Monday, January 30, 2012

Top 5 things to do with your tax refund

I personally am not a huge fan of getting a tax refund. LET ME EXPLAIN before you start thinking I am crazy...

I'd rather have the RIGHT amount of taxes taken out each month. That way I have a little bit more money to work with on a monthly basis instead of getting a big check at one time and trying to do something super productive with it.

here's the top 5 things you can do with your tax refund.

1. Pay off debt. Duh. Obviously THIS should come first. If you have debt, use this money to pay it off.

2. If you do NOT have debt then KUDOS to you :) But this would be a great way to start your emergency fund. No matter how big or small the check is--this is the perfect way to jump start your emergency fund. This is always a hard step for people... putting back that money every month is hard for a lot of people especially when it's just 20 bucks here, 15 there, etc. SO, by putting your tax refund in savings you can see a nice chunk which makes it easier to put more money back. (It's a mental me.)

3. If you have no debt, plus your emergency fund you could always begin the 3 months worth of bills savings account. This would be your NEXT step on your financial journey and your debt free life.

4. Let's say you have ALL of these steps completed or MOSTLY completed... maybe this would be the perfect time to take your family on a vacation, or a weekend trip with the hubs, OR, just MAYBE you have worked really hard to get your self into a financially free situation and you deserve a spa day and a new outfit. :) I'm ALL for rewarding myself for good behavior!

5. Lastly... maybe this would be a good time to get a jump start on NEXT years taxes. Use this money for donation purposes, for tithing, for giving to charity--anything that would give you a jump on next years taxes and give you a nice break.

there ya go--the top 5 things to do with your tax refund.

And if you OWE money on your taxes, well, that will be another post :)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Who are you?

Are you a man? Or a woman? A youngster or a senior?

Well, that seems like a silly question doesn't it? But think about it... who ARE you?

Take me for example. I'm a 27 year old female from Arkansas. I know this, you now know this... but what about the day that someone snags my identity. All of a sudden CARA MATTHEWS is a 48 year old male from Las Vegas. He has my social, my debit card number, my address, my passwords---he can be ME if he wants to. And I would NEVER know it... until of course i got a huge bill for a trip to Bora Bora that i KNOW I didn't take.

losing your identity is scary. It's something that terrifies people, and it's also something that happens ALL the time.

If you are like me and this thought concerns you, then you need to learn more about IdentityHawk. Protect yourself from identity theft, from getting your private information made public, and from losing thousands of dollars in fradgulent charges. You OWE it to yourself to be protected. Idenitity theft protection is a must have in this day and age. With the computer being not only a main source of entertainment, but also of a means to pay bills, purchase items (including stocks and bonds), and store important information--you MUST protect yourself against identity theft.

It's worth the price to protect yourself. Check it out today and enjoy a 30 day free trial!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Financial book review

I am currently reading Does this make my assets look fat? It's a TERRIFIC book for any woman that is wanting to get her finances in order with the help of a woman.

Basically it takes the concept of food and dietiting and uses it to explain financial aspects. From budgeting, investing, bonds, etc... this book is TERRIFIC!

I love reading about financial topics so of course i like it simply for that reason, but the book itself is written in a witty, yet informative way that would allow any woman to easily read this book and gain understanding.

Check it out... you will be glad you did!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Let's talk money

I live in a house divided in regards to finances... but I'm working on fixing that. Compromising is part of marriage (the part I don't like) and that INCLUDES sticky subjects such as finances.

My husband owns his own business. He has always HAD money. His life has revolved around the ladder that one climbs to reach a certain level of satisfaction. Whether that ladder move is social, financial, or what have you--he has climbed it. His ideas of finances have always been so different from mine.

i have never HAD a lot of money. i have done okay with what i have (no complaints here), but hard financial times are something that i have always been accustomed to. And I'm okay with that... it's made me smart.

Add those two together and it can be interesting...

He knows ALL about businesses, and i don't. But i try. I do my research that's for sure. :)

When he first opened the business he could only take checks and cash. Well, with big purchases such as furniture that was NOT going to work. We quickly got on board to get him a credit card processing services and all the equipment necessary to make SURE we could take plastic!

Another handy item was the POS systems. That's practically a MUST have in any business. While I personally am not a fan of charging items (I'd rather see someone pay cash for an item), not everyone feels that way. Plus i got to thinking about how I NEVER have cash, but i use my debit card. So i would be totally bummed if a business couldn't swipe my card.

No matter what kind of business you own, you may consider investing in an ATM machine for your store. This drives traffic in itself. Think about it... you are driving down the road and need cash and you pull into the first store you see that has the neon letters that read "ATM". And chances are when you walk in you end up buying something--even if it's something little like a coke or candy bar. You hadn't planned on spending that money but the ATM sign drew you in and you spent it. This is a GREAT way to draw traffic into your store...

I've learned some new things about finances over the past year. Learning about the business and the BEST ways to please customers coupled with my eagerness to learn as much as i can about finances and the BEST decisions.

do your research. That's always the place to start when you begin talking about money :)

Have you checked it lately?

Occasionally I get on my soapbox. Okay, i do it OFTEN! It's just that I care so much about YOUR financial future, and MY financial future that it just happens naturally... jumping on the soapbox that is :)

Today I'm harping on constantly viewing your credit report for accuracy. I read Money magazine on a religious basis and you wouldn't believe the stories about how many times people are not faithful to check their credit reports and scores and when they finally do, there are mistakes made all over it. It's so important, and it's so easy. It's one of those easy things to do that make you a little crazy if you don't do it. :)

I personally have had to deal with a credit report issue. I blogged about this a while back but to refresh your memory...

A fraudulent charge was made on my Victoria's Secret credit card.
I hadn't been checking my report OR getting statements because I had moved.
When they finally got a hold of me the $11.67 fraudulent charge had accrued over $300 dollars in late fees, over the limit fees, etc.
It took me 4 months to get it fixed.
I had to write letters to every credit bureau reporting place.
i had to shed tears on the phone to get this fixed.
It finally did...

LESSON LEARNED: if I had been checking my credit report I would have not gone through all of this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I learned a lesson the hard way (which is how i usually learn them unfortunately). you don't have to. It's simple now to check your credit report and to get a free credit score at your fingertips in SECONDS. it's so worth it. is the site to check out to take a look at your credit score, your report, and to begin your search to make sure that your credit history is accurate, so that your financial FUTURE will not be negatively affected.

it's simple, easy and FREE. get your score and report today at PLEASE! You will be so glad that you did.

Now off to another soapbox.... 

Monday, January 16, 2012

How to have a successful yard sale

This seems like a silly post to write, but considering the amount of yard sales that I go to and the amount of times i LEAVE empty handed because they had no idea what they are doing--well, that prompted me to write this.

You cannot have a successful yard sale if you do not have reasonable expectations. If you think you are going to make $500 bucks at the yard sale and all you have are clothes, then you are WRONG. Unless of course you mark your clothes up super high, but then they wont' sell, so nevermind--that is NOT going to happen.

You cannot have a successful yard sale if you think your stuff is worth more than it is. It's not about the worth it is to YOU, it's about what the item is actually worth. And if it is worth more to YOU, then you should probably keep it.

You cannot have a successful yard sale if you don't have your items set up properly. Just because it's a yard sale does not mean it shouldn't have any type of eye appeal to it. You don't want to walk up and see CRAP laying everywhere--that won't do. UNLESS, everything is a nickel. Then it will work.

You cannot have a successful yard sale if you do not have enough STUFF! you need lots of items to make it work. People feel awkward when they walk up and you have a table of trinkets and a lawn mower sitting there. And by awkward, I mean the way I felt last weekend... weirdos. really? okay--get my drift? have it be a multi-family yard sale.

