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America Saves...Day 5!

I for one have applied for a majority of the scholarships available to me on FastWeb. And after I exhausted that resource, I realized that the majority of those were scholarships that almost anyone could qualify for. I needed to find scholarships that were more pertinent to my degree plan, my region and my academic standing.

I didn't graduate in the top ten and my parents don't make alot of money, but still enough that the government says they should pay for school even when I know they can't afford it. Whats left to me then? Scholarships and Student Loans... My ambition is to not have dug myself into a giant pit of debt upon graduation. So scholarships it is.

So how do I get the opportunity to apply for more?

A few simple steps I utilize and hope to have work in my favor.

1. Don't sit there and wait for scholarships to come to you. No one is going to walk up to you on the street and hand you a wad of cash, so don't expect scholarships to work that way either. Even top academic and athletic students had to earn their scholarships, its only right that you do legwork too.

2. Write you essays! I know that its exhausting and you may not be pleased with the end result but getting your essays written long before the deadline approaches will allow you to make any edits you deem necessary. Have a teacher or professor proofread and edit your paper for you to ensure that you come off as professional.

3. You will never run out of scholarship opportunities. GUARANTEED. I can say this with confidence because when I thought I was done, I learned to open more doors for myself. When FastWeb wasn't producing the results I needed, I contacted my school to find out if they had any leads. When that was exhausted I contacted the chamber of commerce in my area to see if they had any funding or monies designated for scholarships. When that was exhausted I turned to my degree plan and began searching for organizations and affiliations within my city that might have a scholarship fund for engineers. When that was exhausted I turned to my church to see if they had any information on scholarships for active christian students. The only thing I had to lose was time, but while it was time-consuming it was well worth the effort. As the saying goes, Rinse and Repeat. Start over again, scholarships become available all year round. And don't forget to check with your state's education page. They may have more scholarship lists available to you.

4. When all else fails... Google. This is the most time-consuming venture of all as you have to actually sift through scholarship opportunities and figure out if you're eligible. With the right search parameters, Google can pull up anything. "Nursing Scholarships" or "Nursing Scholarships in California" or "Pediatric Nursing Scholarships" all produce results. But don't give up. Draft up a letter to send to any scholarships that you have missed the deadline for and request information about applying for the scholarship next year. Requesting this information will give you time to prepare as well to make sure they are having the scholarship once more. Nothing I dislike more than putting together a scholarship only to release: I'm ineligible, I missed the deadline or it's inactive. While search engines can produce a wealth of information, its quality over quantity.

5. Never mislead others about yourself on a scholarship application, this could come back to haunt you. Always have backup copies of your resume, letters of recommendation, biography and general essays in the event your computer crashes. Store them online with your email provider for fast submission and for added security

America Saves... DAY 3!

Using the internet is fun.
Saving money is fun.
Therefore using the internet to save money is fun.

There's truth to that statement and I'm here to prove it to you.

The internet is not just for myspace, facebook and twitter, its also for checking your online bank and credit union account statements. The first place to start on your savings adventure is to take note of how much you have saved already. If you have zero dollars in saving, well then you know you need to take a look at your spending habits. If you have a fairly decent amount in your account already, finding ways to boost your savings still is a great way to stay prepared for anything. If you don't have a savings account, picture me slapping you on the forehead right now, "Should of had a V8". :) Go now. Talk to your financial advisor at your institution of finance and get yourself set up with a savings account! May I suggest GECU? :)

So now that you know where you stand savings wise, lets see what we can take care of on the internet to give your savings a jumpstart. First, set a goal. Any goal. Make it tangible, realistic, and accessible. Something you can achieve, if you work at it, but something that is actually possible. You got it? Okay write it down. That number is what you're going to work at. Now set a deadline for your goal. One week? One Month? The rest of the year? Whatever it is, make sure you give yourself a realistic amount of time to accomplish your savings goal. Got your deadline? Write it down too. Now step on over here to calculate how much you'll have to save between now and then to meet your savings goal. This site breaks it down on a monthly basis.

