Monday, October 31, 2016

Change your Think into a Thunk: The Big Middle Class Squeeze

I recently found out that our health insurance premiums are going up by $400.00 per month this year to keep the same coverage. Many people I have talked to are having their coverage go up by $200.00, $300.00, $400.00....even $1000.00 a month! 

I thought it might be helpful to talk a little bit about the economic state of the middle class today BEFORE this huge rate hike in insurance premiums for middle class Americans. A lot of people don't know much about economics. (I developed a personal interest about 10 years ago and have read a lot on the economy plus taken a class for good measure). The middle class has been slowly gutted. Liberals like to blame this on corporations and Conservatives like to blame it on big government. It's my personal opinion they are in bed with each other. Many people move from Wall Street positions into government positions and vice versa. It's my opinion that the government and corporations use the idea of community and compassion to continue to gut us out. Americans saw their wealth plummet by **40%** from 2007 to 2010. 

Much of this was in housing equity so it didn't all affect the monthly bottom line. These losses had to get mopped up somewhere. Companies scrambled to make up losses by putting more and more work on less and less people. There is a consistent squeeze on the middle class like frogs in a pot. 50% of Americans don't have $500 to cover a car repair.

 Americans who save have a median retirement savings of less than $60,000. 

The average student loan debt for 2016 is $37,172. 

So, you take the fact that people have lost equity in their homes, many don't have $500 at their disposal, the median retirement savings is $60,000 and the average student loan debt for 2016 is $37,172, jacking up health care costs for all those middle class people on top of everything else is disastrous. The picture is not rosy. We need to stop relying on the government to save us and start getting smart with our own money. We need to change our think into a thunk. 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Free Book: The Millionaire Next Door

There is an interesting book called The Millionaire Next Door all about the behavior of millionaires AND you can read it for free!!

Excerpts from the book The Millionaire Next Door (free PDF book below)
Who is the prototypical American millionaire? What would he tell you
about himself?)l-
• I am a fifty-seven-year-old male, married with three children. About
70 percent of us earn 80 percent or more of our household's income.
(* Our profile of the typical millionaire is based on studies of millionaire households, not individuals. It is, therefore, impossible in most cases to
say with certainty whether our typical millionaire is ahe or ashe. Nevertheless, because 95 percent of millionaire households are composed of
married couples, and because in 70 percent of these cases the male head of the household contributes at least 80 percent of the income, we
will usually refer to the typical American millionaire as "he" in this book.)
- About one in five of us is retired. About two-thirds of us who are
working are self-employed.
• Many of the types of businesses we are in could be classified as dull-normal.
We are welding contractors, auctioneers, rice farmers, owners
of mobile-home parks, pest controllers, coin and stamp dealers, and
paving contractors.
• About half of our wives do not work outside the home.
• Our household's total annual realized (taxable) income is $131,000
(median, or 50th percentile).
• The typical (median, or 50th percentile) millionaire
household has a net worth of $1.6 million.
• On average, our total annual realized income is less than 7 percent
of our wealth. In other words, we live on less than 7 percent of our
• Most of us (97 percent) are homeowners. We live in homes currently
valued at an average of $320,000.
• Most of us have never felt at a disadvantage because we did not
receive any inheritance. About 80 percent of us are first-generation
• We live well below our means. We wear inexpensive suits and drive
American-made cars.
• Most of our wives are planners and meticulous budgeters.
• We have a "go-to- fund." In other words, we have accumulated
enough wealth to live without working for ten or more years.
• We have more than six and one-half times the level of wealth of
our nonmillionaire neighbors, but, in our neighborhood, these nonmillionaires
outnumber us better than three to one. Could it be that
they have chosen to trade wealth for acquiring high-status material
• As a group, we are fairly well educated.
• Only 17 percent of us or our spouses ever attended a private elementary
or private high school.
• As a group, we believe that education is extremely important for ourselves,
our children, and our grandchildren.
• About two-thirds of us work between forty-five and fifty-five hours
per week.
• We are fastidious investors. On average, we invest nearly 20 percent
of our household realized income each year.
• We hold nearly 20 percent of our household's wealth in transaction
securities such as publicly traded stocks and mutual funds. But we
rarely sell our equity investments. We hold even more in our pension
plans. On average, 21 percent of our household's wealth is in our private
• As a group, we feel that our daughters are financially handicapped
in comparison to our sons.
• I am a tightwad.
Free PDF Book

Must-gos: Using up Leftovers So Your Family Will Eat Them

I figured I'd better put the completed leftover meal at the top of this blog or no one would finish reading it! Because you look in the refrigerator and see.......

Some yucky looking old spaghetti sauce and some yucky looking old leftover soup and you think your family would never touch it!  So, how can you use this up?

First, a fresh bowl does wonders for old food. I decided after I put this soup in this bowl to dump it into a pot first and add water and boil. I always boil leftover food pretty hard for a little while. This soup is a couple days old. For a chart of recommendations from the FDA for food safety, please see and follow this link:

After boiling and putting the soup back into the bowl, I added some cheese garnish. Voila! Lovely again!

Next, I added water to the spaghetti sauce. I made this spaghetti sauce from my garden tomatoes. If you've ever produced your own food, you have so much respect for it that you do not like to waste ANY of it! Next, I boiled it for a while and boiled some fresh noodles to go with it.

 After boiling and adding the fresh noodles, I sprinkled the top with parsley to give it a nice fresh look!

I served it with some asparagus I bought on sale (and froze) and some rolls I got for half price. 

Last but not least! Creme Cake for half price for dessert! 

Using leftovers makes this meal very low cost and although it began looking like something everyone would reject, it was turned into a very palatable and good meal. There is an old song that goes "Making love out of nothing at all". As I fix leftovers, I often sing to myself "Making lunch, out of nothing at all!"

In my opinion, the key is to not wait until you are in financial trouble to live this way but the key is to live this way to keep yourself out of financial trouble. Some people just will not eat leftovers. I see that as wasteful. There are so many people that are hungry in this world and it costs so much to produce food, not just in money but in irreplaceable energies and fossil fuels. It makes so much sense to me in so many ways to use up leftovers. We call them Must-gos at our house. My family is so used to it that no one ever thinks twice about it!

Happy Savings!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Saving on Your Gas Budget

There are ways to get better gas mileage from your car. Here are a few of them:

1. Change the air filter. This could save up to 10% on gas.
2. Having your tires aligned properly could save up to 10%.
3. Getting a regular tune-up could save as much as 4%.
4. Make sure your tires are inflated properly. We over inflate ours a bit for best gas mileage.
5. Make sure your gas cap is in good working order.
6. Driving 5 miles an hour more slowly can save 7%.
7. Drive more smoothly without stopping and starting quickly.
8. Don't ride the brakes.
9. Don't sit with the car idling.
10. Reduce the weight in your vehicle.

With winter coming upon us, here are a few tip for saving on gas in the winter months:

Getting these things done now, while the weather is warm, will save you money and keep you from having to do it when it's cold!

Happy Savings!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Guest Blogger: Living Simply.... and Working to be Debt Free

I have a friend who also loves frugality. She recently wrote about simple living and working to be debt free on her own blog and gave me permission to share her blog here. You can also go out to her blog at this address: 

Here is her recent blog. Enjoy!

This post is going to take a little bit different direction from my usual focus when posting, but I hope it will bless and encourage someone in their life journey.

As many of you know who have been faithful readers here, last year we moved onto our property, and in the process downsized from living in a 2000+ sq. ft home to  780 sq. ft. home.  It was quite an undertaking for us, yet it has really been the best thing we've ever done.  Our cozy little home has everything we need, and it has allowed us to let go of many possessions that we don't need, and our lifestyle has been greatly simplified.

Part of our desire to downsize and live simply comes from a desire to be debt free.  At one point in our life about 8 years ago we became completely debt free after the sale of our home, but when we purchased another home, of course, we were again no longer debt free.  Our desire this time around is to own our home AND be debt free. 

My husband and I recently sat down and looked at our finances and realized that unless we had a specific plan of HOW to get debt free, it was going to take us a long time to get there... because life always seems to get in the way. 

When we had become debt free 8 years ago, it was because we had put a plan into action then, and made it happen.  We knew it was time for us to get another plan in place and to focus our efforts specifically. 

We had used the "Rapid Debt Payment" concept 8 years before and were familiar with it.  It made sense to implement the RDP plan again, this time with our goal looking towards being completely debt free, including our home.

Thankfully, the home we live in now is ours free and clear (you may remember we purchased it at a very low price, paid cash for it, and had it moved to our land).  So technically, we do not have a mortgage payment, however we still need to complete payment of our land. 

With the Rapid Debt Payment plan (RDP), this can be planned and budgeted for quite easily, and I think you will be amazed, as we have been, at how easily debt can be paid off with this plan.  I want to share this plan with you, not for any benefit for me... but because I just want to share what has worked for us in the past, and is working for us now again, hoping that it will help someone else as it has helped us.

With the current level of debt that we have right now, when we added it all up, it seemed like a number that would take us many, many years to pay off.  However, when I plugged the numbers into the Rapid Debt Payment calculator, it was clear that with some tweaking and adjusting of "where" our money was going, that we could in actuality pay off our debt far quicker. 

It just takes a plan! 

I went online and was not able to find the "free" rapid debt payment calculator any longer.  Years ago it was free, but now, I guess it has become so popular that you either have to have a membership to specific websites, or pay for it.  I don't like having our personal information stored out on a website somewhere, and decided I would rather buy and download the calculator into my own computer and access it that way.  The nice thing about having the calculator on your computer is that you can go in and update it at any time, and make any changes as necessary.

Below is a demo picture from the website where I purchased the calculator, which shows just how your debt can be calculated and a plan formulated:


We felt the slight cost for the purchase of this calculator to be worthwhile, and so we paid for and downloaded this calculator program. We have found it to be invaluable, and well worth the $$ to buy it. The program is very simple and easy to use, and the instructions are very helpful. 

Once you download and install the program (you need to have Excel installed on your computer to run this little program), you just plug in the numbers as requested, and soon you get this graph telling you each month exactly what to pay on each debt, and then the exciting part is you get to see the date when, if all goes as scheduled, that you will be debt free.  There are several different adjustments that you can play with to see what works best with you and your budget, which is really nice because you can tailor the plan to fit your needs and goals.

Once you enter all your debt, interest rates, and payments, the calculator will produce a graph where you can see your debt repayment schedule. 

Below is the sample picture provided of a rapid payoff schedule:


Of course, the most important thing here to remember is that the program is assuming that you will be making no more debt.  And that is the hardest part of becoming debt free ....  staying debt free.  It has to be a focus that you really desire and want to do for it to be successful. 

So for any of you who may be interested, here is the link to ExcelGeek Rapid Debt Payment Calculator.   Do check it out if you desire to even knock a few debts out of the way that seem like mountains to you right now.  I can promise you this little calculator will encourage you and simplify the process to get you where you want to be.

Each month, we now have a plan on where to squirrel away any extra $$ we may have to put towards the debt that we are working on paying off first.  It feels good to have a plan!

Our way of thinking is that living a simple life is just about the best there is... and having less debt means less stress, and more simplicity in our lives. 

I hope this has been helpful to you.  If you are struggling with even just a few debts, I believe this little calculator could help focus on which ones need to be paid first, and how to go about doing it.  Let me know what you think, or feel free to share in the comments what methods you have used to pay off or pay down debt, I would love to hear about it. 

Have a blessed day :)