Thursday, January 31, 2008


Yesterday we had the unpleasant task of going to a funeral. While it was a sad event, it was an amazing service and we all learned something about Jan – and hopefully many people in that service learned something from how she lived.

She was a wonderful woman who could be labeled a “giver”. If someone needed something, Jan was there to give it to them. A member of our church shared this story about Jan:

Our youth group likes to go on trips, as a way of bonding with each other and seeing opportunities that are out there where their gifts can be used. These trips are awesome for the kids, but they do cost money. Jan went to the leader of the group and told him, “If you ever have a student who cannot go because they cannot afford it, you come to me.” Each time he went to Jan to ask her to help a student, she never asked who it was or what their situation was. Her response was, “How much do you need?” She simply smiled and handed over the money.

As we drove away from the funeral, Pool Boy said to me, “I want to be able to do what Jan did, helping kids whenever they need it.”

Once we are debt-free, we will do just that. Thanks, Jan, for your inspiration. I did not know you well, but I know you will be missed.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I Heart Online Banking

I’ve mentioned online banking before, but I think it’s worth another post because of how handy it is and how helpful it is in reaching our goals.

Handy Because #1
We have several bank accounts, but we operate out of only one. So every night I log on to our checking account and see what transactions hit our account that day. I transfer every single transaction to a spreadsheet, so I always know exactly how much money we have at the end of every day. Also, if Pool Boy made a stupid purchase at some point throughout that day, I can hassle him about it while the purchase is still fresh, rather than wait until he’s forgotten about it.

Handy Because #2
The people in charge of the online bill pay at my bank hate me, I’m pretty sure. If I come across any extra money, I immediately send a check to my car loan. Here’s an example. I sell a lot of books on As soon as I sell the book, I immediately log in to my bank account and submit a payment to be sent to my car loan. In a month timeframe, I might send up to 10 checks to the loan! If I was writing manual checks, I would never do this because I never have any envelopes at my house, and I also never have any stamps.

Handy Because #3
This is similar to the one above, but still deserves it’s own number. I always HATED sitting down one night a month to write out all the bills. What a depressing way to spend an evening. Then I’d have to hunt down envelopes and stamps (see above). And I was usually low on checks, because I hate ordering checks. And on top of all that, I very rarely remembered to do this before the due date on all the bills because I can be lazy like that. The whole process stunk. Now I pay a bill as soon as it arrives in the mail so I don’t have one big “doomsday” every month. I get the mail, open it up, walk to my laptop, and pay it. Done.

Handy Because #4
Think of all the money I’m saving! No stamps, fewer checks, fewer envelopes, no late fees. I also don’t have to worry as much about a payment not arriving on time. The bank backs me up if there is ever a problem with that.

Sooooo…this means a new poll! See it up there? In the right corner?

P.S. Tonight is a big night for Three! We are all very excited for him, as he’s been given quite an opportunity. I’ll tell you about it and post pictures afterwards.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A How To Guide

Building wealth is not difficult, if you are willing to save your money instead of spend it. Looky here.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Yes or No?

Debt reduction is not without its troubles. And here is one of my “troubles”.

We love to ski, we love visiting our relatives, we love vacations, and we love Colorado. And we have a free place to stay if we go (my brother lives there). And possibly discounted ski lift tickets. And this is the first year Green has learned how to ski. And on black diamonds. (they are Iowa black diamonds, but still). And we promised Green we’d go to Colorado if he learned how to ski. So he learned. And your kids are little only once. And this will create more memories for their childhood. And we can get there via Amtrak for a mere $550, as opposed to $2000 for airline tix. And we would love an adventure on Amtrak, because it’s a TRAIN! And Three adored trains when he was little. And we could go over Pool Boy’s spring break so he wouldn’t have to take any days without pay.

BUT…we are trying to work down our debt at racing speed. And we already have a trip planned to Florida in June – which we already have the cash set aside for.

This month I could easily set aside cash to pay for the whole Colorado trip. We’ve done an awesome job not spending any money this month. After setting aside that money, I would still have plenty of extra to send to the car.

Should we stay or should we go?

Progress Report

Since last summer, we’ve been hammering away at our pile of debt. In only 6 months, I’m excited to report that we’ve gotten rid of over $20,000 of debt! We started with 8 debts, and now we are down to just THREE: mortgage, line of credit loan, and my car.

We’ve sold a lot of stuff in order to get to where we are today. I know it will get harder to keep up that pace since we have sold most of the big stuff we had available to sell. Now it will come down to plain ole budgeting and not buying crap we don’t need.

