Tag Archives: budgeting

Budgeting Healthy Habits: How to get the Dough you Knead

2/20/2013 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

The following is the introduction of our soon to be released ebook on budgeting:  Budgeting Healthy Habits:  How to get the Dough you Knead.  It will be available on Kindle later in the week.  Stay Fresh and enjoy!

Dough: An introduction

dough -/dō/- noun -1. A thick, malleable mixture of flour and liquid, used for baking into bread or pastry. 2. Money: “lots of dough”.

Budgeting Healthy Habits:  How to get the Dough you Knead
Budgeting Healthy Habits: How to get the Dough you Knead

Dough.  Unless you work in a bakery or pizza parlor, you probably can’t get enough of it.  As we began to elaborate this current volume, which, at its base, is a presentation of our unconventional budget tips, we knew that it would be necessary to employ a metaphor to keep fellow taxpayers, who have any number of demands upon their time beyond budgeting, or seeking out metaphors, for that matter, engaged long enough to revolutionize their approach to money, which in turn will give them time to knead dough, ponder metaphors, compose run on sentences, or indulge any number of whims which may be germinating in the dark recesses of their minds at this very moment.

Most of the human race spends the better part of their waking moments either doing something or wondering what they should be doing.  Human action is an ultimate given, and, as the band Rush reminds us in their early 80’s smash Freewill, “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”

The choices available to most of us are limited to the amount of dough that we have available or lack at any given moment.  This goal of this volume is to equip you, fellow taxpayer, to dominate your dough situation and bake the loafs, pastries, or crusts in the style and quantities necessary to satiate your desires.  If we are fortunate, this volume will convince you that the key to happiness is in helping others, however, this is a hypothesis that must be proved by personal experience, and is not the central theme.

Back to your dough.  If you have been searching for information on budgeting and personal finance for any amount of time, we don’t have to tell you that there is an exhaustive amount of material.  Finding good advice, or good advice which fits your situation, can be as difficult as finding a needle in a haystack.  With this in mind, we present these healthy habits as morsels on a platter.  You can choose to scarf them down in one sitting, which will undoubtedly shock your organism into convulsions, or you can take them in, one at a time, savoring each one while giving your organism adequate time to digest it, maintaining the nutrients and eliminating the waste through the proper channels.

The organism we speak of is your personal or family economy, which we recommend you treat with the utmost care.

Stay tuned to The Mint for the release later this week and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint

Email: davidminteconomics@gmail.com

Key Indicators for February 20, 2013

Copper Price per Lb: $3.57
Oil Price per Barrel:  $94.46
Corn Price per Bushel:  $7.00
10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  2.02%
FED Target Rate:  0.16%  ON AUTOPILOT, THE FED IS DEAD!
Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,564 THE GOLD RUSH IS ON!
MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  0.25%
Unemployment Rate:  7.9%
Inflation Rate (CPI):  0.0%
Dow Jones Industrial Average:  13,928
M1 Monetary Base:  $2,496,300,000,000 LOTS OF DOUGH ON THE STREET!
M2 Monetary Base:  $10,399,700,000,000

Budgeting – Healthy Habits Part III – Debt elimination and the Mystery of tithing

4/20/2012 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

If you have missed the first two parts of this series, please take a moment to review them below:

Budgeting – Healthy Habits Part I – Expenses

Budgeting – Healthy Habits Part II – Income

Today, before we put budgeting to rest for a season, we would like to leave you with some additional healthy habits:

Additional Healthy Habits:

Avoid accumulating too much debt – Limit yourself to one or two credit cards with realistic credit limits to avoid the temptation to over spend.  Create a policy between you and your partner to discuss all unplanned purchases over a certain dollar amount before committing to it.  There is wisdom in counsel, and often running a purchase by someone else will help one make a rational rather than emotional decision.

Tips on Debt elimination – Check your budget to ensure that you have a surplus with which to pay back the debts (via depreciation line or an operating surplus), if not, make adjustments (belt tightening, if you will) until you do have a cash surplus.  Start with the lines where you have been most conservative and pare them back, then make cuts if necessary.

