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...a mommy with a passion for saving, personal finance and investing

Women’s Personal Finance Network

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    Broke-Ass Mommy first started tracking Alexa rankings after joining the Yakezie Challenge in July 2012, when this site was only a few weeks old. Here were my rankings at that time:

    July 10, 2012--
    Alexa ranking: 3,507,434
    rank within U.S. : 362,177

    My current Alexa rankings:

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    Personal Finance Blogs

Of course, children have deep sentimental value to their parents and other loved ones. Their bright smiles, zany antics and boundless energy help endear them to practically everyone they meet, at least for a while. Nevertheless, the fact remains that since the decline of farms and the establishment of child labor laws, the earning potential of children has fallen nearly to zero. Most parents can tell you that children are poor investment tools as they cost much more than they could ever bring in, but not as many are sure if life insurance for children is a sound investment.

The answer under the typical circumstances is probably not. The primary purpose of life insurance is to replace the income lost by a departed member of a household, so unless you are the proud parent of a child actor or teenage pop star, life insurance is usually extraneous. Check out this link to find out about purchasing your own life insurance policy.

The secondary function, providing for funeral and burial costs, is also less than essential, as an overwhelming majority of children in developed countries are born in good health and live a fairly long time. In the unfortunate event that this is not the case, the financial reality is that household expenses actually decrease considerably, often leaving the family with adequate funds to cover final expenses.

There is some limited benefit to purchasing a life insurance policy for your child. An established policy as a child is guaranteed into adulthood, no matter what health issues may later arise. This makes it a good choice for families with a dubious medical history.

This kind of policy is also insulated against your child’s eventual life choices, so as an adult he or she can fly a helicopter, BASE jump or even smoke cigarettes without endangering the policy, a revelation which surely arrives as bittersweet relief for many parents. Many such policies even help generate money for college education, but the benefit of the arrangement pales in comparison to a dedicated college savings account such as a 529, so this benefit is far from a solely determining factor in the decision to purchase life insurance for your child.

In the case of the unthinkable, life insurance for a child can be a helpful thing to have. An insurance policy payout can provide family members with time away from work while they work through the tragedy as well as counseling to help them come to terms with the loss. Some policies will even reimburse the family for educational costs such as student loans. In any event, the likelihood of having to rely on a policy for either purpose simply does not justify the expense for most considering a policy.

Shrewd financial minds can find added advantages in a life insurance policy. Many policies allow policyholders to borrow money from the cash value of the policy up to the amount paid in premiums tax-free for an emergency source of cash. These investment policies can accrue compound interest for the child’s entire life and have guaranteed cash value that is shielded against the fluctuations of the market, ensuring that a child so insured is not completely without worth.

A life insurance policy can also be controlled by the parents until the rights are transferred to the child, meaning that your freshly minted 18 year old can’t cash in the policy for a Mustang until you allow them to.

Acquiring a life insurance policy for your child is usually a well-intentioned effort, but largely unnecessary. For most children, the potential positive aspects of having a life insurance policy are severely outweighed by the investment necessary, and in many cases the resources can be used much more effectively. However, there are scenarios in which they can be useful, and they can also make an effective financial tool for an astute investor. If you are among the minority that find such a policy a suitable option, carefully compare providers and prices before making a decision in order to get the best possible deal for your individual situation and goals.

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This is SUPER awesome. With group effort an idea manifested into a book.

Over the past few months, eleven supremely talented financial bloggers (plus yours truly ;) ) contributed bits and pieces to collaborate on a very special writing project, The A-Z of Saving Money. I had a blast with creating my two chapters, and I feel so honored to participate in this extensive project and working closely with Glen and co. Each contributor really has provided a unique perspective on crucial money-saving tips, tricks and other sundry tidbits conducive to financial independence.

After months of effort the book is finally finished, and I figured I could SQUEE a little here. Ta-da, here it is!

(As an aside quickie: I would personally like to thank Glen for spearheading our project and being the mastermind behind this whole she-bang.)

