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How to Enjoy the Holidays and Save!

December 7th, 2013 at 11:59 pm

Holidays are enjoyable, but can become expensive if you are not aware of the amount of money you are spending. It is great to have precious time with friends, relatives, and loved ones, and not be buried in debt when it is all over. Do you want to have special memorable times during the holidays, but want to do things a little bit different this year? Well, this year you can. However, it will mean preparing ahead, adjusting your routine, and choosing to give up a few conveniences. However, it will be well worth it. Below are some money saving ideas and tips that can assist you in making your holidays a little cheaper and more brighter.

Relaxed Holiday Dinners
Do without formal holiday dinners, and have an evening of appetizers, movies, and board games. Have everyone pitch in by bringing their favorite hors d'oeuvres, drinks, games, and movies. What a great way to have fellowship, food, and fun without hurting your budget.

Shop Early for Discounts
Look for airline tickets and rental cars bargains early. Use discount websites like orbitz.com, expedia.com, priceline.com, or hotwire.com. Plan early in order to get the best price and deals.

An Organized List
Organize your shopping. Come up with a shopping list using a spreadsheet. Have the person’s name, gift, and the budgeted cost. Also, be sure to have who, what, where, and how you plan to locate the present, and how much it will cost. Stay focused. By using an organized shopping list, you will discover that your holiday time will be more thought-out and less frantic as previous ones.

The Envelope System
Put the money that you intend to spend on each individual into different envelopes. When you buy a gift, the money will come from a particular envelope until it's gone.

After Christmas Shopping
After Christmas you find the best sales. Instead of paying full price for gifts before Christmas, go shopping the day after Christmas. You can save anywhere from 50-75% less for the items you want.

You really can enjoy the holidays and save money, too. The secret, plan, prepare, and get organized in advance. You will take pleasure in knowing you did not spend yourself into financial ruin.

Need to Save Money on Gas?

November 13th, 2012 at 05:15 pm

Gas prices have gotten out of control. I remember when gas was $.89 a gallon. I do not believe we will ever see gas under a dollar again in our lifetime. However, all the complaining in the world will not make these ridiculous gas prices go down. Therefore, in order to survive it is important that we come up with practical ways to reduce how much we end up paying at the pump. Here are a few helpful tips to ease your financial pain at the pump.

Carpool.
Carpooling is a great way to save money on gas. If there are a number of people in the carpool it can save even more money. One way to manage the carpool is to rotate cars and drivers. For example, if there are four carpoolers, one week one person drives and everyone pitches in for gas money. The following weeks the rotating continues. The goal is to have each person drive their vehicle every four weeks.

Use Public Transportation.
Depending on your commute, gas can easily cost you $150-$500 a month. Gas for cars has become the new mortgage. One option is to use public transportation. Yes it may be an inconvenience, but it can actually save you money. The cost of public transportation varies from city to city. However, I can think of three advantages for using public transportation. You will have less car maintenance because of less drive time. Generally, the monthly bus pass will cost less than the monthly price of gas. Using public transportation gives you an opportunity to have time to do work, read, think, people watch, and avoid stress from commuting.

Drive Slower.
Gas and oil burns quicker at higher speeds. Is your foot causing you to make extra trips to the gas pump? Some people do not mind paying the price for living life in the fast lane. However, the faster we drive, the more natural resources are consumed. Also, you can get a speeding ticket, and then have a higher insurance premium, plus the cost of the ticket. Be sure to drive the speed limit.

Maintain your vehicle.
Maintaining your car might sound like a no-brainer, but how many of us are actually doing it? Here are some basic tips to maintain your vehicle: a) Keep your tires properly inflated in order to get more miles to the gallon. b) Combine your errands into one trip in order to reduce wear and tear. c) Remove excess junk out of your trunk so that you get further down the road. d) Get regular oil changes and tune ups as recommended by the manufacturer.


It is so important to be proactive with solutions to cut gas cost. Saving on gas is a lifestyle decision that will refuel your bank account. What have you done specifically to save money on gas for your car?

Is Your Pet Causing You Debt?

November 5th, 2012 at 05:21 pm

I do not own a pet, but I have friends that do. I happen to know that pet lovers “love them some pets.” Matter of fact, many consider their pets children. I even have a friend that rushes home from work to see her dog, not her children. Some people have more affection for their dog than their spouse. But that’s another article. Nevertheless, debt is a problem in many households today. Debt is causing problems in relationships, making people lose sleep, and even causing physical health problems. With the cost of everything going up and stretching our dollars, we have to analyze everything to cut back and save. So my question to you: is your pet causing you debt?

A $3,000 Dog?
A friend of mine spent $3,000 to purchase her dog. Then she had to turn around and put it in training school for a couple of months. Of course when they went on their numerous vacations annually they had to pay for a dog-sitter. I am aware that a dog is supposed to be a man’s best friend, but it appears without a budget for your pet they can also put you in poverty! If you are not in the habit of tracking your money or living on a spending plan, you probably have no idea how much your lovable pet is costing you.

Americans spend $38.4 billion on pets.
The American Pet Products Manufacturers Association (APPMA) says that 63 percent of American households own at least one pet. It doesn’t matter what kind of pet you own, their care and maintenance will cost you something. For example, the average dog or cat lives around 6-15 years, so over that time-frame how much will you have invested in your pet? Many pet owners feel like money is not a consideration – it’s their pet for goodness-sake! However, if you want to get out of debt, the cost should definitely be considered.

