I’ve Been Tagged by Naturallybeautifulbelle!!

I’ve been tagged by MStokes2008 over at Naturallybeautifulbelle. ¬†Girl, I’m so sorry that it has taken me soooo long to respond to this tag as I looked at the date of the post. It was over a month ago. ūüė¶ ¬† But it was on my birthday! ūüôā ¬†OK I have delayed long enough so on to the questions.

1. What is your favorite color and why?

  • As I grow in my understanding of nature I’ve come to love almost all colors but ¬†purple, more specifically purples that are more red than blue are my favorite. I don’t really know why but this color makes me feel good. Orange runs a very close second and as weird as this may sound I really like combining those two colors. ¬†I tend to like colors that are ¬†“warm” and saturated.

2. What is your zodiac sign and do you think it describes you?

  • I’m an Aries Sun and yep that point alone describes me to a degree but it’s not the whole picture. It’s only after getting to know
    Aries in Fire

    Aries in Fire (Photo credit: Rainbow Gryphon)

    me a bit will you get a hint that I might be an Aries. Since I’m an astrology student so I know that we are more than our Sun sign. It’s been fun to observe and listen to people talk including myself because we act and speak our birth chart.

3. What is your favorite thing to cook or bake?

  • Interesting that this question is right after the “what is your zodiac sign and do you think it describes you?” ¬†Aries is the warrior, the athlete, the pioneer etc. I think you see where I’m going with this. So the answer is: Nothing! ¬†Don’t get it twisted ¬†because I know how to cook and I do cook. It just not something I like to do. If it were not so expensive and unhealthy to eat out, I’d be eating out everyday and I’d be like “what’s a stove for?” ūüėČ
4. If you could do one thing to change the world for the better, what would you choose?
  • Not sure if this would be considered one thing but that would be to BE ME. Please don’t misunderstand and think that I’m being conceited and think I’m all that. I say this because I believe that every person has been given a set of gifts that are to used for the ¬†betterment of the world. ¬†Because of greed we are brainwashed and forced into being someone who we are not. This behavior serves to stifle our talents and abilities…the very gifts that are to help us and others live better lives.

5. What is your favorite movie of all time?

  • The Matrix

6. If you had a million dollars, what would you do with it?

  • I’d first make my home super energy efficient including adding things to take advantage of passive solar heating and cooling, solar panels etc. I’d then finish the vision I have for the garden, including a serious water storage tank. The rest will go in the bank(s) for my future.

7. What is a scent that brings back happy memories to you? And what memory does it bring to you?

  • Hmm, I guess it would be the smell of a lake/stream or river. I reminds me of ¬†times as a child and adult riding my bike.

8. If you could study anything in college and get a job that guaranteed you’d love in your field, what would you study?

  • I honestly can’t answer that question because I’m still on the journey of self discovery and I have sooo many interests I have not found what I’m truly passionate about.
9. Paper or plastic and why? (cash or card)
  • Plastic right now only because I get cash back on my card…all for money that I’m spending anyway. When they decide to stop the cash back, it’ll be back to cash for me.
10. What is your one guiltiest pleasure?
  • Sweets and it’s definitely more than one! ūüôā
11. If you could pick any vacation, all expenses paid for a week, where would you go and what would you do?
  • I’d go to visit a dear friend in Sweden. We’d probably get no sleep whatever because of seeing all the historical sites ( I’m a history buff and love old architecture) and from non-stop talking.
Now I don’t have 11 folks to tag but I will tag the following:
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Gettin’ Outta Debt pt 7- Light At The End of The Tunnel

This is a repost of a series I did when this blog was on Blogger back in 2009.

Ready to see a debt snowball in action? Using my real debt numbers I’m going to show how a debt snowball works and how you can pay off your debt using the money that you are already paying to service your debt.  Using this method, you’ll get  out of debt months/years earlier than you’d ever thought you could.

Recapping my debt balances and the pay off if I were to follow the conventional plan:

DEBT, AMT, PAYMENT, APR, PAYOFF TIME, TOTAL AMT PD

Visa: $2,371.53, $50 per mo, 12%, 65 months, $3,250.00
H.F: $1,000.00, $19 per mo, 9.9%, 70 months, $1,333.00
Car: $3,571.69, $245 per mo, 7.9%, 16 months, $3,920.00
Capital One: $984.43, $19 per mo, 9.9%, 68 months, $1,292.00
BoA: $4,588.00, $51 per mo, 9.52%, 103 months, $5,253.00
Perkins: $2,027.15, $40 per mo, 5.00%, 58 months, $2,320.00
Direct SL: $5,786.44, $52.52 per mo, 4.22%, 140 months, $7,352.80
Mortgage: $48,175.00, $413.06 per mo, 6.25%, 181 months, $74,763.86

Remember we are using the same $889.58 I was already paying out.

