Wednesday, November 28, 2018

You've never budgeted like this before

Like most people I never learned any effective method to manage and budget my money while I was growing up.  Over the years I tried many of the traditional budget methods such as listing our total monthly projected income and subtracting the expected expenses which looked good but never matched reality, so at the end of the month we were in a position of wondering where all the money had gone.  We tried using mint which was fairly good at tracking where our money went, but we didn't find it effective for planning where we wanted our money to go nor to decide in the moment how much we could actually spend on any particular item.  We tried everydollar which is very effective at assigning jobs to every dollar based on your projected income, but the free version doesn't link to your accounts so it is difficult to track expenses, and as it follows a more traditional income forecasting method we never knew exactly when we could actually pay our mortgage or pay a utility bill and also buy a weeks worth of groceries without bouncing a check.

All that to share with you that about a year and a half ago we found YNAB - an acronym for You Need A Budget - their budget application is available via the web and as an app on your smart phone - they have an app for both the android and the iphone.  It is a virtual cash envelope system in that you only budget money you actually have available to spend right now, cash sitting in the bank or in your wallet.  If you have a multi-adult household you can easily share a budget by both logging into the same YNAB account.  For example, if I buy some groceries and enter my purchase on my phone, then a little later my wife goes to buy groceries, she can easily check on her phone to see how much money is still available to spend on groceries as she walks into the store.

YNAB is able to link to your accounts and will download transactions which it will present to you in a list of new transactions that will be matched against those you entered manually, and will also present to you any that you forgot to enter for your review and acceptance.  Super easy and painless, it is the first system that has worked for us for both planning our spending before we spend, and tracking our spending after it is spent.  It also has a wonderful reporting system to review average expenses in any category or category group over any period of time, which is great for calculating monthly funding goals for variable expenses like fuel or groceries.

Since the app is a virtual cash envelope system, you only budget with actual cash on hand, either in your pocket, home safe, or in your checking or savings account for example.  You'll give every dollar a job, and if there is a dollar in any given category - such as groceries - you know that the dollar actually exists RIGHT NOW, and can be spent right now.  No more complicated issues around forecasting future income and having no idea how much you can spend today without bouncing a check.

Since we started using  YNAB a year and a half ago, we were able to build up a 1 month buffer (all money earned this month gets budgeted for spending during the following month) - December is still a few days away and we already have every single dollar that we'll be spending during the month of December in the bank ready to go on December 1st, from the money that we actually earned this month (November).  This makes budgeting amazingly easy and stress free.  We also follow Dave Ramsey's baby steps and saved up a $1,000 baby emergency fund, paid off all of our non-mortgage debt, and more recently built up a 3 month cash emergency fund in the bank (steps 1 through 3).  Today we are on baby steps 4, 5, and 6 (contribute 15% of our income to retirement, save up or cash flow kids college, and work on paying off the home mortgage early).

I can't even put into words the peace of mind that our current financial position has placed us in.  A year and a a half ago we were making monthly payments on debt and living paycheck to paycheck, under immense stress wondering when (not if) we'd bounce our next check.  Now instead of feeling like literal slaves to debt, when we had to allocate most of our monthly income to debt payments, we actually get to choose where to spend our money based on our own priorities.  The peace of mind of being consumer debt free is indescribable and priceless!

You too can do what we've done.  Anyone can do it.  About 8 out of 10 Americans are currently living paycheck to paycheck irregardless of income the same way we were only 18 months ago.   Whether your income is 20,000 a year of 200,000 a year, it isn't about how much you make, it's about making a plan for your money and sticking to it.  I've heard people make an excuse for why they don't budget saying they don't have enough money to be worth making a plan.  If you don't have enough money your need to budget is even GREATER than most, not less.  Every single penny becomes precious and you should not spend so much as one of them without having a plan for your money based on your own goals and priorities.  If you fail to plan you plan to fail.  Once you become consumer debt free, you'll never go back!

If you use my YNAB referral link when you sign up for your free trial we'll both get an additional month of their service for free.  They also have incredibly helpful free online training on how to use their amazing budgeting system.  The budget training alone is worth more than they charge for their service.  No payment information is required to try their 34 day free trial so you have everything to gain and absolutely nothing to loose.  Just give it a try, you'll be thanking me later!


Friday, May 24, 2013

Save Thousands on your Electric Bill

I'd like to welcome our newest sponsor - Solar City.  When we sat down with our Solar City Rep he created a lease package for us that is going to save us Thousands of dollars on our electric utility bills in the coming years with zero up front out of pocket cost.  Once the system is activated we will simply start making our low monthly lease payments while the system starts generating electricity.

I have looked into purchasing solar panels in the past but had been deterred by the associated large down payment and high monthly payments that make it impossible to save money until you've been making monthly loan payments for years.  With a Lease you can start your savings from day 1.  A solar lease may not be the perfect scenario for everyone, but why not give Solar City a call to see if a solar panel lease would be right for you?  The only thing you have to loose are those  high electric bills you're currently paying.