So now you have your goal, your deadline, and if you entered in the correct information you know how much you have to save each year/month/week/day to reach that goal. So lets see how we can start saving on the internet:

*Need to purchase something? Let Sales Circular help. They have information on top brands and stores and compare the sales prices by location to help save money, gas and time! Call before you journey out, to ensure that sales price is valid and that they have the item in stock.

*Utilize Google Maps to map out your drive before you venture out of the driveway to ensure you're not spending more time than necessary in the car. And for optimized walking or jogging routes, they also have a radio option to switch to routes by walking.

*Why buy new when you can by used? You know where to look, this is beating the old drum, but its such a valuable asset to invest your time into. Ebay, Good Will, Craigslist all carry items that are new-used at cheaper prices than you can buy at the stores. Just use your noggin and shop smart!

*Need work done on your house? Could you possibly do it yourself? DIY can save you a bundle! And for the simple cost of materials and rental tools (if necessary) you can have the job done. Oh and don't forget to budget in a case of beer and a few pizzas as bribe money to get your friends to help. There are a bunch of DIY websites to help you get the job done. A personal favorite

*Look into how much you could save by switching your utilities. uSwitch offers comparisons on your basic utilities. But like anything on the internet, do your research before you jump into anything.

*For the love of all that is covered in chocolate print out a budget form! This simple form can help you realize where you're overspending and how you can trim fixed costs to save even more.

There are more ways to save out there and rest assured I'll bring them to you!

America Saves... DAY 2!

Come on El Paso! It's America Saves Week! This is your chance to see just what you can do with your financials and your personal life in one week. Heck, you might surprise yourself and realize that saving is a great habit and continue on for the rest of the year.

Ways that I'm saving doubly this week...

*I'm going to spend zero dollars on food. Thats right, I'm going to hit up every fast food restaurant within walking distance of my office and survive on ketchup and mayonaise packets.. THEY'RE FREE!!!

*And I say within walking distance because I'm leaving my car at home and walking the 11.3 miles, 3 hour 37 minute route to the office and then hitch-hiking to campus.

*Instead of going out to the movies I'm just going to go to Best Buy and sit in front of their HDTV screens and watch whatever movie they have on loop!

*If I can't manage to stay filled off the condiments, I'll venture to Costco and eat all the free samples I can until I'm full!

So thats my plan! Woohoo saving money feels great! And its fun!

Okaaaayyyy maybe I overstretched myself, but saving money still does feel great and it is fun. Here is my real plan:
*Cook my lunch the night before, save $5 a day on eating out, $20+ for the week
*Carpool at least one day of the week, save about $3.50
*Texting only policy! No incoming, outgoing calls, saves about 150 minutes, guarantees no overage, save about $4 for the month or $1 for the week. Saving is saving!
*Errand consolidation: One day for office errands will save $4 in gas.
*One pack of cigarettes to last me the week, save $12
*No starbucks!!! Its not exactly my latte factor, but a time for socializing with friends... save $4.11.
*Absolutely no unexpected shopping trips! I'm good on clothes, food, makeup, etc. Save $8.
Total projected savings: $52.61

While I've already curbed most of those habits to make room for my good savings habits, its interesting to see how much one could save in one week. I challenge you to save $50 this week. And just think, if you did it for the rest of the year, the last 44 weeks of it at least, you could save $2200 or more!

I challenge you!

America Saves Week

Next week is America Saves Week. Feb. 22-March 2!

This is a great time to break out your budget and see just how much you can save for that week. And once you've proven to yourself just how awesome you are at saving, carry the savings ambitions onwards!

When making a purchase, ANY purchase, make sure you are shopping smart.
* Smart spending starts with managing expenses, and the best way to properly manage your money is by creating a spending plan.
* Use coupons for as much as possible. Keep them in your car! You'll want these on you when you make emergency or unscheduled stops. And don't forget to look for fast food coupons! I'm sure even Chico's has them! ;)
* Research prices before making any purchase, especially large items. This will help you find discounts, rebates, and coupons. Salescircular has the price comparison for you!
* Become informed about the product.
* Read the fine print on offers.
* Avoid impulse buying as much as possible.
* Remember, you generally pay a price for convenience. It might be worth driving a few extra miles or waiting a few more minutes.
* Getting the lowest price is not always the smartest thing to do if you get poor quality.
* Paying the highest price does not always guarantee best quality.
* Don’t be afraid to ask for a lower price, and ask if you can have a discount for paying with cash instead of credit.
* Think in terms of quality over quantity.
* Brown bag your lunch to the office, at least a few times each week (have the kids do the same thing for school a couple days a week)
* Rent a movie instead of taking the whole family out to a theater
* Carpool or consolidate errands to cut down on extra gasoline expenses; when you do buy gas, do it in the middle of the week and at a gas station that has competition close by
* Stock up at holiday and back-to-school sales for things you know your kids and family will need
* Use email for long distance communication instead of the phone
* Swap babysitting nights with family or friends
* Use a shopping list when at the store; do not deviate from your list whenever possible
* Keep your eye on the register when checking out at stores, purchases can easily be rung up wrong

And if you're looking for that perfect budget worksheet, This is a great PDF for you!.


So you got a nice fat refund in your wallet from your taxes. What do you do with it? Firstly, you want to continue with the good habits you've created. Planning, budgeting and lists! They're your best friends when it comes to your finances. They keep you in control of your money and guarantee that it will be spent wisely and with well thought out decisions backing it!

So how do you curb overspending even on a budget and planning and those well thought out lists? Understanding when and where you overspend is good, but why you overspend is better.

Ways That we Tend to Overspend:

First, the number one way that people overspend is when they are bored
. When you’re bored one option that comes to mind is shopping. “I’m bored; why not go buy something to take away my boredom.”

* Plan ahead> Before you get bored think of alternatives to shopping. Keep a running list of things to do instead that are cheap or free that you enjoy doing.

Second, people overspend when they are around friends. No matter what the case may be when we’re around friends having a good time money is no longer an object. You just basically get swept up in the commotions and fun of things that you don’t even think twice about how much something costs. You just swipe your card or hand over a couple bills.

* Plan ahead> When you know you're going to be around friends bring cash only. Leave your c.c. at home to avoid those temptations of "unconscious swiping." Also, before hanging out with friends plan ahead what you'll be doing. Think about cheaper alternatives then an expensive night out.

Third, we overspend on gift giving. When shopping for a gift it's hard to stay on a budgeted amount because what if you can’t think of anything in that price range? Most often then not we overspend because we found the perfect gift that just happens to be a little more. Plus, our friends and family are worth it. Birthdays and holidays only come once a year so why not splurge a little.

* Plan ahead> Shop for gifts throughout the year. If not physically, do it on paper. Keep a list of friends and families birthdays and other occasions that you have coming up that you'll be buying a gift for. Write down ideas as you come across them. This way you are not stuck at the last minute trying to think of what to get and end up overspending.

Fourth, I’m starving and there is no food in sight. Take me to the nearest restaurant fast! Overspend.

* Plan ahead> A real life saver can be to have snacks in your car. When you're running errands and doing other things that require a lot of hurried thinking you will get hungry fast. Always bring a snack even if you think you won't get hungry. You can also plan your route ahead of time to make it home around the times you get hungry.

Firth, we overspend when we don’t use cash. This has been said many of times that it’s harder to hand over your hard earn cash then to swipe a piece of plastic.

* Plan ahead> Pretty self explanatory. Try to carry cash on you when you're buying something. You can also keep a list of things you need when going out so you stick to it.

Sixth, not planning ahead causes overspending as well. Just a small example: when you have to run out to the liquor store to buy milk after it runs out you'll probably pay a higher price because you didn't buy it at the grocery store.

