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Money stresses me out.  How much do I have?  How much did I spend?  How can I save it?  Where did I spend it?  It makes me crazy.  Over these past couple of months, I have been struggling with my own financial demise.  I have decided that I need to tighten the household belt; a decision I have wrestled with for several months.  I hate to think that I am living far beyond my means.  Unfortunately, it seems that way and I hate the truth of this cold, hard fact.  Oddly enough, I find it comforting to know that I am not the only one going through this; I know that I am not alone.  At any rate, I came to the conclusion that I am going to really dive into making-an-attempt-to-try-to be more self conscious of spending habits and tracking my money……….maybe.

This is to help anyone else who finds the aforementioned reality unnerving and would like to make a change.  After searching tips, how-to’s, frugal websites and everything in between, there is one common theme.  Here are a few steps to get the financial security that seems to be a far off, distant dream.  I have been “practicing” some of these habits and they seem to be sort-of working.  Enjoy.

Step One:  Keep a record of what you spend. Like so many things, for me spending is out of sight, out of mind.  I don’t comprehend what I have spent until all of the money is almost gone.  Then I am chocked full of guilt and never again want to spend another red cent.  It just seems easier to make an honest effort to realize where I am wasting money before it is gone rather than waiting until it is too late.  Frivolous spending habits are hard to break.  Hopefully this helps to break that cycle.

Step two:  Make out a budget that works for your lifestyle. Some families like to use “household notebooks” and have extensive files.  These universal budget templates that websites offer are great for those with large families and large budgets to match but let’s be realistic here.  The categories of my personal budget would go something like this:  Gross Monthly Income; Net Monthly Income; Total Monthly Household Expenses (sub-headings may be appropriate) and Profit/Loss.  More than likely, I would hang this on my refrigerator or turn it into a calendar.  Find something similar to your lifestyle and make it your own.  Don’t forget to make it fun- you may be able to turn it into a craft.

Step three:  Do it yourself. I love my country and I love being a citizen of the US but the American public as a whole has become way too lazy and too wasteful for anyone’s good.  We throw away everything after one use.  Plastic bags, bottles, newspapers, etc.  These items have a shelf life of forever and can be used a thousand different ways.  Get creative and use your stuff!  With that being said, there are also too many services we pay for that could easily be done for free with just a bit of gumption.  Mow your own grass.  Walk your own dog.  Paint your own house.  These simple tasks are being outsourced to other people.  This simple step will potentially save you tons of money.  Tons of it.  I mean, really, why have a dog if you don’t even want to walk it?


Step four:  Coupon clipping can be extremely beneficial if you know what you are doing. It may seem like an enormous waste of time but trust me, if you know what to look for and know how to find the good deals, this is a great way to stockpile extra cash.  The trick is not to be fooled by those items you really don’t need (save $.50 on twelve boxes of cereal, etc.)  I clip all the coupons that my family uses and stash them in an envelope that I grab on the way to the store.  Once I arrive at said store, I grab a circular to see if there are any specific deals and I put those coupons first.  If I see something in the isle and remember that I have a coupon for an alternative brand, I use it.  Viola!  Money saved without a huge, long, drawn out coupon clipping production.  For the record, I saved $21.75 on my groceries this week.


Step five:  Cook at home; even if you have to force yourself. Cooking at home is hard, especially when you are only cooking for one or two people.  It is so much easier to grab something quick on the way home from work.  Unfortunately, that is way too expensive for almost any household.  I have found that if I pick out what we are having before I go to work, I can plan throughout the day.  For example, I will tell myself as I am driving to work “I feel like Italian tonight.”  So throughout the day, I find recipes that sound appealing and pick something to make with ingredients I already have (there are recipe data bases where you can enter ingredients and it will give you a recipe.)  This avoids having to stop on the way home.  Also, I can have a mental note all ready for when I get home on what exactly needs to be done.  I must say, however, that crock pots are awesome.  I love the fact that I can prepare dinner before work and when I get home, everything is done.  Love it!


So there you have it.  A few simple steps in maintaining a “simple-life” budget without really even trying.  There are so many things that we as Americans waste.  Money doesn’t have to be one of them.  What are some frugal tips you have for the rest of us?



With the frenzy of the Mega Millions Jackpot as it climbs past 330 million; I, like many people, often fantasize of winning the enormous jackpot.  I think of what wonderful deeds I would do if that were to ever become a reality.  How many people I would help and never having to worry about finances.  I decided to leave out the things I’d buy for my family and I like a house, cars, clothes, jewelry and so on because that is a given.  Plus, what fun would it be to just spend the money on myself.  Here, I have compiled a list of ten things I would do if ever I win Mega Millions or Powerball or any other large amount of monetary winnings.

