Saturday, December 08, 2007

Lessons learned the hard way

If you've been reading my blog you will know that I started my "Total Money Makeover" in July. It's not that I was ignorant regarding personal finance prior to July, but I sure wasn't fully educated either.

My maternal grandmother, God rest her soul, was the most frugal person I ever knew. She was brilliant - and knew exactly the money game and how it played. I'd make fun of some of her shopping habits - most of which I now do myself. Unfortunately gram died while I was early in my high school career so I was in my arrogant, rebellious teen angst years and didn't really pay attentions to the lessons taught. Hind sight..... Gram was WEIRD! Now I'm wanting to be just as WEIRD as she!

Okay... here's a few of the lessons I have learned.

1. No matter how you phrase it - you can not pay off credit cards when you are still using them.

2. Surfing a balance from one card to another is NOT the same thing as making a payment.

3. Rewards Points on credit card purchases gives you an excuse to over use your credit card. You may have the intentions of paying it off -- but you can wind up with more in interest charges than you do in cashed out rewards points.

4. (and also my favorite saying) "____% off of too much is STILL too much!"

5. Even if it's a great deal ... if it's going to sit in a closet, drawer, in the basement, or otherwise unused ... it wasn't money well spent.

6. Go to the grocery store with a list, your coupons, a plan and an envelope of CASH! No credit debit cards!

7. Quit listening to how your friends handle their finances - because your friends are just as clueless as you are (or lucky as the case would be... WERE)

8. Don't EVER watch QVC or the Home Shopping Club or any late night infomercials if you want to save money!

9. When your insurance agent tries to scare you into UNIVERSAL LIFE insurance - run the other way. I can't tell you how close I was to buying into this myth.

10. Budget everything. This is major for me. I have always budgeting my monthly bills. Have great credit and haven't been late on a payment. Kudos, pat me on the back...... but not so fast because the rest of life was charged on a credit card. And if that doesn't sound bad enough, refer back to #1.

11. Use cash. Even when you've thrown all your credit card in a drawer, an ice block or have cut them up into millions of pieces - you haven't really changed the habit if you are still using your debit card. I never believed it until I started using cash. Spending cash hurts. You really start thinking... " Do I really NEED that?" That's when you know you have become weird.

12. Quit being lazy. What do you mean I have to cook? I worked all day! It's so much easier to stop at Mickey D's on the way home than cook. The fact that I work in a restaurant doesn't help much either. We have saved so much money, by having a weekly game plan and not hitting the sit down restaurants all the time. You have cookbooks - you have ingredients - COOK!

13. Read! Teach yourself something! Although I was pleased to know that some of what Dave Ramsey was talking about in Total Money Makeover and Financial Peace Revisited was things I already knew or did - I learned so much more than I could have hoped for. It's been forever since I read a book.

14. Admit there's a problem. Denial is what got me through the 90's. As long as the payments are being made - what's the problem? The problem is, I'm almost 40 and I'm broke. End of story!

15. Watch your statements, store receipts, or anything that goes through a computer. I scan for errors all the time. I make calls to customer service and I get things fixed. All those little errors add up to BIG $$. If you don't care about your $$ who does?

I'm sure there's more.

What are some of your Lessons learned the hard way?
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