* Plan ahead> I think this one sums up a lot of our overspending. Most of the time try to plan ahead. I know that won't always be the case so be prepared for some days when you just didn't think ahead about the things you need.

Groceries on a budget

Going grocery shopping when you're on a tight budget can be a nerve wracking affair. You might even have to bring along your calculator, adding up every dollar and cent to make sure you don't go over your weekly budget. If this is you, then you may want to consider some of the following options as additions to your grocery list. There are many filling, healthful meal options that can help you stick to your budget and still have a meal that sticks to your ribs. If you get creative, you can go beyond ramen and still have a little cash left over at the end of the week.

First, stock up on dry goods in bulk such as rice, pasta, and beans. Whole wheat or whole grain versions of the rice and pasta are readily available in many stores, and make much more healthy options. Pick up a variety of beans such as pinto, kidney, and navy beans. These can be cooked together to make a delicious three bean salad or a thick and creamy bean stew. Also, any of the varieties of beans can be seasoned with cumin, chili powder, garlic and other inexpensive spices and served over warm rice for a cheap and filling meal. For the pasta, pick up a few inexpensive jars of your favorite ready to eat pasta sauce. For an even cheaper alternative, just buy a few cans of plain tomato sauce (one of the cheapest pantry staples you can keep on hand) and jazz it up with spices you may already have, such as basil, oregano, and garlic. Serve over the pasta.

Another wonderful idea for cheap meals is Mexican food staples like burritos, nachos and quesadillas. Burritos and nachos allow you to make two meals from the same batch of ingredients: refried beans, shredded cheese, sour cream, canned black olives, inexpensive salsa, green onion, and any other toppings you desire or can afford. For burritos, just wrap the ingredients up in a tortilla (a very inexpensive bread alternative) and heat, and for nachos, bake tortilla wedges in the oven until crisp and top with the ingredients. For quesadillas (a quick and easy Mexican version of the grilled cheese) butter a tortilla. Place it buttered side down in a skillet on medium heat. Top with shredded cheese and other fillings, then top with another buttered tortilla, buttered side up. When the cheese has melted, flip and brown the other side. Serve with salsa and sour cream.

For another inexpensive meal, try purchasing bulk bags of frozen skinless, boneless chicken breasts along with a few bags of frozen vegetables. These items alone can make for meals for a week or more. Just season each chicken breast with your favorite spices, top it with leftover shredded cheese, or eat it on bread or a hamburger bun for a fun sandwich. Jazz up the frozen veggies with spices, butter or some shredded cheese.

Buying in bulk can save you lots of time and money. These staples will help you eat well until the next paycheck rolls around.

Love is in the air... Not in your Wallet

V-day is only days away! How will you celebrate? I have never really liked receiving gifts on Valentines day, or any holiday for that matter. I'm not a gracious gift receiver and I usually make a mess of things, but I have the best time giving gifts!

This year with my stringent budget, I might have to improvise on this years festivities. But here are a few ideas you can try out with me.

Cheap ways to celebrate Valentine's day:

Purchase some clear red balloons. Before blowing them up, place either wrapped candies, small gifts, and/or love poems inside each one, and then give them to your loved one as a bouquet.

Cook a favorite meal at home - Instead of going to an expensive restaurant, it is fun to dress up a favorite meal cooked at home. You can light candles on the dinner table, dim the lights, and put on some mood music. It is also possible to duplicate expensive meals at home at wholesale costs if you are adept at cooking.

Knit a scarf. Keep the physical warmth in your relationship along with the sentimental warmth.

Write a love letter to say I love you.

Create handmade coupons with gifts your partner can use anytime, such as a massage or a night out on the town with friends. Does your partner ever ask you why you love them? Then create your own little booklet using dollar store items just for them entitled, "Why I Love You: Reasons".

Make a mixed CD of all of your favorite songs, or create a compilation of love songs that remind you of your mate. Better yet, learn how to play one of these love songs on the guitar and serenade him or her on Valentine's Day.

