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Paid it Down

"Do not strive for money or things as your passion. It's people and your relationships with people that you should be passionate about".

Updated: 2016-09-08T00:22:10.587-04:00


I've Moved!!!!


Please visit my new blog address here!

An apology


I love my blogging friends, but unfortunately I have not had time to read or comment recently. Christmas is only 6 days away, and although I'm done gift shopping, I'm hosting Christmas Eve with two families that are dear to us....which means cookie baking, grocery shopping and house cleaning.

Plus I'm starting to get sick....

But I promise, after Christmas I will try and catch up with all of you! I will try to post now and again as well.



Well, I gave myself until December 15th to be "done" with all my preparations for the holidays..and aside from stocking stuffers, I am done. The house is decorated, the outdoor lights are up, the presents are wrapped (I still need to get the out of town gifts out of my diningroom).

I had yet to feel the spirit of the holiday, that is until last evening. My daughter and I went to our church and helped wrap gifts for the adopted families of the community that need help this year. I was overwhelmed by the generosity of the people of our church, but also the large need in the community. We were wrapping for more than 800 families...(We have a large church). My heart broke when I read the situations that these families were in, and even though we were giving them something, I hardly thought it was enough. There were no ipods, cameras, or video games on the list of the children. They were replaced with socks, hats, mittens and food. Food. I always knew there were people struggling to make ends meet, but food...a basic necessity to be on a Christmas wish list was unbelievable to me. In a rich nation such as ours, people should not have a hard time getting food.

I have decided that what I want to do this year is not just remember these families in December, but I will start volunteering at least several times EVERY month in 2009. My own personal OPERATION GIVE BACK.

As I mentioned in a previous post we will be saving a significant amount of money on our refinance. I will put part of that extra money toward my goal for 2009 -- to GIVE BACK.

I have been so fortunate. And I'm a bit embarrassed that I have not truly recognized it sooner...

15 lbs and counting....


A great weigh in this week and I'm down 15 lbs! Only 11 more to go....

Refinance? YES!


We have a heloc and our mortgage as our only two debts left. We have about 24 years on our first mortgage and 10 years on our second mortgage. We just locked into a 4 7/8% FIXED rate 30 year mortgage. No points. We are combining both, and although it puts us back to 30 years (not a big deal because we are not retiring in this house) we are saving approximately $675.00 a mos. in mortgage payments. I could put the $675.00 toward the house payment anyway and pay off the house completely in 15 years....but it's nice to know that if I needed the extra cash, I would have it.

I have never gotten such a low rate before....and believe me, I wanted to take cash out to do some home projects. But I refrained. I did not want to go further into debt.

We will probably close on the refi in the middle of January, and I'm anxious for the savings...

The bonus? There will be no Christmas debt to pay off in January either...

And speaking of bonuses....there probably will be none for my I am so glad I paid off most of our debt last February when he received a good one!

If you need to refiinance because of a high interest rate...the time is now...the rates are LOW!

Christmas Shopping Update


Oh my gosh....I am almost done! And it's only December 8th! I will finish up on Thursday....

The beauty of this? I stayed on budget...

I even picked up the shrimp and scallops for Christmas Eve....(frozen, of course).

I may actually make it this year.....

Thanks for all of your support!

How are all of you doing?

Cash jars...


I haven't mentioned it in a while, but I'm still trying to operate on cash. I have jars, envelopes, and places in my wallet where I stash cash after I get paid. The interesting thing is that since I've been doing that, I've had a lot more money at the end of the month. I have added a couple of categories..i.e. my son's trombone lessons, etc.
I believe you really do spend less with cash. I'm not where I want to be yet, because occasionally I will use my checkbook for categories I didn't have enough cash for. But I'm getting better.
Have you tried cash yet?

The downside of ordering from Apple....


Ah, I'm stuck at home today (well, actually working from home) because Apple requires a signature when they deliver your order. If you are not home, they bring it back to their holding store where I would have to pick it up, which for me is about 20 miles away. The tracking number said that it's guaranteed to be here by 10:30 here's hoping!

I actually like working from home, although I'm very limited on what I can accomplish. One downside is that I'm presently looking at a very messy, dirty home! I would rather start picking up and straightening out than coming up with December numbers for the accountant! :)

Yesterday I was able to pick up a couple of gifts from Five and Below...on the same lines as a dollar store, only everything in the store is $5.00 and below. I was able to pick up two Bionicles, a 007 Scene It game, and a Sims Pets computer game..all for $21.00 exactly. Not bad at all.

I also was able to pick up a couple of items from Bath and Body Works...they were having quite a sale too! I'm not sure if I will meet my own December 15th deadline, but I'm going to try....

How are you all doing with shopping?

It's almost December....


and I'm about halfway done with my Christmas shopping....and no debt. I did not go shopping on Black Friday, but I did find a deal at Apple online for a gift I'm purchasing. (By the way, they engrave for free when you order directly through Apple.)

Thank you for all your encouragement for the scariest time of year for me, although I'm not out of the woods yet. I hope to be finished with everything by the 15th of December (wrapped and sent to out of towners, and wrapped and hidden for my family). Then, just maybe then, I'll be able to enjoy the season.

My goals for December are:

No shopping for gifts after the 15th.
Stick to budget.
Do not "second think" gifts purchased and go out and buy more.
Sunday's during December will be for COMPLETE shopping, cooking, cleaning, etc. (I'll have to rejuvenate sometime)
Give generously.

Happy belated Thanksgiving to all of you! Hope you had a wonderful holiday!

School tuition ruining your financial life?


(image) I'm writing on this subject because in the past week, I've spoken with a couple of friends that I hadn't seen in some time. Their children are going to expensive (about $40,000 a year) colleges and they are footing the bill for their children. We didn't start out talking about school tuition, but their life circumstances (one of them is selling their home and moving into a very small townhome, the other is looking for fulltime employment) the subject of money came up. When I asked why they decided to downsize/go to work, it became apparent that they are in debt with student loans for their children.

I know I will not be the one taking out student loans for my children. If they choose a college out of state and that is that expensive, they will have to come up with the money. We live in Virginia, where state schools are some of the best in the country. Why pay $40,000 a year, when you can pay $15,000 and get the same, if not better, education?

We are paying for our daughter's education out of pocket. My oldest is done, and we are paying for my second daughter's. We are fortunate that we are able to do this. If we were not, then they would have to work extra hard to come up with the cash. They are responsible to pay for books, spending money, cell phone and car insurance. And if they couldn't afford it, they would have to go to school locally, and get a job.

I don't understand why parents would put their financial stability on the line for their children's college education. It is not a requirement that parents pay for their children's education, it is a gift, only if it can be afforded.

I paid for 1/2 my colllege education (When it was $3,000 a year to go! :)) and my parents paid for 1/2. It took me two years to pay off my student loan when I graduated.

My younger two now know that they may very well be spending the first two years of their college education at a local community college. If they do well there, they have their pick of the state schools to transfer to. This would, in essence, save $100,000.00 in tuition costs, as I'm assuming by the time they go to school, tuition, room and board will cost about $25,000 a year.

Are they happy about it? Nope. But we are not willing to sacrifice our financial security because of it.

Do you have any stories of parents in hoc over college tuition?

This is the scariest time for me....


right before Christmas....

This is when I throw all caution to the wind and spend like crazy because it's Christmas....this is when I spend way too much on things that just aren't needed....

I've tried to prepare for this, and the fact that Thanksgiving is late this year is a good thing...

but I struggle so much on buying this time of year...

I'll need all of your help in the next weeks.....

Any ideas???



Gratitude. More aware of what you have than what you don't. Recognizing the
treasure in the simple - a child's hug, fertile soil, a golden sunset. Relishing
in the comfort of the common -- a warm bed, a hot meal, a clean shirt. - Max
As Thanksgiving approaches, I have become more and more aware of what I am so very thankful for. My health, my family...and my life. I believe if you have a grateful heart, you will be able to enjoy your life to it's fullest.
This year has been a good year for us, even with the economic crisis going on, we were able to pay off all of our consumer debt. (And it was a LARGE amount!) We will be going into 2009 with no credit card debt (as I'm paying for Christmas with CASH).
I'm grateful for all of you, who have helped me stay on track. Your comments have meant a lot to me, especially keeping me honest.
What are you grateful/thankful for this year?

Saving for an emergency fund ....


will take some willpower. How will I start saving for an emergency fund with Christmas and school tuition looming?

One dollar at a time.

It's amazing that my weight loss plan is finally working...but at only one pound at a time. When I first started, and didn't see 5 lbs come off in the first week, I was discouraged. But as the weeks progressed, and now I'm down 12 lbs, I am feeling successful. It still is only coming off 1 pound at a time, but after some time, it is adding up.
And so our emergency account will add up, one dollar at a time. (As long as I don't "borrow" from it, anyway.) But it will take time, and time hopefully is still on our side....
It's amazing the correlation between weight loss and spending...both are emotional for me...if I can win the battle with one, I believe the other will follow.
I'm not on a timeframe with weight loss, but the sooner I lose it, the better I will feel. The sooner I get an emergency savings together, the more secure I will feel.
So, I will set up sidebars and hopefully I can see results sooner, rather than later...
Keep me honest everyone! It really does help!

