debt debs

Personal Debt Wrangler – Had my money head in the sand – but no more!

sciatica-x-ray


25 Comments

B-A-C-K-S (Break50.com, Anti-spam, CNAFinance MVP, Kisses & Kudos, Self-hosted)

Hi folks

I had a good Canada Day weekend, after a rough start, which is why I’ve entitled this post BACKS!  The Irishman tried to change the front brakes on the truck himself.  We had paid $754.76 parts and labour, earlier in the week to have the rear brakes done.  He decided to do the front himself because they are less complicated and he figured he could save the labour charge.  Parts alone were $395.27!  Yikes!  It’s been an expensive week.

sciatica-x-rayAnyhoo, he struggled to get the rotor off because there was rust and corrosion and then couldn’t get the brakes on because they gave him the wrong brakes!!  They gave him rear brakes!   So he rushed to take them back and get the right parts before we needed to babysit and then he didn’t have the right receipt.  So he dropped me off at my grandson’s, so my daughter could leave to go to a wedding and ran back home to find the receipt and get back to the dealership before the parts department closed.

He ended up having to finish the job on Sunday morning and it was a lot of work.  Consequently he is complaining that his back is sore which isn’t good since he had back surgery 7 years ago.   This is his x-ray before his surgery where they put two titanium rods in his back.  I have another photo post surgery of the incision but it’s too gross to show you.

I told him to go to physiotherapy.  I hope he listens and I don’t have to nag him.  Every time he complains about it I’m going to hold up a sign with PHYSIO on it.

Short post (sure you say! 😉 ) today, with various updates on some topics.  So I’ll get started real quick, continuing with the BACK theme.

Break50B – Break50.com Interview

Speaking of brakes (breaks), I was very pleased to be interviewed at Sov’s site, Break50.com,  The Personal Debt Wrangler – an interview with Debt Debs.   Discussions of net worth and Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich (which I’m currently reading) over there.  Worth checking out as there’s information I have never yet disclosed on this blog.  A big thanks to Sov, for his hospitality.

Canada-anti-spam-legislation

flickr: janet galore

A – Anti-Spam Legislation

Canada launched new anti-spam legislation on Canada Day, July 1, 2014.  In order to comply, I believe I have to get express permission from people in Canada who subscribe to my blog via email.  I also need to remind them how to opt of receiving emails, at any time.  Since this is a fairly new blog, I don’t have  a lot of email subscribers, 9 to be exact (most subscribe via WordPress reader or blog reader tools (Bloglovin’ or feedly).  In addition, I don’t know if my email subscribers are Canadian or not.

But in order to be compliant, I did managed to send out an email using Google Forms to get their express permission to continue to receive my blog posts via email.  Google Forms was actually pretty easy to use, although I made a boo-boo with my first email out and forgot to ask the subscribers to identify themselves.  I was getting confirmations back that they still wanted to subscribe to my blog, but I had no way to know which of the 9 subscribers was responding.  So I sent out a second email.  Since then I have received responses back from 3 subscribers with their email (Thank you! 😀 ) and another 4 affirmations but with no email indicated.  But I’m suspecting that the four are from the first mail out, so theoretically I have only received 3 out of 9 responses and I should be unsubscribing the other 6 from my blog (Boo Hoo! 😦 )

I wanted to do a blog post about how to use Google Forms to do this.   I may still, or I may update this post afterwards, but basically, here is the content of my Google Form:

Anti-Spam Consent

I would like to send a very sincere thanks to all of you who have subscribed to my blog debtdebs.com.

Canada is launching a new anti-spam legislation on July 1, 2014 and to comply with this I would like to obtain consent from you individually by confirming that you agree to continue to receive messages from me whenever I post a new blog entry at debtdebs.com.

You may unsubscribe to receiving these messages at any time by selecting Unsubscribe at the bottom of any email you receive from debt debs or by contact me at debtdebs@gmail.com.

If I do not receive a response from you, I will remove you from the mailing list.

I’m looking forward to continued sharing of my personal finance related stories with you.

Thank you and best regards,
Debs

For more information about Canada’s anti-spam legislation visit.

http://fightspam.gc.ca/eic/site/030.nsf/eng/home

* Required
Do you provide consent to continue receiving emails from debtdebs.com? *

By selecting

My email address is *

This is needed to match responses with responders

 

CNA-Finance-PF-MVP-Award-Vote-for-meC – CNA Finance Personal Finance MVP Award Nomination

As I mentioned last post, my blog has been nominated for the CNA Finance MVP Award.  I was quite tickled given the caliber of the other two nominees.  If you like what you are reading here, there is still time to vote until the end of the day Wednesday.  The votes will be counted Thursday morning.  You can vote by leaving a comment in the post or send an email to CNAFinanceHelp@gmail.com!  Thank you so much for all those who have voted so far!  It’s a long shot for me, but I really appreciate the sentiment, very truly.  🙂

kiss-kiss-gifK – Kisses & Kudos

Since I’ve been away and not near the internet for a few days, I have a lot of catching up to do.  I see many have re-tweeted my post from Saturday and left some nice comments.  Thank you very much!  I’ll be around visiting blogs for the rest of the week.

S- Self-hosting (Moving Blog from WordPress.com to Self-hosted)

I’ve decided to move my blog from the awesome WordPress.com hosted site to a self-hosted site and that will be happening this week (all things going well, crossing fingers and toes!).  There’s a few reasons behind this, most pressing reasons listed first:

  1. I’ve been asked to participate in an event that will utilize Rafflecopter, and this plug-in cannot be deployed on WordPress.com hosted blogs.
  2. I found out when co-hosting a FinSavSat blog hop in May, that I couldn’t display the other blog posts that were participating in the usual nice format that shows the post and associated picture.  Instead I had to have this dumb little frog’s head, that readers would need to click on to see all other linked posts.  Since I would like to co-host that blog hop again and maybe others, I need to be able to install plug ins on my site.  Full stop.
  3. Initially I did not want to pay anything for my blog, since I felt I was being hypocritical, since our large outstanding debt was the primary catalyst for starting.  I finally got fed up with the annoying WordPress word in the blog url (debtdebs.wordpress.com) and bought my domain name for $26 after I realized I wanted to continue to devote my time and grow my blog.  Now that I realize how much work is involved and still want to continue, I need to set myself up for potentially monetizing my blog down the road.  My initial intention was to grow my readership first, and then decide.  Now I realize that delaying the move will only result in more work down the road.  So that, in addition to the above two factors makes me realize that I should do this now and not delay.  If I had known this before, I probably would have started out as self-hosted.

