Monthly Archives: October 2008

Happy Halloween!

picture courtesy City of Hope

My favorite sci-fi character, Darth Vader. How my heart melts everytime I see him. 🙂

Although, I am not depicted in the pic above…Yesterday, I got to be a part of City of Hope’s Pediatric Halloween Parade. It’s a great event where the employees get to dress up and give out goodies to our Pediatric patients stricken with cancer. Just a tiny way to help out for a great cause. It’s fantastic to see all these kids dressed up in their costumes.

I just wanted to wish you all a safe and Happy Halloween!

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Tools of Success

Give a girl a camera and she takes beautiful self portraits (and thousands of other pics of little things around the house: her stuffed animals, pictures on the wall, the inside of her closet, the ceiling fan, etc…). Treasures, Memories that will last a lifetime to warm my heart.

Give a woman a teal notebook with budget sheets and she will one day make her family financially free. To be able to travel the world at luxury, spend more time with family and friends, lift the emotional weight off the shoulders, and simply… be happier. This too will last a lifetime.

Personal tools of success.

I am realizing, as I am writing this blog note, that personal tools of success cause a positive lifetime reaction. A camera & daughter equal years of memories. A book combined with paper and pencil is something that allow me to live years of gratitude.

And I am realizing, these tools don’t need to cost a lot. That it is not necessary to have all the bells and whistles. We have fulfilled our lives with complexities, but I am thinking that it is not necessary. Simplicity.

I have a small garden, to which I planted from seed. I nurtured the ground and it blossomed with time and care. To which, I made some fantastic zuchinni-pineapple muffins (they are really very good).

I am beginning to come to the conclusion that ‘Less is more’ and ‘simplicity’ may be the keys to my family’s future success.

What are your tools of success? I would love to hear about your dearest goal and what tool(s) you use to bring you closer to fulfilling your goal. Or how you did meet your goal.

The Butterfly Award

Well, if you haven’t noticed, I received The Butterfly Award: The Coolest Blog Award from Mom’s Budget Files.

Speech, speech! Thank you, to Mom’s Budget Files for the award.

She is a mom:

~determined to give a great life her son
~with a plan to pay off that debt and create a savings
~and a great woman with a mission to make life Gooooooood!

Many thanks to Mom’s Budget Files. Truly honored. 🙂

Now, it is my turn to pass this on to some fellow bloggers. And if I had the choice, well… I would pass it on to each and every one of you for being courageous enough to stand up to erradicating your debt! 🙂

But, since I cannot… Here, I pass this award to blogs I am keen to and in no particular order.

~Mom’s Budget Files
~$haronRose-$pending, $aving, Me
~Broke in the Suburb
~Shtinkykat’s PF Blog
~Paid it Down & Moving Forward

Congrats (Crowd roaring)! And thank U, thank U for the gracious award. 🙂

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Once accepted, please do the following if you wish:

1. Put the logo on your blog;
2. Add a link to the person who awarded you;
3. Nominate any number of blog you want to share this award with.
4. Add links to those blogs on yours;
5. Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs.

Let’s spread the joy of blogging and warmth of friendship through this Butterfly Award. Please accept the award and happy blogging.

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Tips to Keep Motivated – Blog to Note

I can’t help it, I’m an 80s Ghostbuster fan. And my weekend trip to Knott’s made my heart skip a beat when, there…. I saw… THE STAY PUFT MARSHMALLOW MAN! And of course, the GhostBuster’s car. How cool is that?

Well, my reason for writing. I just did a post on Reaching Your Financial Goals. And although a great post, one also needs to know how to stay motivated in reaching those goals. As I pondered to write a post on the subject (and blog hopped while at work – oops), I came across a post that hit the spot! Sharon Rose’s Tips to Keep Motivated in a Credit Crunch. Although it’s her reflection of personal monetary habits, it’s genuinely a fantastic article that all of us can value. This is this week’s Blog to Note. 🙂

Morning Sunshine… financial laughter

I always tell my son, “Morning Sunshine”. It’s my way of telling my son to make it a happy day. Thought I’d pass it onto you. 🙂

So, I was watching TV last night and a commercial came on:

“No Credit! No Problem! Finance a Brand New Dell or HP computer! If you order now you will also get a FREE color printer! a FREE MP3 player! and a FREE 19″ color monitor!”.

Have you heard the above commercial before?

