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Fit in a Fun Friday – Bowling

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My company just had its annual bowling tournament a few weeks ago.  My husband and I lost as usual, but we do have fun.  Bowling is just a mellow game.  How can you not enjoy good burgers and taking your frustrations out on a bunch of pins? Until the non-smoking laws were passed a couple of years ago, my asthma caused us to avoid bowling alleys most of the time except for non-smoking bowling leagues.  Hubby even bought me a personalized cherry-scented bowling ball for a Valentine’s Day a few years ago.  It’s red and black, has my name on it, and still has a scent.  🙂 Now we can go bowling whenever and even take advantage of Friday and Saturday night specials.  We don’t actually bowl very often due to our other hobbies like Curling and blogging, but we are hoping to join a league again next year. As far as affordability, bowling seems to be about the same price as a dinner-and-a-movie night.  If you take advantage of specials in your area and skip the snack bar, it can be pretty inexpensive.  Sadly, hubby and I are addicted to bowling alley burgers.  We do shell out between $10-$15 a night at … Read more

7 Rules to Succeed in Your Career

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An article at Yahoo Finance, 7 New Rules For Getting Ahead, listed the following rules to keep in mind to stay ahead of the game in today’s world: Rule 1. You don’t deserve a job. Rule 2. You don’t know enough. Rule 3. Less stuff equals more freedom. Rule 4. Prepare for many turns. Rule 5. Entrepreneurs have an advantage. Rule 6. Don’t get addicted to your paycheck. Rule 7. Loving what you do pays off. Here my take on these: Rule 1 – This hasn’t seemed to change.  The best and brightest overachievers always get hired first…who would want to hire the underachievers first? Rule 2 – Keeping yourself educated is so important since technology is changing things every day. Rule 3 – The more stuff you own, the more maintenance requirements you take on.  Although I’m not an avid minimalist, it is just common sense that you will bogged down less if you own less stuff. Rule 4 – Hardly anyone stays in the same job for their whole working life anymore.  Sometimes that is by choice and sometimes it’s not.  Being prepared and staying qualified is essential for career survival. Rule 5 – The article stated that entrepreneurs not only have the … Read more

Estate Planning

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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 six points – Spend Less Than You Earn, start an Emergency Fund, review Retirement Savings, evaluate Debt, Diversify your investments, and have enough Insurance.  The seventh point is to make sure you have an estate plan in place. When you are looking to start an estate plan, you first need to answer these questions: 1.  What assets do I have and what are they worth?2.  Who should receive those assets?3.  Who should manage those assets if I can’t? 4.  Who can take care of the kids? 5.  Who should make decisions on my behalf if I can’t? 6.  How do I want my remains handled? When you know the answers to those questions, you can successfully make a will, a power of attorney, and a medical power of attorney.  Most people seem to recommend consulting an estate lawyer to get the documentation completed and notarized. During this process, I’d also get together all the official papers in one place.  Your remaining family will appreciate being able … Read more

We Have Updated Our Monthly Budget

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Since hubby’s last grad school payment is ready to go and I severely overestimated our property taxes for 2009, we needed to revamp our monthly budget.  We want to pay off our car loan ASAP, so this is our new budget until December 2010: Mortgage – $900.00 Car Debt – $650.00 Roth IRA – $300.00 Opportunity Fund – $120.00 Car Payment – $330.00 Car Insurance – $115.00 Gasoline – $200.00 Electricity – $200.00 Water – $30.00 AT&T U-Verse & DSL– $100.00 Sprint – $85.00 Groceries – $300.00 Fast Food / Restaurants – $200.00 Medical – $100.00 Misc. Bills – $100.00 Joint Entertainment – $100.00 Hubby’s Fun Money – $125.00 My Fun Money – $125.00 Housekeeper – $100.00 Lawn Services – $50.00 Netflix – $20.00 Pet Account – $100.00 Car and Home Account – $200.00 Vacation Accountt – $250.00 Property Tax & Insurance Account – $0.00 Emergency Fund (currently has $10,000) – $0.00 Cash – $200.00 Total = $5000 That comes to $60,000 a year and we make $78,000 jointly.  Taxes, the pension, the 401k, and our benefits account for the other $18,000. Unplanned expenses are taken from the appropriate target accounts.  Extra money from our hobby jobs is either put towards debt or split between the Emergency Fund (50%), … Read more

Financial Confession

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I’ve been keeping something from you. I was either not going to tell you at all or wait until it is a non-issue, but why have a personal finance blog and not be completely honest about personal finance, right? We spent $6000 in April 2009 on a really nice bedroom set of furniture and a Tempurpedic mattress. I’ve mentioned this before, but I did not mention that we financed the whole thing for 15 months at 0% interest. Normally, that would not matter to me since we would already have had the cash, put it aside, and made interest off of it for 14 months before paying the bill in full. BUT we didn’t have the cash except for in our emergency fund, so we’ve been putting $350 a month aside while paying $50 a month to the bill. The bill is due in August and the money is ready to go for July, but it’s been slightly nerve-wracking knowing I owe big money for something I’ve been sleeping on for more than a year. I knew we would never have to pay any interest since our emergency fund would have had us covered, but I still feel a bit sheepish about … Read more

Yakezie Alexa Ranking Update – 206,145

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BFS is a member of the Yakezie Alexa Ranking Challenge!  My ranking last week was 245,385.  Now it is 206,145!  We are so close! 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!

Fit in a Fun Friday – Gardening

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Okay, I’ll admit it right now, I have a black thumb.  I am a plant killer.  Yet, even I have been drawn in by the lure of color. Gardening may or may not be your cup of tea, but the results are usually worth it.  When we bought our home, it had grass in the front yard and a grass/weed mixture in the back.  I thought this would be fine to me since I don’t spend much time outside of my own home, but two years ago, HGTV did me in. The Gardening Bug Hit Me Just a few episodes of Designed to Sell convinced me that I needed some color and I needed it NOW!  In my tv show fervor, I seemed to forget that September in Houston is usually the end of planting season and that I can’t keep plants alive even if my life (or wallet) depended on it.  That started the saga of digging up areas for flower beds and hunting down plants that could survive an owner like me. After several failed attempts that month, I was finally able to get a surviving group of plants out front.  One Double Knock-Out rose bush got an area to itself.  Miniature Monkey … Read more