Thursday, April 30, 2009

Workout Diary

Yesterday my friend Kee asked what am I doing everyday to burn 1700 calories. Your body will burn calories if you just lie down on the couch, unmoving, for 24 hours. But I'm at the gym 4 to 5 days a week. So here's what a typical workout week is like.

Get to the gym by 9:45am to get in line for the list for the Anti-Gravity Yoga class. The list comes out at 10am for the 11am class. When I get on the list I workout for about 45 minutes, a mix of running on the treadmill and lifting weights. 10:45 I head in to the yoga studio and get my hammock ready for class. The Anti-Gravity Yoga class is 90 minutes long.

I rush from work to get on the list for the 6pm Anti-Gravity Yoga class. If I don't get in to the class I take Absolution. Both classes are an hour long. Before I take either class I run on the treadmill.

Take a cardio sculpt class during lunch with one of my co-workers as a guest at her gym. Sometimes I schedule to meet with my trainer.

Workout with my trainer for an hour or take the Hip Hop class. If I take the Hip Hop class I do cardio and weights for about 30 minutes before the class starts.

Have to get to the gym by 6pm to get on the list for 7pm Urban Rebounding class. Once I get on the list I run on the treadmill and lift weights for about 30 minutes. Run back to the main desk to get on the list for the 7:45 Anti-Gravity Yoga class. Get on the list and run to the group fitness class and grab a rebounder. Urban Rebounding class is 45 minutes long but I usually leave 5 minutes early to have time to put my rebounder away and run over to the yoga studio for my next class to get my hammock adjusted. Anti-Gravity class is 60 minutes long. This by far is my longest and most stressful gym day. Stressful because I have to mindful of time to make sure I get on the list for the classes that I want to take.

I usually try to take Fridays off. If I'm being ambitious I'll take the Caribbean Rhythms class or schedule a workout with my trainer. Or I might workout on my Wii for 30 minutes.

Normally a day off from working out. I might workout on my Wii Fit for 30 minutes.

So I think, based on my workout schedule, that is very possible for me to burn 1700 calories, if not more, a day. And I consider a workout a good workout if I'm sweating when it's done. You would think Yoga is not a class where you would sweat but Anti-Gravity Yoga is on a whole other level and I love it...clearly I love it, I take it 2 or 3 times a week.

What's your workout regimen?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Calorie Counting

I am soooo not the type that counts calories. Anyone who knows me knows that I just eat and I eat what I like and I don't care what the calories are. That was until I started working out at the gym and with a trainer.

Instead of losing the 9 lbs I was trying to lose I gained 5 lbs. How? Why? Because now I'm always SOOOO hungry. Mind you I had a pretty big appetite before but I can't even describe the level of hunger I deal with ALL DAY LONG.

So as a part of my membership and personal training I was setup on a website called to keep track of my calorie intake. Basically I have to eat 1500 calories a day to burn 1700 calories (and thus lose weight). To curb the hunger I carry Special K breakfast bars and before and after I workout I eat Special K Protein bars. Why Special K? Because they are cheaper than Luna bars, Power bars and all those other bars. Special K breakfast bars were on sale 2 for $5 this week and the protein bars were 2 for $9. That's a hell of a lot less than the other brands.

Y'all that know me know that I love food, I love to eat and up until recently I used to wonder where did it all go. Now I think about food all the time. I'm always hungry and I'm trying to find the happy balance between working out and eating.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Rental Advocacy

The last time my lease was up for renewal I fought the increase. They were trying to raise my rent $220. I wrote the most impressive letter possible and they only raised my rent $100.

I have shared this letter with others in my building but as far as I know none of them have used it. Sad, because I gave my letter to my boy Sam and he got the best news. NO RENTAL INCREASE! That is excellent news and this economy good tenants need to fight back. Why should we pay more when most of our apartment complexes aren't offering us more?

My lease isn't up until March 2010 but time flies and I have already started looking. I've also entered a few housing lotteries because you just never know. I got picked for one but the place was too small and I would have had to move in by June 1. I have an interview for another one in a couple of weeks. A good apartment is hard to find, especially in NYC. But in this economy owners/landlords should be willing to negotiate.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Kanye's Workout

I think I need to try Kanye's Workout plan because mine is not working. I've been going to the gym about 4-5 days a week and working with a personal trainer for a month. It was time for my assessment and it was just as I thought...well almost. I gained 5 lbs but I lost 1% of my body fat.

