Terri's Take... » Finances /blog Living a Proverbs 31 Life in a Romans 1 World... Sat, 12 Jul 2014 08:30:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 3 Ways to Save Big in a Low-Interest World, Part 2 /blog/2014/01/3-ways-to-save-big-in-a-low-interest-world-part-2/ /blog/2014/01/3-ways-to-save-big-in-a-low-interest-world-part-2/#comments Sat, 18 Jan 2014 21:30:39 +0000 /blog/?p=1755 Let’s face it, our money isn’t worth much these days and it isn’t growing very fast either. Last year, at this time, I set out to begin saving in earnest. My husband and I have always made it a point to spent less than we make. In this way, our checking account has grown over the years. But, except for the IRAs we have, we have not been intentionally “saving” in a systematic way.

 Piggy-Bank-trans

Last year, I set out to change all that and you can read Part 1 of my journey here.

Now, I want to report back and reiterate some of what I wrote last January. First, here are the steps that I took to begin saving:

1. I opened my own personal savings account. I consider the money “ours” but I was tired of waiting for my husband to open a savings account for us. We’ve been married 25 years and he has not yet done it, so I asked if he would mind if I opened my own. He didn’t mind, so I did.

2. Into this savings account each month I deposit 10% of my earned income. I haven’t done this with my husband’s earned income, but he is watching me carefully and would like to begin doing the same now. Yay!

3. I also deposit 50% of any money I wasn’t expecting. Hey, that leaves me 50% to spend, right? So, it’s still super fun. This money comes in many forms, but mostly gifts or unexpected royalty checks. Sometimes it is money that I found somewhere that I had forgotten about. It’s still money I wasn’t expecting, so 50% goes into savings.

Now, I am watching my money grow at 1% interest in an Ally account. 1% is terrible interest, but it is way better (100x better!) than .01% that my local bank is offering. Last January, I had exactly $0 in savings when I started this process. Now, 12 months later, I have $6800. Of that, $27 is interest that I wouldn’t have gotten if it was sitting in my checking account.

I know, I know what you are thinking. $27! That’s really hardly anything! Right, but if I stay on track to save like I did last year, then next January, I will have made about $100 in interest over the course of the year ($127 for the 2 years together). Then the year after that, it will be something like $250 or $300 for that year. Do you see how this compound interest is working? In 3 years time, I will have accumulated about $450 in interest. That’s money I didn’t have before! Over time, this makes a difference, even at a small 1%. Think what could happen if interest rates go up!

So, my charge to you (no pun intended)… Open an Ally or Capital One account. Deposit 10% of your income + 50% of any unexpected money that you receive or find. Maybe next year you will report back on how well you money did in 2014.

Question: What is your strategy for saving money? I’d love to hear!

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5 Must-Have, No-Cost Resources for Homeschooling /blog/2013/01/5-must-have-no-cost-resources-for-homeschooling-3/ /blog/2013/01/5-must-have-no-cost-resources-for-homeschooling-3/#comments Wed, 16 Jan 2013 18:39:03 +0000 /blog/?p=950 My new tag line for my blog… “Striving to live a Proverbs 31 life in a Romans 1 world” is a pretty high calling, don’t you think? I’ve always been intimidated by Proverbs 31. It’s a lot to live up to. But 2013 marks my year to make some improvements in my life, especially regarding finances, time management and organization. Improving the quality of our family time together is right up there too. I’ll share some ideas on that in a future post. But for now…

In Proverbs 31, it reads, “She makes sure her dealings are profitable” and “she carefully watches over everything in her household.” Last week, I used these two verses as my motivation to open a higher interest savings account and make a commitment to adding to it every month. You can read that post here.

This week, I see something else in those verses… the way I SPEND my money needs to be carefully considered. Think before you spend! Ask yourself… do I need it? Can I find it used? Can I find it free? The beauty of homeschooling (which I have been doing for over 15 years, yikes!) is that there are many resources available online for free. Yes, I said FREE and free is a very good price, don’t you think?

5-No-Cost-Resources

So, if you need to jazz up your homeschooling with some additional resources for this second half of the year, or you are considering homeschooling but didn’t think you could afford it, think again and check out the links below.