I’ve also found various ways to bring in a little more moola. One area that’s been successful for me has been In the past 30 days, I’ve sold 50.35 worth of books and DVDs! If you have books and DVDs lying around, I highly recommend They even reimburse you for the shipping amount, which totally rocks. Every cent I receive goes straight to my car payment.

Let us hear about your progress on your debt tackling, plus a tip for how you are finding money to throw at your debt.

Have a great week, everyone!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

THIS Is The Reason To Be Debt Free

If you don't read any of my other posts, please read this one. I know I yap and yap about getting out of debt in order to build wealth, but without hard facts to show you, I'm finding that some people just aren't seeing the need to do it. So here's your lesson. Listen up.

Here's what you are probably doing now:
  1. Paying minimums toward mortgage and cars

  2. Savings, if even there, is hovering at the same amount every month. Sometimes it even goes down.

  3. Total retirement plan consists of a 401K plan for each spouse, or maybe even for only one spouse.

You are just plugging along, getting no traction in making a difference to your financial future.

Here's what you can do if you are debt free:

Let’s say your take home pay is $4000 per month. If you could live on just $2000 per month (which you should be easily able to do if you don’t have a mortgage or car payments), that leaves $2000 to invest. So let’s put this extra $2000 into a growth stock mutual fund at an average rate of 12% per year. This money must be deposited every single month. If you are 40 years old now and did this plan, you will have $2 million dollars when you are 60. For those of you who like colors and pictures, here's your chart:

So, if you refuse to live below your means, refuse to get rid of your debt, keep buying crap you don’t need, what will you have when you retire? Your piddly 401K and if you are lucky, maybe a couple thousand in the bank. And no, you should not count on Social Security. This isn't rocket science, people.

Which life are you choosing? $2 million or nothing?

The above chart is from Dave's investment calculator. It's easy to do, so go plug your own numbers in and see how you could end up.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

There's No Reason For Your Kids Not To Be Millionaires

There's no reason, because I'm telling you now how it works.

If your 20-year-old child saves only $65 per month at 12% average annual returns (such as a long-term growth mutual fund) until he/she is 65 years old, at retirement they will have approximately $1.34 million. They must put the money in every single month and they can never take money out of the account.

Now that's not hard, is it?

Example taken from Financial Peace.

My Money Saving Tip - Knowledge!

Like, I have just one! Anyway, No Credit Needed wants to know money saving tips from bloggers so here is mine.

I believe 100% percent that you can't build wealth unless you are knowledgeable. By this I mean that you know exactly where each penny is going because you write down each expense on a spreadsheet or something. When you see all of your expenses written down, you are able to spot exactly where the problems are and can cut them out immediately.

Before we started tracking our expenses, I never really thought our eating out expenses mattered all that much. We ate out at least once a week, but we had the "I deserve it" disease. Once we wrote it all down, we saw that over $300 was going to bad restaurant food EACH MONTH! Now that we've cut that down, it's like we got a $300 raise.

Track those expenses!

Monday, January 21, 2008

They Are Following In Your Footsteps

One of the main reasons I’m working so hard to get debt free is because of my kids. I want them to know how money works before they get to be my age, and have a pile of debt they have to beat down. My kids know a lot about money and finances just by watching us. They know we don’t buy something just because we want it, they are well aware of who Dave Ramsey is (and he’s currently taking the blame for us not having a Wii), and they know the best way to get wealthy is to save your money. They also know that it’s important to give away a portion of your money, as they give their weekly donation – out of their commissions – to our church.

What are your kids learning from you? Are they learning that it’s ok to buy whatever you want? That it’s important to buy brand new cars every few years? That bankruptcy is the way to go because it’s the easy way out? Do they often hear you and your spouse arguing about money?

I challenge you to take a long, hard look at how you handle money. Your kids will likely treat their money the exact same way you are. Is that what you want, or do you need to make a change?

Sara. Sara. Storms Are Brewing in Your Eyes...

Ok, “storms” has absolutely nothing to do with being frugal, but that’s all I could think of for a title of this post. I’m creative like that.

Anyhoo, SARA! You are the winner of the Tightwad Gazette! I’d link to you and all, but it appears you don’t have a blog. I’m so excited that this book is going to a one-income family, because if there’s anyone who needs to be frugal, it’s a one-income family.

Thanks so much to everyone who stopped by and commented, and especially to those who wrote about the contest on their own blog for an additional chance at winning. It didn’t help you at all, obviously, but hey – it was fun while it lasted, right?

