Tuesday, September 30, 2008


I'm watching the news right now (and playing the very addicting Chain Factor). The news is all about the financial worries of citizens. Here are people's main concerns:

  • Not being able to get a loan for a car
  • Having to pay a high interest rate on a car
  • Not getting high enough credit limites at places like Lowe's or Home Depot to cover their so called "needs"

People are upset. Scared. Very, very nervous. All because they may not get to borrow as much money as they used to. Well, boo hoo. For people like us who aren't ever going to borrow money again, that particular piece of this whole problem is not even an issue for us. And it shouldn't be for you either.

Maxed Out

If you haven't seen Maxed Out, I strongly suggest it. I watched it again last night.

Here are some interesting items I pulled from that movie:

The average family has $9,000 in credit card debt.

The most popular customers that credit card companies go after are those who have recently filed bankruptcy for two reasons:

  1. They won't be filing bankruptcy anytime soon.
  2. They have the "taste" for credit, meaning they are willing to make minimum monthly payments forever - which makes the credit card companies filthy rich.

Debt buying is one of the fastest growing industries on Wall Street. For those who don't know the details, this is what the $700 billion bailout is all about.

Eliot Spitzer was interviewed for the movie, which cracked me up.

One of Bush's top campaign contributor was MBNA, the country's second largest credit card issuer.

Consumers are "surfing", which means they are using debt to pay off other debts. They are caught in a vicious, never-ending cycle.

And the horrible story of the two college students who committed suicide because they had gotten themselves into too much debt and could not see a way out. Both students were initially approached during their freshman year on campus and offered a free t-shirt, frisbee, whatever, just for filling out the paperwork. Please, please make sure your kids are knowledgeable!!

Monday, September 29, 2008


We are NASCAR fans.

We live in the midwest, a mere few hours from Kansas City.

Yesterday was the annual NASCAR race at Kansas Speedway.

We are season ticket holders of 4 tickets, at a price of over $1100.

We did not go.

We sold our season tickets for 2008.

This is what it means to sacrifice and live like no one else so that LATER we can really live like no one else. Next year at this time we plan to be debt free but the house, and we will go to that race as family and enjoy every single second of it.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Tips for Paying Down Debt

Soooo…the dreaded HELOC. Hate it. According to my survey, some of you also have a HELOC. I hope you hate yours as much as I hate mine.

The mature date on my loan is June 14, 2017. I can’t imagine hating something this much for that long. I’m hoping the actual ending date for this thing is closer to June 14, 2009. It’s definitely going to happen, if not before then.

Since February, we have made 47 payments toward our loan. FORTY SEVEN! Only 8 of those were our “regular” monthly payments that mostly went to interest. So even though this loan is kicking our butts, we are working like crazy to kick its butt.

Where do all of our extra payments come from? Here are some examples:

We changed our deductions on our paychecks, such as federal withholding, automatic withdrawals for extra retirement savings and lowering my 401K amount. Each time we get paid, I figure the difference of the new paycheck amount vs the old paycheck amount. The difference is immediately submitted as a principal payment toward our loan.

Can return money always goes toward the loan. Remember my $4.00 principal payment? Oh yes I do make $4.00 principal payments.

Pool Boy works his ass off. He gets probably 3-4 paychecks per week from his various jobs, plus additional income from his side business. Some of those checks are deposited into our Christmas bank account (yes we have a separate bank account for that) but all other checks go directly to the loan. NOTE – If you are going to get out of debt at a rapid pace, you are going to have to get extra jobs temporarily!

Selling stuff on Craigslist, half.com or eBay. This isn’t happening as much as it used to because we don’t have very much left to sell. But back when we first got focused on getting out of debt, this is how we got our plan jumpstarted.

Interest on our savings account. I know, I know, hardcore Dave followers. I’m breaking his “rules” and I know this totally does not make sense when you run the numbers. We have not taken our savings down to the $1000 amount. Pool Boy won’t be without large savings, and I’ve had to pick my battles. So we have a decent bank account that now makes 6% interest. Anyway, the interest we make on this account gets paid to the loan.