Here are 5 must-have, no-cost homeschool resources that are just a click away:

1. Easy Peasy Homeschoolhttp://allinonehomeschool.wordpress.com/ – a funny name for a website that has an absolute wealth of information and resources. A new friend of mine told me about this website. I visited it yesterday and was blown away by the vast amount of help and resources that are not only listed, but organized by school day here on this site. It covers reading, writing, grammar, spelling, vocabulary, math, history/social studies/geography, science, Bible, computer, music, art, PE/health, and logic. It uses only free materials found on the internet. Check it out!

2. Ambleside Onlinehttp://www.amblesideonline.org/. Have you wanted to enjoy a Charlotte Mason education with your children but don’t know where to start? Ambleside Online is a free homeschool curriculum designed to be as close as possible to the curriculum that Charlotte Mason used in her own private and correspondence schools. Ambleside Online uses high quality books and costs no more than the cost of those books. The curriculum uses as many free online books as possible, and there is no cost to use this information or join the support group.

3. The Homeschool Mom Unit Studieshttp://www.thehomeschoolmom.com/schoolroom/unitstudies.php. Actually, the entire Homeschool Mom site is a gem and you should spend some time there getting familiarized with it and find out what it has to offer. But I specifically highlighted the unit study page because unit studies are a great way to homeschool your children especially if you are working with limited funds. You can teach them all the same topic but at varying levels. You can often utilize library books and online information resources – all for free.  Make sure that you sign up for her newsletter!  When you do, you will receive a free state unit study.

4. Donna Young Printables and Resourceshttp://donnayoung.org/index.htm. Yes, this site is a treasure trove of lessons, planners and forms. There is a form for everything you could ever need. I especially like her diplomas! If you are looking for a specific form, a planner or a lesson for a certain subject, make sure that you check here! Donna Young has so many useful forms and resources that you will think you have hit the jackpot.

5. Homeschooling ABCs Free 5 Day MiniClasshttp://www.homeschoolingabcs.com. Sometimes when you are throwing it all together yourself and not using pre-made curriculum, you can start to wonder if you are on the right track. Worry no longer… sign up for the free 5 day mini-class at the site above and receive information on:

* What to Teach and When
* 4 Steps to Homeschooling Success
* Homeschooling on a Dime
* Getting the Help You Need
* Planning and Scheduling

There you go – 5 “Must-Have” No-Cost Resources for Homeschooling. Take advantage of them. Let them be the fuel that starts your creative engine and keeps it going strong.

Question: What are your favorite free homeschool resources?

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3 Ways to Save Big in a Low-Interest World /blog/2013/01/3-ways-to-save-big-in-a-low-interest-world/ /blog/2013/01/3-ways-to-save-big-in-a-low-interest-world/#comments Sat, 12 Jan 2013 18:08:41 +0000 /blog/?p=933 I’ve been mulling around this new tag line for my blog… “Striving to live a Proverbs 31 life in a Romans 1 world.” What do you think? Part of my quest to live a Proverbs 31 life is to get my house in order. And part of getting my house in order is to deal with our budget and bank accounts.

In Proverbs 31, it reads, “She makes sure her dealings are profitable” and “she carefully watches over everything in her household.” This certainly includes the money aspect of the household. While we wives may think that earning money and keeping the finances is our husband’s job, wives are clearly supposed to take responsibility too.

I’ll be sharing some budgeting information in a future post, but today, I want to share with you what I’ve learned about saving, besides the fact that it’s hard. :)

It’s common knowledge that interest rates are low across the board. I knew that. But I didn’t realize how low! I was shocked when I called my bank to find out what the interest rate was on their savings accounts. Here’s the answer – .01%. What? Really, whats the point? So, I get a penny every year for every hundred dollars I save. That’s ludicrous!

So, I decided to shop around and educate myself a little on saving. Here are the 3 ways that I have found to save big in this crazy low-interest economy:

1. Change your mentality – Its easy to fall into the trap of spending everything that comes in. Many of us were not taught how to save as children. We got our allowance and we went out and spent it on candy and baseball cards. We need to change our mental belief that saving isn’t a punishment, but a benefit. It will grow our wealth and provide monetary security for later, when we need it most. Saving is a blessing not a burden. Say this to yourself 3 times each day if you struggle with the concept of saving money.

2. Save regularly – Open a separate savings account. Yes, even if it gets a terrible interest rate! The reason why it needs to be separate from your checking (even if your checking is earning interest) is because you need a place where you money doesn’t come and go, but just stays and grows. For this reason, you need a savings account that doesn’t charge fees. To save regularly, you should strive to put 10% of your income into your savings account each time you or your spouse gets paid. That means living off 90% of your income rather than 100%. In our case, it means living off 80% of our income because we tithe 10% to our church as well. If you cannot live on 90% of your income, then start smaller and work your way up. Start by saving 1% of your income and then once you can do that well, increase to 2%, etc.

