Friday, July 29, 2011

Poor or Broke (Aka My Pet Peeves - Part II)

I'm a pretty easy going person.

 I used to say, before I met my wonderful amazing husband who is my soul mate, that I could just about marry any man that was a Christian.

And wasn't a democrat!  
It takes a LOT to get on my nervers.

We've talked about some of my pet peeves previously.


--Misprununciation of birTHday.  (Not birfday.)

--I've changed my Stay At Home Mom pet peeve. 

Seems like they finally got the message and decided to stop telling the world how busy they are.  Now, apparently, they like to remind the rest of the working world that it's 1:00 and they're going to take a nap.  You have to have at least two kids to deserve to broadcast your nap time; and that's even a stretch. 

Three is acceptable. 

Four kids or more, you should be darn proud of yourself for getting a nap.  Brag all you want; you've earned the right to broadcast your nap time. 

-- Being told Christians can't talk about their faith, but we must listen and promote everyone else's.  Grr.  Don't even get me started.  I'm all for equality - not suppression.

But here's my latest...

I know you were dying to find out.

The Broke Whiners

You know who they are. 

They constantly complain to anyone who will listen about how broke they are.

Yet, they're on the third new car in 4 years.

They buy new appliances when the old ones get dirty.

They can't remember the last time they cooked their own dinner.

They're on their sixth trip this year - but they don't consider them vacations and like to remind everyone else they're not taking vacation because THEY'RE POOR.

And they remind us all - THEY'RE POOR.

I've been that person before.  Sometimes, I'm still that person.

And they drive me crazy.

Because when I think about it, the genuinely poor don't usually talk about it. 

They're usually working too hard to keep their electric on,

In the meantime, I need to go worry about whether to book the clowns, magicians, or petting zoo for my baby's 1st birTHday.

Just kidding...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I Sincerely Apologize

On day 1 of this blog, I promised myself and my tiny following I would be honest.

Monday, I said something in my blog that has haunted me the last two days.  And I have to correct it.

I said, "I could afford those shoes."

Almost like a spoiled brat.

I can't afford $275 shoes. 

I don't need $275 shoes.  I want $275 shoes.  I've got three kids three and under who I hope can go to a Christian school, who I hope one day will go to college.  I've got a husband who will probably have to retire in his 50's.  There are missionaries out there who could feed their village for a month with $275.

I'm almost ashamed I even posted about it.  I don't know what I was thinking. 

I came to this realization in two ways.

A) If I could afford those shoes, really afford, I would just buy them.  Never thinking twice.  Like I do toothpaste.

B) When I'm a millionaire *one day* I can be proud of my $275 shoes because I will have worked hard, saved hard, and not be embarrassed at all.

You're probably wondering if I fell down and lost consciousness. 

No, I think I finally regained consciousness.   Thanks for bearing with me through my (almost) lapse in judgment.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Great Debt Debate

We can hardly watch the tv without hearing about the "Great Debt Ceiling Debate."  In true Congressional fashion, each side digs in its heels to the very last second (remember the Government Shutdown Debacle a few months ago?) 

Personally, I get the reasons for raising the debt ceiling.  But someone's math is seriously off.

Unless we raise the debt ceiling (which is the total amount of money the US can owe at one time) we are going to default on our loans.

Last time I checked "loans" were debt.

So, we need to be able to borrow more money to pay our loans?


So, that's borrowing to borrow?

As someone who has proudly (mostly) paid off her debt, that just doesn't work. 

But as quick as we are to criticize the government, I'm reminded how many of us fall into that same trap.  We pay off our credit cards by refinancing our mortgage and then declare ourselves debt free.

Whether or not we raise the debt ceiling, I would suggest not following the government's example on budgeting.  Maybe we should make Financial Peace University mandatory for the President & Congress...right after being a US Citizen.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Living Like No One Else…and ashamed of it?

Remember my love affair with Christian Louboutin?

Alas, I still haven’t acquired my dream shoe.

But I have been on the lookout for nude high heels.  Young ones, not the ugly brown leathery 1-inch ones your grandma wears.  Specifically, these nude heels.

They are from my favorite brand of shoes ever, in the entire universe-LK Bennett.  Unfortunately, they’re from London.  And they are $275. 

(Side note, if you love shoes, just go peruse their website.  I seriously want almost every shoe on there.)

I have the money.  We’re debt free.  (Other than our mortgage, just to clarify.)  I work hard and to be honest, I can afford them. 

But I still couldn’t quite justify buying them.  “That’s groceries for two weeks.  What if something else comes up?  What will people think if I spend $275 on shoes?” 

