How Can I Save When I’m Behind on Bills?

So, you realize you need to get your finances in order. You know you need to get your debt paid off and some money put away in savings. But how are you supposed to do that when you aren’t even current on your bills?

I’m going to share some great tips for getting current on your bills so that you can start your battle plan today!

Continue reading

Creating Your First Budget (Made Easy)

By: Amber Moore

You may have watched your parents budget their paychecks and you’ve probably heard many people say that a budget is the best way to control your money (instead of feeling like it controls you!), but if you’ve never done one before, the thought of it might seem overwhelming!

It’s really not, I promise. I’m going to show you how to create your very first household budget without making your head spin.

Continue reading

Battle Plan for Financial Freedom

CAM offers a two phase program. STEP is for people just starting out on their path to financial freedom and walks you through getting completely out of debt. Once you graduate from STEP, you will enroll in DFAS where you will build up savings, retirement and pay off your house. If you are interested in learning more about the program or would like CAM to walk with you on your journey contact us me at

Continue reading

Creating a Battle Plan for the Christmas Debt War


I’m not sure when things changed for society. At one time, Christmas truly was solely cross-1149878_1920about celebrating the birth of the one that would save all of mankind from damnation to hell (if they wanted it). Now, it’s not Christmas unless on December 25th, the tree is surrounding by truckloads (no joke) of shiny, brand-new, expensive toys.

I don’t think gifting your 5-year old with 43 new hot wheels cars is going to help him to understand the significance of the holidays and, more than likely, you really can’t afford to be giving him all of that either. Many people today live pay check to pay check. The majority of Americans plan on spending more than $800 for Christmas gifts and, according to the Consumer Federation of America, less than 1% of Americans with accounts a Credit Union hold a Christmas savings account. Now I realize that they could have a traditional savings account or even a change jar for this, but I still think that it gives a good overview of how unprepared we are when the holidays roll around.

I’m sure more than that intend to be better prepared; it’s probably a pretty popular New Year’s resolution: to save for Christmas. But that’s the problem with New Year’s resolutions, they are usually very vague and you make them to yourself so that there isn’t any real accountability. That way if you fail, oh well. In this case, when you fail to save, or if you save and maybe don’t have an savings fund built up, you use those funds for one of life’s many emergencies that come up. Well, what then? Thanksgiving is almost here, you have no money in savings, you absolutely have to give your kid truckloads of brand new toys, and so you must shop Black Friday for the awesome deals. So, what happens? You bust out your credit card, or sign up for a new one, or take out a personal loan at your bank, or, the worst, you take out a payday loan. Then you pay hundreds, possibly thousands, of dollars of interest so that $830 you spent turns into $1900 by the time, if ever, you get it paid off. AND you start your New Year with more debt.

I know you are reading this thinking, “I do not want that to be me again, something needs to change!” You are so right, but where do you start?

Let’s make 2017 the year you follow through, at least on your Christmas savings (can’t help you with the 10 lbs off the midsection)!!!neujahr2017-1753894_1280

Here’s your surefire plan to avoid Mr. Christmas debt, start your next New Year without him following you around all year, so the next Christmas you can spend that $800 (or more if you want) without guilt or shame and no interest!

1 – Use strong words in your goals.

No more of this, “I plan on saving for Christmas in 2016.” First of all, saying you have a plan is not a plan, its a weak intention. Say things like “I will save $950 for Christmas this year.” Tip: Use this with any “New Year’s Resolution” you plan on making.

2 – Lay out a detailed plan.

checklist-1817926_1280It’s not enough to say you are going to save, you need to also detail exactly how much you will save and by what date. To figure this out you will want to create a “Christmas Budget” (this is Christmas Debt’s ultimate foe). Make a list of all the people you want to buy for, or at least those who made it on your nice list. Then come up with an amount to spend on that person. Here’s an example:

A – Spouse         $50

B – Kids (x 3)     $100/$300

C – Grandparents (x 4) $30/$120

D – Siblings (x 3) $20/$60

E – Nieces/Nephews (x 4) $20/$80

F – Colleagues/Friends/Teachers (x 6) $15/$90

Total: $700

Now you know you need to save $700. Now decide when you want the funds. Your first thought might be December, right? Well, no, especially if you enjoy venturing out into the madness of Black Friday. So you would have 10.5 months or 23 pay checks (most likely) to come up with $700. So, using a little bit of elementary math you can figure out that you need to be saving approximately $70 per month (you can round up a little to account for tax or shipping charges) or $35 per pay check (if you are paid bi-weekly). So, you need to add a “Christmas Fund” line item to your January budget for $70 per month.