Since the car loan has the shortest payoff term but the largest payment out of all the non mortgage debt, there won’t be any interest savings or reduction in payoff time. When the car was paid off in 16 months, the very next month as if I still had to make that payment, I took that $245 added it with the $50 I was sending to Visa until pay off, approx 7 months later.  Visa’s payoff  looked approximately like this:

  • $1972 approx balance. Paying $295 per month instead of just 50 @ 12% interest, the total payoff time was reduced to 23 months, with a total amount paid of : $2,455. Note above the “normal” way of paying it,  a payoff time of 65 months @ $3,250. That’s a $795 savings just by redirecting the car payment once it was paid off to this debt instead of using it to increase my lifestyle or incurring more debt.  Let’s move on.

Now that I’ve paid off the car loan & Visa, the very next month I set my target on either Household Finance or Capital One since they have the same interest rate and balances. I decided to knock out of my wallet, Capital One.  I took  the car loan payment @ $245, the Visa payment @ $50 and added that to the Capital One payment of $19 for a total payment of $314. The TKO of Capital One looked approx like this:

  • $733 approx balance. Paying $314 per mo@ 9.9 % interest, the total payoff time is reduced to 26 months from 68 months with the total amount paid: $1,142. That’s a savings of $150. Though that does not seem like much but that $150 will make a big difference going towards the larger debts. Let’s move on to the next one in line to be taken out, Household Finance.

OK, as it goes the very next month after I’ve sent the last payment to Capital One, I’ll take that $314 and add it to Household Finance’s payment of $19 for a total of $333. The numbers for Household Finance look like this:

  • $725 approx balance. Now paying $333 per mo, 9.9 %, the total payoff time is reduced to 28 months from 70 months and the total amount paid: $1,173. Savings $160.

Moving right along to the next target, Bank of America. After paying off Household Finance, we are now sending BoA, that $333 + BoA’s $51 for a total payment of $384. Here’s where is starts to get juicy:

  • $4175 approx balance, now paying $384 per mo, the total payoff time is reduced to 39 months from 103 months and the total amount paid: $5,668. Savings, $2441!  I don’t know about y’all but I can think of a whole lot more fun things to do with $2441 than giving it to the bank.

Next victim is the Perkins loan. I’m now sending them $384 + their $40 payment for a total payment of $424. The numbers:

  • $761 approx balance, now paying $424 per mo, the total payoff time is reduced to 41 months from 58 months and the total amount paid: $2,284. Savings, $36. Not much there but every penny counts as you will see with largest debt.

Next target, the Direct Student Loan. I’m sending them $424 + their payment of $52.52 for a total of $476.52. Let the whacking begin:

  • $4436 approx balance, now paying $476.52, the total payoff time is reduced to 50 months from 140 months and the total amount paid: $6,609.78. Savings, $743.

Last but certainly not least, is the “death pledge” otherwise know as the mortgage. At this point, a ways down the road, I’ve paid of all other debt and will start sending the mortgage company $476.52 + the mortgage payment of $413.06 for a total monthly payment of $889.58. I know that it was a while ago but that number sounds familiar right? Hang in here with me.

  • $38,836 approx balance, now paying $ 889.58, the total payoff time is reduced to 96 months from 181 months and the total amount paid: $62,854. Savings, $11,910.

Just by redirecting the money that’s already being paid out and not letting it be absorbed into your spending or worse incurring new debt, I can get out of debt in this case in 8 years instead of 15 years!! I’ve also saved or should be more aptly put, did not have to pay out $16,235!! That’s more than 1 years take home pay for my family at this point in time.

Being the type person that I am, I was compelled to see if I could reduce the time to less than 8 years. Also my 40th birthday was around the corner and I wanted debt free status as a birthday present. If I didn’t mention it before, I had turned 34 a couple of months before I bought my house.  Come back and I’ll show you those numbers next.

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An Herbal Apple Cider Vinegar(ACV) Cleanse for My Oily, Flakey, Sore Scalp

Hey everyone! I hope this post finds you well.

 

Scalp Treatment

Scalp Treatment (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I thought I’d share what I use to cleanse my scalp. ¬†Though I never been medically diagnosed but based on my research, I think I’ve got a mild case of Seborrheic dermatitis. This has been a problem for as long as I can remember and it gets worse when the weather changes. If¬† I don’t keep the oily build up off my scalp, I produce enough flakes to supply a mini ski slope. ¬†Also my scalp gets quite sore and not just from scratching either. Ironically the soreness would go away when I scratched my scalp with a comb.

