debt debs

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


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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

brokeGIRLrich
travel-cheap


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Travel Cheap: Went to Paris, Skipped The Louvre

Today I’m super chumped to welcome Mrs. Frugalwoods to talk about a combination of two of her three favourite topics!  A lot of my travel has been on an expense account, so while not extravagant it’s not inexpensive either (plus there’s too much work involved – hi ho!).  The Irishman and I want to get back to doing some travel either annually or bi-annually, when we are financially independent.  We’ll be looking for ways to stretch our travel dollar, so I’m just lapping up the ideas and I rate the Frugalwoods as frugal travel extreme!  Mrs.  Frugalwoods ?….

We went to Paris and didn’t go to the Louvre. Yep, it’s another edition of Travel Cheap with Mr. and Mrs. Frugalwoods. I’ve talked about our courageous palates and willingness to travel at unusual times  in the past. Today, I’m thrilled to be here on Debt Debs sharing my cheapo sightseeing tips. Many thanks to Debs for taking a chance on me since this is my first ever guest post. Woo hoo! Hope it’s going OK so far; what do you think, guys?

Use Your Feet

Walking a city is equal parts frugal and the best way to truly experience the local culture. A decent map, a willingness to get lost, shoes (optional), and a sack-o-food are all key to personalized walkabouts. While I’ve shared previously that guide book restaurant suggestions miss the mark nearly every time, the walking tours are totes¹ fabulous! I recommend Rick Steves’ tours in particular. If I were a normal person, and not a frugal weirdo, I’d suggest you buy his guide books. But let’s be honest, you’re probably a frugal weirdo too and wouldn’t anyway. So, go ahead. Check it out from the library and photocopy the pages you need. We both know you’re going to.

Mr. Frugalwoods and I have wandered into the most interesting neighborhoods on foot and been fascinated by poking around true local haunts. Haven’t been arrested for trespassing yet, so we must be doing it right. Public transit is fantastic for far-flung destinations, but short rides around a city can really add up. Best to walk if at all possible.

If you’re an intrepid cyclist with a helmet in your suitcase, many cities offer bike rentals. As long as you’re able to safely navigate foreign traffic lanes and avoid offending locals with your spandex bike shorts, this is an excellent option as well.

Would you enjoy a brief anecdote about why walking is so great? Here you go: In Krakow, Poland we discovered the Krakus Mound. Contrary to what you’re thinking at this moment, I am not making this up. There does, in fact, exist a Krak Mound in Krakow and Mr. FW and I trekked around it.

The abandoned fort in Krakow, beyond which we viewed Krakus Mound

We had our photocopied map and a rough approximation of our location. We ambled through an entirely residential district for a few miles (lots of nice Polish homes and people staring at us: yes, hello, we’re just sort of walking through your neighborhood.) We came upon an abandoned medieval fort/castle/stronghold? in an open field and  tromped around for awhile. We then crested a peak in the field and beheld the Krakus Mound! Fortunately our guidebook offered a bit of insight–it’s a tumulus whose origins and original usages are unknown. But the book went on to note, in so many words, that not a lot of people bother to walk over here. Fabulously beautiful and, you guessed it, free!!

London was a favorite of ours, but let me tell you, it is hard to find a deal there! Everything is expensive. So, we carefully selected the sites we wanted to pay for and then enjoyed the rest of the city en plein air (that just means outside, but I really wanted to sound fancy ). We discovered that we could criss-cross the river Thames on foot via several of its multitude of bridges. This was a perfect method for seeing the city without paying for a ferry boat, bus tour, or a ride in the London Eye ferris wheel. We really are the worst consumers. Using our feet! The nerve.

Basically, Avoid Cars

Don’t take a cab unless you absolutely have no other option. They are, in general, exceedingly expensive and it’s difficult to know if they’re taking you on the most efficient route. You might end up overpaying for a meandering drive.

Renting a car might make sense if you’re headed to a more rural or remote locale, but don’t even think about it in a city center. The cost of parking, gas, insurance…. don’t get me started. On the other hand, if you road trip to your destination–like Root of Good did this past summer–you can save serious dough on transport!

Check out distances ahead of time and determine your walking comfort level. Knowing in advance how far you’re going will help avoid surprise foot blisters/situations* necessitating an unplanned cab ride.

*In Zagreb, I was wearing boots that I’d, uh, glued together following an unfortunate de-soleing incident earlier in the trip and my glue system began to break down. I took on a lot of icy water and, not wanting to cut our evening short, kept walking around. My foot grew increasingly numb and I eventually realized I couldn’t feel it. We hightailed it (still on foot) back to our hotel where Mr. FW (in a gallant gesture) carried me into a warm bathtub. Assuring him I could thaw on my own, he went on a quest for our dinner and returned with super tasty & cheap kebabs and a bottle of Bezalkoholno Kool Beer. In case you’re wondering, Bezalkoholno means “non-alcoholic” in Croatian. And let me tell you, it was not good non-alcoholic beer either. Consider yourself warned and travel armed with a phrase book.

Pursue Outdoor Pleasures

travel-cheap

Our front-row view of the Eiffel Tour as we munched our grocery store picnic

Hiking, biking, walking, picnics! Some of our fondest memories are of free, outdoor journeys. In Kauai, we hiked the Na’Pali coast to a waterfall that we swam under. One of the greatest experiences of our lives–and totally free of charge. In Paris, we simply had to see the Eiffel Tower. But, in lieu of paying something like 10 euros a piece to go up in said Tower, we packed a resplendent sack-o-food, complete with wine, and had a dinner picnic on the lawn facing the Tower. We got to drink wine, not pay a ton of money, and not wait in line an hour for the privilege. Don’t assume you have to pay in order to experience the riches a city boasts!

Free Days!

Scope out discount days at museums and sights ahead of time. Many offer a free day or hours at some point during the week. If you’re a student or veteran, investigate discount opportunities! Also, consider if the admission price is really worth it—I’ve passed on a lot of museums I felt were just too expensive. Know what you enjoy and don’t mindlessly go to every “must-see.” Conversely, some things are pretty reasonable and definitely worth seeing.

Bletchley Park vs. Art Museum #101

Unsurprisingly, Mr. FW and I tend to seek out the more unusual sights in a given city. While I love me some art, I’ve probably been to a hundred art museums. We seriously did not go to the Louvre in Paris. I’d been before (on a college backpacking extravaganza) and while it’s an incredible art museum, it’s just an art museum. Controversial! I know! We instead took a day trip to Versailles outside of Paris. I’m what you might categorize as mildly obsessed with castles and ridiculous displays of royal grandeur, so this was a must and, it wasn’t actually that expensive.

