Friday, June 30, 2006

Hospitals - Gotta Watch Them Like a Hawk

I was very fortunate that my old insurance company covered my prenatal visits 100%. Since I knew sometime in the future I would like another child, I was curious to see what the charges looked like so I asked for an itemized bill of all charges.

To my surprise, I was being billed for procedures I didn't have! What really bugged me was that there is no way I could have one of them performed or they would have killed me!!

To put it lightly, I was furious. It didn't matter that I wasn't paying any money out of my pocket - I couldn't believe the errors that I saw. I went back and I fought them and they removed the erroneous charges. No wonder health insurance is so expensive when the hospitals are constantly overcharging for things. It's not just me, there's an article over at MSN about Hospital Overcharging. I really feel sick to my stomach when I think about this subject.

Health care is a real sore spot for me because it's the one expense where you really can't shop around for the best price. I've tried asking before how much a procedure would cost and they couldn't tell me. Only after I got it and it went through billing would I know. How are they allowed to do that?

I've been fortunate and since the birth of my son and I haven't had a hospital stay. I know I will be checking the next bill over and over and I will be incorporating the following (thanks to the article at MSN) to help make sure I am not overcharged and have some control of what I am paying for:

1.) I am keeping a log of all tests and procedures done. When I receive my bill, I will compare the log with what the hospital said was done.

2.) I am going to ask if I am going to have to pay for disposable things in my room even if I don't use it. If I am forced to pay - they go with me when I leave.

3.) I am going to call ahead (if possible) and ask about items that I will be supplied with in the hospital room and will be charged for, but I don't have to have. I will tell them that I do not want them and I will bring items from home.

Yeah, I'm going pretty extreme with this but it really does get me hot under the collar how hospitals get away with this. And it makes me very sad that there are people in financial despair because of a catastrophic medical event occurring and some of it could be from overcharges.

In my opinion, credit cards may be sneaky with their tactics, but I think hospitals are lower on the scale.

Today's the Last Day if You Want My Book!!

If you haven't heard yet, I want to give my copy of "The Millionaire Next Door" to someone who really wants to read it and today is the deadline!!

There's no catch, except I'd like you to give it away to someone else when you are done reading it. Each person is invited to sign the book their own way as I will do. I'll pay for the media mail shipping so only US residents please.

To enter, all you need to do is write a very brief explanation of why you would like to read the book. I'm only looking for three or four sentences, so no novels here. Please submit your entries to bloggingawaydebt [at] yahoo [dot] com by 11:59 ET TODAY. I will announce a winner on Monday July 3, 2006 which is the day I am hosting the Carnival of Debt Reduction.

I'd also like to include some of the entries on my blog so if that is okay with you, please grant me permission to post it as well as your name or nickname (if you'd like) and blog address (if applicable). If you do not grant permission, I will assume that you do not want your entry posted. And please, just add one sentence saying that you will give the book away when you are done reading it. You can give it away any way you like, but I would just like your word that you will give it away and ask that that person gives it away, and so on. I may be old-fashioned, but I still value someone's word and hope that it will remain true.


1.) Three or four sentences on why you would like the book.

2.) A sentence stating that you would give away the book to another person.

3.) Your name or nickname and/or blog name if you'd like your entry posted on my blog. You can also choose to have it posted anonymously, but please state that it is okay for me to post your entry.

4.) Email it to bloggingawaydebt [at] yahoo [dot] com.

Today is the last day!!

I'm Hosting the Carnival of Debt Reduction on Monday

Just a reminder for those who would like to participate and read the entries, I am hosting the Carnival of Debt Reduction on Monday.

Feel free to send your article to my email (bloggingawaydebt [at] yahoo [dot] com) or fill out the handy form at Blog Carnival.

More information about the Carnival of Debt Reduction can be found at Mighty Bargain Hunter.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Read the Festival of Frugality to Stretch Those Dollars

Free Money Finance did a great job hosting this week's Festival of Frugality. Make sure you head over there to check it out.

I enjoyed reading the article from Bargain Queen titled How Cheap Can Gardening Be? She gives some great tips, and is giving me a little motivation to finish digging my garden and planting seeds. I am WAY behind schedule.

Total Credit Limit $57,000 vs. Total Income $45,000

One thing I will never understand about credit card companies is why our credit limits are so high. Credit Card #2 just kept raising and raising my limit when I was near my limit (which was often). It started off in 1995 at $500. Then they kept raising it and before I knew it - my credit limit was more than I made in a year.

Out of curiosity, back in March(when I was close to the credit limit) I checked to see if I could get an instant credit line increase with Credit Card #2. They offered to give me $1,500 more, which I declined. Just the other day (since paying off such a large amount) I tried again and they wouldn't give me an instant increase.

What that confirms with me is that some credit card companies are sneaky. They see you are spending and give you more. They see that you are paying it off and they won't give you any more.

Interesting, to say the least.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Time to Share Some More Quotes that I Enjoy

"Instead of focusing on the amount of money lacking in your budget, focus on what you DO have: a willing spirit, an imagination filled with bright ideas, people who care about you and can perhaps help you in some way. These are the things that will enable you to do almost anything."

- Phil Keoghan, No Opportunity Wasted

"Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence."

- Helen Keller

"It doesn't make any difference whether what you face is something that affects your work, your personal relationships, your sense of security, your appraisal of self-worth, or your appearance--the way you think about your situation largely determines whether you will do anything about it and what you will do."

- Dr. Arthur Freeman

Using Classes in Quicken to Further Breakdown Expenses

There is a feature in Quicken called classes that will give you the ability to create reports such as the following:

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I've posted a brief tutorial on how to use classes over at Quicken Tips, so if you are interested take a peek.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Would You Like a Million Pennies?

While talking with my son the other day (he's 4), he found a penny on the ground. I asked him, "How many pennies would you like to have?"

He said, "One hundred."

I asked, "Would you like a million pennies?"

He said, "No, that's too many. They can't fit in my pocket."

You know what, I think he's right. Here's a neat illustration of one million pennies.

Part of me feels like I missed the opportunity to talk to him about how he can put his money in a bank and they will hold it for him. Then explain how he can make money by doing that. After hearing his simple answer, I could only smile because it was just simple. But perhaps I should take opportunities like that to introduce finance related things to him. But is 4 years old too early??

Monday, June 26, 2006

More Prosper Resources & Others Blogging About Prosper

Here are a few more sites I thought would be interesting to a Lender or Borrower on Prosper:

Who's Bidding on Prosper. Updated daily, you can see all of the Lenders and what they are currently bidding on.

Credit Boards Forum about Prosper.

And here are some bloggers that I know are writing about their experiences as a Lender (L) and/or Borrower (B). If your blog is not included, please leave a comment and I'll add you :)

Dual Income No Kids (L)
It's Your Money: Money Musings (L)
Makingourway (L)
My Personal Finance Blog (L)
Plugged in Finance (L) (L)
Seattle Editor's Prosper Blog (L) & (B)
Shaun's Real Estate Adventures (L)
Spotsearch (L)
Tired but Happy (L)

And a link to my previous resources for borrowers can be found by clicking here

Index of My Borrowing Experience with Prosper

There's Still Time...Would You Like My Copy of The Millionaire Next Door?

