Archive for the ‘financial wizard I am not’ Category

2010 recap (finally)

This is for me really.  It’s my way of keeping track of what, if anything, I accomplished this year.

This year started with a 21 day fast , go here for a summary of how that went.  Turns out that was a really good way to start a year out.    No doubt, I’ll be doing that again in 2011. (I’m actually 16 days into it right now!)

  • Sold fireworks for the 4th of July in Louisiana (great time with family and precious friends!)
  • went to the beach in Florida for a fantastic family vacation (paid cash)
  • paid off a car (that’s the last time we’ll ever NOT pay cash for a car–car pymts suck!)
  • my firstborn started driving–this is exciting, nerve-racking, and time-saving all at the same time
  • bought a car with cash for the first time ever (well, we matched Cory’s contribution and he bought a car with cash)
  • ran my first 5K.  and my 2nd. and my 3rd. and my 4th.  I’m officially addicted to running now.
  • started learning how to play the guitar–something I always wanted to do, and now I can 🙂
  • lost a beloved member of our family, Lucky dog
  • got 2 new puppies–it remains to be seen if this was a positive or negative move.  on the one hand, we’re missing Lucky less, on the other, training starts all over and lasts longer than I care to think about
  • started a new job–same place, new position

It was a busy and productive year and I’m already making goals for 2011.  Blogging more is one goal.  jeesh, last year was pitiful in the blogging department.  How else am I supposed to keep track of what I do?!?

Other goals:

Get my own guitar–Cory’s generously loaning me one of his right now

Learn how to make movies in iMovie–I’ve started this, but my first one was incredibly lame

My marriage is going to be the best it’s been in 20 years!

Random happy feelings

Oh, girls…don’t we always let our feelings guide us?  This can be good and bad, I suppose.

I just wanna share a couple of things that make me happy today.

The perfect egg. I’ve always had trouble making this at home–until now.  I found this little baby pan.  It’s made to cook just 1 egg.  and it does….perfectly.  My mornings are now bliss.  Look at it!   It’s beautiful.

the perfect egg

sunny side up

AND…I cancelled our voice mail with Cox (along with a few other services when we went all ‘gazelle intense’ with Dave Ramsey).  I HATED the voice mail retrieval process…calling myself, pushing 1 to hear new messages, listening to the call back number, and then the message (which was usually some recording from a solicitor!).  It was such a time sucker!  I know that seems silly, but if you know me and I don’t answer at home, you probably have my cell phone number.  It’s what I usually give people anyway if I actually WANT to take their call!   So, anyway, when I walk in the house after being out for a few hours, I remember that “NO, I don’t have any messages” and breathe a sigh of relief.   Ahhhhh….beautiful.   It really is the small things.

Oh, yeah, and I bought an ax…or is it an axe?…today.  Don’t know what for except that I wanted one.  It’s small.  fairly “girl-sized” I thought…(or camp sized, according to the package).   So, if you need anything small chopped up (or down) let me know–I’ll come right over bearing ax.  Maybe I’ll go to the park and…oh, wait, carrying an ax around at the park might not look so good….never mind.

I’ll sleep good tonight.  No messages on the voice mail, anticipating another perfect egg in the morning, with a shiny new ax in the garage.  I do believe I could conquer the world.

Town Hall for Hope

I’m an American, and I am choosing NOT to participate in this recession.

Who loves Dave Ramsey?!    I love that this guy tells it like it is.   He’s not afraid to call stupid, stupid!   He’s good pals with my buddy, Tough Love.  If you’ve ever listened to him speak, you can tell that he’s MAD.  He’s mad that the banks, credit card companies, payday loan companies, and others have fleeced the public.  They’ve told lies that we (Americans) have believed as truth.  Lies like “you need stuff to have a better life”, and  “debt is inevitable in our culture today”, and “you can have it even if you don’t have the money to pay for it right now”.

I don’t know if he’ll be bringing his “MAD” with him this Thursday.  From what I hear, he’ll be bring a message of HOPE.   and I can’t wait to hear what he has to say.  Evidently, neither can about a million other people all over the U.S.  As of today, 6000 venues  around the country will be catching the feed that is originating from the building that I work in!  How stinkin’ awesome is that?! PLUS, Fox Business will be airing the event live on tv!

So, mark your calendars for Town Hall for Hope. Follow them on Twitter.  Find them on FaceBook.  Prepare to be inspired–7pm CDT!

indiv_promo_ad_250x250

It’s AntiProcrastination Day!

