Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Perot Financial Plan

With the recession and instability that's going on with our nation's finances, Joey and I decided it was about time to whip our personal finances into ship shape. We decided to start the Dave Ramsey plan. I really didn't know much about the plan itself other than that it viewed financial management from a Biblical perspective and that he was big on having zero debt at all times.

I guess we started the classes a little over a month ago. There are about 20 people in our class of all ages. Some fresh out of college and others with a fresh AARP card. Single people, newlyweds, married with small kids, and some with grandkids. Bankers, engineers, stay at home Moms, doctors, etc. It's a rainbow. The reasons vary as much as the people. There are a few like us who are looking to set out on the right financial foot, some that are beginning to have to think about ways to put their kids through college, and those that are heavily in debt and are desperately ready to get out from under its thumb. The Class Debt is somewhere in the neighborhood of $580,000 and this is not including mortgages. Wow, right?

We sit at round tables each week and start the class by announcing any financial success stories from the past week. "We paid off our first debt!", "I was able save $$$ by budgeting!", "We stuck to our budget!" "We achieved Baby Step #1!". "We negotiated our insurance rates down $$$ per month!" Then we recap last week's lesson, followed by the current week's lesson with Dave Ramsey via video. The topics so far have ranged from The Basics, How to Tackle Your Debt, How to Budget the Dave Ramsey Way, Getting Through the Insurance Maze, Understanding and Negotiating Creditors, Buyer Beware, Marketing Scams, etc. These are my own titles from what I can remember about learning the past few weeks. We have learned a lot.

Here are the Baby Steps:

  1. Save up $1000 Emergency Fund

  2. Pay off all non-mortgage debt using debt snowball

  3. Save up 3-6 month's living expenses

  4. 15% of income into Roth IRAs/pre-tax retirement plans

  5. College funding

  6. Pay off home early

  7. Build wealth and give

    The hardest things are strictly budgeting every single penny you have before your monthly money ever reaches your bank account and paying with cash. More on the latter in a later blog post. So far, we are loving it despite the fact that it's tough. It's nice to both be on the same page pressing toward the same financial goals. In general, just having a financial plan and established goals takes a lot of the guesswork out of decisions. We are enjoying working as a team toward our goals. Usually the one to be very Don't-Think-About-It about financial plans, this has given me a lot more confidence and knowledge about managing our money. We'll keep you posted on our progress. For more info, you can visit www.daveramsey.com.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Soled Out

Have you ever bought shoes from Luke's Locker? It's Joey's favorite place to purchase shoes mainly because they custom fit shoes for your feet and Joey has interesting Size 14 feet. It's hard to just go into a shoe store and buy shoes that fit Joey. And he also really doesn't have much of an arch at all in his foot so shoes can be really uncomfortable. Luke's Locker carries shoes of all sizes and custom fits it for your foot. You can see why this would be Joey's Shoe Heaven. He finally convinced me to go since my shoes were on their last mile. It was completely different from any shoe purchasing experience I've ever had.

I walked into the store looking for the racks of shoes which I was to look through and instead met my "consultant" Christy, who asked me what kind of things I liked to do in my shoes, such as step aerobics, running, walking, etc. Then she made me take off my shoes and walk a few feet down an "aerobic walking runway" all the while staring intensely at my feet and making noises like "hmmm...uhhuh...". Next I had to stand with my feet together so she could look closely at my arches. Then she measured my foot on one of those old fashioned foot measurers. Christy lifted her head and said "Looks like you're a 9 or a 9.5". What?! Some kind of foot measurer you are?! I always wore a 7.5 or an 8. Have my feet grown or have I just been wearing the wrong size since I was 16?! No, she said, we just always go up a size or a size and a half for running shoes since your feet swell. Oh, okay. My panic subsided although I did have this picture in my head of me working out with Jumbo Clown Shoes. She also said that it looks like I'm a Narrow and that she would bring a 9.5 Narrow. For a person whose always turning her foot due to shoes that are too wide, this was like music to my ears.