Would you like my copy of "The Millionaire Next Door"?

At the end of my review, I announced that I would like to give my copy of the book to someone else. If you are interested, please check out the instructions at the end of my post here.

The deadline is June 30, 2006 and I will announce the winner when I host the Carnival of Debt Reduction on July 3, 2006.

Come One, Come All...To the Carnivals!!

For your reading pleasure, check out the following Carnivals this week:

Carnival of Personal Finance over at Mighty Bargain Hunter.

Carnival of Debt Reduction over at Blueprint for Financial Prosperity.

Just a note, I will be hosting the next Carnival of Debt reduction. Feel free to submit using the handy form over at Blog Carnival or feel free to just send me an email at bloggingawaydebt [at] yahoo [dot] com.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Tips for Using Prosper for Debt Consolidation

I've never been interested in looking into debt consolidation companies. I think part of it has to do with the fact that I like to be in control of my finances. Handing off my debt to a consolidation company just seems odd to me. It's hard to explain.

But with the onset of people to people lending via Prosper, I think it is a great way for people to take control of their debt on their own terms. With my Prosper experience, I had $3,500 sitting on a credit card at 13.99%. Thanks to Prosper, that interest rate has been reduced to 9.9%. PLUS, I am fixed into paying it in three years or less.

If my situation was different and I had multiple credit cards that I wanted to consolidate, I would have used Prosper for that purpose. The personal aspect of Prosper can possibly help you find people willing to take a chance of giving you a loan, especially if you have less than perfect credit or your debt to income ratio is high.

If you decide to use Prosper strictly for debt consolidation, here are some things to keep in mind:

1.) States have set maximum interest rates for loans, and some states have a maximum rate under 10%. If you have low credit, that can hamper the ability for your loan request to be funded.

2.) When you do create a listing, your debt to income ratio will include your current debt AND the new debt incurred with the Prosper loan. Make sure you include in your listing that the loan will be used to pay off current debt so your debt to income ratio will not actually be that high. To help ease the minds of lenders, I'd suggest adding up all of your current monthly debt payments of the balances you will be consolidating. Then, note your new monthly payment with the Prosper loan. If the Prosper loan payment is higher (which it probably will be due to having to pay it in three years) note how you can afford the extra money needed for your monthly payments.

3.) Start your loan listing with the highest rate you would feel comfortable with paying. For me, I started my listing almost 2% less than my credit card interest rate. If my loan ended with that interest rate, it may not have been a drastic reduction, but there's a sense of pride with paying off the credit card and paying interest to regular people.

4.) Do not state in your listing that you want the loan to get rid of debt. I have seen some Borrowers state this, but with getting a loan from Prosper you are not getting rid of debt. Your Prosper loan is as valid of a debt as your credit cards or other loans. You are merely shifting your debt around to make your situation better. Showing Lenders that you have a handle on your finances and have the correct attitude with paying it off can help get bids.

5.) Do not opt to have automatic funding. If you choose automatic funding, the rate that you have listed will be the rate you will receive. There is no chance for Lenders to bid your rate down because your listing ends when you are funded 100%. In my case, there was a flurry of activity near the end due to last minute bids. Let the market (and human nature) bid your rate down. For debt consolidation and debt reduction, every little bit helps!

6.) Check out my list of Tips for Listing a Loan on Prosper for some general tips.

Good luck!! If you have questions, feel free to leave a comment and ask :)

Index of My Borrowing Experience with Prosper

Improving Your Attitude (and Possibly Finances) with Feng Shui

I've been debating for a while whether to discuss this subject or not. Some people have gotten hot under the collar when I discuss Feng Shui. But I believe the little changes I have done with my home has improved my attitude and made it possible for me to improve my financial situation.

When I left my job outside of the home, it was a job where a lot of people relied on me. I knew that I would have to give at least two month's notice to ensure a smooth transition for my replacement. I knew I wanted to work at home, but at the same time I couldn't just leave my other job with a normal two week notice.

So, I gave my notice at my job even before having another one. Things ended up pretty tight and looking a little bleak because I wasn't finding work like I had hoped. You may think I am pretty upbeat now, but I wasn't back then. I took a leap of faith and I wasn't landing on my feet. If I started this blog back then, you would have been reading a very different blog. One that was very bitter in tone.

I came across Feng Shui and started reading about it. I began doing a few things around the home, like changing the arrangement of the living room and bedrooms and I started feeling better and my attitude improved. Then I started getting jobs. They were small jobs, but I was bringing in some money to help with the bills. I found myself feeling better about life and I felt hopeful again.

Now, there are things in Feng Shui that I do not do because I don't understand the reasoning behind it. But, some things, like arranging furniture so you can see an entrance makes sense to me. Much of the reasoning behind furniture placement in Feng Shui involves making yourself feel comfortable and safe in your home. Feeling better about your home then can help improve your attitude overall.

As I often say, everyone is different. That's what makes life so interesting and diverse. I have enjoyed how Feng Shui has improved the feel of my home but I know it's not for everyone. But because it has helped my attitude immensely, which I feel was instrumental in increasing my income, I decided to write about it.

You can get to know a little more about me at I started that blog in January, but it has since been retired so to speak and I only write if I find something interesting or if I try something new. I actually haven't made any new changes to my home in a while since most of the changes were done last year and the beginning of this year. There are a few things I would like to do, but they cost money so those will need to wait until a later date.

Anyways, thought I would share :)

My List of Tips for Listing a Loan on Prosper

The great thing about Prosper is that it is people-to-people lending. There is a personal aspect to the whole process. Here are some tips that I have come up with that may help you obtain a funded loan through Prosper.

1.) Post Pictures. Now, you don't have to post a picture of yourself if you don't want to, but I have heard that Lenders like to see who they are lending to. For me, I didn't want to do that. Instead, just post something that let's the borrower know a little bit more about you and why you are asking for funds.

2.) Be Specific. When you list your loan, be as specific as possible as to why you are wanting a loan and also explain how you are able to pay it back and on time. A great thing to do is include your monthly budget. If you do not have a monthly budget already established, please do so before listing. Make sure that you can afford to pay back Lenders. The more success stories from Prosper, the more likely it will flourish.

3.) Explain Bad Credit. If you have bad credit, take a few minutes to add a brief explanation in your listing. For example, if you are showing delinquencies, the Lenders will be able to see that information. You will not be able to see what the Lenders see until after your listing is posted. But, before you list you can see your credit report for free by going to Go through your credit report and explain the negatives that are showing. Explain why you have problems on your credit report and explain what you are doing to resolve them.

4.) Include a Profile Description. Every user on Prosper has the ability to enter a profile description. Use this area to let lenders know more about yourself or to add additional information to your listing. Within your listing, make sure you note that more information is included in your description.

5.) Don't Ask for More than You Need. It may be tempting, but limit your loan listing for asking for just what you need. The lower your loan request, the less of a risk you are perceived to be. You also have a lower monthly payment which Lenders will view as more manageable.