3 – Have a dedicated savings account for your Christmas fund.

This doesn’t mean you can’t put other sinking funds in this savings account as well, but it would probably help if it were separate. Many credit unions offer a special fund just for Christmas funds that you deposit into every month and it auto transfers to your regular account in October or November.


If you keep your Christmas savings in your checking account, its too easy to spend. The minute you realize you forgot to budget for Sally’s dance recital costume, you see that $210 sitting there for Christmas and think, “I’ll just borrow out of this real quick and pay it back next month.” Guess what doesn’t happen next month? You don’t pay it back because there are other expenses that you have to add into the budget or you forget all together. So, please do not leave your Christmas fund in your checking account.

We currently have many sinking funds going into 1 savings account and while it works for us, it only does because I am meticulous in updating totals on a spreadsheet (<- nerd here) every time a deposit or withdrawal is made so that I never mix funds. A lot of people don’t have or want to spend that kind of time on that and so eventually they have $3000 in their savings accounts but are a little unsure of exactly how much of that is for what. So they go to fix their car thinking they have $400 in their car repair fund and end up spending Jonny’s Christmas fund. Oops! It usually is fairly simple to set up extra savings accounts, even if your bank doesn’t offer a specialize Christmas one. Its better to do this and just leave it strictly for Christmas.

4 – Now that you have your Christmas fund figured out, forget about it!

You have your savings account set up, and your budget started, you can start an auto-transfer from your check to that savings account. Then, forget about it. Don’t try to borrow from it throughout the year. Don’t go in and change your auto-transfer or your budgeted amount. Leave it alone. Let your plan go to work.

“But CAM! What if I find this super-amazing, can’t-resist, must-buy deal let’s say in christmas-tree-1081826April, can’t I pull out the money then?” I’m going to say “no”. It starts you down a very dangerous path. You end up giving that toy to a niece or nephew whose birthday you forgot, or little Cori finds the baby doll in your closet so you just give it to her, or the dog finds it and makes it his new chew toy. Now you are out a toy and out the funds in your Christmas account. You have a budgeted amount which means you would have to take amounts from one place (maybe siblings) and put back in Cori’s. I like to shop at garage sales and thrift stores and throughout the year I find things to give to people for Christmas. I have a separate line item in my budget for garage sales, so if there’s money in that envelope I can buy whatever the super-amazing deal is and try to hide the gift as best as possible. If there’s not money in there, then I pass and wait until I do have the funds.

If you come up to Black Friday and realize that little Cori already has a closet full of Christmas presents and you don’t need to buy her anything extra, then you can choose to do whatever you like with the amount you budgeted for her. Maybe pay off a debt, or add to your family’s emergency fund, or even use it to bless someone in need around the holidays.

5 – You made a spending plan, stick to it!

This is the hardest part, second only to keeping the budgeted amount going in every month. You made a budget and set amounts for everyone, but that Black Friday rolls around and while you are waiting in line for the Hatchimal, you notice that their blenders are only $12! “What? Aunt Susie would love that blender!” And then there’s the cheap pajamas, and all the other toys and kitchen items, and electronics filling the middle aisles just waiting for you to pluck them and place them into your cart. By the time you make it shopping-mall-522619to the cash register, you have $400 worth of items and realize thats only for 3 people on your list.

I know how hard it is to walk by a super-good, amazing deal and not to take advantage of it. So, plan out your shopping trip. Decide exactly what you are going to buy, for who, from what store. Look at all of the extra things they will have out so you know what you will see when you get there. If you decide that you really want to take advantage of some of the kitchen items deals for yourself while your there, that’s fine, just make sure you have the cash funds available in your budget for household items. By knowing exactly what you will see and what of that you are going to buy will help you stick to the spending plan you made in January. Now, I realize things happen and you might want or need to adjust your spending plan before heading out, thats fine, as long as it is a detailed battle plan.

