Thursday, November 29, 2007

Christmas List

As I grew up, and even in my adulthood, my mom has always wanted us to give her a Christmas wish list. Of course she rarely got what was on the list, but she still expected it.
So what are the things that make up my wish list?

  1. To be debt free in the next year. - this will take a miracle, but is a wish I pray to God for everyday.
  2. Night Splints (to help with my "heel spur" symptoms)
  3. Piggy/coin banks (for my collection).
  4. socks (no cotton)
  5. Khaki's (for work)

As you can tell, for the most part my list is pretty reasonable. I do not ask really for anything that is not a necessity. Of course my real list does not include #1. That is simply one I continue to work on myself and asking my risen Lord and Savior for. Much the same way anyone of any religious belief would ask their god, whoever s/he may be.


As I look at 2 of my stocks in my Sharebuilder account, I see that they are now worth more then the sale commissions. Even though they are the 2 stocks that I am most interested in keeping and building, I am considering selling the full shares to help pay off one of my debts.

In so doing I will keep the partial shares, which would allow me to remain a share holder in both companies. Once I can again be an investor I would be able to build those shares. In addition, since I have partial shares the dividend reinvestment part of the plan will help rebuild them in the meantime.

The downside is an additional tax liability in addition to what I already owe the IRS (because of a stock sale). Would it really be wise to sell these for the $200?

What do you all think? Let me hear your opinions.

12 Days of Christmas Cost More

You may have heard about this already, but in case you missed it. Here is a summery. As they do every year, PNC Wealth Management has come out with their Christmas Price Index.

It would cost $78,100 to buy the 364 items, from a single partridge in a pear tree to the 12 drummers drumming, repeatedly on each day as the song suggests, according to the annual PNC Christmas Price Index compiled by PNC Wealth Management. The cost is up 4 percent from $75,122 last year.
- Associated Press

Below is a break down of what each item would cost.
  • Partridge, $15
  • Pear Tree, $150
  • Two Turtle Doves, $40
  • Three French Hens, $45
  • Four Calling Birds (canaries), $600
  • Five Gold Rings, $395
  • Six Geese a-Laying, $360
  • Seven Swans a-Swimming, $4,200
  • Eight Maids a-Milking, $47
  • Nine Ladies Dancing (per performance), $4,759
  • 10 Lords a-Leaping (per performance), $4,285
  • 11 Pipers Piping (per performance), $2,213
  • 12 Drummers Drumming (per performance), $2,398

  • Find out

    Find out what you don't do well, then don't do it.

    Wednesday, November 28, 2007

    Sponsored Post: Letters From Santa

    What is more exciting to your child then getting a letter in the mail? Getting a letter from Saint Nick. Santa Claus that is. Now you can help give joy to your child, by being sure each of your children get Letters From Santa.

    Not only that Santa will also follow up with postcard and door-hanger. Each letter is customized for your child, with their name, the city in which you will be on Christmas, the child's gender, not to mention up to 3 items from their wish list and 3 accomplishments of theirs from the previous year.

    If I had a child of my own, I know I would be looking into Letters From Santa myself.

    A look at Pier 1

    Regular readers of my blog have known that i owned less then 1 share of Pier 1 (PIR). An investment I made through sometime back, when the company was trading at better then $26 a share. Now the company is trading between $3-$4/share. Something that doesn't look good. Even a great value investor, Warren Buffett has dumped part of his investments in the company. I on the other with such a small investment, am hoping to see my stock value increase. So I began watching the company more closely.

    At a point when I am not putting any new money into my investments (as I dig my way out of debt), I took the $21 sitting in my Sharebuilder account and invested another $15 into Pier 1. This simple act, increased my holdings to just over 3 shares as of yesterday (Tuesday). Today (Nov. 28, 2007) the stock closed at $4.12 (up 26 cents). This is good news for me, but what about the company's financial stability.

    A quick glance at their financial statement, shows that as of September 2007, they had $184 million in long-term debt. This does not include $295 million in liabilities.

    As a personal finance blogger, these are two things that I see that the company must cut right away. Over all their total liabilities are $576.33 million. The good news is that they have $838.48 million in total assets. Still, when you look at their cash flow they lost $30.15 million in the second quarter of their fiscal year. This loss is worse then the 2 previous quarters, which also were money losers. In fact they have not been profitable since the quarter ending Nov. 25, 2006. That quarter they reported a profit of $22 million.

    According to the, they are 2 years from returning to profitability.

    It's hard to like Pier 1 these days. The home decor specialist is roughly two years away from returning to profitability. You can pin the blame on everything from the subprime flap to chain-specific flubs, but don't throw in its towel just yet.

    One thing I do like is that the new CEO has pulled television advertising. While advertising helps brings in customers, it is very costly. Cutting this expense helps them to become profitable again faster, especially when the customer base tends to be loyal to Pier 1 already. Moving advertising dollars to direct mail pieces as they have done allows their loyal base know of the sales and at a cheaper rate.