6.) Proofread Your Listing. Asking for a loan on Prosper is serious business. You want to present yourself in the best light possible, so that means creating a listing with correct grammar, punctuation and spelling. If possible, have someone else review your listing for errors (create it in a word processing program first).

7.) Read...Read...Read. One of the best ways to learn about the borrowing process is to look at others' experiences. Great places to start are the Prosper Message Boards and the Credit Boards Prosper Section

8.) Advertise your listing, but not Blatantly. Nothing is as annoying to Lenders than a Borrower "bugging" them for bids. A way to advertise, but not bug is to participate on the message boards listed in #7 with constructive things to add to a conversation.

9.) Answer all Questions Quickly and Thoroughly. Use your judgment to protect yourself from fraud (don't give out social security or driver's license number for example) but try to answer all questions from Lenders. They are wanting to make sure you will stay true to your word and pay back your loan.

And, what I believe is probably the best advice I can give anyone...

10.) Be Yourself. Tell in your listing why you need the loan. Let Lenders know a little bit more about who you are and how you think. If you pay everything two weeks in advance, tell them that. If you pay things on time, but right near the due date, tell them that. If you have had problems in the past with spending money or paying things on time, bring it out in the open and explain what you are doing to resolve your past "problems." Don't try to fib a little with the information you give. Just be honest and be yourself. We are all human, and we all have made mistakes in the past. Don't be ashamed of them, as long as you have learned from them.

"A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying...that he is wiser today than he was yesterday."

- Alexander Pope

Index of My Borrowing Experience with Prosper

Saturday, June 24, 2006

How Much We Make - Update

Now that my husband is working a few more hours and one of my part-time jobs is gearing up, I feel pretty safe in updating our income. I also have a raise due from my full-time job in July, but I will count that after it is a done deal.

As of right now, it is safe to say my husband and I are making $45,000/year, an increase of $5,000. I doubt our 2006 income will reach that (because my husband will be reducing his hours and/or quitting his job at some point this year), but as of right now that is what we make.

I am excited to have some more income coming our way. That means more can go towards debt :)

Introducing - Quicken Tips

From time to time, I planned on offering tips on using Quicken to keep track of your finances. I am very much a Quickenheadus Neuroticus as you may have already discovered. I really like keeping track of where my money goes, and I like to manipulate the program to help me do that.

I've been posting tips on my blog here, but sometimes the pics are small. I'd like them bigger. So, I have set up a new blog just for Quicken Tips. I will post a complete post there, but on this blog I will give a teaser so you know if I have posted something new and see if it interests you.

As always, if you have a question, feel free to ask. I would be glad to try to help :)

Without further ado, please check out Quicken Tips and let me know that you think.

Friday, June 23, 2006

From $23,225.04 to $657.60

The balance on Credit Card #2 when I started blogging in February:

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And here's today's balance!

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A lot of it is due to shifting balances around, but it is still so nice to see that credit card almost paid off :)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Tracking Cash Spending Using Quicken

I like to keep track of all spending in Quicken. To me, cash can often be forgotten about when it comes time to looking at your finances. Here's a way that has helped me keep track - and it actually was a big reason why I basically now live a cash-free life. Just too much cash was spent and it added up quickly. It was an eye opener to say the least.

The first thing you need to do is create a new cash account in Quicken. I like to call mine "Cash on Hand."

There are a few ways you would obtain cash.

1.) Cashing a check outright. In this case, you would record a deposit directly in your Cash on Hand account, making sure you selected the correct income account (just like you would if you deposited the check into your checking account).

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2.) Depositing a check into your checking account and receiving some cash back. Enter your deposit as you normally would. On the very last line, select your Cash on Hand account. Enter the amount of cash you are receiving back as a negative number. Then select "Adjust Total." The total showing as a deposit in your bank account should match your deposit slip.

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3.) ATM Withdrawl and/or cashing a check to yourself from your checking account. Enter a check or withdrawal like you normally would. Select your Cash on Hand account as the category.

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All three of the examples above record money coming into your Cash on Hand account. Now how do you get it out?

All you need to do is open up your Cash on Hand account and record transactions just like you would in your checking account.

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Because it is likely that some cash will get misplaced or spent without being tracked, it is a good idea to count how much cash you have on you on a monthly basis. Then, adjust the Cash on Hand register to reflect what you really have. In the example, I actually had $70.56 left at the end of June. So I entered an adjustment to "spend" $10.44 to bring the register to the actual amount I have. For these adjustments, since you are not sure where the money went you can put it to a miscellaneous account.

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Maybe you decide that you do not want to have cash on you anymore and you put it back in the bank. All you need to do is open up your checking register and enter a deposit. For the category, select Cash on Hand. As soon as you record that deposit, you will see that your Cash on Hand has been reduced by that amount.

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It takes more work to keep track of things such as cash, but if you are really trying to get a hold of your finances I would suggest giving it a try for a little while. You do get faster at it and the information you might discover could prove invaluable.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

I Keep Forgetting to Mention this Site

I've been checking this site out for a while now, but I keep forgetting about adding it to my blogroll and I keep forgetting to mention it to everyone!

If you haven't already, take a peek at Debtspiration. As the name implies, it is full of quotes that provide inspiration for reducing debt. As a "get out of debt" blogger, I found the about page inspirational as well.

I hope you will enjoy the site like I do.

The Brand New Debt Payoff Plan - Sort Of...

Once all of my balance transfers are complete, here's what my debt will look like (some variation will occur due to pending finance charges, etc.). I've included my "old" debt for comparison.

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CC #1 is showing at 5.9% but it actually has about $1,000 at 9.9%. The 5.9% was a balance transfer and the rate stays until the balance is paid in full (I love balance transfers like that!). Because of the low rate in general that is guaranteed, this will probably be the last of the credit cards to be paid off.

CC #2 will be ZERO!! Woohoo! Going from $23,000 to $0.00 in 5 months - I wonder what special offers they will give me. If they give a low balance transfer rate for the life of the transfer, I may end up shuffling some debt around again but I have to decide if it's worth it when or if the time comes.

CC #4 will have $8,000 at 3.9% until Nov '06. After that, the rate will go to 16.49% which doesn't please me. Since I only have 6 months before either paying the higher rate or completing another balance transfer, this card will be paid off first. There's too many "if"'s to keep a low balance on this card. I'm not sure if I can get the whole balance paid off before the nice interest rate expires, but I sure am going to try!

CC #6 is a relatively small balance that is good through March '07. I also do not need to make any payments until then. I have reviewed this card's terms because sometimes when an offer sounds too good to be true - it is. Cards that offer no interest and no payments until a certain time sometimes charge you for back interest if you do not pay it off in full before their offer is up. Luckily, this card does not have that. However, the rate will be over 23%. That's not good. Probably in February I will pay this off in full and not pay as much to one of the other cards.

CC #7 will have $7,500 until June '07. So basically a year before the interest rate goes to over 16%.

My Prosper loan is set at 9.9% with a balance of $3,465.

