Monday, November 28, 2011

The Island

Guest post by Gerard Mcdaniel

My sisters and I spend our summers in the island home that was left to us by our parents. Our husbands and one sister’s boyfriend come and see us on the weekends when they don’t have to work. Man this is the life I always think. I wish I could live here all the time, but it gets very cold in the winter and there are not a lot of conveniences. We shop mostly on the mainland and have the caretaker bring us groceries about every other day. We just added Get Wild Blue so we can get good internet service. Before, we didn’t even have any service. Sometimes I miss being able to run to the mall for a new bathing suit or pick up my favorite bottle of wine for the evening’s cookout. But now I can just plan a little more thoroughly and order everything online. Of course, we still have to wait for things to be delivered on the ferry. That is what makes this place so wonderful and private. It is like my secret place where I can still have the world at my fingertips.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

While living debt free...

or ALMOST debt free, there is still financial things to contemplate.

Do you pay off your credit cards and pay them off like Dave Ramsey suggests? I love that man, and I can't stand that man. read more of my love-hate relationship with the Ramsey man here and here.

My point... if you are working to build credit, mantain good credit and keep a constant run on your credit then you MUST use credit cards. i know Dave Ramsey would die if he read this, but I hate to tell him that I am right. Take it from someone that is credit conscious and keeps an eye on my credit often, you have to use them some.

So while you are paying off debt, be careful before you throw the cards away or in the shredder. Pick one thing a month that you charge. For me, it's been my water bill. I charge it every month, get the bill from my credit card and then pay it. No interest charged, but for that month i got a "1" on my credit report. That's a GOOD thing.

Live debt free. do NOT be chained to the chairs of debt, but be smart about keeping your credit looking sharp and clean. you don't want to pay off debt, and then stop using any form of credit for 10 years and then go try to buy a house. the bank will NOT lend you the money because of the lapse in your credit report (that and other reasons like how the banks aren't giving money away period these days).

Be smart about it.

Any suggestions?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I'm feeling good about Christmas

What about you? I'm feeling like I am on schedule and on top of things which is SUCH a good feeling.

remember--this year my husband and I agreed to only spend $50 dollars one each other AND the items had to be used OR bought at a consignment type shop. (Ex: he could buy be a shirt with tags on it that is technically new but has to buy it from a second-hand type shop). This definitly made Christmas more of a challenge but that was the point.

My point for this challenge:

spend more time searching for gifts that would make each other smile vs. running into a store and charging $100 bucks just to get it out of the way

save money this holiday season

have less STRESS during my favorite time of the year

not feel overwhelmed on Christmas morning

This may seem silly to you and that's ok. i'm okay with you feeling that way. Christmas is my fav time of year. no questions asked--hands down--I LIVE for some Christmas time!! But--it's always stressful shopping, overspending and then thinking you will worry with it later (later ALWAYS comes around). And then tehre is the whole challenge to try to spend about the same amount of money on each other so there can't be any suprises. I always LOVE what I get, but it's always a let down when its over. ya know what I mean? kinda like okay here, we did it. We went, we bought, we charged, we are in debt, and now we have to clean up this mess. I wanted to eliminate that.

Also, i'm so bad about going over board on Ava. Not that she doesn't deserve everything in the world b/c she DOES... but she has so many Christmases. She gets so much stuff EACH YEAR! And the very next day she will ask if we can go get a toy, or a treat. I want to control my child's wants, and if by making the festivities of Christmas a bigger deal then the present opening experience--maybe I can accomplish that. That's my plan anyway. That's my prayer.

So, i'm going through my list in my head of what all I have bought and i'm feeling so excited. I stayed within budget (except for well, a little bit over. But even then it was on something secondhand.) :)

I'm ready for the FUN of the holidays. Not the stress. I'm so ready. Yay!

Keeping track!

One of the hardest parts of living on less, making budgets, saving money, etc... is KEEPING TRACK OF IT! I try--i mean I write down my checks in the checkbook, I keep up with my receipts, yet somehow I ALWAYS struggle to keep up with everything like I should. There is always an extra bill I forgot about, or I forgot that I ran by Sonic... SOMETHING!

