Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Power of Focus

The following was taken from The Success Principles, by Jack Canfield.

The Power of Focus
As you commit to becoming debt free and saving more, you'll encounter an almost miraculous force working in your life. As you change your focus from spending and consuming to enjoying the things you already have and putting money aside, you'll progress at an almost unexplainable rate.
Even if you don't believe you'll survive every month, once you commit to a debt-reduction and savings plan, you'll be surprised at your ability to manage and arrive at your goal faster than you had planned.
You may go through a profound transformation. You'll see your values and priorities change. Suddenly, you'll measure your success in terms of debts paid off rather than goods purchased. And as your investment portforlio grows, you'll begin to weigh all purchases against your goal to be financially secure and debt free.
Regardless of where you are in life - even if you're in what appears to be a hopeless situation - sta the course and allow this mirale to accelerate you to your goal.

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Power of a Vision

Lately I have been learning more about vision boards and goal books. A vision board is a piece of foamboard, etc or it can be like a journal. It is a way to attract things or experiences you want into your life. You find pictures of things you want in your future or words describing things or experiences you want and put them on your vision board or in your book.

I made my first vision board a year ago. Several things have been attracted into my life since that time. A friend of mine that I travel with and I have been talking about going on a cruise. On my vision board I had a picture from a ship. A few months ago she called to say another friend of hers found a deal on a cruise. So we ended up booking the cruise on Princess. A few days after booking it, I looked at my vision board and the cruise ship I had on it was from a Princess cruise ad. We leave this weekend on my "dream" cruise. I have added posts and scheduled them for when I am gone.

What do you want to attract into your life??

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Kids and Money

My feeling is that is very important to teach children about money. How money works, that you have to work for it and save it. I think too many just see their parents spending money on things and don't realize where it comes from. Many just think you get a card that you show and you get things for it. I will be posting more information in future posts on ways to teach your children about money. When you think about how much money most people make in a lifetime and we have no training on how to manage it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Heirlooms, 1617 32nd Ave S, Fargo


As I said in my post earlier today, about finding formal wear, this is a good place to look also.

Heirlooms is an upscale resale store located across the street from Hair Success in the same strip mall as Breadsmith in south Fargo. Heirlooms supports the work of Hospice of the Red River Valley. It has become a donation destination for finer items no longer needed because of a change in a family situation, redecorating or relocating. All donations to Heirlooms are tax deductible.
Items you will find at Heirlooms include:
Home furniture: sofas, loveseats, side chairs, ottomans, dining and kitchen sets, coffee and end tables, entertainment centers and desks
Home furnishings: lamps, artwork, collectibles, vases, decorator pillows, bookends and figurines
Linens: placemats, table cloths, table runners, napkins and napkin rings
Tableware: china, pottery and ceramic dinnerware, water pitchers, decanters, candlestick holders, centerpieces
Women's clothing and accessories: suits, coats and jackets, casual wear, sweaters, blouses, blazers, slacks, skirts, necklaces, pins, earrings and bracelets

Formal for Less

If you are need of a formal dress for a special occasion, one of the first places to try is the consignment store. It is one item that most people only wear a time or two and then donate or consign. Since it is not worn much it would not be noticeable that you did not buy it new. You can get a dress for a fraction of what you would pay in a department store. You do not have as wide as selection as a department store and you may not find one you like or fits. But it is at worth a try.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Free Food

I heard a commercial on tv last night. If you go to you can sign up for a coupon for a free frozen entree from Kashi. I have done this before for other items from them.

Importance of Paying More than the Minimum

Some people think they are doing fine financially if they are able to pay the minimum amounts due on their credit cards. But if you look at what you end up paying in the end in interest charges, those items end up costing you alot more than the original price. For an example if you owe $1,100 on a credit card that charges you 18.5 percent interest. If you pay the minimum (let's say 1.7 percent) of your balance every month and you never charge another item, it will take you 12 years and six months to pay off your debt. And your $1,100 balance will have cost you about $1,400 in interest. But, if you had paid $10 more than the minimum each month, you would have reduced your payment period to six years and cut the total interest payments to $676.37. Ten dollars a month is only 35 cents a day, but it adds up to a savings of about $700 in interest.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Looking at your Habits

In an earlier post, I mentioned tracking your expenses to see which you could cut back on. Another reason to do this is to see how you are spending your money. I grew up on a farm and when we went to "town" we got to pick out a candy bar, etc as a treat. It was years after I left home that I realized when I went grocery shopping alot of times I was still automatically buying a candy bar without realizing what I was doing.
Are there habits in your spending pattern that you do not need anymore?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Make Saving a Priority

Yesterday, I wrote about the imporance of paying yourself first. Most people wait to start saving until they have some extra money lying around. You have to start saving and investing for the future now! Something will always come up and some excuse will come up and you keep putting it off. The sooner you start, the more the power of compound interest will help you.
If you have a 401K or other saving program with your employer, many employers will match a portion your contribution. This will add to your savings even faster. If your employer does not have a retirement program, you can start an IRA, Individual Retirement Account through a bank or brokerage firm. When you are younger, it may not seem like a priority to save. But, that is the perfect time to start. You have time on your side and more years to add money and interest to your account.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Pay Yourself First

I know we all have bills, etc but as hard as we work for our money shouldn't we be paying ourselves also. To get in the habit of saving some money every mont, take a predetermined percentage of your paycheck and put it in a saving account (start with 5-10%). Keep building that account until you have enough to move it into a mutual fund or downpayment for a house, if you do not own one.
The simplest way to implement the pay yourself first plan is to make it "automatic". Set up so a percentage of your paycheck is automatically deducted and intested as you direct. If you don't have to think about it you won't be able to come up with excuses why you can't save it. After awhile you will get used to not having that extra money to spend. I think of my savings allocation as a bill just like every other bill. I figure it in what I have to spend that month and adjust other spending to allow for that. One of the books I have read and recommend on this subject is The Automatic Millionaire: A Powerful One-Step Plan to Live and Finish Rich, by David Bach.
You make sure you have money to pay others, shouldn't you also pay yourself?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Living Within Your Means VS. Below Your Means

The other day I saw discussion on another site about the difference of Living within your means and living below your means. With the current state of our economy I think more people are focusing on this. One way to think about it is Living within your means is that you don't spend more than you earn but you also do not have much to save. Living below your means is keeping your spending low enough so that after you have paid your bills, etc. you also have money to save. Where the real trouble comes is when you spend more than you make in a month and go into debt. When you are using credit cards you have to keep in mind how much you are spending because it can get out of control really fast. Even if you can pay the minimums on your credit cards, you end up paying finance charges and interest on it and it takes longer to pay off the principal.

Working on the Blog

I am still working on getting more information on the blog. I have been trying to keep the posts short so it doesn't take long to check it out. Please leave a comment if there is an area you would like more information on.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Living on $1,500 for a Year

I heard about a blog this morning. A family of 4 is trying to live on $1,500 for a year for groceries and other household expenses. The blog is at She has been couponing since last summer and has a stockpile of items to use. She started the blog to get people to think about how they spend their money. I haven't had a chance to read it alot yet. This is kind of going to an extreme. But even little steps can help you save money.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Debt Snowball

One plan to pay off your debts is the Debt Snowball. To start this plan, make a list of all your debts, except your mortgage, smallest to largest. The reason to list smallest to largest is to have some quick wins. After you list the debts smallest to largest, pay the minimum payment to stay current on all the debts except the smallest. Every dollar you can find from anywhere in your budget goest toward the smallest debt until it is paid. Once the smallest is paid, the payment from that debt, plus any extra "found" money, is added to the next smallest debt. Then, when debt number two is paid off, you take the money that you used to pay on number one and number two and use ton number three. Keep paying minimums on all of the debts except the smallest until it is paid. Every time you pay one off, the amount you pay on the next one down increases. Just like every time the Snowball rolls over, it picks up more snow and gets larger.
One reason to pay the smallest bill instead of the one with the highest interest rate is by paying off the smaller one more quickly you see results quicker and have a better chance of not giving up on it.