Estimate of pet costs.
The numbers below are an average cost estimate for dogs and cats.

• Food - $240/year
• Dental care - $250-400/year
• Boarding or pet sitter - $15 to $100 per day
• Neutering - $142/dog and $99/cat
• Veterinarian visits - $211/dog or $179/cat
• Canine cataract surgery - $2,000-$3,000
• Cancer treatment - $5,000 or more
• Diabetes maintenance - $600-$1,000 a year


There is absolutely nothing wrong with owning a pet if you can afford it. But what if you can’t afford it? It really does come down to choices and priorities. For instance, if you spend around $1,000 a year on your pet, and they live for 10 years that is $10,000 a year. Do you currently have $10,000 in your retirement, emergency fund or 401K?

Again, it’s just a question. Is your pet causing you debt?

Term or Whole Life Insurance – You Choose

October 21st, 2012 at 11:54 pm

Many people have debated the topic of term or whole life insurance for years. And, they probably won’t stop. The question: should you buy term life insurance or whole life insurance? Some people have endorsed the philosophy to “buy term and invest the different,” while some advocate to purchase “permanent” life insurance. No one should make a decision on something so important unless they are informed and educated. However, below is some essential information, which I trust, will help you make an informed decision about your insurance needs.

Term Life Insurance
Term life insurance is the easiest life insurance to understand. It is called “term” because you are protected for a specific timeframe - a term. The awesome thing about term insurance is that you can get a lot of coverage for a small cost; for a specific time period. You can obtain term insurance for a term of 30 years and for as little as one year. With term insurance, you get what you pay for. It’s not complex, confusing, or full of bogus promises. Matter of fact, with some companies you can get a $250,000 term policy each for a couple for 30-years for as low as $79.00 a month. Insurance professionals and financial planners will tell you it is temporary insurance. Why? Because once the insurance term runs out, you lose insurance unless you renew. The money you save with term insurance gives you margin to be able to invest in your retirement, CD’s, 401k, money market or mutual fund. In other words you can buy term insurance, save money, and invest the difference.

Whole Life Insurance
Whole life insurance gives you insurance coverage for your entire life. However, you must keep on paying the premiums on time each month until the policy is paid up. Various term life insurance policies can be converted into a whole life insurance policy. With whole life insurance the premiums will be much higher than term life. However, the premiums are fixed for life. Most insurance professionals will encourage you to get whole life for the insurance and as an investment. The investment part is a guaranteed cash value that you can borrow against. When you pay your premiums, part of the money goes into the guaranteed cash account. However, if you take any of the cash value or decide to borrow a portion, the value of your policy decreases. Plus, you have to pay interest on the money you borrow. Using whole life, many people tend to believe the cash value is their financial security pot. In actuality, the return is very small, and any withdraw will diminish the insurance amount and cash value.

Bottom line: you have to decide if term life or whole life is best for you. Your life insurance decision is a personal one, but it should also be a smart financial one. Your decision has to make sense for you, your family, and your personal situation.

So what do you have term or whole life insurance and why?

Prayer and Finances - What do you think?

June 21st, 2012 at 03:05 am

Many people believe in prayer but they forget to pray about their financial vision and goals. I personally believe that God is interested in every area of our lives including finances. I believe His plan for all of us is to live debt-free lives, so we can experience joy, peace, and happiness. Debt certainly takes away our joy, peace, and happiness.

Did you know that financial issues are one of the most talked about subjects in the Bible?

If you are interested, there is an awesome website, that offers prayer for your finances, consider visiting this site:

www.inspirational-prayers.com/financial-prayer.html

Do you believe it is important to pray about direction and guidance on how to manage money?

Money and Relationships

August 26th, 2011 at 03:16 pm

Money and relationships can be very complex. In a relationship, without proper communication it can cause problems. Everyone goes into the relationship with some similar expectations and some different. It's the differences that need the most attention. It does not matter how old you are or how long you have been with your partner, it is important to talk, touch base, and continuously evaluate your thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors regarding money.

One thing I know for sure, if two people that live under one roof are walking in two different directions regarding their financial vision, there will be chaos.

Unfortunately, chaos causes confusion and many other unpleasant emotions. You say, your spouse won't listen and doesn't want to talk about money. That is a very valid argument. My question to you would be: when is the last time you tried talking about money, and how did you approach the subject? Approaching the topic in a nonthreatening way is a start. You might just want to say, "Honey, where do you want to be financially in ten years?" That question may allow you to have an open dialog, and you never know where it will end.

Here are some suggestions to help you set up an opportunity to start talking about money.

• The financial results you are looking to achieve, start living them in front of your partner. If you are still thinking, behaving, and spending the same, why should they change?

• If your partner will not save, you start saving with or without them.

• If you are concerned about having enough for retirement. Come up with a plan, and present the plan to him or her. It may start an unexpected dialog.

• Start living with the end in mind. Whatever your financial goals are, live out the steps to get you there yourself. You might be surprised, in time, your partner may follow.


Yes, money and relationships can be complicated. However, like anything else in life, with a plan, time, and open communication, money and relationships can be a beautiful thing.

What has helped you and your partner when it comes to money and communication?

Financial Fitness Takes Practice

June 22nd, 2011 at 01:32 pm

Americans need a regimen to get their finances in order. In a Capitol One study, they found that the majority of Americans lack a basic understanding of credit scores and the fundamentals of personal finance. In other words, Americans can talk all the prosperity talk they want, however, if they do not put forth the actions, behaviors, and practices to become financially fit it is wishful thinking.

