Saturday, May 28, 2005

Coupon Joy

My wife sent me out to pick up some things since we were having a couple of people over for dinner. I got to do the coupon thing. Match the coupon with the sale and all that. Got a couple quarts of ice cream (Dreyers Slow-Churned Light, if you were worried) for a song. I can see the thrill she gets from it.

Come on--just try it. Find some coupons, then find some sale papers for a few grocery stores. Then play a matching game--it's like the one you used to play in grade school. Put the two together, and do a little math to see what kind of deal you can get on fun stuff.

Go on. Tomorrow's coupon day in the paper. Give it a whirl.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Friday Mythbustin': Knowledge Costs Too Much Money

Myth: Knowledge is expensive.

Fact: Knowledge is not only cheap, but it's worth it at any price.

Whenever I talk to somebody who's paying hundreds of dollars in interest and in debt up to their eyeballs, and they complain about the bind they're in I'll usually suggest something. A book, maybe, or a class down at the city rec center.

Their answer is inevitably the same: "Oh, I can't afford that!"

I don't usually press the issue. But think about it--how can they afford not to? It's not reading the book or not going to the class that's costing them the money.

Besides, they could get the same book for free down at their local library. They could find all the same information on the internet for free. They could invite a financially competent friend over for dinner in exchange for getting advice and tips. There are a million ways they could learn the things they needed to know to get out of their fix.

Why don't they? I'm sure there are as many reasons as there are people. In my case, it was procrastination, pure and simple. I knew what I needed to do, but I knew that making the turnaround would be painful. I was taking what felt, at the time, like the easy route, hoping that in a couple of years when I was making more money or things had settled down it wouldn't be quite so painful to do it. It's the American dream, right? That things can be better tomorrow than they are today?

Well, it finally dawned on me that things can get better any time I want them to--if I'm willing to make the effort. While the year may be half over, and my debt's only a quarter of the way gone, that's still better than what probably would have happened if I hadn't started this--the hole would be even deeper, and when I finally got around to making the turnaround, it would have taken even longer.

Knowledge is knowledge, and they'll package it up whatever way you want it, and put whatever pricetag on it you're willing to pay.

I noticed this a while back when I started getting into books by guys like Robert Kiyosaki and Tony Robbins. They'll put together a package for every price range. Want to pay $20? Here's a book. Want to pay $100? Here's a CD set. Want to pay $1,000? Here's a seminar. Want to pay $10,000? Here's a seminar on a private island. The knowledge is the same; they're just packaging it to what you can afford and what you think you need to pay to get worthwhile information.

It doesn't take money, but what it does take is time. And while I realize most of us don't feel we have enough of that (I know I sure don't) it's still the same deal as with the money--the longer you wait, the less of it you'll have. You're never going to have more time than you have today.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

On A "Lighter" Note

As of this morning, I am officially down 30 pounds.

I was worried. The car problems had sent me straight to stress eating, which I am very good at. However, we really don't have any junk in the house any more, and the hotel room had nothing but water, so I guess I was forced away from snacking.

But I also wasn't doing my 3 miles a day. Or lifting weights. So I've probably just lost 4 pounds of muscle.

But who cares! It's a great feeling to know I've hit the 30 mark. To weigh as much as I did at the start of the year, I'd have to be holding my kid.

And six pounds a month is a good average.

Of course, that only leaves me a month and a half to lose another 12 to get to 220 by my birthday--but I think we can do it. Month and a half is about 6 weeks, so 2 pounds a week still keeps me on schedule. Although I do know the pounds get harder the lighter you go.

Anyways, woo-hoo! 30!

Don't Call It A Comeback

Well, don't ever brag about herbs if you ever want to blog again.

What's happened to me? What has led to my absence? Did I see fit to gouge out my eyes, Oedipus-like, after the Lasik incident? Did I give up on this whole turnaround and abandon hope, going down in a blaze of glory, with only bits of Krispy Kreme and Pringles left to mark the site of the tragedy?

Actually, I had to, once again, be right. Only this time, that wasn't a good thing.

Earlier in the year, I predicted I'd see at least one major car problem before this year was out. Well, it's upon me.

My engine started overheating on the way to work last week. When I got out to check the appropriate fluid levels, I discovered my radiator was filled not with a refreshing, cooling, brightly-colored liquid, but with a thick, black goo that looked like something Nickelodeon could have marketed to kids as a toy. Which meant that oil was getting into the radiator. Which meant that somewhere, something was cracked or broken. Something that would be expensive to repair or replace, and take lots of billable hours to get to.

So I turned my car in and was doing the "telecommuting" thing, when I got a call from my boss that they needed me to head down to San Diego for a couple of days to help with some things. She knew my car situation, so they rented me a car. This worked out well--they rented me the car for long enough that it should get me by until the other one is repaired--a fortunate twist.

However, I am still dreading the announcement of the final cost of repairing my car. Estimates put it somewhere around $1,400. As of my last payment, that's more than half of what I still owe on it. And if I borrow the money to pay for it, that's going to put me a month and a half behind on my already slow debt payoff schedule.

Anyways, I'm back now, and I'll keep you filled in on all the sordid details.