Saturday, February 28, 2009

UNC beats Ga Tech 104-74!! Hansbrough breaks record!

All American Tyler Hansbrough had another double-double with 28 points and 10 rebounds. Also today he set the all time career free-throw record in the NCAA's . He has a total of 907 made as of today passing Dickie Hemric's record of 905 free-throws. The Tarheels are now 25-3 overall, and 11-3 in the ACC. The number 4 Tarheels were coming off an overtime loss to Maryland last week. Meanwhile, the super talented point guard Ty Lawson seemed to have limited his shooting today. It seemed that Ty and coach Roy Williams must have had a talk about the job of a point guard after he had only 2 assists last week. Today he had 11 assists and ran the team with great ease making the team better all around. Don't get me wrong Lawson is the best in the country at the point, and he deserves everything he gets. We definitely will need his scoring, but we need his assists high and his turnovers low as well. Great game! Next up are Virginia Tech on Wednesday and the season finale against Duke on Sunday in Chapel Hill.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Nascar- Redneck Sport or Marketing Phenomenom?

Well , I have to be honest, I grew up hating Nascar and thinking it was just something that rednecks liked.The T.V. never stopped on a race around our house! Yes, I grew up here in North Carolina right around the heart of Nascar country. I did not know that I lived that close to the heart of things until probably a couple of years ago. Well in the last few years I have to admit that I have been coming around. I actually like Nascar racing now. I still can not sit and watch every lap, because admittedly that can still be found monotonous and boring. Everyone loves a wreck or something exciting right?

So what happened? What made me change my vehement stand on the sport? I have been thinking about it and I think it is due to Nascar's new approach to marketing and their rolling out of new drivers. The sport has become a force to be reckoned with under the guidance of Brian France and the France family. It is only second in terms of T.V. viewership to the NFL. That's pretty impressive and the average fan was found to have a lot of purchasing power with an average income of $80000. Sponsorship in Nascar is second to none and millions of dollars are passed through the sport in the form of advertising. Advertising ranges from commercials to driver appearances to the sponsorship decals on the cars themselves. As you can see Nascar has grown and changed its image. Professionals are drawn to the sport just as well as your average Joe. Surprisingly, women were found to comprise about 40% of the fan base. I have to say that must be due to the fact that the women enjoy fast cars and cute drivers.Plus for me personally, I like to see anything associated with large amounts of money and a fast lifestyle. I must say that I enjoy fast cars and race car driving in itself. However, shows like MTV and CMT cribs and the features on ESPN let us get a look into their personal lives and how they live. I know that it is not all fun with all of the drivers obligations. However, the millions of dollars that the top drivers are able to command through their contracts and commercial deals(among other ways) has got to help make you feel better. Plus dont forget about flying into a different town and racetrack each week and jumping into a race car and flying around the track at nearly 200 miles an hour! At the same time, most of the drivers seem to stay somewhat humble and just love to race.I definitely would love if my son could grow up to be a driver! At almost three, he is already all into it. He knows Dale Junior's name and number and loves to "race" around on his bike.

If you are interested in business and specifically marketing and advertising, you have to take notice of Nascar. You do not have to like the sport to be able to appreciate what they have been able to do. They have been able to transform die hard "haters" like me into admirers of the sport. Is it a redneck sport in the year 2009? I think not ,and I think that they have the potential to push Nascar more into the mainstream in years to come.

Tata Nano-- Company Releases $2500 Car

The world's cheapest car is due out March 23, 2009.This car is being set for release in India and is being billed as "the people's car". They say that it will not be allowed in the U.S. because it would not pass our safety standards. Don't get me wrong, I am all for safety! However, don't you think that America could use a car like this or something very similar in price and design? Add a $1000 to the price tag and make it safe for our country's consumers! It tends to lead to the point of why can't the U.S. produce something along this price point? America's big three car companies and our government are too greedy to let something like this car sell! Sure it is not the biggest or best looking car! That's not the point and I am not saying not to keep offering the higher priced cars. Just give more options to the American people. It's bound to sell, especially now with whats happened with the economy and gas prices. Check out the accompanying You Tube video! I love the accompanying music in the video!

President Obama to Bring Troops Home

Just a short note to let everyone know that the President has set a timetable to bring our US troops home from Iraq. He has set the date at September 2010. That is only 18 months away. I am not the one to say if it is the right thing to do or not. However, you have to wonder what the real motivation for our involvement in the war was for the Bush administration. Was it about terrorism and Osama Bin Laden or was it for control of oil?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Book Review-Isn't It Their turn to Pick up the Check? by Jeanne Fleming & Leonard Schwarz

This is a book dealing with all of the trickiest money problems between family and friends- from serial borrowers to serious cheapskates. I just wanted to touch on one chapter. It had some content that I thought was interesting.
It's called Rich Brother, Poor Brother! According to sociologist Dalton Conley, children who grow up in the same home frequently wind up with very different incomes as adults. So how do you think we can have the same parents, spend our childhoods together, and still find ourselves in such different financial circumstances as adults? Well part of the answer lies in the fact that not every child is as ambitious, talented, or as smart as the next child. Some want to act and some want to be in business.
Here's where it gets interesting! According to Conley, often only nominally do we grow up in the same families and the same environments. ( I am not sure that I have ever thought of it this way.) One daughter may grow up having to work after school because Dad is struggling to get his business started. Yet by the time the younger sister reaches high school, Dad's business may be prospering and little sister's after-school life may include tutors who are helping her get into the best college possible. Or one son may grow with the financial and emotional security provided by a sound marriage, while his younger brother may have to live with the economic setbacks and emotional turmoil that occur when the parents divorce. And the examples could go on and on, and I am sure that you could think of a few as well.
In summary, Conley says that there are three factors that often lead to substantial disparities in the incomes of brothers and sisters. One is large social forces. The second is family-specific events. And the third factor is that parents treat their children differently when they raise them. For good reasons and bad, parents often invest more money and time in some children than in others.
Well , I will not go in to any more depth than that. However, the book in this chapter makes some interesting points, doesn't it?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Book Review-Dave Ramsey-The Total Money Makeover

Dave Ramsey is a Christian man from Tennessee who has written several books on personal finance. He also has a radio talk show and a television show where he discusses personal finance. He has a system, that is a variation of many systems that I have read about before, that tells you how to become debt free. His method is pretty cut and dry, straightforward, and easy to follow. The most impressive thing to note s that it has worked for thousands of people. There are no easy ways, tricks, or schemes in the system he proposes. It comes down to hard work and determination. The following is the 7 baby steps plan he has put together!
  1. Save a $1000 emergency fund
  2. Debt Snowball-- write out all of your debt and start paying off the smallest debt owed first--continue on to the next lowest bill, repeat until all of your debt is paid off
  3. Now Finish the emergency fund- save from 3 to 6 months of expenses
  4. Invest 15% of your income for wealth building
  5. Save for college for kids--Use ESA'S or 529's
  6. Pay off mortgage!
  7. Build Wealth and give some money away

to be continued

Book Review-The Martha Rules by Martha Stewart

I just finished a book by Martha that she wrote after her release from prison. Martha and her team have built a large empire that makes a ton of money. We can definitely learn something from her and the following ten rules she feels are necessary to follow for business success.

  1. What's passion got to do with it?
  2. Ask yourself, What's the Big Idea?
  3. Get a telescope, a wide angle lens, and a microscope
  4. Teach so you can learn!
  5. All dressed up and ready to grow!
  6. Quality is everyday!
  7. Build an A-team!
  8. So the pie isn't perfect? Cut it into wedges.
  9. Take risks, not chances!
  10. Make it Beautiful!

to be continued

North Carolina Zoo--Entertain for Less!!

Have you been to your local zoo lately? Trust me, you should go! I happen to live only about twenty minutes away from the NC Zoo. Although we don't go that often, it is a great place to spend a day. Plus you have the benefit of not having to pay that much for your family to get together and have a fun filled day. Parking is free! Adults can enter for only $10 a day and kids over age two are $6 a day. Kids under two are free! My son is just about to turn three, so this year we will have to pay for him.The Zoo is open year round, but I know I prefer going in warm weather. I am looking forward to going when Ryan can remember more of the experience--although pictures from past trips help him remember those. Parking is free and they provide a complimentary tram to and from the different Continents. They have North America and Africa, etc.Kids love animals-- lions, elephants, and polar bears just to name a few--and it can be just as interesting and fun for the parents too. Memories are made here, so don't forget your camera--there will be lots of pictures to take. Some of the drawbacks could be the large amount of walking you have to do. I like the walking myself--get some exercise while getting to see the zoo! Also food and souvenirs can be a little pricey. You can always skip those and bring a cooler in your car or grab a bite to eat before you get there or when leaving.Remember, next time you are thinking about a way to get out of the house and spend the day with your family, without breaking the bank, check out your local zoo!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Drinking Water

I am concerned about something not in NC Governor Bev Perdue and President Obama's speeches and plans for our economic stimulus. What about the problems many states including our own have with water issues? Droughts and water reduction ordinances have become normal- and although we have had rain lately and the issue is not as pressing at the moment, we still need to address the problem. We can not always wait till the situation is dire! Population seems to continue to grow and I think that the problem is not going to go away. We need to come up with a plan and to use some of this stimulus money to put the plan in action.

No Luck in the Job Search

I have not had a regular job since December, and the search itself is taking a toll on me! Today I had a third interview with a company as an assistant manager. I was excited and thought that I had a great chance of getting the job. Even more exciting, they would pay around $33000 to start . Now to some of you out there that might not seem like much; but for someone out of work, it sounded great. And although I have made that kind of money before, I only made like a third of that all of last year!
I arrived at the interview today ready for the world! I took an assessment test that took an hour and a half and answered tons more of questions by the interviewing district manager. I felt I presented myself well(shirt and tie, clean cut),I passed the second interview with the head manager, and the test did not seem too tough--I thought I aced it! I was quickly deflated when she totaled the scores and said that I would not be able to continue as a candidate. Out of ten different categories listed, it stated that I had passed every area except for one. It just showed a graph(no numerical estimates) that barely showed me missing passing that section. I did not have the heart to really pay much attention anymore, but I noticed on the other sections that I had well exceeded the needed graph bar line. I guess it did not matter, in the end it was enough to keep me from getting the job. She said I could reapply in six months. Oh well, there went my plans!!
You have to remember all the cliches at this point: If it was meant to be, it would be! When one door closes, another door opens! It must not have been God's plan! I know all the cliches and I tend to believe them as well. Although, I must admit quite honestly that the rejection still hurts. When someone says that you are not good enough, it can be very disheartening.Rejection serves a blow to your self esteem and your ego. I have a small family to support and so many plans for my life. I have to get back in the job search, but my choices seem very few at the moment. lol-God, you do have a plan right?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Wheres my Bailout?

Banks and car companies and home owners are getting billions of dollars from the government so they will not go under and cause job loss and home loss. I can see the far reaching results if the big three car companies were to go under-It could arguably be devastating for America. But as GM is coming back wanting more money, you have to wonder when is enough, enough? Democracy thrives on survival of the fittest in business and sometimes business's just go under.The CEO s for big companies make millions- have or can they take pay cuts for a few years until things turn around? At least they still have jobs, unlike millions of Americans!As far as homeowners go, well some people can afford to buy homes and some cant. Lets extend that program for guys like me that cant really afford to buy! Put me in a house! Pay off my credit cards too! Maybe its small minded, but all in all what does this process teach us? That the rules are different or can be bent for only certain groups?
The following excerpt is from the blog . He tells how it will help Americans and how he thinks that we should help ourselves.

Hundred Goals: "“Where’s My Bailout?”
February 22, 2009 by Steven
With the passing of the Economic Stimulus Package, you may be asking yourself “Where’s MY bailout!??”
Some of the money is going to be coming your way, in the form of a $400 tax credit dispersed through your payroll checks. By my calculations, if you get paid bi-weekly, that will be about $14 per pay period. Not a great deal, but it is better than nothing.
I have to say, though, that we ought not be counting on the government to be bailing us out. While the reality of our economy is that big corporations are holding their hands out to big brother expecting a huge chunk of cash, we shouldn’t feel as though we are owed anything. We are responsible for our own financial situations and it is time that we start acting that way.
What can you do to give yourself a “bailout”?
Run your home like a business- If you were to hire someone to take care of your household finances and they were doing the job as well as you have been doing it, would you fire them? It is time to get serious about getting your money under control. Gather all of your bills and other expenses and create a budget. Figure out exactly how much money is coming in and going out every month. This is no time for estimates. Take an afternoon to figure it out. If you are in a relationship be sure that your spouse or significant other is involved in this process. They need to be aware of the situation as well. By creating a budget together you are also eliminating the confrontation that would likely occur when you spring your new budget on them.
Pay your bills- On time, every time! Late fees and over-limit fees are the worst type of fee you can encounter. Why? Because you could have avoided them altogether had you simply paid your bills on time. Check his site out for the rest!!

Take A Risk!! Entrepreneurial Risk!

Although I have not found huge success as of yet, I think I have always been somewhat of an entrepreneur! I can remember in elementary school trying to sell candy. At that young age, I dont know how I stumbled across the idea and what made me actually try it. I would walk to the local store and buy the most candy I could with whatever change I could scrounge up. I would take it to school and sell it to the other kids for huge profits of like a penny to a nickel a piece. As I got old enough you could find me mowing yards, raking leaves, and washing cars to make some extra money. I might have tried the lemonade stand once too--but coming from my family I had to stick with jobs that didnt require much start up costs!As I noted in other post, I would eventually take on two paper routes around the age of 12 or 14--somewhere around that age. I worked the concession stands at church camps before age 16 as well. You can see, as I do now looking back, that from very early on I was willing to try to make a dollar for myself.
I started working regular jobs at the age of 16 while still in school. Over the years I would always be thinking about what business I could start and what I could do extra or on the side to make some money. Books, magazines, the Internet-- you name it and I was reading , looking, and thinking of a way that I could make it out of the poverty from which I had came. Well you know I fell into ruts and thinking patterns that so many others do -- I didnt wont to lose what little I had accumulated, I didnt have any support financially or psychologically, and fear would shut me down,etc. Fears can shut many people's dreams down. Fear of failure, fear of what others think, fear that I didnt deserve success. I could rattle off other things like lack of money, lack of self esteem, and lack of that one Great Idea. I continued and still do today dream about what I could do to own my own business.
A couple of years ago I decided that it was now or never. You know, all the cliches! I'm not getting any younger! Its better to have tried and failed, rather than not to have tried at all! I have nothing to lose! If they can do it, why cant I? I would hate to look back in life with regrets of not trying. My mantra became Be a Doer! Not just a Thinker! I tried a couple of ideas and they didnt work out as planned. I wonder now if I just gave up too easy on the ideas or on myself. What I choose to believe is if God had meant for it to be, then it would have been!
First, I tried to set up a social club network here in the Triad area of Greensboro, High Point, & Winston Salem, North Carolina. I had run across the idea in a magazine article or something several years ago. I then got on the Internet and researched the idea some more. I found that there was actually someone running a site and an Adventure Club in the Charlotte area(only an hour or so away from me)--plus he had other clubs in his network. It is still up and running today--its called . To my surprise, he was offering to sell "franchises". I contacted him and he said that he could sell me one for $2000. I was excited about this and I proceeded to contact all of the other clubs in his network from around the country to see what they had to say about their experience with the site. Long story short, I bought in with $1000 from a tax refund I received one year. Also,while also working,I was attending college at the time. In one of my business courses I wrote a business plan for my planned club.I printed up a couple of thousand fliers and made contacts with local venues to start the club out. I will not go into too much detail about everything that I did to get it started. Needless to say,I think fear and worrying if I was doing the right thing started to shut me down. I guess thats what happened ! Plus $2000 was alot of money to me , so I let it go. I never did pay the other $1000. However, now I know these type of social clubs arent a booming industry on the Net, but I still think that it is a good idea.
My second adult try at starting a business came in the form of furniture retail. I had a full time job with my uncle's business delivering furniture making tons of money at the time. I thought I could be much more that just the delivery driver. Well, I decided to go for it. Around this area ---High Point is called The Furniture Capital of the World---you can buy furniture for wholesale prices. So I went to a few companies and got some prices on some furniture. I ended up buying some with a credit card(I know--not the best way to do things). Then I needed a truck and I found a used older style step van that would hold a small amount of furniture. Definitely more than a pickup truck. My brother went with me to pick it up and I remember telling him that I had to try if I was ever going to be somebody. Neither of us were mechanics or really good with that kind of thing, but we looked it over and decided to take it(mistake number two).The transmission went out on the truck about 3 or 4 months later. By the way, I took out a personal loan to be able to buy the truck(mistake number three). Anyway, I tried different ways to sell the furniture during the time the truck was running. I set up at Flea Markets and on street corners and I actually sold some. I was ecstatic about that! Even though it was only small money, I was on my way--or so i thought! At the same time, I started to post furniture on EBay. EBay was huge and lots of people were making tons of money, so why couldnt I? Well to my delight, I started selling a piece here and there. Man, it was an exciting time for me! People all over the country took interest and started to contact me and some bought(in small numbers--but still yet I was on my way!). I had the connection of my uncle to deliver the product out through his delivery company. Plus he had extra furniture that he said I could sell and keep the profit over the selling price! He also had heard of other people from around here being successful selling furniture on , well it was working for a few months! The amount sold was not that high yet, but I was selling and making a little extra money.When my customers received their furniture, they were very happy with the whole process.Heres where I started to go under. My uncle had a legitimate business with big stores supplying alot of business for him. He didnt think of my small amount of deliveries as priorities. I needed the pieces delivered in a certain amount of time to make customers and Ebay happy. This in turn would keep my EBay status as excellent. He and/or the company started to be slack on making my deliveries and I had to keep a good reputation.So with this problem combined with my truck breaking down, I decided to stop pursuing it. I couldnt afford to keep up my regular bills plus pay for the repair of the truck. I would eventually sell it for much less than I paid for it.
Well in conclusion, I learned alot and even had some fun. Some of that fun came from the fact of knowing that I tried something that actually worked to a degree. Of course, neither situation worked out exactly like i wanted it to. There were alot of negatives and I lost out on some money. I put things on credit cards and opened personal loans and racked up debt like crazy. Live and learn! Honestly, I dont have regrets in trying to accomplish my goals. Although I still am paying for some of those credit cards today, I can say that the Entrepreneur is still inside of me. I have just had to lay low for a few years, lick my wounds, try to pay off some of these debts, and learn from my mistakes.Owning my own business may or may not be in the cards for me and I might have to work a job for the rest of my life.We will see!

Whats Your Favorite TV Shows?

I have to admit liking and watching a wide range of shows and movies. Below is a list of TV shows I like in no particular Order!
  1. Little People, Big World
  2. TLC-- Real Estate Pros, Property Ladder, any other R.E. show
  3. A&E--Flip That House
  4. The Duggars 17 Kids and Counting
  5. Jon and Kate Plus 8
  6. Man Vs Wild & Survivorman
  7. American Idol
  8. The Dave Ramsey Show
  9. Confessions of a Teen Idol
  10. The Biggest Loser- or any weight loss challenge show

Sunday, February 22, 2009

President Barack Obama to Slash Federal Deficit

I just read a news story on the web proclaiming that President Obama has a new plan to reduce our Federal Deficit now in the Trillions. I do not know whether the President's plan will work or be the best way to go about reducing the deficit. However, ever since I was a small child I can remember hearing that the U.S. carries a National Deficit and later hearing that carrying some debt was good for the country and its economy. All I know is that it has gradually grown over the years and has gotten grossly out of control. I can not ever remember anyone so boldly stating that they have a plan to reduce this debt and even going as far as to say they can cut it in half in matter of four years. I think it is great and I hope it can be done. I think it shows leadership and responsibility and that it is good to take accountability. Can it be done? I dont know! Will Americans suffer because of it? Well, I dont know that either! I do know that it will not go away on its own and that the mounting debts could hurt our future generations to come. President Obama and his team still are delivering hope!!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Weight loss and Getting Healthy

I have been trying to get back in shape and maybe lose a few pounds along the way. I have set a few fitness goals for myself along with my financial goals. I think that these two things go hand in hand for me. I mean I know that you dont exactly have to have one to have the other. But when you think about your overall well being and happiness in life, this statement might make sense to you. I have also heard and read about others agreeing with this statement. I believe Chef Gordan Ramsey said in one of his TV shows something along the lines of "You fat Donkey-Lose some weight and you might have some success with your restaurant." Lol -- He did not say this exactly, but something to that effect.
I had always been in shape, active, and at the gym on a daily basis. I was single then -lol! However, in 2006 my son Ryan came along and I couldnt find as much time or desire to go to the gym. Plus, some say that during a pregnancy the man tends to gain some weight too. Eventually, I let my gym membership go to save more money. Well with these things combined, I put on some pounds. I am about six foot tall and I used to weigh about 165 when I graduated from high school in 1992. In 2005, I probably weighed about 195. At the end of 2007 I decided it was time to lose some weight. I had ballooned to a high of 229 pounds and allot of muscle had turned to fat. Right before that Christmas I decided enough was enough. I wanted to cut fast food out, eat healthier( vegetables and fruit had become obscure in my diet), drink less soft drinks, and to start exercising again. Guess what, I lost around twenty pounds! I drifted down to as low as 199! I watched The Biggest Loser, the Health Channel, and a BBC show You Are What You Eat for motivation. Lots of people noticed too which was great for my confidence. The only problem was that I needed a gym to feel motivated to work out. I know you can work out at home and I had tried. Joining a gym was the best option for me, so in June of 2008 my girlfriend and I joined a new gym chain around here called The Rush. Btw- they have free child care and my son loves going there(thats a free plug for them). I have been at it ever since and am maintaining at 205 pounds. My main goal is to lower my body fat percentage and if I lower my weight- well that would be great too--actually I think I look better around 190 or 195, so maybe I would like to lose more pounds. My body fat in June was at 21% and two months later I had dropped it to 19.6%. I rarely eat fast food and we very rarely dine out. Salads, vegetables, and fruit have become a part of my diet again. I eat allot of chicken and have cut red meat out a lot. I still have a ways to go, but I am determined to stick with it. If you have fitness goals ,you can change your life and live a longer happier life!

Markus Frind- -Dating Website

I read the article and the accompanying interview with Markus in Inc. Magazine about a month or so ago. I was really impressed and excited with what he has done and what he had to say. I went as far as to buy the magazine, and I had to write about it here on my blog. Of course, the skeptic in me wondered if he actually had accomplished what he says he has. Never the less, I choose to believe! Mr. Frind started a free dating website in Canada called www.Plentyof . He admits it is very minimal in its design and he likes it that way. The site is number one in Canada and pretty high in America as well. The kicker is that he says the site clears 10 million a year and he makes $5 million himself. Simplicity is the key! He gives advice for anyone to heed in the magazine. He says anyone willing should start a website and offer it for free in any area where all your competitors are charging. The key is to add Google AdSense to the site. That is where you can make money- and mainly how Markus makes his money. Now he just sits back and the site runs itself, only working about an hour a day. He just recently hired a small staff of 3 and moved to office space. Amazingly, until recently he operated the site out of his apartment.How many successful businessmen out there do you think are going to give out that kind of straight forward advice.I have to admit I had never heard of his site or the AdSense program .However, the article had me thinking! It was part of the reason why I decided to start my blog. I have also been debating what other websites I might be able to start. Whos to say that you guys couldnt do the same thing? I would be happy with just a third or even less of his revenue!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Trailer Trash

I wanted to talk about my thoughts and experiences with real estate. Coming from a family with no dad and a single mom with three boys living on welfare, I have always been drawn to ways of making money and a better life. For many years I have had an interest in buying my own home. Also I have enjoyed reading about how I could get into the "game" and how to buy and sell and/or buy and hold investment properties--among many other ideas. I have read countless books about this subject,magazine articles, watched numerous TV shows,researched on the Internet, and have even ordered a "book system" when I was younger (and not as wise!). There has been no bigger fan of the flipping homes shows on the networks TLC and A&E than me. My girlfriend has had enough of them- trust me on that one--she lets me know all the time!
All my adult life I have rented in mainly nice apartments. Each one was usually better and more expensive than the last. This was probably due to feed my own self worth and my ego. I paid those rent payments on time each month to my credit. Looking back, I dont know how I did it except for pure dedication, having my priorities straight, and sacrificing in other areas. I know that you need to save money for a down payment and to have a good credit score--I worked diligently on my credit after really messing up in about 1995 at the age of 21 or so.I tried to get a loan through the bank which fell through because I received a 1099;although my income, credit score, and rental history were great. Well, I could rarely find the money to save so I decided to try to get a house another way. A creative way! I had read all about lease options and thought maybe this was the way to go. I was leaving my apartment one day headed to work and saw a nice, relatively new house with a sign out front advertising lease option. I decided to go for it- a 3 br, 2 ba house with a fenced in back yard for $118,000--and guess what ,I got approved. At the time, my girlfriend and I were so happy- she was pregnant with our son Ryan. He would be due about six months later. Heck, it was what I always wanted--the American Dream- and a way to start turning my life around, prove that I was somebody. and to start building wealth. She would eventually move in there with me and we would live happily ever after. Lol we were happy but thats not exactly how things would work out.
Well here is the first thing I did "wrong". I borrowed the $5000 down payment he wanted off a cash advance on one of my credit cards. With the down payment, our rent would be $650 a month with a $125 credit towards purchase and we would have two years to get a loan for the house. Pretty good terms overall-plus the rent was only a $100 increase over my apartment rent. I loved our house! It was ours after all and I jumped wholeheartedly into things like yard work and landscaping. I tried my best to secure a loan through my bank, Bank of America, and then through Country Wide to no avail. I jumped through so many hoops for it only to fall apart--mainly because of the 1099 and them not taking taxes out on me. Of course, I paid taxes-but somehow that would say that they didnt have sufficient enough proof of my income. There went my hopes and dreams and my $5000. Plus I lost $3000 in the monthly credits and the appreciation of the house $7000. Besides of course not getting the house and putting myself into more credit card debt, I dont have much regret. I know people will think I am crazy!! However I am glad that I took a chance and the risk. It just didnt work out my way, but at least I tried. And guess what? I still want the chance to own my own home and to have some investment property.
This leads me to my final point and where my family and I have ended up today. Have you ever thought about living in a mobile home --commonly referred to as a trailer. Well I never thought in my life I would. I had tried all my life to improve myself and my situation. Living in a trailer would definitely be 3 steps back, and I am sure I even swore that I would never live in one. I was too good!! Imagine that-- the poor kid raised in Section 8 housing swearing to be too good to live in a trailer! So if you really are behind in your life and want to get ahead, I want to propose a question to you. Could you live in a trailer? Now I am not talking about for the rest of your life or even as an appreciating investment--we all know that mobile homes lose value quickly.(although there are books and websites dedicated to making money through mobile homes)
My girlfriends parents have a house and some land in what would be considered the country ;although it is near three large cities. They had basically an abandoned trailer that they used to live in years ago on their property. They offered to let us live there rent free. So we took them up on it and only had to do some major cleaning out --it had become a sort of storage room. We have been here only a year and four months but let me tell you, it is great not having to pay rent. Very nice of her parents!! You know, its not ideally were I want to be and we want be here forever. I decided to see it as an opportunity to get our debt paid off and to get ahead again in life--although my employment last year helped kill that plan somewhat. Things are looking up on that front and I am still optimistic for this year on getting back on track. The trailer itself has not been that bad-- its supplied what we needed-although not my ideal $400,000 home-- and kept us from having to worry about an apt. payment. Think about it. A used trailer can be bought very cheaply and save you tons of money say towards your new house.I know first hand that living here hasnt changed who I am and where I plan to go. Many people have even temporarily lived in a mobile home while their home was being built on their land. These are just a few thought to think about.In closing, I would like to re ask the question--could moving to a trailer change your life?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Recycle ??

