Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Extreme Couponing




If you have not had a chance to watch this interview on ABC concerning Extreme Couponing, I urge you to do so.  The show, which airs this evening on TLC, is an interesting spin on individuals who have extreme stockpiles and compares their couponing obsession to hording. I can relate to a few things the couponers have to say such as comparing couponing to a game but I don't quite understand having the 3,000+ rolls of TP in your house.  If you can't watch it tonight, it does air three more times between now and next week.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

We're Home!

After spending several hours on the road, Mr. M and I are home from all the holiday fun.  Sorry for the radio silence but I could not get blogger to work from my blackberry...need to work on that.  We DID stick to our no-dining-out rule and dinned on snacks while we traveled. 

We haven't been perfect on the no-dining-out challenge but I can count the number of times we've eaten out {our dear friends are moving = dinner out, surprise birthday dinner for best friend = dinner out and two board meetings} on one hand.  Ironically, I have LOST weight this holiday season.  Double bonus!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Facebook and Christmas


This Christmas has been a tough one for me. I can't explain why but it was nice to see this today to remind me of the true reason of Christmas even if it is in Facebook form.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

It seemed like a great idea

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This year, I thought that we could save money if I baked my friends gifts. Great idea in theory but horrible in execution. I'm starting to feel overwhelmed and out of the Christmas Spirit. 


Next year, I've got to come up with a better gift idea as it's becoming clear to me why everyone starts their baking in November.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Intruder

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Last night was an interesting night for Mr. M and I as someone tried to break into our home while we were sleeping.  Not to sound like an elitist but we live in an affluent neighborhood (which *ahem* is why we're working on our debt snowball to begin with) which is located in a small city.  It's a great place to live so to have an intruder try to get into our master bedroom last night was a little unnerving. Luckily, the police arrived in record time and monitored our street for a while to make sure the intruder didn't come back.

Ironically, we had discussed discontinuing our alarm system for the next year as a way to pay more towards our debt snowball.  That plan has officially been nixed.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Celebrations


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This weekend was full of school celebrations. The first was my baby sister graduating from college! Even on a cold {seriously cold} day in December, it was wonderful to get our whole family together to watch the youngest member of the family achieve her dreams.  Mr. M and I stuck to our No-Dining-Out plan by packing a picnic to eat for lunch after we drove the several hours to the University. I wanted to eat outside on campus but due to the wind and temperatures, we nixed that and ate in the car. Very 1960s of us...but we're trying to stick to our guns on the NDO this month.

The other great news is that I made a 4.0 this semester in grad school and received the highest grade in my research class. So, so excited! I'm paying for this degree completely in cash so it will take me longer but I think, in the long run, will be more rewarding when I'm not faced with a monthly bill.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

No Dining Out - Week 1


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We've done fairly well during our first week of No-Dining-Out this month. Mr M and I did have to travel to another state over the weekend but it was for business and his work covered our meals.  Our only slip up was yesterday as we both had a board meeting that was over lunch at a local restaurant but we drank water and ordered the cheapest thing on the menu. Only three weeks to go...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Wal-Mart


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 I thought share my Wal-Mart experience from this morning.
Battleship Travel Game– 5.24
Battleship Travel Game – 5.24
Hippos Travel Game – 5.24
Hippos Travel Game – 5.24
Total: 20.96

With 4 $5 off coupons that I found on Hip2Save, I spent a grand total of $.96

I paid more in tax ($1.26) than I did for the actual items.

Total spent on part of my godson's gift = $.68. {The other 2 games are for my angel kid} I also plan to give him 3 of the free toys that I scored at Hallmark. Total amount saved...{drum roll}...$55.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Murphy strikes again!


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So Monday morning, I run to my car to get to work and realize that I have {of course} a flat tire. After a trip to the local tire shop, I now have two new tires and a $250 bill. Luckily, we had our emergency account to pull from which we will now work on paying back.

I guess it’s an early Christmas to me…thanks Murphy.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Rolling...Slowly...

Debt Snowball is rolling but at a grandma's pace. While we are to make some strides this month and get our debt under $30K {barely}, I feel a little deflated.

Our goal is to have our credit card debt taken care of by August 2011 which I think we can do but it's going to be tough. But when is paying down all of you debt at one time easy? {I say sarcastically} It reminds me of a snowball war...


