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My Take on Money posts are informational opinions only. I am not a professional or a financial advisor. Please make your own financial decisions based on personal research or see a financial advisor.

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The Government Shut Down is Over…So What?

Stupid BadgeWell the Government shut down, that lasted about 16 days, is finally over and to be honest we accomplished nothing.  I keep telling myself that it’s a good thing to be a US Citizen but my national pride is slowly fading away because of the idiots up in Washington.

I keep hearing the republicans talk about how this country is in too much debt and how we owe China our left kidney but somehow, I can’t understand how this shut-down helped?  Let me get this straight…. we furloughed the majority of our country’s Federal workers…I like to say that we gave them a free 2 paid week vacation that cost this country upwards of $24 Billion dollars.  How is that helping with the debt?  Am I missing something here?  We are further in the hole and we’ve just kicked the can down the road again….and all of this is because we have some incompetent law makers in Washington representing us. 

I say we need to get rid of all of them and/or dock their pay every time they do something foolish, which is just about every day.  I’m tired of my hard earn tax dollars getting thrown down the drain.

Can they do anything right up there?

I’m just venting today…tomorrow will be better.

Does anybody else out there feel the way I feel?  Are you frustrated with all the mess that’s going on in Washington?  I bet we can come up with a better plan than Congress.

Tackling Student Loan Debt: Here’s an Update

A while back I mentioned, that I had decided, that it was time to tackle the massive mound of student loan debt that I’d had hanging around for at least 15 years.  Well I’m glad to say that things are going pretty good thus far. So here’s an update.

Original Plan

In my previous post, back in June, my student loan debt was a whopping $45,690 (rounded).  I could really slap myself for letting it get that much out of hand.  I didn’t borrow anything remotely close to $45k…no the majority of that is…yep, you guessed it…interest.  It just makes me shriek to even admit that I’ve been that stupid and naïve to let my student loan grow that much out of control….but I know that I’m not alone.

To be honest, I can’t quite figure out what happens to most individuals when it comes time to pay those student loans back (6 months fresh out of college).  You go into panic/denial mode when you get the first bill and realize how much you’ve borrowed.  It does something to your psyche where you just want to avoid even thinking about having a student loan that’s massively growing in the background.  You try to ignore it…which is why I’m in the trouble I’m in today, but all the while, it’s in the back of your mind that you’ll eventually have to face that monster…..you gotta pay the government back someday (they could really use that money). 

I’ll confess that I was just content kicking the can down the road….keeping my head in the sand….letting the student loans just die with me…that was the mentality or attitude that I’d developed toward my student loans.  That was until one day I was listening to Dave Ramsey, one of my financial gurus and his attitude toward living a debt-free life reignited something in me. I made the promise right then that I was going to  finally stand my ground against my student loan debt, aim high and pay the darn thing off…and not in 20 years…I’d do it in at least 4 years time.

Fast forward to now….

Updated Plan

I’ve decide to pay my student loan off a bit sooner.  My monthly payment is normally $250, however the last 3-4 months; I’ve been socking as much cash toward my student loans as possible.  I’m proud to say that I’ve knocked that balance down to $38,897, as of October 14th.  It has taken some dedication and constant motivation to get the balance down to this point but I am gaining ground and that makes me feel really good.  I will be sending in the minimum payment for the months of November and December, but in January, I plan to ramp it back up and start socking a monthly payment of $1,800 towards the loan.  If am able to continue this, I should be finished paying my student loan approximately 24 months, give or take a month or two…which is fine with me.  Anything is better than keeping the bad boy around for 20 more years and paying interest out of the yin yang.  

So after I pay off my student loan debt, I plan to call in to the Dave Ramsey show and do my debt free scream…I can’t wait. 

Do you currently have student loan debt that you are fighting to pay off?

Frugal Fridays: Goodwill…a Bargain Place for Book Lovers

Frugal FridaysHi guys and Happy Friday to everyone!  Of course, it’s a Frugal Friday here on MTOM and today I can’t wait to tell you about the terrific time I had yesterday shopping at Goodwill.  Have I ever mentioned how much I love shopping at thriftstore, consignment shops and yard/garage sales?  I am definitely a bargain hunter and it just thrills me to find a good deal on something…it get’s my adrenaline going…it’s like I experience a frugal high.

Yesterday after work, I decided to stop by Goodwill to just browse around and see what great deals I could find.  I wasn’t really looking for anything in particular.  I love books and dishes so that’s really the only section I head straight for when I enter the store.  I do have an ipad with several e-books but there is just something about the smell and feel of a book that still excites me, so every chance I get, I’m always out to find a great book at the thriftstore, librabry or on paperbackswap (online free book trading website).  Well of course, they had hundreds of books and I could have bought 50 of them, but I try to stick to a budget…even when I’m in a second-hand store because it can get out of hand…at least that’s the case for me. 

I purchased 9 books.  The prices weren’t bad at all….$1.91 (paperback) and about $2.91 (hardback).  That’s almost 90% off the retail price and if you are an avid book reader like me, then that’s an excellent deal and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Don’t get me wrong, I love going to Barnes and Noble or other highend book retailers but I mainly go just to browse the new or latest books out and/or to get a cup of coffee from the cafe or to hang out with friends….it’s a great atmosphere for meeting friends or playing chess, which I’ve seen several people do when I’m there.  By the way did you know that a lot of the used books that you purchase off of Amazon or similar websites come from places like Goodwill or second-hand/used bookstores?  Yep, they sale a lot of their books online and the prices are pretty good, but the downside is you have to pay for shipping so the discount isn’t as good as purchasing it straight from the thriftstore….but I still do sometime use Amazon if I’m looking for a certain book in particular….I bite the bullet on the shipping…yuck.

Below is a list of books I purchased from Goodwill:

books

1) Webster’s German/English – English/German dictionary – I’m trying to brush up on my German and this little pocket dictionary will come in very handy.  It was a paperback which meant it cost me less than $2 bucks and it was in excellent condition.

2) How to Clean Practically Anything (Consumer Reports Books) – I’m always making a mess or dropping something on my clothes or spilling something on the floor…lol.  So I thought this book would be a great addition to my library.  It has a stain removal chart to help you remove ink, mud, ketchup, newsprint and many other stains….I’m loving that.

3) Fat Burning Foods and other weight-loss secrets (Judy Jameson) – Okay I’m forvever on a diet and trying to find ways to lose weight.  It’s a never ending mantra for us females…plus there might be a secret in the book that will finally help me to reach  my ultimate weight loss goal.  I’ll keep you abreast.

4) The Heart of a Leader (Ken Blanchard) – I’m an avid reader of self-help books and this will be a great addition to my library.

5) The Number – A Completely Different Way to Think About the Rest of Your Life (Lee Eisenberg) – This book is about finding that perfect number for retirement.  Lee Eisenberg has somehow found that sweet spot when it comes to financial planning and how much is enough to retire blissfully.  You know I’m an aspiring financial planner so this will be a good book to add to my repotoire…I’ll probably be doing a future post on this so stay tuned.

6) How to Think Like a CEO – The 22 Vital Traits You Need to Be The Person at the Top (D.A. Benton) – Another self-help book…I oneday hope to be the CEO of my own company so this will no doubt come in handy for me.

7) The Real Life Investing Guide (Kenan Pollack/Eric Heighberger) – Another good “know-how” book on personal finance and investing.  It’s a little outdated but I’m sure the techniques are still good, so I’ll review and see if there’s anything in there that will help you and me!!!! 

8) The Best Hymns Ever (Hal-Leonard) – This will be a great book for me to use at church.  I’m baptist and we still sing a lot of hymns.

9) Betty Crocker’s Best Christmas Cookbook – Christmas is fastly approaching and I’ll be getting into the baking mood so this book will definitely come in handy for me.  Maybe I’ll share some of the recipes I find, once I test them…I mean eat them….lol!!!

So all in all, my trip to Goodwill was successful.  I found some great books and it all came to around $22 bucks…that’s the retail price of just one of these books!  Bottomline, I got a great deal.  What do you think?   Tell me about some of your fabulous bargain finds.