Monday, December 22, 2008

I've Moved!!!!

Please visit my new blog address here!

Friday, December 19, 2008

An apology

I love my blogging friends, but unfortunately I have not had time to read or comment recently. Christmas is only 6 days away, and although I'm done gift shopping, I'm hosting Christmas Eve with two families that are dear to us....which means cookie baking, grocery shopping and house cleaning.

Plus I'm starting to get sick....

But I promise, after Christmas I will try and catch up with all of you! I will try to post now and again as well.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Well, I gave myself until December 15th to be "done" with all my preparations for the holidays..and aside from stocking stuffers, I am done. The house is decorated, the outdoor lights are up, the presents are wrapped (I still need to get the out of town gifts out of my diningroom).

I had yet to feel the spirit of the holiday, that is until last evening. My daughter and I went to our church and helped wrap gifts for the adopted families of the community that need help this year. I was overwhelmed by the generosity of the people of our church, but also the large need in the community. We were wrapping for more than 800 families...(We have a large church). My heart broke when I read the situations that these families were in, and even though we were giving them something, I hardly thought it was enough. There were no ipods, cameras, or video games on the list of the children. They were replaced with socks, hats, mittens and food. Food. I always knew there were people struggling to make ends meet, but food...a basic necessity to be on a Christmas wish list was unbelievable to me. In a rich nation such as ours, people should not have a hard time getting food.

I have decided that what I want to do this year is not just remember these families in December, but I will start volunteering at least several times EVERY month in 2009. My own personal OPERATION GIVE BACK.

As I mentioned in a previous post we will be saving a significant amount of money on our refinance. I will put part of that extra money toward my goal for 2009 -- to GIVE BACK.

I have been so fortunate. And I'm a bit embarrassed that I have not truly recognized it sooner...

Friday, December 12, 2008

15 lbs and counting....

A great weigh in this week and I'm down 15 lbs! Only 11 more to go....

Refinance? YES!

We have a heloc and our mortgage as our only two debts left. We have about 24 years on our first mortgage and 10 years on our second mortgage. We just locked into a 4 7/8% FIXED rate 30 year mortgage. No points. We are combining both, and although it puts us back to 30 years (not a big deal because we are not retiring in this house) we are saving approximately $675.00 a mos. in mortgage payments. I could put the $675.00 toward the house payment anyway and pay off the house completely in 15 years....but it's nice to know that if I needed the extra cash, I would have it.

I have never gotten such a low rate before....and believe me, I wanted to take cash out to do some home projects. But I refrained. I did not want to go further into debt.

We will probably close on the refi in the middle of January, and I'm anxious for the savings...

The bonus? There will be no Christmas debt to pay off in January either...

And speaking of bonuses....there probably will be none for my I am so glad I paid off most of our debt last February when he received a good one!

If you need to refiinance because of a high interest rate...the time is now...the rates are LOW!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Christmas Shopping Update

Oh my gosh....I am almost done! And it's only December 8th! I will finish up on Thursday....

The beauty of this? I stayed on budget...

I even picked up the shrimp and scallops for Christmas Eve....(frozen, of course).

I may actually make it this year.....

Thanks for all of your support!

How are all of you doing?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Cash jars...

I haven't mentioned it in a while, but I'm still trying to operate on cash. I have jars, envelopes, and places in my wallet where I stash cash after I get paid. The interesting thing is that since I've been doing that, I've had a lot more money at the end of the month. I have added a couple of categories..i.e. my son's trombone lessons, etc.
I believe you really do spend less with cash. I'm not where I want to be yet, because occasionally I will use my checkbook for categories I didn't have enough cash for. But I'm getting better.
Have you tried cash yet?

The downside of ordering from Apple....

Ah, I'm stuck at home today (well, actually working from home) because Apple requires a signature when they deliver your order. If you are not home, they bring it back to their holding store where I would have to pick it up, which for me is about 20 miles away. The tracking number said that it's guaranteed to be here by 10:30 here's hoping!

I actually like working from home, although I'm very limited on what I can accomplish. One downside is that I'm presently looking at a very messy, dirty home! I would rather start picking up and straightening out than coming up with December numbers for the accountant! :)

Yesterday I was able to pick up a couple of gifts from Five and Below...on the same lines as a dollar store, only everything in the store is $5.00 and below. I was able to pick up two Bionicles, a 007 Scene It game, and a Sims Pets computer game..all for $21.00 exactly. Not bad at all.

I also was able to pick up a couple of items from Bath and Body Works...they were having quite a sale too! I'm not sure if I will meet my own December 15th deadline, but I'm going to try....

How are you all doing with shopping?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

It's almost December....

and I'm about halfway done with my Christmas shopping....and no debt. I did not go shopping on Black Friday, but I did find a deal at Apple online for a gift I'm purchasing. (By the way, they engrave for free when you order directly through Apple.)

Thank you for all your encouragement for the scariest time of year for me, although I'm not out of the woods yet. I hope to be finished with everything by the 15th of December (wrapped and sent to out of towners, and wrapped and hidden for my family). Then, just maybe then, I'll be able to enjoy the season.

My goals for December are:

No shopping for gifts after the 15th.
Stick to budget.
Do not "second think" gifts purchased and go out and buy more.
Sunday's during December will be for COMPLETE shopping, cooking, cleaning, etc. (I'll have to rejuvenate sometime)
Give generously.

Happy belated Thanksgiving to all of you! Hope you had a wonderful holiday!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

School tuition ruining your financial life?

I'm writing on this subject because in the past week, I've spoken with a couple of friends that I hadn't seen in some time. Their children are going to expensive (about $40,000 a year) colleges and they are footing the bill for their children. We didn't start out talking about school tuition, but their life circumstances (one of them is selling their home and moving into a very small townhome, the other is looking for fulltime employment) the subject of money came up. When I asked why they decided to downsize/go to work, it became apparent that they are in debt with student loans for their children.

I know I will not be the one taking out student loans for my children. If they choose a college out of state and that is that expensive, they will have to come up with the money. We live in Virginia, where state schools are some of the best in the country. Why pay $40,000 a year, when you can pay $15,000 and get the same, if not better, education?

We are paying for our daughter's education out of pocket. My oldest is done, and we are paying for my second daughter's. We are fortunate that we are able to do this. If we were not, then they would have to work extra hard to come up with the cash. They are responsible to pay for books, spending money, cell phone and car insurance. And if they couldn't afford it, they would have to go to school locally, and get a job.

I don't understand why parents would put their financial stability on the line for their children's college education. It is not a requirement that parents pay for their children's education, it is a gift, only if it can be afforded.

I paid for 1/2 my colllege education (When it was $3,000 a year to go! :)) and my parents paid for 1/2. It took me two years to pay off my student loan when I graduated.

My younger two now know that they may very well be spending the first two years of their college education at a local community college. If they do well there, they have their pick of the state schools to transfer to. This would, in essence, save $100,000.00 in tuition costs, as I'm assuming by the time they go to school, tuition, room and board will cost about $25,000 a year.

Are they happy about it? Nope. But we are not willing to sacrifice our financial security because of it.

Do you have any stories of parents in hoc over college tuition?