Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Insanity of it all!

I have all my bills set up for auto payment (well except for two.) I am nervous about it but it is going. I think it will be great when we are on vacation and the bills are just paid without us having to worry about it at all. I also want to make sure that we plan a certain amount to spend on vacation so that we don't accidentally overdraw our account.
I was going through our bills today since our autopay starts up on Friday and we should really be doing so much better than we do each month. We were amazing in June and we really stayed within our means. We did not go crazy buying things we don't need and it felt good. I don't think we lacked for anything and we actually had money left over at the end of the month.
We are debating renting a car or putting the money toward tuning up my car for the road trip instead. My husband's car needs the air conditioning fixed and so that is going to be really expensive so not an option right now. I think after this vacation it will be easier because we can start putting the extra money toward savings instead of toward the vacation.
On the other hand it is going to be really difficult because I am going to have to go back to school and won't have as much time (or patience) to be so indepth with our finances. Some days it feels like a full time job.
Today was Ramit Sethi's birthday (I am not a stalker - he sent everyone on his mailing list an email.) He asked us to list the things we have used and been successful with from his book I Will Teach You To Be Rich. I actually had a lot of things listed that I have done and been successful with. I am so proud.
I still have not implemented everything but I am getting there!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Earn $100 extra Per Month Challenge - June

In one of Ramit's emails he talks about how it is important to try to earn extra money. He does consulting/freelance and so I think it is MUCH easier for him to do this. As I mentioned I am a teacher and so I think it is difficult for me to do this unless I am interested in getting a second job- which I am not because I am also a wife and mother.
So I challenged myself this month to try to figure out how to come up with extra money. I did not start out by trying to come up with $100 like Ramit recommends but as I started doing it I figured $100 was a good goal.

Now it is not recommended by Ramit to sell things as a continual method of earning more money (unless you are making things) because eventually you will run out of stuff. Unfortunately I make nothing so I did sell stuff to earn money and this will have to be my option until I run out of stuff. I have a lot of stuff so we will see how far this gets me.

I started out by selling books online through It scouts out places that buy back books (such as and then links you to their site.

So book selling so far:
Total - $100.95
Then, I went on Craigslist and did a beta test on a website and got:
So for June, my total thus far is: $120.95!
I think I still have a couple of book orders still out there that are coming soon so my total for June might to up. If they get here in July I am counting them towards my July total.
I am also planning a garage sale for two weeks from now to help me with my July sales.

I know this has nothing to do with money but it is my release and so I write about it anyways. I love to read and I started reading my Maeve Binchy again. I am starting from the beginning so I am starting with Light a Penny Candle. I have read all of her books two or three times each and I just love them so I am starting again.

Monday, June 28, 2010

OoOooOoOooOOO - Ramit!

So in my email this morning was Ramit's IWTYTBR newsletter. He is accepting letters from people who would like a personal consultation on getting themselves automated. A thirty day automation make over. I just finished automating my bills but wonder if he could help me start to save and invest. I don't know if that is what he is looking for. As he states, he is going to be inundated with emails so I need to hurry up and decide if I am going to try to win or not. I wish I had readers to ask the opinion of them. (I am a Libra and have a terrible time making up my mind.)
In my quest to make more money and reach my goal of $100 this month, I finished my Beta test for a new website. I read the email this morning that contained the survey and I did not read it all the way through. I was supposed to reply as to whether or not I was interested in participating. I did not. (NUMBER ONE RULE that teacher's teach about assignments: Read the whole thing before you begin!!!) Anyhow, I finished it and submitted it and I hope they do not say that since I did not reply it is invalid.
I am searching money making options online and it is scary. There are so many scams out there that I hate to fall victim and ruin myself in the process. I am now searching Craigslist to try to find something (like the beta test- that was on and it was perfect...unless I don't get paid because I did not follow directions.) I hope more opportunities like that come along.
I used to answer questions on and made a tiny bit of money. It was more for the fun of it. I have not answered in a long time however and I lost my status as an expert. I need to wait to be accepted is a pain. I figure if I can do that a few more times I can get some money into my paypal account to use to sell Ebay items.
Summer is going to run out fast and I am going to have a full time job again. I hope that it all does not fall to the wayside like so many other times.
I think I will enter the competition. I will never know unless I try.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Forget about it!