I know I will pay off CC #4 first. Even though it is a lower rate than other debts, it only lasts 6 months before raising the rate. It also is the only joint credit card between my husband and I. Paying it off first will help both of our credit scores (by lowering both of our credit utilization ratios). Balance transfers can be a great thing, but there is risk involved. Some cards will raise your rate to above 20% if you are a day late on a payment.

I was thinking that I would pay off the Prosper loan next, but I'm not sure. There is the other balance transfer sitting on CC #7 that expires in about a year. I could keep transferring the balance back and forth to keep a low rate, but the one card does charge a balance transfer fee of around $60 every time. I am really on the fence with this one.

So, as it stands right's the order....

1.) CC #4
2.) CC #7
2.) Prosper Loan
4.) CC #1
* CC #6 will be paid off probably in February '07 in one payment

I know I will know more once CC #4 is paid off and perhaps that will make the decision of who to pay off next easier. I just don't want to have a balance transfer offer come back and bite me.

Any thoughts?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Prosper Funds are in the Bank

I am very impressed. I looked at my account online today and I see a pending deposit for my Prosper loan. It only took 2 business days for my funds to hit my bank.

What was the first thing I did? I set up a payment for tomorrow to pay Credit Card #2 :)

It won't be paid off in full yet. My balance transfer from Credit Card #4 hasn't shown up. I am starting to get concerned, but it still hasn't been two weeks yet. I have to be patient. After that balance is completed and the Prosper payment posts, there will still be a balance on the card that I will pay from available cash. Then it will be at zero for a little bit until the next statement. Unfortunately, there will be some lingering finance charges to pay.

But after that - Credit Card #4 will be zero for the first time in a VERY long time.

What should I do with the card now?

I definitely shouldn't close it. That's $23,500 of credit right there and closing the card will probably negatively impact my credit score. I've briefly thought about the fact that I could buy a car outright with my card. But that'd be a silly thing to do considering the rates and considering that we don't need another car. And quite frankly, I've put a lot of work into getting this debt down and I want to keep it that way.

I think the best thing to do would be to lock it away and basically forget about it. I've already prepared myself and signed up for emails alerts. I get a weekly update on my balance just to make sure the balance is zero and I guess it is something I can receive weekly and smile about :)

Things are coming together quite nicely. Now, I just have to explain my debt-payoff game plan (coming soon).

Index of My Borrowing Experience with Prosper

Want to Hear the Voice Behind Blogging Away Debt?

I think I sound pretty goofy, but if you are interested in hearing what I sound like, head on over to Money Blogger Podcast. Scott was a great interviewer and did a great job with a very nervous interviewee (you actually can't tell my voice was shaking in the interview - but it was).

If you listen close, you can also hear my son piping up a little bit, and you can hear my northern accent come out.

I hope you enjoy!

"Bringing It Home"

I've been sitting at the computer for quite a while today, trying to write something. I have many topics in my mind, and I have a few posts started, but I can't seem to "bring it home." Perhaps this is what is referred to as "writer's block".

Actually, I just thought of another thing to write about when I said "bring it home."

I love the movie "Walk the Line." I have been a big fan of Johnny Cash since I was a little girl and my dad would play his guitar and sing his songs. It was only natural that I watched the movie.

There is a section where Sam Phillips of Sun records is talking to Johnny Cash after he sang a sub-par audition song. Mr. Phillips told Johnny to "Bring it home" and basically told him to sing a song that would let every one know what he was about...something real. Because that is what moves people and that's what people want to hear.

You know what...that little speech moved me. If you look through the beginning of this blog, I started out trying to summarize information and my writing wasn't what I would call very personal. Slowly, it has evolved into something more personal and something real. In part that is due to hearing that speech.

I like writing this way :)

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Happy Father's Day to the Dads Out There!

We are pretty light-hearted in our family. I'm the one who gravitates towards the funny card section, so I thought I would share a few funny quotes about fathers. I hope you enjoy, and I hope everyone has a great day today.

Jimmy Piersal - how to diaper a baby

"Spread the diaper in the position of the diamond with you at bat. Then, fold second base down to home and set the baby on the pitcher's mound. Put first base and third together, bring up home plate and pin the three together. Of course, in case of rain, you gotta call the game and start all over again."

Bill Cosby

"If the new American father feels bewildered and even defeated, let him take comfort from the fact that whatever he does in any fathering situation has a fifty percent chance of being right."

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Currently Reading - "The Millionaire Mind"

I was fairly impressed with "The Millionaire Next Door." It made me really think about things and be reflective on my life and who I am. I like that. That means that I am "growing."

So, it was fitting that my next book to read is "The Millionaire Mind," which is another book by Thomas Stanley. This book is quite a bit longer (406 pages), so it may take me quite a while to finish it with my schedule. But, as always, I will be sharing thoughts along the way.

I'm only into the book a few pages, and already I am seeing that this is a book that I will enjoy reading. This time around they talked with more millionaires and it looks like there will be more quotes. I will enjoy the opportunity to get a little more personal with others and how they live. Learning more - that's what it's all about.

And if you haven't heard yet - I want to give my copy of "The Millioniare Next Door" to someone. To find out how to enter, the information is at the very bottom of this post.

This Week's Festival of Frugality

If you haven't yet, make sure you check out the Festival of Frugality over at Aridni. My article on a few cheap ideas to spruce up the look of an old home is included.

Thanks to Aridni for hosting this week :)

Thank You Prosper Lenders!!!

My loan ended a little bit ago with a 9.9% rate. There was a flurry of activity near the end, so if you happen to have been outbid - don't feel bad. I value each and every bid for I had 108 votes of confidence for what I am doing. It really does mean a lot.

It's getting late and I have a few things to attend to yet tonight. Thank you everyone - I am definitely smiling right now :)

Index of My Borrowing Experience with Prosper

Friday, June 16, 2006

$3,500 at 10.69% with Less Than 5 Hours Left to Go

It's amazing how a week has almost passed us by. My loan listing now only has five hours left to go.

I hope to write more this weekend about the whole experience and I have a few more resources to list that others may be interested in. Plus, I have some calculating to do now that I will shortly know my final interest rate on my Prosper loan. Thank you to everyone who provides sites to find the calculator that I was needing.

As for right now, it's time to turn the computer off and to go have some fun at a parade with my son. Mommy's been on the computer a lot this week :)

Index of My Borrowing Experience with Prosper

A Note to Prosper Borrowers - Be Careful

Last night when I was writing my post on my phone call with Prosper, I all of a sudden became a little worried. What if it wasn't someone from Prosper that called me? A lot of talk is occuring of being careful of fradulent borrowers, but fraud can occur to borrowers as well.

My phone call was just asking about my phone number, but what if the caller started asking for more information trying to scam me? So borrowers, don't give out any information such as your social security number, driver's license number or bank account number without making sure it is Prosper.

Prosper understands the concern, because I actually sent an email to customer service asking if someone from there called me. In their reply that I received this morning, they even stated, "I understand your concern."

Don't be afraid to say, "May I call you right back at the number on the website?" and just explain that you are cautious. When dealing with so much personal information, they should understand which they clearly did with me.

Sorry if I sound preachy, but please just be careful.

Index of My Borrowing Experience with Prosper

My Telephone Call with Prosper

As far as I can tell, the buzz going around is that Prosper calls to verify borrowers AFTER their loan has closed. That can sometimes tie up a borrower's funds a few days or even weeks. But maybe a shift is occuring.

A woman from Prosper called me today to verify my telephone number and to verify that I posted a listing on Prosper. She basically told me that they will not be asking for my paystubs and my loan will be funded to my bank account on Tuesday.

I took the opportunity to ask her about the income at Prosper since one of the things I was battling with was the fact that I listed household income. I was concerned that lenders that already bid on my loan may be upset once they found out what I calculate my total household debt to income ratio to be. This month it's 45% but Prosper doesn't include mortgage debt so that reduces our ratio to 34%. Even though I give out a lot of information about myself on my blog, I don't want to feel like I tricked people into bidding on my loan by doing something wrong (hense the reason why I thought of relisting).

What she said is that Prosper is set up to do individual income but they accept household income. A borrower must then provide paystubs for themselves as well as their spouse if their information is chosen to be verified. I mentioned that the debt to income ratio would then be incorrect and she agreed with me. I think this is an area that Prosper needs to fine-tune.

After that call and receiving a few emails, I have smile on my face again. It disappeared for a little bit, but it's back. :)

Index of My Borrowing Experience with Prosper

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Would Anyone Like My Copy of "The Millionaire Next Door"?

At the end of my review of "The Millionaire Next Door," I announced that I would like to give my copy of the book to someone else. So far, I haven't received any emails. If you are interested, please check out the instructions at the end of my post here.

The deadline is June 30, 2006.

Why the Bad Taste?

I hope I didn't scare everyone with commenting on the bad taste that Prosper is giving me. It's nothing serious - it just has to do with the way I am.

A few Lenders said a few things about me that I don't believe are true on a message board. I don't have the thickest skin and I hurt easily. I care too much about what people think about me sometimes. I'm the type of person who tries to make everyone happy, even though I know that's not possible 100% of the time.

What happened hurt my spirit a little, hense my post earlier. I was thinking about withdrawing the loan and relisting. But an email I received from a bidder on my loan made me feel a lot better about things. Then, while writing this post I received another very supportive email from another bidder. Words can hurt...words can heal...words are powerful. I think blogging and my Prosper experience has made me really realize that. A telephone call with Prosper (I'll write about it hopefully later tonight if I have time) made me feel better as well.

My loan closes tomorrow night, and as of right now the interest rate is 11% (the bidding started at 12%). Part of me wants to start plugging all the numbers, but that actually will be hard because of how I am paying my debt off. Anyone know of a debt reduction calculator that lets you choose what order you want to pay off your debts? The ones I found automatically calculate by paying the highest interest rate balances first - which I won't be doing for a little bit (more on why later). If I can't find one, I guess I'll put my Excel skills to work and share my creation here ;)

I am so thankful for every bidder on my loan and for all of my fellow personal finance bidders showing their support with their bid and/or blogging about my experience. All of the support I receive from everyone really does mean the world to me.

Index of My Borrowing Experience with Prosper

Brief Prosper Update

Those following my Prosper loan may be wondering why I haven't announced that the loan is 100% funded. It has been since yesterday. Well, I don't have time to go into specifics right now. But this whole experience has left a bad taste in my mouth and I'm not sure what to do at this moment.

After work I will write more about it.

Index of My Borrowing Experience with Prosper

Sometimes You Read Something and Go "Wow"

I love it when I read something and things (as I like to call it) hit me like a brick. While surfing my blogroll, I came across a comment left over at Dual Income No Kids.

Here's an excerpt:

"I share pretty openly with my friends and often times we talk about finances and our futures together because we are the kinds of friends who share those things and support one another in those endeavors. Since we're all in the same boat to securing our financial future, no one ever complains that so-and-so picks expensive restaurants, etc. We've got the same paradigm about our career ambitions and savings. Perhaps it isn't the choice we make to have this open dialogue by blog, but the people we choose as our friends."

That comment, left by fellow personal finance blogger Mapgirl, is so amazing and so true!!

June Monthly Debt Payments

Here's our June Monthly Debt Payments:

Mortgage: $337 (going to $323 starting July 1)
Auto Loan: $258 (will be paid off in September - only 3 more payments!)
School Loans: $208
Credit Cards: $710

Total Payments: $1,513

Debt to Income Ratio: 45%

Monthly payments are going down and our ratio is going down - I can't ask for more :)

May Monthly Debt Payments

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

My Debt Twin??

I have to smile...I came across a blog where the debt sounds all too familiar (over $100,000 - which is what my total debt was when I started but I focus on just the credit cards). And then I noticed something else, I am listed as a "Financial Inspiration." I must say that I am humbled and honored to have that status on someone else's blog.

There's some great info over there, so check out Financial Freak. Stop by and lend some support. You are already taking a great step to becoming debt-free. I think blogging about it has been the best thing I could have done. I'll be watching :)

Speaking of support, if you are in debt and are currently blogging about it, come on over to the No Credit Needed Network and sign up!

I Hope These Blogs Aren't Finished

Every blog in my blogroll I read. I may not get to them every day, but I go through them. Lately, there are two blogs that haven't been updated in a while. Each time I check, I hope there is a new post. But it has been a while since they have been updated so I will be removing them from my blogroll and bookmarking them.

Financial Train Wreck - I hope to see an update soon. I'd love to see how it is going with you quitting smoking.

The Almighty Dollar - You were one of the first ones to comment on my blog when I first started blogging. I enjoyed reading your blog, and hope to see more posts.

I hope everything is alright with the both of you and life just got a little busy. I'll keep checking on you :)

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Carnival of Debt Reduction #39 is Up!!

Here's a carnival that hits close to home with me. If you haven't already, make sure you check out the Carnival of Debt Reduction over at Adrini.

Thanks for hosting this week! :)

The Carnival of Personal Finance #52 is Up!

The Carnival of Personal Finance turns a year old over at Financial Fruition.

My favorite (because it hits close to home):

Can Being Happy Affect Your Finances?

I am a BIG believer that financial well-being can be attained if you have the right attitude, so I enjoyed reading this post.

A thanks for Financial Fruition for hosting! :)

Monday, June 12, 2006

Prosper Loan Update - 43% Funded

There's a little over four days left with my loan listing at Prosper and it is currently 43% funded with 21 bids.

Here's something I've been thinking about today...

I did not join a group on Prosper mainly to keep my anonymity because of my blog. If you join a group at Prosper, the Group Leader is supposed to perform "vetting" on you to get to know you better. They can ask for paystubs, proof of home ownership, etc. The degree of vetting involved depends on the group you join and your group leader. I think that's a great idea to have something like this to help prevent fraud within the Prosper community.

Since I am not in a group, I figured I would receive at least a few emails from Lenders asking a few more questions. But it appears that my blog is answering most of the questions that Lenders may have? Or is it that my credit score is an "A"?

