Saturday, September 29, 2007

Surprising Uses for Potatoes

Myscha over at Wisebread has a great post about creative ways to use potatoes. My personal favorite is the potato bar/buffet. What a great idea- and your friends can bring their favorite toppings so everyone ends up happy.

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Day I Realized Almost Everyone was in Debt

I remember a time when I thought everyone had money but me. They had the latest gadget, the camera, the newest tv, a new car every year or two, every game console known to man, a brand new house. I thought we were the only ones who had debt or financial troubles at the time. The people like this who come to mind shall remain nameless- but they had everything, and if they wanted something new they went and got it that day. I admired them, and hoped to one day be in a position like them.

I'll never forget the day I overheard one of them saying to another that they went ahead and paid down one of their credit cards that month. "WHAT! " I thought. "I can't believe THEY have credit card debt- they have everything and they make so much money." Here we were on half of what they made and barely swimming. That day was a new beginning for me. Even the most affluent people I knew had debt.

Fast forward several years when I started listening to Dave Ramsey. Callers making over 100k would be deeply in debt and about to file bankruptcy. My thinking changed radically after only a couple of days of listening to Dave. I realized almost every person I ever admired or envied were in a mess of debt. That fancy car they have is really a huge monthly payment on a car they don't own yet. And the house is the same. And all the nice clothes they wear are being paid for with the Mastercard. The nice lawn furniture they have is on a credit card at Home Depot.

After I realized that most people aren't making it, I had a huge change in the way I view "stuff." When I see the nice car on the road I don't think "Wow, they must be rich," I think "Wow, they must be deeply in debt." Clothes and purses don't even phase me anymore- I realize that people are trading their financial future for a material object that will be out of style next year. This change of perspective was so liberating for me. I don't care anymore about things- I just want to be debt free. It is amazing what a change in perspective will do for your financial life. Your priorities change and when you stop spending your money on "stuff," you have so much more money to pay off debt and grow wealth. All you need is that change in perspective.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Free Museum Admission Sept. 29th

Museums across the nation are giving away free admission for you and your guest on Saturday, September 29th as part of the Smithsonian Magazine's Museum Day. There are so many cool museums listed by state. I think we might visit the flight museum with these free passes! Just sign up and print out your free admission pass!

Here are more details from Smithsonianmag.com:

Museum Day is a nationwide event taking place on Saturday, September 29, 2007 where participating museums and cultural institutions across the country offer free admission to Smithsonian readers and Smithsonian.com visitors, allowing for one day only, the free-admission policy of Smithsonian's Washington, D.C.-based facilities to be emulated across the country.

Debt=Stress

Over the past five years I have experienced the age-old truth- debt equals stress. The more debt you owe the more stress you have. Here's why:

1. When you have debt, you are no longer working for your self. You have another "boss."
When you are living paycheck to paycheck, you are working to pay living expenses and debt. You are responsible for keeping the minimum payments on each car loan, student loan, personal loan, and each credit card you owe. When you add each of those minimum payments up, they are often a large chunk of the monthly income. Each dollar you bring in already has a name on it, so in essence you just worked for that credit card, for that car, for that undergrad class you dropped 10 years ago.

2. You worry more about the future.
When you are in debt, any complication that arises such as an illness, job loss, or wreck can keep you from earning that precious paycheck. The fear of something happening is always lingering in the back of your mind. I know I would have no idea what I would do if my spouse lost his job- how would I keep the house, the car, the food on the table?

3. You are not able to enjoy life freely.
This lingering fear not only keeps you in a state of worry, but also keeps you from enjoying the good things in life. A trip out to eat with the family isn't as enjoyable when you have to worry about how much it's going to cost and which credit card can you put it on. That vacation isn't quite as relaxing when you're worried about how you are going to make ends
meet next week.

4. It keeps you from taking risks.
Debt also needs a safety net. When you have all those payments to make each month, you can no longer be free to start that business you always dreamed of, go back to school full-time or leave the awful job that just gave you a cut in pay. You are stuck where you are because you have to pay the bills, and even a minute drop in income will cause problems.

5. Small emergencies quickly become a crisis.
Something as small as a blown tire can become a disaster of epic proportions. Your credit cards are all maxed out, and you have less than $50 in the bank- you have no room to deal with unexpected problems. You are then faced with finding some way to pay for the emergency- asking a family member for money, going negative in your bank account, or trying to find another place to extend you credit.

Having to juggle all debts you owe- the worry of living from paycheck to paycheck- causes you to change the way you live your life. You become a slave to the debt, and being the slave of the unforgiving master of debt is stressful.

As Solomon the wise man said, "The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower becomes the lender's slave." Proverbs 22:7

There is good news- we can all be freed from debt! The first baby step is realizing the problem- that debt rules the way you live your life.

How has debt affected your stress level and quality of life?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Cheap and easy teeth whitening

I love having white teeth, but teeth whitening products can really add up. My husband uses hydrogen peroxide 3% as a mouthwash (instructions are on the bottle) and it keeps his teeth very white. I noticed a significant difference after just two uses.

One bottle of hydrogen peroxide costs .47 and the results are just as good as (if not better than) my fancy teeth whitening products!

Sprint plan

I signed up for the Sprint Sero Plan yesterday, and received my phone this morning! When they say overnight they mean it! I am in love with the Treo so far and the reception is perfect. I am anxious to see my first bill to make sure it is all correct- others seem to have lots of problems with getting the features at the right price. I get unlimited data, unlimited text messages and 500 anytime minutes and free nights and weekends. We are going to drive around tonight to make sure the reception is good. I have 30 days to change my mind if the phone doesn't meet my expectations.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Sprint SERO plan

Nickel over at FiveCentNickel posted this informative article about getting a Palm Treo and a Sprint SERO plan. It is a great deal-I am considering it for myself (it's about the same price as I pay for my prepaid phone but with unlimited data and text messages) but Sprint is said not to have good coverage in our area in the past. So even if the Internet is free, if it doesn't work it's not a good deal, right?