We paid off our last car loan!!!

I remember the last time my car died and left me stranded. I was on my way to work and about to pass through the busiest intersection on my commute. Multiple lanes of traffic were trying to merge onto the freeway, and the lights were short. People frequently ran through them without stopping. I eased my car into the right turn lane and yielded to oncoming traffic. While I was watching for a break in the line of cars, my car just died. I tried to restart it and nothing happened. I tried again and nothing. Again and again. The car wouldn’t start, and I couldn’t move. I sat there in that lane with the cars lining up behind me and swore very creative swears. My mother would be ashamed.

I flicked on my hazards and stuck my arm out to wave cars around me. There was plenty of room to go around, but people weren’t paying attention. The honking started and eventually the smart ones realized that I probably wasn’t going to move. I called my office, my husband, and my mechanic. Unfortunately, my mechanic greeted me by my first name because our bleeping car forced me to see a lot of him. In the 30 minutes I was stranded, hundreds of cars passed me. One woman stopped and asked if I was ok. Bless you, ma’am. A man in the large pickup took offence to my stalled-out vehicle, rolled up beside me, and screamed unintelligible profanity at me. To whoever you are… you, sir, are an asshole. Finally, the tow truck arrived, and a nice man loaded up my car. He brought his dog with him. Dogs are cooler than people some days. I sat in the cab of his tow truck until my husband came to pick me up. Fortunately, Mr. Cents wasn’t far away.

My relationship with motor vehicles hasn’t always been a pleasant one. We’ve never been in a bad accident or anything (knock on wood), but, for some reason, we seem to have particularly bad luck with cars. Our used cars seem to die quickly. We’ve been the victim of multiple break-ins, mild fender-benders, and random hit and runs while our car sat a parking lot. Our cars seem to attract rocks and shopping carts. We manage to park next to careless door openers. Honestly, this probably isn’t bad luck, but more the result of living in major metro-regions full of idiots.

The incident in paragraph one was the first time we tried to live without a car payment. It lasted 6 weeks. My husband’s vehicle was paid off, but we knew it wouldn’t last for more than a couple of years. We needed to start saving! So, we bought a used sports car from a coworker we didn’t know very well. It was made by a well known manufacturer and had very low mileage. And it was CHEAP! We could pay for it with cash and not have a car payment.  My friends, WE CHOSE POORLY! We thought we did our due diligence by checking its history, and taking it to a trusted mechanic for inspection. It was not enough. Said-vehicle spend 3 of those 6 weeks in the shop, baffling our usually awesome mechanic. In addition to leaving me stranded, it also leaked gasoline for a while. Seals and hoses rotten out. Multiple parts needed to be replaced. There were thousands of dollars worth of repairs.

I hated that evil, broken sports car with a fiery passion. Once a vehicle dies on me, I never trust it again. We were TIRED of repairing used cars that broke down. Even worse, we have almost always lived in major metropolitan areas where you risk your life pulling off on the side of the road.

We decided to trade the devil car in at a considerable loss for a brand new car. Financially, not a smart move because the car depreciated like crazy. However, I feel safe driving it! It’s never broken down (knock on wood). It has amazing gas mileage and is fun to drive. I love it. Even though it SUCKS buying a new car, I know its history, and I know the maintenance was kept up to date.

This 4th of July marks a day in history for the Cents family (a happy accident that we did this on the 4th). After a failed first attempt at car-loan freedom, Mr. Cents and I are the proud official owners of two gloriously paid-off vehicles. We have no car payments! I LIKE this feeling! Even better, both of our cars still have plenty of life left in them and are in good working condition (knock on wood 2x).

So far, we’ve hit two major financial goals for 2017:

  1. Pay off our smaller debts -CHECK! We paid off our cell phones and our water softener.
  2. Pay off our last car loan – CHECK!
  3. Start saving up to pay off our student loans. – A work in progress. Sallie Mae, we are going to get you out of our lives.

