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25 days until christmas

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25 days until christmas.so what are your plans this year.i have two toddlers aged three and two.one a boy and one is a girl.with my bills being out of control and gas prices going through the roof i initially was having trouble figuring out how i was going to get my kids christmas this year.last year H @ R block offered loans before christmas.not so this year and it scared me.laws were passed where they can't offer those anymore.so i was worried about how i was going to make it come together.thank goodness an online loan site agreed within minutes to wire me 300 dollars.i don't give a damn if i have to pay 60 dollars on the interest.these people did not rob me they just saved me.i know people say they prey on poor people but where do you go when a bank won't loan you a dime and friends and family suddenly act broke when they know i always pay bills on time and i've never had my phone or utilities cut off ever.plus i always pay my rent on time.if you don't have credit or good credit your screwed.i did not know that even if you pay all your bills on time that doesn't matter.they look mostly at credit cards,lol.how can you get one of those unless its secured if you don't have credit to begin with.well i'll worry with that later.i'm just glad i found something when i needed it.you have to do what you have to do sometimes.i'm just glad things came together.i know there are others here in a similar situation so its nothing to be ashamed of.thats why a lot of us are here in the first place looking for that extra dollar or two to make life easier.mine certainly hasn't been easy since the online gambling bill was passed.that took a few easy thousand out of my hands but i had to adapt to it.well i hope everyone here makes ends meet and that there is hope so don't give up......

Entry #1,266

Comments

1.
Comment by jim695 - December 1, 2007, 4:39 pm
Mike:
   You're still relatively young, so don't spend too much time worrying about the future. Of course you'll need to provide for your family, but you'll find that money will ebb and flow no matter how old you are. At this point in your life, you're learning how to manage the money you earn, so I have a few suggestions that might make things a little easier next year.
   Here's what worked for me:
   I mentioned in another blog entry that I do my Christmas shopping throughout the year. When I find a gift that I think someone might like, I buy it, wrap it, tag it and store it upstairs (right after Christmas you can buy wrapping paper for 50 - 75% off, so I have an ample supply on hand). This system has two distinct advantages: first, it saves me from running around at the last minute trying to find nice gifts and fighting the crowds and traffic. Second, it gives me the peace of mind of knowing my shopping list is complete when the holidays roll around. The downside is that sometimes you'll spend a few bucks more than you would have if you'd waited for the Christmas sale.
   Here's something else that might help you. I don't know how much money you earn, but this next trick will keep you from borrowing money to pay for Christmas. All you have to do is to take the same amount of money from each paycheck and put it away. I know it sounds very simple, but you'd be amazed at how many people never think of it. While I was in the Navy, we got paid twice a month. Within a week of either payday, most people, myself included, were broke for the next two weeks. Soon I began to put fifty dollars into a bank account every payday. A few months later, I was loaning money to my fellow sailors at an obscene rate of interest.
   This is my point: if you take whatever you can afford and put it into a bank account or a coffee can, even if it's only five or ten dollars per week, at the end of the year you'll have a tidy little sum of cash to spend for Christmas ($5/ week = $260, $10/ week = $520).
   Saving money is one of the most difficult things any of us have to learn, especially when you live paycheck-to-paycheck. The trick is to FORCE yourself to do it for a while. After you've developed the habit of making a regular deposit, it will really bother you when you don't put that money away. You get this nagging feeling that your account is short, and it won't leave you alone until you've brought it up to its proper level.
   The problem you'll face with this method is that something will inevitably happen which will cause you to withdraw that money. Your car will crap out just when you need it most, or one of the kids will take a spill when his Big Wheel gets away from him in a tight corner. That's okay; that's why you saved the money - for emergencies. When this happens - and it will - you simply start over again, and try to make up the money you've used as best you can. The important thing is that you get into the habit of saving money. There's a saying that I'm very fond of; I don't know who the author is, but truer words were never spoken: "If you don't have any money, you will ALWAYS be at the mercy of those who do."
   When we're growing up, everyone tells us that "Money isn't everything." The people who say that have been sadly misled, because money is, indeed, everything, especially in America. Poor people pay exorbitant interest rates because they don't have any money. When we need money, who do we go to? We go to someone who has money, and then we ask if they'd be kind enough to let us borrow some in order to get us out of a jam. The problem is, you must agree to EVERYTHING they demand - terms, interest, penalties - everything; it's their game, and you're just a pawn.
   Commit to saving a modest amount for three months. That's long enough to get yourself into the HABIT of saving, provided you don't miss a week. Even if you can only scrape together two or three bucks a week, DO IT for three months. Once you have the habit of saving money, you'll find that it becomes a priority. It will become just as important to you as paying your bills on time.
   Hang in there, Mike. I hate to see you having difficulty around the holidays, but I hope these suggestions help a little bit.
   Jim
2.
justxploringComment by justxploring - December 1, 2007, 8:36 pm
Mike, I just deleted a very long post. It sounded too mean. I guess I've gotten to the point where I can't believe half of what you write any more. After all of your posts about the the amount you spend on the lottery, your blog entries about your new $700 computer with Vista, a new leather couch, looking at a Nintendo Wii, etc. etc., I can't feel sorry for you. Credit isn't that hard to get by the way. You just have to prove you're responsible. You also have written that you've won as much as $20,000. I remember when you wrote you won $5,000 and asked a relative to cash it for you, so you wouldn't have to claim it on your tax return. Did you bother to take $500 out of it and put it in a Christmas fund for your kids? You also said you spend $8 a day on average for lottery tickets on an LP poll. Just cut down to $2 a week and you've got over $300 for presents right there.

Okay, now everyone on LP hates me.

Okay, I'll stop. That's about 1/5 of what I wrote.
3.
justxploringComment by justxploring - December 2, 2007, 1:45 am
Mike, sorry if it sounded like I was attacking you. It's just that my next door neighbor asked me for money this morning and I didn't have any in my wallet to spare, although I'm not broke. I just don't carry a lot of cash. He has a new 60" widescreen TV and smokes at least 2 packs a day. I know he lives on disability and gets Medicaid, but his wife works and he has brothers, adult sons, etc., and I'm just a neighbor, not even a friend. When I was at Publix picking up groceries I felt so guilty that when I used my debit card I asked for cash back. Then I saw his wife at the counter with their lottery tickets as she was pulling all of them out of the plastic sleeve. So I kept my $10 bucks.   I guess I was ready to rant when I got home. :-)
4.
TenajComment by Tenaj - December 2, 2007, 9:03 am
Mike, it sounds like to me that you need a few courses in financial literacy. There's lots of websites out there that are helpful. Here's a couple.

http://www.americasaves.org/

This is what they teach high school students but some of us adults fall into these categories.
http://66.232.114.92/~consumer/

50 Common Financial Pitfalls

1. Not understanding the negative impact of compound interest
2. Being more concerned about the monthly payment rather than the interest rate
3. Using payday loans
4. Not saving or paying yourself first
5. Buying too soon—when you want something not when you can afford it
6. Not having an emergency savings
7. Forgetting the peripheral costs of insurance, gas, & car maintenance
8. Signing up for cell phone monthly payments and getting stuck in a contract
9. Financing an education on credit cards instead of student loans
10. Becoming addicted to gambling
11. Trying at-home business scams with high startup fees
12. Not saving early enough in life for retirement
13. No understanding of how insurance works or what it covers
14. Not securing any insurance
15. Not factoring in late fees, extra charges, and taxes to a cell-phone plan
16. Having a “get rich quick” philosophy rather than a “get rich slow” strategy
17. Lack of budgeting
18. Bouncing checks and paying for overdraft fees
19. Paying for ATM fees when withdrawing cash
20. Following bad investment advice
21. Not knowing how to read credit card applications
22. Rushing into a buying decision without considering all options
23. Not knowing the financial consequences of DUIs, drunk driving, speeding, etc.
24. Making minimum payments on a credit card.
25. Having addictive and expensive habits or hobbies
26. Not knowing yourself well enough to know you spending weaknesses
27. Not comparison shopping
28. Not understanding vehicle’s trade-in-values or depreciation schedules
29. Not setting aside money for maintenance of a vehicle
30. Not taking advantage of an employer contribution to a retirement plan
31. Buying too expensive of a car
32. Procrastinating on making important financial decisions like saving
33. Piling on the credit card debt
34. Not reading a lease thoroughly
35. Signing up for an extended car payment schedule. > 5 years
36. Giving out your Social Security number on the internet
37. Trusting the perception of establishment on the internet or an e-mail
38. Giving out your bank account number
39. Answering a solicited request over the telephone or e-mail
40. Answering chain letters to make money
41. Not getting business promises in writing
42. Not understanding technology enough to know deception
43. File sharing
44. Not archiving or backing up data
45. Buying without considering the service element on big-ticket purchases
46. Entering into service contracts (extended warranties)
47. Not having adequate health insurance coverage
48. Not realizing that if the deal is too good, then it probably is!
49. Being afraid to ask for advice
50. Falling victim to telephone scams
5.
LOTTOMIKEComment by LOTTOMIKE - December 2, 2007, 9:09 am
thanks jim,justx,tenaj....i don't even gamble anymore.not even 8 bucks a day.i don't spend anything and haven't in quite a while.basically most of the time my whole check goes to bills,gas,food and milk.hard these days.....
6.
justxploringComment by justxploring - December 2, 2007, 2:55 pm
Mike, your children are babies and what they need most is your love and attention. Hug them everyday and tell them they are beautiful and smart and they'll be just fine. I know that older children have a lot of peer pressure in school, but they haven't reached that point. If you teach a 2 & 3 year old what really counts in life, they'll be grateful just to have a $5 doll or ball. What about coloring books? I guess at my age I shouldn't suggest anything, but I used to love to color and they have lots of books at the dollar store. As I said before, the only concern these days is safety. Several toys from China contain lead and are poisonous. (google for more info)   I've volunteered to help out at Christmas parties for children from low income (and no income) homes and their eyes light up when they get anything, even a pair of new socks. I think parents often put more pressure on themselves than the children do. Money is nice to have and I'll be the first to admit I'd like a lot of it, but there are a lot of lonely & abused kids living in mansions.

Since you have a computer, have you thought about all the many free games for toddlers online? Have you played with Fisher Price on the internet? Your child doesn't have to know you didn't spend money!! Fisher Price has a free online spelling zoo with singing and colorful animals like "A" for alligator, "B" for bear. So it's also a good learning tool.    There's so many online games to keep a child happy for endless hours. My favorite is the Fisher Price Animal Sounds. I'm 56 and it keeps me occupied. LOL So far I've scored 15 points each time. :-) Go here: http://www.babygamer.com/

You get very depressed a lot, at least that's what I see. I remember when you sounded as if you were going off the deep end when those online gambling bills were being discussed here. A parent needs to be focused. If you have a church near you or a local family counseling center, it might be helpful to go one week and see if sharing lessens your stress level and raises your spirit. (and you might meet new friends too! :-)   Good luck!
7.
LOTTOMIKEComment by LOTTOMIKE - December 2, 2007, 5:43 pm
thanks justx.its pretty much what you just described.we get on here on my days of and play elmo,sesame street and games on here internet.well actually my fault is when i was winning all this money i should've saved but i didn't.before gambling online was illegal i would say there for about a year and a half i won a few pick 4 straights that hit for 2,250 each.i had major work done to my van,then we moved,then i had bills due,etc. it always went pretty fast.but that extra money helped so much then when the online bill was passed your right i did get depressed because that was easy money from my talent playing pick 4 that i couldn't win anymore due to the idiotic law about gambling being passed.i'm making it but barely.
8.
justxploringComment by justxploring - December 2, 2007, 9:06 pm
Well, you and other might say "talent" picking the lottery numbers and I'll always say "luck." Either way, most people would have done the same as you with the money. Just try to stay positive and good things will come to you.
9.
LOTTOMIKEComment by LOTTOMIKE - December 3, 2007, 7:46 am
thanks

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