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The Key to Becoming Debt Free.

January 5th, 2010 at 01:50 pm

Contentment. That will pretty much lead you to achieve debt-freedom! One simple word, yet so hard to master! Allow me to get on my soap box for a moment (I guess that's what blogs are for, huh?)

The only way to get out of debt is to pay it off. You need money (cash) to do this (and you are totally capable of doing this on your own - please do not look to debt consolidation companies to solve your problems). To get more money, you need to increase your income which can be done in 2 ways: increase your inflow of cash or decrease your expenses. The 1st option is self explanatory - you can get another job, sell a few items, win the lottery, etc... And although it's not rocket science, it is so hard for us to follow through with the latter option. Why? Because of the lack of contentment in our lives (I'm included)!! In order to decrease our expenses, we need to get rid of the waste in our life. Do we really need so many TV channels (or cable, for that matter), to eat out so much, more clothes?!? What about your car? How much of that is eating up your monthly budget??

If you're like me, you probably started this journey with plenty of credit cards - clothing stores, electronic stores, you name it. Again, the key is contentment. Once you pay off a credit card, DO NOT get another or pile debt back on the card! You will only get out of debt by never charging another purchase! And this is only possible if you're content with what you have!!

So, about that soap box...I work in the retail industry; however, if you pulled up to my office building, you'd think we were an undercover law firm to the Stars! Luxury cars and SUV's are lined up and down our parking lot. Do I have a problem with luxury vehicles? Of course, not!! But I do have a problem with the money complaints that I hear at work - one in particular I've heard several times from a few child-bearing-aged ladies. Our company does not provide maternity leave (another discussion for another time), but b/c of the lack of money, these ladies are going to postpone their pregnancies. You have got to be kidding me?!?!! But, they are serious.

Eating out daily, buying new outfits, cars, getting a 2nd mortgage when the 1st isn't paid off...oh, and wedding rings (the expensive ones, of course) - I hear these conversations daily, and I cringe! No one can sustain when they're always wanting, wanting, wanting. There's no peace - it puts you in a constant, downward spiral. The only way to become free is to break loose from these chains (and this is bondage - it may appear delightful from the outside but managing maxed-out debt is an emotional nightmare)!

So, how do you become content? The easiest way for me to stay content is the constant reminder of the effects that debt has made on people (which keeps me motivated to stick with my journey to debt freedom). How many families do you know who are living paycheck to paycheck? Dave Ramsey says 70%. And how many of your friends (and their parents, for that matter) are still paying off their student loans? Um, just about all of mine! No one wants to live like this, but we've been convinced that this is the norm. We accept defeat, and begin to charge like crazy since we'll never see the day our debt drops to zero!

So, now that I no longer accumulate debt, I'm looked at as a bit "unique" (the word they're really thinking is "weird"). I don't eat out every day for lunch - can't afford to. And despite what my very own boss would like, I'm not going to go out and buy a Range Rover now that I've paid off my car!! At present day, I look like the odd ball - like the one who doesn't have it together b/c I don't drive a lux vehicle or wear designer clothes! 10 years from that (make that 2), I'm sure I'll be the only one who will work only because I want to!!

We only have a short amount of time on this earth. Why would we want to be in bondage for the majority of it???

And sorry for the rant...

Goals for 2010!!

December 24th, 2009 at 09:03 am

At the beginning of every year, my husband and I set goals individually and as a couple. For 2009, we decided to take on the following (I'm only mentioning our financial goals):

-pay off our last credit card ($6k)
-pay off half of the car note (total was $13k at the beg. of the year)

We (over)succeeded our financial goals by paying off the credit card and car note in its entirety this year!! We're still newlyweds (we got married in April), and our union is what really boosted our efforts. Prior to April, we were paying down our debt individually. Being able to combine our income and not seeking to buy additional items, property, etc... propelled us to completely pay off the car! And for wedding gifts, we used a honeymoon registry so that our family and friends could fund our trip. We still saved money for our honeymoon (just in case something wasn't covered). Once we got back from our trip, we were able to use the money we saved to pay off the credit card! 2009 has definitely been a great year!!