Know your credit score
A large number of Americans (52 percent) do not regularly review their credit report each year. The same Capitol One study stated that twenty-three percent of Americans have never reviewed their credit report at all. Being financially fit means paying attention to your credit and money. A credit report is simply a rundown of your payment history, listing your accounts, balances and your payment behavior. Not paying attention to credit can affect your interest rates. Unfavorable credit can affect your ability to own property, rent, and can cause you to have higher premiums for many types of insurance. In some states you can get a free credit report annually from all three credit bureaus by calling 1-877-322-8228 or get a free FICO score at www.freescoreonline.com.

Know what you make
You would be surprised how many Americans do not know how much they bring home each month or year. Many discover how much they make in January or April when their taxes are done. If you do not know how much you make, how can you plan and reach your financial goals? Just so you know, the gross amount is before taxes, insurance, medical, and social security is taken out. The net amount you bring home is what you have to live on and work with in your budget.

Know what you owe
Unfortunately, many Americans feel comfortable living in denial regarding their debt. Listen up; you cannot become financially fit if you do not know your financial reality. One way to do that is to write down on a piece of paper everyone you owe money to. You must include creditors, vendors, loans, friends, family, co-workers or neighbors. In order for you to be “real” about your financial situation, you have to be honest about who you owe. Next, based on your debt amount, come up with a plan and time-line to pay it off. Your plan must be realistic, doable, and attainable.

Bottom line: if you want to lose weight you accomplish it by having a fitness plan. In order to get financially fit, you use the same concepts. First you admit you have a problem. Then you identify the problem. Next, you come up with a plan to correct the problem. Finally, you connect with like-minded people to help you stay accountable to your goals to be financially fit. Like anything else in life, financial fitness takes practice and work.

What are you personally doing to get financially fit?

As You Get Older Does “Quality” Matter More?

May 19th, 2011 at 06:14 pm

I’m starting to notice something about myself. As I get older quality is more important then quantity. Matter of fact, getting the cheapest deal doesn’t give me the same satisfaction and gratification as it once did. I’ve learned that you get what you pay for. Sometimes paying that extra $10, $20, $25, or $50 to get a better landscaper, cleaner, hotel, meal, or “experience” is so worth it. Matter of fact, quality can make all the difference in the world when it means having a good experience, great time, or feeling this really sucks. I’m at a season in my life that I will pay extra to have better quality and experiences.

I enjoy vacationing at four or five star resorts or hotels. I expect the amenities, food, room, furniture, bedding, landscaping, service, and environment to be a little more special. I do not eat food out of boxes, packaged, and of low caliber at home. Why should I have to compromise my standards at a restaurant or hotel that I pay my hard-earned money for? Additionally, my home is very clean, so I expect a hotel room or restaurant to be twice as clean as my home.

Anyone that knows me can attest to the fact that I am frugal. Saving money is wonderful, but not if my comfort, enjoyment, quality of service, and the experience have been compromised.

This is my “new normal,” when I’m paying for things my standard and expectations are at a different level. First, I want people to do what they say they will do. Second, I want consistency in service, products, merchandise. Third, when I pay for quality give me what I pay for.

As you get older does quality matter more?

Are You Content?

April 17th, 2011 at 10:17 pm

People love to be negative and complain about their life, children, job, marriage, debt, or just about anything. Matter of fact, rarely do you find an advocate for contentment and thankfulness in our busy lives. Thank God we can choose to listen or tune out negativity and constant complainers. Whining and complaining doesn't change conditions, circumstances, or people. Only when we learn to be thankful and content regardless of the situation, by focusing on what is good in our lives, will things start to change.

Stop Negativity - Negative thoughts come every day, but choosing how you respond to them is the key. If negative thoughts control your daily behavior, think on whatever is good about your job, relationship, life, health, height, hair, weight, home, car, child, and finances. Then breath in, exhale, and relax! It’s a great feeling to be thankful and content. It puts you in a mindset of "counting your blessings."

Stop Competing - Contentment stops you from competing with friends, family, and co-workers. You can be frugal, content, and not care what others think or say. Contentment allows you to enjoy and appreciate what you have without feeling guilty and ashamed. Content individuals do not constantly chase after things, but prepares, and watch blessings and opportunities unfold in due season. Content people are happy for other’s success, joys, and accomplishments. Being content brings sound sleep, better health, less stress, and can save you a whole lot of money by just being satisfied and okay.

Be Thankful - Are you content with your spouse, singleness, home, car, earnings, gift, raise, or salary? Someone somewhere has it worst or better than you, but does it really matter? Are you thankful for what you do have? Can you be grateful in spite of your current situation? Situations get hard and feel hopeless at times, but no one said having a “thankful” heart is easy. Matter of fact, at times being thankful can seem nearly impossible, because life can bring some heavy unexpected blows. However, at the end of the day being thankful is what brings joy and strength.

Contentment Takes Time – Being a content person takes practice, patience, and perseverance. It means getting rid of the negative mindset, behaviors, and feelings, and replacing those negatives with feelings of fulfillment, satisfaction, and gladness. The journey to contentment involves taking small practical steps; practicing patience while waiting to hear God’s clear direction, and still persevering to reach your goal, destiny, and purpose.