Looking further into it, the highest amount someone has bid so far is $175.00. I have seen some Lenders bid over $2,000 on a single loan. Is that because there is doubt as to who I am and what I claim to be doing? Or is it because I am asking for only 12%?

So many questions. For an analytical person like me - this is fascinating :)

Index of My Borrowing Experience with Prosper

A Few Cheap Ideas to Spruce Up the Look of an Old Home

My home was built somewhere around 1905-1915. It's been kept in decent shape, but it's an old home. There were some cosmetic problems, especially the 50's decorating. We did not have a large budget to help bring the house to current times nor did my husband and I have much experience with home decorating. But - just a few things we did made a HUGE difference.

1.) Caulk around the trim in rooms. Even if there is just a little gap between the wall and the trim - it doesn't look very good especially on lighter-colored walls. Eyes are drawn to the dark areas that the gaps create. Just get some indoor caulk and run it along the trim. The gap disappears and what you have is an instant "fix" to a common problem in older homes.

2.) Paint over wallpaper. The bedrooms upstairs had the worst colored wallpaper. One of the rooms had the brightest and biggest pink flowers you have ever seen. We did try to remove the wallpaper in certain spots - but that was a chore and it wasn't going to work without breaking into the plaster behind it. So we went and bought some paint and painted over the wallpaper. It may not look the best and the walls do show seams from the wallpaper, but it looks a lot better than it did.

3.) Use floor linoleum tiles on the walls. You can get tiles fairly cheap at department stores in many different designs. We ended up using tiles to cover some very ugly plastic tile under our top kitchen cupboards and it looks great.

The main points - be creative and be resourceful. Fairly inexpensive changes can make a huge difference with your home.

Resources for Prosper Borrowers

Here are some sites that I found helpful as a Borrower at Prosper:

1.) Prosper Discussion Boards (found on the site as a sub-heading under "Help"). Even though there are separate forums for Borrowers and Lenders, make sure you look through both. Not only will you find great tips on how to do your listing, you will learn the general feeling of those lending at Prosper.

2.) This is a blog written by a Prosper Lender mostly about lending, but he gives some great information for Borrowers (found by scrolling down on the right sidebar). It also doesn't hurt to read some of the other posts as well even though they are geared towards Lenders.

3.) Eric's Credit Community list of delinquent loans. Why look at that? While most delinquent loans are from High Risk Borrowers, there are still some late payments made from those with good credit. It just shows that anyone can be delinquent and you need to present your case to show you can and will repay the loan.

Even though my listing is already up, I'm still learning more and more. If my loan doesn't happen to fund, I've learned things from these sites that I can do better in regards to my listing if I choose to try it again.

Index of My Borrowing Experience with Prosper

Sunday, June 11, 2006

January thru May Expenses

Last time, I posted January thru April, and I kept in finance charges and interest expense. While they are true expenses, including them can be misleading if one just looks at my total expenses, total debt and income. It does appear that there is no way that everything could be paid without going more into debt. When in fact, the finance charge and interest expense is included with my monthly debt payments.

If anyone has any suggestions on what they would like to see, please let me know and I will see what I can do.

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The biggest expenses that I would like to see dwindle down are for groceries and dining. With my husband switching shifts, we ended up dining more than we should have adjusting to the change.

A huge problem with groceries are the little visits to the store. We had two major shopping trips at Walmart and then about 10 visits to the local grocery store. It is amazing how those little visits added up to $200 in no time. It's hard, but I believe that trying to limit shopping trips to once a week will work wonders with our grocery expense. That means creating some lists and sticking to them.

Right now, on a yearly basis our expenses are running $17,800/year. For an income of $40,000/year that leaves over $22,000/year for other things. Just imagine if that money could be put in savings instead of going towards debt. Wow.

A Few Important Notes About the Debt to Income Ratio at Prosper

I've been reading how some people think that the debt-to-income ratio isn't that helpful at Prosper. When I listed my loan, I just plugged in my income and that was it. I didn't have to verify my income as I believe Tim at My Money Forest had to do when he signed up for Prosper.

Not verifying the income could be one way that the debt-to-income ratio is off if a borrower chooses to exaggerate their income (which, by the way, if discovered will terminate your membership at Prosper and will not be tolerated). Prosper can at any time before your loan is funded request more information about you and it appears that they are doing that to select funded loans.

There's another way it could be off and I'm doesn't take into consideration total household debt!!

My jaw about hit the floor when I saw that Prosper gave me a 24% debt-to-income ratio. I've made it public on my blog that it is more around 50% (includes total household income and household debt). That's about twice the ratio that Prosper gave me.

One difference is that Prosper does not include mortgage payments. That lowers my monthly debt by approximately $340 so that helps to lower my ratio.

The biggest factor is that my husband's debt is not included. The credit report pulled on borrowers only gives the borrower's debt. While it is true that my husband's debt is his and mine is mine (technically), I consider all of it our debt and include it in my ratio.

While I like the 24% ratio that Prosper gave me, it doesn't give a good representation of our debt load. This may be something for Lenders to keep in mind when they see an attractive debt-to-income ratio. If I wasn't blogging about my finances, you wouldn't have any idea that our debt load is that high.

Index of My Borrowing Experience with Prosper

Thanks for the Link Love!

I just have to publicly thank a few fellow personal bloggers lending support and sharing some link love about my Prosper borrowing experience:

It's Your Money: Money Musings

My Personal Finance Blog

Thank you...thank you...thank you! :)

Index of My Borrowing Experience with Prosper

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Index of My Borrowing Experience with Prosper

I've Moved :)

I am officially settled into my new home and you can all about my Prosper experience here:

Come on over and check out the new site. It may look almost the same, but there's some new things to check out and and I am busy finding great new resources to add to my site.

Hope to see you there!

- Tricia

Where My Debt Came From

I haven't really discussed where our debt came from. Mostly, it's due to it being a long story and a hard one to explain. It would be easy to say we just blew money like there was no tomorrow, but that's not necessarily the case.

The easiest to explain is debt to the tune of 10 grand from financing my husband's business. It's high tech, so it comes with a high price. We didn't have the money, so on the credit card it went.

The remaining 27 grand built up through the years. We've been accused of being dreamers by my in-laws because we decided against living in the city since that is where the money is. Instead, we chose an area that is so beautiful and relaxing that it is almost like you are on a vacation every day. You rarely hear sirens and you can feel safe walking down the street at night. It's a wonderful place to raise a family and I love the slower pace of life.

Such a beautiful place comes with a price. There are many lower-paying jobs (meaning under $7.00/hr) and very few higher-paying jobs. My husband and I actually both have college degrees, but there are no available jobs in the area for us. We'd have to move elsewhere to work in the fields we were trained in and we feel that the money isn't worth leaving the area that we love so we've made do with what we had.

As a result, we've lived with working near minimum wage - alternating shifts so we could avoid daycare for our son and earn two incomes. While we were happy, we didn't always have money for certain things. I managed to pay the regular bills, but sometimes we have had to put groceries on the credit cards. Not to mention some costs such as car repairs (we had a lemon of a vehicle for a while).