3. Save 50% of increases – When you get a raise or a bonus or an unexpected gift, just put 50% of it into your savings account. You weren’t expecting it anyway, so you still have more than you did before. You get 50% of it to spend as you like. This is a win-win for your budget and your savings growth.

Shopping for a savings account with a higher percentage yield? Here are the best that I have found from Moolanomy.com:

1. The CIT Savings Account offers 1.00% APY interest rate when you maintain a daily balance of $25,000 or more (0.90% otherwise). No account-opening or monthly maintenance fees. Your interest is compounded daily to maximize your earning potential.

2. Ally Bank High Yield Savings Account offers competitive rate of 0.95% APY and easy access with no minimum balance and no monthly fees. The bank was rated “Best Savings Account” by Money Magazine in May 2010.

3. Discover Bank Online Savings is a product from the same reputable organization that offers the Discover Card credit card. In addition to competitive online savings rate of 0.80%, Discover Bank also offers money market account (0.70% APY), CDs, and IRA CDs.

4. ING Orange Savings Account offer a high 0.75% APY and it is very popular among savers. You can access your account around the clock via ingdirect.com, and open your account online in under 5 minutes. The best feature is the ability to open sub-accounts to help you save for specific goals.

Read more: http://www.moolanomy.com/1333/best-high-interest-savings-account-and-money-market-rates/

I’ll be trying out Ally Bank, since it offers 95 times what my bank is currently offering. :) I’ll let you know how I like it in a few months.

What are your best savings tips? And what is your current interest rate?

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3 Keys to Unlocking Real Change /blog/2013/01/3-keys-to-unlocking-real-change/ /blog/2013/01/3-keys-to-unlocking-real-change/#comments Thu, 03 Jan 2013 19:37:49 +0000 /blog/?p=913 While yesterday’s post was rather negative, it is true that 9 out of 10 New Year’s resolutions are doomed to failure. There is a science explaining this phenomena that you can read about here on Buffer. This is a fascinating blog post, so I hope that you will read it.

Am I advocating that we do not attempt change in our lives? No! Certainly not! Striving for improvement is part of being human. We crave success in our work, finances and relationships. We fall prey to sadness or depression when we do not succeed in these areas. Check out this info-graphic on what traits and habits contribute to our success:

However, while odds may be terribly against New Year’s resolutions, the fact remains that 10% of those that resolve to make a change are successful, whether it is intentional or accidental. Let’s examine what makes a resolution stick.

3 Keys to Unlocking Real Change:

1. Be specific. Your desired change must be one that can be measured and tracked. “Eat healthier” and “lose weight” are not specific goals. Neither is “read the Bible more.” You will need to convert these vague aspirations to something concrete, such as “eat banana instead of pop-tart each morning”, “walk for 10 minutes a day” or “read the Bible for 5 minutes while drinking morning coffee.” These goals are measurable and specific and possible to accomplish.

2. Start small. As you can see from the above examples of measurable goals, they are also small. Small changes are much more likely to be followed each day. If you decide that you want to start journaling, commit to writing one sentence per day before turning in for the night. If want to pray more, commit to the Lord that you will thank Him for 3 things each day before you get out of bed in the morning. Then, as you find success, you can add to it. I started with walking 10 minutes a day, then raised it to 20 and then finally 30-40. This progression lasted about 2 months as I added to my walking time after about 2-3 weeks of success.

3. Write it down. Pray about it. Writing down a goal is a powerful first step. Write it down. Go ahead, do it now. Then, put it in a place where you will see it – the bathroom mirror, the coffee pot, the refrigerator, for heaven’s sake! Don’t feel embarrassed about it; your family will be proud of you and can help. Reviewing your goal daily will allow you to internalize it and keep it at the forefront of your mind. But this is only part 1 of this step. The second part is equally or perhaps more important. Pray about it. When we seek God’s help, we acknowledge that change hard, but that it is doable. When we pray, we tap into a strength greater than our own.

Would you like to be among the 10% who are successful with their New Year resolutions? Of course you do! Follow these 3 steps for lasting and satisfying change in your life.

What are your small and specific goals for this new year? (Hint: write them down in the comments section below!)

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