January 4, 2008

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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

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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

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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.

December 27, 2007

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After Christmas Sales Strategies

Filed under: Debt Reduction,Organize,Save Money,Shopping Tips — sandilarson @ 9:01 am

            Watch all the sales for the next few days.  If a store has Christmas Cards, Wrap, or necessary decorations on sale for more than 50% off, consider purchasing next year’s supply now.  Don’t go if the sale price is just 50% off, the prices will get lower in a few days.

Up-date your Christmas Card Record Book.  If you’ve received gifts in the mail from family members, address Envelopes for Thank you notes.  Keep the notes handy.  Then, as the gifts are unwrapped, you can mark in pencil on the envelope where the stamp is going to go what the gift was.  A few days later, it will be simple to remember who got what from who, and make writing thank you notes much easier.  If you need thank you notes or a Christmas Card Record Book, you can get them here:  http://bobbibopstuff.com/

By now, those giant tins of cookies, popcorn, and other Christmas treats should be on sale for just a Dollar or two.  Buy a few of them. The treats can be used as snacks for the next couple weeks. Keep the tins.  They will be a big part  of your success next year. 

Returning items today?  Shopping the sales?  Get a head start on next year by purchasing wrap, cards, decorations, tags, and gifts.  If you’re just starting this program, you may have overspent for the Christmas you just celebrated.  If so, don’t use credit for any purchases today no matter how cheap things are.  Only use cash.  No cash?  Return that silly sweater “Aunt Beth” bought for you, and use the cash or store credit to purchase needed sale items.  It will be one of the best presents you’ve ever received, your first steps to Christmas without debt. 

After Christmas sales go on for almost two weeks.  Take your time.  The longer you wait, the lower the prices.  Your selection will be limited the longer you wait, but the prices make up for it if you aren’t real picky.  Try to purchase at least one unique roll of Christmas wrap for each member of your family.  If the price is right, get two or three rolls of each design.  If you have dollar stores in your area, their Christmas paper should be 50¢ a roll.  The quality isn’t great, but you can’t beat the price. 

December 14, 2007

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Taking Care of Details

Filed under: Organize,Shopping Tips — sandilarson @ 8:59 am

Mark your calendar for any special religious services you want to attend.  Are there plays, or special events you need to attend for the kids?  Prioritize events, and extend regrets to those you don’t really want to attend.  You need time to yourself if you don’t want things getting too hectic.

Purchase any supplies you will need for Christmas Day, such as film and batteries for toys that require them.

If you usually call extended family and friends during the holidays, start now.  Later you may be too busy, they may be too busy, or the telephone circuits may be too busy. 

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