Tag Archives: monday

Gas Prices Slowly Coming Down

U.S. Gas Prices Climb To Four-Month High

I was pleasantly surprised when I drove past the gas station this weekend to see that prices were, once again, below $3.00/gal. In fact, here in DeKalb, we are at $2.97/gal. and $2.99/gal., at all of our gas stations. Why the drop in gas prices?

The drop in gas prices can be directly contributed to the new, or semi-new, competitor. That competitor is renewable energy and it looks like it will be around for the long haul. It seems that oil is still very much in demand which means we can expect to see prices rise again, in the near future, but I am definitely enjoying the lower prices while they last.

Of course, there are other reasons for the decline in prices, to include: a generational turn from owning cars and, with the boom of the Internet and social media, more people are starting to work from home, thus making a greater demand for renewable energies as opposed to consumable fuels.

With more energy efficient vehicles making their debut and tech-savvy companies looking for ways to continue to stay a “step above the rest”, it looks like we could see gas prices remain settled, at least for a short period of time.

There is indeed some good coming from all of this. The number one benefit would have to be, hands down, the savings. It may not be much but I remember spending $60 every time I filled up my vehicle. With the lower prices, I am saving about $15 each time I fill up. I don’t know about you but, in my book, every little bit counts.

Have you noticed a decline in the gas prices in your town? Did it come as a shock? What are your thoughts on the lower prices?

To check the gas prices in your area or worldwide, click here. There is also a pretty handy app called GasBuddy that you can download to your phone.

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Apple, we have a problem!

Apple-Pay-main1

We live in a world where we can no longer wait on anything. Fast food is not fast enough and, now, waiting in a line is no longer acceptable and is getting in the way of our “happiness” and becoming an inconvenience that we’d much rather skip. We are living up to the term “microwave generation” more and more with each day, week, month and year that passes. Instant gratification is what we are striving to have, at every turn, in every moment of our lives. Yet, this is making us a lazier, ungrateful and unappreciative society. It is sickening to think about especially when there are still parents that want to raise (and send out) well-rounded and decent human beings into this world.

I take it that most, if not all, of you have heard about the Apple Pay system that launched on October 20, 2014. This is a method of paying that is being marketed as a “breakthrough contactless mobile payment system” by the world’s leader in technology. However, it seems that Apple may have bitten off more than they can chew this time. Not only are companies rejecting this new way to pay but they are making their voices loud and heard over the issue. Among some of the companies, that are not happy campers with Apple’s new pay system, are: Wal-Mart and CVS/Rite Aid.

I have a bit of a problem with that word “contactless”. You may be asking yourself is this even possible? Yes, it is possible and yes, it is real. Not only is Apple saying that they are providing you with a new method for purchasing products but they are also allowing you to pay at the shelf and walk out with the item, without EVER having to stand in a line or engage a cashier (or anyone else for that matter) in the store. All with just a touch of your thumb you can pay for, pick up and walk out with the item(s) that you want. No more tussling through your purse or wallet, trying to find that card. No more dealing with anyone. Just pure, unadulterated convenience at its best.

Or is it? Is this really the direction that our world is going in? After all of the news about companies losing customer’s information what makes Apple think they have tapped into something that will be “safer”?

As a mother and a working individual, I am all for anything that will make my life a little bit easier. However, how much easier can it be before we cross into a realm of disdain for others? Isn’t this how machines start taking over things that able-bodied people used to be paid for? What is going to happen to the store clerk when he/she is no longer needed because there is no one coming through the checkout lines anymore so their skills are no longer needed and even less valued? What are we really teaching our children about money if they see us spending frivolously even when we know we don’t have the money in our account to cover the charges? As a nation, we are paying the banks billions of dollars in bounced check and overdraft fees. Call me crazy but I think that is just insane!

Maybe this is an old school way of thinking but I truly believe that there is something to be said when you use “real” money to pay for things. Like our grandparents did and their parents before that… Not only does it teach kids (and big kids in adult bodies) to “feel money”, but it also encourages them to delay gratification, helps them to understand what is more important and allows them to clarify a need versus a want. I am all for anything that will help us handle money in a responsible way, while also sending the message that debt is not your friend.

What’s your take on the Apple Pay system? Chime in with your thoughts, questions, viewpoint. Do you think this “new way to pay” is destined for greatness or doomed to fail? Does it make you think about, or rethink, how you handle money? Is it even really “new” at all?

Budgeting

Budget

“The only reason a great many American families don’t own an elephant is that they have never been offered an elephant for a dollar down and easy weekly payments.”                 ~ Mad Magazine

That is so true for some of us, isn’t it? I know that I have been guilty of living this way. As many of you know, I am presently enrolled in a Dave Ramsey FPU course and I am just about able to call myself a “graduate” in a couple of weeks. I enrolled in this course not because I was in insurmountable debt or because of crisis but because I wanted to learn how to manage my money appropriately and even possibly to begin being able to save for my children’s college and my future as well.

Like many people, I did not grow up in a household where finances were taught (or much less talked about). All we knew, as kids, was that “money did not grow on trees.” We were also, regularly, given the speech before we went into any store, that we were “not getting anything so don’t even think about asking.” My mom used to like to tell us that she was broke, although she made more as a woman and a single parent than most women and men combined make when both are working, so it quickly became ingrained in our minds that there was no use in asking her to buy anything for us. This could have been good logic – or very poor logic – however, it accomplished what she wanted to accomplish and thus, we stopped asking mom for anything.

This type of teaching instilled a sort of ‘poor mentality’ in me as the years went by. I never saw my mother budgeting but I did always see her – and hear her – “robbing from Peter to pay Paul.” I grew up thinking this was okay and when it was time to think about college I already knew that there was no help coming from my parents.