    I am eagerly awaiting the 3rd quarter financials to see if their cash flow has improved since the September reports.

    my ShareBuilder Holdings

  • (BRK B) BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY $4,575.00/share 0.0087 shares = $39.80
  • (KO) COCA COLA CO $62.99/share 1.9547 shares = $123.13
  • (KR) KROGER CO $28.54/share 5.1353 shares = $146.56
  • (PIR) PIER 1 IMPORTS $4.12/share 3.1441 shares = $12.95
  • (WR) WESTAR ENERGY INC $26.25/share 0.7563 shares = $19.85
  • WIBW 580-AM

    I would like to thank WIBW 580-AM for 4 tickets to the 30th Annual Festival of Trees. During one of the 3 local talk shows I listen to (and only one on 580) WIBW was seeking the 13th caller to giving 4 tickets to the annual fund raiser to.

    I called in and was caller #3, then after get busy tones 2 or 3 times, I again got a ringing sound and the magic words, "You're our winner, what's your name," as the call screen answered the phone.

    I will try to post some pictures on one of the blogs that I will take at the event.

    Tuesday, November 27, 2007

    Governmental Appointment

    On Nov 13, 2007 the Mayor of Topeka (Bill Bunten) submitted my name to the Shawnee County Commission for the Solid Waste Management Committee (SMWC).
    Today, I received word that yesterday (11/26/07) the Shawnee County Commission approved my appointment of a 3-year term on the board. SWMC generally meets once a month.

    Monday, November 26, 2007

    SPONSORED Post: Easy Unsecured Loans

    Small business owners face many challenges as they try to get off the ground and become a successful business venture. One company thinks they can help by giving these businesses unsecured Business Loans. Those who have read my blog regularly, know that I subscribe to a different view. Still though, even I have wondered if I might be better served by consolidating some of my debts into one loan.
    So when I read their website and their, Fast funding and easy process, I wondered if maybe I shouldn't consider talking to these folks. Of course my FICO, isn't over 700 so I would have a tougher time, but if I did have a 700 or better, they promise they will rarely require any income or asset documentation.

    Reader Asks About Getting Debt Free

    I recently received an email from a reader. An email, that I have struggled with an answer for. I am not a professional financial adviser and so I don't provide specific financial advice to someone. Still I can sympathize with him. Like him, when my bills are paid, I often have less then $50 for food and gas. Considering that he makes more then 4 times what I make, it would seem that I would be happy to be in his boat. Then again, the fact he makes more then I do is why he has a greater amount of debt.

    Currently I'm a single father raising my two boys (3 &
    7) 50% of the time. I'm a teacher by trade and a High
    School coach by choice (football/volleyball). While
    married (divorce is nearly final) we made a choice to
    purchase a house when we couldn't afford one. When I
    got behind I took out loans to pay the mortgage
    thinking at some point the equity would help pay the
    loans. Eventually, I had to refinance because the
    2,800 mortgage payment was too high. Although I got
    the payment down to 2,600 I was still struggling.
    Finally, after refinancing again we had a mortgage
    payment of 2,200/month. We did our finances separate
    and it cost me dearly. My wife left for a co-worker
    and I found myself paying a full mortgage payment and
    utilities for 8 months until the house sold. Upon
    selling the house I found my loan was not only
    interest only, but a negative amatorization loan as
    well. When the house finally sold in a dying
    California market I walked away with $1,400. (about
    40,00 less what is was worth 6 months previous).

    Fast forward to the present. My school district
    decided to cut back and I lost an "extra" class I was
    teaching (approx. $1,300 a month).

    I am filing 9 on my taxes (with no mortgage interest
    as a deduction - I'm not looking forward to April) and
    take in $4,400. a month. When all the bills are paid I
    have less than $200 for food and gas for the month. I
    feel I'll never get caught up.

    Rent - $1,200
    Personal Loan (10% interest) - $1,000 ($36,000 left)
    Bank Loan (12% interest) - $210 (7,000 left)
    Valic - (12% interest) - 160 (9,000 left)
    Daycare - $420
    Pre-School- 145/2 - $75
    Son's ride to school - $90
    Car Payment - $160
    Car Insurance - $130
    Health Insurance - $120
    Life Insurance - $35
    Garbage - $30
    PG&E - $150
    Phone/Internet - $50
    Cell Phone - $85 (2 years under contract)
    Direct TV - $65
    School Lunch (son) - $70
    Misc credit card debt ($2,500 left).

    Is there a way out?

    My answer to him:

    While I am not a professional financial adviser and I don't give specific advice, I can give some general thoughts.

    You have refinanced your mortgage a couple of times. While that may have lowered your monthly payments, you had to start all over again. What I mean is that you pay more interest at the front of the loan. That translates into less principle being paid. When you refinance you again begin paying almost 100% interest. That is not what you want to do. You want to get the principle paid off, so refinancing isn't a smart move, when you look at the whole picture.

    As for your question, is there any way out. The answer is yes. You just have to remain focused. Be gazelle intense. Throw everything you can credit cards to get them paid off as soon as possible. Once they are paid off, add that money to the Bank Loan payments you are already making. Then snowball all that money into your Valic payments and so forth until everything is paid off. It may mean eating nothing but beans and rice while you are doing it. Not to mention no movies or dinning out during this time. But if you stay focused, you can be debt free.

    The meek may inherit the earth

    The meek may inherit the earth, but it's the grumpy who get promoted.

