Thursday, July 31, 2008

Rainy Days and Water Conservation

It's raining here in Atlanta again. It sounds gorgeous, and it is definitely needed.
However I did just get my water bill and I'd like to try and lower it since it went up this month. As we are renting, we can't make any alterations to the apartment. I already run the washing machine and dishwasher only when they are full. Does anyone have any other tips that could help me cut down on about 10%-20% of our water use?

All comments are greatly encouraged and appreciated.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

How Aware Are You of Your Money?

It's very easy when you are having a hard time affording life to duck under the covers and only come up for air when you have to. It seems easier to live day to day rather than getting all caught up in what money is owed where and what happens when you get your next check and so on.

I used to be this way for the longest time. I was never really looking to get my debt paid off, I was merely looking to maintain it at its current state.

Now I know the balance on every debt that I have. I have a little balance sheet that contains all of my balances, minimum payments and goals. I can quote the numbers if asked. It's very organized and a little concerning.

I am hyper-aware of my money. I know what I have, what I need, and I have a plan.

I firmly believe that this is the key to getting myself out of debt. Here are some tips for making yourself more aware of your money and figuring out how to get where you need to be.

1. Make a Balance List
I have a list in simple text format. At the top are all of my debts and their balances in the order that I would like to pay them off. Then I have the total of all of these. After that, I have the list of minimum payments again in order. Below that I have the total of my minimum payments and my goal of what I would like to reduce them to. Next is how much all of my expenses come to and how much extra money I need to make each month in order to pay for them. At the bottom is a list of my assets.
I update this list almost daily, which allows me to track my progress.

2. Track Your Net Worth
Every month I input everything into my NetWorthIQ Profile. This allows me to really see my progress month to month. I've not been doing it for very long, but I have found it useful. I count my vehicle as an asset, but I don't include any other personal property on the list. The really good thing about doing this is it also tracks your percentage change in each category so you can see what area has been affected the most.

3. Allocate Extra Money Immediately
Whenever I make extra money, be it from freelance writing or from my second job, I immediately put the money where it needs to go. This means I often make more than one credit card payment in a month. Since interest is usually calculated daily, making early payments benefits me since I can save a few cents here and there. Also if you are making these payments, you can again see the progress you are making. Make sure you update your balance sheet when something has been paid. I usually put an asterisk by my minimum payments on my sheet and delete them when that payment is made. I also almost always pay my bills early.

4. Make a Plan
I have a Debt Snowball plan. It needs to be updated, but I'm working hard towards a goal. I'm very close to having the first of 7 debts paid off and believe me, there will be much rejoicing. I've been through all of this once before and then I let it go when I moved and everything became more expensive. Having a plan is going to be the only way to get completely out of debt before I am thirty.

5. Keep Track of Your Spending
Keep an eye on where your "fun" money goes. It's a good idea to try and restrict over-indulgent spending. My husband and I noticed that we like to buy a lot of books. So now every month, on the first of the month we have "book day". We each purchase one book from (and we order together to get free shipping). If we want another book later in the month we add it to our wishlists, and we wait. I have an entire shelf of unread books, so I tend to steer towards cookbooks now. I am even picking up the odd magazine subscription instead. If you buy coffee three times a week, try cutting down to two. Go to your favorite Indian Restaurant every week? Make it bi-weekly and go at lunch time when it's cheaper. Allow yourself the good stuff, but try and cut it down and keep it manageable.

Awareness of a problem tends to be the first step towards recovery. How aware are you?

Related Posts

June Networth Update
Setting Goals
Five Things You Can Do Without

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Small Victory

This is more of a personal than a personal finance post. 

Ever since the accident, I have been fighting various financial repercussions. Though I have no recollection of the crash, I was ticketed by the police officer who was called to the scene. Today I went to traffic court and my ticket was dismissed. Definitely a good victory... I needed that. 