I have to tell you guys, I was floored when I had a chance to read through all of the compilations, and I believe you guys really will enjoy this one, too. :)

Here is a list of an exceptional group of co-authors:

1. Glen @ Monster Piggy Bank, our courageous ‘big cheese in charge’
2. Andy @ Work Save Live
3. Mr. CBB @ Canadian Budget Binder
4. John @ Frugal Rules
5. Jake @ I Heart Budgets
6. Kim @ Eyes on the Dollar
7. The Savvy Scott
8. Budget and the Beach
9. Mrs. PoP @ Planting Our Pennies
10. Catherine @ Plunged in Debt
11. Jefferson @ See Debt Run
12. and last but not least, moi.

The book itself is priced at $14.99 and offers 26 chapters for each letter of the alphabet. As Glen offers in the introduction, “the goal of this book is to give you an idea of the various aspects of day to day life that you can adjust to allow you to take control of your finances. As we take you through each letter of the alphabet, I hope that every chapter helps to guide you on your way to a better financial future.”

Furthermore, to generate positive buzz in celebration of our fabulous book release, we are giving away a pretty rad prize package to one lucky reader.

The Giveaway Prize:

  • $250 in cash, and thus a special incentive to start immediately saving.
  • a free copy of our book!

Hurry and enter below for your chance to win all of that dough!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck to all broke-ass participants.

You can purchase the book for $14.99 by clicking here, and if you choose to purchase your own copy, we truly appreciate all of your support.

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{Quick note from Jennifer: Soon I will be back to regularly scheduled postings.}

Use a Debt Consolidation Calculator to Help You Find a Better Loan

Debt Consolidation Calculators are excellent tools for comparing and analyzing financial information.  All those people who struggle to understand complex financial data can now turn to these calculators. Debt consolidation companies are a great way to clear up the lingering financial issues that weigh heavy in so many minds.

ConsolidatedCredit.org is a website where those who are struggling can find the information they need about debt consolidation companies. A debt consolidation calculator clarifies financial information and gives you the vital information you need to make decisions. It basically analyzes your financial health and helps you manage costs effectively. Let’s look at some of the benefits of using these calculators.

Prepares You for What’s Ahead

The debt consolidation calculator helps you prepare ahead for the future. It will tell you the amount of money you can save by amalgamating loans with a personal or home equity cash advance. You can also find out how much you need to pay in order to erase debts and the money you can set aside in return. In today’s modern era it is imperative that you stay one step ahead. This way you will be better prepared and should be able to maintain financial security.

No Need to Outsource

In the olden days when we did not have debt consolidation calculators, people used to outsource this type of financial management work. Since only a few people have financial expertise, it is impossible for everyone to understand complex financial data. These financial experts charged money for their services which added to the costs. However, now you can use debt consolidation calculator for free at Consolidated Credit. You save money and time because these calculators can be used at any time for free.

Easy to Use and very Effective

A debt consolidation calculator is highly accurate and reliable. It can process financial information within a matter of seconds. All you have to do is enter the basic information and the calculator will do the rest. If you want to find better loans then you will have to enter your current balance, monthly payments, yearly fees, tax rates, etc. The calculator will help determine if a debt consolidation loan is for you. It also gives you an estimate of how much you are going to save and how much you are going to lose. The calculator is a comprehensive solution to all your financial problems.

Helps You Calculate Savings and Interest Rates

The calculator helps you get an in-depth look into all the financials. It covers even the minutest of details which would be missed otherwise. These calculators also show how the consolidation of the debt which is at higher rate of interest can be transformed into a loan. They also help you bring down the monthly payments to a bare minimum.

The debt consolidation calculator calculates the interest savings as well. It adds additional payment of principal to the next payment repeated on the listed payment on the given debt. The calculator tells you the total amount to be paid every month so that you can pay off the debt in the stipulated time period.

Helps You Reach Financial Stability

By helping you select the best loan. They enable you to settle on a plan that is very beneficial financially.  The debt consolidation calculator also precisely evaluates all the financial options. It gives you a fair picture of the debt status thus leading you to the path of financial stability.