Let me be very clear, being content doesn’t mean you’ve given up, stopped trying, or give in to feelings of failure. Contentment means you’re okay and alright until your opportunity, open-door, or blessing comes. One thing I know for sure, “A happy (content) heart makes the face cheerful.” Proverbs 15:13 – I couldn’t have said it better myself.

So, what about you, do you find it hard to be content?

Do You Trust God or Money?

March 19th, 2011 at 05:29 pm

In the past, my idea of security was having God and money. However, in 2001, I found out circumstances can change your ideas and beliefs.

From February 2000 to January 2001, I lost my grandmother, grandfather, and aunt. Thereafter, I discovered I longed to be near my parents in Portland, Oregon. After living in Atlanta for 15 years, May 2001, my husband and I moved to the West Coast. We sold everything we owned, packed up our car and daughter, and took a two-week leisurely road trip to Portland, Oregon. In mid-June we arrived in Oregon, and stayed with my brother and his wife until we purchased our home. In mid-July 2001, we were settled in our new home in Camas, Washington, and ready to start our new life. Our plans included my husband working in the information technology industry, and me staying home raising our daughter. I had worked since I was 13 and I wanted a break.

Well, 9/11 happened. The economy changed. Thousands became unemployed, and businesses were closing and not hiring. At that time I felt lead to start doing business again. We made the decision to have my husband become a stay-at-home dad. He would be the one behind the scenes supporting me and the business. It took time and patience for a training and coaching business to grow from scratch in a new location. Over a two-year period we made some money, but mostly sustained our lifestyle using our savings. I felt financially secure when we arrived, but after going through more than $140,000 over two-years, I was feeling insecure, depressed, worried, fearful, and spiritually I was drained.

I’m going to be honest, my peace and security were gone. For a time, everything I thought I believed in was thrown out the window. I felt God had abandoned us, didn’t like us, and maybe we had done something wrong. One day I cried out and asked Him “Why have I been called to teach people about money and you have us living on our savings and going broke?” His answer, “How can you be effective teaching and ministering to others about money if you’ve never had a money problem?” At that moment it all made sense. Also, at that moment I realized as humans we can make the best plans in the world and have the best intentions, but ultimately God is in control of what happens. When we put our trust, security, and peace in money, material things, and our own efforts -- it is a false sense of security. In 2003, we moved back to Atlanta. We couldn’t wait. We drove six-days straight. When we reached Tennessee my husband started crying. He said, “I’m going to kiss the first mosquito I see in Georgia. I’m so happy, Georgia is home.” Georgia was home. Home really is where your heart is.

One thing I know for sure, life is about learning life-lessons. Either you learn the lessons or you keep repeating them. The lessons I learned during that season was to trust God for everything. He will give us everything we need when we need it, and He will open and close doors as He sees fit.

Today, I have learned to listen to His quiet voice, ask for understanding, pray, and prepare through the season of waiting. Additionally, I’m learning to be obedient even when it doesn’t make sense, and walk through open doors. Most of all, I've learned to be “thankful” for the closed doors, and to be encouraged knowing everything learned good and bad prepares us for a higher purpose.

So I ask you again, have you learned to trust God or Money? What have your learned?

Tips to Save on Car Insurance

February 21st, 2011 at 07:13 pm

Everyone is looking for ways to save money and cut back on expenses. Many times the way to save is right under their nose. The solution may be as simple as looking at what you already have, and ways to reduce those cost. There are many ways or categories in spending that individuals can save money. One way to save is car insurance. Getting less expensive auto insurance can be as simple as making a few changes. Below are a few helpful tips that can reduce the cost of your auto insurance.

Shop around.
Before your current insurance policy expires start shopping for a new one. This is true especially if your premium has gone up. Car insurance coverage on the same car can differ widely between different insurers. Therefore, do not go with the first quote. Instead get at least three quotes from three different companies, and compare them before making a decision.

Have good credit.
Having good credit makes all the difference in the world in getting the best rate. Insurance companies check credit information to determine the cost of an auto insurance policy. Therefore, pay your bills on time, don't obtain more credit than you need, and keep your credit balances as low as possible. Also, check your credit report on a yearly basis. Have any errors corrected, so that your credit record remains accurate. Good credit saves you money.

Drive less.
Insurance companies will give you a discount if you drive less than a certain number of miles in a year. Usually that mileage number is 7,500 a year. If you work from home, ask for the low-mileage discount. Think outside the box to save on car insurance. If you commute to work, it might be cheaper to take public transportation. Consider car pooling to save on gas and insurance cost.

Raise deductibles.
Raising the deductible on car insurance is an excellent way to cut the cost of the policy. By increasing your deductible from $250 to $500 or $1,000, you can trim down your annual premium by 10-25 percent or more. However, if you raise your deductible, make sure you have the financial resources to handle the bigger deductible if or when the time comes.

Multi-policy discounts.
If you purchase additional types of insurance through the same insurance company (i.e., auto, life, and homeowner's) you may qualify for a discount. Also, if you have multiple cars under one policy, you may be entitled to a discount.

Military savings.
Are you in the military or have you been in the past? USAA.com is a great company to save on car insurance. Most insurance companies cannot beat their low prices and excellent customer service. If you’ve never been in the military, immediate family members of veterans can also join USAA. Call USAA, compare prices, and save a substantial amount of money on car, home, and life insurance. Also, with USAA save on loans and credit cards.

Got a New Tenant

June 20th, 2010 at 02:28 pm

Our old tenant moved out June 6 and on June 16 we signed a lease and received the deposit for a new tenant. I'm very thankful! I didn't like paying utilities and bills for two homes.