I've learned so much from this accident. I've learned that I need to take control of my life and my finances. I've learned that bad things happen to good people. I've learned that you never know what is coming next, so be prepared for everything

Now it's raining here in Atlanta and I am going to celebrate with tea and rest. 

Monday, July 28, 2008

Frugal Food - Lunch for Less

Photo by bmann

Buying lunch is the achilles heel of many people on a budget, especially if you have an office job. It is so easy to duck out to a fast food joint with your colleagues, or order chinese food for delivery. 

Bringing your own lunch is definitely recommended, but I always forget to make myself something every day. Recently, though I've started having the same lunch every day and I don't have to spend time in the morning making it. 

I eat an English muffin, toasted and a wedge of Laughing Cow spreadable swiss cheese. The muffins come in a pack of 6 and the wedges come in a pack of eight. 

This costs me approximately $0.70 per lunch session. 

If I want to jazz it up I might add a piece of fruit or a hard boiled egg. True, this is a relatively small lunch, but I'll also drink a nice big glass of water as well and it gives me enough energy to make it through the day. 

I would say this probably saves me anywhere from $10 to $25 weekly, depending on where I would go for lunch. I keep the muffins at my desk and the cheese in our community fridge. English muffins tend to keep for about 8 days or so without any trouble, so I don't have to worry about them going stale. 

What are some of your frugal lunch ideas?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Shout Out to Commenters

Here is a little shout out to my two best commenters, Chris at My Debt Journey and Scott at The Passive Dad

These lovely gentlemen are not just great commenters, but they are also great bloggers and I highly recommend reading their work. 

Chris is joining me in working on a debt snowball.

Scott is a fellow Etsy lover. 

Friday, July 25, 2008

5 Tips for Keeping the Air Off

It's 90 degrees here in Georgia and it can get hot and sticky in our loft. It's a hard space to cool because of the high windows and the open spaces. 

As a result, our power bill skyrockets with temperature extremes. Here are some ways to minimize the use of an air conditioner:

1. Spot Cool
Tower fans might set you back $20 or so at WalMart and they are fantastic for spot cooling. If I'm working at my desk I can move our fan to be blowing cooler air over me and leave the AC off. We also use it to blow across the bed at night. 

2. Avoid Appliances
Using the oven less in the summer is highly recommended, as is trying to avoid using the dryer all the time. If you do need to use these warm appliances, wait until the evening or start the dryer before you leave the house. 

3. Get a Thermostat
This is the easiest and most commonly expressed tip. Make sure that your AC is on a thermostat and set it to what your tolerance level is. I would recommend trying for about 78 degrees. 

4. Close off Extra Spaces
Our laundry room has no AC vent in it. By keeping the door closed when the dryer isn't running, we reduce the amount of space the AC has to cool by a few dozen square feet. It doesn't make the biggest difference, but every little helps!

5. Shed Some Layers
If you're wearing two shirts and the AC is running, you're being illogical. Also, lose the socks and hats at home. A lot of heat is transferred out of both your feet and your head. Your floor will likely be the coolest area of your home, so putting your feet on it will help to cool your whole body. 

Bonus Tip
Shut the AC off at night if you can or set the thermostat much higher. You'll be unconscious..... your heat tolerance will be higher. 

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Savings Goals

Today I sat down and actually worked out what my Savings Goals are. I'm a goal oriented person, and goals do well to make me feel as though I am making progress.
Currently, 5% of my paycheck goes straight into saving for my Emergency Fund. Now that I have a second job too, I want to take 5% of those new checks and split them across several different savings account. I'm using ING for this because they have great interest rates and sub accounts are so easy to set up. So whenever my check comes in from my other job 1% will go into each account and the other 95% will go to paying down debt.

I am now working (slowly) towards the following savings goals:

Emergency Fund - $3000
This is approximately three months worth of minimum living expenses.

Thailand Fund - $4000
This is for a really good non frugal trip to the country I have always wanted to go to.