This was also confirmed by both my mom and dad when I had gotten accepted at a number of my top choice schools and had finally chosen one only to get a letter in the mail, a few weeks before I was set to leave, stating that I still needed to pay my tuition and room and board – to which mom responded, I’m sorry but I cannot pay that for you.

At that point, my dreams of going to college were shattered since everywhere I applied said that my mother made too much and I didn’t qualify for financial aid. My only options were moving out, getting married, having kids or waiting until I would be able to file independently, without needing to use my mom’s income in my financial aid applications.

I think that was also when my life began to take a turn for the worse and spiraled out of control. Getting married young, having children right away and not having a real grasp on money or credit definitely did not help. My ex and I were both rather young and immature when it came to money. I was the saver but noticed how I began to succumb to pleasing my husband and felt like a “bad wife” every time I would get upset about him spending money that he and I both knew we did not have. We had a joint account but he also had a separate account, which I later found out about, that was used for his “extracurricular-extramarital activities”. Every time I even mentioned the word budget, you would think I had swore at him so, needless to say, we never had a budget for the entire time we were together. This proved to be ‘not so wise’ after going through not one, but two, evictions and a car repossession.

When he and I divorced I did have a hard time digging myself out of debt but I managed. I heard about the Dave Ramsey course and figured I could only go up from here, so I enrolled and for the very first time in my life, I learned how to make (and keep) a budget. A budget, unlike most people think, is not a restriction from doing fun things, in fact, you have to include some spending/pocket money and even money for entertainment or it will be like most diets that we never stick with because it’s too hard. It has been proven that withholding things from yourself and not allowing some things that you want (even if you don’t need them) very rarely works for anyone. A budget is a tool that is used to be able to “tell your money where to go and how to behave”.

The steps are pretty simple and if you get this down, I promise you, your entire attitude and view on money WILL eventually change for the better.

1. Gather all of your bills and sit at a table. Nothing can ever get done unless we make an effort to actually do it! So, even if you have to schedule a time to do your budget, make it happen. Mark it on the calendar, set a reminder in your phone, and commit to it.

2. Use a notebook or find some budgeting documents online. You can also use budgeting software but I would recommend you actually sit down and write out your first couple of budgets on paper. This way you get familiar with the process and actually think about what you are doing and why. It is also a good way to include your spouse (if you are married) and to include others who may have a hand in helping you with your budget but may not be as tech-savvy as you are. 🙂

3. Get to a zero-balance. No matter what, ensure that all of your income for that month is put in some category. For instance, if you make $3000/month but realize, after sitting down to plan your budget for the month, that you only have monthly expenses of $2000, find somewhere for that extra $1000 to go…it can be split up and used to give to someone in need, fund your retirement, pay on your debt, additional savings or even sat aside a bit of it for entertainment (if you want). Just make sure that in the end, your balance is “0”, this is what is known as a zero-based budget and it is what will help to keep you on track.

4. Be sure to keep receipts and track your spending.  You can use your checkbook for this or just write “Paid” and the amount directly next to each category on your budget sheet. This visual definitely helps to remain on track and is a great way to know what may change from month-to-month.

Some sample resources to help you get started with your budget:

QuickStartBudget

Gazelle_Full_Budget

I am changing my family’s legacy one step at a time and you can too. Not only is starting and keeping a budget a great way to know where your money is going but it is a great teaching tool for your children. I know that my older girls have already started doing their own budgets and even help me with the “family” budget from time to time. They get great joy out of being involved in this way and I am using it to show them how to manage money and also that nothing is impossible. Once I am completely debt-free (only have student loans left) this will not only be my victory but theirs as well and I expect they will be just as, if not more, excited and relieved as I will be. It will open up many doors and give us new opportunities to be able to do (and give) and I know all of the sacrifice and the “cutbacks” will all be worth it.

Money Monday

make-money

I wanted to introduce something new to the blog… an “itinerary” of sorts. I am still thinking about what I would like the topics to be for each day of the week but I pretty much have Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday decided. So, today is what I would like to call ‘Money Monday’ and in the coming weeks, months and possibly years, I will be sharing information on all things money and money-related. It may come in the form of a post or in the form of me sharing an article that I have read and giving my own opinion on or even me asking you, my wonderful community, to send in questions concerning budgets, coupons, finances, etc. and my answer or advice to your particular situation.

I am presently taking an FPU class and for those of you that don’t know what that is I will tell you. FPU is Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University course that has been taught (and continues to be taught) to millions of people all around the country. It is a 9-week class about saving, spending, budgeting, personal finances, insurance, retirement and how to basically get out of debt (including your mortgage debt). In this class we utilize something known as the Envelope System and I won’t go into this now but I will be sure to post some things about this class and this system in the coming weeks.

My class ends next month so I will probably just do a compilation post of the entire course. I would encourage those of you looking to get out of debt or just needing to be more active and intentional with your personal finances and budget to look into setting aside some time to enroll in this course or to study up on some of Dave Ramsey’s materials. I am sure they will be of great help to you no matter where you are financially.

If you’re not into reading and prefer to listen to audio or watch someone speak, Dave has a call-in radio talk show and also some podcasts that you can download and listen to as you are exercising or driving the kids to school. 🙂 There is even stuff for your kids to never end up in debt and for those of us that have been entrusted, as parents, to guide our kids in “the way that they should go” from a financial standpoint.

So, be sure to leave your questions, topics, concerns below or email them to me at misssatomi1@gmail.com and lets start some discussions about our finances. Maybe what we talk about here will help someone else both now and in the future.