I've written before and asked my readers for tips on how to keep up with everything. I follow a ton of blogs just hoping to get all the right info. I've heard of several sites that you can use that will actually keep track of things for you but i've been leery of trying one of those. I finally found one that I love for personal use. it helps me keep up with EVERYTHING and actually links itself to my bank account so when I get on this site, it is 100% accurate! How nice! When I forget things I know I have a back up that will NEVER let me forget. :)

it comes in so handy but after talking with my husband about it we realized that it wouldn't keep up with his store expenses the same... so I went on the search!

Then I heard about this is the handiest site that allows you to keep up with loans,bills, payments, expenses and more using a bookkeeping software! This software allows you to see if you are on track for taxes, how much you are spending, and can link everything together. This site allows you to know your BOTTOM line. What you are spending every month can be tracked by using

If you own a small business and are struggling to keep all of your numbers together--then this is for you!

Enjoy! :)

Friday, November 11, 2011


It's ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Let me know what you think! i am SO pumped!

The best laid plans...

of mice and men.. and of me :)

When it comes to finances i am SUCH a planner. If you only could see my "MY BOOK" as I call it, you would see what I mean. I budget down to the cent. I designate where every dime and dollar is going at any given point. When I get paid there are no suprises or no excuses for me to not know where that money is going.

lately my focus has been on paying off my car. It is due to be paid off on September 21st, 2014. My plan is to make my last payment on August of 2012. That's 2 years early!!!!!!! That is my plan... now again, plans don't always work out.

I was looking over my plan for paying off my car yesterday and got very excited when I refigured and realized i'd have it paid off sooner then that.... I got so excited!!! THEN... i realized I was wrong. :( And i got very discouraged. I kept thinking like why in the world am I spending every extra dime I have on paying off a car when it's still taking me forever!??!! I just need some money to fall from the sky so I can stop stressing over it.

Sometimes you have to look at your plans and just be happy that you made a plan. That's HUGE! Most people don't take the time to figure out where the money goes and where it NEEDS to be going. So pat yourself on the back for having a plan. I'm one of those that gets so excited when making plans but when I realize how LONG it's going to take I get so down on myself.

time to be happy with those best laid plans... be happy that you made the plans and stay determined to follow through!

Updates to follow on the car payoff process. :) I'm so excited!

How NICE it's gonna feel to NOT have a car payment!

How I spend $100 dollars a month on groceries

This post is LONG over due. I have had several requests to write about how I only spend $100 dollars at the grocery store and just actually taking the time to sit down and write about it has been tough... because i am usually sitting down planning how in the world I am going to make it on $100 each month.

IT"S NOT EASY! Okay... hear me say that... and it doesn't ALWAYS happen, but 10 out of 12 months it does. Get ready for some work.

It's trial and error. It's practice. It's dedication. It's determination.

If you are a couponer then you get how much work it takes to do this. Let me say this... I can ACTUALLY spend all of my $100 dollars on FOOD because I have a stock pile of everything else. I do NOT keep my household item, personal items, beauty items, etc in the same money pile as my groceries. make sense?

Let's get started....


Meat is such a bulk of most families(I would assume) food budget. It's expensive. I don't eat deer. I shoot ducks but don't eat them. So I am actually buying ALL of the meat that I have. I became friends with the butcher at my local Kroger. He sees me coming! :) He is the one that told me that Tuesdays are the BEST days to come get bargains on meat. I don't know if has to do with when trucks come in or not, but I do know that Wednesdays at Kroger starts the new sales week. SO, on Tuesdays they mark down meat. I have gone in on Tuesdays MANY TIMES and left spending $30 dollars on meat that lasted us for a month.

But what if that doesn't happen? What if there are no mark-downs? How can you get meat for less money??? by PLANNNNNINNNGGGG... that's always the key word.

Plan your meals a month out. Now I realize that you may change it up, but that's not the point. The point is to write out 30 meals, figure up what you need for each of them, then get your calculator out and head to the store. It's ALWAYS cheaper to buy the bigger package. Well, at least in my experience. If you buy your hamburger meat in the tubes, buy the 5 lb tube, not 1 lb at a time. That's a WASTE!

does your town have a Save a lot? Or Save you more? Check out those places for meat! Their meat tends to be way more fresh than Walmarts meat and is actually quite comparable to Kroger's meat which I think is the BEST!

You can't spend $100 dollars a month on groceries and think that you make elaborate meals, however I like to say that we eat like royalty because we NEVER do without.

Bottom line with meat... check for discounts. If the meat is about to expire, FREEZE IT! It can last up to 6 months if it is frozen. And those were words from my butcher friend.

