Friday, May 30, 2008

6th Carnival of Snowflaking at Greener Pastures

A big thanks to them for including my article Free Cash for Snowflaking!

If this is your first time to Debt Non Sequitur - WELCOME! Please look around. There are alot of articles to help you save money, pay of debt, and live a financially independent life.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Mesh Onion Bags = Scouring Pads

Frugal Tip:

Save your mesh onion bags, wrap them with a rubber band and use to clean baked on food from pots and pans.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

May Snowflake Report - $1292.15

Not bad for this month so far:

77.15 - Sold textbook on
335.00 - Sold Braille machine on Ebay
11.50 - rolled change from change jar
57.83 - refund from Unclaimed money
800.00 - sold comic book collection
10.67 - reimbursement check

$1292.15 - sent to savings

I decided instead of paying off the orthodontist I would slate most of May's snowflake money to savings and pay only a little to the orthodontist. But all in all a good month for snowflakes.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Carnival of Debt Reduction #141: Enemies of the Doctor

Jump on over to Consumerism Commentary for the 141st edition of the Carnival of Debt Reduction! This carnival is a traveling showcase of the best articles about the process of eliminating debt.

The theme for this week is “Enemies of Doctor Who.” The concept of debt would certainly be an enemy worth the Doctor’s attention, if he had any money.

Thank you to Consumerism Commentary for including my article Free Cash for Snowflaking – Snowflake Report – $57.83

If this is your first time here welcome and please take a look around. There are many articles to help you with debt reduction and saving.

Thanks for stopping by!

127th Festival of Frugality at Funny About Money

And the Beat Goes On: 127th Festival of Frugality
My article "Free Cash for Snowflaking" has been included in the 127th Festival of Frugality being hosted at Funny About Money . A big thank you to Funny about Money for inclusion of my article in their carnival. Head over there to check out all the fine blogs and information related to all things frugal.

If this is your first time at Debt Non Sequitur please take a look around! There are many ideas to help you save money and we hope to see you again sometime!
Thanks for stopping by!

Seek Out Opportunities to Snowflake Big

I love Goodwill. We have one that I go to that really gets some great things - they seem more particular about the things that they sell - good quality items and not junk. A few months ago I happened upon a braille machine. Since we were studying Helen Keller at the time I bought it for $15.00 and let the girls play with it for a few month to learn how people type in braille, make Braille books etc. I decided when they had enough of it I would sell it on eBay. Well come to find out this machine retails for $685.00! I ended up selling it for $335.00! Not bad for a $15.00 investment. Guess where the "extra" snowflake money will go? You got it, the orthodontist bill since that is the bill I am concentrating on to eliminate.

This just goes to show that there are opportunities out there to make serious cash for snowflakes. I am not of the mindset that you should be combing Goodwill or yard sales for things to sell. It seems like a lot of work - browsing, driving around, then taking pictures, putting them on eBay, packing, etc. If you can find a really good opportunity like the one I have shared here then it seems worth it. Half an hour of my time equaled $335.00. If I were selling something that ended up at $7.00 would that really be worth the half an hour to find, take pictures, post, and package the item? In my opinion, no. Look for big opportunities to snowflake. You waste your time and your life by spending it needlessly on mini-opportunities that net you $7.00. Yes, every little bit adds up but do you want to spend the rest of your life adding up $7.00 at a time or $335.00 at a time?

Seek out opportunities to snowflake big.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Staying In a 7 Bedroom Beach House is in Your Budget

Each year my husband's sisters (3) and their families and our family rent a beach house in the Outer Banks for our annual week long beach trip. Now some of you might be thinking that might be expensive. It is if you go in the middle of the summer during their peak season. If you schedule your trip right outside those peak times you can save quite a bit of money. So we have 8 adults and 9 kids staying in a 7 bedroom beach house (grandparents sometimes come and go) with a private heated pool and hot tub on the ocean (sometimes on the sound front) for $1360. For a week. Split four ways (4 families) it is only $340.00 per family. You cannot stay in a nice hotel for that amount and have a private pool hot tub and king sized bedroom with a nice master bath. You cannot beat those prices.

