I’m leaning towards saving some of the money

so we can go to Disney World in March, when my sister from Idaho is visiting with her family. Basically, all my kids want is the time together…they aren’t little anymore, so they do need a few things, but it is difficult picking out clothes and such. they are more focused on the time and food aspect of holidays. LOL

I just purchased 4 pair of jeans for my youngest, 15 yo—haven’t purchased any “new” for almost 4 yrs, we had enough hand me downs from the older girls and her cousin.

L jokingly put a “car” on the list—only 15, hasn’t finished driver’s ed, gotten a permit and there is a 1 yr wait to get the license. Just looking to humor mom.

There are a couple of wants my kids want, but a lot of what we buy for Christmas

are needs like a new sweater, some boots, new gloves. Other things may involve a hobby or interest. One dd loves arts and crafts, so she got some new markers and a big roll of white newsprint to stamp and color away on to make homemade wrapping paper. One dd’s stereo speakers broke, so we replaced it as a present for Christmas.

I have actually found that our children are more satisfied getting a “present” from each member of the family (and santa) than the dollar amount of the gifts. So for example dd#1, she will get a present from dad, mom, sister, and brother. Each person gets to hand it to her, sit next to her, maybe help her open it, see her face when she opens it, gets to take a picture with her when she opens it, and gets a hug and a thank from her. They love it! Then we rotate and give all the other people presents.

The presents can be as small as a bottle of fingernail polish or as big as a pair of jeans or new toy. The amount doesn’t matter, but the giving and receiving of siblings does. It’s really fun!

It really ends up being low key for me. No pressure to buy the latest cabbage patch doll or tickle me elmo. They are always excited and thankful for all they receive.

Christmas shopping

the pitfalls of teaching your children the difference between “wants” and “needs” really mess with me this time of year.

My kids don’t have a Christmas wish list because “I am a homeschooler and not a normal teenager and don’t have the peer pressure most teens have. If I want something, I save for it and get it myself.”

Have to love the thinking, but not sure what to get other than gift cards. My youngest is making up a list of items—all to make me happy by writing out a list, but most items are sooo much a joke.


What my DH and I have done was just continue to apply our snowball to our savings account until we had a FFEF. We did lighten up a little in some areas like clothes since some needed replacing, and a little more fun money to celebrate, but not much since we don’t want Murphy visiting us any time soon.

We’re done with BS 3A and are now working on 3B. Saving a down payment for a house. That’s going to take us awhile so we’re trying to stay motivated, but it’s hard.
We’re on our way!!!

I’ve been lurking for the better part of year

and I’ve taken such strength and encouragement from all your stories/situations. This morning, after busting our butts for the last 11 months, my husband and I made the final payment to pay off our Bank of America credit card. With that payment, we are officially out of BS 2 and onto BS 3.

I’m excited to be moving on, but I’m also a bit nervous. I don’t want to lose the momentum we’ve built up this year, and I’m also feeling strangely vulnerable. Yes, we’re out of debt, but we only have our baby emergency fund to rely on if Murphy decides to come a-calling. The credit cards are gone, and we’re never going to have them again. So my question is this- for those who have done BS 3, what’s the trick to keeping the momentum rolling? Do you look at building up your savings as a debt that you pay off every month? I.E- I want to have x amount in savings by x date, so this is how much I stash each month? Just looking for a little guidance if anyone has any to offer. I want to have a plan so that if Stuart does show up, I can spit right in his eye and tell him to keep moving.

I don’t know if this would be opening a whole can of new worms,

but have you considered going into business for yourself? All this time and energy logged to try to get people to hire you for permanent work, i this age of piecemeal, contract work, maybe you could hire out as a contractor to come in and do short-term assignments? Or hire out as a consultant to tweak people’s systems so that they can run a good tight ship? That might be an option. I know a lot of my software engineering friends went that direction and did quite well with it. I did that work too for awhile before things here really took off. Just a thought. It might seem so similar as to not be worth much difference – interviewing for jobs versus marketing for services – but somehow it makes a world of difference for bean-counters at the various companies. The former, they have to hire on someone who will expect benefits, retirement, sick days, etc. The latter would be hiring on a person providing a service, no more no less, with no strings attached. That difference can be huge when it comes to the company saying “yes”. Just a thought……

When I got my last university job

in 2002 during that big downturn, I was one of *700* applicants for the position. With that many applicants they don’t even read all the resumes.

I was precisely and exactly qualified for the job, but I also know my resume made it out of the slush pile because my boss at a previous university job was good buddies with one of the department chairs.
I’m a huge fan of LinkedIn now, because of the “who you know” factor. IT people are well networked. I’m convinced the best way to find an IT job is to know people before the jobs ever get posted. I don’t think any of my current employer’s IT jobs were ever posted.

I am so sorry Anna.

I think there are just so many people “fighting” for the same jobs. And the problem is for people who have been in the field for years, is that companies are going for younger less experienced workers so they do not have to pay as much. My husband is in networking and there is just nothing in this area. For the past 6 months he has been doing contract work for a local school system. We are still praying they will hire him full time just because of our need for benefits. He actually would make more money doing contract work, but once you figure out that they are not taking taxes out, so we will have to pay all of that, plus he is a diabetic and his insulin is over 800.00 a month, we would come out better if he were full time getting paid less. It really is just a messed up world we are living in now.

They sent him home.

He is doing good.They said he managed to sprain his neck while he was at it. He is in a lot of pain b/c it’s aggravating the neck issues he already had. Otherwise he is doing good. Lea they took us to Wilkes b/c it was nearest our house. At first EMS was worried it might be a brain annurism. It wasn’t and I am extremely thankful.We maybe off track.
We had to take hubby via ambulance to a local non VA hospital. He is doing good today. Not sure how much of that the VA will pay. It all depends in how it gets filed. We owe the rest. They may pay it all. Time will see. Other than that we are plugging along staying on budget. Even if we pay the bill in cash we should pay the house off first week of Feb.

I love it.

Well worth the money because I would always have to add to get free shipping for the $25 minimum. Don’t have to do that anymore..lol
With all this talk about Amazon, I do want to say that this year we bought the Amazon Prime for 79.00 It has been worth it! Free shipping on products we order ( most of the time), the amazon lending library for Kindle or the free version there of, and movie rentals ( we don’t have cable), a good bulk of the movies are freebies and you get a couple of free rentals a month too.

That’s terrific!

I would suggest using something like Custom Contact or Mail Chimp to build a mailing list of your customers. Let people opt-in and email them once or twice a year, not too often, maybe send them a coupon next Christmas.

Also on your facebook page you absolutely want a background image (facebook calls it a “cover”) showing a a sample of your best work.

I have not posted much lately due to work

my dad having surgery, the Christmas holidays, etc. However, I believe I managed to post that I had started making custom coasters. My little start up is called Custom Coasters by Cindy.

I have been totally overwhelmed at the response. I can hardly remember al the ordres I have fulfilled. That reminds me I need to start keeping track of sales and create a customer file so I can follow up with them. At first I could hardly keep enough tiles on hand to make the coasters. I am now dealing with one flooring place to get my travertene tiles. They gave me a price break of about 10% on the tiles. I am using coupons and 50% off sales to get my ribbon and twine. I have looked online at ordering all this but the doggone shipping is so high for the amount I am ordering. It is cheaper to use sales and by locally. I am also going to make a copy of my tax info from our store so I can quit paying tax on this stuff and that will save me another 8.5% per purchase. This will be legit because we are selling some coasters thorugh our store. I also have some for sale in a local cafe/tanning salon.

Anyway, I have had quite a few to fill for Christmas and some for “late Christmas”, where they are traveling after Christmas and around New Years to see family or friends.

For advertising I am using my FB page, putting flyers in bags when customers make purchases at our store, and word of mouth.

Here are my most recent “to do’s”:

* I need to get my “studio” a little more organized so I can be a little more efficient when working, mostly decluttering stuff from my work table that I am not using specifically for making coasters.

* Dd has been working for me cleaning tiles before I use them. I am also probably going to get her to cut ribbon and twine for me, the two things I use to tie up the sets.

* I am going to get a stamp made that has my company name and phone number on it to stamp the underside of the coasters.

* Going to talk to dh about whether to adjust my pricing up after the first of the year. I am currently charging $12/set of 4 or any 2 sets for $20. Shipping/insurance is extra and actual cost. Current price is good till at least Jan. 1.

My FB page is www.facebook.com/customcoastersbycindy if you’d like to look around. I have posted pics of my work. All designs can be done in other colors. I have designs I will be posting as I make samples so keep checking back.

If you have any advice or suggestions, I’d appreciate it, especially on using FB. I am still learning on it. There are probably things I could do but have yet to learn it.