Plan to spend half of your budget of $100 on meat.

I buy chicken strips instead of chicken breasts in the bags. Kroger brand is usually on sale, but occasionally the Tyson brand is cheaper. Look for the best deal. Not just price, but check the pounds. I prefer the strips because I can get more meals out of them. If meat is taking up half of my budget then I need it to LAST. So if we do strips instead of breasts then I can make more other things to go with the meal. Such as we cook 5 chicken strips (I get 2, the husband gets 3) I still have a full bag of chicken left! Doesn't sound like a ton of meat does it? It's not. But it's plenty. But then I can make 2 sides. Maybe red potatoes and a can of corn?

A good rule of them for ME is this... $3.00 a meal. That is my goal. I try to make each meal cost us $3.00. Not always easy to do, but it IS possible. So I look at the bag of potatoes(which is a staple item in our house), the amount of meat I used, and the price of the canned veggie I purchased. I have finally gotten it to where 99% of our meals cost us under $3.00 a piece or right at it.

If you can't buy fresh, then frozen is next best, then comes cans. Just keep that in mind.

Because of the way I shop(I try not to do it very often b/c then I tend to blow my budget) I can't buy a lot of fresh veggies. I always have red potatoes on hand, an onion or 2, and that's about it. Now let me say this... I love love LOVE salad!!!! My husband is not such a big fan. My daughter can't stand it. SO I eat a salad every single day at lunch(which is free and also helps me keep the budget where it is) but that way I don't have to buy salad for home. Every time I buy it it goes bad, BUT, again... check with Kroger on Tuesdays. They are always marking salads down. So if salad is something that you have to have, get it on sale and make sure that you can eat it that day or the very next day. It will NOT keep and you will have wasted your money. I don't want to see anyone waste money on food.

Onions keep for a long time. That ones easy. Just buy a good size and you can work on it for a while.

Our main fruit in the house is bananas. My daughter loves them, I love them, and so does the hubs so this works out great. They are also very inexpensive which helps. BUT, you can buy them when they are still green and have them on hand.

I've wasted money on so much fruit in the past... my daughter will be hollaring for grapes, i'll buy some and she will eat a handful and the bag sits in the fridge and rots. Gross. So when buy something you need to have more than one plan of what you are going to use it for. Example: the grapes. Know that will be your snack that evening, put it in your lunches the next day, and plan to have a fruit salad or some other use. I think that's the problem these days is that people buy something for a meal having no backup plan so a lot of money gets wasted and thrown out which is such a bummer.

Milk, OJ, Juice, Cheese

Holy cow we eat a LOT of cheese! I sprinkle cheese on just about anything. yummmyyyy! I've got to buy it on sale though. You HAVE to look for the bargains. Check the expiration dates on it and you can get a big bag which is generally cheaper.  Sliced cheese. Shredded cheese. Velveeta. Look for the sales. If it's not on sale, do NOT buy it. Plan a different meal. Cut back on things... we used to buy Velveeta every time we went to the store. Now it's a treat to buy it. I plan our taco nights around when Velveeta is on sale. I've learned to give up things that I once considered "staples" in our house.

OJ--drop the name brand! I had to break my husband of this habit and it took about 2 years but he finally gets it. He was spending a fortune on orange juice because he had to have the name brand because he thought it tasted better. I couldn't tell a difference. He finally gave in and now we save over $14 dollars a month because I switched to the gallon jug of the store brand. HOLY COW that's a lot of money. That's 2 extra bags of chicken, or a splurge on some pork chops...

Milk. Look for the sale. Know how much you will use. On the weekends that my daughter is at her dad's house we don't use any milk. So I don't buy it. I have it when I need it but i've learned that we can buy on a half gallon jug and that has saved so much money! My daughter is not a fan of water so I had to get creative. We bought her a cool little work out type cup that has the top that opens and closes and now I have convinced her to drink water. And that is ALL she can drink out of that cup. She needs the water, it's good for her, plus when we drink water we are saving money.

Juice. Gotta look for bargains. Frozen is 99% of the time less expensive. I'm not a fan of juice. It's so loaded with sugar and they make us think it's awesome because it will say "made with real fruit juice" but try to avoid it. That's just a side note. :) But if you have to have it... stock up when it is on sale. TRY to buy frozen. It's better for the environment. But for those lunch boxes... Walgreens runs GREAT sales on Capri-suns around once every 6 weeks and that is when I stock up. And, Kroger has a GREAT off brand that's like the same thing and usually cheaper. Let those be JUST for lunches so you don't find yourself running back to the store to get more.