I went round and round in my head for weeks over these shoes trying to decide whether to buy them.  That is, until the newest member of the royal family decided to wear them – hence they sold out, instantly.  I’m disappointed, but a tiny bit relieved at no longer having the option of buying them. 

But really the question was for me was when is it ok to splurge and be proud of it?

I have never had a designer handbag.  Ever.  There are 13 years olds that I know with a collection that rivals Lindsay Lohan’s.

But this weekend, my husband took me to buy my first designer purse.  (He even offered to buy me two!  Which, then I rushed him to the nearest ER because I was sure he was having a stroke!)

I was so happy.  And am still.  But I really wrestled with the decision to post it on Facebook.  (Stupid, social media.) 

I have friends who are working feverishly trying to pay off debt and don’t want to rub it in their faces.  I have friends who work very hard in Christian service and may never be able to afford a designer bag.  I have friends out of a job.  And then I have the “friends” who will run it down just because.

(And I have to admit, it felt odd carrying a designer purse and paying with a huge stack of coupons.  But I quickly got over that – that’s how I earned that purse!)

Somehow, when our husbands get a new $500 handgun, his buddies “ooh” and “ahh” over it.  But when we spend $275 on shoes, our girlfriends will say it was ridiculous and snipe about it behind our backs.

And then I go back to why I even care? 

I feel like I’m on a merry go round…

You know, these merry go rounds that we rode till we were sick and probably would’ve given us Hep B if we had gotten cut or something?  They were great.  Stupid plastic “safe” toys now…

A pretty smart man has this saying, “Live like no one else, so you can live like no one else.”  Well, I’ve done that. 

So how long before I can be proud that I’m living like no one else so that I can live like no one else??

Monday, July 11, 2011


So a week from today, we'll here...

Otherwise, known as my favorite place on earth.

This year, we got a larger than normal tax refund...thanks to baby #3.

And I specifically set money aside for our vacation. week before we are beachside, we slashed that vacation budget in half.

See, we had to replace a heat pump a couple months back. 

That drained our savings.

Over the last few months, we built it back up.

Then, we had to get new tires.

Ding to the savings.

Then my brother gets married and (graciously) asks 4 out 5 of us to be in the wedding...

And the wedding was in Michigan...hundreds of miles away.

Can you say "Ka-ching?"

T-bone crash dent to the savings.

Since we seem to be spinning our wheels lately, half of our vacation budget got gutted and put back into savings.

I mean, I'm thankful we have a vacation budget.

But sheesh - I thought when we became debt free it would all be so much easier.  How did I ever afford debt in the first place?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Scratch That

I had a fabulous idea for today's blog, but when I went to a certain news website to link up the pictures, I saw this picture and scratched the whole post for today.

We all know I'm in the pro-royal column, but I really could care less about the royals in this picture. 

Go read the article.  It's heart warming and heart breaking all at the same time.

It was a nice reminder to take a time out and be thankful for what you have.

Your house may be upside down...

You may have to figure out which bills get paid this week because they all can't...

You may be just plain down & out...

But look around you...

Look at your family...

Are they healthy?  Are they fed?  Clothed?  Happy? 

Then we have more blessings than we ever could possibly deserve.

(And next week, I'll share the blog I originally planned for today.)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Me vs. Extreme Couponers

I couponed when couponing wasn't cool.

Before coupon binders were the norm.

Waaaayyyy before stockpiles were a status symbol.

But it wasn't till last year that I began spending a little more time couponing. 

I had just had baby #3. 

(Repeat:  Three kids - all in daycare, all in diapers.  Not cheap.)

I could no longer afford to only use X brand of toilet paper.  I had to use whatever was on sale...that I had a coupon for.  My aunt, The Coupon Queen, showed me some of her tips and shared a website that matched up the sales with the coupons. 

And wa-la, a pro-couponer was born.

That being said, I thought I would love the show, Extreme Couponing.  I thought it would give us low profile couponers some tips & tricks.  I HATE IT!

A lot of them commit fraud.

A lot of them are "shelve clearers."  (Which is a huge no-no in the coupon world.)

They don't tell you what a lot of them spend on the coupons themselves.

And thanks to their greed, they've made it harder for us regular couponers to use coupons.  (FYI - Since the show aired, three major national retailers have changed their coupon policies to make it more restrictive. 

All thanks to some random woman who decided she needed 92 bottles of mustard...for her family...that doesn't like mustard.

It's Thrifty Thursday and I'm planning my grocery trip for tomorrow.  As I stare at my stack of coupons, I feel a sense of dread. 

Now, when I march up to the cash register at Target with my 7 coupons, I get stared at, glared at, and even laughed at.  One of the cashiers said, "'re on of those people." 

I wanted to so bad say, "If you mean a frugal mom with three kids that works 40+ hours a week rather than taking government assistance and a husband who makes next to nothing serving the public, then yes, I am one of those people.  Thankyouverymuch!"

But I refrained.  I regret it.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Miscarriage of Justice

On Thanksgiving Day 2010, my one and only boy went missing.  He had just turned three and I thought he was finally big enough to hang out with his older cousin unsupervised.  He was only missing for about 15 minutes, but I assure you it was the longest 15 minutes of my life.

As we searched, I stared at the road in front of my grandparent's house and thought, "Surely he couldn't have made it there unseen.  Surely he couldn't have gotten kidnapped without any of us noticing."

We eventually found him by the side of their pond.  I think I was almost more terrified by the thought of him slipping into that water than by him being kidnapped.  His guardian angel was working overtime that day.  I still look at that pond and think what could have happened and how gracious my God was to me that day.

I think we all are, to quote Juror #3, sick to our stomachs over the verdict in the Casey Anthony trial.  As a mother, every thing that woman did defies the natural instinct of a mother.  I usually am a champion of rights, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but I believe the writers of the Constitution are rolling over in their graves today.  I do not, for a minute believe this is what they intended when they wrote the law.

While I believe the prosecutors could not make their case for a premeditated murder, I sincerely believe those idiots jurors had every piece of evidence necessary to convict on Murder 2 or manslaughter.  I firmly believe these jurors were motivated by greed - not justice.

A sick, distgusting woman will likely walk free tomorrow and make millions off killing her child.  Badly done, Florida; badly done.

And yet, I find it odd at the nations' outcry over the killing of this child when millions of "children" are killed every year and it's called a woman's right?  Just a thought...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Back with an Equation

Yes, I am still alive.

I apologize profusely, for my absence.  I have been ridiculously busy (ya’ know, working full time, raising 3 kids, going to MI for my brother’s wedding, to name a few.)

I did manage to write a blog…for my sister

Lot of good it did on this blog though.

But alas, I am back and full of ideas.

Today is Tuesday, which means is Tax Tip day.

Believe it or not, I’m running out of tax ideas.  But this one hit me as I was walking in this morning, pondering the day that lie before me.

I love food.

No kidding – I have a day on my blog dedicated to food.  Has nothing to do with debt – well, you maybe could tie it together if you eat out a lot.  And you don’t usually get good food while getting out of debt.  (Think Beans & Rice!!!)

I also love the self-employed.

They keep this country going.  I envy their flexibility, but at times, am ever so thankful for the steady paycheck.

I also love algebra.  (Side note – I am a bit of a math geek, but not extreme.  I still had to be tutored weekly through Quantitative Methods.  Just thinking about that class makes me throw up a little bit in my mouth.)

So, here’s an equation.

Food + the Self-Employed = x

Alright, I’ll solve it for you.

X = a heck of tax mess if you’re not careful

Meals & Entertainment is a line on the tax return and those expenses are deductible under current tax law.  (Up to 50% to get technical.)

But too many self employed individuals see this line and think every biscuit, every taco, and fry they grab while “on the clock” goes on this line.

Not so my friend.

This line is for meals for yourself if KEY PHRASE: away from home.  Meaning overnight or out of your general area.  Even if you don’t necessarily stay overnight, this could still apply if you are out of your metropolitan area.

And this is for entertaining.  This could be meals, renting a facility, even golf.  KEY PHRASE: if you engaged in business directly before or after the event. 

My one request is not to go buck-wild with this.  Trust me on this one.

Because this is an area of frequent abuse, the documentation requirements are strict. 

You must maintain
1.                  Who you entertained
2.                  Your business relationship with them
3.                  The purpose of the entertainment
4.                  And the benefit you derived from it

Let’s give an example.  (Purely ficticious.)

Joe is a self employed HVAC installer.  Sam is a self-employed contractor.  They meet a homebuilders convention.  Joe invites Sam to a nice steak dinner in hopes to getting Sam to agree to use him on his future jobs.  Joe must not only keep the receipt from the meal, but then make a note of who was there, the purpose (such as – tried to secure agreement to be used on future jobs), and the benefit (such as secured agreement.)  Even if he didn’t necessarily secure the agreement, the meal would still be deductible. 

But one would not expect Joe to continue to take Sam out weekly if he wasn’t benefiting from it.  So if weekly meals were deducted, one would conclude that this was more of a friendship than a business relationship.

See the logic?

If you have a question, think to yourself, would an employed person be able to get reimbursed from their company for this?  A lot of times that clears it up.

This area is often a confusing area for the self-employed and often unintentionally done incorrectly.  (And sometimes intentionally.)  

So, you can sleep better tonight knowing you did algebra and taxes all in the same day!