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Saturday, June 20, 2015

Debt settlement is sometimes the only way to turn.

This article is from personal experience of hitting a financial wall and coming to a sudden stop. I was 40 years old and my whole life stopped. I was financially devastated and did not know where to turn. I had been making a good income and my wife at the time was working full time and making very good money. But then I walked into work one day and my job had come to an end. I had no clue that this was going to happen. We had been living high on the hog and had not been putting away any funds for times like this, we had no nest egg or financial cushion to fall back onto. I was devastated, I felt like my world was crashing in around me and I had no clue of where to turn or what to do. 

My credit cards were close to being maxed out and I had other bills that were closing in on me. I had reached out to credit counseling agencies to try and help me get my bills in order. They worked except they took every red cent I had and put it all towards my debt, which is fine but it leaves you with nothing which hurts when you have unexpected car repairs or home repairs or a medical emergency. You cannot just pick up the phone and call your credit counselor  and say I am skipping this months payment to fix my car, the credit counseling agents do not want to hear this from you and they will not help when you have these situation's. So unfortunately I had to take out other credit cards to help when these issues came about.

I had also looked into a consolidation loans to wrap all my debt into one account and one payment with a much lower interest rate and a payment that I could afford. This would have been great but with no job and only my wife's income I could not qualify for loan, I was what is called “upside down”, my debt to income ratio was backwards or upside down, I owed more monthly than what I had coming in as income. A consolidation loan was out of the question, it would have been great but there was no bank or loan company out there that would give me the time of day.

Unfortunately a lot of these types of programs do not work for people and they did not work for me either. One thing that I did do that worked for me was to go and find a professional debt settlement representative that could talk to the collection agencies, credit card companies, and other people I was in debt to and come up with a debt settlement that we all agreed too. A lot of people frown on debt settlement because it does hurt your credit report and credit score, but when you are in a position like I was my credit score sucked anyways. I opted to take a hit on my credit and pay off my debt at an agreed upon settlement instead of filing bankruptcy. The process can take two to three years of work but I was able to get my bills paid off and in the process I had found a new job and I took that income and applied it to my overall debt.

The whole situation was a wake up call for me. I knew from this that I needed to start storing away some funds on a weekly basis to cover me for three to six months just in case one of us loses our job again or we get sick and cannot go to work and we have to live on one income again. Everybody needs to make sure that they have at least six months of income stored away in case of emergencies.

Can you save money raising chickens?

Can raising chickens save you money?

Backyard chicken farming is taking off like wildfire across the nation, but the question is do you really save any money on your grocery bill with raising chickens that produce eggs?
I have raised chickens myself in my backyard, what I found was that I was giving away more eggs than what we could really eat in a week. The cost of raising chickens is really pretty cheap. Most people will go out and purchase a chicken coop to house their chickens in, but if you are on a shoestring budget then do what I did
and use recycled materials. I had taken some old lumber I had laying around and some chicken wire fencing to make my chicken coop, by doing this I saved about $300.00  Since living in Florida I had to build it in the shade to keep the coop cooler, but I did not have to worry about heat or insulation to keep the chickens warm in the winter. The cost of the baby chicks were extremely cheap, the cost we paid was in the neighborhood of $3.00 each. The baby chicks we bought were only a couple days old. The downside is that you will have to wait from four to six months before receiving eggs from them.
If you purchase chicks that are only a few days old you will need a brooder to keep them in until they are old enough to be in the chicken coop. As you will see in this post I am a very frugal person. I used an old rubbermaid tub and some pine straw from my backyard and made my own makeshift brooder. It was just a few weeks before they could be left alone in the coop.
For the chicken coop you will need to purchase a bail of straw about every 6 months or so and that would cost me about $10.00. Then the chicken feed would cost me about $10 to $15 dollars a month. There are a few incidental items you may want to purchase for your mini egg farm, but overall the cost of raising chickens is very inexpensive if you shop around for your feed and supplies. Also if you build your coop out of recycled products you can save money there also. The cost of feed and straw was about the only cost that was after building the chicken coop and purchasing the baby chicks.
On our mini chicken farm we had six hens, and they pretty much laid one egg a day, once in a while we would be surprised and receive two to three eggs from one of our hens.
The nice thing about raising your own chicken eggs is that you know that the eggs are fresh and are organic. No telling how long the eggs have been sitting around in storage that you purchase from a grocery store.
We loved raising chickens and loved helping out friends and family with eggs. We also would donate a lot of the eggs to feeding groups that fed the homeless in our area. People really love getting farm fresh eggs. It is fun raising chickens and children love seeing and being around them also. This is a great family hobby that all will get a benefit from.

