Monday, October 31, 2016

To Add To Your Grocery List

If you don't already have these products in your home, here are some videos from Clean My Space on YouTube to give you tips on using basic household ingredients for major cleaning power.  Clean for less!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Savior And Financial Planning

Believe it or not, even Jesus Christ believes in being wise stewards financially.  Here is some insight from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Jesus even taught about compound interest:

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Finance Basics - Lesson 6 - Calculating Your Debt

Just a reminder:  I'm not an expert in Finance, please check with a certified professional regarding your own circumstances as not everything in these lessons may work for you.

How are you doing?

I'm off this week on vacation, but that doesn't mean there isn't work or budgeting involved.  Actually, I'm getting some things reorganized at home, so don't get your hopes up that I'm actually traveling anywhere.  Not yet.  That will come when I can afford it.

Hopefully you have started filling out the DOLP from David Bach, or the worksheet on listing your debts from the Family Finance workbook from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

This is a great start, but I thought I'd share with you a worksheet that I use on a monthly basis to track how I'm doing.  This is just something that I came up with for myself and I've found it very helpful in the last few years that I've been paying off debt.

This is what I call the Monthly Balances worksheet.

I pick a date around the end of each month and just simply list the total balances of everything that I have, from checking and savings to each of my debts.  This helps to give me a clear picture of where I'm at, where I need to improve, as well as to give myself a pat on the back for what I've accomplished.

I've also included spots where bills can creep up on you, like Property Taxes if you own a home, or insurance payments that may not occur on a monthly basis.  I find this is a great reminder to me to add these to my monthly budget when that month arrives for the bill.

As for paying off the debt, there are a few ways of doing this. has the best article that talks about this and identifies who would benefit from the different ways of paying off the debt.

Dave Ramsey's 7 Baby Steps explained:

Thursday, October 27, 2016

A Little Bit of Local Politics

Some years ago I wrote about why I don't vote for John McCain, but since then Cox discontinued the practice of providing free web space where the documents were housed.

While I'm sure he's a good man and has done some good things, I also think he's out of touch with local constituents.  I've never seen any type of town hall meeting where he's actually meeting with the locals here unless it's election season.

What I had sent to him was a suggestion as to what could be done with the massive amount of trailers purchased by FEMA in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.  News reports were showing how the trailers were sitting unused in lots by the dozens because they had no place to put them.

I sent John  McCain's office the following:

FEMA Evacuation Center Suggestions

This page contains ideas and suggestions for how FEMA and other supporting agencies can assist those in distress and in need of shelter. The basis for these ideas is a simple one: it is the blueprint of the Bishop's Storehouses for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, tweaked to include housing for evacuees.. These have already proven themselves successful repeatedly in various disaster scenerios.

