My Insurance Almost Cost Me $3,500 – A teeth grinding story…

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Background Story

Teeth grinding. For a few months early 2017, I was constantly battling the decision whether or not to consult a specialist to rid myself of this nightly annoyance.

With my Great War of Debt in full-fledged battle mode, any dollars spent on getting treatment would directly swing the momentum back into the bad guy’s hands. Jack and I both agree, as would most in the PF community, that health (physical, mental, diet, etc) is top priority our life priority list.

Do you agree? Let us know in the comments!

The reason I hesitated was the same reason I’ve been holding off on getting new glasses – neither were of high importance. Because my medical condition doesn’t really trouble me much (almost like a sore knee or something similar) and my eye prescription hasn’t changed, urgency was low. In other words, it might not be worth the money to worry about it now – nonetheless, I decided better to keep it in check now.

The Beginning – The Free Consultation and Evaluation

I called the doctors office and scheduled an appointment, making sure they were on my insurance network and that the first consultation was free.

The first visit consisted of x-rays and some different test the doctor went through. The results were as expected, nothing major of concern but could worsen if left alone. He recommended getting a protective device to wear at night, leading me to the most important question of the visit: “How much will that cost sir?” 

The doctor replied, “Let us talk to your insurance for specific pricing, then give you a call.”

The Pricing Call

“After talking to your insurance, the price of your guard will be $450. We offer financing if needed to reduce the upfront cost”

I stewed on it for a few days and looked into the guard they were offering to make sure it was worth buying. My research found good results from use and the price with my insurance was actually a great deal – Let’s do this! I called to let them know of the decision and schedule a visit fitting of the appliance and updated my budget to include the new line item.

The Fitting and Follow Up Visit

Fitting and Payment

Visiting the doctor’s office again for the fitting, everything was going as planned. The device was fit snug and I swiped my card for payment afterward. Riding home that day, I remember thinking how nice the doctor’s office was and that I looked forward to working with them on getting this thing solved once and for all!

I forgot to mention that with the new device, an appointment every two-three weeks was required for the first 3 months ($25 each) for adjustments and a checkup. No problem for me, since this has to do with a very important asset, my smile lol!

A Nasty Surprise…

Two or three months passed. My regular visits went smoothly while the appliance was regularly being put to use each night. Things were looking great, well…except that one particular day I received a statement in the mail from the doctor’s office – $3,500 owed!!!

Shaken with surprise (thankfully in the morning), I wait until they open and give the business office a ring. They informed me that my insurance had not paid the amount agreed on. It was on me to that call them to get everything settled to avoid paying the extra charges.

Let me again remind you, that this device had been in my saliva for 2-3 months at this time – would Target misprice a swimsuit that you bought, put to good use in your vacation in Cancun, then call you to tell you that you need to pay more money because they mispriced it? Probably not…

The three-way call

Have you ever tried to be the middleman between business and insurance when you have no idea what is going on? Me either, instead I created a nice three-way call with my smartphone to let them talk directly. What resulted was a game of “who’s responsible”

Basically, the doctor’s office had called my main insurance company’s contact number (the one on the back of my card) instead of the subsidiary insurance office that handles the claim.

Who would have thought they would handle the same device differently?

I would consider this error on the insurer’s side, because the business office called them to get the quote, then was told the quote was incorrect when processing it through. They decided to retry the claim processing,  but with an adjustment, thus we ended the call on a good note.

Summarizing the call to feel more positive than it actually was, more like being on a call with two siblings arguing over inheritance.

Statement #2

Seeing nothing in the mail until the following month, I was hoping to see the balance removed and everything to work out. Not so. A new statement arrived including the same amount owed: $3,800, appearing as if my insurance did nothing to pay towards the device.

Calling my insurance to check on this, I’m told that this issue needs to be taken up to a higher level and I’m put in touch with one of the managers. I feel like I’m getting somewhere – the lead states that he’ll look into it and not to worry about it because it wasn’t my fault.

Sounds good boss man, take it away!

Statement #3

Guess what happens the following month? You bet ya! The same statement amount!! I was shocked. Immediately I call the doctors office to let them know I’m working on the case, hoping they don’t call a collection agency or something on me (adulting is hard!). They assured me it was fine as long as I was working on it.

Honestly, I’m a bit infuriated with my insurance lead in the heat of the moment. I take a deep breath, count to ten, and the dial number, then ask to speak to my manager friend who was looking into this for me…he was no longer employed at the company.

It is actually pretty hard to look into a case when you no longer work at the insurance company…

Back to square one. I tell a bit of the story and ask to talk to anyone who could assist me, request obliged. She briefs me on the official process to get the claim repealed and paid for, requiring an official repeal to be written (by me) and reviewed at their next board meeting.