Student Loan: $10,401.31
Credit Card #1: $7,602.09
Auto Loan: $5,228.70
Credit Card #2: $3699.63
Credit Card #3: $1,843.24
Non-profit Pledge: $780.00
Bank Loan Closed 8/27/10
Credit Card #4 Closed 7/27/10


Total: $29,614.27

Friday, November 26, 2010

Blessings.


Today, Mr. M and I had a lazy day that consistented of sleeping in, going to our favorite burger place for lunch and then an afternoon of college football. It's really the little things.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

2010 - 50 things I’m thankful for…

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1. Mr. M – my awesome husband
2. My parents and my sisters
3. My cats Felix and Oscar. They don’t care how poor I am, they just love me for who I am.
4. The Military.
5. My church and the fellowship it brings.
6. My Supper Club
7. My Sorority Sisters
8. My job and I’m grateful that I enjoy what I do.
9. My education
10. My car – it’s running and its reliable…knock on wood
11. My sense of humor
12. Friday morning breakfast get togethers
13. My Grandmother’s recipes. Even though she’s not here, I can still have a little bit of her around the dinner table.
14. Mint ice cream
15. Clean water
16. Gone With The Wind. Whenever I feel down, I watch the first two hours of Scarlett taking on the world and realize…it really isn’t all that bad.
17. Dave Ramsey. His plan has allowed my husband and I to communicate more about money than every before.
18. Pandora. Where was this when I was in college?
19. Websites that already match up the sales paper with coupons. These sites have saved me a ton of money this year.
20. Our city’s arts community. I’m surrounded by creative people.
21. The opportunity to be a leader in my community at such a young age.
22. The ability to use my voice and not to be afraid to do so in a public setting.
23. A roof over my head.
24. Food in my pantry.
25. The Economy downfall. I think it’s allowed more Americans to focus on what is truly important.
26. The Post Office. I love sending cards.
27. Naps
28. Pretty Stationery.
29. Blogs
30. Book Club – even though we should really rename it to wine club
31. The four seasons
32. Tiny Prints. They made my Christmas card purchasing so, so easy this year and their customer staff is wonderful.
33. Amazon Bookshop
34. Pizza
35. Made from scratch biscuits
36. Warm showers
37. Blankets
38. Rain
39. My knees
40. A working oven
41. Art
42. Homemade bread
43. Today Show.
44. The Internet
45. Local business owners.
46. Fireman and Police Officers
47. Socks
48. My health
49. My Blackberry - even though it's addictive.
50. My followers.:)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Black Friday


This year I plan to hand out more baked goods than last year and don't have a real need to go out to face the crowds this Black Friday. I will say the commericals {especially Target} have been pretty good this year. The one above I saw at least three times during the Today Show. Happy Early Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

No Dining Out In December...

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The most shocking thing that we found when we started to track our expenses was our dining out costs. It's so easy to go out for dinner rather than make dinner. When we tried a month of not dining out this past August and it was a real eye opener.

Now with Holiday Season upon us, Mr. M and I are discussing the possibility of revisiting this idea again for the month of December. It’s going to take a great deal of planning but I think we might be able to pull it off.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Freebies!

Samples are truly some of my favorite things in the world. It's like Christmas each time they arrive in the mail. Here is a photo of last week's goodies: Free trash bags from Glad, free Klennex pack, 3M Blue painters tape and $5 gift card from Pizza Hut.

Here's a great site to find all of these fun goodies: http://freesamplefreak.com/

Friday, November 19, 2010

Little Miss Frustrated.


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Clearly I am very excited to knock down my debt snowball. So excited that I paid my student loan bill early. Normally this act is not a bad thing except when you pay a bill with money that you don’t have.

When I looked at my bank balance, I saw that I had an extra $150 in the account and thought – awesome, I can go ahead and pay this bill. Had I taken a second to go back and recheck my budget excel sheet, I would have realized that I only had $25 in extra cash and not $150.

So this morning when I saw the overdraft charge and realized what I had done, this wave of shame washed over me. I feel completely stupid. The lessons of the day – get excited about paying down your debt but not too excited.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Another Sale!

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Received another sale yesterday at my on-line bookshop on Amazon.
Rolling that into our Debt Snowball...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Keeping Up.