So, here’s a summary:

1 – Set your goals using strong words: will, am, etc.

2 – Lay out a detailed “Christmas” plan: how much to save, by when, and for who.

3 – Have a dedicated savings account for your Christmas fund.

4 – Leave the savings account alone all year long.

5 – You made a spending plan, so when you go shopping, stick to it!

Just remember, Christmas is not about loading people up with new “stuff”, its about being with family to celebrate the fact that we are alive, living with purpose, because God was gracious enough to send his only child to save this world. Debt will not get you closer to feeling God’s peace: only prayer, worship, evangelism and fellowship will do that.

img_6400As someone who always made people ask, “How does she do it?”, I had to learn how to fit more into my day without completely losing my mind. Now I’m excited to share how I did that and what I’ve learned with everyone else. I just want to see people able to live the life they want, doing the things they want, without the stress they think is normal. I want everyone to experience Peace of Time.


When Should I Talk to My Child about College?

When should we start talking about college to our children? Is Jr. High too soon? What should I say?

As parents we deliberately do many things when we care for our children: make sure they don’t touch the hot stove, teach them principles and values to live by, allow them to make mistakes that we carefully calculate the outcomes of to ensure they learn from but don’t get too hurt by. College planning and finances should be just as calculated decisions that parents and children make together. Unfortunately money and many areas surrounding money (such as the expense of higher education) are viewed almost as taboo and are whispered and not spoken of intentionally. Money is not taboo and money should not be an obstacle or challenge, it should be the enabler of all the things you wish to do.

Many families do discuss college but the reverse planning and discussions start later than they need to. Let us do some reverse planning.

College age: 18years old

Things that affect college:

  • Grades
  • Community Involvement
  • Money



Place of Study

Focus of Study

Looking at the things that directly affect the college decision we can now start reverse planning the decision and addressing some questions you might have.

When do grades start to affect college acceptance?

Many would say high school. However, can a child simply wake up and start getting good grades? Can a child go from a mediocre work ethic when it comes to school as an 8th grader to starting as a freshman in high school and have the discipline and consistency togirl-669823_1920 do homework and make the grades? Probably not. So this means we as parents need to start helping our children with these things prior to high school. We need to build the character and resolve for our children to know the right things to do and the discipline to do them even when they are in high school and all the distractions start to overwhelm and influence them.

Our oldest daughter is in the 6th grade and she understands that she has a college fund and will be going to college. She sees me pursuing another degree and the work ethic it takes to go to school, work, and be the best father for her. She is starting to ask questions about college and what to study and where to study. As a 6th grader she has the beginning discipline that it takes and understands that we sometimes have to postpone what feels good so we can do what is right. I saw this from her when she was in Taiwan with me. We were in taiwan while the rest of the family was in the US taking care of some legal and medical concerns. To keep up with the expectations of this strict, foreign school she had homework that many nights lasted until 8 or 9 pm. This also was working around my work schedule where she had to wake up around 5am. She was a trooper while it was just us two. She understood that there was a reason we were doing this and why the rest of the family was in the US. The only reason she understood this was because of intentional and well thought out communication that my wife and I talked about before sharing it with her. We as parents feel the need for intentionality with our children is one of the biggest callings we have on our lives.

Because we instilled these values and the knowledge about the future in her early to build a firm foundation, she will carry that all through Jr. High and be able to go into High School prepared to put in the work, thought, and effort to achieve the grades she needs to.

So, we recommend to start discussing college and the importance of good grades with your children just before they enter Jr. High. If you have a child around that age, just sit them down and ask them what they love doing, what they would love to do when they grown up (even if its several things), and then start talking about what steps they might need to take to get there. Talk about the importance of education, but more importantly, the importance of a good work ethic.

When should we discuss the costs of college with our children and make decisions on how it will be paid?

