Posted in budget, Debt management, Financial Fast

Calculating my debt

Part of my Financial Fast that I began a couple weeks prior to Lent, I was instructed to work on my budget. Yikes! What a task that I was not really prepared for! Yet, obviously necessary!

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So, I finally sat down and worked on figuring out my debts and how much I owe and the respective APR. I used a debt reduction calculator spreadsheet I found on http://www.vertex42.com, which has so many spreadsheets for various needs in life.

What a surprise! I thought it would take me a good 50 years to pay off my college loans, but at the rate I’m paying now? I should snowball my payments and pay it all off in 2027, that’s only 13 years! There is hope!

“Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. Owe to no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” ~Romans 13:7-8

Posted in Uncategorized

Rainy day

Today is a rainy day. Flash flood warnings and advisories across the state. It sounds like big drops of rain. The news suggested potential thunderstorms and possible hail today. And what does rain mean for little ones? Nowhere to run!

My child is currently preoccupied with PBS kids shows and games on my iPad. He’s entertaining himself pretty nicely at the moment while I do our laundry at my parents’ house. It’s my budget saver to do laundry at their house rather than going to a laundromat. After all, they live right up our street!

When we get home he and I will likely play a game or read a book. He’s been reading those BOB books at night. I’m trying to help him to read, but I think I get way too frustrated way too quickly. He isn’t retaining the words or sounds from one page to the next. It makes it difficult that he doesn’t even attempt to make the sounds he sees in the letters. This is why I don’t help with kindergarten through 2nd grade English Language Learners anymore. I did not feel this was my age group to be teaching.

I’m finding free activities from watching television, reading, and drawing to be good activities. However, he really enjoys building, so I like to allow him that time to build using his Lego or Duplo. Changing up his activities every 30 minutes or so is good for him. He seems to do a lot of it on his own. And I love that it’s FREE!

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Drawing is a free activity on rainy days!

Maybe we’ll do a baking activity later this afternoon to get him doing a new activity. We already have a few desserts that we can make at home. It’ll at least break the monotony of boring rainy day activities!

What do you do on rainy days?

Posted in Uncategorized

Just do nothing

Sometimes, it’s great to spend the day without going shopping. I grew up with a mother who shops often. She’ll go shopping so she doesn’t need to sit in her house. Seriously! I feel like I was brought up and groomed to be a shopper when I don’t have the money to go shopping. How is that supposed to work anyway?

Like many days, we do the usual routine of getting up, get ready for the day, drop off the boys at their respective schools, head to work, do whatever our job entail, then head back to pick up the preschooler and go home. The high schooler gets a ride home from school, so usually he’s rushing to act like he’s doing what he’s supposed to, but really didn’t start until he heard us pull into the garage.

Regardless, I refrained from buying that Coca-cola from the vending machine. I used to buy one every day, then switched to canned iced tea. My 2014 resolution was to stop drinking soda. So far, so good. There’s no cravings for the sweet, sugary, caffeinated beverages anymore. In addition, I’ve stopped going to Starbucks so much. It’s been a long time since I’ve gotten a Starbucks.

It actually is quite liberating to not spend any money. Unfortunately, I need to fill my vehicle with more gas this weekend. I guess the no spending will not last very long…

Posted in Uncategorized

What do you do with your tax refund?

Every year we go through the task of completing our taxes. Some of us go to a tax preparer while others do it ourselves. I’m one of those that does it myself, usually. We haven’t had anything challenging or difficult to encourage me to pay someone else to do my taxes. Maybe next year will be different, who knows at this point.

No one I know seems to want to PAY state or federal taxes. It seems everyone I’ve heard talking about taxes is excited to be getting REFUNDS. Do you know what a tax refund means? It means that the government has been holding onto money you could have had in a savings account collecting interest, except the government doesn’t give you that interest. The government keeps it!

