Getting Back on Track

Somethings in life are simple – not easy.

Getting back on track.  So I have talked about how you have to stay on track and how even though life has thrown me some curve balls, we have been blessed to stay on plan.  Today it is about falling off and getting back on plan. 

Curve balls and life in general can derail your plan.  And well, it sucks.   Getting your plan back on track is not easy.  It does not matter if you caused the derailment or something else did.  To play the victim does not help get you moving forward. 

Thus what derailed me is not of concern, moving forward is.  My derailment put me behind my plan by about $2000 and one month.  And well, it’s time I can’t get back.   Am I pissed…yes!  I am writing this to Simple not easy.pptxhelp me get over it. 

So, anger doesn’t do me any good.  The time is lost and the lesson is learned.  So, what is the first step to getting back on track? Update the plan.  Yes it sucks, GET OVER IT!

Second thing work the new plan.  The new plan might not be as good as the old plan but, it’s still a plan. I’m back on track and back on a new plan. 

Is it that simple YES!  Is it easy – no, but if you want to reach your goal, it is necessary.  Now that I’ve whined, I’m going to go wine. 

Sincerely, things happen.  They can hurt.  Don’t be a victim though – move forward.

Start:            $ 170,000
Paid:             $   61,915
Remaining:  $108,085

How your Library Can Help You Become Debt Free

Part 2:  The Free Stuff!

Library 2Libraries are amazing.  Part 1 of this topic offered a value packed insight into how libraries can help you make more money (if you missed it check it out).  And well, making more money helps you become debt free.  Also, in that post I yammered on and on and on, about how much I love my library and how my frugal mother made it a fun place.

In Part 2, we get to talk about one of my favorite topics…FREE STUFF!  Libraries are full of freebies.  Let’s start with the obvious:

Books, DVDs, Music and More

You can still check out the latest and greatest to hit the New York Best Seller list at your library for free (make sure you return it on time).  You can also though enjoy music and other types of information like “Learn French.”

If that isn’t enough did you know you can also get movies and television programs like “Orange is the New Black.”  Goodbye HBO!


You don’t even have to go to the library to enjoy freebies – you can download them.  Seriously!  This includes e-books, articles, and more all digitally available.  You can also learn a new language.

Free Computer and Wi-Fi

Okay, so most of you know that you can use your library in a dire emergency if you lose your computer.  The Wi-Fi is also free, so instead of swinging by a coffee shop when you’re out killing time and need a quick hook-up – go to the library.  Speaking of Wi-Fi…the Mansfield Public Library allows you to check out mobile Wi-Fi devises FREE for a week!  YES – FREE!!!!

And More

During the summer months when kids are out of school one of the best resources is a library.  There are some amazing free programs at the library, from learning about music to summer reading contests.  During the summer months our wonderful library assists with a wonderful free meal program to kids.

Don’t just check out your local public library, support it.  It will give back in spades.

How Your Local Library Can Help You Become Debt Free

Part One:  Make More Money

My mother instilled a love for the library at a very young age.  I will never forget a year we spent so much time at the Fort Worth library.  It was such a treat, we would ride the “subway” into the “Tandy Center.” We would watch the people on the ice-skating rink and then meander our way down to the library.  Library

To this day I can remember the smell, it was a smell of books (if you have no idea what I’m talking about go to a Half-Price Bookstore).  I can still remember when I was old enough to get my own card, and my mom took me up to the top floor and I filled out the form and everything. 

That was a tough year for my family.  Though I never really noticed it, it was a very very tough year.  My father’s company was on strike, and my mother was a school teacher.  Summer was very tough.  There were three things I remember distinctly about that year. 
     1)      Eating breakfast for dinner (at least once a week)
     2)      Shopping at “Sack and Save”
     3)      Going to the library

The funny thing, my mother’s attitude was to have fun.  So, we had fun. 

I will never forget I fixed bacon and eggs for dinner when I was just married and my mother, asked, “Everything okay? Do you need money?”  When I asked why she said, “Well, you’re eating breakfast for dinner, which usually means you’re broke.”  I laughed and explained that I loved it and enjoyed it when I was a kid. 

My mother took teaching me how to sack my own groceries very seriously.  And that skill was something my husband and I bonded over when we were first dating.  This was a skill we learned at “Sack & Save.”