Researched Benefits

These debt consolidation calculators are more than just play toys on a website. According to research they deliver real time results and can actually give your finances a huge boost. These calculators help you cut back on monthly payments by approximately 60%. It is estimated that by using these calculators you can get out of debt in a period of 4-8 years.  Creditors can also no longer harass you since you have all the financial knowledge and will be capable of talking sense rather than buckling under pressure.

Conclusion

You don’t need more reasons to choose a debt consolidation calculator. Not only is it the best tool to find a better loan, it is a complete financial information hub that simplifies your life.

Author’s Bio

This article is composed by Elaine McPartland who is associated with “Consolidated Credit” as their community writer. She has an expertise in writing articles related to debt consolidation and how to pay off debts easily and smoothly. You can add her at her google+ profile

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The evolution of our finances.

M. and I both have separate checking accounts from before we met. But now that we have a family, our finances have evolved into more of a cohesive unit and last year we opened a joint savings account specifically for family expenses and emergencies.

However, since I pay all of the bills but stay at home right now while M. fetches the majority of our family bacon, we’ve decided to go ahead and open a joint checking account as one main account.

I see several advantages to this.

For one, it simplifies the household finances since we can funnel our combined income (M.’s paycheck and any side income I receive, plus any family windfalls) and expenses through that joint checking account. M. doesn’t constantly need to transfer money over to my individual account to pay my bills, and it helps us receive a clearer overall picture of where we stand with our finances.

Furthermore, we hold family meetings every week or so to discuss our investments and how to efficiently accomplish all of our objectives. Usually I take notes and we discuss baby steps and specific time frames, which helps us keep dibs on everything and boosts momentum toward all of our greater financial goals.

So we will have a combined ‘main’ checking account for all of our income, with a pre-determined percentage siphoned away to our joint savings account (long term investments) and to our savings envelope (for short term needs and wants).

We will continue to have individual credit cards and pay off all balances in full each month.

Thus the plan for the weekend is:

1) on our way to the farmer’s market in the morning, to stop by a local bank branch and open the joint checking account.

2) on Saturday evening, to celebrate my Grammy’s 82nd birthday (although she insists she is 82 going on 28!)

3) to catch up on some weekend reading: for example, I need to nip through our collaborative eBook before it hits the next progressive stage

What works for your family in handling money matters—do you and your significant other have joint or separate bank accounts? What have been the advantages and disadvantages? Any issues?

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I have a severe case of the blahs this morning. It’s a sweeping listlessness that makes my mind feel cloudy, like my brain is about to leak out of my ears. Presently I’m nursing a mug of green tea and stealing some cuddle time with my daughter. My plans for the afternoon will include relaxing by:

1) smothering my face with a gooey raw honey mask

2) cracking open a novel

3) much writing in my journal

Additionally here were our weekend expenses:

Friday
-$46 on gas

Saturday
-$158.00 on groceries for a week and a half, with a few indulges peppered in (including a couple of freshly baked multi-grain sticky buns from the co-op that are fantastic. There’s a reason those sweet fluffy dough-balls are an oft used synonym for ambrosia around these parts.)

Sunday
-No spend day (woo-hoo!), spent the whole day at home

Total affliction: $204

Not great but not terrible, all things considered, although I will eyeball our grocery cost more closely next week. So that was my spending schtick.

How spendy was your weekend—did you manage to stay within budget?

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Valentine’s Day is rubbish.

It’s such a ridiculous holiday full of insipid gestures that are blatantly obvious spending contrivances, and that bugs the ever-living shit out of me. (See here: Festively a minimalist. Yes, I am a true holiday joy.)

And, for those lacking a significant other…how dare you be single, you sad smudge of a human.

So pushing aside all of the frou-frou extravagance and pressure usually associated with Saint Valentine, here is my perfect V-Day treat:

A quick loll around town to inhale the crisp bitterness and piney aromas of winter, and then, when cheeks turn crimson, to return to the warmth of our homebase and whip up two frothy mugs of decadent, steamy hot cocoa. To be shared while indulging in a cushy snuggle on the sofa, cocooned in a tartan blanket loosely wrapped around the shoulders.