A few weeks ago Mr M was able to get a few free tickets to the Corey Smith concert in our city. If you have never heard of Corey, he's a Southern Rock artist from Georgia. One of his new songs, "Keeping Up With The Jones" is a great reminder to be thankful for what we have.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Guess what I bought with rebate $$ - Part II

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These fabulous shoes! I've stretched my current pair of black heels to the brink and when
I took them to be repaired for the 100th time, I was told to buy new shoes.

Awesome.

Luckily, I have my rebate fund dedicated to purchases like buying shoes.

So after searching the mighty three discount stores - Ross, Marshalls and T.J. Maxx  - and the Internet, I decided to walk into a local shoe boutique on a whim during my lunch break. That is when I found my replacement shoes in their sales section.  I compared their price on-line {thank goodness for a blackberry} and realized that I was saving $30 than what was on 6pm and Zappos. Double score!

It is SO nice to pay in cash.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Birthday weekend.


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The past 72 hours have been a birthday celebration for Mr. M and my dear friend {and neighbor} HW who are 16 hours apart.  Since HW's husband is in Iraq and away for her birthday, I thought I'd throw them a joint birthday party so I could A) keep the cost down and B) have a great excuse to see everyone.

Amazingly, I feed 30 or so people on a $50 party budget and since I had planned for this a few months ago, I was able to save up for it.  The party was great as it lasted until the wee hours.

Since the Holidays are quickly approaching, here a few budget saving websites to help with your party planning that won't stop your debt snowball from rolling.



Friday, November 5, 2010

Free Toys!

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Yesterday, I saw on Hip2Save this great deal that Hallmark was giving away a free toy to the first 5 people who came to store and said the secret phrase.

Now I don't have children {yet} but I do have a godson who needs a Christmas gift so I thought, why not, and went to the story.  I scored not one but two of these toys {we have two Hallmarks here} and was told by the staff that I was the first one since the promotion started to come by. Seriously?

These toys are $15 each so I saved $30 and since no one really knows about it, you may have a shot to get a free one as well. Even if you do not have children {neices or nephews}, you can always donated it to a local shelter.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

How I felt today.


Today was tough day and it took everything I had not to walk out the front door. I am now extremely motivated to get out of debt as fast as possible so I can STOP being dependent on a paycheck.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Review

Mr. M and I haven't seen a raise of any kind in the last three years and I found out from our Budget Director a few weeks ago that I won't see one until 2012 if we're lucky.

Seriously - 2012!?!

That's why our hearts skipped a beat at the end of the summer when Mr. M's boss wanted to give him an evaluation. Not to brag on my husband but he does very well at his job which is in collegiate sports.  He works long hours and always puts in 110%. How do I know? When people learn of my last name, they usually tell me in the next breath that they enjoy going to games because of my husband.  So when Mr. M was told that he was having a review, we were hopeful that it would be A) positive and B) come with a raise. A little raise would do...just something to help us fight this snowball.

That review was in August and he found out the results on Monday. Yep - November 1st.  And guess what? We got one out of the two things we hoped for - the review was positive. However; there is no extra money coming our way.

::Sigh::

It instantly reminded me of the final episode of Mad Men. I couldn't find the scene when Joan is offered her new promotion but this clip is enough.

Monday, November 1, 2010

B.Y.O.C.

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Did you survive Halloween? We almost didn't financially speaking. Our neighborhood is a hot spot for Trick-o-Treating to the point that churches will bus kids in for a night of free candy. So of course, our neighbors deck their houses {us included} with all kinds of decorations. I have two boxes now dedicated to Halloween decorations alone and always buy this stuff when it's on sale or they're giving it away.

When I first moved to the neighborhood, I thought that my neighbors were over exaggerating on the amount of children actually door to door on Halloween. Never the less, I thought that I should be on the safe side and purchased a bunch of candy {if I remember correctly, I spent $50 the first year} with the thought that I could take back what I didn't hand out.

I was such a fool. I ran out in less than 2 hours.

The next year, I hosted a B.Y.O.C. as in Bring Your Own Candy. My thought was that I could host a party with food and drink and spend LESS than I would on candy for the kids. Over the last few years it's worked out pretty well and this year was no exception. I personally bought eight bags of candy and they were gone in an hour. Thank goodness for my friends for the back up!