Money was discussed in another blog for this series and that planning for parents can be found here.  That blog tells you how much to save, where to find some great calculators, options for where to put that savings, and options for the different revenue sources the costs can come from (parents saving, child’s savings, scholarships, etc.).

You’ve already laid a good foundation down for your child when they entered Jr. High, so youth-393656_1920when they are about to enter High School, I recommend sitting them down and really showing them the costs that will be thrown at them immediately after they graduate.

College is expensive and thats not the only thing they have to pay for in the upcoming years. When they turn 16, they will want some sort of transportation (and you will probably want them to have it too), and whether they are paying all of it or you will be matching their contribution, thats a very large expense. This is a good spring board to teach them about saving in a sinking fund for an upcoming expense. They will be getting their first jobs usually as a freshman and they need to have a good plan for that money.

They also should understand that while scholarships and grants are an amazing way to take the cost of college down, they need to have good grades (or a lot of community service for some) to win those. BUT the more outside assistance they get, the less money they would have to put away now to help pay.

If your child is getting ready to enter high school or start their first job, sit down with them to look at some different in-state schools and the costs of those schools. Let them know how much of that (if any) you will be covering and come up with a reasonable amount for them to save in advance as well. Look briefly at some of the available scholarships and what the qualifications are for those, so that they have an idea of what they need to accomplish over the next 4 years. Remember, however much is not saved for in advance or covered by outside assistance will determine how much they will need to work through college to cover the remainder. Loans should NOT be an option. (Read my blog about the statistics of college loan debt)

When do we start planning where my child will go to college?

My recent trip to Boston had my daughter asking questions about not only my work but also Harvard. I intentionally sent her pictures of Cambridge and campus to spark questions. She may not understand what the school is but she does understand that there are choices in the decision of school and college and that she has a major decision in her future to make pertaining to what school she wants to go to. She is now asking to visit Cambridge and see what college students are like. She is starting to dream of possibilities and her future.


Because the costs of colleges can be so different depending on where your child chooses to go (i.e. local community college, in-state university, out-of-state university, private university, etc.), the earlier you have this conversation, the better. Now, I’ve never met a young person that hasn’t changed their mind about something within 5 minutes of talking, so this choice doesn’t have to be set in stone, but its important to have goals and a plan. Most careers today don’t care at all where you went to school, just that you went and learned skills that you can apply in the real world (read an article by Time here). We recommend either going to a local community college for the first 2 years or attending all 4-years at an in-state public university to keep costs down. But whatever school your family decides on, get some pennants, mugs, shirts, etc. of that school and hang them up in your child’s bedroom. Keep that goal in front of them, so they can see it everyday and never forget why they are working so hard.

sunflower-834999_1920I hope I’ve answered some of your questions and concerns about when you should start talking to your children about higher education and just the future in general.The other parts of the reverse planning can be done simply by laying out the goals for each and timeline for those and then working backwards. If you feel like your child is already too far along, too old, or that you’ve missed your chance: you haven’t! There is no time like the present. More importantly then when you do it, is that you do it.

When it comes to our children, we will always have some kind of impact on their lives, but we only have a short while that they will be under our roofs and an even shorter amount of time that they will want to hear what we have to say. Over all, we want to preface those difficult years of raising teenagers and young adults as best we can with intentional teachings and intentional communication. College planning is one of those things. We start communicating college to our children young and as they get older we intentionally add more information and more opportunities for growth.

 The greatest thing is that these discussions will cause your child to dream about their future. That is what we as parents want and we don’t want them to ever lose that.


Charles Moore is a veteran, rocket doctor, financial coach, and blogger. If you’ve decided its time for you to suit up and fight for your financial freedom, check out his website at www.CAMFinancialCoach.comwhere you can get information on the coaching process, package options, and an unbeatable library of knowledge on winning financial battles.

What You Need to Know About Saving for College

We are continuing in our College series. Last week we talked about having a plan for your higher education (you can read that here). My goal is to help just one person with the road to college, whether that is a parent or if that is a student, as long as they want to make a change and break the continual cycle of loans, debt, and free flow planning instead of intentional living.