Auto Fund - $2400
This is the Blue Book value for my car, essentially this is me self-insuring my vehicle.

Medical Fund - $685
My deductible, plus my emergency room copay, plus a doctors copay, plus a specialist copay. I want to be very prepared.

Down Payment Fund - $12000
We'd like to buy a house pretty soon. This goal is the most unrealistic of the bunch but I really want to be working towards it.

I'll post an update on how I am doing with my monthly Net Worth update.

Have you set concrete savings goals yet?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Human Life: The Unexpected Perk of High Gas Prices

They may be placing a strain on your finances, but high gas prices may be having a much more beneficial impact to some Americans... they are saving lives.

Over the course of the year, automobile accident deaths have been steadily decreasing, with an average drop of 9% between January and May of 2008. There are fewer cars on the roads, more people are using public transport, people are limiting their driving, and hypermiling advises you to drive more slowly.

It's interesting that a downturn of the economy can have such a dramatic impact on society. If we can take the number of deaths reported in 2005 as an example, a 9% reduction in fatalities comes out to about 3,700 people. I don't like paying so much for putting gas in my car any more than the next person, but at least the next person might not be dead on the side of the road any time soon.

I also think it's important to point out that these kind of improved driving habits should be something society tries to do anyway, regardless of the price of gas. Who knows what would happen if everyone just drove 5mph slower. The benefit of saving money and saving lives would probably be worth the extra two and a half minutes it takes you to get to work. Hey, if you just cut that time out of your shower, you'll be saving water too.

The benefits of frugality are multiple and limitless.

Source : AP

Monday, July 21, 2008

Guest Blogging Welcome

When I scour through my Google Reader each day, I notice that a lot of my favorite blogs have Guest Writers on a fairly regular basis. I am a huge fan of collaboration so the idea of this greatly appeals to me. 

I would really enjoy having Guest Writers here on Distilled Rose, and I would also love to write Guest Posts over at other blogs. I am open to any of the topics that I cover on here from personal finance to freelance writing to food, books and movies and blogging. I will certainly entertain any ideas you throw my way!

If you are interested in either having a guest post here, or having me write one for your blog, please feel free to contact me using this handy form. 

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Weekly Financial Round Up 07/20

A big week for me financially in a bad way. I just had to buy a car and made the first payment on it, I'll have to pay car insurance now and have had to start a payment plan for my MRI. My finances are weighing on me very badly right now and I feel like I'm sinking. I did start a weekend job this week though, it's a hourly wage plus commission, so I don't know how much I'll end up making, but I need to offset this car somehow. I haven't had to put gas in it yet, but I know that when I do it won't be pretty.

Spent - $74.33

Entertainment - $11
Food - $14.50
Medical - $37
Writing Materials - $11.83

Made - $19

Etsy - $14.50
Sold a DVD - $4.50

Click here to see how I did last week!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Business of Freelance Writing Carnival #26

Today I have the pleasure of hosting the Business of Freelance Writing Carnival #26.

Here is the round up of this weeks articles for your reading pleasure!

debergerac78 presents Are You Interested In the Project or the Payment? - oDesk Insider posted at oDesk Insider.
A good reminder to us all to check our motivations in this business.

AmyM presents Interview…with children's author Gail Langer Karwoski posted at 3 Questions...and Answers.
A fantastic discussion on the process of writing children's books with a published author.

Hendry Lee presents 7 Reasons Why Numbered Blog Post Titles Work — and a Simple Formula to Create Them posted at Blog Building University.
This is a handy article about why numbered posts are successful and some advice on how to create them. 

