Archive for August, 2012

Money in the Bank & Trust

If you’re a farmer and raise livestock, or you have a backyard farm, then feed or hay should be considered “Money in the Bank”!  We had our hay delivered today, and that is a picture of it stacked and ready to get us through the next 11-12 months.  Right now we have 4.5 tons of prime third cutting Eastern Oregon orchard grass hay.  It smells wonderful, and the animals LOVE it.  But one problem, HAY IS EXPENSIVE!  I’m guessing in other parts of the country where the summer rains just haven’t come, hay is getting close to cost prohibitive.  This year we are paying $280.oo/ton.  That is the most we have had to pay to get good hay.  We could purchase lesser quality hay and save some money, but then we would be hurting our animals.  It is hard to find the fine line between quality and price.  How do we make the decision?  We have found an expert to get us our hay, and we trust her and her knowledge.

I think this is the key to many items we have to purchase.  Trust!  You have to find someone that you trust.  Do you trust the person helping you at the car dealership when you are buying a new or used car?  Can you trust your realtor?  How about the guy you see every week at the grocery store in the produce section?  Do you trust what they are telling you and do you take their word for it.  This is one of the reasons we became “farmers”, trust.  We didn’t trust where our meat (beef, pork or poultry), eggs or dairy were coming from.  We decided to become the experts for ourselves, and we now raise our own meat and eggs, and within the year our own dairy products.

You need to trust who you are working with, but for me, it’s most important if you trust yourself first.  There were a few times when me and my wife were first married that we didn’t trust ourselves when we didn’t feel good about a certain purchase or insurance.  We went against what we felt was right because we didn’t want to hurt the person we sort of knew.  That ended hurting us financially.  We purchased insurance products that made us no money and only made our “friend” money.  We’ve learned to trust ourselves first.

TRUST YOURSELF first and then you can know if you can trust others!

The reason our hay is money in the bank is because we will now not have to pay to feed our animals this year.  It is paid for and we’ll get a return out of it.  If we feed our female animals well, we’ll get healthy babies that we can sell, we’ll get a brand new baby cow and then we’ll start getting milk, and then from this hay, we’ll have milk, eggs, cheese, butter, ice cream, fiber from our alpacas to sell and we’ll make money from the babies we can sell.  That is money well spent!

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What a phone call will do!

The last two days, my lunch hours have been busy with making phone calls trying to get some information and trying to save us some money.  Ok, that’s an overstatement, my lunches really were not that busy, but I got a lot done!

Let me give you a little bit of history about our financial situation between me and my wife.  When we were married (20 years ago next month!), I took care of our finances.  Well, let me say I was in charge of our finances and I did a TERRIBLE job.  Think about the worst case scenario, and I was about 2 months away from that.  At that point, in comes my savior, my wife!  She took over the finances at that point (just over 15 years ago) and we have been good ever since.  Now if you ask my wife if we’ve been good ever since she will say “NO!”.  I just say we were good because I stopped worrying about money and let my wife take over everything.  She would talk about money and I would hear the words, but really didn’t understand.  It was causing her stress and I could see that but she was doing better than I ever did, so no need to worry.

Now, over the last 15 years, we’ve purchased three different homes (because of moves), we have a rental, we run a small farm, our bills are paid, and she has done an amazing job with keeping us going every month.  Yes, we have debt, but we thought that is what we were suppose to have.  Take out the mortgages, our debt is big but it isn’t HUGE (but BIG).  Last year my wife asked me to take over the finances again and I said sure, then ignored it.  Well, she helped me to not ignore it in June.  She told me that in July, I was taking over with her helping me and we’d do it together (which I should have been doing for the last 15 years).  We’ve decided to fight this debt together, we’ve both read Dave Ramsey’s “Total Money Makeover” and we agree with most of what he states and are on a path to getting there.

So, with our new found drive, I’ve been making some phone calls  to see how I can save us some money each month.  Here’s a list of some of the ways we are going to save with about 30 minutes worth of phone calls over the last two lunches.

  1. a 5 min phone call that lowered our CenturyLink bill from over $100/month to $65/month and we are getting better internet with it and have more phone features than we did before.
  2. a 3 min phone call to one of our credit cards to have our interest rate lowered 2% points.
  3. a 3 min phone call to the hospital (where I had surgery this summer) to get bill and found out our bill is around $150 instead of the $29,000!  (thanks insurance!)
  4. 5 min call and 2 min online form to have extra money stopped from being taken out of my check for retirement (still have employer money going in each month) to put towards our debt snowball and then once that is paid off it will go back to our retirement monthly.
  5. Two 5 min calls (had to find info and call back) to credit union and we have a 3.99% interest rate on a new card for transfers.  Will be paying off 18.99% Discover card and have it in a $3.99% rate with a CU we trust.
  6. 5 min call to MetLife to close out an old account that we are not using (and haven’t done anything with in 9 years) so we can control it better where we want it.

So, six (ok, 7 since I didn’t have all the info needed when I call the CU) phone calls and I’ve save us well over $500/month on payments or lowering our debt.  I think it’s been a pretty productive two days of lunches.

How have you saved money with a phone call?

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