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Day 7: 21 Days to Financial Freedom

1 May

To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness. – Bertrand Russell

So I guess you’re wondering how I’m doing on spending. Here’s an update:

My challenges
I’ve bought some snacks and grabbed fast food a few times this past week. I’d like blame it on my busy schedule but I know that I still lack some control. I’m also realizing that I’m somewhat of an emotional eater. I never thought so because when I’m really stressed, I don’t eat and lose weight. But I’ve noticed that when I’m mildly irritated or slightly stressed, I feel the urge to want to “reward” myself with a meal out.

My progress
I have some victories too though. Even when I’ve eaten out or snacked, I’ve chosen cheaper alternatives. Instead of a fancy hot chocolate and a muffin from the campus coffee shop (over $5), I settled for a pre-made Starbucks frapp and made my own oatmeal (about $2.50). And there were a pair of Tommy Hilfiger jeans at the Macy’s where I work part time on sale for about $18! Man, that would have been a steal. I didn’t even go and try them on. Plus, there was a Facebook deal for a local steam room spa that I’ve been wanting to try for only $10. I passed that up, too.

I’ve also withdrawn cash to use for this week to avoid using my debit card.

The good thing is that I’m not feeling like I’m depriving myself. I have to ask myself, “Do I really need this?” Most times, the answer is no. I’m glad to see where I’m not wasting away money, even though it may only be a small amount at this point.

New discoveries
This past week I’ve created a new budget by using a new format. This format helps you determine if you are overspending in certain categories. For example, according to this budget, you should only be spending around 26 – 36% for your housing (rent, mortgage) or no more than 10% for debt (credit cards, loans). I’ve budgeted before but this is something new for me and I’m able to determine where I need to find more balance…my debt.

The book also has caused me to revisit the idea of tithing. It’s something that I’ve never done before. I thought I was doing it before but a true tithe is 10% of your gross income, not your net. Anything other than that is an offering. This is a challenging concept for me right now and is something like I’m praying about at present.

14 more days to go…


Day 1: 21 Days to Financial Freedom

26 Apr

“Times are hard.” You don’t know how many times I’ve heard that lately. And yes, I’ve been saying it, too. With gas at almost $4 a gallon, no cost of living raise in the last few year, and those unexpected expenses that pop up (locking my keys in the car), my pocketbook has taken a beating. But while I’d like to blame it on all things external, I’ve had to come to the realization that I need to take personal responsibility for not managing my money the way that I should. So, some changes will be made. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. I know that I’ve got to do something different!

I’ve already made some changes: I got a roommate a year and half ago and I got a part-time job at Macy’s back in November. But despite those major changes, I still find myself strapped for cash. I’ve got to go a step further. A friend recently mentioned a book that he and his wife were reading called “The Power to Prosper: 21 Days to Financial Freedom” by Michelle Singletary. He had some pretty good things to say about it and he mentioned the 21 day fast. He let me borrow the book and the fast is something I’m going to try. Basically, the book calls for 21 days of refraining from spending on anything other than necessities, eliminating using credit and debit cards, avoiding shopping or even window shopping, and more. And during this process, the book will help you to develop a budget and gain other tools, both practical and spiritual.

I’ll be chronicling my progress along the way right here on Emo Idiot. I’ve already read the first chapter and here’s my first assignment:

Make a list of any potential obstacles that may prevent you from sticking to the fast and then decide how to eliminate them.

I know that my biggest obstacle will be eating out. Most days when I get off from work, I don’t feel like cooking. Or, I may not have time to cook when going from my full-time job to my part-time gig. I’d usually just grab some fast food. And, I’m gonna have a hard time not buying snacks at the bookstore or coffee shop at my job or at the mall where I work. I’m going to have to plan, plan, plan! I’m going to need to make food on the weekends so that I can have it during the week. I’m going to have to carry my lunch including snacks everyday! Ugh, this is going to be tough! I’ve already started doing some of this but not everyday. At first I thought that I would just build some lunch money into my budget during this 21 days but eating out is forbidden during the fast plus I need to face my biggest financial challenge and that’s spending too much money on food! I’m gonna need prayer! lol

Three Books Every Single Gal Should Read

8 Mar

I used to be a self-help junkie. I’m not so much anymore. But there are a few books that I continually go back to when I need relationship advice. In fact, some of these books I’ve lost and purchased again because they were so valuable to me. I’ve read some of them 2 and 3 times.