I told my trainer I don't know what's wrong with me. I'm hungry all the time. Now mind you, I have ALWAYS been able to eat and amaze people with my food consumption skills. "Where does it go?" But I cannot describe the level of hunger I have now. You would think that I work out more so of course I eat more but I'm working it off. WRONG!!!

So now I'm one of those people who is counting calories. I told my trainer I've never been able to do a spending diary what makes her think I can do a food diary. But with my training comes an online supplemental program so I'm using that and I'm going to TRY and record what I have eaten that day, at night before I go to bed.

The goal is 1700 calories a day. Day one of calorie counting I had 1500 calories and I was still SOOO hungry. My trainer has recommended protein bars for the constant munchies and protein shakes before and after working out. But why is nutritional stuff so expensive? Now I'm trying to find some reasonably priced Luna Bars and Sport Recovery Smoothies.

Do you workout? What works for you? What do you recommend? And can someone please explain how my weight could go up but my BMI go down 1%?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Property Assessment

For awhile I have been debating getting a reassessment on my property value because given the recent housing downturn I was sure the value of my property had gone down and I was paying too much in property tax. But I wasn't sure if it would be worth the battle, my property taxes are not that high compared to say, New Jersey. And I know the counties need every penny they can gets. So I let it go.

But today I got the following email:

The Dekalb Board of Tax Assessors, Property Appraisal Department mailed out Assessment Change Notices. Included with the Assessment Change Notice was a cover letter stating that the Board did not consider foreclosure sales and in some cases bank sales in determining fair market values.

On April 14, 2009, the governor signed into law a bill that changed the definition of criteria to use in determining fair market value of real property. The new law requires that the Board consider among other things, foreclosure sales and bank sales in determining fair market value of real property.

The DeKalb Board of Tax Assessors will be recalculating real property values to include in their consideration the additional criteria of “foreclosure sales, bank sales, other financial institution owned sales, or distressed sales, or any combination thereof, of comparable real property,” as well as “decreased value of the property based on limitations and restrictions resulting from the property being in a conservation easement.”

The Board expects to complete this review and mail new Assessment Change Notices to all affected property owners by mid-May, 2009.

Property Appraisal Department

I paid $136,000 for my house and as of this blog my house is worth $90,000. I think I pay about $1100-1200 a year in property tax. I'm not sure because the money gets escrowed and my mortgage company makes sure it gets paid. Who knows at what value DeKalb County is charging me property tax for. And I know every dollar counts so I'm glad that the property tax may go down but I'm even happier that I didn't have to fight the battle on my own. AND the assessment should be coming just around the time my escrow account gets reassessed.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Obama and Credit

I know President Obama had a meeting today with the leaders of credit card companies. I appreciate him scolding them but I want the new legislation that I blogged about last month to be implemented ASAP not in 2010.

And I think store charge cards are the WORST. I JUST had another incident with a store charge card this week. I have 3 store charge cards: Macy's, Home Depot and Firestone. Now y'all know how I feel about Home Depot. I have paid off that card but haven't closed it.

I have a Firestone card for car-related emergencies/repairs. They have this deal where every time you make a charge to your Firestone card you have 90 days to pay it off before you are charged interest. So I had one offer that was supposed to end May 5th and one offer that was supposed to end June 5th. With my last payment these mofo's applied my payment to the newer balance rather than the older balance BUT they didn't change the due date for the promotion. AND THEN they were complete assholes to me on the phone. They acknowledge it was a mistake on their part but "there is nothing we can do to change the automated system." So I promptly cancelled that card. One less store charge.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

NBA Not So Amazin

After March Madness I can't say that I get that excited about the start of baseball season OR the NBA Finals.

Overall I find the NBA Playoffs to be pretty boring. I could not watch a single game in the first round (although I've watched 2 because nothing else was on TV) and not feel like I missed anything. So far the best part of the NBA Playoffs has been the Kanye West Promo.

So is it just me? Am I the only one not feeling the playoffs?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Failed Challenge

This month I was trying to not use any credit cards and I failed miserably.

I was counting on a check from my last teaching gig to come so I wouldn't have to use my credit card. The check didn't come and the deadline came so I used my credit card.

I'm going to Costa Rica for Christmas break and the deadline for the deposit was April 15th. I'm also going to a journalism convention in August and the early bird registration deadline was April 15th. And since I had already made 2 purchases on the credit card I said fuck it and charged the balance of the cruise I'm going on in October. And I still have several plane tickets I need to buy.