Since we have to eat while we are here each family picks a night that they are responsible for. Whatever night they pick out, they make dinner for the entire crew, including dessert, and clean up. They are also responsible to bring a game for the grownups to play. This still is not expensive because you can purchase all the ingredients at home and bring them with you to the beach house to assemble. For example we have the first night and we decided to do a pizza bar. We will make several pizza doughs here at the house and bring them to the beach house. The kids will all have mini-pizzas and we will make five larges for the adults. The toppings will already be cut and separated out into Ziplocs that we can take there and when we get ready to cook the kids can all make their own pizzas. I will make the pizza sauce ahead of time at home and bring it as well. Our dessert will be a sundae bar. Again same concept - lots of choices to build your own sundae. I purchased many of the toppings very inexpensively over the last few months when I saw them on clearance or had triple coupons at Harris Teeter. Again this will not be a huge expense and the rest of the nights we can sit back because other families will be cooking and cleaning up! We always take the first day because we want to get it over with and relax for the rest of the week.

We usually do not spend any money when we go on this trip. The kids basically play in the pool, eat, go to the beach, eat, play in the pool, eat, go to the beach, eat, etc. We really do not go anywhere or do anything special just let the kids have fun. Occasionally we will take them to an ice cream shop on the corner or some of the moms will go to the outlet stores but generally we just hang out since everyone lives in different places. It is a time for us to spend together. But the house is big enough that if you do need a break from your in-laws you can hide in your bedroom.

Since I have an ING account (email me for a referral) I create subaccounts that I can automatically deposit money into for different things. One of the subaccounts is labeled vacation and months ago I started deposited a bit each payday so now I have several hundred dollars in there in case I need it. No worrying about if we have enough money in the account to cover the trip or having to take money out of savings if there isn't a surplus in the checking account. We have been saving for this already. Since ING automatically debits this out for me I don't really even realize it is there until I need it. We have another trip scheduled later in the summer and this money will be used for that.

Things are not out of your reach just because you are in debt or trying to save.

If you learn anything by reading this blog it is that creatively and preplanning are essential for financial security.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Cheap Massages

Massages just make life go better. The benefits of massage are numerous and can help you if you are sore, stressed or need to be rejuventated. There are studies out there that say that just by trying to conjure up a previously received massage in your mind it has stress relieving properties.

Instead of paying a whopping $55+ for a massage how about checking out a massage school where people are learning the trade and will practice on you for $15.00?
Not a bad deal and snowflake your savings.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Free Cash for Snowflaking - Snowflake Report - $57.83

I have to say that any time before when I have seen those websites or advertisements on tv about the fact that each state has unclaimed money in the millions to pay taxpayers I did not really believe it. But now I am a believer. A couple of weeks ago I happened on one of those sites and it looked like it was set up by the state that I live in. It was the website for the Department of the State Treasurer's Office and it has a search engine on it where you could input your name and see if there were any funds in your name. Well I typed in my name - nothing. I typed in my husband's name and I got a hit. The site does not tell you who the money was held by pr how much only your name and an address they have on file. If it is you there is a link to a claim form. You fill out this form, include proper forms of identification, including proof of your living at that address and send it in. Well my husband lived at that particular address 13 years ago, before we were married. We did not have anything in the safe with that address on it. But after some searching I found the address on a credit report. We sent in the paperwork and two weeks later we were sent a check in the amount of $57.83! Not bad for 20 minutes worth of work. I will be sending this to that oh so favorite debt of mine - the orthodontist. I am $57.83 closer to paying them off and we did not even know we had this money to begin with!

This goes to show that it is worth it to check out all avenues of passive income - even if it is a long shot.

Stop Shortening Your Life Span - How to be Healthy and Lose Weight by Default

We definitely fall under the holistic category when it comes to health. I have four children, all of which are extremely healthy. In fact, just last year, I discovered at a routine visit to the pediatrician that we were three years behind for my two oldest girls well-checks! I thought the schedule was 5 years old, 7 years old, 10, etc. Because they never go to the doctor it was never caught. Anyway we immediately scheduled them for their well-checks or maintenance checks because these are so important for documenting growth. And checking for eyesight issues, in this case, since we discovered that my oldest daughter might need glasses.

People are always surprised to hear how healthy we are as a family. My husband is 40 and to look at him he looks like he is in his 20's. Don't get me wrong, he works at it, eats all the right things, exercises, it takes commitment, but in his eyes it is worth it to maintain a healthy lifestyle and he has often said his goal is not to be on blood pressure medication or cholesterol lowering meds, or anything like that in later life. Good goal if you ask me. Meds shorten your life span. I still have the same body I had in my 20's - even after 4 kids. We only go to the doctor for check-ups.

I believe it is because of our lifestyle. No, we are not hardcore exercise freaks who mountain-bike trails every weekend. No, we don't workout 7 days a week at a gym or with home equipment for that matter. No, you couldn't describe us as "outdoorsy types". People would not describe us as exercise monsters who think only about being healthy.

But we are healthy.

And you could be too with a few adjustments to your diet and lifestyle. Nothing major, just tweak things a bit.

Get rid of processed food - if it has more than 6 ingredients in it - don't eat it. If it has anything that you cannot pronounce or don't know what it is - don't eat it.

Drink tea - Nothings pains me more that to see these people walking around with bottle Lipton Green tea. They think it is the green tea that all the doctors are talking about. Read the label - it is garbage. The tea they are talking about is hot tea. Of all kinds. Try to drink at least one cup a day. Sweeten it with honey not sugar. Add a bit of no fat milk to it.

Garlic - step up garlic consumption. Not only is it good for your heart but it is a natural anti-coagulant so it thins the blood and prevents clotting and it has the equivalent of antibiotic properties. Good preventative measures for heart attack and stroke. If you love garlic, roast a bulb in the oven for 40 minutes and squeeze it out onto a piece of toasted bread once a day. The act of roasting it cuts the sharpness of the flavor and sweetens it. Cut the top off, drizzle with olive oil, and cover with aluminum foil and throw into the oven. If you hate garlic, too bad, take some in a capsule form or try to add it to whatever you can that can mask it somewhat - turkey meatloaf, spaghetti sauce, etc. You must factor this into your diet somehow, someway.

Ginger - This is still used medicinally by Chinese practitioners. I have used ginger treatment for all sorts of things because of its anti-inflammatory properties. You could use this as a preventative treatment for inflammatory issues like arthritis or even artery inflammation. Mind you this is not for the faint of heart - this tea has a menthol sort of taste to it but you get used to it.

Ginger Tea

Grind up 1 TBSP ginger root into 8 oz. boiling water. Turn off heat and steep 3 minutes. Strain into mug and sweeten with honey and lemon and a bit of milk would be nice.

Drink this once a day to keep inflammation in your arteries down and to prevent clotting which leads to stroke and heart attacks. I am a big believer in ginger tea and have converted many. When people mention that their back back is unbearable or one lady who could not heal from stomach surgery I tell them about this remedy. most will only try it when they have tried everything else and it hasn't worked. Try it because you want to and because it will extend your life.

Sweets - only one per day. Whatever you want that is not processed but only once per day. When I say sweets I am talking about things that are good for you like home-made cookies beefed up with flax seed and bran and some chocolate chips. Eat only unprocessed sweets.

Flax Seed - must have in your diet. Both ground meal and whole. The oil in the flax "greases" up your arteries and cleans them out so to speak as well as cleaning out your bowels. Dump flax into anything you can. Hide it in spaghetti, yogurt, stir fry, anything because once this seed actually elevated your HDL which is your good cholesterol and gives you a preventative measure. My HDL is actually 25 points higher than the normal range so they add that back to my numbers to lower my actual number of my LDL. It is considered a preventative so they give you credit for it.

Grape Juice - solid no additives, no preservatives, straight up grape juice. One cup per day with breakfast. Obviously you have heard about grape juice and its antioxidant properties. It also lowers cholesterol. I put my father on a regimen of 1 cup grape juice, handful of almonds, and flax seed and his cholesterol went down 30 points.

Nuts - specifically walnuts or almonds. Only a handful as these are high in fat, good fat, but fat nonetheless.

Olive Oil - use only this oil for cooking. If you decide to fry something which you should not be doing very often, use canola oil as olive oil is not a high heat oil.

Ditch Fried Food - no explanation here. Eat it in moderation, like once a month.

That's it. I guarantee you will see a change in your health, weight and activity level if you just change these few things. Not a major change, just a minimal one with big payoffs.

The beautiful thing about tweaking your diet in this way is that the weight falls off of you. Once you stop eating garbage your body becomes more efficient and uses what it needs and what you provide it. You are not giving it "extra stuff" that it doesn't know what to do with so it stores it in your arteries or your hips. I have never been on a diet and neither has my husband. We have not cut out sugar nor do we eat everything or even half of our things low-fat. We use real butter. We drink no-fat milk.

I am still in a size 4 a 5'9" at age 37 and my husband is a 33 waist at 6' at age 40. We are lean and have low body fat. Not because we exercise all the time and deprive ourselves of food but because we have utilized the things that come from the earth in raw form since we believe that this is what was created for the body to utilize. Everything that you could need is on the earth naturally. Partially hydrogenated oil is man made and gunks up the machine that is your body. Fruits and vegetables and legumes and nuts make your body run like a well-oiled machine.

It goes without saying that this will save you on health care costs in the future.

Stop shortening you life span.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

5th Carnival of Snowflakes!

My article "Birthday Party Ideas For Cheap" has been included in the 5th Carnival of Snowflakes being hosted at My Small Cents. A big thank you to Snowflake Revolution for inclusion of my article in their carnival. Head over there to check out all the fine blogs and information related to snowflaking, a concept that I embrace.

If this is your first time at Debt Non Sequitur please take a look around! There are many ideas to help you save money and we hope to see you again sometime!

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Selective Perfectionism

I am what they call a Selective Perfectionist. There are certain things that I need to have a certain way and I will not be able to rest until it is in order, how I like it. For example, I like to have the amoire doors closed in the great room if no one is watching tv. I don't know why. It really bothers me, I mean reeeaaalllllyyyyy bothers me if the doors are wide open and the tv is not on. I have tried to ignore it before. You know if the kids have left it open and I am working in the kitchen, or helping them with school work, whatever, but every time I walk past it, and I could be 20 feet away, it bothers me to no end. I have to go close it. Right now.

But other things, like my desk, don't really bother me. I can work in that environment. I know where everything is. It is not filed or in a certain place or anything. I don't even notice the clutter or the cat ChouChou for that matter when I am working at my desk. I think I have selective perfectionism when it comes to finances too. Some things I have to have completely under control like savings or paying bills but do I balance my checkbook? Uh no. "The horror!" you say! I know! I really should balance the checkbook. I do not know how many times I have started to balance the checkbook only to loose interest a few weeks later. Same goes for that wretched Quicken to track your expenses and assets. I have entered information for hours into that program only to loose interest a few weeks later. I try but just cannot seem to stay with it.
But it is okay. I can function without them. For me it is fine to mentally know where I am and I do have a rough estimate of where how much is in the bank at a given time. I always know where we are money wise with bills, savings, etc. so I think this method, or lack thereof, works for me.
Find something that works for you. If you hate it don't do it. If you keep trying to do something that you hate, like balance a checkbook in my case, don't do it. Find another way that works. Just make sure that it works.
Why do anything in life that you hate? Seems like a waste of your life energy, don't you think?

Never Buy Another Envelope Again

Make sure that you recycle envelopes that you receive from companies trying to get your business. You know the envelopes you get with "postage paid" on them? The ones without windows. Pull it apart, flip it inside out and glue the edges back down. I have a file folder in my file cabinet that I keep these envelopes in. As I am going through junk mail I toss these envelopes into the file and then maybe once every three or four months, when I have collected a bunch, I will take a half hour and pull them all apart, turn them inside out, and glue them back together again. Do it while you watch tv.

You'll never have to buy another envelope again.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Use an Envelope System to Control Spending

Everytime I go into a store I always have coupons. To make sure that I know what I need to get and to keep the coupons handy I use envelopes. For example, once I have compiled a list of the items I want at a particular store - let's use Target, I will write the items down on the outside of the envelope. I will write the item, the sale price and then in parenthesis what coupon I have for said item. So it might look like this:

Olay Body wash - 3.99- 2.00 (MC) - 1.00 (TC)

I know what item I am looking for, the sale price, that I have a manufacturer's coupon (MC) and a Target coupon (TC) which I can piggyback onto the MC. The coupons are then put into the envelope. I take only this envelope into Target and I only buy only what is on this list. I use this method for grocery stores as well as places like Walgreen's and Rite Aid.

As a side note, recycle the envelopes that you receive in your junk mail. You know the ones you get with credit cards offers that are postage prepaid, etc? Just flip them inside out and glue back together and you have some envelopes - FREE. No need to go out and purchase a box of envelopes if you don't have to. Creative thinking leads to savings.

This method prevents you from needless spending as long as you do not deviate from your list.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Birthday Party Ideas for Cheap

Since I snowflake religiously I have to spend the least amount of money possible on everything to obtain my goals. That includes birthday parties.

My daughter turned nine recently and we needed to throw a party. I am not going to spend a million dollars on a birthday but there are some creative things that you can do to make it unbelievably memorable. Since we had to host 14 little girls and my daughter wanted a spa theme we came up with the idea to do stations where they could get nails done or their feet massaged or a crazy hair up-do, etc.

Here are some of the frugal things we came up with:

I enlisted the moms to man the stations - FREE - each mom had a station that she "worked" at and provided a service such as nails, hair, make-up, etc. For the nail station we all brought nail polish so the girls had many colors to choose from (FREE) We already had cuticle trimmers, nail files, lotion for hands, so I only had to buy jewels to glue onto the nail polish - $.49.

    I made goodybags - I used scrapbook paper 4/$1 from Michael's Arts & Crafts and some hot pink boas to make paper cones rimmed with feathers for the goodies bags. They look like hats in the pictures but since it was a spa party we had no need for hats.

The Sign on her chair - cardboard cut to size, fancy font printed on paper and cut out, lined with feather boa.

The Goody Table - tree with pink booms from the side yard, glass bowls from the kitchen to put goodies in, glass container from bathroom - all free. Tulle - $1/yard at Walmart. White sheet to cover the table. Goodies from Dollar Store - for example pink emery boards were a pack of 8 for $1.00.
Food - I made the cupcakes and searched around for any type of bulk candy that was pink. Pretzels covered in chocolate with pink sprinkles, etc. Anything to match the theme. Glass jars on table to store candy I borrowed from friends. I raided four houses.

Having a party doesn't need to be expensive. Come up with creative, inexpensive ideas and it looks like you paid a million dollars for it. Onward snowflaking!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I Started Using a DayTimer

I don't have a job and there is no real reason to have a Day Timer other than for purely selfish reasons and the fact that I love to cross things off a list. Call it OCD or being a control freak but there is something very liberating about having a list then crossing something off of it. Completion. Forward momentum. Working towards a goal.

When I decided that I was going to organize my day in one spot and not sticky notes all over the house I did not run out and buy a Day Timer. I posted on Freecycle that I needed one and lo and behold, the same day I got two replies for people wanting me to pick theirs up to get it out of their hair. I picked it up, stopped off at Target to get some new filler pages and priced the DayTimers there ($12.99 - $24.99) and was proud of myself for saving money.

If you glean anything from this blog know that financial security is really all about preparation and creativity. Try to seek out solutions in a creative manner.

Part of being in debt in the first place is lack of discipline - when you need something you run to the store to buy it. Then it ends up in your yard sale three years later selling for a fraction of what you paid. And don't forget you are still paying for it on your Visa, with interest.

Be in control. When you need something look around first. You might be surprised that you can acquire the item easily and for free.

Back to the Day Timer. I really did not think I was one of those people who could use one of those things and be happy about it. I can imagine that many buy these things with good intentions and then it ends up under some books somewhere never to be used after a month. I was concerned about my being able to write things down in it in a disciplined manner. I have to say after using one for a month that I love this method of controlling my madness. Before I had little post-its everywhere. Now everything is in one spot all nice and neat. The Day Timer sits on my desk and is always open so I can see at a moment's glace what needs to be done and what has been done. I list anything from appointments to what room of the house needs to be cleaned to phone calls that I need to make. After I have finished a task I cross through it with a highlighter. I use highlighters instead of marking through an item so I can still read what the item was and it is easy from afar to see what has been crossed off and what hasn't been. I am not one of those people who cannot rest if there are things left on the list for the day. I merely work on it the following day so I can cross it off. The rule is that is has to be done by the weekend so everything will be highlighted by Saturday. It is wonderful seeing how much I have accomplished. Before all the little lists were thrown away after I finished with them. There wasn't really a sense completion, that I worked hard all week to get a lot done. I knew I had done things through the week but I couldn't tell you everything.

There is something very satisfying and soul satisfying to see your work and what you have accomplished. I love the Day Timer.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Three Daughters = Braces, College, and a Wedding

I have three daughters. All of which will require braces, college, and a wedding. Two of the three are non-negotiable. The weddings, well, they can live at home forever, or so their Daddy says.

Here is a great tip for those who have daughters:

Instead of paying for the wedding like somehow we have been roped into doing (Who decided that?!?) how about, starting when she is very young, putting away money to equal $10,000? Have an amount automatically debited from your payday each time into a separate fund especially for this purpose. ING sub accounts would be wonderful for this. (Email me to get a referral. I get credit for referring people.) When the time comes that she wants to get married (how dare she??) offer the $10,000 to pay for the wedding or she and her new husband can take it and blow it or they can put a down payment on a house. Either way you have done your part and given them a fair start in their new life together. And if you have raised your daughter right, with good financial wits about her since you learned from your mistakes, she will opt to buy a home since he is not in credit card debt because you taught her so well, aaaannnnndddd, she would think blowing it would be financially irresponsible. Whew nice run-on sentence. This will prevent you from getting caught in the "Can't I have it Daddy & Mommy please?????" and you end up paying for a $30,000 wedding, in our case three times over.

Being financially secure is all about planning.

Back in the Game

You know sometimes when it really seems like people are not listening it is hard to stay motivated to keep on writing about stuff? I had a computer issue for a couple of days there and then I began to let those thoughts creep in: "Well no one really reads the blog anyway so why bother?" or "Do I really have time to do this?"

So I check in today and there is a new comment saying that I have good information! Ahhhhhh....all is well in the world again. It is so nice to hear people say nice things or make comments. it keeps those of us who blog a feeling that we are helping in some small way. Sometimes it is hard to carry on a one sided relationship - no feedback sometimes makes you think am I the only one who is giving here??

I thank all of you who have posted in the past. I'm back in the game.