Personal Finance

Foundation #2: Create and Stick To a Budget

Personal finance success starts with a commitment to spend less than you make. However, where your spending falls in relation to your income can’t be known unless you map out all the money coming in and all the money going out. This is where the budget comes into play.

Budgeting for me is a fairly new concept. I have only been keeping a budget for the past year or so. During this time, I have been experimenting with a couple different methods to see what works. I have heard the envelope system is very effective but I don’t do cash (topic for another day) so I passed on that. I have tried recording all transactions in Microsoft Money or Quicken but I usually fall off that train pretty quickly. I think the key to budgeting is that it has to be simple. Since I like Excel I decided to start there and see how I got on. What I came up with is this Simple Monthly Excel Budget

*DISCLAIMER* All numbers are fictional and are just for display purposes!

Step 1)
Enter Your salary and how many times a year you get paid. If you are a single income household just enter zero for salary 2


Step 2) Grab your paycheck or go to PaycheckCity and enter your information

:Excel Budget - Income

Salary 1 is based on bi-weekly paychecks so I use a multiplier to get to the monthly numbers. Salary 2 is based on monthly paychecks. After entering your income, taxes, 401k (if applicable) you will have your net after taxes. This is the money you have to spend each month.

Step 3) Now it is time to enter your after tax deductions like medical, dental, and employee stock purchase (if applicable)

Excel Budget - After Tax Deductions

If you don’t participate in an ESPP just enter 0%. Now you have your take home pay in each check.

Step 4) Enter your Roth IRA information. If you are not participating in a Roth IRA enter zero (You should be – topic for another day!)

Excel Budget - Roth IRA

Step 5) Enter all your non credit card expenses. Things like mortgages, utilities, etc. For utilities that fluctuate, I enter an average since Gas and Electric will usually offset each other during the year. I also like splitting up the mortgage payments into principal, interest, and taxes so I can see the principal amount each month 🙂

Excel Budget - Non Credit Cards

Step 6) Now enter your yearly expenses and divide by 12 to come up with a monthly average.

Excel Budget - Non Monthly

Step 7) Enter all your expenses that you put on a credit card each month. You will see why I do it this way next

Excel Budget - Credit Card Expenses

Step 8 ) Now we add it all up!

Excel Budget - Add It Up

Your disposable income equals your take home pay minus your expenses and your Roth IRA contribution. This is how much wiggle room you have in your budget each month, hopefully it is a positive number! If it is a negative number, you need to cut some expenses or increase your take home pay.

I use the do not exceed line above so that each month I can glance at my credit card bill and make sure we are on track as most of our expenses are on the credit card each month.

Step 9) The last couple lines give you a quick snapshot of how you are doing overall with a look at your savings and retirement rates.

Excel Budget - Savings and Retirement Rate

So that is what works for me. What about you?

Personal Finance

Foundation #1: Spend Less Than you Make

Sound simple right? In theory yes but in practice no. Just look to the negative savings rate and you will see that Americans today are spending more than they make and saving less for tomorrow.

I don’t want to make it sound easy, it isn’t! You have a lot of big companies spending an incredible amount on marketing. To add to the big marketing budgets, the marketers are getting smarter and more advanced in their techniques. Holding onto your hard earned dollars in today’s consumer driven society is hard work. Who doesn’t want a new car or some hot new gadget?

What it comes down to is commitment. You have to set a budget and commit to spend less than what comes in every month. Resist the temptation to spend crap on stuff you don’t need to impress people you don’t know!

Personal Finance

10 Foundations of Personal Finance

To start my personal finance series I thought I would start with the following foundations on personal finance. I will follow up with a post on each of these individual topics:

#1 Spend less than you make

#2 Create and stick to a budget

#3 Make savings automatic

#4 Accumulate assets that appreciate in value

#5 Avoid assets that depreciate in value

#6 Invest your savings early and often

#7 Live almost debt free

#8 80% of personal finance is behavior 20% is knowledge and the numbers

#9 Your retirement is YOUR responsibility

#10 To be successful you and your partner must agree on these principles

Most personal finance topics can be attributed back to one of these principles. Did I miss any?


Digital Photography & Smugmug

I got my first digital camera in 1999, it was a Kodak DC290 with 2.1 Megapixels. I don’t even want to remember how much it cost. I think it was close to $800! Yikes! Although it was expensive, that camera got me hooked on photography and Photoshop. Over the years I have upgraded and now use a Canon 10D DSLR. The great thing with digital photos is that you are only limited by storage. The downside is that the more photos you take the harder it is to manage them. This is where Smugmug comes into play.

Smugmug is a photo sharing site that a lot of people still have not heard of. I signed up for Smugmug a few years ago an instantly became a huge fan. For $40 a year you get unlimited storage and bandwidth. That alone makes it a great deal, but throw in LOTS of great tools to manage your photos and share them with friends and it becomes a GREAT application! If you have not seen Smugmug I highly recommend them!

Here is a photo we took at Stone Mountain a few weeks ago:


WordPress is Awesome!

WordPress is the blogging software I am using for this blog. I had dinner last week with Sam Decker at eTail and he told me to go with WordPress or Typepad, WordPress is free so I thought I would try it out first.

All I can say is WOW! These guys know what they are doing. I read through the setup instructions and was VERY skeptical of the 5 minute install claim but I had it up and running in 5 minutes! I think I had never paid attention to WordPress because it is a PHP/MySQL solution. I was a Microsoft ASP developer for 5 years and never played around with PHP so it was never on my radar.