So now when the check does come I'm going to use it to pay the balance on the credit card. I also start teaching another class today so when that check comes when the class ends I'll pay off the balance with that check.

I'm a little bummed. Didn't think it would be so hard to go without charging on my credit card. Again, I'm not the type to charge every day but I do use it for large purchases. I guess I'll have to try this challenge again some other month.

How is everyone else doing in the no credit card use this month?

Monday, April 20, 2009

What To Do With My Roth IRA

I opened a Roth IRA a little over a year ago because my financial shero Suze Orman told me to.

You might remember that Suze Orman was on Oprah and she gave away her book "Women and Money" on for free. I immediately downloaded the book, printed it out, put it in a nice binder and read it that following weekend taking lots of notes. I'm a student of personal finance. Within the book was an offer to get started with an IRA.

Suze Orman has a business partnership with TD Ameritrade (which to some is a source of controversy) To convince viewers of her show and readers of her book to begin saving, Suze suggested going to (a Web site she set up) and opening an account with that firm. If you deposit $50 a month in each of the first 12 months, the bank will match you — up to $100. “It’s a savings rate of 15 percent,” she has repeatedly said. The trouble is, after the first $600, the interest rate drops to an ordinary one, making the offer more of a marketing ploy for the bank than anything else.

And actually the offer has changed slightly since I did it a year ago. Now you have to deposit $100 a month in each of the first 12 months, the bank will give you $100 in the 13th month. Still a pretty good return of 8%.

So I started the Roth IRA funding it with $50 a month but I also watched the annual percentage yield (APY) go down. When I first opened the Roth IRA the APY was 2.75%. That's not a lot but it's better than the rate of a traditional savings account. As of this blog post the APY is 0.50%. That's still better than a traditional savings account but overall I think that APY sucks.

My question to everyone is what should I do next? Should I find another bank, brokerage or mutual fund company to move my Roth IRA too? Should I put the money in to a CD? Should I stick with who I'm with because everyone's rates suck? Do I move the money to a municipal bond fund? Should I just call TD Ameritrade and see what they suggest?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Mom Says Thank You

It's been a few weeks and my Mom is adjusting to her new life as a semi-retiree. She still wants a job but during the day she is spending a lot of time at church. She will go to prayer service and to programs for the unemployed that are held at church.

Being a caregiver can be a thankless and stressful job. I don't think my Mom and I have argued this much since I was a teenager. But in the end things work out I just wish it didn't have to get to the point of an argument to finally reach a solution.

Despite losing her job I think my Mom is extremely thankful. Going to church and seeing how bad some people have it she realizes she is one of the "lucky" ones. Her home is paid for so all she has to worry about is property taxes and home insurance. My brother is doing renovations to her home so she got a new bathroom and the new kitchen is almost complete. She doesn't take that many daily medications so the prices are reasonable and it will be easy to get her on a Medicare Part D prescription plan. She has very little debt; just a car note and a few credit cards to pay off. But I think my Mom is most thankful for me.

One day I snapped at her because she said she hadn't pulled her credit in years. I pull my credit once a year so to tell a person like me that she hadn't looked at her credit in years was the equivalent of saying she had spent her life savings on 1 lottery ticket. So when I snapped at her she said, "Luckily I have a daughter who thinks about those things so I don't have too." Touche.

Well one day we were talking and she said thank you. She acknowledged that it hasn't been easy but she is lucky to have a daughter that is so smart and always on top of things. She said, "I just hope when you get to be my age that you have someone looking out for you like you take care of me." I hate sappy moments so I made a joke. "I thought I didn't have a choice." But even if I did have a choice of course I would choose to help my Mom.

I really think going to church and the various programs and watching the news and seeing how other people are struggling and they don't have someone to help them figure things out made her realize that even though I can be a bitch I really mean well.

So I'm hoping this realization on my Mom's part will lead to more open discussions and less battles.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Caring For Mom

Once a month I have one of my boy's Mom's come to my apt to clean. She is a retired nurse and just wanted something to do. Well several months ago, before I hired her, I had asked my Mom to clean my place once a month and I would pay her. She said HELL NO!!! I work a full-time job and I have my own house to maintain, hire a maid.