Now I had already tried dandruff shampoos, rosemary, tea tree, lavender, peppermint, sage and cedarwood¬†essential oils, oiling my scalp with natural oils and aloe vera juice/gels.¬† All of these made my scalp flare up more. In the summer of 2010 while in the 3rd day of retightening and right after washing my braidlocks, I noticed that I still had greasy flakes. The kicker was I had not oiled my scalp in 5 days…from the last wash. ¬†And I had not oiled my scalp then either! :-0¬†¬† Silly me, I thought I had been suffering from a dry scalp all these years! :-0

So I decided to again search for a more natural, cheaper way to help with the oil build up. ¬†Quotidianlight on Youtube had done a video on Seborrheic dermatitis¬†and in it she mentioned salicylic acid. The light bulb went off in my head because I had found out a few months prior that salicylic acid is white willow bark. It’s basically nature’s aspirin.¬†¬†Well I’ll be! ¬†Momma Nature knows best and has been at it waaay longer than man has. I decided to ¬†revise (many times lol ) what I had concocted before, combine it with straight Apple Cider Vinegar which I had used at the beginning of my loc journey. ¬†This is what I came up with:

  • ACV (Apple Cider Vinegar) Any kind will do. I use the Walmart brand.

    Apple Cider Vinegar

    Apple Cider Vinegar (Photo credit: AndyRobertsPhotos)

  • Sage Tea (This is just sage leaves steeped in heated water then cooled) I use it to cut the ACV instead of just plain water.
  • And the following dried herbs:¬† Burdock Root, Comfrey Root and Leaves, Horsetail aka Shavegrass, German Chamomile, Nettle, Hibiscus Flower, Sage ( in addition to the tea) , Slippery Elm (I heard it keeps the Comfrey from going rancid), Peppermint and White Willow Bark
  • Aloe Powder
  • Neem Powder,¬† if¬† I remember to put it in the mix. lol
  • Lavender or Cedarwood essential oils for preservative (because of the sage tea being made w/water) and for the soothing properties too.
  • Peppermint essential oil ( for extra tingle)
I don’t really measure anything but I use approx 2 teaspoons of everything adding one or two more of what I feel I need.

First heat the ACV in a pot. Low heat is preferred and even better if you have a glass pot.¬† Add the herbs, put a top on the pot and let them simmer on very low heat for at least an hour. I try to let mine go for 2 hours or more. Then place the mix in a glass jar. I don’t like having to do this all the time so I generally will ¬†use 3-4 cups of Apple Cider Vinegar. ¬†Make sure the ACV is covering the herbs completely in the jar.¬† Vinegar is a preservative and by making sure the herbs are covered, they won’t go rancid. After letting this mixture set for a few days though I’ll let mine steep a lot longer, strain the herbs out. Place in the container of your choice. I like to use a mesh strainer first for the big stuff, then strain a second time with knee-high stocking for the small stuff.

When I first started using this particular combo which has gone through some additions and subtraction of herbs (mainly for cost

Vinegar is commonly infused with spices or her...

Vinegar is commonly infused with spices or herbs‚ÄĒas here, with oregano (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

reasons), I was using the ACV mix straight, no chaser. That was to get my scalp under control which took about 6 weeks. Then I started cutting it with plain water resulting in a  50-50, 40-60 mix. Later I decided to use sage tea since sage has been used for conditioning for eons and is supposed to be quite good for dandruff.

I’ve been using this for about 1 1/2 years now and my scalp really likes it. What I do is apply the mixture on my scalp with a spray bottle making sure that I get all areas of the scalp and message in well. Then, I let the mixture set on my scalp for at least 30 minutes. Sometimes I’ll put on a conditioning cap. The other herbs and the sage tea cut the vinegar smell down a little bit, however it does not bother me and rinses out easily so no vinegar smell is left in my locs.

The result for me has been a better feeling scalp that’s not still sore after washing it and I can cancel the contract to supply flakes for the ski slope in my area that does not get snow. lol ¬†As long as I keep up with washing my scalp at least weekly, I’m fine. Otherwise my scalp threatens me with early termination warnings for cancelling that ski slope contract. ¬†ūüôā ¬†Also note, I don’t put anything else on my scalp. No shampoo, soap, oil or anything else for that matter besides water of course.

I also use this as a facial cleanser/toner.

Hopefully this will spark some ideas for you to try if you are suffering with this issue.  Share your concoctions!

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Getting Outta Debt pt 6- Airing Dirty Laundry…Debt

This is a republishing of a post that’s part of a series on “How I Got Outta Debt” written back in 2009 when this blog was on Blogger. I know I keep saying it but this is just as relevant today as it was yesterday. If you are in the position to do so I hope that it inspires you to take control of your finances and your life.

 

Laundry is hung to dry above an Italian street.

Laundry is hung to dry above an Italian street. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m back with the calculations on all my debt listed in part 5 of this series. I’m going to show my debts, the amount of time it would have taken me to pay off the debt based on the payment amount and the total amount I would have paid doing it the way most folks do/the way the creditors want you to.