  1. There are military bases closed and closing announced in 2005 prior to the Hurricane. What is the status of those closures, and what has been done with the property since then?
    1. Is this property vacant yet?
    2. Is this property on a flood plane?
    3. What structures currently exist on the property?
    4. How is the property set up with basic utilities?
  2. Given these closures, and given that this land has been vacated already, the property should be turned over to FEMA.
  3. FEMA should examine the property:
    1. See if problems from previously stored military items pose a health hazard.
    2. See what utilities exist on property and to what extent.
    3. Design layout of the new FEMA Regional Evacuation Center.
  4. Possible layout:
    1. Trailers should be placed in clusters of 3.
    2. A priority to keep families together.
    3. Each 3 trailers will share one large septic tank.
    4. There are solar panels designed to power trailers, these can be used for electricity.
    5. Water towers for each 24 trailers or 5 gallon barrels for each person living in the trailers can be provided with a refill station at the FEMA Offices.
    6. The Evacuation Center should use natural resources, so as not to strain overextended power grids and water tables.
    7. Eight clusters of trailers will surround the group community center.
    8. The group community center will also become the evacuation center for the occupants of the 24 surrounding trailers.
    9. Ask the Red Cross to provide 72-hour kits for all trailer occupants, to be kept in lockers at the evacuation room at the centers.
    10. FEMA offices will also contain a storehouse of emergency supplies, and satellite/ham radio equipment.
    11. Apartments to be built to house more evacuees, also with community/ evacuation centers.
    12. A combined school will need to be built, with portables to be used until the school can be built.
    13. Day care will also need to be provided, to allow evacuees the ability to find new jobs, or get vocational training for new jobs.
    14. A medical center will be needed with 24 hour services, portables can be used until it is built.
    15. Counseling services will also be provided at the medical center.
    16. Apartments for those needing assisted living should be built in immediate vicinity of the medical center.
    17. Cats and Dogs should be housed in a separate area, identifying pets, notifying owners if they do not know where the pet is at, maintaining their well being. This would be handled through local authorities or the Humane Society.
    18. Provisions should be made in advance for other animals.
    19. Utilizing existing contracts with vendors for the Dept. of Defense, maintain the base grocery stores for exclusive use by evacuees.
    20. Barracks for military personnel serving as law enforcement should be provided, with extra space set up if additional people needed in a disaster.
    21. Offices should be set up for insurance company representatives and adjusters.
    22. There should be a locally transmitted television station to provide updates to the evacuees.
  5. FEMA will continue to maintain property as a regional center to service future needs, and provide faster service for future natural and terrorist disasters.
  6. Emergency preparedness training camps can also be held on the property.
  7. This is not only applicable to the areas affected by Hurricane Katrina, but these regional centers should be strategically placed around the USA for faster and more localized assistance in future disasters.
  8. FEMA offices:
    1. Obtain and maintain lists of those staying at the regional center.
    2. Oversight of the facilities at the Regional Center.
    3. Provide areas set up for Insurance Representatives.
    4. Provide areas for State, County and City governments to allow for better coordination between local government entities and FEMA.
    5. Oversee evacuations, once approved at the national level.
  9. SBA should also have offices on site for:
    1. SBA loans to rebuild homes and businesses.
    2. Classroom spaces set up for vocational training as some may need to change careers as well as addresses.
  10. The Red Cross should also have offices for:
    1. Oversight of provisions for food and other essentials.
    2. Oversight of medical needs and counseling.
    3. Oversight of day care needs.
    4. Preparations as needed for future disasters.
    5. Training as needed for disaster preparedness.
    6. Assist evacuees with locating and reuniting with lost family members.
    7. Assist evacuees with locating lost animals.
  11. Law Enforcement should be handled at the federal level:
    1. Active personnel in the Armed Forces.
    2. National Guard as needed.
I'll post the scanned image of what I received from his office:

 This was obviously sent by a staff member who was working in his office at the time, whether they sent it as a joke or not, I have no idea.  It just would have been nice to know my letter and suggestions were actually being taken seriously.

More On The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People

It starts with a Paradigm Shift.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Finance Basics - Lesson 5.3 - Spending Habits

It's interesting, how many books there are about habits.  The reason?  Habits are one of the key reasons people are either poor or wealthy.  If someone has a habit of spending more than they make, in order to live a "celebrity" lifestyle, expect to remain poor.  The wealthy have a different mind set.  No one is immune from this, hence the reason why so many children of wealthy ancestry tend to spend themselves into the poorhouse.

Lesson #1:  Wealthy people read.  A lot.  In order to learn.  A lot.

Book 1:  The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People by Stephen R. Covey

Book 2:  The Millionaire Next Door  by Stanley/Danko

Book 3:  The Richest Man In Babylon by George Samuel Clason

Book 4:  The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey

A book I haven't personally read yet, but I will tell you about:

The next lesson, make sure you try to balance work with the rest of your life.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Finance Basics - Lesson 5.2

It's Friday night and I'm writing to you from Peter Piper Pizza, waiting for the pizza I've ordered for Mom and I.

I'll be gathering some items for my City's Home Hazardous Waste dumping day tomorrow morning, then gathering the stuff that is still good to take to donation in the late morning.  Because of where I donate, I can get a receipt towards a tax deduction.