Well my Mom's situation has changed. So one of the first things I offered to her after she got laid off is if I could hire her to clean my place. For some reason she was insulted by my request. So I said FINE, I'll give the money to someone else, excuse me for wanting to pay my Mom to provide me a much needed service. Of course if my Mom needed $100 I would give it to her but I also know that she is the type that doesn't want, like or will accept handouts. I thought cleaning my house was a fair swap. She does it to my nephew all the time. She will pay him to do things for her so what's wrong with me paying her to do something for me?

What I'm learning about my Mom is that she has a very hard time accepting what I say or tell her to do the first time I say it. It's like she has to take a survey of people she knows before she will accept that I'm right. So a few days after I made this offer one of the women that was laid off with her called to check-in. She told her that her sister had made her a similar offer and she jumped on it. Why should that money go to someone else when I need it? My Mom relented. She told her former co-worker that her daughter had offered her the same deal but she had turned it down. Her co-worker laughed and so did my Mom. She realized that she had to get over herself and this wasn't about pride.

My Mom calls me and asks, "So when do you want your place cleaned?" I said excuse me, I thought you said you didn't want to clean my place. So she told me the story I just told y'all. And I'm learning that as her and I move forward through her situation she will need time. What I think might be a great idea she may not be convinced on and just needs time and sometimes someone else to talk to about it before she says yes or no.

When she did come to clean my place she got off easy. Because when I have the maid come I don't stay in the apartment and I don't help her. But my Mom got $100 and an assistant. We cleaned my place together. I did leave for a bit to go to the gym so we wouldn't be in each other's way (or get on each other's nerves). Also as a kid it was always best if I stayed out of her way when she was cleaning. Apparently as an adult that rule still holds true. Not the quality time I would prefer but my Mom likes that kind of thing. She thinks any time spent together is quality time.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Caring For Mom

Yesterday I revealed that my Mom was laid off from her job and given her age I've had to jump in to the role of taking care of my Mom. It has already had it's challenges.

My Mom is very independent so I know it's extremely hard for her to have to listen to her 20-something daughter. It's a challenge for parents when they are put in a position where they have to listen to their kids. So our first "debate" was about unemployment. She didn't want direct deposit of her unemployment. I was like are you crazy, do you know how long you will have to wait for your checks if you don't get direct deposit. She reluctantly relented. One week later when she got her unemployment paperwork she was happy that I forced the direct deposit because she would get her unemployment checks in 2 days of her weekly check-in versus waiting 3-7 days for a check to show up in the mail.

Next "debate" was her credit cards. Now y'all know I'm a personal finance junkie. My Mom doesn't quite know the extent of my addiction. She doesn't read my blog, hell she doesn't go on computers. So first she was a little taken aback that I pulled her credit. Now I'm sure you are like how were you able to get past the security questions? I knew just enough about my Mom's finances to be able to answer the questions. I pulled her credit, paid for her credit score, they were all good (surprisingly she has a better score than me). I made her review it to make sure there were no mistakes. That was the easy part.

The hard part was enforcing a debt management plan. My Mom doesn't have a lot of credit cards but she had a Chase card with a 29.99% interest rate. With her credit score there is no reason that she should be paying that much in interest. So I told her to call her credit card company and ask for the interest rate to be reduced. Explain that she has always paid on time, never been late, always pays more than the minimum and has now lost her job. THIS almost sparked World War III. She literally said to me why should she do that. The credit card company will never reduce it....blah, blah, blah. I was like Mom just call, the worse they can say is NO but if you don't ask they aren't going to offer you a lower APR. We argued about this DAILY. Every day I would ask if she called...answer was always no. It got so bad we didn't talk to each other for a few days.

I was pissed that my Mom was being stupid about something that was so easy and she was frustrated with my lack of patience and why I was nagging her about so many different things. I finally broke my wall of silence and called her. SO she told me that she called Chase and they did reduce her interest rate by 13%!!! I was so happy. I was like do you realize how much savings that is? I'm sure she didn't but she get's that 13% is a lot less and clearly it was important to me so it should matter to her.

So I have won a few battles but the war is far from over.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Role Reversal

My Mom turns 70 this year. You would think she would be retired. Not my Mom. She has collected social security and still worked 40 hours a week. But a few weeks ago she was laid off from her job and we are now in an interesting transition.

My Mom said she was already prepared for a layoff. She saw that work was slowing down and she realized that being older would qualify her to be expendable. At first I was tempted to sue her former employer for age discrimination but given who he laid off at the same time as my Mom I can't prove it.