So, You Want To Be Successful?

I could not have said it better myself. Take it over, Millionaire Mommy.

New Kids On The Block

Hi, green3 here. I’m so excited that my addition to Frugal Hacks has brought me tons of brand new friends. I’m thrilled that you are here so we can teach each other how to make our money work for us instead of us working for our money!

Let me give you a quick overview of what goes on here.

  • Dave Ramsey rocks. He knows his stuff, and the world would be a happier place if everyone followed his guidelines.
  • I’m not as frugal as a lot of you are, but I’m always looking for was to change.
  • I’m all about getting out of debt. And I’d really love for you to be out of debt as well, so I talk about it on my blog. A LAWT.
  • Sometimes I spell words wrong just for emphasis. (see above)

So I hope you stick around for the fun. Together we will become financially free!

There's a Giveaway Hidden In This Post

**Sticky Post Alert!** Scroll down for most recent posts.


I found it humorous that I was mentioned in this article on MSN Money about extreme frugality. Because although I do cut my dryer sheets in half, I’m really not all that frugal.

Frugality, it seems, takes way more time and space than I have available. I don’t have time to make my own loaves of bread or use powdered milk instead of real milk (also, there’s the gross factor). I also don’t buy my clothes at Goodwill or cut the boys’ hair myself. That is SO not me, regardless of how bad I want to get out of debt.

Here’s a story that just makes me shake my head. This guy built a stand out of wood where he could put his empty motor oil bottles in upside down. The extra oil would drain out and be collected in another container. He said after 15 oil changes or so, he would end up with a free bottle of oil. Seriously. For you people that are really frugal, where the heck do you put all of your contraptions such as this Motor Oil Collector? And where do you find the time?

So, the giveaway. I currently have two copies of The Tightwad Gazette, and I'd love to give you one of them. I did find my dryer sheet tip in there, but that’s about all I got out of it. But maybe you have more time than I do and can get some benefit out of it? It’s used, but in great shape. (I mean, really – that wouldn’t make sense to go BUY a book about frugality, would it?)

So leave me a comment below to get included in the giveaway. And if you post about this giveaway on your own blog, I’ll enter your name into the drawing twice. I’ve got a few readers that are non-US and I’d love to have you participate as well! And for those of you that don’t have a blog, just leave a comment that somehow tells me who you are or how to get ahold of you. I'll announce the winner Monday evening. Good luck!

Friday, January 18, 2008

503B, anyone?

A friend of mine is considering a 503B. She is a SAHM, but substitute teaches at local schools. Her plan would be to deposit her paychecks directly into a 503B. I know nothing about these. Anyone have any advice or information for her?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Larry Winget Says It Like It Is

Did you recently buy a new car with a 5 year loan? Then click here.

So let’s get this straight – you have a bunch of debt, you can’t pay your bills, you don’t have a job that pays well. Click here.

So you think your life sucks because you’re up to your ears in debt? Click here

Larry's awesome.

Millionaire Minds

“For the rich, it’s not about getting more stuff. It’s about having the freedom to make almost any decision you want.”

Check this Reader's Digest article out. It rocks - promise.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

How Gazelle Intense Am I?

I’ve read a few blogs lately that have discussed how gazelle intense people are in attacking their debt. While I’m a huge fan of Dave Ramsey and think what he does for people is absolutely amazing, I have to admit I’m not following his steps exactly. Here are a few areas where I’m breaking the “rules”:

Dave says that if you are able to clean up your non-mortgage debt within 2 years, to halt all retirement contributions until you are to that point. Pool Boy and I are still funding our retirement plan, as well as an additional amount taken out of PB’s paycheck each month.

$1000 Emergency Fund
We have a substantial cash balance in our savings. I know, I know, I should use that money to pay off my car and then attack the HELOC, but people – PEOPLE – I still have to live with my husband. He’d be a complete mess if we only had $1000 in our bank account. Granted, we’ve never had to touch this savings account since we started focusing on our finances – but still. I’ve even given him the option that we go ahead and use some of the money to pay off my car and put some toward the heloc, and then if he didn’t like it a few months down the road we could go get another loan to put the cash back into our savings. “I’m not getting another loan!” he declared. That’s exactly my point, dear.

Nope, still not using them. I have my “virtual” envelopes but I’m aware that’s not the point of them. I even have Dave’s fancy envelope system.

For Ramsey followers, are you breaking any “rules”?

