Friday, November 30, 2007

Christmas Wish

My Christmas Wish is for a former blogger. Sandy at Organized Chaos has really been on my mind a lot lately. I don't know her in person, but she always came across as an amazing woman and most of all, mother. She had overwhelming personal obstacles to overcome, and I suppose her personal life got in the way of her blogging. Her situation is something I cannot fathom, and she was holding up better than most of us would.

So Sandy, if you are out there, I wish you and your family happiness and peace. You deserve it.

Busy, Busy, Busy!

I've been too busy to do much posting. But I do want to thank those of you who participated in my debt survey And to those who registered as debt free, kudos to you. May the rest of us follow in your footsteps!

Here's a great idea for a Christmas gift - magazine subscriptions! Some of these are a full year for only $5.00!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

It's Poll Time!

Don't worry, I can't tell you who are when you respond to this. Where do you fall?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Look At What Desert Diva Has!

That's right - she's got cold hard cash. That's because this week her and her husband became (insert drumroll)..


No car payments, no mortgage, NO PAYMENTS. I like the sounds of that, so let's say it again: NO PAYMENTS.

Please stop over and congratulate her. Getting rid of your debt is not easy - they are most definitely not normal - and proud to be not normal, I'm sure!

Congrats, Julie. You are an inspiration!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Dave Ramsey Sale!

Friends, if you have not got on board with Dave yet, take advantage of his sale today! Especially if you have debt and have no plan for getting rid of it...

Sale ends today so do it now!

What I Won't Be Buying For Christmas

When you take the initiative to make your money work for you, it’s amazing how it changes your buying habits. Suddenly, you realize the things you thought you wanted just aren’t worth the price any longer. You are very aware that every penny you spend is taking you one step away from reaching your financial goals. I’ve decided I want financial freedom more than I want a new pair of jeans.

Here are a few things I’d love to have, but it doesn’t fit into our financial picture anymore. People, did you see that I paid $1200 toward my car this month? That is the direction I’m headed, rather than buying more crap I don’t need. Sorry, I got sidetracked. Here is my list of things I won’t be buying:

TIVO - I really don’t watch a lot of television because I’m pretty busy just trying to keep up with everyday life. But I have a few shows I would watch if I could pick and choose when I watch them.
DirectTV or something similarI really just want something that has Dave Ramsey’s show, since my local cable provider doesn’t carry it. But paying a monthly fee to get the one show is just plain wrong!

SUV - I loved my Yukon and would jump back into another one in a heartbeat, if money weren’t in the way.

Printer - Those new wireless printers look awesome! But since I already have a printer, I can’t justify buying one of them just because I don’t want to get up off the couch to plug it into my laptop.

Carpet - We have one room that really needs new carpet, or some other type of flooring. The carpet was cheap and it’s shot. But with 2 kids and 2 pets, I can’t see spending the money to put in a new floor.

House Cleaning Service - I used to have a housekeeper. She came once a week and it was awesome. With working full time and two kids to spend quality time with, house cleaning is way on the back burner. I’d much rather play a board game with the boys than scrub the bathtub.

Fancy Christmas Decorations - Every year I’ve always spent money buying new Christmas lights or the newest fashionable tree decorations, in addition to fresh greenery to hang throughout the house. This year we won’t be buying a single new decoration for the house.

The gain I'll get from not buying these things is well worth it...

$907 and moving forward!

Yeee Haaaw! With cutting back and selling some stuff, I was able to send $907 to my car payment last night, which means the total paid toward my car this month was around $1200. We're making progress!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Got Vehicle(s)?

Pool Boy graduated from Iowa State University in December 1992. Go Cyclones! His degree is education, so he spent the first semester doing substitute teaching. That was fine because I was still in college and we weren’t married yet. He had no student loan debt, so all he really needed money for was his rent and bills.

We got married in August 1993 and Pool Boy landed a teaching job. We were in awe at the regular income that started coming in. I mean, he was making $14,000 a year, people! We were loaded! We had never had that much money! (I gasp in horror now, looking back...)