PS. About the buses - that's actually true as we had five churches this year.

Friday, October 29, 2010

You're Now Free To Move About The Country

Last week, the Senior VP of Marketing and Revenue Management, Dave Ridley for Southwest came a Chamber event to talk about Southwest, their new expansion of cities and their customer service policy. If you have never flown Southwest, I encourage to because they are not only perfect for that frugal traveler but their flight attendants enjoy their job. Like this guy...


And the BEST part of the whole speech. I won a FREE roundtrip ticket to use anytime starting next spring. Totally awesome.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Where's Toto?

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Sorry for the lack of posting these last two days. We've had some major storms in my area which made me afraid to go near anything electronic and revert back to 1800's with candles.

This past weekend, Mr. M and I painted our kitchen and dining room and paid for it with money that we received last Christmas.  The past home owner painted all the rooms but one a light peach and I was determined to change the color in 2010. So every though we didn't apply that money towards our debt snowball, I do feel that we made a great decision. The new room color has lifted our spirits and makes the home feel a little more like our own.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

It's Alive!


No more Murphy!!  Our oven has been repaired and we were able to cook for the
first time in several weeks last night. So excited.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Love it.



I love this commercial not because of the product but because of the message. Yes - you can pay for your car in cash with a little sweat equity.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Debt Snowball...It's Rolling...

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Current Numbers:

Student Loan: $10,489.19


Credit Card #1: $7,599.90


Auto Loan: $5,724.81


Credit Card #2: $3626.99


Credit Card #3: $1,870.38


Non-profit Pledge: $830.00



Bank Loan Closed 8/27/10


Credit Card #4 Closed 7/27/10



Total: $30,141.27


A year ago this month is when Mr. M and I had our "what-in-the-world-are-we-doing?" moment when it came to our finances as we realized that we were $44,104.25 in debt. Now we've paid close to $14,000 off in debt ($13,962.98 as of today but we still have a few more bills for October) and are much more in tuned to our finances as a married couple than ever before. Not bad for a couple that's only been married for a little less than a year and a half.

We're not perfect and I know that we will have bumps in the road (Murphy) but our eyes are on the prize.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Where You Live Does Matter...

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Where you live does matter when it comes to your wealth according to a recent poll seen on MSN. Today, U.S. News & World Report decided to list the 5 worst states to build a nest egg and unfortunately gave that title to Ohio, California, Kentucky, Georgia and Indiana. Reasoning that after looking at “each state’s housing market, unemployment rate, average per capita income and taxes” they felt that they knew if these Americans were able to save for retirement.

 I found some of these states to be a tad shocking because I thought Michigan would be listed (no offense to those who live in Michigan) as my city has had an influx of transplants in the last month but also due to their high unemployment rate and housing market. What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Friends.

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Before borrowing money from a friend,
decide which you need most.
~American Proverb

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Murphy Part 3


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More on the Oven Situation...

We shopped at two stores in our area when it became apparent that we needed to go with Jenn-Air since they only sold our type of stove. Not going to lie, I was bummed out by this fact since I love to bargain shop but when you buy a house with a custom kitchen, you have to pay for the repairs of a custom kitchen.
Here’s the kicker. When you replace a stove and you plan to resell your home (like we plan to do) in the distant future, you also have to think about matching the rest of your appliances.

Since our kitchen was remodeled 15 years ago, we know that our dishwasher and refrigerator will possibly die on us in the future. So now we’re not only planning to replace a stove but we’re also replacing a dishwasher so they match.



It’s slightly frustrating especially when the price tag is now $3,500+ and our debt snowball is the size that it is currently.

 After much discussion, we decided to just repair the current stove and take add on an extra month to our financial freedom goal month of July 2011. That way we can save for the $3,500. If our stove last until we finish our debt snowball and all of Dave’s baby steps – awesome – and if not, well we have a few months to get a head start on saving up for the repairs.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Murphy Part 2

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Sorry for the lack of posting...the flu bug has hit me hard. I’ve been battling it for the last week and thought it was out of my system. Not so much.

We have made progress in the oven situation. A repair guy came by the house today and told us that we had two options:

Option A: Repair the oven/computer board for $695 and we should be good for a couple of years. But that's a maybe...

