Monday, April 30, 2012

4 Weeks of Freezer Cooking

During the month of April, Crystal from Money Saving Mom had a series called 4 weeks to a more organized home. Each weekday she had an assignment to do during the day for different areas of the home.

For May, her series is on freezer cooking. Each weekday for the next four weeks she will make something to put into her freezer and blog about it. At the beginning of each week she will have the plan for the week so you can cook along with her if you wish, or just keep the information for reference when you have a chance to participate. The first week will be breakfast items, the second week will be lunches, dinners will be the third week and snacks and desserts the fourth week.

Making items for the freezer when you have time can save you time during the week and can save you money on your grocery bill.

Sunday, April 29, 2012


Princess is a show on CNBC on Saturday nights. It is hosted by personal finance expert, Gail Vaz-Oxlade. Each show is about a person who has spending habits way above their income. They have been getting what they want by borrowing money from family and friends.

Gail shows the participants how to set up a budget that corresponds with their income. She assigns a challenge for each of the 6 weeks. Challenges range from researching how to make more money to finding ways to stay in your budget.

On a recent show, the subject of the show kept changing her mind on what she wanted to do as a career. Her mother thought she had started and quit at least 10 different areas of study. In one case, her mother had taken out a line of credit to pay for the tuition. Then the school went under and the tuition was sent back to her. But instead of paying her mom back, she spent it on other things she wanted.

This is one reason I feel it is important to teach kids about money and finances when they are young, so they know how to handle them when they get out on their own.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Strapped for Cash?

Normally it is not recommended to borrow money from your retirement accounts unless you absolutely need to. Tonight on the Suze Orman Show, Suze gave a few ways to borrow from your retirement account if you need cash and have no other source for it.

If you have a Roth IRA you can borrow any of the money that you have personally put into it without penalty or taxes.

If you have converted a traditional IRA or 401K into a Roth IRA, after 5 years you can withdraw any amount of the amount converted without penalties or taxes. Any growth on that amount needs to stay in the account for another 5 years or until you are 59 1/2.

If you have a traditional IRA, you can borrow from it, but it needs to be repaid withn 60 days. So this is only an option if you need cash for the short term.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Free Personal Finance Seminar

I will be hosting a free personal finance seminar on Monday, May 7 from 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm. The event will be held at 1100 32nd Ave S, Moorhead (2nd floor conference room). Please RSVP to or (701) 293-8808.

Some of the topics that will be covered are setting up a budget, tracking expenses, debit/credit cards and more.

I will be hosting more seminars in the future. Please let me know other personal finance topics you are interested in for future seminars.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Summer Reading Programs

One way to keep children entertained and interested in reading throughout the summer is summer reading programs. Many public libraries have reading programs and other activities for children from young children thru teenagers.

Kristie from Saving Dollars and Sense has put together a list of Summer Reading Programs offered by various companies.

Another program is Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library that you can register for your child to receive a free book monthly from birth to 5 years of age. The program is available in many communities throughout the United States, Canada and United Kingdom.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What's In Your Closet

When watching shows such as House Hunters, one of the things people ask is how big the master closet is. In many cases, it is the man that has more clothes or shoes than the woman. I used to spend a lot more on clothes and have a lot more clothes than I do now. I realized the money spent on clothes and shoes could be used on other things I want.

Over the past couple years there have been blogs about people wearing only a certain number of items for a month or the same dress for a year.

Here are tips from Crystal from Money Saving Mom on tips for having a minimalist wardrobe.

One way to see what you actually wear is to hang all of the hangers in your closet backwards. When you wear an item put the hanger back the right way. After a period of time like 6 months or a year look at the items on the hangers that are still backwards.

Also, look at the items in your closet and see if you could wear them in different combinations than you currently wear them to give you different options. Adding different accessories can also add spark to outfits.

This doesn’t mean you should not buy new clothes and just wear a few things, but consider if you could save money on clothes and what you could purchase with that money instead.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Yard Sale Season

With the weather getting nicer, yard sale season is starting to pick up. Yard sales are one source of getting good deals. But it is also important to consider if you really need the items. Just because they seem like a good deal, it will not save you money if you do not end up using the items.

Yard sales are a great place to find deals on baby and kids clothes and other items.

Having a yard sale may also be a way to get rid of items you no longer need to get money you can use to pay off debts or purchase things you do need.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Free Hospice Webinars

The Hospice of the Red River Valley has a series of free informational webinars coming up. They will be available on line or if you do not have access to a computer you can attend broadcasts of the webinars at the Fargo office at 1701 38th St S, Fargo. To attend the broadcasts, RSVP to Bonnie at (701) 356-1524 or

On May 7, from 7-8 p.n. (CST) the webinar will be on Memory Loss and End-of-Life Care. It will provide information about the difference between Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia and the benefits of hospice care.

