Saturday, October 30, 2010

Candy Land

It's Halloween! What a glorious day. Free Candy! A double bonus because it's a weekend, extended hours for knocking on doors and snagging treats. I reminded my children that it would be 5 years before Halloween would fall on a weekend again, so enjoy it. We stocked up on candy this year, expecting a number of visitors to our home. We spent $28 on 5 bags of candy.

We typically buy the good stuff, no Mary Jane, Bit-O-Honey, or gummy food made in Japan for us. We go for M&Ms, snickers, milkyways, skittles, etc. With 3 kids we are typically pretty busy on Halloween. We hand out candy when home, but often leave the bowl out in from of our house relying on the honor system. We have had good luck and have always returned to find the bowl in once piece and candy remaining. It's good to know there are good kids out there. Happy Halloween!

How much do you spend on candy? Do you hand it out or use the honor system?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Week End Round Up

A Busy week. I was not able to post as often as I would have like this week, but still looking for more guest post opportunities or guest post writers here so please let me know.

My Yakezie challenge continues to make progress. I started with a Alexa ranking of over 4 million and within 1 month I’m under 1 million. Nice!

I wish I had more time to read more PF blogs and share comments. Here are some of the post that I enjoyed this week:

Investor Junkie - Fidelity Review – Opening an Online Brokerage Account

Budgets Are Sexy - The Perfect Credit Card.

Getting Rich Slowly - Waste Less Food, Save More Money

Faithful With A Few - Manage Your Finances Like a Monkey!

Punch Debt in the Face -Domestic Ninja

Have a Great Weekend! Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Name Calling

My wife and I were discussing our finances the other night and it just slipped out of her mouth. She call me a name. I won't mention what she called me, so not to offend anyone, but it went something like "you've been such a budget blank that I didn't know if we had any money to spend." I have been joking with her about it. I guess I should take it as a complement.

 The fact that we have both been tightening our belt and not spending money on wants, only needs is a good thing. We are in a much better place then we were just 4 months ago. We have not added any debt only reduced it, we have began to build an emergency fund, and have increased our overall income. All good steps to getting our finances in order. We will have challenges ahead over the next few months with the Holidays. We will need to stay on course with our plan to survive until the new year. If it means we need to call each other a few more names and then laugh about it, I'm in as long as we don't add any debt.

Has anyone ever called you a name related to your frugal, budget, financial habits?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Shaving Cost

Do you have any everyday items that you just hate paying for, or feel you pay too much for? I do. Razors! Why do razors cost so much? Is it the materials that are used to make them? The technique used to manufacture them?  I have no clue, but I 'm really tired of paying so much for them. I typically shave every night. My job requires I look presentable, clean-shaven. I usually use Gillette Sensor razors. I have found that it give me the best shave, with the least irritation of my skin. Here’s a breakdown of my razor cost:

Gillette sensor 5 pack - $12

Packs Per Year – 10.4

Average Years of Shaving (Ages 20-72) 52 years 
(I really started shaving much earlier, but I’ll save that for a different post)

Lifetime number of razor packs – 540.8

Total Lifetime razor cost - $6489.60

Ouch! $6k on razors, there must be a cheaper way. I have tried electric shavers and they do not work for me. I know others have concerns about the cost of everyday expenses, some are building political campaigns around it.

What everyday items do you purchase that cost too much? Could you do without them?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Week End Round Up

Another great week. Another guest post for me over at Budgeting in the Fun Stuff. Looking for more guest post opportunities or guest post writers here so please let me know.

My Yakezie challenge continues to make progress. I started with a Alexa ranking of over 4 million and within 3 weeks I’m under 1.3 million. Nice!

Here are some of the post that I enjoyed this week:

Budgeting in the Fun Stuff - Kids & Money – Keep it Simple

Money Beagle -I'm A Mom! (Sort Of)

Budgets Are Sexy - How BOA Made Me Bald

Getting Rich Slowly - Allowance: For Learning or Reward?

Punch Debt in the Face -Beat up debt, but save too

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Have you ever been affected by Shrinkage?

