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Making Saving Easy

April 9th, 2011 at 06:02 pm

I have a couple of ways that make saving money easy for me.

The first is by having an automatic transfer set up so that each week a specified amount is sent from my checking account to a savings account. Right now we are saving for house repairs and to replace my husband's truck. So I set up two automated transfers. My husband gets paid on Thursday and the transfers are scheduled to take place every Monday. Both items are budgeted for weekly and I don't have to give it another thought.

The other way to save that is painless for me is putting any change we receive in a box. I never spend change. One of the first things I do when coming home from grocery shopping is to clean out my wallet of any change and depositing it into the box. Periodically I get the box out, roll the change and deposit it into my checking account. I usually will then send it to one of my designated savings accounts, or if a budgeted account has had more expenses than I had foreseen, I'll use the change to build that back up.

Both savings ways are easy for me and require little effort. It's amazing how quickly both will add up!


April 8th, 2011 at 11:27 am

Last night's
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Financial Peace University class was on getting a better deal when you're out shopping. Dave talks about how almost every other country in the world barters for items. We are one of the few countries that almost always pays retail.

We have a son that is always bartering for things. He's very good at it and he's only 18! I, on the other hand, am like Sharon Ramsey and find it embarrassing. I'd rather pay full price than try to talk someone down. I don't "do" conflict. ;-)

How about you? Do you bargain for prices? What items do you barter for?

Trimming Costs

April 7th, 2011 at 09:06 pm

When I quit my job at the end of last year we decided we needed to trim our monthly expenses even more than we had already done while following Dave Ramsey's plan.

The first thing we looked at was our cable. While we were doing the debt snowball we had 10 basic channels, but once we finished paying off the debt we had increased the number of channels because we were offered a "deal". We decided we could do without the cable completely because most of the shows we watch regularly are available on the internet. So by cancelling the cable, I trimmed $39.95 off of the budget. We bought
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this connector which has worked great to watch on our television. I subscribe to my favorite shows on Hulu and watch when they are available.

We also got rid of our phone plan, saving us over $60 a month and got a Magic Jack. We've been using it for a month now and have had no problems, besides trying to remember our new phone number!

Delaying Pleasure

April 6th, 2011 at 11:05 am

I was reading yesterday's blog post on
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Christian PF and a sentence in Craig's post really got me thinking. He stated, "...what they don’t tell you is that today’s pleasures becomes tomorrow’s burden."

This is so true. As Americans we have become conditioned to expect instant gratification. If we want something, we just purchase it on our credit card and we'll worry about paying it later when the bill comes. Seldom do we make ourselves, or our children, wait until we can actually afford (i.e. have the cash to pay for) whatever that new shiny object is that has caught our eye. We want it and we want it now! As Dave Ramsey likes to say, we have ruled out the ancient word "no" from our language.

What do we gain by waiting to make a purchase? Often if we'll wait, we will lose the desire to buy whatever it is we thought we couldn't live without. So many things are bought on impulse and then quickly set aside and forgotten. I have things that fit that description all over my house. Had to have them at the time, never use them now.

We build character when we make ourselves wait. We learn the lesson that we do not have to have everything right this minute.

We quite often save money when we make ourselves wait. We might find that item somewhere else at a discount, at a garage sale for a fraction of the price, or even decide we really don't need to buy it at all.

And we sometimes save ourselves a lot of stress by waiting to make a purchase because we don't have that burden later in the month of trying to find the money to pay for it.

Is there an item that you've wanted to buy lately that you've put off purchasing? What benefit have you reaped from waiting?

Fear of Change

April 5th, 2011 at 12:54 pm

Does the fear of change hold you back from taking steps in your life that you know will have positive results?

I've noticed over the past couple of years as we have worked at digging ourselves out of debt that others have stood on the sidelines and watched. I think they were waiting to see if we were going to make it, and see just what we would have to sacrifice to achieve our desired results. Now that we are debt-free (except the house) I think they secretly long to take the journey themselves, yet are afraid of the changes they will have to make in their lives.

If you want something different in life you have to be willing to do something about it. You have to be willing to be different from everyone else. As Trent Hamm says in his book
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The Simple Dollar, "Success comes from being different, not from simply repeating the moves of everyone else". Or to quote Dave Ramsey, "Live like no one else, so later you can live like no one else." We have to put aside the fear of change and take the plunge.

Our old ways of doing things are comfortable, even if they're not the best thing for us. How many of us know we need to exercise and eat better, yet are not willing to make the changes because of the sacrifice it will entail? Old habits are hard to break.

Change is a big step. Sometimes it's a scary one. But if you take the steps to get your financial life in order you are creating a better life for your family and could very well change your family tree.

April is Financial Literacy Month

April 4th, 2011 at 04:51 pm

Last Thursday President Obama proclaimed April to be Financial Literacy Month to encourage Americans to learn more about personal finance. Heaven knows the country certainly needs it! It seems to be a topic that has been overlooked in education for far too long.

Pennsylvania libraries have started an initiative called "Libraries and 21st Century Literacies". The five areas of concentration are basic, information, civic and social, health and financial literacies. I was thrilled to see financial literacy included in there. That is where my passion lies. I'd love to see every library in the state offer some kind of financial literacy class to the public, whether it be Financial Peace University or some other program. The last two FPUs I've taught have been in libraries.