Option B: Buy a new stove

One of the selling points of this house is truly the open dining room and kitchen. The previous owners remodeled the kitchen back in the 90’s and removed a wall that separated both rooms and designed it so the oven sits in the bar area.

Honestly, this is a great feature and a top selling point of the house. I can cook and my guest can watch me (which they do) allowing me to still entertain. With this nice feature comes a hefty price tag (a whopping $2,500) as there is only one brand of stove that we can buy.

Yep – you read that right. Only one which is Jenn-Air and that’s due to the down draft system. Since we have no wall and open space above the oven, the drafting goes under the oven. That’s probably as clear as mud because I really don’t understand it all but get that ventilation is important.

So…that brings me back to the problem, I can’t price compare this time as there is this monopoly on appliances. Again – who knew?  I’ll tell you all more tomorrow since I’m still on medicine but welcome any suggestions on finding a cheaper (yet reliable) solution.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

So where does it go?





I found this interesting diagram on Fabulously Broke in the City who found it on Substance Over Stuff.  I was amazed that the average American spent more on transportation than food which is probably why we have such a high obesity rate now (thanks to all of that "cheap" fast food).  What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Murphy's Law




So today our poor oven croaked. As in won't-even-turn-on-no-matter-how-hard-we-try dead. It's like Murphy decided to show up and plan himself at our house this weekend.  We're living off the burners, a trusty toaster oven and a George Forman grill for now.

Thankfully, we do have that rainy day fund as Dave teaches for instances like this but I hope we don't have to dip into it to much.

Monday, October 4, 2010

R&R

I was forced into a little R&R this weekend as I decided to “eat the pavement” when I took a tumble while running. Not only did it hurt my ego but I now have two scrapped knees as well as a messed up right hand which cut down on my typing until this morning.

I seriously felt like Peter Griffin in the first few seconds of the clip below as I laid there trying to figure out how A) I was going to get up and B) how I was going to schlep myself home as a bloody mess.



Needless to say my grand plans for the weekend (which included studying for my midterm) were halted as I became a couch potato and tried to sleep off the pain. It’s a blessing that we know a few athletic trainers that were able to come to my rescue so I didn’t have to go to the emergency clinic saving us from a doctor’s bill.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Another book!

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I sold another book today on Amazon! Small victory towards our debt snowball.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

How do you organize?

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While I was at Wal-Mart yesterday, I was approached in the checkout line by a woman who asked to see my coupon binder.  In the last three months, I'm getting this question more and more by people in either Publix or CVS who either see me in the aisles or see how much I save in the checkout line.


I'm not sure how many of you out there use a coupon binder but I promise that it is not as dorky as it sounds.

Basically, here is what you do:

1. Find a binder that's about an 1" wide.  You could go larger but I think after awhile you would be discouraged to lug that thing around.

2. Purchase some Baseball Card Holders. These work lovely and can hold several coupons at one time.

3. Organize them in the A-Z method.  The reason why I do this is so that I can take this notebook to any store and find things immediately. If you try to do it by store (say Publix), I think you'll end up stressing yourself out when you choose to shop at another store (say Food Lion).  If you end up with empty pages just store them at the end until you need them in the future.

4. Carry it with you in the store.  This sounds silly but if you don't bring it with you then you can't save money.  If you're a little shy about carrying a binder with you then grab a reusable grocery bag and use it to carry your binder with you. Now your saving the environment and money at the same time.


Lastly, I do get ask the question about time.  Not going to lie - building this book will take some time depending on how many coupons you start with but you can do this while you watch your favorite TV program.  After you build the book, you'll clean it out and add to it as you go.  Also, you will realize what coupons you do use and what coupons you don't need which will save you time from printing them from the Internet or cutting them out of the newspaper.

I do not go shopping now without this binder because I know I'll save money with it. How do you organize your coupons?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Perfect Stranger

Well almost...I know it's only Tuesday but I came across this quote from Perfect Strangers.

I'm in debt. I am a true American.
Balki Bartokomous
From American TV show Perfect Strangers.


 
Remember Perfect Strangers?!?

