Thursday, December 30, 2010

Free Copy of In The Trenches - Financial Survival During Times Of Hardship

Happy New Year!

For many of us 2010 has been a challenging year!  I for one have moved to another state, been unemployed for a time, found new homes for all of my horses, had health problems, and financial challenges.  And all the while I kept on blogging.  Sometimes with good readership and feedback and others where it seemed so quiet.  But I watched the map and saw that my words were reaching all over the United States, Canada, Russia, Europe, Australia, and Asia.  So I kept on writing.  I watched the news and saw the millions of foreclosures, and 20 million on food stamps, and watched the unemployment rates and cried and kept on writing. 

FREE ONLINE COPY
Now I'm going to ask something of you:  Included in this blog post is a link to a free online copy of In The Trenches - Financial Survival During Times of Hardship.  For months I have thought about how to reach others with this information at no cost and so now I ask you to forward the link to this post to anyone you can think of who might be interested and ask them to forward it on as well.  If each person would send it to six people in no time at all it would reach 1 million - that is the goal, but I need your help



The story behind In The Trenches
The greatest challenge of dealing with financial hardship or poverty is the despair and frustration that comes with it.  It is sometimes difficult to share our personal stories especially on-line and after much vascilation I have decided to go for it with the hope that it will assist someone else in their own time of need of encouragement, faith, or comfort.

I remember a number of years ago laying on the hideabed couch that I was using as a bed to be closer to the woodstove. The chimney had gotten so plugged up that very little heat was emanating. The temperature outside was 18 degrees below freezing and what windows that were not broken were covered with ice on the inside. The children had been sent to a relatives and I was in the pit of despair. I cried out to God that if this what was to be my life than let me die. His answer came clearly to my mind as if He was standing directly in front of me; "Praise Me," He said. I answered just as loudly; " I will not praise You". Again He said; "Praise Me". Even more forcefully I said; "I will NOT praise You!" His words were quiet this time. "Do you worship your comfort more than you worship Me?" My heart was cut to the quick, and with sobs coming from my soul I began to sing the song I knew so well; "Praise God from whom all blessings flow, praise Him all creatures here below, praise Him above ye heavenly hosts, Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Amen"

Rebuilding
From that moment forward things began to change. Big changes and little changes and over the course of the next few years our lives improved. Yes, there was still hardship and penny pinching. And, not only did we learn how to build a fire, plant a garden, and raise a steer but more importantly I learned that we can prosper and improve from wherever we are.

I came to understand that by building my life on consumerism and debt spending I had erected a house of cards that was just waiting for a strong wind to blow it all down.  I learned that living life on the installment plan or counting on today's income to go on tomorrow was a recipe for disaster.  And, I knew just as certainly that the same fate would come upon the country as a whole at some point in my lifetime.

During this period of rebuilding many of my life long dreams were able to be fulfilled as I had the opportunity to work with flowers, home remodeling, ornamental birds and horses.  All the while I was accompanied by my dogs who were my constant companions.

The Goal of In The Trenches
The mission of In The Trenches is to reach out and show people that financial hardship can be the beginning of the most amazing journey a person can fathom. In it we are challenged to learn who we are, what we can do, and to set our sites on where we want to go. We can learn what is important and what is not. The strategy begins with a basic financial assessment and although it seems to be about money it is really about life. Though the process of evaluating our goals, choices, and plans we not only survive but we are finally able to thrive.

It is the goal of In The Trenches to reach 1 million people and assist them through the personal challenge of enduring and adjusting to a time of unemployment, for the single mother struggling on her own, to give ideas to those who are sick and tired of being on welfare, or just want our hard earned dollars to stretch further.  The book is not about telling people what to do. The challenge is to encourage one another to rise up from our own despair and financial misconceptions and realize we, have choices, options, and personal power.

My next steps
In The Trenches - Financial Survival During Times of Hardship is still available on Amazon.com and other online outlets.  In the next few months I hope to add a Kindle version as well.  But, I do not want cost to be a factor for anyone who would find even one paragraph of the book to be helpful so this free version may be printed directly at your computer printer or viewed online.  I will be sending an email announcement to our subscribers so that it can be easily passed on and also contacting some other bloggers and asking them to link and spread the word.

This year brings new opportunities and challenges for me and I will be entering a new season of my own life. One thing I hope to be able to do is "hit the streets" with the book so that I can meet people face to face.

Finally,  this will be my last official blog post for a while.  I will be taking a break from posting but will leave the site open for those to obtain the free link and to read old posts.  One of the best things about this process for me has been hearing your comments and the discovery of the many wonderful financial blogs.  I hope you will continue to read and move forward in your financial plans with them.

Thank you!
I have appreciated your readership so very much.  I have tried to imagine where you are, who you are, and what challenges you might be facing at any given time.  I hope I have been a good friend along the journey you have been taking for that was my desire.  Though the times have been difficult I know that we are stronger and wiser than when we began. 

May you have a happy and successful new year.  May God bless and Shalom.


In The Trenches - Financial Survival During Times of Hardship by Carol Schultz

Monday, December 27, 2010

Early Retirement Extreme - Book Review

Where do you want to be in five years?  If making dramatic improvements to your finances is one of your New Year's Resolutions start here.  I had anxiously awaited my copy of Early Retirement Extreme written by Jacob Lund Fisker and was not disappointed!  Jacob is also the author of a successful blog by the same name and has developed a growing number of readers worldwide where forums and cell groups have begun and are taking hold.  It is the wave movement taking hold across the land and for good reason.  Amazon readers give Early Retirement Extreme a five star rating and sales are doing great for this first time author.  Where else can a person read and find support for frugal, green, and healthy living and set a course for retiring in five years all at the same time?  Jacob shows how these principles can be applied with tremendous success even on a minimum wage job.

If you have read any of Jacob's writing you know that just when you are fully concentrating to understand what he is saying he cracks an unexpected joke that gets you laughing. Rather than attempt to recount the book chapter by chapter which you can do on your own I have decided to highlight some of my favorite parts:

The Consumer Dungeon - If you have not taken the time to consider the downside of the consumer driven economy in which we live Jacob has written a graphic, disturbing account that reads like the beginning of a dramatic movie.  Men especially will appreciate the details that seem to come out of a end of the world future movie that is happening all around us.  In fact, the entire book could be made into a movie recounting one man's journey to freedom and his willingness to show others the way.

The Four Economic Quadrants -  Lifestyles are categorized as the salary, working man, business man, and renaissance man.  Having had the opportunity to live in each one and move throughout during different periods of time I know that the descriptions of each and the pros and cons are straight forward and accurate.  By recognition and acknowledgement a person is much more able to maneuver the direction they want to go without succumbing to the unconscious influences that would keep them from their goals.

Goals, Strategies, and Tactics - Why do our goals fail or take so long?  Often it is because we do not take into account the opposing or conflicting factors either in our own lives or surrounding circumstances. Jacobs goal building charts show how to integrate our lives and daily habits in a way that will provide congruency and ultimate success.  More importantly is by taking a few minutes charting things out it not only finds a solution but the BEST solution when reviewing multiple options.

The Renaissance Man- Wouldn't you just like to be YOURSELF?  Sometimes does it get difficult to even know who this is when we conform, fractionalize our lives, keep up with the Jones, and spend all our money to comply with a certain lifestyle, profession, or tax structure?  It is no wonder that people have what is termed "A Midlife Crisis", or turn to t.v., weekend partying, or shopping to numb the mind.  We are so busy that it is easy to lose our own sense of identity.  In becoming a Renaissance person we are able to rediscover the curiosity and mastery we had as a child when we took apart the radio or dreamed of becoming a cowboy.  The difference is that now as adults we can combine our dreams with skills, talents, plans, and knowledge that we did not earlier possess.  Though it sounds idealistic the process is extremely practical and through the changes we gain the time and money to pursue who we are after the fashion of Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

The Practical Side of Life - Detailed chapters to help you consider housing, clothing, food, and transportation choices are provided.  Another gem in this is section is the answer to the question that every person from Washington State wants to know, "Do you get more rain on you when you walk or run?"

