Proverbs 22:7

The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.

Friday, December 23, 2011

2011 Review, Ready for 2012

2011 was a season of ups and downs. The ups were good, the downs were bad. Suffered some surprising disappointments but finally realized it was God's way of taking a stupid burden off of me.

In May, my husband and I took a 7 day cruise to Western Mexico to celebrate my graduation from grad school (last December) and his bachelors (this May). it was the single most best vacation I've ever been on and I cannot wait to go on another one.

In June, we had to put our Tri-Pawd beagle, Buster, to sleep after the cancer that took his leg returned and consumed him. A month later, we adopted another rescue, this time, a bagel (basset hound/beagle mix) named Freckles.

In July, after 2 years, 5 months and 7 days, we paid off the rest of our 42K in non-student loan debt. This was a big milestone in our journey to getting out of debt. Since then we've been tackling the student loans with a vengeance, between 2 bachelors and a masters degree, we'd like to pay them all off in 5 years or less. However, at our current rate, that's not going to happen. Still wishing for hubby to find a permanent full time job.

In August, I started my own Mary Kay business, it's providing a little bit of extra income, but I have no desire to be the crazy Cadillac lady.

In September, I found out that I have PCOS....and in November I found out that I'm insulin resistant/pre-diabetic. Hubby and I wont be able to have babies until I get this crap under control. Soooo, bye bye pizza, fast food, and processed garbage. I started the eat clean lifestyle ( in November and have already lost 14 pounds. I'm "maintaining" through the holidays and hoping to really get focused after the beginning of the year.

I continue to be blessed in ways that I cannot put into words with the amazing job I have. I celebrated my 3 year anniversary with the company in October, and I'm crossing my fingers for some new opportunities in the upcoming year.

While I can't complain because God has really provided for us....I really hope hubby finds permanent full time work soon. We've made such financial progress, but these student loans are troubling me. If it weren't for the SLs, I could handle the household finances, and we wouldn't have anything to worry about... If you're an undergrad student reading this - PLEASE PLEASE keep/get scholarships, work a part time job and AVOID STUDENT LOANS.

As much as I despise the month of January, I'm ready for it to get here, because the quicker it gets here, the quicker it can be over. On my birthday a few weeks ago, I said 31 was going to be my best year yet, and I mean that. I've got big plans for 2012....and I'm ready to get started.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Black Friday shopping

Black Friday was not nice to my wallet. However. I spent only money I had, and I bought only things that I really "needed." I did not buy Christmas presents. I did buy Jonny a few new polo shirts, but other than that, it's was "birthday" gifts for myself.

I've been wanting a programmable crock pot for a long time now, and just could not justify buying one for $50. Yesterday, I got one for $20 with a $10 mail in rebate. Thank you, JCPenney! I also bought 2 sets of Store N Lock food storage containers for all the new healthy food that I'm keeping in my house. Whole Wheat Flour, Whole Wheat Pastry Flour, Flax Seeds, Quinoa, Brown Rice, Rice Pasta, etc. Half opened boxes and bags with chip clips stuffed half-hazzardly in my pantry just wasn't cutting it.

I'm also learning to can. I bought a pressure COOKER,  because I was told that a pressure cooker and a pressure canner are the same thing - and they are, but a pressure canner comes with a jar rack that sits in the bottom of the pot. Honestly, I don't understand why companies just don't make combined pressure cooker/canner for everything. For safety reasons, I took the pressure cooker back and bought a Presto pressure canner/cooker from Walmart. It was NOT on sale, and cost more than I really wanted to spend, However, I had a ton of turkey stock that I had to store SOMEHOW. I would have spent more money buying freezer containers, than I did buy sucking up the cost of the pressure canner and some jars so that I could put it up in my food pantry, rather than freezing it all. Plus, I can reuse the canner over and over again. I'm planning to can as much as possible. On the new diet, I am staying away from sugar, and salt when possible, which means its VERY difficult to find spaghetti or pizza sauce that I can buy at the grocery store. So I'm going to start making my own with fresh tomatoes, or start out with canned no salt added tomatoes and go from there. I made my own cream of mushroom soup a few weeks ago and had to freeze it all. I'm looking forward to being able to can the next batch I make. Whoop!

I also bought some black out energy efficient curtains for the living room, dining room and our bed room. Eventually we'll get some for the other rooms of the house. I got a great deal on these curtains at big lots. I found the sizes I needed in colors that matched the paint and decorations in the house, and had no trouble putting them up. I HATE having to use these curtains though, as I prefer natural sunlight. However, I'm hoping these live up to their name and will help keep the heat in during the winter and the heat out during the summer... We will see!

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Clean Eating - This isn't going to be as bad as I thought.

Alot has happened since my last post. I copied my post, with a few changes on some of the message boards that I read, and I got some really positive and encouraging feedback from some other readers. Long story short, I'm now on a path to clean eating.

What is clean eating? In short, it's not eating processed garbage that manufacturers and chemicals have gotten us dependent on. I have been downright furious this week as I've read more and more about the pre-packaged products that we as consumers buy for convenience, without fully understanding the un-natural chemicals that come along with it. I knew that going through the drive through for lunch wasn't healthy. What I didn't know is that simple kitchen stables like butter, cream of mushroom soup, and all purpose flour are processed in such a way that it's quite literally a poison to your body. No WONDER I'm FAT. No, I'm not going on a rampage to sue McDonald's, or anything like that, but I'm pretty hacked off at the thought that "typical" products in my kitchen are the problem with my weight and my health.... all because of the way those foods are processed. They have garbage added to them to make them addictive, to where you come back to it over and over, without even realizing it.

Okay, I'm trying to not turn this post into a rant, so back to the topic at hand. Basically, if it's not as nature intended it, I'm not going to eat it. That means no more macaroni and cheese out of a box. That means no more pizza unless it's home-made with home-made pizza crust - no, not crust from a mix where you add water, or crush from a can. If i want pizza, I'll make the dough and add clean toppings (natural tomato sauce, seasonings, and healthy cheese, etc). No more packaged cereal bars. My list of processed no-no's could go on and on.

In addition, clean eating requires only lean meats. That means no more ground beef. My alternatives are ground turkey, tofu, bison, deer meet, etc. Tofu, surprisingly, isn't NEAR as bad as I thought it was going to be. It has no flavor whatsoever, so it's not gross. I add the flavorings I want, and it's GREAT. I made ranch salad dressing with it this week. mashed it up, added a little milk to make it liquid-y, added some ranch powder flavoring, and it was just like the real stuff, without all the calories and additional crap added in. I bought some ground turkey at Sam's club over the weekend. I found that The Fresh Market carries ground $9.99 per pound! Yeah, I don't guess I'll be having a bison substitute for beef anytime soon.