I didn’t look to see what the atrocious finance charges would be… BUT, it’s only $29 a month! I got a laugh out of this commercial.

A lady, in her late 30s, comes on saying that SHE DIDN’T HAVE CREDIT AND NEEDED A COMPUTER! Then the man comes on saying, “I have a computer and started my own business.” “The kids can do their school work” Etc…

Well, I laughed because today I said, “that lady should be worrying about getting out of debt! Not buying more debt!” and “If that man had to finance a computer this way for his business, it isn’t financially sound and probably won’t last that long”.

I laugh because 15 years ago, I would of bought that computer through that advertisement. I was one of those millions of Americans who don’t have a clue about thier finances and didn’t have credit or good credit.

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Another commercial (non-finance). Has anyone heard this commercial on the radio? I tripped out the first time I heard it. I have yet to check out the site to see exactly what it is. “For people in a relationship who need something more outside of…” “we cater to both men and women” http://www.ashleymadison.com/. No serious, it talks how people who need more romance in their life outside of the relationship. Are we really that messed up in America that we don’t value marriage or relationships anylonger???? Okay, before I flip – can anyone tell me if this site really is for extra relationship affairs/romance? I can’t look at work and haven’t had time to jump on the computer at home. Crazy I tell you, Crazy!

*Can you believe the site is legit. Here’s the motto: “Life is short. Have an affair”
It is The Ashley Madison Agency of Married Dating & Affairs. Atrocious, I say! Crazy mad with 27,000 members seeking to cheat. Hmph.

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Reaching Your Financial Goals

Financial goals are things that you want to attain which require money you don’t currently possess. These goals can be short-term (less than 1 year) or long-term (greater than 1 year). Typical goals: buy a house, save for college, or retire comfortably.

Steps to reach Financial Goals

It’s going to take time, effort and discipline. There is no short way around it.

1. Prioritize Your Goals
“ An unwritten goal is only a wish” – proverb
Write your goals down on paper (or computer)! I prefer to write them on paper because the feel of writing them makes them real to me. And then choose which one you want to accomplish first. Prioritize!

How?
Needs versus Wants: The first step in prioritizing your goals is to objectively decide if something is a need or a want. A need is a necessity. Basic needs sustain life, such as food, water, shelter, heat and clothing. A want is something you desire but is not necessary for sustaining life (no, the Ipod does not fit under need, sorry but it is a want). Some wants may be practical in supporting your lifestyle, such as a computer or cell phone. Others may be a luxury, such as a vacation home or motorcycle. How much is enough? Is more always better? These are questions you will have to answer for yourself based on your values.

2. Make your goals SMART
SPECIFIC: State each detail of your goal. For example, “I want to buy a 4 bedroom ranch house, in a safe neighborhood, within 5 years”.

MEASUREABLE: How will you know if you’re making progress? State the criteria or amount needed to reach your goal. For example, “The price of the house I want is $350, 000.”

ATTAINABLE: How will you know what to do first? Break the goal down into smaller steps that need to be completed. For example, “I will need $35, 000 for a down payment.” “I will attain this by having $xxx automatically deducted from my paycheck and deposited into an interest-bearing savings account for xx months.”

RELEVANT: Does your goal fit your values? State why the goal is a good one for you. For example, “I want to own a house because I will enjoy making it my own and I want something that will build equity over time.”

TIMED: How will you decide when to act? Set a deadline for each step towards your goal. For example, “Today, at my lunch break, I will go to my credit union to fill out the forms to have money deducted from my paycheck and deposited into a savings account each month.”

3. Create and Action Plan

After you have made your goal SMART, make an ordered list out of the smaller steps that need to be completed. Assign deadlines for each step and put them onto a calendar that you normally look at each day. An essential tool to help you track your progress and make adjustments as time goes on, is a spending plan or budget.

4. Get Organized

In order to reach your goal, you will need to track your financial matters. There are many systems you could use, but here are two you may find helpful.

Paper records. A common way of storing and organizing your financial documents is to keep them in a filing drawer or box with several labeled hanging files or folders. Many people will label the folders according to their budget categories. Typical budget categories are: Income, Charitable donations, Savings (emergency, investments, retirement, Housing (mortgage payments, taxes, insurance, repairs), Transportation (car payments, taxes, insurance, repairs), Utilities, Medical, Loans, Credit Lines, Estate, and Obligations (child support, alimony).

