Teacher Uses 75% of His Paycheck to Become Debt-Free

More often than not, people of the internetwebs are sad, depressed, and uninspiring. Those adjectives, however, do not describe the couple you’re about to meet.

Credit: Hoyt Family

Credit: Hoyt Family via CNBC

Bobby Hoyt and his wife, Coral, are a different breed.  They’re the type of couple that likes to keep it real with themselves when it comes their personal finances.  That personality dynamic is why they decided in 2012 to become a debt-free family.  Don’t take that lightly though because that decision came with plenty of sacrifices.

To become debt-free, that meant the Hoyts had to vanquish $40,000 worth of student loans.  As school teachers with school teacher salaries, that was a heavy load for them to lift.  Fortunately, they quickly learned how to lighten their load.

Whether it was renting from the in-laws to driving an old clunker to wearing old clothes, they got rid of as many unnecessary expenses as possible.  At their peak, they were putting 75% of Bobby’s salary towards student loan payments.  And that’s pretending as if taxes didn’t negate a huge chuck of his gross pay during that time.

At the end of the day, the young millennial couple ended up paying off the $40,000 in a whopping 18 months.  Now that the debt is completely gone, Bobby quit being a teacher and has become a full-time blogger.

So the next time you’re feeling hopeless, just remember: if two young school teachers can change the trajectory of their lives, then you can too.

Follow Ben on Twitter @Ben_Baxter or on AL.com here.

Why We Should Be Worried About People like Brock Turner

**WARNING: Very GRAPHIC. Could be a potential trigger for victims of rape** NSFW

This is one of the most haunting collections of photographs I’ve ever seen. It is right in your face. There. It happened. It happens every single day.

Photo featured in 2016 “It Happens” campaign.

Someone you know was raped or will be in their lifetime. This is NOT okay. We cannot keep condoning this. Every 2 minutes an American is sexually assaulted. One out of every 6 women in this country have been or will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. It may be random, it may be a family member, it may be your spouse, it may be your best friend, it may be your teammate, it may be your teacher, it may be your boss…anyone can assault anyone—white, black, Asian, Hispanic, gay, straight, young, old, man, or woman. Please talk about this. We have to make the cycle end: #ItHappened #ItHappens #RapeAwareness

Brock Turner is just one of many people that has been raised to believe that human bodies were put on this earth for the taking. And we all are helping create this culture of acceptable, forcible rape. Yes, I am calling everyone out.

Until we change the mindset of America this will continue.

Men:  Females were not put on earth for you to use and abuse. We were put here to be by your side- your equal, hence the whole ‘God made Eve from Adam’s rib’ thing. You’ve got to stop objectifying women in this world. What females decide to wear on their bodies is for them, not for you. When they buy a new pair of heels or a sweet LBD, I promise YOU were not on their mind. Look, I know that in school you kept hearing “boys will be boys” every time you did something stupid so you think you share no responsibility here. And I KNOW that the school dress codes further helped your cause by telling you that when women dressed a certain way it was distracting for you, and they should be punished because of it. Look, I get. We made you this way. So…

Women: Let’s stop talking shit about each other. Let’s stop slut shaming someone for wearing something we personally wouldn’t choose to wear. When we’re at a bar and see a girl surrounded by guys, let’s check on her instead of just saying “OMG, she must be such a hooch.” Women, let’s stop hating ourselves because of what older generations keep telling us. Again, I know, you were conditioned to believe that your body is shameful. The rules of school kept you covered and made you all but too aware of what your body could make a boy do. Yeah, conditioned…

Parents:  Can we please stop the madness now?  Talk to your sons. Let them know that how they treat women is incredibly important. Show love and compassion for your fellow human. Talk to your sons about changing bodies. Yes, they will look at women, but let’s show them that the body is beautifully made and not something put on this earth just for sex. Talk to your daughters, teach them to love themselves. Help them understand that they were wonderfully made. This advice is also vice versa as we know that women can rape too. Lets talk to our children. We have got to stop sexualizing the human figure.

America: Be outraged that someone you know will be raped in their lifetime. It will continue to happen until we change our mindsets. Men like Brock Turner were raised to believe that their impulses mattered more than the other human’s humanity. While most of us can’t comprehend that, we all are allowing it to happen by not being outraged. Brock hasn’t been called a rapist by the courts or by the media, yet that is exactly what he is. And we should be scared that we have people in this world that think like he does and believe what he did was not wrong.  We conditioned him to believe that he can get his jollies no matter what. We’ve conditioned ourselves to believe that if someone is too drunk or dressed a certain way, then they were “asking for sex.” Until we stop allowing our society to sweep this issue under the rug, it will continue. Go to your school boards, and stop allowing them to dictate what is acceptable for our girls to wear. Go to your legislators and make them hold judges accountable for when the few victims that actually come forward to get justice.