Teacher Arrested in Kansas for Bearing Arms

Do we create a "safe" environment when we disarm teachers and force them to be defenseless?  Or worse - arrest them?  I think not.  Not only is it unconstitutional to disarm our teachers, it doesn't even enhance safety.  It isn't as if any person determined to do harm to our children would be deterred by a so-called "gun free zone".

I think this has been well proven.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Turn in your Arms - the Government will take care of you

Turning in weapons worked really well for the Native Americans didn't it?  Then again, maybe not.  If you have any doubts just look up Wounded Knee.

Friday, April 26, 2013

The folks over at were kind enough to send me a few samples of their products to try out and review.   I am happy to say that after using the products that I received I am 100% satisfied with the durability and high quality of construction - I am certain they will stand the test of time and be enjoyed by my family for many years to come.

Our favorite neclace is the .308 paracord neclace which has 2 slipknots making size adjustment easy depending on your preference.  My primary struggle has been to keep either of the bullet necklaces for myself as my teenage boys have been "borrowing" and failing to return them.  Needless to say they are a hit in our home.  I have also found that in addition to being stylish the bullet bottle openers have been effective at easily removing the lid off of the soda bottles I tried them out on.

So if you're interested in trying out interesting products made by the employees of a small American company, go check out - I don't think you would be disappointed, and just in case anything were to go wrong - they have an excellent customer satisfaction return policy.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Guns in America

The Blaze has a very cool series named Guns in America that is helping to spread truth and dispel myth.  Recent topics include Women & Guns, Gun Industry Employment, and Gun Ownership.  Check it out.

Standing up for Free Speech

8th grader Jared Marcum was not the first youth to be unjustifiably disciplined for wearing an NRA Shirt, but I believe he may be the first to wear the exact same shirt on the very first day that he returned to school.  Keep up the great work Jared!

I believe Ben Franklin would agree when I say that we must all hang together in support of Free Speech, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Star Parker - Standing up for Gun Rights

Three must see videos posted by gun rights activist Star Parker:

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Arizona Ranked #1 for Gun Owners

Guns and Ammo ranked all of the States to see where gun owners enjoyed the most freedom, and I'm happy to report that Arizona was ranked number 1 on the list with 49 out of a maximum of 50 points!   Thanks fellow Arizonans for your support of the changes that have been made to Arizona law in recent years to restore freedom to Americans who choose to make Arizona their home, or even to those who are simply passing through.  We still have a ways to go, such as getting rid of gun free zones, but it is great to get a glimpse in the rearview mirror at how far we have already come.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Equal Gun Rights!

From the SAF. Find additional details at

Thursday, December 20, 2012

AZ Representative Harper Opposes War on 2nd Amendment

Arizona Representative Harper:  The issue is Mental Health, not the 2nd Amendment:

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Friday, January 6, 2012

Another try for Campus Carry

Patriotic Senator Ron Gould plans to introduce legislation on Monday that would remove current restrictions for students who poses CCW permits while they are on Arizona College Campuses. I'd love to see an even broader bill, but based on past results this is likely the best first step. Please contact Senator Gould and let him know that you support his efforts. He is currently facing an onslaught of left wing anti-gun media coverage claiming that the sky would fall and blood would run in the streets if 21 year old adults who already have CCW permits and already carry a gun everywhere else in the State were suddenly no longer prohibited from defending themselves while they happen to be in yet another so-called "Gun Free Zone"

For those who think Gun Free Zones work, just ask the victims of the Virginia Tech Gun Free Zone how well the zone worked for them. The simple truth is that criminals, rapists, and crazy people do not obey gun free zone signs any more than they would obey a smoke free zone or a no parking zone. They simply ignore them. The people victimized by gun free zones time and time again are the defenseless victims trapped within them.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

How the Presidential Candidates rate on gun rights

It can be difficult to determine where your favorite Presidential Candidate stands on the Second Amendment if you only listen to their standard talking points. As a result it is helpful to look at their ratings from the gun rights organizations that you trust. Unfortunately the NRA does not rate candidates specifically for the primary, so you have to do some digging through the NRA PVF Archive to find NRA ratings from past elections. For your convenience, I've done the digging for you, and below is what I found for the current top contenders along with the date that the NRA rated them.

NRA PVF Ratings:

Be aware that there are significant concerns with anti-gun legislation that Rick Santorum has voted for in the late 1990's. There are also concerns about legislation Romney signed in 2004 when he was Governor in Massachusetts. Kurt Hofmann has gathered together the details on past gun rights concerns with Santorum and Romney. I have sent questionnaires to the press e-mail of both Santorum and Romney to ask them detailed questions on their current position on critical gun rights issues - if I get responses from either I will post them on this blog.

Unlike the NRA which rates incumbant candidates based on a mathematical grade scale measurment of specific gun rights votes and actions, the GOA rates candidates on a subjective gut feeling of the GOA President, so I recommend considering the GOA ratings as the subjective opinion of a single gun rights activist. However, here are the GOA 2012 Presidential Primary candidate ratings which includes some details on why the GOA rated some of them the way they did.

Update 1: Clarification from the NRA on the 2004 Legislation Mitt Romney Signed