All in all, it was truly a great 4th of July weekend. My parents and sisters came to visit us which was awesome. We chilled at the house, ate too much food, went to see Wonder Woman (loved it!!!!), etc. My two-year-old nephew terrorized the dog and laughed hysterically at EVERYTHING. I had no idea throwing stuff and catching the dog could be so entertaining. He also figured out how to delete apps off my sister’s phone and take hundreds of selfies (yes, hundreds!!). Funny to me…not to my sister.

How was your 4th of July?

Money lessons I learned from my parents

Yesterday, my house was a complete and utter mess. The dishes had piled up, and the kitchen counters were cluttered with spices and groceries. The recycling was overflowing. UGH! Both Mr. Cents and I had several busy weeks at work, and the state of our house certainly reflected it. I had to get started on this mess. I scrubbed, dusted, sorted, tossed, vacuumed, and finally put things away. The house is starting to look like adults live here now.

Things my parents taught me about saving money and getting out of debt
Things my parents taught me about money that I wish I had paid attention to earlier.

My whole family will be here for the 4th of July which prompted my cleaning-spree.  Yesterday morning, my father called me to hash out a plan for this weekend’s visit. After talking logistics, I asked him about his newly found freedom from working. My father recently retired from the workforce after a decades as an engineer. He said he was enjoying staying at home and didn’t miss it. He talked about retirement savings, throwing around Warren Buffett quotes, and told me to make sure to use index funds! None of those fancy actively invested funds with expensive fees. Nope, those are just a waste of money!

Things my parents taught me about saving money and getting out of debt.
My dad would probably not be this coordinated.

It always amuses me that my dad likes to talk about saving for retirement. My parents never really talked about money when I was a kid. It was considered impolite to discuss things like salaries and how much debt you had. I remember the first time my dad told me how much he made (I didn’t ask him to!). We were discussing how his company recruited engineers and the salary ranges from starting to senior engineers. He visibly squirmed in his seat, very reluctantly told me his salary, and then asked me not to repeat it to anyone. My mother doesn’t talk about her salary either.

While neither of my parents like to discuss their income, they did have good spending/saving habits that I noticed even at a young age. My father always attacked debt with a vengeance. He hated debt and always told us to stay away from it. My parents paid off all of our family cars quickly, and paid off the house early. They saved money for when they needed it. When emergencies came up, we had the money to cover it.

Things my parents taught me about saving money and getting out of debt.
I SWEAR my dad’s cooking never looked this good. I would totally eat all of this.

My mother cooked at home, and we rarely ate out minus the occasional fast food meal while running errands. When my mom had to go out of town, my dad would “cook” dinner. His meals usually contained multiple varieties of beans or, his specialty, kielbasa sausage with fried peppers and onions. My friends, his food was….not good….at least not to little kids. My sisters and I would eye the kitchen warily, and when we realized he was making dinner, we usually asked (begged) to go to Grandma’s house. She would make us pizza if we asked, and, if we were good, grandpa made us milk shakes. Plus grandma had cable tv which meant cartoons! Another luxury my parents refused to get.

Looking back on it now, I realize how lucky I am. I had parents who figured out how to spend and save their money wisely. We always had everything we needed. I wish I had paid closer attention to how my parents used their money and applied their principles to my own finances earlier. I left college with lots of student loan debt. I’ve always had a car payment. We eat out way more than we should. Usually because we get busy at work and everything else kinda gets neglected (see first paragraph).

Things my parents taught me about saving money and getting out of debt.
I hope I’m as smart with my money as my parents are.

To be fair, Mr. Cents and I made some mistakes, but are working to rectify them. It’s working slowly but surely. Most recently, we paid off our water softener which was NOT cheap. We pay extra towards our mortgage and car payment every month. We could actually pay off my car right now but decided to wait until we recover from the water softener. We’ve made a pointed effort to reduce the number of times we go out to eat and cook more at home. Ironically, we actually fried up some German sausages this week so maybe my dad’s food wasn’t as terrible as I remember.

