Thursday, October 30, 2008

SOUP, there it is! SOUP, there it is!

And if you know where that line came from, then we could totally hang out together.

Boomama is having a Soup Carnival right now. I'm not participating but I did find lots of great recipes.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Free Stuff For You

My cousin could be labeled a Blog Goddess. She knows all things about blogs and spends much of her life working on blogs. Even though she doesn't need the press, I thought I should send you over to the Fall 2008 Bloggy Giveaway in case you want to sign up for some free stuff.


As of this posting, there are 1180 people who are giving away free stuff this year at the Bloggy Giveaway! Seriously, 1180 people.

Having a Life

Someone said to me this weekend, “I can’t agree with everything you are doing with your finances. I mean, you need to have a life too.”

This person was under the assumption that my family is suffering. Go ahead - ask my kids if they suffered this past weekend, due to our inability to spend a lot of money. We spend money on entertainment – just not as much as a lot of other people. Do we have to miss out sometimes? Sure. Our kids know what our goal is. They know that we don’t use debt and are working to pay off past mistakes. But that is the sacrifice part of getting out of debt. I hope they remember the sacrifices so that they don’t make the same mistakes we did.

By my new calculations, our sacrificing will have us debt free except for our house by March.

That means our family will have sacrificed a mere 20 months in order to improve our lives, the lives of Green and Three, and hopefully many generations to come. We are teaching a new line of thinking in our family – that debt is not the way to be financial secure.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Overload

I hit "kid overload" at approximately 6:37 this evening.

Friday night we had a slumber part for Green's 9th birthday. Great kids and we had a great time.

Saturday we went to the Iowa State tailgating festivities. Lots of kids. Then we - just me and Pool Boy - took all 14 of those kids to the movie High School Musical 3 movie. Again, the kids were great and we had a good time.

Today our boys sang at church so we sat through until the choir was finished, then rushed to Des Moines for a soccer game. Not just any soccer game. A soccer game in 48 degrees and 48 mph winds.

While in Des Moines we purchased Guitar Hero World Tour. (For those of you making a mental note of that, boys paid half and we paid half.) When we got home, they immediately pulled it out and started playing it. We also spent about 2 hours trying to figure out the microphone, only to come to the conclusion that we will need to purchase an additional wiimote if we plan to sing along with the guitar and drums.

Oh yes, drums. You could hit a box with a stick and it would sound the same. And I've been listening to this for 5 hours straight.

At 6:37, I lost it. It's a good thing it's Sunday night and we are all going our separate ways tomorrow morning...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Jobs

I had a dream last night that I quit my job and started working at a local grocery store bagging groceries. And if I'm recalling correctly, I was damn good at it.

Don't get me wrong - bagging groceries is a respectable job and is certainly a very important job. But it's not a full-time job that is appropriate for someone who is supporting a family.

Awhile back, I had a discussion with someone about their wages. This person did a very important task where they worked, but it was a job that did not require any certification or degree. It was also a part-time, hourly position. This person was extremely upset because, "How am I supposed to raise a family when I'm making below poverty level? Doesn't my employer (who I am associated with) feel bad that they are paying me so little? I love my job but I cannot support my family with these wages. I think it's criminal what I'm being paid!" By the way, for those of you visiting from my main job at T, it is not related to this situation.

The simple answer for this person would have been, "Then get a different job. Nobody is forcing you to work there." Some jobs, as my grocery bagging job mentioned above, are just not designed to support entire families. Sure, they may involve a lot of hard work, but they just don't pay enough to pay the bills.







Monday, October 20, 2008

I Know Who I'm Voting For

But I'm not going to tell you who it is. While I love election night and the excitement that goes along with it, I despise the campaigns.

I'm sick and tired of people getting mad at each other just because of who they are voting for. The next time someone tells you who they are voting for, instead of telling them how stupid they are for voting that way please take a moment and thank God (or whoever you thank) that you live in a country where people are allowed to have their own opinions.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Wow you guys are a quiet bunch

The lack of comments on my blog doesn't bother me. Really it doesn't. Ok, maybe a little - I'd like a little feedback from the 50+ people who stop by here daily! But when I put a new header on and nobody bothers to tell me I have a typo in there until tonight, that is where I draw the line!

I have no idea what I mean by "draw the line". I just do, ok?

I'll try to fix it tonight if I find the time. Thanks, NCN, for pointing it out. You are the best!




Evaluation of "Necessary" and "Unnecessary" Expenses

I recently went through my August expenses. I wanted to see how much we could save if we cut ourselves back to the bare necessities. I figured I would come up with a lot of extra money spent, but I really didn’t. Granted, we’ve already cut our lifestyles back tremendously, but I still thought there should have been more to cut. Or maybe I’m leaving things in there that really should be cut out.

The first time I went through the list, I was able to remove a total of only $917.62. Some things included in this list are:

  • Green’s piano lessons at $12 per week.
  • Sports pictures, and I only got the standard solo shot and team shot.
  • All eating out, of course.
  • Specialized diet food for our pets (they have weight issues and tear their ACLs when they get too fat!)
  • Some clothing purchases for the kids where I probably could have gotten something cheaper at Wal-Mart.
  • High-speed internet at $50
  • A motivational book for $25.00
  • Cable at $40 or so.
  • Daily newspaper

That’s about it. I went through the list again to see what could be cut but found it difficult to come up with much. My grocery bill is already way below the norm for a family of 4, so I really can’t go any lower on that. Gas is a major expense for us since we both commute to work, but I suppose we could watch that more on evening and weekend trips. Overall, I’m pretty bothered by what I found – or didn’t find. I’m sure if push came to shove there would be other things that would have to go, but it scares me to think of being in that position.

