Planning for Those Unexpected Expenses

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Predictability

I’m reminded each year during the summer of how hot it gets here in the desert of Las Vegas. Sometimes there is nothing that will prepare you for the heat wave that is equivalent to you opening an oven every day and walking into it.

I’m sure there are hotter places on earth, but after 30 years, I’m still not used to it.

However, there are lots of things we can do or already do to prepare for the summer here. Some people just up and leave and head to the mountains or another state where the heat isn’t so brutal. Other’s make sure their house or apartment faces a certain direction so it’s not so costly to cool down the home with AC. But I still find it funny that we can be completely unprepared for the heat wave even though it comes every year.

The same thing happens to our budget almost every season.

Create Awareness

Similar to the recurrence of summer, there are a number of expenses on demand that we’ll encounter when attempting to maintain a budget. We have our normal monthly or bi-weekly budget that repeats each period but there is always an item that hits us unexpectedly even though it’s easy to plan for and we’ve paid for it before.

i’m not talking about emergencies or deciding to buy a new toy or randomly deciding to eat dinner out one night. This is a recurring expense that comes up so seldom, that we forget it even exists until it hits us and we’re stuck pulling from a tight budget to pay for it.

I call these unexpected expenses.

These expenses demand our attention immediately and often surprise us. What has worked well for us is to make a list of these items and detail the dates and times that these expenses are due.

For example, every year we need to register our vehicles. Our vehicles, being the high mileage cars they are, cost around $200-$300 a year to register. Now, we can either wait until December and fish around for spare quarters under our car floor mats to pay the bill or we can say, “Enough of these surprise expenses!” and plan for it in advance.

How do we do that?

Well let’s think about it. Let’s say it’s already January, you’ve pulled from your savings or emergency fund to pay for the car registrations and now you have to replenish a portion of your savings.

Great, now we can forget about it, right?

Wrong. You now have twelve whole months to pay for this year’s registration.

$200 a year over 12 months and 24 pay periods comes out to $8.33 per pay period. Is it easier to put away $8.33 in cash each pay period rather than to come up with the full $200 at the end of the year?

I know you may think, “big deal, $200 bucks, just pay for it,” but let’s make a little list of these occurrences and see what we think then.

Read also: The Budgeting 101: How to Start From Scratch blog post.

  • Cost of unexpected expenses per pay period:
  • Car Registration each year (2 vehicles) $8.33
  • Tires for 2 Vehicles every 6 years $6.25
  • 2 Smart Phones every 2 years (non-subsidized) $35.42
  • Yearly Gym Membership (cheaper paid yearly) $15
  • Vacation Yearly $83.33
  • Auto Repairs/Maintenance Yearly $40
  • Car Replacement 5-10 years $200
  • New Computer 3-5 years $27.78
  • Furniture Yearly $85
  • Amazon Prime $4.16

Total additional expenses on demand per pay period: $505.27 (based on 24 pay periods)

Yeah, you’re reading that correctly.

That measly $200 a year has now grown to an extra $500 per pay period that we need to save for these expenses! That seems a little crazy right?

We could probably remove or reduce the cost of some of these but for the most part, these are all future expenses that we need to consider in the long run to maintain a healthy budget that isn’t constantly being broken by some unexpected but predictable expense.

Compartmentalize

I love the analogy Mark Gungor uses when talking about how different men and women’s brains are.
Men compartmentalize by putting every little detail we think about into tiny little boxes. None of the boxes touch each other.

Women on the other hand, their brain is a wire mesh of inter-connectivity where everything affects everything else. Well ladies, if you are the one who handles the budget, we’ll have to figure out how to compartmentalize at least this one time.

If you’re an old school money guy like me, get an envelope system. Set it up with labels and label each and every unexpectedly predictable expense. Add money to each envelope in a way that works for you; each pay period, bi-weekly, monthly etc.

Read also: The post on How Budgeting with Cash Can Save You Thousands.

The freedom and joy that this preparation can bring to you when that expense finally hits will be palpable. You’ll wake up one morning and think…”Oh man, that crazy bill is due today!” and then you’ll look at your envelope and…

BOOM!

The money is already set aside, and you don’t have to take from your savings, your emergency fund, or you kids birthday money.