What was/is their plan? To pay the minimum payment for the maximum amount of time. This results in you paying the maximum amount of money on the money you borrowed. Translation…it’s more money that you have to work for to make these payments…forever. (it will feel like that) Here is the lowdown and remember APR is the interest rate:

 

         DEBT/ AMT/ PAYMENT/ APR/ PAYOFF TIME/ TOTAL AMT PD
  • Visa: $2371.53, $50 per mo, 12%, 65 months, $3250.00
  • H.F: $1000.00, $19 per mo, 9.9%, 70 months, $1330.00
  • Car: $3571.69, $245 per mo, 7.9%, 16 months, $3920.00
  • Capital One: $984.43, $19 per mo, 9.9%, 68 months, $1292.00
  • BoA: $4588.00, $51 per mo, 9.52%, 159 months, $8109.00
  • Perkins: $2027.15, $40 per mo, 5.00%, 58 months, $2320.00
  • Direct SL: $5786.44, $52.52 per mo, 4.22%, 140 months, $7352.80
  • Mortgage: $48175.00, $413.06 per mo, 6.25%, 181 months, $74,763.86

The total amount paid when everything is paid off according to the normal way of doing things…$102,339.86!!!

 

That $102,339.86 figure does not even include what I already paid when I had my head up my butt! Remember I mentioned that I quit playing around and got serious with this July of 2001? Well of course based on the payoff time, I would have paid almost all of these off by now (November 2009).¬† However, I’d still be paying on the Direct SL (Student Loan), Bank of America and the mortgage. That’s $518 on top of utilities, food, gas and whatever else for everyday living. That might not seem like much but when your income has been slashed by 50+ %,¬† which it had been at the time I first wrote this post, that’s a heck of a lot of extra money to have to come up with.

Also when I was writing this post, I had heard on YouTube,¬† a news clip from MSNBC that credit card companies are trying to jack up rates ahead of legislation going into effect to stop these practices. Well, credit card companies have always had this power and all they’ve had to do was give you a 15 day notice which is one of the reasons why I chose to get rid of them first.

In the next posts, you’ll see the RDRP- Rapid Debt Repayment plan, better known as the debt snowball plan in action.¬† I used that same $889.58 to not only pay off all debt except for the mortgage but to pay off all debt including the mortgage. Yes folks, it is possible to pay off all of your debt and not take the rest of your life doing so.¬† And you’ll see how you save not only money but your sanity as well.¬† But you’re gonna have to check back in to this series to see how I did it.

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Gettin’ Outta Debt pt 5-My Debt Numbers

This is¬† republish of a blog post that’s part of a series “How I Got Out of Debt” when this blog was on Blogger back in Oct 2009. It is still relevant, if not more so given today’s economic environment.

 
I’m back from part 4 of this series so here’s the post showing where I started on my get the hell out of debt as fast as I can plan. You may recall from a that post in between the debt elimination, I was also saving up for an emergency fund of 1 years worth of expenses. Once that level was achieved, everything extra went towards debt payoff.

Around July 2001 is when I got super duper serious and ready to do just about whatever it took to get the heck out of debt. Now my numbers are slightly off since credit minimum payments are not the same and back then, the minimums were really low percentage wise of the balance owed. Keep in mind the creditors are not trying do you any favors because their mission is to keep you perpetually in debt, thereby making lots of money off you in interest. Though they still do that but it’s my understanding that they have raised the minimum payments which allows you to pay off your debt a microbit quicker. You will see later just how costly it is to remain in debt using myself as an example. Here are the numbers:

Visa – $2371.53, APR 12% approx, $50 per mo.
Household Finance – $1000, APR 9.9%, $19 per mo.
Car Loan – $3571.69, APR 7.9%, $245 per mo.
Capital One – $984.43, APR 9.9%, $19 per mo.
Bank of America – $4588, APR 9.52%, $51 per mo.
Perkins Student Loan – $2027.15, APR 5%, $40 per mo.
Direct Student Loan – $5786.44, APR 4.22%, $52.52 mo.
Mortgage – $48,175, APR 6.25%, $413.06 per mo.

Adding up all the payments, I was paying $889.58 per month just for debt service. $889.58 before I have put any food in my cabinets so I can eat, gas in the car so I can get to work to make the money to pay these bills, insurance for the car I need to drive to get to work to make the money to pay these bills, utilities like water to drink so that I can live to drive to work to make money to pay these bills, etc!! It’s a vicious cycle! ūüė¶

OK, I know y’all are probably wondering how I had such a small mortgage balance. I live in an area of town where the price range for housing goes from $10,000 to $150,000 at the time I bought this house in 2000, which was right about the time prices started really ticking upward. I’ve mentioned before that my home is small, a shoe box by today’s standards but I made a deliberate decision to purchase small and to live in an area of the country where housing prices were reasonable. Of course that means incomes are lower here as well. Also my Direct Student Loan rate started out at 8.25% APR. Later there was a rate reduction some time in 2002 I think, to the 4.22% I have listed.

Alrighty, the order that I have everything listed is the way I paid everything off pretty much after the Direct Student Loan rate reduction. Before, I had it listed right behind Bank of America. Now I bet you are also probably wondering why I have the car loan in front of Capital One which is no longer in my wallet.  My reasoning for putting the car loan in front of Capital One even though it has a lower interest rate was because at the time business at the job was going really well. I got paid a base salary and a commission for additional business sold whether that be new business or products. I handled all the paperwork etc for all these transactions whether I sold them or someone else did.
I figured even though the balance is much higher but if I could hurry up and pay it off, I would be applying $245, any extra monies, plus the $20 I was already paying Capital One instead of the other way around.