This is going great, I'm thinking...wait a minute what shoe are we talking about? I haven't even seen a shoe yet! How does she know what to bring? Christy brought out two pairs of shoes...two. This is weird. My choices are two pairs of shoes? For one who likes to try all her options before making a decision, this was odd. "Try them on and tell me how they feel." So I did. And they fit perfectly. I walked down the Aerobic Walking Runway like I had little shoes made of clouds - well, not really "little" shoes, but hey, they felt great. I was sold. Hadn't even looked at the price tag and I was ready to buy. They've gone back to the old fashioned shoe salesman way at Luke's Locker and my feet have gotten all the benefits! If you're in the market for a new pair of running shoes you should definitely check them out. I will be going back for the next pair I buy.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Fungus Among Us

So Joey and I are three days into a Yeast-Free Diet. Ok, I know right now most of you are going, um what? What the heck is that? It goes a little like this:

For one month:
Foods allowed: Meat, Veggies, Nuts, Eggs, and Fruit and Butter (after two weeks)
Foods to avoid: Dairy, Sugar (this means bread, pasta, grains, potatoes, alcohol, etc.), hydrogenated oils, and vinegar

It's so easy a Caveman could do it. No really, cavemen did do it. It's pretty tough the first time you try it, but it does get better the more often you do it.

Wondering why we are doing this? Well, turns out yeast can take over your digestive tract if it is allowed to. It's a microorganism that is pretty darn resilient. Given an inch, it will take a mile. And it can make a huge difference on your body when you have an overgrowth of yeast. It can manifest itself in the form of eczema, rashes, yeast infections, athletes foot, gastrointestinal problems (you know what yeast does to bread making it rise? same sort of thing happens in your body), fatigue, sensitivity to products containing yeast, etc. The list goes on. We want to avoid this list. Oftentimes, IBS, Krohn's, Leaky Gut, etc. are caused by a yeast overgrowth.

What can cause an overgrowth of yeast? Try having an antibiotic once in your life. That's all it takes in addition to eating the American Diet. It kills the bad bacteria causing the infection, but in the process it also kills your good bacteria. So you've got an imbalance. Birth control pills and steroids can also exacerbate yeast.

In order to level the playing field and get things balanced out, you've gotta stop feeding the yeast in your system. It lives on sugar. You also have to take something to kill the yeast, which we get from a vitamin store and supplement with a probiotic.

So that's why we're doing it. I had antibiotics about a year ago for wisdom teeth and Joey is doing it annually. It's not easy, that's for sure, but you feel SO good when you're on it! Are we going to be perfect at it? Um, probably not. I'm a recovering junk food addict so the road to recovery has been a long one for me and there are things that I don't turn down, such as pizza, cheetos, and Mexican food. Weakness. Now that I've mentioned it, please don't bring these near me! I love chocolate and yummy food with the best of 'em. But, we've done well so far and have tons of energy when we're not eating all the bread.

I'll keep you posted on our progress. If anyone's interested in more info, please let me know! Oh and did I mention you might lose a few pounds in the process? :)

Monday, June 1, 2009

A Petite Dismissal

This past weekend I was shopping at one of my favorite stores and like most, they have a petite section. Being 5'9, the petite section rarely holds merchandise that applies to me. However, being that I am quite small up top, I do find the occasional gem of a short sleeved top or dress in a certain cut that fit me well. This is precisely why I moseyed over to the petite section this particular day.

Employee: Excuse me m'am?

Jenny: Yes? (with three items in hand to try on)

Small People's Loft Employee: I think you will find clothes more to your liking on the other side of the store.

Jolly Green Giant: Thank you, but I've actually found a few things already.

Small People's Loft Employee: I would just like to save you some time in the dressing room. This is the petite section.

Jolly Green Giant: Ummm...thanks, but I think I'll try my luck.

It was a cross between feeling like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman getting asked to leave the high priced store and Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz while in Munchkin Land. Unbelievable. Vindication was forthcoming at the check out counter.