Grab some construction paper and cut out as many hearts as you like. On each one, share a story about your relationship that shows how much you care. Once finished, take the hearts and string them individually from the ceiling so it looks like your home is raining love.

Take time off. If you both have some vacation time built up, put in for a day off and spend it together.

Volunteer. If you're both socially conscious (and also adding in the fact that Valentine's Day is on a Saturday this year), why not spend the day involved with a volunteer project together instead of doing the typical date thing?

Create Valentine's day crafts This site has a lot of great ideas

Take a walk or hike together - Once my husband and I walked for a few hours on the beach and collected seaglass, and we turned it into a bit of a competition to see who found the biggest piece. When you walk together you see the world differently than from your TV or your car and I think it is romantic because walking makes the world and your lover seem more real and tangible.

Creatively use free flower petals - Usually florists throw away the outside petals of flowers to make the flowers they sell look perfect. Each day if you just go by a florist they will probably have a lot of free flower petals for people to take. You can take these petals and do many things with them. For example, you can decorate the dinner table, bed, or float the petals in a bath.

Surprise your significant other at times you usually do not see him or her - If you work in different places then it would be fun to have a surprise lunch date set up for your mate. Of course, do not do this if your partner does not like to be bothered at work or if they are embarassed by you.

Take photographs together and of each other - After being together for a bit you may find that you do not actually have that many photographs of each other. It is fun to just set aside a time to pick up the camera and take pictures of each other. You can also go to a photobooth and take pictures together. Photographs are always good reminders of the good times you have had.

Shower or bath together - Cleaning each other in the tub or in a shower is great fun because you can touch each other everywhere. It could also conserve water. If one person rinses while the other lathers then it is possible to use the same amount of water one person usually uses to clean two people!

One central theme among all these ideas: it's often not the amount spent (for some people it is, but probably not the majority), but the heartfelt expression of love that means the most. So open your mind and be creative. There are tons of ways to say "I love you" without spending a bundle, and many of these meaningful gifts are the presents that will be remembered most in years to come.

The Latte Factor
What is The Latte Factor®?

The Latte Factor® is based on the simple idea that all you need to do to finish rich is to look at the small things you spend your money on every day and see whether you could redirect that spending to yourself. Putting aside as little as a few dollars a day for your future rather than spending it on little purchases such as lattes, fancy coffees, bottled water, fast food, cigarettes, magazines and so on, can really make a difference between accumulating wealth and living paycheck to paycheck.

We don't even realize how much we're actually spending on these little purchases. If we did think about it and change our habits just a little, we could actually change our destiny.

Still not convinced? Consider this:

$5 per day (the average cost of a latte and a muffin) x 7 days = $35 per week

$35/week = $150/month

$150 per month invested at a rate of 10% annual return =

1 year = $1,885
2 years = $3,967
5 years =$11,616
10 years = $30,727
15 years = $62,171
30 years = $339,073
40 years = $948,611

Take action today!

To get started you've got to identify what your Latte Factor® actually is. The best way to do this is to track your spending for a full day. We've made it easy with the Latte Factor Challenge Form® that you can download below. This simple exercise can be life-changing.

Once you know where your money is going and how much your Latte Factor® is costing you, use our Latte Factor® calculator below to see just how much you could save in a few years. It adds up, so don't delay...get started today!

If you've got a great Latte Factor® story to share, click here to send it to me. Tell me what happened to you when you took the challenge. How much money did you find? What did you learn? The best stories will win a free Latte Factor Mug - tote your own coffee every morning and watch your savings grow!

My latte factor is easy enough to figure out... veggie burgers from burger king and cigarettes. I have successfully curbed my veggie burger factor from six or so a month to just one... If only I could curb my cigarette smoking too.


This post is all about credit. I know I’ve skimped over it briefly in a few other posts, but this post is the motherload. I think people compensate with what they think they know to cover up the things they don’t really know anything about at all. And credit is no exception to that rule. People sometimes don’t know that there are Advantages to credit along with disadvantages. People jump into credit without taking their own character into consideration and find themselves in a world of problems. The various Acts that were enabled to protect consumers, the different variants of credit, and how you should truly calculate your credit.