In addition, the mortgage did not start out at 6.25% APR or $48,175 for that matter. Noooo, I had been dumb and stupid in the years before buying my house. A lot was due to things that were on my credit record from my 1st marriage, but the period after that was all my fault. As a result my credit score was not to good so yeah, I was one of those “sub-prime” borrowers starting out with a 10% APR on a $32,500 1st/12.5% APR $10,000 2nd mortgage with a pre-payment penalty. After about 1 1/2 years of hard work and paying down some of the debt listed above, I was able to refinance in June 2002 to the rate you see above and it was to a 15 year mortgage with only a $6 increase in my payment amount. YAY! The payment was $407 to the previous mortgage holder with the increase in the mortgage balance due to that *#%@ prepayment penalty and outrageous fees. However with the interest rate basically cut in half, a whole lot more of my payment would be going towards principal. I looked at it as another “stupid tax” and hella motivation for me to continue bulldozing this albatross. Nothing motivates me more when I figure out the game. At first I get mad, then get I figure out a way to even.

Next, I’m gonna show you using the numbers presented above and a debt calculator I found online, how much in total I would be paying/paid not using any kind of accelerated plan. Meaning once something was paid off that money was not redirected to debt payoff. This is gonna blow your mind so stay tuned for part 6 of this series.

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How to Latch/Interlock Your Braidlocks/Locs using a Homemade NappyLock Tool

Here’s a video I did for my YouTube channel showing how I latch/interlock my new growth using my homemade NappyLock tool.¬† It’s a metal yarn needle that I have modified to make it easier to use on my braidlocks.

I hope this demonstration is helpful to you and empowers you to maintain your locs on your own.

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Gettin’ Outta Debt pt 4-The Contingency aka Emergency Fund

This is a repost that is part of a series that I did back on August 19, 2009 when this blog was on Blogger.

Expenses

Expenses (Photo credit: Phillie Casablanca)

In continuation from part 3, of this series on “How I Got Out of Debt” and use of the book “Debt Proof Living” by Mary Hunt, today’s topic will be on the ever so glamorous tool called “the Contingency Fund”, aka emergency fund aka old-fashioned savings. This is in addition to the “Freedom Accounts” mentioned in part 2. It’s primary function is for large erratically occurring things like the furnace going out in the middle of winter, or even more prevalent in today’s environment, a job loss.

Now I went ahead and talked about the debt elimination methods before I talked about savings. That was assuming that your income producing situation is pretty stable, however IMHO, everyone should have some form savings that can sustain you for a while regardless. It keeps you from having to use the credit cards and paying interest because you did not have the money the pay bills before the due date. In my state it takes at least 3 weeks for unemployment to kick in. I know that the interest being paid on savings accounts is really sad to the point of being criminal, but unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last few years, the environment for the average person that loses a job due to no fault of their own, is less than ideal in terms of being supportive. If you are like me, moving back home is not an option, so basically you are on your own.

This fund if being used to sustain in the event of a job loss, is for expenses like rent/mortgage, food, utilities and other basic needs. The lower your expenses are, the longer your fund can sustain you if it has to be used as such. That’s why it’s great to be either debt-free or close to it.

OK, I did a hybrid of what many of the financial gurus including Mary Hunt, the author of this book we are currently discussing was recommending at the time. My reasons for doing that were 1) I was single¬† and as I mentioned earlier, moving back home was not an option if my job suddenly disappeared and 2) I had a rude awakening when my father passed away in October 1998.¬† I took off a week from work to help my mother. The job I was working at the time was the type where if you are not there, you don’t get paid and I had only been there 7 months so there was no vacation time that could be tapped into. Now I totally understand that so I’m not complaining, just giving background as to where I’m coming from. I had no savings at the time and was not offered any assistance from my mother. If it was not for a dear friend who had only known me for 7 months prior to this and my boyfriend of 9 months prior, now husband, who gave, not loaned, but gave me some money to at least pay the rent…I don’t know what I would have done. That y’all was a very low point for me, but at the same time a blessing from the universe that still makes me emotional to think about to this day, 11 years later. I vowed not to abuse that blessing by being stupid, continuing to live paycheck to paycheck when I knew better. Lesson learned.

