Thursday, May 31, 2012

Teaching kids to save

Recently while talking to a friend, she told me about one of her granddaughters saving for a laptop. She had offered to pay part of it as part of her Christmas gift but her granddaughter wanted to save and pay the whole amount by herself. It took her awhile, but she was able to save and pay for it. Sometimes kids appreciate things more and take better care of them when they pay for all or part of them.

Here are a couple of posts on teaching kids to save and saving and paying cash.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Taking a Leap

I recently returned from a week long Alaskan cruise. One of the highlights from the trip was going ziplining over a rainforest in Ketchikan.

I was having second thoughts about doing it and at first was thankful each zipline was over. But the more I did it, the easier and more fun it got.

This is true for many other things in our lives. If you are facing a challenge and it seems impossible to accomplish, break it into smaller steps. If you are facing debt, one way is to determine a reasonable amount you can put towards the debt each month. This will give you an idea of how long it will take you to pay it off. It is sometimes easier to accomplish a goal when you have a timeframe for it. If you do not accomplish your goal by the deadline, just extend your deadline instead of giving up.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Disc to Digital Program

Walmart recently rolled out a Disc to Digital program. For a small fee you can get a streaming version of DVDs and Blu-ray movies you already own to use on Vudu powered device. The fee is $2 per title and $5 for HD. You can only get one version of each disc.

There is more information on the program in this Consumer Reports article.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Budget Training

With the Fargo Marathon coming up this weekend, I was thinking how budgeting takes practice and training similar to training to run a race.

Many people do not think they have the time to make a budget. Just like with running, once you start the habit and learn how to follow a budget you can make great strides with your finances. A budget is a plan for your money that you use to tell your money what to do instead of your money telling you what to do.

I will be on a cruise ship and in Alaska this weekend but I want to wish Good Luck to all of the runners and volunteers. Even if you cannot run in the races, there are other ways you can participate by volunteering. This trip was possible in part by being able to budget my money and watch how I spend my money so I could afford it.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Every Dollar Makes a Difference

Some times when thinking about our debt or savings goals it may seem impossible. But by breaking it down into manageable amounts can make it easier to conquer. Some people think a dollar or two doesn’t matter. Even small amounts added up over time can make a difference. One suggestion from Suze Orman is to always break your dollars instead of spending your change. Then save the change. This is more difficult to do now with many more people using their credit cards and debit cards more than cash. Some banks and credit cards are offering “round up” programs. You can sign up for the program and when you use your debit card or credit card, your purchase will be rounded up to the next dollar amount and the extra will be deposited into your account. It may seem like a small change but over time could add up.

Following is part of a story I received recently showing the power of saving small amounts.

The pickle jar as far back as I can remember sat on the floor beside the dresser in my parents' bedroom. When he got ready for bed, Dad would empty his pockets and toss his coins into the jar. As a small boy, I was always fascinated at the sounds the coins

made as they were dropped into the jar. I used to squat on the floor in front of the jar to admire the copper and silver circles that glinted like a pirate's treasure when the sun poured through the bedroom window. When the jar was filled, Dad would sit at the kitchen table and roll the coins before taking them to the bank. Taking the coins to the bank was always a big production. Each and every time, as we drove to the bank, Dad would look at me hopefully. 'Those coins are going to keep you out of the textile mill, son. Also, each and every time, as he slid the box of rolled coins across the counter at the bank toward the cashier, he would grin proudly. 'These are for my son's college fund’. No matter how rough things got at home, Dad continued to doggedly drop his coins into the jar. Even the summer when Dad got laid off from the mill, and Mama had to serve dried beans several times a week, not a single dime was taken from the jar. To the contrary, as Dad looked across the table at me, pouring catsup over my beans to make them more palatable, he became more determined than ever to make a way out for me 'When you finish college, Son,' he told me, his eyes glistening, 'You'll never have to eat beans again - unless you want to.' The years passed, and I finished college and took a job in another town. Once, while visiting my parents, I used the phone in their bedroom, and noticed that the pickle jar was gone. It had served its purpose and had been removed. When I married, I told my wife Susan about the significant part the lowly pickle jar had played in my life as a boy. The first Christmas after our daughter Jessica was born, we spent the holiday with my parents. After dinner, Mom and Dad sat next to each other on the sofa, taking turns cuddling their first grandchild. Jessica began to whimper softly, and Susan took her from Dad's arms. 'She probably needs to be changed,' she said, carrying the baby into my parents' bedroom to diaper her. When Susan came back into the living room, there was a strange mist in her eyes. She handed Jessica back to Dad before taking my hand and leading me into the room. 'Look,' she said softly, her eyes directing me to a spot on the floor beside the dresser. To my amazement, there, as if it had never been removed, stood the old pickle jar, the bottom already covered with coins.