1.  Pay my tithes.  I am a strong believer in giving back to God.  After all, hasn’t he given us more than we could fathom?  Also, Leviticus 27:30-32 states “And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s: it is holy unto the Lord.  And if a man will at all redeem ought of his tithes, he shall add thereto the fifth part thereof.  And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the Lord.”  I would do this first, absolutely before anything else.

2.  Buy my parent’s house and send them on a honeymoon.  My parents have been together for 35 long years. It was supposed to be their golden years but when my baby sister was born, they were jolted back to reality.  Seldom do they ever get to do anything alone so the second thing I would do is pay off their house and send them on vacation.  Often times I have discussed this with them and asked if they would like a new extravagant house built and every time they insist on staying at their current address but they wouldn’t object to having no mortgage.  The both have worked really hard, sacrificing a lot to raise us and since they never got to go on one, I would send them on a honeymoon of their choice; anywhere on the planet.  My father would pick Italy and my mother would go to Jerusalem, which would be next to impossible as she has vowed never to set foot on an airplane. 

3.  Send my brother and sister to the colleges of their choice.  My brother has so much potential and is one of the smartest people I have ever met.  He thinks in circles around me and pretty much anybody I know.  Maybe I feel that way because he is my older brother and I have hung on his every word since childhood.  Or maybe he really is just super intelligent.  Either way, he would do great if given the chance to reach his maximum potential.  If money were no object, I would give him a full ride to anywhere he wanted to go.  My sister is also extremely intelligent.  She is the youngest of us three and is the smartest among all of her friends.  Based on academics alone, she could easily secure a spot at any college of her choice.  I would take on that financial burden in a heartbeat.  If for nothing else, I’m curious to see what these two could do if given the opportunity. 

4.  Start a “no-kill” animal shelter/adoption program.  I plan to donate several million dollars to various charities; Veteran’s Administration, various homeless shelters, orphanages, rehab facilities.  And with all the extra time I would have I would volunteer also.  I am a firm believer in taking care of people.  However, animals hold a special place in my heart and they are often thought of last.  I would buy a farm with several hundred acres including the proper facilities to handle everything. Then I’d  hire the folks from the “Christian the Lion” video to help head up the organization.  Also, I am fascinated with their video and would want to pick their brains.  It is truly an amazing, heartwarming story with a great ending.  I cry every time I watch it.   I want all the homeless, abused or unwanted animals to have happy endings like that one and would work to ensure it become a reality.  The intent is to get everyone adopted out to wonderful homes with great people but if that weren’t possible, they could live out their days on my farm in a loving and nurturing environment.  Nobody should have to die because they aren’t wanted.  I think this is my favorite to-do list item so far.

5.  Make a stranger’s day.  If I were blessed with several million dollars, it would be my duty to change as many lives as possible.  This to-do is one that I am pretty sketchy on.  I really don’t have many of the details planned out.  I figure it would start with me walking down the street and handing a stranger, or numerous strangers, a few thousand dollars.  It wouldn’t matter what they look like, who they are standing with or what they are wearing.  I trust that God would put whoever needed the money in my path and I would obey.  I don’t want anything in return and I don’t want them to know my name.  I just want to make their day.  Who knows, maybe it would change their life! 

So now you know what I would do if given millions and millions of dollars to do with whatever I wanted.  I would like to hear some of your intended “to-do’s” if ever you were in the same predicament.

He is charming, handsome, captivating and for the most part, totally boss.  He is my dog.   I love and adore him now but there was a bit of a time when he tormented me.

I got him from a website that promoted recycling by giving unwanted items away to those who wanted said items.  I was looking for household items for a friend of mine when I stumbled upon a post reading FREE PUPPY….MUST GO!  Surprised to see this, I told my friend what I saw and she insisted I call and see what this was about.  She had a daughter who wanted an animal and this seemed perfect.  I didn’t want to get involved but after the guilt set in, I called, set up a meet and greet (or at least that’s what I thought) with the owners of this soon-to-be homeless animal.  I had no intention of taking this dog home.  I didn’t have a husband or children; I was alone and I liked it that way.  I didn’t want to get involved.  I was simply going to see what kind of people would just throw a dog away so quickly to complete strangers.  I should have known what I was getting into when “Henry the dog” was packed, waiting and ready to go when we arrived.  These people wanted rid of him quickly and it was obvious.  My friend didn’t think her husband would “appreciate this dog” and was ready to go.  I was walking out the door when I saw his sweet little face staring up at me as if to say “I’m ready, let’s get moving!”  In a brief moment of weakness, I decided that I couldn’t just leave him there.  God knows what kind of people they were and what they would do to him if their offer of a free puppy was rejected.  At that very instant I just knew that I was a proud new owner of a “whatever he is.” 

My first task as a new pet owner was to give him a new name.  He was too young and clumsy to have such a distinguished name like Henry.  It had to go.  I couldn’t picture myself introducing him to everybody as Henry.  I thought of what seemed like ten thousand names.  Each one would have some reason not to stick.  Finally, I thought of my favorite cartoon and came to the conclusion that “Charlie” would be his new alias.  It fit him better and grabs his attention quicker than any of the others.  Charlie rolls off the tongue better.  It’s only when he is in trouble that he is called by his full name: Charles Brown Holmes, which I picked. That in and of itself was the first in many emotional battles that have revolved around this small yet brutal terrorist. Maybe I should have called him Napoleon.

The first couple of weeks were horrific.  I would lie awake at night while the screeching whimpers of a lonely, kennel-bound puppy echoed throughout my apartment as  if to alert the masses that I was abusing him without mercy.   He would quickly hush as soon as he saw my face.  I was convinced that this dog was just a delinquent with a bad attitude.  At one point, I swore that I saw him flip me “the doggy finger”.  It was horrible.  Eventually it became easier to let him roam free and clean up whatever he destroyed in the process than to subject both of us to that kind of terror.  I tried to “tough it out”, as my mother called it but when my neighbors saw me they scowled.  I was becoming hated among the community.  I would take him outside they would watch me to see how I would interact with my new-found pet.  They all were  judging and criticizing when he squeezed out of his collar and ran from me.  Most would offer tips, hints, training books, and videos.  One guy even offered to take him “off my hands for the right price” but I refused.  Instead, I did what I thought was best for all of us and came up with a Plan B of sorts.

I gave into Charlie’s demands.  He was free to roam about the house unsupervised but conditionally, of course.  We came to the agreement that he would wait until he was in nature to do “his business”  and he wouldn’t run from me as long as I gave him ample time outside without a leash.  He wouldn’t chew my things (unless he was mad at me) if I provided him with the proper teething equipment; chew toys, if you will.  He would alert me if rapists, killers, strangers or anyone else for that matter were knocking at the front door as long as I would coddle him during thunderstorms and allow him to sleep with me at night.  After all, he was still afraid of the dark…I concurred.  Eventually our time together wasn’t so bad as long as both of our wishes were being respected.  I was a pro at this!

I flash forward to today and look at him as he flaunts his long legs and short hair while prancing about.  Charlie is almost 4 yet is perpetually a puppy.  In these years that have passed, I have given him a few nicknames and he answers to them all but he likes “Chawee” the best.  He is still afraid of the dark and hates thunderstorms but he has all of his adult teeth so (unless he gets mad at me) he doesn’t chew and destroy everything in sight.  Also, Charlie has learned to live with the leash if we go anywhere but most of the time he doesn’t have to wear it.  He stays by my side where ever we are.  I find it kind of funny just how much we understand one another.  He can keep a secret, too!  As time goes on, I consider him part of the family rather than a public nuisance.  We have been through a lot and he is much more loyal to me than any human I know. 

It used to get on my nerves when pet owners would dress their dogs in human clothes and treat animals like people.  In fact, I would almost go as far to say that I took personal offense to people behaving that way.  It really irritated me.  It doesn’t anymore; I get it.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dress Charlie up or substitute him for human contact but I would venture to say that I love him dearly and really couldn’t imagine my life without him.  I don’t know why I chose this topic today.  Maybe it’s the haunting ASPCA commercials that I always see or perhaps it’s my vegetarian guilt.  I can’t quite place why.  I just know that I am a lucky gal to have a friend like Charlie.  I hope I have impacted his life in as positive a way as he has mine.  

Now I want to hear about your four-legged friends, training nightmares or other pet related stories!  Who is your Charlie?

Hello all in the blog world.  I have arrived.  hahahaha. 

So, I just wanted to post this as a last hoorah to 2010.  As this year comes to a close, I am making a resolution to write something at least once a week.  It doesn’t matter what it is, I just need to get back into my passion.  If I can remember what it is like then maybe I will be able to rekindle my once sought after dream of becoming a well known freelance writer.   We’ll see how this blog goes.  Topics don’t matter, just whatever comes to mind. As long as I say something. 

At any rate, WELCOME to my new found friends here in blog world.  Hold tight….this is probably going to be a bumpy ride.


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  • lesa with an e: TJ front of photo-Jazz back seat in photo
  • lesa with an e: GREAT blog you have here! I have a story about one of my two family memebers of the dog kind. Training dogs my whole life has allowed me to meet a l
  • sarahndipitee: Yay! Casey, you gave my FIRST EVER comment. You get ten coolness points to you from me! Maybe we can have a "play date" with Maggie and Charlie some