Happy-4th-July
I must admit, I’m a little nervous.  I’m not technically inept, and I like troubleshooting, but I would rather that things go smoothly because who needs the hassle?  I would rather devote my time to writing and reading other blogs.

So despite my good intentions above, if things seem a little quiet here and from me for the next few days, then you will know why.

Wishing all U.S. based readers and bloggers and very fine Independence Day!  Happy 4th of July!

Be back later.  😎

B – Do you ever do your own brake jobs?
A – Any Canadian bloggers done anything similar for the Anti-Spam legislation?
C – Can you vote for me?
K – What are your plans for Independence Day?

S –  Share any words of advice for moving from WordPress.com to self hosted?


51 Comments

Debt Debs Super Duper Advice

debt-debs-adviceDid you see the great post compiled by Mark @ MoneySavingDude which compiles 50+ Money Saving Tips From Some of The Best Personal Finance Bloggers Today?

There’s a great variety of ideas from lots of great experiences all collected in one spot.  Mark did a great job on compiling that post.  I was so impressed that I took him up on his offer to promote myself add my own.  #growingmyfangirls&homeboys

This got me thinking about all the things I have learned over the last 2+ years of our debt recovery journey.  We’ve made so many mistakes, that I could do a Do’s and Don’ts, but I wanted to keep this positive.   So with the World Cup Fever upon us, let’s just call this the FIFA List (Finance Is Freakin’ Awesome).  So here’s my list of things I wish my former self knew already:
FIFA

  1. Track your spending!  Yes, I know you think it’s boring but once you make it a habit, it is not.  Just start.  Make a plan of what you can afford to spend against your income (a budget) and stay within it.  If you blow some categories one month, just pick yourself up and do better next month.  You can cut back (eat your pantry) on groceries next month or reallocate from a category you are under budget on.   Use a piece of paper, excel, MINT, YNAB… whatever… just do it!
  2. Stop buying stuff! It’s just crap! More stuff to dust, giveaway, throw away later. Live a minimalist lifestyle and put value where it belongs on activities and experiences and people!
  3. Use credit cards for rewards only if they are for things you need and are lucrative.  i.e. Cash in the hand for cash back cards are the best.  Travel can be good if you can work it so that you are saving a lot for planned travel.  Anything else that causes you to buy things you don’t need, or travel a particular way you normally wouldn’t are not what you are looking for.  Look for cards that give you 4% on ‘needs’ purchases – gas and groceries.
  4. Always pay off your credit cards monthly, the only exception being in step 5 below.
  5. Use low rate balance transfer cards with discretion and manage very carefully. Use them to your advantage to pay off a higher interest debt but don’t get caught with your pants on the ground! I can’t stress this enough!  So here are the conditions:
    1. Under no circumstances let anything else be charged to this card while you have an open balance. This happened to us for an annual renewal that we forgot about and we have paid $20 more interest as a result. Hey, you don’t think that’s much? I’ll take $20 any day!
    2. Don’t pay a balance transfer fee. Usually they are at about 1% but sometimes more. Negotiate for a 0% balance transfer or wait for that deal to come along. We were constantly being solicited to do one of these transfers and we said only if they would waive the transfer fee, which they did, and the interest reate is only 0.99%.
  6. Pay off your home in 15 years. How to do this and why?
    1. How?: Take out your mortgage for 20 or 25 years but ensure you have prepayment privileges so you can pay extra throughout the year and with a high enough maximum so that it will be gone within 15.
    2. Why?:

i.      You want to have cushion in your amortization period so that if worst case happens, job loss or illness, you have some buffer and don’t get stressed about it, as you might if you only had an amortization period of 15 years.

ii.      It’s better to be able to pay extra through out the year. Otherwise you need to be very disciplined to save the extra $3K to make the prepayment before your annual anniversary.

iii.      Most people buy their homes when they are starting out and before kids start coming. By the time your oldest is preteen, there’s other expenses to worry about like sports and activities (hey kids are expensive!) and having your mortgage gone gives you greater flexibility and more opportunity to save for university costs and extra for retirement*.

iv.      I don’t advocate skipping your retirement savings during this period of mortgage repayment. You should be doing both simultaneously. Your budget should be tight, but it should be doable. If you can’t, then maybe you should consider that you bought too much house.

Guess which one is featured on 50+ Money Saving Ideas?

Pay-off-Mortgage-in-15

So on the topic of Lessons Learned, although I’m still learning the ropes on blogging, and I might have already shared a thing or two on that too, I like to include stuff as I go along this new journey of PF blogging.
(PF = Personal Finance or Pretty Freakin’, your choice 😉 ).

blogger-carnivalI recently signed up for some blogger carnivals and learned a couple of things I’d like to share:

  1. It is the host’s discretion which posts to feature for that week.  Some hosts seem to cover all posts submitted.  Others just pick up the top ten.
  2. If your host is not picked up, you can try to submit again in the next week.  General rule of thumb is that the post should be less than two weeks old, but I’m not sure how ‘official’ or enforced that is.  I’m still learning, but I’m thinking that you could submit something up to a month old, possibly.  That’s what I’m going to try to do and we’ll see how it goes.  Let’s face it, if you don’t get picked up one week, it’s pretty hard to only submit posts that are less than two weeks old.  That’s why I’m thinking there may be some leniency there but we’ll see.
  3. Some carnivals are not posting regularly per the schedule.  I tried contacting the hosts to see what’s up with that, but have not had much success.  You can contact me directly if you have any questions in this regard.
  4. Keep a record in an excel file or something of what posts you submitted to what carnival.  You don’t get an email once your submission is received and it’s easy to lose track if you are submitting a few at a time.  If it doesn’t get picked up, the situation gets even more confusing a few days down the road.
  5. If you’re post is picked up, then you should receive a ping back.  What I did not know, but Harry Campbell from Your Personal Finance Pro helped clarify, is you are supposed to include a link to the carnival on your site.  Duh!  Makes sense right?  It doesn’t have to be a separate post.  You can just tag it on one of your posts or include in a weekly roundup if you normally have these.

 
So here are the carnivals that I have had posts featured on:

The link above is for PF blogger carnivals but I’d also like to point out Mel @ BrokeGIRLRich did a really great post on blog parties called Personal Finance Blog Hops and Link Ups.  Again, these are PF related, but these are common in the blogging community on many niche areas it seems.

keep-calmLastly, while I’m at it, I would like to shout out to these folks who have featured my posts in the last month.  Okay I’ve never done this before and honestly did not know this was blogger etiquette.  Duh! Again!  Now I understand why people cover this in their weekly highlight posts!!  I won’t be tardy in my backlink love in the future.  Live and Learn …

Can A Marriage Survive a Debt Crisis? – Thank you Brian, John, Shannon and Hayley who featured this post on Debt Discipline – Week End Roundup #33, Frugal Rules –Thank You for Serving!, Financially Blonde –Weekly Roundup and A Disease Called Debt – New Blog Design Soon – Hayley’s had her new blog out for a few weeks and it looks fabulous!
Curve Balls – When You Are Hit With Unexpected Financial Events was in Young Adult Money’s The Weekly Quick Hits Roundup – Thanks DC!

Couple’s Money Conversations to Avoid was link loved in Everybody Loves Your Money –Link Love – 6/6/14

Two Key Blogging Tips to Help Your Brand and Exposure was helpful to The Write Budget – Weekly Wrap Up #18 – Back to the Beach.  Lauren was able to fix her favicon so that it showed up on the browser tab instead of the little navy blue Bluehost squares.  I was really happy that the tips were helpful!

Debt Games – was a guest post I did at Kayla’s site Shoeaholic No More when we did a blog swap and she wrote Debt and the Single Girl here.  Tonya @ Budget and the Beach enjoyed that post as well and featured it in her Feeling Guilty/Link Love.

Father’s Frugal Finances – was liked by Debby aka Little Miss Money aka Ginger on a Mission in Day 246 – Public Transportation: a Comparison.  She’s over in Belgium right now training for her new job and had something to say about New York City versus Belgium transportation systems.  Jason aka Dividend Mantra was long 🙂 on love in his Weekend Reading – June 21, 2014.

Whew!  I just realized this is a combo post, personal finance advice and new blogger advice all rolled into one.  Something for everyone.  😉   Actually, not really, but once I start doing my investment portfolio updates – watch out!  In the meantime, I hope that you found something useful!

“Advice” Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
“Funfairs Carnivals” Image courtesy of Nathan Greenwood / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Smile House” Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Multitasking


38 Comments

The New Multitasking – Fragmentasking

MultitaskingDoes the word multitasking make you feel energized and alive?

Not the first thing you think of?  It used to be such a cool word when it was the new black.  Kinda like twerking got popular this year (although that word wants to make be barf).  How about selfie?  It’s sorta cute in a narcissistic kind of way!

My form of multitasking is so fragmented, that I wanna coin a new term fragmentasking.  It basically means flipping around from this to that until the time allotted runs out or you go to bed.  Whichever comes first. Fragmentasking sounds like frugal and fraggles so I’m all over that.  Do you fangirls and bros think your tweeps can relate to that?

So on that topic, here’s what my fabulous and frugal days have me fragmentasking about lately, in no particular order, I give you…

THE FRAGMENTASKING LIST

UHF/VHF/FM/HDTV Compact Outdoor Antenna

Home Hardware: UHF/VHF/FM/HDTV Compact Outdoor Antenna – $134.99

Digiwave Digital TV Antenna ANT7286

WALMART: Digiwave Digital TV Antenna ANT7286 – $89.97

1.  Two weeks ago I let you know we were joining the cable cutting club even though, we actually starting discussing this back in March and I even reached out to fellow blogger Kay at Green Money Stream inquiring about what type of digital antenna they got.  The Irishman has been researching Walmart, The Source, Staples and Home Hardware but we still are antennaless, and alas not cableless … yet.  Enough already.  I still don’t know how I’m gonna watch THE LITTLE COUPLE yet (man I love that show! eeek… I forgot to watch it last night!!!  Oh, man, I guess I won’t miss it that much), so that’s on my fragmentasking list to research.

2.  I had a killer week last week – a project Go Live and there was a last minute glitch identified Tuesday that had to be addressed by Thursday so we could run all the batch jobs over the weekend.  Some configurations had to be updated that had not been detected during testing (grrr…) so three twelve hour days later all the work was completed.  I had to really ignore my fragmentasking during this time because I suck at it and apparently Stefanie from the Broke and Beautiful Life does too.  So I followed the advice I gave Stefanie and said “Hold all calls” (in my head, gee I’ve always wanted to say that), until the work was done.  A little bit of fallout this week that I’m dealing with, unrelated to the initial issue, but hey, that’s life my job.

3.  After a nice Father’s Day brunch at one of my daughter’s, The Irishman, my youngest and I actually spent Sunday afternoon working on stage 2 of garage cleanup.  It was easier with three of us doing it together and I was really pleased that my OCD daughter was able to put herself out there and brave the dirty disgusting garage.   We sorted through a bunch of stuff and The Irishman took a load of donations to Value Village.  Weather was great and we were tired and sore by 5 p.m.  A bunch of garbage got picked up today on trash day.  Good riddance!  Stage 3 fragmentask and possibly 4 will be needed, but they should get easier, now that we’ve cleared up a lot of room.  Not the funnest day to spend Father’s Day but he seemed pleased with the progress and I was a happy mama!  Here’s a before picture but you can’t see final until it’s all done!

garage-before-cleaning4.  So needless to say, with Father’s Day and garage cleaning, I haven’t made any progress yet on my stock portfolio tracking to get comfortable with making the big move to a self-managed retirement portfolio.   I’m very meticulous and very nervous so this will take me some time, but I’m committed to do this.  Is anyone else hearing about a stock market correction?  I keep hearing one is coming, but the quick glance at the daily emails I get, so far so good.

chip-system-grocery-saving5.  Another fragment on my plate is dealing with how to reduce our grocery bill which for us is $800/month but it includes pet food, paper products, toiletries – basically anything we buy at Costco, any grocery stores and Shopper’s Drug Mart.  I use MINT so it’s just easier to have all those stores go to our grocery budget line.   We’ve  been eating our pantry right now so that’s all we’ve done in the short term, but still need to delve in it more.  One idea I’ve had (since The Irishman seems to love going to grocery stores ug and we like to use credit cards to get the cash back rewards), is to use a copycat cash system.  I would get 30 poker chips and two baskets – one spent and unspent.  Every time one of us spends $20 of this grocery budget, we move a chip over to the spent basket.  This way there is a visual of how much money is left and we need to figure out how to make it last until the end of the month.