Investing - I admit that algebra was my all time worst subject.  When I first saw the equations my eyes glazed and my mind when blank.  But as I continued to read I was excited to see that investment strategies were provided not as a specific "how to" but as a set of principles that could be applied whether you choose to invest in stocks, gold, timber, or real estate.

There is no doubt that Jacob Lund Fisker is an extremely intelligent, educated, and analytical person and for these reasons his writing may be somewhat intimidating at times because it compels us to look at and think about much we have taken for granted.  What is rare about Jacob is that he is able to take this information and break it down to it's simplest form and find methods that are ultimately practical and so full of common sense that they can be applied with success by anyone regardless of profession, education, social status, advantage, or lack of them.

The ERE Strategy is intended to be a comprehensive adjustment that will enable a person to retire in five years.  For those who are not ready to jump in for the entire lifestyle change  a modified version can be adopted that will shave years off the time needed to pay off mortgages, debt, build retirement funds, or provide the flexibility for the ups and downs in life.

As we start the new year following what has been one of the most difficult economic times in American history Early Retirement Extreme provides a method for the fast track to recovery and prosperity.  The book will pay for itself thousands of times over and can undoubtedly be the best investment for the new year.  I'm excited as I watch the principles gain popularity and momentum and recommend this book as one of the best New Years Resolutions a person can have and look forward to seeing the title on the best seller's list.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Cards

I love Christmas Cards!  Throughout the year our mailboxes are mostly filled with business correspondence, advertisements, and bills.  Only two weeks are filled with greetings from friends, relatives that we may only keep in touch with once a year, and letters and photos describing the events of the past year.  Houses are purchased and sold, people move and pass away, and babies are born. As we look at the family photos we remember how quickly time is passing.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Small Business Roundup 3

With over 2 million still receiving extensions on unemployment the need to consider alternatives to the 9 to 5 work week is not only an option but a necessity.  Just because a person does not have a job does not mean that they do not have marketable skills.  In an on-going effort to provide information about home-based business and self-employment here is the third roundup of articles from some really great blogs.  Success is not usually achieved through luck but through hard work, innovation, and creativity.  If you have come across a helpful small business post please feel free to email me for inclusion in the next roundup or put the link in the comments. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

10 Great Christmas Gifts That Won't Cost You a Dime!

Yahoo! Finance - Financially Fit

With Christmas getting so near the wallet may be getting thinner. Instead of pulling out the plastic here are some ideas to get the gears going to think of your own meaningful gifts that cost no money. My favorite on the list was the cooking, yes, it admit my favorite lasagna recipe is not free but still could save from buying a gift. I don't know about you but it sounds pretty fun to have a friend deliver a home cooked meal. And, what a surprise.

It's not too late to start many projects.  Creativity and your own talents and skills are your biggest asset.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Rabbit Ears Perk Up for Free HDTV - Yahoo! Finance

Rabbit Ears Perk Up for Free HDTV - Yahoo! Finance

Does this still work? I thought they had revamped the t.v. so that rabbit ears no longer could get any reception? Is anybody using this?

When we lived in the country we had an antenna that was about 30 feet tall and we got only 5 channels. But, they were the good channels and didn't miss our favorite shows.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

My Dirt Garden

When we first moved to Winlock, Washington we lived in a 100 year old home that at first had no running water. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Recycling Roundup

People have many different ideas of what recycling means. To some it is separating glass, cans, and newspapers for the bins and for others it is being more aware of the trash potential of a product before it is ever purchased.  Personally I am excited and encouraged by the renewed awareness and interest in all things GREEN.  Learning to be stewards instead of consumers promotes a better life for those that will follow after.  Just like no one likes to pick up the trash of another so we don't want to leave it for our children.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Beggars Purse - Book Review

The small town where we lived has many freight trains passing through daily.  Often we would be waiting at the tracks and watch the hobo's as they whizzed by.  It was always a great mystery and curiosity for the kids and their imaginations ran wild as they tried to figure out who these men were, where they came from, and where they were going.  There was a moment of excitement every time a hobo was spotted through a doorway amidst the fast moving, loud, and clanking cars.

Toni Nelson was raised in a similar town in the 50s and her grandparents home became a safe house where travellers passing through could have a meal on their journey.  The hobos had placed a secret code on the house to identify it as such to others and her grandma prepared a huge meal each morning to serve the guests that might drop in that day.  They would eat their meal on the porch and continue on their way with a simple "thank you".

Friday, December 3, 2010

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Getting ready for winter

The rural community where I lived for many years has many homes whose average age is 60 or more years old.  Many of these homes were built with below ground basements that served as the foundation of the home.  They are unfinished and usually quite dark with just the small windows at the base of the home and one overhead exposed light bulb. They are not considered as living space but rather a place to house a wood burning stove, canned goods, camping equipment, or freezers.  They are often susceptible to flooding in the winter.  Needless to say there is not a lot of quality time spent in these basements.  An occasional trip up and down the stairs to retrieve an item is the extent of their occupancy so often the basement may have no visitors for long periods of time.

A friend recently shared with me the story of another friend who made the journey down the stairs only to find that it had been completely taken over as a storage area for the squirrels.  Imagine her surprise when she came down the stairs and in my friends words "every pine cone in the county" had been deposited in this ladies basement.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Reader Tips for Winter Driving


Thank you so much for sharing these ideas that are all new to me and make use of products most people have around the house that cost a fraction of the price of their name brand counterparts!
Helpful Hints For Winter

Keep your headlights clear
with car wax! Just wipe ordinary car wax on your headlights. It contains special water repellents that will prevent that messy mixture from accumulating on your lights - lasts 6 weeks.

7 Towns Where Land is Free - Yahoo! Real Estate

7 Towns Where Land is Free - Yahoo! Real Estate

What an amazing article!

I have often thought of the former government development and assistance program of "40 acres and a mule" and wondered how modern Americans would receive such a plan. I mentioned in my book about the 100+ year old homestead I found myself living in and have always suspected that the old chicken house was what they originally lived in while they built the home.

What would you do with an undeveloped piece of land and your bare hands? Interesting prospect to consider.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Healthy Finances

If we were to contemplate healthy finances what might that look like? 
Food on the table
Bills paid on time
Reserve in the bank

Conversely what would sick finances look like?  At the end of the post I hope you will consider your own finances and decide:  Are they healthy?, Have a cold?, in ICU?, or, on life support?  Knowing the answer will help you view your situation more objectively and possibly make some adjustments in your way of dealing with the choices and attitudes available. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

easy-ways-to-ruin-your-retirement: Personal Finance News from Yahoo! Finance

easy-ways-to-ruin-your-retirement: Personal Finance News from Yahoo! Finance

I think most people are rethinking their retirement strategies and checking to make sure they have enough. Planning is far superior to fear.

Another opportunity to remind people about the book Early Retirement Extreme by Jacob Lund Fisker. I'm in the middle of reading it now and loving it. Will post the review in the future.

If you come across any good articles about rethinking retirement please post them in the comments or email me the link at inthetrenches at live.com .

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Kernel Season's

Have you heard of Kernel Season's?  It's a line of seasonings that was developed by a college student who was looking for ways to spice up his popcorn.  Soon friends wanted to try his flavors and the company was born.  His line of seasonings is now sold to movie theaters, on-line and in big name stores like Walmart.  They can also be found in some discount stores as we recently found a gift pack at Big Lots.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Book Review - The Housing Boom and Bust

The Housing Boom And Bust by Thomas Sowell

A friend recommended this book because she felt it had a unique perspective on the housing crisis.  In that I have to agree.  The author has removed most of the accountability for the the housing crisis from the banking industry and placed it on the politicians and their agendas spanning back for more than 20 years.  Although I don't agree with this overall conclusion I do think that he did an excellent job at gathering statistics and building his case.  He also sited specific times that warnings of the pending crisis went unheeded and were even covered up. For this reason I felt it was a valuable read to fill in some of the blanks.  The contents include:

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Shopping Mania Roundup

Black Friday!  The buzz is on and people across the country are making plans to get out there and shop until they drop!  I would be lying if I didn't admit that we women are making plans to go to bed early to get in line before the crack of dawn.  The retailers are counting on it and the news says that sales are already 10% over what they were at this time last year. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Meet the 'Cheapest Man Alive': Edward Wedbush - It's Your Money - TIME.com

A reader wanted to share this story with us all.  Hope you enjoy it.

