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I covered the main ways of diagnosing your financial health in this past post.  I’ve been using Wednesdays to go further in depth on each point since I truly believe that financial health leads to less stress and happier lives. I have already covered the first four points – Spend Less Than You Earn, start an Emergency Fund, review Retirement Savings, and Debt.  The fifth point was to diversify your investments.  This means making a list of your investments and the amount invested in each one. Type of Accounts First, I’d highly suggest investing in different types of accounts.  For example, compound interest in a 401k is taxable when you start making your retirement withdrawals since you contribute pre-tax income.  The compound interest of a Roth IRA is not taxable since you contribute post-tax money.  By investing in taxable and non-taxable accounts for retirement, you can balance your withdrawals to stay in the lowest tax bracket possible in your later years. We invest in a 401k and a Roth IRA (hopefully two soon) in order to cover our retirement years along with my husband’s pension.  We also make investments in individual stocks in a Scottrade account to cover the years between our target retirement age of 52 and our “normal retirement age”. By diversifying accounts, … Read more

Our Food Budget

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After reading other blogs and seeing the comments left on this post, I realize that my husband and I have a very different food budget than most others in the personal finance world.  That spurred me to come clean. Here’s where our food money has gone in 2010: 1.  Kroger’s – We spend about $125 a month for perishables like whole milk, Country Crock margarine spread, real butter, potatoes, tomatoes, bananas, other fruit that is in season and cheap, Digiorno pizzas, hot dogs, Manager Special steaks, frozen Tilapia, and necessary parts of a menu that we don’t buy in bulk. 2.  Sam’s Club – We spend about $30 a month on steaks, boneless skinless chicken breasts, pork chops, frozen green beans, frozen corn on the cob, Honey Nut Cheerios, Nature’s Own Honey Wheat bread, and potato chips.  I usually make a Sam’s Club run once every 2 -3 months. 3.  Angel Food Ministries – Whenever we like the monthly menu for their Signature Box, we buy 1 or 2 boxes at $30 each.  Each box gives us enough food for at least 10 meals and sides for a few more. 4.  Walmart – We spend about $50 a month on cleaning supplies, hygiene products, hamburger meat, sandwich meat, … Read more

My Crappy Car

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What to do with a lemon car! Is your car a lemon? Mine definitely is. This lady has a solution to her car troubles and figured out how to use the BBB and Consumer Affairs to fix her crappy car problems. I'm loving these life hacks that save the budget and make things work again.

About a month ago, I mentioned car problems.  Here’s the whole story of my crappy car so far. The Car I own a 2005 Chevy Aveo that I bought brand new for $11,200 on a 5 year loan.  I ended up paying a total of about $12,800 by the time I paid it off 2 years later.  It’s currently 5 years old and has driven about 42,000 miles.  I bought it because I needed an inexpensive car, I was young enough to think that used cars sucked, and I only needed a commuter vehicle.  This was 3 years before I figured out how to buy a car properly or how to sell a car on Craigslist. For 4 years, my Aveo did its job with only a few minor problems.  It slowly leaks about an inch of brake fluid every 4-6 months which I refill on my own now for $2 a shot.  It also wears down good tires every 2 1/2 years or 20,000 miles. I’ve stuck to the maintenance schedule in the owner manual since I first bought it, so I thought I would be okay until at least 2012. The First Situation Last November (2009), my check engine light … Read more

Happy Mother’s Day!

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We spent yesterday evening with my in-laws and we’re spending today with my parents.  Hope my mom likes the two Double Knockout rose bushes I got her (that my lawn guy accidentally planted, sheesh)… Along this line of thought, do parents really appreciate homemade gifts from their kids?  Even the obviously crappy ones like the blue ash tray I made out of playdough for my mom when I was 5 even though no one in my family smokes?  LOL Hope everyone’s day goes well!

Yakezie Alexa Ranking Update – 291,555

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BFS is a member of the Yakezie Alexa Ranking Challenge!  My ranking last week was 369,629.  Now it is 291,555! The ultimate goal is to be in the top 200,000 by July 4, 2010.  I’m giving weekly rank updates in order to track our progress.  Not too shabby for a blog that started at 8,531,858 when it joined the challenge in March 2010! I would like to sincerely thank all of my readers and the members of the Yakezie Challenge.  Obviously, this would be impossible without all of you. In case you didn’t know, Alexa traffic rankings are determined by the numbers of hits a site gets by people with the Alexa toolbar.  If you want to be part of this ranking community, you can download the Alexa toolbar here. If you are a Yakezie member and don’t see yourself on my member list, please send me an email or leave a comment here to be added, thanks!

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The Special That Sucked Me In…

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I realized when I read Suckered By the Discount? at A Gai Shan Life that I had just fallen prey to a special the day before.  The point of the post was to remind you that discounts and specials only save you money if you were going to buy it anyway.  They end up “suckering” you if the discount or special is what causes you to shop to start with… I fell prey to a jewelry special.  I received a mailed ad in April that said that Zales was selling a sterling silver and diamond accent heart pendant and chain for Mother’s Day for $19.99 instead of their “regular” $119.00 price.  Of course I knew that they’d never be able to get $119, but the $20 price tag was calling my name.  I immediately thought, “Wow, that’s just too good to pass up.”  Yep, I was sucked in. I thought about that ad for the rest of the day and even put the days of the special on my calendar.  I thought that the pull of the deal would wear off in the couple of weeks before the sale, but it didn’t.  I ended up going to Zales the first day of the … Read more


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I hit on the main ways of diagnosing your financial health in this past post.  I’m going to use Wednesdays to go further in depth on each point since I truly believe that financial health leads to less stress and happier lives. I have already covered the first three points – Spend Less Than You Earn, start an Emergency Fund, and review Retirement Savings.  The fourth point was to take a look at your debt.  This means actually making a list of your debts and coming up with an aggressive plan of attack. Make a List of Your Debts There are a variety of debt elimination methods, but I’d start with prioritizing your list of debts.  Place your high interest debts like credit cards or payday loans at the top and your lower interest debts like car loans, mortgages, and student loans at the bottom.  I’d go even further and list the high interest debts from least to most actual debt and do the same for the lower interest ones as well.  This completed list will show you which debt to attack first. As a side note, high interest debt is so detrimental to your overall financial health, I’d rate its importance above most retirement savings.  If … Read more