Me being ME I immediately jumped in to driver mode. Within hours of my Mom telling me she got laid off I had stayed up all night researching stuff on the internet for her basic concerns. Can she collect unemployment and social security? She has Medicare but needs a prescription plan, which one is the best for her? Are there training programs for older adults? What jobs are there for senior citizens that still want to work? What's her credit score and how much debt does she have? What kind of debt consolidation/debt management plan could I come up with for her? I went to work the next day and created a binder of anything and everything I could find that would help her in her situation. Within 24 hours of being laid off the binder was completed. Within 48 hours of her being laid off I signed her up for unemployment and gave her the binder with ASSIGNMENTS. Yes, my crazy ass gave my Mom assignments of what she specifically had to do and when.

I blog about a lot of things and I'm sure some of you are wondering why I waited so long to blog about this but it's because my Mom and I had to adjust to our new roles. What new role is that? I have become the parent and my Mom has become the child. Not to say my Mom isn't still independent but we are definitely at a point where my Mom has to listen and do what I say and that has been very hard for her. So over the course of the year I'll be talking about this role reversal.

I've known for years because my siblings always made it clear that as the youngest our Mother would be my responsibility. And I resented that. I feel like it falls to me because I'm single, no kids and I'm the youngest. But I really feel it should be a shared responsibility. Luckily my Mom is healthy so I don't have to physically take care of her but in terms of her financial future I really do feel it's in my hands.

Anyone else in this situation where you have become the parent to your parent? For those who aren't yet, how are you preparing for your future and the future of your parent(s)?

Monday, April 13, 2009

The End of Lent

For lent I gave up wine and I thought that would be easy. It wasn't as easy as I thought.

First, the devil is no joke. So the week before I gave up wine for lent EVERY SINGLE Fashion Week event I went too, I was given wine...bottles of it. So once lent started my refrigerator was fully stocked with wine. And I had to see it every single time I opened the fridge. The devil set me up y'all.

Second, I didn't realize how much food was cooked with wine. So I had to avoid any recipes that listed wine as an ingredient just so I wouldn't be accused of cheating.

Third, I've been having cravings for Sangria. Out of all the alcoholic beverages I could have, I craved Sangria and it happens to be made with wine. Meera we gotta split a pitcher SOON.

Fourth, wine is my sedative. It's about the only thing, or so I thought, that could get my head to shut up long enough for me to sleep. But during lent I found myself drinking a lot more tea and burning a candle that is supposed to help with sleeping and reading a book or magazine before going to bed. Those methods didn't always work as well as a glass of wine would have.

Firth, I think I just replaced wine with soda. Near the beginning of lent I went to Costco and got a 36 pack of Pepsi. Needless to say I reached for a soda instead of reaching for the wine when I went in to my fridge.

So lent is now over and I can't say that I will go back to drinking as much wine as I drank before. But after a long day or a long week sometimes you just want to come home, crack open a bottle of wine, kick you feet up and enjoy. Erin, you still got that bottle waiting for me :)

My girlfriend Elie found a "loophole." Lent is supposed to be 40 days BUT if you got to any calendar Lent this year runs for 47 days. So technically I was supposed to have 7 days off. I broke down and took one day...I gave in to the Sangria craving when I went to my girlfriend's birthday dinner at a Cuban restaurant. I know this may be a point of debate. ELIE - where's that link you showed me to prove we weren't cheating?

Did I or did I not cheat? What did you give up for lent and were you successful?

Friday, April 10, 2009

First 100 Days

This blog is NOT about the first 100 days of Obama's administration. It's about the first 100 days of 2009 and how far I have gotten on my nine goals for the year.

For anyone who is counting and cares, April 29, marks the first 100 days of Obama's administration.

1. Read 30 books
I have read 9 books and I'm in the middle of my 10th book. So I'm on track to reach my goal by the end of the year.

2. Pay off my debt consolidation loan
My last loan payment is supposed to be September 28, 2009 and I'm still on track.

3. Get back in shape
Although I love my Wii it just wasn't enough so I joined a gym and got a trainer. To say I'm feeling the burn would be an understatement. There are days it hurts to walk but I'm pushing through the pain.

4. Keep on cooking
My not eating out for the month of March definitely contributed to my "keep on cooking" mantra. I still don't like cooking. It's just not something I will ever love to do. I will always prefer eating out. But cooking once a week is not so bad.

5. 3 to 6 months of expenses in to my savings
This is one of my hardest goals and I'm not sure I can do it this year. But it's a good goal to have so I'll keep on striving towards it.