This week we will start at the beginning of college planning which we feel is the financial planning or saving for college. Financial planning we put first because with this out of the way many obstacles and objections to college can be overcome.


“I don’t have time (working three jobs to make ends meet).”

“It’s too expensive.”

“I don’t need to go to college; there are many successful people who haven’t.”

“College is a business and not about education anymore.”

These are just a few of the mindsets people have today about the possibility of higher education, but if you were to have college already taken care of financially, would your stance change?

As parents, we want nothing more than for them to have the opportunities we didn’t have so they can have the life we didn’t. Something my father always said was, “Listen and adult-education-572269_1920learn from my mistakes; there is no reason for you to make the same mistakes.” As I look back on this, I see how important and how much wisdom could have been gained if I would have grasped all of that phrase when he was saying it. With all of this being said, I want to make it clear that neither me or my wife had college paid for upon graduating high school. In fact, I went out of state to a college I was paying $10,000 per semester, all paid for with student loans. After one semester of partying and $10,000 in loans with no transferable grades to show for it, I moved back home to my dads and decided to go to work. I don’t want my children to continue this cycle.

As parents and, more importantly, as a team, my wife and I continually tell our children that they will go to college (even if they choose to serve in the military). Not because we think it is necessary for success, but because we believe that the knowledge gained, connections made, people met, and the real-world experience learned are all valuable tools for life. We, however, do feel that it is our responsibility to provide this financially for them and so we have started saving for all of their tuition costs. Many people have different feelings on whether it is their responsibility to provide this for their children and I do not believe any of us are necessarily right or wrong, but no matter what your belief is, one thing that is for certain is that we as parents must plan.

How Much to Save

block-1512119_1920To fully fund a college education at an in-state school, it currently costs approximately $40,000 in tuition. Now this is a 4-year degree at a state school completed in 4-years. We can lower this number with grants, scholarships, and financial aid, but for this let us use this as the base number. In order for parent(s) to fund this $40,000, we have to start now.

I will admit that my wife and I are behind on this. We also have 4 children (11,9,2,1) and will fund all of their college (plus we want more kids: YIKES!). Let’s figure out what my family will need to save assuming a 3% annual college inflation rate and a rate of return of 10%. To fund this starting at age 11, we have to save $300 per month at least, for the 9-year old it is $225, 2 it is $110 and we would need to save $100 per month for our 1-year old. Obviously the sooner we start the easier and lower the number. Also something to consider, if for a new born you were to put back $7,000 when they are born, you would have $40,000 at the age of 18.


The reason I break these down is to show you how starting early can save you money. The $300 needed to fund our oldest daughter’s college, is as much as a car note. The $100 (lowest number) needed for my youngest is the same amount we were paying for my student loans that have been around for the past almost ten years. We have put a priority on our children’s education and even it is expensive, I want to provide this so that our children don’t start out their adult life with that insane student loan debt lingering over their heads when they graduate.

Check out this college savings calculator (or any of the many out there) to figure out how much you need to be saving for your children for college.


Where to put the money

For college education, there are many options for college savings from government bonds (probably the most famous grandparent gift), taxable savings account, 529 college savings plans, and 529 pre-paid tuition plans.

What we recommend is to put the money first into a 529 college savings plan and to diversify and control the investment. Investment options with your 529 plan can include stock mutual funds, bond mutual funds, and money market funds, and even age-based portfolios that become more conservative as the child gets closer to leaving for college. 529 plans allow your money to grow tax-free (some states will still charge state tax) and to withdrawal without penalty as long as the money is going toward eligible college expenses (tuition, room and board, books, etc.). You can learn all about 529 plans in this article from the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Things to Remember

income-tax-491626_1920Contributions to your child’s (or grandchild’s, niece’s, etc.) college saving plan count as a gift from you. You have an allowance of $14,000 per year for gifts (you can choose to pay up to 5-years worth at once as long as it wouldn’t exceed that allowance). Check with your accountant for tax implications.

You don’t have to be the only one saving for your child’s college. In lieu of big expensive gifts that will go unplayed with, you could ask friends and relatives to instead give children college contributions for birthdays or other holidays. Also, when your child is old enough to start earning his/her own money, a portion of that should be going toward their education.

