It’s Over

26 Mar

I’ve decided to cancel this blog, effective on 1 April. This is not an April Fool’s joke. I simply don’t handle my personal situations well on my blog. I thank you all for stopping by! It’s been fun!

Get real – stop buying stuff you can’t afford

22 Feb

Great stuff. So true!

The Debt Breakup

So here’s a cold hard little debt busting fact:

When you are up to your eyeballs in debt, you can’t afford expensive hobbies. You can’t afford go out to eat at 5 star restaurants every week. You can’t afford to shout rounds of cocktails to your friends at Friday night drinks. You can’t afford that expensive faceceam – even if it on special.

Before I got serious about debt repayment, I played a little (and financially dangerous) game of spending tug of war when it came to the things I really couldn’t afford.

I told myself these things:

  • I deserve it.
  • I’ve had a tough week.
  • It’s on special.
  • The world might end if I don’t get it.
  • It’s not a lot of money.
  • Whats the point in going out for just one drink?
  • It will make me happy.

The last reason is possibly the worst of them all. I…

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Three Things I Learned by Paying off My Car

22 Feb

20140222-211941.jpgI did it! I paid off my car! I’m so happy. It’s one of my proudest achievements. I put it above quitting smoking and graduating college!

So, what did I learn while paying on my car?

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Four Reasons Why a HABA Line Should be a Part of a Budget

13 Feb

eye makeupHere is the second part of the series about important lines on a budget. If you would like to see the first segment of the series, you can see it here.

I don’t spend a lot of money on makeup and beauty supplies. Makeup lasts me longer than it should, as all makeup has some sort of expiration to it. But, I still need beauty supplies. It’s been a line on my budget from the beginning. I’m going to give you four reasons why I think beauty supplies (or HABA) should be in a budget.

1. It’s necessary.

For my HABA line, I include soap, hairspray, deodorant, razors, and yes, makeup. I will always need those items. The people who work with me are thankful that I purchase and use these items. These are not items I can do without.

2. It allows me to buy the items I want to.

Some items I don’t mind using generic. Hairspray and deodorant are two items I go a little cheap on. I have been trying cheaper razors. Not a fan, so I’m going to make sure my HABA budget allows for more expensive razors. And a detailed HABA line allows me to buy the makeup I want, too. I actually use more expensive makeup. As long as I plan for it, my budget stays intact.

3. It keeps me so fresh, so clean.

I’m dating myself there. I still love that OutKast song. I like to keep my hair cut. It helps me feel cute and keeps me professional. I have a wonderful stylist who keeps me looking great at a decent price. Ensuring I stay committed to my HABA line helps ensure I have money to get my hair cut! I love the way a new haircut makes me feel.

4. I can allow myself some extra girl time.

I’ve never been a huge mani-pedi girl. Or someone who wanted to wax her eyebrows. As a matter of fact, I only recently (within the last three years) had my first mani-pedi and wax. It sure is nice, though. I feel great after I get my nails done. An accurate HABA line lets me have some fun!

I say accurate because I haven’t totally committed myself to the fourth point of this blog. I know I need to leave my HABA envelope alone instead of spending the leftovers every two weeks.

So, I really believe a HABA line is important for my budget. What lines on your budget do you think are important that might be “unusual”?

Five Reasons a Car Maintenance Line Should be a Part of Your Budget

1 Feb

car maintenanceOver the next few posts, I plan on discussing important parts of a budget that I’ve neglected in the past. I believe that a detailed budget improves my chances of winning with money.

Today’s post covers a line that may seem insignificant or unnecessary, but I’ve realized over the last few weeks that I need a more detailed car maintenance line. I’ve budgeted for oil changes and chalked that up as the car maintenance line. It’s not enough, though! So here are your reasons why you should have a detailed car maintenance line in your budget.

1. Oil changes
I’ve actually done a decent job of saving for this and using this line in my budget. Buying a different car is never fun, unless the car you’re currently driving is a beater and you’re stepping it up. I want to take great care of my engine so it lasts a long time. So, I try to get oil changes within the 4,000 mile mark.
2. Tires
I’m about to purchase some new tires for my car. It’s needed and I know it! Instead of saving $30 a month for two years, I’m having to use my income tax. I want to buy tires with a good tread life, and I need to estimate how much new tires will cost me based on how much I drive. I currently drive around 25,000 miles a year. I plan on moving soon, and I will drive considerably less than that. I still need to estimate how long my tires will last, and save that much each month to go toward my tires. That way I don’t have to wait on an extra check or a refund to come in to purchase them.
3. Brakes
This is a weakness of mine. I don’t really know how long brakes should last. But they should be replaced. I would find a mechanic you trust and ask them how often the brakes should be changed, as it will be different with each car.
4. Other maintenance
There are other areas in your car that require maintenance. Filters need to be changed, tune ups will be needed every 100,000 miles or so, batteries might need to be replaced, and so on and so forth. The best way to handle a proper car maintenance budget line is to plan for these. If they never happen, then count yourself lucky. Because…
5. Something will happen
A transmission will go out. A motor might blow. An axle could bust. A radiator could crack. There are a myriad of ways that a vehicle could fail. The best way to fight the “something will” is to plan for it. You don’t have to have a separate line for the what if. It’s my belief that by planning for each of these, the what if will be taken care of by the budget line.

Now, if you’re already debt free and have an emergency fund, your maintenance line might not need to be as detailed. I’m not sure because I’m not there yet. If any of you debt free folks have advice, please share in the comments section below. But if you’re trying to get out of debt, I would plan for the worst with your car. The way I see it, if I plan for the worst, and it doesn’t happen, I can apply that amount to my next car!

Ladies, one other note, I would recommend understanding your car and the expenses behind it. It will only help manage our money better and to become informed consumers!

car maintenance 2

How do you plan for unknown expenses with your car?

Some people may look at this sort of planning as an emergency fund before the emergency fund. My previous FAP did, and I understand that stance. I’m not saying to set aside an additional emergency fund for your vehicle. I just think that if you save money for your car and one of the above referenced is needed, then it won’t blindside you. If your spouse or FAP suggests otherwise, please listen to their advice. I’m learning about this as I go!

An Upbeat Song

8 Jan

Time Mag

I’m part of a Jon Acuff group called 30 Days of Hustle.  In this group, we receive assignments to help us accomplish our goals.  My goal for 2014 is to become more positive in my thought life and my approach to life.  Our assignment today was to write a Time magazine article about our life after we accomplished our goal.  This is my entry. I hope you enjoy!

An Upbeat Song

With her infectious smile and hearty laugh, Song sits down with me at her favorite coffee shop.  We talk freely for a few moments, and it only takes that long for me to realize this is a woman who loves life. She wears her smile like a uniform.  I ask her how she stays so upbeat.  Her answer surprised me.

“Practice.  It took me practice to be the bright, cheery person you see before you. At one time, I was utterly depressed, and as Mindy Kaling once wrote, tedious.  I was on anti-depressants and saw a counselor regularly. I was almost to the point of suicidal. I was completely unhappy with myself and the state of my life.  In 2014, I decided for my New Year’s resolution that I would try to become more positive. I posted notes everywhere, reminding myself to think positive. I began to read comedic authors to provide some light-hearted moments.  And most importantly, I focused my journal entries on positivity.  My journaling focused on the three T’s: Thanksgiving, Truth, and Traits. Each day, I wrote five things I was thankful for, three biblical truths about what God says about me, and five positive traits that I have. By the end of 2014, I felt totally different about life and myself.  It trained my brain!  I still practice this regularly, although not every day.  I keep polishing away at what the year 2014 did for me.  Heck, I was actually able to stop taking the anti-depressants.  Hallelujah!

The first fortune cookie I opened in 2014 spoke to me, and I would like to share that with you. “If the world seems cold, kindle a fire to warm it.”  My world seemed cold, and I needed to warm that fire.  The 2014 journal experiment did just that. My heart and mind were warmed to just what a wonderful blessing this life is! Now, I’m on fire!

A Positively Wonderful 2014

1 Jan

Image

For some reason, as I start this post, I feel like I’ve already written something similar to this once.  I write my blogs mostly for me because I need to remind myself what I’m trying to do.  I’m trying to find financial peace. 

For me to do this, I must remain positive. I have to keep my finances positive.  I have to have more income than I do bills, and I have to increase the debt-to-income ratio as quickly as possible.  I’ve made remarkable strides in how I manage my finances.  I still have a long way to go, but I am improving.  I continuously ask the Lord to help me change the way I think about spending and saving.  I want Him to help me understand that it’s His money – not mine.

Last year, I posted 13 goals for 2013.  This year, I won’t do that.  I have only one goal this year.  I want to be more positive.  I want to be positive in my finances, and I want to be positive in how I think about myself and others.  One of the greatest barriers for me in relationships is my attitude. I still have plenty of growth to experience in my emotions.  I am not great at taking my thoughts captive (2 Cor 10:5).  That is yet another prayer of mine.  Many times, I allow a thought to run amok until it frustrates me.  This is not healthy and will not allow me to succeed in life.

Dave Ramsey talks consistently about how we need to tell our money what to do.  That is so true.  We also need to tell our thought life what to do.  We shouldn’t be ruled by our thoughts; we should rule our thought life.  Now, I am not quite sure how to manage this, but I’m on a quest to learn this year!  I know that we can ask the Lord to help us.  We can declare our thoughts based on His Word.  That is where I will start.  Please feel free to share your thoughts on how I can remain positive in this world where it’s far too easy to focus on the negative!

So, my goal for 2014 – to be positive.  And I’m positively sure I can do it because the Joy of the Lord is my strength (Neh 8:10), and I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil 4:13).   

How do you remain positive?

Eight Ways to Clean Up a Hot Mess (Like Me)

18 Dec

ImageI have to admit, I have really been slacking on handling my money properly.  I’m also struggling in other areas of my life, too.  As Tony Stark says, I’m a piping hot mess. 

Several months ago (it feels like ages), I told a friend that my life felt too neat.  That’s certainly not the case now.  My schedule has been different; my workout schedule has been out of order; I’ve gained weight; I have lost a friend; I’ve tripped over my own self at work; my apartment just can’t seem to get clean; my thought life feels messy; and yes, my finances are a mess.  So, what might be going on to cause all this messiness?  I think there are a few things in my life that are out of order, and if I can put everything back in its rightful place, maybe I will find some neatness again.

1. Prayer

The first thing I need to do to get my life back in order is to spend time with my Papa.  I talk to the Lord. I turn to Him when I need something and when I don’t.  Yet, sometimes I still try to do things on my own.  I just spent nine months completing a Celebrate Recovery step study, where we learn that we can’t do it on our own and that we should turn to Him to help us in all of our steps.  I still try to take the wheel on my own.  God wants to be involved in our lives. “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in His way” (Psalm 37:23). He not only wants to be involved in my steps – He wants to celebrate them with me.  It makes Him smile when I turn my steps over to Him.

2. Record Activities

I need to start recording my spending again.  I really have not done well lately.  I started out strong, but by May or June I started slipping back into my old spending habits.  And they’ve reared their ugly, ugly heads.  I spent (no pun intended) a long time forming these bad habits, and I should give myself some grace on changing my habits.  But I also must be deliberate about my actions. I have to set my mind on the things above and not on earthly things (Colossians 3:2). If I remind myself that it’s His money for me to spend how He asks me to, my desire to spend may change.  “Lord, help me to continue to improve my spending habits. I can’t do it without you!”

3. Make to Do Lists

I can’t even believe I have to put this on my list! I used to be a list person.  I would write everything down.  Sometimes, if I did something that was not on my list, I would write it on my list just so I could scratch it out.  I’m a J on Myers-Briggs.  Somehow I’ve slipped away from that.  I can feel it, too!  I need to start making lists again for sure! In Proverbs 31, the Message version says “She’s up before dawn, preparing breakfast for her family and organizing her day.”  I’m going to start organizing my day.  A simple list in the morning will keep me on track!

4. Turn off the TV

This is hard for me right now because it’s football season.  I have watched waaaayyyy too much TV lately.  It doesn’t have to be sports, but it usually is.  I find myself watching episode after episode of whatever TV show I have DVR’d.  What a pity and a waste of time.  Tonight, I decided that nothing on TV really appealed to me, so I turned the TV off.  It feels great.  I must do this more often.

I also need to shut off my phone or my computer at night.  I did that earlier this year, and it was REFRESHING! It’s not that difficult to do, but I really feel awkward when I don’t look at my phone.  I might, just might, be addicted!

5. READ

I need to read more. Turning off the TV will help me to do that. I decided earlier this year that I would put down the self-help books. Well, I think I’m ready to start reading them again.  I want to find a book series that will challenge me and keep me busy.  Any suggestions?

6. Eat better

I really, really, really need to improve my eating habits. I mentioned my weight gain at the beginning of this post. I’m so disappointed in the way I’ve handled my diet and my exercise. I have some legitimate excuses for my exercise (maybe?), but the food – no way. I need to eat better.  I need to find a balanced diet again. I don’t really cut any specific food out. Instead I try to eat proper portions.  I’ve not done a great job of that lately, and I’m paying for it now!

7. Think positively

I am my own worst enemy when it comes to my thought life.  I guess most of us are.  I want to be better though. I want to take every thought captive (2 Cor 10:5).  I don’t want to be ruled by my thoughts anymore. I want to rule my thoughts. I lost a friendship earlier this year, and I honestly believe we would still be friends if I would have just realized the truth about myself.  I am my worst critic, and it’s a struggle for me to think positively.  I need to try, and I bet that the more I do it, the easier it will be.  Lord, help me to take every thought captive. I turn my thought life over to you and ask you to change the way I think about myself and others.

8. BREATHE

Sometimes I just need to slow down and breathe! Breathe before I respond. Breathe before I spend. Breathe before I start each day. Breathe and give the Lord time to speak to me.  Every breath should be dedicated to you. “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord” (Psalm 150:6).

I’m breathing now as I look at the length of this post. This may be one of my longer posts.  I do believe that if I can apply these tips to my life, order may be restored.  How do you restore order in your life?

I’m Back! Did You Miss Me?

7 Dec

Tigers

Wow! It’s been WEEKS since my last post.  I don’t even have a good excuse.  I’m just going to cover the latest events in my life as succinctly as possible.  Ready???

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8 Ways I Will Fight for Joy

7 Nov

20131107-144459.jpg
I drew the photo above. I’m not artistic, but it is fun. I will fight for joy!
I have days where I struggle. Days where I just can’t stand myself. Days where I look at my actions and behaviors and wonder when I’m going to get it all right. Or at least most of it.

Here’s the thing: It’s a struggle for me sometimes just to smile. It’s a struggle for me to be happy.

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