Also, to have my home scrubbed until each nook glistens. That would be absolutely fab as well.

Actually, can I just have a maid pop over for Valentine’s Day? Pretty please?

Do you have any planned romantic gestures underway with your sweetheart? Am I alone here in hating Valentine’s?

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Alas, it’s Monday, again.

(Insert a somewhat unintelligible grunt. Which, in Jennifer language, translates roughly to: good morning, all. Do try to enjoy your Monday.)

Here are some assorted updates since my site last week went kerflooey and got hacked to bits.

It seems my web host experienced a walloping bout of hacking occurrences over a several week period. Clean-up here is an ongoing process as we struggle to restore the site back to health after this whole stupid thing; my sidebars are being particularly vexing. Grumble.

Officially I’ve had it with spam.

(Yes, I’m a fucking cry-baby.)

Akismet is installed and now captures hundreds of comments per day. As a non-tech type of gal, I’m baffled what might have triggered such a large onslaught of spamm-y comments lately. But I am getting buried in the assault. At least Akismet is storing them nicely for me, which is a huge positive. I am trying very hard to ensure that legitimate comments aren’t slipping through the cracks.

Also, there has been progress on my latest financial challenge to raise money as a stay-at-home mommy. I am somewhat surprised by this as I didn’t expect to write an update so early on. However, I have earned $312 in side income since restarting the clock and blasting off with my new benchmark of raising $1,000, somehow.

Every penny of that, for those interested, was compensation for past written articles on another site.

That is a good chunk of change and all ready I have managed to scamper nearly 1/3 of the way to the finish line. Yeahhhh, doggies! (Of course, I have totally jinxed everything by writing this, and doomed myself to a dusty and parched next couple of months.)

Still! Progress is remarkably encouraging. Let’s hope the momentum continues.

In unrelated news, here are some reads from around the personal finance blogopshere for your perusing pleasure, to help slog through those Monday blahs:

The Money Principle – £100K ($157K) to zero in three years flat: we are debt free!

Modest Money – Money Problems $999.99 Cash Giveaway Contest – How Job Stability Affects Finances

Brick By Brick Investing – Selling Options — How To Start Your Own Casino

Sixty Payments – Breakfast Casserole and Valentine Hearts

Reach Financial Independence – Little house in Guatemala, Week 14-15

Club Thrifty – My Credit Score: Why I Don’t Care and You Shouldn’t Either

I really don’t feel like accomplishing anything this afternoon, but I should buckle down and try to get some research done for an upcoming writing project. That, and curl up for a few hours with a deliciously banal novel and a huuuge plate of nachos.

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Hello! It’s been so long!

Well, I’m sitting here struggling to get through my first batch of coffee, and enjoying a snack, while dealing with multiple headaches on the blogging front. This week my site was hacked to bits and M. is strenuously devoted to clearing out all of the nasty boo boo’s, to restore this site back to a clean bill of health.  Unfortunately, there are still some kinks to sort through.

My sidebar widgets for whatever reason aren’t saving changes, for example, or playing nicely. I have tried updating them several times, but the widgets are frozen. This obviously needs further tinkering but, for now, expect wonky sidebar action.

Just wanted to check in as I have been absent from the blogging community this week, so I suspect I’ve got a LOT of catching up to do. Meanwhile, I will be here (trying to update/repair this damned website).

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Enter below to win $100.00 Cash through Paypal or Amazon gift card (winner’s choice).

Are you struggling to find that perfect gift with distinctive character? Valentine’s Day nearly is here and you don’t want to be caught futzing around with last minute gift ideas, or be left empty-handed.

valentine
…gift shopping from the heart.

While shopping for your sweetie, why not consider browsing locally to support small, independently owned shops instead of hitting up big box stores, chains and franchises?

Here are some of the benefits to shopping from locally-owned and operated independent businesses and boutiques:

Locally owned businesses purchase from other local businesses and service providers, which re-circulates your dollars and fosters local job creation. More of your dollars are kept within your own community.

So, why enrich others when you can invest right in your own neighborhood!