Where there is a pro there is a con and understanding the advantages and disadvantages to credit is the first step:
• Able to buy needed items now
• Don’t have to carry cash
• Creates a record of purchases
• More convenient than writing checks
• Consolidates bills into one payment
• Interest (higher cost of items)
• May require additional fees
• Financial difficulties may arise if one loses track of how much has been spent
each month
• Increased impulse buying may occur

I borrowed money from a friend recently. And I paid her back within a reasonable time frame. Does that reflect my character when it comes to credit? Well, to a degree. It definitely doesn’t reflect on my ability to pay off my debt entirely within a reasonable time frame, but it might suggest that I would make one hell of an attempt to get it done. In terms of credit, you’re not a robot. You’re unlike anyone else, so you should ask yourself a series of questions before you endeavor to take a new credit card or any other line of credit.
Character—will you repay the debt?
From your credit history, does it look like you possess the honesty and reliability to pay credit debts?
• have you used credit before?
• do you pay your bills on time?
• do you have a good credit report?
• can you provide character references?
• how long have you lived at your present address?
• how long have you been at your present job?
Capital—what if you don’t repay the debt?
Do you have any valuable assets such as real estate, savings, or investments that could be used to repay credit debts if income is unavailable?
• what property do you own that can secure the loan?
• do you have a savings account?
• do you have investments to use as collateral?
Capacity—can you repay the debt?
Have you been working regularly in an occupation that is likely to provide enough income to support your credit use?
• do you have a steady job? What is your salary?
• how many other loan payments do you have?
• what are your current living expenses? What are your current debts?
• how many dependents do you have?

So you have your character cross-examined and you’re still going to go for the line of credit. Here are some very sound guidelines to keep you on the right track:
• borrow only what you can repay.
• read and understand the credit contract.
• pay debts promptly.
• notify creditor if you cannot meet payments.
• report lost or stolen credit cards promptly.
• never give your card number over the phone unless you initiated the call or are certain of the
caller’s identity.

You should also know what your rights are as a consumer. If you feel your rights are being infringed upon, having knowledge of the following acts will help you to take the appropriate action. There are very few decisions you can make in life without the proper information and without properly educating yourself. Credit is definitely not one of those decisions.
Truth in lending act (1968)
Ensures consumers are fully informed about cost and conditions of borrowing.
Fair credit reporting act (1970)
Protects the privacy and accuracy of information in a credit check.
Equal opportunity act (1974)
Prohibits discrimination in giving credit on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, national origin, marital status, age, or receipt of public assistance.
Fair credit billing act (1974)
Sets up a procedure for the quick correction of mistakes that appear on consumer credit accounts.
Fair debt collection practices act (1977)
Prevents abuse by professional debt collectors, and applies to anyone employed to collect debts owed to others; does not apply to banks or other businesses collecting their own accounts.

Also you should educate yourself on the types of credit:
Single-payment credit
Items and services are paid for in a single payment, within a given time period, after the purchase. Interest is usually not charged.
• utility companies, medical services
• some retail businesses
Installment credit
Merchandise and services are paid for in two or more regularly scheduled payments of a set amount. Interest is included.
• some retail businesses, such as car and appliance dealers
Money may also be loaned for a special purpose, with the consumer agreeing to repay the debt in two or more regularly scheduled payments.
• commercial banks
• consumer finance companies
• savings and loans
• credit unions
Revolving credit
Many items can be bought using this plan as long as the total amount does not go over the credit user’s assigned dollar limit. Repayment is made at regular time intervals for any amount at or above the minimum required amount. Interest is charged on the remaining balance.
• retail stores
• financial institutions that issue credit cards