I don't think we've realized until the past few years how little we know about personal finance. I do believe we're starting to wake up as a country though and realize that it's important to teach our children about personal finance so that they can better shape their future. I want to do all I can to teach younger generations how to manage their money so that they do not need to go through the same mistakes that we did.

What financial mistakes have you made that you'd warn others against?

Expensive Weekend (By Our Standards, Anyway)

April 4th, 2011 at 11:28 am

We had a houseful this weekend. One of our sons and his fiancee' came to visit, which also meant that the kids that live close were here too. Many mouths to feed.

I thought I had planned well. Friday night I made sloppy joes and waffle fries. I knew that Saturday for a lunch/dinner we were going to take the 2 visiting out to eat and use a gift card my last Financial Peace University class had gotten for us. I assumed that they would leave Sunday after church so I didn't have to worry about lunch. Wrong. We ended up with a full house again and no food prepared so we ended up ordering pizza and wings. Granted, it only cost us $40, which really isn't bad, but it was $40 I hadn't planned on spending.

Oh well. They only come home a few times a year so I guess we can spare the extra out of the budget. ;-) It was good to see most of the kids together again. That doesn't happen often.

New Job

April 3rd, 2011 at 11:24 am

I have not been working since the end of last year. I quit the job I'd had for 6.5 years because I was tired of all the traveling it required. I was usually on the road 3 days a week and really did not enjoy that in the winter time. I am a chicken when it comes to driving in snow. Since we no longer had any debt payments we could afford for me to be home for a while as I looked for something else to do.

I knew that I wanted to work part-time and wanted it to be close to home so I didn't have to drive. That's hard to find in a small town (population 2500) with very limited options.

I had briefly tried working from home for a company that contracts with individuals to provide phone support. I thought I was really going to like that. I worked one week doing that and resigned. The training for that particular job was not adequate. I still have the phone and headset so I could fall back on something like that again if I had to. I have friends that work for other companies fulfilling more of a switchboard type of role and they really enjoy it.

Last week I got an email that the library in town that is 2 blocks from me had an opening. I started my career in that library and they wondered if I would want to come back and work part-time. I jumped at the chance. I can now walk to work again and it will only be 1-3 days a week, which is exactly what I wanted. It will be some extra spending money so that we can go geocaching this summer!

Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap

March 31st, 2011 at 07:45 pm

Our MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group at church has been making their own laundry soap for the past year and some of the mothers were discussing it on Facebook the other day. They shared the recipe with me, so I thought I would give it a try. I picked up the ingredients today while grocery shopping but still need a 5 gallon bucket to mix it in.

The ingredients cost me $12.27 and the bucket is on sale at a local hardware store for $3.99. The ingredients should make at least 4 batches of soap, so it should last a while. One of the moms told me that the last batch she made lasted her 6 months. They have 4 small children so I'm sure she does a LOT of laundry!

They say it is an excellent detergent for high-efficiency machines since it is low-sudsing.

I'm anxious to give this a try!

Here is the recipe for those interested:

Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap (front or top-load machine: best value)

4 cups hot tap water
1 Fels-Naptha soap bar (Ivory can be substituted for those with allergies)
1 cup washing soda
1/2 cup Borax

Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.

Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.

Stir and fill a used, clean laundry soap dispenser half full with soap and then fill rest of way with water. Shake before each use. (Will gel)

Optional: You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons. Add once soap has cooled. Ideas: lavendar, rosemary, tea tree oil.

Yield: Liquid soap recipe makes 10 gallons.

Top load machine: 5/8 cup per load (approx. 180 loads)

Front load machine: 1/4 cup per load (approx. 640 loads)

Powdered Laundry Detergent- Top load machine

1 Fels-Naptha soap bar (or Ivory)
1 cup washing soda
1/2 cup Borax

Grate soap or break into pieces and process in food processor until powdered. Mix all ingredients. For light load, use 1 tablespoon. For heavy load or heavily soiled load, use 2 tablespoons. Yields: 3 cups detergent. (approx. 40 loads)

Financial Peace Insurance Lesson

March 31st, 2011 at 11:10 am

Tonight is the insurance lesson for my newest FPU class. I always dread this lesson because, though it's a great lesson, it makes me cry every time. The story at the end of the young man providing for his family is just too sad. You'd think that since I've seen this lesson many times that I would become immune to it. Not so. I always warn the class ahead of time that it will be a sad one and that I will provide Kleenex.

One of the members mentioned last week that she's really been looking forward to this lesson because she has insurance, but has no idea if it's what she actually needs or not. How many of us are like that? I know I was!

The Journey Out of Debt

March 30th, 2011 at 09:33 pm

Our journey out of debt began in December of 2008 when I asked for Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University home kit for Christmas. My husband begrudgingly agreed to sit down each week and go through the lessons with me.

I had been trying to work Dave's plan on my own and was making progress, but not as quickly as I would have liked. DH was agreeable to it as long as he didn't have to be involved too much.

It only took a few minutes of the first lesson for DH to realize that this was not your typical, boring personal finance program. He enjoyed Dave's teaching. He laughed at Dave's jokes. He even did his homework!

At that point our debt repayment accelerated. We started out with over $7,200 in credit card debt, $9,800 in a 2nd mortgage and over $14,000 for a car loan.

DH worked a LOT of overtime in order to pay the debt off as fast as we could. It was really rewarding to see those balances go down when all we'd been doing was watching our debt amount go up for years!

We now are facilitators for Financial Peace University and enjoy watching others change their lives as they regain hope that there is life after debt!