I just returned from my cousin's daughter's birthday party. There were a ton of cousins and aunts there and even some cousins from out of state. It was a really fun time. I did not spend any money (well aside from the gift Barbie Make-Up Set and Disney Ariel, Slippers, Costume, Dress up Pretend Play Light up Shoes Girl Size 9/10) and I really enjoyed myself. I think I need to just forget about it sometimes. I get caught up in the money, spending, saving - all of it that I need to take a step back and breathe.
Now that I am back from my party though I need to finish an assignment for a beta test for a website that I signed on for. It is actually fun and I think I will stay on the site as a member after I am done. I am supposed to earn $20 dollars from the survey when I am finished.
According to I Will Teach You To Be Rich writer Ramit Sethi, we need to make more money. He suggests trying to earn an extra hundred in the first month. Selling my books so far has gotten me 12 dollars in hand. This survey is twenty dollars. More book payments are coming - hopefully before the end of the month so I meet my monthly quota. I know that nobody reads this but just in case someone does today, do you know of any ways to make extra money that have worked for you?
Well, I need to go and earn my twenty dollars.
On a personal note, I am reviewing a book called Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani. In re-reading it I am reminded of how wonderful a writer she is and how I love this book. I think I will start it again.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Dreamer - I'm nothing but a dreamer!

I play the lotto. Not faithfully which would increase my chances of course, but I do try to remember to buy a ticket (or send my husband for one.) My best friend Marlene (a math whiz and math instructor at a college) does not play the lotto. She thinks that it is a waste of money. I might agree if I did not KNOW of someone winning. My brother won $100,000 in the lottery! I could do so much with that amount. Of course I am greedy and really would love to win in the millions. What would I do with millions? I am glad you asked.
I would quit my job. Flat out. I would never be one of those noble suckers that say "Oh, I would never quit my job." Forget it, I would be so gone. (If my boss ever reads this, please note that this is not a reflection of anything but my desire to be free to do whatever I please with my day.)
I would pay off my house and do all the renovations I have dreamed about...just to see my current house in all it's potential. Then, I would move to a bigger house in the oh so perfect part of my town. I would pay off my daughter's tuition as well as the tuition of my neice and nephews. I would start paying things off for my family and husband's family. Bills would be paid people. In full! It would not be fun to be rich and fancy free alone. I would want to bring all my loved ones along my happy path with me.
I would then start my travels. I would buy a house with a vinyard in Strasbourg, France. Of course I would have to have people to clean for me and keep up our property.
I just get giddy with the potential of financial stability. It makes me drool.
Alas, it is a dream. Reality is that I am going to have to keep digging my through it all. Right now we are being very conscious about our spending. It is not what we usually do but it is making me feel more settled. I think getting rid of old things is helping me too. I feel like I am freeing up space for the new. A new less cluttered life. Financially stable life. I can't wait. It is my dream (next to the lotto.) Thankfully this dream is in my hands and not up to fate.

What am I doing with my time aside from trying to get finance savvy? We own all the DVDs of The Gilmore Girls

We started watching them again from beginning to end. It is such a well done series. Witty and smart. I love me some Gilly Girls!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Bills Bills Bills

Trying to be organized and ensure that we pay off our monthly bills on time is such a pain. We accrued a bit of debt when I stopped working to stay home with my daughter. We are trying to get back on track and into smart spending and saving. It just seems that as soon as you finish with the bills more bills come in! What an exhausting process. Yet another reason my dream job is to be either an heiress or a princess is that I would have an accountant!
In our organizational process we are making sure that our bills are on time. We finished automating our bills. First of all yes, I did skip a chapter of Ramit's I Will Teach You To Be Rich because it was on investing. We are heading out of town next month to visit family and we are not saving money to invest right now it is all going toward getting the car up to par and the trip. I will have to go back to that chapter upon our return.
We sat down with all our bills and decided which bills needed to be paid at the beginning of the month and which needed payment at the end. We went on our banks website and signed up for auto-payment. It was unbelievably easy and I can't believe that I did not do this earlier. Mind you I am a bit nervous that something horrible will happen like our checks won't get deposited or something and then we will drown in it all but in reality I think it will turn out great. I think it will be REALLY helpful while we are out of town.
You know, if you are reading this (which I know not a soul is because I have one of those trackers on my blog) and you are in college or fresh out of college you really should buy this book. I wish I knew more about finances when I left college. I would have been so much better off now than I am. 'nuff of that - like I said, I am not going to lament my past but ensure my future!

