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Archive for the ‘Frugal Living’ Category

Part of my goal here is to provide resources from other sites that I have perused that can help with saving money while still eating well and having fun. (more…)

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Start by reading the infographic and meet me at the bottom. Or, if you’re like me, scroll right to the bottom, read the post, grab a bite to eat, check facebook, make sure the kids aren’t demolishing the house,  then go back to the infographic.

The Descent into Credit Card Debt Hell

graphic by mint.com

I got my first credit card back when I started attending college. So it was, you know, only about five years ago. ha. Anyway, they based my credit ‘worthiness’ on my parent’s income, not mine. If they had based it on mine, it would have been declined. DUH. I was 19 years old and my working career consisted of a few years at a pizza parlor. The card was an American Express, believe it or not.

My mom snatched that card from my spendy little hands, before I even knew how to triumphantly say ‘CHHHARRRRRGE IT!’ properly.

Months later, I got a discover card. Then a Visa. Then the first bill. Guess they weren’t gonna let me keep that new guitar for nothing.

Then the burden of the debt climbed onto my back like a good little monkey. It’s almost like a rite of passage these days. I was fortunate, I didn’t leave college with a mountain of college loans. Then again, back then, tuition was $350 a semester and living in a three bedroom flat with several roommates brought the costs down.

Fast forward to my thirties. I was married with one child, we had our first house, a new car, and one other vehicle that I had been paying for on a five-year loan. We ‘thought’ we were living the American dream. We both thought, ‘well, this is what being an adult is about.’

Fast forward again another five years, we now had two children, two new vehicles, moved to another state with a bigger house and more debt. Crap. But my husband’s company was being acquired by UPS, so I knew we’d be able to pay it all off quickly.

Now, it didn’t help our situation that my then husband was an alcoholic, loved to buy things for himself, and ended up taking a job that paid $25K less than his current job. The stress of our debt was overwhelming and we lost everything except my truck. And when I say everything, I mean EVERYthing. We filed for bankruptcy, and walked away from our house and property. The trustee for the court for the bankruptcy scrutinized all our belongings trying to figure out a way that he could get money from us to pay off some of what we owed.

Eventually, we ended up with a $3,000 bill to the trustee because we had a little fart of a car that he felt was worth that amount. We wished. Plus we still needed the car, so we couldn’t sell it to pay off the debt. Even with bankruptcy, we ended up in debt. Go figure.

I didn’t realize the weight that the debt had placed on me. Even though I wanted to pay off that debt, I was truly relieved by the stress I was able to let go of after the bankruptcy. Still, it’s a better feeling when it can get paid off in full.

I vowed to take control of my personal finances and never depend on credit cards or credit again. My credit score was in the tanker, so I couldn’t have cared less about that and I knew if I did it right, my credit score would never matter again anyway.

Needless to say, the divorce came shortly thereafter. I became a wizard with the small income my two children and I were living off of.

Fortunately, by the time my 2nd husband and I were married I had educated myself on how to get out of debt. He came with quite a bit of it debt and had lost his house as well due to his divorce and the housing market.

When I told him my plan, and that I needed him to trust me, he let go of the financial reigns and allowed me take over. A month or so ago I came to him and showed him where we were.

Within three months, we have paid more than $4500 off and will be debt free in less than a year. That might not sound like a big deal, but that means we will have paid off more than $20K in just about a year.

This was without me going back to work (I stay at home). This was without us generating any more income than what we previously had. This was without ‘suffering’ through eating only top ramen. We eat really well, in fact. We still do things as a family (now with three kids) and he recently rebuilt the front end on his 1970 Chevelle.

When I told my husband our estimated ‘freedom from debt’ date he replied, ‘Really? That soon? Oh, man, that is amazing. Thank you.’. The emotion in his voice told the story of the burden HE has been carrying all these years.

I’m now starting to educate myself on sound investments because, baby, I’ll tell you what. Based on the money I was able to save each month to put towards debt, I will be putting towards investments when it’s all said and done.

We will not be in the 98% where people over 65 are either dead or dead broke. How about you?