Those were the days! My sisters and I loved TGIF! Oh to be a kid again...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Baglady Land

This past Friday night, I saw something very disheartening. A older lady who was clearly homeless decided to walk inside a bar that I was at with Mr. M and a few friends a we had quick happy-hour drink.  She looked like she hadn't had a bath in weeks and clutched a bag of belonging.  As the owner escort her out I could not help but feel a sense of guilt.  A few months ago I was close to being in her position.  Yes, I have nice clothes, a great job and drive a nice car but what if that all changes?

For the last few nights I keep having these reoccurring nightmares of being a bag lady.  I'm dirty, cold and all  I have around me is bags but no food.  This fear of being poor is growing and I can not shake it.  I know that by tackling is debt that it gets me close to financial freedom but what if something happens along the way?




It's like I'm Eeyore all of the sudden and this new wave of panic, I can tell, is traceable back to Friday night. Does anyone else deal with baglady syndrome

Friday, September 24, 2010

Seeing the snowball rolling...

As of today, our debt snowball is now....

Student Loan: $10,591.25

Credit Card #1: $7,599.90

Auto Loan: $5,682.74

Credit Card #2: $3806.88

Credit Card #3: $1,793.29

Non-profit Pledge: $850.00

Bank Loan Closed 8/27/10

Credit Card #4 Closed 7/27/10

Total: $30,324.73
We still have a great deal to pay off but we've paid a grand total of $13,779.52 since October 2009. Beans and rice...beans and rice...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Today I Feel...

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Today, I saw this at Modern Tightwad and thought it was creative.

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on my tuition bill. ($640)
I'm currently working on my Masters at a local University and paying tuition all in cash. Right now, I can only afford to take one class a semester which means that I'll be in school forever but I'm okay with that aspect.  At least I won't have a massive student loan.

2. Today I feel hopeful towards money.
I see the end of our debt snowball in sight. Even though it is a few months away...I know that we'll make it.

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free/inexpensive thing I did last week that made me happy was to teach myself how to knit.
It is baby season among my friends and while all those children are blessings, their shower gifts are costly.  My goal is to learn how to knit blankets and baby booties so I can give those as gifts and save money. The benefit of this project is that I'm learning a technique that is useful and one I can do for years to come.

4. I will consider this week a success if I can work on planning my meals for the next month more effectively.
We save the most money when we don't eat out and use coupons. While that is a simple phrase, it is sometimes hard in practice. I get paid on Friday thus beginning the process again which means more meal planning for me. This is a part of the debt reduction plan that I am still trying to improve.

5. My first job was working at McDonald's.
I lasted only three months as I found another job with better hours that paid more. This job taught me to be humble and to be kind to any fast food worker that I come across.  It really is a thankless job.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Learning the word "No".

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This past weekend I was invited to a lingerie shower for a friend who is getting married in November. Seeing that this was going to be a non-budgeted expense, I searched high and low for a nice gown that was on sale and luckily I found one 70% off downtown. Score.

I show up at the house, gift in hand and ready to spend a fun night with my girlfriends. Yet when I walked in, I realize that this was really a bad idea because I am such a na├»ve fool. Our “entertainment” wasn’t a cheesy stripper {Thank God!} but instead a home sex toy party in which the hosts expected us to buy gifts out of the catalogue for the bride.

Awesome.

Now I have no problem with a fun home party but I do have a problem with being forced to sit through a pressure sales pitch to buy something that I have no want/need to buy. Not going to lie – I was a little ticked off. It didn’t matter what the product was, I would still have been offended if we had shown up with gifts and found out that a Pamper Chef representative was coming. I could afford one gift but not several especially those that are not planned.

I wished the host had given me some sort of heads up. So instead of looking like the caring friend with the cool gown, I looked like a prude because I was the only one in the group that refused to buy anything. It would have been easy for me to whip out my credit card and buy something off the bride’s wish list { yes – she made a wish list for us…how kind} but the thought of adding a $20 edible lotion to my debt snowball did not set well with me.

This experience taught me that I can be strong when faced with a money dilemma but I’m still working on my self esteem. Part of my debt problem is that I’m a people pleaser. Don’t have money for dinner? Sure I’ll buy. Oh it’s your birthday? Let me buy you the best gift I can find. Let me take care of you and I’ll just use my credit card to cover the whole thing.

The emotional side money has and will be the hardest part of this journey and learning the word “no” is something that I’m working at.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

We are the problem.



