Tuesday, September 30, 2008

New Website to Play On

Through a strange series of events I was introduced to today. It really is fun. There are money saving tips everywhere. I will be going back often. I hope you'll try it out, too.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Bail Out I Can Get Behind

All this recent talk about Bail Outs (or is it Bails Out?), has reminded me of one Rescue I am totally grateful for. I, like every other human before and after me, have made multiple irresponsible, foolish, rebellious decisions. Where I come from, we call it SIN. The consequences of my actions were dire. There was no way to balance the ledger. No way to cook the books. No way to buy or sell my way out of a complete meltdown. I was quite literally doomed. I had a debt I could not pay. And out of the blue, this guy, Jesus bailed me out. He was debt free. He owed nothing. But He paid my debt if full. The record of the event says it this way: "God loved the world so much, that He sent His only Begotten Son, and whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life."

I accepted the Bail out, in case you're wondering. And just to make things clear, by doing so, I have certain responsibilities that I am delighted to uphold. I couldn't get myself out of the mess and I didn't deserve to be liberated, but I'm so grateful that Jesus did that for me that I'm pretty much completely sold out to Him. He is my Savior and my Hero.

I encourage you to take His bail out offer, too. He will wipe out your debt and replace it with an abundant life. I'm talkin' rags to riches. Dude, you can't afford to pass it up. Do it now!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

And Now For Something Completely Different

I've tried in vain to figure a way to make this link money related. It just can't be done without stretching reason just a little too far. But it's too much fun NOT to post. Imagine yourself a 71 year old Grandfather with stomach pain. You go to the hospital, have some tests and learn......... THIS.

I don't care who you are, that's funny! Who says we need health care reform?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Some People are Losing Their Minds........

....... in the midst of the current challenges facing Wall Street and the Banking Industry. I hear about people pulling all their money out of the market and dumping it into Gold, or plastic bags in the freezer. That's nuts. For one thing, it only makes things worse. Panic is a remarkable thing.

Today I read a couple of articles on liberal news sites that made blood spew out of my eyes. One suggested that the Government should force lenders to refinance their defaulted loans. That sounds noble, but many, maybe most, of the homes in foreclosure will just end up there again. Home ownership is not a right. Irresponsible borrowing (and lending) should be frowned upon and discouraged. There was a trickle up effect that has hurt several income brackets. Many poor people, excited about the opportunity brought about by 'creative financing', bought homes they couldn't really afford. The former owners of those houses, bought bigger homes and the ones who had owned those houses, built even bigger ones. At least three socio economic levels were suckered or suckered themselves into borrowing more than they could afford. Heck, thousands of people borrowed 125% of the house value. What's the good in that deal. No one should be bailed out. We should all learn to manage money and live within our means. The Government should stay out of our business.

The second article was suggesting that we should reconsider the 401k and should look again and Government backed retirement plans. The writer even laughed at Bush's "plan to privatize Social Security". Anytime I hear that I know the author is smokin' something. The President never attempted to do any such thing. He proposed that individuals could opt to put a small portion of their SS contributions into private plans. Nothing more. But the media rarely lets facts get in the way of a good rant.

The market goes through cycles. It's in a down cycle. It will come back, for heaven's sake. And why in the world would I want Government to control any more of my money. They can't manage what they have. It was Govt interference that cause this mess in the first place. Back in the early to mid 90s, the Govt. threatened lenders with lawsuits if they refused to lend money to lower income individuals with poor credit ratings. They were accused of being racist. Most lenders caved and the subprime industry was born. The entire housing market boomed for almost 15 years. But it was smoke and mirrors. When the dollar fell and oil prices rose at the same time a large percentage of ARMs were adjusting up, the dominoes began to fall. Houses were defaulted, credit card debt rose, the housing market crashed, subprime notes became worthless and so on.

The Government needs to get out of the way of business and let the market right itself. They need to stay out of the CEO compensation packages (will they try and control baseball salaries next?). They need to repeal Sarbanes Oxley. They need to lower tax rates for individuals and small business. They need to lift the restrictions on oil exploration. Government should look to their own house and stop ear marks and cut, cut, cut. Govt. should be dramatically reduced immediately. Let them manage their own budget, let business manage theirs and let me manage mine.

