The Yakezie Carnival is brought to you to by the network of personal finance bloggers of the Yakezie. You can submit articles at Blogger Carnivals

My Top 3

Jay @ Thinking Wealthy writes What Can Kid’s Movies (Particularly The Mighty Ducks) Teach Us? – Pretty self explanatory. Lesson’s we can take from kid’s movies!

Jefferson @ See Debt Run writes Pushing the Button- What it Feels Like to Quit – Making the decision to move onto the next phase in your life isn’t easy

Yakezie Members

Maria @ The Money Principle writes Five useful tips to get the best holiday value for your money – I’ve never thought of us as rich. We are a middle class family, we have above average income and a healthy net worth. But rich we are not.

Larry @ KrantCents writes Are You Tough Enough for Success? – Success is for anybody who is tough enough to withstand the ups and downs!

Monica @ Monica On Money writes The Surprising Habit That’s Making You Poor – If you are like many people, when you see all of your friends’ fabulous things and experiences, you may have felt a pang of envy.

Gretchen @ Retired by 40 writes 5 Things I Won’t Sacrifice To Get Out of Debt – I make a lot of sacrifice to get out of debt, but there are a few things I’m not willing to give up!

Yakezie Challengers

Dave @ Gen Y Finances writes Renting Out A Room In Your Home To Short-Term Renters Such As Through AirBnB – The other day I was watching a TV show that helped people find their next home. I can’t remember the name of it, but the people on this episode were all looking for a home that also had a guest house so that they could rent out the guest house and make some income from their property.

Cat @ Budget Blonde writes It Turns Out Kids Want to Be Millionaires – We chatted all about what people think millionaires look like, how to invest, how to buy a stock, how to resist pretty shiny things you want to buy at the mall, and why people should want to become millionaires.

Danielle @ TeacHer Finance writes 2 Simple Systems to Help you Stay on Budget – The very first, most important step in creating a personal financial plan is to have a firm understanding of your income and your expenses.

Ladder Investing @ Ladder Investing writes Can E85 Fuel Save You Money? – I look at the new trend of E85 fuel which is selling for over $1 less then unleaded gasoline!

Ben Luthi @ The Wealth Gospel writes Stepping Over a Dollar to Save a Dime – How many times have you taken the cheap route only to find out that doing so cost you more money in the end? Well I’m a master at it.

The Best of the Rest

Mario @ Adventures in Frugal writes The accident that made me glad I had travel insurance and how I purchased it – Unforeseen mishaps are a part of travel and a great argument for picking up travel insurance prior to any trip

The Jenny Pincher @ The Jenny Pincher writes How You Can Ruin Your Credit Score – There are many people out there who are ruining their credit score. Many don’t even realize they are doing it, and others don’t know what to do to reverse the damage they have already done.

724Credit @ 724 Credit writes Children Can Become Victims Of Identity Theft Too – A child’s information could be used to apply for a credit card, a loan, a mortgage (yes, that has happened before!), and so on. Below are different things to think about when it comes to children and identity theft.

Michelle @ Diversified Finances writes Learning to Say NO – What do you do when you want to start saying no in your life? Maybe you want to quit a job, free up some time in your schedule, stop getting stepped on, or get some sleep.

Alexa @ Single Moms Income writes Amazon FBA: Finding Products to Sell – Even with a whole store of stuff to go through I found it pretty hard to find really profitable products that Amazon themselves weren’t selling.

Brad @ Enemy of Debt writes Don’t Cheat Yourself By Living a Life of Half-Assity – I was painfully making my way through a 14 mile run early on a Saturday morning. I was at mile 10, and struggling to find the energy or even the desire to pick up my feet and keep running.

Natalie @ Debt and The Girl writes Charity Begins At Home – For the past year and half, I have been donating every month to a certain charity that helped women who had been victims of sex slavery.

Aaron @ Aaron Hung writes Paying Off Student Loans? Here’s What You Need to Know – When you consider that nearly 60% of the graduating class of 2011/12 have over $26,000 apiece in student loan debt, you begin to realize the depth of the student loan crisis in the United States.

Andrea @ So Over This writes Is the 10% Rule Dead? – Like almost everybody else my age, I grew up hearing ‘put 10% of your paycheck in the bank!’

Brock Kernin @ Clever Dude writes Financial Head Scratchers: Always Buy More Beer – Would anyone buy less beer for the same amount of money?

Erastus @ Wise Dollar writes Why Your Brain Is Working Against Your Wallet…And What You Can Do About It – Our brain has a funny way of tricking us into justifying poor spending habits. I share steps to follow to overcome that hurdle of mindless spending.

Anne @ Money Propeller writes Have you Heard of These People? – Here are 4 personal finance celebrities that you might want to know, along with the good and bad of their fame!

Little House @ Little House in the Valley writes Free House Plans? Yes. . .FREE! – Last year, I came across a website that offered free, small house plans, The Small House Catalog. The owners of the site at that time were building a quaint cottage called the Beekeeper’s Bungalow.

Miss T. @ Prairie Eco Thrifter writes Want to Save Money? Work with What You Have – If you want to save money, in almost any area of life, it makes sense to work with what you have rather than trying to change what you already have.

Lance Bandley @ Healthy Wealthy Income writes Yes I Admit It, I Have a Problem With Your Success in Life – Handing the success of others as they achieve amazing things in life.

Jon @ Penny Thots writes Fun Activities That Do Not Require Money – Are you living a limited budget? It doesn’t mean that you cannot have a great time. I share with you fun activities that do not involve any money.

Brad @ How to Save Money writes Make Money Selling on Ebay – Increase your budget by selling on Ebay

Mario @ Debt BLAG writes The free app that lets you download FREE, unlimited ebooks and audiobooks — OverDrive – If your library has signed up, you can download unlimited ebooks and audiobooks through the OverDrive app; here’s how

Posted in Personal Finance | Tagged | 5 Comments

August was an absolutely wild month!  It was full of financial ups and downs, good news and bad news…..the roller coaster pictured just about sums it up!

The Bad News: The credit score dropped 7 points.  Not really sure why…don’t really care.  I got a few accounts closed and removed so this should rebound next month.

Hubby needed new tires so that slashed the E-R fund (no pun intended).

I have a $3000+ charge off that was left over from when GAP insurance didn’t pay after my car was totaled (don’t ask).  I disputed the charge, but I’m stuck with the bill.  The bank has agreed to settle for $2,400.  I paid half last month and will pay the remainder this month.  Again, cutting deep into my savings.

I was finally able to pull hubby’s credit report and will be adding it to the finstat.  It’s like hitting the reset button!  He has some adverse accounts that need attention and others that just were never removed.  I wanted to add his accounts from the beginning, but had to wait and order his credit reports as I was not able to pull them online.

Why am I going so deep into the savings?  Well…that brings me to the good news….

I’ve accepted a new job with a SIGNIFICANT salary increase!!!!  So much so, even with the additional debts, the 3 year plan may become a 1 year plan!  

I’ve paid/eliminated a total of $1,322.14 in debt and I spent $752.83 from savings – boo!

Credit Score: Very Poor (Change -7) | 121 points from goal

Total Debt $35,246.03  (↑ $2,035.37)

Medical:  $5707.67  (30 line items) | ↓ $649.29 ( ↓ 5 line items  )

 Car: $6864.52 (↓ $144.21)

Credit Cards: $403.64 (↓ $16.86)
It would have been lower, but I got a little over zealous making settlements and payments on some accounts.  I’ve negotiated settlements as low as 30-50%, but they needed immediate payment

Student Loan: $17,144.61 (↓ $76.66)

Other: $5125.59 (↑ $3030
Yikes!  This really made my stomach drop.  Seems like for every 2 steps forward it is two steps back.  I knew this had the potential to happen as I didn’t have the full picture without hubby’s credit report.  That leftover GAP contributes to this number too

Savings

E-R Fund: $1,202.73 $1955.56 (↓ $752.83)

TSP (Retirement Fund): $21,359.25  (↑$754.71)       
My monthly contributions + company matching is $758.16
Loss ↓ $3.45

Goals
Adding hubby’s credit/debts finally gave me the big picture.  I keep changing my priorities, but I need to get these old debts taken care of.  It doesn’t make mathmetical sense, but they are a burden I want GONE.  The good news, is all old/adverse debt should be eliminated by the end of the year.  That is the new goal!  Then I will revisit rebuilding the E-R fund.

Overall Monthly Grade:  C

If I just look at the numbers, I’d be discouraged…..amount of debt is up and savings is down….despite knocking out tons of old debt.  But this new job on the horizon is a breath of fresh air and hope.  Also, I’ll be getting a nice lump sum payout for unused leave…I don’t know if I’ll get that by the end of September…but stuff should be significantly going down in the next few months!

Posted in Personal Finance | 12 Comments

 

Happy Friday!  This has been a light posting week for me as my mind has been pre-occupied with other stuff.  I can’t wait to share it all with you through future posts.  Some good….some bad….but mostly good!

Also, congratulations to all the Plutus Award finalists!  I didn’t make it this time, but that’s OK…there is always next year!

Here are some articles I found interesting this week…hope you enjoy as well!

Derek from Life & My Finances explains how we can Exchange Time Instead of Money I ABSOLUTELY LOVE this concept!  Check it out!

Jacob from My Personal Finance Journey shares How to Select the Right Health Insurance When Taking a New Job.  Great recap!

Get Rich Slowly shares the High Costs of Infertility.  This article hit close to home…not only is the monetary cost high, but there are emotional costs attached as well.

ChristianPF asks the hypothectical question: If God Promised To Give You Anything, What Would You Ask For?  Hmmmm????

Wisebread lists 5 Things to Say to Your Boss to Get a Promotion or Raise
OK — I admit….I looked for a “list of 5″ to include….after 3 or 4 weeks….its now a thing to do!

 

Posted in Roundups | 3 Comments

Random

I thought I’d switch it up a bit with a fun post ~ 20 random things about me.  Hope you enjoy this lighter post and share a couple random things or maybe something we have in common in the comments section!

1. I have a black belt in Matsubayashi Shorin-Ryu Karate

2. The weirdest thing I’ve eaten is sun dried rattle snake (tasted like fish)

3. I’ve had the same cell phone number for at least 12 years…that has to be near a record!

4. I’ve known what I wanted to do since I was 8 years old….my career ambitions were pretty spot on.

1 Set of my gifted Swords

1 Set of my gifted Swords

5. I am in the process of adopting my son

6. I’ve been married for less than 5 years

7. I’m left handed

8. I don’t like chocolate

9. I used to play trombone and was a drum major in high school

10. I’ve always liked school

11. I played tennis my freshman year in HS; now I play racquetball occasionally

12. I don’t like running…its boring

13. I’m an introvert

14. But I like teaching and am OK in front of crowds….go figure

15. My faith in Christ is my foundation

16. I won the invention convention in elementary school and was awarded a patent that I’m sure has since expired

17. I want to be a world traveler one day

18. I was gifted Samurai swords…..twice (see #1)

19. I love sushi

20. I still enjoy a few video games from time to time

What about you? It’s your turn….

Posted in Uncategorized | 15 Comments

change

This week’s FIVE MINUTE FRIDAY word is CHANGE.  Like last week, immediately a song came to mind.  I guess it was all those year’s in worship arts ministry.  The song that came to mind goes:

A wonderful change…has come over me…..

I started to reflect on all the changes I’ve experienced in my life.  I only have 5 minutes so I couldn’t possibly cover them all…not to mention…I’m sure bored.  But here are the major changes:

- Accepting Christ at the age of 12; but really committing in my adult years.  It was the best decision I’ve ever made!  It was a decision that would impact every other area of my life’s decisions, choices, speech, etc.

- Getting married four years ago.  More than my last name changed on our wedding day.  Two became one, I was accountable to someone else and they were accountable to me.  My hubby would see me at my best and my worst.

