8 FINANCE BOOKS YOU SHOULD READ

I am currently studying for the Oklahoma Bar. It has a frighteningly low pass rate (around 65%, compared Utah, where I just came from that has in the upper 90%). I have had to study more than is ideal for me (and for our blog for goodness sakes!) And even then, I’m still not sure if I am putting in enough hours to actually pass this thing. Please send all your good vibes/prayers/anything my way for me to pass. I don’t think our toddler will survive if I have to retake this thing! Haha. But really.

The bar is February 21-22 (a little more than 3 weeks away!) so I will likely be a little more absent from the blog and social media while I try to keep my self and toddler alive and simultaneously study for the bar. Please don’t forget about us in my absence over the next couple of weeks! I will try to check in and not be completely absent.

To keep  your financial sweet tooth satisfied, I wanted to share my list of favorite personal finance/money making books that you can read while I am a little MIA. In no particular order (because seriously, I don’t have time to organize them in terms of my favorites), here are some GREAT reads, that frankly everyone who earns money or wants to earn money should read. So, everyone. Everyone read these please. These are all Amazon affiliate links but by all means, if your local library has these, go get them for free.

  1. Rich Dad Poor Dad This is classic, mandatory, and one of my personal favorites. Very easy to read, and very motivating to start thinking about ways to increase your income while not being obsessive about “having money.”
  2. The Total Money Makeover Another classic that everyone should be at least familiar with. I don’t follow Dave Ramsey’s advice 100%, but he offers great advice especially for anyone just starting out to get their finances on track.
  3. The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy An excellent book on slowly generating wealth that might change how you see the people around you, at least regarding their finances.
  4. The Recovering Spender: How to Live a Happy, Fulfilled, Debt-Free Life A good read if you, like most Americans, have a little trouble with overspending.
  5. Love Your Life, Not Theirs: 7 Money Habits for Living the Life You Want Dave Ramsey’s daughter’s new book. I wonder if she hates being referred to as Dave Ramsey’s daughter all the time. Probably. Sorry Rachel Cruze. This book has good financial advice as well as general life advice.
  6. Seven Years to Seven Figures: The Fast-Track Plan to Becoming a Millionaire This book literally made me feel like starting a new business from the moment I picked it up. Not a lot of practical-real-life-application advice, but VERY motivating to start getting creative about how to increase your income.
  7. The Intelligent Investor: A must read if you are planning to invest at all (which you should be, at least at some point.)
  8. Pitch Anything Actually not a personal finance book at all, but really great practical knowledge that will help you sell yourself, or things. Both of which we all need to do to earn money.

Not an exhaustive list, but certainly some of my very favorites. Now get to reading! But do frequently come back to check in on me/us. I may lose my mind the next couple of weeks!

–Amber

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HOW TO SUCCEED ON A NO SPEND CHALLENGE

As part of our FinFit-30 Challenge, last week we challenged our readers to not spend any money from Monday through Friday (the work week). We called it a “no spend work week.” We participated as well.

The results?

It really wasn’t that bad! It honestly didn’t require exercising too much restraint, and we saved money in the process. It is definitely something that we are going to repeat. I’ve heard of people doing challenges where they don’t spend any money for 3o days. That blows my mind. Most of these folks carve out exceptions for gas and produce or things they absolutely need. But we didn’t spend money on a single thing for 5 days and you know what? It felt REALLY good. Like a money fast. I feel all cleaned up from my rough spending month of December.

Right now we are on track to stay well under our January budget. The trick will be to not overspend now that we are off of the no spend week! Anyway, this week generated a couple of thoughts on how to actually stick it out on a no spend challenge, as follows.

HOW TO SUCCEED ON A NO SPEND CHALLENGE:

  • Be Prepared: probably the biggest indicator as to whether you will succeed on a no spend challenge is the extent to which you are prepared for the challenge. A few days before you plan to stop spending money, you should stock up on groceries and gas and any of the essentials that you will need for the week. If you know you will be attending a birthday party or any gathering where you are supposed to bring a gift or a treat, get that stuff purchased in advance so that you won’t wind up having to spend  during the no spend challenge at best, and spend too much on a last minute over priced gift at worst. Like in most things, the extent to which you are prepared is the extent to which you will succeed.

  • Set a clear goal. Are you trying to pay off debt? Save for a down payment on a house? Earn money to invest? Set a clear and definable goal so that you know what you are working towards. The no spend challenge will be much easier if you have an overarching financial goal.
  • Remind yourself of your goal often. Once your goal is set and you are on your way on a no spend week, month, or year (!), there will be many temptations along the way. In fact, you will probably be more tempted than ever to spend money. You will have to remind yourself, probably many times, of your goal(s). Your goal(s) will be the glue that makes you stick to the challenge. Write it down somewhere you will see it often. Hang it in your bathroom, on your fridge, and in your office. Write it on your hand. Do whatever you’ve gotta do to keep that goal in the forefront of your mind.
  • Don’t overspend when the challenge is over: It doesn’t do much good to have a no spend challenge if you spend all the money you would have spent during the challenge once the challenge is over.  Avoid the temptation to overspend once the challenge is over.

This week in the challenge we have started tracking every single penny that we spend. We started doing this a few months ago and it has really helped us create a budget that actually works for us mainly because we are highly accountable to each other. We’ve used Mint and Personal Capital to track our spending and each seem pretty alright– not without glitches but easier for us than writing it all down with a pen and paper (though I haven’t thrown that idea out yet).

Want to participate? You can join our challenge by clicking here. It’s not too late!

Not a 30 day challenge kind of person? Simply try to not spend money for a few days. I think you’ll be surprised at how easy it is and how much you can get by with— it’s probably more than you think. After that, start tracking all of your spending!

What is the longest you have gone without spending money?

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Grocery Budget Makeover

The majority of questions people ask us when they are starting out their budget tend to revolve around cutting out expenses. One easy way to keep your budget in check is to not overspend on groceries. But like most things, it is easier said than done. In fact, grocery shopping is the area of our own budget that routinely gets out of control. And it can spiral out of control quite quickly, especially over the holidays when there are so many goodies to make. Because you know what? I like to eat.

Like an angel from heaven responding in the very hour of my need, Erin from $5 Dinners presented this workshop: The Grocery Budget Makeover.

Our current budget for groceries is set at $400 a month for the three of us in our family. After completing the grocery budget makeover, we plan to reduce that down to $200 per month. In fact, we have a few sets of friends with 3-4 children who successfully keep their grocery spending around $200 per month after following the principles from the grocery budget makeover!

My favorite parts about the Grocery Budget Makeover:

  • it costs less than $5 a week (total of $49 since its a 5 week course)
  • it boasts average savings of $2400 a year!
  • it helps you save time both in the store and preparing and planning meals each week
  • it offers health conscious meals
  • it is spread out through several different lessons– that way its not too much information too soon.

Everyone could benefit from a little grocery shopping overhaul. Find out more details here: JOIN THE GROCERY BUDGET MAKEOVER

(P.S. Don’t wait! Registration closes on January 9th and classes start January 10th!)

 

What would you do with an extra $2400 a year? (All I can think about is a couple of plane tickets to Hawaii! But in reality, it would likely just go to debt repayment.)

This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are our own — we will never share a product that we don’t believe in 🙂 

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2016 IN REVIEW

2016 was such a blur. Truly, it was the fastest year of my life. There were changes, some good, some bad.

Our baby became a toddler.

A very generous family member sacrificed some hard earned money to send us to Hawaii. It was a memorable trip and literally a dream come true for me to show my hubby and babe my old college stomping grounds.

We celebrated 7 years of marriage!

This handsome guy graduated dental school and started his first job.

We moved across the country and bought our first rental income property.

We paid off more than $40k of debt.

I turned 29 for the first time and changed jobs (since we moved).