Now we’re talking!! I write this baby up in fifteen minutes with my story, professionally stating my concerns and send it over. Now I wait…

The hearing must have ended well for me because they sent me a letter with their agreement to rework the claim for me! I was ecstatic!

A Pleasant Surprise…

Months later, around 3-4 months later, I see an envelope addressed to me from guess who? The doctor’s office. Feeling some dread on a potential new balance and the cyclical battle continuing, I begin slowing tearing open the statement envelope.

My facial expression turns from dread to dumbfoundedness!

It wasn’t a statement after all, but a check! $450 sent to yours truly! My insurance came through by paying for everything – the doctors office reimbursed me since I overpaid!


Was it all worth it?

Absolutely!! I spent a total of two hours max rounding up the insurance calvary and writing the repeal. That’s $225 an hour! 

To me though, money isn’t the most important lesson from the whole story.

The take away I want to leave you with is this:

When put into a situation (money or life) where you feel that you have been wronged, misled, or wrongly placed responsible, then it is within character to stand up for yourself. Assertiveness and personal finance can go hand in hand, along with success and rational thinking for better decision making.

On the other hand, it is absolutely our responsibility to correct the mistakes we make in our life, both are imperative to being an amazing spouse, parent, and friend.

Thanks for reading!!

Have an interesting story that you could share? Leave a comment – we’d love to hear it!


How I made $540/hr very briefly

Paying for Cable

Early Retirement Sin Confession: Forgive me Mustache, for I have sinned (and continue to sin).

I’m one of the seemingly few youngish people who pays for cable TV. What’s worse — I pay for extra services, including an upgraded channel lineup, cloud DVR, HD service, and two additional TV’s. This monthly black hole exists on top of Amazon Prime (which includes some  streaming options) and an on-again, off-again relationship with Netflix. For a prospective early retiree, this expenditure is absurd. The cable portion of my monthly bill represents nearly $33,000 that I need in the portfolio to support this expense post-retirement. Whaaaaat?!

How I Justify the Cable Expense to Myself

  1. Hours of entertainment. Between football, basketball, MMA, and a few select shows, I watch approximately 300 hours cable of TV per year. That comes out to about $4 / hour. If I was simply watching TV on my own, I’d consider this to be a high price to pay, but that brings me to point #2.
  2. Time with friends. Of my local cohort, I’m in the best position to be hosting game nights. Parts of my house are designed around having anywhere from just one friend to 20-30 people gathered around for good times and hopefully good games.
  3. Time with family. A few years ago, my wife capitulated on sports: if you can’t beat them, join them. She’s now a huge fan of basketball and will occasionally scout out other sports. Some of our best recent memories are centered around the mutual enjoyment of rooting for our favorite athletes.
  4. Alternative costs. If I didn’t have access to sports at home, I’d certainly spend a decent chunk of money catching big events at a bar. Paying for cable at home is an alternative to spending upwards of 3 hours gorging on expensive appetizers and drinks.

I’m going to continue to pay for TV service; why not get the best price?

My last bill went up by $20 on the cable side alone. I called up my provider and asked for a better deal, and the customer service rep said there was nothing she could do. I told her that I’d be leaving for another provider if there was no alternative plan available. And truthfully, I mean it. I have no problem switching around service companies in order to leverage competition and save a few bucks.

Eventually I spoke to a retention team member, and that rep was able to shave $15/mo off my bill for a year. A 20 minute phone call saved me $180 over the next 12 months, meaning I made $540 per hour for a brief 20 minute window. Not too bad.

Can I still write FI/RE articles?

By paying for premium cable services, I might be a counterculture iconoclast among the FI cohort. Feel free to use the comments to roast me, just don’t forward this to Mr. Money Mustache please. I don’t want no face punches!

Celebrate Labor Day! Why We Work Like Hell for Our Money

A guy leaning on his chair smiling with his computer monitor in front of him at his desk.

Happy Labor day! With many of us getting the day off from work spending our time with friends and family instead, we reflect on just how important they can be in our lives.

The FIRE movement for most of us taking it on can be boiled down to the sentence: “I want more time.” More time for friends and family, more time for my passions, and more time to do whatever the hell I want.

Labor Day celebrates the hard working men and women of this country, those who help make her the wonderful country we know her to be.

We work like hell to live the life we want or meet the needs we have to live.

We work like hell to achieve our goals…

We work like hell to provide for our families…

We work like hell to travel, expunge, and live life to the fullest…

In condensed form, we celebrate today all of the hard work from our full time, part time, contract, and side-hustles we grind on each and every day! We recognize and commend all of you honest hard working people in the world, and hope that the personal finance community contributes knowledge to ourselves and those who want to become Dukes over their castle!

Some History

Quotes taken from The Department of Labor

Labor Day became a recognized legal holiday on June 28th, 1894. It “is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It

It “is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contribution workers who have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”

It was first celebrated in New York City on September 5, 1882. They organized street parades to “exhibit to the public “the strength and espirit de corps of the trade and labor organizations” of the community”

After the parade, a festival for the workers and families was held where leaders of the labor movements would speak. It was because of the labor force the USA has obtained such a high standard of living and contributes to the GDP so greatly.

“…it is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom, and leadership – the American worker.”

Have you ever heard the “I don’t have enough money excuse?”

Why the words make my blood boil!

The 6 words that make my blood boil the easiest.

It is quite understandable that if you are doing all you can, not spending your money on unnecessaries, and still struggling to make ends meet. Minimum wage employment doesn’t make it easy to save mass amounts of money or single mothers with two jobs struggling to afford everything their children need. We can’t fault those who are trying their hardest to do what is right with their money, but obtaining more is a real challenge for them.

It is NOT understandable when people who say “I don’t have enough money,” only because they spent it on “needs.” All channel Dish TV packages are not a need. Sunday ticket isn’t a need. Drinks at the bar, guess what? They aren’t a real need.

It is absolutely a requirement to consistently spend less than you earn if you want to rid yourself of such an awful 6-word sentence. The greatest part – it is totally in your control!

You’re in control

“We don’t live to work but work to live.”

Be reliable and disciplined. Work hard. Each month you get paychecks deposited in your bank account, guess who is responsible for dictating where it goes? You!!

We’re here to help – let us know if you have any questions!

Avoid the dumb mistakes

Following instant gratitude and doing something such as cashing out your 401(k) early, causing you to take the 10% penalty and pay taxes, while also giving up your most valuable asset in investing – the magic of time with compound interest, IS NOT a good financial decision.

Instead, follow the simplicity of our roadmap or research financial decisions to do what is best for the long term. One of our favorite quotes from Mr. Munger sums it up remarkably:

Charlie Munger and Warren Buffet sitting at a desk from the annual meeting.

We believe in you!


Make the choice to do what it takes!

Reward yourself

Celebrate the wins on your milestone map!

Deserve it!

There’s one easy way to achieve the life you want to – deserving it! Work hard to learn your craft. Research the financial decisions to move you in the right direction. Sacrifice and struggle. Celebrate the little things. Give back. Experience everything on that bucket list. As Will Smith says “Love living your life!”.

Wrapping it up

We work like hell not to make our life hell. Not to become indebted to the banks of the world. We work like hell to live, not to pay back credit card interest rates of 18%. We work like hell to make our future worth living for, to provide for our families, travel the world, enjoy those restaurants you always wanted to try (for special occasions). We work like hell to love our life!

Labor Day is the celebration of working like hell for ourselves and for our countries. Celebrate it!!

How do you plan to celebrate today?Why do you work like hell in your life? Tell us in the comments!

A More Perfect Union

To our fellow countrymen and women:

On this long Independence Day weekend, as you gather with your family, remember that we are all Americans. We are traversing an unprecedented political climate, one that we have searched far and wide for some historical parallel in vain: we have found no situation for comparison and lessons to learn. This is new. And it’s serious. The past six months have been absurdly comical, and we’ve all had a good laugh at memes and jokes. However, the next six months will be significantly more purposeful, as laws and regulations change and more information comes to light about the potential misdeeds of the Trump campaign and administration.

An attempt at impeachment seems to be imminent. If that process begins, we urge all of us to weigh the facts without prejudice. Trust in the rule of law to do the same and to determine the fate of the current administration in the executive branch. Most importantly, look not at your brothers and sisters who oppose you politically as enemies; they are family. A divisive “us vs them” mentality is dangerous. No matter which way the civic wind blows, we must weather this storm as united citizens. In a climate of passionate partisanship and ideology, we need to maintain our calm and not resort to violence or hatred of our fellow man.

Both sides of the struggle wish for America to be better. All of us have different ideas on how to make that happen, but we must remind ourselves that our opposition has the same goal: a better life for themselves, their family, their friends, their neighbors. Let’s achieve that goal together.


The practice

I pull up to an intersection, and the oncoming traffic is approaching briskly, but I have a small window: if I gun it, I can merge in. “Patience.” I’m working with a customer who is demanding and irate. My blood pressure spikes, I feel an adrenaline surge, and my mind starts racing. “Patience.” Negotiations have stalled and neither party is budging; I know I have a strong hand but want to close the deal quickly. “Patience.”

My mind’s voice is so trained to utter this simple word that it emerges from my subconscious before I even start to think about the correct course of action. It all began when I realized that my aggressive driving was a detriment to my life and well-being. I set out to lighten my lead foot, quell my road rage, and eliminate close calls. I found a simple, perfect solution. Every time I would encounter a driving situation where my heart would skip a beat and I’d feel an urge to wildly maneuver, I uttered the word, “Patience.” First, the practice was out-loud, and then I simply said the word in my head.

The payoff

The results of this practice are immediately tangible. Sure, sometimes, I lose a few seconds on my route. I’ve even had to drive passed my exit to take the next ramp, backtracking to my destination. But I gained an enormous amount of safety. I gained control over my emotions. And I gained a powerful tool that has applications in nearly all aspects of my life.

From a zenful perspective, waiting patiently is an experience far removed from waiting impatiently. The patient mindset lends itself neatly to a peaceful acceptance of stillness. We’re so inclined to move from activity to activity that a lull in between appointments can leave us frazzled and agitated. Instead of fidgeting or whipping out our phones when we’re unexpectedly forced to wait for a few minutes or even a couple hours (airports, anyone?) – upon discovery of a delay, instead opt to tell yourself, “Patience.” Sit. Smile. Relax. Observe. A trial is not what you must endure in these circumstances but a gift for you to appreciate, only if you accept it with a spirit of patience.

Wield the weapon of patience in these arenas

Professional life

Patience can help unveil opportunities that you might’ve otherwise overlooked. Turning down a job offer that’s not quite right only to find better employment around the corner, humoring that annoying coworker who ends up being your boss down the road, or simply being kind to yourself when you’re stuck on a difficult problem: there are so many ways that a patient mindset can benefit you professionally if you adopt it as a habit.

In today’s economy, moving from job to job and company to company has proven to be the best way to boost your salary in the long term. However, when you find a company that takes care of you and pays you market rate or slightly above, sometimes it’s best to ride out the rough patches. Especially if your management is excellent, you can be rewarded for longevity with an employer. You’ll only be able to count the years at a single company if you approach your work and its drawbacks with patience.


Waiting for a sale can help you secure a substantial discount. I’ll often set a price alert on SlickDeals or CamelCamelCamel for an item that I covet. I’ve found that – given enough time – the price I want almost always arrives. Sometimes I’ll get an email from an alert I set a couple years ago, and I just chuckle, “I forgot I even wanted that!”

In fact, just putting a few days in between the urge to buy and the actual expenditure can eliminate a lot of unnecessary impulse buying. We have implemented Online Shopping Sundays in our household, partially to curtail costly clicking and partially so that our deliverymen stop hating us for our daily porchload.


Much like buying things, purchasing investments is an activity best approached with a motherlode of patience. If you’re the type of person to calculate the intrinsic value of a stock or bond, then trust your judgement and wait for the correct price point. Don’t rush in before the price dips below the your desired entry point. Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett’s “Abominable No-man,” likes to say no to 99.99% of opportunities that cross his desk so that he’s flush with capital for the best opportunity that comes along. Then he says yes, yes, yes!

When you own investments that are repriced by the second, you’ll often find your holdings “underperforming” – losing money on your balance sheet. If you’ve done your homework and know the value of your asset, and the underlying economic engine hasn’t suffered some malady, just sit tight. Riding out the lows with years- or decades-long patience can be extremely rewarding. Some investments muddle along for years in a low band before skyrocketing when the market seems to suddenly wake up and double the price in short order.


Your spouse may have an irritable spell, seem to be on your case, or just be down in the dumps sometimes. Instead of burning a short fuse, have some compassion and apply patience to your relationship. Being combustible in these circumstances can do lasting damage to the person you love most and the feelings that you have for each other.

If you’re itching to see a friend, and he’s turned down the last few invitations, takes a long time to respond to texts if he does at all, or maybe you saw him on a group outing that excluded you: try being patient. Keep checking in every so often and continue extending invitations to connect. A brief respite in your friendship may be just that: temporary. But if you press too hard, seem too needy, or just plain give up, then you might just sever ties for good. Friends are hard to find, good friends are rare, and great friends are one of life’s most precious treasures. Keep them nearby by gifting them a bit of patience when they need it.

Just a meek little word

“Patience” isn’t the most robust word in the English language. It’s hard to say with gusto. You’d seem a little silly if you ever screamed it at someone, even an obstinate toddler. “PATIENCE!” It just doesn’t sound right. It’s a word best whispered or maybe said with assertiveness. Despite its plush surface, behind those two syllables is a deep well of power. The more you tap into patience, the more it rewards you. Next time you feel an aggressive impulse arise, try saying it to yourself: “Patience.”

Build Your Personal Finance Strength Using Milo’s Progressive Overload Principle

Miloh - A wieght lifter squating with a squat bar holding 4 plates of 45 on each side.

You may have read the title, looked at the picture, and visited the mind palace to double check your comprehension of Progressive Overload. What in the world does weight training have to do with personal finance or other areas in our life?

If we take a step back to think in mental models like our role model Charlie Munger, then we can see that applying principles from other disciplines can help on our own. Humor us for a moment, allowing us to explain in more detail.

The Story of Milo of Croton

Nearly 2,500 years ago in 540 BC, Milo won his first men’s wrestling competition – displaying outstanding athleticism and strength in the match. He went on to win the next 5 Olympic games!

The story goes as such:

Miloh - A picture of a brown calf standing in grassOne morning, Milo was given a baby calf to care for. Back in those days, water didn’t come out of your kitchen sink nor did food come out of a fridge. His calf’s water and food supply was on top of a mountain/hill. Each day Milo played sack of potatoes by carrying his new friend up the mountain for nourishment. Similarly to our first day at the gym in awhile, he was EXHAUSTED by the time he reached the top; most likely taking a nap while the calf roamed free.

The first week flew by and reaching the top became a piece of cake, well that was until the calf grew like young things do in our world. As the calf grew, Milo grew stronger too – how else could he eventually carry a mature cow on his shoulder up a mountain?

Thus, the principle of progressive overload was born. By gradually increasing the weight one lifts, you gradually increase one’s muscles to meet new heights! Now, where does this fit into personal finance and life?

Beginning Anew

Starting from scratch or from detrimental results in your finances reminds me of poor Milo when he had to carry that calf up the hill for the first time. His body was weak, his legs were wobbling, and his belly began growling. People can start learning personal finance at any age – especially in the internet era. It creates a huge opportunity for us all. The opportunity to start carrying the calf on your shoulder, gaining more strength in your personal finance knowledge bank every day. Turning those little gains into budgets, 401(k) investments, and philosophy.

We’ve said it before, and we will say it again, there’s one way to make your life into the life you dream of. Follow the “do something” principle!! We understand feeling lost in the mumbo jumbo of managing your money, and that’s how the idea of blogging begin. We saw a need to give people a roadmap to their successful personal monetary policy by wielding the most powerful tool in their lives: money.

The principle requires overloading your muscles to build them, then once they have recovered to handle more weight, you increase it. The same can be done for learning about finances. Start simple, build yourself up to more complex.

Start Carrying Your Calf

We talked you through the mental model, the story, and related it to personal finance. Now, here are some tips we recommend for getting started!


  1. Start your journey
    • Our “get started” page introduces you to our blog, helping you to build your financial kingdom!
  2. Subscribe to top financial blogs from Rockstar Finance’s Directory
    1. Read one article a day, then two, then three..overloading your brain as you go
  3. Ask questions!
    1. Each financial blog has a comments section, we want to help change the lives of our readers – have a question for us to help with? Ask it :).
  4. Do Something!
    1. You may not be able to carry your full portfolio up the mountain yet, but start by dedicating time to research how – one small step at a time
    2. Your savings might not be where you want, make your budget and make a few cuts now!
    3. Check out our recommendations and others from your local library

No one can change your life except you. People can help, guide, and support. Take a second to remember how you made it to the moment we call the present. How did you get here? It was a sum of the decisions you’ve made in your life. Are you where you want to be? Either way, you (and also the Master Dukes) have much to be thankful for.

Milo and his calf proved that adding progressively to your life builds into huge results later. Let’s learn from Milo and take advantage of this principle to be better…in finances, and in our life, one small step at a time.

Is this the best FI/RE movie scene? (NSFW)

Great scene, eh movie

I was thinking recently about a time that a previous employer asked me to do something completely unsavory. I tried to negotiate out of it, and I was turned down. After hanging up the phone, I started thinking about this scene. I’m not a big fan of Marky Mark or the movie in general, but I’ll always remember the wise words of John Goodman. I remember sitting in the theater thinking about walking out on a boring movie when this scene started playing. Hard not to cheer when big ol’ John gets going!

Being partway there

Even if you’re not ready for early retirement, being on the path opens up doorways that previously didn’t exist. When you’re trying to save up enough money to last you a life time, you can walk away from something you don’t want to do. That’s power over your life.

Are there any other good FI/RE movies or scenes out there?

7 Personal Finance Tips for the Newly Graduated – Become a Duke!

Tips - Graduates wearing gowns on top of a hill, throw their caps in the air to celebrate graduation.

Congratulations, you have accomplished a long-term 4 year (or longer) goal of obtaining your new degree!!!

With this milestone checked off the list, you begin your transition into adulting. Many commencement speakers have shared their messages with graduates all across the country. While thinking back to our own graduations, we realized that personal finances were MIA during those crucial moments. Please allow us to share our tips with you today, hoping to spark the flame towards a very strong and fortified future kingdom!!

Tip 1: Start building your kingdom early

Get a jump-start on our roadmap, beginning with steps I-V asap!

  • Consistent Income
    • The more income you accumulate, the more money you save and invest
  • Start Budgeting
    • Control the flow of your resources in and out of your newly minted bank account. By learning to budget while your expenses are minimal compared to family life, you prepare yourself to be a better provider later.
  • Commit to a better future for your family
    • Personal finances are a war between your income, expenses, savings, and investments throughout your life. Commit now to direct your life in the direction you want to go.
  • Begin contributing to your company’s 401K
    • Bigger paychecks mean bigger tax payments, utilize your 401(k) to change up the game!
  • Emergency Fund
    • Many Americans are unable to handle emergencies in their life, causing much stress. Be different and level up your emergency fund early!

Tip 2 – Compound interest

Tip - Compound interest chart showing $100 dollars climbing to $541 dollars in 30 years.
Chart taken from



Let’s take a look at $100 invested today, compounding at 6% interest over 30 years. In simplest terms, the first year you earn 6% on $100, earning $6 for a sum of $106. The second year, you earn 6% on $106, earning 6.36, totaling $112.36. Each year you earn the same percentage, but on a greater sum of money. By year 30, that original $100, becomes $541 dollars, and you didn’t have to do a thing!

Taking advantage of compound interest by investing early = savvy financial prowess


For the newly graduated, this demonstrates compound interest at its simplest form. It doesn't account for varying earnings or inflation rates.




Tip 3 – Pay off high-interest debt!

DO NOT. WE REPEAT. DO NOT. let yourself get into high interest credit card debt. A very serious situation occurs when your minimum payment doesn’t cover the amount of interest being added to your balance each month. The cycle will never end and your kingdom will not be built.

For example (using fake numbers for easier expression):

Let’s say you owe $110 on a 20% interest  rate credit card. They are offering you the opportunity to make minimum payments of $10 on your balance. After the first month, you pay $10 on the balance, decreasing it to $100. They add the 20% interest, or $20 in this case to the balance. Although you made a payment of $10, you now owe the company $120. You’re payment didn’t touch the principal, only the interest, so each month your balance will continue increasing.

We ask you future Duke, spend less than you earn, and NEVER fall victim to this construction halting catastrophe.

Tip - South Park character holding ski poles, with the text on the image stating: "If you use credit cards irresponsibly, you're gonna have a bad time"

Tip 4 – Make independent decisions for your finances, as traditional wisdom isn’t always true

Adulting is hard work. It takes learning from experience and sometimes learning from experts in areas you don’t have intellect in. The old saying, take it with a grain of salt comes to mind. Why? Because financial advisors don’t always have your best interest, and Billy down by the inn doesn’t know what he’s talking about. When it comes to your LIFE and your FINANCES, you must be in control. Research or seek proper help before making big life decisions that determine your future stability.

In 2007, experts and neighbors alike were loving the house market boom, until it all fell down! People lost their homes, couldn’t afford payments, and held upside down loans. People were investing in areas they didn’t know anything about because he-say, she-say recommended it. It ended up causing the Great Recession with many filing bankruptcy (due to all of the subprime mortgage loans that increased rates) who couldn’t pay their bills. After the crash, many were very scared to invest into the stock market. The investors who independently decided that rather than sell, they bought many shares of stock at very discounted rates – growing their wealth in the recovery. Both examples show why independent can save or make you money in the financial world.

For those too young to remember, check out the The Fall of the Market.

Tip 5 – Order the same sets of Pyrex Storage Containers

One of the most frustrating parts of food prep is searching through a bunch of different lids, trying to find the right lid for the right containers. Instead, buy the Pyrex containers below with lid coloring and various sizes. It will make your Sundays easier for the times ahead.

Pyrex Containers on Amazon

Tip 6 – Experiences are where it’s at!

Two scenarios:

  1. Spend $100 each weekend in a month bar hopping downtown
  2. Save $80 by spending $20 on frugal activities each weekend, then scheduling a weekend get-away with your friends or spouse

The experiences at the bars downtown are consistent. New weekend, same drinks, same people. Experiences, like hiking to a waterfall and staying at a national park log cabin, will be a memory full of pictures that lasts a li, like hiking to a waterfall and staying at a national park log cabin,

ey always bar hop though! Live for the experiences by prioritizing what is most important to you in your life, then do what it necessary to make those bucket list experiences happen.

Tip - a man standing beisde a water fall with his arms in the air.

Tip 7 – Easy to incorporate frugal habits

Concluding Thoughts

A huge step in our lives begins when we start to receive that first salaried paychecks. The first time you take a peek, you’re going to be flabbergasted and scream hallelujah!! With barely any assets or family, the world is yours. It is in that moment we hope to inspire you to recognize the opportunity you have. By making smart decisions from the get go, you won’t have to make a comeback in your finances. You will dominate the game from tip off!!

Spice up your dating life with EXTREME DATING!

Dating – a costly adventure

Extreme dating – WOOOO!!! No, we’re not talking about expanding your dating game to include sky diving or free-climbing El Capitan. As a financial blog, we’re more focused on the money side of the mating ritual. Whether you’re an old married couple counting the decades or “just talking” with that cute chick, you’re going to be spending money on dates. Let’s think about how to get the most out of those dollars. Some of the most standard and boring dates cost a moderate amount, while the most exciting and oddball ideas can be completely free. So by extreme dating, we’re proposing that you put effort and creativity into finding a whole lotta cheap but fun dates and then use the leftover money to do something truly special on rare occasion.

Extreme Examples

Check out these date ideas. Would you rather experience the column on the left (“standard”) or the right (“extreme!!!1111”)? Five standard dates, or 4 extremely cheap dates followed by 1 extremely expensive date?


Date ideas

Date ideas - "Standard"Cost Date ideas - "Extreme!!"Cost
Total for 5 dates$403.00Total for 5 dates$401.40
Bar hopping$75.00A bottle of liquor and Klosterman's questions$15.00
Steakhouse night with wine and Redbox$82.00Jig saw puzzle with cheese n wine at home$20.00
Movie theater night$36.00Costco samples as appetizers, rotisserie chicken, Netflix and chill$6.40
A cheap concert by that local band we saw a few years ago$50.00Library books, comfy chairs, and a rainy day$-
Nosebleed seats to see your favorite sports team in the playoffs$160.00Amazing seats to see your favorite sports team in the playoffs$360.00

Klosterman’s Questions, for the curious. Feel free to discuss your answers in the comments!

Both sides add up to roughly the same cost, and honestly – all the ideas sound like fun. But when you combine the four cheap dates in the Extreme side, on date #5 you’re able to spend the leftover money on much better playoff tickets. When I attend a sports game, I feel a world of difference between sitting behind a pole on the upper concourse and sitting close enough to throw a beer at a referee if the need arises. Others may find scant marginal utility in this example, but the point remains.

You can apply the same logic to dinner dates.

Dinner ideas

Dinner Dates - "Standard"Cost Dinner Dates - "Extreme!!"Cost
Total for 10 dinners$665.00Total for 10 dinners$665.00
Dinner @ Chili's, with dessert$45.00Geocaching and a fast food value menu$10.00
"Anywhere but another chain restaurant please"$70.00What's good at the farmer's market? Let's make that tonight!$20.00
Dinner @ the local Mexican place, with margaritas$55.00Dinner @ Mexican place: split a meal and stick to waters$15.00
Let's go out with friends and just have a couple drinks and bar food$95.00I make the beans, you make the rice - while we jam out to 80's music$2.00
How about that steak house where you throw peanut shells on the floor?$90.00Food truck night$18.00
Dinner @ Red Lobster$65.00While you're at the grocery store, hit up the salad bar please$12.00
I'm craving italian - doesn't that one joint make their own pasta?$65.00Do we have any leftovers in the freezer?$4.00
Dinner @ the fresh local "good" place, with a bottle of wine$125.00A picnic and disc golf$15.00
Hey, grab Chipotle on your way home babe$25.00Cousin Betty gave us peppers and zuccini from her garden - fajitas?$9.00
Two for twenty? Yeah I guess$30.00Three courses @ Bouley with wine pairings$560.00

If you’ve never experienced a chef’s tasting at one of the premiere restaurants in the world, it might be worthwhile to add the idea to your bucket list. As relatively frugal people, dropping $500 – $1000 on a single dinner for two sounds absolutely insane. And perhaps it is. But you’ll never, ever forget the experience. Our generation loves to eat out, but we do it so frequently that it becomes kinda mundane and boring. $40 here and $70 there doesn’t seem like much, but it adds up quickly. Pocket that money instead by seeking low-cost alternatives, and after about 9 dinners, you can afford the meal of a lifetime.

Can you make a comeback in your finances like the Patriots? Of course you can!

A picture of turf with a white line to show boundary.


Atlanta Falcons – The Underdogs:


A young team looking to win their FIRST Super Bowl in franchise history (what an achievement). They are led by QB Matt Ryan, who had an amazing year that landed them in Houston to complete one of the biggest stages in the world.


Coming out strong on offense and defense, they had us all thinking it would be a very one-sided, boring game. Their 25-point lead in the 2nd half appeared to be a sure win based on historical statistics of the postseason As the stock market saying goes, “past performance is not an indicator of future success,” it wasn’t in the Super Bowl. The underdog story ended with an overtime championship loss, the first in history.


Underdogs: No matter the current state of the union of your personal finances, you can still make it to your financial super bowl.