Week 3 of Freezer Cooking

Crystal from Money Saving Mom is on the third week of her freezer cooking series.

I am getting ready to go on vacation so I have been taking meals out of my freezer the past couple of days so I haven't had to cook. I also have meals in the freezer so they are ready when I get back instead of having to stop for takeout.

Travel for Free?

One excuse people use for using their credit cards is for the rewards. Many credit cards offer airline miles, hotel stays and other rewards for signing up for a credit card and using it. This can work in your favor if you are able to pay off the balance each month. If you carry a balance, the amount you pay in interest and finance charges may negate the amount of the rewards.

I have heard of instances where people charged $30,000 on their credit cards to get free airline tickets to Paris, etc. Their response was they wouldn’t be able to afford to go otherwise. But chances are, they are carrying a balance on their credit cards.

If you are responsible with your credit cards, there may be a way to fly for free. Credit card churning is when you apply for a credit card that is offering frequent flyer miles and cancel the card once you have used it. Some people do this over multiple times to get numerous airline miles. As stated in the article, this is only advised if you are able to pay off the balance each month.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Power of Words

Quiet by Susan Cain discusses how even though people are quiet they can make an impact on the world. People are usually considered either extrovert or introverts, but she explains how some people can actually be both. Some introverts are more comfortable in smaller settings but do speak and perform in larger groups when they feel they need to in order to excel.

It contains examples of high profile individuals of our time that are introverts and how they have made their successes. It did contain quite a bit of scientific information that was difficult to concentrate on. Even though, it was an interesting read.

I received a complimentary copy of this book, courtesy of Multnomah Publishing as part of the Blogging for Books Program, for the purpose of review on this blog. All opinions express are my own, and I have not been compensated in any other manner.

Learning by Letting Go

Momaholic is a book written by Dena Higley about learning when to let her children learn from their own experiences and life doesn’t need to be perfect. Dena has been a head writer for soap operas for many years and I believe this helps with her story telling in the book.

The book consists of stories through raising her children and now grandchildren. Like many parents she tended to hover over her children to protect them. She learned that she could not help them in every instance and as they grew they needed to learn things on their own.

She shares stories about their children and their struggles. Their oldest son, Connor is autistic, and has survived various struggles. Their daughter, Jensen became pregnant while in college and got married with short notice. Their adopted daughter, Adelle was born with deformities and has conquered the disabilities. Their adopted son, Helio was born in Ethiopia and was abused as a child before being adopted.

The book is both a book of humor and tear jerker. Even though I don’t have children it was an interesting read.

I received a complimentary copy of this book, courtesy of Thomas Nelson and the BookSneeze Blogger Program, for the purpose of review on this blog. All opinions express are my own, and I have not been compensated in any other manner.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Homemade Pizza Pockets

I made Homemade Pizza Pockets today. I have never been fond of the taste of the frozen pizza pockets at the grocery store, so I was excited to try the homemade ones. I ended up with 16 pizza pockets. I had a little dough leftover when the filling ran out so I made a few smaller ones with melted butter, cinnamon and sugar. I ran the rim of a small plate around the edges to seal them.