With our great fortune we had come upon, we made our first stupid purchase. (Keep in mind I’m still in college so not contributing any money to the situation other than my part-time job.) We bought a brand new bright red 1993 Pontiac Grand Am . It was gorgeous. We paid approximately $18,000 for it I think.

So let’s do the math on that, shall we?

Income = $14,000 (and that’s gross income, folks)
Grand Am = $18,000

I don’t know about you, but that just doesn’t look right to me. Our car was worth more than our annual income? What the heck. How did we even qualify for a loan?

Financial experts say the value of your vehicles should be less than half your annual income – and preferably FAR less than half of your annual income. I can promise you that we are in not the same situation that we were back in 1993, car-wise.

How about your cars? Total up the current value of all of them. Are they less than half your annual income? Or are they dangerously close to half? Or are they over half? If they are close to half or over half, are you willing to “act your wage” and fix the problem? I hope so, especially if you are making more than one car payment.

Debt Reduction Link

Excellent post over here.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Money Traps to Avoid

The items in bold were in a recent article I ran across. Personalized green3 notes have been added!

Not having a goal and a plan to achieve it
I spent many years on financial cruise control. Getting a paycheck, paying the bills, getting another paycheck, paying more bills, and on and on. I never took an interest in my money. We could make the payments on everything, so we thought we were doing well. We even had a substantial savings. But now I know that a savings account doesn’t mean squat if you have debt that offsets it. Now I have very specific financial goals and almost every day I review the plan to achieve it.

Not being willing to change your behaviour
I think this should actually be number one. If you aren’t willing to change your behavior, you’ll never be successful financially. I would bet that most people have no idea how much money they spend each month down to the exact dollar. That leads to spending more than you are earning. Do you feel like you are not making enough money? In quite a few cases, the income is not the problem – is the expenses! If you act your wage, you will succeed.

Not paying off your credit card debt each month
Each month? I think those last two words need to be removed from the above line. If you are still using credit cards, please ask yourself if those purchases are necessary enough to be in debt to have them.

Making only the minimum payment on your credit card debt
Minimum payments get you nowhere except further into debt. That’s why citibank only allows the minimum to be paid through their automatic payment system. Credit card companies love people who pay minimum payments. Don’t be one of those people.

Failing to save at all, or to save enough to be realistic
If you are living paycheck to paycheck, you are setting yourself up for disaster. At the very minimum, you should have $1000 set aside for immediate emergencies. It’s more realistic to have that amount equal to 3-6 months of wages set aside.

Waiting too long to save for long term financial goals
It’s wrong to think, “I’m only 30 years old. I don’t need to think about retirement yet.” Wrong. If you are 30 and haven’t been working on it, you have already missed out on some precious years. Get started TODAY!

Failing to take advantage of your employeers 401k plan
Don’t throw away free money!

Not having any, or enough, life insurance
A death is traumatic enough. Don’t let your family deal with additional suffering by not leaving them financially stable. Personally, I think each parent should have a term life insurance policy worth at least 10 times their salary. If you are gone, you want to make sure the house is paid for, college is paid for, all debt is paid off, etc. And if you have a whole life policy, cash that baby out immediately and do something valuable with that money.

Overinvesting in company stock
I have played with individual stocks throughout the years and have made some money. But frankly, I don’t like putting that much money on just one company. It’s impossible to know what will happen in the future, so I don’t own any individual stocks anymore.

Letting emotion drive decisions
See a new shirt at the mall? Is the bookstore having a great sale? Really want an iPhone? These decisions may seem small, but lumped together they can put you in financial ruin. Spend your money wisely, friends.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Need to Refocus

We’ve lost focus. We are not “living like no one else so that we can live like no one else.” It’s only this month that has been bad and we still have time to recoup, but just a week or two of not paying attention can really bring down your budget.

Some examples of how we have NOT lived like no one else this month:

We went to Kansas City with friends and spent several hundred dollars. Two nights hotel, beverages, food, etc.

We’ve spent around $150 eating out.

We’ve had $175 in cash withdrawals, which most likely means this is wasted money.

There were some very unnecessary purchases made this month, which came to about $60.00.

With those quick figures above, that amounts to around $750 of money unnecessarily spent this month. I’m sick. I’ve worked too hard to then come up on a month like this. What’s worse, we desperately need a grocery store run, but I’m going to make do with what I have or at least buy the minimum. I’m determined to make this month successful yet!

Sunday, November 18, 2007


I would love to tell you how the weekend went and how the football game went, except Friday night was a little more fun that I had planned.

Football game? Didn't quite make it to that...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Closet Update

Pool Boy dealt with the closet situation for most of the evening. He went and bought new supplies, pulled all of the clothes out of the closet, and got the shelves back up. He even with through his t-shirt collection and weeded out two garbage bags full. The he hung all the clothes back up, put all the shoes back, and put all the sweatshirts back on the shelves.

After doing family stuff the rest of the evening, we went downstairs to put the boys to bed. I walked into the closet.

The damn thing was down again.

So now it has to wait until we get back from Kansas City. Oh yeah, did I mention that we will be going to Kansas City this weekend with her and hubs, her and hubs, and her and hubs? (The last "her" doesn't blog, hence no link. Ok, and I really wouldn't say the previous "her" blogs either. C'mon girls!) Without our kids! Don't worry - pictures will be plenty when I return.

For those of you stopping by for personal finance posts, they'll be back soon$$$$$$

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Because I didn't have enough on my to-do list

Looky what I found when I opened my bedroom closet door tonight! Yay!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The "Day After Board Meeting" Blues

Somehow I manage to get myself in situations where people have a right to stop me and complain.
Yes, I know there are problems. And regardless of what some may think, I cannot fix them all. In the perfect school district :

  • We could meet the needs of every single student, from the lowest functioning child to the brightest child in the class.
  • Every athlete would love their coach.
  • No child would ever be left behind, and we wouldn’t have to pass stupid laws that don’t work in order to achieve that.
  • Every teacher would do what’s best for the students in every single situation.
  • Every parent would be involved in their child’s education.
  • There would be enough money and time to give our children every bit of knowledge they need.
  • Children wouldn’t come from broken homes and dysfunctional families, which make education a low priority for them when these children are just trying to survive.
  • Everyone would get along.

We have an awesome school district. I’m proud to be a school member and it’s a job I take seriously. And if I had the resources to solve every problem in the district, it would be the easiest job in the world.

Monday, November 12, 2007


I grabbed this from a personal finance blog. It’s a good thing I don’t believe everything I read.

“I should pay off my credit cards and close them to increase my credit score.” Paying down your credit cards is an excellent idea to improve your credit score, but after the balance is paid off, do not under any means close the account. By closing the account you are essentially increasing the percentage of debt that you are using of all the debt that you have available to you, which will negatively affect your score.
We don’t use credit cards at our house and we don’t have any credit card debt. And I would certainly never keep my old credit card accounts open so that I would keep my good FICO score. You know what a FICO score is used for, don’t you? It’s used to help you go further into debt. So why the heck should I care what my FICO score is?
But green3, what if you want to buy a different house down the road and you need to have a FICO score?
First of all, I don’t plan to. But if I did, there’s this thing called manual underwriting. I know it may cost a bit more, but it doesn’t cost nearly as much as me carrying debt all my life “just in case” I need a FICO score to purchase something. Not to mention the stress that goes with having debt – it’s just not worth it.

Tonight I will be making a presentation to the school board on Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace for the Next Generation. If your school isn’t using this curriculum, I suggest you start working on your local school board!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

$2200 Richer!

I may be jinxing us, but I'm excited so I have to share the news.


Yes, this will be delivered on Tuesday for the price we've asked for it. We'll be paying that baby off immediately, so that's $2200 off our debt balance.

Now if I can just get someone to buy the boys' lofts...

Friday, November 09, 2007

It Isn't Always Easy

I'm in one of those moods where I REALLY want to spend an evening in Des Moines going from store to store, picking out new clothes for winter for all of us, buying fancy Christmas presents for friends and relatives, taking the boys to buy indoor soccer shoes (I wasn't aware these even existed), then going to a nice restaurant.

We used to do this at least once a month. It would end up being around a $400 night.

We don't do that anymore. Not that I could even make myself do that anymore, but I sure do miss those trips.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Math Skilzzzz

Pool Boy and I drink a LAWT of pop. We don't drink coffee in the morning. He grabs his 20 oz Diet Pepsi and I grab my 20 oz Diet Mt. Dew. Bad, I know.

We used to buy them at the gas station on our way to work. But have noticed how much those dang things cost? ONE DOLLAR AND 53 CENTS! FOR 20 OUNCES OF POP! LOOK AT ALL THE CAPITAL LETTERS I'M USING!

Ahem. Sorry 'bout that. Anyway, I can buy a six pack of these bottles for 3.28. See visual aid below.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


I don't know if I'm starving my family or what. I've been hearing and reading that the average family of 4 should be spending $600 per month on their groceries. Even Dave Ramsey says that $600 is acceptable. Since I started tracking our expenses, my highest month was $460. And we have cupboards FULL of food! I actually think I could easily get below the $400 mark by getting creative and using the stuff I already have on hand. How are people spending that much on food?


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Get A Head Start

Here is a link to your Black Friday ads! Not all ads are out yet, but they will be soon. I personally don't do Black Friday because I can't see getting up extra early to save a few bucks. I like saving money and all, but I also like my sleep.

Quote, and stuff

The poor get poorer by acting rich.

The rich get richer by acting poor.
--no idea who this quote belongs to

Yesterday was a NO SPEND day! That’s right…didn’t spend a penny! Today would have been a no spend day, except Pool Boy bought a jacket this morning. Apparently he’s short on jackets? Not even close…anyhoo…

I still haven’t spent any of that extra money from October. We have 7 more windows to replace in our house, and we’re considering using the money to get those ordered and installed before winter hits. By our estimates, we should still have $600 left over to throw at the car. And yes, there are days where I literally want to throw it AT THE CAR.

We think we have our zero-turn mower sold for the price we asked for it, so that should get rid of a nice chunk of debt. And we have two loft beds that are practically brand new but my boys don’t use them – they put their mattresses under them rather than on them. Kind of defeats the purpose of a loft bed, don’t you think. So those two are going on Craigslist. Next to go on Craigslist? A couch that was bought new two years ago and has rarely ever been sat on!

Monday, November 05, 2007

You don’t need to have a large income to be wealthy. You just need to spend less than you make. Unfortunately in our society, we’re so focused on working to pay for “stuff” we sometimes forget about building wealth.

I’ve heard the comment, “Why is it so important to you to have money? Don’t you think that’s being a little greedy?” Well, I really don’t want to spend my life going in circles. Make money, spend money, make money, spend money and on and on and on. I want to make money, save it, enjoy it, and live a fun life.

You may think that being wealthy is out of reach for you. There are plenty of millionaires out there who have never had an income of over $50,000. How do they do it?

They don’t:

  • drive SUVs. In fact, their cars are several years old.
  • go out for dinner or drinks 3 or 4 times a week.
  • buy $100 shoes or purses.
  • go on shopping sprees.
  • have expensive jewelry.
  • live in expensive houses.
  • feel the need to keep up with the Joneses.
  • rely on credit to pay the bills.

However, they also don't:

  • lie in bed at night worrying about debt.
  • Wonder if they’ll have enough money to go on a vacation.
  • Worry about paying for the kids’ education.
  • Work at a job they hate because they have to.
  • Worry about how much it’s going to cost to get the car fixed.
  • Avoid the telephone, because it may be a creditor.

Every single one of us has the potential to be a millionaire if you are willing to do the work. Are you willing?

Link Alert!

Awesome article here.


Some people may think that we are missing out on the “fun” in life by choosing to focus on getting rid of our debt. I certainly don’t want people to feel sorry for us. This situation is only temporary. Yes, it’s hard. And yes, it has caused Pool Boy and I to have some good (and some heated) discussions. Once we get rid of our debt, we’ll have all kinds of money and then we can REALLY have fun!

Back in the day, it was fun to buy whatever I wanted and take advantage of the “2 years no interest” plans and the “90 days same as cash”. But it was NEVER fun trying to keep track of all the different financing plans we were juggling. And I never really felt good about it. Yeah, I had new carpet, new furniture, new cars, new laptops, big screen television, and so on. None of that stuff was really mine, though, until I wrote the last check to pay it off. I’d much rather have stuff that is mine from the day I bring it home.

I now know that if you don’t have the cash to pay for it, you can’t afford it.

So if you feel bad for us, don’t. We’re not missing out on anything. I’d rather have you be excited for us because we’re counting down the months until we are debt free!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

The Debt Diet

I'm not a follower of Oprah, so I was not aware that she had a series called The Debt Diet. There is some great information on her site and I encourage you to click over there even if you are not an Oprah fan.

I especially like the stories of couples wanting to get debt free. It's amazing how much debt people have.

A personal note to Oprah: Seriously, Oprah, do you need to have ads all over your site? You don't have enough money to pay for your own website?

Thursday, November 01, 2007


There are some things that money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s MasterCard.

Think about it. For everything else, there’s MasterCard.

Some people actually believe that crap.

Are you hearing what you are telling me?

I was visiting with someone the other day about money, or lack of. This person told me that he recently combined all of his credit cards on to one that had 3% interest. He is currently sending $68/month (the minimum) to this card and he was upset that his principle was never going down. In fact, he called the credit card company and complained. (What? Anyway…)

He told me that he was worried that his monthly payment would eventually go up. “What will I do if it goes up to $120 per month?”

He then went on to tell me where a lot of his money goes. Annual ski pass for his daughter. Weekly gas fill-ups for his son in college (who doesn’t work during the year and barely works during the summer). Weekly spending money for his college son, which amounted to hundreds per month. A top-of-the-line cell phone (way fancier than my freebie one) for his daughter because the old one “didn’t really have the functions she needed.” New basketball shoes for his daughter, costing $130. (these are sometimes on sale, right?). A new laptop for his college son because the one he bought right after high school, mearly 3 years ago, wasn’t good enough for him. Nightly trips to the grocery store because they never plan their meals ahead of time. Blah blah blah.

I looked at him and said, “I’ll be right back.” I grabbed my Dave Ramsey book and said, “You need to read this. Today.”

He replied, “Oh I’ve heard about him. I really like what he has to say. Can I borrow the book this winter, like maybe after Christmas when things slow down?”

Okaaaaaay. And how much further in debt will you be by then?

It's Not Just For Those "Other People"

I think there is the assumption among some people that paying off debt is only for people with high incomes. That assumption could not be more wrong.

Yes, having good incomes definitely makes it easier. But people with average incomes are doing it as well. Every Friday, Dave Ramsey asks people to call in if they have recently become debt free. These calls give me goosebumps! Most of these people have combined incomes of 60,000 or below. Here are some examples from recent weeks:

A couple making $40,000 paid off $35,000 in debt in just 10 months.

A couple making $42,000 paid off $60,000 in debt in just 18 months.

A couple making $50,000 paid off $ 48,000 in debt in just 12 months.

All three of these couples have children. They sold all of the extra junk lying around the house. They quit buying junk they didn’t need. They quit eating out. They didn’t buy any new clothes.

These people “lived like no one else” for 10, 12 or 18 months so that they can LIVE LIKE NO ONE ELSE for the rest of their lives. They no longer have payments. Say that again to yourself: No payments. Their paychecks are now THEIR paychecks, rather than the bank’s paychecks. They can do fun things with their money like save for college, go on awesome vacations with their family, retire early, and enjoy life.

We’re doing it and you can do it too.