So instead of the recommended at that time (2001) of 1-3 months of savings or pay off non-mortgage debt first before putting money in a lowly savings account, I got a bit of savings up equal to 1 months expenses, hurried up and paid off a couple of credit cards so I’d have that money and at the same time cut my everyday expenses back so I’d have a bit more to build up my savings to 3 months worth of expenses. Back then the job was pretty secure as I moved up. Then I eliminated all non-mortgage debt while at the same time putting at least 10% of my earnings into the Contingency Fund. That got me to about 6 months worth of expenses. Once I eliminated the non-mortgage debt, those payments went toward saving up 18 months worth of expenses. During this time I had a few major house repairs, like fixing a leaky utility room roof leak, replacing the 20-year-old central heat/AC unit, the A/C compressor, and a few other things that took that extra 6 month cushion. I stopped there letting any additions to the account be in the form of the earned interest. Once I paid off the mortgage I continued to build this fund as I could even though I’m no longer working as of December ’06 and my husband out of job since November ’08. This is not a plug for sympathy, just telling it like it is. If I had listened to what most people were telling me including my family, a few friends and DH, that I was crazy for putting all that money towards debt and savings, we’d be up the creek without a paddle in a boat with gaping holes at the bottom right now.

For you astrology students like myself, Saturn is transiting my 1st house right now, just as was 29 years ago. Of course, I was 13 back then but the basic context of my current situation was going on back then as well, just different characters being my parents. This is when my Dad had his fatal/near fatal heart attack. What I mean by that is he was dead for approx 2 minutes b4 he was revived, so this was a massive heart attack. As a result, Dad was not able to work at all for about 18 months and did not have a full-time job for 4-5 years after that, mainly due to employers being afraid to hire him because of this prior health issue. Along with that, Mom did not get a job until a few years after I left home at 19 years of age. Though it was not discussed with me at that time, I now know that this was only possible due to Mom’s material security consciousness and Dad’s good financial sense. I’ve mentioned it in previous posts… Mom’s a Leo, he was a Taurus. Now they were not debt-free but there were decisions made years earlier that looked at the long-term consequences of one choice over another. Many of those choices Dad made, even though Mom was angry about it at the time, made a whole lotta sense in the immediate days/years following the heart attack. Hmm, I hope that I’m learning the lesson Saturn is presenting right now.

I’m not a financial adviser or anything like that, just offering my personal story and opinion for you to learn from. Having said that, my advice would be to of course look at your situation because everyone’s is different. However “job security” is an illusion so if you have $0 in savings, pay the minimum payments on your debts right now, cut back on your lifestyle and get at least 1 month’s expenses aside. Then work your way up to whatever level of savings is comfortable for you. Once you get there, start getting rid of that debt like a mad person while continuing to build your savings.

One more note, this is not to be considered an investment account. It is money that is to be liquid and that you can get to in a reasonable amount of time. So it should be in a safe bank, credit union or something like that. I was teasing at the beginning when I called it glamorous but in my reality, it really is just that and I’m exceedingly grateful for it.

Stay tuned for part 5.

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Gettin’ Outta Debt pt3- The Debt Snowball

This is a repost that’s part of a series I did back in August 2009 when this blog was on Blogger.¬† I feel the info is just as relevant today as it was back then.

20 Dollars art3

via Wikipedia

OK, I’m back from pt 2 of this series to continue my talk on the way I used “Debt Proof Living” by Mary Hunt.¬† Another one of her “tools” that I liked and used is what she calls the “RDRP-Rapid Debt Repayment Plan”. Other financial gurus call this “snowballing debt” or “debt snowball”. Debt snowballing is not anything new. Now, financial software such as Quicken and MS Money have this as part of their mid-range and/or deluxe offerings of the software. If you are trying to get out of debt this is well worth the extra $15-20 over the basic version if you are going to use this type of software for your finances. I think you can do this on spreadsheet programs too. This is a plan for you to get out of debt with the money that you are currently paying all your creditors but in a much faster way than following the traditional method of paying down debt. And best of all, you can DIY.¬† No, it’s not “voodoo economics” to borrow the term coined by George Bush Sr, nor is it “creative financing” or magic, but a plan that actually works. However, there is a catch. I’ll go into that later because it’s key to this plan working.

Basically you start off by listing all of your debts by name, APR (aka the interest rate, which is the additional money that you pay for the “privilege” of using their card/loan, or whatever for any one who does not know what that means), your payment amount and the balance owed. There are a 2 ways to do this plan. One gets you out of debt a little faster because you are paying less interest. The other is a tad slower but may provide you with an kick start to get your behind in gear because you’re seeing some immediate results. If that sounds confusing, hang in there with me and you’ll see what I mean.

Method 1) List all debts starting with the highest interest rate( APR), the next highest, all the way down to the lowest interest rate debt.

Method 2) List all debts starting with the debt that has the lowest payoff/balance, next lowest and on up to the highest balance.

You can find the APR listed in the printed material that is on your credit card bill or on the loan paperwork that you signed. Now there are debt calculators all over the internet if you don’t have financial software. I highly suggest you look these up and plug your numbers in. I’ll warn you though, when you see how much you’ll end up paying back if you pay back the way your creditors want you too… you may want to fix a really stiff cocktail.

Anyway, the higher the interest rate and the longer you take to pay it off, the more you’re gonna end up paying. That’s why Method #1 results in a faster payoff because you are paying off the highest interest rate loans first.

Method #2 is good if you need a little bit of encouragement, like that 1st 5 pounds that you lose when you’re on a diet. You’re so excited that you begin to think twice about that nice looking piece of chocolate cake. Alright, let me stop talkin’ about food before I have to go and find somethin’ to snack on, that I know I should not be eatin’. lol A lot of the time the smallest debt you have is one of the lower interest rate debts, though not always. Remember I said earlier, on the higher the interest rate loan, the longer you take to pay it off the more you end up paying.¬† It still results in years earlier payoff and big interest savings in that you will not have to pay it, just not as much as if you follow Method #1. Now I followed Method #1, including my mortgage at the bottom of the list as the last debt to be paid because I was determined not to pay the bankers one extra dime.

OK, now for the catch I mentioned earlier. You’ve got to follow these 3 rules very strict and to the letter unless it’s a dire emergency and I mean dire emergency. These are from the book and paraphrased leaving out one step as it’s already been done. That’s the listing of your debts.

1)NO NEW DEBT!!! Yes, I’m shouting but I want to make sure you hear me. You can’t get out of the hole you’ve dug for yourself if you keep making the hole deeper and at the same time you are shoveling more dirt on top.

2)Pay the same monthly payment regardless if the loan/credit card issuer says your minimum payment is less than it was the month before. Don’t fall for those “payment holidays” either. You know, right around Black Friday shopping day where they say “oh don’t worry about making that payment. Go Christmas, Easter( insert holiday of the month) shopping with that and you can start back paying next month”. Ignore them by saying thanks but no thanks. Keep making that payment. You can always pay over the amount but not less.

And last, but just as important as #1, & 2.

3) As each debt is paid in full, take that money and apply it to the next debt in line.

Example: Lets say you had JC Penny as your 1st debt @ $50 per month, Macy’s as your 2nd debt @$100 per month, Home Depot next @$150 per month and GMAC (your car note) last at $300. Doesn’t matter which method you are using in case you’re wondering. Make all the minimum required payments each month as listed. When you’ve paid off JC Penny’s debt you take that payment (the $50) and add it to the Macy’s payment of $100. So now instead of sending Macy’s $100 like you were before, you are now sending them $150 every month until it’s paid off. Then when you’ve paid off Macy’s (which you will have done at a much faster rate than you were before because you were sending $150 instead off $100), you add that $150 payment to the Home Depot payment. You are now sending Home Depot $300 per month. Before you know it you’ve paid off Home Depot.¬† Next, you take that $300 payment and add it to your car note so now you are sending GMAC $600. Before you know it, you’ve paid off your last debt. Just by diligently following those steps you’ll pay off your debts way ahead of schedule saving you lots of interest. If you get REAL SERIOUS by cutting your lifestyle to find extra $ in your current budget, you can make this happen even faster thereby saving you money that you would otherwise be paying out in interest. You can’t get ahead while filling out a check with somebody’s name on that line. That’s what you are doing by paying out interest.

Stay tuned for part 4...

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How to Make A Cheap Latching/Interlocking Nappylock Tool for Locs

For the past 2 years or so I have been interlocking aka latching my roots with a size 13/16 metal yarn/tapestry needle. These needles can be purchased from almost any craft store. I found mine at Micheal’s in a package of 4 for $3.30 including tax when I first got them and I just purchased another package of 2 today for the same price. So, that means the price has gone up but it’s still much much cheaper than the Nappylock tool.¬† You might be able to find a larger size so you won’t have to modify it but that’s the only size I’ve been able to find in my neck of the woods.

First let me say don’t get nervous about this being a needle. The business end is rounded so there are not sharp edges or points to damage or snag your hair. Those of you with micro interlocs might be able to use the needle as is. Also it was too long for me to use on my locs when I first purchased the needles at about the 1 year mark. You probably can make it shorter by sawing it down with a hacksaw but I did not want to do that because that was extra work. lol¬† So I waited until my locs got a bit longer. For me, at the time I started using it my locs at about 15 months were still in the budding/swelling stage especially the ones in the back so I had to make the eye wider. It’s super easy to do however it does take a bit of patience. I’ll confess that I broke two of the needles…that’s how I learned that it takes patience to get it right. lol

What you’ll need for this project is:

  • ¬†A metal yarn/tapestry needle.¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†

Of course right?! This reminds me of how my grandmother would give my mother recipe instructions. She’d write in her letter (the recipe was an integral part of the body of the letter) saying, “If you don’t already have (the main ingredient of the recipe), go to the store and get it.” If it was frozen she’d say “unthaw x”. If x ingredient was in a can¬† she’d say “get the can opener and open the can”. For some reason this was always absolutely hilarious to me, I guess because you’d have to really be an airhead not to understand her instructions.

  • Needle or round nose pliers.
  • Needle-nose pliers

    Image via Wikipedia

    An alternative is a small flathead screwdriver.

    A yellow flathead screwdriver

    Image via Wikipedia

    Note: If you use a flathead screwdriver instead of the needle nose/round nose pliers, then add an extra dose of patience.

Step 1.

Open the pliers and with your palm facing the floor insert the tip of the pliers into the middle of eye of the needle.