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  I spotted this article, "QA with Lynnette Khalfani-Cox", today on Yahoo! Finance and found it very interesting. To be honest, I was disappointed that someone who was making a six figure salary was so much in debt in the past but seriously - who am I to judge.

Lynnette does have make some key points such as:

"The credit cards aren't the problem. We're the problem."

Amen to that! We {I} are the problem but in our society it is easier to blame the credit cards rather than ourselves.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Calendar Girl


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At the end of this past summer I discovered that my local water company was offering a photo contest for their yearly calendar. I’m not one with any photo taking skills but I do have a camera and the prize was $100 per photo chosen. So on the last possible day, I drove around my county taking photos of anything that had to do with water. Lakes, rivers, streams – it didn’t matter. I think I turned in 25 photos (2 for each month plus an extra for the cover) and found out today that one of my photos made the cut. Whoo! An extra $100 towards that debt snowball!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Easy Freebie.

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When is the last time that you gave someone an honest, true compliment? It's a free way to make your and someone’s day. Try it for this weekend and I promise you'll walk away with a smile.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Top Ten

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Over the last few months, I’ve become even more frugal than before. These are my top ten favorite things that I learned over this past summer.

1. I love making my own bread.
2. I started to sew again.
3. During our month of not eating out, my husband and I reconnected since we were home and not distracted.
4. My homemade egg sandwich is much better than a McDonald’s Egg McMuffin in the morning.
5. Starbucks has returned to being a special treat and I now feel rewarded when I purchase a drink there.
6. I discovered that saving only $20 or less at the supermarket is not enough.
7. I can see my debt shrinking at an amazing rate!
8. As long as my friends and I are together, it doesn’t really matter where we are - gossip is still gossip.
9. I feel smarter when I pay with cash than I do with plastic.
10. I am more appreciative of the things I have.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Cats and Beds.


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 Who knew that my cats were financially savvy? I mean really. A few weeks ago, Mr. M and I finally bought our cats a cat bed. I say finally due to the fact that we’ve had them for eight years and for some reason now, we decided they need a cat bed. Maybe it was kitty parent guilt but in any case we went to a store, picked out the cat bed that was on sale and brought it home. The thought was maybe our larger cat (and by large – Thomas is 26 pounds) would have a pleasant place to sleep.

Where does this cat sleep? In his comfy new bed you say? No – instead he sleeps on top of a box. A box! Our other cat Copper will not go near the cat bed as he prefers to sleep with us in bed, head on our pillow and under the covers.(I’m not kidding – I sometimes think that this cat was human in a previous life)

You may ask what the moral of this random story is which is simply - if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. My cats are happy being frugal without a luxurious bed and still are content with life. I need to learn how to be more like that, content I mean, with my life.

Monday, September 13, 2010

We all need a laugh.


I realize that being in debt isn't funny but sometimes you have to laugh at yourself about the stupid situation that you've gotten yourself in...if not, then I'd already go crazy by now.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Calling Target Shoppers

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I used to have a love-hate relationship with Target. I'd love going in but then hate myself walking out as I just unloaded my paycheck on stuff. Darn you cute clothes and awesome displays. Gets me every time.

So Target and I have taken a break during my quest for being debt free.  I did find this article though about what not to buy at Target very interesting just in case I do get to grace the doors in the future.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Facebook - People for Middle Class American

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Back in the days of my fancy free spending, I never really cared how many photos were posted of me on Facebook. Not to sound egotistical – I did care that they showed me in a positive light but I never had to worry about my clothes. Yes, I said it, clothes. Very superficial yes but now that people can upload photos in a drop of a hat, you do need to pay attention to what you are wearing when you are out and I don’t mean to the nearest bar. I mean out of your house in general.

I say this because now that I am now focused on spending little as possible, my wardrobe no longer varies as it used as in earlier years. Today, when I saw that my friends posted photos from a benefit last month and a college alumni event a week prior, I was wearing the same black dress. The same dress, ironically, that I was currently wearing at the moment I saw those photos before I had to give a speech at a local in which I was going to have my photo taken. Those photos, I am sure, will be posted tomorrow.

It’s the curse of the basic black dress.
I cannot be the only one with this problem but since Facebook is People for Middle Class America - you tend to notice if your friends are being photographed in the same clothing over and over again. Where is Rachel Zoe when you need her?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

This is what I needed...