In London, we skipped the Tower of London (while a castle, it’s not an exciting one in my opinion) and other run of the mill sites. Where would some frugal weirdos go instead? Why to Bletchley Park of course! All of the computer geeks reading this just went “oooOOOOoohhh” and everyone else went “say what?” Being in the latter category myself, my sweet software-programming Mr. FW led the charge on this sojourn.

travel-cheap

A working reconstruction of an early-model computer called Colossus, which was built at Bletchley Park

Bletchley Park  was the headquarters of the Allied code-breaking efforts in WWII where new technologies in cryptography and computing were pioneered. I must say, it was fascinating and I even sat through the hour-long lecture on the origins of computing. Seeing as I don’t understand the current world of computing, that was love. Also, we were sitting in the front row (thank you, Mr. FW) and I couldn’t extract myself without crawling over four elderly English couples (who, by the way, were the only other visitors there).

In Nowa Huta, Poland, Mr. FW and I walked several miles (through a forest at one point) to a steel factory in order to gaze upon its classic Soviet architecture. Common for tourists? Definitely not based on the fact that we saw zero other people who weren’t steel factory workers. But, Nowa Huta was a planned Soviet city and we learned a lot just by walking around. It was a cheap train ride from Krakow and a priceless history lesson. Best part? The whole thing was free (well, except for the train ride).

We are all about going to places that are nearly impossible to replicate or visit anywhere else in the world. Hence, an art museum in London that boasts Italian Renaissance paintings? Not my cup-o-tea.

Churches: They Are Free

This is a universal maxim, except in a few rare cases (looking at you, St. Paul’s Cathedral* in London). Cathedrals of epic proportion and endless grandeur are free to tour. Bonus is that they often contain rare and priceless works of art. Remember all those art museums we skipped? Getting art-ed up for free now! The Sagrada Família in Barcelona stands out in my mind since it is still under construction. The ability to witness the craftsmanship that goes into these sacred buildings was, for me, awe-inspiring.

travel-cheap

St. Elizabeth’s Church (aka “The Blue Church”) in Bratislava, Slovakia

An incredible aspect of many European cities is that there are ancient cathedrals and churches everywhere you go! Mr. FW and I would often duck into a relatively unassuming cathedral just to warm up and collect our thoughts for a moment and, almost without fail, be blown away by the art, tapestries (I have a thing for tapestries), and statuary!

*Mr. FW and I really are consummate cheapskates. We attended a church service at St. Paul’s in order to tour it for free. We were deeply respectful and enjoyed the service. But, we also got to see the church for free.

Be Fearless

I leave you with this parting missive: Don’t limit yourself to things within your traditional comfort zone. Be open to new experiences, cuisines, people, and languages. Get a phrase book, learn a few key words, divest yourself of the tourist-tromped paths and above all, observe and do as the locals do. When all else fails, remember that someone else has probably gone before you and been even more of a frugal weirdo (that would be me).

What are your favorite sites and your best frugal sightseeing tips?

FrugalwoodsMrs. Frugalwoods blogs at www.frugalwoods.com about her journey towards financial independence and a rural homestead, which she hopes to reach in three years at the ripe ol’ age of 33. Until then, she documents adventures in frugal city living in Cambridge, MA with her husband, Mr. Frugalwoods, and their greyhound, Frugal Hound. She is a very serious financial writer and certainly is not humorous at all.

 

Thank you Mrs. Frugalwoods for sharing how you really enjoy your travels, and especially when it’s quite reasonable.  I totally agree about the artwork in the churches.  I had the pleasure to attend mass last year at Notre Dame cathedral and then spent hours afterwards seeing everything (and I gave in the collection basket! ;-) ).  Of course I like to stop and talk to people with dogs when I’m traveling too, and I see Frugal Hound is conspicuously absent in this travel post.  Did I mention I’m starting a dog sitting business?

¹Editor’s Note: I add to look up the use of the word ‘totes’ in this context:  From the Urban Dictionary:  “A shorter more convenient form of the word: totally. This word is most commonly used by teenage girls.”  I’m totes cool with that.

Part of Friday Jet Fuel #12


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Financial Mistakes of the Worst Kind

financial-mistakes-debt-debsThe way I handle our finances today is night and day to what we did before. So much so, that I even have a hard time remembering some of the financial mistakes we made. It’s probably because I push bad memories from my consciousness. It’s a coping mechanism.

So before I completely forgot everything, I thought I would try to document the things I do remember about the worst financial mistakes we made that got us into $394K of debt.

You read that right folks! So now I would like to walk you through things we would do over, if reliving our experience. Hang on for the ride!!

To read more please go to my guest post on Frugal Rules.

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Cutting Cable – Will it Payoff?

cutting-cable

Big A$$ ugly Antenna on our Roof

We’ve cut our cable and I couldn’t be happier.  I know I’ve alluded to our plans previously more than once and so some of you regular readers probably said “Enough Debs, when’s it going to happen?”

It took a little longer than I wanted because we were researching antenna’s and finally bought ours about a month ago.  Then we found out the cable company required a one month notice to cancel our service.  Grrrr  …. but still happy.

We paid the following for the equipment totaling $235.37 to replace the cable:

Channel Master Antenna  $177.39 ([$134.99 + $21.99 chimney mounting bracket] x 1.13% for Sales Taxes)
Strapping $18.49
Grounding Cable $39.49

So our payback will be in 2.8 months, assuming The Irishman works for free.  Not bad…. actually pretty good.

The service stopped last week and our last bill of $83.56 was received last week.  Score!

When we first hooked it up we only got 12 channels, 8 English and 4 French.

Then a few days later, after some research online about the location of the transmission towers, The Irishman went back up on the roof and re-pointed the antenna. Now we get 18 channels – 12 English, 4 French and 2 Multi language (English/Cantonese/Indian /Punjabi etc.)  That’s plenty, although the 3 PBS Channels are inconsistent and have poor signal quality.  Here are the stations that we get.

TV Channels

Channel
Station
Network
Language
Type
Comment
4-1
CBOTCBCEnglishStandard DefinitionDragons Den channel!
6-1GlobalGlobalEnglishHigh DefinitionBorder Security channel
6-2GlobalGlobalEnglishStandard DefinitionTwo Global channels but not sure why
9-1CBOFTCBCFrenchStandard Definition20/20 channel
11-1CHCHEnglishHigh Definition
13-1CJOHCTVEnglishStandard DefinitionBig Bang Theory channel
14-1OMNIOMNIMulti-languageStandard Definitionsome cantonese, punjabi programs
18-1WNPIPBSEnglishStandard Definitiondoesn't come through consistently
18-2WNPICreateEnglishStandard Definitiondoesn't come through consistently
18-3WNPIPBS WorldEnglishStandard Definitiondoesn't come through consistently
24-1TVOTVOEnglishStandard Definitiongreat shows on here I did not know about this channel b4
30-1CIVOFrenchHigh Definition
34-1CFGSFrenchHigh Definition
40-1CHOTDirect TVFrenchHigh Definition
42-1CTSEnglishHigh Definition
43-1CHROCTV2EnglishStandard DefinitionShark Tank channel
60-1OMNIMulti-languageStandard DefinitionDavid Letterman on this channel
65-1CityEnglishStandard Definition

So as far as selection goes, so far so good.  OK I do miss SLICE with shows like THE LITTLE COUPLE but I don’t miss them enough to pay $83.56/month.  The thing we do miss is have the guide displayed on the TV, so you can see what is on now and what is coming up later in the evening.  I found a site called tvpassport.com where you can personalize the channels that you get and see the schedule.

Personalized TV Guide

So it’s not ideal because you can’t see it on your screen, but I’ve got it saved on my tablet now so that’ll work.  So, in the end, so far so good as far as cutting cable goes, then I awoke this morning to hear on the news the following:

The CRTC, which is Canada’s broadcast regulator, is proposing a pick and pay structure for cable TV. It would allow Canadians to choose individual channels on top of the basic service. The price of which would be capped at $20-$30 per month. Service providers would be required to offer build-your-own channel packages, but could still offer pre-assembled packages. A controversial proposal would allow local TV stations to shut down their transmitters, a move that would not sit well with consumers who prefer to get their TV programming free over the year via antennae.

Oh.my.dog if they do that I will be so pi$$ed.

cutting-cable-digital-antenna

Home Hardware: UHF/VHF/FM/HDTV Compact Outdoor Antenna Channel Master 4228HD

debt debs thanks…

The following sites Young Adult Money and Money Propeller and Frankly Frugal Finance for featuring my posts in their weekly roundups!

Shout out to Jeremy Biberdorf who is looking to reach 400 blogs listed this year in the Modest Money Top Finance Blogs.  If you want your blog included, there is a button on the top right corner of the list where you can submit your blog.  It’s kind of fun to see the result of your efforts if you don’t get too worked about your rank.  So if you’re not listed, what are you waiting for?

One more week until the end of summer as we know it!  Enjoy all!

This post is part of

brokeGIRLrich
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Money Lessons in Marine Life

I don’t know what was going on this week but I can’t believe the number of videos I saw that were oceanic in nature.  Did you see them?  I do love some big blue ocean,  so it made me want to look them up so I could watch again (I originally saw them on the TV news).

They lead me to other fantastic sea videos which I loved so much,  I wanted to share.  So not to worry folks, if you missed seeing great marine life videos this week, or want to see them again, plus more, I’ve got you covered.

Besides, Discovery Channel is starting their advertising campaign leading up to Shark Week which starts August 10 so this will rev you up for that.  Don’t get Discovery because you canceled cable to save money?  Well then, you’re in for a treat.

But since this is a personal finance blog, I need to keep things relevant and that was not hard to do.   First watch the video, and then I will tell you what this video is saying to you in personal finance terms.

So we are gonna have a whale of a time and there’s even a special photo taken by moi that I am proud to share amongst this fabulous collection of videosl

Double Breach

Did you see that?  She took your eyes off prize just for a short bit and then missed the opportunity to see the complete double breach jump.  Um ya…., that’s like if you finally put your money where your mouth is and bought Apple (Disclosure:  Short AAPL ha ha) in March this year at $75 even though it was lower than $60 for a bit in April and June of last year.

AAPL-Shark-Week-money

Source: www.nasdaq.com Apple Inc. Stock Chart

On the positive side, she’s got it on video and with a selfie to boot!    That’s gotta be worth some money!!  [Personal note:  we took the same boat tour in September 2011 but didn’t see one whale]

Not Checking Your Money

Did you see that at 39 seconds?  Maybe it’s hard to see the whales, I dunno.  Apparently the pilot didn’t see it but only avoided the landing because of the antics of onlookers on shore.  I would have thought that in an area where whales are quite common, you would be checking for these carefully as you land.  What does this remind you of?  How about not checking your bank balance before you use your debit card so that you don’t go into overdraft?

Money Trickery

This was reported as a ruse put on my The Discovery Channel to raise excitement of their upcoming shark week.  Was it brilliant or slimey?  Slimey as in when you do your homework to check out all the prices on a new TV, decide to buy from one place and find out the salesperson neglected to tell you that the wall bracket costs extra.   Ya?  But then you bought the TV anyways, right?  I mean it is SHARK WEEK after all.

Big Problem

You’ve got a whale of a financial problem, it’s ugly and “you’re in the bottom of the ocean alone”.   (You feel like) you’ve got no one to help you, no one you can talk to, but if you can figure it out and pull it off what a story it will be.  Anyone else feel like that?  No one?  Just me?

Well truth be told, I used to feel this way.  Now that I’ve started blogging I feel like I have people to talk to.  Lots of people.  Thank you.

Money Constraints

Does your budget and frugal living sometimes make you feel like you’re on the periphery and not having fun?  It’s like you are looking at everyone playing, like the pelicans, but not able to partake.

Don’t let your frugal living put you on the bench.  There’s lots that you can do that doesn’t cost money.  I, for one, am just thrilled by all these on line videos I can watch  for entertainment purposes.  It’s not the money you can’t spend, it’s the money you choose to save that’s important.

Financial Wins

Witnessing something unexpected is like winning a prize or getting a bonus that you didn’t expect.  You can’t believe you are witnessing this.  You’re in the right place and the right time and it feels so good.

Celebrate small financial wins in a joyous manner.  They will happen, and probably when you least expect it.

Leap into Investing

You have a lot of built up anticipation before you finally make your first investment in equities.  You think it’s going to be good but it’s also kind of scary.  The suspense is quite real.  Hang on for the ride, but don’t get freaked out by all the ups and downs.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

I have a confession.  I’m afraid of big fish.  And by big fish I don’t mean any big fish, I mean humongous groupers.  Aren’t they the ugliest looking things?  Well after watching that video and now that I know they are an endangered species, I feel kind of sorry for them and now I think they are kind of cute.  It’s a bit like feeling sorry for the Joneses.  I mean, they don’t realize their money is going to be extinct if they keep on spending the way they are.

Mr. Pay Day Loan

Barracuda-money

Mr. Pay Day loan is courtesy of moi, although The Irishman will say he took the photo but I do think he is mistaken.  He was found off the shores of Cozumel while we were scuba diving.  Great place to scuba dive.  Mr. Pay Day Loan found some unsuspecting divers borrowers to lend money to and I caught it on camera.

Barracuda looking at food

Barracuda-debtdebs.com-moneyDid you see that?  Just in case you missed it I’m gonna show you again, fully illustrated.

So there you have it, all your money concerns illustrated by oceanic situations.  Have you ever heard the expression “You can’t fight the ocean“?  Well that’s true, I totally agree with that.  But as far as personal finance difficulties go, you can fight ‘em tooth and nail fin.

*Note:  The first three videos are the ones I saw on the news this week that spurred this post.

Linked to Friday Jet Fuel #2

 

Shoeaholic No More
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The Lemonade Stand Book Review and Giveaway

I was tickled pink (as in pink lemonade!) to review Shannon Ryan’s new children’s book “The Lemonade Stand”.  I am a new grandmother of an eight month old who has been reading bed time story books since he was only 2 months.  I now have a new appreciation for the power of the written and illustrated word for children of all ages.

The Lemonade Stand – by Shannon Ryan

the-lemonade-standThe Lemonade Stand shares the desires of our children to meet their own needs for play, their insatiable capacity to love and the want to help others.  It shows a way to fulfill those dreams in a practical and totally achievable manner.

Shannon incorporates her own girls, Lauren and Taylor, in the story, along with her little godson’s, who have not quite achieved the wisdom of their money savvy friends.   Ryan and Christopher have big eyes full of want as they see things on the toy shelf while shopping with their mother.

The boys do not have enough money in their pockets and their savvy Mom is not willing to indulge their every whim.  Lauren understands their disappointment and provides some hope that they can do some things to improve the situation all on their own.

Without, giving away the plot, although you may have some predictions ;-) , the two boys learn all about entrepreneurship, marketing, raw materials and associated costs and finally profit margins.  There’s a little math thrown in there too, for good measure!

What I liked about the book was the demonstration of self-sufficiency but also the wise allocation of the profits made against wants, future needs and charity.  Children can identify themselves easily in these characters, and in doing so realize they too have the capacity to do whatever it takes to make their dreams come true.

As a mom of four grown children, I second guess my past behaviours and what I have taught my kids growing up about money.  I probably could have done better, knowing what I know now, even though they’ve all turned out pretty good in matters relating to money and otherwise.

Shannon gave me permission to share ‘The Lemonade Stand” with my daughter, a new Mom who is also very frugal.  She liked the book too and in her words “it teaches some important life lessons such as learning the value of money, how to share, how to work as a team with others and how to save money for something you really want.”  All of these are things they hope to teach their son as he gets older.

Personally, I will be happy to read this book to my grandson, and given that he’s already standing at eight months, I think he will be opening his own lemonade stand anytime soon.  ;-)

The-Lemonade-Stand-Shannon-Ryan

Collage of Illustrations from The Lemonade Stand by Shannon Ryan – Illustrated by Aaron Kizer

The Lemonade stand is skillfully illustrated by a very talented Aaron Kizer.

How to buy The Lemonade Stand Book

If you are interested in purchasing this book for your children, nieces or nephews or grandchildren you can use the following coupon code (TOUR3114) to get $3 off the book at The Heavy Purse Store.

The Lemonade Stand – iPad Mini Giveaway

July 14-31, 2014

Sponsored by The Heavy Purse

As part of the book launch, The Heavy Purse is offering an iPad Mini giveaway raffle

Co-hosted by Are Ya Gonna Eat That, Broke Millennial, Budget and The Beach, Budget Blonde, Budgeting for More, Busy Mom Budgets, Cash Cow Couple, Cents and Sensibility, Club Thrifty, Color Me Frugal, Debt Debs, Debt Roundup, Disease Called Debt, Eat Laugh Purr, Enemy of Debt, Eyes on the Dollar, Femme Frugality, Financially Blonde, Frugal Rules, Living Richly Cheaply, Luke 1428, Making Sense of Cents, Money Saving Dude, Monster Piggy Bank, Not Now Mom’s Busy, Reach Financial Independence, Shoeaholic No More, Stacking Benjamins, Tackling Our Debt, The Broke and Beautiful Life, The Finance Girl, The Frugal Farmer, The Random Path, Thrifty Dad, VeegMama and Young Adult Money. Join Lauren and Taylor in their continuing money adventures in The Lemonade Stand by Shannon Ryan, CFP®.

Shannon is a Mom on a mission to help busy parents teach their children simple, value-based principles that guide their money decisions and support their long-term financial well-being. “Everyone handles money. Unfortunately, not everyone does it with confidence. Money has long been a taboo topic in many homes, which makes it even harder for parents to know where to start or what to teach. So I created a series of children books to help parents ease into these important conversations. Financial literacy is one of the most loving gifts you can give your children, and I encourage everyone to make money conversations a priority in your home.”

We’re Giving Away an iPad Mini to One Lucky Reader!

Help us celebrate the release of The Lemonade Stand and join Shannon in her mission to increase financial literacy in both children and adults.

The giveaway runs from July 14-31, 2014 and is open worldwide.*

* A winner located outside of the United States will receive a cash equivalent prize via PayPal. a Rafflecopter giveaway


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Debt Update and MVP Blog Award

I’m a week late in giving my monthly debt progression update.  Something else was going on last Saturday.  Oh yeah, I was finalizing my migration to self-hosted wordpress and doing a live blog.   Such is life.

I was also planning on getting this post done last night, so I could get on with a bunch of chores I need to do around here today.  But alas, I fell into bed at around 9 p.m., unable to keep my eyes open.   There was not even a drop of wine consumed last night, so I can’t blame that and I can assure you that there was none consumed in the making of this post – maybe a cup of java (or three), but I mean, what are lazy Saturday mornings for?

Debt Decrease

I’m a little disappointed in my debt decrease from last month.  Not that we didn’t pay our debt as planned, but it was because our credit card took a jump due to car repairs.  Anyone else out there hate those blasted car repairs?

debt-impacted-by-car-repairsI mean we budget them and all, but it’s hard to forecast (for me), the timing.  In addition, I think we budget too low an amount because it always seems to come in higher.   Like so far this year we’ve spent $1,742 on car repairs for two vehicles, but I think most of it was on the truck and I have budgeted only $120 / month for vehicle maintenance.  Actually, I just checked and I had one transaction misclassified in MINT for a oil change on my car for $71.30 and the picture at the left was taken before I fixed it.  This month we spent $1,150.03 for front and rear brakes on the truck.  {big} ugh

debt-paydown-debtdebs Ya, so like we’re $1,000 in the hole and that translates directly into our debt numbers I’m going to show you next.

I only started this graph last month so the actuals and forecast are tracking exactly from Dec to Jun.  It’s hard to tell, but there is a slight difference between the forecasted debt and the actual debt.  That is why I added the data values onto the graph.

Look for more variability going forward (or not!) and if there is some I’d prefer it to be on the upside instead of the downside as shown, thank you very much!

You see, we should always be tracking to our debt repayment or better unless (a) The Irishman’s income is way lower than our minimum target or (b) we have unforeseen expenses like car repairs > budgeted.  If his income is better, then hopefully we can apply even more to debt repayment.  At least that’s the current philosophy.  OK, my philosophy.  OK, now don’t get all philosophical on me now.

Detailed Debt Figures

Ahem… on to the detailed figures.  Our debt decrease was only $3,200 since last month which is better than our abysmal Jan and Feb, but not as good as last three months.  If I add back the extra $1K+ for car repairs, we’re still only at $4,350, which annualized would be $52K, and short of our annual goal of $60K, which we have managed to achieve the first two years.  Year to date, The Irishman’s income is only $1,100 lower than last year, so I’m not quite sure what the explanation is for the lower debt repayment and it’s making me a little nervous.  Anyhoo, I’ll need to stew about  look into this a bit more.

I know these debt repayments are large compared to what some of you reading this may pay in a month, but I just want to say it’s all relative.  Anyone want to trade an opening debt position of $394K with me?  Anyone?  I don’t know why I feel the need to justify this every time I put these figures out here.  Clearly I need help, or more money, or both.

Debt-Debs-Debt- Details

Click to enlarge

I’ve added a little metric which I think is quite titillating (see how sad my life has become?), which is the % decrease in debt from our opening position in March 2012 as compared to the % of time that has passed until our debt freedom date – May 18, 2018.  May 2018 is what my avalanche/snowball debt calculators are telling me, and I revise these every few months to see if we are on track.  So far so good (crossing fingers and toes).  So I picked May 18 since it is year 2018 as an arbitrary debt freedom date.  Time (and money!) will tell if we can achieve this date or not.  To be perfectly candid, my stretch target is Dec 2017, but at this juncture that is looking really stretched!  So you can see that we are 36.5% paid off but we should be at 37%.  Missed it by that much!  Quoting Don Adams from GET SMART!    Time for a video.

Who reading is old enough to remember Get Smart? I couldn’t find one with him quoting that line, but the cone of silence has always been a favourite and is used in my everyday dialogue quite often so I thought it appropriate.

Anyways, compared to earlier months this year, we are doing pretty good for that metric. Last month was the best where we were only off by 0.4%.

Emergency Fund

Emergency-fundNeedless to say, I have not been able to put any additional towards our Emergency / Tax fund since last month.  That’s the other bad news.  However, on the positive side, I was able to pay our second installment of property taxes of $2,812.42 last month without taking anything out of this fund which is reserved for emergencies and property taxes.  I normally try to contribute $500/month to it.   So technically I’m $2,300 ahead in trying to get my E-fund up to a new target recently set due to the slow earnings months experienced in Q1.

Is there any metric or piece of info that I’m not telling showing that you want to know to complete the picture?

CNA Finance MVP Award

Debt Debs - Personal Finance MVP!
Before I go and get on with my chores, I must tell you that I’m tickled pick to be awarded the CNA Finance MVP of the Week award  by votes from readers over at CNA Finance Blog.  Josh has a series where he posts every Friday called “Why Bloggers Fail” and he explores different topics on this subject each week.  Based on feedback received, he awards a blog each week and yours truly was selected this week.  I am really humbled by all the nice things he had to say but especially thrilled that he captured the essence of what I do here perfectly.  I guess my communication skills aren’t so bad after all!  heh heh.  I really appreciate all the readers who voted for me as well.  Truly.

Thanks to the following blogs:

Carnival of Financial Camaraderie over at Counting My Pennies for  featuring one of my posts:  Couples Money Conversations You Want to Avoid.

Young Adult Money for Weekly Hits Roundup and Personal Finance Tips – Moving Blog from WordPress.com to Self-Hosted WordPress.org

Have an amazing weekend folks.  That’s a wrap.  debt debs, over and out.

My Pennies, My Thoughts
This post is part of Financially Savvy Saturdays
To join in the blog party, click on the picture above
Follow instructions on host blog
Tweet hashtag #FinSavSat
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Debt Debs Super Duper Advice

debt-debs-adviceDid you see the great post compiled by Mark @ MoneySavingDude which compiles 50+ Money Saving Tips From Some of The Best Personal Finance Bloggers Today?

There’s a great variety of ideas from lots of great experiences all collected in one spot.  Mark did a great job on compiling that post.  I was so impressed that I took him up on his offer to promote myself add my own.  #growingmyfangirls&homeboys

This got me thinking about all the things I have learned over the last 2+ years of our debt recovery journey.  We’ve made so many mistakes, that I could do a Do’s and Don’ts, but I wanted to keep this positive.   So with the World Cup Fever upon us, let’s just call this the FIFA List (Finance Is Freakin’ Awesome).  So here’s my list of things I wish my former self knew already:
FIFA

  1. Track your spending!  Yes, I know you think it’s boring but once you make it a habit, it is not.  Just start.  Make a plan of what you can afford to spend against your income (a budget) and stay within it.  If you blow some categories one month, just pick yourself up and do better next month.  You can cut back (eat your pantry) on groceries next month or reallocate from a category you are under budget on.   Use a piece of paper, excel, MINT, YNAB… whatever… just do it!
  2. Stop buying stuff! It’s just crap! More stuff to dust, giveaway, throw away later. Live a minimalist lifestyle and put value where it belongs on activities and experiences and people!
  3. Use credit cards for rewards only if they are for things you need and are lucrative.  i.e. Cash in the hand for cash back cards are the best.  Travel can be good if you can work it so that you are saving a lot for planned travel.  Anything else that causes you to buy things you don’t need, or travel a particular way you normally wouldn’t are not what you are looking for.  Look for cards that give you 4% on ‘needs’ purchases – gas and groceries.
  4. Always pay off your credit cards monthly, the only exception being in step 5 below.
  5. Use low rate balance transfer cards with discretion and manage very carefully. Use them to your advantage to pay off a higher interest debt but don’t get caught with your pants on the ground! I can’t stress this enough!  So here are the conditions:
    1. Under no circumstances let anything else be charged to this card while you have an open balance. This happened to us for an annual renewal that we forgot about and we have paid $20 more interest as a result. Hey, you don’t think that’s much? I’ll take $20 any day!
    2. Don’t pay a balance transfer fee. Usually they are at about 1% but sometimes more. Negotiate for a 0% balance transfer or wait for that deal to come along. We were constantly being solicited to do one of these transfers and we said only if they would waive the transfer fee, which they did, and the interest reate is only 0.99%.
  6. Pay off your home in 15 years. How to do this and why?
    1. How?: Take out your mortgage for 20 or 25 years but ensure you have prepayment privileges so you can pay extra throughout the year and with a high enough maximum so that it will be gone within 15.
    2. Why?:

i.      You want to have cushion in your amortization period so that if worst case happens, job loss or illness, you have some buffer and don’t get stressed about it, as you might if you only had an amortization period of 15 years.

ii.      It’s better to be able to pay extra through out the year. Otherwise you need to be very disciplined to save the extra $3K to make the prepayment before your annual anniversary.

iii.      Most people buy their homes when they are starting out and before kids start coming. By the time your oldest is preteen, there’s other expenses to worry about like sports and activities (hey kids are expensive!) and having your mortgage gone gives you greater flexibility and more opportunity to save for university costs and extra for retirement*.

iv.      I don’t advocate skipping your retirement savings during this period of mortgage repayment. You should be doing both simultaneously. Your budget should be tight, but it should be doable. If you can’t, then maybe you should consider that you bought too much house.

Guess which one is featured on 50+ Money Saving Ideas?

Pay-off-Mortgage-in-15

So on the topic of Lessons Learned, although I’m still learning the ropes on blogging, and I might have already shared a thing or two on that too, I like to include stuff as I go along this new journey of PF blogging.
(PF = Personal Finance or Pretty Freakin’, your choice ;-) ).

blogger-carnivalI recently signed up for some blogger carnivals and learned a couple of things I’d like to share:

  1. It is the host’s discretion which posts to feature for that week.  Some hosts seem to cover all posts submitted.  Others just pick up the top ten.
  2. If your host is not picked up, you can try to submit again in the next week.  General rule of thumb is that the post should be less than two weeks old, but I’m not sure how ‘official’ or enforced that is.  I’m still learning, but I’m thinking that you could submit something up to a month old, possibly.  That’s what I’m going to try to do and we’ll see how it goes.  Let’s face it, if you don’t get picked up one week, it’s pretty hard to only submit posts that are less than two weeks old.  That’s why I’m thinking there may be some leniency there but we’ll see.
  3. Some carnivals are not posting regularly per the schedule.  I tried contacting the hosts to see what’s up with that, but have not had much success.  You can contact me directly if you have any questions in this regard.
  4. Keep a record in an excel file or something of what posts you submitted to what carnival.  You don’t get an email once your submission is received and it’s easy to lose track if you are submitting a few at a time.  If it doesn’t get picked up, the situation gets even more confusing a few days down the road.
  5. If you’re post is picked up, then you should receive a ping back.  What I did not know, but Harry Campbell from Your Personal Finance Pro helped clarify, is you are supposed to include a link to the carnival on your site.  Duh!  Makes sense right?  It doesn’t have to be a separate post.  You can just tag it on one of your posts or include in a weekly roundup if you normally have these.

So here are the carnivals that I have had posts featured on:

The link above is for PF blogger carnivals but I’d also like to point out Mel @ BrokeGIRLRich did a really great post on blog parties called Personal Finance Blog Hops and Link Ups.  Again, these are PF related, but these are common in the blogging community on many niche areas it seems.

keep-calmLastly, while I’m at it, I would like to shout out to these folks who have featured my posts in the last month.  Okay I’ve never done this before and honestly did not know this was blogger etiquette.  Duh! Again!  Now I understand why people cover this in their weekly highlight posts!!  I won’t be tardy in my backlink love in the future.  Live and Learn …

Can A Marriage Survive a Debt Crisis? – Thank you Brian, John, Shannon and Hayley who featured this post on Debt Discipline – Week End Roundup #33, Frugal Rules -Thank You for Serving!, Financially Blonde -Weekly Roundup and A Disease Called Debt – New Blog Design Soon – Hayley’s had her new blog out for a few weeks and it looks fabulous!
Curve Balls – When You Are Hit With Unexpected Financial Events was in Young Adult Money’s The Weekly Quick Hits Roundup – Thanks DC!

Couple’s Money Conversations to Avoid was link loved in Everybody Loves Your Money -Link Love – 6/6/14

Two Key Blogging Tips to Help Your Brand and Exposure was helpful to The Write Budget – Weekly Wrap Up #18 – Back to the Beach.  Lauren was able to fix her favicon so that it showed up on the browser tab instead of the little navy blue Bluehost squares.  I was really happy that the tips were helpful!

Debt Games – was a guest post I did at Kayla’s site Shoeaholic No More when we did a blog swap and she wrote Debt and the Single Girl here.  Tonya @ Budget and the Beach enjoyed that post as well and featured it in her Feeling Guilty/Link Love.

Father’s Frugal Finances – was liked by Debby aka Little Miss Money aka Ginger on a Mission in Day 246 – Public Transportation: a Comparison.  She’s over in Belgium right now training for her new job and had something to say about New York City versus Belgium transportation systems.  Jason aka Dividend Mantra was long :-) on love in his Weekend Reading – June 21, 2014.

Whew!  I just realized this is a combo post, personal finance advice and new blogger advice all rolled into one.  Something for everyone.  ;-)   Actually, not really, but once I start doing my investment portfolio updates – watch out!  In the meantime, I hope that you found something useful!

“Advice” Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
“Funfairs Carnivals” Image courtesy of Nathan Greenwood / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Smile House” Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

debtdebs-Fergus


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Top Ten Reasons You Need to Manage Your Finances

Big big post for you here today folks.  It’s time for another Top Ten Reasons à la David Letterman style. This time I’ve brought my good blogger friends to back up my points.  You know, just so you don’t think I make this stuff up and all.

Last time I did the Top Ten I kinda screwed it up. I forget that Dave goes in reverse. What can I say? I was a Leno fan.

Speaking of the Tonight Show, who’s enjoying it with Fallon as the host? I love the opening music (don’t ask why, but if I turn the channel too late after watching the news and miss the opening music I’m bummed up.  Hey hey hey hey….Hey hey hey hey… Hey hey hey hey… hey hey hey hey)

It’s definitely different than Leno. I like the musical numbers he does.  Plus he does a good Vladimir Putin.  I miss headlines, and jaywalking though. Did anyone see it the other night when they had the zoo animals on?  No?  Okay well you’re in luck because I have it for you below.

At about 3 minutes in the trainer pretended the little albino alligator snapped at Jimmy and he ended up in the corner because he got so scared.   Then they brought the big mama albino alligator out and he looked like he was going to run out of the studio. Meanwhile his female guest, Rosario Dawson, was handling the little white baby like a pro.

You can view the video directly on YouTube by clicking here

Also see the follow-on video with Roxie the big big elephant here.  I’m a little reluctant to share these videos because I’m not a big fan of animals in captivity.  Share your thoughts in the comments, if you like.

Anyways, I digress, so back to the Top Ten.

Top Ten Reasons You Need to Manage Your Finances

goats-kids#10.  Your kids – Read this heartfelt story from Vanessa of the Cash Cow Couple who wrote at The Heavy Purse

The Surprising Consequences of Keeping Your Kids in the Dark about Your Finances

Vanessa explains how important it is to explain any ways you are managing money in an open and practical manner, focusing on the positive with your children.  You do not want to create fear in your child which can develop into unhealthy money and spending habits that take years to overcome.  As a mother, I wonder if I’ve made these mistakes, even if meaning well.  All I can do is look forward and help educate other parents about this as well.

Top Ninth Reason You Need to Manage Your Finances

fast-food-not-frugal#9.  You may end up having to go on a cash diet – Grayson Bell at Frugal Rules is putting himself on one because he says he’s spending too much on fast food.

It is Time to go on a Cash Diet

There’s no shame if you have to go this route, it’s better than letting a problem perpetuate and maybe become an even harder habit to break.  I’ve decided I may need to put The Irishman on a cash grocery diet if the poker chips don’t work.  What is it with men and grocery stores?  Is it just mine?  OK, then, carry on.

Top Eighth Reason You Need to Manage Your Finances

duck-bill#8.  You may be paying for stuff you don’t know about – Dee at Color Me Frugal found out the hard way when she was suddenly billed for something that apparently was in the contract but they weren’t aware.

Why It’s Important to Check in With Your Billers Regularly

At least through some whining negotiating she was able to cut her losses in half, but if she hadn’t checked her bill closely she would have been none the wiser for that time and going forward.  BTW, the duck named Bill totally agrees with me.

Top Seventh Reason You Need to Manage Your Finances

Bread#7.  You’re paying for a lot more than the food you order when you eat out according to Karen at Suburban Finance.

Hidden Costs in Restaurants

She reminds us of the extra costs of sides and add-ons as well as the variability across geographies.  What get’s me the most is how these options are always presented in such a way as to make you think they are doing you a big favour, bringing you bread or asking if you like something extra, with no hint that there’s extra cost involved and they’re just trying to up-sell and increase they’re profit margin.  Good marketing for them… bad for you and your pocketbook!  Besides who wants to pay extra for bread that looks like worms?

Top Sixth Reason You Need to Manage Your Finances

gas-prices#6.  You may be missing out on better opportunities if you don’t do the math and calculate your costs that support your income earning potential or even just your costs to support your family.  How many times have you driven across town to hit a sale but basically blew most of your savings on gas?  Crystal at Budgeting in the Fun Stuff discusses how this has impacted her in:

Opportunity Costs at Work

Now with the price of gas these days is through the roof.  I use GasBuddy.com to find the best prices in my vicinity.  $139.8/litre last reported 50 minutes ago at my favourite nearby station (which in US gas terms is $4.915/gal  using these handy dandy Bank of Canada daily currency converter and gas converter tools!)

Top Fifth Reason You Need to Manage Your Finances

Germany#5. What if a great opportunity came along, something you always wanted to do but then you couldn’t because you didn’t have the financial means necessary to support the endeavor?  So like, let’s just say that Erin of Broke Millennial had this chance (she doesn’t) to move to Germany (she’s not) but didn’t have the funds to pay her way over until she could get reimbursed by her new employer?  Ya, that would suck ay?  Well Erin explores all things about why she should move to Germany in … drum roll…

Perhaps I Should Move to Germany?

Basically she proves that she would never be caught with her pants on the ground and not ready to move to Germany or anywhere if the right opportunity came up because she rocks managing her money!!   Besides, who wouldn’t want to move to Germany on a moment’s notice with cool looking architecture like this?

flickr-John-Morgan-manage-your-financesTop Fourth Reason You Need to Manage Your Finances

#4.  If you manage your finances then you have extra money to buy important stuff like dividend paying stocks which is a nice form of passive income.  I don’t have any extra money these days so I just drool when I read posts like this from Dividend Mantra.

Recent Buy

So I just follow a long like I’m using play monopoly money so I can learn the ropes and look forward to the day when I have some extra cash and I can write a post call Recent Buy except I will call it Decent Recent Buy, because my name is Debt Debs and I have to get at least one D and some rhyme in there because that’s how I roll.

Top Third Reason You Need to Manage Your Finances

Dollar-Store-shopping#3.  Wow, I can’t believe I’m already at #3.  For this one I need to say categorically you need to manage your finances so that you can shop at the dollar store.  Huh?  Yes, you need to shop at the dollar store for two reasons.  #1 you can get some okay things at the dollar store and there is no reason to go buy some overpriced thing when the dollar store version is just fine.  Girl Meets Debt knows about some of these things and also some that you should not buy at the dollar store.

5 Things to Buy (and Avoid) at the Dollar Store

I’d like to add pens to her list of things to buy at the dollar store.  But what’s the #2 reason you need to shop at the dollar store?  You need to remember what it was like when you shopped at the dollar store to get your shopping fix because you didn’t have any money and spending just $10 on some dish cloths, some plastic hangers, a couple of cards and a candle was enough to make you realize, you didn’t need to shop anymore to feel good.  Stay humble…. and never be a collector of needless stuff again.

Top Second Reason You Need to Manage Your Finances

standard-poodle#2.  If something is really important to you and you need money for it, it’s not fun when you don’t have the money for it.  Our beloved standard poodle passed away January 2013, and though I still grieve for him, I think I will soon be ready to get another Standard Poodle, this time from a rescue organization like SPIN or SPRO.  It just sucks that we don’t have the money in our budget because pets can be expensive.  But I bawled my eyes out yesterday when I read about LBee & the Money Tree having a really rough week losing her beloved dog, Murray.

For Murray

Her love for that pooch was so apparent in her words and the wonderful pictures she shared.  It reminded me how much we loved and miss Fergus, and know that one day, we will share our love again with a standard poodle rescue.  It’s not a matter of if, it’s when.  And if I had been a better money manager, it would be tomorrow that I would get another dog.

The #1 Top Reason You Need to Manage Your Finances

happy-piggybank-manage-your-finances#1.  And the #1 reason why you need to manage your finances is an oldie but goodie found on Rockstar Finance from Will at First Quarter Finance.  You may find out that you actually enjoy saving money!

How to Enjoy Saving Money!

Now there’s a novel concept, and one, I myself, can vouch for!  Go figure…

Images courtesy of morguefile except where noted
Monopoly Money / John Morgan / flickr
Dollarama / Michael_Swan / flickr

Happy #FinSavSat folks!  Enjoy your weekend!

Debt Discipline
Multitasking


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The New Multitasking – Fragmentasking

MultitaskingDoes the word multitasking make you feel energized and alive?

Not the first thing you think of?  It used to be such a cool word when it was the new black.  Kinda like twerking got popular this year (although that word wants to make be barf).  How about selfie?  It’s sorta cute in a narcissistic kind of way!

My form of multitasking is so fragmented, that I wanna coin a new term fragmentasking.  It basically means flipping around from this to that until the time allotted runs out or you go to bed.  Whichever comes first. Fragmentasking sounds like frugal and fraggles so I’m all over that.  Do you fangirls and bros think your tweeps can relate to that?

So on that topic, here’s what my fabulous and frugal days have me fragmentasking about lately, in no particular order, I give you…

THE FRAGMENTASKING LIST

UHF/VHF/FM/HDTV Compact Outdoor Antenna

Home Hardware: UHF/VHF/FM/HDTV Compact Outdoor Antenna – $134.99

Digiwave Digital TV Antenna ANT7286

WALMART: Digiwave Digital TV Antenna ANT7286 – $89.97

1.  Two weeks ago I let you know we were joining the cable cutting club even though, we actually starting discussing this back in March and I even reached out to fellow blogger Kay at Green Money Stream inquiring about what type of digital antenna they got.  The Irishman has been researching Walmart, The Source, Staples and Home Hardware but we still are antennaless, and alas not cableless … yet.  Enough already.  I still don’t know how I’m gonna watch THE LITTLE COUPLE yet (man I love that show! eeek… I forgot to watch it last night!!!  Oh, man, I guess I won’t miss it that much), so that’s on my fragmentasking list to research.

2.  I had a killer week last week – a project Go Live and there was a last minute glitch identified Tuesday that had to be addressed by Thursday so we could run all the batch jobs over the weekend.  Some configurations had to be updated that had not been detected during testing (grrr…) so three twelve hour days later all the work was completed.  I had to really ignore my fragmentasking during this time because I suck at it and apparently Stefanie from the Broke and Beautiful Life does too.  So I followed the advice I gave Stefanie and said “Hold all calls” (in my head, gee I’ve always wanted to say that), until the work was done.  A little bit of fallout this week that I’m dealing with, unrelated to the initial issue, but hey, that’s life my job.

3.  After a nice Father’s Day brunch at one of my daughter’s, The Irishman, my youngest and I actually spent Sunday afternoon working on stage 2 of garage cleanup.  It was easier with three of us doing it together and I was really pleased that my OCD daughter was able to put herself out there and brave the dirty disgusting garage.   We sorted through a bunch of stuff and The Irishman took a load of donations to Value Village.  Weather was great and we were tired and sore by 5 p.m.  A bunch of garbage got picked up today on trash day.  Good riddance!  Stage 3 fragmentask and possibly 4 will be needed, but they should get easier, now that we’ve cleared up a lot of room.  Not the funnest day to spend Father’s Day but he seemed pleased with the progress and I was a happy mama!  Here’s a before picture but you can’t see final until it’s all done!

garage-before-cleaning4.  So needless to say, with Father’s Day and garage cleaning, I haven’t made any progress yet on my stock portfolio tracking to get comfortable with making the big move to a self-managed retirement portfolio.   I’m very meticulous and very nervous so this will take me some time, but I’m committed to do this.  Is anyone else hearing about a stock market correction?  I keep hearing one is coming, but the quick glance at the daily emails I get, so far so good.

chip-system-grocery-saving5.  Another fragment on my plate is dealing with how to reduce our grocery bill which for us is $800/month but it includes pet food, paper products, toiletries – basically anything we buy at Costco, any grocery stores and Shopper’s Drug Mart.  I use MINT so it’s just easier to have all those stores go to our grocery budget line.   We’ve  been eating our pantry right now so that’s all we’ve done in the short term, but still need to delve in it more.  One idea I’ve had (since The Irishman seems to love going to grocery stores ug and we like to use credit cards to get the cash back rewards), is to use a copycat cash system.  I would get 30 poker chips and two baskets – one spent and unspent.  Every time one of us spends $20 of this grocery budget, we move a chip over to the spent basket.  This way there is a visual of how much money is left and we need to figure out how to make it last until the end of the month.

6.  On the topic of savings, Money Ahoy’s Derek is preaching to my choir when he said Turn Off Your Outside Lights at Night.  I don’t believe you need to leave the outside lights on when you go to bed or even later in the evening.  The Irishman likes to leave the back deck light on for security reasons but I think it’s redundant.  We had front yard lights on a few weeks ago when he left his truck unlocked and someone went in and stole his GPS.  Grrrr… laughs on them though because they didn’t take the charger and the dang thing never holds a charge anymore.

7.  I tried been trying to keep up with my blog reading and it’s not that easy.  Wave your hand if you also have that problem.  I can get caught up one day and then fall right back behind the next.  I’m a little anal and hate to miss a cool post so I pretty much scan them all or at a minimum read the title and see if it ‘speaks to me’.  That, coupled with finding new blogs to read and going back to read replies to comments I’ve left leaves me in a big taskfragging heap and we’ll just leave it at that.  :-D

8.  In my blog blitz catchup earlier this week I came across The Addiction of Momentary Pleasure and Seeking the Peak from Trent @ The Simple Dollar and I’ve been giving it some thought as I soak in the tub (fragmentasking at it’s best!).   I guess it’s really all about the law of diminishing returns and finding that sweet spot where pleasure is maximized and more doesn’t lead to minimize it.  Confused?  Go read Trent’s post.  It’s kinda cool.

9.   Speaking of momentary pleasures, for a fleeting moment I got to dream about my future after reading Mr. CBB’s Can you picture yourself living the retired life?  It doesn’t mean I’ll be fragmentasking any less, but on my own terms, you betcha!

The Addiction of Momentary Pleasure and Seeking the Peak – See more at: http://www.thesimpledollar.com/the-addiction-of-momentary-pleasure-and-seeking-the-peak/#sthash.KiE86Cf7.dpuf
The Addiction of Momentary Pleasure and Seeking the Peak – See more at: http://www.thesimpledollar.com/the-addiction-of-momentary-pleasure-and-seeking-the-peak/#sthash.KiE86Cf7.dpuf

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