The best part of all of this is, I get to show my kids how to make sound financial choices, how to save, how to spend, how to tithe (it’s not left at the church like we’ve all been taught!), how to create money and more. They see me working the finances, we talk about money when they get some and how to handle it, what it means, where it comes from, how to create more of what we have from what we have, etc.

I don’t know about you, but I was never given a financial education as a kid. No wonder I went into debt. I saw the credit cards as a kid, just never saw the bills that came in later! I won’t make that mistake with my kids. I hope you don’t either.

So the question is, are you ready to get rid of the debt you may have? Have you paid off debt? Would you care to share your story and how you were able to get out of debt?

If you have any tips that you feel contributed to you getting out of debt, I’d love to see them. If you are interested in how I did it, let me know and I’ll tell you what I did.

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Just so we’re clear, this is not what
my skin looks like.

I’m a huge fan of personal finances, budgeting, saving money in odd places, and being out of debt (or just never getting into it).

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I like to stick it to the man. I like to think I got one over on people who hike prices up to take advantage of people who are doing their best to make a better life while still having nice things.

Any time I come across something I find REALLY cool and isn’t something you might see on another ‘frugality’ blog (coupons, anyone?) I wanna pass it along.

This little goodie is really more of a little miracle than goodie. AND, I hit on a way to save $$ too.

Here’s the deal. We’ve seen all the ads, whether it be tv, print, or on the internet for facial cleansers, creams, miracle cures, toner, gentle abrasives, gels, masks, the proactive, the little rotating brushes and so on that are intended to save your skin, get rid of scars, handle break outs and save you thousands in facials each and every year.

Oddly enough, all these products cost an arm an a leg to use. If you’re lucky, you might get some results. For me and my pissy skin I’ve never had any positive results. I’ve tested the shiite out of my face, jaw line, and neck in hopes of getting rid of fine lines, huge pores, acne, blackheads. Alas, all that happens is my face gets worse.

I had people tell me, ‘you’re too hard on your skin! Your skin is to be pampered and babied, that’s the problem!’
Well, my pretties, I have news for you. This is the best kept secret in skin care that I have ever seen. ‘Put any secrets you may ave right out in front of everyone, they’ll never see it.’ I’ve heard people say. And that is just what the Korean women population has done.

My friend, Grace, came over to my house the other day excited to tell me about her Baiden Mitten.

‘Your whatie mitten?’, I asked.

‘It’s called a BAIDEN Mitten. I found it online. It’s made of tree bark. You scrub your skin with it. We have always heard that we have to baby our skin. This company boldly states the opposite, that our skin is an organ that needs working out. So they have come up with this mitten that you use to exfoliate.’

‘Grace’, I say, ‘Listen, I’m an EXPERT on exfoliating. I scrub the shiite out of my skin ALL the time. Doesn’t work. You’ve been scammed.’

‘This is different.’, Grace tells me. ‘This is WAY different. Trust me. You want one of these.’

She tells me cost is $50, but it lasts two years. $50?? Woof. How good can it REALLY be?

However, I fork over the fitty because I will put horse shit on my face if someone tells me it helps with my skin. Ok, not really, but close.

A few days later, I open my mailbox and in a padded envelope is my Baiden Mitten. I rip the package open to find this:

‘Yup’, I thought to myself, ‘I got ripped off.’

I took it into the shower the next morning. I followed the directions of getting my skin wet, then turning off the water. Then , starting with my arms, I scrubbed. It felt like a very fine sandpaper. Nothing. So I scrubbed harder. And scrubbed. And scrubbed.

Slowly, I noticed ‘rolls’ of dead, dirty skin start to fall off my arms onto the shower floor. The directions that came with the mitten said to not brush off the rolls of dead skin, as it actually assisted in pulling more off.

I moved to my feet and legs. More dead skin rolls. It was, for lack of a better word, disgusting. I had no idea I had that much dead skin hanging out on my, well, skin.

Since I work out quite a bit, I take a shower every day sometimes twice. I use soap every time. Still, all of this was coming off by just rubbing this mitten vigorously up and down my arms, legs, torso, etc.