Some people attach stick-on flogs to the documents they will need to find at tax time. Some people store these documents in a separate folder.

A non-financial file to keep is: Personal documents (social security cards, passports, birth certificates, etc). Naturally, these papers should be kept in a fireproof location or electronic copies should be made and kept in a secure place.

Electronic Records: One way to lighten the paper load and streamline some record keeping is to use a personal computer. Quicken Online (now free to use) or Mint are good programs to use.

5. Communicate Your Goals

Communicating regularly about your goals, helps you maintain your focus. Schedule a regular weekly time to discuss financial updates with you spouse and children. Involve the whole family in creating and maintaining a household budget. If you family isn’t aware of your financial goals, they can’t offer support.

6. Be Money Smart
The fact that you’re reading this shows that you are taking responsibility for attaining the knowledge and skills required to manage your financial matters. There are many good financial education resources available for free, like www.knowdebt.org/education. Improving your financial literacy will always pay great rewards.

Keep it Real

Financial goals are only one aspect of what most people want out of life. Almost always, financial goals are a means to a greater end, such as the happiness that comes from sharing experiences with family and friends. You may also have causes, beliefs, or values that are extremely important to you. They may be so important that you choose to dedicate a significant amount of time and energy t them. Only you can define what brings you happiness. Occasionally, you will encounter some obstacles in reaching your financial goals. Therefore, anticipate having to make adjustments to find a way around them, and don’t lose sight of the
things you value most in life.

And you’re right, I am by no means a great artist! 🙂

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If you give a Mouse a Cookie (my edition)

  • If you give a woman a (personal finance) blog,
    she is going to lay her financial life out there.
  • When she lays out her financial life,
    she’ll find out it is in disarray.
  • When she realizes the extent of her dysfunctional financial life,
    she’ll ask for a tracking sheet.
  • Then she’ll want to update it everyday.
  • When she notices the (large) amount of credit card debt,
    she’ll notice she needs to do some card cutting.
  • So, she’ll probably ask for a pair of scissors.
  • When she’s finished cutting up her credit cards in little, tiny pieces,
    she’ll feel like cleaning the clutter out of another place.
  • She’ll start cleaning the house.
  • She might get carried away and clean every room in the house.
  • She may even completely declutter the closets and cupboards as well!
  • When she’s done, she’ll probably want to bag it all up.
  • She’ll throw it all in her car, take it to the Goodwill and donate the stuff to charity.
  • When she comes home,
    she’ll get excited at the thought, “less is more”.
  • Then she will look at the computer will remind her that…
  • she needs to share the excitement with you.
  • So…
  • She’ll open up her blog editor.
  • And chances are that when she opens up her blog,
    she is going to lay out her financial life (and tell you her excitement)!

I’ve been a CLEANING MAD WOMAN this weekend! Cleaned out closet and cupboards. My daughter cleared out 3 bags of old toys and clothes. I found a few items in the house that I took pics and am placing for sale at my work’s eBoards (selling mecha at work. Neat, huh?). But the rest of my stuff, I immediately packed in the car and drove it straight to Goodwill. If I didn’t complete that task right away, it would of piled up in our garage. Yes, I did consider a garage sale. But, until I find the time to clear out the remainder of the house…it would have piled up in our garage. It didn’t fit my mentality at that moment. I just wanted to GET RID OF IT! And so, I did. 🙂

I still have a couple rooms left. The garage needs a serious decluttering, too. But, we are planning on doing a rehaul of the garage in the spring (new workbench, shelves, every box will be sorted and put into new rubbermaid boxes that are clearly labeled, the unused stuff will be sent to Goodwill, etc…). I will be sure to take pics of the before and after. That is going to be such a tiring project. But, so worth it!

Anyhow, back to clearing the Clutter. I thought it would be cute to mimic my thoughts to the kid’s story, “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”. My daughter and I love to read it as a bedtime story. Same with, “If you have a Moose a Muffin”. A lot of times I ponder on the moral of a story in relations with money. Or even an event, like gardening (but, I will bring that analogy up in a future post). It’s kind of neat to see how the simple lessons in life can mean so much.

Perhaps that is why Confucius became so important with his teaching known as “brief aphoristic fragments”. Fragments with big meanings.

Clear out the clutter ladies. It will immediately lighten your mood! And it may fatten your wallet, too. 🙂

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