In general, we did live very frugally. But, there were purchases now and then that were made that we really didn't need to make. Like a second vehicle that we thought we needed (purchased with a credit card cash advance check) which is now broken-down and sitting in the garage. Then there have been multiple other high-tech things purchased since we are a high-tech computer loving family. I also have a weak spot near the holidays and I tend to spoil my husband and son as well as my parents. I love giving gifts and I have gone overboard in the past.

There have also been a few times where either my husband and I were not working during transition phases in our lives. Last year, I quit my job making a decent income for the area (over $10/hr) to find a work-at-home job. Crazy, yes...but I wanted to be able to see my son when he came home from school and I wanted to just see him more. I like being able to ask him how his day went. My job search didn't go well and I was out of work for about 4 months. So, we just lived on my husband's income of $6/hr and I made around $300/month working a couple odd jobs (online tutoring & writing). Needless to say, the credit cards came out and were almost maxed out and I was about ready to get a job outside of the home to keep things going. Then it happened...I landed a very good job that pays alot better than what I was making before and I get to work at home! I just love my job and I am so thankful for it.

It's funny, because although we have had a rocky past and have accumulated a lot of debt, things have been working out for us slowly but surely. If you have watched the "A-Team" you will appreciate it when I say, "I love it when a plan comes together." That's how I sort of feel our journey has been - a plan. And finally things are starting to come together. I really believe that starting this blog has been the best thing I could have done for our finances and if we didn't have debt - I wouldn't have started a blog. I'm am enjoying this experience and my only desire would be to have more time to write more.

I will never say that I am happy that we are in debt, but in a way I am thankful for it. It did help us make it through rough times and make it where we are today. I don't know what we would have done without our credit cards. But let it be known that even though I am thankful for them - that doesn't mean I lack the desire to pay them all off :)

So, there's where my debt came from - in a very brief nutshell.

Oops!! How Did I Let That Happen?

Thanks to those who have brought it to my attention that my Prosper listing has a little boo-boo in it:

"...I am a woman on a mission. I am dead set against getting rid of my family's credit card debt."

I didn't mean that I am against getting rid of debt, but somehow I worded it that way. I can just shake my head and laugh it off because once your loan is listed at Prosper - you do not have the ability to revise your listing. I can withdraw the loan and fix it, but people have already bid on it and as of right now it is 22% funded. It's doing well, and I think everyone understands what I was trying to say...I hope. Believe me, getting the credit card debt paid off is one of my top priorities.

What does everyone think? Should I withdraw it and relist or just live with the boo-boo?

Friday, June 09, 2006

My Loan Listing is Up at Prosper!

My Prosper loan has been funded! $3,500 at 9.9% :) Feel free to click here to see all of my posts about my Prosper experience.


I still have $3,500 left on Credit Card #2 that I cannot do a balance transfer with. I have been debating trying Prosper for a loan, and I decided to just go for it.

I couldn't justify going through Prosper unless my rate is below my current 13.99% finance charge. So, I started it at 12%. I am hoping that I can still attract Lenders' eyes.

If you'd like to participate, feel free to check out my listing:

Bid on my listing at Prosper, people-to-people lending

And feel free to look around my blog. You see the good and bad, and I hope everyone sees how determined I am to finally pay off all of my family's credit card debt.

My previous posts about Prosper:

A Few Points for Those Thinking of Borrowing With Prosper
Can Prosper Help Someone Like Me

Darn Garage Sales!!

I love garage sales and I love getting deals. But after starting this blog, and taking inventory of the things I don't need, I realized I have gotten some great deals throughout the years - but most of it is stuff I didn't really need. Things like picture frames, decorations, clothes that I don't wear, etc.

I have been staying away from them this summer and I have conditioned my foot to not hit the brake pedal when I see a fluorescent sign on the side of the road. But while my son and I were out walking to the gas station so he could buy some penny candy (it was cute - he searched the entire house for pennies and found about 10), right in my path was a garage sale.

I wasn't planning on stopping, but my son quickly saw one of those play kitchen sets. He has been wanting one of those so before I knew it we were checking it out. It was only $4.00 dollars, and they easily retail for over $30.00. He proclaimed that he was going to buy that with his pennies. I tried to explain that he didn't have enough but he still doesn't quite grasp that concept yet.

You guessed it. I caved in and bought it. It wasn't an impulse buy either because I actually had to walk back home and get my checkbook and come back (I rarely have cash - not even a few dollars). I even had to carry it all the way home. But my son was just so excited.

I also had to look at other things, and I resisted some things that caught my eye but I couldn't resist some old magazines for ten cents a piece. I bought all of the Women's World magazines that they had ($1.60 worth). That is the only magazine I really read and it amazes me that a weekly publication can always have so many interesting stories and recipes.

I feel like going garage-sailing tomorrow morning and I probably should go at least a few days this summer. It's time to purchase more clothes for my son because he is growing like a weed. I just have to remember the article I wrote and remember to only buy things I need.

That - and go without my son - LOL. ;)

I Finally Finished The Millionaire Next Door

It took me quite a bit longer than I anticipated, but I was able to finish reading "The Millionaire Next Door" by Thomas J. Stanley, Ph.D. and William D. Danko, Ph.D.

I've discussed my thoughts along the way, from realizing that I was making huge stereotypes about millionaires to realizing that I have the makings of a millionaire mind after all.

Now, since reading the last word in the book and closing the cover I sit here and reflect on the book as a whole.

As someone who hasn't but recently made near $40,000/year for a family of three, I was hoping to come across a book that gave some hints or tricks to accumulate wealth that would apply to my income bracket. After reading this book, I now realize that if I kept on that search, I would end up just spinning my wheels. There are no hints or tricks. Harsh reality, but it's true.

Directly, this book doesn't mean much to someone like myself since it doesn't mention anyone making our family's income. How can I ever possibly become a millionaire? There is only so much "living beneath my means" (which is discussed very often in the book) that our family can do, especially during all of the years when we were making less money.

For someone in my situation, you can either read this book and become depressed, or you can read this book and be filled with optimism. There are no hints or tricks. It all has to do with yourself. Learning about yourself and the way you live and how you treat money. Learning about yourself and how you view others. Learning about how you perceive wealth. See the common denominator here? It's YOU!!

I am so glad that I read this book and read the messages between the lines. Not only did it help me realize that I should be proud of my frugal ways, but I should just be proud of who I am and proud that I am taking the time to discover myself more. I heard a story about a graduation speech where the speaker asked the young graduates "Who here lacks self-confidence?" Only one young man raised his hand. The speaker announced, "That young man will be the most self-confident out of all of you in five years. Why? Because he knew he had a problem and wasn't afraid to face it."

If you are a regular reader - chances are that you have some money woes just like me. If we were sitting in a room together, I'd hope that we all would be raising our hand if asked "Who here needs help managing their debt?" Admit any problems that you may have and then work on them. You are not admitting weakness by proclaiming your problems. You are creating the groundwork to turn those problem areas into your strengths.

