January 16, 2008

p

Live Debt Free

Filed under: Debt Reduction,Save Money — sandilarson @ 9:33 am

I’ve been thinking about a title change for my blog. Last year my focus was on all the little daily things everyone could do to handle all Holidays without using credit. That information is available to all in the archives, and I’d encourage all of you to go back and read the posts if you are new to my blog. This year, I want to focus on getting out of debt. Not me! You!

My husband and I got into major financial trouble years ago due to an uninsured medical emergency, and some business set backs. The details aren’t important, but the results are. We came up with a plan and procedures that got us out of financial trouble and enabled us to re-build our retirement accounts. We chose to eliminate debt from our lives and to learn to live debt free.

This year, I want to help you reach a place in your lives where you can clear off all your debt. You would not believe how much more you can do with your money when you aren’t paying interest to some institution. Just to get an idea, spend a few minutes today with all your monthly bills. Be sure to include your auto and home loans. Add up the monthly finance and interest charges on all your credit cards, loans, and other bills. How much was it? Now, what could you do if you actually had that much money every month to spend? New clothes? Fancy Vacations? Investments? A new car or home? You can have it if you learn to live debt free. If you have debt, you first need to eliminate it.

This is how I want to help you this year. To gain the freedom that only comes when you live debt free. I also want this blog to become more interactive. Please feel free to post your comments and questions. Let me know what specific help you need. I’d also love your input on the name of my blog. Should I leave it or change it? If I change it, what title would best fit my new direction?

January 5, 2008

p

4 Quick Little Home Business Ideas

Filed under: Debt Reduction,Save Money — sandilarson @ 4:14 pm

1.  This is something almost anyone can do, and you can make a little extra cash.
Get a few small boxes,  about the size of a child’s shoebox. (empty tissue boxes with the top cut out work well too) Wrap the boxes in gift wrap or fabric. Then put a roll of toilet tissue, two bottles of water, a couple candy bars or snack bars, and a pen and small memo pad inside. Get the “We’ve moved” kit from the post office, and make up a small list with the phone numbers and addresses of the utility companies, churches, schools, favorite restaurants, and other local places that every person new to an area might need.  
Arrange everything in one of the boxes, and tie it up in cello with an attractive bow.   Now, visit apartment managers, realty offices, etc… Tell them you will make these gift “Welcome” boxes for them to give to new renters, new home buyers, etc… You can sell these for around $5 to $15 each depending on how much you put inside.   Your cost is just a couple dollars, especially if you buy on sale.
Start with just a few and with things you have on hand. That way, you can start a business without any up-front expense. Re-invest the money you make from your first few sales to buy more “ingredients” for the next batch of boxes.
Many local businesses will be glad to give you discount coupons or little gift items to get their business known to new people in the area.

2.  Homework Club
If you live near a middle school, establish a homework club. These slightly older children need some after school supervision if their parents work, and would be able to complete most of their homework after school so their evenings with their family would be free. When they go home alone after school, they seldom work on homework. Arrange to have the child or children arrive at your home straight from school. Feed them a snack, and get them started on their homework. You would need to provide an environment where each student could work, and be able to provide occasional help with difficult problems. After one or two hours, the children would leave or the parents would pick them up. Your fees would be similar to child care rates, and you could build in a bonus for yourself based on the student’s grades. Maybe $10.00 for every B and $25.00 for every A.
Promote your business by visiting the schools in your area and asking teachers to tell the parents of students that are getting poor grades.
As a parent, I had difficulty establishing and maintaining a specific homework time and environment for my kids, and would have loved to have a service that taught them the skills and provided a proper environment for homework.

 

3.  Make Velcro Hair bows for babies and pets.
Most babies and many short haired pets have hair too fine or short to tie a bow. Purchase the small Velcro dots or strips. Make little bows and “pretties” and glue them to a small square or dot of Velcro. Put them in a small plastic bag, make an appropriate bag topper. Take a selection to beauty salons that specialize in children’s hair cuts, and to dog groomers. Offer to sell them at a “wholesale” price. Suggest that they have a small basket of the bows available for their customers to purchase.
I recommend that the bow is attached to the “loopy” side of the Velcro. That way, the hook side is always away from the babies or pet’s head.

4.  This one is a little “out there”, but clever, and would work great for a teen looking for a little extra spending money.
There is a regular business here doing this and they call their business “Doody Calls”. Contact neighbors with dogs, and offer to come over to their home once a week (or more or less often) and clean up the dog poop from their yard. Take a shovel (or use theirs) a plastic bag, and disposable gloves. Do the clean up, leave the plastic bag in their garbage can, collect your fee and go on to the next house.
Try to get several clients in the same neighborhood on the same day if you want to make the best use of your time. Most yards could be completely cleaned in under 1/2 hour, so $5 would seem quite reasonable, and you could easily make $20 to $50 in a day.