Crystal also has a recipe for Ham and Cheese pockets.
This is part of Crystal’s 4 week freezer cooking series. I use freezer cooking to save time and money on groceries. It is less tempting to stop for something on the way home when I know I have something ready. I also take these items for lunch most days.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Faces of the Oil Patch

Faces of the Oil Patch is a new production from Prairie Public Television. It will premiere on Prairie Public on Wednesday, May 16 at 9:00 pm (CT). You may have heard about the oil activity in the western part of the state. This documentary gives you a look at how the towns in the Northwestern part of the state are dealing with the growth from the oil activity.

I attended the screening of the documentary at NDSU and found it informative. I am originally from the Northwestern part of the state and it is interesting to see the increased activity. The small town I grew up in has changed considerably in the past few years. We may complain about the traffic in Fargo/Moorhead but some of the towns up there are just as bad now. When I went through Minot over Christmas, I was looking forward to our traffic again after dealing with the traffic up there.

The documentary will be aired multiple times after the premiere. It covers the benefits as well as the challenges that the towns are experiencing. The Williston City Commissioner said that before the oil activity the population of Williston was about 13,000. Now they are figuring there are about 30,000 living in the city, with the man camps and campers, etc.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Mothers Day Discounts

This Sunday, May 13 is Mothers Day. Following are a few of the discounts and free events I found in the Fargo area.

The Red River Valley Zoo in Fargo is offering free admission for mothers on Mother’s Day. There is a SaveCoin deal for the next couple of days to get a family pass to the Childrens Museum at Yunker Farms for $10 (reg. $30). You can send a code to someone via Facebook for a free Redbox movie to be redeemed on May 13th.

There is going to be a Mother’s Day Women’s Expo at the Civic Center in Fargo on May 12 and 13. Part of the proceeds will go to Women’s Way. It looks like you can print a coupon for two free admissions for Saturday on the website.

There may be other freebies and discounts offered at other establishments.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Money as You Grow

Money As You Grow is a website with 20 age-appropriate financial lessons that kids need to know as they grow. The lessons are categorized in age groups of 3 years to 5 years old, 6 -10 , 11-13, 14-18 and 18+.

The 3-5 age group covers what money is and how it is earned and wants & needs. The 5-10 age group information covers making choices, comparing prices and the importance of having a savings account. Information for the 11-13 age group is that you should save at least a dime of every dollar you receive, compound interest and that a credit card is a type of a loan. For the 14-18 age group it is important to know what college will cost, avoiding credit card debt and what a Roth IRA is. The lessons for 18+ is to use a credit card only if you can pay off the balance in full at the end of the month, why you need health insurance and factors of investing.

This is another of the many resources available to teach kids about money and finances

Friday, May 4, 2012

Wreath Ideas

Making wreaths is an easy and inexpensive way to change the d├ęcor in your home. Here are some ideas I have found online.

The sunflower wreath is a wreath I recently made, which can be made for about $20.

I had the grapevine wreath on hand but they are about $5 to purchase
I used a paper mache letter which was $5
The bunch of flowers were $10 and marked 50% so it was $5.
I had the ribbon and spray paint on hand.

The wreath can be hung on your door or wall. I made this wreath to place on my uncle’s grave for Memorial Day. I used a hot glue gun and Liquid Nails since it will be outside for a few days. I am planning on gluing it to a flower pot filled with rocks to set on the ground.

If you are planning on hanging it outside, you may want to use a wood or other type of letter besides the paper mache letters.

Money Habits/Birth Order

There was a recent article about money habits being based on your birth order. The survey conducted by Coupon Cabin shows that 87% of first born consider themselves financially responsible.

How do the survey results correspond with your family?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Dave Ramsey sale

Many of the personal finance books and resources I have read and used are by Dave Ramsey. There is currently a $10 sale on the Dave Ramsey website of many of his items. The items range from his Total Money Makeover book, other books, CDs, DVDs and the envelope system.

Dave Ramsey is also hosting a Home Improvement giveaway. Each day of May $1,000 will be given away.