After getting the base install up and running I added on a few other helpful plugins like Google Analytics and Akismet. The neat thing about WordPress is that there is such a great development community to extend and customize the application. I am going to have to break open the code and learn PHP so I can do some customizations. So far I am super impressed!


First Post!

After reading lots of blogs over the past couple of years I have decided to start my own here at I have moved the pages about my consulting business over here.

I am still working on figuring out what topics I will talk about, but here are some of my first thoughts:

This is my day job and what gets me up every morning. I love the industry and how it has fundamentally changed the way business is done around the world. The pace of change is incredible and the growth rates of internet businesses are far out pacing the off-line world. It is an exciting time to be in this business!

Personal Finance
Over the past couple years personal finance has become a topic I have become more interested as I have become to understand it. The more I know the more I want to learn. I hope to help share some of my learnings here.

Career Coaching
This topic has evolved as I have moved around in my career and learned a lot from some very bright people around me. Since I don’t have 20 years experience I will focus my thoughts on tips and tricks for those just starting out.

OK I admit it. I am a closet computer nerd. Every once in a while I will be having a conversation with someone and it will just come out. Watch out, it can catch you off guard 🙂

Online marketing and Ecommerce go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other. Look for this blog to highlight innovative marketing programs that online retailers are using.

Lots more coming!



My Archive Project

I am writing this post on 12/17/2019, but I have dated it 2/16/2007 which is the day before my first post and the launch of this blog.

I have not written a lot of content on the site since it launched in 2007. As I get older and my memory starts to fade (ok my memory is terrible!) I wanted to start documenting and publishing some of the key events and milestones in my life. One of the reasons I got into Photography was so I could capture these moments.  I love going back and looking through my SmugMug Albums and reliving so many of these great memories.  Over time, I will hopefully build on more of these posts to fill out the archives.


Moving to Atlanta: 6101 Queens River Drive Mableton Georgia

In October of 2005 I moved to Atlanta to work for The Home Depot. When I first arrived in Atlanta, I rented a room in a townhouse across the street from Home Depot in Smyrna. After a few months living there, I moved to another townhouse that was on the Silver Comet Trail. After Crystal decided she was going to move to Atlanta, we started looking at houses.

I knew that with Atlanta traffic I wanted to be somewhere close to the office. We narrowed our search to the cities of Smyrna, Vinings, and Mableton in Cobb County.  After looking at a lot of different houses, but focused on two new developments in Mableton named Legacy and Providence built by John Wieland. We looked at a few homes in Legacy and really liked the “Hamilton” floor plan but they did not have any available with a basement.  After looking at Legacy, we went next door to Providence and found a Hamilton floor plan with a basement. We decided that Lot 107A was the one and we put our deposit down!  On June 7th 2006 we closed on 6101 Queens River Drive Mableton Georgia

We lived at 6101 Queens River Dr for 13 years and had so many milestones in this house. We got married here, both of our children were born here, and countless other memories and events like 1st birthday parties and holidays!

Not only did our kids grow up in this house but so did all the trees and bushes.  Here is how the house looked when we sold it in 2019!


Our Engagement – She Said Yes!

On February 11th, 2006 on a frozen Shelburne Pond in Shelburne, Vermont I proposed to Crystal!  Unfortunately this was before smartphones so there are no pictures!  Luckily she said yes!

We would get married two years later in Georgia.


Manager of Online User Experience at The Home Depot


On October 17th, 2005 I joined The Home Depot as the User Experience manager for  It was a big change as the first five years of my career had been spent on the IT side but now I was making the transition to the “business” side.  I worked for Greg Foglesong who was the Director of at the time.  Greg was a great mentor and friend during my time at Home Depot and six years later he would hire me again at Carters.

As the user experience manager for, I was responsible for everything from home page to checkout.  There was a digital marketing team that focused on driving traffic, but as soon as users hit the site it was my job to ensure a great shopping and eCommerce experience.  After checkout, our supply chain and customer service teams would take over to complete the full customer life cycle.  Since I sat in the middle of both teams, I got a lot of exposure to all aspects of the eCommerce business at

In addition to the marketing team, I also worked very closely with the technology organization to implement new features and functionality.  A key reason that Greg hired me was to help hold the technology team accountable to the business as I had the development background and technical skills to “speak their language”.

The New

When I started at the end of 2005 was running a very old version of the Broadvision platform.  It was well past its end of life and with the explosive growth of sales on the site we desperately needed a modern eCommerce platform. The site barely made it through the 2005 and 2006 holiday seasons! Prior to me starting, Home Depot had selected IBM’s Websphere as the next generation platform we would migrate to. For the next 18 months, I would live and breathe all things Websphere as my primary focus was the relaunch of on the new platform.   It was a massive project to replace the entire technology stack of the site and there were no shortage of challenges along the way.  In June of 2007, we launched the new site and it was a proud moment to see it go live!

After we launched the new site, I started to think about the next steps of my career.  The Home Depot is a really big organization and some of the bureaucracy started to weigh on me.  I also wanted to get more exposure to the marketing and supply chain sides of eCommerce.  In January of 2008, I resigned from The Home Depot and joined Astral Brands as the Director of eCommerce.

Next: Director of eCommerce at Astral Brands

Previous: eCommerce Development Manager at