And from here at Distilled Rose:

Want more? Subscribe here!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Dark Knight Tonight

I know I'm flat broke, but there have been so many good movies out this summer and my friends and I enjoy going to them as a group. It's hard to be firm with my budget all of the time and this is the one place I keep slipping.
But, this isn't just any random film. This is The Dark Knight. I confess, though, I am not going to see it because I am a follower of the Batman Saga. I only say Batman Begins a couple of weeks ago, actually. I'm going for Heath Ledger. I've been a fan of his for a very long time and was very upset over his untimely death. It's odd that the fact that this is (almost) his last film would give me such a strong incentive to go. I also feel like there has been so much hype over it that if I don't go, I'll be wondering what all the fuss is about over the coming weeks. So to a certain extent, I am going for me, but I am also going because of peer pressure.
I wonder what else I do because of peer pressure, and how that impacts my life. What do you think?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Scour : Getting Paid to Search the Internet

I'm a pretty big participant in internet survey programs as a way to make a little money and work on adding it to my debt snowball. I am a member of SurveySpot and MyPoints. 

I've just joined a new program called Scour as a way to make some extra passive income. Scour is a user driven search engine that rewards you for doing regular searches and then voting or commenting on the results. 

When you search with Scour, it pulls the top results from Google, Yahoo and MSN. You can then vote or comment on them, which helps Scour to determine their usefulness. This allows the "right" results to be given a higher place on the page. 

You receive 1 point for a Search, 2 for a Vote, and 3 for a Comment, and you can earn a maximum of 4 points for each Search. 

When you've earned 6,500 points you can cash out for a $25 Visa Gift Card.
Obviously you'd have to do a lot of searches to earn that, but here is the really neat part. If you invite a friend, Scour will give you a matching bonus of 25% of what your friends earn. If you send it out and everyone does just three searches a day or so, along with the searches you yourself are doing, the points can rack up quite quickly. 

I'm really interested and excited about this program. I like the idea of users being able to effect search engine content and improve how relevant certain sites are. 

So click here if you want to join me on Scour, and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Nod to Frugal Dad from my Google Reader

This is the best list of money saving tips I have read in a while. Frugal Dad is right on the money with a lot of these. I particularly like these ones:

1. Switch to cloth napkins. I’m not sure why it took a down economy for this one to dawn on me, but cloth napkins are a great alternative to paper napkins, which increase waste and add to our non-food budget.

10. Buy a used car, and drive it until the wheels fall off. My grandfather has driven two vehicles in 34 years! Sam Walton drove a twenty year-old pickup truck right up until the time he died. Don’t tell me it can’t be done. Remember, a new car is “used” the minute you drive it off the showroom floor.

28. When eating out, divide entrees in half and save the rest for a second meal. Ask for a to-go box as soon as your meal arrives and save half for tomorrow’s lunch. Restaurants are notorious for piling on portions, so this move will help you spread out the calories and cost of the meal.

34. Plant a tree next to your outside air conditioning unit. By shading your outside unit you may improve the operating efficiency of the overall system by 20%. Take care not to plant to close to the unit to maintain proper airflow.

40. Reuse bath towels. Sounds gross at first, but think about it - you are clean when you get out of the shower. Hang up towels after each use to thoroughly dry, and only add them to the dirty clothes pile after every three or four uses.

55. Divide credit card minimum payments in half and pay that amount twice a month. Interest is calculated based on the average daily balance of your account for the entire month. By making a payment every couple weeks you are reducing that average balance and therefore reducing the finance charges assessed, as opposed to waiting until the end of the month to make a single payment.

I subscribe to about 35 different blogs and you can see links to most of them in the section entitled What's in My Google Reader in my right sidebar.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

When Are You Wealthy Enough?

I read this article from Todd at Harvesting Dollars about the stages of wealth accumulation and it made me wonder what my magic number is. How much would my net worth need to be for me to stop working hard to accumulate more?
I think that I would like to have enough passive income to provide me with about $30,000 a year. So I would probably need investments or interest bearing savings of about $900,000 - $1.2 Million. I would also need to own my own house and have no debt. I'm guessing that this will take me about 20 years to accumulate that much more wealth if I play my cards right. So I have a goal of having the option of living off my passive income by the time I am 45. 

Of course, just because I could stop working doesn't mean I would. Who would want to give up writing?