There is nothing wrong with delaying gratification.  In many ways, a purchase can be more satisfying if made with funds obtained via a multitude of tiny sacrifices.

Start paying back the smallest debts first.  Paying a debt off will help you build momentum and create habits in order to pay off bigger and bigger debts as you go along.

A great resource for this is Gary North’s “Deliverance for Debt” Debt reduction course.  It is free and you can subscribe via email.

http://deliverancefromdebt.com/

Naturally, there is an infinite number of different tips and tricks for eliminating debt and saving money.  In this space, we will endeavor to share a few of our tried and true tricks, however, it is not enough.

We must then make a shameless appeal to our altruistic fellow taxpayers to share one or more of their favorite tips on The Mint’s Budgeting Forum.  Its easy, just sign in with your Twitter, Facebook, Google, Yahoo, or other nearly other commonly used internet user IDs and help your fellow man to help him or herself on their journey to budgeting nirvana.

Stealth Saving – Pay an extra $5 to $10 on utility bills each month.  After a few months, you will have a free month of utilities.

Open a separate savings account  –   Fund this account first every month and make it difficult to access (no online banking, checks, etc.).  Open it at a separate bank from the one that you normally bank at.  This will force you to think twice before using it.

Pay cash for items – There is something about cold hard cash that makes you think twice about spending and helps solidify the limit on how much you can spend.  Cash disappears, plastic doesn’t!

Keep the change – Pay cash for items and accumulate the change throughout the day.  At the end of the day, dump it in a 5 gallon water bottle.  When it is full, take the money to the bank and go on vacation.

80 – 10 – 10 plan – This is mentioned by many and the general idea is that you live on 80% of your income, save 10% and tithe (give to your local church) 10% of your income.  I will not elaborate on it here, other than to make mention of the reasoning for the tithe.

Why tithe?  Despite the numerous Biblical references, tithing is not one of the Ten Commandments.  So why do it, especially when you are in debt?

God designed tithing not to separate us from our money, rather, to teach us how to serve and experience blessing in the process.

Tithing, apart from helping keep the lights on at your local church, has the incredible habit forming benefit of forcing one to focus on their income.  God knows that you can spend all day in a defensive position, cutting costs and desperately clinging to maintaining what you have.  This is an expense based focus on money and it can have many benefits in the material world, but it is worthless in God’s Kingdom.

God wants you to have an income focus.  “What can I do to serve others that is most highly valued by them?” should be the question on your mind.  Remember, “The greatest amongst you shall be servant of all.”

Tithing forces you to focus on your income first, which naturally will force you to focus on serving others rather than maintaining and increasing your own possessions.  It may seem strange, but serving the greatest number of people has the unique benefit of increasing one’s blessing, both on earth and in heaven.

God has made his creation perfect, and the economic laws are eternal and He can be trusted.  “But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all of these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33

Additional  Budgeting resources:

The BibleDaily study of God’s word will give wisdom in guidence in every area of your life, finances included.

Mint.com:  A free expense tracking software which accesses your online bank account information once you give it permission

Turbotax.com:  An online income tax calculation tool.  There is a charge to file your taxes with the software.  Tip:  To avoid the charge and get the benefits of a free tax adviser, use turbotax to calculate your taxes, then copy the information to a paper form and mail it in.  This is a great way to be aware of changes in the tax code without having to do hours of research.

Dailyreckoning.com:  A great resource for alternative investments.

APMEX.com:  An online precious metals dealer which sell gold and silver coins at reasonable prices.

deliverancefromdebt.com:  Gary North’s debt elimination course mentioned above, free of charge.

A budget, like staring at oneself in the mirror each morning, can be a scary thing.  After waking up, nearly everyone could use some degree of care to make oneself presentable.  Your budget is no different.

Rest assured that there is not anyone who looks in their financial mirror, the budget, and turns away completely satisfied.  We are all imperfect human beings, and a realistic budget tends to reflect our imperfect actions.  According to Mises, the source of all Human Action is to remove “felt uneasiness.”  Creating a budget, then may be a way to measure just how ill at ease we are.

