Becoming Debt Free in 2009

April 6, 2009

I Have Nothing Financial To Say

Filed under: Financial Thoughts,Giving,Goals,Journey to Debt Freedom — ambercouric @ 9:48 am

When I started this blog I had what seemed to be a huge amount of debt.  You can see the breakdown here.  Nearly $20,000.  I was extremely motivated to get the debt down.  In the beginning, I was working really hard to change the way we thought about money.  We cut some things and decided other things were worth the cost.

Now, it is April and the last debt is well on its way.  I have about $5,500 left on my car.  While that seems like a lot we are so far ahead – I think the car is worth about $16,000 give or take a thousand.  Also, I have the amount set to pay so with making no changes the car will easily be paid off by September.

This brings me to the point of really not having anything to say about personal finance.   Although I am not debt free at the moment I know it is going to happen soon.  I can’t wait but right now being debt free just seems like waiting for Christmas.  It’s coming soon and I have a little of the anticipation but I’m not exactly fired up about.

The good news is that my life does not revolve around the debt.  I’m not constantly trying to fine ways to save a few dollars.  Since October I have made great efforts to save by not spending on things that aren’t really important to me.  I’ve given lots of thought to how and why we spend money.  So I guess I have grown up financially.

I’m  not sure where this leaves this blog.  I enjoy blogging when I have something to blog about but to blog just to write something down doesn’t interest me.  Right now my life consists of getting ready for boarding school for Kennedy, dealing with college stuff for Ashby, taking care of my dogs (trying to train the puppy to do all the cool stuff show dogs do), and volunteering for a couple of organizations.  We are planting a garden for the main purpose of being able to give the vegetables to the food pantry (of course we will eat some too) and spending more hours at the animal shelter because so many animals are being given up by owners who can no longer afford them.

I guess that I have reached my goal.  Although, I can’t give large sums of money to charity each month I can give both time and  money to help others.  I’m excited that I can see a need and my first thought is let me help and not can I afford to help.

I need to decide where I go from here.  Do I keep this blog and update weekly (which by the way drives me crazy) or do I move on to a blog that is more centered around my priorities and goals?

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January 24, 2009

It doesn’t take a lot

Filed under: Giving — ambercouric @ 10:41 am
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It doesn’t take a lot of money to make a big impact on someone.

Kate over at CheapCharity tells how she spent a Friday night.

I think in these economic times I sometimes forget to be thankful for what I do have.  This post really made me realize just how blessed I am and not just in material possessions but also that my children have a warm place to call home.  

Now, I need to make a run to the local food pantry and drop off the 3 bags of food that have been in my trunk since Monday.

December 17, 2008

The Giving Tree

Filed under: Giving,Kids — ambercouric @ 6:54 pm
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My son, Kennedy, is in the gifted program for our school district.  One of the requirements of the program is that each student must participate in a minimum of 15 hours of community service.  He and a friend decided to do a “Giving Tree”.  They sent out a notice to all the kids at school and asked for donations.   We are going to deliver the items tomorrow.

Take a look at their tree.  They were so excited to have so many people donate.

November 22, 2008

My gift for today -Day 2

Filed under: Giving — ambercouric @ 6:11 pm
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Take a look at my other blog – Talking Tarva – to see what I did today.

We gave someone a home.  What do you think?

November 21, 2008

29 – Day Gifts Challenge

Filed under: Giving — ambercouric @ 8:09 am
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The last few days I have been excited realizing I would come in about $300 under my Christmas budget.  Although I was excited I still felt that something was missing.  Then reading My Journey to Eliminate Debt’ s post about spreading Christmas cheer and Mary from SimplyForties’s post referencing The 29 Day Giving Challenge I realized I have such a desire to give this season – probably more than ever before.  In part this is probably because I feel that we have been so blessed and the economic downturn has hit so many others.

I have decided to take the challenge.  The challenge isn’t only about giving money but time, encouragement, whatever you have to give.  Here is a link to the website with a video that explains the entire challenge.

My personal challenge is that I will give something for the next 29 days that is above what I would have given for the holidays.  Anything that is in the scope of what I would have given for the holidays will not be included in this challenge.  I had considered waiting until after the holidays but decided there is no better time to start than today.

To keep up with the progress just click the link at the top of the page.

If any of you decide to take the challenge let me know and I’ll link to you on my challenge page.

November 7, 2008

Blessing Money

Filed under: Budget,Giving — ambercouric @ 10:11 am
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Last night while watching the news there were many interviews of how difficult things are right now.  Many people are being laid off.  Many are losing their homes.  A host of things are happening for a host of reasons.  While watching these interviews I remembered something I heard several years ago.  I wish I could remember who said it because it had such a profound impact on the way I see things.  I know this is a personal finance blog and the majority of the readers are trying to become debt free.  I am going to ask you to create another category in your budget – Blessing Money.

Blessing Money is a little money set aside that you can give when that urge hits you.  It doesn’t have to be big maybe $1 a month if that is what you can afford.  Can you be a blessing to someone?  I am blessed to have great children who really don’t ask for much.  A couple of years back my son was going on a 6th grade trip.  The trip cost $300 per person.  A child in his grade that he didn’t know very well couldn’t afford to go.  All he knew was that other kids would pick on her and her father had lost his job.  He asked if we could use Blessing Money to pay her trip.  We don’t have $300 a month blessing money but the money was to be paid over a several month period.  I told him if he made arrangements with the teacher  and that it could be anonymous would could do it.  That trip was more of a blessing to him than to anyone.  He so enjoyed the little girl having a good time.

Blessing Money can be big or small.  To someone that is in need or to someone you have a nagging feeling in your stomach to help.  Someone may just need that small gesture to help them get through the day.  You may know them or they may be complete strangers.  I have a place in my wallet where I keep $20 Blessing Money.  Sometimes it takes two months before I use it.  Sometimes as soon as it is replaced I use it again. 

I encourage you to have a special Blessing Money place.  Start with $1 or $100.  Whatever is right for your budget.  I can’t tell you how blessed I have always been just to know that I have helped someone. 

Now, I’ll tell you how someone blessed me.  Several years ago I lost a lot of weight.  I had no clothes that really fit well and had just paid for braces for my son so funds were tight.  I had a friend who worked at a nice clothing store.  She was forever buying stuff and she would by it too small.  You see she was going to lose weight and the clothes were her “motivation”.  She had an outfit that was adorable.  I loved it and probably would have bought one if I could have afforded it.  She called out of the blue one day and said I needed to come to her house right away.  When I got there she had a ton (at least 20 items) of clothes new with tags sitting on her sofa.  I walked in and she actually had tears and said, “I don’t want to do this. I love these clothes and I know I will fit it them someday, but I need to BLESS YOU.”

I encourage you to bless someone this weekend.  Send a card, buy a coffee, give away something you don’t really need,  give a child a candy bar, take $10 to the food bank.  Make an effort to be a blessing.  There is always someone more needy that we are.  Find a way to be a blessing.  Not only will it make you feel great it will teach your children the joy of giving.  I don’t think there is anything greater than seeing a “giving” child.  Children who give from the heart grow up to be adults who give from the heart.

Do you have Blessing Money in your budget?  Will you bless someone this weekend?  I would love to hear what you do.

November 5, 2008

Christmas Shopping – Family Update

Filed under: Giving,Shopping — ambercouric @ 5:44 pm
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I talked to my sister and explained that we just didn’t want  or need to spend as much on Christmas this year.  I explained that it would be much easier for us all if we just bought for the young children.  We would spend the day together and do all the other things we normally do we just wouldn’t exchange gifts.    She liked the idea and thought it would work for her children to.  I called my niece and she seemed thrilled not to have to purchase extra gifts this year.  After we talked she called her brothers and looks like they are all going to just buy for the children too.  Of course they will buy their mother a present but each family will save several hundred dollars by not buying for the rest of the adults.

 Boy, that was a lot easier than I thought it would be.  I think it was easier for them since I brought it up.  It didn’t make them seem cheap – I don’t mind being the cheap one with this.

We also decided that each family would purchase $20 worth of food that we would give to a needy family.  So, when we meet for our Christmas dinner (usually the Sunday before Christmas) we will combine the food and one of us will deliver it to a needy family.  We don’t have a family in mind yet but I am sure we will when the time comes.  So a family in need will get $100 worth of food and we get to help someone.

So, hopefully, our new tradition will be for each person to purchase some food and we give it to someone that is in need.

October 26, 2008

A Question for All – Please Give Your Opinion

Filed under: Giving,Shopping — ambercouric @ 11:43 am
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Gift cards make the perfect gift.  Right?  I so want to give only gift cards to all the adults on my Christmas list this year.  I don’t want  to seem tacky or like I don’t care enough to put thought into the presents.  The truth is many of the people on my list are family that we rarely see (only at Christmas) and I know absolutely nothing about them.  Sure I can go and buy something that suits my taste but they probably hide it in the closet and sale it at the summer yard sale.

If I could convince our family to stop exchanging gifts that would be perfect.  Unfortunately,  that hasn’t worked.  I usually spend hours shopping for family and I really just don’t want to do that this year.

How do you put a stop to all the gift exchanges that you don’t want to participate in?

Do you like receiving gift cards for Christmas?  What store would you most like to receive a gift card for?

October 21, 2008

Giving While Becoming Debt Free

Filed under: Giving — ambercouric @ 9:28 am
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I have been reading lots of blog that have addressed the issue of giving to local organizations like food banks. We have three main areas where we give – 1) Food Pantry 2) Animal Shelter and 3) Kiva.

The animal shelter requests a certain brand of food so that is easy. Kiva gets $25 a month and usually my son and I sit down and go through all of the loans. He has a real heart for goat farmers so usually the money goes to a farmer. But the food pantry is a little different. I have always been of the mindset that if I give food it should be something I would eat or buy for my family. I have severe allergies so I usually purchase higher priced items that don’t contain soy or corn.

We recently upped our budget for the food pantry and my son suggested we go to Aldi so we could get more for our money. At first I thought that seemed “cheap”. But I can buy 3-4 times more food at Aldi than I could at our usual store. Although I do try to buy items that are on sale at our regular store, I am sure I could stretch the dollars a little farther at Aldi.

What do you think?

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