So, I ask you, what is your magic number? How much wealth do you want to accumulate before you are willing to stop working?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Why All the Fuss About ING Direct?

ING Direct Sign Up Bonus Links

These links will take you to a sign up page. If you fund your account with $250, you will receive a $25 bonus from ING. If link doesn't work, try the next one on the list.
I've raved about ING Direct here and there and feel that it deserves it's own post.

ING Direct is an online banking company. They work very similarly to a regular bank, except that they lack branches.
They have both checking and savings accounts. Their checking account, Electric Orange, is actually interest bearing.... a rare thing to find in America. I have not used their checking account as I get physical paychecks that I really need to deposit at branches, but I've heard good things.

I am, however, familiar with their Orange Savings accounts. I've had one for several years and have been very happy. It has no minimum balance, no fee, and an interest rate holding steady at about 3%APY. When you open an account, if you use a referral link and deposit $250, they'll give you a $25 bonus. This account can be linked easily and harmoniously with other banks checking accounts, with a transfer period of about two to three days between the two.

With ING Direct you can also open as many accounts as you like. I personally have three different accounts with them that are labelled for different purposes.

I especially like that you get to see how much interest you are earning each day. There is an interest earned this month total and an interest earned this year total, and you can also see how much you earned last year.

Setting up automatic transfers is very easy as well. I have a weekly transfer from my checking account to my savings account.

ING also have some fairly good CD's for in the short term, and if I had the funds right now I would certainly be constructing a CD ladder. They offer decent rates for 6 month and 9 months CD's, which is where I would start when making a ladder. It also gives you the option of depositing your interest into a different account, like your regular ING savings account

So, to sum up, I have had great experience with ING Direct and their Savings account, and would highly recommend it.

Related Posts

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Weekly Financial Round Up 07/13

Another bad week for Medical, and next week will be just the same. I'm also due a very hefty bill for the MRI on my shoulder. This accident has financially devastated me, and I'm really hoping that something good happens to me soon. Andrew (my husband) and I have decided that we aren't going to eat out at all for the rest of July. He has expensive taste when it comes to food and I struggle very hard, often going out with him but ordering the least expensive thing on the menu. I'm glad that we are taking a break from doing that.... I think it will really help. 

Spent - $72

Entertainment - $9
Food - $23
Medical - $40

Made - $10

$10 ING Referrals

Click here to see how I did last week.

I have the opportunity to buy a really great car at a really low price and I am trying to figure out how to make that work this weekend. I've got someone interested in buying my scooter for parts, and if that happens then I might just be able to make everything work. As soon as I'm out of this sling permanently, I'll be working on getting a weekend job for a few months. 

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Saturday Handy Tip - Getting the Most out of Citrus

I cook often and hate juicing lemons and limes with a passion. I tend to have to press down really hard and rarely get enough juice. Luckily I have a handy trick that makes juicing easier and more productive. 
When you are getting ready to juice the fruit, microwave it for 30 seconds and then roll it on a counter with the heel of your hand, pressing firmly. The fruit will feel much softer. Be sure to cut it in half over a bowl because the juice will likely start coming out as soon as a knife is inserted. 
I find this usually gives me about 25% more juice when I use this method. 

Friday, July 11, 2008

Frugal Food - Cost Analysis of a Lasagna

Yesterday I came across a great article about 20 Healthy Foods for a Dollar on Yahoo.

It was a good inspiration to figure out how much I spend when I cook. I really love making food, and eating out is too expensive for me right now. So after a trip to the Farmer's Market, I decided to figure out how much money I was saving by making my own Lasagna.