On a personal note, I am thinking of re-reading my books by my favorite author, Maeve Binchy. My husband bought me one of her books called Echoes, but as it turns out I already owned it and read it. I might read it again what the heck. She is an amazing storyteller if you ever feel up to looking into her books.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

More Money

One of the tips from an email I received from Ramit's I Will Teach You To Be Rich newsletter was about earning more money. He of course gives tips for freelancers but I am not a freelancer. (That would be so cool as a teacher...I will teach 18 students this year for this amount. Every time you the contract changes my money goes up! Haha!) I already mentioned my selling old books via and my intention to sell old DVDs but as Ramit points out I am going to eventually run out of things to sell.
Obviously as a teacher I am never going to earn a whole lot more than I earn now. I have my Masters degree and am at the highest pay for my field. Unfortunately it is not that much. So unless I go into administration (a lot of work for not much more than I am making now) I need to think of more ways to make money.
Ramit suggests perhaps selling something that you make. You need to be sure that it is something that people want. I am not sure what I can do that people want. I am a very creative person in general but not specifically you know? I was browsing blogs the other day and so many people are so amazingly talented. The artists, the jewelry makers - these people can really sell their wares. I don't have wares. I wish I did. I have hobbies but I guess I don't make as many as some people. I guess more importantly I am not sure if people want what I do. My family of course thinks what I make or do is great but what are they going to do tell me how awful I am?
I wish I could get paid to read. Is there a job to pay readers?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Ramit has a very strong opinion about banks. His second chapter is devoted to "Beating your Bank." I have never had that strong of an opinion about banks. I had an account with Bank of America in college and on through my first job but then I was charged a $30 fee on a one penny overdraft and that soured my taste for them. According to Ramit it right well should have!

He says, no fees, no overdraft charges, large interest rates - that is what the goal is.

I belong to a credit union which is good unless they have fees. I screwed up last month and I had overdraft fees (used the debit before the paycheck was deposited - I swear I am like a small child when it comes to finance...somebody needs to put me in the naughty corner!)

Anyhow, emboldened by my recent success at lowering my APRs with my credit card I called the bank to get the overdraft fees waved.

This is a small credit union where they know us by name and even have called us when there was suspicious spending on our card (our card number was highjacked at a local gas station and someone was spending right through Mexico - jackasses!)

This call was going to be so hard. I found it easy to be tough with Jana, a person I never met before but to be tough on the sweet ladies from my own credit union?

I made the call. I talked to Diana and told her that I made a mistake but that I wished to have the overdraft fees deposited back into my account.
She told me I had to put a letter in writing for a review. I asked if email would do and she said yes.

I wrote:
Dear Diana,
I would like my overdraft fees reversed and the money to be deposited back into my checking account. It was a mistake that will not happen again. I have been a member of this Credit Union for a very long time and do all of my banking through this credit union. I appreciate your help in this matter.

I called back later that day and she said she would call me the next day.
She never called but the charges were deposited back into my account that day.

Now do you see why I am crushing on Ramit! He is a genius!

Now I need to research banks. Ramit loves him some online banking...I guess I am going to have to research that.

As I wrote yesterday, I finished the book Julie and Julia and I watched the movie afterwards. (I like to do that read the book then watch the movie.) I really liked it. I like how they showed the life of Julia Child a lot more than inthe book...she was an interesting woman. My favorite quote from the movie - Julie: "I am such a bitch." friend reply (what was her friend's name anyway...did they ever actually say it?) "yes, you are." Julie: "Do you really think I am a bitch?" Friend: "Yes." Julie: "I know."

