Back From Jet Lag – Hawaii For Less
- Created on 27 August 2014
I’ve been on an unintended hiatus including and following a family trip to Hawaii. We attended a wedding in and explored the island of Oahu, one of 8 major islands in the Hawaiian chain. As much as I can surmise, the individual islands are synonymous with counties or parishes within the state of Hawaii. Just like New York, there’s also an island named Hawaii (a.k.a The Big Island). You can potentially live in Hawaii, Hawaii. A paradise so nice they named it twice! The capital is Honolulu – one of the larger cities on Oahu and our final flight destination. Waikiki is the other Oahu party spot; about 45 minutes away. When programming your GPS, you’ll likely include the city, island, and state to locate your target.
Initially, I was apprehensive about the extremely long flight with very small children. My apologies – still - for the poor saps assigned to the seat preceding my two year old (it wasn’t pretty). The entire trip, including layovers and delays, took 12 hours from Chicago. Brutal. Considering the damage, the 8 month and 2 year old were travel troopers. All travel troubles were worth the Hawaiian experience. Numerous times throughout the week I reassessed the decision to put down roots in Chicago. Again, why??? The island is beautiful. Even the inner city areas (the hood) possesed an inviting charm. I’ve been called cousin by more strangers than I care to count. Who knew?
R.I.P. Mr. Williams
- Created on 12 August 2014
By now, we’ve all heard the heart crushing news of the loss of Robin Williams to suicide. Like many, Robin Williams was one of my favorite actors/comedian. I attribute an affinity to several movie favs, Good Will Hunting or Good Morning Vietnam, to performances by this artistic giant. It can be difficult to associate depression with someone who brought joy to so many for so many years.
We don’t have the details of his struggle, nor should we. His privacy should be respected. However, his death will likely shine a light, even if temporary – until the next news cycle, on severe depression and suicide. I’ve plunged into a dark place a time or two in recent years. The Debt Free Divas actually developed out of a need to redirect that energy into something productive. We said goodbye to our daughter, Casey, after only 23 weeks. I have my faith to thank for the life line when it was difficult to see past the current hurt. Of course, all of this clarity is in hindsight. This verse in particular was central to the progress…I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm…Jeremiah 29:10.
Side Hustle Required
- Created on 29 July 2014
I read an excellent post from a friend at The Shop My Closet Project outlining a debt snowball barometer. Your snowball might be icy unless you can reach the $500-$1000/month debt repayment level. For those serious about dumping debt, I urge you to begin with a budget. I’ve run across several “experts” recently poo-poo’ing the idea of a budget as being restrictive or old school. Ignore them please! Your budget is going to help you get ahead by knowing exactly where you are financially.
After budgeting for the month, trimming where you can, and making a plan to attack debt; you may just need more money to light a fire under your debt snowball. In these cases, a side hustle is required. Realizing that time is limited and everyone is beyond busy, I came up with a list that can fit a variety of schedules and don’t require a significant cash outlay upfront.
Free Budgeting in Cyberspace
- Created on 22 July 2014
Are you looking for useful tools to help create a budget and manage your spending? Never fear, the Internet is here. We've looked at a number of useful options and boiled it down to three. Our criteria was simple: FREE and EASY. Depending on your needs, there's a tool for you. Keep reading to the end, we definitely saved the best for last.
Does Credit Monitoring Make Good Cent$?
- Created on 10 July 2014
Credit monitoring services cost between $10-$30/month. The companies tout a bevy of services, including:
Student Loan Changes, Help or Hurt?
- Created on 02 July 2014
Are the new changes to student loan repayment options as clear as mud? Let’s wipe away the muck and determine how the changes help or hurt. Hurt? Unfortunately everything that glitters ain’t gold.
In June, the president signed an executive order giving 5 million more student loan borrowers access to the PAYE (Pay As You Earn) income based repayment program. All borrowers with loans prior to October 2007 are now eligible. This program will be available beginning December 2015.
The high points include:
Spent The Movie - Solutions for Change
- Created on 19 June 2014
American Express has sponsored an interesting documentary which takes a look at a large group of people in this country which don't or can't (for a myriad of reasons) use mainstream banking institutions to manage their personal finances. A new label is floating around, "financially under-served".
I'll admit, when I first learned about Spent: Looking for Change - a film about personal finances sponsored by a credit card company - I was skeptical. However, I do appreciate whoever decides to shine a light on a problem that impacts 1 in 4 households in this country. As the film illustrates, there is a poverty profit sector of business that takes advantage of the less educated, those in financial distress, or those who just refuse to do better. Again, there are a myriad of reasons people find themselves in the cycle of using payday loans, rapid refund, or pawn shops. From the movie, I have had to adjust my understanding of the types of people who use these services on a regular basis.
I hesitate to lay all blame on the individual or on the poverty profit businesses for seizing an opportunity. It seems more useful to find solutions. How can 70 million financially under-served Americans be helped or help themselves out of these vicious cycles? Should we even try to work up to a solution for an instant gratification society who has options and may just choose not to employ the better options at hand? I'm asking provocative questions because I'm generally interested and want to hear from you. Please watch the video and let's continue the great conversation that started on our Facebook page below.
- Created on 12 June 2014
Many blogs on this site are ripped from the headlines of my personal experiences. After all, I’m an expert on me and my experiences are fairly common. Just the other day, I’m speaking with a friend about plans, issues, and future goals. She makes an interesting comment, “I’m over this ownership thing.” Growing up, ownership was always drilled into my psyche. Ownership, ownership, ownership. It seems ownership makes the best sense only when you are prepared: mentally and financially.
My own husband made an emphatic declaration recently – “… our next move is back to a condo!” He didn’t care where or how, but absolutely no house. Let’s assume frustration with a leaky water heater and the prospect of an air conditioner malfunction as the summer heats up were talking. Two months after moving in, that’s enough to drive anyone bonkers. Which is better – rent or buy?
- Created on 04 June 2014
In my other life beyond the Debt Free Divas, I run a community Laundromat with my wonderful husband. The experience has been filled with trials, triumphs and tests of wills. We’ve bounced back from stolen power lines, questionable employees, and general fatigue common with keeping a struggling business a float. After 10 years, we’ve hit a snag that might be a game changer.
We are well aware that most small businesses fail. However, I think like most entrepreneurs, we pushed forward with an optimism that in some ways is part delusional. We invested a massive amount of time and treasurer into the endeavor because we believed that we could overcome the obstacles. This effort was not just a business, we also saw it as a mission field. What better way to build relationships with people in a community than to spend time with them while washing. That was our plan.
- Created on 16 May 2014
Are you familiar with a mastermind? As a budding online entrepreneur, I immerse myself in business how-to’s, best practices, and successful tips and tactics of those doing what I strive to accomplish. I’ve been running into this topic, mastermind, for some time. Essentially, a mastermind is an accountability group. Members meet regularly (weekly, monthly, or quarterly) and help one another with advice, share strategies, or provide connections to help each other reach stated goals. The idea is simple – there is strength in numbers.