I did my back. Tons of rolls. I did my face. No rolls, but certainly dirt and dead skin. In all the years I have tried to exfoliate using loofah sponges, scrubby puffs, and the very fine grit cleanser on a scrubby poof. But I have never seen anything like this.

Their site says this about the mitten:

What Can you expect your Baiden Mitten to do?

  • Diminish appearance of scars and stretch marks
  • Stimulate skin circullation
  • Help collagen production
  • Repair damaged skin
  • DETOX your whole body
  • Keep pores open
  • Get rid of TOXINS
  • Better blood flow
  • Greater oxygen absorption
  • Soften & Smooth Skin
  • Exfoliate dead skin
  • Give you an overall more youthful look & feel

After using it for about three weeks, they weren’t kidding. EVERY time I use it, dead skin rolls come off, and my skin became insanely soft. But still, $50? I was having a hard time endorsing it only because of the high price tag.

Then I went to visit my friend, Grace, and she had mentioned she had seen something on the Baiden Mitten Facebook page where someone had posted, ‘Hey, this mitten reminds me of the Korean Italy Cloth my grandmother has used for years.’

Wait. A what?

We hit the internet, and googled it. Korean Italy Cloth. Apparently, this is comparable to the Baiden Mitten. Could it possibly be the italy cloth was the inspiration for the Baiden Mitten, and they just prettied up the packaging, changed the name, and added a higher price tag to it?

We found a link to some on Ebay….here’s what we found…

Ok, cool. But what was the price, right? We looked. $13.99 for a NINE piece set.

WHAT?! but….but….but….what?! WOW.

Still, we wanted to make sure it was the same thing. At least close to the same thing. With a bit more research, we discovered these cloths are sold at Korean markets and we found a Korean market about 10 minutes away from where we were.

We grabbed the car keys, our wallets and yelled to Grace’s husband, ‘Watch the kids! We’ll be right back!’

When we arrived at the market, we nervously searched the store for the cloths. Please, oh, please, let them have the Italy cloths. Then, we found them. We looked at the price. $2.99 each. Woo-hoo!! Even if it sucked, we were only out $2.99.

We danced in the aisle. Fortunately, the market wasn’t busy and only the cashier saw our victory dance. We went to share our joy with him.

‘YOU have been keeping this a secret for way too long, new best friend.’, Grace said.

The cashier, who was also the owner, said, ‘oh, these are nice. I just got back from visiting family in Korea. They have bath houses there where you can have someone scrub you down with one….if you can stand it. Most people can’t stand the pain.’

Our eyes grew wide. People will SCRUB you with these?! I looked at Grace and she at me.

‘Dooood,’ She whispered, ‘Can you IMAGINE the rolls?’

We both bought several for ourselves, and for others. Everyone who we have given one to has been blown away at the results.

So here’s the deal. GO GET ONE.

If you want the Baiden Mitten, here’s the link:

http://www.thebaidenmitten.com/

Ignore the cheesy site. It’s the product you want., not the website. It’s too bad they don’t have an affiliate link or I’d be rich.

Here’s a Squidoo lens from a woman who wrote about her baiden experience with pictures.

http://www.squidoo.com/skincaresecret

You’ll see what I mean about the ‘skin rolls’. Eyew.

Here’s a link to a totally random ebay page for the Italy Cloths:

http://bit.ly/PlATF5

Now, I know that the men reading this blog may be thinking that it’s a post just for the ladies. Not true! Grace’s husband tried one, saw all the dead skin come off and became religious about using it. So, don’t hesitate to get yerself and yer lady friend one, if you’ve got one.

Get the set from ebay, or get online and do a google search for a Korean market in your area. March yer ass in there and say, ‘I MUST have an Italy Cloth!’

Your gonna thank me for this. Once again, no affiliate links on this post. But I know you are going to be so blown away by these products you’ll insist on throwing me a few bones. Instead, how about sharing me new blog with your besties so they get in on this secret.

You will be rewarded tenfold by them!

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