  • Thanks to the Flylady—you can do anything for 15 minutes!– and Aranda—rockin’ tunes–, I pushed through and got several things done that have been calling my name for a while.  I think I’ve said it before, but it’s worth noting again…running a household takes a LOT of work!  Here’s a sample of what I accomplished
    • paid ALL the bills
    • paid and updated info on Pikepass
    • called ins. agent about roof inspection (we’ve had several of hail spells lately)
    • checked on rebate not yet received from Oct 08-will need to refax receipt
    • filed most papers in rudimentary filing box/”system”
    • hung up ALL clothes off of the floor/chair/chest/bed in my room
    • vacuumed my closet floor
    • called Cox Cable to make changes to service features and lower bill
    • mailed birthday cards for Feb and Mar birthdays
    • cleaned out my refrigerator (ew!)
    • scrubbed grout on bathroom counters (shiny!)
    • got oven fixed (ok, I did this last week, but wanted to mention it on my list of accomplishments anyway)
    • cleaned one of two dusty intake vents on the ceiling
    • paid a $4 outstanding dentist bill with a phone call
    • made donation to WaterIsLife.com (been talking about this since February)

Whew!  I’m sure I forgot to mention a few things—once I got going, there was no stopping me!    and THEN, Kevin and I did our Dave Ramsey, FPU homework–we created our zero based budget!  Whoa, that’s going to take some practice each month!

    Now I have to work on a little planning ahead—full on meal planning people!—to avoid last minute grocery store runs!

To Give or Save…Water is Life

When we did our No Spend Challenge in February, there was some talk about what we would do with the money that we didn’t spend.  Would we save it all?  Give it away?  A little of both?  We had a family meeting and discussed it. (well, Kevin and I discussed whilest the young ‘uns listened–or didn’t listen, whatever)

We decided to wait until the end of March and donate a percentage of what we’d saved up to that point.  We’re getting close to the end of March and I’m working VERY hard to get as much in that savings account as possible before the 31st!   The charity that we chose was WaterIsLife, which I think is an Edmond based biz, but I can’t confirm this. They distribute these really cool filter “straws” that hang around a kids neck and allows them to safely drink water from any source that is available to them.  Really cool!

Anyway, when we were vacationing this last week, we went to Alabaster Caverns in northwestern OK and took the guided tour of the cave.  Our guide explained that the life cycle of a cave is centered around WATER!  When water seeps into cracks in the ground, the cave is birthed.  As water fills the cracks and starts to flow, the cave is formed.  Water recedes, and you can go in.  Eventually it will completely dry up and then crumble, collapse and become a canyon. (Every cave will eventually become a canyon!)    So, in a very real sense, Water is Life for a cave too.  I thought that was really cool, especially with this charity so fresh on my mind!

Cool facts you won’t find anywhere else.  You’re welcome.

Sorry department store, Jesus has my checkbook

During our first 10 years of marriage, Kevin and I bought cars, bought a house, furnished a house, had 2 kids, and went on some great vacations.  We did it all.  If we wanted it, we got it or did it.  If we didn’t have the money at the moment, we did what everyone else did…we charged it. Right?!

Sure, we had nice stuff.  A nice house, cars that ran, great memories from trips…but we also had stress, pain and conflict.  Debt like that can feel like a dark cloud, or more like a 1000 pound weight on your chest.  It’s hard to breathe, hard to see past it, hard to believe that it could EVER be gone.  Neither of us had the answers. We couldn’t do it on our own.  Ironically, if we’d already had the tools to fix it, we probably wouldn’t have gotten into the mess to begin with.

October 1999.  Enter LifeChurch, God, healing, and Dave Ramsey.  Pastor Craig was using teaching that he’d taken from Dave Ramsey’s books.  Life altering stuff.  I was sure that preacher was speaking only to me that first morning.  I knew he could see and hear me crying on the back row.  I surrendered that day.  and it was liberating.

Kevin came to church with me on my 3rd weekend there, October 31.  Funny how I remember the exact day, huh?  The message for that week?  The Tithe.  Giving back to God 10% of what is already His.  Kevin’s response?  Do it. no hesitation…yeah, he’s good like that. 🙂

We wrote a check to God that week or the next (i can’t remember which) and so began our journey to recovery.  Acknowledging that all we have is really His.  I’m not saying it’s easy, but attempting to live in that mind-set causes you to make different choices in life and to re-prioritize what’s “necessary” and important.

I KNOW that during this series at my church, someone else is going to have a similar encounter with a holy, forgiving, merciful God.  I’m praying for you, whoever you are.

LifeChurch.tv brings you…money

Well, actually not money, but a special series with a special guest teaching about money.

In order to stimulate the economy, Americans are being encouraged to spend money.  Buying another car would help the auto industry, buying a new home would help the real estate market, buying more stuff would help the retailers.  Granted, that makes logical sense…but…excuse me,  the unstable economy makes me wanna keep my money, thankyouverymuch.

I am SO EXCITED about the upcoming series we’re doing at LifeChurch.tv.  Author and speaker, Dave Ramsey, is teaching for the next 3 weeks a series called Life.Money.Hope.  This stuff is so real, relevant and applicable for today’s world, it’ll knock your socks off!  If you’ve heard Dave’s radio show or read any of his books, you know his motto is “live like no one else, so you can live like no one else”.

If you can’t get to any one of the 13 physical LifeChurch.tv campuses, you can go to church online where ever you are!   http://internet.lifechurch.tv/

Even cooler, this video teaching is also available for free to churches!  Check it out.