Here is a landlord tip. Sign a "landlord agreement" with utility companies. That way, when tenants move out the company will waive the connect fees for utilities. While the property is vacated, they keep the utilities on under the landlord's name without charging a fee.

Do you have any tips for landlords to help cut down on cost?

Preparing House for New Renter

June 7th, 2010 at 12:43 pm

Our tenant just moved back to Maryland after renting one year. Great tenant! Always paid early and let us know if something was wrong. Now I’m preparing the house for a new renter. Have to get the house professionally cleaned, yard done, and do some minor repairs. Of course I’ll take if out of her deposit.

I wish we could sell the house, but the economy still sucks. Sometimes I think about keeping the house forever. Having a rental property is great residual income, and it would be ideal to have in retirement. However, if we could just get a long-term 20-year renter, that would be absolutely wonderful. Oh well, such-is-life in the world of being a landlord.

Are you a landlord? How is it working for you?

Have You Thought of Bankruptcy?

May 20th, 2010 at 04:30 pm

Bankruptcy is a personal choice. When the average person is overcome with money issues and debt, the typical response is to take the quick way out and file for bankruptcy. The stress from creditors calling can send anyone over the edge. However, regardless of your financial situation it is important to think with a clear mind. Otherwise, you may jeopardize your financial opportunities in the future. If you are considering bankruptcy, first look at different options. Have a clear understanding of what it means to file for bankruptcy. Once you are educated about your bankruptcy options then you can make an informed decision. Bankruptcy really should be the last solution.

Alternatives to bankruptcy
Your first step is to evaluate your financial situation to determine if filing for bankruptcy is right for you. If it isn’t the right choice, look at other options.

• Call your creditors yourself. Explain your situation, and see if an agreeable payment plan can be implemented. They may be able to reduce your minimum monthly payments, waive late fees, give you zero interest, and extend the payment period. You don’t know until you ask.

• Contact Consumer Credit Counseling Services (CCCS). CCCS is a non-profit organization that helps individuals in debt. They are nationwide, and they have partnerships with many financial institutions. They will work with you and your creditors to come up with a debt management plan that is tailor made for you. They may be able to help you avoid bankruptcy.

• Think about consolidating all your debt into one payment. Consider getting a debt consolidation loan or transferring your debt to a zero interest credit card to have one payment. Look for hidden fees associated with this choice.


Be aware that bankruptcy will temporarily stop bill collectors and creditors from harassing, calling, and filing lawsuits against you. However, the creditors may start harassing you again. Also, certain financial obligations cannot be apart of your bankruptcy filing.

1. Student loans
2. Alimony
3. Child support
4. Restitution for DUI
5. Fraudulent debt


Bankruptcy is a big decision that should not be taken lightly. It is a personal choice that will affect your credit and finances for seven to ten years. Before moving forward with bankruptcy, look at all your options. If it still makes sense, you will have to decide.

Are You Happy?

May 10th, 2010 at 02:06 pm

I’m choosing to be happy no matter what the cost. Being happy is a learned process and behavior. It can be daunting at times. However, it is better then the alternative – misery. Sure everything isn’t perfect, and people and situations still get on my nerves. Nevertheless, I’m learning to take control of my emotions, feelings, and choices. No more will I allow them to determine my daily outcomes. Happiness is a choice and I choose to live and dwell in happiness.

It doesn’t mean my choice to be happy is easy. Matter of fact, at times it can be pretty darn hard. However, I’ve rearranged my life, home, and time to fit my new objective -- happiness. Wow, what a difference a day makes when your goal is to enjoy instead of destroy everything you’ve been blessed with.

When negative thoughts come I’m trying to dwell on what is good and pleasant in my life. When pessimistic feelings and emotions try to take a stronghold, I think about how I am so blessed to have my health, strength, and my “right” mind. I'm blessed to have my husband and daughter and to be here for them.

My happiness means I’m reading less of the news, and thank God I don’t have television to steal my hope, joy, and dreams. In spite of this economy and the doom and gloom that is presented to us daily, I can truly say I am content and happy. I love where I am in my life. I’m happy with my choices. And, I’m excited to wake up each day to see where my life-journey takes me. Happiness is truly a choice worth choosing.

What about you, are you happy?

Has the Economy Changed You?

April 18th, 2010 at 06:05 pm

This economy has made people rethink their priorities. People are now evaluating what is important in every area of their lives. Today, everyone knows someone or multiple people unemployed for the first time in their lives. With over 13.7 million people currently unemployed, no one knows who will be next. Individuals that never struggled or had a fear of losing what they worked their whole lives for, aren't sure how they can hold on to what they’ve got.

Foreclosures are at an all time high, and the numbers are increasing daily. Otherwise responsible people are walking away from their homes. Banks are so overwhelmed they are shirking their financial obligations, too. For the first time in countless people’s lives they now understand what use to be is no more, and that nothing is promised to last forever.

There is one bright spot in all of this economic mess. People are taking inventory of their lives, relationships, lifestyles, and money. For the first time some people are looking at their real needs and wants, and making sure their needs are actually met. The McMansions, leased luxury cars, and over priced restaurants are no longer a necessity, need, or want. Simpler, smaller, and sustainable is the new “in thing.” Working every hour for things that can disappear tomorrow are not so important.