The webinar on May 14, from 7-8 p.m. will be on Advanced Health Care Planning. It will provide information on precautions and actions needed to ensure your health care wishes are carried out if you are unable to speak for yourself. On May 21, the webinar from 7-8 p.m. will be about the end-of-life services available thru hospice.

You can register for the webinars here or call 1-800-237-4629.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

What's Your Financial Age

There is a quiz on the Oprah website which was developed by Suze Orman to see how you are doing financially.

The quiz consists of 12 questions dealing with issues ranging from having an emergency fund, saving for retiremenet and checking your credit score.

At the end of the quiz you will get your results and recommendations on steps you can take to improve your score or continue what you are doing.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tax Freedom Day

Today, in addition to be the deadline for filing Federal and State tax returns it is also Tax Freedom Day. Tax Freedom Day is the day that average Americans have earned enough to pay their tax burden for this year (107 days). It is 4 days later than it was last year.

Many people have the thrill of getting a large tax refund. It is important to remember this was your money, you were loaning to the government interest free. If you regularly receive a tax refund and struggle with your bills most months, it is recommended to check your withdrawal allowances. If you change this, you may be able to receive more money in your paychecks.

If you do receive a tax refund, consider paying off debt or putting into savings instead of purchasing items you could not normally afford. Some people suggest using 5% or so of it to buy something for yourself and put the rest away.

Monday, April 16, 2012

7:An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess

Could you eat only 7 foods a month or wear 7 pieces of clothing for 30 days? This is part of what Jen Hatmaker did as an experiment to realize many others live with a lot less than we do. 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess is the story of her and her family doing without certain things for a month at a time which lasted a total of 7 months.

She picked 7 areas of her life and limited herself and in some months her husband and two children to 7 items in that area for the month. The seven areas include food, clothes, possessions, media, waste, spending and stress.

During month 3, each day she selected 7 things to donate, give away or throw away. After 30 days, you would have 210 items to get rid of. At the beginning of this, she counted over 300 items in just her closet, she ended up getting rid of over 200 items from her closet.

During month 4, they gave up all media, except email and texting that she and her husband needed for their jobs and correspondence with teachers and other groups.

During the Spending month, she selected 7 spending categories, that meant no eating out. Her 7 choices were The Farmers Market, HEB gas station, Online bill pay, Kids’ school, limited travel fund, emergency medical and Target.

Getting rid of seven things a day is one step in 4 weeks to a more organized home which is being hosted by Crystal from Money Saving Mom.

I was interested in reading the book after reading Crystal’s review of it.

The book is written like a diary with entries from certain days. She confesses to a few goofs during the experiment. It was a quick and easy read and makes you realize how much stuff we have and question if it is all necessary.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

8 Weeks of Savings

The other day I received a set of coupons in the mail from Cashwise. There are 4 coupons good each week for the next 8 weeks. There was also a set of coupons for Sunmart in the April 15 Forum.

They use these coupons to get you into the store. Some of the items can be as much as half the regular price but remember to consider if it is a good deal for you. You are not saving money if you spend on something you would not normally buy.

Hunger Hits Home

Hunger Hits Home was shown on the Food Network the other night. It is available online and will be aired again April 21 at 5 PM CT and April 23 9 AM CT.

The show was sponsored by the Food Network and Share Our Strengths No Kid Hungry Campaign. Some of the statistics from the show are:
More than 16 million kids in America live in households that struggle to put food on the table, 1 out of 5 kids.
For many kids, most of the meals they receive are the free or reduced priced school meals. Now with summer coming, most are not going to receive those meals when there is not school.
Almost 45 million Americans used SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly food stamps) in 2011.
In some areas, people are having difficulty affording food to feed their families. There are areas that people only have certain places to shop locally such as convenience stores where it is difficult to buy nutritious food. One of the women shown in the special had to take a 45 subway ride to buy fruits and vegetables and could only afford to buy a small bag of vegetables.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Tax Day Discounts

Federal tax returns are due on Tuesday, April 17. Several businesses have special discounts to relieve some of the stress of Tax Day. Some of the discounts are good only on the 17th and some are good for multiple days. For some of the discounts you will need to print a coupon from the company’s Facebook page.

As with other sales and deals, it is only a deal if it was something you normally buy or use.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Free Teen Summer Workshops

This is the time of the year to start looking for summer jobs. With the unemployment in its current situation it may be harder for teens to find jobs. The Fargo Public Library is hosting two hour-long summer job workshops geared to teens. The first one is scheduled for Thursday, April 12 at 4 p.m. at the Main Library. The second session will be at the Dr. James Carlson Library at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, April 17.

