debt debs

Personal Debt Wrangler – Had my money head in the sand – but no more!


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55 Reasons it’s Okay To Be 55

55I am 55 today.

Inspired by John at Frugal Rules here are 55 thoughts about turning 55.

  1. It’s a cool number.
  2. Freedom 55 was the super sweet early retirement age talked about when we were in our 30’s.
  3. Boy that 25 years went by real fast!
  4. I have one friend who is 55 who retired this year.
  5. My Dad worked until age 71, I can’t see working for another 16 years, myself.
  6. I never thought I’d be a grandmother at 55.
  7. But I’m delighted, I am!
  8. The body is starting to feel a little old.
  9. But the mind is still in my 30’s.
  10. Feel happy to still be able to enjoy doing lots.
  11. Even if some days, I feel it.
  12. I can still ride my bike.
  13. Even though I fell off it last year trying to run a yellow light.  #mybad
  14. Thinking about trying running again.
  15. If my knees and hip will cooperate.
  16. Maybe I need to think about swimming instead.
  17. It’s tough to go out in the winter though.
  18. I’m happy to have a fall birthday.
  19. Even though I don’t really make a big deal out of them.
  20. I’m happy to be a Libra.  It suits me.
  21. Even though I don’t follow astrology.
  22. I stopped reading my horoscope after finding out it was not encouraged by my faith.
  23. Didn’t really get a lot out of it anyways.
  24. I get more from the Holy Trinity.
  25. If I were to die tomorrow, I would be content.
  26. Though I still feel I’ve got lots more living to do.
  27. I would like to live with less stress.
  28. Good thing for shingles vaccine these days.
  29. And flu shots too.
  30. When I was a kid we aspired to have cable TV and no party line.
  31. Now we are back to having OTA TV again and rarely answer the phone.
  32. My University is still trying to hit me up for donations.
  33. Will they stop now that I’ve turned 55?  #doubtit
  34. Despite signing up to block our number from telemarketers, we still get a lot of calls.
  35. My husband can block them on the software for our Ooma.
  36. Ooma quality is not good enough for me to hold conference calls for work on it.
  37. But yet I can talk through my computer on Microsoft Lync to work colleagues around the world.
  38. I had my hair shorter for a bit.
  39. But it’s getting near my shoulders again now.
  40. It’s amazing how much growth you go through even in the short space of a year or two.
  41. And I’m not talking about my hair now.
  42. Sometimes you stagnate a bit, when you are going through a period of rejuvenation to prepare for regrowth.
  43. That usually happens around a life changing circumstance.
  44. Sometimes reading the thoughts on post secret is really insightful and you almost learn something about yourself with each one.
  45. All the time it is insightful.
  46. I’m so thankful for my husband and family.
  47. Even though I may not say it or show it in a big way.
  48. I wanted to be a veterinarian and then later a cop when I was a kid and a teenager.
  49. But I don’t think accountants are boring, after all.
  50. I still think the flat Tim Horton’s boxes are bunk.
  51. I wrote a letter to complain about them when they first came out.
  52. I don’t even think I got a free donut.
  53. I’ve managed to get through this list without talking a lot  about personal finance.
  54. I think that’s okay for today.
  55. It means I’m not letting my debt define me. :-D

55

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

debt-debsDebs’ Devotions #4

Favourite articles I’ve read recently a while ago:

Not smoking could save me over $5,000 a year — wish me luck ~ Quitting smoking is hard.  I don’t have first hand experience but I equate it with trying to lose weight and giving up your comfort food.  Financially speaking and healthwise, it’s a no brainer.

Why I Will Never Make Additional Mortgage Payments ~ okay it’s not a secret now that I like to consider other views that are contrary to my own.  It’s how I learn.  I’m a big fan of paying off a mortgage in 15 years after being burned by consumer debt and stretching our mortgage into 27 years but I have to agree these arguments are compelling.