{Editor’s Note:  If you have ever wondered why people do what they do and how the economy works, we encourage you to take the time to read “Human Action” by Von Mises}

Finally, take comfort in knowing that everyone lives on the margins.  The rich are always on the brink of either acquiring another sports car or losing a mansion, while the poor are always on the brink of much graver decisions involving the use of resources.  There is no one this side of heaven who does not feel need and want to some degree.

And it is good, for it is this felt uneasiness which causes us to serve one another.  This mechanism alone, if left unchecked by coercion and compulsion, would eradicate poverty as we know it.

The time has come to stop doubting and believe.

Stay tuned and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint

Email: davidminteconomics@gmail.com

Key Indicators for April 20, 2012

Copper Price per Lb: $3.73

Oil Price per Barrel:  $103.88

Corn Price per Bushel:  $6.12

10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  1.97%

FED Target Rate:  0.13%  ON AUTOPILOT, THE FED IS DEAD!

Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,642

MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  0.25% AWAY WE GO!

Unemployment Rate:  8.2%

Inflation Rate (CPI):  0.3%

Dow Jones Industrial Average: 13,029

M1 Monetary Base:  $2,211,300,000,000

M2 Monetary Base:  $9,968,200,000,000

Budgeting – Healthy Habits Part II – Income

4/18/2012 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

Today we had the privilege of sharing these budgeting tips that you, fellow taxpayer, are currently indulging in, with our wife’s mothers group.  It was a great experience and we were pleased that nobody fell asleep during the presentation.

Let’s face it, budgeting falls closer to most people’s definition of chores than their definition of entertainment.

Mothers (and Fathers) are wise out of necessity.  They are forced to plan for not only their own needs but also those of others.  For most of them, budgeting is old hat.

As such, we found ourselves preaching to the chior, which is always a pleasant experience.  We pray that you are in the chior as well, fellow taxpayer, as today’s installment on income is vitally important.

The M2 money supply measure is on the cusp of crossing $10 TRILLION for the first time ever.  Bedford’s law states that it will take less and less time to cross $20 trillion, and so on.

What does it mean?  It means that prices are about to shoot up in a nasty way, and it will be much more important to increase you income than to attempt in vain to control your expenses, as most will choose to do.

{Editor’s note:  If you need a refresher on Expenses, please check out Part I of this series}

So how does one go about increasing their income?  In a general sense, it can be summed up in the following phrase:

Economize and value your time!

More specifically, putting this phrase into action can take many forms, such as:

Moonlighting or Self Employment – What can you do to help others when you are not at work?  Would they pay you for it?

Acquiring new skills at your present job and constantly seek advancement, which in most cases will increase your chances of getting a raise or promotion.

Generating passive income – For most, passive income is not an option until we collect social security or can draw on a 401K or other retirement plan.  This is why you save, but it will not fill your income gaps while you are younger and working.  However, the concept of passive income becomes very important when considering…

Investments – If you have some input as to how your retirement money is invested, it is best to choose investments that provide a growing stream of passive income.  That is, investment in companies which make real things which people want and are willing to pay for.  If there are no good alternatives, the next best thing to do is to purchase gold or silver coins and to take possession of them.  Store them in a hidden safe on your property.  Gold and silver will hold value against a depreciating currency and have the added advantage of incurring no maintenance costs or taxes while you hold them.

Jesus’ teaching on money via a response to a question on tax evasion:

We have recently explored the phrase “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to the Lord what is the Lord’s” in the context of eschatology, or the end times.  Now, we will briefly examine this phrase as it applies to our relationship to money and property.

With the above statement, Jesus recognizes that everything is God’s, and at the same time, that God recognizes and enforces private property rights in dealings between men.  This is often a point of confusion.

He also creates an eternal separation between a person’s soul and their money.

Below is the full text of this brief but important interaction as it is translated in the NIV.  Please read and let us know below if you arrive at a similar conclusion:

Paying the Imperial Tax to Caesar

 15 Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax[a] to Caesar or not?”