Meet the 'Cheapest Man Alive': Edward Wedbush - It's Your Money - TIME.com

So what do you think?  Is this man a little off?  Is he making a point?  How can a person this rich and successful still have a leaky roof?  You won't believe his story.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Brrr....It's cold!

Winter is here and the temperatures are dropping!  The snow is already falling in some parts of the country and here the wind is cold and brisk.  Is brisk a strong enough word to indicate that you want to pull you coat tight and you can feel the car blowing?  Everyone who knows me knows that I hate winter!  I have learned to deal with it much better over the years by enjoying inside activities but my heart still cries out "Oh, No! Not again!"  each time the thermometer drops and I know it's getting close.  I live in a state of denial most of the year pretending that I won't ever have to see snow again and renew my goal to become a snowbird.  I know it's an extreme position to take but that's just how I feel and have since I was a kid when asked if I wanted to play in the snow.  Uhhh, no.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Excerpt from In The Trenches - If kids were meant to fly.

This is one of my favorite financial topics: teaching kids about money.  They are so smart and so unencumbered by past mistakes that it is a joy to involve them in the process.  Kids are pretty much a clean slate and what is written on that slate can influence the future and help them avoid all the trial and error we as parents have endured on the road of life.  On with our story...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

20 Industries Where Jobs Are Coming Back

20 Industries Where Jobs Are Coming Back - Yahoo! Finance

Jobs! Isn't that the word everyone wants to hear? Some that made the list are in industries that would never have crossed my mind but for those skilled and waiting this will be good news.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Fairy Jobmother

Lifetime has a new show called the Fairy Jobmother.  The show takes a Supernanny approach to  job hunting.  The host, Hayley Taylor is a hard hitting, no nonsense career specialist who knows how to get people off their seats and moving again.  Like most reality shows of this type she works with a client family and takes them through every step of the job search process.  She gives advice and instruction on:
  • Life assessment
  • Financial assesment
  • Resume writing
  • Job skills and expansion
  • Interview techniques and role playing for preparation
  • Dealing with disappointments 
Hayley coachs the family every step of the way in an entertaining yet no excuses way to reach their goals.  I enjoyed Hayley's wardrobe and she did an excellent job at setting an example of dressing stylishly professional.  They did change her clothes so often that I was almost distracted by wanting to see what she would wear next.  Hayley made a personal connection with her clients and did not back away from the hard questions.  The show is very "now" so I don't expect that it will be around forever but may provide just the motivation, stimulation, and tips needed to get the watchers to their next job.

The show is on Lifetime on Thursdays at 9pm.  If you are on unemployment or looking for a job I hope you will check it out.  The Fairy Jobmother, cool title.  The site has previous episodes that can be watched on the computer, job search helps, and an application to get on the show.  Wouldn't that be fun?  Tell them In The Trenches sent you and let us know so we can watch.

What's holding you back?  You might also like this article from Kim Luu, an writer I really enjoy, titled The Internal Saboteur

Monday, November 15, 2010

new-ways-bankers-are-spying-on-you: Personal Finance News from Yahoo! Finance

new-ways-bankers-are-spying-on-you: Personal Finance News from Yahoo! Finance

Is this your idea of good customer service?

and, another banking story:

Still thinking your credit card is your prized possession? Count the cost of the small piece of plastic and the temptation to pull it out next time.
What's your debt really costing you?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

What's for dinner?

Second only to "How are you?" it's probably the most frequently asked question in the country.  We care about what we eat and when we eat.  Food fills not only a physical need but also psychological and social needs.  Historically the role of preparing food has fallen primarily on women but some of the best chefs in the world are men proving that it is a skill that knows no gender boundaries.


How can we put good food on the table when we are watching every dime and in a rush?  Here are some of my favorite choices passed down from the generations:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Homes for Under $100K - Yahoo! Real Estate

Homes for Under $100K - Yahoo! Real Estate

Have you checked the housing prices lately?  If you are considering buying for a personal home or investment the prices and interest both make it a very attractive buyers market place.  While it's true that sellers are not in the best position and may have to hold, what we are seeing is the about the only good news about the housing crisis.  That is the opportunity for the average person to begin long term investments in real estate.

I have written a number of posts regarding the housing crisis and being a first time landlord so if you would like more information check the catagory on the side.

Nothing is more important than doing your own homework so that you can be informed and come to a decision that works for you and your family.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

On the streets interview

While waiting for the bus I met a young man probably around 30.  I had just sat down and he told me that he only had 40 cents and could I give him some change.  I decided why not and decided to turn it into an interview opportunity.  Not having a tape recorder on me as a professional would I'll have to recount to the best of my ability.

Q. What got you into this situation?
A.  What do you mean?

Q.  What got you into a situation where you would need to ask others for money?
Then it was like a dam broke as he began telling me his story.  In the meantime I had pulled out $2 which would have been enough for bus fare.  He tried to give back a dollar and I told him to just keep it.  Some of what he shared was:

Monday, November 8, 2010

the-financial-toll-of-alzheimers-disease:

the-financial-toll-of-alzheimers-disease: Personal Finance News from Yahoo! Finance

I have had a few friends who have cared for parents with Alzheimers and it is indeed brutal for all involved. My heart goes out to those who are faced with this challenge with their loved ones.

Alzheimers is another reason why I am a strong advocate for living trusts.  It is one of those things that can happen to any of us.  Having precautions in place can help provide help when we need it the most.  Please see my book review on Living Trusts for Everyone by Ronald Sharp.  Waiting until later can be too late for many.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Housing Options

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe... The story stays in our minds because of the unique and interesting place she choose to live. Where we live has a dramatic impact on our lives, options, and sense of well being. Most of us have the mental picture of the suburban home with the white picket fence, children playing in the yard and a swing set in the back. This is the most commonly accepted picture of what we all refer to as The American Dream. In recent years that vision has been expanded to a bigger house with nice cars in the front and a landscaper mowing the lawn.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

19 iconic products that america doesn't make anymore

19 iconic products that america doesn't make anymore: Tech Ticker, Yahoo! Finance

This is a truly interesting article and video about products that were originally made in America that the manufacturing has moved overseas.

The American Economy is being eroded on every side and most of it has been happening in ways that we would not be aware of and with the support of laws that provide tax breaks to those who no longer support American manufacturing.

It is like an octopus with many tentacles: the banking industry, manufacturing, tax policies, food regulations, and other major factors.  Many Americans have been looking for a quick fix but only a major overhaul will turn us from the course we are heading.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Interesting week

Another week is ending and TGIF!  I am trying to adapt to my new schedule and fit all of what I consider important into it.  Although I cherished my morning book reading on the bus I was finding a difficult time getting the blog posts done regularly.  So this week I tried something new and took my spiral notebook on the bus and am writing as I go. 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Nicest Canadian couple in world dole out lottery winnings | The Upshot Yahoo! News

Nicest Canadian couple in world dole out lottery winnings The Upshot Yahoo! News

What would you do with 11.3 million dollars? Here is what one couple did. The comments were also very nice to read. It will perk you up and give you that good feeling to be reminded that there are still people in the world who are generous and kind even when having their own difficulties.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

It's so easy to write of the hardship and challenges yet there is something else much harder to pinpoint that happens when a person goes through a season of living In The Trenches.  Like the stars at night amidst the blackness.  They seem to be small yet they brighten the night sky with patterns and hope.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Yahoo! Finance - Financially Fit

This article, How They Paid Off Big Debt in a Few Short Years  from Yahoo has lots of good money savings and debt reduction strategies.  One couple was able to pay off almost $70,000 in two years.