Step 2.

Slowly and gently turn the pliers to the left or right, whichever direction is comfortable for you.

Step 3.

Remove the pliers and repeat steps 1 & 2 inserting the pliers further into the eye of the needle until the eye is large enough to fit your largest loc.

It’s important to remove and re-insert the pliers to do it like I said because it forces you to increase the eye a little bit at a time. Trying to get the eye wide enough all at once will result in breaking the eye. Even more so if you are using a flathead screwdriver to do this. Remember earlier I said that I broke 2 needles? This is why. ūüôā ¬† Fortunately @ $3.30¬† for a pack of 4, that means each needle is about $.83 (price based on the first set purchased) and $1.66 each (based on the more recent purchase) so I don’t feel too bad about it.

Here’s the final result.¬†

That wasn’t so bad was it?

If that was not clear and you are able to view video, here is the video I did for my YouTube channel.

Let me know if you use this and how you like it.

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How I Got Outta Debt: Resources I Used To Become Debt Free pt 2

This is part 2 of a series that I wrote August 10, 2009 when this blog was on Blogspot.com. I feel that it is as more relevant now as it was when I wrote it then. It is my hope that it is of inspiration and motivation that yes, an ordinary person can do this.OK, I’m back to continue talking about the resources I used to become debt-free. I mentioned 3 books in the last post and I’m going to talk about what I liked about each and what I used from each on my journey. Now this is not going to go along in a linear fashion as my brain does not work in that way.

I used “Debt Proof Living” by Mary Hunt and “Your Money, Your Life” by Joe Dominguez and Vicky Robins together, but I’m gonna start with “Debt Proof Living” first. “Debt Proof Living” is a really good basic how to on the way money works and how to get your money to behave as Dave Ramsey would say.NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 06:  (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE...

One of the things I really like and will talk about today is what Mary Hunt refers to as “Freedom Accounts”. Back in the day this was the good ole “envelope system“. My Mom & Moma (my mother’s mother) used the envelope system religiously and taught me the value of it. I had been using a version of the Freedom Accounts when I would take a certain amount out each month and set it aside for my renters insurance for the apartment I was in before I bought the house because that’s the only way the insurance company offered it. It was either a 6 month or 1 year policy…no monthly payment option. These “accounts” are also great for those “unexpected expenses” like car repairs, car tags, licenses fees etc. Anything that is not actually paid on a monthly basis.

I place “unexpected expenses ” in quotations for a reason. Whether we want to see it or not, these things are part of your monthly living expenses and if not recognized as such, can wreak havoc when they come due sending you running to the credit cards. Nothing wrong with credit cards if you use them in the right way by paying off the entire bill before it’s due but terrible if you don’t.

This is where many people trip themselves up because they do not have an accurate number on what it takes to maintain their lifestyle each month. When I say accurate, I mean including all known liabilities. If you drive a car in most states, if not all, you must have at least liability insurance, license plates/stickers which must be renewed yearly where I live, driver’s licenses every 4 years, tires that wear out, oil changes needed, and the list goes on and on. Y’all¬† know what I’m talking about! ūüôā By getting all of this down on paper, you’ll begin to see that it really takes $2500 per month for you to live on.¬† But you’re only accounting for $2000, thinking you have $500 to “play with”. Then you go and blow it on whatever has caught your attention.¬† End of the month Day 30 rolls around with your car tag or homeowners insurance due. Now you wonder where in the heck am I going to get the money to pay this? Add in the refrigerator breaking down along with the car.¬† See how this can get one in trouble?

Doing this also allows me to have overdraft protection on my account without having to pay the bank for the privilege, saving me money as well. What I did was to look at the due date for the “fixed” cost items like the license plate tag for instance, estimate a little bit higher than what I paid last year and divide that up into 26 payments because I got paid on a bi-weekly basis. I would deduct that amount from my checkbook balance as if was going to write check for the bill and mail it off. When the time came to pay it, I would add the total of the deductions back into my balance and write a check for whatever that amount was and start the process over at the next pay period. This is mucho easier if you use financial software such as Quicken. I did this the old-fashioned way before I got a computer, let alone financial software. For things like car repairs which don’t have a “due date”,¬† I started out with an amount like $50 a month and put it in the “account” religiously. Time and time again, whenever something came up and y’all know with cars, SOMETHING is going to need fixing/replacing etc at some point in your ownership of the car, more often than not I usually ended up with enough money in the account to take care of the problem. You can use a separate savings account but I only did it for the large things like car repairs, homeowners insurance and property taxes which in my case while I was still paying a mortgage, were not escrow-ed for the first 2 years.

Before getting serious about taking charge of my money instead of it taking charge of me, I was one of those folks I talked about earlier. Many a car repair, you name it, ended up on a credit card which in the long run cost me more money because I was not able to pay off the balance charged when it was due. Yep, “stupid tax” borrowing from Dave Ramsey again…I done paid a plenty.

Stay tuned for part 3.

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