- And the most recent change took place less than a year ago when our soon to be adopted son was placed in our home.  I experienced a new type of love.  I realized I could survive on less sleep than I though.  I developed super-sonic hearing and ability to tune out noises that would have agitated me in the past.  My cell phone camera is now filled with pictures of a little toddler…lest I miss a moment of his growth.  My circle of friends shifted to include those with children who understand adventures in potty training, naps, and the excitement of my little ones latest escapade.  The latest significant change in my life is becoming MOM.

Can’t wait to read the other great FMF posts on CHANGE!

Posted in Five Minute Friday | Tagged | 5 Comments

 

Alexa Ranking!

Alexa Ranking!

Before I get to the roundup ~ I want to share some exciting news.  You may remember me stating I was going to take part in the Yakezie Challenge.  Well, I recently met one of the goals…that is an Alexa Score of <200,000!  If you don’t know what an Alexa ranking is, the short version is it is sort of like what Nielsen Ratings do for television.  Anyone who has the Alexa toolbar has the sites they visit applied to the rank.  The toolbar is free and the more people that use it, the more accurate the overall rankings of websites.  So if you don’t have the toolbar, I would encourage you to get it.  And if you are a personal finance or lifestyle blogger, I would encourage you to look into Yakezie.

This week’s roundup is dedicated to my top commenters as they are obviously visiting the site and keeps it engaging.  Thanks for your continued support!  

Tennille from Two Kids & A Budget lists 5 family fun things to do in August (there is that list of 5 again).  We have about a week left in August…let’s make the best of it!

Kirsten from Indebted Mom lists 6 ways to earn money from being fit. Makes me want to get in shape!

Kara from The Daily Whisk explains How to Be More Frugal Than You Already Are.  I could always benefit from more frugal tips!

Daisy from Praire Eco-Thrifter lists 4 Ways Pet Ownership Can Benefit Children.  I agree with this and see the benefits of between my dog and son.

Jay from Thinking Wealthy asks Is My Company 401K Above Average?  An interesting read on what is common and what is average.  Where does your company rank?

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Mom Makes Sense Around the Web

Guest Post on Wealth GospelYour Finances Simplified With the BASIC Loop

Posted in Personal Finance | Tagged | 12 Comments

Those that have been following this blog, my comments on other blogs, or my twitter feed know that I would love nothing more than to cut the cable.  Unfortunately, hubby is not ready to cut the cord.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t try to get our bill reduced.

I was inspired by an article written by J. Money / Budgets are Sexy where he saved 47% on car insurance from a 15 minute phone call.  Well, it was a Saturday morning and a had some time to kill before my next errand.  I didn’t feel like going through the line items for 3 vehicles, but I did want to try to attack the cable bill!  The call went something like this:

customer service representative

Customer Service Agent

Agent: Thank you for calling _____ cable how can I help you?

Me:  I’d like to review my services; frankly my bill is too high and if we can’t get it down I may have to cancel altogether (yes, I was bluffing)

Agent: OK – I’ll see what I can do.  Oh, I see you are under our old pricing plan.  Let me see what the difference would be on the new plan.

Me:  OK great – what is the difference in services under the 2 plans?

Agent:  There is no difference

Me: (internally storing that bit of information….)

Agent:  Under the new plan you will save $22/month
There was some other chatter about digital boxes, how many, how much, etc…mostly irrelevant

Me:   That’s great!  When did the new pricing plan go into effect?

Agent: April of this year

Me:  April through August is 5 months of lost savings…why wasn’t I converted over?  I would like to be credited for $110 in lost savings

Agent: Customers had the opportunity to opt into the new pricing plan

Me: That seems illogical…if there is NO DIFFERENCE in service….why would I have to OPT IN to save money.  Who wouldn’t take advantage of the new pricing plan?

Silence….

Me: How was I supposed to know this was even available?

Agent: Notifications went out….

Me:  Really? When? I don’t remember getting one….can you pull up the bill with the notification attached?

Agent:  Give me one sec, I’m looking…..

Silence….

Agent: I can only go back as far as February

Me: Well, since the change happened in April, it stands to reason the notification would have been in Feb, Mar, or Apr.  Again, I did not receive any notification.  I would like a $110 credit for lost savings that I was not notified about.

