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.


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?