He’s Just Not that Into You:The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys
by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo

My take: You’ve seen the movie. But have you read the book? It really opened my eyes. Although a guy might say one thing, it doesn’t always mean that he’s sincere about it. If a guy truly wants you, he’ll make the effort to show you. You don’t have to convince him you’re the best thing since sliced bread. If he interested, he’ll call. And that’s it. Period.

Editorial Review from Publishers Weekly:
It’s a classic single-woman scenario: you really like this guy, but he’s giving mixed messages. You make excuses, decide he’s confused, afraid of commitment. Behrendt, a former executive story editor for Sex and the City—and a formerly single (now happily married) guy who knows all the excuses—provides a simple answer: he’s just not that into you. Stop kidding yourself, let go and look for someone else who will be. After all, as Behrendt sensibly puts it, “if a (sane) guy really likes you, there ain’t nothing that’s going to get in his way.” If you’re not convinced yet, by all means read this smart, funny and surprisingly upbeat little book, full of q’s and a’s covering every excuse woman has ever made to avoid admitting to herself that a man just wasn’t that smitten with her.

Quotable: Assume you are the rule, not the exception.

Why Men Love Bitches
by Sherry Argov

My take: My aunt kept telling me about this book and I was put off by the title like so many other women probably are. The last thing I want to do is come off like a bitch. When she saw that I wasn’t making a bee line to the bookstore for it and I was still having man problems, she sent it to me in the mail. Boy, was I grateful. I think this book should be taught in school to every teenage girl! Once you get past the title and read its’ contents, you’ll soon discover that this book is really about self respect and establishing boundaries. While I don’t agree with everything the author suggests, I think the principles outlined in the book are great.

Editorial Review from Publishers Weekly:
Contending that some women are “too nice,” comedian and radio show host Sherry Argov has written Why Men Love Bitches: From Doormat to Dreamgirl-A Woman’s Guide to Holding Her Own in a Relationship. “I’m not recommending that a woman have an abrasive disposition,” Argov writes, “The woman I’m describing is kind yet strong. She doesn’t give up her life, and she won’t chase a man.” Her sassy book is filled with scenarios and advice aimed at making women subtly stronger and self-empowered. Argov’s principles, which range from the farfetched to the downright absurd, include “If you give him a feeling of power, he’ll want to protect you and he’ll want to give you the world” and “A little distance combined with the appearance of self-control makes him nervous that he may be losing you.” The book, which has already been featured on The View and The O’Reilly Factor, should make waves with its controversial view of relationships.

Quotable: It is the attitude about yourself that a man will adopt.

Boundaries in Dating: Making Dating Work
by Henry Cloud and John Townsend

My take: This book was recommended to me by a minister. So, of course, it hinges on Christian principles and that’s part of the reason I like it. The book takes a look at how relationships should be approached as someone who is trying to please God, a position that’s not often taken in the mainstream. I’ve read this book several times. As a matter of fact, I lost the book and went out and bought a new copy. Like Why Men Love Bitches, the book talks about maintaining proper boundaries with your date or potential life-long partner. This is something I struggle with so it’s been very helpful. The book covers everything from honesty and the “blame game” to establishing and maintaining what you will and won’t accept in a relationship.

Review from an customer: “Boundaries in dating is about becoming a truthful, caring, responsible, and free person who also encourages growth in those she is in contact with,” the authors write. “Your dating life should be a powerful change agent for you.” Countering the common assumption that dating is limited to “finding the right one,” Cloud and Townsend take the spiritual approach that dating and relating is just as much about “learning about your own issues, how they affect others, and what to do about them.” That dating should bring us closer to God seems to be the authors’ ultimate goal in writing this book.

Quotable: God uses relationships to heal us and to change us. Although we are not suggesting that dating be the primary place that someone seeks healing (this is a horrible idea), it is a place where good things happen in people’s souls. People benefit from good relationships.

What are some books that you’ve found very helpful? Please comment and share.