The comment about cloth diapers you know I would disagree with but that is what makes things so good as it shows that each person can customize their own plan to meet their families needs, objectives, and priorities.

All the couples mentioned came up with a different strategy but all were able to meet their goals.  There is hope for us all!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Life on the streets. What's your opinion?

During my daily travels I have witnessed a couple things on the streets: 

Scenario 1.  There is a large plant nursery where every morning men congregate hoping for the chance to find work for the day.  If a person or business needs casual labor, especially manual labor, they stop and pick up enough men for the job.  I'm sure that these are under the table income jobs with no guarantees or benefits.

Scenario 2.  At the bus stops, parking lots, and corners there are those with signs asking for donations.  The sign may describe "jobless", "veteran", "3 kids", etc.  You've probably seen them.  People pull over and hand them a dollar, change, food, or whatever.  Some are more direct and walk up and ask for a cigarette or money.  They also seem to be the same people everyday in the same places. 

The situations cause me to pause but I don't have a definite opinion or answer even for myself but wanted to share a couple of thoughts and observations about those who seem to have hit the bottom of the economic ladder.  Here are some random thoughts and questions I have each time I am confronted with the situation:

Thursday, October 28, 2010

You'll get paid when I do - Excerpt from In the Trenches

So far in my adult life no one has offered to pay me to do my own housekeeping, the laundry, or wash my car. I keep asking but so far no takers. What’s worse yet is that most of the time I am cleaning someone else’s mess and not my own.  So why do we pay our kids to do these things and call it an allowance. What’s worse is that we have to nag them and remind them to do it and often have to finish it up to do it right.
Here’s another angle. We all live here, and we all work. We all eat here, so we work. We all sleep here, so we work. Sound harsh? Practice it out loud until you can say it confidently to your five year old or your fifteen year old.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Ant and the Grasshopper

It can be frustrating when you feel like you are the only person in the home that is concerned about frugal living and preparing for a more stable future.  It is like the ant and the grasshopper.  The ant worked diligently while the grasshopper whiled away in the sunshine.  It would have been easy and even justifiable for the ant to resent the grasshopper but knowing that winter was coming it was more important to continue the work of preparation.

A food storage program is a good place to start.  Especially with the harvest coming in and winter coming on it is the traditional time of year to set something aside for the lean times.  Most of us have come to depend on the grocery store so much that we forget about the seasons of nature and take for granted that the trucks that bring our food will just keep coming.  All it takes is a storm warning to see how quickly grocery store shelves can be emptied.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Back to work - on the bus

It's almost been a year since I have had a car!  I didn't make any big Green decision to go without a car...here's what happened:  I had been driving a nice emerald green Volvo station wagon.  It needed some work and there was no one in our rural community that could do the job.  I had made temporary arrangements to car pool and it worked out so well it stuck.  Then I moved and left the car in safe storage.  Not being the highest priority I decided to see how long I could go without it.  Admittedly, sometimes it is annoying to not have a car but overall when I think about maintenance, insurance, and gas it is a choice I decide to put off daily.  I have done much more staying home, and more walking.  I needed to be doing the walking anyway so it's maybe a little of personal tough love.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

what-you-should-expect-from-social-security: Personal Finance News from Yahoo! Finance

what-you-should-expect-from-social-security: Personal Finance News from Yahoo! Finance

There is nothing new about this news but it will take a while for the information to travel around the block. These predictions based on mathematical calculations have been around at least for the last 20 years but are getting more attention as the time draws closer.

I don't know about you but I don't want to work until I'm 70 or 68. That being the case, retirement needs to be of important consideration and planning. Sounds like the perfect opportunity to remind everyone again about the book just released by Jacob Fisker called Early Retirement Extreme. Hot off the presses and available through Amazon.com or his web site. Jacob will tell you what adjustments can be made now to prepare to retire early.  He should know because by implementing his plan he has already become semi-retired at age 34.  Read his story here on his site and get an idea of the flavor of his unique but very practical approach to finances.  To get a brief overview of what a transition toward early retirement may mean to you take a look at his 21 day makeover listed in the left sidebar.

While others are worried about the inevitable, by taking some positive and specific steps retirement may not be as far away as you think.


Another article you may find helpful from The Simple Dollar.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Book Review Weekend Entrepreneur 101 Great Ways to Earn Extra Money

The first step to any new venture is to have a good idea.  Weekend Entrepreneur - 101 Great Ways to Earn Extra Cash is an excellent place to start if you are contemplating where you can make some extra cash or start your own business.  The authors are Michelle Anton and Jennifer Basye Sander.

There are two things I really like about this book:
1.  The emphasis is on building an extra cash source that is compatible with your family structure and your interests.  This may seem like a small thing but most careers and businesses tend to put children and family on the back burner.  This book puts family first and the business works around that.
2.  The business ideas are based on a start slowly, start small basis so that you can learn and pay as you go.  This obviously is different than the dream big, borrow big, and hope you don't go bankrupt approach that is very popular.  Many of the ideas in the book require zero to $500 to begin. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Cut your grocery bill with these 8 healthy ingredients for $1 on Shine

Cut your grocery bill with these 8 healthy ingredients for $1 on Shine

The thing I like best about this article is the reminder that we can save money on our food bill and it can taste delicious. With the cooler weather and shorter days coming on it's a good time to think about comfort foods - soups, stews, and chili. All these can be made very affordable and bring the family together for a hot meal. Combine it with a salad and french or corn bread for a evening to relax and enjoy being at home. Another benefit of these meals is for the family on the go. They simmer well on the stove so people can grab a bowl as they are coming in. Don't be afraid to experiment. Some of my best soups have been made by rummaging around the frig and throwing in something extra. Did you know that radishes taste good in almost every soup?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Back to work wardrobe on a budget

It's Friday afternoon and the phone rings.  "Can you start Monday?"  If you are a woman what's the first thing you might do after graciously accepting?  Run to the closet of course and exclaiming "I haven't a thing to wear!"  Okay two days to get a wardrobe together!  Ahhh.....

Recently I had this experience and it came after working in a strictly casual environment for years.  I hadn't been shopping in such a long time and my closet only contained some mismatched, no longer fits clothing and I had two days to put together a "BUSINESS CASUAL" wardrobe.  And, it had to be done on a limited budget!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Johnny Appleseed

John Chapman was not yet 2 years old when his mother died during childbirth with her third child.  His father remarried and he and his second wife had 10 more children.  This family of fourteen lived in a poor small home.  His father worked three jobs to support them all.  John spent much time outdoors exploring the country just to get away from the too crowded home.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Success Stories Round-up 2

It's been a busy week of  new challenges, learning, and schedules.  Ever notice that it is sometimes the littlest things that throw us off?  Things like the shower order changing or running out of coffee can throw the whole day out of whack!  But then we are able to say TGIF!  The weekend is almost here and it's a good time for another success story roundup.  Hope you are all working and moving toward your goals and soon we can add your story to the list of those who have been successful in reaching the finish line of your race.   Just remember life is not always a sprint,  sometimes it's a cross country marathon. 

These inspirational and educational stories are featured from some blogs I have not yet put up so I hope you will look around and say hi to the writers.  I'm sure they will be very happy for the visit.

http://www.quizzle.com/blog/2010/09/8-laws-of-investing-from-the-millionaire-next-door/

http://onemoneydesign.com/blog/2010/09/30/how-the-recession-has-affected-my-family/

http://barbarafriedbergpersonalfinance.com/my-story/

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

In The Trenches

I was recently talking to my son about his military experience.  He told the story of a 25 mile walk he had to take in full gear.  Not too far into the walk he stepped on a rock and sprained his ankle.  He told the drill instructor and he was ordered "Keep walking, soldier".  So he continued to walk.  Farther down the road he twisted the other ankle and sprained it also.  He struggled the remaining distance and finished the walk in great pain and with an endurance he had thus far not had to call upon within himself.  When the walk was done he pulled off his boots and found that both ankles were completely black.  He commented that it was this walk that has encouraged him to "keep walking" in other challenging situations in his life.  He has learned that with one step at a time he will get to where he's going despite the pain.