It does not matter what someone said before, what they are wearing, how much they’ve had to drink, if they are passed out naked, if they are your spouse, if they are your partner… you do not have the right to violate their body. PERIOD. You do not have the right to touch someone without their expressed permission. So world, I am asking you to be outraged. I am asking you to protect your children by telling them the truth. I am asking you to let your friends know you are there for them. I personally can name on 2 hands people I know that were sexually assaulted in their lives: randomly, by family members, and by friends. My heart aches for them, knowing that we can stop this. Please take a long look in the mirror, and make sure you’re talking about these issues, or we are going to be scared of people like Brock the Rapist for years and lifetimes to come. Stop the cycle. Be a voice for what needs to change. Stop looking the other way. Educate yourselves and those that you love on how to treat other humans.

*If you’ve ever been the victim of a sexual assault, please don’t be ashamed. I am HERE for you. You are NOT at fault. You are NOT to blame. You did NOT ask for it. You did NOT want it. Male or female victims, I am here. I will always be your friend. I will always stand by your side. I will ALWAYS advocate for you. I will be there for you. If you need me, I am HERE.

Follow Tatum on Twitter at @UATatey for more insight on this and other interesting topics.

NYC Wife Shocked by Husband’s 401(k) Balance

I recently ran across an article about the couple below that left me completely irritated about millennial marriages and marriages in general when it comes to financial communication.


The highly attractive couple shown here were recently featured in Business Insider via Yahoo Finance.  In the feature, the wife recounted the time she realized that her husband saves a much higher percentage of his individual income than she does her individual income—three times higher to be exact.

After coming to this realization, she finally gets her bearings and decides that she will up her 2 percent retirement contributions to 8 percent with the eventual hope of reaching the 12 percent milestone that her husband is currently at.

This may seem like the end of the story and a happy ending, but I can’t help but wonder why her husband was so oblivious to this massive miscommunication problem as it relates to their long-term financial future.

Other than purchasing a house (the reason for his wife’s great discovery happened), the husband in this relationship has done nothing to truly unite himself with his wife.  He’s done nothing to visibly prepare his marriage to last the long haul, at least in terms of finances.

Given that the number one reason for divorce in North America today is money fights and money problems, I hope this couple really improves their financial communication.  As a fellow millennial, I want their marriage to thrive financially.  Not just for the wealth, but for the dreams.

As a world-famous John Maxwell says, “Teamwork makes the dream work!”

Follow Ben on Twitter @Ben_Baxter or on AL.com here.

Potential Retirement Nest Egg for a Median Household in Each Alabama County by Age 67

The following chart shows what a current median-age, median-income household in each Alabama county will have saved for retirement by age 67.  The most recent median age data was collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, and the most recent median household income (HHI) was collected from the Alabama Center for Business and Economic Research.  Annualized rate of return of investing is set at 9 percent inside a tax-free growth Roth IRA, Roth 401(k), or Roth 403(b).  The savings rate per year is set at 15 percent of median household income.  The assumption is that each median household starts with zero saved in retirement, and that each median household never gets an annual pay raise.