You cannot have a successful yard sale if you do not known how to handle the multi family yard sale. If it takes a person 5 minutes to "check out" because everyone is trying to figure out whose worn out blue jeans these belong to and who is getting the $1 dollar for them--it won't work. Have a system. Color coded works. do SOMETHING. That makes me leave my items and walk away. Seriously. i've done it.

You cannot have a successful yard sale if you do not advertise properly. If you are doing this to make some cash, get rid of some items, make room for new stuff, etc... you HAVE to advertise well. Facebook, posters, newspaper, craigslist, call into your local swap shop. LET PEOPLE KNOW! Tell friends, who tell friends, who tell.... get my drift?

So what have we learned?

* good selection of items is needed
*organized, presented well
*advertised well (easy to find)

Do you have any tips for having a successful yard sale?????

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Real Housewives of Atlanta

Guest post of the week by Nestor Nielsen
The Real Housewives is one of those series that I love to hate to watch. I am from Atlanta but moved and now watch my television through direct tv jacksonville. I like to watch The Real Housewives of Atlanta to keep me in touch with the things that are going on up there in the peach state. The only problem is I don’t think that this show really accurately portrays how things are in the Atlanta area. They make everything seem like a caricature instead of like real life. Sometimes I wonder if people who have never been to Atlanta are now in shock and never want to visit the whole state based on the things that they see on this show. There are some good things on the show however; you get to see what kind of awesome weather they have there. It is mostly sunny and mild temperatures for most of the year except in August when Atlanta earns its nickname Hotlanta. You can also see some of the amazing houses and land that they have in Atlanta through the show. Some of those women live in the most fabulous houses I have ever seen.

Friday, January 13, 2012

So far this year...

I have done really well at saving money. I have put an extra $900 in savings (when i soooo wanted to go out and spend it on something, just to say i did), I have done very well on my grocery store budget (still trying to remain around $100 a month) and have spent WAY too much on entertainment... :(

Ok, so I did very good in some areas and two thumbs down in others.

LET me explain...

i love going to the movies. I mean absolutely lOVe it. Ava loves going, my hubs loves going, its just something that we all enjoy. But it is SO expensive. I do my best to go only at matinees, only when I have a discount tickets and of course only with the discount refreshments. BUT, it is still pricy. So the first week of the new year I enjoyed movies a little TOO much, but it was worth it. Not that life is "back to normal" with school, work, etc we won't get to go as much.

SOMETIMES--you have to chill. You have to tell yourself it's OK that you splurged. It's ok that you spent more than you meant to. It's okay that you went all out for the family--that is what it's all about.

I have to remind myself that I don't have to save ALL the time... just most the time. :)

So how are you feeling now that we are 13 days into the new year, new month? You feeling good about things????

Monday, January 9, 2012

My list of things to buy ....

My shopping ban is still going on. But as ALWAYS, i have exceptions...

#1--some new boots. I LOVE boots. ADORE boots, and i need some new ones. I want some really nice ones. not the cheap ones i usually buy. They would be on my list of things to buy less often if I bought NICE ones... so that's what I am going to do.

#2--Ava needs a new spring/summer wardrobe and it's never too early to start. I have set aside $150 dollars to buy her new clothes and shoes (gently used of course, or a really good bargain).

#3--I have to confess that over a year ago (almost 2 years now) I lost my wedding band. I know, TRAGIC! I had put my engagement ring and my wedding band in a bag as we were leaving the hotel. Well, I got home with my engagment ring but my wedding band had vanished. I promised Jere that since I lost it, I would replace it. So i would really like to save up and buy me one to replace it.  But of course, i will allow Jere to do something completely romantic to give it to me. :)

#4--laser hair removal. I am starting this VERY soon. This kind of a must do. I have ezcema and shaving is so painful. So i am beginning of the process of becoming hair-free :)

That's my list... What's on yours?

I wish this were a paid post....

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