Saturday, December 31, 2011

Coupons Tomorrow

As I become more interested in using coupons, I move more toward wanting to buy the Sunday paper. However, what coupons will be in that Sunday paper? There is a website that helps with that. I have learned there are three (3) different coupon inserts and that depending on your area and paper determine what coupons and the values that you will see.
After see a commercial last night for Finish Quantum powerballs (and/or gelpacs) with a message at the end to check your Sunday paper, I began to wonder if there was a place online that shared a preview of what would be in Sunday's website. Boy was I right, there are at least two that I found.

Word is this Sunday (New Years Day) will be double the coupons since there were no coupons last week, because of the Christmas holiday. There are never coupons in the paper for Christmas Sunday, Easter Sunday, 4th of July Sunday, etc). So this is the Sunday to definitely purchase that paper and get your stack of coupons.
  1. Southern Savers

  2. Sunday Coupon Preview

    Another site that is pretty good, but doesn't really list the upcoming coupons is:
  3. Coupon Chat
--- go ahead share your thoughts with me now, my ears are open. I'm always eager to hear what you think. follow me on Twitter and facebook

2012 - Hope For A Better Year

by Kevin Surbaugh

Despite rumors of 2012 being the end of the world, because the Mayan calendar doesn't go past 2012, I believe we will see 2013. As such I am anticipating 2012 will be far better and brighter year then 2011 and will be the year I get back on trek after starting over in 2010, when I gave up everything to move to a new state.

First a look back at the resolutions from this past year.
Happy New Year 2012
  1. Books
    - I plan to get at least (one book hopefully more) finished by the end of the year. Even more I hope to find a publisher for the (those) book(s)
  2. I have researched this possibility but currently I am still working on one book and the other book is still just an idea in my head. The cost of a subsidy publisher is kind of prohibitive and I am not sure I can get published through a non-subsidy publisher.....One publisher that I talked to wants to charge me $1,000-$3,000. Money I really don't have at this time.
  3. Rebuild my savings
    - there is no question that I must rebuild my savings ASAP.
  4. I really expected to be further along on this one, but so far I can't say that I really have rebuilt much of anything in this fund. Being underemployed and not getting a full 36-40 hours per week doesn't help with the matter, because I am not earning enough to do anything. At the same time revenues from the blog/website are not making up the difference needed.
  5. Either become my own boss or get a full-time job with insurance
    I would say health insurance is one thing I need more then income. While earning enough to pay the rent and utilities would be nice; I really need insurance for my wife and I.
  6. Okay, so now my resolutions for 2012:
  7. Full-Time job
    It is imperative that I get a full-time job this year. My company is opening a new store and I have put myself on the list to go to that new store. I am trusting that I will be full-time by the end of March.

  8. Emergency Fund
    I will get my God Only Knows Fund reestablished and be moving forward with building my savings this next year. In addition, I and my wife wife get back on trek to saving for our new house, by building our savings for that goal.

  9. Travel
    It has been more then four (4) years since my wife has seen her family. It is important to her and me that we get to North Carolina to see her family this year. So we are making it a goal to save enough money to visit her family this year.
    Likewise it has been over a year since we have seen my family. Haven't seen them since the wedding. It is a goal to also get back to Kansas and see my family. My biological family have had some medical issues but otherwise fine. My foster family has seen the loss of my foster dad back in September, which I learned of this past month. My foster mother Phyllis is not doing to well after several bouts with cancer she is again cancer free. Still we would like to see her again. We miss or families so much.

  10. Book
    I will continue working on getting both book finished and finding a publisher for them.
Happy New Year Everyone

    What are your resolutions for 2012?

    --- go ahead share your thoughts with me now, my ears are open. I'm always eager to hear what you think. follow me on Twitter and facebook

    Friday, December 30, 2011

    Free Coupon - $2 off on Tide

    posted by Kevin Surbaugh

    Tide is giving away $2 off coupons to their Facebook fans. No printer is needed for this one, because they will be sending you the coupon within 4-6 weeks. Tide will be giving away 302,000 coupons so hurry and to be sure you are one of those getting this great coupon. Tide is known for being one of the best laundry detergent out there and this coupon will help make it more affordable for your family and mine!

    go ahead share your thoughts with me now, my ears are open. I'm always eager to hear what you think.