Ok, I'm done ranting for a few hours. It's just that I so badly want to help Americans beat debt and live free, but our elected officials and their cronies keep getting in the way.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Feeling Grateful

Things have been pretty stressful at work lately. We have a lot of irons in the fire and it's hard to keep up. Sometimes I get pretty grumpy. But today I had a grateful moment.

Around lunchtime I got an email from my bride. Nothing unusual there, she often sends me little notes. I look forward to them. But this note was to tell me that some people who live near us are being evicted from their home. It was kind of a shock. I don't know them well, but enough to say hello and chat about the superficial things, neighbors chat about. They are nice people, who live in a nice house and drive nice cars. This is not a neighborhood where evictions happen often. But it was a stark reminder that we never know who is in the middle of a crisis. Heartache is all around us. Sometimes it's financial, sometimes relational, sometimes spiritual, sometimes physical.

Anyway, I took the time on my drive home, to count my blessings and appreciate my life.

Of course, I still hate my allergies! Die, ragweed, die!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

It Feels Like Forever......

.......since I updated this spot. But it's only been a couple of days. Looks like not much has changed, though. Markets are still down and the Govt. is still debating a bail out. While I've been locked away in meetings at work, our leaders have been locked away in indecision. In a way, that's good. Enough people have written to their Congressmen/women, that they didn't dare rush in and do something stupid........yet.

There are alternatives to a Bail Out. One is a temporary lifting of the Mark to Market portions of Sarbanes Oxley and one would be to extend FHA insurance to the subprime loans. Each would cost a fraction of what the Bail Out will cost. It should be a no brainer, but since Washington is filled with big spenders and socialists, the no brainer answer is not the most attractive to many of them. Both less expensive solutions would result in less control than Washington wants.

In the meantime, it's important for ordinary Americans not to panic. Go to work, leave your 401k alone, pay your bills, trust God.

Monday, September 22, 2008

I'm Not Bailing Out!

I'm not cashing out my 401k, nor am I moving all my money (such as it is) into bonds, or gold or oil. I'm sticking with mutual funds. My thought process (keep in mind, I'm a blethering idiot), is that if you pick funds with a long track record of success (10 or more years of above average performance), there is a great chance they will come out of this current storm intact. And since the market is a bit down, I'm getting more shares for my money. So when the market rebounds, I have more. It's the whole, buy low strategy. The market is not Vegas. It's not about day trading and trying to beat the system. It's about making good choices and building a slow burn. There will be down cycles and there will be up cycles. I'm not ready to bail. Though I do wish the Government would stay out of it. I personally believe the Great Depression would have been "The mildly crappy depression" if FDR had stayed out of it and let the market take it's short, sharp, ugly hit. I fear we're about to make a similar mistake. But since no one in Washington is asking for my opinion.......... Of course, that might actually say something about the value of my opinion!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Playing From Behind

In sports, most teams (or individuals) prefer to score first, score quickly and score often. They don't like to fall behind. Playing catch up puts more pressure on everyone, and it becomes easier for mistakes to creep in.

By contrast, most individuals find themselves, by virtue of debt, playing from behind, financially speaking. And we've done it on purpose. We take out huge mortgages, followed by not one, but two car loans, student loans, credit card debt and very possibly a Home Equity Line of credit. Is it any wonder why we feel insecure. We are constantly working to catch up to our spending. Millions of people are one accident, one illness, one lay off or even one flat tire away from financially crashing and burning. Talk about stress!

There is a better way. Stop borrowing. Eliminate your debt. Live debt free. Play from the front and WIN! Sound crazy? We did it. So have many others. It takes guts. But it sure is fun when you're done.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Found Some Common Sense

Found this bit of common sense in dealing with Household Budgeting and finance. I think you'll like it too. Common sense is becoming a rare creature. You can also click HERE.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

We Interrupt This Broadcast............... bring you this breaking message: Brittan and I have a new grandson. His name is Glenn Douglas Burton Docherty. Yes, that's a lot of names, but at 9 lbs, 12 oz, he's a lot of boy.

We're so proud, as are his sisters, Kaya, Lana and Zoe as well as our daughter, Denise and son in law, Rene. Well done!

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.....

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I'm Repeating Myself Again

They say that happens when you get to a certain age. Well, here I am. I've hit a 'certain age' and I'm about to repeat myself. At least I'm going to repeat myself about the current Banking Problems.