We boated, hiked, skied, snowboarded, camped, and spent every minute we could with family and friends. Not every moment was rosy, but we tried to focus on the rosy ones. We can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store.

Happy New Year!

 

 

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FinFit-30

Does anyone else feel like the holidays just whizzed by this year? I have not even begun to process that Halloween is over, let alone Christmas. Since it is almost New Year’s, we’ve been thinking a lot about our goals for 2017. Each year, we like to come up with a theme that we focus on for the year. For example, last year, our theme was “quality and outdoors.” We tried to focus on improving quality– the kind of quality employees/employers we are, the quality of spouses we are to each other, the quality of friends, siblings, parents, children we are, that kind of thing. For the outdoor side we focused on spending as much time as possible camping and hiking and boating and biking and focusing on nature.

This year, our theme is “healthy and wealthy.” We plan to focus on being healthier (we eat a truly astonishing amount of candy and severely lack vegetables). We plan to create a wealthier life. For us, that will include not only increasing income (and naturally eliminating debt), but finding ways to achieve non-financial wealth, such as increasing our wealth of knowledge. To kick off our 2017 theme, we are hosting a FREE 30 day finance and fitness challenge (aka “FinFit30”). (You can secure your spot in the challenge by clicking here). We will have easy daily and weekly tasks, and by the end of the challenge you will have saved a little cash, increased your physical fitness, and have the tools to help you keep up on your goals throughout 2017.

The challenge starts on Sunday. Hurry and sign up here!

Health and Wealth Challenge

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Happy Holidays!

I can’t believe Christmas weekend is upon us! This time of year gives me pause (even with a toddler!) as I consider all of the blessings we received in 2016. Of course there were challenges and there were changes. Every year we try to create a theme for the year. This year the theme we chose was “being merry” — choosing happiness in spite of circumstances. That really helped us push through hard times.

Overall, 2016 was filled with beach going, mountain climbing, hiking, biking, and so much laughter. We can’t wait to see what 2017 brings!

Thank you for your support of Red Two Green. I don’t think we could face our student loan debt head on as we are without your encouragement!

Happy holidays!

Amber, Danny, & Baby M

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How did you get into $600k of student loan debt?

Amber had $3500 in student loans from her undergraduate degree, and then tacked on another $45,000 for attending law school. Danny earned his Master’s degree for $60,000 and his dental school degree for close to $400,000. All of that plus interest rates as high as 7.9% and before we knew it, our loans had ballooned into $600,000. All of our debt is from student loans.

Was going into $600k of student loan debt worth it?/Would you do it over?

Our answer right now is yes, absolutely! But therre are certainly things we should have done differently. We could and should have shopped around for a cheaper dental school and we should have done a better job of applying for scholarships for law school. That would have decreased both our debt and our stress. If we are both able to earn a good living, we’ll be able to pay these suckers off and it will feel worth it. If we’re not, maybe it won’t feel as worth it. So… time will tell!

What repayment plan have you chosen?

Currently, we are planning to pay off our loans as quickly as possible. We have signed up for an income based repayment plan but we only intend to stay on the plan until we get more established in our careers. At that point, we plan to refinance our student loans with a private lender and then make aggressive payments until they are history. One problem with our plan though is that it assumes that our income will be at a level requisite to make aggressive payments to pay it off quickly, and that is just something we can’t predict with 100% certainty.

Why did you not choose income based repayment? 

The standard recommendation that you get is to only use income based repayment if your annual income is less than the value of your student loans. Allow me to be straight up when I say that our income is not $600,000 a year. So most financial people are surprised when they realize that we have chosen to pay off our loans on our own anyway. For us, we really like the idea of not having student loans hanging over our heads for the next 20-25 years. We also didn’t want the hassle of reapplying every year or the stress of not being accepted into an income based repayment plan further down the road if our incomes increase. And lastly, we didn’t want the stress of not knowing where income based repayment plans are headed, since they can be changed fairly easily (it literally does NOT take an act of Congress). So I guess in the end, we just wanted to take matters into our own hands and just get rid of it.