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    Free Gourmet Chocolate Gift Basket

    posted by Kevin Surbaugh

    Simple Deals is giving away several gift baskets full of gourmet chocolate and other delicious snacks. To get one just go to their Facebook page and like it.

    go ahead share your thoughts with me now, my ears are open. I'm always eager to hear what you think.

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    Thursday, December 29, 2011

    Free Pocket Constitution

    posted by Kevin Surbaugh

    Have you read the constitution? I mean really read it? Or do you just go by what you have heard was in the constitution? Here is your chance to read it. Really read it. How? By getting a free pocket constitution.

    go ahead share your thoughts with me now, my ears are open. I'm always eager to hear what you think.

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    Free Fitness Center Membership

    posted by Kevin Surbaugh

    Have you thought about joining a gym? Maybe for the new year as part of your New Years Resolutions? Then here is an offer to check out ASAP. 24Hour Fitness is giving away free 7 day passes. So what are you waiting for? Why not check them out today?

    go ahead share your thoughts with me now, my ears are open. I'm always eager to hear what you think.

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    Wednesday, December 28, 2011

    Fighting all the time

    Guest post by Derick Craig

    I try not to fight with my siblings, I really do, but they’re all just such know it alls sometimes I really feel like I can’t help it. My sister, for example, is really ridiculously controlling and she wants to have her hand in everything from my channels to what I feed my kids to how late I stay out at night. I can only imagine families like the ones I see on TV that don’t argue with each other but you know, that’s just not my reality. I don’t know what it would be like to have a whole day go by without any aggravation with my relatives. I think it’s just because we’re just so close and that we’re Italian, too, so we’ve all got fiery tempers and a lot of issues to deal with outside of our dynamic. I love my family so much but at the end of the day I’m just tired of fighting – I wish we could all figure out how to get along with each other!

    A look At Walmart's Retail and Banking Empire

    compiled by Kevin Surbaugh

    We know of Walmart and its numerous retail locations with over 4,300 stores in the United States alone (It has another 4,000 stores in 15 other countries around the world, including Canada and Mexico.).  But did you also know they are a banking institution also?  In fact at least three times they have tried to enter the banking market in the United States, but have been denied.  However, they got a banking license in Mexico and opened their first bank there in 2007. Now a little over four years later they have over 1 million customers, a fact celebrated in a press release earlier this year. “It is an honor for us to celebrate Banco Walmart’s first million customers,” said Carlos Cárdenas, vice president of MasterCard products for Mexico and Central America, said in March of 2011. “This important accomplishment has been possible thanks to a very sound relationship and undoubtedly represents the beginning of much success together. Our business alliance will benefit even more customers through efficient and safe electronic-payment solutions such as credit and debit cards.”

    Banco Walmart has more than 263 branches in 31 cities throughout nine states in the country: Greater Mexico City, State of Mexico, Puebla, Jalisco, Morelos, Guanajuato, Hidalgo, Michoacán and Querétaro. An additional 1,571 in-store cashiers at Bodega Aurrerá, Walmart, Superama, Sam’s Club, Suburbia, VIPs and El Portón allow customers to pay their utilities, make withdrawals, deposits and check their balances
    - a Walmart press release
    Then in 2009 Walmart's Canadian operation incorporated as Walmart Canada Bank and last year on June 15, 2010, Wal-Mart officially launched into the banking sector under the name Wal-Mart Canada Bank. At this time though they only offer a Masterard credit card product in Canada. I certainly wouldn't be surprised within the next year or two if they start opening branches in Canada to, but for now it is just the Mastercard.

    When we say they offer a Mastercard, we are talking them themselves. Unlike here in the USA where they have to team up with another bank, like GE Capital or Citibank, etc to offer such products. In Canada since they have a banking license there they don't need to team up with a bank, because they are the bank. 

    Don't think they have forgotten the United States though. They still want a bank here, but since they have been met with such regulatory resistance, they have enhanced their financial offerings that don't require a banking license.