I hope this was helpful. That's how I do it. I make a list of meals, I figure out what I will need, look for coupons to match up the stores discounts, and run in OFTEN to check on bargains on meat.

You can do it. When I started this little project it was just simply to see... and now i'm addicted. I'm addicted to the fact that I have money left over every month! :)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Bargains on scrubs!

You know me... I am ALL about bargains, so I have to pass this one along.

Check out this website! Whether you are looking for lab coats, scrubs, green scrubs, pink scrubs, nurses scrubs, doctor scrubs... this site has it all! They also have accessories, scrubs hats and so much more!

This company has been around for a long time. They are trusted, reasonably priced and have more selection than any place around!

Whether you chose to have scrubs with prints, or to have some cool blue ones like the team on Grey's Anatomy... this is the place to go! :)

There are days i wish i had the luxury of wearing scrubs. Instead, I have to get up every single day and plan my outfits from head to toe! I love what I do and I do enjoy wearing different things but MAN OH MAN it would be nice to get to wake up and put some scrubs on! They look so comfy! :)

I know there are not a lot of scrub choices around here at least and I doubt there are many around the states so I wanted to pass this info along.

take the time to check out Very cool website with LOTS of options!

You can get money for that too!

You can get cash advances these days for everything! I've never taken a cash advance but I know plenty of people that have.

one of my favorite tv shows ever is "Til Debt do us Part." That show is AWESOME! Gail is an amazing financial guru that has the BEST ideas at helping couples get out of debt. She goes through all the steps and it follows progress over a month on these couples. If they complete the tasks they are asked to do then they get 5k to help them pay down their debt. I've seen couples do AWESOME and win the money, and i've seen couples think she was nuts and get NOTHING. What a waste? They had such a great opportunity and they dwindled it away...

Anyway, my point is that she talks a lot about cash advances and the percentage rates that come with them. Now some times, you just have to do what you can do and I get that, but I encourage you to be smart.

You can get cash advances to pay bills, and I think some credit card companies offer these as well. Anyway, you can get cash advances to pay bail, for lawsuit cash advances, and money just to get by on. Look into it though...beware of the fees. If you can't get it paid back then don't do it, but if you are in need of some cash NOW then look into it but BE SMART!

Know your stuff. Knowledge really IS power.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


I got an email this morning stating that pay pal's new policy is to hold your money for 21 days!!!!!!!!!!!That is INSANE! I get a LOT of money sent to me through paypal every single week and I am NOT happy about this.


Making it easy---taking your money?

I've said before that there is SO much we can all get caught up in! Everyone is looking for the "easy" way to do everything. Diet pills that are gonna make you lose weight over night. Colon cleanses that make you sit on the pot all week and make you skinny. The "Shake weight" that makes your arms look like a models with just 5 minutes a day. Shampoo that will make your hair grow at lightning speeds (tried that....didn't work). Electric can openers (b/c the kind you twist take SOOOOO long). Hair dryers that make you look like you are getting a face lift because the air is coming out SO fast and it ends up just matting up your hair.

No matter WHAT it is...we are ALL looking for that quick fix. Something to save money, something to save time...

Now i'm not saying there are not products out there that can't accomplish this. And they are not ALL over priced. But considering that you can buy products from cell phones that work on voice command to physical therapy billing that is light years ahead of what most of them use, the world is looking for ease, convience and moving saving tips.

How do you decide which ones work and which ones waste your time? It's hard, isn't it? i have invested in many things that I thought were gonna be awesome and then had to send a letter to the company DEMANDING my money back. Be smart about it.

I think the smartest thing you can do is research ALL of the products and services out there and weigh the product/service against the money and time you ACTUALLY save or spend.

Personally, I say buy a calendar and work your hardest to make TIME to do everything... like opening cans on your own. If you could squeeze in 3 more seconds you could save $30 bucks...just saying!


You realize that I have been harping on this for MONTHS now... and are down to the wire.

have you made your list? Have you checked it twice? have you made out a budget? Have you kept up with what you MUST get done in time to ENJOY THE HOLIDAYS??

i hope you are on it! :)