Friday, June 29, 2007

Time to Come Clean & Be Honest about My Stupidity

Good morning. This month has been really hard. I made a really stupid mistake and it is still costing me big time. Obviously, I thought it would be smart, but then when it went south, I thought I could hide it from you my readers.
How stupid am I? The point of this blog is to be honest and let you my readers encourage me as I make that struggle to become debt free.
I don't think it is any secret (maybe it is) that I want to own my own business. My stupid thing I did was to sign up for a home business program. I agreed to let them bill my debit card $39.95 for 11 months. Well after the first time they charged me a one time charge of $275 and are claiming I agreed to the one time charge rather then the monthly charge.

Thank you for your e-mail.

We strongly apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused you.

In regards to this matter as of today 06/28/07 I have just reviewed your account which indicates that on 06/22/07 we received a response in regards to your complaint, which was that you did not agree to pay off your membership. The tape response is as follows:

23 minutes and 35 seconds into the call during verification, Mbr agreed
to the upgrade Mbr's complaint is Not Valid.



I have been calling and emailing them for the past week arguing with them about this. And then they also email me wondering why I haven't ordered any product?


Last time I checked, we hadn't received an order from you... and that means you haven't been cashing in on profits, or getting your business started


I get the above email comment in the middle of all this dispute. What are they thinking? I want to start up a business, and the opportunity is available, if I knew how to write a business plan and find the private investors, so I could avoid those stupid loans, that Dave Ramsey preaches against. The products the company I am currently fighting would provide, would be great in the store(s) I want to open, but I also need to be able to eat and pay my obligations first.
So what did I my email response back to their "review of the tape" say? I have pasted that response below (note I am still waiting to hear back from them on it):


Obviously you have never heard the theory that the customer is ALWAYS right. As for the recording the customer service rep on Mon June 25 admitted that it was Doctored and then tried to back peddle when I called her out on it. But you will probably call me a liar there to. Fact is on June 15th, I was told again by your customer service rep that I had the silver plan and that it was a monthly charge. She again asked me if I wanted to upgrade and pay it all at once. I told her no i could not afford to, she then transferred me to E-merchant...total time in call was about 5 minutes. Yet you are saying she lied to me and that I am lying about what i agreed to. If what you said is true, why didn't she say that on the 15th? And why, when I said the tape was doctored to agree with you all, did the rep say yes, on April 25? Fact is you can't have it both ways.
You need to refund my money NOW!!!!!! the bank fees because of your poor business practice in this case (at Bank of America alone) are $315 ($35 x9). My credit Union's car payment are another $30 ($15 x2) and who knows what the repair shop will charge for the returned check, because you could not keep your word and charge me the monthly rate instead of the one time charge. Think why would you charge my account $39.95 and then turn around and a month later charge it practically 2 weeks pay...now with the bank fees I am in the whole practically a months take home and can't even pay my monthly obligations or eat.

But what do you care. Your pockets are richer, who cares if some poor guy in Kansas can feed his family or not...you got what you wanted


Any thoughts about what I should do about this supplier? Any thoughts on how to write that business plan and where to find the investors to invest the 5 million dollars to buy 3 existing stores and build one brand new store from the ground up. I have 15 years experience in the business and before someone asks, the brand new store is the main reason for this. If I could only get investments of only 2 million, I would make the required move to build the brand new store. The 3 existing stores if I could buy them would provide some income as I get the new location up and going.

OK, I really would love to hear (read) your comments. Don't be shy, let me have it. Verbally whip me for my stupidity, encourage my dreams, give advice, whatever you have to say, I am open.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Dijon vu!

Dijon vu! - the same mustard as before.

Identity Theft

I went to my neighborhood watch meeting last night and the topic was identity theft. Since, this is such a hot topic and such an easy crime for the thieves to do, I thought I would share a few things on this blog with my readers.

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing financial crimes and it is no longer a question of "if," but rather "when" you become a victim. Some people are at greater risk than others. For most people, the tips below can be enough to keep themselves safe, however there are no guarantees.





Common Ways ID Theft Happens:

Skilled identity thieves use a variety of methods to steal your personal information:
  • Dumpster Diving. They rummage through trash looking for bills or other papers with your personal information on it.

  • You may think they are just looking for aluminum cans or other recyclables, but they may be looking to steal your identity.





  • Skimming. They steal credit/debit card numbers by using a special storage device when processing your card.
  • Phishing. They pretend to be financial institutions or companies and send spam or pop-up messages to get you to reveal your personal information.
  • Changing your Address. They divert your billing statements to another location by completing a "change of address" form.
  • "Old-fashioned" Stealing. They steal wallets and purses; mail, including bank and credit card statements; pre-approved credit offers; and new checks or tax information. They steal personal records from their employers, or bribe employees who have access.
    source: http://ftc.gov/idtheft


  • So what can you do? There are some very practical and simple steps to deter many of these from happening to you.

  • Protect your Social Security number

    • Don't carry your Social Security card in your wallet or write your Social Security number on a check. Give your Social Security number only when absolutely necessary, and ask to use other types of identifiers. If your state uses your Social Security number as your driver's license number, ask to substitute another number. Do the same if your health insurance company uses your Social Security number as your policy number.

      Your employer and financial institutions will need your Social Security number for wage and tax reporting purposes. Other businesses may ask you for your Social Security number to do a credit check if you are applying for a loan, renting an apartment, or signing up for utilities. Sometimes, however, they simply want your Social Security number for general record keeping. If someone asks for your Social Security number, ask:

    • Why do you need my Social Security number?
    • How will my Social Security number be used?
    • How do you protect my Social Security number from being stolen?
    • What will happen if I don't give you my Social Security number?
      If you don't provide your Social Security number, some businesses may not provide you with the service or benefit you want. Getting satisfactory answers to these questions will help you decide whether you want to share your Social Security number with the business. The decision to share is yours.


  • Shred financial documents and paperwork with personal information (including pre-approved offers) before your discard them.

  • Don't give out personal information on the phone, through the mail, or over the Internet unless you know who you are dealing with. Basically, if they contact you, hang up and call them. Never, call the number they may provide, instead call the customer service number on your billings or statements.

  • Don't use obvious passwords like your birth date, your mother's maiden name, or the last four digits of your social security number.

  • Keep your personal information in a secure place at home, especially if you have roommates, employee outside help, or are having work done in your house.

  • Never click on links sent in unsolicited emails: instead type in a web address you know. Use firewalls, anti-spyware, and anti-virus software to protect your home computer; keep them up-to-date. Visit OnGuardOnline.gov for more information.
  • Tuesday, June 26, 2007

    My Financial Mission Statement

    I thought, it was time to revisit my financial mission statement that I Originally posted on July 13, 2006. Hope it encourages more readers, as it did when it was first published.

    As I have just completed week 12 of my 13 week Financial Peace University Course, I thought I should post my own mission statement here on my Financial Peace (aka Personal Finance) Blog:

    I will maintain a positive attitude and sense of humor in everything I do. I want to be known by my future family as a caring husband and father; by associates at work as a fair and honest person; and my friends as someone they can count on to earn their respect. Controlling all my actions is a strong sense of integrity which I believe is the most important character trait.

    My Mission, in my current employment, is to provide smiling, helpful and attentive service with integrity and honesty to the supermarket customers. I will strive to do my best to keep the stock full and the floors clear, so that my customers can have a pleasant shopping experience.

    My Mission is to figure out how to best use my personality traits to succeed in life. I want all I do to be a product of God's. I desire to be loyal to my future wife (whoever she may be), family, friends and God.

    For myself, I want to develop self-knowledge, self-love, and self-allowing. I want to use my personality traits, that tend to be more analytical, to excel in my whatever work I am doing, whether work related, family related or otherwise.

    Disclaimer: Responsible Sponsorships

    Ever since I started this blog, I have been consistently opposed to credit cards and debt. As Dave Ramsey say's if you have to consolidate debt, do not accept any new debt. So when I am asked to accept an advertiser link or to review a website that wants me to be positive towards taking on new debt. Then I have to do what is the morally responsible thing for me and reject the offer. No matter how much I need the money, I cannot take money based upon a lie and that can hurt my reputation of being anti-debt.
    That was the case when a blogger, who I enjoy reading, approached me and asked me to review his post positively on a new offer that American Excess, ahem, I mean American Express is offering.
    For those that read this blog regualarly and those new readers that come in everyday, I want you know that I am committed to my beliefs and getting out of debt. However, I will never sacrifice my beliefs so that I can get out of debt faster.
    My goal is to make this blog enjoyable to the reader as will as informative. I know how much people hate advertising, but it is a fact of life. So if I cannot at least be honest in sponsor post, then I do not want to put it forth.

    Thank you for taking this time to read this disclaimer.

    SPONSOR: DebtHelp.com

    I was recently asked to review a website. My first thought was oh no, what am I to going to say. I hate trying to review anything, unless I feel strongly about something and can really give my opinion one way or the other. The other issue was, as anyone who spends anytime at all reading my blog knows, is that I hate debt. I follow Dave Ramsey's teachings and as such I hate any kind of debt. I do not borrow. I know that while consolidation loans can help a person get out of debt, most of the time the person just gets theirselves deeper into debt.

    Dave's Advice: student loan consolidation can help, but only under certain conditions:
    • Lock in the interest rate, don't try variable rates
    • Don't extend the term of the loan
    • Pay the debt off early with focused intensity
    • Never borrow money again


    Of course Dave recomends another website, but with these rules in mind, I began looking over the site.

    DebtHelp.com offers a wide variety of debt CONsolidation products, but specificly for this review we are focused on their student loan consolidation product.

    I was impressed with the websites look, it was easy to navigate and find your way around. The website, if I had student loans still, would certainly be a place I would consider to consolididate my student loans. Go ahead take a look, it is worth your consideration, if you have student loans to consolidate.

    Criminal Lawyer

    Criminal Lawyer is redundant

    Monday, June 25, 2007

    Mural Dedication Pics











    I have finally got the picture that Roy and I took the day of the mural dedication posted. Hope you enjoy theme, as you browse. Remember the Central park neighborhood is taking on phase 2, lets not let this project die. Keep up the work, as we make this the largest mural in the state of Kansas.











    Still Waiting

    President Bush has yet to act on the wishes of Congress. As previously reported, it took me 17 years to see this issue make it to the floor of Congress. Now we are still waiting on the President to act. I have called, emailed and wrote the President on this issue, and will continue to do so until he responds.

    For those not familiar with what I am speaking of, the video below tells about it.


    Every reader of this blog along with all Foster Parents need to ban together and urge the President to make the Proclamation that Congress has urged him to issue in H. R. 179.

    In just two days

    In just two days, tomorrow will be yesterday

    Sunday, June 24, 2007

    Trip Was a Set Back but a Pleasent One.

    Yesterday, despite my current poor financial situation I made the 2 to 2.5 hour trek to my hometown of La Cygne. A small city in eastern Kansas. As I was leaving I did stop to wave at my parents (I did talk to them for a minute or two) while I sat at the stop sign in front of their house.

    I made the trip for my (20-year) high school reunion. Despite my disappointment that the gas prices down there was not posted on KansasGasPrices.com I pleased to see the prices were comparable to Topeka and not that much higher, as has been the case on previous trips. Maybe some of my classmates still in that area will see this post and start updating the website.

    Still though, I decided to wait to fill up until I returned to Topeka, as I had barely used any of my gas. My car was able to squeak out 35/miles per gallon (mpg). I was pleased to see that so my 240 mile round trip only set me back $19.


    It was a great time visiting with the 15 (of 54) classmates that actually showed up. Of course some could not be located which was a disappointment, others were local and did not show up. In fact, it was mainly the out-of-towners that showed up, including an organizer who came all the way from Ohio to see how the classmates turned out.

    I have to be honest there were several that I did not recognize. Others I knew right away. Except for some thinning hair and a major change in glasses, I still was recognizable to most everyone. For me, there was only 4 that I recognized right off, others were recognized after a few minutes or someone said there name.

    By the next reunion, I will be completely debt-free and I will have money in the bank to cover the travel expenses. In addition, by that time I will be driving a totaly paid for car. I just hope by that time, I will at least have married and can introduce the princess of thrift.

    Friday, June 22, 2007

    Thanks G

    I would like to thank G. of Baltimore who mailed me another $2.

    G's last name and 1st initial reminds me of the superintendent of schools where I grew up (in Kansas) as a kid.

    Air Freshener Spray

    1/4 cup baking soda
    4 cups warm water
    2 tablespoons ammonia
    1 teaspoon scent of your choice: cologne, lemon extract,
    strawberry extract, raspberry extract, vanilla extract,
    almond extract or pine oil


    Into a clean spray bottle pour baking soda, ammonia and the desired scent. Slowly fill with warm water. Mist the air as needed. Avoid spraying on or near furniture or pets.

    Drain Cleaner


    1/2 cup baking soda
    1/2 cup white vinegar
    Boiling water


    Pour baking soda down the drain. Add white vinegar and cover the drain, if possible. Let set for 5 minutes. Then pour a kettle of boiling water down the drain. (The vinegar and baking soda break down fatty acids into soap and glycerin, allowing the clog to wash down the drain.) Do not use this method if you have used a commercial drain opener and it may still be present in the drain.


    ---
    on a personal note, I have found that you can skip the boiling water, by pouring vinegar into the drain until it stops fizzing then running the faucet for a minute or two.

    only outlaws

    If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will accidentally shoot their children.

    Wednesday, June 20, 2007

    Is a Mortgage Always Better?

    Note from Prince of Thrift: The opinions of Guest Posters are their own
    and the owner of this blog may or may not agree with them.


    By Tom Kerr - MortgageLoan.com

    Many consumers find debt distasteful. If given the choice, they’d use a windfall from a generous inheritance or hitting the lottery to pay off their mortgages completely. But carrying a reasonable amount of debt can be a wise financial strategy. If you’re fortunate enough to be in this circumstance, it’s important to consider all your options.


    In the world of financial management, mortgage debt is considered “good debt” because it's secured by property. Even so, it’s still somewhat unpleasant because having a mortgage means paying interest. Over the life of a loan, you can wind up paying tens of thousands of dollars in interest, not counting the costs involved if you refinance along the way. But as the saying goes, there are two sides to every coin. Many financial experts are quick to add that there are two sides to debt, as well.


    To pay or not to pay?


    There are some distinct advantages to having a mortgage:


    Putting all your investment money into your home to pay off your mortgage can expose you to the risk of having all your eggs in one basket. A fire, flood, or other natural disaster could wipe out your equity, and insurance might not cover the loss.


    Similarly, you could lose your home’s equity through a lawsuit against your property if someone were injured there. An unexpected divorce, contractor’s lien, environmental hazard, or land dispute could also put it at risk through litigation.


    By paying off your mortgage, you lose one of the only substantial tax deductions allowed by the IRS. Deductions also apply to most refinances and home equity loans.


    Lack of liquidity


    One of the biggest reasons not to pay off all your mortgage debt is that cash tied up in property lacks liquidity. In other words, it’s hard to get to in a hurry, as many homeowners learned during the current housing slowdown. Unless you don’t need that money, it’s a good idea to keep a portion of it invested in something other than real estate, like stocks, bonds, certificates of deposit, or other assets that can be easily turned into liquid cash. That way, you can take advantage of profitable investment opportunities to make your money work harder than it does in real estate. If an emergency requires that you get to your money fast, you’ll have easy access.


    There are also distinct advantages to paying off your debts. That’s why many economists advocate against being leveraged to the hilt. Instead, they suggest balancing your asset portfolio by maintaining a small, strategic level of mortgage debt based on the points mentioned above. Then pay off the rest of your red ink, put most of your cash into dependable investments that will ensure that your net worth steadily grows, and pat yourself on the back for being essentially debt-free.

    Free Home Schooling Resources

    Last night at work a former co-worker, who I hadn't seen in a long time came into the store. Not to surprising since that is the store she lives closest to and I am now driving across town to get to work, much like she did when she and I worked together.
    The purpose for this is to tell you about a great website that she has. Perhaps if you home school, you have already heard of her. If you haven't then you need to find out about her and her website.
    She is known as the Educational Freebie Queen, and her website as you might have already guessed provides the readers hundreds, maybe even thousands, of homeschooling resources, especially those that are free.
    If you have read this blog very much, you know that I love free. Well I don't home school. I don't even have kids, but I love this site.
    Cassandra has no idea that I am writing this little review, but I thought it was a perfect topic as I am sure their is at least a small percentage of my readers, who home school.
    Go ahead and take a look, I think you will be surprised at all the resources out there.

    Do you trust a government

    Do you trust a government that doesn't trust you with guns?

    Proverbs 19:17

    He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done.

    Wednesday, June 13, 2007

    Thank You's

    The mural team would like to Thank these donors:

    From the Neighborhood:

    Maria Alverez
    Archway Marketing
    Ashley Bacon
    Mr. & Mrs. Robert Bank
    Mary Ann Benaka
    Mr & Mrs Tom Benaka
    Edna Berry
    Mr. Michael Bradley
    Olantha Brown
    Matthew Carithers
    Central Park Neighborhood Improvement Association
    David Chall
    Mr & Mrs Ken Cott
    Rick Ellis
    Thomas Ellis
    Elmhurst Neighborhood Association
    Diane Ferrier
    Linda Finch
    Mary A. Hall
    Karen A. Hiller
    Mr & Mrs Frank Hoge
    Mr & Mrs Mike Jackson
    Thomas C. Jackson
    Ms. Mayverdis Jamison
    Jenkins Drain Cleaning
    Mr & Mrs John Jenkins
    Maurice L. Jones
    Mercedes
    P. Morse
    Mario Munoz
    Charlotte Noland
    Mr & Mrs Roy O'neil
    Councilwoman Sylvia Ortiz
    Oxford House Lane
    Stephen Page
    Jo Ann Peavler
    Mr & Mrs Frank P. Phillips
    Ross P. Piper
    Mr & Mrs L J Polly
    Lorene Powell
    Mr & Mrs Maurice Raye
    Donald E. Rice
    Mr & Mrs Leon Rios
    Miguel Roman
    Rose Villa, INC
    Majorie S Roy
    Kevin Surbaugh
    Yasuko Takahashi
    Donald D Taylor and Larry Harrison
    Shirley Tibbits
    Miguel Torres
    Mr & Mrs Mark L Tyree
    Delores Ungerer
    Margaret Venable
    Mr & Mrs Jerry M Whorton
    Mr & Mrs Kevin S Wilson
    Winegardener & Hammons, Inc

    Neighborhood Donors Contributing $500 or more:
    Rose Villa
    Capital Plazza Hotel (Winegardener & Hammons, Inc)

    Neighborhood Donors making in Kind Contributions in access of $500:

    City of Topeka Water Division
    Sunflower Rents, Inc
    John Casson - Casson Construction Co.

    Grants Received:

    Department of Justice Weed and Seed
    General Mills, Hamburger Helper, MyHometownHelper.com

    Psalm 41:1-2

    Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the LORD delivers him in times of trouble. The LORD will protect him and preserve his life; he will bless him in the land and not surrender him to the desire of his foes.

    Political Jokes

    I don't approve of political jokes...I've seen too many of them get elected.

    Tuesday, June 12, 2007

    Reader Can't Seem To Get Ahead, No Mater How Hard She Works

    Marnie recently wrote and asked me,
    I work my job and I even try to make other money and volunteer for people. Yet I still do not make money to pay down debt. Help me figure this out.


    The problem of being a lower wage worker, like even myself, is not easy. We make less then $20,000 a year, yet rent/mortgage and utilities still cost the same, whether we make 10,000 or 100,000. However, there are some things we all can do to cut expenses. I know that for those of us that make less, it may seem that we don't have any discretionary expenses to cut. However, I have found there is almost always things to cut. For example do we know where we spend all our money? For example, if we buy a soda pop/water and/or a candy bar is it figured into our budget? It may not seem like much, just a couple of bucks, but that couple bucks a day can add up to $60 amonth. That can be a huge part of a lower income workers budget.
    What about meals out, I hate to say it, but for those of us in debt and especially those of us who are among lower income workers, we should not be eating out.
    Of course, we should have the cable shut off and discontinue those newspaper and magazine subscriptions.
    I know looking at my budget, I could almost live on minimum wage if I didn't have all these debts. Especially, if I didn't have the $400 a month car payment. This debt, if I followed Dave Ramsey's advice 100% could be eliminated more quickly by selling the car, buying a clunker and getting a small loan for the difference. In the mean time I would save money to buy a better car with cash.

    I know it's not easy, to cut expenses and get debt free no mater how much we make. Whether you are a lower income worker, like this reader and myself seems to be or if you are a higher income worker, like I dream of being. However, it can be done.
    It may seem like we are going no where, however, if we get really serious and track our spending, like I do on this blog then you will see your debt get smaller. Of course don't forget to cut up the credit cards, you can not spend your way to debt freedom.
    As Dave Ramsey says, "live like no one else, so later you can live like no one else." In other words, make those sacrifices now, so later you can live without worry about (or at least as much) money.

    SPONSOR: Hawaii Vacation Rentals

    If you are like me and most Americans, you have dreamed of taking a vacation to Hawaii. It's OK, most Americans do. In fact as soon, as I get my debts paid off, it is one of the first trips that I am going to save money for.
    Perhaps, you are already to the point where you have scrapped and saved and now ready to take that dream vacation. But now you are asking yourself, where do you stay. Well I have found a great website to help you find the perfect place. Whether it be a condo or hotel.
    You choose the location whether it be Kauai vacation homes, Maui, or whichever island you choose. The prices range from $75 to $9,000 a night.

    I really enjoyed the site and dreaming of the day when I will be able visit the 50th state.

    Fight Global Warming

    Fight Global Warming Turn on the A/C

    Monday, June 11, 2007

    Get A Job

    There is a number of us in the personal finance blogging world, that are not afraid to work. We realize that there is one place to go when you are in debt, as Dave Ramsey says, and that is to work. Still we welcome free will offerings from our readers.

    Still others, don't want to work and try to bum off of others hard work. Well after hearing todays Dave Ramsey Show, I found a letter that Abraham Lincoln sent to his step brother.
    I have posted that letter below. It is a very interesting read and is exactly related to this topic.

    Dear Johnston:--

    Your request for eighty dollars, I do not think it best to comply with now. At the various times when I have helped you a little, you have said to me, "We can get along very well now," but in a very short time I find you in the same difficulty again. Now this can only happen by some defect in your conduct. What that defect is, I think I know. You are not _lazy_, and still you _are_ an _idler_. I doubt whether since I saw you, you have done a good whole day's work, in any one day. You do not very much dislike to work, and still you do not work much, merely because it does not seem to you that you could get much for it. This habit of uselessly wasting time, is the whole difficulty; and it is vastly important to you, and still more so to your children, that you should break this habit. It is more important to them, because they have longer to live, and can keep out of an idle habit before they are in it easier than they can get out after they are in.

    You are now in need of some ready money; and what I propose is, that you shall go to work, "tooth and nail," for somebody who will give you money for it. Let father and your boys take charge of things at home--prepare for a crop, and make the crop; and you go to work for the best money wages, or in discharge of any debt you owe, that you can get. And to secure you a fair reward for your labor, I now promise you that for every dollar you will, between this and the first of next May, get for your own labor either in money or in your own indebtedness, I will then give you one other dollar. By this, if you hire yourself at ten dollars a month, from me you will get ten more, making twenty dollars a month for your work. In this, I do not mean you shall go off to St. Louis, or the lead mines, or the gold mines, in California, but I mean for you to go at it for the best wages you can get close to home, in Coles County. Now if you will do this, you will soon be out of debt, and what is better, you will have a habit that will keep you from getting in debt again. But if I should now clear you out, next year you will be just as deep in as ever. You say you would almost give your place in Heaven for $70 or $80. Then you value your place in Heaven very cheaply, for I am sure you can with the offer I make you get the seventy or eighty dollars for four or five months' work. You say if I furnish you the money you will deed me the land, and if you don't pay the money back, you will deliver posession--

    Nonsense! If you can't now live _with_ the land, how will you then live without it? You have always been kind to me, and I do not now mean to be unkind to you. On the contrary, if you will but follow my advice, you will find it worth more than eight times eighty dollars to you.

    Affectionately your brother,

    A. LINCOLN.

    A Nation With Borders

    "A Nation Without Borders Is Not A Nation" -- Ronald Reagan

    Sunday, June 10, 2007

    1st Panal to be Dedicated

    The first panel is nearly complete. As such, we the planning committee would like to invite everyone out to the Mural dedication of the first panal. (see details below). I am also reposting the drawing of what the mural panal is to look like.


    Mural Panel Dedication
    Saturday June 16th
    1 pm
    20th & Western (Water Dept Wall)
    Refreshments Served
    Parking available across the street along Western in the Expocenter Parking lot (near the Horse barn). 20th street will be closed during the dedication.

    Saturday, June 9, 2007

    Judge Must Go for Ignoring 14-Year Old Girl

    Today, I am writing in regard to Shawnee County (KS) District Judge Matthew Dowd's decision to grant probation to a man convicted of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl. What was this judge thinking?

    Apparently, he cares more for the sick criminal than the victim in this case.

    His decision has dredged up memories from my childhood that I had long ago buried. Memories of when I was molested somewhere around the tender age of 11 or 12. Back then, no one listened to me, not even my parents, so I buried the memories.

    What Dowd did was refuse to listen to this little girl, the same as those around me as a kid did, when I was hurt.

    Kansas sentencing guidelines say that this molester could have been sentenced to almost 13 years in jail, but Dowd chose to ignore that and gave him probation. With judges like this, it is no wonder so many people consider taking the law into their own hands.

    Friday, June 8, 2007

    How Many Went To Sonic Yesterday?

    With all the advertising they did about last nights event, I wondered how many of my readers went to Sonic last night. Customers at the store I work at, told me that the nearby Sonic was really busy. Traffic was backed up to the highway, sort of busy.
    Maybe somehow you missed it, but Sonic was giving away free root beer floats last night between 8pm and midnight.

    So after I got off at 10 pm, you can bet I stopped by the closest Sonic and got my root beer float. However, I went beyond that, when I got back to my side of town, I stopped by the one a few blocks from my home and got myself a second one.

    So how many of you also stopped by your neighborhood Sonic last night and got you free float?

    Frugal Thoughts

    The other day I was reading advice and rants and was enthralled with a series of articles she published about frugality.

    In "7 ways you can join forces with friends to be more frugal,"


    1. Share tips: This might seem obvious, but talk about your fave tips for saving more and spending less. If you come across a great new bit of advice, pass it along to your friends.
    2. Share your goals and budget constraints: Talk about what you plan to achieve, e.g. save $500 a month, or spend no more than $70/week on groceries. Let others know of your specific goals, and force yourself to report back to them. Public accountability is a great motivator.
    3. Have frugal fun together: Don’t trade money saving tips over expensive lunches. Now that you know each other’s plan to spend less, opt for cheaper plans like potluck meals and coffee at a friends place.
    4. Give each other frugal gifts that you really want: You can band together to get a friend a spa trip that she really wants, and you can buy joint gift cards. Pooling your resources makes for less gifts, but a much higher quality one that you’d otherwise get.
    5. Buy in bulk: pool your resources to buy things that you all need, in bulk. Bulk buyers can enjoy significant discounts, so take advantage of those!
    6. Swap stuff: Clothes that never really suited you, or that no longer fit you. Accessories that you don’t really need. Children’s toys, and sports equipment. Find stuff that you no longer want, and trade them with your friends.
    7. Sell stuff together: Host a giant yard sale, or a giant consignment sale.


    Then in "7 Things You shouldn’t do in the name of frugality,"

    1. Steal, or do something unethical. Don’t hurt other people to save money. Don’t be stingy.

    2. Don’t stop your occassional self-indulgences, if you can afford them. Buy yourself a pretty nailpolish, a footspa on sale. Make sure you don’t feel deprived.

    3. Never buy gross second-hand stuff. This includes dirty or broken stuff, and obvious things like used lingerie.

    4. Never spend hours trying to save a few dimes. Whether it’s driving to the end of town, or slaving away in your kitchen for half a day, some conveniences are worth paying for.

    5. Never, ever, put your or family’s health or security in danger. Your or a loved one’s life is not worth saving a few bucks for.

    6. Don’t constantly talk about saving money, where to buy things for less, how much stuff cost you, etc. If you and your friends share common financial goals, you’re very lucky, but limit those discussions to your weekly frugality meetings.

    7. Don’t make your family constantly unhappy. If your wife hates raisins, don’t buy them for her simply because they’re cheap.


    Of course there were other articles she had, but this article would be too long if I placed excerpts from all of them. However, you get the idea. Some of the other posts she had included, "13 things to buy second-hand," "Tips for buying second-hand stuff," "Being Frugal vs Being Stingy," and "10 Frugal Entertainment Ideas."

    Speaking of Frugal Entertainment, I was asked about my date from a coupe weeks ago and how that went. Well, the date was OK, but there won't be another one with her.

    Low-Income Individuals Penalized for Saving

    Did you hear this story? Yesterday, I was watching CNN, before going to work, when I heard this. So shocking, it was, I knew I had to look up the story online and report it here. I never found the CNN story, but I did find several print versions of it, including the LA Times, which I quoted in this post.


    The federal government has been urging people to sock away money for their retirement, but many low-income families would be foolish to take that advice, according to a report released Wednesday by a Washington think tank.

    Low-income households face "astronomical" penalties for saving, according to the report by the National Center for Policy Analysis. For example, each $1 saved by a single mother earning $15,000 a year could cost her $2.60 in higher taxes and lost government benefits.


    That's right, the poor are actually penalized for trying to get themselves off government assistance.


    "We're constantly told that we need to save early and often to prepare for retirement," said Laurence Kotlikoff, professor at Boston University and author of the study. "Yet government policies tell low-income families, 'If you save for the future, you won't get our help today.' "

    Over the last decade, the government has sharply increased the amounts that Americans can set aside on a tax-favored basis for retirement, created a tax credit for low-income people who fund retirement accounts and launched public campaigns urging people to save.

    But those efforts are hindered by incentives created by the government, Kotlikoff said. For example, the tax credit for saving for retirement is wiped away when the taxpayer also qualifies for the earned income tax credit.

    Meanwhile, putting a few dollars aside in a retirement plan can disqualify families for food stamps, health care benefits and assistance given to poor families with children. The loss of benefits is felt year after year, compounding into a huge loss over time, the report says.


    Someone who doesn't save for the future will become a drain on the public tax rolls after they reach retirement age. It is my humble opinion that these low income individuals who save to build a retirement savings are being fiscally responsible. However, the government concerned about about people cheating them (Lord, knows there has been a lot of people, using these funds, who have cheated), has instituted these guidelines.


    In Massachusetts, for example, anyone with assets of $2,500 or more is disqualified from getting federal assistance to families with dependent children. That asset test includes retirement accounts and even the cash value of a life insurance policy, the report says. As a result, a single parent with two children who earns $500 a month would lose $133 a month in benefits if the family saved more than a nominal amount for retirement.

    "People start saving, thinking that they are going to be treated fairly, and then they get clobbered. They don't know what happened," Kotlikoff said. "There are ways to achieve our objectives without kicking people in the head if they try to work and save."

    Most of the benefit programs looked at in the study are federally funded. But because eligibility rules vary by state, the study focused on Massachusetts.


    So what is the answer? To me, I think the answer is simple. Keep the restrictive guidelines about saving, with one little change. They still must use their savings for necessities, before getting government assistance, unless that savings is in a recognized retirement account (IE: 401-k, IRA, Roth IRA, SEP, etc).

    Sunday, June 3, 2007

    Welcome Cleaning Recipes to the DebtFree4ever Network

    I would like to welcome a new blog to the DebtFree4ever Network. This site is another frugal website. The difference is that this new blog focuses on cleaning recipes.

    It is a growing blog, where you can find recipes on how to make homemade laundry soap or bleach. Even a homemade alternative to the expensive freebreze.
    again that address is:
    cleaningrecipes.blogspot.com/

    I will get the links updated tomorrow on my day off from work.