    For example they have Money Centers in a growing number of their stores in which customers can for a fee pay bills and cash checks.  They also have a prepaid re-loadable debit card which is offered through GeenDot. A company they have invested since invested in, making them part owner of them. Even in the companies Sam's Club's which offers small business loans to its members. The loans are really through Superior Financial Group.
      Officially Walrmart says it has no plns to enter the banking market in the United States. Still with three attempts, one can't really believe that.  It is obvious that they want to open a bank here. 

    So if Wal-Mart insists that it's not encroaching on retail banks' traditional turf, why are bankers and regulators putting up blockades? The company certainly isn't the first retailer to enter the financial services sector. Merchants have been offering credit ever since the 1800s, when general stores allowed customers to delay paying for purchases by putting them on an in-store account.
    But retailers' financial services really took off when Sears, Roebuck & Company set up Allstate Insurance in 1931, and in 1953 introduced its first credit card. In the early 1980s, Sears acquired the brokerage house Dean Witter Reynolds and launched its no-fee Discover credit card. But in the 1990s, Sears sold most of its finance-related holdings after shareholders complained that they were detracting from the retailer's core business. Fast forward to today, however, and Sears is testing new financial centers -- similar to Wal-Mart's Money Centers -- in a handful of its Kmart stores around Chicago.
    While other retailers, such as Home Depot, have also unsuccessfully applied for bank charters in recent years, experts say Wal-Mart's size is what worries banks the most. As the world's largest retailer, the company's 2009 group revenue of $405 billion was about 1.9% of U.S. GDP; in comparison, sales at Sears were $1 billion when the chain was pioneering retailer-based financial services in 1945, or about 0.4% of GDP. Combined revenue for Sears and Kmart at the beginning of 2010 was more than $44 billion. Today, there are twice as many Walmart stores than Sears and Kmart stores combined in the United States, and Walmart stores offer a wider selection of goods and services than any other retailer. "The bigness of Wal-Mart is a big subject," Lichtenstein notes. "Wal-Mart is much larger than Sears in order of magnitude, and larger than any retailer today or 40 years ago in terms of its entire economic clout."

    - Strategic Management
    Continue watching, Walmart really does want to be in banking as well as retail. Despite what they say publicly. Actions after all is louder then words. Will they be the antichrist foretold in the Bible, or they be like Sears and eventually spin off their financial holdings (H&R Block, Allstate,Discover card, etc). Of course Sears has sense been sold to Kmart who then took on the corporate name of Sears Holdings.

    disclaimer: Kevin holds a smaller investment that includes Walmart (WMT) stock. Currently he has nold holdings in sears (SHLD).

    go ahead share your thoughts with me now, my ears are open. I'm always eager to hear what you think.

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    Monday, December 26, 2011

    Top 10 Tornado Facts

    Since moving to Texas, I am surprised to find many Texans think Kansas has more tornado's then any other state. That as I recalled from grade school (5th grade) when we studied tornadoes and had a map in the back of class was/is not the case. However, I needed to find out for sure. That was a long time ago. So I began my search online.
    Here is what I found. From the Tornado Project we look at tornadoes from a number of angles and find Kansas is never above 4th place. Take a look at the chart below (that I have recreated from their website):

    RankTotal numbers of tornadoesDeaths per 10,000 sq milesNumber of killer tornadoesTotal tornado path length per 10,000 sq milesKiller tornadoes as a % of all tornadoesAnnual tornadoes per 10,000 sq. miles
    7MissouriArkansasMissouriKansasNorth CarolinaLouisiana
    9South DakotaOklahomaLouisianaNebraskaNew YorkNebraska

    As Mark Twain once said, "There are lies, damn lies, and statistics! The statistics above are what I believe, not the myths that many people believe. Yes, Texas is a part of Tornado alley, even if many here Texas don't think so.