I.O.U.S.A. (the 30 minute version for those who have not yet seen this!)


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Layoffs are happening...



very close to home. I posted about this a bit prematurely the other day . ... apparently it wasn't known yet, and on the off chance that someone recognizes me in this blog, it would have been bad....

But today is the day my husband's firm is letting go of 10% of its attorneys and staff...

It is sobering to us because for the last 12 years it has been nothing but prosperity. The scary fact is that we could be next. His job didn't get cut this time, but with the economy the way it is, there is still a chance. We can't believe how unprepared for this we really are.

I'm a fan of Crown Financial Ministries, and found this link. Although it is Christian based, everyone could benefit from the financial advice given. Our problem is that all of our money is tied up in retirement accounts (and we all know how they are doing) and in the equity of our home. We have less than 1 mos. emergency savings. If this isn't a wakeup call, I don't know what is.

There are a few things we can do to prepare now:

1. Update resumes (including myself, as I would have to go full time)

2. CUT unnecessary expenses

3. SAVE cash quickly! (Christmas will be pared down)

4. Research health insurance plans to be prepared to purchase one while looking for work

5. SELL stuff NOW for a cash boost

I will not feel "safe" unless I have at least 8 mos of an emergency savings. So, that is our next goal. Although I would love to focus on paying off the HELOC, I will choose to save cash.

Any other suggestions? Anyone going through this now? What did you do? I would love to hear from you!

Charity begins at home....


We just got back from PA to visit my mother-in-law and all extended family. My mother-in-law is 82 years old and still maintains (or tries to) her 46 year old home. We don't get to visit often, but when we do, we try to help out (both financially and physically) as much as possible. This weekend was no exception.

Since she is on a fixed income from social security, every expense is a significant one. So, I went to SAM's club with my sister-in-law to pick up a few things for my mother-in-law so that she wouldn't have to purchase these items at a grocery store..(.i.e. toilet paper, paper towels, napkins, toothpaste, etc. etc.)

By the time I was done, I had singlehandedly spent $349.00 worth of household necessities (including 100 stamps for her bills). Wow. It totally depleted my checking account until next pay day. But, I don't mind scrimping a bit this week, as I know this will help her out tremendously.

While we were there, my husband also spent another $65.00 to fix her bathroom sink.

I'll spend tomorrow morning straightening out our bills....

The diet is working...


(image) I'm down 10 lbs. and one pant was a pleasure to spend money yesterday on new pants......

But, it's interesting....the size I bought is what I use to wear when I was 20 lbs lighter than I am does that mean 8's are really 12's? and 10's are really 14's? and....12's are really 16's?

A gift for me....


It's my birthday, and I can't think of a better gift than the election being OVER!


VOTE! and get your free coffee....


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The calm....before the storm?


Well, things have settled down a bit, although I still don't have results from my daughter's testing, my Mom is still feeling under the weather, and my brother is still jobless. I'm hoping to hear good news soon....hopefully in all of these situations....

We just spent money on a new HD television, (my husband and my Christmas gift to each other). Our old TV was analog and the picture was shrinking. This was a rather pricey purchase, but we should have it for quite a while. It goes very nicely with the new Verizon Fios we just had installed. By bundling this package we will be saving over $50.00 a month. Tongue in cheek with the saving part....because it will take us several years to recoup the price we paid for the new television....

I can't help wondering, though, with all the turmoil around me that this just was another emotional spending expedition. I could have waited until after Christmas, and perhaps get it for less..but I was feeling very vulnerable. Still, we are paying for it with CASH, so there will be no new debt. (It just limits us on total Christmas $$$, sorry kids!)

The election is tomorrow, (halleluia!) and hopefully life in general can get back to normal. My birthday is Wednesday so I'm really looking forward to it for more reasons than I can name. (i.e. election over, soccer season over, baseball season over....etc.)

I haven't had an opportunity to read blogs, but I hope to over the next week or so...thank you all for your kind words, I so appreciate it!!!

Bad things happen in threes?


Well, my daughter is sick again, with more pain in her stomach, etc. She will be getting a CT Scan tomorrow as well as more blood work.

My Mom called and told me she has been losing a lot of weight and they found bacteria in her stomach so they are giving her strong antibiotics that are making her sicker....They told her to give it a couple of days....

My brother lost his job yesterday. He's a single dad with one son in college and the other in 8th grade. He's by himself in PA (no family near by) and I really worry about him.

So, there you have it...all of this came at me in one day.

I hope tomorrow is better.

Catching your dollars with these frugal ideas...


Because of the ever changing economy, it's always helpful to learn ways to live more frugally..I found the following frugal tips from this website .(Which I found on Elizabeth's blog Small Town Spending) I did not copy all of them, because some of them were just plain gross (i.e. don't flush the toilet until you've used it 2-3 times....YUCK!) Anyway, I've highlighted the ones that I will engage in and you may find them helpful as well.Save Money Grocery Shopping.Shop for produce at a local farm stand.Never buy coffee, soda, or other drinks or snacks out. I could never say never on this one. I like Starbucks too much.Always grocery shop with a list. Yes!Take advantage of sales on items that you would normally buy. Yes!Only shop once a month. This would be something to aspire to, but at this point....not practical.Keep a price book and track prices by unit cost. This is probably a good one too, right now they are all in my head!Stockpile staples when prices are low.Buy generic items.Use the Grocery Game.Plan meals according to what is on sale that week.Take advantage of rainchecks if the store doesn’t have a sale item that you need.Take advantage of rebates at Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid…but only if you’ll use the item and will follow through on the rebate. I really need to figure this one out for CVS, does anyone have an easy way to start this?Buy enough of a sale item to last 12 weeks. That’s about how long sales take to cycle.Shop at discount marts: Grocery outlet, The Dollar Store, etc. I shop at Shoppers Food Warehouse and Bj's.Bring your own bags to the grocery store. Many stores offer a small discount per bag.Take advantage of stores that double coupons.Watch out for deals on things that your friends need, and have them do the same for you. Save Money on Cooking and EatingEat less meat. Absolutely!Become a vegetarian. I almost could do this, but not there yet.Eat leftovers. Yes!Cook large amounts and freeze extra for busy nights. I despise freezer burn, and my memory fails me so I would surely forget the frozen food...Scrape out food jars to use the last little bit.Cook from scratch.Never eat out. Um, what fun is that?Eat from your stocked pantry.Bring lunch from home (it’s worth it to invest in proper containers). Since I've been on a diet plan, this has been easy to do...Eat less. The average American eats too much. Same with this...Don’t use the vending machines at work.Always have a meal plan. Always. This has worked beautifully!Use the Once a Month Cooking system.Keep soup starter jars in the freezer. A little leftover this, a little leftover that. Nothing is wasted. Get creative with leftovers. Concoct new recipes, so nothing is wasted.Base most of your meals on rice or beans to cut down on meat consumption.Look for events that entertain and feed you at the same time. Church socials, shopping at Sam’s (think about those free samples)…Don’t drink soda. Drink water! Oh, if only I could!!!!Make your own jello cups (or applesauce cups, or pudding cups) for lunches and snacks.If your kids complain about generic cereal, put the generic in a name-brand box. They’ll never know the difference!Use Angel Food Ministries if you have one in your area.Rear your own chickens. I wonder what my neighbors would think about this one?Join a freezer club. Get together with like-minded people to exchange meals for your freezers. It’s cheaper to prepare a lot of one meal and split it up, than to prepare a bunch of different meals.Always take a sna[...]

My new boycott....


I don't know about you, but the news has been less than encouraging. The apparent rage (between parties) for the present election is palpable and causing undue stress...for me personally. I've never in my lifetime seen a country so divided...In my opinion, the corrupt media is no different than an antagonistic divorce attorney...but I digress...

I'm turning off the tv, throwing the paper in the recycle bin, and I will stop reading blog posts that touch on the current political election...just to save my sanity....

Last night, I took control of our family evening and put in a movie...a fun, mindless movie..."Christmas with the Kranks", and I intend to watch feel-good movies until we get some sort of normalcy to this country again...any suggestions??

Am I burying my head in the sand? You betcha! And it feels...GREAT!

This weekend...


(image) Aside from losing my guinea pig, I did have a relaxing weekend. I baked pumpkin pie, decluttered the house, and installed (well my husband did the actual installing) new light fixtures inside and outside. They look great! It was an inexpensive upgrade, but it made all the difference in the world to the look and feel of our home.
I also had a pot of hot apple cider and sticks of cinnamon brewing on the stovetop all weekend long, which made the house feel warm and cozy. I really do LOVE this season.
It's amazing how a simple thing like brewing cider would make on my mood. It felt relaxing. And that was a welcome relief from the all of the doom and gloom in the market.
I still have not had a NO SPEND day, I guess I haven't focused on it yet. Um, I have 10 days left?



Gracie was our guinea pig for the last 6 years. She died on Saturday, from what I believe to have been an infection and cold that wouldn't go away. Every morning she would squeak at me for a fresh piece of lettuce or carrot. She would only respond to my voice when I called her...Even though she was my daughter's pet, I became very attached. We will definitely miss her.