As a side benefit your kids will love you for that.

What are some other unexpected expenses that you’ve found that you were able to prepare ahead of time for? Let me know in the comments below.

Being disciplined with your money is hard but trust me, it's worth it. -Brandon

Being disciplined with your money is hard but trust me, it's worth it. -Brandon

I’m Brandon and that’s my bride Ariana and our first born. We listened to age-old wisdom and paid off over $100,000 in debt from college, credit cards, vehicles and an underwater mortgage in under two years. We now we live a debt free life. Now we’re able to spend more time at home with our kids and prioritize our life.

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How to Be Financially Accountable

This Post may contain affiliate links. For more information please read my disclosure.

Accountability

If you have a desire to accumulate wealth, save money, spend less, earn more or change your priorities, you need accountability more than ever. However, I clearly understand the struggle in my own life.

Proper accountability has been a huge point of contention for me.

We need accountability but where do we draw the line and how do we let people in to our lives and still have boundaries to respect? It has been a bit easier being married to make sure that we are accountable to each other in finances, scheduling etc. But there is still the possibility that we will both make bad buying decisions or not hold each other accountable from an unbiased point of view if we team up together.

This can ruin your financial goals in the short and long run.

Read also: How to Get Your Spouse on Board with Finances blog post.

I’ve always said that after completing Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University course that there was still something missing.

I had all the tools, I read through and listened to all of the lessons but when I went home to put all that I had learned into practice, it seemed that I couldn’t connect the dots.

Dave mentions having an accountability partner but we are the ones that need to take action if we really want change. That partner needs to be close, they need to be personal and we need to see them regularly. But we also need to let them in to the nitty-gritty of our lives and make sure they know we are ready for the brutal, honest truth.

So where do you find that person and what do they look like?

Community

Ariana and I have, probably to a fault, involved ourselves in a number of different community groups. We have small-group-meetups up to 3 times a week with close friends and members of our church.

We have other friends in different states that we tend to talk to on a regular basis that agree with or at least understand and support our philosophy on living on less. And after a few years of experience, we have each other.

Sometimes even that isn’t enough!

It’s important for me to know that if I decided to make a bad purchase decision and then my community found out about it, that I would most likely be told that the purchase didn’t line up with my financial philosophy.

That’s mainly because our friends know our lifestyle and we give them permission to invade our ideas and finances. Could we be better at this? I think so.

But why is it so difficult to share our financial difficulties or strategies with others? What is the road block?

Identity

We place a great deal of weight in our culture upon the career we are in and how much money we take home each month.

Our paycheck and therefore status still defines us.

We overhear the salary of one of our friends or neighbors and our gut turns a little bit. We hear about a friend buying that new car or house or object that we desire, and we get a little jealous.

We see those beautiful Tesla cars drive by on the road and think, “My life would be better if I had one of those.” It is all a false narrative in a story where we were never truly introduced to the characters.

I’ve often wondered how differently we would look at life if above our heads was a bright, blinking balance displaying our net worth to the rest of the world.

We already hold that number in high esteem, but we don’t share it. What if we all knew? Would we strive to keep that number out of the red? Would we walk up to a friend who had a positive net worth yesterday but today displayed a negative net worth?

I think we would stop hiding behind the idea that it’s not important. Our identity shouldn’t be wrapped up in our finances but managing and being held accountable for our finances should still be a significant part of our family and friendly interactions.

So how do we stop hiding behind the mistakes we are making and start to encourage each other toward a more sustainable and intentional financial lifestyle?

Read also:How to Start When you Feel Like It’s Too Late.

Transparency

It’s time to find someone that you can be transparent with.

Is there someone in your life that is willing to tell you that you’re making a bad decision even if it hurts? I know we can easily get defensive when someone calls us out but lets work on getting some tough skin.

It’s OK to be emotional when we’re being challenged.

Back when I worked at Apple they called this kind of accountability ‘Fearless Feedback.’ We would make sure to give plenty of positive feedback and constructive feedback to our coworkers.

Each person knew and expected to receive feedback daily.

Find someone who agrees with your financial philosophy and ask them if you can hold each other accountable in a fearless way. Meet for coffee once a month or every few weeks. Catch up and talk about the strategies you’re using to save, earn, invest or change your life and include how you feel about the time you spend working for a paycheck versus the time you could spend building relationships and spending precious time with the people you love. Let me know how it goes and what works well.