Well according to a recent report the North American shopping families were affected by an average of $422.68 during the past year. Shrink is a term used to describe retail theft. There are many types of shrink including shoplifting, organized retail crime and employee theft. These thefts force retails to increase security measures on loss prevention which increases their spending, and raising cost for consumers. The most popular items for of shrink were cosmetics including perfumes, beauty supplies and pharmacy, auto parts, hardware, clothing and accessories. The full report can be found here:

The only shrink situation that I can think of for my family is when my children we much younger and used to sit in the front of the shopping cart. To help keep them occupied during shopping we would give them items to play with. We once walked out without paying for an item they had in their hand. Part of my wife’s training at her supermarket job was about loss prevention. Her single store that she works at typically loses between $10-20k per month on shrink. Ouch!

Have you ever experience shrink? How would you handle if you witnessed someone committing shrink?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Self Realization

I have heard 2 different financial stories over the past couple of days. One of a home mortgage refinance to take advantage of low interest rates, the 2nd about income loss and struggling monthly payments. I offered my advice on what I would do if I were in their situations.  I also presented some information / resources for review. The mortgage refinance will be taking a drop in APR, but not in term. They will be saving money each month short term, but extending their number of years in the long run. The loss of income is a single income family with their backs up against the wall. The loss will force changes in living arraignments, school etc. if it cannot be recouped. The spouse has yet to take on a job to make this family a dual family income to help counter the lost income.

These stories frustrate me, because these might have been the same type of choices I would have may 6 months ago, but I believe I know better now. It also frustrates me because these stories are friends making what I think are bad financial decision. Obviously the refi has less impact then the loss of income because its just adding years of debt repayment compare to possible home loss. I'm hopefully that both stories have happy ending.

Have you ever given advice to someone who didn't realie they were making a bad decision?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Paying it forward

Dave Ramsey announced a contest on his radio show yesterday called the "Great Giving Challenge" Dave will give 3 winners $5000 to give away to others. $1000 a day for 5 days. If you are unfamiliar with Dave this is step 7 of his seven baby steps to getting out of debt. Step 7 states: Build wealth and give! This sounds like a great contest that I want to enter. I have never given away that kind of money before and certainly not to strangers. Sure I have bought my co-workers lunch for a job well done, purchased family and friends gifts for birthdays and Christmas. I once bought a TV for some friends for a house warming gift after winning some money in Atlantic City.

The thought of having found money to give to people in need is just plain exciting. Thinking of reactions by people struggling is just amazing. Although I still have a pile of debt in front of me I know there are people, families worst off then me and giving them a lift might be the inspiration they need to get them on the right track. I need to get my video done for Dave's contest.

Have you ever giving away money to some in need?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Reward Club Memberships

I'm sure you've heard of at least one of these wholesale clubs, Costco, BJ's, or Sam's Club. I hold memberships to both Costco and BJ's. With a family of five we shop at both clubs often. We have purchased just about everything from these clubs from milk, contact lenses, pet food, to furniture. We have a BJ's club right near our home and I'll run it on my way home from work just to pick up milk because of the saving they offer over a regular supermarket. Typically we save over 1 dollar per gallon. The way my 3 kids drink milk this adds up. We had to renew our membership to Costco this past weekend.

The standard membership is $50 for the year and $100 for the 2% rewards membership. The other clubs off rewards programs as well and are similar to the Costco program. Double your initial membership and you level up to a rewards membership. I'd like to think of it as a way of saving towards my next years membership fee. At 2% you would need to spend $2500 within the year to cover the cost of the extra $50 for the rewards membership. A total of $5000 to cover the total $100 fee.

$5000 x .02 = $100

$2500 x .02 - $50

In years past I have spent in the $2600 to $2700 range per year at Costco, which would earn me a $52-$54 reward check. Just enough to cover the additional $50 to get into the rewards program with a little extra. I renewed with the rewards membership. My dilemma is that there is no guarantee that I'll spend this amount of money this year. I'm still struggling with this decision and the additional $50 I spent. Do you think I did the right thing?

How do you handle club memberships? Did you own any club rewards memberships?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Week End Round Up

It was truly a great week. I had my first guest post over at Punch Debt in the Face. Thanks Ninja! This really helped drive activity over here. I’ll have more in the coming weeks and looking to host some guest post here as well.

My Yakezie challenge is really making strides. I started with a Alexa ranking of over 4 million and within 2 weeks I’m under 2 million. Nice!

Here's some of the blog posts I found the most interesting this week:

Punch Debt in the Face –Dancing with Finances

Do No Wait - for all of your retirement planning and a great iPad give away

Getting Rich Slowly – How To Maximize your Salary

Frugal Dad – Five Daily Activities to Improve your Finances

Budgets are Sexy – The Power of 2nd and 3rd Opinions

Budget In the Fun Stuff - If I had the Money I would Replace My Car

Investor Junkie - The Secret to Building Wealth

Have a great weekend and say debt free!