Some of the topics covered will be how and where to search for jobs, basic interview tips and how to fill out job applications. No registration is required and there is no charge. All materials will be provided. You can contact the Teen Librarian, Bree Schmidt at for more details.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Secure Your ID Day

Shredding any personal papers that have your account numbers and other information is an important step to take in order to protect your identity.

Secure Your ID Day is an opportunity to have some of your documtns shredded for free. It will be held at Wells Fargo banks at 2501 13th Ave S in Fargo and 1050 E. Interstate Ave in Bismarck. It will be from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm on Saturday, April 21. will also be free cellphone recycling and information on identity theft. You can register to win a personal shredder.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Couples and money

Following are a few recent articles I have found online.

Being 60 and paying still paying student loans. As the article states, it is not known how many of these people have been paying their loans since their 20s or if they went back to school later in life. Also, if they had co signed for a loan for their children and got stuck paying it off. Student loans are one of the few debts that are not erased by bankruptcy.

In recent years, financial discussions have become part of many premarital lessons. This article discusses 4 money talks couples should have. They include

• Let’s talk about financial baggage. It is important to know what kind of debt the other is bringing to the relationship and also what their saving and spending habits are.
• Let’s talk about spending limits.
• Let’s talk to a pro.
• Let’s review our money plan.

Spending money on items without your partner knowing is known as financial infidelity. It may not seem like a big deal hiding purchases from your partner but it may affect your financial lives if it gets out of control.

One of the books I have found and enjoyed reading is Smart Couples finish Rich by David Bach. Two of his other books are Smart Women Finish Rich and The Automatic Millionaire.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Money Secrets of the Amish

Money Secrets of the Amish, Finding True Abundance in Simplicity, Sharing and Saving was the result of writer Lorilee Craker investigating why the Amish were thriving during the economic downturn. It consists of a dozen tried and true financial habits the Amish have followed for many years to help your cash go further.

Some of the habits discussed in the book are:

UWMW – Use it up, Wear it out, Make do or do without.
Pay on time - It may not seem like a lot getting charged a minimal amount if you don’t pay a bill on time, but if you do it consistently with a number of bills it can add up.
Saving – Saving money will protect you from the “drizzle,” acting as an umbrella of sorts.
Dead horses smell bad, but debt smells even worse- One of the quotes in the book that struck me was “Making interest payments is like paying for a dead horse/”
Shopping secondhand- Sometimes you can find items at secondhand stores for a fraction of the regular price you would pay.
To buy in bulk or not – In some cases, buying in bulk may save you money. You need to consider if you will use the product before it spoils. You will not save money if you end up throwing a bunch of it out.
The Best Things in life are free – “The truth that transcends Plain and Fancy; chasing after money and things is meaningless, because the best things in life are free.

Another quote I saw recently is "Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like" – Will Rogers.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Being Organized to Save Money

One way to save money is to be organized. Some ways being unorganized can cost you money are:
• If you don’t keep track of your bills that come in the mail, you may incur penalties and interest for late payments. Also, if you misplace checks before getting to the bank.
• If you put things in the same spot all the time, you could save time by not having to search for it. Or if you need to go buy an item you can’t find. You could have saved the money you spent on the replacement item.
• By having an organized fridge and pantry you know what leftover items and other items you have that can be used before they spoil. Also, you know what items you have on hand so you don’t spend money on buying duplicates of things you already have. It doesn’t save you much money if you buy items on sale but don’t use them before they expire.

Crystal from Money Saving Mom is doing a series on 4 weeks to a more organized home. Each day she will post the steps for that day and each evening she will post her progress from the day and have opportunities for you to post your progress also.

Each day, there is one main step to do if you are busy and can’t complete all of the steps for that day. The series started on Monday, April 2 and day 1 was to clean out your purse and day 2 was to clean out your refrigerator. Even if you can’t complete it now or keep up daily, it gives you ideas of ways to stay organized.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Secrets to a Happy Life Review

Many of the ideas in Simple Secrets to a Happy life are things we already know but sometimes need to be reminded to do them. The book consists of 50 short chapters. The name of each chapter begins with an imperative verb and is five words long. The chapters are short so they can be read when you have a few extra minutes.

Luci Swindoll has combined stories and experiences from her 80 years of live into a great book The book is divided into five parts: Beginning with the Basics, Developing Your Style, Achieving Balance, Living a Good Life and Staying Connected.

Some of the topics covered are Be on time for everything, learn to organize your stuff, accept events as they happen, stay proactive about your health, value the things you have, focus on what’s important now, decide what is not necessary, Thank others for their efforts, and more.

It is a quick and easy read. You can either read it in a few sittings or grab it when you have a few minutes to read a chapter or two at a time.

I received a copy of the book from Thomas Nelson Publishers to review. The book is the only compensation I received for this review.