This is a great video. I don't know what it was about today but I was in a major funk this evening. Becoming debt free is not an easy journey at all and today I wanted to bang my head against the table.  After finding this video, I feel renewed.  Maybe when I pay off of all my debt,
I'll make a debt free jump as well.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The house that love did not build.

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A few weeks ago I was invite to a friend’s house that she and her husband had recently built over the summer. To be fair, my friend did not want the house but her husband did and therefore they went into debt to build their retirement “dream” home.

I would like to tell you that the house is lovely but it isn’t. Now it has all the glitz and glamour that one would want. The house is in a gated community, with a beautiful brick front, three stories on 5 acres with a three car garage - fabulous right? Not really. While on the outside, it looks grand but on the inside it is really quite sad.

There is not a living room in this house for the family to get together {they have two children} or a dining room for everyone to eat in. Apparently the husband took it out of the design. This may not be a big deal to you at first but there is no opportunity to entertain guest or family in the future

There is only one TV in the house that you can watch from the single recliner located in the den. Not a couch or a bunch of chairs – just a recliner. No impromptu family time for this group. This is just on the tip of the iceberg but I realized that while she is taking me on the tour, she doesn’t see that the issues within her family are displayed publicly by the design of their house.

Should they have gone into debt to build this house? No. Do I think they will last as a couple? I hope so. It goes to show that money really can not buy you happiness. Also, you must get your personal differences out of the way when taking on a large project like building a house in order to turn it into a home.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Only 6



Could you live on only 6 items a month? This article gives insight to how one mother was able to do it without anyone noticing.  Maybe I should try it for October?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Thank you Pandora


"Big Spender" by Shirley Bassey came on this morning and it gave me a good chuckle. Maybe because I am no longer a big spender like the old days.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Reading the menu

Normally when I go to a restaurant, I read the menu from right to left. I have always done this and selected my dinner not based on taste but instead on price.  Which is why I instantly go to the sandwiches rather than the main dinner entrees anytime we go out to eat.

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Except this Saturday.  Mr. M and I went out for our first meal after our No Dining Out Month had ended to a cute restaurant in the mountains.  It's a favorite spot of ours as it gives us a chance to get away from everyone and enjoy a dinner of just the two of us out.  Of course, the first thing I do is try to find the cheapest thing until Mr.M took my menu away and told me to tell him what I wanted.

That's the first time {in a long time} that I read menu from left to right and to be honest - I liked it.  It was a sense of freedom I can't explain not to have money {or lack there of} determine your meal.  The experience was a sense of renewal for me. We can tackle this debt snowball, we will be debt free and one day soon I'll get to read all of my menus from left to right.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Celebration!

Say GOOD-BYE to the bank loan as we PAID IT OFF today!

(Please watch the lady's face in the first 10 seconds of this video - priceless.)

So our debt snowball is now....

Student Loan: $10,683.29

Credit Card #1: $7,590.22

Auto Loan: $5,897.64

Credit Card #2: $4,035.24

Credit Card #3: $1,558.74

Non-profit Pledge: $900.00

Bank Loan: Closed 8/27/10

Credit Card #4: Closed 7/27/10

Total: $30,665.13

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Homemade Bread Wins!

Recently, I have started baking in efforts of not having to buy store bought bread. At first {like anything} making bread, muffins and hamburger buns was seriously time consuming but now I have it down to a science.

Mr. M asked this week if we were really saving money by baking our weekly loaf of bread rather than going to the store and just buying it.



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Well, the verdict is in according to The Frugal Girl and my bread is $.53 compared to the $.99 bread {or more} in the store. So now I have bread that is healthier and cheaper than that in the store. Success!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

No Dining Out...Week 4

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Coming in on the home stretch {thank you Jesus} of the No Dining Out Month.  We're officially done tomorrow and we only screwed up twice.  With some creative thinking, we were able to not completely kill our social life, did not go over too much on our weekly food budget and have a nice chunk of change to put towards our debt snowball.

We may try this again in December since we're surrounded by free meals due to the holidays.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Bookshop is Open!

Yesterday, I sold a book on Amazon and I just posted on it on Saturday! How cool is that?

And I made $4.20 towards our debt.  Whoo for a first sale!