Thursday, October 14, 2010


I have to admit I have it pretty easy. I have the ability to check my bank account balance at any moment. Login into any credit card account, (well if I didn't close them all a few months back). Get e-mail reminders to pay my bills. Make payments online when I do forget. Have incredible tools to track spending via a spreadsheet or programs like quicken. Ability to look up information right from home to get answers quickly. I mean I built this blog and published it in a few hours.

How did our parents ever manage a budget with just a check register? With all of this technology at our finger tips, why are some many of us in debt today? Could it be that the first general purpose credit cards was issued in 1966, and we've grownup on credit? I really need to pick my parents brain about how they managed their money before they had credit cards.

What technology do you use to help manage your finances? Did you think having less technology would make things easier?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Cash is King

Well merchants certainly think so. Have you ever heard of something called a interchange fee. It the hidden fee that's paid by a merchant's bank to the customer's bank during a credit card transaction. It typically runs about 2% or $2 for every $100 that is spent. These fees are additional monies collected by credit card companies and in 2008 over $48 billion was collected in interchange fees.

How does this affect you? Well it could drive overall cost of good as retailers look to cover these lost costs in a very competitive, slim profit industry. The Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit that charged Visa, MasterCard and American Express with engaging in anti-competitive practices. At issue are rules that prohibit retailers from offering consumers discounts or rewards for using less-expensive forms of payment, like cash or debit cards. Visa and MasterCard agreed to a proposed settlement, American Express declined to settle. This could be good news for consumers, and eventually lower prices. I always thought that credit cards charged a flat fee per transaction, not a percentage. Let's hope that this change is for the better and doesn't just turn into a another reason to increase interest rates.

Where you aware of the interchange fee? When you shop do you prefer cash or credit?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


I call shenanigans on CNN money. They recently posted an article about what to do if you have $1000 lying around. Give the uncertain economic picture you should spend it. Here are some of those 15 things they suggested you do with it.

#1 - hit the Electronics store
#3 - stock up on coffee and cotton
#5 - buy wine
#14 - hire a investment manager
#15 - join a number of memberships

Shenanigans, shenanigans, shenanigans! I took their advice last night I went to Costco with my new investment manager, liquored up and high on caffeine he helped me pick out a 52 inch plasma TV and 72 pair of tighty whities. They did however have a number of practical recommendations on their list including:

#7 - boosting your college fund
#8 - deposit in a high yield saving account
#9 - invest it
#12 - boost your retirement fund

Overall I thought half of their list was good advice, the other half felt move like a Letterman top ten list. If you want an even better laugh you should see their what do do with $50,000 list. #3 was my favorite - Buy a sweet ride. Shenanigans!

If you where handed $1000, what would you do with it?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Are you smarter than a 3rd grader?

My youngest son who is 8 came home on Friday with some recently complete class work. I was glad to see that his class is currently being taught a money unit in school. See his worksheets below.

Bring back any memories? These worksheets show the basics of counting money and recognizing the different values in bills and coins. These exercises are good fundamental skills that he will use throughout his life. My wife and I will work hard to help fill in the blanks about money as he grows up. Saving it, budgeting it, investing it, etc. I realized I may have include similar statements in some of my other post, but it needs to be repeated. I go as far to say that in all the steps, and guides that other experts offer, they should add child financial education as one of those steps.

What have you done to help prepare your children for the financial future?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Frugal like a Millionaire

That's what I want to be. I'm currently reading the book "The Millionaire Next Door" and it's really an eye opener. Once I finish I plan on review the book in whole, but I was so fascinated but the Frugal chapter I could not wait to post. I guess it's just been a perception that has been drilled into my head from TV and movies over the years that millionaire's are supposed to have luxury items. Call it the American way, but showing off your wealth is what you are supposed to do, when you have wealth.

The Millionaire Next Door 

What this book finds is that most American's spend tomorrow's cash today to appear wealthy. The millionaire, typically spend less on everyday items and this in part is how they became millionaire in the first place. Hard work and determination too, but a majority of millionaire save their money by being frugal. My family is learning to be more frugal these days. We are looking at ways to reduce expenses and increase savings. Here are some of the little things we have done over the past few months.

