Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Paying off Debt...How I Did It (Step One)

Since April is Financial Literacy Month I decided to make my "return" to blogging focus on finances this month. After the end of the marriage I was left with all of the collected debt. I guess someone usually ends up with the debt, right? Lucky me. It was the price I was willing to pay to get out peacefully. My credit was the better of the two so most of what we had was in my name. Once again....lucky me.

I am the average "working middle class" woman in America and am not claiming to be a financial planner. What I did was pay off all of the marriage debt, credit cards, overdue accounts, etc. in five years without receiving a pay raise in three of those years. The first thing I did was to pull everything together and realize the amount of debt I was facing. Luckily, I have always been frugal. You know, what some people call cheap.

Step One: Get a budget (and know how much money you make)

Ah, that word budget. It might be uglier than cheap, right? It is a must. You must know what you spend and you must know where you spend it. My first response to a budget was, "But, I don't have any money!" You will be shocked at how fast a dollar here and three dollars there adds up. How much have you spent in fast food, a cup of coffee and the vending machine today?

You can find a few budget guidelines online for free. This book is a great resource. I have listened to the author for years on the radio during my lunch break. He is the reason I bought my house and got out of debt. I will forever be grateful for finding his radio show. He shows you how to manage your money without changing your lifestyle. That was a big plus for me because I didn't have much left to cut back. If you have the chance to attend one of his seminars, do yourself a BIG favor and go! Most of them are free.

I added know how much money you make for a reason. You may say, "Who does not know how much they make?" I said the same until I went to a building wealth seminar and the question was asked. Only three people out of around 100 knew how much was in their paycheck. can you manage something when you have no idea how much you have to work with?

Step Two: Track Your Budget

What good is the best budget if you ignore it? Don't have the time? Well, you have a phone. Chances are it is a smart phone that you have with you all the time, right? Guess what? There's an app for that. I use the free version of this one. There are many apps that track your expenses and there is a good write up on a few of them here. There are always new apps available but bottom line is find one and use it. It takes about the same amount of time to make an entry in the app as it does to send a text. My main focus is four areas of my budget, food, gas, utilities and pet supplies. Those are my four areas that fluctuate so I try to keep a close eye on them. I use sub-groups to cheat the app a little because you can only track four "budgeting areas" in the free version of the app I use.

At the end of the year you can save a copy of your data and export it into excel to organize/manipulate it to see what you spend and where you spent it compared to your budget.

That is the beginning. A good first step. I have a few other things I have used over the years. More to come...

Until Next Time,

Peace & Blessings...

Thursday, April 3, 2014

What is Your Truth?

This an old speech and say what you want about her now but it worthy of watching. It should make you think about how you live everyday. Do you dance in the misery of others? What is your truth?

Sunday, December 15, 2013


I am heartbroken. A special person died this morning and I....feel so empty.

I have written about my Familia de Cubano many times here. Salsa has become so much a part of my life that it is strange to look back and not have a good memory that does not include someone who dances with me. 

I learned to dance Cuban style salsa from a wonderful couple. The man affectionately known as "The Papi" and his partner. A woman who has always laughed and opened her home and heart to me like I was indeed family. They adopted me, took me under their wings, opened their home for holidays and gatherings and lifted me up whenever I felt down.

In the past 8 years I have grown to know and love them both like family. 

Today...this half of that couple has left this heart is broken. As I type through tears I remember the good memories, her extremely bright blue (and sometimes green) eyes and the smile she shared with everyone. No one has a laugh as infectious as hers.

My life was/is better because of them both, because of her generosity. My Cuban family has suffered a tremendous loss. My heart breaks for The Papi and it is so very heavy today.

I take a little comfort that she is not in pain anymore. And I am extremely lucky to have known her and shared the years of her life. She touched so many....

...but I am heartbroken.

Our last words to each other...

I said, "Smooches hun, love you. Feel better!"

Her almost whispered response, "Smooches. Love you too!"