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Personal financing? What's that?

There's a contest to win a wii if you write a personal finance story over at http://www.getrichslowly.org and email the link to JD. Hmmm. Personal finance is so, well, personal. But here it goes as I'd love to sell the wii and donate to our nonprofit, Parents of Autistic Children of Oregon (http://poac-or.org). Now that we are an "official" 501(c)(3).

I guess I run my personal finances much like I've run nonprofits: Try to pay with cash; if you are going to lose money, make sure the payout is for the greater good; and always have a goal in mind.

The boyfriend and I are looking to sell his house. The sale of the house could pay for all or most of my house's mortgage. When I pointed this out, I could see the wheels in his head turning. Wow, could you imagine not being slave to a mortgage company? You are free to quit your job (assuming you have other income and no other loans) and you are just, free! I've heard of mortgage burning parties...

Another big issue is transportation. My first husband drilled into my head "why pay so much for a new car when you could buy a used car, replace almost everything, and still come out ahead!" I did the math and, yes, you actually could afford some major repairs on a used car and have money in your pocket instead of buying new. That $200-$500 a month payment is like an albatross around your neck. At least I would imagine it that way - as I've never had a car payment before. I usually purchase 3 to 5 year old cars in good shape with lower miles.

And lastly, don't buy crap you aren't going to use A LOT. This includes exercise equipment, kitchen tools, yard tools, machinery, tents & camping gear, and RVs. Good grief, another albatross to be a slave to. You have to secure it, store, clean it, walk around it, and sometimes make payments on it. Is it really worth it?

We cheat. Sometimes we borrow a friend's RV. We also rent equipment. And finally, we might buy equipment but we end up selling when we are done with it. So when we finish our cementing project, our air tool project, or our hauling of equipment back and forth we will be selling the cementer, air compressor, truck, and trailer. We've also been known for having a pool of tools where a group of friends pitch in to buy roofing guns and painting equipment and we trade it around while each needs the use.

These are some things to think about in saving time and money and most importantly, staying out of debt. Remember, those credit cards, car and toy payments, and even mortgages make someone rich - and it likely isn't you.