The Democrats are blaming the Republicans (and capitalism in general) and the Republicans are blaming the Democrats.'d think it was an election year or something.

But the fact is, the root of the current Banking crisis is Greed, and our love of credit. The banks never should have gotten involved in subprime lending and investment banks never should have started buying the notes. The present situation shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. I've predicted it for years. And I'm an idiot! If a simpleton like me could see the danger, why couldn't others? My guess is, they could see it just fine, but greed kept them counting their monopoly money.

We reap what we sow. These institutions have sown seeds of bad loans and they've reaped a harvest of debt so plentiful they've buried themselves in the fruit of their labors.

And I say the Government should not bail them out, we should let the markets correct themselves. Government bailouts will only delay and sustain the problem.

For what it's worth, the current banking problems have resulted in only a fraction of the bank closures as the 88-92 banking crisis. But this is the age of the internet, the blogger and the day trader. Bad news is magnified and hyped like never before. Add in a dose of election year fever and a storm is brewing.

There are other contributing factors, like the oil price bonanza, but they were only the triggers or catalysts to bring down the house of cards on it's foundation of sand.

For those who have lost homes and dreams, I genuinely feel pain. I know what it's like to lose everything. I remember being 37 years old hand having all my worldly possessions in a suitcase and a carry on bag. I had no home, no job, no car, no money. But there is hope for you.

1. Trust God and do good and He will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37)
2. Stop borrowing
3. Stop relying on the Government. Take charge of your own future.
4. Work hard.
5. Live on less than you earn
6. Start an emergency fund
7. Get out of Debt
8. Save for a downpayment of at least 20% before you buy
9. ONLY accept a fixed rate mortgage. Don't listen to any other sales pitch...ever.
10. Don't borrow more than you can afford. $25% of your take home pay MAXIMUM. Don't listen to any crap about 44% debt to income ratio.
11. Seriously consider saving up until you can pay CASH for your house.
12. Pay your mortgage off early.

Ok, that's enough advice for one post. But I assure you, I'm right. I know from my failures and I know from my successes.

Now back to the banks. I'm sorry for the people who will lose their jobs, but for the institutions and their poor decision making, my sympathy pool has run dry.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Ok, I Take it Back!

If you recall, a couple of days ago I praised the Main Stream Media for publishing a pretty good article on money management. Today I am retracting my praise, because I found this little nugget on the same website and it really chaps my hide.

I have a variety of complaints,but the primary one is the nonsense that we need to keep raising a FICO score. What we need is to start a revolution that considers criteria other than FICO in making certain decisions about people. FICO is simply a record of how we've managed debt. But what if we've been successful and don't need debt? The priorities are all wrong. It's just one side effect of an economy built on credit and debt. Shame, shame, shame.

There are some other subtle errors in the article, but it is the under lying message that I resent. So.... boo, media. Boo, boo, boo.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

New Toll Free Number

Even in this day and age of email and text messaging, it's still important to be able to be contacted by phone. I have no idea why we didn't do this before now, but we've added a new toll free number to the ways we can be contacted here at IOU NO MORE and at "Sam Burton Presents", our Seminar and Workshop division. The number is: 1-888-367-5988.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Wells Fargo Made My Blood Boil!

We have our mortgage with Wells Fargo. We've been pretty happy with that division of the bank. We got a good rate and they communicate very well and very frequently. But the retail banking side of their operation just about put me back on my blood pressure medicine.

We got our mortgage rate as a part of our relocation package with my employer. After the account was set up, the mortgage office asked if we'd be willing to discuss checking and savings accounts with the retail side. I said, "sure".

The gist of the conversation was, because we had a our mortgage acct we could also get a free checking and savings acct. I said, "what the heck. Why not." As it turns out, only the first 6 mos were free. Now there's a $25 monthly fee. Never was that discussed. Never. I asked specifically, because I won't open an account that has fees. I don't need to.

So I called them today to complain and they said there was nothing they could do except reverse the monthly fee this one time. I disagreed. I assured them that there was one other possibility. They could close my checking and savings accounts. They complied immediately. They didn't want to try and save me. Why? They can't make money off of me if I don't pay fees. And apparently the interest rate on my mortgage isn't enough for them. End result: I am done with Wells Fargo. They lied to me and I can't do business like that. Grrrr................

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Good Advice

At a time when banking institutions are folding like lawn chairs, and confidence in those institutions is low, I was pleasantly surprised to receive a really great email from ING encouraging wise money management. They even recommended getting rid of credit cards. Hmmm........ maybe they read my book! I'm including the text below.

Dear Sam,
Customer Number: XXXXXXXXXX

As we enter the final few months of 2008, I want to thank you for your continued confidence in ING DIRECT. Over 700,000 new Savers have joined us so far this year strengthening the bank and their own financial footing through our savings, home mortgage and ShareBuilder investment accounts. Despite a challenging economic climate, our Customer base is 7 million strong and growing.

The consequences of the mortgage meltdown on financial institutions and individuals continue to erode many Americans' dreams. We will continue to stress the right way to achieve home ownership – buying only as much house as you can afford and paying off your mortgage as fast as possible. In return for good credit and prioritizing home investment, ING DIRECT mortgage Customers are rewarded with exceptional rates and a transparent, direct administration process. Rather than selling your mortgage to another bank or investor the minute you get it, we keep your mortgage and service it here. Doing so gives us flexibility to find innovative solutions to help Customers keep their homes during unexpected financial downturns.

While we don’t have an Orange crystal ball, we do expect the economy to remain fragile through 2009. The best course of action for our Customers is to be disciplined: avoid splurging; identify and cut out unnecessary expenses and save for what's essential; and hedge against those tough times. We can all benefit by developing good spending habits: confront - and cut up - credit cards; use your home as a savings vehicle - not as an ATM; and establish and contribute regularly to an IRA or 401(k).

In this difficult financial environment, we work tirelessly to safeguard your deposits, mortgages and investments. Importantly, your deposits are FDIC-insured according to its limits and your investments are SIPC-protected. Our security processes are the best in the business and are in place to protect your savings from those with bad intentions. While we are constantly vigilant, we need your help. Keep passwords to yourself. Never give personal information through an email. And always install both the latest antivirus and anti-malware software on your home computer.

Thank you for your continued trust in
ING DIRECT. We will not waver in our promise to provide you with great value, service, security and convenience.

Arkadi Kuhlmann
CEO of Savings

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Nice Changes to the IOU NO MORE Product Line

The simplest Money Management Plan on Earth just got better.
The IOU NO MORE Complete Forms Library has been been upgraded and updated. It is no longer merely superb. Now it is Amazing.
First, we added .ods spreadsheet versions of the spending plans for users who want the flexibility of customizable forms, but use Open Office rather than Microsoft Office. Then we added two new forms (in all formats, no less); a. the Ultimate Cash Flow Plan for those really detail oriented budgeters who want to keep their Spending Plan and Actuals in the same place, and b. the Ultimate Transaction Register for people who would like to list the budget category for a transaction at the same time they record it.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Back to Cash

Brittan and I started an experiment in money management a couple of weeks ago that is already paying off nicely. We've gone back to paying cash!

We got off the credit card merry go round some time ago (in fact, I would guess the last time we we had a credit card balance was probably sometime in 2005. Oh, we've used an American Express for booking plane tickets and the like, but we use that like a cash card for budgeted purchases higher than our daily limit on our debit card. But its only for budgeted purchases and is paid off within 24-48 hours of the charge hitting the account.

We use our debit card a great deal. We use it for groceries, for eating out, for paying bills online, for purchasing clothes, buying gasoline and a whole lot more. But we noticed while working our budget a couple of weeks ago, that we've had some "spending creep" find it's way into our bank account. We've been over spending our budget on eating out and groceries and the like, leaving a shortfall in a couple of areas like, clothes and mad money. So we decided to go "old school" and revert to the "envelope system" like we used in the beginning stages of our debt management plan. This time, we only use a few envelopes: groceries, eating out, 'mad money' and clothes. Next week I'm going to add pet supplies. Everything else is done electronically. Our bills are paid online (and most of them are automatically debited), and we have a couple of money market accounts attached to our checking account so we can move money in and out for things like Christmas, vacations, emergency fund, etc. The only checks we write are to the Church for our tithe.

Anyway, in only two weeks, by paying cash rather than using debit cards, we've actually gone UNDER budget in the categories in which we've been over spending. It's just like back in the old "get out of debt" days, when you have to part with actual greenbacks, many things are just not as tempting.

