Send Someone a Package of Kleenex

Sep 29, 2010

Okay, so this is an odd freebie, but if you click here, you can send "someone you love" a pacakge of Kleenex for FREE.

So far, over 69,000 people have sent Kleenex!!!  Sign up to be one of them!

Our Financial Story

Sep 27, 2010

I have been a little "slack" on this blog lately.  There are a number of reasons for this, not the least being that my father-in-law is very ill and we have been consumed with those issues.  Besides that, however, life just gets in the way of things!  Some weeks I find lots of time to write blog posts and others . . . well . . .not so much. 

Another thing that is absorbing a great deal of my time (and my husband's time) is that Rob and I are leading the Dave Ramsey "Financial Peace University" class at our church.  If you have never heard of Dave Ramsey or any of his courses, you need to check him out.  Click here for his website and to find a class near you.  His information and advice (if you follow it) can be literally life changing!

Even though Rob and I have been following these steps for years, we are both becoming remotivated in this class!  We realize we had gotten into a "rut" when it came to saving money - or perhaps not being as careful with our spending as we've been in the past.  This course is inspring us to once again make our finances - and, most importantly, communicating about them with each other - a priority.

As a result, over the next few weeks, I'd like to share on this blog some of the things we've learned or changed in our lives (and the lives of our kids) as a result of leading this class.

The first night of our class, Rob and I typed up a "testimony" to explain our experience, throughout the course of our marriage, with money, saving, spending, staying out of debt and investing. 

Before I begin telling you the "new" things we are doing, I just wanted to share our "financial story" with you, so that you have an  understanding of where we are coming from  . . . and not just where we are going.  I don't tell you any of these things to "brag" about what we have done right, but rather, to inspire you that you CAN leave a debt-free life - and you don't have to make a fortune to achieve that! 

Here it is: 

Rob and I married Thanksgiving weekend of 1996. At the time, I was just finishing my graduate degree and Rob was a 2LT in the Army, stationed in KS. We managed to squeeze pre-marital counseling into the two or three trips I made to visit him in Kansas during our engagement. If how to deal with your family finances was a part of that counseling, though, I don’t remember it.

We went on a honeymoon and then, the day after we returned to NJ, we packed up our cars and drove to Manhattan, Kansas to begin our married life. We arrived at our new apartment on Thursday. On Saturday morning, I woke up with my new husband, anxious to spend our first married weekend together “playing house.” I had waited years for this first weekend. Boy, was I in for a surprise! Rob rolled over and told me that he, too, had big plans for our weekend. We were meeting with a financial planner at 10 AM!

Talk about taking the romance out of the day. And, it only got worse from there. Rob let the financial planner break the really “great” news to me. We were booked to spend the next FIVE HOURS with him! That meeting is a blur to me – charts, numbers, chopped up credit cards in a jar - those are the things that come to mind when I think of that day.

But, the concepts we took from that meeting have lasted us for the past 14 years. We were fortunate to begin our marriage with little debt (a $10,000 graduate school loan was the extent of it). That meeting, though, ensured that we never got ourselves into any more debt once the loan was paid off. We began by saving $50 a month (“paying ourselves first” with an automatic withdrawal out of our bank account into a money market account) – a fortune, it seemed, when I was unemployed and Rob was being paid a Lieutenant’s salary. And, as time went on, we made sure to acquire life insurance, fund our IRAs and 403Bs (what we had then instead of the typical 401Ks) and build a substantial emergency fund – and, of course, tithe 10% of our salary. God blesses those who are faithful. With each pay increase we received, (because, I eventually did get a job and Rob would be promoted over time) we made sure to stay at the same standard of living. Instead of buying more expensive items or “loosening the purse strings," we would use each increase in income to fund the next part of our financial plan.

We also used the “envelope system” – especially when it came to grocery shopping. Our first few years of marriage, we were only able to budget $150 a month for groceries. When that money was gone and out of our envelope, so were our meal options! We ate a lot of hotdogs and beans towards the end of each month – and dealt with a lot of teasing from the other soldiers, too. Rob has memories of “eyeing” the lunches of his fellow soldiers and asking them if they thought they were going to “finish that!”

When we wanted to buy a “larger” item, we saved for it and paid cash. We knew we’d need a refrigerator when we moved into our first home, so I drew a picture of a fridge with dollar amounts lined up on the outside of it – taping that drawing to our current fridge. As we saved money, I’d color in the drawing, showing our progress towards the purchase of our new appliance. Rob has “fond” memories of saving for two months before he could afford to buy our first garden hose. If we went on vacation, we saved for it in our “vacation fund” and paid cash. We never bought something if we didn’t have the money in the bank to pay for it.

We are about to enter our 15th year of marriage. All of the “baby steps” we started taking that first weekend of our marriage have paid off. We regularly fund our investments, rarely touch our emergency fund and believe that we will have financial security in our retirement. We have no credit card debt and have never had a car payment – we drive our cars into the ground! We own two pieces of ranch land in the hill country, equaling about 70 acres, and both are completely paid off. As for our house? We took out a 15-year mortgage on that and intend to have it paid off about the time our two year old starts elementary school.