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Credit Cards

Credit cards. They are so great and they are so horrible. I guess that is beside the point. The point is that I need to start using them responsibly and making them work for me.

The next step in IWTYTBR (I Will Teach You To Be Rich) in the credit card chapter is to take an inventory of all of the APRs on your credit cards. Then to call the company and negotiate down that APR. There is a script in the book for you to follow in case you are not confident in telling your credit card company what you want (that is me.)
I am not a confrontational person. I work with Kindergarteners all day for Pete's sake! This was going to be very hard for me.

I got a bill ready with all the information. I read (out loud) the script in the book and with shaky hands I dialed the number. I got through remarkably fast and was on my way to talk to Jana.
Jana: "Hello, my name is Jana, how may I help you today?"
Me: "Hi Jana, I am going to be paying down my credit card debt more aggressively and I would like a lower APR."
Jana: "Let me just say congratulatons on your decision to pay your cards more aggressively. Let me have a look at your account....okay, I see that you have been on time with your payments and I just want to congratulate you for that. Hmmmm....hold on just a moment while I see what we can do for you." (puts me on hold.) "Okay, let me congratulate you again on both paying your card on time and deciding to pay your cards more aggressively. I can go ahead and bring your APR down by 1 percent."
Me: (fueled by Ramit's saying that I should ask for 50 or 40 percent and being congratulated at my good deeds)"You know Jana that is just not going to work for me at this time. I would like you to bring it down 40 or 50 percent."
Jana: "Ma'am why do you think we should bring it down that much?"
Me: "Well Jana, I recently returned to work after some time off. I received my Masters and a substantial raise because of this. I am currently looking at a very aggressive approach to paying my debt and I would like you to lower my APR by 40 or 50 percent. I will also tell you that I have been receiving offers from other cards offering me interest rates at half of what you are offering or 0% on balance transfers. I have been a customer for quite a long time and I would hate to have to take my business elsewhere but as you can see I can't pass up these lower interest rates." (I swear I think Ramit must have inhabited my body because I was ready to rumble - over finances!)
Jana: "Let me put you on hold for a minute."
You know when you just know -- I knew! She was going to do it...I could hear it in her voice. I played the game and I won.
Jana: "Ma'am, let me go ahead and congratulate you on being a customer with us for such a long time and on improving your financial situation. I would now like to offer you an APR 40 percent lower than your current APR."
I did it. I did it. Go Ramit, Go Ramit!
I think it helped that Jana was so congratulatory too. It was like "great job for being a customer. Great job on paying your bill, great job for calling to lower your APR..." Ego boost.

Okay so by now, I am not sure if you have noticed but my husband has. I have developed quite the crush on Ramit. I keep telling my husband "Ramit says this and Ramit says that." He looks really dorky on the cover of his book, I am not sure what the bright pink shirt and barefoot look was supposed to represent but now he is unabashedly my main crush. He helped me lower my APR and I was empowered by it! The POWER!

I will zoom back down to Earth now.

I am done with step two to my financial stability...lowered APRs all around!
On a side note I finished reading Julie and Julia.
What an inspirational story! Only in America!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Two Part Plan

I am of course reading . I also checked out Ramit's website: and signed up for emails. One of the emails linked me to another site he has called (this boy is getting rich before our eyes!) Anyhow, I have not signed up for that site and not sure if I will. It sounds great but my goal right now is to get a grip on debt and not start something where I will be paying $30/month or whatever the cost is. A one time $13.95 for the book is fine but I am not ready to commit to Ramit just yet.

So my two part plan for this summer vacation of mine is to get our monthly budget under wraps AND to start earning extra cash. As I mentioned, being a Kindergarten Teacher does not allow for overtime or extra pay. Occasionally I do go to workshops but it is $16/per two hour workshop (workshops last 2 hours) and then minus the tax. So it is few and far between...not really a viable source of income. I go for my own professional development as a teacher however and not for the money.

