Financial independence is not designed for you

I am tired of listening to shows like Dave Ramsey and hearing people call in with six figure incomes wondering what they should do with their surplus cash. These are not the people dealing with hard times, barely making it with little to show for their work. I will take this one step further and say that if you have a college education, a six-figure income, and you still can’t figure out how to manage your money then you deserve to fail and we should let financial natural selection take its course. This blog is not for the wealthy idiots out there playing with index funds and credit default swaps. This blog is for the 40-hour work week, car payment, house payment, no retirement, no savings, ex wife stole half of my 401k, why is my mortgage payment still going up, kind of guy.
I have read several books on finance, FIRE, debt management, and the millionaires next door. One thing these books have in common is leaving out the lower middle class writing them off as too poor to work with and not worth helping. We make up the majority of our population and to write us off as not worth helping shows a lack of imagination, in the meantime Wall street takes our money in the form of 401ks and 403bs balancing out their books, throwing any of their losses our way. We are stuck not knowing any better, happy for a 1-2% increase in our portfolio while all the gains made with our money is shifted elsewhere. This is where my lack of trust stems from. I saw what happened in 2009 and knew from that moment on I would never trust any of those sons of bitches.
I’m not here to say people can’t find some kind of independence. I have met people over the years who do fairly well for themselves on very little money. Is it ideal, no. Is it better than that paycheck to paycheck life, yes. There are many things people like Dave Ramsey got right. In some ways everyone got something right, what is wrong about these books, talk shows, blogs, and podcast is that they leave out the little making them think there is no hope. Finances are not just a game for the big players. Keep in mind, even professional bowlers make up to $30,000 a year. It’s not much but its not nothing.
I was lucky back in 2005 when I initially bought my house. When the mortgage company told me I could buy an $85,000 house with a $700 a month payment I told them they were out of their minds. “But the computer says.” Lucky for me I had seen the Terminator movies and knew that computers were out to get me. These suits weren’t looking out for my best interest and I knew that. I ended up with a $65,000 house with a monthly payment that was the same as the rent I paid on a one-bedroom apartment. On $10 an hour I could barely afford that.
The years passed and the hospital I worked for continued to screw people out of their raises, my insurance company continued to jack up the rates on my coverage until my monthly payments were one hundred dollars more than when I bought the house. In 2008 the economy went to shit, my wife left, I was stuck with a house payment, car payment, thousands of dollars of debt, and a job that had not given me a raise in several years. Like the rest of the country I was being bent over a desk, no lube applied, waiting for the ride to end. Then I decided to no longer play the victim.
The credit cards were the first thing I paid off. The monthly payment was a meager $50 on average, I threw hundreds at it and watched the balance shrink. When that was paid off, I cut the cards up and went to work on the car loan. I tore out payment slips from the book, sending in 2-3 at a time. The car was paid off two and a half years early. Looking back, my only regret was stopping there. I had money in the bank, I was able to life something resembling a life, and for the first time was able to do things when I wanted to. Ten years later I wonder what my life could look like if I just went to work on paying the house off. Now it’s time to find out.

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Project 2020

I have to admit that I tried this a few times before. Sometimes it worked and other times the project was abandoned. In 2009 I found myself divorced, in debt, and feeling disenfranchised with life. Something had to change. Ten years later I have a similar feeling, now at forty with years of debt ahead of me, again I thought to myself “something has to change.”
My house was refinanced back in 2009, setting the clock back to where it started, $65,000. Today I owe just under $48,000. This is less than it should be since I have made payments over the monthly amount desired. Still, I’m not happy with this and the more I think about it the better off myself and my family will be if I just pay the damn thing off.
Looking at some calculators available online I discovered a big difference in how much I will actually pay for the house depending on when it’s paid off. If I were to speed up the process and pay it off in ten years, I will save $6000 in interest over the life of the loan. However, if I were to pay off the house in five years, I will save $20,000 in the end. That is a huge difference over such a short period of time and I wonder how much I will save if I do it in less then that.
There are many advantages to not having a mortgage payment. That large chunk of your paycheck is finally yours. You can now invest in things like retirement, that thing you should start when you are in your twenties but you have no money, no health insurance, student loan debt, and of course rent or a house payment. How anybody is supposed to get ahead in this world is beyond me, but I do know “they” like it that way.
There are a few aspects to this project. For one I will be paying all other bills first before paying the mortgage. Whatever is left goes toward the monthly bill. This means, no eating out, no luxury buys like books, no spontaneous purchases, no more typewriters, no more wine. This isn’t all bad. I have, through a side gig, over 350 beers saved up from work I have done over the years. Alcohol is taken care of. I have more books than I could read in a year. I have more projects sitting on a shelf that I know what to do with, including this blog. Needless to say, I have more than enough things at home to keep me occupied, ensuring I don’t need to spend any money throughout the year.
My income is set, I have a job that pays by salary and therefore I know what I can expect to bring in throughout the year. Currently, I make between 35-36k a year, before taxes, insurance, healthcare plan, and Union dues. In the end I might bring home 25k but I would rather not think about that. My bills are a small percentage of my income and therefore I know I can pay more on my mortgage if I want to. At the moment the house is crammed, there is too much stuff, and the last thing I need is more stuff.
The goal is to see how much of a dent I can put into my mortgage by the end of the year. If I am just under 48k as of Dec 2019 my goal is to be under 40k by this time next year. It’s not a huge amount but I figure it is more reasonable than saying I will pay it all off only bringing in half of what I owe. There are things about this that will suck. An inability to do what I want, missing out on good food, picking up that good deal on that thing I don’t need but really, really, REALLY want. Yes, this will suck but it can’t be any worse that how I felt in my 20s.
In the near future I have more money coming my way. My cell phone will be paid off and I can put that extra money towards the mortgage. My car payment is paid off six months in advance. During the summer I am considering walking to work instead of fighting over parking spots, saving on gas.
I would like to write book reviews for this blog, it seems to the only thing that isn’t censored these days. A few weeks ago, I started writing for Rotten Tomatoes and a week later my reviews started to disappear. There wasn’t an email, no notifications on my profile, they just vanished.
So, follow me here for uncensored content, learn how to pay off your house early, and maybe listen to me bitch about movies and bad TV. Never mind the last one, the internet needs less of that.

