Friday, April 9, 2010

Disneyland or Bust!!!

So we leave for Disneyland in 2 weeks and we are doing so good at finding the best deals out there. I have made it my mission to do this trip for CHEAP!!! It has actually become a fun challenge for me. Even J is participating.

In the past, we have found great deals on hotels on We have never paid more than $50/night for a 3-4 star hotel in Anaheim. This year, I think we have hit the jackpot. We need a place for 6 nights, so I set $500 aside as a hotel budget. J went on to and bid for a 3 1/2 star hotel in Anaheim for $35/night (always start low), plus we had a $10 off per night, Entertainment Book Travel Card, that Priceline will honor if your bid is accepted.

Well, Priceline accepted our bid. We ended up getting a 3 1/2 star hotel (Sheraton, built in 2008), right down the street from Disneyland for just $25/night. So our total for 6 nights plus tax came to $180ish!!!!!!!

I set aside $500, so now I have $320 left over that I can save or apply to another part of our trip. I am SO excited about this deal!!!! We have always done Priceline and have never been disappointed with the hotels we stay at. This makes it possible for us, and any family, to afford a trip to Disneyland.

I will post about even MORE savings next week. I also got an AMAZING deal on tickets that we can later upgrade to annual passes. I will tell you about that next time.

So, here is my question.

How much do you think a trip to Disneyland for a family of 6 will cost??? The trip will include a hotel for 6 nights, 3 Adult/3 Children 5-Day Hopper passes, Gas for a 700 mile drive, food, shopping, etc?? Let me know what you think. I'm going to keep track of how much we spend and post it after our trip. Maybe I'll even have a prize for the closest guess on how much we spend. Here we come....Disneyland or Bust!!!!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Saturday Debt Dates

J and I go out on a "Debt Date" almost every Saturday night. We go out to eat ($25 or less) and get our grocery shopping ($100 or less) done for the upcoming week. Sometimes we throw in a movie or other activity. But, for the most part, it is a chance for us to catch up on the events of the past week and go over the budget for the next week. It's a great way to reinforce our budget plans (and to secretly keep J on board). I find that doing a zero based budget helps a lot. AND, I find that if I do all of my errands on Saturday (groceries for the week, fill up the gas tanks in both cars, etc), I don't have any reason to spend money during the next week. That helps the budget immensely. A zero based budget is assigning each dollar into a category so you have no excuse to waste any left over money. By doing this, we spend our money wisely, and we have leftover money at the end of the month to apply to our debt. Here are the categories we use in our budget each week.

10% Tithing
Gas (one tank for each of us, helps us manage where we go)
Debt Date
Carry over to Debt
Misc (unexpected things)

I'd love to hear how you budget!! Please share what works for you!!!

P.S. We set aside $500 for our Disney Hotel budget. BUT, thanks to Priceline, we just scored a 3.5 star, brand new hotel, down the street from Disneyland, for $25 a night for a total of $180 for 6 nights. WOO HOO!!!!!

Friday, March 19, 2010

I BELIEVE in Tithing!!

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."

Save, spend and give—my big three principles. Most people forget about the giving part because they think I only scream "Save, save, save!"

Giving liberates the soul of the giver. You never walk away feeling badly. Whether through a tithe, charitable contribution, or gift to a friend in need, give away at least some of your money. Not only does it generate good, but it generates contentment.

Remember, no one has ever become poor by giving.

Is it acceptable to pause tithing in tough financial times?
The Bible does not mention anything about "pausing" tithing. Neither does it say that we will go to Hell if we do not tithe.

The tithe, which is a scriptural mandate, was not instituted for God's benefit because He already has all the money He needs. He does not need our money.

So why does He ask us to give 10% to Him? Tithing was created for our benefit. It is to teach us how to keep God first in our lives and how to be unselfish people. Unselfish people make better husbands, wives, friends, relatives, employees and employers. God is trying to teach us how to prosper over time.

Many people have observed that after they stopped tithing, their finances seemed to get worse. In the Book of Malachi, God promises that if you do not rob Him of your tithing, He will rebuke your devourers and protect you.

If you cannot live off 90% of your income, then you cannot live off 100%. It does not require a miracle for you to get through the month. I think that if you sit down and look at your budget, you will see that you can make it while giving at least 10%. Read the Bible and take from it what you will, and if you tithe, do it out of love for God, not guilt.

I do not beat people up for not tithing because Jesus certainly did not, but let me encourage you to keep tithing.

Dave's Advice on Tithing and Giving
from on 27 Jul 2009

I'd love to hear your thoughts on tithing......

Oops, I did it again!!!

I spent my day off today on the phone with creditors, collection agencies and banks. Although exhausting, it was well worth the effort. I accomplished A LOT!!

My biggest success today was settling my $5000 Chase Credit Card for only $1000!!

Thanks to J and his hard work doing SO MUCH overtime, we are able to tackle this credit card debt one card at a time AND we can still go to Disneyland in April using NO credit....just our hard earned $$. Thanks J

It feels good to be responsible and "own up" to our mistakes.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Patience Required

Now that we are in the rebuilding phase of our life (financially speaking), it is time to tackle this credit card debt one phone call at a time. We have been doing a lot of research online and these are the EXACT steps we are following......

Settle Credit Card Debt

Step 1 Stop making your credit card payments. Companies have no reason to settle with someone who continues to make timely payments. Most credit card companies only settle when they believe that if they don't make some kind of deal, they won't see a penny of the money they're owed.

Step 2 Ignore threats. At some point, your account will be turned over to a collection agency that may call threatening to sue you, garnish your wages and take your house or car. Take heart in the fact that most agencies won't go to the effort and expense of actually filing a lawsuit.

Step 3 Make an offer. Many debts are settled for as little as 7 cents on the dollar. Therefore, your opening offer should be no more than 25 percent of the debt. Do not make an offer you can't afford.

Step 4 Expect that your first offer will be refused.

Step 5 Use the threat of bankruptcy to keep the company talking. Remind its representatives that if you declare bankruptcy, the company may get nothing. Continue to negotiate until you reach a mutually acceptable settlement.

Step 6 Take your time. There is no reason to rush into a bankruptcy. Every day you wait, your debt gets older and harder to collect, and your creditors are more likely to cut their losses.

Step 7 Get all deals in writing. Before you send in your payment, make sure that the person who negotiated the settlement with you has the authority to do so. Be certain that the payment you are sending will settle your credit card debt.

So, after a lot of research, I gathered all of our CC information and organized it into a binder with call logs and an excel worksheet on my computer. I was ready to tackle this debt one phone call at a time.

This week I began to make the dreaded phone calls. I started with the card with the smallest balance and figured out how much I could pay them by the end of this month as a settlement. I kept that $ figure in my head and called them with determination.

After dealing with the first guy, (who had no clue what he was doing), I spoke to the manager. After explaining our situation and bartering with him for 30 minutes, he finally took my offer!!! I settled our $500 credit card balance for just $100!!! I was so proud of myself. I literally screamed with joy after I got off the phone. I can't believe it actually worked. So, with much PATIENCE down....a million to go!!!! I'll keep you posted, wish me luck!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Do the Math!!

Thanks to OVERTIME availability coming back at J's job....I did the math this month and figured out that if he works an average of 10 OT hours a week, we will have an extra $1000 at the end of this month. Ahhhh!!

It helps him put in that OT when he hears those numbers. $$$

So, what do we do with this $1000??

Since we are working on getting rid of our credit card debt first (most of which is in the settlement stages now), I thought I would set a goal to call 2 of the cards this month and settle for less than the $1000. Then I could put the rest away for our Disneyland trip in April (my 3 girls get to perform this year at Disney with their performance choir).

What do you think about that goal?

Now that I have blogged about it, I am accountable and you have to hold me to it. I can't wait to pay off 2 cards this month and tell you how it went. Anyone have experience with settling with a credit card debt????

Any advice would be greatly appreciated........

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Birthdays or Bust?

This is the second week in a row my 11 yr old daughter (going on 19) has been invited to a birthday party for a friend at school. I'm glad she has friends, and that they are kind enough to invite her to their birthday parties, but at what cost?

I mean $$$!!!

Buying presents for friends (especially GIRLS) every week can add up.

What limit do I set for said presents?

Do we make something thoughtful and homemade?

Do we take a trip to the Dollar Store every week?

Do I buy in Bulk?

I keep telling my daughter that we need to keep the cost under $10, and that includes the wrapping paper, gift bag and tissue paper. I don't want to be cheap, but I don't want to Break the Bank either. We have a budget people!!

Is $10 too much or too little???

Please, let me know what you think. I am sure I have a lifetime of birthday parties to prepare for. Save me now, before I BUST!!!