2010 will be less "Cinderella"-ish. Smile Our goal is to:
-pay off my hubby's student loan ($18k)...can someone say ouch?!?!
-and put a huge dent in my student loan ($36k) - we're shooting to pay off $13k.

This goal was made with the assumption that our income and expenses will stay the same next year. We know that, with life, things are subject to change, and we're willing to make adjustments to accomodate. I do know that, at this point, it's hard for us to decrease our expenses any further...I already have us living lean & mean. I am hoping for additional income, though - possibly a part-time job or two. Smile

What are your goals for 2010?

Cable: Should it stay or should it go?

December 2nd, 2009 at 09:57 am

I've been without cable for 2 years!! And I really don't think I've missed a beat. When I had it, I only watched the Disney channel (don't laugh), and I just couldn't justify paying $50/month for it. Dropping cable has literally given me a $600/year raise...a penny saved really is a penny earned!!

So, why not give it a try?? Guys are probably afraid to let go of their sports games. My husband and I watch bball & football games at our parents & friends' houses. We even splurge and literally go to a few games each year (still way cheaper than buying cable)!

Plus, without the distraction of TV, my husband and I have the luxury of engaging in quality conversation, exercising, working on projects, etc...

I really think cable has enhanced our lives and pockets. What's stopping you from dropping your provider today?

My Rite Aid Mission.

November 18th, 2009 at 09:02 am

Yesterday, I was tasked with buying cold medicine for my husband. I love these missions, as I'm forced to work with what's currently on sale; I treat them as games...using coupons and buying a combination of items to get a bargain on what's really needed. Here's the deal I was able to work to get the medicine (and everything else) for FREE!!

Kotex pads, on sale for $2.99
use $1 printable from here
will receive $2 rebate
final price - FREE

2 GE Spiral light bulbs, on sale 2/$4
use (2) $1 coupons from 10/4 Smart Source insert
will receive $2 rebate
final price - FREE

Crest white scope toothpaste, on sale for $2.69
use $0.75 coupon from 11/1 PG insert
will receive $2.69 rebate
final price - $0.75 profit!!!

Robitussin, on sale for $6.99
use $2 printable from here
will receive $4 rebate
final price - $0.99

Why didn't I just buy Robitussin? I combined the other free items with the medicine to be able to use a $3 off $15 Rite Aid coupon (printable from here). My out of pocket expense came to $8.63 (tax included), but I will receive $10.69 in the form of a rebate check!! That's $2.06 in profit, which I'll take over paying $0.99 any day!! I love getting paid to shop for items I already need!

Crossing the Car off the List!!!!

November 18th, 2009 at 09:01 am

My husband and I have sent off our last check to Ford!!! On Friday, we will have officially paid off our car! Thank you, Jesus!!! I'm really not sure how to take this all in...I've never been without a car payment since I've been on the road (and that's a little over 10 years)!

To celebrate, we're going to treat the car to a washing and an oil change. Smile As for us, we're going to watch the Hawks duke it out with the Cav's. Smile

Theft by Couponing

September 16th, 2009 at 08:27 pm

It's really amazing the kind of reactions I receive from cashiers ringing me up...some cheer me on as I pile on the coupons, but quite a few give off a disapproving demeanor. Like, the nerve of me trying to pay as little as possible for items! As if I singlehandedly fabricated these coupon inserts and sent them to my house!! I think their common misconception is that I'm taking money out of their store's pocket, but the manufacturer is the one actually footing the bill. I'm actually helping the store out by using coupons!

Very frustrating!

How Couponing Saved My Marriage!!!

September 4th, 2009 at 03:40 pm

Well, not really but now that I have your attention...