Saturday was a classic example. We were hungry and had some shopping to do, so we discussed where we could go out and eat at a reasonable cost and stay on our Weight Watcher program. After discussing several items, I said, you know what, let's just eat before we go and save the cash. B thought it was a great idea and that's exactly what we did. Cool!

It's fun. It's nostalgic and best of all, it has left cash in my wallet. We even made logos for our shirts that celebrate the theme. They say, "Go Green.........Pay with Cash!"

What can I say, we're corny and we like to brag about it!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

A Couple Small Website Changes and a Revelation

This morning I made a couple of small changes to the website. One was long overdue and the other was born of a small epiphany I had this morning. Trust me on this, even small epiphanies are exhausting for simpletons like me.

First, I finally added IOU NO MORE (the Book) to our shopping cart. For a year now, it's been available via all major online bookstores, ebay and a variety of brick and mortar bookstores around the country. But we didn't offer it. The logic was simple (it has to be with me), we wanted to promote traditional channels for buying the book. It was free marketing. And it's been great. But now it's time to add a new method for getting the material, the IOU NO MORE shopping cart. We still have a link to the page for IOU NO MORE in order to give shoppers multiple methods of purchasing.

Actually, the best bang for the buck is the IOU NO MORE Starter Kit, and that one is ONLY available on our shopping cart. That kit is loaded for bear!

Now for the epiphany. I have been scouring the internet and other sources researching the various budget and money management plans out there. There are a bunch of them. And I mean a bunch. Some are quite elaborate. Some are really cool. Some are flashy. Some are complicated. Some are duds.

After all the comparisons, it became abundantly clear, that the simplest, easiest to use forms and plans were mine! IOU NO MORE truly has the "Simplest Money Management Plan on planet earth." And I'm ok with that!

Friday, September 5, 2008

More Bad News

Gotta link to this. Just read that Foreclosures have again reached an all time high. There is a lot of pain out there. Good can come of this. It will take work, but the future can be bright even for those going through the darkest of times. Read about the crisis HERE.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Financial Regrets, Financial Hope

I don't think about money all the time. I certainly don't love money. Heck, I don't even like it. I know it doesn't like me. Every dime I've ever had has worked it's darnedest to get out of my hand and into someone else's as quickly as possible.

I have made more mistakes with money than I can begin to number. Pretty much, I've made them all. From the time I was a small boy, I have been foolish with money. I was 43 years old before I began to learn how to control it. And it took the better part of the next seven years to clean up the mistakes. I regret those years. I regret those financial travesties. I regret hurting people I care about with my financial foolishness.

But the biggest regret of all is the time. I can't believe that a man of reasonable intelligence and education, took so very long to learn basic money management. And there are consequences. One huge one is that because of my late start, I had no money set aside for retirement. I mean zero. Oh, I guess there was a little in Social Security somewhere, but by the time I retire I doubt there will be anything there. As a result, I am playing catch up. In order to try and have a little something down the road, I have to put more aside than the average person who starts early. Even then, I won't have anywhere near what I could have if I had started in my 20s putting away even paltry sums.

Start early, if you can. Set aside 10% of your wages in pre tax savings. If you start late, like I did, you will need to make it more like 15%. Plus, once you're over 50, the current tax laws allow "make up" payments. Just do it.

Having said all that, our financial future is not bleak. We have great hope. We are on a good path. We don't do debt, so we have a chance to do some serious catch up. Brittan and I have to catch ourselves every so often so that we don't slip back into old habits. We are determined to finish strong. And we will. Anyone can. It's all about changing behavior. Simple. Not easy, but simple.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Why are we so committed to debt? I don't have the answer, I'm just asking the question. Tonight I have a ton of them, questions that is. Why do we feel we have to have everything NOW? At what point did the human race lose the concept of 'delayed gratification'? I read recently, and I think it was Dave Ramsey quoting Larry Burkett, that in 1929 only 2% of home owners had a mortgage. By 1962 only 2% DIDN'T have a mortgage.

It feels like our entire culture has become so "entitlement" minded that we want to get everything we want. We want to get it now. And if we can't afford it, too bad. If we get to the point we can no longer pay for the stuff we borrowed money to obtain, we look for ways to default on the debt or we expect the Government to bail us out. It's crazy.

But even in the midst of this madness, there are pockets of people all over the country (and the world) who are finally beginning to understand. They are the ones who give me hope. They are the ones who keep the Revolution alive.

Guess I should never blog when I have the blues.