And of course, our monthly income. We spend as little as possible each month so we have money left over at the end of the month to send to debt. We NEVER pay just our monthly payment because that would get us nowhere.

Anyone want to share where they get extra money from?

Yesterday's Spending = zero!!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Wed Expenses

Yesterday was not a spend-free day...

$125.00, approximately. Gas bill, vitamins, prescription, a few groceries.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Here is one of those days we've been dreading

Today would have been my parents' 37th wedding anniversary.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Total spent today - $0.00!!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Two Weeks

Pool Boy and I have made a mission of spending as little as possible these last two weeks of the month. We have the opportunity to make a substantial payment toward our debt this month (yay extra paychecks!) so we're saving every single penny we can to make this amount as high as possible. To help keep me focused, I'll be posting everything I spend money on for the rest of September.

Total for today: $5.61
I had to take the boys on a road trip with me tonight. To reward them for their patience and help, we stopped for ice cream on the way home.

Causes of Personal Failure

I'm still reading Napoleon Hill's Keys to Success. I ran across this list yesterday in the book and think it's worth sharing with you. Below are some of his "Major Causes of Personal Failure." As you are reading this list, make note of which things are holding you back -- and make a plan to do something about them!

  1. The habit of drifting through life without a definite major purpose
  2. Meddlesome curiousity about other people's affairs
  3. Inadequate education - **Personally I don't take this to mean that you need a college degree in order to be successful. I just think you need to be always learning, reading, studying up on whatever topic needs to be studied to make yourself successful.
  4. Lack of self-discipline
  5. Lack of ambition
  6. Lack of persistence and follow-through
  7. Negative mental attitude
  8. Lack of emotional control
  9. The desire to get something for nothing
  10. Failure to reach decisions promptly and firmly when all the facts needed for the decision are available
  11. Overcaution or the lack of caution - **I think being overly cautious can paralyze you. You'll never make a decision and therefore be stuck in your situation forever.
  12. Indiscriminate spending of time and money
  13. Intolerance
  14. Failure to cooperate with others in a spirit of harmony
  15. Lack of vision or imagination
  16. Egotism and vanity
  17. Desire for revenge
  18. Unwillingness to go the extra mile

This wasn't his entire list - just the ones I wanted to point out. I hope you read that list carefully. Read it again if needed. Any changes you should be making?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday Wisdom

"The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender."

Proverbs 22:7

Friday, September 19, 2008

Who is at Fault?

"It's important for you to know that if you have a bad credit score, it's not your fault!"

The above advertisement has been screaming over the airwaves lately. It scares me to think of the number of people who may be listening to it thinking, "Hey, this dude is on to something. It's not my fault. I've been screwed by the credit card companies!"

But it's so wrong because if you have a bad credit score, it's totally your fault!

I think back to the day we signed our HELOC loan. (oh the horrors to think back to that dreadful day...) The lady we worked with informed us, "You have one of the best credit scores we've seen in awhile!" In my head, I was doing an Austin Powers "Yeah, Baby!"

Now I know better. I realize her statement really meant, "Wow you've borrowed a lot of money but at least you are making regular payments!" While it's better to have a good credit score than a bad one, an awesome credit score only means you're good at going into debt. Nothing to be proud of.

I guess this means I'm not "Patriotic"

Joe Biden says it's the "patriotic duty" of wealthier Americans to pay more in taxes. "We want to take money and put it back in the pocket of middle-class people."

He considers "wealthy" people to be those making $250K and above. I don't make anywhere near that amount of money. However, this still isn't sitting well with me.

Let me talk this out here to make sure I understand. Those who work hard, pay attention to their finances, become successful and build wealth should be forced by law to give their money back to the government - who will then turn it over to those who do not work hard, do not pay attention to their finances, don't put forth the extra effort to advance themselves and therefore do not build wealth.