In The Trenches is not merely about trying to save a few dollars.  It is about Financial Survival when the times are tough and the choices are hard.  If you are having a tough time keep going.  That is the only way to make it to your destination.

And, if you know a soldier please remember to thank him or her for their service.  Our freedom and safety comes at a price.

SmileyCentral.com
Thought for the day:  Don't ask that someone would lighten your load, rather, ask that you would be strong enough to bear it.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

An Apple a Day

I have four apple trees on my place.  I can't tell you how much I have learned about life over the years while pruning my apple trees.  Part of the life lessons were inspired by the movie Baby Boom. I made as much applesauce as we could eat.  Have you seen the movie?  It's a good one to watch while you are In The Trenches.  Diane Keaton is a corporate mogul who inherits a baby and boy does her life change when she moves from her high paying job to a big very old home in New England.  If you are out of ideas and enthusiasm it is a must see.

I could probably write a series just on apples.  Just thinking about them I think of Johnny Appleseed, canning, pies, pruning, pregnancy cravings, my favorite varieties, and they are the one thing I was allowed to throw from the car window when I was a kid.  That was before we had the word bio-degradable but the idea was to plant a tree along the highway.

Excerpt from In The Trenches - Financial Survival During Times of Hardship:

The fruit of our labor


Every year I prune the apple trees. Fruit bearing branches are trimmed back. Branches too close together are taken out. Each and every twig and branch is looked at and trimmed in one way or another once a decision is made. If I let it go for a year the work is so much harder because the branches that need to be trimmed are much bigger around. Usually because of time constraints and energy levels I can’t trim them all at once. I just do a little at a time, step back and look at it, then go at it again a couple days later. The whole process usually lasts a month. Most of the time I am actually up in the tree stepping out on the branches and working my way out as far as I can until the branch feels shakier than I feel comfortable with. I really feel like a monkey while I’m doing it. The rest of the time I am on a ladder. Often on the top step on tiptoe. I am very careful and have never fallen but each year I know that it is a possibility.

So what does that have to do with finances? Everything.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

More about American Housing

Shawn from Watson Inc had some questions about my last post so I did some more digging.  What I found is the the U.S. Census does a housing survey every two years.  This is not a complete survey but one of those partial surveys multiplied to respresent the entire nation.  That is an important note because the averages may not be exact to each community or state but should relate to the entire country.  Here are some of the numbers I found interesting:


2007
http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/housing/ahs/ahsfaq.html

2009
http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/housing/ahs/ahs09/ahs09.html

Multi year reports.
http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/housing/ahs/nationaldata.html

Friday, October 8, 2010

Credit Card Roundup

My motto on credit cards is simple:  Cut them up and pay them off.  The concept is so straight forward that I don't spend much time writing about it.  Recognizing that many others are in the process of either paying off these debts or still developing their own personal financial strategies I have included these links that I have found to be informative and thought provoking.  Please don't forget the comments as they are often a valuable source of stating the pros and cons of any given topic.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Financial Survival Strategy 143

When we are In The Trenches the battle may seem long and weary.  Bills pile up, creditors begin to call, and the car breaks down.  The mental fatigue of the battle can be exhausting. 

I have listed this strategy as number 143 because it is often so far down the list that we don't often use it.  The power of this weapon is tremendous but often our last resort. 

Monday, October 4, 2010

What's holding you back from reaching your financial goals?

Remember the ATeam?  They could fix any situation or threat with a rubber band and a piece of chewing gum.  They entered the homes of America each week with their flashy jewelry, outrageous plots, and never fail, can do attitudes.  As bizarre as they seemed we watched, laughed, and were encouraged.

What's holding you back?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Food Roundup

Of all budget items food is the most flexible.  It can make you or break you.  It is one of the few catagories that you can control in many ways:

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Early Retirement Extreme - The Book

Link to Publisher
I have often mentioned Early Retirement Extreme as I have enjoyed Jacob's mind bending approach to finances so much.  I first heard of ERE about three months ago. We share some of the same ideas for how to achieve financial independence but whereas my book is especially geared toward those going through financial hardship or downturn Jacob shows how you can take things even further and achieve early retirement!  I've anxiously awaited the publication of this book and look forward to reading what he has chosen to write about.  We'll just have to do the reviews together.  Carol
10/3/10 The book is now on Amazon.  Please don't forget to do a review to let people know what you think of the book. 

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Allowance

You probably think that I'm going to be talking about kids here and if you have none at home that this will not apply.  Not today.

I remember almost thirty years ago my aunt sitting at the table working on the books.  My uncle came in the room and she handed him a $20 and said "Here's your allowance".  I was quite amazed as he already was fairly gray at the time.  When I asked her about it she said that was how much he got a week to cover his gas, snacks, and whatever else he might want or need.  At the time I didn't know that they were millionaires.

JPMorgan (NYSE: JPM) to Increase Staff in Asia by 40%. : American Banking News

JPMorgan (NYSE: JPM) to Increase Staff in Asia by 40%. : American Banking News

For some reason this article really puts me on alert. Yes, I know that banks do overseas investments. But isn't it American money that built this bank? Aren't we trying to rebuild our economy? And, don't Americans have money invested in this bank? Is that really okay with everybody? Is that how you want your money used right now?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Room for Rent

Open-door policy
The word itself brings up ideas on times long past and encounters with mysterious strangers. Movies have played into the mystic of the evil stranger out to manipulate and control a family or other unfortunate outcome. With this impression it is no wonder that the idea of being a boarder or taking in boarders has gone out of vogue. At one time in this country it was a popular way for people to save money or for a home owner to bring in a little extra. The current economic situation has brought the option back into the realm of consideration especially for single people. Why spend all the money to rent your own place when for a fraction of the cost a room can be rented to help accelerate other financial goals such as debt repayment, building a savings, or having more disposable income. After all, most people are on the go all day long and grab meals at restaurants so why spend all the extra to maintain a place when you are rarely at home?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Ummm....Garlic.

Starting your own food production can be somewhat daunting for those who have not considered it.  Between the dirt, worms, and digging many may not sense the immediate appeal of the task.  That's why it may be good to start small and easy.  Something to stick your toe in the water without diving in head first.  Garlic might be a good place to start. 

Why I often buy used. Impact on the Balance Sheet.

When we think of the balance sheet we often think only of major purchases such as a home, cash, investment portfolio, or vehicles. All of these things clearly are important but applying the same principles to all purchases can assist to insure that we are getting the best deal for our money and achieving frugal objectives.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Book Review - Business for Beginners - Frances McGuckin


"More than 100,000 entrepreneurs
have used Business for Beginners to successfully
launch their business!

Part time job?

Joe from Personal Finance by The Book has an excellent article posted titled "Four Ways a Part Time Job Will Change Your Life Forever".     It is very persuasive and I hope you will hop over and check it out.

It reminded me of a time when I had the opportunity to work two jobs.  It started when I could not find a job so I took a part time evening job for some income until I could find a full time day job with benefits.  When I found the day job and went to turn in my resignation for the evening job my boss asked if I could stay on even if only for 5 or 6 hours a night. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Frugal comes in all flavors.

In the world of frugal blogs there is a rich variety:
  • Investments 
  • Coupons
  • Political
  • Christian
  • Survivalist 
  • Self-Sufficiency
  • Green
  • Early Retirement Extreme  Jacob has a book coming out soon.
Although some of the topics may spill over from one to the other they all have their own unique emphasis,prespective, and approach.