I encourage you to do this with your own expenses. The point of the exercise is to figure out exactly what your family needs to live month to month. How bad would it be if you were suddenly without your income or your spouse’s income? Would you be able to make it without going into debt? It’s imperative that you are prepared. And the best way to be prepared is to not have silly debts sitting around being ignored.

Help me out. What are some things that you would cut out if you had to, that I didn't mention above?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Additional Payments

It's been almost a week since I've made an extra payment on our debt. A week! I'm used to making an extra payment every few days with extra small amounts we have coming in. But now nothing since last week.

Now it's to the point where it's painful for me to log on to my loan and not see the amount change for several days. PAINFUL!

Not only is that painful, but I had to dip into the emergency fund to help pay for my new tires. Double pain. It's getting reimbursed on Friday, but I still hated to do it. It's the first time I've used it since doing our budget.

I'll leave you with this image. You can decide what it means.

I Am

I needed to read this to myself today, so maybe you could use it as well. Repeat this to yourself every single day. If there are things in here that are not true about you, hopefully by repeating this every day will help you get to that place you need to be.

I, (insert your name here), am an honest, intelligent, goal-directed person.
I am organized, responsible and committed.
I am punctual, a self-starter, optimistic and enthusiastic.
I am highly motivated, decisive and focused.
I am disciplined, persistent and have a tremendously positive mental attitude.
I am a team player, energetic, competent and I have a magnificent self-image.


-- by Zig Ziglar

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Truth About Debt Reduction

I've added some new links to the right. It would rock if you would click on all of them but if you don't, at least click on this one:

The Truth About Debt Reduction.

Myth: Only the rich can be debt free.
Truth: Anyone can become debt free. True debt reduction is plain common sense and hard work.

15 Questions

I was not aware of this until I was browsing the web tonight, but there is a 12-step program for those who use debt - Debtors Anonymous. Here are a few of the questions they list on their website for you to see if you could benefit from their help:

  1. Are your debts making your home life unhappy?
  2. Does the pressure from your debts distract you from your daily work?
  3. Do your debts cause you to think less of yourself?
  4. When faced with a difficult financial situation, do you feel relief when you think, "I can just borrow some money"?
  5. Do you justify your debts by telling yourself that you are superior to the other people, and when you get your "break" you'll be out of debt overnight?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

About Cars and Trucks

Dave Ramsey’s most common advice to his callers is, “Sell the car.”

Up until last year, I always told myself and others that I would always have a car payment. “I need one that is dependable.” Or “Now that I have kids, I want to make sure we are never stranded anywhere.” I know some of you may be using similar excuses. Those excuses may be what are dragging you down and keeping you from getting ahead financially.

It’s amazing to me how many people share their woes of financial stress, yet drive near-new vehicles with hefty monthly payments. I fully believe they do not see the irony in that, because I didn’t. Back in the day, I was spending almost $1000 per month in car payments, yet I couldn’t figure out why I was having to dip into savings every month to pay the bills. Granted, there were way more financially stupid things going on in our lives back then, but our vehicles were major players in that. Once I got on track, we sold my beloved SUV and worked our tails off to get the cars paid for. If we hadn’t done that, we would still be whittling away at the loans one month at a time.

I believe Dave says that if you can’t pay off your car in 18 months, to sell it and get a cheaper car. Personally, I would never wait 18 months to get it paid off.

Both of our vehicles are now paid for. They are not glamorous or cool, but they are paid for. I drive a Chrysler Pacifica that has a broken windshield. Pool Boy drives a Dodge Dakota 4-door truck that has many issues: steering wheel locked in one position, passenger window doesn’t roll down without beating the driver’s side door, the doors do not all unlock when they are supposed to, and so on. But you know what? We love these cars because they are paid for and we will never have to put the line item “car payment” in our budget ever again.

My Dad was not into cars. He always drove a car he bought for a few thousand dollars and drove it until it wouldn’t drive anymore – sometimes even beyond that! He was always getting made fun of for having pieces of junk even when he could afford a brand new one with cash. Last fall, he finally decided to buy a new car. However, it bothered him from the day he bought it and he was considering selling it when he died. If I had followed in his footsteps from the beginning and never had a car payment, I can only imagine where I would be today financially!

Monday, October 06, 2008

A New Week

My tires need replaced on my car. Like, tomorrow. One had started to go flat yesterday and was completely flat this morning. Pool Boy put air in it this morning and took it to work, but it blew out him. The Pacifica is riding on a donut now! So all 4 tires are getting replaced tomorrow. It’s interesting how this happens on October 6 – when I’ve just sent our leftover September money to debt. But here’s the really interesting thing. For some strange reason, I decided to hold off on sending a few hundred dollars to debt. Usually I take it down to zero right away, but this month I held a few hundred back “just in case”. It’s amazing how things happen when you are in control of your money.

We had to stop in Kohl’s yesterday because Green only has 3 pairs of pants that are the right length and width right now. While in line to cash out, I witnessed a very young couple in front of me starting down the vicious path of debt. I wanted to stop them. I wanted to tell them how much money I would have today if I hadn’t been so stupid. But it’s none of my business, so I stood there in silence as they filled out the application for a Kohl’s credit card… so they could get the 10% off the unnecessary home d├ęcor stuff they were buying…

My brother was visiting someone the other day and noticed a Total Money Makeover book on his bookshelf. “Ever heard of him?” he asked my brother. “Oh yes,” he replied. “Let me tell you about my sister’s stupid tax in her back yard.”

Friday, October 03, 2008

Friday Quote

"You can and you should shape your own future. Because if you don't, someone else surely will."

--Joel Barker