beat up car wasn’t a display of his wealth, it did show me that he valued living within one’s means more than having the best car on the block. As anyone who knows our story, Adam and I jumped right into our life together, deciding to move into together in less than a month.

While we align in many, many ways, there is no doubt that each us have come into our marriage with very different financial situations and perspectives.

For Adam, he is 31 years old, has not paid off his student loans, and comes with a small mountain of credit card debt from his previous marriage/divorce. While he does spend prudently, his income has been hampered by his conscious decision to forego a full salary until InStove is fully capitalized, and all employees are paid full salaries. His huge contribution our first year together was actually food stamps. I never ever thought that I would be on food stamps, but honestly, without them we certainly wouldn’t have been able to stay afloat as well as we did.

For myself, I was just finalizing my divorce and recently unemployed when we met. I also had a net worth of $1M to keep me going. I spent the first several months of our relationship finishing up establishing my Living Trust, and getting several businesses launched (InStove became a third project of mine). I also went from just starting as an Airbnb host to spending much of the summer on the road to enable us to rent out my place for some income.

While our initial financial situations are different, it doesn’t matter. It simply means that my being a little further along in the game (yes, I’m a bit of a cougar – Happy Birthday love!) enables us to follow our hearts passion and serve humanity by giving to great organization like InStove.org, Rotary, and EduCongo. It gives us some room to make it all possible.

As Adam and I now start our married life together, it feels like a new journey in faith and finances. We are excited to share as we manifest our fabulous lives.

We might not have lots of money, but we can use our love to pay the bills!

Love,

Adam & Miel