Three years ago we had the privilege of being featured in a PBS documentary entitled “Retirement Revolution.” It was hosted by Paula Zahn and followed a number of American families, discussing how they are “planning,” or have “planned,” for retirement. We were the example of a young couple who are saving for our future. A camera crew flew into Austin and followed us around for a few days – even going to work with Rob. If you’d like to see a clip from the show, and read more about our story, this is the link:,2,4,5&vid=

We are super excited to be leading this class! There is no greater feeling than to go to bed at night and know that you are DEBT FREE!! God has blessed us with not only money, but the people he has placed in our lives, who have provided invaluable information and support to live a debt-free life.

Along with leading this class, however, we are also excited to be students in it! No one is perfect in their financial plan. We are looking forward to being “re-motivated” by Dave Ramsey (specifically, as we really begin to save for college for our three kids and teach them how to save for their own future!) – and all of you – as we plough through this experience together!

Redecorate Your House with ShopWiki

I have a friend who just moved into a big, new house and is at a loss for how to begin decorating it.  I suggested she check out the website, Shopwiki.    This website doesn't just give placement to products that have paid for advertising.  They list everything that is on sale on the internet.

The first room she wanted to tackle was her daughter's bedroom, getting new pillows and bed linens.  I suggested a new comforter, too. 

The other big project was her home home office.  She was looking for a new desk lamp.  I told her that I found some great lamps and other home accessories on this site. 

My husband has also been asking me to get him a new therapeutic pillow.  I know I'm going to check out Shopwiki for one of those before I buy it at a local store.

Check out the site.  You might be able to decorate your whole house for a lot less - just by touching a few keys on your keyboard.

***  This blog post brought to you by your friends at

Myrtle Beach Golf Website

Sep 25, 2010

I recently came across a website that will be extremely helpful for planning a trip to Myrtle Beach - especially if you are a golf buff and want things in life to be convenient!

This website allows you to book your hotel accomodations and your tee times on the Myrtle Beach golf courses at the same time. 

They also have some valuable information on Myrtle Beach golf packages.  Check out to plan your next trip!

*** This blog post was brought to you by your friends at

Save Money at Starbucks

I found a really interesting article on how to save money at Starbucks. If you love their drinks (and honestly, who doesn't?) you might find this really interesting!

Click here for the link.

GAP Jeans 50% off TODAY ONLY - Noon to 3 PM

I LOVE Gap jeans.  I think they fit me the best.  But they are EXPENSIVE!  As least, for my budget.

Thus, here's a great deal . . . today between noon and 3 PM, visit the Gap and get their jeans for 50% off!

You need to tell the cashier to enter the code FLASH at checkout.

Restrictions:  Regularly priced jeans. Certain restrictions apply. US stores only. This offer is NOT valid online. See stores for details.

This deal is good on Men's, Women's, Kid's and Baby jeans!

I don't believe you can use this deal in conjunction with the Groupon if you bought it this month.

Gambling Addiction Help

If you, or someone you know, has a gambling addiction, there is a gambling addition helpline that can help.  The individual can receive anonymous help, ask questions and have a place to talk privately.

Information can be provided on Gambling Addiction Treatment, such as counseling and rehab centers.  Gambler's Anonymous is a free 12-step program which can help lead you or your loved one to a gambling-free life.

Please take the time to contact the hotline, or pass on the information to others, if your think it could help someone to learn the about gambling addiction facts.

***  This blog post brought to you by your friends at

Raleigh Durham Drug Rehab Website

If you live in the Raleigh-Durham area, and are looking for a treatment center, check out the Raleigh Durham Drug rehab website.

Their rehab centers treat people for a variety of addictions, such as Vicodin, OxyContin and Heroin.  On their website you can find information on drug addiction facts and drug addiction information.

They offer in and out-patient treatments and separate programs for teens and women.

This could be a valuable resource if you, or someone you love, is in need of treatment.

***  This blog post brought to you by your friends at

Just Commercial Mailboxes Website

Sep 24, 2010

If you are looking for cluster mailboxes, check out the website called Just Commerical Mailboxes.  They not only have commercial mailboxes, but also apartment mailboxes and CBU mailboxes.

They guarantee to have the lowest prices, will ship quickly to your place of business and have the largest selection of commercial mailboxes on the market.

Their customer service team will help you select the perfect mailbox for your needs!

*** The blog post brought to you by your friends at

Groupon National Deal - $25 for $50 worth of products at Zazzle

Sep 20, 2010

Zazzle is a website where you can make customizable gifts - such as t-shirts, mugs, stamps and address labels.

Groupon has a deal in Omaha (it's the side deal) that can be used nationwide.  For $25 you get $50 worth of credit.

It might be a great thing to get to make Christmas presents!!

Click here for the deal:

FREE Blockbuster Express Movie TODAY

Sep 13, 2010

Go to your nearest Blockbuster Express machine and get a FREE movie rental - for today only - by using the code START.

Guess what I'll be picking up for the kids today!


A Cheap Seat Website

If you are the type of person who likes to attend concerts, plays and sporting events, or would like to go to one in the future, check out the website A Cheap Seat.