Affordability, saving money, surviving daily, and trying to keep a balanced life has become high priority. People are going back to the basics of life. God, family, and then work is now important to many. Work is necessary to survive and live. God and family is what sustain us.

How has the economy changed you and your spending habits?

Rent movies for $1...Oh Yeah!

February 21st, 2010 at 11:57 pm

Yesterday my daughter and I went to Wal-Mart. There was a long line in front of a red box. The red box looked like a vending machine. I'm thinking, what is going on here? Come to find out, you can rent movies at Wal-Mart for only $1.

The process is so easy. Its movies in a vending machine! They have a large selection on the screen of the latest movies. You choose the movie(s), pay with your credit card, and the movie comes out of the machine. Just like soda pop. It's too cool. You have until the next day at 9pm to return the movie. You can keep it longer for $1 a day, I believe.

The total charge with fees: $1.06. I never have to purchase a movie again. We returned the movie after church today. It is easy as pie to return the movie. On the screen push the "return DVD" button, put the movie in the slot and it disappears. We rented another movie today.

The name of the movie company is www.redbox.com. You can return the movie anywhere RedBox DVD's operate. I loved Wal-Mart before, but now I really love Wal-Mart. Life sure can't get better then $1 movie rentals.


Need to Save on Ink Cartridges?

January 24th, 2010 at 10:53 pm

We have a Brother all in one fax, copier, scanner, and printer. It takes four different cartridges to work. When one goes out the whole machine stops. Yeah, that is right zero copies can be made. In other words the machine was made to force customers to purchase cartridges each and every time one cartridge is used up.

A few months ago, I happen to mention to my neighbor that we needed more cartridges for our copier. She has the same brand but a different model. I told her we usually pay around $14-15 for one cartridge. She then told me, she only paid $4.75 for her cartridges whether they are black or color.

I was skeptical and doubtful that it could be true, but she assured me she had been purchasing these recycled cartridges for years and they worked great. A month ago we purchased a black one. No problem, it worked and looked great. About 2-weeks ago, two of our color cartridges needed to be replaced. We went to the same company.

We received our color ink, 3-times cheaper, and it looks great. We are so happy. In all we paid $14.25 for 3-ink cartridges, instead of $42 or more for three. You cannot beat that savings anywhere. Plus, when we ordered shipping was FREE.

The name of the website to purchased black and colored cartridges to save money is: www.inksell.com.

Do you know any other places to get incredible prices on ink cartridges?

Are You Preparing for Retirement?

December 12th, 2009 at 06:50 pm

Do you sometimes wonder where the years have gone? My thirty's is like a blur. Oh yeah, I remember I had my daughter when I was 35 years old, but what happened before and after that in my thirties? By the time you get use to writing the latest year down, we are already heading into the next one. Time moves swiftly and quickly. And when you look around, you are older, hopefully wiser, and wondering how much time do I have left to reach my goals. .

I meet people daily who dream of retiring one day, but many have never actually implemented a plan of action to make it happen. Retirement doesn't just happen with a hope and prayer, it takes time, preparation, and planning. Regardless of how old you are, one day you will want to stop working or at least work part-time. Do you have a plan to make it happen? Do you or your spouse have a pension? Have you set aside money in your 401K or IRA's? Do you still have 20 or 30 years left on your mortgage?

In this economy or any other, you cannot put the responsibility of your retirement on a company, spouse, or government. Nothing is promised forever, therefore, regardless of your situation or circumstance, it is your responsibility to look out for you. Whether you are married or single, you have to take the responsibility to make sure your future is secure financially. It may mean putting money in a different account for your retirement.

My sister who has two sets of twins, and had always been a stay at home mom decided she wanted to save since her husband is not a saver. What did she do? She got a part-time job in the evenings, stocking shelves, and saved $50,000 in just three years to go towards their retirement. They are only in their early forties, still relatively young.

What about you, what are your financial goals for retirement? Are you working towards meeting them? If not, what do you plan to do?

Do You Loan Money to Friends and Family?

December 6th, 2009 at 07:16 pm

It is usually not a good idea to loan money to family. So many things can go wrong. In this economy many family and friends may need help, and of course we want to help ease their stress and pain. Even though lending a financial hand seems like the right thing to do, it can actually backfire and cause drama and distress.

Have you ever used your hard-earned money to help someone that is broke keep their house, car, utilities, or put food on their table? Then to see them a few days later with a new manicure, pedicure, or hair cut. Have you loaned money with a promise to repay and after they ditched and dodged you for months and even years, you realized you would never see your money again? So what should you do when you are approached by family or friends to borrow money? First, find out why your friend or family member is having a difficult time. If they have a history of being irresponsible or reckless with money, why should that be your problem? If they are consistently bad with money, giving them money would do more harm than good. In fact, if you give someone money that is not interested in changing their spending habits, loaning money can ruin them and your relationship.

Below are some suggestions on loaning money to family:

Do not lend money you do not have. You have your own bills to pay. If you are in a jam who will be there to help you? If you cannot afford to lose the money, do not do it.

Do not co-sign for a loan. You want to ruin your credit and get in debt? Co-sign and take on someone else's financial obligations. If you want tension, stress, possible resentment, and a stained relationship, go right ahead co-sign. Not a smart move.

Teach them how to budget. Giving a loan or money is not always the solution to someone that is having financial troubles. Show them how to manage their money, prepare for the unexpected, and take preventative financial measures to be sustainable.