Couponing is a fairly new subject for me, but I feel like I'm starting to gain traction. I've been carrying around my coupon wallet (seriously!) for a little over 2 months now and have found that while my husband and I still spend the same amount on groceries (we were already on a "lean" grocery budget prior to couponing), our fridge and cabinets are stocked to capacity. For those of you with a confused look on your face, getting more even though your costs don't decrease is still a huge savings (it will keep us from having to replenish as quickly in the future)!

To fuel this new hobby of mine, I make weekly rounds on the following sites:

-http://www.couponmom.com/ -- This site houses a huge database of coupons (the same database that can be found on several other couponing/savings websites); it also has a section that lists out each sale item and its final price (after use of coupon) for several stores - including CVS, Wal-mart, Target, and Rite Aid (unadvertised Kroger sales are also listed). The coolest part about this site is that it lists the coupon you need to obtain the final price and the weekly paper it can be found in, which saves you from having to clip every single coupon in the newspaper (never really knowing if it will ever be of use)!

-http://www.southernsavers.com -- This site lists everything you need to know about couponing...read up here to learn the best strategies for paying pennies to eat!

-http://www.cellfire.com, http://www.shortcuts.com, http://www.pgesaver.com -- Use these sites to upload coupons to your shopper loyalty card(s)!

-Also, look for store specific coupons on sites like http://www.cvs.com and http://www.target.com

-Don't forget to clip your Red Plum & Smart Source coupons from the newspaper based on the sales listed on the CouponMom or SouthernSavers sites. You can also go online and print additional coupons: http://www.redplum.com, http://www.smartsource.com (These coupons differ from the ones found in the database).

-Still like to eat out? Being on a budget does not mean you need to lay around the house all month!! Find deals at http://www.halfdepot.com where you can purchase restaurant gift cards guaranteed to save you at least 50%!! Be sure to become a part of their distribution list; the most popular restaurants sell out quickly, so you'll need as much lead time as possible!

Couponing Tips:

- Only buy what you need. I know it's common sense, but it's easy to get caught up in the excitement of the sale. The goal is not to save as much as possible; it's to stay within your budget.

- Let price determine what you buy...not the coupon. If the private label brand is cheaper, buy it. Be sure to pay attention to how much you're paying per lb, oz, etc... In certain cases, I've noticed that the branded item is the lowest priced option but comes in much smaller packaging!

- "Attack" when items are at their lowest price. Couponing works best on items that are already on sale. The whole "kick 'em when they're down" philosophy (although none of you would ever think that way)!!!

- Don't forget that some stores double and triple coupons up to a certain amount (usually 50 cents).

- And not all Buy One, Get One Free sales require you to buy two items. Treat these as 50% off sales and either buy one item or apply coupon(s) to both items for extra savings!

For examples of extreme savings that I've been experiencing (and how to get them for yourself), check out my primary blog: www.customthreads.blogspot.com

Happy Couponing!!

I've had it with Debt!!!

September 1st, 2009 at 07:57 am

So, I don't know about you, but I'm fed up with living paycheck to paycheck...hoping that I'll be able to do something meaningful with my life (but, in the back of mind, having this unsettling feeling that I'll be tied to a 9 to 5 for the rest of my working career - just to pay creditors!)

I hit my boiling point a little over a year ago. With a pile of "smart" debt to pay every month and little to actually spend on living & giving, I finally decided that something had to give! I enrolled in Financial Peace University to get my priorities in line and was actually blessed with an intensity to get out of my situation.

Since my epiphany, I have stopped borrowing money and am working towards eliminating all of my debt. I recently married- which means I am now also the proud owner of my husband's debt- but, nevertheless, I still have the same desire to remove this weight from my household.

By creating monthly budgets and sticking to them, my husband and I plan to be debt free in 2 years! Just the thought of not being bound to debt has allowed us to dream again. We, now, actually get excited about our future!

We believe that if we didn't owe on student loans and a car, we would give FREELY - to our church, charities, and random people who we feel need to be blessed!!! I think we'd also be more adventurous with our time...I'll probably take a number of artsy classes that involve upholstering or glass staining. Lol I also think a lot of sight-seeing will be in order!

What about you? What would you do with your free time & extra money?