PennilessParenting is written by Penny and she too has her own niche.  She covers topics including:
  • Kitchen Skills
  • Bath and Body
  • Needs vs Wants
  • Don't throw that out yet
  • Money Tips for Busy People
  • Babies Can be Cheap
  • Life without a car

She is doing a series on a frugal homeschool approach and I had the opportunity to do a guest post on the site titled A Sample Frugal Homeschool Curriculum  .  If you have ever been curious about homeschooling and why many people are so excited about it you may really enjoy walking with Penny on this new experience.  Even if you don't have children in this age category the tips and discussion may be useful in working with children in any capacity.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Book Review - 10,001 Ways To Live Large On A Small Budget


Amazon link
 When I first heard of this book one of our readers encouraged me to do a book review of it for the blog.  I was happy to find a copy of it at our local library.  When I went to pick it up I have to admit I was a little disappointed because it seemed so big and I thought "I'm so busy, I'll never get this all read".  In a quick flip through I noticed it was very well organized so reference book immediately came to mind.  But guess what?
I love this book!
It is well organized, lots of ideas, and very funny!  Before the end of the first evening we were passing the book around and pointing out sections and nodding our heads.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hear The Sleigh Bells Ringing?

Ready for some fun? Christmas is not that far away!  And, if you want to have time to make your list and check it twice (and stay out of debt this year) it's time to get started.  So, here you go with some articles to get you in the mood.  The first one is a guest post I wrote for Christian Common Cents and the other two are from Simple Dollar and Christian PF. 
 And, have a Merry Christmas...Ho, Ho, Ho.  

http://www.christiancommoncents.com/2010/08/18/hear-the-sleigh-bells-ringing/

http://www.thesimpledollar.com/2010/09/10/nows-the-time-to-stop-or-alter-a-christmas-gift-exchange/

http://christianpf.com/getting-ready-for-christmas/

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Making Money From A Home-based Beginning

When we think of earning extra money or a small business often our ideas start big and we think we need a building, office, staff, and a big loan to finance it all. Then when we hear that 80% of small businesses fail we wonder if the risk is really worth it. Recently I posted a small business roundup with some good tips on how to start small and build. Starting small minimizes the risk and allows you to learn by trial and error without risking a major investment. There are many excellent books and on-line articles about small business ideas to stimulate the creativity to find one that is right for you.

Here's a list of ideas that I have come up with that can be started from home. Once you come up with something you would like to try be sure and check with your local business offices to make sure you are able to comply with their regulations.

Monday, September 13, 2010

US poverty on track to post record gain in 2009 - Yahoo! News

I'm finding this a difficult post to write.  The words don't come easy and are not flowing in a well ordered pattern so I hope I will be able to make the point I am aiming for. 

I am an American.  My grandfather served in WWI, my uncle in Vietnam, my son in Iraq.  I read lots of history and am astounded by the courage and determination that Americans have faced in all challenges.  Grit and determination are within the fiber of our beings.  When I go to a small town parade and the flag goes by tears fill my eyes.   I have been through the 60's and the Beatles and did the twist at age 5, the 70's and Motown, the 80's and disco, the 90's, and now check out Lady Gaga's newest outfits.  I have been rich and poor and lived in the city and a rural community of 500.  I am an American. 

Currently America is facing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.  My experience with the first depression has been through the eyes of my grandmother, my mother, wonderful friends, and photos and books.  During the first depression my mother really did walk 5 miles in two feet of snow to get to school.  I know because I have driven the road she walked.  As a child she had scarlet fever, rheumatic fever, and almost died multiple times.  She once was playing in the barn and jumped from the top level into the hay and ran a pitch fork completely through her leg.  There was no money for the doctor so the family treated it at home the best they could.  She always had the scar.  I was told that on one of her near death times my grandfather begged the medical people for care  and since they did not have the money my grandfather became an indentured servant for a a time until the debt could be paid off.  As an adult, mom became a nurse and served the sick and diseased for the rest of her life.  It is was from her adversity that she gained the position of strength and caring that so many people remember. 

Recent headlines show that things may be worse before they get better.  As disappointing as this may be to some it should not come as a surprise.  A financial downturn of this magnitude cannot be resolved overnight.  In the first couple years it was all we could do to figure out what happened and how it happened let alone know where to go from there.  And people are still arguing about that.    The numbers are up.  Unemployment is at 15 million, 40 million are receiving food stamps, and  US poverty on track to post record gain in 2009 - Yahoo! News

Politicians continue to point fingers rather than find good workable solutions.  Every idea and plan on the table gets watered down, opposed, and beat up.  This will even be more evident as mid term elections are coming up so expect a lot more propaganda while politicians tailor the presentation of facts to fit their agenda.  As my old mentor used to say "Figures don't lie, but liars can figure."

Myths about the Economy:

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Men are the best Ironers

I love to see men in crisp starched shirts.  Almost any man can looked like a million bucks once his shirt is pressed with heavy starch.  It just adds the air of competence and professionalism that says "Hey, I'm ready to take on the world". With so many looking for jobs and even

Friday, September 10, 2010

Famers Markets

I was raised in the Seattle area and one of the historic tourist attractions was the Pike Place Market on the waterfront. The sights, sounds, and smells of the market were amazing and a person could wander for hours and look at all the fruits, vegetables, fish, and hand crafted items. As teenagers we could ride the bus to town and spend the day. All of a sudden a peach was important. Not something among all the items in the sterile grocery store but now it was a real piece of fruit that smelled and tasted delicious. There were always people of all ethnic groups so many languages could be heard speaking at once and suddenly you might see a fish being thrown through the air. The facility had many small eating and coffee places to sit when your feet needed a rest. Even if a person just bought a couple of items the joy was in the selection and adventure of the moment.

Skin Care Recipes from Molly on Money

Skin Care Recipes for a Prettier Molly Molly On Money

When you are In The Trenches every dollar spent comes under scrutiny. Many of the niceties get left behind at least on a temporary basis.

Molly on Money has put together some very simple recipes for taking care of your skin so that you will feel pampered and taken care of. I've tried the olive oil myself and have not used any lotion or moisturizer that works better. And, it's only pennies to use.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Diapers, Diapers, Diapers

One of the chapters of In The Trenches is titled "What are cloth diapers?".  I recently told someone that if I ever held a seminar my introduction might be something to the effect of  "If I could tell you how to save more than $1,000 would you be interested?"  Then, I would hold out a box of disposable diapers and a package of cloth diapers and ask which product they would pick.  The person I was talking to started laughing and told me that everyone would walk out of the room. 

When I bring up the subject of cloth diapers people give a look or make a verbal sound like ick or something to that effect.   In The Trenches is not about telling people what to do but rather about encouraging them to consider ideas, research, and then come to the best temporary or permanent solutions for their families.   Personally, I believe cloth diapers are the healthy, cost effective, and green choice.    Yes, I expect that other will disagree.  A multi-billion dollar industry has been built on the convience of disposable diapers.  I have included many links in the post for those who would like to do further reseach before coming to a decision.

The disposible diaper industry is huge.  They have a lot at stake to insure that people continue to use their products.
"With an investment of $1.7 billion in year (2000), P&G is the 21st largest US-based and 52nd largest global investor in research and development (“Investing in R&D”, 2000). Kimberly-Clark has annual sales of more than $13 billion, with manufacturing facilities in forty countries and sales in more than 150. It is also the second largest household and personal care products company in the United States. Procter & Gamble diapers are now sold in more than 80 countries worldwide and have become a multi-billion dollar business (“Improving Health and Dryness for Babies”, 2000). After P&G marketed the original Pampers in 1961, Kimberly-Clark introduced Huggies diapers seventeen years later in 1978, soon after P&G’s patent rights on disposable diapers expired. Today Kimberly Clark is the second largest producer of disposable baby diapers in the world. "
Quoted from http://www.disposablediaper.net/content.asp?2  The article also gives a very interesting history of diapering and current developments such as bio-degradable diapers.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

In The Trenches - Sewing

I decided recently that I wanted a new hobby.  Blogging used to be my primary hobby.  And, reading.  After a long day at work both were a nice diversion from the daily routine.