Starting strong: The journey of building a strong financial kingdom doesn’t have to be completed in record time. It doesn’t have to start like Tyson Gay from the sprinter blocks. As the Falcons proved, starting strong doesn’t win the game or  a roman empire will be your future. The tortoise wins this time friendly race. Personal finance is a long, constant, and never ending war of decisions that provide reinforcements to your ever growing bank accounts.


New England Patriots – The Veterans


A veteran coach, quarterback, and team looking to strengthen their franchise empire. Multiple records were at stake: most games (5) won by a head coach (Bill Belichick), most passing yards for a game or career in the Super Bowl for a QB (Tom Brady), and many others.


Being down by 25 mid way in the third quarter, chances were slim for the veteran team. Yet they never gave up. With four minutes left in the 4th quarter, down by 8 points, Tom Brady once again led the Patriots down the field, securing a tying touchdown and two-point conversion. In overtime, Patriots return the kickoff needing a touchdown to win, and win they did. Records were set, tears were shed, and the greatest comeback in history was mission completed.


Never give up: Curve-balls happen. Life can hit you hard with an unexpected job loss. Your car may need emergency work to keep it running. You have a long journey ahead of you to spiral back out of debt. Take a deep breath. It’s all good. You can do it, for your future self and family, never give up!

Embrace the challenge: When curve-balls give you every reason to put your head down. When another tough month puts your finances on edge. When it feels like you just can’t get ahead. When you’re down 25 in the third quarter and the past tells you it’s a loss. Its YOUR TIME to take the challenge head on and show the world what your made of! Find the alternative solution and keep on trekking!


You vs You

I can still remember back in my younger days thinking to myself I can’t do one more down-up, my legs are too tired, my shoulders hurt, or I’m running out of energy. Then the team would hear the whistle “wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeew!!!” Down, then up we go! Sweating, panting, aching, and hoping for that quick succession of three whistles to end the agony. Afterwards, you notice that you managed to never miss a down-up. Throughout the battle, you realized, it’s just you vs you to get through the excuses and just do a damn down-up. The coach offers motivation like in Remember the Titans: 4th quarter, 4th quarter, 4th quarter. Players puke, players scream, and most importantly they continue on! I don’t believe in overworking and understand the side effects this can have. I’m strictly talking positive, character building strength and endurance exercises. In athletics, it doesn’t matter what great motivation your coaches are screaming. It doesn’t matter what excuses you have. There is only one person that will make you do that next up-down. That person..…is you.

Making smart financial decisions initiates the same battle within. Do I really need this? It’s OK if I can treat myself. It’s just one night out at the bars. Do I really need to save this month? Then you see your budget hit red and its back to “oh shit” I made a mistake mode. Just like in athletics, mistakes happen. The greatest part of life stepping up to the plate, adapting and growing to make the better decision next time. To reiterate, it’s truly on you to forge through the strong current of mistakes and be stronger from it.

Long term goals

Background: Matt Ryan

Matt Ryan’s first season was 2008. He tossed it down field 434 times, 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He averaged 215 yards per game with a 3.7 touchdown percentage. Fast forward to 2016. Matt threw 38 touchdowns in 534 attempts with only 7 interceptions. He averaged 309 yards a game for a 7.1 touchdown percentage. From 2008 to 2016, he averaged 94 more yards per game, and increased his passer rating from 93.6 to 117.1 (23.5 increase).

Background: Tom Brady

In the history of football, no team has won after being down by more than 19 points in the post season. The Patriots were down 25. Their team was off in the first half, but they hunkered down, tied up their laces, put their helmets on again, and kept grinding!! They pulled off the great comeback in NFL Superbowl history! I ask you to keep stories like this in your mind as you address your current financial state. You may have credit card debt. You may have a huge chunk of student loans. Your income may not be where you want it to be. It is time to lock down your bank account, stop using your credit cards, begin snowballing your debt, and make the comeback of your life, begin building the life of a duke!

Persistence = Growth

NFL teams and their owners each year strive for the highest glory known to football, winning that Superbowl trophy. Matt Ryan didn’t give up after losing in the wild-card round of the playoffs in 2008. To the contrary, he continued building his body to be in better shape, watched film to be a better quarterback, and worked with his receivers for precision timing. Nine years later, he was quarterback of an unstoppable Falcons offense, racking up 6,653 total offensive yards in the 2016 regular season.


Each day, week, month, and year we go to battle. Spending vs. savings. It is a war with constant struggle as life happens to us all. The winners of wars are those who persist through the losses into the next battle, motivated and ready to win again! Each of us have different financial goals with varying priorities. But we each have a war, as a duke, we are on our road map to victory!!

Concluding comments

Inspiration and motivation comes in many forms. We aspire to inspire you to make a better future, not for us, but for yourself. This week we will be posting our first analysis, completing the budget series, and looking into saving rate correlations. We Look forward to hearing from you!


Matt Ryan stats –

NFL Statistics –