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The End of Prepping

In my basement there is a series of cabinets along the wall that are filled with all kinds of long term food storage items, cans, bags, and boxes. I have a wine cellar in the darkest and coolest part of the basement. A gun safe keeps a few items free from dust and rust. A few typewriters wait under dust covers for the moment this computer and the electrical grid goes down ending civilization. Then there is the doomsday vault, a trunk filled with rare bottles of wine, a survivalist handbook, a few pipes and several cans/ tins of tobaccos that are not in production anymore. If the world comes to an end I am all set for the roaming horde of zombies, aliens coming to the planet to steal water or cows for rectal probes, or maybe the Chinese invasion. I have everything I need, what do I do now?
There was a time when I feared the world was coming to an end. I grew up hearing about end times and thinking that Saddam Hussein was going to kill the planet, Chernobyl was going to turn everyone into mutants, the planet was going to deep fry everyone into crispy chicken wings, the list goes on and on. Nothing happened. Nothing ever happened. The nation has been run by the incompetent and the mentally retarded on and off my whole adult life and yet we are still here.
Nothing that I listed off that I keep in the basement is stuff that people didn’t have a hundred years ago. It was common to have root cellars, can food, and keep a gun or two just in case. That was called living and people knew they were responsible for themselves. These days I roll my eyes when people talk about their guns being taken away, trump pushing the button and ending the planet, and while I have a fear that global warming might end the planet that my daughter will grow up in I have to accept that there is less than nothing I can do about it. I have my habits that this hobby has built into me and while people may think that it is crazy to keep extra food of guns that haven’t been shot in a year or two it does come in handy at times. A friend mentioned that she didn’t have any money and her food situation had dwindled to rice and beans for lunch until payday. It only took a few minutes to put a box together from the basement supply and bring it to work for her to use. When I was done the pantry didn’t look any different but she had food for a few days or more.
I don’t have that fear anymore. That notion that something wrong is gone. Maybe its from not watching the news anymore? I look at the world these days and I have my life that is no longer dictated by a group of guys in bad suits yelling and arguing with each other about stuff that doesn’t really matter. There is something satisfying about no longer caring about people who don’t really matter. I don’t care about Trump and neither should anyone else.
Early on I learned not to buy the gizmos and tech stuff that preppers dish out their hard-earned cash for. I don’t own an AR-15 and still think jeeps are one of the biggest pieces of crap ever built. I didn’t sink a ton of money into this because it’s not needed. One doesn’t have to feel like Rambo in order to be secure. If there is anything that one needs to do in order to get their life in order and be prepared its paying off your debts and making sure you have cash on the side. Stop buying stupid shit and most of your problems will be solved. The financial stress that comes with being in debt is worse that the Chinese eventually, possibly, marching in and sending you to an iPhone factory center.
Living in fear is exhausting. There are companies and economies that depend on us being fearful of the unknown. While we go about our lives and try to fix our problems having somebody else breathing down your neck about a maybe is a waste of time. There comes a time when one has to realize that maybe “surviving” is not living. There might be some mental illness involved in this prepper thing. I know at moments I wondered about my own mental health and looking back maybe I was correct to be worried. Prepping is in the past now. I’ll keep the canned goods and a handle pistol close by but I’m not going to let them rule my life. What is the point of life if you aren’t living?

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