I want you to have the same freedom we experience on a daily basis.

What have you gained from having accountability? Let me know in the comments below.

Being disciplined with your money is hard but trust me, it's worth it. -Brandon

Being disciplined with your money is hard but trust me, it's worth it. -Brandon

I’m Brandon and that’s my bride Ariana and our first born. We listened to age-old wisdom and paid off over $100,000 in debt from college, credit cards, vehicles and an underwater mortgage in under two years. We now we live a debt free life. Now we’re able to spend more time at home with our kids and prioritize our life.

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From 2 to 3, and 1200 to 598 – The Small House Movement

This Post may contain affiliate links. For more information please read my disclosure.

Loving Friends

Before we even knew about the growing popularity in the small house movement, we were already well on our way to making that ‘dream’ a reality.

Ariana and I began our journey together living separately in the homes of two friends. At the time I was recently unemployed and proposed to Ariana without a wedding band to offer.

These two friends, hearing our story, reached out to us and separately offered a place for both of us to stay so we could save for our wedding.

What a gift!

If that isn’t shocking enough, these two couples who did not previously meet each other, lived less than 100 yards away. My fiancé and I were no more than a two minute walk apart during our engagement.

As I’m sure most of you know, living with others is a unique experience. We are all mess makers in our own way, aren’t we? Some call it sin nature and I think that’s as close as we can get to explaining our selfishness. But what a blessing it was for these two families to open their doors to us.

After our wedding, our generous friends kicked us out and it was time for our own place. We took a queen bed and tossed it on the floor of our very own, two bedroom apartment; 1200 square feet of spacious living.

The extra bedroom ended up being an entertainment, computer and TV room because we need a separate room for that, right? TV wasn’t the focus of our living room so we had a lot of space to…well, sit and talk.

Like most new places, apartments or homes, there came a point when we stopped enjoying the apartment complex and living space we were in. I think we’ve all felt that before.

That feeling that this place just wasn’t really home anymore.

After nearly two years, Ariana spoke to a client that was willing to rent us their 598 square foot condo. I told Ariana ‘no way’ and that was the end.

We found another couple that was interested in saving money and wanted to share the expenses of a nice size condo or rental home. We figured this could be a good opportunity for us to have a bigger place, share in expenses and build new relationships.

So we found a place and moved in.

If you’re not super keen on sharing space to save money, check out my post on how to start a side business: Start a Side Business.

Sharing Space

Married couples living with married couples provides for some interesting dynamics. We were grateful for the couple that we lived with as they we very respectful of the space and we communicated well.

It was a beautiful two bedroom condo with upgraded appliances, wood flooring, a spacious living room and it overlooked beautiful palm trees and a well kept pool.We were also saving a few extra hundred dollars a month which was great when trying to get out of debt and save an emergency fund.

But there came a point where both couples were ready to be on their own. Thoughts of having kids and pets in the house told us that it may be best to split ways before the families grew much more.

Since Ariana and I were largely pinned up in the smaller room most of the time, we became accustomed to sharing a smaller space. Remember that 598 square foot one bedroom apartment?

Well, when the time came for us to move again, it was still available.

1200 to 598

Now begins our small house movement.

We were given the keys to this new condo a month early. The owners let us install some new appliances and a closet as well as paint the rooms to give it a more home-like and warm feeling.

By the time we moved in, we had made the place our own. We even removed the bathroom door connected to our bedroom because it took up too much space!

The only closet we have is inside of our bathroom. The laundry room is outside on the patio and the space was, well…under 600 square feet. But…

We absolutely loved it!
We also love the community; it’s well kept and gardened, it’s quiet and we face away from the sun so it stays cool in the summer. And then we got pregnant…

One of the most common questions from friends and relatives was,

“When are you going to move into a bigger place?”

Well, we didn’t want to. This was our new home and it fit us perfectly. We are paying less than half of what people normally pay for rent or mortgage and there’s less to clean!

When our son Elijah came around, we just decided to make it work. We’ve even considered the possibility of introducing a 4th into the family (We already did by the way! Check that post out here: Family of Four in One Bedroom.) and what would we do then? We aren’t there yet, but when it happens, we’ve still decided to stay here in our lovely little condo.