I know this review has been quite general, while the book includes tables with hard numbers. To be honest, I really didn't care for those points as much at this time in my life. I found it more valuable to reflect on myself and how I think versus looking at what percentage of millionaires purchase expensive cars. But with anything you read, you have the final say with what you learn from it. Read with an open heart and really think about what you are reading.

This book opened my eyes in more ways than I imagined. But I think it helped me on my personal journey and that varies from person to person. Someone else reading this book may obtain something else from it. It all has to do with your background and the stage in your life you are at right now. The only thing I can say about the manner of the book in general is that I would have liked more information behind the thought of millionaires. But - Thomas J. Stanley did follow this book with "The Millionaire Mind" (which is my next read).

If you've made it this far, I'm glad that you've stuck with me. This is the part I am really excited about. I want to give my copy of "The Millionaire Next Door" to someone who really wants to read it, yet may not have a lot of funds to do so. In return (and I can only take your word for it) I'd like you to give it away to someone else when you are done reading it. Each person is invited to sign the book their own way as I will do. I'll pay for the media mail shipping so only US residents please.

To enter, all you need to do is write a very brief explanation of why you would like to read the book. I'm only looking for three or four sentences, so no novels here. Please submit your entries to bloggingawaydebt [at] yahoo [dot] com by June 30, 2006. I will announce a winner on Monday July 3, 2006 which is the day I am hosting the Carnival of Debt Reduction.

I'd also like to include some of the entries on my blog so if that is okay with you, please grant me permission to post it as well as your name or nickname (if you'd like) and blog address (if applicable). If you do not grant permission, I will assume that you do not want your entry posted. And please, just add one sentence saying that you will give the book away when you are done reading it. You can give it away any way you like, but I would just like your word that you will give it away and ask that that person gives it away, and so on. I may be old-fashioned, but I still value someone's word and hope that it will remain true.


1.) Three or four sentences on why you would like the book.

2.) A sentence stating that you would give away the book to another person.

3.) Your name or nickname and/or blog name if you'd like your entry posted on my blog. You can also choose to have it posted anonymously, but please state that it is okay for me to post your entry.

4.) Email it to bloggingawaydebt [at] yahoo [dot] com by June 30, 2006.

If you have questions, please leave a comment here or email me. Thanks! :)

Credit Card Balances and Finance Charge Expense

Here are the official numbers for February thru May.

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Note: Credit Card #2 now has an interest rate of 13.99% which was a welcome result of a telephone call.

Not too much else to say, except here's to watching those totals dwindle down to zero :)

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Introducing...Credit Card # 7!

I welcomed another credit card into the family. You may be wondering why I would be getting another credit card since I have so many already.

The key here was a balance transfer offer! Zero percent for one year!

I thought it was a slim chance that I would get it, but I did. And on top of that, I received a $7,500 limit. I know...I'm scratching my head too on how I was able to get another card. But, somehow I feel fate is helping me.

See, Credit Card #2 has that huge balance sitting at 13.99%. I have the ability to transfer $8,000 onto Credit Card #4. But that is the only card I can do it with. Unfortunately, the other cards with available balances are from the same "family" as Credit Card #2. And they do not allow balance transfers to similar cards.

With this new card, I now can transfer $15,500 from Credit Card #2 and have a balance of roughly $3,500 left. Now I need to decide whether to keep that balance on the card and pay it off first, or explore other means of reducing the interest rate ;)

Hopefully if Blogger is cooperative, I'll be posting my game plan this weekend.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

My Favorite Article at the Carnival of Debt Reduction

Gosh I hope this works - I am so frustrated right now with Blogger since I can't seem to get into my blog when I want to and now I'm having a hard time posting. I think Blogging Away Debt needs a new home.

I didn't participate in the Carnival of Debt Reduction this week. Last week I have been saving my energy to work my jobs this week and everything else (including this blog) has been put on the back burner.

But I am feeling better this week and I read all of the articles and I enjoyed the one at Free Money Finance about Paying Debt Versus Establishing an Emergency Fund. Free Money Finance shares my opinion and backs it better than I could :)

I mentioned a while back that I wasn't going to save up an emergency fund before paying down my debt. I didn't see the point of taking months to save it up when I am paying interest on my credit cards during that time. If an emergency arises, then I still have the cards to use if I need to.

Credit cards are not horrible, even though I have called them "evil" more than a few times in my life. They do serve a purpose and can be helpful if you use them responsibly. I hear awesome stories of people making money and earning free trips from their credit cards. They use it for everyday purchases and then pay the balance in full every month. Would I like to be one of those people someday? Yes, I would.

Key word is being responsible.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Another Place to Look for Help with Prescription Drug Costs

Free Money Finance had a great post on how to save money on Prescription Drugs. But here's another tip that I learned first hand a few years ago that will help those of you who may make too much money for federal or state help - but don't make enough money to have your own plan.

Ask your doctor, hospital, etc...about any plans that the DRUG companies have that could help you. Yes, I said the DRUG companies.

I have asthma...well, I've been told I have asthma and I didn't necessarily believe it. The doctor wanted me on a name brand inhaler and I wasn't about to pay over $100/month just for that drug. He told me to go to a woman within the hospital and talk to her about a program.

So I did. I ended up getting my prescription in the mail for free. The program was directly through the drug company that makes the inhaler. From the sounds of it there may be other programs out there that can help with providing free or reduced cost medicines (name brands).

But the thing have to ask for help to find the paperwork to complete. It was hard looking at my doctor and telling him, "I can't afford that medicine." But he couldn't have offered his help unless I let him know I needed it.

I couldn't say what the income guidelines are, since the paperwork I filled out didn't really say. But it may be worth a telephone call to just to ask about it.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Net Worth as of 5/31/06: -$49,309

Wow, above the negative $50,000 mark!

Even though I am under the weather, that puts a smile on my face. One financial goal reached - many more to go :)

Ouch!!! $119.00 for a Doctor's Visit

I've Moved :)

I am officially settled into my new home and you can read this post here:

Come on over and check out the new site. It may look almost the same, but there's some new things to check out and and I am busy finding great new resources to add to my site.

Hope to see you there!

- Tricia

Friday, June 02, 2006

Nyquil is Good

My son and I are both still feeling under the weather, hense the lack of posts. I haven't even figured out the numbers for May 31 yet (ugh).

But I figured out one thing - Nyquil is good and it really does help you get your ZZZ's.

Thanks for bearing with me. :)

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Some News on How You Can Cut Student Loan Costs

I've been hearing the buzz all around that my student loan interest rates will be going up come July 1st. For someone with over $31,000 in student loans, if the rates raise just a few points - it's going to hurt a little. I didn't think there was much I could do since it's a federal loan.

Turns out maybe something can be done and we all have until June 30th to make it happen. U.S. News & World report has an article on cutting your student loan costs. There is also an article to read that details when it might be best to not consolidate your student loans.

If you have student loans, make sure you check out the articles.

Come One, Come All - Check Out the Carnivals!

I participated in two carnivals this week:

Carnival of Debt Reduction at Kirby on Finance

Carnival of Personal Finance at My Open Wallet.


A special thanks to the hosts this week :)