Give a small gift. I never loan money. But, what I will do is give towards a person's need if I feel lead to do so. Many times I do not feel lead to do so, but when I do I let them know it is not a loan and they do not have to repay me.

Get a loan in writing. If you do decide to loan money, make sure you put all the terms and conditions in writing. The agreement should include a date for repayment, monthly or lump sum amount, signatures of both parties, and copies should be made. The original should go to the lender and a copy to the borrower.

There is no shame in saying no.

If your answer is no, that is okay. You do not have to give a long explanation or reason, keep it short-n-sweet. Let them know you cannot loan them money, but you can offer a small gift (if you can). Bottom line, it is up to you to look at all the options and make the best decision for you, your family, and your situation.

Have you ever loaned money to family or friends?

What Can't You Live Without?

November 28th, 2009 at 03:31 pm

I use to love to talk on the phone and watch television. Of course that was before the Internet. Now, I could care less if I talk on the phone (if it isn't business related). We are strange, we do not have cable so we get zero channels on our TV. I could actually live without a phone and TV, but if I had to go without the Internet for just one day, OMG, no!

With the Internet, I get connected to people and they connect with me. I get all of my news both local and worldwide from the Internet. Of course, I get all my Hollywood gossip there too. The phone and television were previous distractions, but the Internet has to be apart of my life and I consider it a friend.

Plus, the Internet has saved me tons of money by researching and getting the best deals. It's a great place to check reviews, comparison shop, and get the best discounts and specials. I'm all about saving money. I find my recipes, restaurant reviews, vacation packages, pay my bills, do my banking, find my landscaper, plumber, electrician, and look for my doctor and dentist on the Internet. Additionally, it's on the Internet we have found our homes, keep track of the weather, look for free entertainment, and see what the traffic is like.

I don't have to eat out, go bowling, swimming, golfing, movies, or talk every day to everyone I know on the phone. Just give me my Internet and I will be just fine. I do not like to say addicted, but I don't think I can live without my friend the Internet.

What is it you cannot live without?

Are You Cooking More?

November 21st, 2009 at 11:04 pm

I've always cooked. However, now I'm cooking even more. Food has gotten expensive, so I continuously look for ways to save, cutback, and find better alternative ways to do things. There are three in my family. We spend around $300 a month on groceries, not including supplies. Not a little bit of money, but not a lot either. At this stage in my life I do not eat out much. Restaurant kitchens aren't always clean, neither are people's hands, and the luxury of dining out can add up. We probably eat out three times a month, spending around $30-40; using coupons at www.restaurant.com or www.diningperks.com.

Below is how we save money on groceries and cooking.

1. Have a set amount each week budgeted for groceries, and stay within the amount.
2. Shop for food one day a week. Go through cabinets and refrigerator for inventory. Create a weekly menu, and purchase according to what is on the menu.
3. My husband goes to Wal-Mart for most items and then to Kroger for fruits and vegetable one day a week, like clock work.
4. Once a month I order groceries from www.angelfoodministries.com. For $52 I get enough meat, vegetables, fruits, starches, eggs, and dessert to last a couple of weeks. For us, there is enough meat to last over a month or so. We aren't big meat eaters.
5. I cook on Sundays and Wednesday, only. I usually cook 2-3 vegetables on both days. Also, I mix up pasta, casserole, roast with potatoes and vegetables using lots of garlic and onions, on the other days.

The benefits of cooking at home:

a) Our gas bill is only $21 a month, because I cook only two days a week. Our stove is gas the rest is electric.
b) We have good food in a clean kitchen made with clean hands.
c) We save a fortune by eating at home.
d) We eat healthier because I'm cooking using fresh ingredients from scratch, and not boxed or processed foods.
e) We are able to enjoy a meal together as a family at the table and talk.


Are you cooking more? If so, how has it benefited you?

Found any bargains lately?

November 12th, 2009 at 10:28 pm

The economy sucks, no doubt. But there are certainly many positives and blessings amongst all the misery. If you are still gainfully employed or not, there are tons of bargains and specials everywhere. Now is the time to get your finances in order, but also to take advantage of all those dog-gone bargains out there.

Restaurants
If you love eating out but money has been short lately, food at restaurants have been almost dirt cheap. There are coupons galore. Coupons for buy one get one free, lunches for $4.99, fine dining dinner entrees for less than $10.00, and kids eating free on Tuesdays and Sundays.

Vacation
My brother and his wife just purchased a 4-day cruise on Carnival for $165 each. Resorts are having specials where you can get a room for two-nights for $159. The rooms were regularly $265 a night.

Cars
Car dealers are really trying hard to bring people in. Who ever heard of purchasing a car with interest rates as low as 2%? Or if you lose your job the dealer will make your payments for 6-months. Unbelievable car prices and unbelievable deals!

Homes
If you ever wanted to own a home, now is the time. Interest rates are at an all time low. Home prices have dropped nationally around 20%. Homes that would have cost $300,000 just two years ago now can be purchased in some areas for $199,000 or lower. Plus, if you are a first time home owner (haven't owned a home in the last 3-years based on Government standards), you can get an $8,000 refund credit on your taxes.

There are bargains everywhere. What bargains have you found in this economy?

This Weekend Was Garage Sale Heaven

August 17th, 2009 at 12:29 am

I love going to garage sales. I've learned that buying other's "junk" is my treasure.

This weekend my daughter and I went garage sale hopping. My husband packed us a cooler with water and snacks we went on our journey. Our sole purpose was to look for a few items for her room since we are redecorating it. There were so many garage sales my daughter said we were in "Garage sale heaven."