Why are you aggressively paying off loans when you could be investing?

Some people take the approach that they can earn better interest rates in the stock market/elsewhere by investing and so it makes more sense to invest than to aggressively pay off debt. If our loan balances were much smaller and our interest rates much lower, that might make more sense. But right now we have interest rates close to 8% and its hard to imagine an investment paying significantly better than that. As such, our best investment is getting rid of our loans.

How long have you been married?/How did you meet?

We met during our undergraduate degrees in 2007. I was taken by Danny’s big, white smile and went home that night to my roommates and told them I was going to marry that guy. We were married in 2009. We can’t believe we are quickly approaching our 8 year anniversary!

Why did you have a baby while you were still in school?This question surprises me every time we get it. Having a baby is such a personal decision. There is of course a rational way to have a baby– you wait until you are established in your career. You save up to prepare for it. You get out of debt first. I understand and appreciate this approach. It is probably ideal. For us, it means we probably wouldn’t have kids, and or wouldn’t be able to start until we were in our late 30’s or early 40’s. Having a baby while I was in law school just felt right. There was no rational reason. It just felt like the right time and so we went for it. We have been pleasantly surprised that having a baby wasn’t as expensive as we thought it would be. And he makes our lives so much better and helps remind us why we have embarked on this journey to get out of debt.

If you could do it over, would you have a baby while you were still in school? 

100 times over! It was a little tricky working with some of my professors and juggling the responsibilities of law school while also trying to heal from having a baby and also trying to learn how the heck to take care of a baby. But overall, most professors were fairly flexible with me. I brought M with me to lots of class lectures and he studied with me at the law school. He slept a lot in the beginning which allowed me to study, and I think I stayed caffeinated for a solid 3 months while I wrapped up law school.

What is your monthly budget?

Our monthly goal is to stay under $3000 a month. The rest of our income is applied to student loans.

Do you have questions for us? Comment below or shoot us an email!

P.S. Have you subcribed to our newsletter yet? We share all the details of our budget and how we are getting out of $600k of student loan debt.

P.S.S. Have you joined our FREE 30 day Finance and Fitness Challenge? Sign up here!

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CHEAP OR FREE THINGS I CAN GIVE THIS CHRISTMAS

This year, I was having a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit. Maybe its because we didn’t spend money on a Christmas tree. Maybe its because we are keeping presents to a minimum around here. Maybe its because I’ve been distracted with studying for the bar. Who knows.

So, I decided to take matters into my own hands. We have done nearly everything on our Christmas to-do list. But what really picked up our Christmas spirits was when we started focusing on little things we could do to spread Christmas cheer right here in our own community. In fact, there are tons of things you can do to get into the holiday spirit without spending one cent. Ok maybe some cents but not a lot of them.

Things I can give for free this christmas

Here are a few ideas:

  1. Volunteer at a food bank.
  2. Take Christmas goodies to someone’s house
  3. Call a relative or friend that you haven’t spoken to in a while.
  4. Send someone an anonymous, kind, hand written note in the mail.
  5. Do a household chore and expect nothing in return.
  6. Leave a quarter (or two or three) in a vending machine, or my favorite, in the shopping cart at Aldi for the next person.
  7. Sign up to snuggle babies at your local hospital’s NICU.
  8. While we’re talking about babies, do you know someone who has had a baby recently? Babies are hard. Take that person dinner or offer to babysit.
  9. On garbage day, bring your neighbor’s empty garbage can up from their driveway.
  10. Hold the door open for someone, even if they are really far behind you.
  11. Go out of your way to say hi to a stranger.
  12. Leave someone a nice note (even if you don’t know them!)
  13. Smile at people.   
  14. Look for ways to compliment people.
  15. Pay for the person behind you in line.
  16. When you feel like criticizing someone, complement them instead.
  17. Avoid saying negative things about others.
  18. Share your talents freely. (Do you play the piano? Play in public or for someone you love. Do you have legal expertise? Take pro bono work. Are you a doctor? Volunteer at a clinic. Are you a teacher? Mentor someone. Can you bake? Everyone loves baked goods.)
  19. Live somewhere snowy? While you are out shoveling your own driveway, tackle the neighbors driveway while you are at it.
  20. Help out a foreigner or a refugee. It can be scary being in a new country and not totally understanding the language and culture. There is a good chance your local YMCA will have these opportunities.