A few pieces of pizza later, I'm now home.

In the book, The Millionaire Next Door, it starts off describing who the typical millionaire is.  They live on an average of 7% of their wealth and pay an average of around 12% of their wealth in taxes.

Part of their strategy is to not only make a decent income, but to live in such a way that they are able to save, save, save.  The more you save, the less amount of your total wealth is subject to income tax. Why?  Because besides what income is actually generated from a paycheck, even more is generated in investments that do not pay taxes until the money actually gets spent.  In other words, the more you spend, the more of your money will be subject to taxes.

So now that we have spent a few weeks talking about how you are spending your money, what can you do to reallocate that money towards getting out of debt?

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Finance Basics - Lesson 5

How is the spending log coming along?  Have you tried the calendar out yet?

Here are a few tips:

Start with making a working copy of your own.  Since you have viewing privileges, you will probably need to download the pages given last week to your Google Drive.  You may need to click on the Make A Copy option.

From there, you will want to save the original sheet and duplicate it to do your work on.  Rename the tabs at the bottom for the duplicates, I listed them by month.

From there, you will want to start typing!

Color coding based on whether the transaction is a deposit (meaning it has a + in the + or - column).  Deposits are where money is added to the account.  The transactions with a - in the column will be charges against the account.  For me, some of the charges were direct transactions at stores, while others were online or on an automatic deduction.

Once you are done, you can then use the space on the side to look at the categories of the spending transactions to see where cutting the fat out of the monthly spending can be done.

This is what I came up with for my copy:

I then filled out the calendar for the (R)egular expenses (those are mostly utility expenses that are paid monthly and will not end once all debt is paid) and I used the same color codes on the calendar to keep it consistent.

Keep going, you're doing great!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Finance Basics - Lesson 4

I will begin this by saying I'm not a financial expert, please consult with a professional for your personal questions and needs.

How was your week?  Mine has been crazy, particularly considering how late this post is.  My apologies for that.

How far did you get with tracking your spending?

Did you find any surprises?

If you still have not done this yet, don't worry, don't stress.  Go through these posts at your own pace, just make sure you are actually progressing.

If you were having trouble getting things listed in one place, I'm linking a little something I cam up with using Google Sheets.

Google Sheets is free to use, however to get the most out of it you will want to create an account (you can still use a previous email, I believe, you don't have to create a new one in order to create a Google account).  This is so you can get full access to the free applications, such as Google Sheets for finances, Google Docs for letters and resumes and Google Slides for any of your slide show needs.  They don't come with all of the bells and whistles of the Microsoft counterparts, however the Docs and Sheets do come with add ons to specialize those apps to what you want out of them.

Spending Log

Continue to fill this out to track your spending.

The next thing to do, in addition to a spending log, is to list your debt.  The first part was a bit painful, but this is the one place where people like me tend to hide from.  Trust me, it won't kill you.

Here are some helps:

Family Finances - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Go to Chapter 8 on page 19 to get an explanation regarding listing your debt, and what order is the best to use.

Another resource is from Oprah's Debt Diet - it's called DOLP.


These are some great resources to help you look at your debt, and list it in a way that will help you get successes fast.

I'm going to give you another help, though, and this one stems from a classmate in the Family Finances class that I took.  Their family was paying ALL of their monthly bills on the first of the month - and then ultimately getting hit with overdraft charges.

If you get paid more than once per month, be strategic with your money.  Don't pay everything all at the same time, split it out between paychecks.

The classmate didn't understand this until I handed them a blank calendar template from Excel and had them fill out the calendar for the current month and then write down when they were getting paid and which bills were due when.

Then it hit them.  They could plan for paying their bills with specific paychecks.

That template is what I'll post on here, I've added it to my Google Drive in order to share it.  Perhaps Google will make a template of their own like this for their Google Sheets?  BTW, this can be filled out directly on Google, you'll need to make a copy of it digitally to save it.

Blank Calendar Excel Template

Good luck, deep breaths.

Here is a little inspiration from Oprah: