Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Chinese Electric Cars Coming to Costco and Wal-Mart

Here's an interesting story via Digg.com. The CEO of GS Motors — Kathleen Ligocki — told the Hybrid Cars website that she thinks the US will follow in Mexico’s footsteps. GS Motors sold 4,000 China-made vehicles in Mexico last year at…Costco and Wal-Mart.

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Fire Rips Through Homeless Camp Leaving Dozens The Same

Officials are investigating a fire that ripped through a homeless camp along the Feather River in Sutter County.

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Daily Show: Auto Crisis Turns Obama into Car Salesman

Sure, he doesn't have a checkered suit. Sure, he doesn't have a "Crazy," a "Fast," or a "Bucks" appended to the front of his name. Sure, he's actually the president. But Barack Obama can have you behind the wheel of your very own certified pre-owned Sebring faster and cheaper than the best of them.

read more digg story

America's 10 Healthiest Fast-Food Restaurants

Here's an article I ran across on Digg.com! I try to avoid fast food, but sometimes it is nearly impossible. Plus, admittedly, some of it can taste pretty good! Well this story tries to give you some insight into the fast food places with healthier options.

Eating out invariably raises a number of tricky questions: sit down or drive through? Burgers or pizza? Thin or stuffed crust? Choosing one over the other could mean saving hundreds of calories in a single meal, up to 50 pounds of flab in the course of a year, and countless health woes over the course of a lifetime. Here are the top 10.

read more digg story

Bank of America Credit Card

Last week I received a letter stating that my credit limit would be reduced by $400 for going over one of my other cards limits.I know! I know! I have too many credit cards. I looked at my free credit report, courtesy of Experian for the negative action against me. My credit report was the same as always. All accounts were current and stated "never late, pays as agreed". With a closer look, I found that my Orchard Bank card had gone over the credit limit by less than a hundred dollars because of an issue with their accepting a payment on time(of course I was near the limit). I had called them as soon as I saw it and I called the company. The rep with customer service took the late charge off. I then made a payment with her and I promptly closed my account. I had that account for several years and they never increased my limit or cut my interest rate at all. But even in my credit report now it still shows as pays as agreed and never late because I didn't go no where close to 30 days late. A few days at most! But on my report it shows your highest balance and your credit limit. I guess this is where Bank of America got its grounds to decrease my limit.

Well I was a little mad at first. I have been working on my credit for a while now. I know that as long as you are not using the card, the more you have available credit, the better your credit score usually will be. I haven't used any of my B of America credit cards in a while. I cut them up over a year ago. Several months back they had sent me letters for my 3 cards stating that if I didn't respond back to them in a certain amount of time, they would raise my interest rates. My rates were already hovering around 15%. I thought enough is enough, and I sent three letters stating that I didn't agree with a rate hike--I have never done anything like this before! In fairness to B of A, I think it was the first time a letter was sent that was written large enough to know that a rate hike was coming.They said the rate would stay the same as long as I didn't use the cards again. So they are still open!

This brings me to a new issue that I had thought about posting about before. I am still unemployed, since the beginning of December . I need advice! I have worked so long and hard on building up my credit. However if you looked at my debt, you could see that I am pretty much to my limit on every card. I have a decent credit score, I just need income. Then I would be able to start paying them off again rather than using them to live on. My girlfriend's income is helping us to get by right now. Right now there is no debt snowball, we just pay the minimum! My girlfriend's credit is better than mine now. I helped establish her credit and we would continue to pay on her two cards. Well here is the question. Should I stop paying on my cards? I know the first step should be to call all of the credit card companies and see if they will work with me. I'm pretty sure they will laugh when I ask for 3 to 6 months of a deferment of payments. I have seen Dave Ramsey answer many questions telling the caller that they need to pay their rent or mortgage first and the utilities and worry about putting food on the table. Its still hard to "let go" of paying on the cards, because of ruining the infamous credit score. How will I ever buy a house? Dave says you don't need a score to buy a house. Basically he claims that cash is king! I do agree that it would be great to live only on cash. How many years will that take? I don't have a TV show, or have anyone to fall back on. Dave doesn't say not to ever pay them back, but to start when you can. I don't see us living on cash alone for a while. Plus about that credit score--they will ruin your credit for seven years. Usually seven years from your last activity--so if you pay them back in 3 years, you can still count on your credit being bad for seven years past that date. If you don't pay in full, you can guarantee that they will keep recycling your debt around way past that seven years to different creditors. All in an attempt to reclaim that original debt. It's all a mess I put myself in! What should I do??

Channel 8 -Deal or Dud?

The local news runs a segment called deal or dud. They take different products and try to test them to determine if they work. Have you ever had to throw out vegetables or fruit only after a few days because they have begun to rot? Well tonight they tested the green bags that claim to extend the shelf life of vegetables. There are many different brands of bags out now. They tested their bags over a month's time at a local farmer's market. They actually worked! Lettuce and tomatoes lasted the whole 30 days.

Next they tested the razor sharpener. I was interested in this one because the price of replacement blades have sky rocketed recently. I haven't been able to find a good electric razor that gives me a good , clean shave like a Gillette Mach 3(although I have only tried a few!) Any ideas or suggestions would be great. Anyway, three different people tried out this product. One girl and two guys determined that this one was a dud. One guy suggested that drying the razor would extend the blade's life more than the blade sharpener.

The Peticure was next. Its the product that claims that it is the humane way to cut your pet's nails. I was a curious about this one too because I do cut our dogs nails from time to time. My dogs are usually pretty good with the regular dog nail clippers. However, there is nothing worse than accidentally going too far and having them jump or yelp in pain. The news team went to a veterinarian for this test. He determined in his opinion that it worked great for cats and was a dud for dogs. Darn, I guess I'm out of luck on this one and the razor sharpener!

Harris Teeter Triple Coupons

Thanks to running across several coupon blogs, I had started to try using coupons. I blogged about my experience at a couple of grocery stores and a drugstore. This past week the grocery store Harris Teeter was running a triple coupon promo. I made sure I worked a stop into my routine to see if I could save some money. I have to say again that I don't know if all the stores in this chain are so expensive, but I know that some of the prices are a lot higher at this one than at Walmart. However, if you really look hard, you can still find some deals. I coupled a few of my tripled coupons with the store Vic card savings and a couple of buy one , get one free deals. I ended up spending $25.00. I saved altogether $23.00! Not too bad, almost half!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Fountain of Youth

Guess what? I found it! The answer to your youth! How can you add years to your life and gain a more youthful appearance? Of course, it doesn't come in the form of a pill or a glass of water from a spring far, far away. And I'm not selling snake oil or any other useless product. The answer is simple, yet it will never come easily. You have to change your lifestyle and your way of thinking. The answer.... exercise and diet. That's right, its not complicated or a product that will cost you thousands of dollars.

Think about it..Is their a person you haven't seen in a while, and when you do see them again they look great. They decided to lose some weight and voila, they shaved several years or more off of their face and body. I was watching the Biggest Loser the other week. I love the show and the transformations the people go through. It changes lives and its great to see them achieving their goals and dreams. On one of the last couple of shows, the trainer Bob comments on one the contestants dramatic weight loss since she had left the show. She comes in and he says, "Wow, look at you, you look at least ten years younger". Well he says something very similar to that anyway. Its amazing right? We all know that exercise and lifestyle changes can have dramatic effects on your waistline and add years to your life. Exercise, the fountain of youth, can actually shave years off of your life and give you a fresher look and a more youthful appearance.

Just decide to do it! Take small steps! Start slow... exercise a couple of times a week for 30 minutes to an hour. A combination of lifting weights and doing some kind of cardio are going to give you the best results. Remember, don't do diets! Make lifestyle changes. You don't have to change everything overnight with such huge changes that you could never stick to. Remember it took you probably years to get fat, and you can't expect to lose it overnight. Decide that you will stop eating at fast food places and that you will add more fruits and vegetables to your diet. These are just a couple of small changes. Several months down the road you can get stricter if you chose..cut out soft drinks and sweets, etc. Get a workout partner, and you guys can help each other out and keep each other focused and motivated. Until they make that pill or magical bottle of water(oh yeah, or plastic surgery)... exercise, and watching what you eat, not smoking, and limiting your drinking are the only proven ways of maintaining your youth. Thank God...the fountain of youth has been discovered..lol !

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Suze Orman- Are Weight and Your Wallet Connected?

I ran across an article by Jorge Cruise in the USA Weekend, an insert in the local newspaper. He covered the financial author and TV Host's opinion in the tips for everyday life section. She says, "Health is related to Wealth". I have to say that this is what two of my biggest goals are about, to get more physically fit (lower body fat percentage) and to get out of debt and increase my wealth ( get money-lol). She says that as your debt goes up, that the weight can too! She goes as far as to say that having self control, by avoiding McDonald's and Taco Bell and running up discretionary spending, is a key to happiness. Suze says you need to keep track of your spending and your eating. Then you can accurately assess where you need to cut back.

UNC Wins!!!

Just a short note--I know not everyone cares about sports and wants to continually here about the Tarheels. I just want to say great job to the team and Coach Roy Williams for returning to the Final Four. The games will be held in Detroit next week! I was surprised how easily they shut down Oklahoma today.Good luck next week Tarheels!!

$150 Million Dollar Home For Sale!!

Aaron Spelling ,Hollywood producer of hit shows such as "Charlie's Angels," ''Dynasty" and "Beverly Hills 90210", built a huge mansion in California. It is right down the street from the likes of Hugh Hefner. He passed away in 2006 and his widow, Candy Spelling, has put the mega estate up for sale. The price tag is a mere $150 million! She has decided to downsize to a $49 million dollar 2 story condo. Really? Imagine that! After close to three years, she finally decided that it was time for a change. I have to say that I would love to live in a million dollar home. Mostly I have found myself dreaming of living in a $400,000 to $700,000 home. Also, maybe I dreamt of a vacation home.Hell, right now I have been wishing to find a $30,000 to $50,000 house to start small in the real estate game. I don't think ever in my wildest dreams have I thought of living in a mansion of these proportions or that price tag. You can see the behemoth below! The picture is courtesy of the AP.

Friday, March 27, 2009

84 Year old's Birthday Gift Comes Via Craigslist

The News & Record ran this story where a woman decided to run an ad on Craigslist for her mother. Her ad said, " Come Give Granny a Ride on Your Hog". She decided to do this for her 84 year old Mom's birthday. She wanted to do something different for her Mom, and a guy actually answered. He said he saw the ad and it touched him because his mom had passed away from cancer. So he drove 65 miles on his Harley to give her a ride. It turns out that this would probably be June Pearce's last birthday. She had lung cancer herself.Her doctor informed her that their was nothing more they could do for her own cancer back in September.

Ron Borowski arrived to a timid woman to give the ride. She was like no way! With some help from her daughters they talked her into it, and granny got on the bike. Her daughter said she created a great memory and her husband said he hoped his wife could hang on longer with the experience of this all.Imagine that, all this came together through Craigslist!

Hawaii Governor Announces Bid by "Tweet"

Democratic Rep Neil Abercrombie announced that he will run for Governor of Hawaii next year on his campaign Web site and on the micro-blogging platform Twitter. This was run by the Associated Press in our local Greensboro News & Record. Not bad for a 70 year old, right? Well I am sure he didn't specifically say, "Hey, we must use Twitter!" Someone in his camp must have known of the new power of social sites. Some people will attest to the fact that the President was elected through the help of Facebook and one its 25 year old founders.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Carolina Tarheels

The UNC team has made it into the sweet 16 again this year under the great coaching of Roy Williams. They play tomorrow night against a very good Gonzaga team. We wouldnt have been here without the play of Ty Lawson--he scored 21 of his 23 points in the second half of the last game. I'm looking forward to watching tomorrow! Go Heels!

Facebook and Myspace

What social applications do you use? I recently signed up for Facebook and Myspace. I posted some pictures and posted that I have a blog.On Facebook I connected with two old friends that I might not have spoken to without the use of this technology. These are two sites that you can use to meet up with friends, exchange photos, and network, etc. There are tons of other sites out there like Tweeter--I have signed up for it, but have yet to use it. Tweeter is becoming huge with celebrity endorsements from people like Ashton Kutcher, P Diddy, and Ellen. Its also a good way to mini blog and have people follow you and your blog. Look for me on these sites! Thanks, RyansDad aka Jamey Jarrett

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

DIY- Replace the Subfloor

Well I spent today replacing part of my son's bedroom floor. The water heater located near his room had sprung a leak about a month or so ago. It turns out a hose needed replacing and it had been leaking for quite some time. The area affected was about 46 inches by 48 inches. It was near his closet and we had avoided walking on it. We removed the items in the floor a while ago because besides the carpet holding it up, I think you literally would have stepped through the sub floor. I picked up the replacement sub floor yesterday at Lowe's hardware for almost $17. I had screws left from previous home projects and my saws and a shop vac. The hardest part was removing the old floor. Once that was clear it was smooth sailing. I laid the new floor in and commenced to screwing the floor down to the floor joists. I just placed the carpet I had cut and pulled over right back into place. Of course its not perfect, but I did pretty well for a first timer. More importantly, you can now walk on the floor and use the closet once again with no worries.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Life in the Boro-Computer Woes

Well I have been struck with the computer blues. My computer had been acting up, and today I got confirmation from the Best Buy Geek Squad that my motherboard was shot. Well, great news right? I should just replace it now I think. I must admit that I have felt lost the past few days without my computer. Its my lifeline to check and pay bills. There's been no email of course, no job searching, and no networking. Most of all, I think I have become somewhat addicted to blogging. So I have missed it and the outlet it gives me. Here I am at the public library! I am debating on purchasing a new computer--its sooo expensive. I have to stretch money right now, so its not really a smart choice to buy one--but I want one!

I had a job interview today with a former employer. They called me in! I got all dressed up and had gotten excited at the prospect of making money again. During the "interview" they were like, " We will have to look into some things, and we will let you know." Wait a second, didn't you call me? You need someone, and I need a job! What's going on?

My son Ryan starts soccer Wednesday. We are really excited about that-except that you do have to spend money if you want your child to participate. Along with the entry fee, you have to have the right gear. Today I had to break down and buy cleats, shorts, and shin guards,etc. Hes had a soccer goal for like a year now, and is pretty good shooting goals. I hope he enjoys the whole soccer practice Wednesday--it will be totally different than what he is used to. Plus, he will be on a 3 and 4 year old team. He wont be 3 until next month, so I am sure he will be among the smaller players.

Anyway, things happen for a reason right? Things will work out as far as income and the computer. Soccer will be fun for sure!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

President Obama Picks UNC to Win it All !!

Have you filled out your brackets yet for the upcoming NCAA basketball tournament? Well, a lot of people have, including our own President. I caught the story on ESPN while I was on the treadmill yesterday. He showed us all of his picks to win up to the finals where it came down to my Tarheels! I hope they can pull it off! Duke coach, Coach K with a smile on his face, said that Obama should stick to fixing the economy!Carolina's 1st round game is being played today at the Greensboro Coliseum at 2:45. I heard they were staying nearby at The Grandover Resort- a very ritzy place for a school that is only an hour away in Chapel Hill. The area is pumped up for the Tarheels, as I heard fans were at the practice yesterday to cheer them on(on TV it looked like the fans thought the practice was a game). Restaurants and hotels are riding the wave to the bank! Good luck Heels!!

Night out on the Town for Free!

Last night Ryan(my son) and I went to the Central Library Branch in downtown Greensboro. I heard that they were offering a class on SEO-search engine optimization. The class started at 7 and lasted until about 8:15. This was my first time ever to a Greensboro library. I grew up in nearby High Point, so I had always gone there or to college libraries. We didnt have alot of time to explore, but it seemed like a very nice clean place with many resources. There were many computers, a book store, very nice meeting rooms, obviously books , clean restrooms, helpful librarians, and of course books.

I called earlier in the day to confirm that they were having the class. They confirmed and let me know that you could park in the parking deck. We didnt have to pay by the way-I guess if you are there after a certain time, you dont have to pay.Also, the library stamps your ticket if you are there under like an hour. So Ryan and I planned a trip to the gym, and immediately went to the class afterwards. The class ended up having about 40 or so people show up.Some had laptops in tow and some took notes like me. There were a variety of people there-young and old, men and women, and even a guy with a kid(lol-me).Ryan was surprisingly good! I packed snacks to keep him busy and later a lady gave him a paper to color on(Thanks)I had thought about bringing a coloring book, but that was would be just to much to keep up with. The SEO class was led by Sam Kanakanui and Robert Moses. They said they would be videotaping the talk and posting the video and other info to their website.

I will not go into the details of the talk. I will say that most of what they talked about can be found on google or other sources on the web or even from a good book from the library. It was still nice to be able to see a room full of web designers, business owners, and bloggers interested in how to further their exploits on the web. Although it didn't really happen, I thought there might be a chance to network and meet like minded people.All in all, I found that it was a worthwhile experience. The two speakers were full of knowledge, it was free, and it was a chance to get out of the house and do something.It goes to show that there are things to do and resources to learn from in Greensboro. Also, after the presentation, I went ahead and got a library card for any potential future trips.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Jon Stewart vs Jim Cramer---Investing Gone Wrong

I am just seeing these clips today, and I thought many others should take a look. I ran across a new blog today-BudgetsareSexy.com. He ran a post about this topic-The video is pretty much self explanatory. Although comical in how Stewart rips into Cramer, there are some things to think about here. Many people have been hurt financially! You might laugh(like I did), but you also might learn something(like I did) as well!

That was the buildup video I found on YouTube.Com, and here is the actual interview that they did together! The second video, courtesy of Comedy Central is not edited, so if you are offended by foul language-Please do not watch it!!! I tried to find the clean version, but I had trouble finding it. These videos show two guys that are promoting their shows through their "public fight". There is still alot of truth there, and Stewart slams him for his and CNBC's lack of decency in standing up for people like Stewart's own 75 year old mother!

Cafe owner thrives with no-pricing policy

Here's a new way of doing things as a business owner! I found this article after searching on Digg.com!Enjoy!

Cafe owner Sam Lippert has come up with an innovative way to cope with the recession: He's done away with pricing and simply asks customers to pay what they want.

read more digg story

Too Fat to Work Family say £22000 Is Not Enough Benefit Cash

Have you tried the network Digg.com? Its a cool site! You pick stories that you like--Digg--and you can --Bury-- stories, images, etc that you dont like. Here's a "funny" story I ran across. It seems the family has lost their marbles! The dad definitely still looks capable of working--but looks can be deceiving. The story is set overseas. However, you might see where this could lead to an issue here in America.

A family of four with a combined weight of 83 stone (1162 pounds) say they are "too fat to work".

read more digg story

Monday, March 16, 2009

CVS & Target Savings

Let me start by saying that I didnt intend to ever post this much about coupons and shopping. However, the main goal of me doing this blog is to write about my journey and thoughts and life. Being debt free is one of my top goals. If you are ever going to be free, you have to become very frugal. I think couponing fits in here, that is if you are truly saving money. I think I am, and it can be exciting to know that there are ways to really save some money out there in the world.

Let me point out that I , the Dad, usually do all of the shopping for our family of three and our three dogs(we have two pointer mixes and one miniature daschund). I usually do our shopping for groceries and toiletries(if necessary) about once a week to a week and a half(if we can stretch it that long)at Walmart. They are usually fairly cheap and everything is in one place. So you get to knock it all out at once. We spend app. $100 a week. I kept up with our receipts last year and figured out that we spent this amount which figures out to be $5200 a year. That amount is fairly good. But when you hear that others have bigger families and spend less, you have to wonder if you can do better for your family.Also, I like the idea of just going to one place, but when trying to use coupons I have made sure that the places are near where I need to go anyways.

In the above picture you can see the items I bought at CVS and Target this evening. At CVS I bought these items and spent the following:
  1. Two Right Guard Deodorants- Each were $2.99 a piece(normally at Walmart I spend $1- $2)--However I had a coupon for $1 off two-CVS gave $4.00 extra bucks back
  2. Xtra Washing detergent---on sale for $1.99 (Any comments?--Ive never used it before--we mainly use Gain powder
  3. Glade Air Freshener- buy one $1.89- had buy one , get one free coupon(Not that great of a deal-saw later at Target for 99 cents each)-- oh well
  4. Colgate toothpaste was $2.99-CVS gave $2.99 Extra Bucks--so free

I also had a CVS Extra Bucks coupon for $3 which I used--My total came to $9.14 I received $8.00 back in Extra Buck coupons----essentially I spent $1.14 if you look at it like the other coupon bloggers do.Heres one of the problems I have with couponing...if I qualify my order here with the coupons received back, you cant count the coupons received back towards your next order , right?

I plan on using all of the $8.00 extra bucks coupons plus a $4 off manufacturer coupon off purchasing some razors next. By the way, have you seen the price of RAZORS lately? The refill cartridge prices are ridiculous! Makes a guy want to grow a beard! I think I read somewhere that razor prices are tied in with the price of petroleum.

I went to work out and then I decided to go to Target. I had been hearing how you could save $5 each on Huggies diapers with a coupon. I printed two( I really needed 3) of those coupons off of Coupons.com. A great deal had been running at CVS, but I "missed" that one. Plus, I saw the specific kind it called for were too small for my son.Let me note here that Ryan will be 3 on April 7th and he does great with potty training here at home. He goes when he needs to with no problems, and he wears underwear while home. When he naps or goes to sleep at night or when we leave the house, we will put a pull up or a diaper on him--whichever we have. I try to get him to tell me if has to use the potty when we are out, and he usually will.

Anyway here is what I bought at Target:

  1. 2 Huggies wipes-- $5.99 each --had the 2 $5 off coupons(diapers were too small for him)- I wish I could give them credit, but on one blog I read in the comments that the coupons would ring up on any Huggies product--so I tried it and sure enough, the computer took them
  2. 2 Goodlife 3lb cat food-on sale for $3.99 each, normally$4.49-- used 2 $3 manufacturer coupons-oh yeah I dont have cats, but my girlfriend said that dogs would eat it, and sure enough Bailey liked it---saved total of $17 there

So with tax I spent $5.31 --That's right only 99 cents each item and $1.35 in tax ! The trick is you need to catch the items you want or need on sale(checking your fliers is the easiest way) and add your coupons in. That is were you can save the big money!

Book Review-The Top 10 Distinctions between Millionaires and the MIddle Class by Keith Cameron Smith

This is a small , tiny 112 page book! It is well written with some very valid points! Who can't love a book that is useful and that gets right to the point? Since it is so short, I am not really going to review the book for you technically. I am going to list the 10 distinctions he wants to emphasize that are different between the rich or the middle class. They are essentially the chapter titles as well. You can glean a good bit of insight and info from the 10 points themselves. So here they are:
  1. Millionaires ask themselves empowering questions. Middle-class people ask themselves disempowering questions.
  2. Millionaires focus on increasing their net worth. The middle class focuses on increasing its paychecks.
  3. Millionaires have multiple sources of income. The middle class has only one or two.
  4. Millionaires believe they must be generous. The middle class believes it can't afford to give.
  5. Millionaires work for profits. The middle class works for wages.
  6. Millionaires continually learn and grow. The middle class thinks learning ended with school.
  7. Millionaires take calculated risks. The middle class is afraid to take risks.
  8. Millionaires embrace change. The middle class is threatened by change.
  9. Millionaires talk about ideas. The middle class talks about things and other people.
  10. Millionaires think long term. The middle class thinks short-term.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Carolina Tarheels

Well my beloved Tarheels lost in the ACC tournament yesterday to Florida State! Then FSU faced the Duke Blue Devils today in the finals. Duke won easily, hitting a ton of threes.

On a better note, Tyler Hansbrough secured another 1st team All American spot. Thats four years of being the best in the country. Can you say...show me the money? Also, Ty Lawson was named ACC player of the year. By the way, he had to sit out the ACC tourney with a hurt toe. The biggest news of the day is that Carolina received a number one seeding in the upcoming NCAA tournament. They will get to play in Greensboro to start in the East Division. That , of course, is a huge advantage for them. I hope they play well! Go UNC!!!

Salad Anyone??

This is just a random little post about salad! How can you save money, eat healthier, and only have to cut the vegetables once? I usually make a large salad that I throw in a large glass bowl with a press down lid. I know salads and vegetables in general are good for you, and maybe a year or two ago I realized I was not eating that many vegetables or fruit anymore. We decided to put together more cooked meals with vegetables included. I tried to bring more fresh veggies and fruit into our home as well!

When our son came along we made sure that when it was time for table food, we supplied lots of choices for him. Of course with baby food he had many choices of vegetables and fruit, so we just wanted to continue on when he made the transition to table food. He eats a lot of things that I don't even like-bananas and strawberries,etc! So we made a conscious choice to buy fresh fruits and bagged steamable vegetables. I also started buying cucumbers(my fav), Roma tomatoes, peppers, and a lettuce mix for my salads. I also like almonds, sunflower seeds, bacon bits, and apple pieces on it. Surprisingly, my son likes vegetables and fruit and pretty much anything you put in front of him.

We got a set of bowls for Christmas, and I got the idea to start making my salad only like once a week. You can knock out cutting all the vegetables and just throw everything into the bowl and then just sit the bowl in the refrigerator. Then throughout the week, whenever you want a salad, its ready. You just throw some on a plate or a bowl and its ready! Voila! I find that the vegetables keep a little longer this way too. In the past, things would start to brown! Also it very convenient this way for feeding my son Ryan. To help keep his meals somewhat healthy and easy and convenient, a salad is already prepared if needed. So there you go! This is an idea to help enable you not to waste time, waste money, and keep you and your children's meals healthier!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Iraqi Reporter who threw shoes receives 3 Years!

By HAMZA HENDAWI, Associated Press Writer Hamza Hendawi, Associated Press Writer – Thu Mar 12, 5:27 pm ET
BAGHDAD – A court convicted an Iraqi journalist of assault Thursday for hurling his shoes at George W. Bush and sentenced him to three years in prison, prompting an outburst from his family and calls for his release from Iraqis who consider him an icon for a nation decimated by war.

Muntadhar al-Zeidi, 30, defiantly shouted, "Long Live Iraq!" when the sentence was imposed, according to defense lawyers. Some of his relatives collapsed and had to be helped out of the courthouse. Others were forcibly removed by guards after shouting "Down with Bush!"

This story ran on the Internet tonight and earlier on CNN and I just had to run a clip of it on my site.Can you believe he was facing up to 15 years? .. for something along the lines of assault against a foreign leader! In his country it is considered a nasty insult to throw shoes at someone. Not to make too light of the situation,but wouldnt you think many people here in this country would love to throw shoes at him? I am not saying the man didnt deserve punishment.But the way the U.S. media played the scene over and over again, it was quite comical!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Bernie Madoff Sentenced

A 70 year old Bernard Madoff will live in his new home the size of a small walk in closet. A man accustomed to the finest life has to offer will be giving up his $7.5 million dollar E. Manhattan penthouse. Now he will reside in a jail cell and presumably in prison at a later time. His lawyer had the nerve to ask the judge to let him continue to live at home under house arrest as the courtroom burst into laughter. The man took billions of dollars from people and left some broke and unsure of their futures. Some were ready for retirement or counting on their investment to retire later. Many people want his neck, and I believe rightfully so!

He was once the chairman of the NASDAQ Exchange! If you cant trust him, who can you trust? He offered his apology- " I am deeply sorry and ashamed". He went on to say that he was the sole person responsible for this mess. People question that and want whoever else that might be involved to have their day in court. People from Steven Spielberg and Kevin Bacon to Florida retirees and many Jewish(trusted Bernie because he was Jewish) lost money!The scheme wiped out people's life savings, ruined charities and foundations, and apparently pushed at least two investors to commit suicide. Someone suggested jail wasn't punishment enough and that he should be stoned to death! I don't know much, and I was hoping maybe you would be able to help comment on what lesson we could take from this! The one lesson I see is that you have to diversify your portfolio and not have all your money sunk into one area. And one day when I have money, I will remember that!

Gate City: The Oracle of Omaha

I wanted to write something about Warren Buffet -The Oracle of Omaha-- for some time now. You cant say too much bad about the guy! He has been the richest man in the world over numerous years, and he currently ranks number two I believe! His net worth is in the billions. He seems to remain somewhat down to Earth- he drives himself, he lives in the same house he has had for like 40 years, and married to his wife for about as long. He recently decided that he would start to give away big quantities of his money to charities that he and his partners, Bill and Melinda Gates, deem appropriate.There are many more reasons I will not list right now.

There is just one problem that I have with him that surfaced in the last couple of days. He now thinks that he can tell the President of the U.S. what he should be doing. Mr Buffet, please don't be so self serving!! He said that the President should concentrate on getting the economy fixed before trying to fix other problems too. He said not to juggle to many things so that you can get our economy going again. You know, maybe Warren is right and his advice is spot on. After all you should listen to a man with this much wisdom and that has become so wealthy. He must be somewhat smart, he got this far right? My problem with it all is this: when did Warren Buffet start giving public advice, spread through journalism, to the President? It all seems a little self serving... Haven't you made enough money?? Or are you truly now worried about the common man? I didn't know that Warren was a politician now! Did he ever openly condemn Mr. Bush and his policies?

I still am very impressed with Mr. Buffet and all he has accomplished. Rightfully so, if I was losing $25 billion at a time and lost my top spot as worlds richest, I might have to call the president out too. But just maybe he could have handled the matter privately and not so poignantly pointed his finger at a man and an administration that are seemingly trying their best right now!

Also check this post out at Gate City that inspired me to go ahead and write my posting .Check out this piece at the following site:Gate City: The Oracle at Omaha

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Part 2- Lowes Grocery-- Coupon Deals

As posted yesterday, I have decided to give shopping with coupons a chance. Yesterday I saved $41.00 by shopping at Harris Teeter. I spent $51.00, so I saved nearly half! They double coupons, with a limit of 20, up to a value of 99 cents. This afternoon, after I left the gym, I decided to go to Lowes and try my luck again. They have the same policy as H.T. on doubling coupons. I have shopped at Lowes very few times if ever that I can remember. Anyway, I had to get their store card so I could save even more money. The nice customer service lady told me that after we finished shopping, the cashier would be able to give us a card. I normally would not shop this often. Normally I would go to Walmart every week to a week and a half to grocery shop and pick up any needed personal items or dog food as necessary.The Lowes trip was just to test out using coupons.

Well here are the results: I was able to save $15.68!
$2.55--regular coupons
$2.55--double amount
$10.58-reward card savings
I only spent $21.77!

I did pretty well again. I still spent a little extra time in there because I am
a rookie and I didn't have a "true" coupon organizer. I actually think the
register didn't credit me $1.25 off of one item--that's OK, I didn't catch it
until I was home. Plus they gave me something called greenpoints-184 of
them. Tomorrow I might try a couple of other places.


Jobs have been outsourced for several years now from America to other countries. It has struck many states such as North Carolina very hard in certain areas. Manufacturing jobs and furniture companies have felt the effects the hardest. Furniture manufacturers are becoming almost obsolete. Great furniture cities like Thomasville and Lexington and High Point have become almost like ghost towns. Large factories have been shuttered or have just become storage warehouses. Thousands have lost their jobs! India, China, and Vietnam , plus many more countries are benefiting--going as far to train their employees to speak English. Call center jobs have gone abroad. There has been shows revealing how high paying and exclusive those jobs are considered. What about US citizens? The latest injustice.. a lower wage job like a fast food drive thru worker has been outsourced--how ridiculous!! America needs its jobs! I don't have anything against other countries and their citizens prospering, but someone needs to do something about this epidemic. When you pull up to a McDonald's drive thru and order from someone in India--hasn't this gone too far?Business owners outsourcing these jobs argue that they can spend less on labor by going that route. Its all about profit.. and that is the American way--or is it? How is it American capitalism when the jobs are in another country? Profit is great and great profits should be made, but not at the expense of our American workers. Profit can still be made by leaving jobs in the USA! I think that we should band together and call or petition the politicians to do something about it. The president or congress needs to put legislation in place which makes it against the law to outsource or at least limits it somehow.

Dave Ramsey-Real Estate Rebounding!

I caught some of Dave's show last night. He brought up some interesting points last night about how the media influences people in the way they react towards life and the economy. Now he didnt have a drawn out conversation about it. At first he was talking about real estate- he said that the statistics are there to prove that the real estate market is rebounding. There are exceptions where the bubble was really blown or the areas of the country are really suffering. California, Florida, Michigan(namely Detroit), Phoenix, and Las Vegas were the named exceptions. The good news is that for the rest of the country, the market is coming back.

I have felt for a long time ,and others might agree, that the media influences how the American people react in certain times. Now some people and journalists will argue, and I agree to an extent, that they are just reporting the news. They are doing their job and there is no way that they could accept responsibility for something as life changing as our current recession! But I have to counter when someone continually yells " Fire" Fire" for example, even if there is no fire, someone and undoubtedly most people are going to run. If all you ever hear is that we are in a recession, people are going to stop spending their money out of fear! If you-ie-the government-- let gas prices rise to hugely inflated prices, people are going have less money to spend and travel less. Yes the real estate bubbles and the excessive use of credit contributed to the recession, the media is not all to blame. That's not what I am saying! The market had to "adjust" at some point. Unfortunately it had to happen in my life time! You know, I was content to see the market never tank, but that's not how it works obviously!

I was happy that someone in a position with so many viewers such as Mr. Ramsey took a stand. He basically agreed that the media can influence our country positively and negatively. He said that the proof is there concerning the rebound of the real estate market. Less new homes are being built and homes are still selling, but just at a slower rate. That info infers that supply and demand are in effect and that eventually the inventory of available homes will be limited and that will lead to more growth. He directly stated that if reporters could report on the positives as well as the negatives, people might be able to see that the country is not going down in a ball of flames!

The naysayers may say...Dave is out to make money for himself in his show, books, and programs. I say let him! Because he is sending a message and it seems to really help people turn their lives around. At the same time, it is helping the country. There are lessons , if you read between the lines, of how to run our country as well. Could you imagine if our country was run debt free? That we were not indebted to other countries?I am glad that he is not afraid to take a stand on an issue like I have mentioned. I know that the recession, again, is not all the fault of TV and journalists but please at least open your ear to the power of their messages!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Harris Teeter--Can coupons save money?

We as a family have cut out coupons by the dozen with the intentions of using them. However, it seems like we have only managed to use a coupon here and there. It just seems like so much work between gathering the coupons, cutting them out, and the extra time spent at the grocery store. Lately I have seen the news story on a family on living on $1500 a year. They had a blog but for whatever reason it was taken down before I got a chance to get any ideas from her site.
I started to look around the Internet trying to find ideas on ways to save money. I thought that we were doing pretty well by only spending about $5200 a year-$100 a week. However, I ran across numerous coupon sites and blogs where people were living on less than me--one lady says $800 a year --Jane4girls---and I decided that I should at least try to save more money.

My problem with the food coupons themselves are that there seems to be plenty for the fluff items like chips, snacks, and just stuff we don't buy. I try to shop frugally all the time(but without coupons) and I try to stay somewhat healthy. All packaged foods seem to be bad for you, so it is hard to stay away from all "bad" things. The coupons don't cover things like chicken and meat. But I decided that I was going to go shopping and make the effort to see if I could save money by using coupons.

I found online what North Carolina stores double coupons. The only two in North Carolina close by me are Harris Teeter and Lowes grocery stores. Next I gathered all the coupons from the last three months of Sunday newspapers. I proceeded to cut them out spread over a two day period. That was a lot of work in itself and I was already wondering if it was worth it. I just kept reminding myself that if I continued using coupons in the future that I would have much less to cut out. That is if I didnt let them pile up like before! We separated them into piles. I found later that it would be much easier if I had a coupon organizer.

Today after I left the gym, I planned a trip to Harris Teeter to shop. Before we moved here, I used to shop for groceries at this store all the time. When we moved here, where it is much more rural, I found that shopping at Walmart was much more convenient. Harris Teeter has a Vic store card program that I had used before, and I still had my card. Plus they double up to 20 coupons that are 99 cents or less. Let me say that this being my first time trying to really coupon shop, this trip was time consuming! Again, you really need an organizer.

I saved $40.94 between the Vic store card and the ten coupons I ended up using--they doubled 8 of them. I paid $51.08 for about 31 items! That sounds great! I wanted to use more, but I found that the prices seemed really high. I do most of our shopping, so I had a general idea of what I pay for things at Walmart. All in all, $40 sounds great and some items I bought really were a bargain. But I know on some of the things I bought the prices were a little higher that what I might normally pay. This store was slightly out of my way, so I may not make all this effort at this store again. I might try Lowes grocery because they double and see what their prices look like. We will see if Walmart keeps my business and if I stick with coupons!

Donald Trump Facing Adversity

This is in relation to the last posting. Mr. Trump has risen from the ashes before and built his fortune and fame even higher with the success of numerous real estate projects, books, and his TV show The Apprentice. But it seems like a billionaire like Trump cant even beat the economic recession we are going through. His casinos have filed bankruptcy and a Baja, Mexico resort with his name on it has gone belly up. Many people are out of their deposits and investment dollars to the tune of $32 million. I know its an investment, but shouldn't the people receive some kind of compensation back?

Donald Trump - Celebrity Apprentice

I have found myself tuning in to the Apprentice lately. The second show aired Sunday night in the new celebrity edition of Trump's series. In the first episode comedian Andrew "Dice" Clay was fired and Scott Hamilton-the Olympic gold metal figure skater- was fired on the second. I must say that I was a huge fan of the show when it started. I wanted insight into how Mr. Trump became successful. Combine the premise of a show based around entrepreneurship and making money, and I had to see it.

I had read several Trump books and I was a fan of his to begin with. I even went to see the first season Apprentice winner, Bill Rancic, speak at Wake Forest University in Winston Salem. There were probably 800 to 1000 people there and news crews. He had a book signing afterward in the bookstore, so I ran with my cousin to stand in line with about 300 other people at the campus bookstore. I bought his book and got his autograph that night. Although The Donald earned alot of money through real estate and Bill won the competition and had a little business success on his own in business and real estate, the biggest thing I learned from them both was the power of promoting yourself! Trump says it in his books, and the two of them proved through the show that the power of promotion in TV is powerful. It sells those books, doesnt it??

However, I found that I had lost touch with the show and had not watched that often the last couple of seasons. To me it had become stale and I wasnt learning that much about business.No less, I have tuned in again and the zany celebrities may be able to keep me watching. Its more about entertainment and less about business these days, but you might be able to learn a thing or two. Cupcakes and celebrity connections and a superhero and Zappos.com marketing campaign may or may not relate to the real world. You can decide! Tom Green, Herschel Walker, Dennis Rodman, Jesse James,Brian McKnight, and Clint Black are left on the men's side. The women are Brande Roderick, Annie Dukes, among others. We will see if the show can hang on!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Fitness--A Government Affair??

I wanted to post this little survey conducted in the parade circular that comes in the local paper. I think personally that people should try to get healthy and exercise. However, how does the government fit into the obesity problem plaguing America?

The question is... Should the government pass laws to fight obesity?

66% voted Yes ... "Obesity has become a severe public health threat, and we need to combat it as we would any other epidemic. As a nurse, I see how obesity is costing
us billions and detracting from quality of life."

34% voted No ... "Do you really want some bureaucrat in Washington telling you how much
you should weigh or what size pants you should wear? I think not."

What do you think??

Red Box $1 Movie Rental

There is a company out called Red Box that rents DVD's. They set up red vending machine type "boxes" in retailers like Walmart, Harris Teetor, and KMart. They let you rent a movie for a dollar a night. If you return the movie on time the next day--that's all you pay-- $1! You can keep it as long as you want at a dollar a day until 30 days passes. Then at that point,you have "bought" the DVD. I have used this service several times now. I found that it is easy to sign up and easy to use. You must swipe your credit card or debit card for payment before the movie is given to you. The selection is numerous, but you can find that there are only a few current titles at a time--or new releases. They send confirmations and receipts to your email along with new release info. The only real drawback I have seen is one time the machine at one store was jammed. Therefore, no one could rent or return the movie that night--someone called the 1 800 number and they said that people would not be charged extra. Sounds like they have good customer service, although I have not had any first hand experience with that.

Right now Red Box is running a free rental special. Check the rules out at this link http://www.redbox.com/Help/Signup.aspx ! Red Box offers a good service for those of us out here trying to save some money and gives us insight into an innovative business idea! So check them out and get your free movie!

My Rant--- Family Business!

I just want to say that I wish my mom or dad would have started a business. They would have been able to set me up in a "cush" job making a great salary.A salary that I would not otherwise be able to make anywhere else--with regards to my age and my lack of education! My hours would be lenient because dad would understand that I had some things to attend to. Maybe if we were really affluent Mom and Dad could give me a company car or just give me enough income to buy top notch vehicles on a whim for myself, my spouse, and my kids They could build me a house, give me a house, or let me have the huge down payment I need.Then I could trade up every few years to bigger and better. They might let me have my own company credit card so I could spend lavishly on dinners every night and just be able to write them off. Yes I might work long hours and be on call and in servitude to my parents, but my twice a year vacations could keep me and my mouth in check! Places like Las Vegas, New York City, and Orlando could definitely keep me at peace. Plus, I could blow more money on gambling than my relatives make in a month and still have tons of cash available!

You could go on and on with examples of how some families take care of their immediate loved ones. Really I don't see anything wrong with it, I just wanted to play devils advocate!Although, I have to admit that I am a bit jealous. You hear about sons and daughters involvement in family owned business from the big corporations to the small, locally owned biz.You have to wonder how well those kids would be doing if mommy and daddy did not take care of them. I will be the first to admit that if I ever get the chance I will definitely put my family to work and pay them well. It doesn't matter if you graduated from high school and you have a two year college degree or any degree for that matter. It doesn't help to get bitter either. That will not improve your situation, you have to remember that the best jobs are held out to immediate family only. The sons and daughters jealousy would not allow their parents to bring you into the fold anyway.

You can get mad and hold resentment of the situation that you were born into, and I must admit that letting go is hard at times! If you really want something and you want to make big money, work for yourself, and have a great lifestyle, you have to do it! That's right, its a cliche, you are never going to get rich working for the man! You are never going to get rich working for someone else! You are only going to make them richer! No matter how high your salary is, you have to remember that they are probably making 10 times that amount. They could not afford to pay you if they were not. So I ask you and myself, are you going to let your bitterness hold you back?

Defying the Economy

This story ran in a local paper.It came out of Greeley, Colorado. The subtitle was.. Young Entrepreneurs find niches, forge their own success....

While the economy is suffering, it is the best time for innovation, progress and hard work. College students are finding they are graduating and not being able to find jobs. The alternative they have found is to embrace entrepreneurship and try opening businesses. Students usually have less to lose if they or their ideas fail. They are trying everything from opening bars, to painting homes, to web based businesses.

It is important to note that small business owners and their ideas will be what pushes the economy back to flourishing. Although college students have less risk to take, anyone of any age can and should think about doing something on their own!

Circuit City Closes!

Many businesses are closing and many more are laying off employees by the thousands. The once dominant electronics retail chain officially closed this weekend and laid off 34,000 more workers. In my opinion, the store lost focus several years ago. Best Buy pretty much beat them in every category possible--namely prices! They couldnt even go out in style! They disappointed till the end by not actually offering real discounts. How do you mark up prices really high and then mark it back down, and still cant compete with others regular pricing? It was noted that the prices still were comparable and cheaper at places like Walmart. Other shoppers complained that the retailer sold junk and wouldnt offer refunds or back up their products with warranties. I guess it started and ended with overpricing and bad customer service!

UNC beats Duke

Yesterday my Tarheels beat Duke in a close game in Chapel Hill. They won the ACC season title and are making plans to win the ACC Tournament next weekend. Also, they pretty much wrapped up a number one seed in the NCAA's brackets. Also of note, yesterday was senior day and seven seniors were honored including Tyler Hansbrough. Michael Jordan , yes theeee greatest player of all time played at Carolina, was in the stands to watch the game! Good luck Heels next week!!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Pimp this Bum.com

I have to talk about an entrepreneurial adventure that's all over the news right now promoting the plight of the homeless. You have to give them credit for their unique website name, www.pimpthisbum.com. They are currently making a homeless man named Tim Edwards in Houston, Texas , the human face connected with the deliberately controversial name of the website. The website just hopes to bring this social problem to the forefront and address the problem. At the same time you can make donations to help Mr. Edwards. Some people claim that the website exploits Tim and other homeless, but others claim that the edgy tone is what makes the project succeed. I tend to agree with the second point!

High Point Police need new Headquarters

The High Point Enterprise ran this story today.A study shows that the police headquarters is too small and has many design flaws I don't doubt the need to expand! However, I can two sides to it! First, is this project being brought forward at a good time? I mean is that what the city of High Point, NC needs most right now with the slump in the economy? .... On the other side though, maybe building this police station could help stimulate the local economy...maybe!

Lemony Snicket to sign books at local Barnes & Noble

This a quick note to say that a prominent author behind the hugely popular children series " A Series of Unfortunate Events" will be in Greensboro. Lemony, a pseudonym for author Daniel Handler, at the bookstore located in the Friendly Center shopping center off of Friendly Ave. He is promoting a murder mystery he wrote called "The Composer is Dead". Not many prominent people come to this area, so I hope people show up and take advantage. Worth noting... He is only making two stops for signings at Barnes and Noble nationwide. One here and one in New York City!

Greensboro New & Record Article

The Greensboro Coliseum has been privileged to host the women's ACC tournament the last couple of years. It has been great for our local economy. Hotels and restaurants have been among the main recipients of the fans money. We all know that in this economy, anyone should be happy to embrace the chance to make a dollar. We as a city need this tournament for years to come for the money, but also to build Greensboro's reputation as a place to come and host big events. Greensboro and the ACC officials' marketing plays a big part in how our city and the women's tournament is perceived.

ACC Reluctant to Acknowledge Lesbian Fans

This is the headline run in the Greensboro' paper in today's sports section. I think the headline speaks for itself, so I will not go that far in the topic. I am not saying that the ACC needs to market to specific groups--Officials claim to market to only basketball fans. However, the proof is out there that lesbians are indeed a growing market as fans and already stand as a large group within women's basketball circles. The WNBA has already acknowledged them in their advertising and marketing.

A quick thought.. When headlines like this run and officials in the tournaments will not acknowledge the diverse fan base, as noted in the news article by staff writer Robert Bell, do you not think that you run the chance of alienating that group and their much needed spending power?

Guilford County, NC Superintendent

I want to post a few headlines and comments that I have read in today's Sunday editions of local newspapers: The Greensboro News & Record and The High Point Enterprise. I feel like the topics that I may mention that are regional stories can have impact in other areas of the country as well.

Maurice "Mo" Green has recently been appointed the Superintendent of the Guilford County School system. He does not come with the traditional pedigree of a school superintendent. Although he worked with the Charlotte/ Mecklenburg Schools, his formal training is as a lawyer. I am not here to knock him, his ideas to improve our schools, or his abilities.I hope he does well actually. I will just state some facts and make some comments.

Mr. Green's salary is set at $250,000 a year. He was also set to receive a set percent raise each year he held his position. This year he chose to not receive his raise which amounts to $7500 based, he says, on the overall state of our economy. He felt it would be in bad taste to take that raise at this time. It's a nice gesture, but I've just got say hmmm! My second topic that the N&R chose to run today is that Mo does not plan to raise the budget. He also has come to the conclusion that a reorganization is needed to improve the district's listening skills and responsiveness. He will implement something that the Charlotte area did--"learning communities" -- they allow quicker response times and better informs school system decision makers. Again...hmmm... has our $250,000 been well spent?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Trying to Save a Few Bucks!!

Today I knew I was going to work out. Ryan went with me and he went to the kid care area. Then we went to the public library after that to return some books and to look for some new ones and to look at magazines.I am always interested in looking at new ideas on debt, and money, and entrepreneurship. Then we went to the bookstore so I could look at magazines. He likes to go there because they have a kids area and it has a train table. I like that I am exposing him to reading and he gets a chance to play with the trains, look at books, and sometimes play and interact with other kids. These three places are within a couple of miles of each other. I knew we would be gone for several hours, so I packed a couple of snacks for Ryan and a couple of apples and a bottle of water from our house.

I know that this doesn't sound that special or out of the ordinary. Here is my point. What can you do to be frugal and save a few dollars? I did three things right to help ensure that we didn't waste money needlessly. One, I consolidated several different stops into one trip. We don't live that close to the places we went today--maybe 20 minutes away. So we saved on gas by not driving excessively. Second, I brought a few healthy snacks along. Of course we would get hungry and thirsty while we were gone today. By bringing a few things along, we weren't tempted to stop at a fast food place and waste money we don't have. Third, I got a book from the library and looked there and at the bookstore for free. I took advantage of the public resources. Plus I got some needed exercise and my boy got to play and exercise too! Sometimes we go the grocery store while we are out or what ever else might need to be done. You can save money, you just have to have willpower and put some effort into trying!

Friday, March 6, 2009

I Found My Wallet

I was reading another blog with a good posting. Check it out at the link! I had to comment on it and decided to post my little story on my site!

I have never had a wallet stolen, but I lost a wallet with about $500 to $700 of cash on the way to a vacation. We were driving to Disney World in Florida from North Carolina.I stopped at a gas station on the way down. About 30 to 45 minutes down the road, I realized I didnt have the wallet anymore! I decided to turn around and try to see if I left it at the gas station. I looked everywhere, and couldnt find it! We decided to pull up the on ramp exit back to the highway. Guess what? I saw money blowing across the road! I pulled over--and it was like an Easter Egg hunt--I was very lucky and found every dollar and my wallet. It turns out, I had set the wallet on top of my car and later drove off and it obviouly fell off on the on ramp. Needless to say I was estatic and we went on to enjoy a great vacation!

Enter a Contest

Have you ever entered a contest? Better yet, have you entered and won? There has been a few times that I have entered a contest in my life. I can't ever remember winning anything though. Today I was surfing on the Internet and I ran across a contest by M&M's. It got me thinking that it couldn't hurt to enter a few. I mean, you cant win if you don't enter or try, right?? The following are a few that I entered--and man would it be great to win!! Plus, the Internet makes it very simple to enter a lot of contests!
  • Advil---$25,000 grand prize
  • Ford---2009 Ford F-150 & weekend with Toby Keith on tour
  • Disney---Celebrate @ Disney Parks giveaway--all expense paid vacation
  • Lysol--$1000 + cleaning products
  • Allure(entered my girlfriend)---$3000 worth of products
  • Ryan Seacrest & Shell--$50 gas card giveaway
  • Men.style.com---free Ipod

Thursday, March 5, 2009

What will you do with your tax refund?

I wanted to talk about how important a tax refund from the federal government can help you out on your way to being debt free. I know people who receive a refund and they go and think what can I buy first? There's nothing wrong with that if you are carrying no debt and you have an emergency fund in place. Flat screen TVs, new laptop computers, a new car, and whatever your heart desires! I want all of that stuff too! But I have to worry about $30000 worth of debt and regular bills like utilities, and without a job to boot! To be honest, it's hard not to say the hell with it and to hell with my credit score. My girlfriend has a good score! For me though, I have tried for too long and almost feel like I cant ruin my credit score and my timely bill paying ways.
It can be overwhelming! What to do? What to do? A guy like Dave Ramsey says that you need not worry about a credit score--from today forward you should only use cash and a debit card.