6. Relax more
Anyone knows me knows that I am super Type-A personality. I have a very hard time relaxing. So I'm taking yoga and pilates. I'm also watching less TV. I think TV contributes to my stress. So escaping in to a DVD or spending more time at the gym has been my great escape.

7. Stay healthy
Joining the gym has largely contributed to my "staying healthy" goal. I'm still seeing my chiropractor on a weekly basis. I'm still getting the allergy shots and it's working. I went to my girlfriends bridal shower and the host had a dog and I was able to play with the dog and not get sick.

8. Travel some place I have never been to before
In a month I'm headed to St. Thomas. I have never been there before. Still working on the trip to the Dominican Republic and possibly Costa Rica at the end of this year.

9. Purge my apartment
I feel like I'm in a constant state of purging. I have so many magazines that I'm always going through and getting rid of them. And my Mom has been helping me to throw out even more.

Overall I'm very happy with my progress within the first 100 days of 2009. And in addition to my long terms goals for 2009 I have done various short term goals that also help me to stay motivated. I'm in the middle of 2 challenges right now (not using any credit cards this month AND forcing myself to live on less by putting a percentage of my gross biweekly salary in to savings). Those short term challenges contribute to my long term goals.

How are you doing on your goals for 2009? If you haven't given them any thought, go back and see what you listed as goals and do something to get back on track.

Next update on my 2009 goals will be July 1. That's the half way point of 2009.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Stress On My Body

Y'all know me and I'm SUPER Type A. As one person described if there was something higher than Type A, I would be it. I say all that to say is I thrive off of stress. Stressful situations just motivate me to work harder. Well stress is starting to take a major toll on my body.

First thing I noticed was the pain in my neck, shoulders and back. I go to a chiropractor regularly but it was only offering temporary relief.

Next was the loss of sleep. I already suffer from mind chatter which makes it hard for me to relax. But combine that with the physical pain and sleep, when I get it, is not restful.

But the thing that bothered me the most was the hair loss. I started to notice my hair thinning and breaking. My stylist was like what is wrong with you? Every time I get my hair done it's like there is less and less of it on my head. I looked at pictures of how my hair used to look and it made me want to cry. And that was the final straw.

So being Type A I can't let stress win. To combat the pain I took my doctor's advice and joined a gym, so I'm taking Yoga classes regularly. As a result of going to the gym I'm also sleeping better. To deal with the hair loss I think I'm going to get my hair cut and get my hair braided. It's almost time for summer and I prefer to have my hair braided in the summer. But I'm hoping my new techniques for stress relief will have an immediate affect on my body, my soul and most importantly, MY HAIR.

What do you do to combat stress?

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Money Values in the Midst of a Financial Crisis



Have you come to feel that your kids had too much before (for example, brand name clothes, electronics, big allowances)? Or perhaps you’d like to curb your childrens’ spending or change those of your family as a whole? A national financial publication is looking to speak with families that are grappling with these family money issues due to a financial change—say a lost job—or just a reassessment of what’s important amid this crisis.

We’d especially love to talk to couples who:

•are in their 40s or early 50s
•have pre-teen or teenage kids
•have professional careers
•have household income over $100,000-$200,000 (and are willing to share this, as well as some numbers about what they spend on kids)

Please send a photograph and contact information (phone and email); and let us know what you do for a living, how you spent on your kids before, and how you’d like to change that.

In return, you will get personally directed financial advice from a financial planner.

If interested, or you know of a family that would be a great candidate, please send information to

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

So Bad You Have To Laugh

Have you ever been in a situation that was just so bad you just had to laugh? And in some cases you had to laugh to keep from crying? Or even as you were crying you started laughing or you were laughing and started crying? If you are feeling me on any of these scenarios then you understand why I was not the least bit upset at President Obama for laughing during his 60 Minute interview a few weeks ago. Hell I was laughing too.

The economic situation is so bad some times you just have to laugh. And think about it. He first started laughing about how Americans don't want to put money in to the car industry. And then how banks think Americans should pay for their bailout while Americans think they shouldn't pay any part of any bailout. It's all just ridiculous. Everything is inter-related. We may not like the AIG situation but it would be even worse if the government didn't bail them out. We aren't buying American cars BUT the fallout through multiple industries if the Big 3 were to fail is cataclysmic.