“Tough Love” ain’t easy

27 Mar

So I’ve been watching a new reality show, Tough Love, on VH1 and surprisingly it’s very entertaining. Basically, there are 8  women that are looking for love but have yet to find a man. Their issues run the gamut, from the desperate to the insecure, to the icy.  The host, a professional matchmaker, takes these women through a Tough Love “bootcamp” in hopes of better preparing these women to ditch their bad, self-sabotoging love habits and become smarter daters.

On the episode I’m watching now, the ladies were paired up with these personal trainers under the guise that not only should they be emotionally and spiritually fit, but physically fit as well. Turns out these trainers are actually there to test the women of their communications skills and how they do on the first impression.

Here’s how of few of ’em did: view clip here.

This is really crazy. Instead of talking, Jody (the quintessential Careeris) seems like she’s applying for a job. Big no-no. Unless you’re networking, a guy is generally not interested in hearing your resume, I would assume. I’m no dating pro, but I know you never tell a man “I’ve been hurt before” on the first meeting! Arian (the girl you’d like to sleep with but wouldn’t dare bring home to mom): try again. Like the host said, “Rule #75: Shut your yap!” But for some reason, she seems like she’s acting a lot on this show. Of course, that would never happen on a reality show though (sacarsm). And Stasha, the former Playboy bunny, is just plain scary. Nuff said. Oh, did I mention she was a Playboy model. lol.

Later in the show, Abiola (aka Miss Picky who is absolutely adorable) gets to go on a solo date with a nice chocolate drop. They seem to really be feeling each other. She really reminds me of myself. Not  because she’s black but she portrayed as the type that has a mile-long wish list for the guy of her dreams.  No really, she actually has a hand-written list! That’s definitely me. Check out this clip.

While this is a tv show and for entertainment, women actually do some of these things in real life. I know because I’m one of em! But I’d like to think that I get better with time. Good night!

(non) Cooking tips from a single gal

19 Dec

It’s been awhile but I’m baaack! With the economy in its current state, I’ve had to be real creative in thinking of ways to cut costs. I tend to eat out a lot, so I’ve been trying to eat in more to save money and pounds! Here are some tips:

Buy a rotisserie chicken. There’s no way I can eat a whole chicken but I buy them, eat some for dinner one night, and use the leftovers to make other dishes. Here are a few ideas:

  • Make chicken salad. Shred the chicken, add Miracle Whip, apples, walnut or pecans, onions or whatever tastes good to you. Spread it over bread for a sandwich or top over a bed of lettuce.
  • Make enchiladas. Tonight I make what I call an “Easy Enchilada Bake.” I took tortilla chips and spread them over the bottom of a casserole dish. I combined the shredded chicken with Old El Paso enchilada sauce and spread it over the chips and topped it off with cheese. I baked until hot and until the cheese melted.
  • Make a green salad. Top salad greens with the shredded roasted chicken and your favorite salad toppings like cranberries, cheese, nuts, wonton strips, mandarin oranges, or whatever you like!

The possibilities are endless. Please comment with your ideas.

Back from my cruise

29 Jul

Well, I made it back from the cruise. We had a great time despite hurricane dolly. I was a little sea sick but not for long. Check me out. Here are my top ten do’s and don’ts for going on a cruise.

10. Do eat as much as you want. It’s not everyday that you’re on vacation, right? The cruise ship had an endless supply of food, from sun up to sun down. Pretty good, too.

9. Don’t forget your cute little black dress or cocktail dress. Each night you’re invited to a formal dinner and won’t be allowed in with shorts or casual clothes.

8. Do flirt with your waiters and bartenders.

7. Do decide how much you want to spend before you go. After tipping, drinks, souvenirs, excursions, etc., the bill can really add up.

6. Don’t order a lot of sodas or alcoholic drinks if you want to save money. I paid over $2 for a can of Sprite!

5. Do go on an excursion. They are fun and culturally enriching.

4. Don’t pay for a shopping excursion. There are plenty of shops located right outside of the ports.

3. Do get your passport ahead of time. It will definitely expedite the process of embarking and debarking.

2. Don’t buy something at a port without first making a bargain with the vendor. You can get some really good deals.

1. Do have lots of fun!