    Sunday, November 25, 2007

    Romans 5:12-21

    Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—(For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)

    Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    Cowboy Cookie Mix in a Jar

  • 2/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

  • Layer the ingredients in a 1 quart jar in the order given. Press each layer firmly in place before adding the next layer.

  • Include a card with the following instructions: Cowboy Cookie Mix in a Jar 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets. 2. In a medium bowl, mix together 1/2 cup melted butter or margarine, 1 egg, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Stir in the entire contents of the jar. You may need to use your hands to finish mixing. Shape into walnut sized balls. Place 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets. 3. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes in the preheated oven. Transfer from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks.
  • Friday, November 23, 2007

    When Saving At The Pump Isn't Saving

    An article in todays LA Times, shows at what lengths people will go to save a few pennies. The article tells the story of a small town in California, where the only two gas stations are charging more then $4/gallon.

    In the article one woman says she never uses the hometown gas station, instead she drives 62 miles to a neighboring town to save 96 cents per gallon. She literally spends more on gas driving to a cheaper station, then she actually saves. As I have said many times, "people, these days, will spend $3 to save $1."

    "It makes the whole town look bad," Glazier said of the $4-plus prices. Instead, she drives all the way to Gardnerville in Nevada, 62 miles north of Bridgeport, where gas is substantially cheaper.

    Perhaps Glazier actually lives near the Nevada station. The article doesn't really say. Instead it only says that she works for the county government in Bridgeport. The paper does quote her as saying, "many locals shun Bridgeport's Shell station, as well as the nearby Gas & Go." With this information, it would seem to be indicating that most towns folks drive the 62 miles to save 96 cents/gallon.

    I don't like the sound of gas being more then $3 let alone $4, but to drive out of my way just to try to save a few cents is ludicrous. There is no way I am going to intentionally spend $3 in gas to save $1 on gas. It just doesn't make sense.

    Check out these cool LED Christmas Lights

    Check out these cool LED Christmas Lights
    I found a website with some pretty awesome Christmas lights. These cool lights aren't like your traditional Christmas lights. They are LED Christmas lights. That means they are cooler to the touch. Which means they are safer around children. It also means they are less of a fire hazard. More importantly they are better for the environment not to mention cheaper to operate.

    LED Christmas lighting uses 90% less energy then traditional incandescent strings. Plus they have a 50,000 hour bulb life. Oh did, I mention that they also have a lifetime warranty?

    No matter whether you are decorating your home or putting together a professional display, your LED holiday lighting will look spectacular. There are LED lights for both indoor and outdoor displays.

    These are the Christmas Lights I want to use in my home. Hey, anything I can do to reduce the energy dollars I use is a strong plus for me.

    There is something else that's fantastic about these LED holiday lights too. They also have lights for your Hanukkah display.

    There is one downside though. It is recommended that you not connect LED strings with incandescent strings, as the fuse in the LED strings cannot handle the extra voltage of the incandescent strings. That's fine with me though. Like I have with my CFL's, I won't use the incandescents again. So LED Christmas lights are my next move in reducing my household energy dollars.

    Thursday, November 22, 2007


    Today is Thanksgiving. A day to give thanks for all the blessings in your life. While, I have to work today, I am thankful that I have been able to pay off some 34% of my debt. I still have a long way to go, but in the next few months, along with my readers (as I post about it) I will see some of these debts finally and permanently eliminated.
    I am also thankful for each and everyone of my readers. Without you taking the time to comment on my posts or to send an email of encouragement, I could easily be discouraged. Those comments and emails help keep me motivated. Thanks to everyone of you for reading, whether or not you comment or have joined the handful of people who have emailed me.

    To each and everyone of you, I would like to wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving.

    Psalms 100:4

    Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

    Wednesday, November 21, 2007

    Phone Cards What a great Gift

    I was sitting in front of my computer today, thinking about our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Wondering what we could do to help these brave men and women. They put their lives on the line and are away from their families at what many of us consider the best time of the year.

    Wouldn't it be a great gift to our troops to send them calling cards, so that they can call home this holiday season.

    Whether you have a loved one serving overseas or not, wouldn't it be a great gift to give to members of our armed services. A way to say that we support our troops, without getting involved in the political debate of the war. No one needs to know if you are for or against the war, just that you support the men and women sent there by our government.

    So what do you think? Is calling cards something that you could consider giving to our troops?

    Tuesday, November 20, 2007

    Glasses Repaired, Only A Small bite to my Budget

    This morning I made my rounds getting some errands done. I went by the credit union and withdrew some money from my "Emergency/Insurance savings." Once I had some cash in hand along with a cashiers check for the insurance company, I went to North Topeka and paid my quarterly insurance premium that this year is now $347.10. From there, I went out to the eye glass place that I prefer. They are certainly beyond doubt a budget eye glass place. With frames running from $29.99-$99.99, the frames are without question cheaper then other companies $99-$1,000. I mean, who needs glasses that cost $1,000?

    Anyway upon arriving at Success Vision Express, there were several people browsing and looking over the glasses. I took a seat at the counter and waited for an available representative to come to me. When she came over, I handed her my glasses and told her I needed frames to fit my current lenses. After looking up my previous visit (in 2004) she went to the wall got the same frame as my broken ones, made the necessary repairs and charged me $29.99.

    It was $30 that wasn't in my budget, but the other places would have charged me half my paycheck, if they made the repair at all. Thank you Jesus.

    Extreme Clean

    I found this video humorous, hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

    Redneck Thanksgiving

    Redneck Thanksgiving: Roadkill and a Six Pack

    SPONSORED POST: What To Give For Christmas

    It is that time of year again. Christmas time is here again. The best time of the year. A season of giving. A season of caring.
    Of course, figuring out what to give your loved ones can be a challenge. Well, if you are like me, you might consider gift cards. The problem though with such gift cards is they are often limited to only store.

    Well, the answer to that is a Visa gift card. Since it has a Visa logo, it can be used anywhere that accepts Visa, just by choosing "credit" at the checkout.

    But, why not make it even more special? Something more unique. By visiting the gift card website, you can personalize the gift card(s) with a picture that you upload. It could be a picture of you, the office gang, the person who is to receive the gift card, the family, or even a pet. The choice is yours.

    BBB of Kansas Warns of Scam

    This scam isn't really new, maybe a new twist, but shows why we should always keep an eye open when responding to any eye online or in the paper.

    The Better Business Bureau of Kansas recommends consumers be cautious about getting involved in work offers found on the Internet.

    Recently a Topeka woman reported to the BBB that she replied to a Mystery Shopper ad and found herself in a scam working out of Canada. According to the press release she became alarmed when she received a check along with instructions to send a the sender a fee via Western Union, upon depositing the check. Like others, she would have been out a substantial amount of money and would have given the scam artist her bank account number.

    Sponsored Post: The Best Insurance Quote Page I Have Found

    I would like to take a few minutes and discuss insurance. Insurance coverage is essential to have to protect yourself, family, property and business. That is why I am excited about a website that I found with insightful articles into almost everything insurance related. In addition, the site also offers a place to get insurance quotes for homeowners insurance, Car insurance or Term life insurance.

    It even allows you to search for insurance agents near you. With agents listed in all 50 states, I truly believe this website is worth your look, if you are in the market for a new insurance package.

    My Transfer and Murphy Visits

    Dang the luck. Well as they say, when things start looking up, Murphy moves in. That is exactly what happened last night. I was at work and picked up the intercom. Dropped it, as I tried to catch it I knocked my glasses off and broke the frames.

    So know with my insurance payment due this week, I have to come up with the funds to buy new frames today as well. I really need to schedule an eye exam (as it has been several years) but that would really be stretching my finances. I still plan to get those debts paid off by March. Then I will begin, in earnest to get the rest of the IRS paid off. Perhaps by then I can even make some kind of settlement with the KGB IRS.

    I really need a second job, but since I was transfered (started new location Sunday) I don't know what hours I will be working. I am sure, it won't be exactly set in stone. With some days, I will be closing, while other days I will be opening and still other days somewhere in between.

    I have done some figures. Looking at PayPerPost, if I did the maximum of 3 posts a day, every day for a year, I could have the $5,000 to have all the little debts and the IRS paid off completely. That would just leave my car loan, which is now just barely over $11,000 still owing. If I applied the same concept for a second year, then I could be completely and 100% debt free within 2 years.

    The only problem, I have with that is it would distract from the original purpose of this blog and make it feel more like a blog full of spam. That is NOT what I want. I don't mind some sponsored post items, but 3 a day seems like to much. I don't know, but 1 a day would seem like to much also. What do all you think. It is moving into winter, and the curb painting isn't going to be something I can do during the winter.

    So what do you think? Give it to me straight. I want to hear your honest opinion. For those of you that don't have a blogger account, please give yourself more credibility by using "other" instead of anonymous. It also makes it easier to make a reply comment.

    Why Everyone Should Pay off Their Mortgage Early

    Ever since I started listening to John Cummuta and Dave Ramsey, I keep hearing people say but, "I don't want to pay off my house. I would lose my tax deduction on mortgage interest. Besides I can invest the extra money and earn more money."

    I say Horse Hockey!" As Ramsey says, only his "broke financial advisers" teach that. Let me try to explain to you the truth as both Ramsey and Cummuta tell it. First let me ask what tax bracket are you in? Let's say you, as Cummuta was, are in the 28% tax bracket. That means for every one dollar ($1) of interest you pay to your bank, you get to save 28 cents in taxes."

    Now, let me say you will still get your tax deduction the entire time you are paying off your mortgage. It only ends when the mortgage is paid off. OK back to my explanation.

    Each dollar of interest you pay to the bank (or mortgage company) is deductible from your taxable income, which saves you the 28 cents you would otherwise have paid to the government on that dollar as income tax. But think about that. You're giving up a full dollar to save 28 cents. Whereas, if you pay off your mortgage, you will indeed have to pay 28 cents federal income tax on each dollar not going to mortgage interest...but your getting to keep the other 72 cents (72%)! Ask yourself, would you rather pay a dollar (mortgage interest) to save 28 cents, or pay 28 cents (tax) to keep the dollar?

    Does it still sound like a good deal? If so you can send me $100,000 and I will send you $28,000, as soon as your check clears in my bank account.

    In the typical scenario, a full dollar is leaving your life on its way to the bank and Uncle Sam is giving you a 28-cent tax break to ease the pain. However, in this scenario, the only thing leaving your life is the 28 cents. You ARE 72 cents ahead on every dollar.

    Paying off the mortgage early is better, because 72 cents will always be more than 28 cents.

    Monday, November 19, 2007

    SPONSORED POST: Unusual Gift Items

    The other day I received some items in the mail from Electronics Charging Station. The items were very interesting and in some cases unusual.
  • Ambient Fire Video Fireplace DVD

    This one is interesting. I am not sure, what I would use it for. It is one of those videos that you have probably seen used in movies and some commercials where someone, like myself, doesn't have a fireplace, so they stick this into the DVD/VCR player so they can try to make it seem like they do have one.

  • Smencils Gourmet Scented Pencil

    This is the item that I am most excited about. While I am a big fan of it, I have seen girls go crazy for colored pens, especially scented and glitter ones. I can see this pencil being a must have item among our young ladies (of say 10-16). The one that I received has a great smell and actually smells like grapes. Even better, for our more eco-friendly society the pencil is made from recycled newspapers.

  • Insta Snow Fake Snow Powder

    I am not sure what can be done with this item. The company says it is great for pranks. Maybe I am just to old to think of any pranks to be used with it. I can see a useful application come Christmas time though. Using it for decorating. The product when added to 10 oz of water, "erupts" into a pile of snow. They aren't kidding either. I tried just a small amount with a small amount of water. It really did erupt. The final product wasn't wet enough to make a snowball, but it really did look like new fallen snow. I think I will put this stuff around my table top Christmas tree this Christmas season.
  • When money speaks

    When money speaks, the truth keeps silent

    Saturday, November 17, 2007

    How to Become a Stress-Free Shopper

    Have you ever gone into a store with the intention of only buying one (1) item and you walked out with several bags full of stuff?

    I can remember one time back in about 1990, I carried a cart load of groceries for a customer. Her husband and kids were waiting in the car. The first comment that was made when the door was opened was, "I was going to say, if you had to milk that cow." It is a comment I have heard my own dad say when I was younger to. I knew instantly, that she had said she was just going to grab a gallon of milk. Instead she did her weekly grocery shopping.

    The key here is to have a list. Not a list in your head, but a physical list. So that you don't end up buying more then you expected.

    The same is true for other shopping adventures as well. Grocery shopping is the obvious one, but you also need a list when shopping for clothes, toiletries, birthdays or even Christmas/Hanukkah. No need to stress this holiday season (or throughout the year) if you will follow the three examples below.

    Get together a game plan.

    Let's be blunt here. You MUST write down the exact amount of cash that you can spend on gifts, clothes, groceries or whatever. Nothing is magical about it; every family/individual is different. Whatever the REALISTIC amount is for you , is the limit you MUST stick with. It's pretty stupid to go shopping (anywhere) without a plan.

    Make a list. Check it twice.

    Without a physical list, you are opening yourself up to the risk of overspending. By writing down a list of exactly what you want to buy you are reducing that risk. Once you have a list (especially your Christmas list) look over it multiple times so that you know exactly what you are buying and what for. Doing this will help you avoid all the shinny new toys in the stores.

    Flash the cash.

    Once you have your list, the next thing to do is to get in your car, and stop at the ATM (or your financial institution) and withdraw the amount of cash you have alloted yourself for that particular shopping trip. In the case of Christmas shopping, when the cash is the gone, your shopping is finished. NEVER pull out the plastic.

    As Dave Ramsey says,
    When you pay with cash, don't be afraid to ask for a deal. Most people don't get deals when they're shopping because they either don't pay with cash or are too afraid to ask! What's the worse thing that could happen? They might say no. Big deal. At least you tried! Sometimes I like to go into stores and just flash a handful of cold, hard cash. The store employees sure do pay attention to me!

    Whoever said you had to buy tons and tons of presents for people anyway?! Enjoying gifts and shopping is all fine and dandy, as long as you stay within your own personal financial boundaries. Make a point to not put gifts and pleasing others above more important things in your life - spending time with loved ones, being in control of your money, and getting out of debt

    Sponsored Post: Lenders Wanted

    Recently I stumbled upon a website that helps put borrowers with mortgage leads. Providing information on current rates and even allowing potential borrowers to request additional loan information through their website.

    Currently they are seeking out additional lenders, who would like mortgage leads. According to their website, they will provide quality leads. At first blush I thought they were another spammer. Instead, it appears to be a site which provides the information and then allow the potential borrower to fill out an application via their 3rd party website. The potential borrower then is contacted by various qualified lenders to pursue the new slave borrower.

    Of course, as a website opposed to borrowing, I cannot recommend anyone to go into debt by borrowing for any reason. On the other hand if you are a lender seeking qualified mortgage leads, then this may be a website for you to check out.

    Friday, November 16, 2007

    Thursday, November 15, 2007

    Living Life or Penny Pinching?

    I was recently asked on the personal finance blog on my towns newspapers website:

    POT your blogs are depressing. It makes me sad for you to know that instead of living life you are squeezing every penny, pining for a wife, and wishing to go from grocery store guy to billionaire guy. My mom teaches us financial responsibility but your blog is financial slavery.

    I guess if you didn't have huge dreams you too would be depressed. You might even turn down one of the free meals you hyped in your earlier blog.

    I'm 13 and I would hate it if being an adult meant living the way you do.

    Below is my response to him/her.

    Pine for a girlfriend? Sure I would like to find a girlfriend, but I am not sure how any of my writings would be considered pining. In my regular blog, I have written about going out with someone, after 2 years of not dating, but it didn't work out. Probably for the best. Whoever, God has for me is out there, and as they say we will meet when I am not looking, so I am content.

    As for financial slavery, no what I am talking about is NOT financial slavery, but freedom. The world uses credit cards and credit and become slaves to the lender. As Proverbs 22:7 says
    "The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower becomes the lender's slave."

    If a person lives with in their means (spends less then they make) and saves, then in the long run they will be ahead. In order to win, we as a society must get rid of the attitude of, I want it and I want it Now.

    Look at it now, I am sure you have heard the story of the rabbit and the tortuous. What happens in that illustration? The rabbit thinks he will win, because he is faster. So he mess around and the tortuous wins.

    The same is true with credit and cash. Oh sure a person my appear to be living the good life with credit. They are buying nice things faster then the person who saves up. But then they are hit with interest, and they end up paying more (some times like a car or home as much as 2-3 times more) then the person who saved and paid cash. So in the long run, who really is the winner? The one who paid with credit or the one who paid with cash?

    It should be easy to see that the one who saved (like our grandparents or a great-grandparent for someone your age) ends up the winner, because in the long run, since they didn't have to pay all the interest charges, they can afford to buy more stuff.

    So it is the one who uses credit that would be depressed and be in financial slavery.

    I hope this clears it up for you. But, please, if you have any more questions, feel free to ask.

    Something I should have added to the girlfriend bit was:

    I am always hopeful, and often wonder what if, about someone or other. In fact, you might say I very timid when it comes to trying to get a date. Oh sure I may flirt a little, especially online, but I have to build up a lot of nerve to actually ask that special girl out.

    As I said, I left that part out (but should have included it). I was more focused on trying to get him/her understand the dangers of credit and why s/he should save money rather then "living life." It is my hope that s/he will realize (as with all my readers) that saving is much better and thus is really living life over what most Americans do.

    Wednesday, November 14, 2007

    "Savings Bomb"

    I recently saw an article on Yahoo.

    TOKYO (AFP) - Graying Japan has a new weapon to scare people into saving for their retirement -- an exploding piggy bank.

    According to toy manufacturer TOMY, the "Savings Bomb," that went on sale this week (in Japan), "explodes" and scatters coins if the user fails to save for a long time.

    The battery-powered toy -- designed as a cartoon-style, ball-shaped black bomb with a skull and crossbones logo -- lights up, makes a noise, shakes violently and scatters coins if it is not topped up for a long time.

    "Users must pick up and collect the scattered coins and reflect on their laziness," the Japanese company said.

    As someone who likes to collect piggy (or coin) banks, I simply must have this one. I have no idea, if it ever will be available in the United States, but it sounds awesome. I mean talk about "breaking the bank."

    I also think it would be an awesome item to use as a giveaway, if I were given more then the one for my collection.

    First the bomb bank begins to quiver and quake, then it emits a rising crescendo of destructive sounds. The climax comes when the bank splits asunder, spewing out its hoard of coins and leaving you to pick up the pieces of eight. Don't worry though, what comes apart goes back together again - leaving you none the richer but much the wiser! Fun a-plenty for just 2,922 yen (about $25) at most Japanese department stores. (via

    Sunday, November 11, 2007

    Consumer Cocaine

    American's are addicted. No, they aren't addicted to drugs, but they might as well be. They are addicted to what some refer to as "consumer cocaine."

    If you don't want be one of the barely surviving, collecting shopping carts at Wal-Mart in your retirement years, you need to change your financial behavior now. You must intentionally leave the 96 percent crowd that's headed for financial dependency and actively move toward the 4 percent who achieve financial independence. Obviously, the first step is to stop making new debt.

    The best way to stop yourself from making new debt is to eliminate the credit cards. They are killing you financially. You have to do it. There is no way around it. It is perhaps the most emotional but crucial component to getting debt free.

    I know, I can hear it now, "I don't need to cut them up! I just won't use them anymore."

    Well would you:
  • Go on a diet but keep chocolate cake in your refrigerator?
  • Quit drinking but host a party and serve alcohol?
  • Kick a drug habit but leave a marijuana joint on your nightstand?
  • Stop smoking but carry a pack of cigarettes in your pocket?

  • In fact, I agree with John Cummuta when he calls credit cards Consumer Cocaine.

    They're pushed like drugs, and people use them like drugs. If you're anywhere in the vicinity of credit worthy, your mailbox is regularly populated with credit card offers, and these offers seduce you with low-interest or even no-interest introductory periods. They are designed to give you the impression they're offering FREE Money! But these offers are no different from the schoolyard pushers who offer kids free samples to get them hooked. Credit cards are pushed like drugs.

    Credit cards are frequently used like drugs to. You've had a tough week at work, and you deserve a treat, so you stop at the crack house for credit junkies (the mall). You slap down the plastic to make yourself feel good. But then when the bill comes in, you feel bad so you go back to the mall for another pick-me-up. Of course that makes the next bill go up even more, so it will take an even bigger pick-me-up to overcome the hangover from the last one, and so goes the cycle goes…just like a drug addict.

    But the analogy doesn't end there. Just like with the schoolyard drug pusher, once the introductory period is over, up pops the interest rate and you're forking over more and more of your hard earned dollars to the coalition.

    If you have a magnifying glass, read the fine print on the next credit card offer you receive. Look at what happens to the interest rate after the introductory period. Then look at the interest rate for cash advances. Then look at what happens to the interest rate if you're late with just one payment. Then look at some of the fees they'll charge you for using the ATM or if you make a late payment, bounce a check, or make any other possible mistake.

    Yes, credit cards are consumer cocaine. They're pushed like drugs, frequently used like drugs, and they have long-term punishing effects like drugs. A drug habit cannot be “managed” and neither can a credit habit. Credit usage diminishes your financial health, so – like illegal drugs – it should be avoided not managed.

    You need to learn how to eliminate credit from your life. Once you're debt-free, you'll never "need" credit again. If you want to buy a newer car, you'll just trade the one you own and pay the difference with cash. If you want to move up to a better house, you'll just sell the one you own free and clear — maybe take a little additional money out of your growing investment account — and buy your new house with cash.

    Once you've paid off all your debts, you'll be able to save up in a few months an amount equal to what any credit card would likely offer you as a credit line. And it will be your money. Money you can use without any interest costs. And while it's in your accounts, it will be earning you interest. Compound interest will be working for you rather than against you. That's how it works when you eliminate debt. When you just manage debt, you stay in the 96 percent group along with all the other financial failures.

    "You can likely be debt-free in just 5 to 7 years", says Cummuta. However, you must change your spending habits today. You cannot keep inuring more debt, and get debt-free.

    So, ask yourself, do you want to be like the majority of Americans (a financial failure)? Or would like to be a financial success?

    Wednesday, November 7, 2007

    Another Deadline

    Another Deadline, Another Miracle!

    Being Green and Your Pocketbook

    This week NBC is busy making political statements about our environment. They have kicked off a week where their news and sports programs studio lights will be turned down low (supposedly) and each of their programing having "green" themes. Even Friday nights Deal or No Deal, will have Kermit the Frog promoting his, "it's easy to be green," message.

    As for me I have adopted a number of the "green" practices, but I wouldn't call myself an environmentalist. No, as those of you who know me or have read this blog regularly I don't believe in all the hype about global warming (which just a few years ago, was global cooling). For me, my interest is more for the green I save in my pocketbook.

    Like everything else with personal finance, it tends to be common sense. People often try to make it harder then it is, but it's really not that difficult (in theory anyway). The most difficult aspect is just sticking to it.
    For example:
  • Turning off the lights when you aren't in a room.
  • changing the light bulbs in your home (or workplace) to the compact florescent lights (CFL's).
  • Insulating your home
  • Caulking around the windows.

    As you can see each of those are common sense green activities that "help the environment," but more importantly save you money. Which means more money to put in your savings.

    Something else that I have begun more recently is using the cloth bags for my groceries when I go shopping. How does that save money? It saves the grocery store from having to buy the bags that you would have used and ultimately will effect the grocery prices. Further, the plastic bags are cheaper for the store, but it takes 10 billion barrels of oil (according to a recent NBC report) every year to make the plastic bags. This means an increased demand on oil, which then translates to higher oil and gas prices. The oil prices alone, makes me want to do everything I can to reduce my dependence on oil.
  • Monday, November 5, 2007

    Net Worth Up $675 in October

    I finally was able to connect to Amerifirst's automated phone system. I finally I have the numbers for my debt elimination for the month October. The numbers have been figured into my November 1, 2007 report.

    2nd Mortgage -- still owe $991 eliminated $84 -(7.81%)
    Credit Card -- still owe $591 eliminated $199 (-25.19%)
    Car Loan -- still owe $11,231 eliminated $392 (-3.37%)
    IRS -- still owe $3,645 eliminated $0 (0%)
    Total Debts -- still owing $16,458 eliminated $675 (-3.94%)

    Net Worth $56,469 Paid in October $675 (1.21%)

    Not figured into this is the $1,000 owed to FingerHut and the $210 owed to Black Gold Insulation. If you will notice though, I have added the newer debts that were not figured into the original (when I started this blog) or listed above.

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    Net Worth is Rising but by How Much?

    I am still figuring my net worth and debt elimination for the month of October. I am still trying to tack down one specific debt. Once I get the exact balance of that debt, I will be able to get actual numbers posted.

    Suffice to say I have grown my net worth by at least $591 (3.45%). I find that number to be interesting. Since it is also the remaining balance on my credit card.

    I hope to have the answers to how much later today. For now though, this should be a teaser. Once I can get through to the automated phone system, I will have the answer.

    If you like this post, buy me a coke

    Obama on SNL

    Saturday Night Live did an interesting skit with the various Democratic candidates at a Halloween party, with Obama appearing as himself.

    Appearing in the opening sketch of Saturday Night Live, Obama joined impersonators Amy Poehler and Darrell Hammond who were portraying the former first couple, as they often do.

    The bit featured the Clintons hosting a Halloween party, with a series of faux Democratic candidates showing up in costume -- including a Mike Gravel in a straitjacket -- when near the end, a man walked in wearing an Obama mask. The Illinois Democrat then removed the mask to reveal that he was indeed Obama.

    “Well, you know, Hillary, I have nothing to hide. I enjoy being myself,” Obama said. "I'm not going to change who I am just because it is Halloween."
    - Chicago Tribune

    Here Today

    Here Today Gone to Maui

    Sunday, November 4, 2007

    Blowing The Budget For Great Bargins

    I was reading another blog when I read this line.
    Periods of inflation create panic and fear.
    That one sentence got me to thinking about some of my recent shopping.

    I bought 8 cans of green Lima Beans. Normally they are $1.45 a can. which means I don't buy them very often. I love the things, probably as much as I love corn (my favorite vegetable). So when the Falley's store in North Topeka started their 20% off everything sale (now through Nov. 10), I went hog wild, as they say. I rationalized that these beans will never this cheap again. Sure I bought other items and stocked up. I spent more then I have budgeted for groceries to get the great prices.

    In fact you can say I did so many financial no no's, that I totally blew my budget for the month. However, this one sentence brought it all into perspective.

    I knew that people will spend $3 in gas to save $1. But, I thought I had grown past that. Looking back though, I am still struggling with that, I seen the great prices and panicked (in a sense) and started buying. The thing is, later this week, if the last four cans of Lima's are still on the shelf, I am likely to buy those to. Unless of course I can convince myself to get back to my budget and stick to it.

    This is one area I am torn. I can avoid credit with ease, but sticking to my budget is a huge struggle.

    Budgeting is a huge part of personal finance (as it is the means to wealth). It is something, I along with the rest of America must get a handle on. We all must learn to budget (spend less then we make), avoid all credit and save. Saving being the biggest aspect of our finances.

    Saturday, November 3, 2007

    Crock Pot Corn Pudding

    1 can cream style corn
    1 can whole kernel corn
    8 oz. sour cream
    1 stick butter, melted
    2 eggs, beaten
    1 box Jiffy corn meal mix

    Spray pot with non-stick spray. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Pour in crock pot. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. You can cook on high 4 hours. Excellent to take to covered dish affairs.

    Crock Pot Corn Pudding

  • 1 can cream style corn
  • 1 can whole kernel corn
  • 8 oz. sour cream
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 box Jiffy corn meal mix

    Spray pot with non-stick spray. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Pour in crock pot. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. You can cook on high 4 hours. Excellent to take to covered dish affairs.
  • Thursday, November 1, 2007

    Merger Question Results

    The results from the merger poll are in. Voters from DebtFree4ever.NET voted against it as did those at

    Those at DebtFree4ever voted:
    Yes 5 (18%)
    No 9 (33%)
    Don't Know about the other site 13 (48%)

    While those at KevinsView voted:
    Yes 2 (40%)
    No 1 (20%)
    Don't Know about the other site 0 (0%)
    undecided 2 (40%)

    So, overall, it wasn't even close with only 21% supported the move.

    Merger Question Results

    The results from the merger poll are in. Voters from DebtFree4ever.NET voted against it as did those at

    Those at DebtFree4ever voted:
    Yes 5 (18%)
    No 9 (33%)
    Don't Know about the other site 13 (48%)

    While those at KevinsView voted:
    Yes 2 (40%)
    No 1 (20%)
    Don't Know about the other site 0 (0%)
    undecided 2 (40%)

    So, overall, it wasn't even close with only 21% supporteing the move.

    20% Off Everything NOW!

    If you live in Topeka, KS then you need to head to North Topeka to shop for groceries. The Falley's store at 3000 N. Topeka Blvd is closing on Nov. 10. As such, they started their close out sale yesterday. They will be selling everything at 20% off until they close. The sooner you get there, the more selection of products you will have.

    However, there are some better deals, there are a number of items that have been discontinued and were pulled off the shelf. They were hand marked at 50% off. If you buy those items now, you will get them at the 50% off price and then the additional 20% off. That means those few items would actually end up being 70% off.

    Again, if you want to save money on groceries and live in Topeka (or near Topeka then get over to North Topeka ASAP.

    Theft of Services?

    Recently a prostitute, went public about here crimes. No, she wasn't coming clean about them, rather accusing someone one of rapping her.
    The accuser testified that she initially agreed to have sex with Gindraw and a friend of his in exchange for money, but that Gindraw refused to pay her, held a gun to her head and forced her to have sex with several men, according to a transcript of an Oct. 4 court hearing.
    - ABC News

    Yep, you read that right. She was engaged in illegal activity and is accusing a group of men of illegal activity, because it didn't go the way that she planed. Well, the story doesn't stop there.

    Municipal Judge Teresa Carr Deni earlier this month dismissed rape and sexual assault charges against Dominique Gindraw, who is accused of forcing a prostitute at gunpoint to have sex with him and several other men. Deni left intact charges of armed robbery for theft of services against Gindraw.
    - ABC News

    Come on, she consents to illegal sex, then complains when her clients refuse to pay and adds additional people to the "party." Where are the charges against her for her crime?