For the President it's a case of being stuck between a rock and a hard place and having the choice of two bad solutions to solve an even worse problem. So if laughing at how ludicrous things have become keeps our President sane and focused, laugh on. Things are so serious sometimes we just have to stop for a moment and laugh...I promise it will keep you from going insane. And after laughing, crying or both you might feel better and might have come up with a reasonable solution to whatever situation got you to laugh/cry.

Monday, April 06, 2009

March Madness

In honor of March Madness coming to an end and my alma mater wiping the court with any school in our path to #1 I have decided to keep today's blog light and relaxed (kinda like the way those Tar Heels play). Watch my new favorite Guitar Hero commercial featuring The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Basketball Coach Roy Williams (and some other coaches). GO TAR HEELS!!!!

Friday, April 03, 2009

In Suze Orman, I Trust

Before you mumble and groan that I'm talking about my financial shero again I promise to only bring Suze Orman up when it is absolutely necessary. Well last Saturday I was watching her show and she gave away something for FREE.

Suze Orman has a Will & Trust kit that normally sells for $13.50 (not a bad price) but she is giving it away for FREE. So I know your next question is what is a Will & Trust Kit and what does it include. I snatched the description from the website:

This is an easy-to-use and fast way for you and other members of your household to create your own advance directive, also known as a living will, durable power of attorney for health care, living revocable trust, and all the other must-have documents you need to protect you and your family. It’s as easy as 1-2-3—simply personalize, print, and protect. Suze Orman and her own estate trust attorney have created the most state-of-the-art documents found anywhere. There are more than $2,500 worth of estate documents in this kit. Why pay thousands of dollars when you can get the same documents in this kit!

This kit includes:

• More than 50 state-of-the-art documents
• Free automatic on-line updates
• Verbal and written instructions taking you step by step through the four must-have documents (living will, durable power of attorney for health care, living revocable trust, financial power of attorney)
• Password protection securing multiple users’ information
• A tutorial that shows you everything you need to know
• 10 electronic books

Now I know you are like why do I need a will, trust or any of these documents. Bottomline, because you just never know. For example, I'm single with no kids but I have a house in Atlanta. If I don't create a will the house would just go back to the bank. There may be someone in my family I want to will the house too. Or God forbid I get in to an accident, my family has no idea where I stand on wanting my organs donated or if I want to be taken off life support, etc., etc. I know no one wants to talk about/deal with these issues but if this economic crisis has taught us anything it's that at minimum we need to have some plan in place for the future because you just never know.

It's extremely easy to get the kit:
1. Go to Suze
2. Click on Will & Trust Kit
3. Click on Gift Code
4. Enter "People First" in to the code area
5. You will immediately be given an activation code to start using her Will & Trust Kit

If you don't want to use the kit right away, just get the activation code so you can use it at a later date. Some things are happening in my family that I'll talk about in the coming weeks but I'll just say that an offer for a kit like this for FREE couldn't have come at a more appropriate time in my life.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Living On Less Challenge

Where is Erika, Keisha and Monique? I bet y'all thought I forgot. It's time for our "Living On Less Challenge."

1. First paycheck of the month, take out 5% of the gross and put it in to savings.

2. Second paycheck of the month, take out 10% of the gross and put it in to savings.

Bonus Challenge: Find a way to make (or save) 10% of your gross annual salary. I'm doing it through Amazon book sales, teaching, selling stuff on ebay and selling stuff on craigslist.

It's not as hard as you think. I already scheduled to have 5% of my first paycheck for the month of April and 10% of my second paycheck for the month of April to go automatically in to my savings. For the bonus challenge I'm teaching a seminar in May that I didn't originally plan to teach.

The purpose of this challenge, as with any challenge, is to get motivated. And clearly, by how often I blog about personal finance, I get hype about money.

So who wants to join in? Come on, we could all do for a little financial fitness. Let's really push ourselves to live on less this month.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Do Not Use My Credit Card Month

Here is the last part of the Suze Orman challenge. I picked a month to not charge anything to any of my credit cards. That lucky month is APRIL!!!

I love a challenge and the two previous Suze Orman challenges were helpful. I KNOW the third is a great idea. One month of not adding to credit card debt is obviously a good thing. Again I don't know how much I will save this month. I guess I would have to estimate a certain amount that might have been charged plus the interest on it to see how much I will save.

Anyone want to join me for this last leg of the challenge? For one month just put all your credit cards away. Debit card usage is allowed. Let's keep on saving together.