My first time at Life Church was during a financial series in Oct ’99–wow, almost 10 years ago.! I wouldn’t have come for Jesus, but I desperately needed help with my family’s finances.   Who knew that I would find my savior there?!  Oh, wait,  He knew. 🙂

Goin’ to Beauty School

I tried to hold out during my No Spend Challenge in February, but I just HAD to get a haircut!  I trimmed it myself a couple of times, but I was in need of professional help!  Well, sort of professional…I LOVE getting my hairs cut at a hair school in OKC.   Well, sort of love.  I love that the instructor wears a holster around his waist for his scissors.  A holster.  He’s cool.  He also put both of his hands on my wet head and said I have a perfect head shape.  I do.  You can touch it if you want to.  No, you can’t.

I’ve created a list of pros and cons for getting your hair done at a school in case you were considering it.

Pros:

  • There is always accountability.  The student is accountable to the teacher and the teacher has the student looking on intently AND they’re all doing it out loud so that I can hear everything!
  • And I listen to every technical thing they say and then ask questions after the instructor leaves. “What’s the dif with all those different kinds of layers?”   “Why do you hold the hair when you cut it?”  “Why?” What?”
  • It qualifies me to cut my families hair, b/c I, in a sense, am going to hair school, right?  I mean, I’m there.  I listen to the instructor.  I pay.  They just make me go home and practice.  So, I’m qualified, ok?
  • and the number one reason I love it: It’s really cheap!  AND I save money by cutting everyone else’s hairs.  Double bonus!

Cons: (in the interest of fairness, I had to make this list too)

  • It takes twice or three times as long, b/c of all the checking and rechecking from the instructor.  That’s it really.
  • Oh, and when my fav students graduates, I have to find another student I like.  But, they’re a dime a dozen.
  • Sometimes the water is too hot or too cold and the chair is not in a comfy position when he/she is washing your hair.  This is a skill that obviously requires practice.

The pros outweigh the cons for me.  I’ll probably be opening up my own shop pretty soon.  I’ll let ya know.  Oh, and did I mention that my head shape is perfect?

No spend Challenge-Final Thoughts

I really don’t eat a lot of fast food, never have, but, oddly enough, when I see a to-go cup or a sack from a fast food place, it’s like the bell for Pavlov’s dog….I begin to salivate.  What is it about a Starbucks cup in someone else’s hand, that makes me think I need one?   Now that’s some really good marketing, folks.  You think that happens by accident?  No way.  Companies pay people really good money to come up with strategies to make people like me, WANT to buy their products.  To make people think they NEED their products to be happy!    Don’t you feel horribly manipulated?  Tricked out of your money?   Well, you should.

I went to lunch with a friend and let her buy, b/c it was my challenge month.  It still felt wrong, somehow (not the free lunch :), but the fact that someone spent money).  That’s when I realized that this month’s challenge was a mindset, not really a goal.   The spending was still happening, it just wasn’t coming out of my wallet. (by the way, thanks for lunch, Toni!  it was yummy and fun)

So, let’s get down to the nitty gritty.  See if you can follow my math…

I averaged our previous spending over the last 6 months (Aug-Jan) to compare with February’s spending.  To simplify, I just looked at 2 categories–Walmart and Braum’s (groceries + cash) and restaurants.  In the first category, we averaged $984/month in the last 6 months, and in February only spent $529–a savings of $455 in one month!   and at restaurants, we averaged $186/month, and spent $0 in this category in February.   That’s a $641 difference in these 2 areas alone!

If we did this for another 5 months, we’d have nearly $4000 extra in the bank!  After hearing Dave Ramsey talk about getting out of debt, saving for emergencies, and investing, I am dangerously fired up.    I’m about to go all weird and extreme.  I have  a tendency to do that.

No spend challenge-week 4

Last week of the challenge and I realized,  it’s a mindset, not a goal.  Just an experiment to see if I/we had self control enough to say no to the “extras”.  Here’s the detailed list.

2/22 Sunday, Kohl’s  (pants for Cam)$24.14 on a gift card I already had, so actually $0 out-of-pocket

2/23 Monday, $20 to water for Life for sister’s birthday, Walmart $9.22

2/24Tuesday, Braum’s $7.84, Walmart $9.18

2/25Wednesday, Quiznos $3.00 drinks (free sandwich coupon)

2/26 Thursday $30 guitar lessons, $10 Walmart

2/27Friday $20 Aldi, $20 haircut, $12.80 CVS ($10 on my med reimbursment card, so only $2.80 out-of-pocket)

Total for month of February $729.55, including $445.48 groceries for a family of 4, plus 1 dog and 1 guinea pig.  Wow.  That’s quite an eye-opener for me.

I’ll be putting together my final thoughts on this month in another post next week, as well as a comparison of the last few months spending to see how we did.

Coincidentally, financial guru, Dave Ramsey, was at church this Saturday morning, the last day of February and my No Spend Challenge Month.  He was taping a series of 3 messages that will be shown later in the month of March on the weekend at church.   Awesome timing for me and hopefully for Kevin too.