Anyway, there's way to much to talk about with this. I'm working on making the change as quickly as I can, but not so quickly that I get burned out on the "rules" that I give up. Most of you know that I've always struggled with my weight. Nothing ever seemed to work. it was too hard, too much work, too much effort. If only I had KNOWN about the GARBAGE in processed foods, I don't think I would have whined so much before. Knowledge truly is power. Now that I fully comprehend just how bad all that garbage was for me, I truly think that this is going to be a process that I can be successful at. Yes, it makes me mad to think I can't just drive through the drive through and get a burger and fries anymore. Actually I can, I can eat that kind of stuff, in extreme moderation, but right now I'm so mad at the turmoil it has caused on my body that I honestly don't know if I'm going to WANT to eat a burger and fries.

I've learned alot over the last several days about healthy grains, cereals, seeds,  fruits, veggies, etc, that I can have. There are grains I've never even tried that I'm excited to try now. I've also become an oatmeal protein smoothie junkie. Oatmeal, peanut butter, honey, soy protein powder, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, milk, ice.... YUM YUM.

Weight watchers worked, but it was too much effort. This process is just a matter of learning, and it's really not that hard, at least not what I can tell so far. I bought Tosca Reno's Just the Rules book, which explains in a nutshell, the easy why to learn whats appropriate for this eating lifestyle. If it's got more than 5 or 6 ingredients in it, it's not clean. If you can't pronounce the ingredient (or it looks like something out of a chemistry experiment), it's not clean. Sugar has to go. Honey, agave, maple syrup are substitutions for sugar. I made zucchini bread today with no sugar, and no white flour. I made it using whole wheat flour and honey, and it was absolutely delicious. Not as fluffy or sweet as the last time I made zucchini bread, but it was a whole lot healthier, and knowing what I know now, it's worth it.

Not to mention that the EIGHT pounds I lost this week is pretty motivating. I know that alot of it is water weight, and my body flushing out the fast food and soda garbage I've been eating, but it sure does feel good to know I'm doing something right. I go back to the doc the Monday after thanksgiving. I can't wait to see what my weight reads that day. I'll have been 3 weeks and I'm hoping that he'll be pleased with my progress.

Like I said, way to much to talk about in what I've learned this week. 2 sites I would recommend if you want to learn more is and I'll write some more later this week about the financial hit for making this change and how it is affecting our budget.

Watch out, world, Manda's gonna do this, and she's NOT going to be FAT anymore. She is going to get healthy, and hopefully soon, there will be a baby in the picture. Prayers for me on this journey, please.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Insulin Resistant with PCOS

I met with a new doc yesterday - my OB nurse practitioner referred me to an endocrinologist because my lab work showed I had high insulin. After meeting with him, he says it sounds like Insulin Resistance. He says once diabetes develops there's no turning back and he wants me to really work on getting healthy so I can fight it off, since it runs in my family. He is going to put me on metformin, but I go in on monday morning for another fasting lab. Insulin resistence and PCOS is likely the reason we're not pregnant yet - because the old uterus isn't doing what it's designed to do: ovulate.

In order to fix this, he wants me to do 30-40 minutes of exercise every day. I think I can do this, just go for a walk at the park during my lunch break, since it's too dark when I get home at night now. That's what I hate about winter. He also wants me to go on a 1500 calorie a day diet. This scares me and worries me. I feel like I'm being set up for failure. I've never been able to stick to a counting calories diet. But I don't really have a choice, and I don't know how in the world I'm going to succeed. I have to do this or I'm NOT going to get pregnant.

I'm concerned because eating healthy is expensive. The convenience of the packaging of "heathly items" or buying in bulk and it not going bad before it gets used...or something like that. I'm too much of a nerd and I don't want to make excuses, but I feel so overwhelmed right now. This has never ever worked for me before. I did weight watchers for 6 months and while it was great, and it worked, it wasnt something I could KEEP AT. It's expensive to be on a plan that keeps you accountable. Hell, if I could afford a nutritionist and a personal trainier to keep me in check, I'd already be skinny.

One of the girls at work told me to look at it like the getting out of debt thing, which, of course, I CAN relate to, so it makes me look at it in a different light. but getting out of debt has not been easy, and it's not something I feel like I'm a success at yet. I still have over $100 grand (more than my house costs!) in student loan debt between me and hubby, and it's going to take years of more work before its gone and I finally feel successful.... I guess I just gotta look at eating healthy the same way. But it's not the same. As soon as I start to lose weight and feel good, I will hopefully get pregnant, and I'm just going to be fat again. :(

Yes, I'm whining. But I'm trying to get over the initial shock...though I'm not sure why. I'm NOT surprised. I knew it was coming. I just didnt realze that a 1500 calorie diet was going to be the solution. Deep down, I'm excited, though I'm mad. I'm excited because I know that if I can just quit being a baby and just do it, I AM going to lose the weight and feel better. I just gotta quit with the excuses and do it. This is going to suck. It damn well better work, though. The sample 2 week menu he gave me had alot of crap on it (yogurt, peaches, raspberries, BLEGH) that I simply do not like, and I'm going to have to find ways to substitute for things I DO like. Ugh.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Once a Month Cooking

I couldn't let October go by without making a single post....things are still dragging a bit like I mentioned in the last post, but I have a good feeling that we'll see a turn around before too much longer.

My newest experiment to try is Once a Month Cooking. the idea is that you basically spend a whole day cooking a lot of foods and freezing them for the month so that all you have to do is warm the dishes up and eat throughout the month. No hassle with preparation, no overspending on frozen casseroles and such from the supermarket. You can make these things yourself and pull them out of the freezer.

I already had most of the meat for the dishes below, but I had to go buy produce and things like dinner crescents, cream cheese etc. I spent less than $10 grocery shopping yesterday. Since this is my first month doing this, it will be interesting to see how far these meals stretch - how many, and it will give me an idea on how many meals I need to plan on cooking next month to make it through the whole month. We're getting into the season of soups and such, and to be honest, I HATE canned soup - I'm so excited about the potato and butternut squash soup recipes I have listed below.

So.....when I get home from church today, I'll be busy in the kitchen prepping these recipes for the month.

Please share any recipes that you may know which are easy to prep in advance. Thanks!

Monday, September 5, 2011

What's new? Nothing.

I haven't written much lately because honestly, I haven't felt like I've had anything new and motivational to share.

When we paid off the car, I thought that things were going to be easier. After all, the only debt we have anymore is the student loans and the house. To be honest, I just feel completely down in the dumps right now. We don't have a complete $1000 beginner emergency fund right now, because LIFE and MURPHY have been ticking away at the money we would otherwise have for that. Our first priority is getting the emergency fund built back up. Heaven forbid something happen and we need that money and it not be available.

We've got a list a mile long of things we need/want to be able to do, and we just can't right now. The weather is getting colder, and the holidays are coming. I am already dreading the seasonal depression that takes over every year when the sun doesn't shine as long.

I'm impatient. We have goals, and I feel like I'm at a complete standstill. I don't want to get into our long list of wants...because truly, they are all wants, with the exception of 1. We have 3 trees in our back yard that MUST come down. They are leaning and they are dangerous, and I need them gone before the heavy fall rain and winter comes and have them come crashing down on my house. The quote we received for that is $1000 and we simply do not have it right now....

The Mary Kay business is going fact, much better than I initially imagined, though I've still not been able to give myself a paycheck yet. The money I make I'm still reinvesting in more product. I just need to wait this out, and do the best I can so that eventually I'll be able to have extra money as a result of the business. The good news is I'm not sinking any extra money into it... so it's not costing me anything more than my initial start up cost. However, it sure will be nice when I can finally give myself a paycheck to throw at debt and/or save for big purchases that we need to take care of.

So... to my readers, I'm sorry I haven't written much lately. I realize that this is a part of the process...there will be lag times that aren't as productive as others, but I feel rather useless during these lag times. I hope something big will happen soon to help re-energize us to push towards our remaining goals.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

I'm on a mission to never buy a razor blade ever again.

No, I'm not becoming a hippie and planning to never shave. I'm just tired of buying razors because they are so expensive!

Razor blades are one of the few things we have remained "brand loyal" to. I've been buying the Gillette Fusion blades in bulk at Sams Club for as long as I can remember simply because they come out to about $2.63 per blade, and unfortunately, even with coupons and sales I rarely have been able to find them for a cheaper price anywhere else. Additionally, my bald husband shaves his head every other day, and there is a specific kind of blade that he prefers - HeadBlade, which is difficult to find. Sometimes I can find them at Publix, but usually I buy them at He goes through a Gillette blade every 6 days, and a HeadBlade blade every 10. I buy Gillette blades in packs of 16 and HeadBlade blades in packs of 4 (I buy 2), and they both last us about 2 1/2 months. That's almost $60 every 2 1/2 months for razors. I am just TIRED of spending that kind of money.

**Grumble Grumble** I didn't realize until doing the math to write this blog just how BAD it was. I thought I was buying them every 3-4 months. Crrraaaaaaaaaaaaaaap.

About 2-3 weeks ago, we stocked up on blades....and then I found this. I wont be buying the Razor Pro, but I'll probably go with the blow dryer approach since it's a product I already have. I do recommend that you click the link for the Razor Pro, to watch the video on how razor blades break down from being wet with water. Also, if you read the comments posted, one person mentioned leaving the blade in a cup of baby oil between uses. I may try that too, because it seems to me that baby oil would protect the blade more than simply drying the blade would.

I don't know if this works, but Clark Howard swears that he's been using the same $0.17 razor blade for 2 YEARS now. I'm gonna give it a try. I'm tired of spending an average of $20+ a month on razor blades between the hubby and I. I could do a whole heck of a lot with an extra $20 a month if we can make this work. It's just going to be a matter of making it habit to take care of the blades properly.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Yes, it's real.

It's come to my attention that there are some people who doubt the progress we've made in our journey to debt freedom. Let me address some of the comments I've heard.

I was NOT born into money. I did not grow up with a silver spoon in my mouth. I didn't get everything I always wanted, but my parents knew how to give me what I NEEDED - you know, basic necessities. And yes, this included after school activities to keep my butt busy enough to prevent me from having time to become a troublemaker. Band, softball, and Girl Scouts = a child who doesn't get wrapped up with the wrong crowd and potentially damage the rest of her life with drugs, a baby as a teenager or an addiction or some other kind of garbage.

We have NOT been mooching off my parents for the last 2 1/2 years. They are NOT the reason we've paid off $42K in debt. Well, I take that back. They've supported us. They've been cheerleaders. They tell us how proud they are of us because we are taking this action now, rather than getting so far in debt that we struggle the rest of our adult lives. We've paid off $42K in debt by the grace of God's mercies, and our willingness to be taught and disciplined. So YEAH, it is a BIG deal. The last time my dad gave me money was a $100 bill to buy gas for my car and to pay my electricity bill my junior year in college. It was the most humiliating, and yet humbling experience ever, and I vowed I'd never put myself in a position to ask them for money ever again.

I joined the military 3 weeks shy of my 19th birthday. My parents didn't pay for my first cell phone, I did. My parents didn't pay for my car insurance, I did. Except for a few extenuating circumstances, I became independent the day I left for boot camp. After boot camp, I was mortified by my high school friends whose mommy's and daddy's were paying for their cell phone, car, gas, insurance, etc. Sure, they were college students, but their parents were holding money over their head. I joined the military to build my own independence. I didn't want my parents having to "take care" of their legally-an-adult child who should have been responsible enough to pay for her own cell phone bill. Sure, as I mentioned, I had a few hiccups in my early twenties, but the majority of the help my parents gave me was the discipline to take care of myself.

If you're a college student reading this's up to you whether you take offense to this. I have my opinions on this subject, which may differ to yours. I personally feel that if you need a phone, you should be able to pay for it yourself. If you need a car, you should be able to pay for it, the gas, and the insurance yourself. It's the lesson that comes behind paying for these "necessities" on your own. You will appreciate these items more when your own money pays for it, rather than it being handed to you. If you disagree, so be it.

At any rate, it completely makes sense now. NO WONDER our accomplishments havn't meant jack squat to some of you, and haven't made the slightest bit of impact in your lives. You don't take our accomplishments seriously, because you think we're lying about the progress we've made. Well, maybe lying isn't the correct word. Over-exaggerating, perhaps? Do you think we're making a big deal out of something that's not really a big deal because we haven't really done the work? After all, it's just not possible for a couple to pay off $42K in 2 1/2 years when only one of them is working full time. Actually, you would be wrong, because it's very possible. It called discipline. It's called giving up CRAP that's not important. It's called planning your grocery and shopping trips, and not shopping on a whim. It's called a BUDGET. It's called responsibility. We screwed around and got into debt, but now we're trying to make it right. Who are you to knock us down for trying to make something better of our lives?

Sunday, July 31, 2011

2 years, 5 months and 7 days later....

We paid the car off on Friday, 7/29/11. I don't think it's quite sunk in yet. This was a HUGE milestone for us, as it's now one less thing for us to have to worry about. We've had a couple of Negative Nellys who were trying to discourage us, but as Dave says, if we're being made fun of, then we're doing something right.

However, with this accomplishment, we reach a "hurry up and wait" point. Jonny's school plans for his CPA test prep have changed once more...hopefully for the final time this time. The latest plan is that he's going to take his final 4 classes this Fall to meet the 150 credit hours he needed to get his CPA license. Originally he was going to wait until Spring to take those classes, due to a particular elective being offered. He was able to get into another class in its place for the Fall. So now the new plan is that in the Spring he'll begin taking the 4 parts of the CPA exam.

He's taking classes at night, so he'll have the availability to take on a full time regular working hours job, IF he can find one. He still hasn't been able to find anything more permanent. We are fairly certain though, that his current employer will keep him through December, but once he's done with Fall classes, if he hasn't gotten something else lined up, then he's not going to have an income anymore. This is a worst case scenario that I really REALLY hope doesn't happen. Since is is a possibility, though, this means we HAVE to temporarily halt the baby steps and build up as much cash as possible. We are entering Storm Clouds mode. Why? Because my income alone is not enough to cover our regular expenses plus student loan payments. If we didn't have the student loans, my income would cover our basic living expenses. But because off the student loans, we don't have the luxury of being a 1 income only family.

So....for the next 5 months, we're going to follow our written budget, pay the minimums on the student loans, and anything extra at the end that would "normally" be applied as a snowball payment to the student loan, is going to be put into our emergency fund. This will cover us so that if we have a few months of him being unemployed, we'll still have a way to pay the bills. I pray though, that he'll find a full time job soon, and we can resume working the baby steps.

Until next time....

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Extreme Couponing: Sorority House Style (Part 5)

Yes, it most certainly CAN be done! Even though the table below has alot of red numbers, indicating that I was over the target budget for that individual item, the few green items held such a significant savings that it offset the red items.

I did take the paper towels from yesterday back to Kmart. The 20% One Day Event at Big Lots had almost all of the rest of the items on the list, including a better deal on paper towels, and because of the 20% discount, I was able to finish shopping today. The only item I didn't get was the Vanilla Scents, which I intend to get early in August. I think that I'll be able to find some Febreze room spray coupons soon.

Total spent so far is $206.93. I need to save about $6 for vanilla room spray, to account for tax, which leaves $38.07. I have been told that the chapter wants to buy a Brita water pitcher and some filters. I need to confirm if they have a pitcher already and need just the filters, or if they also need the pitcher. Once I confirm, I'll be able to shop for these as well.

Here's a picture of what $206.93 looks like:

Item Quantity Budget(50%) Actual After Tax Comments
Toilet Paper 104 rolls $36.00 $28.89 27 megarolls = 108 regular rolls
Paper Towels 52 rolls $25.00 $31.10** 4 packs of 15 = 60 rolls
Trash Bags 400 Bags $52.00 $32.04 3 packs of 150 = 450 bags
Dish Soap 12 Bottles $18.00 $18.63** 5 large refill bottles, 1 small bottle to refill and leave on counter
Dishwasher Liquid 24 Bottles $72.00 $41.34 330 dishwasher packs, slightly less than 1 per day
Bath/Kitchen Hand Soap 24 Bottles $12.00 $14.98 5 large refill bottles = 24 regular bottles
Magic Eraser 1 pack $2.50 $3.24 1 pack of 4
Napkins 6 packs $4.50 $6.48 3 packs of 200 napkins
Kleenex 12 Boxes $9.00 $9.63** 8 Family boxes = 14 regular boxes
Windex 2 Bottles $3.00 $3.89
Bathroom Cleaner 2 Bottles $3.00 $3.46
Kitchen Cleaner 3 Bottles $4.50 $2.59
SOS Pads 1 box $2.00 $0.82 Box of 15
Sponges 2 packs $2.00 $3.96 2 packs of 4
Rags 2 bundles $1.00 $4.32 1 pack of 18 - didn’t want the girls wasting paper towels to clean counters!
Duster 1 $1.50 $1.56**
Vanilla Scents ??? $5.00 $--- Did not purchase yet
Total $250.00 $206.93 ** Indicates over budget only because of tax OR bulk quantities and tax.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Extreme Couponing: Sorority House Style (Part 4)

Finding decent paper towels at less than $0.50 a roll is extremely difficult. I've been casually shopping prices everywhere I go for the last month. If you are payinmg more than $1 per roll, you're spending way too much....but to try to cut that price in half DOES make things very challenging.

Dont get me wrong. I DID find a 3 pack of Dollar General brand paper towels for $1.50 today, which was their regular price. But the size of the rolls were small, and they did not look very absorbent. I couldn't, with a good conscience, buy these paper towels for college students. They would have needed to use more to get the job done, which would have been wasteful.

Luckily, since I'm under budget on the other items I have already purchased, I have that extra amount to use for other items that it's just too difficult to meet the 50% of retail price goal. I finally found a GREAT deal of Sparkle paper towels at Kmart today. Regular price for 8 rolls was 6.79, which is a "good" price at less than $1 per roll. They aren't as high quality as Bounty, but it's a good product. The sale price was $4.99 for an 8 pack. I bought 7 packs for $37.38 with tax, or about $0.67 per roll 

I'm torn about this purchase. I know that it was a good price, but it still was not $0.50 per roll, like I wanted. I'm still under total budget, and I'm confident that I'll be able to get the rest of the items I need and not go over the total budget.

I'm going to see what kind of deal I can get at Big Lots tomorrow with the 20% off entire purchase 1 day special they have going on. If I can find a better deal, I'm going to take these back to Kmart. I'm sure I'll get a few more of the remaining items on the list tomorrow as well.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Washington makes me sick.

"Republicans are insisting they will note vote to raise the debt limit without major spending cuts; Democrats are refusing to sign off on cuts of such magnitude without at least some tax increases as well. Republicans say they won't sign off on any tax hikes at all, including those Obama wants targeting the wealthiest Americans or closing loopholes to corporations."

Washington really needs to go through FPU. If you don't have the money, you cannot spend it! Raising taxes on Americans should not be the equivalent of asking for a credit limit increase. Washington needs to make a prioritized budget, and if the program falls below the line of where the money runs out, then that program doesn't get funded. If you need more money to fund more programs, you need to find the individual equivalent of finding a part time job! Hiking taxes on Americans is not the part time job income generator.

Good job, Democrats, you refuse to grow up and realize that you cannot stretch the dollar any further than it will actually go. If you cannot afford it, you cannot buy it. Quit throwing a temper-tantrum and demanding a "raise" (read: increased debt ceiling) just so you can continue to give deadbeats a frikkin handout.

Republicans, you aren't much better. Have you no backbone? "Oh, well, if cuts are agreed upon by the dems, then we'll vote to increase the debt limit." Um, increased debt limit is needed. If cuts are made, then no increase will be necessary. SIMPLE CUTS are needed to balance the budget. Period. No tax increase, no increased debt.

Dumb politicians.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

"I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up"

Behold, a post on a message board I frequent.

I am 28 years old, male
married, 3 kids (3, 21 months, 1 month) 
I was active duty military 
now I am in the reserves 
I am full time in seminary (masters level theological education) 
we live off the GI bill, monthly drill pay, and what I make part-time working security about 2,100/month 
I have 2.5 years left of the GI bill, after that I have no idea what I am going to do 
I have never prepared, pursued, or interviewed for a "real job" 
I am interested in real estate 
I have no idea what I will do in 2.5 years

After several questions and responses from other users, we find out that this guy has no desire whatsoever to be a pastor. Mmmkay, so why are you in masters level seminary? His response was

my entering seminary was a condition for me to get out of the Army early 
I am a chaplain candidate in the Army Reserve 
at the completion of my degree I will be qualified to be a US Army Chaplain 
if I do that I would most likely join the Reserves 
I still need a "9-5" 
I have no interest in becoming a "pastor"

My first thought was that this guy, bless his heart, found a way to scam his way out of his military obligation early. But I think there's a hole in his story somewhere, because usually to qualify for those kind of programs, you have to commit to serving a certain amount of time. I mean, I got out of the Navy 3 months early so I could start college in August rather than having to wait until January, but it wasn't on the wings of a special program to make me more valuable to the navy.... it just saved them 3 months worth of giving me a paycheck when my ship was decommissioning and they would have placed me somewhere temporarily anyway.

But besides all of that....I'm really interested in the fact that this guy is living on/using his GIBill to learn a skill trade that he *might* only use 1 weekend a month. That would be fine and good if you could live off the army reserves paycheck you would earn, but last time I checked, a reservist paycheck is only a few hundred bucks, depending on your rank. Why in the world would you fluff around for 2.5 years to learn a trade you have no desire to use, when you could be using that time to learn skills that will help you support your family in the long run?

This is not the first time I've heard of a veteran who didn't use his benefits wisely. Sure, he served, he earned it and can use it how he sees fit, but he's going to be in for a reality shock if he doesn't figure out what he wants to be when he grows up.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Extreme Couponing: Sorority House Style (Part 3)

I picked up dishwasher pacs and trash bags at Sams Club tonight. I looked over the weekend at the prices at Target and Dollar General for these items, and thought I was going to get a pretty decent deal if I had gone with either of those options. However, Sam's Club had the best deal in the end.

My budget for trash bags was $52.00 for 400 bags, which calculates out to $0.13 per bag. At Target, I found a way to get drawstring bags for $0.11 each, or tie flap bags for just under $0.07 each. I was told to go for best value, but I had to get a second opinion before I did anything else. For me personally, best value trash bags = least expensive. On the other hand, a college student may think the best value includes the convenience of drawstrings. After consulting with my contact, I was told to do whatever I felt was best....

Today, I got lucky. I went to Sams Club to check out the prices. They had their store brand, Members Mark, drawstring trash bags in packs of 150, for $10.68 (after tax). This came out to $0.071 per bag. I figured that THIS was the best value. Drawstring bags at the approximate price I had found for the tie flap bags. Yeah, they aren't name brand, but for goodness sake, it's trash bags. I bought 3 packages for a total of $32.04 after tax.

The next item I bought was dishwasher packs. The list originally asked for the dishwasher liquid that you squirt into the compartment. I personally do not like this liquid because I think it's easy to become wasteful with it, annnnnd, it's way over priced. So I decided to go with dishwasher packs. I estimated that the dishwasher would need to be run once per day. This may need to be re-evaluated, but for purposes of shopping, I had a goal of purchasing around 365 packs.

I had a budget of $72.00 for dishwasher liquid. I converted this to the packs so $72/365 packs = $0.19 per pack. This is the low side of "normal" retail price. The Finish brand packs run about $0.19 each, where as the Cascade packs run around $0.24 each.

Sams Club had Cascade in packs of 115 for $19.96, or slightly more than 0.17 each. This was under budget, but I wanted to do better. Finish brand were in packs of 90 for $12.98, or slightly more than $0.14  each. I still wanted to do better. Plus, the advantage to Cascade versus Finish is that Finish packs are individually wrapped, which means you have to take them out of the plastic wrap before plopping them in the dishwasher. The Cascade ones go in as they are. I currently use Finish at home right now, because they were the most affordable option the last time I bought for myself....but I HATE the plastic wrap. I knew the these college students would not like it. Sooooo, I looked at the Members Mark brand, which was comparable to Cascade. Same type of packaging as Cascade, but came in packs of 110 for $12.88, or $13.78 after tax - This came out to less than $0.13 per pack. BINGO!

My only remaining dilemma with the dishwasher detergent was that I either needed to buy 3 boxes totalling 330 (35 less than the 365 I wanted) or buy 4 packs, which would put me at 440, or 75 over my target. I decided to err on the conservative side today and only go with 3. I can always go back for a 4th pack later if I need to. My total for 3 packs was $41.34.

So my shopping trip today resulted in 450 garbage bags, and 330 dishwasher packs for $73.38. My budget was $52+$72 = $124.00. I came in under budget by $50.62. Whoop Whoop! This under budget stuff is DEFINITELY going to help when I start going for the items that are more difficult to meet the 50% of retail target that was assigned to me. I'm working on the easy stuff for now... Will tackle those more difficult items later on.

So as a recap so far, here are the items I've purchased, and a breakdown of how far under budget I am:

Item Quantity Estimated Retail Budget(50%) Actual With Tax Final Comments
Toilet Paper 104 rolls $72.00 $36.00 $28.89 27 megarolls = 108 regular rolls bought
Trash Bags - Large/Tall 400 Bags $104.00 $52.00 $32.04 450 Trash Bags bought
Dishwasher Liquid 24 Bottles/365 packs $144.00 $72.00 $41.34 330 packs bought
Kleenex 12 Boxes $18.00 $9.00 $9.63 8 Family boxes = 14 regular boxes bought
Totels $338.00 $169.00 $111.90 $57.10 under budget, or $226.10 under estimated retail

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Extreme Couponing: Sorority House Style (Part 2)

Well, CVS was a bust today. The 30% coupon I had was only good on non-sale items, and the only other coupons I had to stack with were for items already on sale. Even with 30% off of these items, I wasn't finding the deals I wanted to find. I realized that the budget I was given is going to be difficult for some items, especially once tax is factored in, but I still feel confident I can do this.

To break it down a little easier so that I was able to determine if it was a good deal or not, I calculated the unit budget for items. For example: 104 rolls of toilet paper at a $36.00 budget meant I could spend approximately $0.35 per roll. Then you run into the issue of double rolls and mega (quad) rolls. The cost of toilet paper is insanely expensive if you don't have a goal in mind. If you buy toilet paper just to buy toilet paper, you may risk paying over a dollar a roll, which is ridiculous.

So after not having much luck on prices at CVS, we went to Big Lots. I ended up purchasing the toilet paper and facial tissue while I was there because the deals were just too good to pass up. I bought 3 packs of 9 megarolls (9 megarolls = 36 regular rolls) at $9.00 per pack (3 packs of 9 megarolls = 108 regular rolls). This was a total of $27 pre-tax. That comes out to $1 per megaroll, or the equivalent of $0.25 per regular roll. These rolls are HUGE. They are by far the fattest rolls of toilet paper I have ever seen. I'm enough of a nerd that I checked the number of sheets per megaroll to other packs of regular and double rolls, and this was definitely the best deal. My only concern is that the budgeted amount was based on 2 regular rolls per week, so this basically means that 1 megaroll should ideally last for 2 weeks. This is for the bathroom on the main level of the house, not the bathrooms in their individual rooms. Hopefully, it will last as it's intended. At the end of the summer once everything else has been purchased, if there is any money left, we'll re-evaluate if more TP should be purchased.

I also bought Puffs facial tissue - not Kleenex brand. This is another product that if you aren't careful, you will spend an arm and a leg for. The budgeted amount for "Kleenex" was $9, at 1 box per month for 12 months, or $0.75 per box. At CVS, Publix, whereever, tissue is easily $3+ per box, unless you got the generic cheap crap, which I'm trying to avoid if I can (though, inevitably, some items will end up being generics when all is said and done). I knew this was going to be difficult to beat. At Big Lots, there were some value packs of multiple boxes packaged together. The best deal I found was Puffs brand, large family size boxes. There were 8 family size boxes that claimed to be the equivalent of 14 regular boxes, which was more than the 12 requested. I argued with myself for a while if this was an appropriate buy, and I finally decided yes. The cost was exactly $9 prior to tax, but I wasn't worried since I came under budget on the TP, the tax wouldn't be an issue when I went to pay.

So, the total budget for the two items I purchased today was $45 (remember, estimated regular retail was $90), and after tax, the total bill was $ I was under budget by $6.48. I'm looking forward to collecting coupons and searching deals for the rest of the products, and will keep you all posted.

Hope you're all having a good weekend!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Extreme Couponing: Sorority House Style (Part 1)

What girl doesn't love to shop? I have been tasked to buy a years worth of generic household supplies for the Iota Theta Chapter of Alpha Xi Delta. The budget? $250.

I'm up for the challenge.

I have 2 months until school starts, and over the next two months I'll be searching sales ads, cutting coupons, and shopping for bargains to meet the requirements on the wish list, while coming in as far under budget as possible.

Here's the wish list:
Item Quantity Estimated Retail Budget(50%) Comments
Toilet Paper 104 rolls $72.00 $36.00 2 rolls/week x 52 weeks. Preferablely not Scott brand!
Paper Towels 52 rolls $52.00 $25.00 1 roll/week x 52 weeks. Minimum cost
Trash Bags - Large/Tall 400 Bags $104.00 $52.00 Daily use, wo trash cans
Dish Soap 12 Large Bottles $36.00 $18.00 1 large bottle/mo
Dishwasher Liquid 24 Bottles $144.00 $72.00 2 bottles/mo
Bath/Kitchen Hand Soap 24 Bottles $24.00 $12.00 2 bottles/mo
Magic Eraser 1 pack $5.00 $2.50
Napkins 6 packs $9.00 $4.50 Family Packs, white
Kleenex 12 Boxes $18.00 $9.00 1 box/mo
Windex 2 Large Bottles $6.00 $3.00
Bathroom Cleaner 2 Large Bottles $6.00 $3.00 For All Surfaces
Kitchen Cleaner 3 Large Bottles $9.00 $4.50 For All Surfaces
SOS Pads 1 box $4.00 $2.00
Sponges 2 packs $4.00 $2.00
Rags 2 bundles $2.00 $1.00 Can be donated old towels, etc
Duster 1 $3.00 $1.50 With wand/extender for ceilings
Vanilla Scents ??? $10.00 $5.00 Spray air freshener

A few clarifications I received after the list was sent to me. Substitutions are allowed. I know I can get smaller bottles of dish soap for next to nothing, and dishwasher packs are a better deal than the dishwasher liquid you can squirt into the compartment. Best value, best deal is the all around goal.

My planned strategy includes utilizing my favorite coupon website:, for deals at Publix, Target, etc, and also Big Lots. Because these items aren't food items, and wont expire, Big Lots will be a great place to check out if I just can't get a better deal with coupons somewhere else.

This weekend, I have a coupon for 30% off at CVS. I'm going to see what coupons I have for items on the wish list that I can match with the 30% off, to see if I can come under the 50% budget for the items.

I'll make periodic updates over the next couple of months as I find deals and when I'm done shopping, I'll report my total results. Meanwhile.....if you guys come across any fabulous deals you'd like to share with me to help me out, I'd love to hear it.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sometimes you have to just move on...

I really needed closure on this. And all I've gotten is silence. So I reached out one last time, and still got nothing...abso-frikkin-lutely nothing.

I thought we were friends, but apparently....I was wrong. Thank you, Lord, for the friends I do have, who love me unconditionally.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

What's your most expensive hobby? (Past or present)

I saw this topic on a message board recently. We all have hobbies. How much money have you sunk into one, and do you have any regrets?

The easiest one I can think of was my paperback book collection. I read/collected Nora Roberts, VC Andrews, John Grisham, Sidney Sheldon, Christopher Pike, Nicholas Sparks, etc. Libraries, psh, I wanted to own them.  I didn't normally buy the books brand new, I searched used book stores, but it was still a hefty chunk of change.

Yep, own them I did. Where they sat in boxes after I moved from my Marietta apartment in 2007, and sat in boxes in Woodstock, sat in boxes in Columbus, and finally, when we moved into our house in Smiths Station, I pulled them out of the boxes and started listing them online to get rid of them for whatever I could. At first, I wanted to save the books in case my future kids had the same book interests as me. Who was I kidding? VC Andrews, even though I read those in high school, were garbage. Filth that I shouldn't have read, and filth I certainly don't want future kids of mine to read. Nora Roberts was the typical smut novel, but those will always be around. The rest...well, I just didn't have room to set them on a shelf, and I decided it was pointless to keep them in a box.

I've sold quite a few in the last few months, but I'll be taking the rest to a yard sale at the church at the end of the month.

What's been your most expensive hobby?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Thinking about starting another blog....

I've been thinking alot lately about starting a new blog that's not necessarily about my personal journey, like this one, but something designed to be a benefit to others. I'm at a stand still trying to figure out the theme of the new blog. I want this to be a blog that can possibly grow outside the readership of just my Facebook friends.

I've been thinking about finances from the view point of a young military family, or a college student. 2 areas I have personal experience in, and two times of my life if I had known then what I know now, how much different my life would be. The problem is, I'm not sure if I can incorporate both of those and it be effective for both audiences.

If you fall into either of these categories....military (or family) or college student, or just out of college,  would you be interested in a blog like this? A blog about finances from a realistic point of view rather than telling you to save 25% of your paycheck when you can barely afford to put gas in your car to get to work? If yes, are there any specific topics within this theme that you would like to see?

If you have any comments or suggestions, I'd love to hear them. Thank you!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Continuing to look for ways to save more money...

Recently, we made some pretty significant changes to our regular household utilities. For starters, when we bought the house, we got ADT security. For ADT to work, you either had to have it connected to a land line, or they had to install a cell box for it to be compatible with your cell phone. With the land line, there was no one time fee, and the monthly cost was $29. The cell box was a $250 one time fee, plus an extra $13 per month.

We figured we probably were going to need a land line eventually, and we hadn't really gotten a feel for the house, to know if we had crappy reception on our cell phones yet, so we decided to get a land line from AT&T for $37 per month. It was more per month than the additional $13 was, but it didn't include the $250 start up fee, which we just didn't have available at the time.

Well, in 8 months time, we BARELY ever used the land line. And on at least 4 previous occasions, when one of us would try using it to call the other, or vice versa, we found that it wasn't working. When I called AT&T to ask about it, they said they saw no issues on their end, and that if they had to dispatch a tech, it was going to cost us an additional fee. WTH? Usually, we got the phone back to working after messing with the connection on the wall, etc etc, but I finally got fed up! There was NO SENSE in having a land line, that sporadically didn't work, to where if my house was being broken into, they had no way to call.

So, we discussed it and decided that we don't really have a need for a land line right now, we should just bite the bullet, pay the extra $250 as a one time fee, and pay ADT $13 more per month and save $37 from AT&T. So we did. Good news? When we called, ADT was running a promotion on the cell box for existing customers, and it only cost $142, not $250. Score!

Then we started talking about cable and Internet. When we first moved into the house, Our cable and Internet was $80 per month, 6 month promotional period, for standard basic cable. After the 6 months, it jumped up to $108. I knew it was going to, but even after it did, I was still irritated with it. So I called to see if they had any promotions, any way we could cut it back down. Nope, nothing. Would not even entertain the notion. The customer service, frankly, sucked. She wasn't polite, wasn't accommodating, and wasn't even sorry (except in a condescending tone). Pisses me off that cable companies have such a damn monopoly. They are the only cable company we can get out here. Our other options are dish, direct TV.

So after a post on FB, and some research, we decided the hell with cable, we were going to get a Roku box (one time fee of $100), with Netflix (monthly $10) and Hulu Plus (monthly $8). For local news channels, we'd need a digital antenna (got one for $90...but there are cheaper options available). The plan was to drop cable TV, and keep only cable Internet, which I KNOW that cable companies have the ability to do, except yesterday, when I went to make the call to do just that, The same rude lady answered the phone again, and with her condescending tone said "we don't offer Internet only, you have to have basic cable as well. We USED to offer that, but people were misbehaving and rigging their cable line to get cable TV without paying for it."

Well, damn, I thought. What was I going to do now? Solution? Eat crow, and crawl back to AT&T, who I had just cancelled my phone service with, and sign up for DSL only with no phone line (which they clearly have marked on their website). Intro rate is $25 per month for 12 months. After 12 months it's only $48. The cable Internet portion of our cable bill was $50. It's a faster connection speed than the cable Internet, and it's a great intro rate, and still a good regular rate, which I wont be hacked off about after the first year is over because it's still affordable. Instead of renting a DSL modem for a small fee every month, I have to buy a modem. Through AT&T it was $75. Yeah, I know, I probably could have gotten one cheaper at target or walmart, or something like that. Whatever, I fell victim to the convenience of buying it through them. AT&T had better not disappoint me though - this DSL connection had better work, unlike the sporadic issues with the phone line!

So, in short, recent one time fees:

ADT Cell box: $142
Digital Antenna: $89
Roku Box: $100
DSL Modem: $75
Total: $406

Savings Per month:
Was paying:
Cable TV + Internet: $108
AT&T Land Line: $37
ADT Security: $29
Total: $174 per month

Will now pay:
Netflix: $10
Hulu Plus: $8
AT&T DSL: $25 ($48 after 12 months)
ADT Security: $42
Total: $85 per month

Savings of $89 per month. The $406 in one time fees will have paid for themselves in only 4.5 months. I think it's well worth the change :)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Life Insurance - Lets try this again

If you have dependents, you need a life insurance policy. GET ONE. Don't let your loved one lose their house or starve because you didn't prepare for them appropriately!

Check out the article above.

Consequences of no life insurance are a NO BRAINER. If the breadwinner were to pass on, how would bills be paid? The article points out that life insurance is less than the cost of a few pizzas per month, or the cost of cable for the year. There's NO EXCUSE to not buy it.  Dave recommends that at a minimum, you have 10 times your annual income in life insurance. Why?

I probably actually should buy a little more insurance. The policy I have isn't accurate anymore, based on my salary. Hmmmm.....

Saturday, February 12, 2011


"Our members are important to us, and we appreciate your patience while this case was investigated. After a full and fair review of the information, we have approved the emergency room services for date of service September 15, 2010. We approved the emergency room services based on the fact that your physician instructed you to proceed to the emergency room...."

WAHOO! I only have to pay my ER copay of $150!!!!!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

So close I can taste it....

We filed our tax return this weekend, and in about 2 weeks, we'll be getting a refund of about $4K. I am incredibly thankful for this refund this year, but I know that in the future it won't be so big due to the recent tax withholding changes we've made. $1K of this will finish paying off the cruise we're taking in May for graduation, and $3K will go to the car. That will leave only $2500 left to pay on it, and I'm trying to think of whatever I can to scrounge up loose coins here and there to pay on it as I can.

I wish I had some stuff I could sell.... :( Maybe I'll be able to scrounge some stuff up over the next few weeks. Every little bit helps.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Emergency Room Bill Part 2

Well, I got the copies of my medical records from my dermatologist and called up my insurance company to ask them how I needed to go about asking for reconsideration. The person i talked to, Ko, was awesome! He was very very nice, and gave me the mailing address to the appeals department. Told me to do basically what Patsy said in her comment to my previous post. i wrote a letter, told my story, gave a copy of the medical records from my doc (which clearly stated IV antibiotics on it) and copies of the hospital and physicians bills.

So after I got off the phone with Ko, I called up the number on the hospital bill. The woman I talked to was a witch from the get go. She was EXACTLY what Dave commonly describes when he talks about collectors. She wouldnt listen to reasoning, you could practically hear her foaming at the mouth....and all I did was called to give them a courtesy "Hey, i cant pay this bill, but my insurance is going to take anther look at it, and I'll keep you posted." She said that my insurance had ALREADY looked at it and denied it, and I had to pay. This is where it got fun. I old her "No, I don't HAVE to pay, and I'm not GOING to pay. My insurance didn't have all the records they needed. I'm sending those to them, and they will review. I'm working on getting you paid, but I am not going to pay you." So she said "Fine, I'm going to notate your account as refusal to pay and we'll send it on to collections." "Well, do what you have to do, I don't care, you go right on ahead. I don't borrow money, and I couldn't care less what you do to my credit. Threatening me is NOT going to get you paid."

And I hung up. MAN did that feel good!

So then I thought that the physicians office was going to react the same way....but I called them anyway. I explained the same story - my insurance would be re-evaluating it. Their response? "Thank you Mrs Hicks. I'll notate your account. Just give us a call when you have more info for us." Do huh? Stark different responses. Amazing.

Anyway, I got the letter written, and the records copied. I mailed it off this afternoon, along with copies to my doctor and both the hospital and the physicians. At least they can't say they weren't informed.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Emergency Room Bill does NOT qualify as an emergency

I'm sorry, but a hospital bill for $800 from back in September when I had my staph infection does not qualify as an emergency that I'm going to drain 80% of my baby emergency fund for. Nope, not happening. I refuse to pay it, as you can see below:

Background: On a Friday in September, I started feeling what felt like zit on the inside of my nose, which was strange, because after being on Accutane for 8 months, I don't get zits anymore. By Monday, my whole nostril was red and swollen. So I went to my dermatologist. He said it was an infection of some sort, gave me an antibiotic and told me to come back on Wednesday if it wasnt getting better.

Well, by wednesday, it was NOT better. so I sent in to see him and he looked at it again and said that I needed to go to the ER to get IV antibiotics. The pill wasnt getting the medicine to my system fast enough.

Fair enough, I trust my doctors opinions. So I go. and I sit, and I wait in the waiting room. And finally they get me back there and the doctor takes one look at me, says "eh, it's a staph infection. you dont need an IV. We'll just double your dose of pills to knock it out and you'll be good to go."


Soooo, ER doc gave me a prescription for yet another pill and sent me home.

A couple of months ago, I got a notification from my insurance company that they had declined to pay the ER or Physicians bills for the hospital because their review of the situation determined that it was unnecessary for me to go to the ER. Well, sure. If I had known it was just going to be another pill, my dermatologist could have prescribed that. But HE wanted me to get an IV, and the ER had other plans. Therefore, since the hospital did not follow the recommendations of my dermatologist, which resulted in my insurance company declining the bill, who got stuck with it?

Yours truly.

How the hell was I supposed to know that would be the outcome? Thank you, health care industry. You suck. Oh wait, I haven't paid you yet. Aaaaaaand, I don't intend to. I'm gonna wait long enough that you'll be happy to get something out of me, and when I'm satisfied that it's low enough I'm willing to pay, or I'm abundantly rich and can afford it to make you go away, I'll pay it then. But for now? No way. Your screw up for not following doctors orders. I'm not using my $1000 emergency fund to pay for this, and I have other bills that are more important, and I need to save that money for a true emergency. It's just going to have to wait.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Tax Withholdings and Interest Free Loans to the Government

If you are like most Americans, you are probably terrified of owing the government money during tax season. From the time I was 16 years old, it was ingrained in me that it was better to let the government take out the maximum amount, and hope for a huge refund at the end of the year.

Well, those days are over. I'm finally done giving the government so danged much of my paycheck. I need that money and I need it NOW.

According to The Motley Fool, the average American gets back a refund of almost $3000 a year. That's $250 a month you could be keeping for yourself and using as you see fit. If you're trying to get out of debt like we are, that $250 a month will go a LONG way.

I posted this on a message board recently, and was surprised by the FEAR of some who said they would much rather let the government take too much, rather than risk owing at the end of the year. Uh....what? First of all, you can easily calculate about what your tax liability is going to be for the year. But even if you aren't convinced, you could open a high interest savings account, change your deductions, and sock away that $250 per month to earn compound interest for the year. One, you'd have all that interest built up, but two, you wouldn't have to wait for a refund because it would already be in your account to use, and THREE, even if you miscalculated, and you did owe the government any money, it wouldn't MATTER because you had set the money aside to pay them back! The fear is simply unnecessary.

Check out this calculator. You type in your gross pay, and your current withholding, and what your withholding would be if you changed it. Based on the amount of taxes that were withheld last year, and the amount of credits we qualified for, we could have actually claimed 8, and not given the government ANY money, and we still would have gotten a refund. I'm a little uneasy going that extreme this year, since Jonny will hopefully be working full time starting this summer, and our tax liability will probably change, so instead, I'm going to claim 7 for this year, and see how we look next year, and adjust when our income situation becomes more steady.

Yay for a paycheck raise and a bigger snowball to get out of debt quicker!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

End of the Year Stock Up...

I mentioned on FB a few days ago that I had some good coupons that were expiring soon, so I wanted to use them if I could find good sales to match them with. Here are the results (for simplicity i did not include sales tax - sorry):

Yeeeah. I wont be needing Toothpaste, Laundry Detergent, Toilet Paper, Dish Soap, or Mouthwash for a VERY long time. Hahah! And yes, these are all items I'll use, unlike some crazy couponers who use coupons just for the heck of it.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2010 Year In Review - Looking Ahead to 2011

2010 was a good year, financially, for us. When the year started we still had $28,513.17 in debt, which were comprised of 2 credit cards, 1 car, and a consolidation loan. Today, our debt is limited to just the car, and we owe a remaining $5,954.12 on it. In other words, we paid off $22559.05 in 2010, or an average of $1879.92 per month. WOW! As you all know if you've been following me for a while, our goal to pay the car off was going to be 2/22/11 - our 2 year anniversary since we started this plan. Unless something significant changes in the next 6-7 weeks, it doesn't appear that we're going to meet that goal, which makes me VERY sad. But, instead of looking at the negative, I must focus on the positive. We're in a much better position than we've ever been before, and 2011 is the year that we're going to knock this out - whenever that might be.

This year, Jonny is still working his part time bookkeeper position, and he's been hired on by Liberty Tax service for the tax season, which will be a little extra income as well. Now that I'm done with grad school, I'm trying to find something easy, part time to do on the side as well to earn a little extra money while Jonny finished school. I delivered pizzas while I was in the military...but I dont think I would feel safe doing that today. I could apply at fall back to second job that I've done 4 different times now, and I always leave on good terms, but my concern with Publix is that they would schedule me hours that I didn't list on my availability. I'm not sure what I'm going to do yet. I like having my evenings and weekends free, so I really hope I can find something I can do from home, if anything.

Well, it's time to get the house cleaned up to start the new year off right. Hope you all have a FANTASTIC new year!