    So what about the deadliest Tornadoes? The Tornado Project has statistics for that as well witch I have again recreated below:

    Rank State(s) Date Time Dead Injured F-Scale Town(s)
    1 MISSOURI/ILLINOIS/IOWA March 18, 1925 1:01 PM 695 2027 F5 Murphysboro,Gorham, DeSoto
    2 LOUISIANA/MISSISSIPPI May 7, 1840 1:45 PM 317 109 F? Nachez
    3 MISSOURI/ILLINOIS May 27, 1896 6:30 PM 255 1000 F4 St. Louis, East St. Louis
    4 MISSISSIPPI April 5, 1936 8:55 PM 216 700 F5 Tupelo
    5 GEORGIA April 6, 1936 8:27 AM 203 1600 F4 Gainesville
    6 TEXAS/OKLAHOMA/KANSAS April 9, 1947 6:05 PM 181 970 F5 Glazier, Higgins, Woodward
    7 MISSISSIPPI April 24, 1908 11:45 AM 143 770 F4 Amite, Pine, Purvis
    8 WISCONSIN June 12, 1899 5:40 PM 117 200 F5 New Richmond
    9 MICHIGAN June 8, 1953 8:30 PM 115 844 F5 Flint
    10 TEXAS May 11, 1953 4:10 PM 114 597 F5 Waco

    As you can see, even here Kansas doesn't rank in the top 5, but neither does Texas. One thing though, Kansas doesn't even make the deadliest list without including parts of Texas with it.  So why do people in Texas think that Kansas has more tornadoes? Who knows, because there is no grain of truth to it.

    Fast Facts
    1. Kansas - Highest number of F5 tornadoes since 1880
    2. Iowa - Greatest number of F5's per square mile
    3. Alabama - Highest percentage of tornadoes rated as of significant intensity
    4. Kentucky - Highest percentage of all tornadoes ranked as violent (F4 or F5)

    ---------- My name is Kevin, and that's what I think. What do you think? Agree? Disagree? follow us on Twitter

    Wedding at a Football Game

    by Kevin Surbaugh

    A classmate from high school recently got married (Christmas Eve 2011) at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO during the Chiefs and Raiders game. Take a look at the news clip from KCTV5 below.

    Congratulations Jody, the wife and I wish many years of happiness with your soul-mate. God bless.

    My name is Kevin, and that's what I think. What do you think? Agree? Disagree?

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    Thursday, December 22, 2011

    Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs Website is Unique

    posted and compiled by Kevin Surbaugh

    The Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation (OCABR) recently launched an interesting educational campaign. A new website to educate consumers of what to look for when visiting a site that to know it is a scam.
    There are two components to this website: the first is a “teaser” page that appears to sell the consumer a debt relief service that guarantees results no matter the situation of the individual consumer. It has been modeled to look very much like many of the websites that promise guaranteed results, but in fact deliver nothing in return for the consumer’s money, or result in identity theft of consumer’s personal information. On clicking any of the links to find out more information, the consumer is directed to a second page that reveals that the first page is an example of a scam and is brought to the consumer by the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs. Most importantly, there is information about spotting fake debt relief advertisements. The website also contains valuable information about how to protect yourself as a consumer, and a number of resources to consult if a consumer has become a victim of a scam.
    - according to Barbara Anthony, Undersecretary of the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation
    After looking at the site, I can see that it would be excellent information for all consumers. No matter what state they live in.
    Here are some basics to be aware of, that that the site gives you
    1. Charges upfront fees
      Any service that charges upfront fees should be an immediate red flag for you.
    2. Guarantees to reduce or eliminate your debt
      No legitimate service can guarantee to reduce or eliminate your debt.
    3. Guarantees to repair your credit
      Again, no service can guarantee to repair your credit without even looking at your report to begin with.
    4. Claims to make debt relief instant
      Another sign of a scam is when advertisements use phrases like “instant,” “quick and easy,” or “fast and effortless.” There is no such thing as instant debt relief.
    Protect Yourself 1. Know who you are dealing with. Before you provide anyone with any payments or personal information, make sure you have investigated the company. You can do this by checking your local Better Business Bureau to see if the company is legitimate or if any complaints have been filed against it. 2. Get everything in writing. Anything that is not writing, may not be legally binding. To be able to protect yourself and your rights, you need to ensure that you get written and signed documents of all promises being made to you by the company you are dealing with. Keep copies of these documents. 3. Know what you are signing. Make sure you read and understand every document that you are signing very clearly. If you cannot understand a document, seek help. Do not sign any documents with blank spaces or errors. 4. Know what you are paying. Whenever you agree to make any payments, make sure you understand what they are required for. If you are unsure of why you are making a payment, or what service that payment is going towards, seek help. 5. Do not give out your personal financial information. Before you provide any personal information such as credit card numbers or account numbers to anyone, make sure that it is necessary to do so. Do not provide this information for services that you should be receiving free. REMEMBER: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! - Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation new Educational Website
    Take a look for yourself. I truly believe the website can be of great use to every single American, no matter what state we live in. Wouldn't it be nice if every state had a website like this one? --- go ahead share your thoughts with me now, my ears are open. I'm always eager to hear what you think. follow me on Twitter and facebook

    Wednesday, December 21, 2011

    Christmas 2011

    by Kevin Surbaugh

    I hope this post finds you well. I pray your Christmas is a blessed one. I also want to wish you a Happy New Year!

    I absolutely love Christmas, it is the best time of the year. Peace and joy surround us, even as times seem rough.Since it is Christmas time, that also means it is time to reflect back on the past year. It hasn't been the best of years, but it has been a good year in many ways also.
    I left a part-time job at Chick-fil-a (I love that place) to take what has turned out to be a part-time job at a grocery store in the area. They are building a new store and perhaps I can get transferred there full-time when it opens in February or March. The new store will be closer to me, in fact it's right at the half way point, so I am really hopeful that I can get on at that store. Only time will see I guess.
    As such it has been rough being underemployed. My best savings plans have gone out the window and we struggle.  However, I keep up the hope and trust that our God above will provide for our needs. Which includes a house that we can call our own.  There has been thought of disconnecting the internet in order to cut expenses.So far however, I have been able to stave off that decision, but each month when rent comes due, we think about it again.
    At Thanksgiving we went all out and had a big Thanksgiving dinner with the step son (Eric) and his girlfriend, two people from church along with the wife and I.  It was an absolutely fantastic time.  No matter how tough things are, we all have things that we can be thankful for. My wife and I had hoped that we could have visited our families this year in North Carolina (a state I personally have never been to) and Kansas, but that just didn't happen. Nor was I able to go full-time with this website. That's okay though, The Lord God above is in control.

    As for the website, we have taken steps to meld the blog and website together so that they are linked together more fluidly. We did this by taking on the name of our lessons "Wisdom Steps 101". Since we are rooted in the Bible, we felt this was the best name. Dave Ramsey has "Baby Steps" and we have Wisdom Steps, because the Bible is chalk full of Wisdom. Not only in finances but every area of our life.

    In addition the website now has a Bulletin Board (Forum/Message Board). Whatever you call it, I believe it is a great  addition to the site and hope it encourages more interaction between the readers and the site. I have taken steps to fight the spammers and have a growing number of moderators helping with this effort. The latest action was to cane the settings to change key words that spammers love to use into a confession to be a spammer and disrespectful of anyone ready the posting.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. As I leave you take time to read this great Christmas poem:

    The Story of the Christmas Guest
    by Helen Steiner Rice

    It happened one day at December's end
    Some neighbors called on an old-time friend.

    And they found his shop so meager and mean,
    Made gay with a thousand boughs of green.

    And old Conrad was sitting with face ashine.
    When he suddenly stopped as he stitched the twine.

    And he said "My friends at dawn today,
    When the cock was crowing the night away,

    The Lord appeared in a dream to me.
    And He said, 'I'm coming your guest to be"

    So I've been busy with feet astir,
    Strewing my shop with branches of fir.

    The table is spread and the kettle is shined,
    And over the rafters the holly is twined.

    And now I'll wait for my Lord to appear;
    And listen closely so I will hear,

    His steps as he nears my humble place.
    And I'll open the door and I'll look on his face."

    Then his friends went home and left Conrad alone,
    For this was the happiest day he had known.

    For long since his family had passed away.
    And Conrad had spent many a sad Christmas Day.

    But he knew with the Lord as his Christmas guest,
    This Christmas would be the dearest and best.

    So he listened with only joy in his heart,
    And with every sound he would rise with a start,

    And looked for the Lord to be at his door.
    Like the vision that he had had a few hours before.

    So he ran to the window after hearing a sound,
    But all he could see on the snow covered ground

    Was a shabby beggar whose shoes were torn.
    And all his clothes were ragged and worn.

    But old Conrad was touched and he went to the door
    And he said, "Your feet must be cold and sore.

    I have some shoes in my shop for you.
    And I have a coat to keep you warmer, too."

    So with grateful heart the man went away.
    But Conrad notice the time of day

    And he wondered what made the dear Lord so late,
    And how much longer he'd have to wait.

    Then he heard another knock, and he ran to the door,
    But it was only a stranger once more.

    A bent old lady with a shawl of black,
    And a bundle of kindling piled on her back.

    But she asked only for a place to rest,
    a place that was reserved, for Conrad's great guest.

    But her voice seemed to plead, "Don't send me away,
    Let me rest for awhile this Christmas Day."

    So Conrad brewed her a steaming cup
    And told her to sit at the table and sup.

    After she had left, he was filled with dismay
    For he saw that the hours were slipping away

    The Lord had not come as He said He would
    And Conrad felt sure he had misunderstood.

    When out of the stillness he heard a cry.
    "Please help, me and tell me - Where am I?"

    So again he opened his friendly door.
    And stood disappointed as twice before.

    It was a child who had wandered away,
    And was lost from her family on Christmas Day.

    Again Conrad's heart was heavy and sad,
    But he knew he could make this little girl glad.

    So he called her in and he wiped her tears,
    And he quieted all her childish fears.

    Then he led her back to her home once more.
    Then as he entered his own darkened door,

    He knew that the Lord was not coming today,
    For the hours of Christmas, had all passed away.

    So he went to his room, and he knelt down to pray.
    He said, "Lord, why did you delay?

    What kept You from coming to call on me?
    I wanted so much Your face to see."

    Then softly, in the silence, a voice he heard.
    "Lift up your head - I have kept My word.

    Three times my shadow crossed your floor.
    Three times I came to your lowly door.

    I was the beggar with bruised cold feet;
    I was the woman you gave something to eat;
    I was the child on the homeless street.

    Three times I knocked, three times I came in,
    And each time I found the warmth of a friend.

    Of all the gifts, love is the best.
    I was honored to be your Christmas guest.

    go ahead share your thoughts with me now, my ears are open. I'm always eager to hear what you think.

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    Christmas or Holiday

    by Kevin Surbaugh

    I have complained a number of times about stores trying to sell Holiday Decorations rather then Christmas Decorations. They claim that they don't want to offend anyone. In the process they offend the people who celebrate Christmas. My argument has always been if you don't want to offend anyone, then start selling the Menorah's that those who celebrate Hanukkah at this time of year.
    Well a new website that I found makes the claim that such tactics also offend the very group of people that they want to more inclusive of.

    Bring Back Christmasis a website quoting Ben Stein, a Jew who says they don't mind if Christmas decorations are called what they are. They have nothing to do with their beliefs anyway. Check out the site and see what you think for yourself.
    I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejewelled trees, Christmas trees. I don’t feel threatened. I don’t feel discriminated against. That’s what they are, Christmas trees.

    It doesn’t bother me a bit when people say, ‘Merry Christmas’ to me. I don’t think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn’t bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu. If people want a crèche, it’s just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.
    - Bring Back Christmas
    So as we celebrate this most wonderful time of the year, lets remember that we are all made in His image and whether we celebrate Christmas of Hanukkah we can respect each others traditions. I for one as mentioned at the beginning get offended by calling Christmas Trees as Holiday Trees, but I don't mind the clerk at the store saying a generic Happy Holiday's, not knowing which day that the customer on the other side of the register celebrates. It is nice to know that Ben Stein isn't offended by Merry Christmas and agrees that calling a Christmas Tree a Holiday Tree is pretty stupid.

    go ahead share your thoughts with me now, my ears are open. I'm always eager to hear what you think.

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    Tuesday, December 20, 2011

    5 Ways to Build an Emergency Fund and Avoid Credit Debt

    guest post by Eliza Morgan who is a full time blogger. She specializes in writing about business credit cards. You can reach her at: elizamorgan856 at gmail dot com.

    One of the major reasons many people turn to credit cards is because they find themselves strapped for funds in times of desperate need. They try to solve their current financial crises by opening lines of credit, only to discover later that they have actually dug themselves deeper into debt than before.
    Though the economy is slowly recovering, it is still weak — as your personal experience will probably tell you. As the Christmas season approaches, the New Year close on the horizon, it is a good time to start planning your finances so that you aren't forced into credit debt later.
    The best way to avoid debt is to give yourself a financial buffer, an emergency fund that will see you through tight times and keep you from turning to credit cards. But in the down economy, it is all some people can do just to pay the bills on time and feed their families, much less save for an emergency fund.
    Most financial planners will say that, to be safe, your emergency fund should equal around a year's worth of earnings. If you want to be financially prepared and want to avoid credit at all costs, but are unsure of how to start, here are a few tips to help you start saving for an emergency fund:
    Take Baby Steps
    An entire year's worth of earnings is quite a lot of money for anyone, no matter what you make. The important thing is not to be intimidated by the sum, and instead start with a much smaller goal — one month's earnings, for example — and then gradually increase that sum as you go. Remember that an emergency fund is supposed to set your mind at ease and not stress you further. Take it one baby step at a time, and you'll have more saved than you thought in no time flat.
    Direct Deposit
    One of the best ways to start saving for an emergency fund is to automatically deposit a set amount from your paycheck every month (or every paycheck, preferably) to the fund, which you should keep in a savings account. Again, don't deposit so much that it puts an extra strain on you and your family; rather, put aside around $50 every check. $50 is a pretty small amount that you probably won't even miss once it's in a savings account.
    Monitor Your Spending
    Even in hard times, we often find ourselves spending money on things we don't need to. For a week or two, keep a detailed account of all your expenses, and then analyze them at the end of the week to figure out where you could (or should) be scaling back. Once you identify problem areas, take the money that you would normally spend on those things and immediately put in the emergency account, before you spend it.
    Another thing to watch for is any money that comes your way unexpectedly. Usually when we get a tax break, a small inheritance, rebate, or any other kind of refund, we have a tendency to celebrate. Instead of blowing that cash, store it in the emergency fund right away.
    Don't Ignore Debt
    Just because you are building an emergency fund doesn't mean that you should postpone paying your credit card debt, if you have any. Make the minimum payments on your card every month to continue reducing the debt, while at the same time building up your emergency fund. It is important to remember that the debt won't disappear in an emergency, and will probably make things more difficult. So the more you can cut it down, the better.
    In addition to saving money in a basic savings account, you should also consider putting a larger amount into a CD account (three months' worth of earnings or more is the standard amount) so that you can increase the fund while it sits.
    Learning to save is challenging, but when disaster strikes, having an emergency fund can make or break your finances.

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    Saturday, December 10, 2011

    Free Box of Kleenex

    Hey everyone cold and flu season is here. Because of that Kleenex is giving away free packages of their facial tissues.. You can request one for yourself and send on to a friend. That is two free boxes of Kleenex. You do need to create an account to access the free samples page. This is a real simple freebie that I for one can't wait to get. I mean who can beat free right, and what a great way to save money on that already tight budget.

    If you don't have an Kleenex account click on the "Create one here" link at the bottom of the Sign In page. Once you have created your account you will have access to the freebie.

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    Thursday, December 8, 2011

    Free IHop

    Sign up with IHOP Restaurants and get a free meal coupon. You will also get a free meal coupon on your birthday and your 1-year anniversary of joining IHOP. See why this restaurant is known for being the best stop for pancakes with this free giveaway.
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    Free Folding Plastic Cup

    My parents had some of these when I was a kid, but I have never seen any since. Now you and I can get one free folding plastic cup. This fun sample is great for travel and people on the go. It has a folding design which makes this cup easy to bring anywhere. Find out for yourself and sign up for this fantastic freebie.
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    Free NeilMed Sinus Rinse Bottle

    Free NeilMed Sinus Rinse offer
    This is a limited period offer. Click their "Like" button on Facebook, become a fan of NeilMed Sinus Rinse and get access to request your FREE NeilMed Sinus Rinse Bottle with two packets.
    In order to allow as many friends as possible to try our products, we are limiting our free offer to 1 free item per address across all Facebook promotions.
    Existing fans who have already requested are not eligible. Repeat and incomplete requests will be discarded.

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    Graham Hill: Be More Happy by Living Simple

    Here is a video of Graham Hill talking about living simple. You can be happy and live simple. Check it out.  Thank you My Money Blog for the heads up.

    Can having less stuff, in less room, lead to more happiness? He makes the case for taking up less space, and lays out three rules for editing your life.

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    Wednesday, December 7, 2011

    Free John Frieda and $1 Coupon

    Get a free sample of John Frieda's Root Awakening Shampoo & Conditioner for Breakage-Prone Hair and a coupon for $1 off any Root Awakening product at Walgreen's by liking John Frieda on Facebook.

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    Monday, December 5, 2011

    Brent & Yuliza in Guatemala - December Newsletter

    Our December newsletter is now available. We hope that you enjoy reading a recap of our ministry this past year as well as our hopes and plans for the future!

    Thank you so much for your prayers and support!
    Brent Potter

    Fully realizing my Christmas decorations vision

    Guest post written by Joan Hall

    Sometimes it can be a little tough to come up with ways to decorate for the holidays when you decided that you want to start over from scratch. That's how I was feeling this year so I threw out my old Christmas decorations, or at least the ones that didn't have any sentimental value, and have decided to come up with some new, cute and exciting ones.

    As I was looking online to see if I could find some ideas about how to make my own fun Christmas decorations, I ran across some info on Sears Chicago and after I looked through it some I decided to use it to redo our roofing.

    I did find some pretty good ideas about how to make some Christmas decorations. I'm a pretty good sewer so I was able to find some stuff that's within in my skill level. I want the things to look homemade, but in a very nice way and I think that I found some good tutorials that will be just what I want.

    My name is Kevin, and that's what I think. What do you think? Agree? Disagree?

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    Quick December 2011 Update

    by Kevin Surbaugh

    So it has been a while since I have written a post about what is happening personally. Part of that is out of respect to my wife, who is much more private then I have been over the years on this blog. Trying to find the right blend for both is not easy, but I know it can be done. Today, I am writing that it appears I may have to shut off the internet, because I am not not getting enough hours at work. Rent, utilities and food is more important. That along with the wife's medical expenses which currently has racked up to a debt of around $2,000. Most of that being from checking out her heart, which the horrible insurance I have wouldn't cover along with the that specialist billing us for the with the write-off amount ($1,500). Thankfully come March 1, 2012 she will be able to get Medicare and some of those problems will be eased. Although I am sure there will be expenses that will still come out of pocket.

    I had hoped that this site would have become more profitable by now, but unfortunately I am still dependent on the man as they say.

    Anyway if you don't see me for a while, that is why. I will be writing my annual Christmas update and scheduling it to post at the appropriate time.

    go ahead share your thoughts with me now, my ears are open. I'm always eager to hear what you think.

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    Saturday, December 3, 2011

    Free P and G Coupon Book

    posted by Kevin Surbaugh

    Do you like P&G products? Do you love coupons as much as I do? Get a free Home Made Simple Coupon Booklet with over $35 in savings from P&G.

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    Free Recipe Book

    posted by Kevin Surbaugh

    Land O'Lakes is giving away a free Holiday recipe book to those who would like one. You can either download a copy or request a print copy.

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    Shoutout to Our Newest Sponsor

    A great big shout out to the The Modern Man.
    The Modern Man is a website chock full of information for for men in today's age specifically single men, with such tips as dating, how to get a girlfriend, and other points of interest to the single man. I am thankful that I have met the woman of my dreams, my life partner and won't need this site anymore, but for those men out there that are still looking check them out.

    My name is Kevin, and that's what I think. What do you think? Agree? Disagree?

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