Ricotta Cheese - $1.00
Canned Tomatoes - $0.80
Garlic - $0.05
Sundried Tomatoes - $0.15
Orange Pepper - $1.18
Mozzarella Cheese - $2.00
Portabella Mushroom - $1.00
Zucchini - $0.81
Lasagna - $.30
One Egg - $0.20
Spices from my Cabinet

Total - $7.49

Cost per Serving - $1.49

It took me about five minutes to prep everything, which included making my own very basic tomato sauce out of canned tomatoes, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes and oregano. I just pureed it together in a blender. I mixed the ricotta with the egg and some basil, and then layered the vegetables, lasagna noodles, mozzarella, ricotta and sauce in two layers. Then I put it in the oven for 30 minutes at 375 degrees.

I'm really pleased with how inexpensive this was. I always felt that is was cheaper to cook, but I've never sat down with a grocery receipt in my hand and really looked at it. The only thing I would change would be using red pepper instead of orange, which is all they had at the market. It would probably have lowered the cost by a few cents.
I think there are some things that I do make that are probably less cost effective, like when I make pesto with store bought basil, pine nuts, and really good parmesan cheese. It's definitely a lot more pricey for what I can do with it, unless I just use it as a pasta sauce.

I think it's a good idea to work out what you're really spending when you cook and to check to make sure that you are getting the best value for money when selecting ingredients. Could you substitute one kind of squash for a cheaper one? Is Watermelon a better value than Cantaloupe?

So what is the cost per serving for your favorite home recipe?

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Asking the Readers : How Many Blogs?

I'm asking you, the reader, for your opinion on something.

Is it better to have different blogs for different topics, or just one blog that is varied. I write on a few different subjects here at EHitRD, and I've always wondered if that is the best way to do things.
So, should I have a separate blog for my personal things, another for reviews, another for financial articles and so on? Or is it okay if my blog is a combination of different types of articles?

What subject matter do you like to read on this blog?

What is your favorite post of mine so far that demonstrates what you like to read the best?

I look forward to reading your comments!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Planning for Accidents

Jim over at My Debt Blog is having a rough July too. His wife was also in an accident and is suffering from the financial after effects that can occur. 

One of the worst feelings about all of this, is that I could have avoided some of the financial predicaments that I am in, as well as a few other key issues that came up from nearly dying. Having learned things the hard way, I plan to prepare for the future better by planning for another accident. 

1. Self-Insure Your Vehicle

Check out the Blue Book Value of your vehicle and put enough money in a savings account to cover the value of it if it were totaled. This is especially important if you have Liability Only insurance. In the event of an accident that is your fault, you need to be able to repair your vehicle or get a new one as soon as possible. 

2. Set Aside Your Deductible

In another account, set aside your Health Insurance Deductible and Emergency Room Copay. For me, this is about $600 and it does vary from company to company and plan to plan. This will lead to less financial stress in a time when you would already have a huge amount of emotional stress.

3. Create an Emergency Fund

 I cannot stress enough how important an Emergency Fund is. In this situation, if you are injured and cannot work, when your sick leave runs out you would need a back up plan. My accident put me out of work for seven days and I didn't even have any broken bones. Healing from things takes time and you need to give yourself that time, instead of worrying about how to pay the bills.

4. Keep Emergency Contact Information On You

If you have a purse or a waller, keep a little card with your drivers license that lists your emergency contact person, include a phone number and an address. When I got taken into hospital I was unconscious and they couldn't contact my husband until I woke up and gave them the details. They had found my ID in my wallet, so they knew who I was, but they had no idea who to call for me. Remember to update this information if your emergency person moves. 

5. Make a Will or Living Trust

Having your legal ducks in a row is important to the future of your loved ones. If you have specific wishes, make them known. It is also important to have a firm idea about whether you would or would not like to be left in a vegetative state, whether you want to be buried or cremated, who gets the family jewels and who benefits from your estate. It seems morbid to a degree, but it's not just about taking stress of you in these situations... it's about taking it off your loved ones too.

For the Financial steps, I would recommend using ING Savings Accounts (click here for a referral and a sign up bonus) as they have a good interest rate and the ability to create separately labelled accounts. You can then take this interest and put it towards something else like paying down debt or saving for a vacation. 