For $11.25 we walked away with the following: a floor lamp -$1.00, a fuchsia colored picture frame - $.25, DVD player - $5.00, pink book holders from Bombay and Company - $4, hair blow dryer - $.25, bulletin board w/diamonds around it - $.25, insulated lunch bag w/shoulder strap - $.25, and a black wood 14" x 20" picture frame - $.50

We probably saved $150-$200 by purchasing items at garage sales. The plus, everything was in like-new condition.

When is the last time you went to a garage sale? Did you get great bargains?

The Sales Tax-Free Weekend is a Rip-off

August 10th, 2009 at 11:07 am

There is a lot of hype about the before school sales tax-free weekend for school supplies and clothes. I for one do not get hyped up or excited when everyone else does. We actually went school shopping over a month ago. We went to an outlet mall an hour from our home with 140 name brand stores. We purchased around 10-12 items of clothing for around $110. Then the next weekend we went garage sale hopping. At the last house of our trip, we came across a goldmine. A teenager that only wore name brand designer clothes who hardly wore them or they were still new, was selling them per bag. So for just $5.00 my daughter walked away with 11 items that would have easily cost over $300.00-400.00 if purchased brand new.

Sales tax-free weekend just ended this weekend. The malls were packed and people were buying like crazy. My daughter decided to return a couple of the outfits from the outlet mall, and take the money to get more stuff at garage sales. When we went into Children's Place, Justice, and Osh Kosh I didn't see any bargains or sales. I saw jacked up prices with huge signs advertising a "sales tax free." What a rip off! And, people buy into the media hype.

I asked my daughter if she would rather have a bag full of name brand clothes for $5.00 or to spend $100-$200, and still need more clothes. She said, "A bag of designer clothes for $5.00." The money we saved on her clothes we are using to redo her room.

Was the sales tax-free weekend a bargain or rip-off for you?

Do You want to be on a financial show on MTV?

July 16th, 2009 at 11:49 pm

I just got off the phone with MTV. They're doing a documentary on newlyweds that are having financial problems, and are looking for couples that are interested.

Requirements:

* Young couple having money problems
* Married - less than one year
* Age - 18-27 years old

If interested call:

Gina - 310-752-8253 or
Email - newlywed@mtvn.com


Our house didn't sell

June 8th, 2009 at 12:00 pm

I've been away for a really long time. I wanted to give you an update since my last blog. Well, on April 1st we put our rental property on the market to sale. I've sold three of our homes before, but this is a different economy and market. After two months showing the house three times, and getting around eight phone calls, we put it on the market to rent.

I put the ad on Craigslist, and got my first call within two minutes, literally. After that I showed the house almost daily. It was rented in three weeks. I'm not mad!

I know the ecomomy will change, and our home will be worth even more. Which means we'll have a bigger paycheck from the sale. You can't get discouraged, frustated, or defeated with the economic climate. Just go with the flow and be patient.

Are you trying to sell or rent? How's it going for you?

Ugh...He wants $3,800 to paint 7 rooms

March 8th, 2009 at 10:17 pm

We're selling our rental property. Yesterday I met with contractors to get estimates on multiple projects in order to put the house on the market. I received three quotes to paint our 1900 sq. ft. rental property. One was $1,900, $3,000, and $3,800. The house is in pretty good condition and so are the walls.

I usually do not choose the cheapest price. I believe you get what you pay for. However, in this case the one for $1,900 and $3,000 both have outstanding recommendations and testimonials from a third party website. The highest bidder has zero testimonials online, but was recommended by a realtor. I think I'll go with the $1900 estimate. Get this, the estimate for $3,000 doesn't even include painting ceilings.

The depressing part, that price is only for the paint job. I still need carpets installed, and around eight small projects done. Oh well, such is life. Why complain? It has to be done, right?

$10K to sell my home...Thanks but no thanks!

February 28th, 2009 at 03:30 pm

We are selling our rental property. Yeah, yeah, yeah the economy, housing, lending and everything sucks, but I don't care. My trust is in God. Okay, so I've sold all four of our homes by myself in the past and never had a problem.

This time, I was thinking of using a realtor because I now work and felt I probably wouldn't have the time. But when I found out the fee was 6% and that would cost $10,000, I said, "I will take the time to sell my home myself."

I kept asking the realtor, so what exactly do you do that I can't do? We make flyers, show your home, and market it. Well, okay, I can do all that for less than $10,000. Nobody know and cares about my house more than me.

So our tenants move out officially tomorrow. I will get some work done in the next week, and then the house will go on the market. Yeah, the economy sucks but who cares. I'm excited, I have a new challenge to sell our home. I can't wait to see what happens, can you?

Get taxes done for FREE

January 31st, 2009 at 06:01 pm

Yes - for free. Is your adjusted gross income (AGI) less than $56,000? If so, you can prepare your taxes for free. Go to www.irs.gov.com to prepare your federal taxes for free.

To get your state taxes prepared for free go to your state income tax website. There you should be able to prepare and e-file your taxes for free, if they offer it. Most states offer the free service. If you prepare your state taxes on the "free" federal website they will charge you for preparing the state taxes. If you are expecting a refund, you can e-file for free, and get your refund deposited into your bank account within 10 days.

Truth -- this world's system is set up to separate you from your hard-earned money, so keep as much as you can.

Do you pay to get your taxes done or do them yourself?


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