Shopping locally also contributes to helping a community to thrive, as independent shop owners are more likely to invest in their community, as well.

And when it comes to shopping, service matters. Whether purchasing from the local grocer, pharmacist, or corner florist, an independent shop can offer that personal touch with excellent and superior customer service. You know who you’re buying from, and feel that you matter.

Locally owned businesses build strong and sustainable town centers, linking neighbors into a beneficial web of social and economical ties, and enriching local causes.

While on the gift hunt, supporting your locally owned businesses guarantees a much broader range of choices for some really cute and unique gifts!

Okay, by now you’ve selected that perfect gift. Well done, you! Now let’s mosey on to the giveaway.

To celebrate this concept of gift selection for loved ones, Broke-Ass Mommy is teaming with a community of other personal finance bloggers to help sponsor the ‘find your loved one the perfect gift at the right price’ giveaway, with a prize of $100 Cash through Paypal or Amazon gift card (winner’s choice).

Here is how you may enter for your chance to win:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Good luck to all of my broke-ass participants!

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Did you enjoy this giveaway from Broke-Ass Mommy? Be awesome and vote for it by clicking below.

Visit Top Mommy Blogs To Vote For Me!

(Clicking on the banner automatically sends me a vote. And, I appreciate your support. You’re the best!)

(This contest has been submitted to “About Sweepstakes“.)

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As I am occupied with my writing project and zig-zagging through all of the final touches on an article for a collaborative financial eBook, Lexi is keeping a keen eye on things and busily supervising terrorizing me.

computer
…hard at work, my editor-in-chief

See you all soon-ish!

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Have you ever lost a friend over money?

What happens when friends are less than supportive of your financial viewpoints and certain financial discrepancies cause tension in your relationships?

Vividly I recall that worst. feeling. ever: of being squashed beneath $15,000 worth of debt and all of those crippling feelings that encompass trying to conquer such a massive debt load. Unfortunately, a prerequisite of aggressively eliminating my debt meant cutting out all unnecessary expenses, which also meant that the bulk of my social spending was in jeopardy.

If I were to vanquish my debt burden as quickly as possible, then it was no longer reasonable to squander away money on going out multiple nights a week, to unwind with the girls over mimosas and martinis, especially if I were to reign in all of that dizzying and excessive spending.

Adios, you stinkin’ turd slop of debt.

Generally, however, this particular group of friends didn’t much care to recognize my blossoming endeavor toward financial responsibility. Cutting back on spending in order to pay down debt? Basically I received puzzled looks and glazed-over eyeballs.  Because, c’mon, old people worried about that type of stuff. We were young. My friends didn’t want to contemplate their finances: they wished to smear on glossy lipstick and slip into their kitten-heeled sandals to shimmy to the local saloon and mingle with other attractive singles.

The problem was that going out in the city is really expensive and there was a certain expectation to these types of rendezvous.  This mentality of arbitrary willy-nilly spending quickly was interfering in and becoming incompatible with my own financial objectives.

I worried, would my financial fortitude waiver while I attempted to maintain these friendships?

Eventually, regrettably, I had to cut some of these friends loose. And naturally our lives diverged for whatever reason and we all began to drift apart.

My friend Allyson recalls when a financial imbalance caused strain in a long-running friendship of her own. “Jess and I shared a similar, modest lifestyle. Together we were bargain hunters and nearly always broke students. Then we graduated and I received a promotion at work. My net wealth rapidly increased as a result and, suddenly, I couldn’t openly talk shop any more with Jess. I feared being perceived as flaunting my new wealth and it spurred tension. The situation made me feel guilty and really insecure!”

For me, the guilt manifested from saying “no” to certain friends, due to their lifestyle choices. It was straining and difficult when others didn’t share a similar enthusiasm for sacrificing the ‘now’ in order to prudently plant those seeds necessary for future financial prosperity—such as systematically paying down debt, or saving. The lack of support sometimes was frustrating and isolating.

Finances have such a huge emotional component tied in, and so this has caused me to wonder: have money issues ever interfered with or caused a friendship of yours to crumble?