Silence…

Agent:  What I can do is waive the rental fee for one of your digital receivers for a year.

Me: And what is the cost of the receiver?

Agent: $13/month

Me: I do some quick math and determine that is $156 in savings…more than the $110 credit I asked for!  I guess I was taking too long to calculate because the agent chimes in…

Agent: That is actually higher than a credit

Me: I appreciate that, thank you

Agent: Sigh of relief.  Whew…because that was the last offer I was authorized to make.

Me:  laughter.  I’m glad we could come to an agreement.  So to summarize, effective immediately I am saving $35/month for the next 12 months, then I will continue saving $22/month and I retain all the same services I have now.

Agent: Yes ma’am that is correct.

I recorded his name, reference number and date/time of call.  The entire conversation lasted about 17 minutes.

What about you?

Have you ever negotiated your way to a lower bill?  I want to hear about it!

PS: Car insurance…your NEXT!

Posted in Personal Finance | Tagged , | 7 Comments
Massage

Massage

I had a blast this weekend as I took a much needed vacation.  I was able to relax, enjoy the company of my sister-in-law, and indulge in some comfort food….and all for less than $150! How I was able to do so had a little to do with opportunities, advanced planning, ingenuity and compromise.  Here is a breakdown of my spending.  Hopefully you can employ some of these methods to vacation on the cheap too!

Continue reading

Posted in Personal Finance | Tagged , | 6 Comments
Netflix and Other Cable Alternatives

Netflix & Other Cable Alternatives

Eliminating cable is a great way to increase your cash flow.  Many have trouble chopping the cable because of the limited programs available through broadcast channels.  However, Netflix and other streaming programs offer enough variety to make up the difference.

Netflix is one of the more popular choices for paid streaming content.  The price is $8/month for a variety of shows.  The split section for Netflix Kids is very convenient since my son is the primary user these days.  Most of Netflix’s content is movies and older season shows, which is great if you want to get caught up on a show, but not so good if you want to stay current.  Netflix is also experimenting with a new business model:  Netflix Original Series, such as House of Cards and Hemlock Groove will keep them especially competitive.

HuluPlus is another popular service.  Like Netflix, it is priced at $8/month.  Hulu contains more current TV shows and also older shows, but hardly any movies.  Hulu does still have ads, which is a turn off to some considering you are paying for the service.

Some choose to subscribe to both HuluPlus and Netflix, at $16/month that still beats the cost of cable.

iTunes & Amazon Instant Video are pay-as-you-go services.  Digital rental fees range from $1-$6 per movie.  If you are going to watch more than 2 movies per month, you might as well get a month subscription.  Unless your picky about what movies you want to watch.

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Unless you want to watch TV from your smartphone, tablet, or laptop; you’ll need a way to stream content to your television.  If you have a Wii, PlayStation, or Xbox, these devices are capable of streaming.  They also can be found reasonably priced on Craigslist or Facebook Yard Sale Groups.

You can also use a device like Roku Streaming Media Player to syndicate all channels in one place.

I hope to one day convince hubby to cut the cable.  I saved $80/month before we got married by cutting cable.  I didn’t have a Netflix subscription, I simply watched shows on my laptop from Hulu (the free version), and various stations that offered full episodes online (CBS, ABC, USA, etc).

My mom doesn’t have cable, and I recommended she go with Roku + Netflix instead of cable, which she is going to try.

What about you?
Have you ditched cable?
Do you use any of the services listed above?

Posted in Personal Finance | 10 Comments

Five-Minute-Friday-4When I saw this week’s Five Minute Friday word – TELL.

My first thought was the song…Go Tell it on the Mountain….over the hill and everywhere….Go tell it on the Mountain that Jesus Christ is born.

We all have a story to tell, but there is only one story that every Christian is commissioned to tell.  Jesus was born, walked this earth, was crucified and rose again.  Everything that I am is because of Him.  Go tell it!

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Last week I found out about Five Minute Fridays – the idea is a word will be released on Thursday night at 9ET.  Bloggers are challenged to write for 5 minutes only…unedited, raw devotional. 

Posted in Five Minute Friday | 12 Comments