We’re in the midst of a pretty big decision here

which we haven’t finalized yet. Most of you know what a combine is, in the context of farm equipment – those big paddlewheel monsters that rumble across fields of grain to harvest them. This past week, we became aware of a small one for sale not far from us. At first I looked at it like a kid looks at a toy in the toy store window – “oooooo, neato, gimme!” And had this been 2011 or 2010 or some prior year, I would have gone and borrowed the money to buy it without hardly a second thought. But no, we don’t do that anymore. I emailed Jan late last week and told her how tempted I’d been to get it, and how hard it had been to resist doing so this time, but that this time we were going to do things differently. So over the weekend, I brought up this piece of equipment with DH as a potential addition to the farm; in short it would be a game-changer for us. It would open up all sorts of new crops for us to grow, it would turn our considerable feed bill into a memory, and it would open up new markets for us. But it would also be the single most expensive, complex, challenging implement we’ll ever own. Something akin to going from flying a Cessna single engine pondjumper to flying the space shuttle. So there’s a lot riding on this decision. And we’re going to take our time with making it. We have a big hog sale coming up in March which will give us the funds needed for this purchase if we decide to go that route. Of course I had other ideas for how to spend that $$$$ so we’ll have to consider which is the best overall use of that income. I don’t know how that decision is going to go yet. But I do know that in previous years, I wouldn’t have done all this evaluation of pro’s and con’s; I would have just gone and bought the darn thing and lived with the consequences. Thanks, DR, and thanks to everyone on the list, for teaching us a new way to make such big, important decisions. I’ll keep y’all posted.

Congrats on the baby!!!

Yes, most of what is out there you won’t need for the baby, the companies just market it so new parents will feel guilty for not keeping up with the Jones family—and you know how I feel about those Joneses, they are up to their eyeballs in debt.

Good luck with your family, you seem to be on the right track, but it is difficult.

Here is a Christmas present I hope everyone will enjoy hearing.

We’re expecting in May. Yep, it was an accident. DH still has 4 years of school left so that will be interesting to try to finish with scholarships, grants, and cash. DH had this idea that he was getting old and I wanted him to get more schooling done, but that doesn’t matter anymore.

And we’re under a bit of stress. I will try to make a long story short.

My DB had to short sale his condo that he had no business buying due to his princess wife saying they had to have a house because all their friends have houses (At market highs). My mom was “helping” them by renting it to help cover part of their mortgage until the market got better. (It hasn’t)

Needless to say they offered to have her move in with them in their other home that they also should not have bought until they sold their condo. She respectfully said no because they offered two weeks after she made arrangements with me and DH, they would want to turn her into a 24/7 nanny, and they would never fix anything in their condo. They thought that she should fix things since she was using them. That’s not how renting works.

I saw all of this coming down the pipe a year ago. In fact I told Dear mom it was a bad idea to move in to begin with two years ago.

In addition my DSIL had this idea of not telling my mom at first and thinking it was okay to force her out within two days thinking that their condo would sell really fast. (Ha, ha, ha.) I laughed hysterically at that when I heard it. It’s a strained relationship to say the least between them and my mom and between myself and DB/DSIL.

She is currently trying to get a medical coding certification so she can afford to rent her own place with a higher paying job. She hasn’t been making enough to pay her own rent for at least 8 years now, but thankfully she was able to pay cash for her training program at the local community college.

So we arranged to help by having my mom move in temporarily because I just can’t have my mother living out of her car or at my abusive brother’s house. That was before the above baby news happened.

So far she is taking her certification test for the 3rd time at $300 a try. (Ouch!) 70% of people fail the test the first time and you need a 70% to pass. She missed it by 6 questions last time. We’re praying she can pass it this coming Saturday so she can start to look for a job that pays more so she can afford to live on her own.

Anyway we are going to run out of space real soon and dear mother needs to move out.

The take home lesson of today is that sometimes helping family is enabling them and I hope my mother stops because I get tired of coming her rescue and won’t be able to anymore and I feel it’s a forced way of helping my siblings when it would be better to let them fail. My DH agrees that we just need to let my mom fail so she will stop helping my irresponsible older siblings. That’s probably wishful thinking as well. She won’t tell them no and when she does, they badger her. Dysfunctional drama as usual.

We’re trying to stop the misbehavior but it’s really hard by example and we can’t make them stop.

Anyway, back to the more exciting news, suggestions on how to save on buying baby stuff is welcomed! I’m pretty sure 60% of what I’ve seen so far isn’t necessary.

Welcome Lori!

Do you have a written budget? And which of Dave’s books do you have(he has several)? If you don’t have the Total Money Makeover, I’d suggest starting there. He lays out the process of the “Baby Steps” that help you get control of your money, eliminate debt, and become wealthy.