I’m proud of what my parents accomplished. I have two wonderful examples of financial savviness in my life. Not everyone has this, and I’m grateful. I’m also happy that my father is enjoying a well-earned retirement, and I’m sure my mom will join him soon. Hopefully the Cents family will crush this whole retirement thing as well as my dad has.

Do you have someone in your life that crushed it financially?

Top 5 financial podcasts – My favorites

A couple of years ago, my husband and I decided that we were going to have to make some dramatic changes if we were going to get our financial lives together, a goal we are still working on. But we needed schoolin’…So we turned to the internet and looked for financial advice on how to get out of debt.

After I stumbled upon the personal finance blog scene, I began looking into other ways to learn about all things personal finance. Since I have a long commute, I did some research into podcasts that I could listen to on my way to and from work. I came across a few that I really enjoyed and continue to listen to today.

There are couple of things that I look for in a podcast. One, I like lots of interviews. Personal finance is such a broad topic, and there are a ton of different ways to succeed. Hearing about the different ways others achieved financial independence, either by starting their own side business or making smart investments, is important for me to stay motivated. I even like hearing about how people have failed in their finances. The financial independence world seems more relatable when I hear about a blogger who had issues with saving money or struggled with student loan debt. Two, I prefer podcasts that have at least a second person to talk to when they aren’t interviewing someone. It feels weird to me when a single person just talks. Don’t know why.

Top 5 personal finance podcasts that I listen to the most. Learn about retirement, 401k, saving money, paying off debt, etc.
A list of my favorite podcasts that talk about personal finance and financial independence.

Here is a list of my favorite personal finance podcasts in no particular order:

Martinis and Your Money – check it out here.

I’ve been listening to Martinis and Your Money for about a year now. Shannon McLay has interesting guests including other entrepenuaers, bloggers, and authors. A couple of months ago, she had a guest who talked about her delicious-sounding custom cake business and some of the challenges she faced spinning her business up. This one really sticks out in my mind…probably because it was about cake AND money. Also, about once a month, Martinis and Your Money features a Happy Hour episode which includes other financial independence bloggers. I love these episodes! Very entertaining on my long commute to work. I wish Happy Hour was featured more often.

The Mad Fientist – check it out here.

The Mad Fientist is a classic and was probably the first financial podcast I listened to. I think I blasted through all of his episodes in a few months. There is usually quite a chunk of time between episodes although they are worth the wait. He never fails to score sweet interviews with amazing guests. Plus, he’s technically already retired from the rat race, so its nice to hear from someone who has actually achieved this early retirement thing.

Mo’ Money Podcast – check it out here

I accidentally stumbled across Canadian-based, Jessica Moorhouse’s podcast after I had binged on my regular podcasts and ran out of episodes. I am so glad I did. I learned about the second hand economy, side hustles, and other money saving techniques. She’s cheerful and upbeat which makes her episodes very not boring (important on a long commute), and she usually introduces guests I’ve never heard of before. There are a few podcast/blogs I’ve started following after listening to their interviews on her show.

The Money Guy Show – check it out here

These guys are honest-to-goodness professional accountants and investment advisors based in Nashville. I enjoy listening to their thoughts on investment funds, retirement, taxes, etc. They have educated me! Totally learned some stuff I never would have otherwise. For example, you can actually invest in an IRA in 2018 and have it count towards your 2017 taxes up until Tax Day. I had no idea! Both Brian and Bo offer insightful personal finance advice, all served with a southern drawl, ya’ll.

Millennial Money Minutes – Check it out here and here.

This podcast is interesting because its quick and easy, and features 2 personal finance bloggers in one podcast. Grant and Matt offer personal finance advice in episodes that are 5 minutes or less with the occasional 20 minute episode. They typically talk about everything personal finance related like what is minimalism to how to get a raise at work. Not the kind of podcast I usually listen to and at first, I had to get used to their format. I’m glad I did. I have to save them up so I can binge-listen during my commute.

These are just a few that I listen to, but easily the ones I listen to the most. What about you? Do you have favorite podcasts that you listen to regularly? What do you like about them?