Yes, it’s great to get a check in the mail or a direct deposit into the bank account with a large sum. Really, the goal should be to balance out as evenly as possible with what you claim on your W-4 with your employer. This means you’re getting that money with every paycheck instead of one lump sum, no interest. The economics of it makes more sense to balance out as much as possible. Wouldn’t you find it a bigger blessing to have that money with each check throughout the year instead of one lump sum, no interest the following year?

With this in mind, what do you do with that refund when you get it? I hear many people that go out and buy big ticket items, go on trips, things of that nature. Why aren’t we paying off bills with it? Why aren’t we saving the money? These are great questions to ask yourself.

We received a refund that was actually larger than previous years. I think we’re doing something wrong on our W-4 (I’ll have to go check that). This money has gone to paying bills, what we normally would have used if we got it with each paycheck, as well as buying our son some new clothes because he seems to be outgrowing what he’s been wearing. Toddlers, they grow way too quickly!

New 5 year old clothes
Sometimes we just have to buy the child new clothes because he’s totally outgrown what he has!

What do you do with your tax refund?

Posted in budget, Debt management, Quality Time

Quality time – Prince Kuhio Day with my son

Yesterday was Prince Kuhio Day, a Hawaii state holiday celebrating the life of our beloved Prince Kuhio. His chance for succession as a Hawaiian King was crushed when the monarchy was overthrown by the Americans in 1893.

As it was a state holiday, I took the day off to hang out with my son. My mother has issues with this, but I love spending time with my child as often as possible! So I chose to take the day off from work.

Last week, I mentioned to some of AJ’s friends that I’ll be taking him to a local mall, the only one with an indoor playground. Eat lunch there and maybe take the indoor train and later walk around the farmers market.

Not only did they play in the indoor playground, but they all went to the arcade, Fun Factory. I spent $30 there, but there’s still money on the game card, so we can save that for next time. My son found a game, Animal Kaizen, where he got to fight his animal with the computer generated. At the end, win or lose, it gives the user a card. This card can be used for future games. My son is on love with this game now because he can use his cards to develop a bigger, stronger creature and play longer.

We did it all, except went to Glow Putt instead of riding the indoor train. Glow Putt was $5 for my son, not too bad and thankful he’s still at that cut-off age! The others that joined us came miniature golfing, too.

After we all parted our ways, I decided to shop for new footwear for my son, and new shorts as he seems to be outgrowing everything he has. That trip cost nearly $130! I guess these are necessities, so it comes out of his clothing budget. No more clothes buying for a while!

Why does quality time with my son always end up costing so much money? The day cost me about $180! I guess I should make sure these events are budgeted appropriately! Fun times, memorable moments for my son, and great bonding time for him and his friends. Next year they all go their separate ways when they begin kindergarten, so I’m treasuring the friendships we have built throughout the years during his preschool experience!

Posted in budget, Financial Fast

Oops, I fell off the budget buggy

To kill time today, I stopped at Office Depot to get some shopkick points. Not only did I get my points, but I also bought a journal that has replaceable fillers. I just thought it was so cool!

Needless to say, it was not in the budget! Neither were the books we bought last week, but I’m actually reading the book I bought.

And now to figure out the purpose of this journal. I do want to journal about work. I also want to journal my devotions with God and the visions God downloads in me. And a journal of my progress in my new venture as well as a previous one. I want to journal everything!

Let me tell you, I love buying journals and I love starting journals. Not often do I get through it all, but sometimes I do!!

Posted in Uncategorized

Grocery double-budget struck again

It seems, after doubling my grocery budget two weeks ago, that the grocery shopping double-budget has struck again. Once again, we have spent twice what we budget for food. And, once again, I have enough food to last two weeks. Needless to say, I think I need to plan the grocery shopping better for the next grocery trip in two weeks.

You see, I planned our dinners around what we have instead of planning shopping around what we need. This mindset of planning dinners around what we have is turning out to be additional shopping for the few items we are missing instead of making a dinner menu, then going shopping for what we absolutely need. It’s amazing how much useless stuff you end up having.

For example, I had a rebate for the new Jif Whips. We used it on the mini bagels my son and I love to eat. But, we have barely used half the container and now it’s sitting there. Wouldn’t it make sense to use the rest? What a concept! 