Shop Amazon Devices – All-New Fire HD 8

Charles Moore is a veteran, rocket doctor, financial coach, and blogger. If you’ve decided its time for you to suit up and fight for your financial freedom, check out his website at www.CAMFinancialCoach.comwhere you can get information on the coaching process, package options, and an unbeatable library of knowledge on winning financial battles.

How to Vacation on a Budget

We all need a little break from life every now and again.

Vacations are a good way to rejuvenate both mentally and physically. But when you are tight on money and doing everything you can to stay on track, a vacation might seem impossible.

Not true.

As long as you have a battle plan, anything is possible. So start by making a plan to save for a vacation and then read below to learn how to get the most bang for your buck.


How to Vacation on a Budget

So, first I’d like to tell you a little bit of background about my family and myself. We have been overseas working for a defense contractor for over a year now. Vacationing and spending money is something that seems to come naturally to many of these seasoned contractors and a vast majority of the people we work around. Between seeing the country we live in, visiting close/neighboring countries, and going back to the US to see friends and family, we have had some amazing opportunities to take some low-cost but amazing family vacations.

But how do you take any type of vacation when you are trying to pay off debt and only have a set amount of money to spend? Don’t you need to have credit cards or a large amount in case you need it? No! Not if you make and stick to your battle plan. Follow the steps outlined below.

First and most importantly, come up with a spending plan (aka budget) for your vacation.

Vacationing and budget are not two words our mind wants to see in the same sentence because we have been conditioned to believe that a budget would take the fun out of a vacation. Rachel Cruze, a NY Times best selling author and daughter to Dave Ramsey, always says, “because my budget gave me permission.” This is how I look at budgeting for a vacation: we are giving ourselves permission to have fun.

Doing the budget is part of the planning phase for vacation. We do the budget just like we choose where we are going. Look at all of the options, then decide what is best for your family. You have to remember that even though vacations are spent away from home, that you can still be intentional with your money by having a plan and a budget.

Once you have your spending plan in place, next you need to decide where you can go based on that budget (woohoo the fun part!).

If you plan to save $1500 for a vacation, you probably won’t end up in Paris on a dream grand-canyon-1083745_1920vacation, but that’s okay. You will make it there (or where ever it is you dream of going) one day. There are so many amazing places, even right here in the US, that you can take your family to and have an unforgettable vacation.

Check out some budget friendly destination ideas here.

Now that you know where you want to go, start researching transportation and lodging.

One thing that my family does that is the opposite of what most do is we give ourselves options on several locations and then look at the dates we want to go. This way, if there are restrictions on airfare or lodging in one location, we still stay on budget by just searching one of our alternate choices. Airfare and lodging almost always will make up the bulk of your vacation budget. By minimizing those costs, you not only save money, but you are able to put more of the vacation fund into the fun entertainment and activities.

Another thing you need to do is search, search, search. use many different airline sitesairplane-1155134_1920 and search engines. use things other than large hotel chains such as hostels or apartment sublets.

While traveling to Hong Kong recently, my family used AirBnB to book our lodging. We were located right at a subway stop, making travel around the city a breeze, and the price was much better than any hotel we would have used. Plus, the experience of staying in an actual apartment in the heart of Hong Kong was an experience my family would have never got to enjoy otherwise.

Lastly, plan out your activities.


Google or pull up some travel sites that tell you the best things to do or see while at your vacation destination. Make a list of 4-7 things you would like to do in order of preference. Then look up the costs of each and write them down next to that activity. Check off each one going down the list until your estimated spend reaches your budget amount for activities.

There you go: you have a fully planned vacation that you get to pay for in cash. More importantly, you have a plan that allows you to provide an unforgettable experience for you and your family. You’ve won the battle of the budget-friendly vacation in your fight for financial freedom!

Now go enjoy your vacation!


Charles Moore is a veteran, rocket doctor, financial coach, and blogger. If you’ve decided its time for you to suit up and fight for your financial freedom, check out his website at where you can get information on the coaching process, package options, and an unbeatable library of knowledge on winning financial battles.