Another installment of “1001 Things Every Teen Should Know Before They Leave Home”:

966. They should know that instead of going to their parents for money, they should work things out. Or do without.

NoFatBlawgers - I need your totals!

It's True

The list of reasons for not doing very well in your life is actually a very short list. It should contain only your name.

— Larry Winget, You’re Broke Because You Want to Be

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

My 15 Minutes

My dryer sheets are making me FAMOUS!

Dang, and I was counting on my acting and singing skills...

Friday, January 11, 2008

Basketball Weekend and Such

I won't be around much this weekend. We're going to basketball games tonight, Three plays basketball all morning tomorrow, starting at 8AM. (I'm on concession stand duty for 2 hours tomorrow morning.) Then our county has their basketball duel-thingy tomorrow night, so we'll probably go to that. That's a heck of a lot of basketball for someone like me.

Attn: No Fat Blawgers - send me your totals so I can post it on our site! You can send me the total amount lost so far. I'll keep it all organized on my end.

And look! Poll! ----------------------------------------------------------->

Rate Reduction Rally

I just learned that Watch My Money Maker is having a Credit Rate Reduction Rally this week. I'm not a regular reader of that blog, but will be now!

I cannot participate due to the fact that I don't have any credit cards, but this is your chance to make a difference in your credit card debt! If you currently have credit card debt, call the companies up today and ask them to lower your interest rate.

After doing that, work like crazy to get rid of the debt!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Why I'm Dumping PBS

I used to love Paperbackswap. The books would come and go and it seemed like good fun. But then I got so bogged down with books that I quit ordering them. Yet, I was still spending money to ship them out. I racked up 12 credits, but I could never buy any books that I really wanted. So I scrounged around looking for books tonight, used up my credits and closed my account.

I'm mostly a non-fiction reader, and mostly books about finance and personal development - cause I'm a dork. I think that's where my problem was. If you love fiction, PBS is a goldmine.

(I don't have my book with me and I'm way to lazy to get up off the couch to get it. Hence, no "1000 Things" with this post.)

Wondering How To Start?

Trent offers some great advice on his post.

24. They should know to seek the advice of a mentor. Not the wisdom of their unemployed bar friends.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Which Life Do You Want?

I was listening to a podcast last night by No Credit Needed. I highly recommend it. He was describing how his life is different now that he doesn’t have any debt to deal with. Even though I’m already on board with a debt-free lifestyle, it reassured me that I’m on the right track. It got me thinking about the kind of life our family will be living in just a few years.

A family living a debt free life:

Will not be devastated if one of the parents loses their job. They have enough cash to survive because they were able to save their money instead of sending it to debt. They don’t have any bills to pay other than utilities, food, and other minimal bills. Losing a job when you are debt free is NOT a crisis. What, think you can’t lose your job? Think again. Yes, even you are replaceable.

Will build wealth at amazing speed. Let’s say you get a paycheck of $2000. You spend $1000 on your monthly expenses such as food and utilities. That leaves you with $1000. A family living with debt would have to send that money to their mortgage, student loan debt and car payments. There is very little, if anything, left to save. The debt-free family deposits that $1000 into their ROTH or at the very least, a savings account. Which family do you want to be?

Can have a lot of fun! Most importantly, the family is not stressed out about financial problems. They can have fun with their money instead of working to make it stretch. It’s not a financial burden to take a family vacation because they have enough cash to pay for the trip. Vacations are much more fun if you aren’t worried about how much it’s costing you.

Aren’t devastated by emergencies. If the oven breaks, a family living with debt will probably wonder how they’ll afford a new one. They’ll end up charging a new oven on a credit card, therefore making it cost much more than if they paid cash. A debt-free family can simply buy another one and move on with their lives.

Can give like crazy. I want to help people in a productive way. I want to pay for them to go to Dave’s live events. I want to pay for couples to go through Financial Peace University (I haven’t even done this myself!). I want to help feed kids who are hungry. I want to make sure kids living in poverty are well fed and clothed. And as Green told me this holiday season, “Every kid should get at least one present for Christmas.” Because of discussions we’ve had at our house, my boys are well aware of how fortunate they are.

816. They should know that wealth is a tool to further God’s plans.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Green, In His Usual Pose

I Can See You, But I Can't Hear You (part 2)

I don’t write posts simply for the comments people leave. Ahem. No, I really don’t. I have my regular blog friends who comment but I want to hear from the rest of you as well! I know you are there because I can see the numbers. Can’t you show me just a little love?

Maybe tell me something like what you find interesting about this blog, your experience with personal finance, or leave me a quote that you think is awesome.