Packing a lunch - Both for work and school

Eating at home - We have cut out eating out, even fast food when we are on the go

Coupons - clip, clip, clip from grocery shopping to clothes shopping

Are you frugal? Why do you do to try and save money on everyday needs?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Could you get any lower?

I've heard the stories of identity theft, but not until recently did I learn about the growing trend of parents stealing their kids identities. Ouch! Talk about a low blow. If identity theft isn't scary enough on it's owe, these victims of these crimes don't even know it's happening until they are old enough to apply for credit themselves but by then so much damage can already be done. Instead of solving ones own financial issues, they look to destroy their own innocent children. There are a number of articles on the topic, but true data on the number of identity theft that are actual parent/child theft is still unclear.

Things that you can do, check your credit report often is one of the best prevention measures. Any type of credit card / loan mailing to an under age child is another clear sign that something may not be right. If you suspect any unusual you should contact the three major credit agencies and tell them about the potential fraud.

How do you protect your personal information? Hoe often do you review you credit report?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

2009 Credit Card Act helping?

Well it would appear so, a recent Consumer Reports survey shows that median consumer credit card debt has dropped by $1,100 since 2009, to $3,793. People that carry a balance of $10K is down 7% from last year. The main factor sighted in the report was the Minimum Payment Warnings that now appear on their monthly bill. Talk about a little motivation.

This warning makes it clear to consumers how long it will take and how much interest you will pay if you continue to only make minimum payments. I would like to think that all the PF blogs and people educating themselves have had something to do with it as well.

How do you stay motivated to keep you finances in order? Do you ever slip and binge spend from time to time?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Holiday Cash

Now with 80 days left before Christmas, can't believe it's been over 3 weeks from my first post on the topic deck-halls there appears to a number of temporary jobs that will be popping up in time to help add the extra money in your bank account to fulfill all of those wish lists. I heard a story yesterday about another interesting way to put a little extra cash in you pocket for the holidays. Do it by taking on odd jobs and using social media like facebook and twitter to advertise yourself. See the Good Morning America story here: plan-hire-holiday-season

Taking on jobs that can be tedious can earn you some quick cash. Completing shopping or holiday wrapping could help others who don't have the time to complete during this busy time of year. This could be a nice advantage for stay at home moms, or people who work off hours, taking advantage when the regular 9 to 5ers are at work. The power of facebook may very easily open up your potential customer base and who better to trust with these types of task then a friend.

Here are some other money making ideas during this busy time of year:

Babysitting -Watching other kids so they can do their holiday shopping

Baking - During the Holiday everyone love dessert

Food/ grocery shopping - with a agreed upon list

What other type of jobs can you think of? Have you every taken on a part time job to fund your holiday shopping?
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Monday, October 4, 2010

Challenge Complete

We completed the September challenge of keeping track of all of our expenses for the month. 30-day-challenge This was an important exercise to help understand where our cash is going and if there is room for improvement. See results below.

The big surprise is out debt to income (DTI) ratio. For our mortgages its over 36%. Our debt repayment, credit cards is our second highest at over 24%. This was not a surprise. This is our biggest issue, and the focal point of our budget right now. We are trying to eliminate this in the next 3-5 years. The was surprised that gas (transportation) was only a bit over 2%, it feels like it should be higher. 16% for food for a family of five I think might be slightly high when you combined the 1% for eating out. The one item we don't have capture in our budget is entertainment. We need to include this in the future. Now that this challenge complete, we look to take on another, turning the excl sheet with our budget around, Instead of just tracking where our money goes each month we will tell it were to go before we spend it. This is just another step in getting our finances in order.

How do you manage your budget? Do you track it? Set limit before you spend it?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Week End Round Up

As October begin it's a busy time at Until Debt Do Us Part. I have just joined the Yakezie Challenge. I'm excited about that. In the coming weeks I'll be posting the results of my September 30 day challenge and where all of my family's money is being spent. I will have my first guess post here on my blog as well as be writing my first guest blog post for another blog. Thanks to Ninja over at PDITF. It's truly a busy time around here.

Here's some of the blog posts I found the most interesting this week:

Free From Broke - Should Your Child have a Credit Card

Getting Rich Slowly  - 5 Habits of Highly-Effective Credit Card Users

Gail Vaz-Oxlade - Seven Deadly Sins: Gluttony

Punch Debt in the Face - I had no idea

Frugal Dad -Setting Up a Financial System as a Couple

Happy reading. Enjoy the weekend!