Today I took my collection of soft drink cans to be recycled. I had seven pounds of cans that paid out at 25 cent a pound. That adds up to a whopping $1.75!! Lol! At one point I thought I might be able to make a "little" extra money. I hardly think that this kind of money will help much. It wont even help pay for what I think is my one big vice- soft drinks! I try to limit them though--I am not as bad as some people. Anyway, I continue to try to recycle them for two reasons. One, we dont have a regular garbage service here(unless you pay extra for it) at our home. I am constantly having to get rid of my trash. I like recycling our cans because it cuts down on the amount we have to get rid of and doesnt fill up a dump. The second reason, which goes right along with the first, is that it is the right thing to do--helping keep our Earth clean and green! When I lived in the city service limits(all my life until about 1 year and 4 mths ago), I would regularly divide our recyclables out. You know its not much per say, but every little bit helps. I am all for the Green Movement!! So what do you do to help out??

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Carolina Panthers

Julius Peppers is arguably one of the best defensive players in the NFL playing currently for the Panthers. However, he is unhappy and demanding to be traded. He claims the team is not fully utilizing his abilities in their current defensive scheme. They run a 3-4 scheme and he wants to to be in a 4-3 system --or something like that. I like John Fox and what he and his staff have done for the most part over the years. However, you cant let a still young and incredibly talented and athletic guy like him get away. How did they let it get this far anyway? Accommodate him someway and let him continue to torment offensive lines and quarterbacks! Of course, it may be too late!

North Carolina Tarheels

I am huge UNC fan, and I have been since the age of seven or so. How did I become a fan?- well its funny sort of. I remember watching a game between Carolina and NC State with my best friend. Carolina had a point guard named Jeff Lebo at the time. Somehow my friend said he liked State- the Wolfpack led by coach Jim Valvano("Never Give Up, Never Give Up")- and I of course had to pick the opposite team UNC led by legendary Dean Smith -lol. I have been a fan ever since. I also picked my favorite NFL team like this- my friend picked the Miami Dolphins led by Dan Marino and I liked the San Franscisco 49ers led by none other than the great Joe Montana. I think we picked based on liking the quarterbacks- how at those young ages I dont know. I followed the 49ers until they traded Joe to the KC Chiefs, and I continued to follow him there until his retirement. After this I became a Carolina Panthers fan!
Back to Carolina-- they played NC State tonight and won 89 to 80! I hope that they can win it all or at least run deep into the NCAA's. They are led by All American Tyler Hansbrough and stand out point guard Ty Lawson. Wayne Ellington, although sometimes inconsistent, has come on strong as of late to round out their big three. Lets not forget about Danny Green and Deon Thompson- who make solid contributions. Also tonight we welcomed back another Tyler from a broken wrist- seven foot freshman Tyler Zeller- he scored 20 points in the first two games of the season before being hurt. I am excited to see if he can back in the swing of things soon! Go Heels!!

Rich Like Them

Rich Like Them by Ryan D'Agostino

This is a book that I just recently read. It explores a unique idea in trying to understand how people made their money. The author went to some of the United States richest neighborhoods , knocked on doors, and tried to interview the homeowners. He covered 19 towns in 11 states, knocking on 500 doors. Only 50 people would talk to him- that equals to only 10% of whom he tried to speak. So it was not an easy task to accomplish! Some of the cities covered were Westport,Connecticut, NYC,New York, Phoenix,Arizona, Silicon Valley,California, and Cleveland ,Ohio. The book prompts the question of Why Them? Most people are just like us- so why them? How did they do it?
I will add more to this post later!!

Gas Prices on the Rise?? Again??

I have wondered why in the last month or so why the gas prices have been going up at the pump.While at the same time, I keep hearing that the price of a barrel of oil is going down. So how can this be I pondered, as someone who has only driven out of necessity since the gas prices have gotten out of hand in the last year or so. I had only recently started to relax a little and let myself drive other places besides work and the grocery store. Today on yahoo a news clip was posted that roughly tried to address my concerns and give us some kind of answer. They say that the oil refineries have cut down production and thus that has lowered the supply available. With less supply, we all know, that prices must go up. However, as all the conspirators out there will acknowledge, can we believe this answer? I don't know! However, I know first hand that the price of a gallon of gas can easily lower the standard of life in a low income family. I wholeheartedly support finding alternative solutions. At any rate, I have included the news clip that I found below. Well I tried several times and it said their was an error processing it. The gist of the post is still here though.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Live on $12000 a Year ??

This posting was inspired from another blog A lady claims to have lived on $12000 a year.I lived on a relatively small income last year also- so I can definitely relate. I want to say that the lady is clearly resourceful and can stretch her resources and a dollar. I myself think that I am very good at stretching a dollar. Last year my bills were app. $1000 a month, which equals to app. $12000 a year. My girlfriend and I combined only made app. $21000(my worst year ever) and we still had to buy food and gas for our cars. I didnt keep a budget but I had a pretty good handle on our money. I kept all of our receipts-for the most part- from shopping at Walmart and added them up recently. We spent about $100 a week on food and necessities like toiletries--we have a two year old son that we had to buy diapers, pull ups, and wipes also. We also have dogs that need dog food.In all, we spent app $5200 last year on these things. I didnt keep a gas total, but trust me the way gas prices were last year, this ate up most of the rest of our money.
How did we save money? Well we cut out things--which in retrospect probably strained our relationship some. We dont have to pay rent or a house payment. She has a 1999 Chevy Blazer and I have a 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee- both of these are paid for. I used part of our tax refund last February to finish paying off my car--this was great--my first time in a long time without a car payment(part of my no debt plan). We basically cut out fast food-only had it once in a blue moon-- and cooked our meals at home.This was also part of my lose weight and get back into shape plan-lol! We didnt have to worry about child care- my girlfriends family live next door and they helped out with watching him.Also the gym I go to- The Rush- offers free childcare. My son loves to go there by the way. We very rarely went out on dates. When we did, my girlfriend has an aunt who has a connection for free tickets at the Greensboro Coliseum(ie-circus). She would give us tickets from time to time. We didnt go to the movies as much either. But if we did, we would go to the dollar theatre or would occasionally rent from Red Box-which is only a dollar a night. The Greensboro Grasshoppers minor league baseball team offers a good value for a family night out as well-we even got free tickets given to us outside the gate once. The parks around here are nice and offer fun and a night or day out for free. We didn't take a vacation--I rarely have in my life. We wanted to take my son two years ago to the beach and we did. However, this past summer we decided to buy passes at a local water park-Wet & Wild in Greensboro- that is only 15 minutes from our house. Only app $80 a piece for a total of $160--son was free because of his age. It was great and almost like being at the beach and my son loved it. I would go to the library and borrow books and for the first time ever took advantage of the free DVD rentals. Also Barnes and Noble was a good place to read books and magazines, and they have a good area for kids. My son enjoys the books and stuffed animals and the train set there as well. We did have ongoing bills like electricity, cell phone and Internet, gym membership,and car insurance that pretty much used up the rest of our income. Of course, I hope that we can get our level of income up this year. In conclusion, Living on less can be done if you take advantage of the resources and learn to stretch a dollar!

Monday, February 16, 2009

4700 Miles and 7 States in 5 Days

What are you willing to do for money? Does spending five days at a time in a 40 foot straight truck delivering furniture sound up your alley? Probably not! Well I have an uncle who owns a company that delivers furniture all over the country -mainly in peoples homes. I have worked there regularly in the past and I made very good money-- average of $900 for three days and as much as $1400 for five days. Its not something that I ever thought that I would want to do. I aspired to be something like a restaurant manager or an entrepreneur. At any rate, it is very hard, dirty work that requires you to be gone alot from home. You are subjected to many DOT checks, sleeping in a truck at night in the sleepers, and alot of stress. Well the economy has slowed down and so has my uncles business. Although I am not a regular employee there anymore---I think he has plenty of drivers--he is aware that I have been out of work and has offered to let me take a trip here and there. I just got back from one--I left on a Friday night and didnt get back until Wednesday night. This one was almost nonstop driving; I was the only driver and really it was too much for one person! I started here in North Carolina and went to Tennessee, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and back to Tennessee. I only made $425 because I took two helpers with me(normally you take just one). We basically split the pay three ways making app. $400 a piece. You do get to see the country and I got to make some money-which is better than no money! Overall though it was pretty crappy considering the lack of sleep and the tons of driving I did. However, I did what was available to help support my little family.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Journey to Become Debt Free

I have always liked to read-newspapers, magazines, books-mostly nonfiction. Generally , I read nonfiction books- biographies, self help, real estate,business(how to make money & how some run and market), entrepreneurial, and personal finance books, among others. I have read hundreds if not thousands of books. To go way back , I won a trophy in third grade for reading so many books--which I still have today. I have read to learn and to better my situation in life.
In reading personal finance books,I had read many times about the debt snowball -executed many different ways to become debt free. I had always written my bills down in a calender form to tell me when each bill was due. Also I would take each paper copy of the bill and stack them in order -by due date-when I paid one I would take that bill off the top and place it somewhere else to indicate that it was paid. This is a system I still use today- I have prided myself on paying my bills on time--although I have experienced a car repo when I was in college and let credit cards go around 1995.After this time, I have also written the bills/ debts I owed down -with the exact amount owed. I have paid down my debts many times, only to have let them creep up to the the present large amount. Among many authors that preached paying your debt down, Dave Ramsey sticks out to me. I decided to give his way a try. I decided in January of 2007 to start writing all of my debts down with detailed info such as the bill issuer, the amount due each month, total left on the debt, the annual percentage rate associated with it, and the months it would take to pay off the debt if you just payed the minimum each time. I started with with $42,000 worth of debt and I now stand at $32,418.93.I have made progress but obviously not enough. I really had a terrible year last year as far as jobs and making money. They say you need to be debt free to truly be able to generate wealth--my ultimate goal. At any rate, I am still committed to becoming debt free. This is one of the main reasons I have started this blog. The debt snowball Dave recommends involves writing your debts down the way I described above and attack them with "gazelle" intensity. He says-although many disagree- to start with smallest debt and pay as much as you can towards it-making sure to pay the minimum due on the other bills.Pay off the smallest one and apply the extra money(that you would be putting toward the 1st bill) towards the next larger debt). He says that this will allow you to build momentum. I personally like this method the best. I am in a situation now since starting that I have paid off my car and do not have any rent or house payment. I am almost a little afraid to admit to all of the credit card debt that my girlfriend and I have. This debt has held us back along with my lack of income at times. I really want to turn things around by becoming debt free and finding a good job. Here is a list of my current debts that I would love to pay off within the next one to two years.

1. Student Loan $52.87 month $3875.77 owed 5.375%

2. Bank of America $162 month $5737.55 owed 19.73%
3.Bank of America $78 mth $3427.03 owed 15.74%
4.Bank of America $35 mth $1270.58 owed 20.92%

5.Chase $263 mth $8062.40 owed 27.24%
6.Orchard Bank $44 mth $1127.94 owed 29.49%
7.AT & T $55.66mth $2081.84 owed 19.99%
8.Capital One $29 mth $1422.26 owed 12.4%
9.Target Card $24.43mth $858.99 owed 20.99%
10. Citi Card $59.99mth $2138.64 owed 19.99%
11.Lowes $15.00mth $714.41 owed 21.99%
12. Sears $10.00mth $417.23 owed 23.99%
13.Wamu $31 mth $860.33 owed 28.20%
14.Capital One $15 mth $486.36 owed 15.90%

total- $874.95mth ttl- 32,418.93 owed

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Jobless--Blessing in Disguise??

I wanted to talk about my job experience from over the years. I often think of myself now as an entrepreneurial guy that has tried many things to get ahead in life over the years. I remember as a young boy in elementary school buying things such as candy and gum and turning around and selling it at school for a profit--you know just a few cents made on each piece.Later as I got older, I would mow or rake yards for extra money. Somewhere around 10 or 12, I started delivering newspapers. In those years papers were delivered in the afternoon during the week and in the early morning on the weekends. My younger brother had one also- both were right around our house and neighborhood. Eventually I would take on a second route a mile or so from my house. We got started with paper routes because of an older kid down the street from us had routes-he basically gave me the idea to do that for money.My mom signed us up for that adventure, and after school we would basically walk our routes with our paper bags slung over our shoulders. It was alot of work and we learned responsibility quick. Mom was a single mom who would eventually be raising three boys. At the time she didnt have a car, so we couldnt drive the routes.You had to deliver the paper by seven on the weekends and that was tough on two young boys. Mom would help out some by rolling papers or bagging them--lol- and waking us up on Sat and Sunday. I remember struggling many times with the weight of the bags of newspapers and many times running late on the weekends. I made what was good money for a little boy and was able to buy shoes and clothes for myself--because if I didnt buy the nice, more expensive things I liked --I wasnt getting them!!! When I turned 16 I started working at Sedgefield Country Club as a busboy. I had to wear a tuxedo shirt and a bowtie, but I made way above the minimum wage. I enjoyed that job and didnt work that hard mostly--although at the time I didnt have a car so I would have to catch rides with people--which was a pain. I also had a couple of retail jobs after that.Later, I graduated from high school in 1992 and in January of 1993 I started working at a new steakhouse-Austins Bar & Grill in High Point, NC. Thats where I was born and had lived all of my life. I was hired as a waiter and would find that I liked the money I was able to make. I never expected to stay as long as I did; I just saw it as a job and a source of money. I did continue to work there off and on--but mostly on -fulltime lol. I worked there as recently as October 2008 Furniture Market- a big event around here. They opened a second Austins in Greensboro and asked me if I was interested in becoming the manager there. I took it feeling well prepared since I had worked there for so long and I had done every job in the restaurant to help out over the years. I thought and still think that I am a good match for a restaurant manager job-the entrepreneur in me would rather own one though-lol.I would end up "leaving" because they thought they couldnt afford to pay a manager any more. There was a fire there one year and they closed for a while to remodel. I was lucky enough to get a temporary job as a manager at the High Point Country Club. I really liked that job-- getting to hire and train the whole staff. In 2003 we had a tragedy happen in the family, and would start working some for my uncle. He owned a furniture delivery service where I would become a driver. Its not what I wanted to do in life, but I made lots of good money--as much as $900 in three days and $1500 in five plus tips. I also got to see the country. I would come home and work Austins sometimes when I was available.I tried to start a couple of businesses in the next couple of years, that wouldnt work out.--I will do a separate post to talk about them. Last year-2008- I tried something new--I tried to apply for restaurant jobs, etc and was finding nothing. I filled out a manager application and a regular app at Walmart--I didnt think it was exactly right for me, but I was willing to take a chance. They called and offered me a job as a cashier--boy I thought I was too good for that at my age--but I decided I would take it to get my foot in the door and hopefully move up. Within a month or so they moved me up to a supervisor job. I was very happy with that, but the money was not that good. It definitely wasn't what I was used to. I held on hoping to get a good paying assistant manager position. I told anyone who would listen what my goal was- even the store manager--which was a risk in itself. Unbelievably, he was on my side and was going to try and help me move up. I later found out that when you start a new position-IE-supervisor job--you have to wait a new 6 months to be considered for the manager position. Well , I never made it. I had many bills and low pay--it caused friction between my girlfriend and I-who was working also. I ended getting fired right before Christmas for a no call, no show--from an argument with my girlfriend. Trust me I know better--I have always tried to be the best employee--not just one of the group.They told me I could come back to work and I would just be written up. When that time came they ended up taking me in the office to write me up and ended up firing me. Well I have definitely learned a lesson. That's where I find myself now- unemployed for the last couple of months--continually searching for a job-sending apps and resumes left and right-having no luck. My uncles biz is way slow with the economy now--but he let me run a couple of trips to make some money-but it has been tough on me the last few months. Sorry to ramble--just wondering, anybody out there have a story to share? I know it will turn around for me-I have been optimistic--Its just taking longer than I thought it would.

Hello World

This is my first attempt of doing a blog. Now that I am actually trying to write my first posting-it actually doesnt seem that easy-lol. I will talk about things such as money, life, and debt in future posts. I will also include some of my interests and thoughts on such things as movies, tv shows, magazines, books. Essentially, I will use this as a platform to express myself and tell of my own personal financial journey. I hope that readers will be encouraged to comment and to offer any advice to improve my blog and to help me on my journey through their own wisdom.