This idea is from The Total Money Makeover by

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Walgreens and CVS Deals

One of the ways I get some of the things I need for free or almost free is the drugstores. Walgreens and Rite Aid have montly rebate programs. We do not have a Rite Aid in our area so I will not post about that one. CVS has a program called Extra Care Bucks. You sign up for their ECB card and you get discounts on certain sale items. Also, each month they have products that you get ECB (Extra Care Bucks) back on certain items. Alot of the time, the ECB value will be the same as the sale price. The ECB is a coupon that prints out for a certain value and you can use it on a future purchase. So after you use the ECB, you are essentially get the product you originally bought for free. Today, I bought Colgate toothpaste that was on sale for $2.99 and I also had a $1 coupon. So I got a $2.99 ECB to use in the future and basically profitted $1. The ECBs are valid for a month after purchase. Walgreens has a rebate catalog for each month that has items you can send in for a rebate (either the full purchase price or a portion) it also has coupons on other items for the month. Last week I purchased $40 of items that I will end up getting for free. Items that have rebates this month are Garnier Fructis hair care products, Revlon lip gloss and Revlon foundation. I know not everyone has time to do these things, but if you do its a great way to make your money go further. The Walgreens rebates can be completed online or mailed in. If I get items I can't use, I usually donate them to the Women's shelter or food bank, etc.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Is a Bargain Really a Bargain

When we buy things on sale we usually think it is a bargain. But if you buy something on sale but don't really need it, it was not really a bargain. I used to do this too. Then I realized if you spend money on something you don't really need you could be saving that money instead. My former boss told me the story of his daughter and granddaughter. When his granddaughter was in elementary school, one day her mother was looking at the fliers in the paper. She said she could save 50% on certain items at one of the stores. The daughter said if she didn't go at all, she could save 100%. That is how I have started looking at purchases. Even if something is on sale, do I really need it?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Importance of An Emergency Fund

One of the first steps to becoming debt free, or remaining debt free is to start an emergency fund (rainy day fund). The first step is to start saving $1,000. Your emergency fund should be in a liquid account so you are not penalized if you have to use it. It should only be used for real emergencies, car repairs, job loss, etc. Once you get the $1,000 saved and start paying off some of your debt, the next step is to work on saving up 3 to 6 months of living expenses in your emergency account. With the situation the economy is in currently it is more important than ever to have an emergency account. If you have an emergency account then you won't be as likely to put unexpected expenses on your credit cards.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

52 Book Reviews in 52 weeks

Trent at reviewed 52 personal finance books in 52 weeks at The Total Money Makeover is the book is one of the books on his list and is a book I have read several times and recommend it. It has ideas about saving for an emergency fund, getting out of debt, etc.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Power of Compound Interest

You may not think you have enough to save to make a difference. If you save $100 a month, in 10 months you will have $1,000. If you invest $1,000 at a 10% interest rate, you'll earn $100 in interest at the end of the first year have a total investment $1,100. If you leave both your original investment and the earned interest in the account, the next year you'll earn 10% on the $1,100, which is $110. The third year, you'll earn interest on the $1,200 and so on for as long as you leave it there. At that rate, your money would actually double every 7 years.

I know interest rates are lower now but will come back in time. And any money you can save and earn interest on is better than not saving at all.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Become Aware of What You're Spending

Most people aren't aware of what they really spend in a month. One way to see what you spend money on is to record for a month everything you spend money on for that month. Add up everything at the end of the month so that you are consciously aware - rather than unaware - of what you are spending. Check off those items you must pay for and those things you have discretion over. This exercise will get you concious of what you are currently spending and where you could cut back if you chose to.

There was an article on money saving tips in the Fargo Forum today at This is one of the tips I contributed.

It is a way for you to see how small expenses add up over time.