Then there was the library.  I must admit, I forgot about my local library for a very long time.  However, with my debt-free journey, I rediscovered my local library.  And WOW!  The library is still everything I remember and then some. 

So back to the topic, how can your library help you become debt free.  Libraries are a great resource.  So, yes, I checked out Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace.  There is so much more though.  And in this blog, I will cover just “Making More Money.”  

The local Arlington Library offers so many resources, I recommend checking your local library to see what they offer.  There are three major topics under making more money that the Arlington Library offers:

1)      Educational Program
There more than 10 topics and classes that you can sign up for to help you prepare for a new career or to polish up and improve your current career.  There are also programs for earning your GED and to improve your computer skills.  I’m looking to sign up for “Conflict Resolution.” 

2)      Career Assistance
Sometimes you need more than just a boost in education.  The “CAP” program is pretty impressive.  It is a three part program that helps you land your dream job, those three parts are:

1)      Investigate: Explore career possibilities
This includes self discovery, skills assessment to help you not only find a job, but find the job that is right for you.  Further, you design a plan for you.
2)      Research: Find the right job for you
Now that you know the job that will be right for you –  they help you find jobs that fit that criteria and assist you in completing applications.
3)      Prepare:  Land your dream job
From your resume to cover letter and even a portfolio – they will help you write, create and critique them all.

3)      Books
Yep, there are books at your library.  And these books can range in topics – and several of them can help you increase your income.  Read one. 

Rediscover your local library – they truly are a gold mine. 

Start:            $ 170,000
Paid:             $   57,842
Remaining:  $112,158

Progress is Progress

Progress no matter how large or small is still progress.
Celebrate it!

Last month we knocked off $50,000 (read how we did it here).  That was a substantial amount.   This month, well, we only knocked off $3,500. 

When we started this journey we had the following debts:  Progress

  • 1 House Payment
  • 2 Car Notes
  • 3 Store Credit Cards
  • 3 Major Credit Cards (like American Express)

Today I’m thrilled to say that we now only have the following:

  • 1 House Payment
  • 1 Car Note
  • 1 Store Credit Card

We have made great progress especially as we have had to self-fund some major expenses including:
–  Dental Work (if you haven’t read the story, we were able to reduce it from $2700 to $2100)
Wash Machine
–  Car Wreck
–  Storm Damage

This month we took the time to build back up our emergency funds and our savings.  So, while we did make progress, it did not feel nearly as satisfying as our first month.  To state progress is important, and to this point…

I would add we paid off another store credit card (thus leaving us with just the one).  None of our other debts went up and we paid above on the house and the remaining car note.

Thus while $3,500 is not substantial, it is still progress. 

Celebrate even the small victories!

Start:            $ 170,000
Paid:             $   57,260
Remaining:  $112,740

No Bones About It – Having Fun

Finding Fun and Becoming Debt FreeDollarSign

Even though I am striving to become debt free, I am not willing to stop living my life.  Life needs to be fun and be inspired.  That being said you don’t need to spend money to have fun.

“No bones about it…” is very true in our enjoyable weekends.  We fix a simple and inexpensive dinner and play dominoes.  Family game nights are back and we are enjoying fun.   More, we’re enjoying family.

Sitting around a table strategizing about your next move and listing to the laughs and woes of the week, makes for an amazing night.  It truly brings you closer to your family and reminds you about what is important in life.

The saying, “the best things in life are free,” is true.   Family is important in any journey, especially in becoming debt free.



You Can Always Ask

I learned a very long time ago that the best way to get what you want is to ask.  I will also add that sometimes when you don’t like something, simply asking to improve it, can well…improve it.You can always ask

Simply ask works.  It doesn’t work 100% of the time, but if you don’t ask it will never work.  I have used it several times, to great outcomes.  Here are just a few examples.

Lowering Credit Card Rates

Here’s what I did.  I called up the company and simply noted that I might transfer my balance to another credit card, because that card offered a lower rate. Often times that is all I had to do, many times they offered to lower my rate right then and there.  Once or twice, I would have make the request, “I don’t want to go through the hassle though, would you be able to reduce my current rate.”  Yes, that simple. 

Waving Fees

If you see a fee on anything ask about it.  I travel and I always double check my hotel bill.  Many times you will see random charges, resort fees, wifi fees, restocking fees, early check-in fees…you name it.  Always ask if they can wave the fee.  I have also had fees waved off of credit cards, utility bills and delivery charges.  If they can’t wave the fee, ask for a reduction in amount.  What’s the worst that can happen – you’re still where you started and no worse off.   Also if you don’t get it at the desk, call the customer service number, or tweet at them.  Be nice and ask. 

Lower Prices

I remember there was a pair of shoes I loved, the last pair was the display.  I had a simple question for the retail associate, “As these are displays would I be able to get a discount?”  Now, mind you I was expecting a no, but instead, the associate came back and said, I can offer you a 10% discount.  (HECK YEAH!)  We recently had to purchase a washer.  Simply by asking, “Are there any additional discounts?”  The associate explained, not right now, but we do offer a price guarantee, and next week there will be a tax savings on Energy Saver appliances, which this will qualifying for.  By simply asking, we were able to save additional $40.


Bottom Line

Always ask.  In the next 30 days try this tip at least ten different times.  All I ask, share your results with me. 

Our First Month – We Paid Off $50,000

May the Fourth be with you! 

April 4, 2017, we started our journey to become debt free.  We’ve experienced tons of 1st Month 50,000.pptxbumps in the road in this first month.  With all our bumps and hard work we are excited to announce, we have reduced our debt by more than $50,000.  Here are our current phases and steps.

Phase One:  Figure out how bad it is and prepare
This phase means you have to look deep.  You might need a calculator too.  Here were the steps we did in phase one.

1)      Cash out:  Look at all bills and figure out how much money goes out every month.
(For bills that varied, we looked at last year’s numbers and add 5 %.)
2)      Cash in:  Look at income.
3)      Figure debt:  Figure everything, house, cars, loans, credit cards…)
4)      Start on an emergency fund

Phase Two:  Reduce Cash Out and Increase Cash In
Look even deeper look even deeper and keep the calculator out.  At this stage we did the following steps

1)      Sell, sell, sell!I was listening to Dave Ramsey one night and he said, “Start selling stuff, make the kids think they might be next.”  We did just, here are just some of the stuff we sold

  1. One of our cars
  2. Our old iPhone
  3. Old car cover
  4. Old car lights

2)      Canceled and reduced our monthly expenses.
We took out our credit card bills and looked at regular monthly charges that we could cancel this includes items like gyms, magazines, Weight Watchers. Plus, call credit cards, utilities, insurance to see if they can offer you a better rate.   I had already canceled Weight Watchers.  Here’s what we did:

  1. JustFab VIP membership (yes, it hurt, but it put $40 back in my pocket).
  2. Switched electrical providers (it looks like we will cut our electrical costs in half).

3)      Put ourselves on a financial diet – aka budget

4)      Take a second job/complete odd tasks…increase the money coming in your life.
I currently am working three jobs.  I have one part-time job, one full-time job and one “task” that I assist with.  My husband works full-time and assists with all the lawn care needs, and handy man items around the house.   We can save nearly $200 by cleaning our own house, mowing our own yard, and cleaning our own pool.

5)      Look at Bonus Programs
From apps like Viggle, Perk, MPoints, Ebates, Shopkick, Microsoft Rewards and more, we entertain ourselves and make some nice change.  Through these programs in the month of April we made $156.  Not much agreed, but well, it helped.

Phase three:  Start the Payoff – aka Snowball
In phase one we figured out our debt.  The snowball idea is a very impactful way to make a difference.  Start with the smallest debts and pay the smallest to the largest.  We took the money from the car we sold and paid off two small credit cards and another car.    From here we have started throwing money at our next debt, which means every extra dollar.  For example we got an 11.20 check from Ebates.  I put 1.20 into my savings, and then 10 went to our next debt.

So, we are currently on Phase Three.  We are very happy to be out of debt by $50,000!

Start: $ 170,000
Paid:  $   53,853
Remaining:  116,147



Faith and a Plan

Faith is an important element in any adventure or journey.  It is also important to have a plan.  These two elements are very important.

I have had a few bumps in my journey.  I have faith and a plan too though.  I will say this Faith and a Well Conceived Planweek I was able to see someone else’s faith.  And it was beautiful.

I traveled down to Austin to turn in some documents. On a quick turnaround, I need a quick sandwich, randomly there was a Subway in the ground floor of the building right next door to where I was dropping off the documents.

I ran in and was greeted by Chris.  Chris, made my sandwich perfectly.  One of the things I have learned is generosity for a job well done is important.   I tipped Chris.  He looked at me and said, “Thank you.  I was wondering about how I was going to get gas to get home.”

Chris was truly thankful.  I smiled at him, and said, “Thank you, you just reminded me that God does take care of us.” 

He then followed it up with a very interesting statement, “God does, and you don’t even have to ask.” 

I was then blessed with one of the most heartfelt and natural witnessing statements ever.  ” All I wanted was a white Impala.  Today, my life is back on track, I have a job and a white Impala.  It’s cool.”

Faith is more than prayer, it is knowing that you will be taken care of.

Mathew 6:26:  Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you more important than they?

To faith and a well-conceived plan.

By the way the Subway was in the ground floor of the Texas Association of Counties – a group associated with public safety and the jails.

Another Bump and Lesson Learned: 

Always Read The Small Print and
Always Double Check   

This is not the blog post I planned to write this week.  But life is full of bumps.   Right now I swear if I were taking a test in life I would fail.  Just to recap, we started our debt free journey on April 4, 2017.  In just those 15 days we have experienced:

  1. Storm damage to the house (new fence needed)
  2. A job loss
  3. A car wreck
  4. iPhone going dead and subsequent purchase of a new one
  5. Emergency dental work

Yes, I know number 4 seems small, but when you have to have a phone, and you are stuck between a rock and a hard spot, a new iPhone is not what we wanted.  We had just paid off the one that broke.  That being said, number 4 was nothing compared to number 5. 

Okay so number 5 is new.  And this one was going to be a $2,700.00 bill.  With this new bump I can tell you first-hand the test in life is not multiple choice. 

With an impending $2,700 bill we now have to figure things out.  Yes, I cried all the way home from the dentist office.  Bawled was more like it.  All the experts say the same thing, the key to getting out of debt is no new debt.  I get it!  Tell that to the tooth I fractured. 

I needed a plan.   So I set out on a plan with the help from my husband.

  1. Calm down and take emotion out of the picture.
  2. Assess the estimate
  3. Talk to insurance
  4. Call the dentist to see about options
  5. Look for money

Looking at the plan helped tons.  To that point, the 2nd and 3rd items on the plan really made a difference.  Thus the “Lesson Learned, Read the Small Print.”  Small Print

I set down and with my husband to look over the estimate.  He noticed right away that the dentist had a benefit cap of $2000.  We have MetLife, we looked up the information online and started to read the small print.  My husband seemed to be correct, and there might be additional savings as we would have a lower deductible and better coverage amounts. 

I am truly grateful that MetLife hired a wonderful woman by the name of Jo-Ann (not sure of the spelling).  Jo-Ann walked me through each of the codes, the max fees, the percentage they would pay and my other benefits.  With Jo-Ann’s help I was able to figure it out.  We were right. 

A quick phone call to the dentist and Susan (the sweet gal at the front desk) was on it.  More, she was able to offer some non-credit options for payment options.  I could break up the payments in to four installments (while it wasn’t on a credit card, I still owed the money and well, it was still debt).  She also offered me CareNow credit, with zero percent for six months.  I politely thanked her and let her know I would make a decision after she was able to get me the new estimate.

Susan rocked!  She had me the updated estimate in 20 minutes.  (Seriously that’s customer service.)  More importantly I went from $2,700, to $2,100.  That is a $600 savings!  Heck yeah! 

That night I was looking on my American Express statement and noticed that I had $500 in “cash back.”  I reduced the amounts that I was going to pay towards two of our other current debts by $250 each, and there was $1000.  My husband and I looked at our “vacation fund” and decided that we could do our next vacation on a lot less money.  And poof there was the other $1000. 

The plan worked! 

I started to wonder if double checking other things and reading the small print might make an impact on other items.  It did.  Our final electric bill came in and there was a “monthly charge,” and a higher rate.  Mind you I changed services the day after my contract ended.  A simple call to them and well, that was gone.  Poof! 

At the grocery store, pay close attention to your receipt.  Some places will actually give you the item free if it “rings up wrong.”  We looked at our receipt and poof one item rang up wrong.  Thus we got the item for free.  Now, I grant you it was just $2.  But, $2 is $2. 

This week alone, just by reading the small print we saved $612. 

Till next time.  I’m getting out of debt one dollar at a time.

Start:  170,000
Paid:       3,853
 Remaining:  166,147