We would love to hear your thoughts, comments, and experiences on raising farm fresh eggs.

Friday, June 19, 2015

How do you feel about debt?

How do you feel about debt?
All of us have heard many times over and over again, debt is bad! Even the bible talks about debt, “Proverbs 22:7 The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is a servant to the lender.” The one misconception that many Christians talk about is, going into debt is a sin. Nowhere in the bible does it say that debt is a sin or that you have broken one of God's commandments if you find yourself in debt. The bible does talk about being in debt is dangerous and the bible also talks about not repaying your debt “Psalm 37:21 The wicked borrow and do not repay”.
One of the issues we see today that our own leaders in government is borrowing money like mad and going deeper and deeper into debt, which is teaching us to do the same. Our own government is setting a bad example for us to follow. Back in 2008 the government was saying that the people of the nation are not
borrowing enough money to purchase items and the Federal Reserve had to step in to help bail out companies that were hurting because we were not buying things to help companies pay their debt. The government has been in debt since the last great depression, but over the past several years the debt that the government owes has skyrocketed out of the roof. Most of the country’s debt is either mortgage debt or student loan debt. We have seen both of these categories explode over the years. Back just a few years ago when the housing market balloon busted we saw many homeowners leave their homes and dumped this debt back onto the government through bankruptcies. The government was handing out money to homeowners like handing out candy to children. I was working at the time doing loan closings for individuals and people were taking out two and three loans against their home equity just to purchase toys and etc. I knew something bad was going to happen, there was just too much money being handed out all around the country and I was correct. Banks and financial institutions began to fold and the market value on homeowners homes began to drop like a rock. Soon homes that had two and three mortgages on them were upside down, that is when you owe more on the home than what it is worth. When people realized this they just packed up their personal belongings and left their home and gave it back to the lenders (the government in most cases).
Let’s look at some reasons people go into debt or have to go into debt.
Income has been cut. For many, their income has taken a hit or they had to change jobs and their monthly income is less now. Many people fall into this category and they have not tried to cut their expenses. They want to continue to live like they were before their income was cut so they take out loans or charge credit cards to fill in the gap between their income and their expenses.
No savings. It is too easy to spend money that you have left over at the end of the week or month. A person or family should take any left over money and stick it away for a rainy day. Many families have no money or savings set aside for unexpected bills or job layoff or illness. A family should try and set aside three to six months of salary just for times like this, if they don’t they have to use credit cards and other types of loans to make ends meet.
Spending money before you get it. You are banking on a big bonus, or inheritance and it does not come in, but you have already spent this money and now you cannot payoff that credit card bill. I have learnt this one the hard way myself. I was informed of a big bonus and went out and bought some new fishing gear and then the company told me that they made a mistake in calculating my bonus and it was more than half less than it was supposed to be. The moral to this example is, never spend the money until the check clears the bank.
Lack of communication in the family. I find that a lot of family’s have terrible communication skills when it comes to talking about finances. When it comes to money people are afraid to talk to their significant other about buying habits, or the bank statement, or savings and etc. I know families where the husband runs the finances and the wife has no clue what is in the bank and she is afraid to ask anything to her husband about the bank account. I know other families where each spouse has their own bank accounts and they have no clue what the other does with his or her money. Each person has his and hers charge cards and there is no communication between the two of how far in debt they are. This is a terrible way to live as a union. This tells me that there is no trust in the household.
Medical Bills. Medical bills are just getting out of hand. Even with medical insurance you still have large deductibles, copay's, and the insurance is denying many types of surgeries that a person may need to have done. My nephew for an example has hepatitis C from a blood transfusion from when he was a child and he has to take a medication that cost a thousand dollars a day. His insurance will only pay for fifty percent of the cost, there is no generic medication and if he does not take the medication it will kill him. Unfortunately he cannot pay for the medication without going into debt. Another example is my wife, she had to have major surgery, the hospital required a twenty thousand dollar copay, and she has great medical coverage. The hospital required for her to take out a credit card with them in order for her to have the surgery. The hospital is not in the credit card business, they have a third party company that issues the credit, but the hospital has seen too many times when they have not gotten paid after the surgery, and the hospital is just trying to protect themselves from financial failure.
Divorce. Most of us have been through a divorce once or twice in your life. I can count on one hand the number of friends that have not gone through a divorce. As most of us know, a divorce is extremely expensive, even a simple divorce will cost about $3,000.00, then if you have children and assets it will drive the cost of the divorce through the roof. I have one family member that has to fly from Florida to Alaska every time his wife takes him back to court for one thing or another, can you imagine what his divorce is costing him. I know two others that have been separated for over three years and still legally married because they cannot afford to go through the divorce. Many people opt to go into deeper debt just to get the divorce over with.

These here are just a few reasons why people fall into debt. We would love to hear from you some other reasons why maybe you have gone into this dark deep hole called debt.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Can money make us happy

Can money really buy happiness?

This is a really tough question to answer because you have to look at in different ways. First the Bible says that “For the love of money is the root of all evil 1 Timothy 6:10”. But many people take this out of context. It is when we trade our Christian life to serve making money over everything and everybody else. Being greedy and covet money is the evil part of money. It is what we do with the money that either brings us happiness or evil.
In today's society the use of money to pay our bills, to help us get out of debt, take a vacation, purchase groceries, get us a vehicle so we can have dependable transportation, and of course put a roof over our heads is what we are suppose to use money for. Without these basic essentials we  would not be able to be
happy and it takes money to have these items so we can live. To say can money purchase happiness, my answer would have to be yes.
People look at happiness in all different ways. A friend of mine who is not a Christian looks at what makes him happy is buying things. He is a spontaneous buyer. He walks into a furniture store and walks out purchasing a $6000.00 bed. He had no plans of purchasing a bed when he entered the store, it was an impulse purchase. He ended up putting the expenditure on a credit card because he had no money to pay for it, but he felt the need to buy something. Now he is $6000.00 deeper in debt and is unhappy because he has this debt. So for the moment he was happy but it was short lived when he received his credit card bill and the happiness is  gone.
In today’s society we are pounded over and over again to make purchases and buy new things, even if we do not need them or can afford them. The world tells us just go ahead and charge it, we can pay for it later. In 2014 there were over 1 million dollars of personal bankruptcies mostly because people over purchased and could not dig themselves out of debt.
Relationships not things is what brings us happiness.  It has been said many times, that relationships with people, not things is what brings a person happiness. In a report in the Huffington Post that shared many studies of this same exact thing. Even the bible talks about this in Matthew 6:19-20 says “Do not store up for yourselves treasures (material items) here on earth, where moths and rust will destroy and where thieves will break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth or rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.
Now let’s look at some steps of how money can buy us happiness the correct way.
Step 1; Get out of debt.  
Debt is the number one killer of a happy home. Debt brings on misery, unhappiness, physical damage to your health by being stressed over debt, and if you get yourself so deep in debt you have to file bankruptcy you will have many years of hard work bringing your credit back up to a good standard. This is why I listed getting out of debt as being step one.
Step 2; Give to others.
Luke 6:38 Give and it shall be given unto you. Proverbs 19:17 One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the Lord, and HE will repay him for his good deed. Proverbs 28:27 He who gives to the poor will never want, but he who shuts his eyes will have many curses. It has been proven over and over again from bible scholars to psychologist that giving and making others happy in turn makes us feel better and makes us happy.
Step 3; Look at what brings happiness.
For me it is spending time with my family and also helping others that are in despair. I would love to be able to be financially free from the bonds of work in order to do this but at this present time I am not. I am working on taking the money I make from my present job and from working on this blog to be able to make myself financially free in order to help others as much as I can. To me a job is an anchor around my neck that is holding me back from giving aid to others that are much less fortunate.
But each of us has to look at ourselves to see what brings us happiness. Hopefully it is not material things, but if it is them that is something that you have to work with and for. Whatever it is it takes money to get us the happiness that we are striving for.
Money can bring us happiness if we use it correctly to help us get out of debt, pay your bills, help others, and share it with those who do not have it. But if we covet money and be greedy with it money can be the root to unhappiness.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Save money when grocery shopping.

Save money when grocery shopping.

Have you noticed that over the years food prices are sky rocketing through the roof? I go shopping pretty much every time that my wife goes to the grocery store, not to monitor her purchasing habits but just because I like shopping just as much as she does and it is a great time for us to spend together.
We both work well together when it comes to purchasing food. We shop for the best prices, but we do not buy generic unless we know for sure that it is just as good as the name brand items. We have ran across a few generic items that were definitely not worth the compromise to buying generic to save money.

We are not health nuts and only eat vegetarian style far from it, but we do eat a wide variety of items. We try to stay away from processed foods and eat more of a healthier diet of fresh vegetable, fruit, and meats. We do try and stay away from foods that are high in sugars and carbs, just because we are trying to watch our weight. So many pre-packaged foods and processed foods are loaded with ingredients that are not good for human consumption.
There are many ways to save on your food bill no matter what type of diet or how your family lives and eats , but it does take some work on your part to make some changes in your lifestyle to make this work. Her are a few ideas that have helped my wife and I save money in the past on our grocery bill, I hope these will help you out also.

Make a shopping list. With today’s technology there are many apps for smartphones out on the market for making a shopping list, pick one at put it to use. On my smartphone my wife and I will work on a shopping list at least a week ahead. When something comes to her mind she will shoot me a text to put it on the shopping list, then on pay day we will take the list and do our grocery shopping. We always go to the store with a plan, and if we stick to this plan and stay focused we do not over purchase and waste money. Another reason to make a shopping list is so we can sit down the night before and go through our coupons and find the ones that line up with our list, this way we do not forget about giving the clerk the coupon for the item's we buy, using coupons can save us a lot of money if we use them correctly.
Don’t shop hungry. This has been said for years, but it is a good statement to live by. When you are hungry you will buy out the store and most of it you dont need. One thing that I found is that when I shop while I am hungry I will have less patience and I will not grab the first thing I see on the shelf and I will not comparison shop for the best price.  When you are hungry you will also make some serious bad choices for the food you eat especially if you are on any sort of diet.
Shop at warehouse stores.  You will find a lot of items at discount prices if you purchase in case lots. Yes you have to pay for a membership fee, but the most I ever had to pay was $35.00 for year. I made that up the first time I went shopping. Canned vegetables, soups, rice, pasta, cereal, chips, these are just a few items that have long shelf life and can be purchased at a fraction f the price than at a normal grocery store. This is an excellent way to purchase at a reduced rate and stock the shelves at home.
Discount Food Stores. This is really popular in Florida, we have several discount food stores all around the state. These stores are a no thrill type of store where you even have to bring your own grocery bags and you have to bag your own groceries. I can walk into one of these store and cut my weekly grocery bill in half. Granted a lot of the food at these discount stores are generic, but most of what I have purchased at these places is just as good as name brand food at normal grocery stores.
Purchase fresh fruit and vegetables locally.  Most communities have farmer markets and local fruit stands. These are excellent places to purchase home grown fruits, vegetables, eggs, and sometimes even locally grown beef, pork and chicken. Usually the food from these places are very high quality, organic and most of the time free of hormones. I love shopping at these types of places, I build a rep-or with the farmer or the owner of the fruit stand and I can sometime make a barter with the person or find out if they have something seasonal that is coming in shortly.
Prepackaged Food. Don’t ever purchase food that is prepackaged for you. For an example, in the produce area of the store you will find vegetables like onions, peppers, and celery already cut up and packaged. If you look at the price it will be three to four times more expensive than the non-cut up product. Also when you go through the frozen food section you will find bags of frozen vegetables, frozen meals and many other pre-packaged food and processed food. The cost of these foods will definitely drive up the price of you grocery.
Comparison shop. Keep all your receipts from shopping for strictly groceries. At the end of a month write down the main items that you usually purchase with the prices. Take the list to several different grocery stores in your community and compare prices. You may be astounded to find that even though you thought you were getting a great deal at the store you most often shop at you could save money by shopping at a couple different stores. My wife and I do this, we will purchase all our canned goods at warehouse store, then all our meat products at our local butcher shop, and then our remaining items at a big box store along with our toiletries, and household items.
For many people the grocery bill is one of the most costly expenditure in their budget. Saving money on your grocery bill will help put money back into the budget to help pay off other debts you want to get rid of or save this money to add to your investment portfolio. Every area where you can save money will help to make your dreams come true and help you to be financially independent.  

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Sell Clutter Around Your Home for Fast Money

 There has been a few times in my life when I have needed some extra cash, for either a vacation, a mission trip or just to pay off some bills early. One of the best ways I found to make some money was by going through the house and find things I did not need anymore or I just don't use. This way is a great way to get rid of the clutter around the house, garage and sheds, plus make some extra serious cash to boot.
Yard sale to sell clutter and make money!

Many people tend to think that the only way to sell things is by having a yard sale. A yard sale is one way to do it, but there are many down falls for doing yard selling. First it is a lot of hard work setting up tables and pricing things, plus you have to sit outside in the blazing heat (especially here in Florida) all day, then you have the professional yard selling purchasers that will offer you pennies on a dollar for your items. Then if the items don't sell you still have not made much money and you are still stuck with the junk.

Here are a few recommendations of other ways to sell your clutter and make some nice cash.

Craiglist is a great way to sell items and another reason it is so good is that it is free to use. We just recently sold a boat that we had not been using, we listed it one day and sold it the next. We also use Craiglist to rent our rental home. Over the past several years we had lost renters and when we list it on Craiglist it always rents in a matter of a few days.
Two things I recommend when dealing with buyers from racialist, first only accept cash from the buyer, and if you are uncomfortable about people coming to your home then I would recommend that you meet the buyer at a local place like a public parking lot.

Amazon Auction site is a great way to sell your items. Amazon allows you to sell many different items, some of these items would include books, electronics, toys, games, baby products, musical instruments, CD's, DVDs and many other items like these. The only thing you need to do is sign up as a non-professional seller and sell less than 40 items per month.

Online Facebook For Sale Pages in the past couple of years people have been setting online sale pages up on Facebook. This has been a great way for people to advertise their items for sale with no fee's. People sell all sort of things from large items like car's and truck's to smaller items like kids toy's, clothing, furniture, and etc. To find one of these pages all you need to do is search Facebook for one in your area. If you cant find one for your location then you could start one yourself.

Consignment Stores are another great place to sell your items you wish to get rid of. Even in the small town that I live in there are least four or five of these consignment shops. These are great because all you need to do is drop off your stuff and negotiate a fee and they will ask a few questions for a description of the items and how much you want for them. When the items sell then they get a hold of you and give you the money they received from the buyers. Some consignment shops only deal in antiques, some deal only in clothing, while others may handle anything that you bring in. Just stop by one of these stores and get the details of what they sell and how much they charge and you could be selling your stuff that day.

Ebay I have used many times in the past to sell items that I wanted to get rid of and made some pretty serious money. Ebay is a great source to sell your items. What I love about it is that I can do it at anytime that I have some free time on my hands. I don't have to waste a whole weekend sitting out in the heat waiting for someone to purchase my stuff, all I need to do is take a couple good pictures on my items, write a description and list the item for sale. When someone purchases the item, I pack it up and take it to the post office and mail the item to the buyer. It is as simple as that. In a later post I will go more in depth of how to sell your items on Ebay and set up an Ebay store.

The key to selling items on Craigslist, Ebay, Amazon, Facebook, or any other online source is to write an awesome description of the item, take some good photographs of the items and have an amazing title for the item. Be upfront with your shipping times and prices, don't try and scam people for selling the item dirt cheap and charge a ridiculous price for shipping. The best practice is when the items sells package the item up really well and get the item shipped as soon as possible. Your purchaser will love this and give you a good rating.