You can save a ton of money on some great tickets because they are able to negotiate deals for you.

I always love the Radio City Rockettes!  If you do, too, and would like to get Radio City Christmas Spectacular tickets, this is the site for you!

You can also get some great prices on things like Boston Celtic tickets.

My friends recently got Jersey Boy tickets and said the show was incredible!

Make sure to check out the deals on this site before buying elsewhere.

*** This post brought to you by your friends at

Tutor Vista Website

Do you ever find that your child (or children) bring home homework that you, the parent, don't understand?  It's embarassing and frustrating to not know how to help them!  For me, math is the biggest problem!  I was an English major, what do I know about adding fractions or graphing linear equations?  I barely passed Algebra 2!

Well, I have found a website that may just be an answer to all our prayers!  It's called Tutor Vista.  You can type in a question into their website, regarding things such as 4th grade math and they will help "tutor" you online!

The tutoring program costs $99.99 for all subjects - not just math - and students can use the service 24/7 - as much as they need to!  There is a free demo available for new users. 

So, next time you or your child need to find the formula for volume or are feeling overwhelmed by 5th grade math in general, check out their site. 

*** This blog post brought to you by your friends at

Web Hosting Choice

Sep 12, 2010

If you have your own website and don't know how to chose the right website for your home or business website, check out the site Web Hosting Choice.

They list the top ten best webhosting sites.

Redbox Sweepstakes - Free Movie Rental

Sep 10, 2010

If you rent a movie from Redbox anytime between now and Sept 30, go to this website and enter the code from your movie into the designated area. 

You will then be given a coupon code for a FREE movie rental and also, be entered into a couple contests to win some bigger prizes.

More details are on their website.

Blockbuster Express - Rent One Get One Free

Rent a movie and get one FREE at Blockbuster Express with the code DVDFUN1

This weekend only!

Deal expires at midnight on Sept 12.


Information on Mulitple Sclerosis

Sep 9, 2010

If you, or someone you love, is dealing with Mulitple Sclerosis, you should check out the site All About MS.

This site provides all kinds of MS information, from what it really is and the typical MS symptoms to how to live with it.

They even have information on exercise, parenting and a Mulitple Sclerosis diet. 

If MS is affecting your life, this may be just the site for you.

*** This blog post brought to you by your friends at

$30 Shutterfly Photo Book for $10

Sep 6, 2010

Groupon has a GREAT deal today. 

Get a $30 20-page, 8x8 photo book, for only $10!

Click here to get the deal.  The deal is in Austin - but I think it might also be in most other cities.
Think "Christmas present!"

Photo Handbag Only $8.99 Shipped

ArtsCow has a great deal going right now. 

Get a peronalized photo handbag for only $8.99 (including shipping!)

That's just fo the first bag you order.  Each bag after that is still only $11.99.

Click here to order and use coupon code CRAZYBAGS.

It expires on Sept 10.

Once again, think about Christmas presents!


Free Movie at Blockbuster Express

Get a FREE movie rental - today (Labor Day) only - at your local Blockbuster express kiosk.

Use the promo code MNDY.

Enjoy! Moving Deals

Sep 3, 2010

If you are thinking of moving - and need help in doing so - you may want to check out movers.

They have already negotiated some great deals with movers across the country and can save you the 'legwork."

So, for example, if you were looking to move to Phoenix, you could look specifically for Phoenix movers on their site.

Or, if you needed Tucson moving companies, you could find them on, too.

It's a great resource when you're planning a move - big or small!

*** This blog post was brought to you by your friends at

Men's Sunglasses - 9 pairs for $9.99

I have been waiting months for this deal!

Graveyard Mall's Deal of the Day is for 9 pairs of men's sunglasses for $9.99!!

With shipping, it comes to about $15.  I just ordered two sets, though, for my husband and my dad, and shipping was only about $6 for the two sets.

If you haven't read my previous posts about how happy I've been with these sunglasses in the past, click here.


Hurry!  Last time this deal sold out FAST!

FREE Online Foreign Language Lessons

My two youngest children attend a Spanish-immersion school.  My older daughter, Jordan, also attended there and for the past three years, since she's been in elementary school, we have had a Spanish-speaking high school student come over, about four hours a week, to speak to her in Spanish and make sure she, too, grows up bilingual.

And then there are me and my husband.

I took French in high school.  (That doesn't do me much good in TEXAS, but it did help me ask for the restroom when I went to France in college.)  My husband took German - so, unless we're ordering sauerkraut, his knowledge is pretty useless, too.

But, who has time to take Spanish lessons when you have three little children - not to mention, PAY FOR THEM!

I have a solution, though!! 

It turns out, the BBC offeres FREE language lessons online!

You can take a FREE 12-week course in either Spanish, French, Italian or German!

They also offers other audio and video courses in the four languages.

And, from waht I hear, they can give you help in learning more exotic languages such as Chinese, Russian and Greek.

Sign me up!!  Pretty soon, I may be able to do more in Spanish then just ordered my enchilados and tacos! :-)

Click here for the website of lessons.

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