I bring this up not to brag but as a challenge to the typical lifestyle we see on TV and all around us.

Everyone wants a bigger and better home. But bigger and better homes often required bigger and higher paying jobs. The amount of freedom my family has in this house is tremendous.

Our expenses are low which means we can work less. We spend less money on furniture, cleaning and decorations. We’re able to spend more time on what’s important like connecting with each other and friends.

Also make sure if you decide to get this close, that both of your are on the same page financially. Read: How to Get Your Spouse on Board with Finances blog post.

As a bonus, there’s nowhere to hide if one of us is angry, so we’re forced to deal with our marriage issues in a quick and meaningful way. Living in such a small space has opened our minds to other areas of life that are more important.

I’m sure there will come a time when we will move but for now, we’re happy and a bigger place would not make us happier.

What are you striving after that you feel will make you happier? If you could live off of half your income and work half as much, do you think a sacrifice of space would be worth it? To us, it’s no longer a sacrifice, it’s a fun challenge that’s a part of our life and we’re excited to find new ways of making the best use of such a small space.

Have you ever had a positive downsizing experience? Let me know in the comments below.

Being disciplined with your money is hard but trust me, it's worth it. -Brandon

Being disciplined with your money is hard but trust me, it's worth it. -Brandon

I’m Brandon and that’s my bride Ariana and our first born. We listened to age-old wisdom and paid off over $100,000 in debt from college, credit cards, vehicles and an underwater mortgage in under two years. We now we live a debt free life. Now we’re able to spend more time at home with our kids and prioritize our life.

Join Thousands of Readers!

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With BeardedBudget, I have developed a number of financial and merchant relationships; some of which are affiliate relationships. The opinions expressed here are mine alone and should not be construed as professional financial advice but honest reviews and recommendations based on my own experience. For more information, read the disclaimers and disclosures.

Starting with a Small, Simple Budget

This Post may contain affiliate links. For more information please read my disclosure.

Start With Your Income

If you’re budgeting for the first time, trust me, I know it can be overwhelming. But we have to take it slow and methodically.

Start with a small simple budget and grow it from there.

To start, when it comes to income, we tend to have only slight control over what amount of money we have coming in. But I propose that it’s less about the amount of money we have coming in and more about how we control that resource.

Of course, having extra income can improve our lifestyle or allow us a bit more freedom to spend our money but no matter the amount of revenue we have coming in, it should be spent in a controllable way.

If you’d like to jump into how to start a side business for extra income, read: Earn Extra Cash and How to Work from Home blog posts.

Having a budget is not just about knowing what your bills are and making sure your bank account has enough money to purchase whatever it is you want at the time.

Having a budget is about controlling the distribution of your income so that your purchases are not determined by ‘if I have enough money,’ but rather, ‘have I created intentional space in my budget for the purchase I’m about to make?’

I understand how silly this can sound but it’s really a simple concept that most of us easily miss. We let the number in our bank determine the amount or frequency of objects we can buy.

This leads to an empty bank account nearly every month before we get our next paycheck and it often leads to a paltry savings and investments.

Isn’t that frustrating?

I remember attempting to save extra cash in my bank for emergencies and always feeling that no matter how much extra money I made, or raises that I got, the money flew out the back door of my bank account faster than it was deposited into the front door. What gives?

The Budget

It took my wife and I enough heartache and overdraft fees to realize that if we didn’t tell our cash where to go, our cash would instead determine where we go.

In 2010 Ariana and I went through Financial Peace University, authored by Dave Ramsey and offered by some churches out there. At first we thought that there isn’t that much this class could tell us that would revolutionize the way we handle our money. After all, they’d probably just tell us to stop going to restaurants and stop buying expensive things which I’m sure we could do eventually without their help.

We were wrong.

What we put into practice then has drastically affected the way we look at life, the way we spend and the way we view money. Why is it so difficult for us to be transparent and intentional about the amount of money we make, spend or save?

I think it’s somehow tied to our identity.
It’s the popular phrase, ‘keeping up with the Jones’s’ that helps us focus on what we lack instead of the abundance that we’re truly surrounded by.

So how do we and did we budget in a way that helped us gain control and make progress toward our savings and retirement goals?

Living Paycheck to Paycheck

Here comes the challenge.

If you’re dealing with finances that are mainly paycheck to paycheck and often frustrating at the end of the month, how much time are you willing to put in to making a change?

Some simple homework I suggest is to print out your bank statements or credit card statements. Sit down and write down each of your expenses and give it a total number. How much are you spending on groceries? How much on entertainment and dining? What are your fixed bills like gas, power, rent or mortgage etc?

Once you are aware of all the areas you’re spending your money and the amount in each category for every dollar you spend, compare the total spent to your total income. Scrub through each item and determine which is a bit excessive or where can some spending be improved.

Next to each variable item that you can pay in cash instead of swiping a card, mark it with a dollar sign ($). Let’s use net income for simplicity. Here’s the first example:

  • Net Income: $4,000
  • Giving: $400
  • Rent/Mortgage: $1200
  • Utilities: $300
  • $ Groceries: $620
  • Various Insurance: $350
  • $ Entertainment/Dining: $650
  • $ Gas: $250
  • $ Clothing: $100
  • $ Furniture: $100
  • Cell Phone: $100
  • Gym Membership: $30
  • Minimum Credit Card Payment: $100

Surplus/Deficit: -$200

By writing this out and taking note of where the majority of your cash is going, you can get a better understanding of what may be putting you over your budget.

For example, spending $650 on monthly entertainment seems a bit excessive. Why are we spending so much there? Is it the daily fast food expense or coffee runs? The nightly food with friends at reasonably expensive restaurants?

If we do this each month we run a $200 deficit that likely gets covered by our credit cards. So what are the dollar signs for?

Want some further help on getting the budget going? Check out my 7 Day Budgeting Course.

Instead of swiping our card to pay for each of these categories which gives us little to no control over our spending, let’s add up what we’d like to spend, reduce our expenses in these variable categories and add a couple other categories like savings, investments and more to debt repayment.

Once we get paid, lets withdraw from the bank the appropriate amount of cash in percentage relationship to our bi-weekly income of the items marked with a $ and let’s commit to only spending that amount for this pay period.

Here’s a second example:

  • Net Income: $4,000
  • Giving: $400
  • Rent/Mortgage: $1200
  • Utilities: $300
  • $ Groceries: $420
  • Various Insurance: $350
  • $ Entertainment/Dining: $300
  • $ Gas: $200
  • $ Clothing: $50
  • $ Furniture: $50
  • Cell Phone: $100
  • Gym Membership: $30
  • Savings: $200
  • Investments: $200
  • Credit Card Payments: $200

Surplus/Deficit: $0

You’ll notice I preemptively dropped my spending estimates in Entertainment/Dining, Groceries and Gas to make room for the new categories that I’d like to add.

Given the dollar signs, we withdraw $1020 or less bi-weekly, and allocate the appropriate cash to envelopes with category names on each of them. If we go to the grocery store, we take cash. If we go out with friends, we take cash. If the entertainment envelope is out of cash, we don’t go out anymore until we get paid again.

Now that can seem restrictive can’t it? But let’s look at the payoff.

We still get to go out and eat well but we’ve added three new categories to our budget: Savings, investing and an increase in debt payments. How much better would the end of our year look if we made a commitment to giving each dollar a name instead of letting our bank account balance determine our spending?

Close your eyes and imagine savings and investment accounts that grew by nearly $5000 or about 10% of your salary this year and your credit cards were paid off simply because you told your money where you wanted it to go.

I think that’s better than counting the bucket of pennies at the end of the year.

Did you start your budget in a similar way? How did it help you gain control? Let me know in the comments below.

Being disciplined with your money is hard but trust me, it's worth it. -Brandon

Being disciplined with your money is hard but trust me, it's worth it. -Brandon

I’m Brandon and that’s my bride Ariana and our first born. We listened to age-old wisdom and paid off over $100,000 in debt from college, credit cards, vehicles and an underwater mortgage in under two years. We now we live a debt free life. Now we’re able to spend more time at home with our kids and prioritize our life.

Join Thousands of Readers!

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Living A Life of Purpose

This Post may contain affiliate links. For more information please read my disclosure.

Beards and Budgets?

Alright, what gives? Why beards and budgets?

Let me tell you a little bit about why I’ve decided to put these two together. I’ve been growing and taming a beard for over two years. My family has been debt free and on a dollar based budget for over five years.

Now, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about both of these. It’s not that I think about them in way of admiration; it’s that having a beard affects the way I eat, smile, shower and kiss my wife.

Having a budget affects the way I spend, work, shop and plan for the future of my family.

But both of these have caused me a bit of stress. I’ve had to teach my 1 year old son not to grab and pull at my beard and mustache (ouch!). In a similar way, I’ve had to teach that little 8 year old self inside of me to stop spending money on stuff that I don’t need.

Through the growing stages of these two separate but related ideas of beards and budgets, my interest was spurred in the pursuance of a better and more challenging lifestyle, different from the way our world defines the ‘American Dream.’

I was tired of living as life came at me as fast and furious as it does and I decided it was time to start living a life of purpose. I’ve always had an interest in money, who hasn’t? But my interest in finance was gloriously smashed during the 2008 financial crisis while I was studying for my exams in, sure enough, business finance, where I was set to graduate in that very same year.

Why would I want to jump into a world of finance that is so readily displayed as greedy, self-centered, open to speculation and vastly un-personal?

I didn’t.

It wasn’t until recently that I decided that people need to hear a fresh perspective. People need to be challenged and we need to stop living a life in bondage by the way advertising has skewed the often far-fetched and un-achievable American Dream and we need to start living a life of purpose.

So let’s talk about that challenge.

The Challenge

I want this blog to be a challenge to us.

I will mention a lot of ideas that will make some of you angry or frustrated but that’s the point. Often we need to be frustrated or angry before we decide to make change in our own lives.
Think about this: most of us don’t have the time, energy or the education to create and maintain a budget, to understand how to invest for retirement, to research unique ways to save and earn money, to develop and challenge ourselves to learn new skills or to even spend quality time with family.

And these things are what’s arguably most important in ourlives, but they are largely ignored. Men and women are working 50+ hours a week even if they have a family to care for.

Day-cares and nannies are raising our children so we can spend a little extra money, or have a little more house, or have that brand new gadget.

Don’t we understand the impact we are having on the next generation?

We’re led to believe that we need all of these things but it’s all a facade to happiness and it doesn’t pay dividends years down the road. I think it’s worth pursing change at the cost of telling that little child inside of us, “No” from time to time and by telling each other no. Can we try that? Can we hold each other accountable even if it hurts?

Read also: How to be Financial Accountable.

Where We Will Focus

The breadth of this blog will focus on budgeting tips, life disciplines, and lessons I’ve learned in the past few years that have helped me create a less cumbersome and more enjoyable lifestyle.

A life where I can spend more time with my family, raise my son and not depend on others to raise him.

Where I set aside more time for coffee with friends. And where I can protect my family and plan for a future that’s worth looking forward to.

Just because you don’t have a beard doesn’t mean this blog isn’t for you. It’s for everyone looking to improve their life holistically through some unconventional and at times challenging ideas that may cause others to look at you funny. I tell those people, keep looking on, because you’ll eventually see a change you wish you’d seen earlier.

If you’re ready to start living a life of purpose, stick around and we’ll keep you on your toes.

Or jump in now and sign up for my 7 Day Budgeting Course.

What financial issues are you ready to overcome? Let me know in the comments below.

Being disciplined with your money is hard but trust me, it's worth it. -Brandon

Being disciplined with your money is hard but trust me, it's worth it. -Brandon

I’m Brandon and that’s my bride Ariana and our first born. We listened to age-old wisdom and paid off over $100,000 in debt from college, credit cards, vehicles and an underwater mortgage in under two years. We now we live a debt free life. Now we’re able to spend more time at home with our kids and prioritize our life.

Join Thousands of Readers!

Popular Posts

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©2018 BeardedBudget - All Rights Reserved | Privacy Policy | Disclosure | Disclaimer

With BeardedBudget, I have developed a number of financial and merchant relationships; some of which are affiliate relationships. The opinions expressed here are mine alone and should not be construed as professional financial advice but honest reviews and recommendations based on my own experience. For more information, read the disclaimers and disclosures.

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