We also have food that’s been sitting in the freezer for a while. Why not use it and get it out of there? I think the next major grocery trip will be more than two weeks from now…

Posted in Groceries

Budget buster – ant infestation

Ants are a huge problem in our house. They especially love dirty dishes in the sink, the trash can, and any food that happens to have the tiniest opening. I have seen ants of various kinds just in our kitchen alone.

There are at least three species of ants in our kitchen (I guess that means they’re in the whole house). From big carpenter ants with little stingers on their rear to little black ants that seem to love the dogs food and water as well as a super tiny, nearly invisible ant that absolutely love dog treats.

Needless to say, it’s caused a cleaning effect in my brain, where everything needs to be just so. It’s helped to control the ants for the most part. But, the little black ants seem to love hanging out in the kitchen countertop.

In this location, they often find any crumbs left over from someone preparing a snack or meal to sauces that spilled. These ants come in droves and work very hard to get these little treasures back to their nest.

Unfortunately, they also find the just bought, not even opened yet foods and totally infest it so I just totally bought that item for nothing. What a waste!!

Note to self: whenever we buy anything, make sure it’s in a SEALED container that the ants cannot get into!

Posted in Debt management, Empower Network, income

Money Tree is currently bare

The title of my blog has been on my mind for a while. I’m currently not debt free, nor am I a money tree.

You see, I’m in the process of getting to that point of paying off debts and snowball effects. I have paid off two debts in the last two weeks. I think this is a great accomplishment, considering one of those two debts was $16,000+ years ago.

As I still have oodles of credit cards and loans to pay off, but as I snowball payments to the next accounts, I dream of these bills getting paid off quicker and quicker!

Then I recall I just rearranged my college loans and currently will be paying $400 a month. I’m not so sure I can afford that yet! I need to call the bank to see of there’s anything else they can do to help lower that.

This blog is to help readers see that whatever financial issues you’re having, you’re not alone. It’s how we handle these growing mountains of bills, and how to slow it from growing, that really matters.

Lets steward what we have towards uplifting and edifying. Sometimes we need to increase our income in order to afford our expenses. One great way to do that is by working an additional job, or possibly making money online, from home.

I’ve started a very different, encouraging, and fun business recently. Want to know more? Check it out here

Posted in budget, Quality Time, Uncategorized

Another potluck – use what you’ve got

Went to another potluck dinner last night, this time at my son’s preschool friend’s house. The mother invited us the other day for a barbecue dinner. It was the first time we’ve been to their house, but it wasn’t difficult to find. She told me barbecue meats and make your own pizza for the kiddos. Sounds great! But, what am I supposed to bring?20140323-054105.jpg

On a budget, I did not want to spend too much since this was out of our norm. I already spent $20 for the potluck the previous night and wasn’t looking forward to a repeat of that. I figured most kids like spaghetti, so I’ll make that. There will be tons of meat, so it’s not really necessary to have meat in the spaghetti sauce. It was really just pasta with marinara sauce. And I brought a small container of Parmesan cheese. We already had these ingredients, so I spent zero for this meal! It really can be done on a budget.

The others brought fantastic foods like veggies on skewers basted with a fantastic balsamic sauce, KFC fried chicken and Zippy’s chili. There was enough food for double the size of the party! I guess potlucks usually work that way. The kids didn’t really eat much dinner as they were snacking on a whole lot of junk food. The homemade pizza was wonderful and everyone was so creative!

Of the adults there, one knows the same person I do, who teaches special education. Then another graduated from high school with my husband. Talk about small world. It’s amazing how I go to random things like this potluck and run into people we know or people who know people we know. It happens quite often here. I guess living on an island it’s bound to happen

There were a handful of kiddos at this potluck dinner, ranging in age from 2-8, mixed in genders. My son had so much fun he cried when I told him it was time to leave. Then insisted he was hungry when we got home. Child was forced to eat leftovers because I was not going to make him a whole meal just because he didn’t want to eat during dinner. The blessings of having a 5 year old.