Monthly Archives: October 2015

Living Frugaly, Part One: Don’t Let Your Wedding Cost You Your Marriage

Wedding Bells Blues

The wedding industry is booming.20151015_093646

Everything from the bride’s dress, the photographer, and of course – my personal pet peeve – the wedding planner. All are big money. Brides-to-be have been convinced, “It’s the most important day of your life, spare no expense.”

And many a groom, wanting to please their soon-to-be wife, have fallen for the ridiculous idea that the engagement ring must cost at least three month’s salary. The concept is, If he really loves you he’ll spend that much on you.

Seriously, who came up with this stuff?

The truth is if he loves you he’ll want to lead you into good stewardship as Christ commands.

I’m about to say something that will probably be very unpopular. Concerning the “spare no expense wedding” & the “three-month-salary wedding ring”. Both those pieces of advice are very unwise and financially unsound! We have become a society that will spend thousands and thousands of dollars on an occasion that lasts a few hours, tops, while not preparing financially for the many years that follow..

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a momentous occasion for bride and groom, their families and friends.
It is a day that should be treated with respect. However, so should the actual marriage. You know, all those days that come after the rice is thrown? Yep, they are important also.

I have a family member who spent over $10,000 on her wedding. She had food catered, a huge dress, and a dress covering I can’t even begin to describe. There were a few limos involved, a huge bride’s cake, a groom’s cake, a reception at a fancy eatery on the bay, a cruise on a boat and tons of other stuff that still boggle my mind.

Imagine that $10,000 invested wisely for the next thirty years. Compound interest and time are amazing allies. Use them!

My ex-wife and I spent less than $200 on our wedding. The cost of the location was zilch, zero, nada. It was held at her oldest sister’s house. The mayor of Shelly, Idaho performed the ceremony for free in exchange for us donating at least a whopping $5 to a certain charity. We donated $15. The cost of food was minimal. It was a pot luck! Invitations were ordered online and I doubt we spent $100.00.

The number one cause of tension between man and wife, and the eventual cause of many divorces, is money related problems and a couple’s differing perspectives on money. The fact that society encourages such a large expenditure of funds from the very beginning is, then, more than a little disturbing.

Imagine the positive economic impact if the soon-to-be-joined were encouraged to spend as little as possible so they would have more for their future together. Doesn’t it make more sense to begin the marriage voyage with a healthier money outlook, helping to avoid the one thing that’s proven to end marriages the world over?

Let’s not set up future couples for failure. Teach youth to ignore the advertising ploys of the wedding industry. Teach them to consider their financial futures. Let’s encourage them to treat their marriage with even more respect than the wedding by fueling the marriage with the gift of financial freedom.

To be clear, I’m not saying a big,  traditional wedding with all the bells and whistles is wrong. Having all the extras isn’t a bad thing IF you already have other things in place like an emergency fund, personal savings, college savings, retirement fund(s), your Will and Health Care Directive, etc.

Yes, I fully advocate having these things in place BEFORE that knot is tied. This adds financial security and a peace-of- mind to the marriage from the very beginning. It also shows and sustains good financial habits that will not be easily broken.

Keep your financial future in min & Stay Frugal!

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‘Deadbeat’ Dad Chronicles, Part Four: Protect Your Identity

In a previous installment of ‘Deadbeat’ Dad Chronicles I mentioned that putting child support payments in my ex-wife’s hand instead of going through the State’s child support office backfired big time. It was definitely not a frugal decision as it caused much grief in the form of interest added onto my “missed” payments.

To make matters worse, as happens in life, two events occurred that would affect me financially for a significant amount of time. I’ll address the first of the two in this article – Identity Theft.

Safeguard Your ID

Many folks don’t understand the seriousness of this silent crime. The individual who pretended to be me emptied my bank account, put his picture on my drivers license, wrote several hot checks, sold my social security number to eight other people and also got two jobs in my name in another state.

It’s important to note here that this thief didn’t use my credit except for the cash from the bank account and writing hot checks. I mention this because many people mistakenly believe that identity theft is all about one’s credit and credit score. Not so! Your credit is only about 20% of the situation.

Pretend you’re the identity thief. You steal someone’s drivers license and replaced their photo with yours. You get pulled over for speeding, hand the officer your insurance and license. He does his job, you sign the ticket and drive off. So who actually got that ticket?

Hint…not you.

The person whose name appears on the drivers license now has a ticket but has no clue. Let’s further imagine that this same scenario occurs several more times. Again and again you, the ID thief, drive away scott-free while someone else has no clue they’re supposed to show up in court for all those tickets. Next, Failure To Appear warrants are issued. But, again, you have nothing to worry about because none of those warrants are in your name.

Your next step is to move several states away and use that same identification and stolen social security card to land yourself two well-paying jobs. Meanwhile the victim of this theft, that’s me, is slowly dealing with the consequences.

First the bank account you drained without me knowing goes negative since I’m unknowingly writing checks I expect to clear without a problem. Next my car is repossessed. Why? Because the checks I wrote bounced! Then I am evicted, also, because the checks I wrote for rent all bounced! (Having to move back into my mother’s house was adding insult to injury.)

The point of all this is to let you see how important it is to guard your identity 24/7. There are five areas identity thieves can strike:

    Drivers license
    Credit
    Social Security number
    Criminal
    Medical

For anyone trying to live a frugal life, save for retirement, invest and put money aside for a child’s education, being the victim of identity theft can, and in my case did, cause many of those plans to be put off for many years. The financial struggle that comes as a result cannot be overstated.

Financial Security Threatened

A very disappointing aspect was the effect on child support payments. With no car I couldn’t get to work. With no drivers license or Social Security card I couldn’t prove who I was in order to find another job. Interest started piling up, the ex-wife got less and less friendly and my son started thinking his dad didn’t care about him because he wasn’t providing financially. (I’m not ashamed to say it caused this non crier to shed more than a few tears.)

Thankfully, I was introduced to Legal Shield Inc. I made a frugal decision to sell my trench coat to pay for the membership. The top-rated law firm in Texas went to bat for me. I was amazed at the results.

Identity Theft is real and on the rise. Movies like Catch Me If You Can show the real life emergence of this crime. There is actually a bigger war on Identity Theft than on illegal drugs. It’s no longer a matter of if you’ll be a victim, it’s a matter of WHEN.

Need more proof? Go to google.com and search for  the following:
* Identity breaches in 2015
* Data breaches in 2015
* reported identity theft cases 2015

The results are many and varied.
One lady was informed that her tax return may be going to someone else.
A police officer found that “234 fraudulent unemployment claims were filed from his residence”.
The title of one article reads “Georgia Woman Sentenced for Filing Over 180 False Tax Returns”.

I could go on and on but I have to sleep at some point.

I’m guessing you get the idea. Identity Theft is NO JOKE. To deny it is directly tied to your financial well-being would be- to be straightforward- ignorant. Don’t wait to react to being a victim. Prepare for the inevitability as Proverbs 27:12 reminds us:

A prudent person forsees danger and takes precautions, but the simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.

The warnings are all over the news, internet, magazine articles, websites, and on your neighbors’ lips. You have been exposed to the reality of this crime. It’s time to safeguard your family’s identities and financial situation.

Intersted in learning how? Visit my web site: http://www.ebright.legalshieldassociate.com
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Protect your family, Stay Frugal!