Ramit's email for his Scrooge Strategy site today had a list of things that could possibly help you generate more income. One was start a blog (here I am and it is all monetized etc.) I also have started to purge. I do it every summer just to help get the house back in order but this summer my goal is money.

I spent last week (during my daughter's nap time - even though she is not really napping but instead singing and playing - if she would at least be quiet then I could pretend she took a nap!) finding out which books from our overflowing bookshelf could be sold. I figured that when I have my garage sale I would sell my paperbacks for 25 cents and my hardbacks for 50 cents. I decided that if a site offered me more than that for either type of book it would be worth it. I found a great site called where you could research a number of bookseller sites that might buy your books. I found that most pay with check or paypal, pay for shipping and let you print the labels out right then. offers a good amount of money but gives the return in gift card exchange.

Anyhow, I sold a boat load of books (and am consequently out of packing tape) and I am not finished. Of course my husband's geeky gaming books packed in the money but he let me sell them so that was great. I had a couple of books that I kept after I got my Masters and now four years later decided that I was never going to use them again and that brought in some nice dough. I LOVE books and am a book junkie but I decided aside from not having the space for them there are just books I will never re-read.
So there you have it. My first endeavor to make money - step one. Done.

Ramit (raw meat not ram it)

I was at Borders with my daughter and husband, Molly and Rob respectively. We were doing our regular tag team browsing - I take Molly and read to her while Rob looks for his books then we switch. As I was looking for a quiet spot for Molly and I to read we plopped in a comfy chair with an ottoman in what turned out to be the Financial Book section. When Rob came to take over I grabbed a book called "I Will Teach You To Be Rich!" by Ramit Sethi. I Will Teach You To Be Rich Who can resist a title like that? The cover said it is a six week program. That is what I need - an actual program - like a diet for money! "Give me six weeks and you will be 10 dress sizes smaller!" Right up my alley!

I need to go back here and just let you see a snippet of my relationship with money. It is actually very close to my relationship with food and exercise if I really think of it. I am a miser...for a long time. I scrimp, I save (I decide to lose weight, I measure food, I eat healthy - I start my exercise regimen) then I collapse. We go out to eat followed by a trip to Borders followed by a trip to Target (I eat a piece of cake or chips and "don't have time" to exercise) and am right back at square one.

Unfortunately I am no financial genius nor is my husband. We are both the youngest in our families and I think that it made us financially challenged. We were always taken care of by our older siblings and parents. We are just stupid when it comes to money. We do live in an incredibly expensive city and while we earn enough to survive I know we could do so much better.

Hence the drive to stop this cycle and get on a path of financial gain and responsibility.

So I have read the first two chapters of Ramit's book. Let me just say that I feel like a doofus because he wrote this book targeting people fresh out of college and I am a thirty five year old woman who was fresh out of college in 1996. I think back to all the wasted money and I could just kick myself. BUT that is not why I am here. I need to stop looking back and move forward.

I am planning on making it a two part project - first, get financially savvy with the money I make and spend now and second, make more money. Getting ourselves out of debt, avoiding late charges and still having a little left over to occassionally go out to eat followed by Borders followed by Target is just the first half. I want to save money. I don't want a (recent) trip to the auto shop to totally get us behind on all our bills and in a black money pit of late charges. I also need to generate more money. I am a teacher and that is one of the downfalls of teaching. No matter how many hours I put in either at the school or at home - there is no overtime. (My husband does not have the possibility of overtime either.)

So back to Ramit:
In chapter one it is all about optimizing your credit cards. The first thing we did was sit down and list all of our cards, including monthly payments, total money owed and APRs. We decided which card we are going to pay off first. We decided to pay off the credit card with the lowest amount due first (The Snowball Effect- check out my savvy terminology!) We thought that it would psychologically feel good for us to pay something off. So there we are. I know, some of you are going to argue that we should go with the highest APR but according to Ramit (I just don't like saying Raw-Meat - don't tell but I call him Ram IT! in my head) you should not waste time deciding...choose one and do it. So we did!

Step one - done.