Back to the topic of getting a tax refund... Last year I paid off my 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee about 10 months earlier than the payoff date. That felt great! Usually your house payment is a person's highest bill followed by a car payment. My car payment was set up to be $355.41 for seven years. That's a loooong time in retrospect! What if I had been able to save or invest that money. I admit it though, I grew up poor. I wanted a nice car that would give me sense of pride and probably some self worth. I have had a ton of cars over the years, always trading up to nicer and more expensive ones! It seems crazy now! I hadn't known what it was like not to have a car payment for a long time. Now its been a full year since I paid it off, and trust me-I don't miss it. Also with our refund, we paid off our Sears credit card--it had like a $1200 balance. So you can see how a refund can help you out tremendously on paying your debt down.

In a way, although our combined income was low this past year and we didn't get far on our debt snowball, I had plans to pay off a few credit cards. It would give us that much more of a push to achieve our goals and to just lower our monthly bill payouts. When I lost my job, the plans for the refund had to change. One quick side note--My girlfriend doesn't mind chipping in and paying off debt. I have to say that we wouldn't have made it as a family the last few months if it was not for her and her willingness to not be stingy with her paycheck.Shes not as gung ho as I am about all of this frugalness! I had to compromise, and now I know I should. Not because we "needed" anything major with our refund, but its just nice to be able to spend some money here and there. So she took $300 to do with as she pleased. I have $300 too, but I have not really used that much of it. I am the one who actually pays the bills. I think I am good at stretching a dollar, and they need to be stretched now until I can find a job!------The new plans for this year's refund is just to stretch it as far as possible. I did pay an extra $200 each on the two cards that Heather, my girlfriend, has in her name. That was a small triumph, and I am hoping that will help boost her score even higher. She is now right at 700!

In conclusion, the tax refund can become useful in paying off debt, getting ahead, or provide a safety net. You can build or pad your emergency fund. If you carry no debt, and you definitely need something for your family like a car-then go buy it. There is nothing wrong with spending a little to help ease that pressure from the previous year of saving and being frugal and doing without. Life has to have some balance! You just need to be able to control yourself and commit to a new way of life in order to achieve your goals and wealth building. Dave Ramsey says, " Live like no one else, so later you can "live" like no one else" !

Turbo Tax- Free E file???

Most of my life I have filed my own taxes. I first started with the 1040ez tax forms, where I filled them out on paper and filed them by mail. It was all very simple, since my income was low and I didn't have to do deductions. There was a couple of years recently when my income was higher that I went to someone to prepare my taxes for me. But for the most part, besides those two years, I have been using the Turbo Tax online version to prepare my taxes. I remember back when I first started, that using the software was actually free. And I remember saying to myself that they were going to get the users "hooked", and then start charging for their service. I think they charged fees last year, but definitely this year there are fees associated with using Turbo Tax. I think the catch is that you can actually use their software for free. The catch is when you want to actually file with the IRS. That's when they start to charge. Also if you decide to deposit your refund in your bank, they have another charge. At any rate, it still cost me around $100 to e file my taxes and to get the refund deposited directly in my checking account.They "get you" because you have already taken the effort to go through their whole process and you just want to get it over with by that point, so you go ahead and pay.What gets me is that if you to the federal governments IRS page to free tax preparer software, Turbo Tax is plainly listed as free. Besides the, lol, inconvenience of having to pay for their services , it has been great! The software is easy to use and it asks you tons of questions to figure out your deductions, how to file, and what refund you will receive or what amount you will owe the IRS. Plus it is able to import some information from previous years filings, so that you do not have to reenter that info. Now the dilemma! If they are charging, are they better than any other tax service out there?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

UNC Tarheels

Tonight my son and I watched Carolina beat Virginia Tech in their gym. It was a good game and Hansbrough finished with 22 points and 15 rebounds. Next they entertain the Duke Blue Devils in Chapel Hill on Sunday. I can't wait! Isn't YouTube the best? Check out this video, It's awesome!!

How to Build Credit--When You Have None!

This is just a note to let you have some incite into how I built my girlfriends credit score up. She is a bit younger than me and we have been together for four years. She did not have any credit at all at that point. When we got serious in our relationship and as things progressed with us, I decided to do something about her credit. She ,of course, could have eventually gotten credit on her own just be applying for it. However, I think I read somewhere about an easier way. I have had a decent credit score for some years now(not always, I learned somewhat-lol) and have been very faithful in paying them on time. I just had too, too much debt that accumulated over time! Anyway, I added her as an authorized credit user on one of the cards that I had for a long time and that had a high credit limit. She received her own card and everything, but she never used it. That action alone established her with some credit history, and eventually she took on two more cards. I then took her name off of my account as a user. By the way, I don't want her to go on the path as a "bad debt" accumulator , so I hope that she will stop there. Right now we cant afford the debt we have! Neither one of rarely use our cards right now, but we hold on to them because of me not having a job.One of her credit card companies gives her monthly credit scores and she is right at a score of 700. Also with this years tax refund, I paid an extra $200 to her two cards--that already have low credit lines. The plan was to pay them off, but we need some of the money just to pay bills.Last year I paid off a card and the rest of my car loan. It was still gratifying to pay off that much on her credit cards and hopefully her score will jump up alot more! I cant see any reason why we cant get her score up into the 800's! Well, that's how I established her credit! You just have to remember to not be like me and let your debt get out of control. A cash advance here and one there and paying utilities, and insurance, and groceries on your cards will certainly add up--Trust me!!!

March 4th

For those of you that might not know, I am currently unemployed and I am kind of a stay at home Dad right now. It's not what I want necessarily, but it is the situation I find myself in since my girlfriend is currently working and I am not. I keep my son Ryan Parker Jarrett, age 3 on April 7th, everyday and try to keep the house clean,job search,blog, and take care of the dogs,etc.
Today I am excited because Ryan and I went to sign him up for soccer at the local YMCA. He will play in the 3 and 4 year old age group. He will probably be the youngest kid out there since he will not technically be 3 for another month.At this age, it will all be just for fun and to introduce him to the sport. He has had a soccer goal since like 2 Christmases ago. You should see how good he already is scoring goals! I am excited for him and he is already looking forward to playing and making new friends!
After that we went to work out at our gym, The Rush. Well he goes to childcare, while I go work out!They have childcare with a two hour limit. It's nice to be able to take him with me and have the convenience of them watching him. He loves it too! He gets to slide, color, and play with other kids. I have been sticking with working out and I am usually up there 5 to 6 times a week! Still trying to get in shape!

Joe Montana - Greatest Quarterback Ever!

I just wanted to post something about my favorite quarterback growing up. Joe Montana is arguably the greatest QB of all time!!

In Memory of our Mother Elaine/ & Granny Brisson

This was a poem that I half wrote and pulled some from other sources. I put it together to read at my Mom's funeral. It definitely something fitting for my Granny as well. This is for both of their memories. I love them both!

God saw you getting tired, and a cure was not to be,
so He put His arms around you and whispered, "Come to me."
With tearful eyes we watched you, and saw you pass away,
and although we loved you dearly, we could not make you stay.
A golden heart stopped beating, hard working hands at rest.
God broke our hearts to prove to us, He only takes the best!

I find an old photograph
and see your smile,
As I feel your presence again,
I am feeled with warmth,
and my heart remembers love.

I remember who you used to be,
the laughter we shared.
I ask the Lord for wisdom
that I might understand,
Just why the death of my Mom
was included in His plan.

I found there is:
No more sadness or sorrow.
No more heartache or pain.
No more Earthly hurt or harm
Because she's resting in God's arms.

And though we can't touch Mom again
till Earth and Heaven are one,
Know that everyone who met her,
especially her three sons,
Loved her very, very much!
We could never forget you!
Mom, I love and miss you!