Things have changed a lot for me in recent months.  One of those changes is that I work on the blog, blog related things, and reading about the U.S. Economy many hours a week.  I put enough time and energy into it that I now need an occasional break from my hobby.  I know that other bloggers reading this know exactly what I'm talking about.

In considering a new hobby I wanted to achieve a few things:
  • Fun.  Of course, it's not a hobby if it's not fun.
  • At home.  
  • Within my spending money limits.
  • No computers or books involved.
  • A finished product.  So much of what I do is ongoing or daily that I wanted to see and touch something I made.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Want cheapskates to spend? Hawk gizmos that save - Yahoo! News

Want cheapskates to spend? Hawk gizmos that save - Yahoo! News

Do you need "Caps that keep the fizz in opened soda cans."?

This is a very interesting article and one that makes me scratch my head a little. Would it be a good idea to buy a gizmo that helps you squeeze the last drop out of a toothpaste tube?

And, using panty hose to help you use the last of a soap bar? Hmm.... I had never heard of that one.

The ideas for helping you save money by spending a little more money are indeed imaginative and creative. Do we need them???? What do you think?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Small Business Roundup #2

I've been keeping my eye out for posts on small business that might provide beneficial information and those listed below are excellent.  Remember, the first part is the blog name that published the article and then the title of the article. 

I have been working on a business plan of my own and it's much harder than I would have expected but I can see that it is forcing me to ask all the right questions, think things through, and think like a business instead of a hobbiest.  Therefore, it is well worth the time and effort as I research and ponder all the questions along the way. 

Whether you are interested in having a little extra spending money or having a full fledge enterprise these articles will help turn your ideas into cash.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Residential Real Estate Inventing - Part 3

This home was purchased with the idea that it was going to be our first flip.  The home had originally been used as a small home church so the living room was exceptionally large with beautiful hardwood floors.  When the owner moved she took what she wanted and left the rest.  The inside was filled with stuff accumulated for years.  There was no telling what was underneath but also no indication that the owner had abused the home in any way.

From the time the offer had been made on the home the market was showing noticeable signs of slowing.  We decided that we would benefit from having a renter in the home in case it took longer than expected to sell.  It turned out to be an excellent decision as the home was not sold for almost two years.  

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Support your local businesses

It's wonderful to talk about starting a small business but the other side of the coin is that we need to support them by shopping there.  It has become so easy to shop the import businesses like Walmart where we can find everything we need under one roof at low prices.  As we try to save money it's a logical choice.  So the dilemma begins.  Shop the small businesses that support our economy or choose immediate convenience at the cost of long term decline.  After all, Walmart is a very large employer. Sigh.  Nothing seems easy does it? 

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Residential Real Estate Investing - Part 2

My top keys for successful real estate investment in 2011.

  1. Learn all you can.  The library is the best source for this information.  Yes, the Internet has good information but much of that is geared toward making money for the one providing the information and they often just tell you the good parts.  The time and money involved in real estate investment is enough to warrant extensive investigation and research.  In one year the value increase can be as much as any job so corresponding time should be allocated.
  2. Pick houses you would be comfortable living in.  If you don't like the neighborhood, the schools in the area, or think the house is too dumpy than pass on it.  You want to attract quality tenants and in the future a good sale price so if you would not be willing to live in the place yourself many other people also would not.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Living on One Income: How to Make it Work

Living on One Income: How to Make it Work billeater.com

Living on One Income can be by design or circumstance. Jessica Bosari from billeater.com has encouraged us to look at the big ticket items to find ways to stretch your budget. Attached is the link to hear her suggestions.

Billeater.com has a neatly organized site to help you save money in all spending categories and shows where you can get coupons and freebies.

Living on one income can be tough but there are often opportunities.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Success Stories Round up

Most of us like success stories told by those who have overcome obstacles that may confront us all.  They encourage, challenge, and give us hope.  We say to ourselves "If they can do it, so can I".  The stories below have appeared on other blogs and are rich with ideas for Here's a few you might enjoy reading over the weekend:

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Residential Real Estate Investing - Part 1

If you have thought about real estate investing now may be the time to do your home work and be ready.  Prices have continued to drop and interest rates are low.  We are just about to the bottom (hopefully) as the second dip hits (yes, it was coming).  There is an old axiom "Buy Low, Sell High".  If that is your goal then this is your time.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Nearly 50 percent leave Obama mortgage-aid program - Yahoo! Finance

Nearly 50 percent leave Obama mortgage-aid program - Yahoo! Finance

The biggest question that comes to mind when reading an article like this is, "why"?  The loan modification program was to be one of the corner stones of the recovery package and benefit millions of Americans.  After the inflated prices of homes and the predatory loans offered to customers the loan modification plan was supposed to bring things back into balance and allow the foreclosures to stop.  Citizens were to have the value of their homes reviewed and payment plans adjusted accordingly with fixed rates.  What happened?  The news story would lead one to believe that it was the plan itself or the government bureaucracy.  The article even suggests that it was the homeowners themselves who failed to follow through with the proper paperwork.
I don't buy it.  Not for a minute.  And, here's why:

At the end of 2009 there were 3,356,844 estimated eligible 60+ day delinquency.  As of the end of the year only a measly 66,465 loan modifications had been approved by the major banks.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Another Garage Sale Experience

I got this email from a friend about her garage sale experience.  She had prepared for the sale for weeks.  I got such a kick out of it I asked if I could share it with In The Trenches readers.  Here you go:

Ugh, I'm so exhausted. The sale was a raging success. My profit was zero dollars. Yup, zero. I'll explain.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Spike in layoffs feeds fear of faltering recovery - Yahoo! Finance

Spike in layoffs feeds fear of faltering recovery - Yahoo! Finance

The double dip. Are you surprised? Not if you have been reading this blog.

Unfortunately many have not expected or prepared and the next few months may get pretty ugly. Politicians and even the media will continue to bicker and blame instead of providing constructive information to the people about how to get through these times.

What can we do?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

20 Ways To Improve Your Life

Did you think I was going to give you the list?  You might know by now that is not my style.  What I will do is assist you to find your own 20 ways to improve your life and it's simple and easy.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Free Is Good - Earth Day 2008 | Yahoo! Green

Readers please note:  There are 3 new posts today.  Hope you will check them all out.
Click here for the link:  Free Is Good - Earth Day 2008 Yahoo! Green

What do Green, Frugal Living, and In The Trenches have in common? More than they have that's different. All are concerned with the best utilization of resources. One may be a vegetarian and another a cattle rancher. Both are concerned that the earth is left in better condition because of it's human inhabitants. For all it means Waste Not, Want Not.

And, we ALL like free stuff!

Turn ugly dresses into nice ones for $1 | Yahoo! Green

Turn ugly dresses into nice ones for $1 Yahoo! Green

Imagination, not money is the key to living happily while In The Trenches. In this article Marisa Lynch set herself a goal of recreating one dress a day for 365 days for $1 a day. She called her project New Dress A Day.  Click the link to read her story and see the photos.

Impressive!

New Laws Rock the Debt Settlement World

New Laws Rock the Debt Settlement World

Are you currently or considering working with a debt settlement company? Here is some important information about upcoming legislation you need to be aware of written by Garrett Driscoll of Debt Eagle and published courtesy of Personal Finance By The Book.

Monday, August 16, 2010

An American Opportunity

John F. Kennedy said, "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country".

Get Rich Slowly has featured a five star post by a guest contributor.  The author tells of his experience of two years serving in the Peace Corps.  He makes many excellent points regarding the benefits of the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

In The Trenches - Back to School Cooking - Crock Pots.

Summer is quickly coming to a close and the kids will be back in school.  What a perfect time to try something different with your cooking.  Crock pot meals are easy and can SAVE YOU MONEY.  Best of all, crock pot cooking enables you to have a sit down family meal after a busy day of work and activities. 

Friday, August 13, 2010

Drew Barrymore's $25 Red Carpet Hit on Shine

Drew Barrymore's $25 Red Carpet Hit on Shine
click on the headline for the great photos.