Sounds an awful lot like this. And even this.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


I normally won't double post at both sites, but this one I really want to share this tip with other parents out there.

Check out my Busted! post over at IowaMoms.com.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I'm a Contributor

It's official. I'm a contributor to Iowamoms.com. I have the button to prove it.

Darn Blogger is all horked up so I can't show you the Iowa Moms Contributor button right here, but it is on my sidebar. Scroll down a little bit to see it. Cool, huh?

First I was totally on board with helping with this project, then life ran me right into a brick wall so I told Iowa Mom, "Girlfriend, I am so out." But then I kept getting emails like she never received my "I am so out" message. So now I'm back in. I've even posted a few articles - woo hoo! For now, you can find my under the Work and Finance Channel. Head on over. This is an amazing group of Iowa bloggers and I'm excited to be a part of it.

On a different matter, many of you have wondered how my relatives fared (or is it faired? idk) in Houston. They made it through fine and those who had gone there are now back at home. Thanks for the comments and emails asking about their status.

On yet another matter, I've spent the past few days reassuring myself that we are never given more than we can handle. This year has thrown unbelievable challenges at our family, yet we continue to love each other and help each other through the dark days. If you have extra prayers, shoot 'em our way. We'll use them wisely.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Prayer Request

I want you to read something. I've run across the story of a young couple, Stephanie and Christian, with four children. The couple was in a plane crash in August and are just beginning down a very long road to recovery.

I ask you to read it at this time because Stephanie goes in for skin graft surgery on Tuesday. They say this is a critical point in her recovery.

Please send your prayers to this family today.

Read about them here:
Main Recovery Website

Stephanie's sister's blog

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Debt "Experts" Are Full Of Crap, according to moi

So apparently it's starting to be "hip" to be without debt. I'm down with that. The news is full of articles about debt. Unforunately, most of those articles are full of crap. Like this one, for instance, from the Des Moines Register's Business section.

For consumers, "it's OK to borrow for items that you know will last beyond the payment period, like a car, or a washer-dryer, or furniture," Iowa State University personal finance expert Tahira Hira said. **Please make note. She's a personal finance expert. At Iowa State. Where young adults are currently going to learn about how to be successful at life. Where my kids will probably go to college. I'm scared...

Borrow against income-producing property - "the ultimate in smart borrowing," said Gerry Neugent, president of Knapp Properties. **And, let's say, it doesn't produce any income? Then what?

"Debt is not bad," Iowa State University personal finance expert Tahira Hira said. "It's how we use it." For individuals, she said, "it's OK to borrow for items that you know will last beyond the payment period, like a car, or a washer-dryer, or furniture." **Good. Lord. This is EXACTLY the kind of attitude that gets people into trouble. Borrowing for furniture? Wait a sec...I just worked my rear end of to come from exactly that place, borrowing money for stuff for stuff I could not afford. I have no plans to go back there and now you are teaching people this way of life? So I guess go ahead kids. I mean, if you want furniture and a new washer-dryer combo. Apparently there's no need to wait until you can afford it.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Houston, We Have A Problem

My grandparents flew to Texas yesterday in hopes of watching the Cubs play this weekend. And not just Texas - HOUSTON, TEXAS. All of my Dad's siblings are there this weekend.

That's all I really have to say about that.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


I have something to share with you that I hope you follow up on. It won’t make you rich, but it will help.


This website, endorsed by Dave Ramsey, helps you find checking accounts that offer high interest rates. That’s right! Interest on checking accounts!

These aren't invisible banks that you aren’t sure whether or not they even exist. These are real life banks. The one that I ended up going with was Lee County Bank and Trust right here in Iowa. The interest rate I’m getting on the checking account is 6.01% and THAT, my friend, is unheard of.

There are only 4 requirements that have to be met per billing cycle in order to qualify for this particular account:

1. Make 10 debit card purchases. I use my debit card for almost all purchases so not a problem.

2. Authorize either one direct deposit into your account, or one ACH auto debit from your account.

3. Agree to receive your bank statements online.

4. Access your online banking account at least once per month. Think three times daily is too much?

The biggest hurdle in getting our account set up was getting our documents notarized. Pool Boy and I are rarely in the same place during the weekday, and there aren’t many notary publics hanging around late at night when we finally are in the same location.

We have transferred all of our savings over to the new account and will also move our checking transactions over there. I'm not excited about having those two together in one account, but they are kept separate on my personal spreadsheet so I can work around it.

I’m curious to know if any of you go through with this so gimme some feedback.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Where do you see yourself two years from now?

No really. Stop and think. I’ll wait.

So now let’s say I asked you this question two years ago. What would you have said about your life in 2008? Are you right where you wanted to be?

If so, Pool Boy would tell you, “That’s phenomenal!”

If not, it’s time to evaluate what you are doing – or not doing – to improve your life and to reach your goals.

I recently listened to a co-worker give a talk on leadership. She talked for about 20 minutes, but two words in her presentation struck me as soon as she said them: Forward Thinker.

People who are successful are forward thinkers. They have a plan, and they know exactly how they are going to execute that plan. Forward thinkers do not sit back and wait to see what life brings them. Oh no. These people know what they want out of life and they go get it.

I encourage you to start being a forward thinker in your personal life and your professional life. I’m going to direct you
here and I really hope that every single one of you clicks this link and reads the advice this person offers.

It's Extra Paycheck Time!

If you are living on a monthly financial plan, and you get paid bi-weekly on the same schedule I do, it’s should be extra paycheck time for you!

My extra paycheck will come on Sept 19th. The next check will arrive a few days into October, but I will accommodate for that by leaving some extra money in checking to cover the Oct 1 bills that are automatically deducted from my account.

As I’ve said in the past, before I started focusing on my finances I did not keep track of “extra” paychecks. If there was money in my bank account, that’s all I needed to know. So the extra paycheck basically disappeared. Sad. Now that I’m aware, of course, it absolutely ROCKS!

This money should never be needed for normal expenses because you are already living on a monthly plan that does not include “extra” paychecks. Right? RIGHT?

It’s critical that you do something productive with this money. Productive does not include going to the mall, going on a vacation, or just letting it sit in your checking account waiting for it to get swallowed up by other miscellaneous expenses. And misc expenses will come up because you see that balance in your account and think, “Hey! Look at all that money in there!”

No, doing something productive means taking the amount of that check and sending it to a credit card. Or your car loan. Or your student loan.

Or in my case, a “stupid tax” swimming pool loan. No laughing, Iowa Mom. I know. I soooo know.

On another note, I took some cans back over my lunch hour and received a total of $4.00. Every penny went toward my debt.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Busy Season

If you happened to stop by my house on any given evening, it would be clearly obvious that our household is in the midst of Busy Season. Or maybe it wouldn't, since I would let you in the door. I would take picture examples for your entertainment, but I have no idea where my camera is. Most likely at the bottom of one of the 4 bags I have with me at all times. And mostly without charged batteries.

Every year this happens to us. School starts, sports starts, and nothing else gets done. Let's take tonight, for example, shall we?

  1. Leave work right at 5:00.
  2. As I'm in the car, call 3 and tell him if he expects to last through soccer practice he better find something to eat before I get home. And did Green get home from football? Ok, good.
  3. Pull into the driveway at 5:30. Run inside to grab the kids and "Did you eat something, 3? and "I'm hungry too, mom!" and "You're going to have to wait, Green. I don't have time to feed you."
  4. Get back in the car and drive 3 to his soccer practice in a different town.
  5. Make a "Seriously, mom! I am so hungry!" stop at Subway for Green. (Yes, I know. We ate out!)
  6. Drive back to our town because Green's soccer uniform pickup only lasts until 7:00. Of course.
  7. Get a phone call from a friend who has kids same age as my kids. Apparently there is an "after school" issue that needed addressed. Hung up the phone and addressed it. Thanks, KT - we parents have to be on the same team!
  8. Drove back to the other town to pick up 3.
  9. Stopped at Subway again because 3 thought he needed an actual meal.
  10. Started to head back home. "Do you guys have any homework?"
  11. Do I! Do you? Do I? Do you? Do I? Do you?
  12. Sat the troops down to the table. "Get your backpacks out."
  13. Green. Where is your backpack?
  14. Get back in the car and head to the elementary school. Look through the dark for a black backpack that was left behind after football practice.
  15. Get everyone sat down to the table. Homework, homework, homework.
  16. Green, have you practiced your piano this week? No? Get over there.
  17. Ok, kids. We're late getting to bed. Let's go!
  18. Package the Ramsey books that I promised to ship out two days ago. Sorry new friends. They are going out tomorrow for sure.
  19. And now, the blog.

Notice there are not words like "dusting" or "closet organizing" or "putting laundry away" on that list. That's how we roll this time of year.

$15.60 for Pop

That's how much I was paying for a 24 pack of pop. Out of the pop machine at work.

Yes, I'm a pop drinker. I know I should quit but it's not happening anytime soon. I drink a bottle on my way to work each morning then I have a can in the afternoon. I always got my afternoon pop out of the pop machine because, "it's only 65 cents."

But "only" adds up.

I was in Wal-Mart yesterday and spotted a 24 pack for $5.00. I stopped, ran through the quick calculations in my head, then threw the case of pop into my cart and got the heck out of there before I bought anything unnecessary.

This is just one little thing, but I just saved myself $10.60. Think of all the other "little things" that could save you some money.

On another note, I have had several unwanted purchases sitting on my bedroom floor. For months. I finally brought them to work with me today and returned them over my lunch hour. I then had $66.00 in cold, hard cash! But only for a short time. I immediately deposited it, then came back to work and entered a principal payment of $66.00. Of course.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Short Family Getaway

We like to set aside money to take short weekend getaways now and then. It's fun to hang out with just the 4 of us, away from the distractions of television, laundry, work and school.

This past weekend we went to the Renaissance Festival in Shakopee, Minnesota. It was a favorite spot of my parents' and they spent many anniversaries there. It was exciting to introduce Three and Green to a family tradition of sorts.

They saw Puke and Snot for the first time, sadly without the original Snot who passed away earlier this month unexpectedly. Green got to battle Pool Boy in a sword fight. Pool Boy taught Green how to shoot a bow and arrow. And they both got to throw tomatoes at the dude in the vegetable pit. They learned a lot of new things (some not so kid-appropriate) and we had a great time getting away.

If you are going, and I'm sure you'll all rush up there now, I highly recommend staying at this place. It's not your normal hotel. It's elegant, out in the middle of its own acreage and is not full of kids. And the best part, they have their own indoor gymnasium and racketball court. Green thinks we should go back up there and stay "for a whole week!" All that, and the rates are cheaper than the regular hotels we looked at. Our room rate included 2 adults passes to the festival and two drinks at the bar in the hotel.


There are two types of people who don't succeed. There are those who never do anything except what they are told to do. And there are those who cannot do even what they are told to do. The people who get ahead do things that should be done without being told. And they don't stop there. They go the extra mile and do much more than is expected of them.

--Napoleon Hill

Monday, September 01, 2008


I read a Dear Abby letter today that broke my heart. I can't find the online version of it, or else I would link you to it. It was a letter from an 11 year old girl. She said her Dad never played with her. He was always too busy working, hanging out with friends, or sitting in front of the television.

Being a parent is way more than bringing home a paycheck and hanging around the house. Do things with your kids. Get involved in the things they like to do, whether it's playing baseball/softball, playing catch, playing a board game, or playing with dolls. It will make a world of difference in their childhood.

In a somewhat related note, our family plays baseball all summer long, always parents vs. boys. We're now in the middle of our World Series and Pool Boy and I are down 2-1 in the series. It's important to note that this is our first win of the entire summer...