If I had done even two of these steps, the last two weeks would have been much less of a nightmare. Learn from my mistakes and prepare for life to throw curve-balls at you!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Finer Things

I was going through my Google Reader checking out some old posts, and I came across one from Daily Money Hack that pointed to this article about the Top Ten Wines for less than $10.

I enjoy wine very much and would love to learn more about it. I like the idea of wine and how it can be manipulated and changed depending on who is responsible for creating it. I think it's great how wine can be paired with food to enhance a meal, or just sipped quietly on a lazy evening with friends. Wine is a finer thing, something that I don't need but the experience of can enrich my emotional well-being.

Wine is my reward item. When I'm really struggling financially, I am still allowed to buy an occasional bottle of wine. This gives me something to look forward to and to feel more like I'm not working hard for nothing. I might buy perhaps one a month, so this list is a great resource for me!

So tell me, what is your reward item?

Have you subscribed to my blog yet? If not, you could help me to win Blogging Idol by subscribing now!

Monday, July 7, 2008

My Blueberry Nights

I'm lucky enough to be friends with a really good Film Critic, Thomas Spurlin. He writes for DVD Talk, and he recently reviewed one of my favorite movies so far this year, My Blueberry Nights.
It's a lovely and unexpected film. Norah Jones plays a woman down on her luck who decides to travel around America going where the wind takes her and meeting some fascinating people along the way. These people are played by the likes of Natalie Portman, Rachel Weisz and Jude Law. Norah Jones carries the movie very well, with the other actors just accenting her work nicely. It's not really a romance or a chick flick, it's not too dramatic, and it won't drastically change your life. But it is a really lovely couple of hours of entertainment, and leaves you feeling nice and whole at the end of it.

I have a very diverse taste in films. I tend to like films that either challenge me intellectually or show a little heart. This is one of those films that I really would love more people to see, so if you get the opportunity, I would recommend taking it.

Making Plans to Snowball My Debt

A long time ago I had a really firm debt plan. I knew how much I owed everywhere and I knew what all of my minimums were. I had a plan to get out of debt and I was consistently working out it. Then, for some odd reason that I can't explain, I got off track. 
Now that I'm going to have to start insuring a car again, I need to get back on track. I need to have a much firmer plan. Being on bedrest really does enable you to have the time to formulate a plan. 
I am going to try and Snowball my debt. This worked once before so I'm going to try it again. 

I have the following minimum payments:

Banana Republic - $20
American Express - $15
Bank of America - $98
Prosper - $101.01

This is a total of $234.01. In order to afford all of my minimums and car insurance, I need to reduce this to no more than $125 pretty much immediately, or I need to be making more money.
I'm going to pay my minimums and throw everything else onto the Banana Republic card. The BoA card minimum will decrease by about $5 to $9 whenever I make a payment, which I will also apply to the Banana card. Then I will take care of the Amex, then the BoA, then Prosper. 
The balance on my BoA card is higher than my Prosper loan, but my Prosper loan is fixed and has lower interest, so I think I should worry about that last.

I'm going to try and get a second job on the weekends and any money I make from that will go to debt reduction and the car insurance. I'm hoping that I'll only have to hold a weekend job for 6 - 9 months to get this taken care of. 
I've been letting all of this slip and I now realize the answer is hard work and getting this all taken care of as quickly as possible.

So what do you think? Is this a good plan or am I kidding myself?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Weekly Financial Round Up 07/06

Obviously, this week was not pretty. I had several unforeseen expenses and no real opportunity to make extra money. The one good thing, though, is that being on bed rest really does help your coffee and eating out habit. I've been using this time stuck on the couch to go over my finances and come up with a better plan to pay off my debt. I have been off track for a while now, and that needs to change. So, it's time to knuckle down and fix my mistakes!

Spent - $296.55

Auto - $165
Coffee - $3
Entertainment - $3.99
Food - $15
Medical - $109.56

Made - $30

$30 ING Referrals

Click here to see how I did last week.