Five Tips for Making Budgeting Fun for Creatives ~ I’m a colour geek (<– uh, ya, look left please) and Liz’s ideas are after my own heart!  Who’s says budgeting can’t be fun?

Debt Free at Last: Our Debt of £41K Has Been Paid Off! ~ Okay this post is recent and it’s such great news I had to share!  I’ve been following Hayley’s blog since I first started and she’s been a great inspiration to me.  Hayley leads by example and for those of us hurting from debt horror stories it helps to know we’ve got supporters cheering us on!

Thanks to other awesome bloggers for recently linking some of my posts:

Dan @ Our Big Fat Wallet ~Weekend Reading: Market Meltdown Edition

Myles @ Myles Money ~ Smart Money # 4

Blogger Classifieds ~ How to Blog Carnival – Create a Blog That Makes Money

Financially Savvy Saturdays #59 pick of the week which is very appropriate as it was the year I was born

I’ve been guest posting or featured here since my last Debs’ Devotions:

Cash Cow Couple ~ Women Crush Wednesday

Canadian Budget Binder ~ To Take or Not to Take Early CPP

So I’m excited to tell you that yesterday, Erin’s guest post here was featured on Globe & Mail site, Carrick on money.  Isn’t that awesome?  It’s so wonderful to have your work profiled on a large site and I couldn’t be happier for her.  I’m also happy for me as my traffic hit it’s highest at 980 views (more than double my highest) yesterday (about 725 unique views)!  How’s that for a nice birthday present?!


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7 Financial Lessons Learned from My Parents’ Debt

I am very happy to have a guest post from one of my blogging friends, Erin from Journey to Saving.  I’ve mentioned before about how I worried about the impact that our financial bad habits have had on our kids.  Erin shares her story about this below.

financial-lessons-learnedI am no stranger to debt. While I have only personally experienced student loan debt, consumer debt came knocking on my family’s door decades ago, and nearly destroyed us.

Debs is very open in sharing her mistakes and experiences when it comes to debt and her own family, so that others can learn from her. It’s for that reason I only thought it fitting to share my own story here, with all of you, along with some of the lessons I’ve learned from my parents’ debt.

Debt is a common enemy of ours, and even though it brings dark and trying days, I’ve been able to get a few things out of it after starting on my own financial journey. After reading this post, I hope you’ll be able to as well.

The Beginning

It all started when I was 7. My dad had been laid off. I suddenly began hearing the word “No” much more often, accompanied by frustration at the predicament we found ourselves in.

My 7-year-old brain didn’t comprehend this as I can now, but I knew enough to be scared. What will this mean for us? I often wondered, especially after hearing my parents speak in hushed tones.

Bits and pieces made their way to my ears: losing home, can’t afford, might not recover, and can’t keep this up, were just a few phrases that clued me in to what was happening.

The real warning sign was that my lovely grandma was showing up at our house more often, always with food and household products in tow. It was as if we didn’t have to go grocery shopping anymore!

My childhood self was more than a little naive, thinking my grandma was stopping by just to spoil me with goodies. While that was part of the visit, something deeper was going on, as I saw her attempt to hand my mom cash several times. My mom usually refused.

Thankfully, my family recovered in about two years. My dad worked part-time until he found a full-time position, which put us in a better place. On top of that, my mom began to work full-time once I turned 13.

We went on our merry way, and I was none the wiser to the increasing pile of bills that would slowly bury us in several years.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

financial-lessons-learnedIt was only at Christmastime that I was told money might be a little tight, but my parents always managed to get me what I wanted most. I never truly knew just how bad of a state we were in, until my dad lost his job again, this time, while I was in college. This time, I knew what was going on, and I wanted to run.

My parents had never gotten their financial act together. They had never saved, and they still hadn’t paid off their debt. I was angry at them. Why hadn’t they learned from their mistakes the first time around? Was I the only one that remembered those times? I didn’t know how they let history repeat itself.

What’s worse, my mom became resentful toward my dad. Without his income, we were relying solely on her income, which was only half of what my dad made. I should say that my parents were never extremely high-earners, so while we kept a mostly frugal lifestyle, losing my dad’s income was a huge blow that we never recovered from for many reasons.

My parents have always been prideful and unwilling to take “handouts.” As such, my mom shouldered the burden of making ends meet by herself, even when I offered to help. Likewise, Debs is the primary breadwinner in her family, and I know it’s not easy at all. There are plenty of mom’s out there who are shouldering this burden, and doing an amazing job of it. While it can be a thankless job, your children will grow up to appreciate and respect you for it.

To say this was a difficult time would be an understatement. I can’t even begin to tell you all how happy I was when we finally got through it. There were times I doubted we would. I took mental notes through everything, because I knew I never wanted to go through that again.

I wanted to make sure I could safeguard myself against debt. Student loan debt had been different in my mind, so I sadly didn’t avoid that, but you can bet I won’t take on any consumer debt after what I’ve seen it do. For that reason, I’d like to impart to you the financial lessons I learned from watching my parents suffer with their debt.

7 Financial Lessons Learned from My Parents’ Debt

  1. Save, budget, and track spending. Keep an emergency fund. Please. It kills me to know my parents would have been fine had they actually taken the time to save money. Because they didn’t have anything to fall back on, any unexpected expenses would go straight on the credit cards. It was a vicious cycle they were unable to break out of. My parents also thought they had a good hold on things, but I guarantee that a budget or spending sheet would have opened their eyes.
  2. Communicate. According to my parents, there was a bit of miscommunication going on. My dad believed that they were paying the cards off in full every month, when in reality, they were paying the minimums. This was because my mom balanced the checkbook and paid all the bills. I know Debs has mentioned a few times that she didn’t realize how bad things were because her husband was doing the same. Even though I handle all of our finances, I always keep my boyfriend in the loop. Your other half needs to be included.
  3. Perseverance pays off. I want to inject a little happiness into this post! I’m glad to say that my parents fought the battle and won, in their own way. They are still in debt, but they were able to retire and move to a place that is much more affordable. They purchased their house outright and no longer worry about a mortgage. With the sale of their old house, they were able to put a large chunk toward their consumer debt, and they now have a good buffer in their bank account should they need it.
  4. There’s more to life than possessions. Having a little less than my peers made me realize early on that there’s simply more to life than having the newest gadgets, prettiest clothes, trendiest accessories, etc. My parents never purchased name-brand anything, and they always shopped frugally. They’re both deal-finders. I got a hand-me-down car (from my grandma to my mom, then to me) and only replaced it once it was unreliable to drive. Even though it was a funky teal color, I didn’t have to pay for it, and that made it valuable.
  5. Experiences matter. I’m an only child, and many of my memories growing up involve my parents. None of these memories revolve around things, though. Yes, I can remember the gifts they’ve given me over the years, but what matters most to me now is spending time with them. No one lives forever. So the next time you feel pressured into buying something for your children, remember that prioritizing experiences is the way to go. They will thank you for it some day. Remember to enjoy the little things life has to offer.
  6. Keeping up with the Joneses? Nah. I never got the sense that my parents were trying to keep up with anyone, even though there were plenty of people around us that were clearly questioning our priorities. They were never phased by it. Sure, it’s a little sad to see people from college “living the life,” (or so they want us to believe?), but I’m happy where I am. I have a great boyfriend, two adorable cats, and supportive friends and family.
  7. Don’t give up hope. This has to be the most important lesson I’ve learned. My parents went through a lot in a short span of time, twice. Yet, they’re still together. They pulled through. And I turned out fine. Looking at my student loan balance can make me feel hopeless at times, but I know I’ll reach a $0 balance someday. Being in debt has taught me things I never would have discovered about myself, and for that, I am thankful.

 

financial-lessons-learnedI want to close this out by saying that things could have been much, much worse. Compared to some people, my family had it easy. I am very grateful that my grandma was there to help us through everything, because I’m not sure we would have survived without her generosity.

Don’t let debt take away from you any more than it already has. I know it can be soul-sucking, and that the journey is a long one, but you’ll make it through if you choose to fight. And I know you want to, otherwise you wouldn’t be here!

What are some of the lessons that debt has taught you? Did you grow up around debt? How has it affected you?

erinmauthorpicErin M. is a full-time personal finance freelance blogger and virtual assistant. She’s passionate about helping other millennials get started on their financial journey. She blogs about frugality, being happy with less, and tackling student loan debt on Journey to Saving.

 

PART OF

brokeGIRLrich


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Spotlight on Adversity

spotlight-on-adversityA new visitor left a comment on my blog last week so I returned the favour and visited her blog. I found out she was a new blogger figuring out her way in paying down 10’s of thousands of debt. Way less than me, but still enough that she said it would take her four years, on her income, to pay it off.

I browsed a few posts and in her most recent one she described, with very great excitement, her new strategy.  It involved cashing in $16K of her 401K investments and using a portion of it to pay down debt and about $6K for two vacations. Say what?

Her justification was that it would reduce interest costs by a thousand or two, and reduce debt repayment by two years. She was clearly very enthused having figured out this was a great thing to do, and only due to that I had some reservation about bursting her bubble. But in good conscience I could not leave a flippant comment or even skulk away and leave without commenting.

adversity-from-happy-placeI spent considerable time outlining in about 5 points why this was not a good thing, including showing her the formula in excel (she was also an excel geek) that would give her the future value of her $16K. I empathized that maybe this was news she didn’t want to hear.   I also coached that I was coming from a good place with my advice having been to the school of hard knocks myself.

She acknowledged in her reply comment that she would think about it. (Yay!)  A day or so later she wrote a post acknowledging my comment, indicating she reviewed my blog and thought long and hard about it and decided that we have different stories and my advice did not apply to her. She indicated that she was not a spender (there were some warning signs in her blog posts that indicated otherwise) and was from a cultural background that you worked until you dropped dead, so living for today was her priority. Full stop.

I acknowledged her post, and praised her for giving it careful consideration and also for the proactive steps she was taking to address their financial situation. However, I also reiterated that my advice was still the same, and added that if she decided to go ahead, please be sure to put the interest saved aside and apply it towards the debt, otherwise her scheme would be completely without financial validity and robbing her future for lifestyle inflation for today (although I didn’t say in those words, it was implied).

Fast forward a day and I went back to see her response to my comment and the blog was no longer there. I found out on twitter that others had commented after me and supported my position.   I gather the comments were all written respectfully and in as best a way of possible to point out the issues with her tactics. (I didn’t see them, but this is what I have gathered from some feedback after the fact).

So this brings me to my point on this post. Where do we draw the line in offering advice in the personal finance (PF) blogging world?

We Write, Therefore, We Ask For It

Why do we blog about PF if not to share our stories or get advice? OK, there may be some commercial motives for some as well, but let’s put that aside. We choose to blog about PF because we are any or all of the following:

  1. Passionate about it
  2. Have some experience
  3. Want to help others on PF topics
  4. Want to get advice for ourselves
  5. Want to get support for our situation / journey

 

In my case, all of the above apply. But I have to realize that not all are in this same mindset. In fact, I would say that said blogger was only interested in item #5, and when the support did not come in the way she expected, she bailed.

Does this mean that we should decipher the motives of each PF blogger and then decide how we will comment? H3LL NO!

First of all, you can have your perceptions about why they blog, but how do you really know unless they have stated explicitly or they have been blogging for awhile and you have been reading similarly?  This may be a circumstance where you decide to hold back. I’ve done it, even though I didn’t agree, but should I?

If someone opens up their personal finance situation on a blog, they need to be in it for options 4 and 5 above, in my opinion. Or at least be ready to agree to disagree and not take another person’s point of view personally. If you are telling your story but just looking for placating people to agree with every move you make you are not really helping yourself.  You are creating an environment where your tunnel vision may become entrenched.  Most importantly, you are not creating a place where people can discuss and share ideas openly and not fear of offending.  If you can’t stand the heat, then your actions speak louder than your words.

When Is Support Not Enough?

same-language-adversityThere are plenty of “rah rah, you go!” type comments in the PF community and I get that. I’m happy to get them myself when I’ve had a rough month financially. Particularly if you are a debt blogger, these journeys are tough. All of your money is not going towards FI. It feels like you’re still trying to get to the starting line. Knowing when to give a blogger a jeer up only and when to offer some alternative idea they may not have considered, requires some astute perception.

Praise where praise is due is totally warranted. Posts filled with comment streams of this can appear to be a little self serving. Meh, call me jaded but a little too much of that turns me off. I like a nice balance of thought provoking comments, questions, commenters responding to other comments etc. We are a community that speaks the same language, so we should be comfortable in communicating openly in a thoughtful and always respectful manner.

I’m always learning.  I don’t have all the answers (far from it!). But I may have an opinion and it could even be changed as I learn more about the topic. Therefore, I welcome and even solicit advice in my blog posts. I’ll also ask for this in comments to other blogger posts. I get it. I’ve made mistakes and may be unwittingly making more. That’s another reason why I’m here. To get better at this stuff.

We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know

Sure, spending less than you earn, pay yourself first, pay off credit cards every month are all basic concepts and learned quickly, but what about the tricky stuff?

Just the other day I left a comment on a post that got me thinking about a tactic I deployed to extend mortgage amortization period and now I’m wondering if it was a good move.   I’m also still navigating the waters of investments in my retirement portfolio and rely on many great dividend bloggers to learn (and BTW thanks for answering my dumb questions!).

If I write a post on something I am doing and you don’t agree with me, please tell me.  As I said, my motives for blogging are all five listed above. I think I would have a hard time finding others who are not welcome to dissenting opinions in a respectful manner. We’re not looking for disparaging and hateful remarks the likes of bigger media sites. Those comments are really not helpful and just point out the lack of self confidence in people in this world, but that’s another topic. In personal finance blogs, there is no point in putting our ideas, tactics, strategies, concerns and questions out there if we are not ready to at least listen.

What If Someone Is Not Ready?

People don’t just wake up one day and decide to be a PF blogger. They usually will have been reading blogs for a period of time, some longer than others. Often they have a story to tell, some experience on the topic, or it could be that they’re just sick and tired of worrying about their finances. They’ve hit rock bottom on their financial situation and are ready to climb out.

Call me brazen, but if the latter applies, I’m pretty sure those people, like me, are open to constructive criticism. We are not looking for support just so that we can repeat the same dumb mistakes we’ve made in the past.  We acknowledge that there may be times we are too close to the situation to see it.  All feedback will be considered and although we may not agree, or decide the situation does not match our priorities, we can accept this and move on.

stonewall-adversityIf every opinion is contrary to ours, we may feel outnumbered or dare I say – ganged up on.  This alone is very telling, and should provide all the more reason to question our motives.  The support will remain, as we find our way, or I certainly hope so.

If someone is writing a debt blog but not responsive to differing opinions, then I can only think that they have not hit their rock bottom yet.  As readers, we may suspect this, but then should we couch our comments accordingly?  I say ‘no’. We lose our credibility if we do not state our views.

The Need to Speak Your Truth

Now my views may be more in favour of MMM badassity principles or Frugalwoods extremes and yours may be like Fruclassity or even not that frugal at all.  That’s quite alright. Our goals may be different.

This is where we need to appreciate our differences, but it doesn’t mean one is right and one is wrong. It’s all from the point of view of that person.

Don’t write a blog unless you are willing to allow dissenting views from yours.   Be open to views that are all dissenting.  You might learn something … or at least help others who have stumbled across your blog.  We all make mistakes, and if we weren’t wanting to help, we wouldn’t be reading in the first place.

What is your philosophy on adversity on the internet? 

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Friday Jet Fuel #15 ~click to join in too!


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To Take or Not To Take Early CPP

take-CPP-earlyHey y’all I’m excited to be featured on two sites yesterday and today.

First @ Cash Cow Couple, Vanessa featured questions and answers from a bunch of talented and accomplished women in Woman Crush Wednesday (follow hashtag #WCW) and I was delighted to be part of it.   This is a one stop shop for some fantastic career advice and you don’t want to miss this!

Did you know Mr. Canadian Budget Binder has a newborn? While they’re adjusting to their new (lack of) sleep schedule due to bundle of joy baby CBB, he’s been featuring some great guest posts on his site.  Today I will go through our decision making process on whether The Irishman should apply for his Canada Pension Plan early, as in now.

Canada Pension Plan Dilemma

My husband just turned 62 and we’ve been in a quandary about whether he should take his Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) early (before 65) with penalty or not. We’re both still working and plan to be for the next 4 years while we pay off  a whack of debt.  Because of penalties introduced in 2012, the amount you receive if you take early CPP is less than before this legislation was introduced.  Let me try to walk through the peculiarities of our situation and how we reached our final decision.

Continue reading … at Canadian Budget Binder.
brokeGIRLrich


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Debtity-do-da! – Debt Repayment Plans

debt-repayment-plans

We’re #1!!

Our debt repayment is now listed in Money Smart Guides Debt Payoff All Stars and we show as in #2 position, but I will advise Jon Dulin after this post to move us into #1 spot, baby!  Yep, we’ve paid $160K in 2.5 years!! :-D  Go check out his list and if you’re on a debt repayment journey you may want to add your numbers to the list.  Nothing like misery loves company, I always say!

So let’s take a look at the numbers since I’m actually on time with my update to our Debt Repayment Plans.

debt-update

click to enlarge

I’m very happy with the consistent progress.  $48.6K paid so far this year – on track to pay my target of $60K and there’s a good chance we will exceed this.  Whether we meet the stretch target of $65K is looking like a possibility, but I don’t want to count my chickens as there’s a few unknowns which I’ll get to in a bit.

Debt Repayment Plans ~ Progress by Type of Debtdebt-repayment-plan

  • Timewise we are 41.3% through our debt repayment journey targeted to end May 18, 2018.  Our debt is 40.7% paid.  So technically we are 0.6% behind but so close!
  • This means our debt remaining is 59.3%, so we are below 60% remaining of our original total debt at 2.5 years into our debt repayment plan.
  • At right is the % paid to date by type of debt.

e-fund-20141004

Our Trusted e-fund

Steady eddy is fine by me, especially with how the year started out. This brings me to our forecast for September. Not sure if it’s because of back-to-school or what, but The Irishman’s income for October will be below our minimum goal of $2,400 / month.  He’s only made $2,200 in September to be paid in October.  He’s been quite busy the last few days so hoping it’s just a temporary blip. Of course, this is why I’m building up my emergency cash fund again.

Plan is to get it to $15,000, because technically it’s not only our emergency fund but also our property taxes fund which are approximately $5,800 and have to be paid in two installments in March and June.

Anyways, I increased it by $2K in September, on top of paying off $5.6K of debt above, so ya, hash-tag winning!!

Plan is to do the same in October but that’s not looking so promising.  We have $1,200 bill for The Irishman’s professional fees and with only minimum income, it’s going to be difficult.  Meh, I’m not going to get worked up about it.  It could be worse.

debs-devotions - MediumDebs’ Devotions #3

Thanks so much to the following blogs for linking my recent posts:  Dan @ Our Big Fat Wallet and Travis @ Enemy of Debt featured my post Credit or Cash?  Pick Your Poison in their weekly round-ups.  Travis is a big fan of cash, as are many of my blogger friends.  However, I also have many blogger friends that endorse credit, like me, mainly for the rewards points but also for easier expense tracking.

In retrospect, I wish I had conducted a poll on that post, but better late than never, I have one for you here folks.  Just for your info, I did a quick tally based on the comments left on that post.  If anyone mentioned that they use cash or debit, even partially (except for really small amounts of cash) I put them on the CASH side, and all others who use Credit and were big on paying of monthly (a must!) and getting rewards I put on the CREDIT side.  Totals came to 20 for CREDIT and 22 for CASH.  So that’s a 48% / 52% split.  Let’s see how the poll comes out.  Even if you already commented last time, please vote in the poll again.  Merci.

Last time I did a poll, I didn’t get a lot of responses, but that was in my early blogging days.  I kind of like polls, to be perfectly honest, so hopefully I can do more on here as inspiration strikes me.

Some favourite posts that resonated with me or were helpful to me:

Stop Dehumanizing The Poor, Homeless from Sam @ Frugaling.  I get overwhelmed when I think about the suffering in the world.  But then I think, I’m no good to anyone, if I let this feeling overtake my emotions.  I do what I can, and I pray.  Please take a look at Sam’s insightful post.

10 Bare Necessity Blogging Tips from Steve @ Kapitalust.  Still learning myself and I like to help others, so I want to share this with fellow blogger readers.  Go check out Steve’s Fluff Piece also for some fantastic photos he took.  So beautiful!

You Don’t Know Jack (and Neither do I) from Laurie @ The Frugal Farmer.  Full of inspiration, Laurie tells us like it is. Incidentally, Laurie was the winner of the Plutus Award at FINCON for Best Green/Sustainability PF blog , worthy of mentioning, just sayin’.

Can I Retire Today? Yes, but I Won’t from Jean @ Nearly Retired.  Jean is finding her way to retirement, like me, so I find lots to think about in her posts and including her FREE Retirement Readiness Assessment which was very helpful.

Scheduling a Side Hustle from B @ Banishing Loans.  She works and full-time job, a part-time job and runs a blog.  Seriously, that is a lot of work and I’m always looking for tips on how to up my game so I can achieve this.  Not only that, but B has opened a second blog Miss on the Money.  Go check out her first official post there.

Society Makes It OK To Te Broke from Kim @ Eyes on the Dollar.  Kim has a perfect everyday example of how some people live, but maybe don’t need to.  Not saying all financial hardship is easy to solve, but with some effort, I would think that situations like this could be turned around.

BATB TV: Tips to Save Money from Tonya @ Budget and the Beach.  Oh how I laughed and laughed.  Seriously, who needs Cable TV when you’ve got great content right here on your lap!

Filed Under Life as We Know It

Monkey-Butt-DepartsOK, that’s a wrap.  I’m doing Brian’s 31 days of Writing this month and I’m not gonna lie, it ain’t easy.  I was doing okay until last night and fell asleep on my daughters couch as she was putting Monkey Butt to bed.  He’s gone for ten days so I’ll just have to come and stare at this picture taken last night just before supper.

Tweedledum-TweedledeeThis means we’ve got our two grand-dogs for the next 10 days or what I’ve dubbed “10 Days of Misery”.  LOL  We love dogs but these two are seriously high maintenance.  The wiener (let’s call her Tweedledee) has a back problem and has to be carried up and down stairs and has been diagnosed with renal (kidney) issues after a recent sickness.  The black rescue (Tweedledum) cannot be trusted with free reign of the house as he marks his territory.  One whines for food (and she’s off most stuff except special kidney food and green peppers) and the other whines for us to throw his toy.   They are pretty cute so all errant behaviours are quickly forgiven. Nama thinks they may have a bath and hair clipping in their near future if she get’s around to it.    October is our dog sitting month.  Next week we have the neighbour’s dog for a few days and we have another neighbour’s dog for 2+ weeks after the grand-dogs go home!  Go big or go home, so they say!

Would you consider joining the Debt All Stars List?  Did you vote in the Cash versus Credit poll?  Have you ever dog-sit before? 

Part of

Friday Jet Fuel #14


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Credit or Cash? Pick Your Poison

credit-or-cashI’ve been thinking about how I spend and pay for my purchases recently.  Ignoring out past financial history, today, I don’t have a problem with credit cards.  We pay ours off monthly and can always be sure this will happen because:

  1. We budget and track our spending
  2. We set up the payment for the due date as soon as the bill is sent electronically
  3. We monitor our cash flow, so I ensure I will have the funds in our account when the payment is made.  I will not go into overdraft, nor will I go below my $2K threshold I must maintain to avoid $9.95 of bank fees.
  4. If, for some reason, our spending is more than usual due to an unplanned emergency spend (examples: broken appliance (we always fix first if possible), car repair), I will transfer money from our Emergency fund/Property Tax account which is sitting at $9K currently with plans to grow to $15K.

I like to use our credit cards due to the cash back we carry on both cards.  One is Visa and one is AMEX (for Costco, though this is now changing and we will have to pick a new Costco card by the end of the year – either Mastercard or Personal Capital).  Currently I have cash rewards accrued on our Visa that will be paid in November as follows:

4.00% cash back – gas & groceries $170.26
2.00% cash back – recurring bills & pharmacy $60.79
1.00% cash back – everything else $161.34
Total cash back reward earned to date $392.39

This is based on stuff I need! I’m getting more than $400 because I lived my life!  Granted, the card carries an annual fee of $99 + $30 for a second card, but we are still ahead more than $265 right now and probably $300 by November.

Some PF reads lately have acknowledged that credit cards have been a problem for them in the past, they’ve tried them again, and still they remain a problem so they have sworn off them.   Travis @ Enemy of Debt says Credit Cards Are Officially NOT For Me and I totally respect that.  If you’re struggling with what to do in this regard, I really recommend you read his views. There’s no right or wrong answer, but there’s a right or wrong answer for you.  [Tweet “There’s no right or wrong answer, but there’s a right or wrong answer for you. #creditcards “]

Brian @ Debt Discipline has just paid off his 109K of debt and blames their families credit card usage for putting them in that position.  Well it actually is due to overspending, but in truth, I agree with Brian.  If credit was not so easy to obtain, families wouldn’t find themselves leveraging the convenience for ‘stuff’ they deem as important or necessary.  They want to get some savings behind them for a few months before they decide if they will try to use credit cards again.  In his words “A credit card is a tool for a consumer, just like a hammer is for a carpenter, when used wisely can be very effective, when used unwisely can cause major damage.”

I was reading on Myles Money the warnings about credit cards to teenagers and students in his post Credit Virgins.  It’s definitely a slippery slope and fair warning needs to be given to those that haven’t been taught to pay them off monthly.  This is something I learned from my parents, never to carry a balance.  I was actually surprised to learn that some people thought it was the only way to build up a credit rating, to keep a balance on your credit card.  There’s a lot of misinformation out there.

So while I know the dos and don’ts of responsible credit use, it’s really spending that I have always had the problem with.  So I’ve been thinking about if using cash would  help me to spend less rather than using credit?  For me, I don’t think it makes any difference.

I realize that credit or cash (or debit)  has no bearing on how much I spend.   Having cash in my hand or wallet and handing it over, does not make me think twice about buying something anymore than handing my credit card over.  It’s like cash is just paper and it has no more relevance to me than that piece of plastic. They are both important, but one is not more important than the other.  I would reluctantly hand either over if I didn’t think what I was buying was (a) necessary (b) reasonably priced (c) in line with our spending goals.    So this reinforces my strategy to use credit wisely.  Then, I can use the once a year* cash back to pay for more of what is necessary, reasonably priced and in line with our spending goals.

What side of the coin are you on – credit or cash/debit?  If you use credit card rewards, what is your preference for type or rewards?  Does paying with cash or debit help you to spend less than with credit?

*Note:  Some cash back cards pay out more frequently.

Part of Friday Jet Fuel #13 and

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