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Being trammeled with a zillion distractions also means I haven’t had a chance to establish my financial and savings goals for 2013. How silly of me. Face palm. So to that end, here we are, officially. It’s time to institute some financial goals for the coming months.

Hurrah!

I am still a stay-at-home mommy without a reliable income stream and it’s now been well over a full year since I’ve made the decision to walk away from my place of employment, which was not a decision taken lightly. I admit that sometimes the lack of a steady income is disconcerting and for now I’ve been squirreling away every penny imaginable. When I check the dismal balances on my accounts, I try not to break down into wee little sobs.

But in my secret heart I know I’ve made the right decision and, quite frankly, I couldn’t be happier. There simply are more important things to focus on than being a compulsive saver and having gobs of disposable cash. Financially, we are finding ways to make it work by surviving off of M.’s income, we aren’t doing terribly dreadful and thus the situation is tolerable.

So for now: them’s the breaks.

I cherish each day with my darling daughter in ways I cannot even begin to describe with words. Her tender presence really has taught me that there are far more important experiences than just accumulating a rapidly escalating net worth to fart around with on some balance sheet. That seems incredibly basic to write but this, for an anal and financially-enthusiastic oddball like myself, was an epiphany of sorts.

This last year spent with my daughter has been simply incredible; so bizarre and different and exhausting and so, so wonderful. And I don’t regret a moment of it.

But, back to my financial goals.

As a stay-at-home mommy without a reliable income stream, my financial goal is to raise $1,000, somehow.

This has worked out really well in the past so I will shoot for that same goal and will reset my sidebar status back to zero over the next few days to reflect my updated challenge. (For newer readers to Broke-Ass Mommy, here is where you may check the status of my previous financial challenge. I had a lot of fun doing it last time!)

And here is a list of other financial goals for M. and me to knuckle down on:

  • Possibly to change our local bank to an interest-bearing checking account. (I do not, however, like dealing with paltry rates.)
  • Continue to clear M.’s student loan debt.
  • Save the bulk of M.’s recent raise at work. And if we are able to increase the savings in our family coffers by at least $6,000 this year, that would be brilliant.
  • Use a teensy percentage of savings for memorable vacation moments.
  • NOT TO USE CREDIT CARDS except when money is all ready parked in the bank, so that any balances swiftly will be paid in full at the end of each month. (Cha-ching. Reward points!)
  • Continue to stave off impulsive shopping, unnecessary purchases and other financial boo-boo’s.
  • Set aside a separate fund for car repairs and, eventually, use the fund for a ‘new’ (ie, gently used, most likely) vehicle.
  • Continue to find creative ways to increase my side income as a stay-at-home mommy through various writing projects, participation in focus groups, etc. (A few months back I qualified for a focus group on lip balm and found the experience different but enjoyable, and it paid really well!)
  • Accumulate more points on my American Express card, potentially to be used for mileage to visit family in Hawaii.
  • Keep available credit across all of our credit cards below the 75% threshold.
  • Carefully track all of our weekly spending.

So here goes the savings parade, folks, and hopefully it’s contagious. What are some of your upcoming financial or savings goals for the coming months?

In unrelated news, I am gleefully looking forward to some dessert brownies that M. brought home as a small but unexpected treat. Now excuse me while I chomp my way into a food coma.

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This week, I cringe to admit, M. received another parking ticket. I swear to god, between both of our cars, the parking tickets we have received since moving into the city together a year and a half ago has morphed into an absolutely ridiculous amount.

Hello, what the hell is wrong with us?

And it is common to receive multiple tickets throughout the night, so between, say, 6 p.m. and 7 a.m., you can find two tickets smugly flapping on the windshield before you even have a chance to realize you forgot to do the proper alternate parking from the previous night.

Feh.

Generally I will pay all of my parking tickets immediately. M., on the other hand, will allow them all to pile up and fester in some obscure corner of our apartment. Here is how that conversation usually goes.

Me:     Did you pay that parking ticket?

M.:      I will. (Weeks go by.) Oops. I forgot to pay that damn ticket and the fine has now increased.

Me:     Are you crazy? They can issue a bench warrant for unpaid parking tickets, you know. And if you find yourself in that type of sticky wicket, I am not bailing you out of jail.

M:      (A few weeks later; M. opens his mail.) Shit, that parking ticket amount now has tripled.

(Fast forward another couple of weeks. M. comes home clutching yet another neon-orange parking ticket.)

Me:     Pay that. Now. Right now. Not after you do whatever. Right the hell now.

Ugh.

In an effort to track where our valuable dollars get siphoned off to, besides excessive parking ticket fines, that is, here is a quick spending recap for this week. Thank god it’s the weekend.

Monday
No spend day!

Tuesday
-$32.00 parking ticket :( Grumble.

Wednesday
No spend day!

Thursday
-$1.63 drive-thru medium coffee, with cream and sugar.

Friday
$120 groceries and weekend entertainment.

Total affliction: $153.63

Last year, I finished the year off not reading much due to time constraints, and I resolved to change that. Here is what I have in my stash for some relaxing weekend reading:

  • Hot (broke) Messes: How to have your latte and drink it too by Nancy Trejos
  • Pound Foolish: Exposing the dark side of the financial industry by Helaine Olen

TGIF, folks. What do you have planned for the weekend?

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How I try to conquer buying lust and prevent that urge to shop before it empties my wallet.

domo
Domo: Stop spending…STOP SPENDING, I SAY.

When it comes to making purchases, I analyze everything to death before I buy. Here are some simple ways that help me to stay in that savings groove.

I envision how else I could be using that money. If there is any uncertainty surrounding a purchase, I also consider how else I could be utilizing that particular amount of cash. A couple hundred dollars spent on a purse, for example, might translate into an extra month of rent, or investing in a few quality shares of a company, or participating in a relaxing mini-vacation with the family. This is an extremely useful technique to discover what it is I truly value and where I wish to funnel my hard-earned cents.  

I try to purchase appreciating investments instead of useless ‘stuff’. Buying a shitload of depreciating ‘stuff’ will only result in making you poor while simultaneously building that product company’s own coffers and riches. I consider investment alternatives which are conducive to building my own wealth and try to be mindful of where my dollars are being sucked away to. Instead of continually purchasing certain products, why not consider buying shares in that particular company’s stock and owning an actual piece of the company?

Buyer’s remorse really blows. In order to avoid repentance and being stuck in a buying situation that I later regret, typically I will wait at least a week before making any large purchases. Believe it or not, more often than not that buying obsession fizzles away…with my savings account balance still in tact.

Pay with cash if necessary. Some of my friends use this method and it really is an excellent psychological boost to curb unnecessary spending, as it is much more painful to hand over a huge wad of cash than to simply swipe the plastic!

“You cannot afford to buy cheap.” If the purchase is useful and can be justified, I always try to invest in quality. One of my favorite sayings is, “You cannot afford to buy cheap.” Buying quality items that will endure helps to save over the long-term, by not needing to continuously replace the cheaper versions. I looove slipping on my ballet flats during the warmer seasons but the soles tend to wear out fairly quickly if I buy too cheap. I would much rather suck it up and invest in a sturdy, comfortable pair of shoes that will last through more than one season. Also I get incredibly attached to the few select pieces of clothing and I absolutely hate when they fall apart! Another great example of this is nutrition—investing in quality foods now will save enormously on medical expenses down the road.

I keep a log of big ticket purchases and make a note of how often it is being used, to determine the average cost per wear. The perfect tool to appeal to the OCD weirdo in me. ;) I try to keep a spreadsheet of all of my purchases, to consciously make note of how often items are being put to use. This way I immediately can tell at a glance what has been worth investing in and what is worth simply foregoing.

Visual cues are extremely helpful as reminders. Photographs of certain goals may help dissuade that impulsive urge to shop. Yearning for that trip to Paris? Keep a picture of a cute cafe on the Champs-Élysées on your phone and then pull it out whenever you need to resist an urge to splurge on crap you don’t necessarily need.

I only buy what I truly love. This method has saved me gobs of dough over the years. Now whenever I evaluate a potential purchase, I only buy what I absolutely fall in love with and adore. If for what ever reason it only fits in the ‘like’ category, meh. I don’t need it.

So then I just walk away!

Also it always helps to try to get a grip on the emotional root of certain spending habits.  Ask yourself, what do I believe I will achieve by purchasing this item? What is it really satisfying within myself emotionally, and is there a more productive way to reach a similar outcome? You may believe that slipping into those new kitten-heeled shoes will instantly make you feel fabulous (and it may!) but is the product truly the cause? Envision yourself being fabulous even without that item!

Do you fall prey to emotional spending or impulsive buying? How do you handle potential purchases?

=^..^=

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Time, it just…evaporates.

This week, I have decided to keep a log of how I spend my time. Since having a baby, I cannot recall feeling restless or bored because the days just dwindle away so quickly now. But where do all of those hours really go? Then it dawned on me: in order to accomplish all of my desired daily activities, I needed to become more strategic with my time. Hence the idea manifested for a weekly time log.

Recently I inherited a beautiful keyboard with weighted keys, known as a ‘portable grand piano’, from my family, who just wanted to move the poor girl out from their dank basement. It has been years since I’ve sat down to properly play a piano but I was ecstatic to run my fingers over the smooth keys and reacquaint myself with some basic notes and scales. Unmistakably I am rusty.

Basically, before I knew it, an hour had slipped away and I still felt it had not been sufficient time to accomplish what I felt necessary on my new treasure. I then realized how difficult it was going to be to consistently squeeze piano playing time into my all-ready crammed schedule!

Furthermore I have a stack of books from the library that need reading and if I am to curl up with a novel, I would prefer a good chunk of time—more than twenty minutes, at least—to lose myself in the writing.

And of course on top of being a mommy, I am also blogging. As anybody running a site can attest to, actively maintaining a blog and participating in the community is a huge dedication in itself. There are blogging activities that I have been failing miserably at, such as responding to comments, which is something I would dearly like to change. Because I do read each comment and deeply appreciate every one of them.

So perhaps a time log can help me become more organized and figure out how to achieve all of my objectives more efficiently. At the very least it will be interesting to capture a glimpse of what a week of my life looks like.

Some mental scraps—

Daily hobbies I enjoy, which require at least an hour each: writing and journaling, reading, yoga and other exercise, generally through an evening stroll with Hubs and Bubs after dinner.

Chores I detest, but which must get done, unfortunately: tidying and cleaning up. Then cooking and after-meal dish washing—usually one hour, minimum. (Errrrrgh, and if M. is in the kitchen it will be even longer. You should see what a brilliant but sloppy chef he is.)

Here is how my personal log has progressed so far:

6:32 – wake up: blearily heat water to make coffee in the French press. Switch on the computer for writing. In zombie mode.

7:26 – M. wakes up and meets me at the keyboard to groggily say good morning. Heads to the shower. I am enjoying my second cup of coffee.

7:46 –I have written nearly 500 words.  Lexi rouses. I change her diaper and, at her insistence, I also need to put a diaper on Elmo. We snuggle for a moment, all three of us.

elmo
…a diapered Elmo

8:07 – I prepare M.’s lunch to take to work and give Lexi her breakfast. As I’m finishing up some dishes, I turn around and realize Lexi has grabbed a hold of a paper towel roll and is unraveling it all over the kitchen tile.

8:21 – M. asks me to give his pants the ‘sniff’ test and then he is out the door. (He passed.) ;)

So, how do you currently ‘budget’ your time? Could you make progress in this area?

=^..^=

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My Broke-Ass Budget

    Striving to reach one financial goal at a time.

    Paid-off Distress Debt:
    $15,000

    Current Net Worth:
    $31, 653

    My current financial challenge, as a stay-at-home mom, is to raise $1,000, somehow.

    Progress:

    $0 $112.50 $372.50 (February 2013)

    Total =
    $372.50 out of $1,000


    $0..................................$1000

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