And finally a few general rules of thumb to get you on the right track:
Never borrow more than 20% of your yearly net income
• If you earn $400 a month after taxes, then your net income in one year is:
12 x $400 = $4,800
• Calculate 20% of your annual net income to find your safe debt load.
$4,800 x 20% = $960
• So, you should never have more than $960 of debt outstanding.
• Note: housing debt (i.e., mortgage payments) should not be counted as part of the 20%, but other debt should be included, such as car loans, student loans and credit cards.
Monthly payments shouldn’t exceed 10% of your monthly net income
• If your take-home pay is $400 a month:
$400 x 10% = $40
• Your total monthly debt payments shouldn’t total more than $40 per month.
• Note: housing payments (i.e., mortgage payments) should not be counted as part of the 10%, but other debt should be included, such as car loans, student loans and credit cards.

The art of budgeting...

The art of budgeting.

When setting up a budget, most people take their income times it by the number of pay periods in one month, subtract their bills and set aside money for everyday expenses. Whats wrong with this? Well nothing, if you lead a life that is rigid enough to sustain a budget like this. The truth is most people are just too dynamic to be able to settle easily enough within those confines.

The art of budgeting starts with phases:
Phase 1: assess your personal and financial situation (needs, values, life situation).
Phase 2: set personal and financial goals.
Phase 3: create a budget for fixed and variable expenses based on projected income.
Phase 4: monitor current spending (saving, investing) patterns.
Phase 5: compare your budget to what you have actually spent.
Phase 6: review financial progress and revise budgeted amounts.

Well-written personal and financial goals should:
• Be realistic
a student working part-time is not likely to be able to afford a new car every couple of years.
• Be specific
“i want to save $5,000 for a down payment to buy a house.”
• Have a timeframe
“i want to pay off my credit card within the next 18 months.”
• State the action to be taken
“i want to start an automatic deposit savings account with monthly withdrawals from my
checking account.”

You can’t expect to get it right the first time around, like anything else it takes patience, planning and perseverance. These three p’s will help you on your journey to financial freedom and awareness. Without one of those p-words, well then you’re just left with 2 p’s to work with, and we all know what a mess that can be. ;)

Status update...

When it comes to my plan for the year, I feel its a very amiable approach to annihilating my debt, saving for college and getting myself back on my feet.

That being said... I'm not doing so hot. At least, thats the way I look at it. Not succeeded 100% on my plan is the equivalent of epic failure. Its just the way I see the world around me. Like Ricky Bobby's dad in Taladega Nights, If you're not first, you're last. Sure that might not make sense, but my drive to be the best is unrivaled. And when I fall short, I must not have tried hard enough.

I had eight envelopes that needed to go out last month... I sent out seven. Completely knocked out two debts from my credit report. Sent off over $700 to my debtors. Sold my laptop for almost $200 and I am in the process of selling my old textbooks on craigslist and around campus. I have successfully met my savings goals each week of January and managed to cut down on my spending significantly. I keep track of every purchase in a register and a receipt journal.

But that one envelope… It will haunt me in my sleep.

Maybe an opportunity to revamp my strategy and try and get February to work in my favor.

1. Apply for more scholarships- This is the College Edition savings challenge. Getting money for school is what its all about.
2. Bills before thrills- While I didn’t have excessive spending last month, I need to make it a habit to send out the envelopes on their scheduled days. Getting my bills paid before I play, taking things more seriously, and being responsible are only positive characteristics I could extend to my challenge.
3. Learn your lesson- There is little to no-point in recording my receipts in my journal if I don’t take a moment every so often to learn from past mistakes.
4. Fun does not mean spending- Need to put my creative noggin to work and see if I can’t fabricate ingenious ways to save money and have a blast.
5. NO BUY DAYS- I want at least two of these a week. Maybe I should strive for everyday? I’d miss it more than I’d hit it, but I’d hit it more often than I am now. Everyday is a conscious spending adventure. I need to tame the beast! Hehe

But more importantly, I need to lighten up on myself. There is still some fun to be had in this competition, and it ain’t over yet!