County County Seat Median HHI Median Age Retirement Value at 67
Tuscaloosa Tuscaloosa $46,892 32.4 $1,594,896
Lee Opelika $41,256 31.0 $1,592,745
Shelby Columbiana $69,432 38.6 $1,331,831
Pike Troy $31,844 31.5 $1,175,095
Madison Huntsville $58,833 38.4 $1,150,001
Autauga Prattville $54,366 38.3 $1,072,737
Montgomery Montgomery $43,054 35.8 $1,072,574
Elmore Wetumpka $54,298 38.4 $1,061,356
Russell Phenix City $35,585 34.9 $963,211
Jefferson Birmingham $44,852 37.6 $945,107
Mobile Mobile $42,943 37.3 $930,623
Limestone Athens $51,175 39.3 $918,721
Dale Ozark $41,940 37.4 $900,434
St. Clair Ashville $50,571 39.9 $857,498
Coffee Elba $46,931 39.2 $850,561
Chilton Clanton $41,450 38.9 $772,872
Morgan Decatur $45,082 40.2 $742,825
Calhoun Anniston $41,123 39.4 $731,286
Houston Dothan $40,124 39.3 $720,328
Blount Oneonta $45,567 40.9 $702,017
Bibb Centreville $39,546 39.6 $689,998
DeKalb Fort Payne $36,241 39.0 $669,382
Franklin Russellville $33,881 38.4 $662,267
Marshall Guntersville $36,536 39.2 $662,165
Baldwin Bay Minette $49,626 42.6 $648,075
Escambia Brewton $37,077 39.8 $634,714
Talladega Talladega $39,999 40.9 $616,235
Cullman Cullman $39,922 40.9 $615,049
Lauderdale Florence $41,324 41.3 $612,532
Macon Tuskegee $28,518 37.6 $600,922
Barbour Clayton $34,971 39.8 $598,662
Etowah Gadsden $39,904 41.5 $580,138
Colbert Tuscumbia $43,057 42.3 $579,064
Washington Chatom $41,321 41.9 $577,840
Cleburne Heflin $40,418 41.9 $565,213
Perry Marion $27,403 37.9 $561,419
Sumter Livingston $25,413 37.2 $555,895
Lawrence Moulton $41,574 42.5 $548,275
Butler Butler $32,512 40.5 $520,527
Hale Greensboro $33,315 40.8 $518,225
Dallas Selma $26,602 38.5 $515,109
Clarke Grove Hill $36,620 41.9 $512,101
Walker Jasper $37,245 42.3 $500,900
Crenshaw Luverne $34,445 41.5 $500,773
Marengo Linden $32,977 41.3 $488,807
Bullock Union Springs $26,580 39.5 $468,199
Monroe Monroeville $34,733 42.3 $467,117
Pickens Carrollton $31,933 41.5 $464,253
Lowndes Hayneville $30,675 41.2 $459,103
Jackson Scottsboro $36,923 43.1 $459,020
Randolph Wedowee $36,939 43.3 $450,225
Chambers LaFayette $34,116 42.5 $449,920
Covington Andalusia $36,149 43.1 $449,398
Henry Abbeville $39,930 44.2 $444,947
Marion Hamilton $37,707 43.9 $432,974
Geneva Geneva $34,425 43.1 $427,965
Fayette Fayette $35,664 43.5 $426,150
Clay Ashland $35,940 43.7 $420,994
Tallapoosa Dadeville $36,779 44.2 $409,835
Wilcox Camden $24,035 40.4 $388,516
Lamar Vernon $34,553 44.4 $377,378
Winston Double Springs $35,528 44.7 $376,476
Cherokee Centre $38,013 45.9 $356,450
Choctaw Butler $35,049 45.3 $349,476
Greene Eutaw $26,504 42.7 $342,737
Conecuh Evergreen $29,101 44.2 $324,277
Coosa Rockford $34,679 46.8 $296,217

Follow Ben on Twitter @Ben_Baxter or on AL.com here.

Retirement US News

Share Retirement Dreams for Chance to Win Free Book

Let’s dream a little bit.  Most people think more about their next vacation than they ever think about retirement.  But I believe that’s mostly because people get sidetracked by the numbers and forget the dreams.

So leave a comment and share what your retirement dreams are.  For your participation, one lucky commenter will win a free copy of the #1 New York Times Bestselling book, Retired Inspired.

Follow me on Twitter @Ben_Baxter or on AL.com here.

Retire Inspired Giveaway

Why Fear is Not a Reason to Vote

If you haven’t been paying attention for the past few months, then you’ve missed the selections of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as major party nominees for this year’s Presidential Election.  With those selections have come anxiety, worry, and any other emotions associated with fear.

But why fear? Why is fear the most prevalent emotion presently?  Let’s allow nationally-recognized pastor, Max Lucado, introduce this bewilderment a little more deeply.

There’s an angst in the country, and I think there’s a fear.  I think there’s a fear of we don’t know what’s next.  And I’ve tried, maybe you can help me, I’ve tried to put my finger on the root of this fear.  – Max Lucado

Lucado goes on to say he believes this fear comes from a disconnect with God and a disconnect with fellow man.

I tend to agree with him as Romans 8:15 says, “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’”

So if you’re a Christian reading this, I plead with you to stop being fearful.  If you knew how much weight has truly been lifted from you, then you would not sweat something as trivial as politics.  However, based on some of the anger that I am seeing displayed, it’s fairly evident that you are in a deep panic.

If you’re anyone else reading this, I plead with you to stop being fearful as well.  Fear just isn’t going to solve your problems.  Fear almost always causes poor decision-making.  And likewise, it’s a terrible reason to vote.

In fact, neuroscience research from a few years ago suggests the following remedy when gripped with fear: neutralize the situation.

This means not being a fearmonger.  It means avoiding people who are overly pessimistic about the economy. It means tuning out media that fan emotional flames.  Unless you are a day-trader, it means closing the web page with the market ticker.  It does mean being prepared, but not being a hypervigilant, everyone-in-the-bunker type.

I don’t know about you, but I hate fear.  It robs me of friendships—new and old.  It robs me of critical-thinking skills.  And it robs me of joy.  Like any thief, I want it out of my life.  It’s my hope that you will eventually want fear out of your life too.

