Monday, July 30, 2007

Free Membership

I recently received an email, letting me know that I won a free membership in a local club.

Kevin, when you were at the Spirit of Kansas celebration you signed up at the Topeka PC Users Club tent and I wish to congratulate you on being the winner of the free one year membership in the club. As of Thursday, July 12, you have been an official member. This membership is for a family and is good for 12 months from this date.
- Ann Moore

I think I will go to the August meeting and checking out. Maybe I can hook up with some people who will help me with the video productions (like the mutilation of my credit card) that I want to accomplish, so that I can then get them onto youtube.

You Got to be Freakin' Kidding

(image from: Daily News)
Video here

Recently Manhattan accountant Frank Van Buren, contacted ExxonMobil to tell them when they renewed his card, that was set to expire, he wanted two. Except, for the stupidity of using credit, it sounds like no problem, especially for someone who has had an account with the company for 17-years.
Well he got the cards he requested — and then got two boxes with 1,000 cards each. Van Buren said it took hours to shred the cards, all of which, had his name and account number.

"How could you send me 2,000 cards by mistake?" Van Buren said he asked customer-service representatives.

ExxonMobil reportedly is looking into the mix-up. How stupid can the credit card companies be? Pretty stupid, but this one takes the cake.

Thanks Blogging Away Debt

Drawing for Flat Panel HDTV

I was reading Money Dummy today, and she was telling about a drawing for a flat panel TV over at Five Minutes for Mom. I checked it out, and nothing indicated that you had to be a mom or even a female to enter, so I entered myself.
I mean with this small house, I need all the extra space I can get, so I really hope I win this thing.

TV from Best Buy.

Cleaning Up

I just finished going through my link list and cleaned up all the dead and abandoned blogs in the list. A couple of the abandoned blogs hadn't posted anything since Sept. or Oct. this year. The rest sometime this year.

In addition, a number of blogs had been deleted. One site had been moved, thus abandoning her blogspot location. I followed the link to the new location and it was a dead link. So reluctantly, I deleted that one also.

If I missed any, please let me know. I want to strive to have relevant information in both this blog post and the links.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Imaginative Ideas Wanted

As my regular readers know, this past week I officially cancelled my credit card. Nothing can be charged to it ever again. So now I have been thinking of ways to mutilate the card. Others have cut their cards up, or ran them through shredders and blenders while others have flushed them down the toilet or a combination of the above.

I however want to find a unique (and possibly public) ways to mutilate my Providian card. I would like to get suggestions from each of you my readers as ways that you think I should do it. So come on, start those creative juices and give me some ideas. I really want to hear your ideas.

When I do this, I would like to find someone here in Topeka to help video tape it and get it posted on you tube. In addition, if their are others who would like to join in that day and mutilate their cards, then I would love to make it a big event.

I would like to hold the mutilation day the week of August 6, possibly the afternoon of August 11. In addition, it would be nice if the press will cover our disgust for credit cards.

So what you think? Any ideas?

Friday, July 27, 2007

Thinking Ahead

I was thinking ahead the other day. Wondering what exactly I wanted to do, when I finally get 100% debt free. I have some big dreams. Interesting dreams. Some career minded. Others just for fun. Still others involve retirement.

What are those dreams?

  1. Vacations - I would like to make it to every Presidential Library. Also I would like to make my first trips to New York, Hawaii, France, England and Germany. In addition to revisiting the District of Columbia, Atlanta (World of Coca-Cola 'KO'), and the (British) Channel Islands (This time making it to Jersey and Herm, while revisiting Sark and Guernsey. There also more parts of Canada and spots of the remain 50 states I would like to see.

  2. Business - I would like own my own chain of stores.

  3. Retirement - I want to save my money, instead of living paycheck to paycheck, so that I might be able to retire someday with enough to actually live on, even if I can't get my social security money back.

  4. Spending - I want to be able to pay cash for everything, without worry about be pressured to borrow. Likewise, I want to be able to pay my bills the same day they come in the mail, rather then wondering if I will have the money to pay this months bill.

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

I actually have two recipes for this. But after reading about reports of some spotting left with the original recipe, I tried adding a third ingredient that seems to work well. It only takes 2 Tablespoons of the finished product per load.

  • 3 cups Borax
  • 3 cups Baking soda
  • 1 cup of the cheapest dishwasher detergent (from dollar store or a store brand)

  • I did see a site that suggested using 2 Tablespoons (per cup of borax) of Citric Acid (Fruit Fresh) to make silverware sparkle.

    Oh btw, use vinegar instead of Jet Dry in the rinse dispenser

    Getting Debt Free

    Yesterday, I received an email from Dixie asking,

    Would like some more information on getting out of debt. Would appreciate an email response. Thanks.

    This is a topic that I have posted about several times. And have discussed in general through out my blog. There really is no secret formula. As Dave Ramsey (one of the Financial gurus, that I listen to) is so fond of saying,
    advice your grandmother use to tell you, only we keep our teeth in.

    Real basically the advice is as follows:
  • Pay yourself first...(Try to put away at least 10% of your pre-tax income into a savings account)
  • Spend less than you earn...(While this seems obvious, Americans are notorious for doing just the stop spending and start saving)
  • Cut up the credit cards and take out no more credit ever. (Pay cash for everything, if you can't afford it, don't buy it)
  • Pay your bills on time...(Avoid needless late fees)
  • Set a budget and live by it.
  • Pay your smallest debt first (snowball method) accelerate your payments as much as you can on your smallest debt, paying the minimum's on all the rest of your debt. As soon as the smallest is paid, apply that payment to the next smallest and so on until you are debt-free.
  • Buy a used car...(car looses half it's value with in the first 2-years, let someone else waste their money)...don't forget to save up and pay cash for your car.

    Here in Topeka Dave Ramsey can be heard (pre-recorded) on KMAJ-1440-AM from 7 pm-10 pm.
  • Thoughts From The Low Wages & In Debt View

    The other day I was reading what the average American college graduate makes verses what the average American High School graduate. Well according to the figures, I make less then the average high school graduate. In fact, according to figures, the amount I make currently, is about what the average American drop out makes (and it may be even less then that). Yet, unlike most of them I have been very blessed. While, I may not make very much, I have had the opportunity to have gone to Europe not once but twice (Sark and Guernsey). I also have been able to make it to Canada and Mexico one time each. All of which I am grateful.

    In addition, despite, my low wages, I don't plan to stay there. Yes, I could see myself retire from my current job, but I also plan to retire wealthy enough to live a good retirement. Of course the only way to do it, is to become debt free. As soon as i do get debt free I will not allow myself to get into debt again. I will save for everything and pay for everything in cash.

    To be blunt, I really could live pretty well on my salary, if I didn't have the dang car loan. So if I can get rid of that and all my debts, I will be easily be able to save for my future and yes even save for my vacations so that I can see places that I have never been. Like the Reagan, Nixon and all the Presidential libraries (I have only been to the Carter and Eisenhower). Perhaps, when I take my vacation time from work in a couple weeks, I can go up the road 75 miles to see the Truman, but that will have to depend on curb painting (that I intend to start that week) and my yard sell that particular Saturday.

    I am on track, so it appears to have all my little debts paid off by the end of the year. I just have to remain gazelle intense.

    Glenn Beck Is Right

    I know some of you are probably screaming, right this moment. What? Well let me tell you what he said the other day (July 24, 2007), that I am agreeing with. He was speaking about credit and kids. Take a look at the transcript below.

    BECK: Well, if you`re a parent like me, I`ll bet you`ve been thinking to yourself, "Jeez, if there was just some way that my 7-year-old could have a credit card." Well, the gods have been listening!

    The super geniuses over at Visa and MasterCard are now ready to roll out with their new debit cards that look and feel just like the real plastic that plunged Mom and Dad into crippling debt!

    While some say this plan is a great way to educate kids about spending, to me it seems more like a slippery slope right to baby`s first bankruptcy.

    Edmund Mierzwinski is a consumer advocate for the U.S. Public Interest Advocacy Group.

    Ed, wow, let`s play devil`s advocate here for a second. They will tell you that this is a good way to keep tabs on what your kids are spending.

    EDMUND MIERZWINSKI, U.S. PUBLIC INTEREST ADVOCACY GROUP: Absolutely wrong. It`s giving the banks the opportunity to put these cards in kids` hands, is essentially like the tobacco company selling candy cigarettes to youth and then getting them hooked early. And it`s just an unbelievable idea. They`re the fox guarding the chicken coop.

    BECK: I`ve got to tell you, Ed. I`m so glad that you said that about the tobacco company. Because I think it`s American Express that is now the sponsor of Barbie`s cash register. AMX or Visa is a sponsor on the game of Life. This is Joe Camel.

    MIERZWINSKI: It`s the commercialization of youth. The corporate culture has integrated itself into kids` playtime. All -- all products are wanting to get into your hand as early as possible. If they can hook you at birth, they`ve got you for life is really their strategy.

    Can you imagine? The credit card companies are actually marketing debit cards that look and feel like real credit cards to 7-year-olds. This isn't a way to teach our kids about money. It certainly is not the ay to teach them to save. No instead, like he points out later in his comments and an interview, it will send kids plunging in debt sooner. Much the same as the college student, who files bankruptcy in his/her early 20's from all those credit card that s/he was urged to sign up for while in college.

    Remember, when Dave Ramsey took on Barbie and Mastercard for sponsoring it? Now it seems American Excess Express is sponsoring the Barbie (teach my kids to go deeply in debt) doll.

    And the debit card flows right into the credit card. Americans are carrying $800 billion of credit card debt. It`s an average of $10,000 per person who carries debt. Half of us use them as convenience cards. The other half carry that debt.

    BECK: It is really truly remarkable to me, that 20 percent of all bankruptcies that happen in America are happening with college kids. Twenty percent! The average persons leaves college with three or four credit cards and $3,000 in debt on credit cards, and about $20,000 in debt -- I mean, how do you ever get out of that?

    MIERZWINSKI: What`s really sad is that a lot of students, because of the crippling cost of college, are paying for college on their credit cards.

    And the student loan companies, the credit card companies are all part of the banking system. They all want a piece of the action. And they don`t care if 20 percent of the people file for bankruptcy because they raise the rates on everyone else.

    BECK: You know, it is amazing to me, you know, even though Robert F. Kennedy calls me a fascist and a corporate toady, a shill for corporations. This is the debt -- I`m a capitalist, man. I love making money. I love the ability to make money in this country and the freedom to do so.

    But we have unbridled capitalism. And I don`t want government butting the bridle on it. I think we have a responsibility to bridle ourselves and say, no, I can market to kids, but I`m not going to.

    MIERZWINSKI: That`s absolutely right. And by the way, there is a web site,, where we talk about how to get out of credit card debt and how to avoid the card trap.

    And credit card companies are also marketing actual credit cards on college campuses today, and they`re looking at giving away Frisbees and footballs and T-shirts to take applications.

    BECK: Ed, thanks a lot.

    MIERZWINSKI: Thank you.

    Think Ahead

    Think Ahead Think Hillary

    Thursday, July 26, 2007

    the Minimum Wage is it Good for America?

    The federal minimum wage rose this week. Rising 70 cents from $5.15 to $5.85. Unless you were buried under a rook this is probably not news. It may surprise some that over the years that I have come to be a part of the 70% of Americans who are proponents of the minimum wage. Originally I was opposed to it, as someone who could argue both sides of this issue.

    However, there is something more important to me then the federal minimum wage. That is the state minimum wage, especially in my home state of Kansas. So, here is the weigh down on the minimum wage in Kansas.

    According to the Department of Labor, 30 states (and the Virgin Islands) have a minimum wage higher then the Federal requirements. At the same time 10 states, Puerto Rico and Guam have minimum wages that are equal to the Federal rules. Four other states have a minimum wage that is $5.15, with some of those (New Mexico) planning to raise the minimum wage in January 2008. However, Kansas is the only state, yes, the only state, which has a minimum wage that doesn't even match the former Federal minimum wage. What does that mean? If you work for a company that is exempt from Federal minimum wage rules or are a waiter/waitress at a restaurant then you will only make $2.65 an hour.

    At least the wait staff makes tips and can do better then that. Other companies, the people making those wages tend to be people working for what is called a "training wage," (although I don't know to many places that actually use this). I believe that the state of Kansas should set their minimum wage to at least the $5.15 and preferably with the Federal minimum wage.

    Of course, no one can live on those low of wages, but that is intended to be for people who have no experience. In a perfect world, a company would reward their employees with pay raises. However, I live in the real world, and I have seen to many companies that make the claim they can't afford to give their employees raises. I have seen employees on a whole go two years without a single pay raise.

    All to often, I have seen companies become more greedy and give fewer and fewer raises. Likewise, when the minimum wage raises, these same companies do not raise the wages of those making more then the minimum wage. Again, in a perfect world, every one's wages would be tied to that minimum wage and would raise when when the minimum goes higher, but this is the real world and it does not happen.

    Overall, I am actually reluctant, to raise the minimum rage on the Federal level, but when you have companies like these, I don't know what else to do.

    Cheney .08?

    Cheney/Satan '08

    Wednesday, July 25, 2007

    NEWS: Weekly World News Closing, Aliens Not Blammed

    Our waits in the supermarket line are about to change forever. Even this supermarket employee won't be able to have the laughs at the stupid things seen on the covers of Weekly News Magazine. Why, you might be asking. If you haven't already heard (or even if you have), I am going to tell you.

    The tabloid’s publisher, American Media Inc., issued a brief statement that announced the Aug. 27 issue would be Weekly World News’ last. It called the closure necessary “due to the challenges in the retail and wholesale magazine marketplace that have impacted the newsstand.”

    The company whose Boca Raton offices was the victem of deadly anthrax mailings killing a photographer back in 2001, said that Weekly World News was the smallest of all it's publications and was the only one to be discontinued, although they plan to continue the online version.
    Their other publications, which include the Star, National Enquirer and Men’s Fitness, will not be affected.

    I voted the way

    I voted the way my Rice Krispies told me to

    So Am I heading To School or Not?

    Yesterday, I posted that I was talking to the financial aid person at Bryan College. Sorry I can't say that I see Harry Potter attending school there. But I have never seen any of the movies either, nor read any of the books, so perhaps I just didn't recognize him.
    But seriously, I realize that young Mr. Potter is not even a real person, so I would be a loon, if I did think that I saw him.
    I can also assure you that the anti-Semite professor Ward Churchill, that was recently fired from the University of Colorado will not be hired by this school. "All of which is very nice to know," I can hear you screaming as you read this post, "but did you get in?"
    Well in a word. No! Here's the weigh down. The financial aid director said that by federal guidelines and the information that I provided, I made to much to get any of the federal grants. That was a relief, because I thought it would be because of my IRS debt. I did however, qualify for a subsidized loan, in the amount $6,515 over the course of the entire 14 months. I also qualified for an additional $6,680 unsubsidized loan over the course of the 14 month. All of which means that I would have to come up with an additional $3584 on my own. An amount as you all know, I cannot afford at this time. So there will be no school for me, in the near future.

    There you have it. Time for me to get focused again on a second job and get these debts paid off ASAP.

    Tuesday, July 24, 2007

    Financial Aid Meeting

    I have a meeting this afternoon to discuss financial aid at Bryan College. This meeting will determine, if it will even be feasable for me to go back to school and get my Business Administration degree. If I don't get a full ride in grants and scholarships, then it will be a no go. Though I have thought about doing student loans as part of the mix, if it will pay off a majority of debt, thus defering my payments for 14 months and give me less to worry about as I try to focus on schooling rather then my debt. At the same time, I know in the back of my head that it is not that great of an idea.

    I will post more on the meeting later. For now, that will be it. Would love to hear what all 100 of you think.

    Monday, July 23, 2007

    SPONSOR: Loan Experiences

    I was asked to talk about my own personal loan experiences. I can tell you stories that I have read at about other peoples bad experiences with various credit card companies. However, it is time to discuss the good and the bad experiences I have personally encountered.
    For the most part the secured loans that I have had, have been good experiences, despite my hatred towards the interest. Most of them have been OK. With the exception of PaceSetter Windows, who was so bad overall, that they changed their company name, so that they could lure in new customers. The first window I bought through them, I paid off early or so I thought, I paid them the pay off amount that they gave me at anyrate. However, when I went to place more windows in, this time getting most of the rest of the windows, they informed me that I still owed $100 on the previous loan, that I hadn't paid on for two years. Now why hadn't they contacted me, if that was true?

    Except for them, my secured loans that covered the vehicles I have bought and the consolidation loan that I paid off early last year (3-years early) have been pleasent to work with for the most part.

    The unsecured debt, my now officially cancelled credit card has been a headache early on. Providian, now Wamu, has continuely refused to work with me. I do intend to call them up this week and talk to them about lowering the interest rate again. This time, suggesting that give me the same rate as they would if I were working on the debt through consumer credit counseling. It wasn't even a so called poor credit loans. Yet they treat me like it was, even though I have never been late, until this past month I was a victim of the Calafornia company that I spent so much time posting about recently.

    The fact is I will be glad when I get this debt and all my loans out of my life forever.

    Thank You Anonymous

    When I went to my PO Box this morning, I found an envelope from one of my readers. I would like to thank the Anonymous reader from Mid-Hudson, NY who sent me $5. It is very much appreciated.

    Will The Consumer Win from Court Ruling?

    Recently the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that certain pricing restrictions placed on retailers by the manufacturers is not necessarily illegal, and now must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
    The ruling ends a 96-year-old ban on manufacturers setting minimum retail prices for their goods.

    Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that while it can reduce competition between retailers, it could promote competition between rival brands.

    "A single manufacturer's use of vertical price restraints tends to eliminate intrabrand price competition; this in turn encourages retailers to invest in tangible or intangible services or promotional efforts that aid the manufacturer's position as against rival manufacturers."

    Meaning discounters won't be able to undercut the service providers.
    In addition, Kennedy argued,

    "Resale price maintenance also has the potential to give consumers more options so that they can choose among low-price, low-service brands; high-price, high service brands; and brands that fall in between."

    As the film "Is Wal-Mart good for America," which was produced by Frontline a few years points out Wal-Mart (and perhaps other deep discounters) demand that manufacturers are not going to tell them how much they will charge. Instead they will tell the manufacturer how much they will pay for their product. Thus forcing manufactures to go to China in order to compete thus dumping American workers on the unemployment line. Perhaps, if I am reading this ruling correctly, manufacturers will now be able to continue operating in America and thus keep Americans working. Which in my opinion is good for all Americans. The downside? It may end Wal-Marts dominance and in a few years we may see them struggling like Kmart was a few years back, before Kmart came back with high profits and announcing they were buying Sears. Now that combined company is known as Sears Holdings.
    Maybe Wal-Mart won't struggle that bad. However, I can see them struggling if they are no longer able to push the manufacturers around, as has been their history.

    So what do you think? Will this hurt or help the consumer? How about the American worker?

    Will Court Rulling Help or Hurt Consumers?

    Recently the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that certain pricing restrictions placed on retailers by the manufacturers is not necessarily illegal, and now must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
    The ruling ends a 96-year-old ban on manufacturers setting minimum retail prices for their goods.

    Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that while it can reduce competition between retailers, it could promote competition between rival brands.

    "A single manufacturer's use of vertical price restraints tends to eliminate intrabrand price competition; this in turn encourages retailers to invest in tangible or intangible services or promotional efforts that aid the manufacturer's position as against rival manufacturers."

    Meaning discounters won't be able to undercut the service providers.
    In addition, Kennedy argued,

    "Resale price maintenance also has the potential to give consumers more options so that they can choose among low-price, low-service brands; high-price, high service brands; and brands that fall in between."

    As the film "Is Wal-Mart good for America," which was produced by Frontline a few years points out Wal-Mart (and perhaps other deep discounters) demand that manufacturers are not going to tell them how much they will charge. Instead they will tell the manufacturer how much they will pay for their product. Thus forcing manufactures to go to China in order to compete thus dumping American workers on the unemployment line. Perhaps, if I am reading this ruling correctly, manufacturers will now be able to continue operating in America and thus keep Americans working. Which in my opinion is good for all Americans. The downside? It may end Wal-Marts dominance and in a few years we may see them struggling like Kmart was a few years back, before Kmart came back with high profits and announcing they were buying Sears. Now that combined company is known as Sears Holdings.
    Maybe Wal-Mart won't struggle that bad. However, I can see them struggling if they are no longer able to push the manufacturers around, as has been their history.

    and that's my view, what's yours?

    Review: America's Marketplace for Real Financial Performance

    If you are like me, you have a Sharebuilder account, or perhaps e*trade or Ameritrade, but maybe you are unsure of what stocks to buy. You would like the help of a broker, but refuse to pay those high fees charged at the brokerage firms on wall street. So what are you to do?

    Well I found a blog that is being billed as "America's 1st marketplace for real financial performance". This particular blog, is the most exciting marketing blog that I have come across since I become a personal finance blogger. This particular blog includes public posts from a group of investment directors that have agreed to write for the blog.

    Over all I think Vestopia has done a great job with their marketing blog. It is very well done and very professional. A great asset, when you are trying to decide what to buy with your ShaeBuilder, e*trade or Ameritrade account. Now you really can decide for yourself, while still getting the advice of distinguished investment directors, without paying those high fees of the full service brokerage firms.

    Most Popular Personal Finance Posts This Week

    I recently learned about a page at that I did not know about, until it showed up in my stats as a referrer page. The page is great. Like the today's popular posts, that lists that days most popular posts, this page lists the most popular posts for the week. Once a post on the list is a week old (or 168 hours) it is automatically dropped off.
    So I thought, it would be fun to see what some of the most popular posts this past week was, all of which were picked by you the personal finance readers.

    There were 458 posts that made it into the most popular and I will pick and choose posts from just the first page.
  • Of course, I cannot ignore the most read post of the week, which was:
    Say Goodbye to Emigrant Direct by The Sun's Financial Diary (July 21, 2007). This post had 22 people click on the agreegators link. Here the author talks about his disappointment about Emigrant Directs (ING) decision to start lowering their interest rates.

  • Also with 22 clicks Personal Finance Advice wrote about, How Dumping TV Allowed Me to Quit My Job, Create an Online Business and Fund My Retirement Account (July 17, 2007).

  • Then on July 16, 2007, my very own post about The Banking Experiment That Went Horribly Wrong made it on the list with 20 clicks.

  • However, that wasn't my only post that made the most popular posts for the week list. The news item, I posted on July 21st, also made it. Yes, I actually played reporter again, and this time I totally rewrote an article and never quoted it once, while it except for actual quotes from people they interviewed. If you missed it, you can see that article at, $90,000 Arrive With PS2.

  • Finally, I will close out my quick round up with this, perhaps the most interesting post a personal finance blogger posted about. It seems a store that One Frugal Girl shops has been having problems with Return Fraud.. Returning Rocks Instead of TVs (13 clicks). Apparently, customers bought items, removed the product, filled the box with rocks, bricks and crumpled paper and then returned it for a full refund. Amazingly, this is a problem, that costs retailers an estimated $16 billion in each year. Of course most of that is stolen merchandise being returned and/or with counterfeit receipts.

    Well, that will have to do. That is my round up of the most popular posts read according to PF Blogs for the week. To bad, at least I haven't found them yet, they don't have most popular posts for the month and/or year. One thing, I would suggest though, is that they make this link to the weekly posts a little more accessible.
  • I actually voted for

    I actually voted for John Kerry (After I voted against him)


    Iloans iLoans is a British blog that offers information on personal loans and secured loans. Now as most readers of this blog know, I do not like debt and well preach against it. However, this review will be fair to all.
    One of the first things I noticed is that the site was not finished. When I clicked the "about iLoans" link at the top of the page, I found no information at all. The only thing on the page, besides the standard site template was:

    This is an example of a WordPress page, you could edit this to put information about yourself or your site so readers know where you are coming from. You can create as many pages like this one or sub-pages as you like and manage all of your content inside of WordPress.

    Surely this was just the one page. But when I click on "privacy Policy," Loans Calculators," and "Free Loans Calculators," I found pages telling me that's where those pages go.

    I was prepared to tell my American readers this site wasn't for them and my British readers to procede with caution. However, after seeing that wasn't even finished, I want to issue extreme caution to all my readers, whereever in the world you may be.

    To the owners of iLoan, I want to suggest that you actually finish the site before promoting your website.

    brought to you by your friends at

    Saturday, July 21, 2007

    Competition for Craigslist

    EBay recently launched it United States version of What is Well it is a site that eBay launched 2 years ago overseas, and is their own version of CraigsList. Like the more popular original, allows you to post classifieds for free.

    If you have something to advertise, what a great new tool to help get that ad there. If you are looking for that deal then, be sure to check out both sites. I expect will grow as more people become more aware of it.
    For example, I just finished posting an ad on both sites for the August 11 flea market my neighborhood improvement association is having. Check them out below.

    It is obvious that the eBay one has fancier tools to do some pretty cool stuff. Maybe Craig's List will update their site soon also. However, be it known that according to the report I heard on Current TV, eBay owns a minority stake in Craig's List. Could this be another pay pal situation? Remember, eBay's crappy online payment system, then they bought PayPal and boom their crappy service was gone as it merged into the better known and bigger service that had been swallowed up by the corporate giant.

    $90,000 Arrive With PS2

    Wow, did you see this? A 16-year-old boy in England bought a PlayStation 2 on eBay for 95 British pounds. No big deal right? Well, when it showed up, he eagerly tore into the box, as any boy his age would do, and found that there was also 65,400 euros (about $90,100 U.S. dollars) in the box. The package was to also come with 2 games that was missing from the package. But hey, with such a costly mistake on the sellers part, the boy can buy his own games right? Well not quite yet.

    See the parents (on March 20,2007) took the package to the police, who are holding unto the money, while they try to identify the seller, with the cooperation of eBay, and alert them to his/her costly mistake. The money, which still has not been claimed will remain in police custody until the owner claims it. However, the owner only has until September 22 (2007). At which time the family may be able to apply to get it back.

    "We have until 22 September before we have to go back to court to apply for a further order if necessary," a police spokesman told the BBC.

    An eBay spokesperson told the BBC:

    "We know that eBay is a great place to pick up a bargain, although in this case, we agree that the contents of the parcel were somewhat unusual and we will assist with any inquiries the police may wish to make."

    If you were this 16-year-old kid what would you have done? Would you have have done the same thing he and his parents did? or would you have just kept the money, without telling anyone? I want to hear your thoughts.

    this article was derived from an article originally seen at

    Welcome! Look Around and Stay A While

    It seems that I must have hit the lottery sort to speak. Yesterday, I looked at my stats and was amazed to see such a huge influx of visitors. Looking more closely at the states, it seems most of the new visitors are coming in, by way of Google searches. The search term, in one day has become the number one search term for this site. What was that term? Various versions of "84 square foot house" or home. All in all at midnight central time, I had received 310 hits on that article/page alone. Over all I had 384 unique visitors for the day. Considering I normally have 50-100 and occasionally 200 a day, to swell to almost 400 is fabulous. If this keeps up, I could be the number one personal finance blog rather then just one of the top 100.

    So I would like to welcome all the new readers. If this is your first time here or if you have never commented before, I would like to welcome each of you. Everyone is encouraged to comment on any of the articles. All I ask is that if you don't have a blogger account, click on other and give yourself a name, so that your comments will be taken a little more seriously then a no name anonymous reply would be. The name you type in can be your real name, a nick name or an online pseudonym and is just to identify your comments.

    This blog is (as stated above) a personal finance blog. I discuss my personal financial troubles openly here and my readers rebuke or support (with their comments) me. In addition I have talked about various frugal and thrifty tips. Discussed financial gurus like Dave Ramsey and John Cummuta. I have even discussed billionaires and business leaders such as Ron Burkle and Warren Buffett. It's all here, it's all my opinion, with your agreements, disagreements and thoughts thrown in. It to is my open book of the huge stupid mistakes I have made financially and all my struggles as I dig myself out of debt.

    So with that, I would again like to say welcome and thank each and everyone of you for stopping by. Feel free to make a comment here to say hi and post how you found my blog.

    Friday, July 20, 2007

    College Bound?

    This morning I had a meeting with the college admissions representative at a small local college. We discussed the possibility of me returning to college. I like this college, because it is specifically career oriented. It only lasts 14 months and then I graduate and they help me find a job, including developing my resume.

    The other nice thing about Bryan College is that they have morning and evening classes, taught by the same instructor and are the exact same material in both classes. In other words, if I have a day where I have to work during the morning class, I can go to the evening class.

    All in all, I think it would be very good go back. After, I graduate maybe I can get a corporate job in my current company. If not there will be other opportunities. Maybe as one person suggested, a job with consumer credit counseling. Or, perhaps starting that not-for-profit, that I mentioned the other day. Who knows. The big thing is to get more education, so I can have a better chance to move up higher in the business world.

    I will diffidently be discussing these options with the staff further over the next few weeks.

    The Business Administration class has a total of 60 credit hours and covers the follow matters. Each subject last for 6 weeks and is the only subject the student studies during that period and each is worth 6 credit hours.

  • Computer Software Management
  • Business Communications
  • Principles of Business
  • Leadership
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Human Resource Management
  • Business L:aw
  • Business Accounting
  • Economics
  • Sales and Marketing

    OK, now it's that time, as with all my posts, to get your thoughts. Do you think it is a good idea?
    Of course, my biggest concern is the financial aid package. Especially, when I do not want to take any debt for any reason.
  • Yard Sale Planning

    I am currently planning to have a yard sale on August 11. Selling 2 or 3 brand new never opened CD's. One of which is Big n rich. A number of video's, t-shirts, a coat and several more items yet to be found and gone through.

    I may even be able to sale an old computer, if I can find my old CD's to clean off all my stuff and prepare it for sale to a new owner. It is my hope that I will be able to make at least $100 (wish it could be $1000) that day, even after I pay the $10 free for the community flea market, being held that day, in conjunction with national neighborhood night out against crime.

    Time to get busy digging out all the items I don't need, want and/or can do without and get them prepared to sell that day.

    Customer Service

    I was thinking today, as I went into Bank of America to make a deposit to clear up the last few items that are to hit this week. How sad it is, that the tellers are so friendly and wonderful to talk to, and yes, even customer friendly. Yet, at the same time, their company policies are so un-customer friendly and promote poor customer service. It is these company policies that is getting Bank of America fired and not the friendliness of the great tellers/staff at their branches.
    The teller today was exceptionally friendly. She of course had no idea that I was having problems with her company and had decided to fire them. However, I noticed she had the same last name as a couple of people I know and I asked her if she was related, which of course she answered in the affirmative. People like her make it harder to make these tough business decisions, but as I said it's her company and not the employees in general.

    The other customer service issue is Providian Credit Card Washington Mutual. They continue to refuse to lower the interest rate, so I sent a message through their online system that stated:

    I said no excuses. You WILL lower the APR or I will cancel. There is no more "you don't qualify." If you want to keep me as a customer, you WILL lower it today!!!! Otherwise, I will cancel the account today.
    Apparently, I did not make that clear enough in my previous emails. Do you understand, what I am saying this time? You are NOT going to rob me any longer. You have robbed me for way to long, and it is going to STOP today. Is that clear enough for you? Which is is going to be? Lower the rate? or cancel my account?

    I know it sounds rough, but they want to play hardball with me, I will play right back. I haven't told them yet, that I will be canceling anyway. I just want that lower APR, so that I can get it paid down faster. Of course, this time around, I was late for the first time ever with them and they charged me additional fees, which did not help. In fact, it helped max the card out again. What I really need to do, is get really gazelle intense and get them out of my life forever. As I said though, it would help, if the card's APR was lower and that is what I am working on. The reply that I quoted above was in response to their response below, which will show why I got a little more demanding in my reply. Well, anyway, here was their response to my "first" contact:

    We conducted an immediate review of your account to determine whether
    your account qualifies for a lower Annual Percentage Rate (APR) offer.
    Your account is not eligible for such an offer at this time.

    We apologize we are unable to meet your needs. Should your account
    qualify for such an offer in the future, we will notify you.

    Of course this was similar to the phone call with them of a couple months or so ago. So know I am upping the anti a little, let's see if they respond.

    Wednesday, July 18, 2007

    An 84 square foot Home?

    Did you see this story. I seen this video on CNN yesterday. The video comes wrote:
    Dee Williams wanted "a simpler life, time, more money. I don't have a mortgage. I don't have a big utility bill." So she built herself an 84 square foot house- "Not much to it. Simple. Small. A dream house tinier than a parking spot." Her monthly heating bill is $6 bucks and electricity is free from the solar panels.

    Dee built the tiny cabin herself out of salvaged material. She picked the door out of a dumpster and retrieved the floors from a house fire. Dee's new tiny home sits in her friend's backyard.

    To our eye it looks suspiciously like Jay Shafer's Tumbleweed Home but no credit is given in the article or video; that is the way of the world. Nonetheless Dee is happy in her knockoff home. "Right now there's nowhere else I want to be!" Watch the video at

    Now thats what I call thrifty. That's what I call frugal. Maybe i should consider finishing up my tool shed. Turning it into a small home. Then I can rent out the larger house.

    Now i realize that I can't do it at this time. I have to pay off to many debts at the moment, but when I do, it would be a great way to save money in the long haul. I mean $6/month electric bills. Wow! That would be awesome.

    Hmm, I will have to think about this more. What do you think?

    Monday, July 16, 2007

    SPONSOR: Debt Consolidation

    I found a site recently called The website offers Debt consolidation loans. When I talked previously about this site, we focused on the student loan consolidation section of their website. Today however, we are going to focus on the section that Dave Ramsey would preach against.

    Now I know that borrowing to get out of debt is dangerous. In fact most people, some 90+%, are deeper in debt with in a year of consolidating their debt. That is why Ramsey preaches against it. However, there are times in my mind where I wonder, if it wouldn't help.

    Sure, it can't be taken lightly, and if it is done, it must truly be the last loan you ever take out. While, I would never recommend it, I would suggest taking a look at, if you are going to try to get relief on your debts through debt consolidation loans.

    Of course if you do consolidate, you will be mortgaging your home and if you don't get this, what should be, your last loan ever paid off on time, you can lose your home.

    Whatever, you do, you must look at all your options, including Their solution finder is awesome, and is a great way to consider your options if you do in fact decide to consolidate your debts.
    OK, so I have given my thoughts, now it's time to hear your your thoughts. Take a look at the site, and be open and honest about your thoughts on it.

    The Banking Experiment That Went Horribly Wrong

    Bank of America Boycott
    Back in February, I signed up for a Bank of America checking account. I had seen several other personal finance blogger's who had also made the switch, largely because of the incentives (free money) they offer, however was it really worth it?

    As those who have read my blog regularly know, a company that I have done business with in the past, and I thought i would do business with again, decided they would create their own agreement and take the full amount ($275) instead of the monthly charge. When I contacted Bank of America, they tell me that is a billing dispute and therefore I cannot file a claim. However, Bank of America charges my account for overdraft fees in excess of the $275 that was fraudulently taken from my account. All in all I lost about my entire monthlies take home pay.

    At that point, I started hearing from other personal finance blogger's who reported bad experiences with B.o.A and their poor customer service.

    I should have known however, when I had reported in October that had reported:

    "Late is late", said the Bank of America customer service rep, based in Colorado Springs CO, referring to the fact that the payment posted the day it was due but was (2) hours late. Each time your minimum payment is late (i.e., not received by 2 p.m., ET, on its Payment Due Date), or the account balance is over-the-credit-limit, we may increase each of your account's Variable APRs up to the Default APR of 29.99. Bank of America was penalized in a class action suit for "rolling back" payment due dates according to court filings in Delaware. They could squeeze more late fees by rolling back the due date time to 10am and they were caught and penalized by the FTC. Bank of America, this is your first Lemon Award nomination.

    Because all of this I will be firing Bank of America. The experiment went horribly wrong, and will be tough for me to rebound from fully. Although, it will work out in the long run. Had I still been at the Credit Union, the overdraft charges would have been for less ($15 v $35) and they would have been willing to work with me, when I went to talk with them. What does Bank of America do, when I go to them and to ask for mercy? They put back $43 dollars back. Gee thanks, you (B.o.A.) and the fraudsters stole an entire months income and all you put back is $43? I wasn't asking for all the fees to be put back, but geez, put enough back so I can rebound better. Like 3,4 or 5 of the overdraft charges. But do they do that? No! They return $43 and then sock my account for $35 two more times when automatic payments are represented again. So they gave me nothing in reality. Had they returned only 3 fees, I would have been back into the positive and the represented payments would have cleared and I would have been on my way. However, now I am pissed and I will be closing my account at this national bank.
    Today, I will be going down to cancel my debit card, to make sure no more automatic charges hit it. Then I will close my savings account and in a week or two after I make sure all checks and outstanding payments have been satisfied, I will close the checking account officially.
    My direct deposit will be transferred this week back to the credit union.

    SPONSORED Post: Gold Star Credit

    GoldStarCredit.NET is a website that compares credit card offers. As those who read this blog regularly know, I do not do credit and agree with Dave Ramsey along with John Cummuta that credit cards are evil and should be avoided at all costs.
    There is no question in my mind. A person get ahead faster, in the long run, by paying for everything with cash. Now it may seem at the start credit is better, but in the long run, like the turtle and hare, cash will win as those using credit pay those interest rates and make the banks richer and the spender poorer.
    The website even allows the reader to apply right there on the website. However, I would suggest avoiding GoldStarCredit.NET.
    GoldStarCredit.NET even compares auto loan companies as well as good credit, poor credit and gas cards. One good thing I found is debt help. However, to make matters worse there was no comparison, it offered one company that being Care One debt counseling.
    So as you can see, for someone who follows the teachings of Dave Ramsey and/or John Cummuta, GoldStarCredit.NET is a site that must be avoided at all costs.

    Sunday, July 15, 2007

    Interesting Debt Transcript from CNN's Paula Zahn

    Leigh Ann of SaveLeighAnn.BlogSpot.COM was on CNN's Paula Zahn last Tues, July 10 (2007) and I thought it might be interesting to see the transcript for those of us who missed the show for whatever reason.

    ZAHN: Americans are running up credit card bills at the fastest pace in six months. The Federal Reserve reports a 9.8 percent increase in credit card debt in the month of May alone, compared with less than one percent the month before. Now that's the big picture. But what we're bringing out in the open tonight is the secret humiliation of nonstop spending, spending that leads to crushing debt. These people are so ashamed their addiction to spending, they're afraid to even show us their faces.

    Deborah Feyerick has tonight's edition of "Debtor Nation."


    DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is perhaps the one secret few people talk about.

    (on camera): How many of you felt some shame that you had let yourself get into this situation?


    FEYERICK (voice-over): A secret people keep even from those closest to them.

    UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If anyone knew this, they wouldn't think of me as an adult anymore as a responsible person. And it might hurt my business standing, my image, my reputation.

    FEYERICK: In an age when sex is spoken about openly, and few subjects are off limits, this one remains taboo.

    UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I felt like a thief.

    FEYERICK: which is why these people agreed to speak with us on condition we not show their faces.

    UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name is Jonathan, I'm a debtor.


    FEYERICK: That's right. The secret is debt. Americans owe a record $880 billion on credit cards alone.

    UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I remember one time walking into the BMW dealer to buy a pair of gloves. And so I walked out with the gloves and a new BMW.

    FEYERICK: Jonathan owed $225,000 when he attended his first Debtor's Anonymous meeting and discovered he was not alone.

    UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You'll have the anxiety about the money. And then you'll manage the anxiety by going and using the credit card and debting more and then it just builds and builds and builds.

    FEYERICK: April Lane Benson is the author of the book, "I shop, therefore I am."

    (on camera): Is compulsive buying akin to an addiction like alcohol or drugs?

    APRIL LANE BENSON, AUTHOR: Very much so. You have to buy more and more to get the same kind of a high. And it gets out of control.

    FEYERICK (voice-over): Benson, a psychologist, who treats compulsive shoppers, says there are an estimated 15 million nationwide. More people, she says, than who suffer eating disorders.

    (on camera): So, for example this outfit, I will look so perfect that my whole life will come together like, in an instant.

    BENSON: Absolutely.

    FEYERICK: And they think that was on some level.

    BENSON: Mm-hmm.

    FEYERICK: Are they filling a need within themselves, an emptiness perhaps.

    BENSON: Sometimes it is emptiness.

    FEYERICK: Can be anger?

    BENSON: It can be anger, it can be boredom, loneliness.

    LEIGH ANN FRALEY, DEBTOR: I go shopping to make myself feel better. I was shopping every day. I would have to buy something.

    FEYERICK (voice-over): Leigh Ann knew she lost control, from the stacks of unopened credit card bills, to the binge shopping, buying, then returning.

    FRALEY: Every time I make more money, I buy more expensive things, you know? I was never where I would actually pay it down or I still living paycheck to paycheck, because the minute you make more money, they'll send you more credit cards, you know.

    FEYERICK: Leigh Ann found her road to recovery online with a blog. Writing down every penny she spent and sharing intimate details of her money problems with total strangers.

    FRALEY: They're like close, close friends, you know? And because we associate, we found something that we all had in common, you know, that we were in debt.

    FEYERICK: Her site Save Leeann started anonymously. Now she's out in the open.

    FRALEY: I did it almost every day for a year and got the money paid off in one year and two months.

    FEYERICK: Her $20,000 debt is now $3,000 in savings. As for the debtors we met earlier, some paid everything off. Others are still working on it. And all meet regularly to prevent a relapse.

    UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God, grant me the serenity...

    FEYERICK: Deborah Feyerick, CNN, New York. ZAHN: Fascinating.

    Saturday, July 14, 2007

    Health & Wellness

    AS I mentioned yesterday I was going to a health and wellness screening, conducted by Blue Cross of Kansas City. My weight is 144.4 with a body mass index (whatever that is) of 23.
    Over all my health was perfect, except on little area, as you will see on the chart below.


    blood pressure

    Total Cholesterol


    Total Cholesterol/HDL ratio


    My Results






    Desirable Results


    Less then 200 mg/dl

    Greater than 40 mg/dl

    4.5 or less

    Less then 140 (Non-fasting)

    So what does it mean for me? I need to exercise more.

    Friday, July 13, 2007

    Birthday Card

    Thanks Sean for the birthday card and DQ gift certificate. Wish I had a working scanner so that I could show you all this funny card.

    but it has monkey in b-day hat and yellow shirt with a bananna on it. inside the card it says...

    what happens at the party...stays at the party!

    Freebies on Your Birthday

    I recently saw a site (thanks Cheryl) that had compiled a list of restuarants and other eateries that gave away free food on people’s birthdays. I thought it was such a good idea, that I decided to make such a list here on DF4E to add to our resources. I mean, who doesn’t enjoy free stuff, especially around the time of year when you don’t like thinking about getting older? Well now you don’t have to focus on the added candle on your cake and instead can smile when you get a free meal or such! The original list I found hadn’t been updated since last year though, so offers may have changed. Also be aware, that I have not verified most of these, so you may want to check them out first.

    And remember, all deals are up to the specific restaurants and thus some might not participate. So if you’re standing in the middle of Taco Bell screaming for a free taco and they aren’t budging, don’t come crying to me! Also, feel free to add / refute any places you do / don’t see here! Some of the places on the list, aren't available in all areas, like what is Abbott's, Amato's or "All-American Cafe"?

    Abbotts Frozen Custard - Sign up and get a free treat.

    Alfy’s Pizza - Free mini pizza

    All-American Cafe - Free dessert

    Amato’s Sandwich Shop - Join the Tamatos Club and get a free birthday sandwich.

    Applebees - Free dessert

    Arby’s - Sign up and get coupons yearround, including on your birthday.

    Austin Grill - Free meal (May need to register first on their website)

    Bakers Square - Free pie

    Bandido’s - Free entree

    Baskin Robbins - Free ice cream treat

    Beaches Restaurant - Free meal

    Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream - Register on-line and you can get some free ice cream!

    Benihana’s Japanese Restaurant - Free dinner with 3 other paying guests. (So bring your friends!)

    Bennigan’s - Sign up for their Bennigan’s Club and get a coupon for a free entree plus a free dessert.

    Bj’s - Free Pazookie!! (otherwise known as a delicious dessert.)

    Blimp Subs - Join their BIP club and get a free 6′ sub on your birthday.

    Bob Evans - Free Kids Meal for kids under the age of 12.

    Bob’s Big Boy - Free hot fudge ice cream

    Boston Market - Free Kids B-Day meal coupon for kids under 12 and coupons online for their various entrees.

    Buffalo Wild Wings (BW3) - Free dozen hot wings

    Burger King - Free kids meal to all kids club members

    California Pizza Kitchen - Free kids meal during the month of their birthday, but you have to register first

    Caribou Coffee - If you join up, they’ll e-mail you a wee or two before your birthday with a coupon. Print it out and get a free coffee drink.

    Carrows - Free cake plus a free dessert now just for signing up.

    Cattlemen’s - Free dessert and cowboy hat (I’d go just for the cowboy hat!)

    Charlie Brown’s Steakhouse - Sign up and get a free dessert plus points for every dollar spent.

    Charlie’s Seafood - Free meal

    Cheesecake Factory - Free dessert

    Chevy’s - Free dessert and sombrero (First a cowboy hat, then a sombrero…heck yeah!)

    Chilis - Free dessert

    Chips N Giggles - Free meal

    Claim Jumper - Free dessert

    Coldstone Creamery - Join on-line and get a free creation (My…God…Is…This…Delicious…)

    Cracker Barrel - Free dessert

    Dairy Queen - Free ice cream coupon in e-mail for kids 16 and under. They also have a Blizzard Club for adults with the same offer.

    Damon’s Steakhouse - Here’s a little trick. All you have to do is make a new email address, sign up, and within 24 hours they will send you 10 bucks off your meal, with the purchase of another comparably priced meal. So every time you and a friend go, you can get $10 off no matter what. Plus, they send you a few coupons for your birthday!

    Don Pablos - Free dessert

    Denny’s - Free meal to kids under 10

    Einstein’s - Free meal

    El Chicos - Free dessert

    Ernie’s Steakhouse - Free meal

    Famous Dave’s Barbeque - Free meal with advance signup.

    Firestone Subs - Sign up and get an email for a free sub.

    Friendly’s - Free ice cream cone if you join their birthday club.

    Fuddruckers - Free ice cream sundae

    Glory Days Grill - Free sundae on your birthday if you sign up.

    Golden Corral - Free meal to Birthday Club members (And many people say this isn’t limited to just kids!) during month of birthday.

    Grillfish - Free meal

    Hard Rock Cafe - Free dessert

    Hometown Buffet - Free birthday cake

    Hooters - Free song & T-shirt (Pretty soon here I’m going to have an entire outfit!)

    Houlihans - Free coupon for an entree during your next visit up to a week after b-day (Kinda complicated…but free!)

    Joe’s Crab Shack - Free cake

    Krispy Kreme - Free half dozen glazed donuts and a coffee mug with either coffee or soda in it! You might want to sign up ahead of time.

    Logan’s Roadhouse - Free song and slice of cheesecake.

    Lotus - Free meal

    Macaroni Grill - Free dessert plus an OPERA-style “Happy Birthday” song, which is always different.

    Maggianos - $10 off purchase of $20 if you sign up in advance.

    Mainstreet Ventures (large chain of different restaurants. Click to see if any are near you.) - Up to 50% off your meal. It’s based on the number of people in your party. For example, 2 people dining = 50% off. 3 People dining = 33% off, 4 people dining = 25%, etc.

    Marie Calenders - Free dessert

    Memphis BBQ - Coupon good for a free Rack of Ribs & strawberry shortcake, but you must sign up on website 24 hours in advance.

    Mexican Village - Free meal

    Moe’s Southwest Grill - Signup for their newsletter and get a coupon for a free burrito. They also have a birthday club for kids under 10.

    Moonies Diner - Free meal

    O’Charley’s - I remember getting quite a few free desserts over the years from them!

    Old Spaghetti Warehouse - Free meal

    Olive Garden - Free dessert

    On The Border - Free appetizer if you sign up

    Outback Steakhouse - Free dessert or appetizer

    P.B. Loco - Sign up for their newsletters and you’ll receive coupons periodically for free stuff, as well as coupons for free stuff when your B-day rolls around.

    Pappa’s Restaurants (PAPPADEAUX, PAPPASITO’S, ETC) - Free dessert

    Paradiso’s - Free meal

    Perkin’s - Free stack of pancakes

    PF Changs - Free cake or cheesecake

    Pizza Express - Free meal

    Poncho’s - Free meal, dessert & picture

    Provino’s Italian Restaurant - Free $10.99 meal and ice cream dessert

    Qdoba Mexican Grill - Join their eClub and get a “buy one, get 1 entree free” coupon.

    Quizno’s - Join their mailing list and get a free birthday gift (I think this means coupons?)

    Red Lobster - Free slice of cake if you join their Overboard Club.

    Red Robin - Free Hamburger if you sign up for Eclub, plus a free gift just for signing up!

    Rock Bottom - Free appetizer for Mug Club members.

    Round Table - Free personal pizza

    Ruby Tuesday - Sign up in advance and they’ll send you something!

    Smoky Bones - Free meal

    Sonic - Free Wacky Pack Kid’s Meal on children’s birthdays if you register ahead of time.

    Souper Salad - Join their Souper Salad Club and they’ll e-mail you a coupon for one free birthday meal which can be used within a week or your birthday.

    Steak & Ale - Free mini choco cake plus other free gifts.

    Steak-N-Shake - Free dinner for “birthday club” kids

    Taco Bell - Free combo meal of your choice

    Texas De Brazil - Sign up for their e-club and they’ll send you a $40 gift certificate! This place can be pricey, but it’s soooo worth it.

    TGI Friday’s - Free birthday dessert plus free appetizer just for signing up!

    The Fox and Hound - Free appetizer just for joining plus free entree on your birthday.

    The Loft - Free meal

    The Palm - 3lb lobster, but you must be a member first and follow a few rules.

    The Pasta House - Free dessert

    The Vine Tavern - Free meal

    Todai Sefood Buffet - Free coupon or voucher for free meal next visit.

    Tony Roma’s - Free dessert if you sign up for Expert Club first.

    Uno’s Pizza - Sign up and get a free personal pizza on your birthday

    Vaccaro’s Italian Pastry Shop - Free dessert and drink

    Wendy’s - Free kids meal

    Z’ Tejas - $15 coupon for the month of your birthday if you register first.

    Zio’s - Free dessert

    Birthday Thoughts

    Well today is the day. I am officially Jack Benny's age (for those who have never heard of Benny, he was comedian, in the golden age of radio, who was always 39). Today is a busy day for me.

    Yesterday, I was asked if I like my job and could I see myself retiring from there. the answer is yes, I do love my job, which surprised me, because years ago I hated it. While I would like to own my own store(s) or get back into full-time non-profit
    work, I could see myself retiring from the company I work for. They have excellent benefits and unlike most companies, pay for 75% of my insurance.

    Speaking of which, Blue Cross is conducting health screenings for my company today, so at 10 am, I will be getting a free exam which will include my first ever cholesterol test. Which is something that I certainly have wanted to do and that I need.

    I will end the day by going to work and taking care of some of the best customers that I have ever had the honor of working for.

    In addition I think I will stop by and at the very least get prices on stencils and spray paint, in preparation of painting curbside address numbers.

    oh, by the way, Yesterday, was payday at work and I finally received my check from Edward Jones, so I can start getting some debts caught up again.

    Thursday, July 12, 2007

    Make Money Blogging Without Annoying Your Readers

    Recently I signed up for a program called CashCrate. This is a program that pays you to sign up for free offers and filling out online surveys.

    In addition, you can can get paid for referrals. Currently I am earning 20% of what my referrals make and 10% of what their referrals make. CashCrate will then also pay $3 bonus for each referral who meets the $10 minimum payout.

    Yesterday, I received an email that I received my first $3 bonus, bring my total earned this month to $13.77. When I joined the blogger, who I signed up under was claiming to have made $1,000+ for several months just from CashCrate. I find that hard to believe, and the person who commented yesterday on this blog sounds more realistic, when she says that she makes around $20 each month. Currently I am waiting on $31.60 in pending earnings to be credited to my July earnings.

    Like Misti, I don't mess with the offers that want me to use my credit/debit card or that has a fee. In fact, the system is set up, in such a way, that I can easily filter out all those and just view the 100% free offers.

    On top of that, CashCrate has a "daily survey" that they pay you 80 cents for taking. Of course as the name suggests, you can only take the survey once a day. However, for me, as an employee of a retailer, I have found that I do not qualify for many of them.

    I think this thing is pretty cool, I can make money online, without writing a sponsored post, which many readers detest. I don't know that I will make a lot of extra money from it, but certainly it will make a few extra dollars so that I can buy a few gallons of gas and/or help pay down my debts faster.

  • Your Referral Rank: Bronze
  • Your Active Referrals: 2
  • Total First Level Referrals (20%): 5
  • Total Second Level Referrals (10%): 3

  • Your Next Referral Rank: Silver
  • Active Referrals Needed: 50
  • New First Level Commission: 25%
  • New Second Level Commission: 10%

  • Earnings from Offers: $7.25
  • Earnings from Daily Surveys: $0.80
  • Earnings from Referrals: $2.72
  • Earnings from Bonuses: $3.00
  • Total Earnings: $13.77

  • I encourage all my readers to consider clicking on one of the banners/links in this post and sign up. Especially those that wish to make money from blogging. However, one word of advice, use an email address specifically for this program and all the offers that you fill out, because that account will become filled with emails pretty quickly.

    In addition, CashCrate also has contests every month. This month, they have a contest for the most referral bonuses.

    Most $3 Bonuses:

  • 1st - 222828 - 6
  • 2nd - 231048 - 3
  • 2nd - 266743 - 3
  • 4th - 192904 - 2
  • 4th - 216692 - 2
  • 4th - 244167 - 2
  • 4th - 194210 - 2
  • 4th - 206625 - 2

  • So as you can see, I am only 1 bonus away from being tied for forth and 2 away from being tied for 2nd. Prizes in this category include 1st - $100, 2nd - $65, 3rd - $35.

    The other contest for the month is the most $$ earned in completed offers, with prizes ranging from $10 (for 10th place also 4,5,6,7,8 & 9th) to $100 for 1st place.
    Currently those standings are:

  • 1st - 228558 - $75.00
  • 2nd - 232398 - $57.00
  • 3rd - 272735 - $55.70
  • 4th - 238050 - $55.45
  • 5th - 239058 - $53.00
  • 6th - 269103 - $47.00
  • 7th - 274277 - $46.00
  • 8th - 204999 - $45.00
  • 8th - 216024 - $45.00
  • 8th - 274174 - $45.00

  • So what are you waiting for head on over and sign up so you to make money, while at the same time help me make money.

    Wednesday, July 11, 2007

    Money Making Ideas

    I have decided to have a garage sale next month. I will take some vacation time and have a garage sale. The problem is I never seem to make very much at my garage sales. I hear of people making $100, $200, $300 or $400. Me? I am lucky to make $50 most of the time. But $50 is $50 and any little bit helps.

    In addition, I like the idea that Jagular suggested. The idea of painting addresses on curbs sounds great. As soon as I read the idea, I thought of a price, then comes along MsMomsMoney, who suggested the exact same price that i was thinking of. Now if I can just find where to get the stencils, so I can paint the numbers. It should be pretty easy to find 100 homes to accept my offer to paint their address on the curb.

    Years ago, when I first dropped out of college, I had a roommate that did this for his living, of course he drank all of his money away, but seemed to always have money everyday when he finished up.

    Phone Back On/Changes To Be Made

    Yesterday morning about 11 am CT, I was able to get my phone turned back on, but still owe $89 (by 7/24). I then called in and received the promo deal of 1000 minutes with free roaming and long distance for 39.99 (a savings of $6 over what I had been paying). I then canceled the unlimited t-zones (music downloads, Internet access, etc), saving me another $4.99. To top that off, I found I had 400 text messages at $4.99 a month, so I eliminated that also. In total I cut $16 off my monthly phone bill, plus the taxes, so that would bring the savings each month to $20-$21.

    I have made the decision also, that Bank of America will be fired as soon as I can get my direct deposit changed back to my Credit Union. Part of me can understand their reasoning that, it's not really fraud, but a billing dispute, but at the same time they are suppose to be working for me, the customer, yet they act like they don't really care.

    There has been several of you that helped make this possible. Each of you have been thanked on my Thank You blog. One guy in particular made a post on his blog, urging his readers to help. While, I really don't like asking for donations, I do appreciate them. I obviously, am still behind on other bills, because of all this mess, but can now see a teeny, tiny, small light at the end of the tunnel. The insulation company has threatened to turn me over to a collection agency, if I didn't make at least a 1/3 payment ($187) by July 10th. At this point, I am like who cares. They will get their money, but I am more concerned with the $75 mortgage and $400 car payments, not to mention the bills like electric, water, gas, phone, etc.

    I will have them paid off by the end of the year, as I will the annoying credit card as long as I stay focused and not incurring new debt, or doing anything else stupid like I did with this home business thing. Of course, I thought I would have the credit card paid off last year to. Am I to optimistic? I believe I can get all these bills caught up and get myself debt free (except my car and taxes) by March at the latest. The trick will be to keep the bills from being disconnected, during the process.

    I am open to other ways to cut expenses, even to selling my car that I am still upside down in, and getting a cheaper car.

    Not counting the insulation installation, I was $845 behind, of which I still owe $770 of it, plus keeping current as the utilities as begin sending their new bills. Again, I am still optimistic, that I will successfully get these caught up and current.

    On top of all this, Friday will be my birthday. I intend to have a good birthday. While, it would be awesome to become totally debt free on my birthday, I know that would change my spending habits in of itself. It will be 2009 before I am 100% debt free, including the car and the IRS taxes. Although as I already said, the credit card and small debts, I expect to have paid off by the end of this year.

    Tuesday, July 10, 2007

    Jagular Moment - 7/10/07

    I would like to thank these people who responded to a post by Jugular on his blog.

  • Jugular - $100
  • Lulu - $1
  • Sean - $5
  • Leigh Ann - $20
  • NIUiceprincess -$5 (july 13)
  • Monday, July 9, 2007

    Digging Out from Fraud is Slow but Happening.

    I sold some aluminum today. Having gathered together 22 pounds of aluminum, they were sold today for $12.10 (55 cents/pound). I deposited the money into my bank account, bringing my balance up to a negative $4.25. The charge is still pending, so I haven't been socked with an overdraft charge yet. From what I understand, credits are taken care of first, so if I can find $5 cash and get that deposited today, before the bank closes, I should avoid the overdraft charge (I think this is possible).

    I then came home and went online to pay $20 from my paypal account to T-mobile, then called them to get clarification on charges and ask about changing my plan. I can't change the plan until I bring my balance current. The past due includes parts of 2 previous bills.

    My current plan is $45.99 for 1000 minutes, free roaming and long distance (new plans are 49.99 for the same thing). In addition, I have unlimited t-zones at $4.99 (new subscribers would pay $5.99 ). However, they have a promo plan, I can move to that keep me on the same plan at a charge of $39.99 (instead of $45.99), plus if I drop the t-zones, I would save a total of $11. Not a whole lot over all, but it will help and I can have phone service again.

    In the meantime, I still have the free voice mail only service from Netzero, that I list on this blog to receive messages in regards to this blog.

    ****Update: My balance is now $5.88, in the positive thanks to my change jar.*****

    Thanks John

    I would like to thank John Dempsey for the $5 on July 9, 2007.

    Saturday, July 7, 2007

    Thanks Sean

    I would like to thank Sean for the 21.57 on July 7, 2007

    Thanks for Mowing

    Thank you Sean - for the surprise of mowing my lawn. That was truely unexpected.

    Lost the Phone thanks to the fraud

    Well, due to my checking account being cleared of all funds, as I discussed in earlier posts, my phone has been turned off. No partial shut off either. 100% turned off. Because, as T-mobile explained, the computer sees that returned payment and it automatically turns the phone service off. If it had just been because of a past due amount, they would have done a partial shut off, for a time.

    What is a partial shut off. It means you can't make outgoing calls, but incoming calls can still reach you. So, in my case, even though I was the victim of fraud, that is in part my fault, the computer doesn't differentiate, and automatically disconnects.

    So this means that I will not have phone service, until Thursday, when I next get paid, and then only if I am lucky. I will need to come up with $100 to pay past due charges or $190 to pay all charges including T-mobile returned payment fee ($20).

    This problem has certainly put my budget extremely out of whack. No one is getting paid at the moment and I just went online and seen another company, tried to charge my account for their bill. Taking my balance back to a negative $17. Come Monday Bank of America, may let it stand or send it back, who knows which at this moment, but they will certainly charge my account another $35 either way for going negative.

    When will this end?

    It will be Thursday, before my next paycheck or my $150, from the sell of my (auto savings) mutual fund.

    Bills I must come up with money for to bring current:

  • T-mobile $130+
  • Cox Internet $40+
  • Dish Network $90+
  • Car Loan $400+
  • Electric $75 +
  • Gas 75+
  • attic Insulation $500

  • The above are just past due charges not the current charges that are due on top of that. I really need to get some money made from all those ads and programs like CashCrate.

    I still have some surplus of food, but I am out of milk, and it's hard to comprehend, until you are in the situation, how much you depend on having that gallon of milk in the refrigerator.

    I do want to thank the friend and reader, who surprised me while I was at work yesterday. I came home from work and my yard was mowed. I could tell it wasn't done by the neighbor kid, who I usually throw $10 to do it, because his parents yard hadn't been mowed and areas of my yard that he ignores (to my dismay) had actually been mowed. Thank you guy, for getting the yard. It looks better then it has all year.

    Do they really think people are that stupid?

    Are they serious? Do people really respond to these things? I got this email, with a picture of a $1500 check and the message

    seriously, the $1500 check could be deposited into YOUR account tomorrow!
  • No credit checks
  • Apply in 2 minutes
  • Nothing to Fax
  • Safe and secure

  • There are so many problems with this email. I won't even get into the evils of Payday Loans again. If you are interested, you can click on the appropriate label and read everything I have written about Payday Loans. The biggest thing I have with this email, is I have no idea who they are, and yet they want me to give them access to my bank account so that they can deposit $1500 for 14 days. Yeah right? Clean out my account is more like it. Do they really think people are that stupid?

    Another email I received in the last 24 hours proclaimed

    Get the things you need...
    ...regardless of your credit score!

    Your financial worries are over. Now you can get the credit line, auto loan, cash advance, or home financing that you need...even with bad credit.

  • Auto loans
  • Cash Advance
  • Cell Phones
  • Credit Lines
  • Debt Reduction
  • Home refinancing

  • Again, I don't do loans, but the big question again is, who are these people? How do I know i can trust them? Sorry, but to me advertising this crap through email, makes you look less reliable. I know people are stupid about paying interest instead of saving. Hell, it's clear I have been stupid, but now am trying to reverse my stupidity. But, are people really stupid enough, to answer these email ads? Are they that desperate, that they would risk their financial health even further by giving these companies they know nothing about, all their financial information?

    Friday, July 6, 2007

    Maxed Out - the movie

    I went to my local library the other day to see if they had Maxed Out on DVD. Unfortunately, they didn't but said they could see about ordering. Today, I looked on line at the libraries website and found the movie was now mentioned in the search. According to the search, it is on order and there are two people who have it on hold. I am in position number 2.

    I can't wait to see it. While I was there I put a hold on 2 other films, that I have not seen yet. Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 911.

    Business or God

    When I left Chicago, to return to Kansas, I did so with one purpose. That purpose was to serve God and to create a ministry to provide services to the poor that currently aren't (or no longer are) provided to the poor.
    However, somewhere along the line, I got off track and made being a rich and famous businessman my goal. Perhaps, that is why (or at least part of it) I have been having such a hard time financially.
    I think perhaps I need to put my eyes back on him, and get a group to incorporate so that we can then begin forming the not-for-profit and start raising money and other donations to serve the poor members of the community.
    One of those ideas, I believe is inspired of God, is creating a food pantry that is modeled more after the clothing bank then the current food bank models. I mean, the poor are people to, perhaps they don't like or maybe even allergic to some of the food thrown in the box. The new set up would, set up the pantry like a grocery store. They are given a somewhat generic list of say 10 canned items, 3 lbs of meat, 1 package of sweets, 2 packages of bread, etc. In this way they can pick out what they would actually use and the agency would still be able to control the amount of product to the client. There are number of other things that I would like to see the agency provide, many have not been done locally, since another guy here had to retire, because of his health and close up his agency.

    Of course, the new agency would need to run debt-free, but I think it is possible.

    That's my thoughts for the day, what do you think?

    Thursday, July 5, 2007

    Wednesday, July 4, 2007

    Trying to Clean Up the Mess

    I recently wrote about some trouble I was having with a company that socked my account for the their full membership fee, instead of just the monthly fee. I did not mention the company, although one person assumed it was from late night TV. I will continue to not mention their name, but will say that I have done business with them in the past (2 or 3 years ago) and it was a great part-time job. They are a warehouse, and most businesses that use a warehouse have to pay a membership fee, unless they own the warehouse themselves.
    At any rate, I went to Bank of America and asked them to please put a few of the fees back. I was told that their computer wouldn't let them do that in most cases. She then typed into her computer the request and the computer came back with an authorization to replace $43 of my funds. Geez, thanks, I am trying to end the cycle, and my bank doesn't have any mercy. I tried to to talk to the customer service people at their 800 # about filling a claim and they told me it was a billing issue and therefore has to be taken care of with the business that I am having problems with.
    Then that evening, three of the automatic drafts for car payments and such, hit my account again, and Bank of America charged my account overdraft fees again ($35 each) for a $105.
    This weeks check has hit the account and is setting there as pending until Thursday morning. However, when it is fulling deposited, I will have a whopping $19.50 in my bank account. At least it will be positive again, as long as nothing else tries to automatically charge or recharge my account. I still will have trouble paying for anything, until I can stop this cycle.
    Something, I have also been considering, is going to my Edwards-Jones guy and selling my $125+ mutual fund (auto savings) to help with this problem. I really don't want to, but I think I may have no other choice, as my emergency fund no longer has any free money it (the minimum balance is $100 or $25 if I close the safe deposit box). What few (sharebuilder) stocks I have are so small, that commission fees would take almost all of them, if I tried to cash them out.
    I would love to get a second job, if I can find a job that would not interfere with my current job, where I am a member of the management team. One person suggested going back to school, so I could move up in my current job, what they may not realize is that I work retail, which typically has low wages, and moving up is a thing of hard work and being in the right place at the right time. For me, I have managed most all the departments in the store, before moving into store management. Most others in my position, moves straight into store management. Any how as I said, I would love to find a second job, that wouldn't hurt me at my current job.
    I still would like to be the next Ron Burkle, who was broke and recently fired, when he gathered a group of investors (including Warren Buffett) and started buying up chains of grocery stores. He is now a multi-billionaire and sold most of those stores to Kroger's, while others were sold to Safeway, and in the case of the company I work for Associated Wholesale grocers (the largest grocery co-op in the country).
    Not sure, what else I can do, but those are the things I have thought of. Any other thoughts.