6.  On the topic of savings, Money Ahoy’s Derek is preaching to my choir when he said Turn Off Your Outside Lights at Night.  I don’t believe you need to leave the outside lights on when you go to bed or even later in the evening.  The Irishman likes to leave the back deck light on for security reasons but I think it’s redundant.  We had front yard lights on a few weeks ago when he left his truck unlocked and someone went in and stole his GPS.  Grrrr… laughs on them though because they didn’t take the charger and the dang thing never holds a charge anymore.

7.  I tried been trying to keep up with my blog reading and it’s not that easy.  Wave your hand if you also have that problem.  I can get caught up one day and then fall right back behind the next.  I’m a little anal and hate to miss a cool post so I pretty much scan them all or at a minimum read the title and see if it ‘speaks to me’.  That, coupled with finding new blogs to read and going back to read replies to comments I’ve left leaves me in a big taskfragging heap and we’ll just leave it at that.  😀

8.  In my blog blitz catchup earlier this week I came across The Addiction of Momentary Pleasure and Seeking the Peak from Trent @ The Simple Dollar and I’ve been giving it some thought as I soak in the tub (fragmentasking at it’s best!).   I guess it’s really all about the law of diminishing returns and finding that sweet spot where pleasure is maximized and more doesn’t lead to minimize it.  Confused?  Go read Trent’s post.  It’s kinda cool.

9.   Speaking of momentary pleasures, for a fleeting moment I got to dream about my future after reading Mr. CBB’s Can you picture yourself living the retired life?  It doesn’t mean I’ll be fragmentasking any less, but on my own terms, you betcha!

The Addiction of Momentary Pleasure and Seeking the Peak – See more at: http://www.thesimpledollar.com/the-addiction-of-momentary-pleasure-and-seeking-the-peak/#sthash.KiE86Cf7.dpuf
The Addiction of Momentary Pleasure and Seeking the Peak – See more at: http://www.thesimpledollar.com/the-addiction-of-momentary-pleasure-and-seeking-the-peak/#sthash.KiE86Cf7.dpuf

Images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Prakairoj / Business Man And Post Memo Around Body
Salvatore Vuono / Casino Chips

no-ring-not-engaged-or-married


44 Comments

Worth it Wednesday ~ Debt and the Single Girl

Please welcome my pal, Shoe, whooops 🙄 I mean Kayla, who is guest posting here today.  I’m posting over at her site, so head on over there when you’ve finished reading this great share.  Without further ado, or should I say “I do”, I give you … Debt and the Single Girl.


 

no-ring-not-engaged-or-marriedLast week would’ve been my 4th wedding anniversary, if I’d have stayed married. But since I didn’t, June 5th is just a day like any other.

June 5, 2010 was my wedding day. I wore a gorgeous dress and got married to a man I, apparently, didn’t really know. When it came time for my trip down the aisle, I looked up at my dad and bawled.

Talking to my friends and family later, they thought I was crying “happy tears” but in reality, I was terrified and didn’t really want to go through with my wedding; if I had known then what I know now I wouldn’t have said “I do” to that cheater.

Now, don’t worry, I’m not going to go and get all sentimental and weepy on you! I actually learned a lot about myself and what I want in life by going through that experience. I know it did me good and I’m a lot stronger for it now. Plus now I’m comfortable and I actually love being single!

With that said, I think it’s important to note that paying off debt while single has its own set of advantages and disadvantages when compared to paying off debt while married or in a long-term relationship.

Advantages of Paying off Debt While Single

Because I’m single, I have the advantage of being able to set my own financial goals and budget. I’m able to decide independently how much money I’ll spend on entertainment and fun each month. Along those lines, I also get to decide how to use the money I set aside for that purpose. I’m never going to end up spending my hard earned and sparse entertainment budget on something I don’t want to do, like going to a football game or going to a movie at the theatre that I don’t want to see.

Another thing I love is that my free time is my own to do with as I please. This may not seem to have much to do with paying off debt, but because of my side hustles, (weekend job, cleaning the office building I work in, etc.) not only is my money a luxury, but my free time is valuable as well. If I want to watch chick flicks on Netflix for 10 hours straight while stuffing my face having a snack on my (rare) day off, I can! There’s no one there to stop me or complain about my choice of entertainment.

All you mother’s out there, please don’t take offense to this one. As a single girl without the responsibilities of marriage or children, I’m free to dedicate as much “extra” time to my career and side hustles as I please. I never have to worry about being home to spend time with my husband or pick my kids up from school or day care because I don’t have any! I truly respect those of you who are willing and able to do both – dedicate time to your side hustles/career and your family – to get your debts paid off, but I truly believe I have it easier since I don’t have both demanding my time.

Disadvantages of Paying off Debt While Single

It may seem crazy, but being able to set my own financial goals and budget is also somewhat of a disadvantage of being single. I’m still working hard to increase my self-discipline when it comes to my eating out and shopping monsters! Having another person to provide for and share financial goal with each month would give me some additional accountability, which isn’t a bad thing.

Being single can also be lonely. I’m not trying to make you feel bad for me, it’s the truth. Like I said before, I truly love being single and living on my own, but sometimes I feel lonely and end up spending a bit of money to get more human interaction. Usually I end up paying for a meal out or a drink with one of my girlfriends. The other down side is that the majority of my girlfriends aren’t single so they only have a limited about of time to spend together before they go home to their husbands. Luckily, I have my pets at home to help this loneliness happen less frequently. I highly recommend having a pet if you’re single even though they do cost money!

Sometimes I find myself feeling jealousy toward my married friends, not because I truly want to be married, but because they have the luxury of not having to work at all or at least not as long or hard as I do. Of course this could also be because they managed their money better and didn’t get into debt, or aren’t actively working to get out of debt. I have a lot of friends who I know are in at least some debt and yet they are able to only work part time because their spouse brings in a larger income. I try not to be, but sometimes I am jealous of their free time and flexible schedule.

Having children or getting married is a great motivator. There are lots of people who choose to get out of debt before getting married or having kids. These are great milestones to hinge your debt freedom on, since they are big motivators for most people. Knowing that I love being single and that I don’t plan on having kids means I don’t have those built-in motivators along my journey. Spouses are also great to lean on and bounce ideas off of. Because I’m single, I don’t have that built in support either.

What do you think? Are there additional advantages or disadvantages of paying off debt while single or married? Which do you think is easier?

Shoeaholicnomore (Kayla) is a mid-20s single girl living in the Midwest. She is focused on paying off her consumer and student loans, while simplifying her life and closet. You can join her on her journey at Shoeaholicnomore.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


 

Happy Hump DayDon’t forget to check out my post at Shoe’s site on Debt Games.

Lotsa crazy going on there, but it kinda works!!!

Hope you’re all having a good week!

Happy Hump Day!

~debt debs~

 


40 Comments

Couples Money Conversations You Want to Avoid

Couples-Money-Conversations-You-Want-To-AvoidTime to kick up my heels and get a bit crazy.  Things have been a little too serious ’round here lately and I’m ready for an all out silly laugh out loud (or at me) poke fun tirade like I promised in my first post How did I get here?

To start off the fun, I refer you to this little gem I came across when I first starting blogging from Joe Saul-Sehy at Stacking Benjamins (go check out the picture, it made me LOL):

Struggling With Money? Steps to Help You Avoid Divorce

Well y’all know we have averted this D-word (so far – touch wood, touch my head, turn around three times fast, don’t step on a crack – hey OCD runs in my family, I’m allowed to do this!) but that doesn’t mean we didn’t and still do come across many delicate money moments.

You may have your own situations you can recall.  Give yourself 2 points for every item you can relate to on this list!

Couples Money Conversations You Want to Avoid

  1. You spent how much at Future Shop and for what?!  😕
  2. The car repairs from your accident are going to cost $650.  No more pedicures for the next 7 years.  😦
  3. Honey, you know I love your homemade bean soup, but can we just have some meat after 3 days?  😎
  4. You know how the bumper on the truck is starting to rust?  Well I found a good deal on a replacement at a car parts dealer for $150….. Oh ya, I forgot to tell you, I dented the bumper the other day in a parking lot.  😳
  5. I need $20 cash for my annual membership dues.  “I gave you $20 last month.”  Oh yeah….   😐
  6. I got a great deal on salad dressings, they were on sale for $1/each so they’ll last all summer.  “Did you look at the expiry date?”  Ya, they’re good until Dec 6.  “Um, no, that is Jun 12”.  😥
  7. Did you get your hair cut?  “No, I just brushed it differently”.  You should get your hair cut.  😉
  8. I’m so happy that Dairy Queen Customer Appreciation Days falls right around S’s birthday.  I got her a 50% off birthday cake.  “Um, she’s the kid who doesn’t like ice cream cakes”.  😥
  9. Oh, look at the price of gas here, we should fill up.  “Oh, no, they’ll be cheap ones once we get out of the city”.  I told you we should have filled up.  😡
  10. Did you deposit your cheque?  “Ooops ….”  😮
  11. I have a surprise when I pick you up from the airport.  Look for a white truck.  👿

Now I’m not saying that any of the above conversations happened in Debt Debs’ household and I’m not saying they didn’t, but since I pretty much tell it like it is on this blog, you know there’s at least an element of truth in every one.   :snarky eye roll:    Except for #11, that is 120% true.  He bought a truck when I was out of town on business without my knowledge or even discussion.  *I see your mouth gaping open*  But we’ve moved on from that and keep on rollin’.  😀

Next Topic – Time for Your Input

Ahem, in other news, I’ve got a lot of things on my Financial To Do List and having trouble finding time prioritizing for what I should work on first.  I’m gonna let you vote on what you think my priorities should be.  And then I’m gonna do whatever I feel like.  Ha ha ha.  Not not really, I will heed your advices very carefully, and then I will do whatever I feel like think best.

I’m probably forgetting things so feel free to add your own.  Also, some things are meant to build on another thing, so for example, I kinda have to do 1 before 2 and 2 before 3, for example.  Others are completely unrelated.  So here’s the list:

  1. Create a spreadsheet of all my investments in my retirement portfolio and start tracking the stock prices, EPS and dividend payments daily.
  2. Add to the list potential other buys and track and understand their metrics to determine if and when I should acquire.
  3. Open a self-directed stock account and move all of the equities in my retirement portfolio there, making all future decisions myself.
  4. Figure out how to get my grocery budget down from $800 / month (for three people).
  5. Move my blog to a self-hosted site.
  6. Take steps to monetize blog.
  7. Cut the freakin’ cable and save $83.56/month minus the cost of a good quality digital antenna.
  8. Fill out an application at Shopper’s Drug Mart for a job starting in September.

I felt like a fish flopping around on the boat deck, as wrote the above list.   You can tell I’m floundering a bit, ay?  I’m gonna put the above in a poll format too, because I like techy things.  You can either vote in the poll, put your answers in the comments or do both.  No pressure.  Do whatever you want.  Or not.  But if you want me to beg …. pleeeeeaaaazzzze tell me what you think I should do.

I very much appreciate your inputs!!

Call me Flounder.  (But call me.)

Random useless bonus question:  What would you prefer to be called pretty or cute?

flounder-fish

Real Flounder Fish – Pretty

Flounder-character

Fake Flounder – Cute

Images courtesy of flickr.com
Couple Arguing / Erin Nekervis
Flounder Fish / Steve Jurvetson
Flounder Stuffed Animal /The Conmunity – Pop Culture Geek – Doug Kline

 

blogger-identity-brand-perception


92 Comments

Two Key Blogging Tips to Help Your Brand and Exposure

blogger-identity-brand-perception

Your BRAND deserves R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Hey there everyone ~ I’ve been blogging for a little over two months now and constantly learning the hard way.  But the cool thing about being a newbie is that when you don’t know anything, you can ask the ‘dumb’ questions and get away with it.  😀

However, in my trials and tribulations, I’ve come across 2 things that I think every beginner blogger should know.  Wait there’s more – in fact these are two things that even seasoned bloggers could benefit from.

They’re BASIC, they’re bold and they all revolve around your brand.  I mean your brand is the figurehead of your blog and therefore a key recognizable identity to you as a writer.  Once people get to know and appreciate your writing style and featured content in your posts, it helps to remind your readership who you are and keeps them coming back.  This, in turn, is a stepping stone to be able to further interact with the blogging community, get inspired, write more great posts, grow your readership and retire early have a jolly good time.

#1 Who Tweets Your Stuff

The Process

I like to tweet out people’s posts that I have read or particularly like.  I don’t always comment* (see more on this subject in BONUS section below), if I have nothing to add to the conversation, but if I like the post, I try to remember to tweet it.  When you select the Tweet button below the post a nice summary is formulated that you can add to or tweet as is.  Here’s a sample of what I mean for a twitter share generated from my blog:
Tweet-format-from-WordPress

The Problem

However, in many cases (I estimate 40- 50% of bloggers) your own twitter handle is not added to the tweet.  Note above that the @DEBtDEBs was added automatically by the WordPress application software, but you have to configure it.

Note to self:  Wait a minute, Debt Debs.  You can just throw that figure of 40%-50% out there like that without any substantiation.

Right, fair enough, but I tweet out enough posts that I have a fairly good feel for it.  When the twitter id is not coming up automatically, I go to Twitter, search for the twitter name, copy it, and then paste it in the Tweet.  It’s a lot of hassle.  Sometimes, by the time I’ve done that, I forget to add my usual witty commentary at the intro.  #vain  Then I’m kinda miffed because what’s the point of just tweeting out a robotic tweet without some snarky comment added colour at the front of it – totally endorsing your post and showing that I actually read it.

The Evidence

Right, ahem.  So in fairness, in case I tend to exaggerate, while reading some blogs Monday night (Happy Belated Memorial Day to y’all BTW – you wrote some awesome tributes!), I decided to do a scientific and terrific test of the actual number of occurrences of this phenomenon.  (WoW, I’m getting all fancy wordy now that I’m a lowly application tester).

So within a one hour period from 8 p.m. – 9 p.m. EDT, I read a total of 7 posts (OK, maybe I’m a slow reader) and then tweeted them all (they were wonderful!) and here are the results:

Twitter-Wordpress-Button-Test

3 out of 7 tweets had their Twitter ID – 4 did not 😦

So my 40%-50% estimate is pretty accurate or understated, because out of the 7 tweets I sent, for 4 (57%) of them I needed to look-up of your twitter ID’s and manually add to the tweet before I sent them.  Like I said, I thought I had a pretty good feel for it.

Now maybe you don’t want to know who tweets your posts out, but if you’re a new blogger like me, trying to build your traffic and brand, it’s awesome to know when someone tweets your stuff!  Usually you like to thank them, although it is not necessary if you are a high traffic blog, in my humble opinion.

Since I appreciate this and knowing that my twitter handle comes up automatically, I went to investigate why this does not occur with all blogs.  I’m on a WordPress.com hosted site, so I wasn’t sure that if I would be able to troubleshoot on my own for those who use self-hosted WordPress.org themes.  So I enlisted the help of three bloggers, whom I’ve come to know in this world of Personal Finance blogs, to help me:

@Shoeaholicnomor from shoeaholicnomore.com – ‘Shoe’ has just recently moved her blog over from Blogger to self-hosted WordPress and I was trying to help her with these logistics.

@SavvyJames from retirementsavvy.net – James and I have conversed on-line a number of times and his blog is already on a self-hosted WordPress site.

@SaverSpender from www.savespendsplurge.com – helped Shoe and me out when we had a question and James was not available.

The Solution

WordPress.com blogs

My blog is hosted by WordPress.com and uses the WordPress application software.

In order to have my Twitter handle @debtdebs show up whenever someone re-tweets one of my posts, I had to configure the following two steps:

1. Go to Dashboard > Settings > Sharing

Sharing-Settings-for-Twitter

WordPress-Twitter-Linking

2. Scroll down on that same page and fill out this section

Sharing-Settings-for-Twitter-WordPress.com
This will yield the above tweet result when someone opts to tweet your post like this:

Twitter-share-buttonOnce the new window is opened with your tweet, you can modify before you send.

WordPress.org blogs – self hosted blogs

Many blogs are self-hosted as this allows them flexibility in terms of advertising options that they use on their site.  This involves hiring a server hosting company (e.g. Host Gator, Blue Host) to manage their site’s data as well as a company that licenses their domain name on an annual basis (e.g. Go Daddy).   A majority seem to use WordPress application software, utilizing either a free or paid for theme, or a specifically developed theme for their site from a WordPress developer.

To link your twitter account to your blog and set your Twitter handle like above, the steps are similar but it looks a bit different.

Step 1 – actually this step looks identical from what I can see

Twitter-Settings-WordPress.orgStep 2 – similar but the description field is slightly different.  It may depend on the template used for the blog site.

Twitter-handle-settingPrevious to making the Step 2 change for Shoeaholicnomor’s blog, this is what the Tweets looked like.  Note the addition of @jetpack at the end of the tweet:

@JetPack-in-TweetAfter the step 2 was completed, here is the result.  @jetpack is replaced by @shoeaholicnomor:

Twitter-handle-now-showing

Here is further information from the support forum question and answer for WordPress.org that shows you how to modify your script so that your twitter handle shows on your tweeted posts, if the above options are not available in your blog.

#2 Your unique Avatar showing on browser tab

The Process

Okay, call me a nerd or call me a word that rhymes with banal but drop the ‘b’, but I like to see the your little avatar showing on the tabs across the top of my browser.

Actually, it’s pretty practical to be able to quickly scan your tabs and find the one your are looking for by zoning in on the picture.  I don’t know about you, but I often have 20 – 40 tabs open (more than what will fit on my screen).  So if I’m trying to find one, it’s nice when it stands out easily by the special picture you have selected to go with your blog brand.

Here’s a picture to illustrate exactly what I mean:

Browser-tabs-showing-avatar

The Problem

Well what I discovered was that the avatar showing for Shoeaholic’s blog was the Host Gator (blog hosting provider) picture.

With @Saverspender’s help, we identified that Shoe was looking for something called a favicon in her blog settings:

Favicon

The Solution

Shoe found the spot and uploaded her .png (or .jpg) file as follows:

How-to-configure-favicon-in-WordPressViolà, we have Shoe’s pretty little shoes showing up on the tab (even if small, you still ‘get the picture’):

favicon-avatar-tabsBonus Point on Commenting

*Note:  I would be remiss in telling you that Joshua @ CNA Finance had a great post last week on commenting on other blogs.  Contrary to what I said above about only commenting where I think I add value to the thread, Josh maintains you should comment on every ‘authority’ blog in your niche.  Here’s what he has to say on this:

Step #1: Find Authorities In Your Niche – Authorities in any niche get a ton of comments. You should be leaving one on every article as well! There are also benefits to knowing who the authorities in your niche are when it comes to running a successful blog commenting campaign. One of the biggest is the fact that chances are, there are tons of other influential bloggers commenting in the same place. So, you’ll never fall short of articles to read and comment on.

So what I interpret what Josh is saying is, although it may be difficult to comment on every blog post in your niche that you read, you should make a specific point to always comment on every blog post from a Personal Finance (PF) Authority Blog. 

Now we all have our favourites and ones who we see are the authorities in PF blogging (Josh mentions a few of my personal favourite authorities in his post), but the list of authorities in PF blogging is getting pretty long as well.  So try to comment when you can, but especially on sites that you see as the authorities in your domain, whether it be Personal Finance or something else.

The most important thing when leaving a comment is that it is sincere and shows you’ve read the post, which Josh also mentions in his write-up.  I’ve had very few comments that did not seem sincere and maybe once or twice the comment looked a bit like the person might have skimmed the post only.

Josh has other good tips in his post and future planned posts on blogging topics so be sure to go read the whole thing through the link above and add his site to your feedly or bloglovin. **

** Incidentally, it looks like feedly has fixed the problem I was having with my site showing up in Android readers so I’ve amended the above linked post.

The Wrap

Now I’m not a technical expert, but as a blog reader and user, I am thankful to have figured out how to offer the above tips as a way to finesse your social networking  and blog branding strategy.  In the article, The Tweeting Dead: 5 Ways Brands Can Avoid Being Muted the importance of keeping your social networking content unique and utilizing automated social media strategies are discussed.  Doing it right and finding the right balance are key to ensuring you writing is not passed over as being overly flouted or too self-serving.

If you have other technical suggestions or aspects I have not covered above, please feel free to respond in the comments.  Of course any other best practice suggestions regarding use of Twitter, Avatars/Favicons and Comments are most welcome too.

I’d like to sincerely thank @Shoeaholicnomor, @SavvyJames and @SaverSpender for their support and information provided to trouble-shoot the ‘mystery’ settings to make the above two features function properly.

Did you know about these settings?  Are you going to make changes to your blog configuration now?

 

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

spitting-llama


47 Comments

Worth It Wednesday – Can a Marriage Survive a Debt Crisis?

We’re more than two years into our debt journey now.  It hasn’t always been pretty.  Last month, when Melanie @ Dear Debt wrote on Financial Fidelity it resurrected some feelings I had squashed down.   Coincidentally, Hayley @ A Disease Called Debt wrote that same week “How to make a relationship work if you’re in debt” on her own personal marriage struggles with debt and I said “Oh, boy!  I’ve got to do a post on this too … when I’m ready”.

I’m ready.

The Early Days of a Relationship Debt Crisis

I don’t remember now what particular purchase I tried to make with my credit card that was declined.  All I remember is the date in early March 2012.   I remember how my stomach sank and that awful dread feeling washed over me.   It was quickly followed by a fluttering of butterflies in my chest, as anxiousness and fear temporarily paralyzed me.  It wasn’t the first time.  It hadn’t happened for years though.  I didn’t see it coming.

I thought we were doing better.  I remember there being an issue in 2004 when I tried paying for a rental car overseas.  Then again in 2005, I poked my nose in and didn’t like what I saw.  I started trying to conserve money in a half-hearted attempt.  I remember not wanting to drive anywhere, as if saving on gas was going to be the answer to all of our financial problems.

Shortly thereafter, my Mum passed away, which set off a few years of YOLO with depression.  I never looked at the bank and credit card statements during this time.

We started planning a cruise with some friends and family.  I figured we would have time to save.  All of a sudden it’s 2009 but our cruise is postponed due to the financial situation of one of the couples.  It didn’t even dawn on me to look at our own financial situation then.  I just blindly trusted my partner that we had the money. There always seemed to be a few thousand in the bank whenever I went to take cash out of the ATM.  I was none-the-wiser.  I had been looking forward to the trip and felt I needed a break.  We went on a short one week cruise on our own anyways.  The following year we took the other cruise as planned.

Fast forward to 2012 and the declined credit card.  I decided that this was enough and I was sick of being put in these positions.  I asked to see the line of credit statement.  Maxed out.  $35K Why? Because of the trip, car repairs, Christmas presents, that thing we bought for the house.  The list was endless.  I guess my husband was moving money around from card to card while trying to make minimum payments.  Wait there’s more.  There’s a home equity LoC maxed out as well at $100K.  I thought we paid that.  No we didn’t because we were aggressively paying down the mortgage.  Why would we bother try to pay down the mortgage when there was still this huge HELOC sitting there?  “For psychological reasons, to have the mortgage gone”, I am told.  “Stupid psychological reasons” I mutter under my breath.   Wouldn’t Dave Ramsey be proud?

Then la pièce de résistance, $100K in low rate credit card balance transfers!!  I.was.in.complete.shock.

The Emotions of a Relationship Debt Crisis

I wanted to flee.  I wanted to run.  I wanted to get in the car and drive and never come back.  I could not fathom the extent of our debt nor could I see a way clear of it.  Divorce was the only way out of my misery.

Spitting-CobraHow could someone who supposedly cares for me so much, have done this to me?  Was I not working hard enough to provide for the family?  I wasn’t gambling, or rampantly spending to keep up with the Joneses.  I was just doing what any ‘normal’ family does.  I deserve a holiday when I work so hard all year!  The platitudes just kept coming and coming.

I was so furious and beside myself with grief that I didn’t know what I was going to do.    I literally said to him “I spit on you!”.  The venom was real.  How could I love a man whom I was so seething at, …. again?

He slept on the couch that night.  And the next night.  And the night after that.  By the fourth night, I guess since I was still in the house, he decided to come into our bed.  I asked him why he was sleeping on the couch.  He said because he didn’t want to get spit on.

The Getting-On-With-It of a Relationship Debt Crisis

The financial aspects we dealt with together at the bank, adding onto our mortgage.  I went to work figuring out our budget and cash flow.  He started renegotiating phone plans, satellite TV, internet etc.

But that’s not the point of this post.  It’s about how does a couple come back together and repair the lost trust, respect and the “cared for” feeling once a relationship experiences a debt crisis.

It’s not easy but it can be done.

Take Responsibility

It was so easy to blame him for everything.  But that would not help our marriage.  I had to dig deep and acknowledge the role that I played in our debt position.  I also have to ensure he is accountable for his part in our debt journey.

  • It Takes Two – I had left him to manage it, never checking, never discussing, just assuming.  We both have to be involved.  Whether one takes one role, and the other takes another, we still have to share the load and be sure we are reading from the same book, let alone be on the same page!
  • Communicate, Communicate, Communicate – He was overwhelmed but did not discuss it with me.  Other than the odd comment about a purchase, there were no other indications that he thought or knew we were spending beyond our means.  We now discuss our purchases, our progress against goals, our concerns and worries.
  • Record. Review, Revise – We never tracked our spending to know how much we should allow ourselves to spend in different areas and to ensure we were staying on plan.  I track everything now and review progress with him when we discuss.  Usually Saturday mornings in bed with coffee.  Romantic ay?
  • Plan Ahead – Although not a big spender, my husband is “penny wise and pound foolish”.  He will drive around to get sales on groceries, spending more in gas.  He will not buy something that we need because it’s more expensive than he thinks it should be (consequently resulting in a second trip later), but will buy something that don’t even need, just because it’s on sale.    Since I am doing all the ‘bookkeeping’ of our finances, this is his responsibility to think ahead and plan accordingly using lists and consulting the flyers for sales items.
  • Bring Home the Bacon – He was not bringing home enough income.   His job paid him like crap.  I said he needed to get a second job to increase his earnings.  He opted to speak to his boss about getting more assigned work.  This (except for lower season) has worked out for the most part.  He has increased his income dramatically from before, even if it is still quite low (in my opinion), but it is also variable.  He works very hard, too freakin’ hard as far as I can see for what they pay him and what he upgraded his skills for during the last 10 years.
  • Leave the Past There – There’s no point in resurrecting past mistakes and failures.  What’s done is done.  We’re either in this together or we’re against each other.    Okay, sometimes we laugh now, about how he didn’t want to sleep in the same bed in case I spit on him.
  • Be Informed – I let him research options about equipment / technology / home maintenance to ensure we are doing the best thing with our money.   For instance, we switched our home internet provider to Tek Savvy from Primus and our home phone from Primus to Ooma.  We save about $42/mth on our monthly fees (although there was some initial equipment investment doing this of about $300).  I do the research on tools and templates for managing our financial decisions.  We each do what we are more suited for and that (now) suits me fine!
  • Keep Each Other Honest But Keep it Fun – If we find we are slipping into bad habits we remind each other and make a joke about it (You don’t want me spitting on you do you?).

We can choose to be miserable about our debt crisis but we do not.  We both played a part in it and it will take both of us working together and working hard to reach our goals.  We have more than two years behind us and four more to go to be debt free.  That is longer than what is recommended (normally a three year rule of thumb is a good guideline in order to not experience debt fatigue, which I can attest to).

The only other way to get there sooner is to sell our home.  I’m partially in favour of that but my husband is not.  We’ve agreed to review each year and see if we’ve changed our minds.

After that, my husband can retire (he’s seven years older than me) and I will keep working until we have some money saved for house renovations and maybe some more for retirement.  It will depend a lot on how I feel, our health etc.

If you are facing a similar situation, you need to consider whether there is gambling, alcoholism, gaming or other addictive spending habits involved to know if repairing a relationship after a severe debt crisis is feasible or not. There is no easy answer and every situation is different.

Do not let fear keep you in an unhealthy relationship.  If both parties act (not say, talk is cheap) like they are committed to resolving the financial situation, repaying the debt, rebuilding trust and nurturing the relationship, then it is worth giving it a sincere effort.

We’re not there yet, but we are a work in progress!  Now instead of a spitting cobra when he looks at me he just sees this.

spitting-llama

Enough said?  Okay, but first I suggest you check out this inspiring post on this topic from Big Guy Money – Improve Your Marriage – I Dare You

Javan Spitting Cobra (Naja Sputatrix) via flickr Michael Ransburg                                                    Llama via flickr Valerie
Oh, one last thing.  I joined the Yakezie Challenge.  For anyone who isn’t familiar with it, its about improving your blog over a six month period in order to be eligible to join this community  of personal finance and lifestyle bloggers.   There is a forum where you can work with other bloggers to get support while you are doing the challenge.  One of the criteria for measurement is your Alexa rating of traffic to your blog.  You also write a submission post at the end of the induction period.  You can see the button showing I’m doing the Yakezie challenge in my right side bar.
So on that note, I just want to say that I appreciate all who come and read what I have to say here, whether you comment or not, it’s all good and the more the merrier.  The post above is one of the reasons why I blogIf you like any posts you see or know of someone else who would like to laugh at me  benefit from it, please share via the buttons below.  You have the choice of Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Google+ ~ Pinterest ~ email.   Thank you kindly for reading and for your support!