 18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”

 21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.

   Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

 22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.

Wait, we are talking about budgeting, right?  Why are the words of Jesus important and relevant?  Tune in tomorrow for a final dose of healty habits as well as an explanation of the practical benefit of tithing, the curious ritual in which the devout give 10% of their income to a religious institution.

Stay tuned and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint

Email: davidminteconomics@gmail.com

 

Key Indicators for April 18, 2012

Copper Price per Lb: $3.66

Oil Price per Barrel:  $102.82

Corn Price per Bushel:  $6.01

10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  1.98%

FED Target Rate:  0.16%  ON AUTOPILOT, THE FED IS DEAD!

Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,642

MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  0.25% AWAY WE GO!

Unemployment Rate:  8.2%

Inflation Rate (CPI):  0.3%

Dow Jones Industrial Average: 13,033

M1 Monetary Base:  $2,355,700,000,000

M2 Monetary Base:  $9,926,800,000,000

Budgeting – Healthy Habits Part I – Expenses

4/17/2012 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your Mints…

Now that we have dealt with what will happen in the monetary realm as the world comes to an end, we must leave eschatology in its proper place, namely the future, and return to our daily toils.

Today’s installment of The Mint is out first attempt in this space to tackle budgeting.

Every person, family, company, and nation needs some sort of budget.  Some do it for show, but a great majority create and attempt to adhere to a budget as a matter of survival.  In the final analysis, the ability to properly create a budget or forecast is second only to the ability to perform to or understand deviances from said budget in terms of importance to one’s economic existence.

Many people understand that they need a budget, but have trouble gathering the courage and mustering the time to create and maintain a proper budget.  In this space, we offer some tips which we pray you will find helpful as you sit down to this seemingly daunting task.  Enjoy!

Tips for budgeting beginning with compiling expenses:

Think Easy Maintenance – If you are using a computer spreadsheet, use one you are comfortable with.

Include the kitchen sink – Throw into your budget anything you are currently doing as well as those things you think you may want to do which involve shelling out cash.  Finally add the things you hope you won’t have to do but, if you have to, you will have to shell out cash for them, too.

Be a Conservative – It is better to underestimate your income and overestimate your expenses and to be pleasantly surprised than to assume everything is going to go well and to get shocked when an emergency drains your accounts.

Don’t forget taxes – Whether they be of the sales, income, property, or use variety, taxes are unfortunately a large part of the average American’s budget.  While somewhat difficult at first, you will have a clearer picture of your finances if you record your gross paycheck as income and then record the deductions before net pay as expenses or transfers.  It is a bit painful, but it will greatly help you make some key decisions making in the future.

Or depreciation – Perhaps the most overlooked expense line in a family budget is that of depreciation, or what may be more easily understood as “the wear and tear expense.”  Depreciation is simply recognition that anything, a car, house, etc. deteriorates over time and will likely need repair.  Contemplating depreciation allows you to unconsciously develop a rainy day fund to deal with unexpected repairs or regular maintenance.

Large ticket purchasing tip:  The difference between a good investment and a bad one is often determined at the time of purchase.  Learn to buy large ticket items, cars, houses, etc. out of season (that would be the winter in most places) and be sure to negotiate a price reduction for any major repairs.  This will make your depreciation expense (which is a function of the purchase price of an asset) more tolerable and help you sleep at night.

Note:  Depreciation and asset valuation are part of what I call “balance Sheet budgeting, which we will get into more tomorrow.

A note on Health insurance – This is perhaps the fastest rising cost for most families.  Consider focusing on a healthy lifestyle and reducing your health coverage to major medical or other type of high deductible plan.  However, do not give up so much coverage that you risk forgoing necessary treatments in the case of an emergency, you do not want to be faced with a tough life or death decision and have it boil down to finances.

Assume inflation – Ever since the Federal Reserve took over control of the nation’s money supply in 1913, the US Dollar has lost over 95% of its purchasing power.  In 1971, then President Nixon officially took the US Dollar (and world’s monetary system) off of the gold standard, the decline accelerated.  The value of the dollar continues to decline at a rate somewhere between 2% officially and 10% unofficially each year.  It is important to recognize rising costs as a fact of life and consciously plan to increase your income accordingly.

Which brings us to income.  How exactly does one increase their income at a 2-10% pace each year?

We will address that any other questions tomorrow as we explore the Income side of the budget and respond to the ever present question, “How are we going to pay for all of this?”

 

Stay tuned and Trust Jesus.

 

Stay Fresh!

 

David Mint

 

Email: davidminteconomics@gmail.com

 

Key Indicators for April 17, 2012

 

Copper Price per Lb: $3.66

 

Oil Price per Barrel:  $102.82

 

Corn Price per Bushel:  $6.01

 

10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  1.98%

 

FED Target Rate:  0.16%  ON AUTOPILOT, THE FED IS DEAD!

 

Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,642

 

MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  0.25% AWAY WE GO!

 

Unemployment Rate:  8.2%

 

Inflation Rate (CPI):  0.3%

 

Dow Jones Industrial Average: 13,033

 

M1 Monetary Base:  $2,355,700,000,000

 

M2 Monetary Base:  $9,926,800,000,000

 

Mint.com – The Best (FREE) Way to Manage Your Money

Manage Your Money for Free with Mint.com

For anyone who has attempted to manage their own finances, the sheer amount of paperwork involved in documenting the daily economic impact of a “normal” modern life makes simply keeping bills paid a task.  To pull your head out of the woods to see the forest, that is, take stock of your current financial situation, is nearly unheard of.

Heck, if we truly did see the forest, many people would panic at the wildfire decimating their personal balance sheets.  What to do?  The experts would tell you that you need to make a budget and stick to it.  Budget?  Not even our most gifted politicians can manage that daunting task.

If you don’t have the extra $3,000 + per year to hire a personal bookkeeper or even if you do but can’t hold on to a receipt to save your life, is there any hope of getting above the forest to spot and put out the fires before they even start?


What is the average Joe or Jane public to do? Seriously, if you are a busy person without a lot of time or money to dedicate to money matters yet have this deep nagging feeling (most non-politicians call it a conscience) that it is time to be responsible, is there any hope or must you wander aimlessly until the fires get too hot to ignore and it is too late to right the ship?

Hope for Joe and Jane financial comes in the form of a humble mint.  Mint.com, that is.  Mint.com is a miracle product which allows you to manage all of your checking, savings, loans, credit cards, investments, and mortgages in a single place.  How’s that for simple?

Mint.com accomplishes this seemingly mammoth task with the greatest of ease and minimal user maintenance beyond the initial set up.  Once your accounts are set up, you are almost instantly elevated above the forest and ready to identify your hot spots.

If you are ready to attack, create a budget at Mint.com and then simply live your life.  Mint.com will warn you when you are overspending.  Mint.com cannot, however, keep you from overspending.  They leave that unpleasant task to the banks.


This miracle product requires minimal technical skills to operate which, if you are reading this on a computer, it is highly likely that you possess them.

Once over the technical hurdle, which most of us already are, use of Mint.com requires a decent level of trust (think about how you would respond to Aladdin’s question “do you trust me?” to the princess) as the service logically needs your online banking login information to perform its modern bookkeeping miracle.

By using 128-bit SSL encryption (the same as banks) and validation by VeriSign and TRUSTe, Mint.com has gained the trust of over 4 million persons and growing.

Did we mention that this service is free?

While many products exist to help people with their bookkeeping, investments, and budgeting, Mint.com is by far the solution which requires the least amount of maintenance and offers the greatest benefit of any service.  By offering this service for free, Mint.com is in a class of its own.

More than miraculous, the creators of Mint.com offer what by most stretches is a premium bookkeeping and planning service for free.

So what are you waiting for?  If you are ready to tackle and dominate your personal financial situation, bring in Mint.com for backup.  The two of you will have your personal finances in custody in no time!