In relation to the current election, kick fear to the curb before you hit the voting booths.  If we keep fear around, it will build up strength and make us believe we have fewer choices than we actually have.

So be courageous.  No vote submitted from a position of courage is ever a wasted vote.  Not yesterday. Not now.  Not ever.

Follow me on Twitter @Ben_Baxter or on AL.com here.

Trump Clinton

Tuscaloosa: A Rally for Peace and Unity in our City

A dear friend of mine, Pastor Fred Schuckert, has diligently and humbly met with several leaders around our city in order to promote peace and unity.  Here is his call to action that he asked people to share:

I met this morning with Schmidt Moore and a handful of other pastors concerning the rising racial tensions related to the deaths of young black men by police officers in various cities and also the senseless killing of policemen in Dallas.  We talked with our mayor and police chief about having a prayer gathering for peace and unity in our city.  They were in favor of this, including the mayor and police chief of Northport.

At 7:00 this Sunday evening, July 10, at Government Plaza downtown, we will be having a “rally for Peace and Unity in our City.”  If it rains, we will meet at Bethel Baptist Church located at 3003 25th St, Tuscaloosa, AL ·

We are inviting the whole church in our city to participate.  Please share this with other Christians you have contact with in the greater Tuscaloosa area.

We are very fortunate to have outstanding governmental officials and law enforcement in our city and county. We want to pray for them as well as for the families of these young black men and police officers who have been killed.

Please help share Pastor Fred’s message.  Like, share, and retweet.

Photo Credit: http://www.harrison-const.com/

Photo Credit: http://www.harrison-const.com/

Follow me on Twitter @Ben_Baxter or at AL.com here.

How Long-Distance Couples Decide Who Has to Quit

Long-distance emotional stress affects military spouses or newly married spouses quite often.   It also affects couples who have a spouse that has received a dream job offer in a distant city.   If you and your spouse work with employers that are hundreds and thousands of miles apart, then you have a pretty arduous decision ahead of you: determining which one of you has to quit.

This can be very difficult because both spouses may love their jobs; however, spouses need to love each other more than their jobs.  Firstly, seek to see if you can just transfer within your current company.  Secondly, if this is not possible or takes too much lead-time, then you will have to quit.  This does not have to be an immediate resignation, but you definitely need to get the ball rolling in that direction.

It’s been a while, but my wife and I have been in those shoes.  When we got married 5 years ago, I ended up being the spouse that moved.  That certainly wasn’t the only option we had, but it ended up being the best option for us long-term.

Have you and your spouse ever been in this situation?

Follow me on Twitter @Ben_Baxter or at AL.com here.


Originally posted on my LinkedIn back in August 2015.

How Data Can Improve Your Prayer Life

In most areas of life, you would never rush to your leader with a huge request without first collecting data.  There are three reasons for avoiding this.

First, your leader might actually grant your hasty request.  Unfortunately, this can create additional issues if the request doesn’t solve your problem or if it births extra problems.

Second, your leader may deny your request because the results seem unclear or unsafe.

Third, your leader may deny your request simply because you already possess what you need.

Things don’t have to end up this way.  The results of prayer can be so much better than this.

Don’t get me wrong.  I believe prayer is foundational—whether in scarcity or in abundance.  I wholeheartedly believe in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 when it says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

At the same time though, I agree with Matthew 6 when it says, “When you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.”

Instead, God is a God of data.  A God of information.  And he wants us to be that way too.

This is particularly true when praying for loved ones or for your community.

For example, James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.”

If God wanted us to pray for one another without information, he would have nixed any recommendation for confession.

Access to personal confession isn’t always available, but prayer is still required.  This is particularly true when praying for large groups of people.  In this situation, you may need to rely on survey data or sampling data to get an idea of what burdens need to be given to the Lord.

Without reliable data, our prayers lack precision.  Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t think God needs our prayers to be precise to answer our prayers.  God is all-powerful and all-knowing even when we don’t communicate well with him.

Instead, the precision is for us.  If we aren’t precise, it makes it difficult for us to know what’s truly going on.  For example, we might feel we have a need for an immediate financial rescue.  If we aren’t precise, we make it difficult to see the possible answers that God may have for us.

Sure, we may notice a pay increase.  That’s fairly obvious and upfront.  But if we aren’t precise, we may not realize that we have a leaky faucet in a guest bathroom.  We may not realize that we have a streak of jealousy that’s causing us to buy unnecessary purchases.  We may not realize that God may simply want us to be patient.

So I plead with everyone who is reading this.  Seek the data in your lives.  It’s the key to deeper communication with each other as well as with the Lord.

Follow me on Twitter @Ben_Baxter or on AL.com here.

02 Prayer with Text