Okay ladies. Frugal is officially in!

How to Retire Comfortably for Under $1,500 a Month - Yahoo! Finance

How to Retire Comfortably for Under $1,500 a Month - Yahoo! Finance

I found this to be a very interesting article about one couple who explored their options and chose to retire in a foreign country. The comments at the bottom list many pros, cons, and alternate ideas.

There are many 1st generation immigrants who come to America, work until retirement and then go "home" and live on their social security income and other investments. I know some that have been quite prosperous doing this. Sorry I don't have the numbers to share but I have heard many conversations along these lines and know people who have done it.

We don't usually consider ALL our retirement options. What's your opinion? Is living overseas something you would consider if it meant living a more comfortable lifestyle?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Maybe it's time to fire your Money Manager

Every month I have been setting goals and every month all I hear is reasons and excuses why they are not being met. I have decided that it is just about time for me to walk into my Money Managers office, look her straight in the face and let her know that I'm going to have to fire her and find someone who can do the job. The organization can no longer afford nor should it tolerate the slipshod way she allows everything that comes along to deter her from the goals that have been set. What really was the straw that broke the camel's back was when she whined "I can't do it". Why would I entrust someone with my money who openly admits her incompetence at doing the job?  I've tried patience, retraining, and looking the other way. But the fact remains that we are not prospering as we should.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Welcome Billeater fans

Glad you were able to stop by.  If it's your first time you might want to start with clicking the coins on the side for free full size copies of the work sheets from In The Trenches.  Also, the recommended posts on the side.  Very happy to have you and welcome to In The Trenches.  Hope you will sign up for a subscription and come back often.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Build your team.

I read lots of financial books, enjoy discussing various strategies, and can spend hours fiddling with spread sheets but there are certain aspects of finances I tend to steer away from.  Why?

They're boring!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

What can you change?

Most of us have heard the serenity prayer at some time in our lives.  The wisdom contained in the brief words spans many of the problems and challenges in life, including finances.  For those who are not familiar here are the words:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And, the wisdom to know the difference.

If you are In The Trenches there are some things that you simply cannot change.  Some of these would include the fact that you were laid off, how long it will take the national economy to recover, or the fact that electricity prices are going up.  No matter how angry, frustrated, or hurt you are by these things and more, you cannot change them.  For these things we need serenity.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Small Business Round-up

Maybe you have thought about starting your own business or need some extra pocket money but just don't know where to start.  Over the coming months I will be doing research and posting about Small Business Opportunities and information.  I have often suggested that you check out other blogs and this time is no exception.  A number of prominent bloggers have participated in an effort to put together information to get you started.  The links will take you directly to their sites and you will find additional areas of interest and assistance.  The link also shows the title of the article.  I want to thank each of those who have submitted articles and hope that our readers will find new ideas to assist in building their financial future. 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The New Credit Card Tricks

the-new-credit-card-tricks: Personal Finance News from Yahoo! Finance

Let me put it another way...what if you went into McDonalds and ordered a burger.  While you were getting your money the cashier reached over the counter and grabbed an extra $5 from your wallet.  What would your reaction be?  I would hate to think of it.  Then when you demanded to know why they took the $5 the cashier told you it was because you were too slow at taking the money out of your wallet.  Then the cashier turns around and gives your $5 to his manager who slips it into his pocket.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

In The Trenches - Snacks

Everyday my brother and I would come bounding into the house after Mom got home from work and ask the same question, "What can I have for a snack?"  Everyday for probably 10 years, which would make it about 2,500 times, my Mom would answer the same thing, "We have cheese in the frig, there's apples, and there are celery and carrot sticks in the bottom drawer".  You would think we would have learned long before that but we were kids and always hoped for a different answer. 

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Wealthy Reduce Buying in a Blow to the Recovery - Yahoo! Finance

Wealthy Reduce Buying in a Blow to the Recovery - Yahoo! Finance

What if we started viewing the word consumer as an insult?

For years we have been encouraged to consume and told that it would improve the American Economy. When the money ran out we were given the ability to continue consuming by using Credit cards which actually create debt. Did that really help our economy? Obviously not. Individuals, businesses, and government have been on the verge of collapse due to over consuming. It is only by the recent concentrated effort to pay off debt and start savings that many people have started to move away from the edge of the cliff of financial bankruptcy.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Childhood Jobs

We didn't get any allowance when I was growing up.  If we wanted money we worked for it.  Sometimes Mom would have a job we could do or sometimes I would go door to door asking "Do you have anything I can do to earn money?"  I also placed cards at the grocery store.

Here's some of the jobs I did:
  • Babysitting - 50 cents an hour for up to five children and I cleaned the house.  Sometimes I even got a bonus!
  • Ironing - 10 cents a piece for little girls dresses.  I ironed by the basket load.
  • Weeding - 25 cents per hour for weed pulling and rhododendron dead heading.
  • Pet sitting - A dollar a day for watching pets, watering plants, and feeding the fish.

Welcome ERE Readers.

Since the guest post was published by Jacob on Early Retirement Extreme I have been amazed at the number of readers that have stopped by to check out In The Trenches.

Welcome! Thank you for stopping in.

Just wanted to let you know that I normally post between 3 and 5 times a week.  I attempt to find a balance between the day to day living thoughts and ideas and the broader picture of what is going on in the American Economy.  The media is doing an excellent job of trying to tell us what to think and I often feel the need to challenge those ideas that can get into our heads almost subliminally.  I have a section called Soapbox that I use when I am especially agitated by something I have heard.  Some readers may want to avoid that one. :) As I find useful articles or posts from other blogs I try to bring them to our readers attention.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

An American Opportunity - Community Gardens

If you have never tasted a home grown tomato or fresh picked corn now is your chance for an amazing treat.  Community gardens are in full swing and the more volunteers they have the more they are able to produce.  You don't need experience, just a willingness to get your hands dirty. If you don't want to do that garden gloves are very affordable.  Wear your sunscreen and you can get a nice tan in the process.

Monday, July 26, 2010

3 Free copies of In The Trenches

Note:  the books have been spoken for but if you are interested and missed out this time I will be offering three more sometime in August.  Watch for upcoming posts and thank you again.  If you are interested on behalf of a group I would be happy to work with you for discounts for multiple copies.  Carol


If you think that you or someone you know would benefit from having a copy of In The Trenches and feel you cannot afford one now is your chance.  This could be for yourself, a friend or family member, or a group or church. 

I will be giving away copies to the first three people that email me their name and address and let me know whether you heard about this offer through the blog or facebook.  No strings attached.   

Hope you all have a great week.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

JUMPING ON THE BANDWAGON

Each of us as bloggers has our unique perspective that we attempt to convey to our readers. The current buzz phrase for this is niche. It is no different in the personal finance blog world and is why I am always encouraging readers to check out multiple blogs, books, and resources before coming to conclusions. This is the best way to reach your own personalized solutions.

It’s like walking through the whole buffet line before filling your plate. When you know what’s available it is easier to pick and choose the best. Contrary to this is the person who starts filling their plate with salad not knowing that there is prime rib down the line. (Excuse me vegetarians out there.) In terms of blogs one might focus on coupon clipping, another on expense reduction ideas, and another on retirement planning and investment. All are good and worthwhile.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Reading the signs - Detour

Detour signs are so annoying! Don’t you agree? When you have traveled a road many times and all of a sudden a detour sign pops up it is very disconcerting. A detour sign can even make a person late for work which is a double insult to those of us who time everything to the last minute and are already lucky just to make it to work on time. It doesn’t seem to bother the early birds as much because they take the alternate route and are still early! What’s that about? Seems kind of like showing off. I can’t tell you how many times I have taken a detour only to find that the alternate route is not marked clearly and I either end up getting lost or taking a detour from the detour. Annoying.

Despite whatever emotional response and inconvenience we may have to a detour sign they are usually there for our protection. Even if we can’t see it there is work being done and if we do not heed the detour sign we can get ourselves or others in trouble. Some reasons I have known for detours are: