Tag Archives: savings

Is it for you?

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I was recently walking through the hallways of the University where I work and I overheard a young lady speaking on her cell phone. As I got closer I could clearly hear everything she was saying and then something came out of her mouth that kind of shocked me. “College is not for me…I should have listened to my…”. I will not finish the rest because the rest is irrelevant to what I want to speak about today.

Maybe you can see why this shocked me. I rarely hear this type of conversation but, then again, I am not an Advisor or Counselor so I don’t deal with the young adults who are fearful or still trying to navigate this thing called College. Anyway, this one line made me think about my own children getting to this particular stage in their lives and how I should approach something like this. I mean, college is expensive enough already and so many young people are graduating with tons of student loan and other debt. Not to mention how it’s becoming more and more difficult for those with particular degrees to even find work in their field without first needing to obtain more education or some type of work experience. The last thing I want to do is spend money on a college education, for any of my children, if they feel they may be better off gaining experiences in some other way or they want to do things differently than I have already made up in my mind for them to do.

student-debt

This, in turn, made me wonder how important college really is. I mean, seriously, I work alongside people who have obtained their Masters and Doctorate degrees and even a woman who has an engineering degree from Penn State (an Engineering degree!!!) yet she only makes $15/hour working as a Website Editor. If that is what a college degree will get my sons or daughters, in the future, then I would be okay with them choosing not to attend college, since most people can make this, and do this particular job, even without a college degree.

Sometimes, I wonder why we put so much pressure on our children to get a college education. Although I am an advocate for a good education, I have found that, sometimes, it is not the degree or the credentials that make a person successful but the person themselves and their experiences.

There are so many people that never graduated from college, and those that never attended college to begin with, that did quite well for themselves. People like Bill Gates, Michael Dell and Steve Jobs, who revolutionized how we use technology. People like Adele, Trace Adkins and Mariah Carey who sang us a new tune. People like Christy Walton who changed the way we shop. And people like Russell Simmons, Walt Disney, Thomas Edison and many more who inspired us to dream and renewed the way we live.

Obviously, I am not saying that if you don’t go to college you will have a successful life but it is also not statistically proven that success is guaranteed when one does go to and graduate from college. There is no rule that says my child will experience a fulfilled life if they do or don’t obtain a college degree. Maybe it is something to think about, especially in this day and age, with college costs skyrocketing as they will continue to do. There are many other ways for our children to be productive and to gain very valuable life skills and educational experiences.

A few things you could do while you are still unsure, or somewhat sure of, what you want to do with your life would be to:

  • Enroll in classes at a community college (since costs are significantly lower there. You can then transfer to a 4-year University when you are sure you want to continue working towards your Bachelors degree);
  • Attend Job Corps;
  • Work a part- or full-time job;
  • See if you can Job Shadow with someone who is already in the job or field that you think you would want to eventually work in;
  • Take time to volunteer;
  • Travel;
  • Or join the Peace Corps.

And if you really are unsure of what you want to do or don’t have the money for college, you could join the military. It is definitely not for everyone (and it is something that should be thought about very seriously before signing up) but you can enlist and obtain a college degree while you serve. Even if you decide not to work on a college degree, you will gain very valuable life and work experience in the military. You can even join the reserves instead of going in as an active duty member.

Would it really be so bad to allow our children to take a year off between high school and college to work or think about what they really want to do before “investing” everything into a college education?

This is definitely a time-sensitive conversation to have  with your children, parents and family members. Not only will talking about this subject allow everyone involved to appropriately prepare for the future, it will also possibly allow our young people to have the time they need to discover their true passions, hidden gifts and talents. Who knows what can happen if these things are realized and truly embraced before starting on the path toward a career and a future?

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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.

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

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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.