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Saturday, July 5, 2008


Well thats that. My beloved Kymco Agility was totaled in the accident. I might be able to recoup a little money from it by selling it for parts, but it is essentially gone. This will make meeting my Networth Goals pretty hard as my scooter was my only real asset that I counted.
This is one of those times where I am really, really rolling with the punches. Now, in all fairness if I had kept driving my Pontiac Grand Am, I would have needed to spend about $4500 in the last 19 months on travel expenses, of which a huge portion of that would have been insurance. I paid about $2750 or so for my scooter in the same period of time, lowering my travel expenses from $237 to $145 a month. Of course, the longer I had the scooter, the lower that average would have been.
So for the time that I had it, it was worth it and it did pay for itself. I just expected to get a lot more use out of it than I did. I am also still paying off the loan for it, which just hurts. But I have recovered from harder things than this.
My friend Bret is working on whether a spare car of his can be repaired for me so that I will have something to drive for the next few months.
A word of advice.... if you ride a scooter and you aren't required to get insurance, get it anyway, so at least your bike will be paid for if something happens to it. I would hate for anyone else to go through what I've been through in this last week.

Saturday Handy Tip - Photocopy Your Wallet

Once I thought I had lost my wallet on top of a mountain at two in the morning. I panicked. Everything was in there... my license, my social security card, my credit cards, my immigration ID. Losing it was unthinkable. Thankfully, my friend found it in the morning under his couch.
Everyone goes through this at some point. They either lose their wallet or have it stolen. To make it more bearable and easier to handle, photocopy or scan the front and back of everything in your wallet. All of your credit cards and bank cards will have a number on the back which you can call to report your card lost of stolen. Having all of this information will greatly speed up freezing your accounts and replacing your missing items.
You might also wish to tape something inside your wallet that says "If found, please call ..." with your telephone number. This way if an honest person finds it in, say, the parking lot of a car dealership after your car broke down in the rain and it fell out of your purse, they have an easy way to reach you.

Previous Handy Tips

June 28th - Power Strip Your TV
June 21st - Overcome Writers Block
June 14th - Salad Dressing Hack

Friday, July 4, 2008

Networth Update - June

Well the results are in and my Networth went down from May to June. It only went down by 0.51%, but I was still hoping to make more of an improvement.

This was mostly due to me putting some items on my credit card. I also had to pull my emergency room copay from my emergency fund. I can't seem to get my American Express paid down. I think the problem is that I haven't been in a position to pay extras on it for a about six weeks now. Hopefully that will change in the coming month or two as I get my finances under control. If I do manage to sell my business, that injection of cash will hopefully have a snowball effect so I can get things moving again.

I'm again feeling better today than yesterday. I'm still tired all the time, but I woke up with a smaller headache today than yesterday. I think that going off the Vicodin that quickly is a very good sign. I can bend the fingers on my left hand all the way today as well... they had been a bit claw-like all week.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Healing Slowly

I am trying to survive today without the shoulder immobilizer and without the vicodin, but still taking huge doses of ibuprofen. My bruises have all come out and they are a landscape of intricate color variations. I am still a little fuzzy from the accident and still don't remember it. Now I have to start thinking about the fallout.
Financially so far, I have had to pay my emergency room copay and pay for my prescriptions. I still have to pay for my scooter to get out of impound and I will probably have some kind of copay for my follow up with the orthopedic surgeon on tuesday. All of this went on a credit card that I had made good progress in. I am pulling money from my small emergency fund to cover these costs and pay back that card. Honestly, though, this would have been so much worse if I didn't have health insurance. I will also have to buy a new helmet, and I will probably go for a slightly different model. I would like a helmet like thisMy helmet was completely destroyed in the accident, and although it saved my life, the graze on my neck that hurts so much would probably have been prevented if I had a modular helmet.
I should be able to write more and more each day as my body gets stronger.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008