January 4, 2008

p

Goal Setting

Filed under: Organize — sandilarson @ 11:21 am

My husband and I just returned from our semi-annual goal setting trip.  It seems a little unusual for a couple to plan two get-aways each year just for the purpose of goal setting, but I can’t recommend it enough.  You can search the Internet for quotes on goal setting or the importance of goals and you’ll find ton’s of information on their importance.   We discovered after only two years of marriage, that if we didn’t spend several hours of uninterrupted time discussing our personal and financial ideas together we spent too much time throughout the year working at cross purposes.  We also found that if we didn’t get away, all the normal daily minutiae would get in the way of our thought and discussion process. 

Over the years, we have been partners in  every aspect of our marriage.  We discuss health (including weight loss and exercise) goals, and establish a plan that we can work on in tandem.  We discuss our financial position and set a spending plan that allows each of us to purchase items we want while still living within our means.  Our session includes discussions and plans for everything from yard work to intimate time.  We also set a time and location for our next get-away which is approximately 6 months out.

We’ve had some of our sessions at beautiful vacation destinations, so that part of our trip expenses can be deducted from our taxes.    Usually, however, we just go to a reasonably priced hotel or motel at the coast some other location a few hours from our home.  This insures that we get away from distractions that might prevent us from our work sessions, but gives us a different and hopefully inspiring locale.  There is nothing like looking at the power of the ocean, the majesty of a mountain range, or the quiet peace of a lake or desert to help you relax and get  inspired.

If you are going to plan a goal session I’d like to recommend that you first have a budget book.  It is so easy to make your own using a notebook, or lined paper.  You can find several very reasonably priced books here:  http://www.bobbibopstuff.com/index.php?zenid=e05c5f9cc0523d55af88f153f1bc8c2f&main_page=advanced_search_result&search_in_description=1&keyword=bill+paying  All of these books are designed to be started at any time of year.  You should also have a calendar, a couple notebooks or journals, and a very good understanding of your net income, and all the bills you have.  If you have a laptop computer, you’ll find it useful to take s well, but it is not necessary.  Also take a calculator, and any other things you might need related to the subjects you’ll be discussing.  We have taken a tape measure when we are planning to discuss weight loss so we can set realistic goals based on real information. 

Finally, make a list of which subjects or areas you will be discussing on this trip.  Most goal setting sessions can take a few hours per day, and finances tend to take longer.  If this is your first goal session and you choose to discuss finances, it may take two or three days just for the financial planning.  Use your next trip for other goal setting.

The most important step in goal setting is to agree ahead of time that you cannot argue.  If the discussion gets heated while you discuss your expectations, make sure you don’t bring in mistakes that your spouse has made in the past.  What is done cannot be changed.  Goal setting is about going forward, and if you try to go back you will stall the entire process. 

I’ll be talking more about goals and plans along with all the other stuff I’ve promised.  If there are subjects you also want help with, or have questions, please feel free to post comments or questions. 

January 1, 2008

p

2008 Going Forward

Filed under: Debt Reduction,Organize,Save Money — sandilarson @ 10:30 am

I’m not sure what all I’m going to write about this year.  I will continue to pass on tips for saving money on gift and holiday spending.  I will probably spend a lot of time talking about methods you can use to get out of debt, and I will undoubtedly repeat myself a few times.  I will share ideas and patterns on simple but effective gift items you can make yourself.  I also plan on sharing lots of ideas and tips for starting your own home business.  Sometimes all we need to get out of debt is an extra $20 or $30 each month.  I’ll show you ways to get that extra money, and how to spend it wisely.  I plan on sharing portions of my book about teaching financial management to your children called “Money Doesn’t Grow On Trees” 

I also hope to share more recipes and shopping tips that will save you money on everything from groceries to telephone service.  I’ll also be publishing excerpts from the book “Getting God’s Army Out of Debt” written by John and Sandi Larson.

 I’ll also link you to unique and special web sites that feature one of a kind and unique products from small business owners, artists, and crafters.  There is no gift you can give that is as precious as something made just for the recipient.

I would encourage you to read through my archives for daily tips on saving money for Christmas;  After all, that was the original purpose of this blog.  And, as we go forward, I wish you a Very Happy and Prosperous New Year!

December 31, 2007

p

Two More Tins

Filed under: Craft Project,Debt Reduction,Organize,Save Money — sandilarson @ 8:27 am

Use the next largest tin for your Christmas fund.  If you or other members of the family might be inclined to dip into the fund for “emergencies” during the year, use this method to insure success.  Using a chisel or screwdriver, punch a coin slot into the lid of the tin.  Make sure it’s big enough for quarters and folded bills, but not big enough to shake money through.  Then, using a strong glue, glue the lid to the tin.  This will discourage all but the most determined from borrowing from the fund.  Place the tin in a prominent place where the entire family can have access to it.

Use the next largest tin for your wish list. Put a memo pad and pen in the tin, or glue a magnet on each, and attach them outside the tin.  Throughout the year, when you shop with your kids, and they ask for something, tell them they can write the item down, put it in the wish tin, and then let them put the money in the Christmas tin.  Do this for yourself and your spouse as well.  For example, instead of buying a new shirt for yourself, write down the store, price, size, etc. on the memo pad, drop it in the wish tin, and place the money you saved into the Christmas fund.  Make sure each family member puts their name on their wish so you will remember later.

Next Page »