Continuing with my sharing of 1001 Things Every Teen Should Know Before They Leave Home book:

301. They should know that if they spend all their money partying and trying to impress people, they’ll quickly have an impressive amount of debt.

Monday, January 07, 2008

A Good Start to the New Year

I was tempted to eat out no less than 4 times this weekend. I ended up eating out zero times.

I sold a book on and netted $6.00, which will be sent to my car debt. That will bring my total January car payment to $2084. It’s not always about the income, friends. It’s about getting rid of your extra stuff, as well.

Two more couples have been influenced by yours truly, and they are getting started on their own Total Money Makeover. I don’t say that in a bragging way. I say it in a, “Looky Here! You can do this too!” way.

I can whip Green in Guitar Hero. But only on Synchronicity II. And only if I’m on the easy level and he’s on the medium level. And only if I have the good chair instead of sitting on the floor. And only if I’ve had my caffiene for the day.

I’m rubbing off on my kids. Green said to me yesterday, “(name withheld) should be a Dave Ramsey fan. Their kids get whatever they want!” Yessiree, that’s my kid. And don’t worry, he wasn’t referring to any of you. These people don’t read my blog, that I’m aware of.

My kids have started the Dave Ramsey plan for kids – and they are loving it. They get their first “commission” payment tonight. The plan also includes reward certificates. Green got one for bagging the groceries at the store the other day, then unloading the cart into the back of my car. Three got one for letting the dog outside, and another one for unloading the groceries from the car and taking them into the house. They did all of these things WITHOUT BEING ASKED! Our rewards are things like, they get to pick a game to play that night, they get to have their favorite meal for supper, or they get to stay up 15 minutes past their bedtime (and their brother!) – so they are things that don’t cost us anything extra.

I’ve been able to stick to my new healthier living plan. Not loving it, but it's going ok.

Have I mentioned yet that I'm going to see Dave's live event this spring. And that I didn't even pay for it? Thanks, Mom and Dad, for one of the best Christmas presents EVAH!

307. They should know that unless they pay twice the minimum monthly payment, credit card balances never really go away.

One Year From Now

I can't remember where I heard this, but it's awesome:

"One year from today you'll be the same person you are today except for the books you read and the people you meet."

815: They should know that lenders are not their friends. They are cold, hard businesspeople who want their money back. With interest.

Friday, January 04, 2008

No New Cars

755. They should know a new car plummets in value the moment it's driven off the lot. This creates that "upside-down" feeling.

Red Boots

A couple years ago, I was on a mission for red boots. I thought they were funky, cool and hip. And maybe, JUST maybe, they would also make me funky, cool, and hip.

My mom bought me a pair, but they weren’t what I was looking for. I returned them and then went out and bought just the right ones.

They sat in my closet the rest of that winter. And the next winter. And the first half of this winter. Oh, they came out a few times for a day at work or a meal at a nice restaurant, but they still just weren’t the right ones.

Yesterday I decided to give up on the red boots. I put them on eBay at 12:35PM. They were sold just a few hours later at 5:25, and they were shipped out over my lunch hour today.

Can you guess where that money will be going? After shipping costs, I only made $13.00 on the boots, but that $13 will be sent directly to my car loan!
201. They should know never to use the words not my job if they're making long-term career plans.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Massive Car Payment

I have something very cool to share with you all...

It's only January 3 and we've already paid $2078 toward my car this month!

We were able to do this because we are living like no one else so that later, we can really live like no one else. You can do this too, if you are willing to make the necessary sacrifices. Jump on board, friends!

Comment With Freedom, Now

Sooo....I made it a tad difficult to post a comment over at the nofatblawg. Sorry 'bout that. It's fixed now.

Jenn and Blonde Chick - you are linked up!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Wealthy and Healthy

Over the past 6 months or so, I’ve been all about fiscal fitness. It’s time to also put some effort toward physical fitness. I need to eat healthier, exercise more, and just take better care of myself in general. I’ve got two boys to keep up with!

Want to join the fun? (Yes, it will be fun!)

We’ll keep track of how much weight we’ve lost, starting today through March 31. C’mon, you can do anything for 90 days, not matter how painful it is during the process. And think about how much healthier you will feel on March 31!

To participate, email me or post a comment. You don’t need to have a blog, but if you don’t at least provide us with a nickname to refer to you by.

Let's Go!

607. They should know they won't lose a pound running three miles a day unless they give up the ice cream, beer, Coke and doughnuts.