What things have you been doing to get into the Christmas spirit?

 

P.S. Have you subscribed to our newsletter to gain access to all of the money saving hacks we are using to pay off $600k of debt?

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A PEAK INSIDE OUR BUDGET

First things first, have you subscribed to our newsletter? If not, you are missing out on all the details of our budget and how we are sticking to it! You can subscribe here. Its free!

Danny’s student loans went into repayment this week. We thought there would be like a gun shot or confetti or at a minimum, a letter or e-mail letting us know that we were officially entering repayment. In the law, we call that “notice.” He did, however, receive an email letting him know that he was eligible for income based repayment. So, thanks government, for reminding us that we are poor. We did in fact sign up for an income based repayment plan– REPAYE. (More on our repayment plan here)

Anyway, I am beyond grateful income based repayment exists, even though we are not planning to take advantage of the forgiveness part of the plan. It is scary starting out new careers– we are unsure what either of our incomes will be. The fact that what we are only required to pay 10 % of our discretionary income versus upwards of $7000 a month on a standard plan is certainly comforting. So thank you for that Barack, George, Bill, and George, and hopefully Donald. So far we have been paying about $8000 a month to student loans, with a goal of being able to pay about $12,000 a month. So there’s that.

I’m rambling. Onto the good stuff! After receiving lots of questions about how we set and stick to our budget, it behooved us to share a sneak peak into what our actual budget looks like. It might be helpful to see the details so you can create your own budget. If you are curious about how we came up with each category, check out our post on HOW TO CREATE AND STICK TO A BUDGET.

our-family-budget-example

Note, this does not include our student loan payment. The majority of our income comes in on the 5th of every month. Anything we earn above $3000, we put directly into our student loans. That practically forces us to stick to our budget. We use Personal Capital to manage our budget but really any app, excel sheet, or hand written paper will do!

Dually note that our “unexpected” budget is a cheap catch all. There are just too many things that come up every month for me to categorize them every month. Sometimes we hire a babysitter, sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we need to hire an electrician, sometimes we don’t. Our goal is to increase this “unexpected” expenses budget and reduce spending in our other categories as kind of a safety net for when bigger emergencies arise.

Also, I feel that I ought to confess that our Netflix account is included under our utilities tab. It costs $7.99 per month.

So, that is all there is to it. We keep it pretty simple around here.

P.S. If you want to download our budget so you can fill in your own numbers, please feel free to download the Microsoft Excel version here: OUR FAMILY BUDGET EXAMPLE

P.S.S. We’re teaming up with our friend Catherine from Scrubs and Dumbbells to host a finances and fitness challenge that will be coming your way the beginning of January. Ready to get your finances AND fitness in order? Secure your spot by signing up here. (Like our newsletter, it’s FREE)

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30 DAY FITNESS AND FINANCE CHALLENGE

Hey Red-two-greeners!

January to me usually means two things– food hangover and financial hangover. All of the gifting and treat eating and workout missing and holiday shopping seems to catch up with me around then.

So, at the beginning of next year, we will be hosting a fitness and finances challenge. As we have become more financially savvy this past year, we have noticed more and more parallels between our finances and our fitness. The root of the problem? SELF CONTROL (or lack thereof). We will be hosting and participating in a 30 day challenge to help you (and us) get our budgets and waist lines in order. Details will be forthcoming over the next few weeks, but

The challenge starts JANUARY 1, 2017.

At the end of 30 days, you will be fitter, leaner, and saving money meaner than ever before.

Secure your spot in the challenge by signing up HERE.

finance and fitness challenge

What fitness and financial goals do you have for 2017? We’d love to hear from you! 

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