Commission only income

I think I need to go back and reread some of Mark’s info on variable income but I wanted to pose this question to all of you. My job is commission only in an industry where sales are up and down without a lot of continuity. That said, spring is usually the busiest season so I hope to have a windfall soon.

I am currently on baby step 2 with about $12,000 of debt remaining to pay off. Would it be a horrible idea to put my debt payoff on the slow track and put a few months of expenses in savings first? I haven’t been working the system long and to be honest it scares me to death to not have a cushion in case I don’t have a check coming in a couple of months, which does happen. The $1000 emergency fund (guaranteed loans) won’t go far if I don’t have any money coming in at all.

Any of you experience the same sort of income fluctuation and how do you deal with that?

We have Blue Cross health insurance and it is purchased by us, not through work.

We each have a deductible, which I think is $5000/person. We must foot the bill for the first $5K. IOW, each time we go to the doctor, hospital, walk in clinic, to any kind of therapy, we pay till we have reached $5000 for the patient. Each of us, dh and me, has this deductible.

Once the deductible is met Blue Cross pays 70% and we pay 30% till we reach our out of pocket limit, which escapes me right now but I think it’s $2000. This is for each one of us, not combined.

After we reach the out of pocket limit, BC pays 100%.

Medication has its own deductible as of 2-3 years ago. So any prescription purchases goes against the prescription deduction, not the $5000. I think the prescription deductible is $1000.

Each state is different on insurance legalities and policies. Each policy, even within the same company, can be different. Your mileage may vary.

Rarely do we meet the $5000 deductible unless one of us ends up in the hospital due to illness or a procedure. We are fortunate we qualify for a Health Savings account (HSA) due to the high deductible. We fully fund it each year. We do not use it for normal doctor’s visits or normal prescription purchases. We save it for big bills that are more than a couple of $100. It is helpful to have one at tax time because whatever is put into it comes off the top at tax time. Also if you still have some left at the end of the year it can roll over. You are not penalized for leaving some in the account at year’s end.

Speaking of medical bills..

So DH changed jobs and medical insurance (still BX, different flavor) and I just got an “explanation of benefits.”

so basically, they are paying ZERO until we hit the deductible ($3k/person, $6k/family)

I’ve never had an insurance company pay ZERO before. So

1. does this mean i don’t have to shell out co-pays also? I mean, if I’m on the hook for “everything” why should I have to shell out a “co pay” also?

2. does them not paying ANYTHING even sound logical?

just thought i’d ask before I call tomorrow and ask What The Heck?

A strange, but happy victory

Some might not consider the following a victory, but to me it is. Over the holidays, I drove my elderly parents from Chicago to my home in Atlanta for a visit. (Oh, the stories I could tell about THAT!) I was driving a rental car, because my parents’ car was in for a repair. Long story/short. I damaged the rental car. It wasn’t due to a collision. In the dark, in the rain, on a very steep driveway, I damaged the fender/bumper on the driver’s side. Absolutely my fault, but totally cosmetic. No mechanical damage. I felt horrible, but realized a) this is why you have insurance, and b) I had more than $2,500 in my personal Emergency Fund, and $6,000 in my business Emergency Fund. (A portion of my income comes from my home-based business.)

That moment of abject terror when I saw the damage immediately changed to ‘I think I’ve got this! Thank you, Dave!’

After doing some research online I estimated that the damage could be between $500 and $2,000, if my assessment of the damage was correct. I was pretty sure I didn’t need to use my insurance to pay for the damage. Yesterday, I paid for the damage, $569. I shifted the money from my Emergency Fund and paid it promptly. I felt so empowered by this experience. Pre-Financial Peace, my only option would have been to pull those funds from my IRA. I’m happy to report that I haven’t tapped into my IRA since beginning FPU in April 2014.

Another victory in this. Again, perhaps strange, is that though my parents didn’t want me to pay the bill, I did. Even though I owned the mistake I made with the car, my mother wanted to pay for it. It was REALLY important to me to pay this myself. Mind you, I’m 54 years old. It was a bit ridiculous, but I had to trick my mother into giving me gave me all the invoice information. While I had her on the phone, I went online and paid for the damage. (She had written a check and was going to mail it to the car rental company. Internet trumps snail mail!) I announced to her ‘Ma, I just paid it. Cut up your check. I’ll send you a copy of the receipt in email.’

I felt so empowered by this experience, which would have been completely negative just 2 years ago. Not that I’m looking to have more accidents with cars!