Archive for January 2009

Stressed Out About Finances

When I teach the Financial Learning Experience, I always take some time to have everyone write down the reasons why they want to be financially successful.  I believe that when people know WHY they are sacrificing financially, it helps them stick to their plan.

Do you know what the number one reason is?


Nearly everyone in the room has written down that one of the reasons they want financial success is to have less stress in their life!

Is that you?  If it is, I want you to know that you CAN reduce the stress related to your finances!  You CAN!

Here is a short list of items that removed a ton of financial stress from my life: 

  • A written spending plan every month before the month begins.  It is truly EZ to win with money!
  • Stopped acquiring more debt
  • An emergency fund of at least $2,500
  • A wife that chooses to work together with me to manage our money
  • Paid off all debt except the house
  • Prayer
  • Realizing what "enough" was
  • Answering God's call on my life (you can watch me share my journey HERE)

What has helped you eliminate financial stress in your life?

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How To Save Money On Groceries – Guest Post

A couple who attend NewSpring were sharing with me how much money they have saved purchasing groceries with coupons.  I was blown away and asked them to write it up for me to share with everyone on the blog. They did and here it is!

You asked how we’ve saved so much money on groceries and household items. This is our story.

My husband and I attended both your one night lecture (FLE) and 6 week class last year (FFE) and knew that we had to make some major changes in our spending habits. After making a budget, I started to investigate areas that I could cut costs.

I had already developed an interest in green alternatives to toxic chemicals and started to make my own cleaners and detergents from common household items such as vinegar, baking soda, washing soda, and castile soap. The best side effect was that I was able to save money on both the cleaners and my allergy medication…  I did not need it every day anymore!

We also slowly switched to cloth napkins, towels, and unpaper towels (you can get 18 paper towel sized face cloths at Walmart for under $4). We keep a cloth bag in the kitchen and throw the dirty cloths in as we use them. One extra load of laundry a week is much cheaper than paper towels and napkins, especially when you make your own detergent for about 3 cents a load.

Our biggest money saver has been my newfound coupon hobby. My mother did not coupon so I really did not understand it, and was shocked by how much I could save. I learned about couponing on (yes we cloth diaper as well, and boy has cloth changed in the past generation!) and was linked to a great site  The gist of couponing breaks down to these 3 points:
1.    Get the coupons. Clip them out and organize them in a way that makes sense to you. Where do you find coupons?  (a) Sunday papers (b) Online company sites and coupon sites like (print and clip) (c) Company and store flyers (usually in a rack near the front of a grocery store) (d) has coupons that you can link to your Upromise card

2.    Match up your coupons with store deals. Grocery and pharmacy stores send out flyers on Wednesdays and Sundays, plus post their deals online as well. Look for deals like BOGO (Buy One Get One Free), 2/$4, Instore special prices and closeouts, competitor store coupons accepted, etc. Then match up your coupons to those specials to pay little or no money for items that you use! Sound like too much work? These sites have done the work for you!
a. (Publix, Kroger, CVS, Walgreens-WAGS, plus others)
b. (just about every grocery store I have ever seen)
c. (tons of stores)
d. (you have to pay for this one, but the first month is free)

3.    Stock pile so you can only buy what is on sale. Once you start saving money it’s easy to buy non perishable items (rice, pasta, canned goods, soap, etc) and frozen items (meat, vegetables, complete meals, etc) that your family uses when they are really cheap, or even free with your coupons, and keep them stored away. When you need the item you visit the stock pile instead of the store. Small trips for perishable items and special needs are much cheaper than paying full price for everything you use! Also, I think it’s important to add …  only buy what you need or will use. Paying a dollar for an item that you will not use or give away is a waste of a dollar.

To show you how we’ve saved …  I used to shop at Walmart and spent an average of $120 a week. I loved to shop at Publix for fruits and vegetables, but thought it was too expensive for entire grocery trips. Publix has BOGO deals every week, doubles coupons up to 50 cents, and accepts competitor $5/$25 type coupons from stores like Bloom and Whole Foods.  The past month I have been able to shop at Publix and spent about $40-$50 dollars a week. The one week I spent $80 I saved over $90 with specials and coupons and completed a one moth stockpile. It takes a little while to clip and print online coupons but it is so worth it! Couponing our way to financial freedom,

Thanks so much for sharing, Kestlyn and Mike!

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SERIES: Helpful Real Estate Sites – Your Local Agents

Welcome to the latest series at – "Helpful Real Estate Sites".

It is my hope that this series will equip you with new information that helps you make excellent real estate decisions!

Part One – Your Local Agents

In every community, there are fantastic real estate agents.  Fantastic agents who are focused on serving you and helping you find the real estate you are looking for.  These agents have web sites that are community-focused and typically have way more detail about their community than any of the previous sites that I have mentioned in this series.

Typically, these sites will have information about schools, neighborhoods, local trends in the community, and more detailed information that you simply will not find on national real estate sites.

I have pulled a random selection of some local real estate agents in my home town for you to check out and see in general what they are offering via their web sites.

What are some other reasons you have benefited from using your local real estate agent's web site? 

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SERIES: Helpful Real Estate Sites –

Welcome to the latest series at – "Helpful Real Estate Sites".

It is my hope that this series will equip you with new information that helps you make excellent real estate decisions!

Part Three –'s Real Estate Section

CNN has partnered with Money Magazine to provide helpful and very timely information about real estate – both on the macro level and the personal level.

Some specific reasons I like this site are:

  • Timely Articles – Helps me keep up with national trends in real estate
  • Calculators – I love all of CNNMoney's calculators – not just the real estate section.  In the real estate section, you can find calculators for renovations, refinancing, cost of living comparisons, and shop for a mortgage.  You can check out their calculators HERE.
  • Real Estate Tips – Whenever you learn something new regarding real estate, it has the potential to save you thousands of dollars!  I like saving money!

Those are some of the reasons that I love CNNMoney's Real Estate Section.  Have you used this resource before?

Visit CNNMoney's Real Estate Section

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SERIES: Helpful Real Estate Sites –

Welcome to the latest series at – "Helpful Real Estate Sites".

It is my hope that this series will equip you with new information that helps you make excellent real estate decisions!

Part Two –

This is another way to research homes that are for sale in your area.

I like the clean feel of, and its of use.  Here are some additional reasons I like

  • Market Dynamics  Just below the search bar, Zillow provides an up-to-date number of homes that are on the market in the entire US.  I like seeing the macroeconomic view of the housing market.
  • Days on Zillow  A key measure in real estate is "Days on Market" or DOM.  Zillow has created a similar measurement called "Days on Zillow".  This information can be utilized to construct a better offer.
  • Make Me Move Feature  Zillow has a feature where you can list your house without actually listing it.  Basically, you provide a price that you would be willing to sell your house for and if someone decides to purchase your home, the "make me move" happens.  Interesting concept!
  • Recently Sold Feature  This feature allows you to see the houses in your search area that have sold most recently and the price at which they sold.
  • Home Values Index  You can see what homes are selling for you in your area by a number of measures – including $/SF, Selling Price, and flips.

Those are some of the reasons that I love  Have you used this resource before?


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