Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Nguzo Saba #5 Nia - Purpose

I must say today was an exhausting one, but I have made a commitment and even if its late the celebration continues!! This principle comes amazingly on time as I spent half my day reflecting on one of the particular dreams I have, to become a mother. I can't exactly remember when it hit me that I REALLY wanted to be a mom, but when it did it hit me hard and I have been going strong ever since. I think being a mom is the most beautiful calling God can have on a woman's life. Was it intended to be that way? I have no idea, all I know is that I pray I get to experience such a blessing times 4.

We all have a purpose in life, be it to help others, to create some of the most amazing creations of all time, or to be a beacon of light in only a few peoples life. What ever your purpose is, remember it has a meaning. I talk a LOT about finances and things but ultimately I want to be able to have children that will be true testimonies of their mommies accomplishments, I want to leave them a legacy not debt.

So as I keep this post extremely short (because I'z tired) I encourage those who have yet to discover their purpose, to do so as soon as you can. When you realize What God has called you to do, its an amazing feeling and one worth sharing with those around you....

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Nguzo Saba #4 Ujamaa - Cooperative Economics

The fourth Kwanzaa principle, Ujamaa, honors the value of cooperative economics. The definition of cooperative economics is "local people cooperating with each other to provide for the essentials of living." The essentials of living include food, clothes, housing, education, and entertainment.

I loved this particular principle because it has much to do with building businesses which I am all for! If anybody knows me I am always on a "new" venture of some sort, charge it to the libra in me. A few years back I obtained my real estate license and in the next 2 years will have earned a license to do hair as well. Why all this you ask? Well because those are two things I enjoy and eventually want to do both as full time employment and after reading this principle, it also helps my community!

Now from what I hear around town, our economy isn't the best for finding regular employment but why does it have to end there? I think it has never been a better time to start your own business, more importantly doing something that you love, which might actually fall under one of the categories of the Ujamaa principle. Even better than all this is those of you who are currently working a full time job, who don't have any additional sources of income if that one was to go flat. I never thought of my ventures as potential fall backs until I started this blog and now I realize the importance of it.

This day isn't just about building and maintaining businesses but its about creating a business doing something you love, ultimately leading to wealth and a much more joyous life. People talk a LOT about starting businesses with loans, but I am here to tell you that YOU DON'T NEED IT. Michigan has a program called no worker left behind to help you get training in certain fields for free. There are a tone of start up companies that cost little to no money, all you need is a laptop and a decent internet connection.

I honestly believe that once you start doing smart things with money, doors open up that you never thought would, I have experienced that first hand. So lets work together, build businesses and serve each other while building wealth I know it can be done so lets get it!

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Nguzo Saba #3 Ujima-Collective Work and Responsibility

Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)

To build and maintain our community together and make our brother's and sister's problems our problems and to solve them together. Ujima recognizes and respects collective work, struggle and progress. This principles purposes that African Americans are responsible for their progress and achievements, as well as their failures. Ujima also purposes, that communication is key in the relationship of African Americans to one another. Reconciliation, after conflict is of utmost importance in practice, commitment and in the principle of Ujima.

As I reviewed the definition of the particular principle, it struck a chord with me that I did not anticipate. On of my biggest issues among our community is that we don't help each other enough. We have come a very long way and the fruits of our ancestors labor is so evident. But sometimes it's hard to tell in the midst of seeing families fall apart. This is why it was so important to bring financial peace university to my community. I feel as though once enough of us are exposed to our own truths and failures, we can begin to uplift and rebuild each other back up and in turn help another. If we don't shed light on the situations, they can't be fixed.

A good friend of mine was explaining to me why she though marriage was not such a good idea in these days. It hurts me to continually hear people talk about losing faith in each other when we should be pulling closer together. Now I don't profess that I know how to fix a marriage, but I will attest to knowing how to communicate with each other helps a LOT. We as people have got to stop living on our own little islands and having this every man for himself mentality especially when it comes to the area of finance. Someone told me I needed a college degree in order to talk to people about money and I eagerly begged to differ. My life experiences have taught me way more about money than any
pedigree ever could. Do I still believe in college? Absolutely but living is also a teacher.

So what am I saying after all this ranting? Get out and go help someone. I'm starting to notice this Theme after each post and the message gets more clear every day. I want people to be successful but ya gotta want it for yourself. Stop making excuses for why you can't help each other and either get better so you can help, or stop complaining enough to go find help. It's time out for selfishness and pride. Let's be the people we claim to be and love one another through showing kindness and respect. I believe when you begin to do these things, the rest follows.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Nguzo Saba #2 Kujichagulia - Self Determination

Self Determination : refers to independence and control over one’s life. It is an ordering of one’s desires and determination to purposefully control one’s destiny. ...

Now based on this definition one might argue that "WE" don't have control over anything God does. While I do believe God is ultimately in control, he also give us control as well. I don't recall God telling me what to wear this morning, what to eat, or what to buy at the after Christmas sales. People who say God is in control are using him as an excuse not to take responsibility over things that THEY should already be doing.

As I read the news each day it looks more as though the government is in control. With the new health care bill in place, the control over businesses, religion and who knows what else its a wonder why we as people wouldn't want to be responsible for anything at all. I have been independant for most of my adult life and more recently began to realize my calling or my "purpose" in life. I would be devastated if someone told me that my dreams can't come true because "THEY" suddenly had control over my life instead of me.

When I look back over the last 5 years over my life I realized debt had control of me. My dreams where put into a little tiny box never to be opened. I felt I was nothing, had no desire to be anything more than what I was. Since I have been paying off debt I started to see many more dreams that I could actually attain. Like being a stay at home mom working from home, being able to have 4 kids (God willing) instead of one or 2, completing college with no debt, traveling the world and the list goes on.

It is a desire of mine to make sure people see beyond their 4 walls, but in order to do that you must be willing to change your current state of mind. Money certainly doesn't mean everything to me, but if I am to be a good stewart I must make plans for it and my future.

So today I challenge people to be determined to do something different. If there aren't any jobs create one, if you have been putting off children because of debt.. DON'T if you want to go to college debt free, start applying for scholarships and dedicate a summer to just that. What ever it is make sure you realize your dreams and follow through. We all have stumbling blocks at some point in time but its how we handle the block that gets us through. You do have control, you do have the power that God gives you to be what ever you want to be in life. Once you believe that.... you have already won!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Nguzo Saba #1 Umoja - Unity

Welcome to the very first Divine Debt Free Kwanzaa celebration! I must admit when I first thought of this idea I assumed it was going to be pretty simple. As the days grew nearer I realized I had not figured out one post yet!! But don't fret because I am the queen of last minute stuff and amazingly my best work is done so you are in for a treat!

Our first principle is all about Unity which happens to be one of my favorite principles of all of the seven.

Unity : Concord; harmony; conjunction; agreement; uniformity; as, a unity of proofs; unity of doctrine.

Ever heard of the saying it takes a village to raise a child? Well the saying also applies to building a community of financially savvy people. I started this site to help promote financial literacy not only on the world wide web but here in my town. Money can be such a taboo topic, but it can also be one of the worst things to destroy us as people. If I spend an hour, or 20 minutes helping someone figure out a budget or teaching someone about how to write letters to credit card companies I am doing what I am passionate about. Eventually I want to start a company dedicated to helping people pay off debt and prosper. We as people should be about leaving legacies to our children not debt!!

So my challenge for everyone this Kwanzaa season, is to Educate your community. It doesn't have to be about money but it can be about anything positive you feel your community needs to know! REACH ONE TEACH ONE TOGETHER!

If you can start a blog about something your passionate about or have expertise in, or create a community or church news letter. Maybe your good at taking pictures and you can help people capture priceless moments. Whatever it is get out and spread some knowledge because no matter how old we get we all could use more. Non of us can do it alone but together I KNOW we CAN!

If you have an idea or project that you would like to promote here, feel free to contact me and I will do my best to spread the word.


Friday, December 25, 2009

Celebrate Kwanzaa Divine & Debt Free Style

Kwanzaa is a unique African American celebration with focus on the traditional African values of family, community responsibility, commerce, and self-improvement. It is a time of reaffirming African-American people, their ancestors and culture. Kwanzaa, means "first fruits of the harvest" in the African language. Since its founding in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, Kwanzaa has come to be observed by more than18 million people worldwide.

Instead of bringing in the new year with the usual resolutions, we are going to be affirming The Nguzo Saba (The Seven Principles) and using each day to practice a Kwanzaa principle while relating to financial growth. Divine and Debt Free always promotes growth, action, responsibility and discipline and Kwanzaa represents all of these actions and much more. Kwanzaa runs from December 26th to January 1st. There are 7 Principles which we are going to focus on:

Umoja (Unity)

Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)

Ujim (Collective Work and Responsibility)

Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)

Nia (Purpose)

Kuumba (Creativity)

Imani (Faith)

Again starting December 26th (Tomorrow) We are going to use each principle to explore how we can incorporate these values into our every day journey with debt and financial matters. This is my first time doing this and I hope it is something I can continue each year. I pray everyone has had a wonderful holiday and I look forward to sharing Kwanzaa Divine & Debt Free Style with all of you!!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Financial Peace University Hosted By Divine Debt Free!

It is a privilege and honor to announce your newest coordinator of Financial Peace University, ME!!!

Yup you heard it first here, I will be coordinating the first community FPU class right here in Lansing Mi. Those of you who have been with me since the beginning know how I have always talked about hosting a class, well the time has come!!

I was able to contact the manager at my apartment complex and they have agreed to holding the class at the club house, which is an amazing deal!! I am so excited to host a class because you get to watch lives change over a few months. I remember when I first joined Financial Peace University I was a hawt mess. In a few months everything became different and now I get to share my story with others live and in person!!

The class will begin Feb 2nd and run through April. I have wonderful friends who are supporting the event, Rina Risper of NEW CITIZENS PRESS will be advertising in her paper through January which is also very exciting. So if you are in the Lansing area come check us out!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Taking The Plunge

Ok so 2010 is suppose to be my year of debt freedom and I am doing (mostly) everything I can to make sure I am able to pull this off. In efforts to be totally serious about this thing I did one crazy thing...

If you look to your right you will see my stats on my debt pay off. Do you see the one that says 401k loan?? yep look closely ok good!! Its about to start disappearing very quickly because I signed up for irreversible auto debit. Yes I did!! That means HALF of my paycheck will be automatically drafted from my checks before I see it. Yea it was scary but I had to do it!! Now im pretty much forced to be on a strict budget because I will no longer have much to live on. Its going to be fun and interesting getting back on the envelope system which I neglected some eons ago. I thought I had everything down packed and I was cured from over spending so I started back using my debt card instead of the envelope/cash system. I didn't bounce another check since but It sure didn't help me pay much off.

I have a lot of groceries(beans and rice) in my pantry so I should be good on that for a while. My boss gave me a $25 gas card for Christmas so I do believe I have a head start on that too!

I will post my monthly spending here (if im brave enough) so everyone can see my progress. If I can live on half my income there is NO limit to what I can do, I believe that !!!

So here is to debt freedom 2010!! are you readdddyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!! cuz I am!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

2010 Census Jobs APPLY NOW!!

Yesterday I went and tested for the census jobs I scored 15 out of 28 my first round but you can take the test as many times as you like (they will use your highest score). The jobs are paying between $13-15 dollars an hour! How is that for a summer gig!! You can be unemployed or currently working, either way Its a win win if you get the job. I am looking forward to any EXTRA income I can get! Keep reading for more information..

The U.S. Census Bureau is recruiting temporary, part-time census takers for the 2010 Census. These short-term jobs offer good pay, flexible hours, paid training, and reimbursement for authorized work-related expenses, such as mileage incurred while conducting census work. Best of all, census takers work right in their own communities.

Census taker jobs are excellent for people who want to work part-time, those who are between jobs, or just about anyone who wants to earn extra money while performing an important service for their community.

Click to watch video clips about being a census taker

Hundreds of thousands are needed for temporary jobs

Conducting the census is a huge undertaking. Hundreds of thousands of census takers are needed nationwide to help locate households and conduct brief personal interviews with residents. Most positions require a valid driver's license and use of a vehicle. However, use of public transportation may be authorized in certain areas.

Your community is counting on you

Every 10 years, the Census Bureau takes a snapshot of our population, determining how many people reside within the nation's borders, who they are, and where they live. The results help determine your representation in government, as well as how federal funds are spent in your community on things like roads, parks, housing, schools, and public safety. As a census taker, you'll play a vital role in making sure that everyone is counted.

Bilingual speakers are encouraged to apply

All census takers must be able to speak English, but people who have bilingual skills are needed in communities where a large number of residents primarily speak other languages. If you have the appropriate language skills and cultural knowledge to communicate well in your community, we encourage you to apply.

Apply today by contacting your Local Census Office or by calling 1-866-861-2010 .

Monday, December 21, 2009

See Dave Ramsey Live!! Grand Rapids, MI

Yes you heard it Dave is coming to Grand Rapids Michigan February 25th 2010 and Divine & Debt Free is gonna be there!! . I had an opportunity to attend a live event with my mom and her pastors wife and we had a good time. Get your tickets now if you plan to attend. If you want to attend the event for FREE, yes I said FREE!! sign up to volunteer on January 11th, the volunteer list is on a first come first serve basis and sign up last for a week, so if you intend on getting in on this don't wait. I have already marked my calendar!!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Gratitude Friday Kick off !!

As everyone here (all 2 of you) knows Divine and Debt Free is a new site. My goal here is to educate and share more personal experiences about my journey to debt freedom. One thing I love about this new site is being able to tie my every day life back to finances and inspire others. If I can inspire one person or educate them, I am a happy camper.

I am not a tradition starter but I certainly can follow em (the good ones). One particular tradition thats becoming contagious is GRATITUDE FRIDAYS over at the Every Friday we speak about something or "somethings" we are grateful for. So much negativity is focused on during the week a lot of times and I do believe by speaking out loud how thankful you are can set the tone for more positive things to come!! So I will kick off this first gratitude Friday with what I am thankful for TAHDAY!

I must say it was one of the coolest days I have had to date and I have had a LOT of cool days this year. I was at work doing my usual (NOTHING) just kidding. I was working on sending out letters and answering incoming calls. THE PHONE RINGS "REGISTRATION THIS IS MIKKI HOW CAN I HELP YOU" as usual. The lady starts going in about how she needs help with her account. Typical call you would think right?? WRONG. My usual response to people is that when you need help filing and figuring numbers you call and accountant not us....

So she goes on to ask me "Is there ONE person that knows EVERYTHING i NEED TO DO TO FIX ALL THIS". (I giggle inside) "UM NO MA'am they don't pay us enough for that" (yes i did say it). But something (the holy spirit) told me to dig a little deeper. So I started asking her what exactly did she need..... Turns out the root of her frustration was due to bill collectors calling her. She said they threatened to put a lean on her house, garnish her income and take her first born child (ok i made that up but im sure they said something to the like). The frustration in her voice was disheartening.

Like I said usually I tell folks to kick a bag of rocks but this was different. What should have been a 5 minute call turned into 2 hours!! Yes I know, I pray I don't get in trouble but I couldn't help myself. I went on explaining to her how to deal with collectors, how to make a budget and how to keep from filing bankruptcy. The information was just spewing out of me and I felt so compelled to encourage this lady and get her to a place where she just stopped worrying. Well I was able to do that (took me a while I know). But the words she spoke to me almost brought tears to my eyes, she said "you know what you are the first person that has been able to help me with all of this, are you an angel? do you really work there?" I couldn't help but laugh. "No ma'am im not an angel but I understand what you are going through as I have been there myself" I ended the conversation letting her know she could call (me with any questions again as long as it didn't take me two hours to answer them) she laughed and assured me she would comply. I told her at the end to have a worry free Christmas and she said " I will now because of you" and it just made my day.

I decided that I was going to send her the TOTAL MONEY MAKEOVER BOOK anonymously just for fun. To me it was such a blessing to have been able to encourage someone. I can't even describe how happy it made me. I am grateful that God has brought me through my own financial situation so that I could share my story and help others, thats what its all about.

So what are you Grateful for??

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Unexpected Expenses, How to Cope

December is always a time of reflection for most people. Embarking on a new year, attempting to do things different from the year before. As I reflect on 2009, I see a lot of accomplishment and I am so proud of many things that have occurred in my life. However 2009 wasn't such a great year for my finances because honestly for the most part I neglected them.

This year I am seriously seeking debt freedom and I don't want to have another year fly by without having done everything I could have possibly done to become debt free. So as I look over last years expenses I noticed I was doing a lot of unexpected things. Car repairs, home repairs, trips and shopping. Even though I will be going into 2010 in the black I am way off target for paying off stuff and I know it was because of the unexpected. But alas I have a solution!! Put it in the budget!!

I realize I am a woman after a clean heart, meaning I like everything simple. I thought I was getting simple by creating an unrealistic budget. How so you ask?? I did everything In my power to keep everything 0 dollars. I figure the less zero's I saw, the less I was spending right? wrong!! Because I didn't plan, I ended up spending more that I should have on certain things. The way I plan to keep from doing that this year is being realistic. I know my car is going to need some type of repairs, I am gonna wanna take a trip to somewhere, and by golly I am definitely going to go shopping for new clothes. If I allocate something, even if its only a little to each of these accounts, it won't be so devastating when I actually do need to spend the money.

Hopefully I will have a budget sheet on here soon for everyone to use and go through the process together. So people, what are some of the things you plan to do differently with your money this year? Inquiring minds would like to know.....

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Extra Income Challenge!

Recently I was over looking my budget plans for 2010 to see how far off I was from being debt free. Turns out I need around about $6800 to be debt free by December. Thats an additional $568 a month in additional income.

I don't have anything to sell, I can't work an extra job because I will be at the salon Wednesday-Saturday. The only thing I can think of is some type of online job. I have never done any online work and I am not even sure where to look to start!

For the next couple of weeks I will looking for things to generate income. I need to have something lined by January to get the ball rolling.

If anybody has any ideas let me know!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Funny Video : Debt


Monday, December 14, 2009

The One Thing I Hate CREDIT CARDS!!!!

The one thing I love about this blog is that I can say what ever it is that I want. Well this thing I have been wanting to say is loooong over due!! Ready?? Here it goes.... I HAAAAAATE CREDIT CARDS!!!!!

Whew ok I feel A LOT better.....

Before anyone gets there underoos in a bunch, let me just say this is NOT one of my Dave Ramsey rants AT ALL! I just want to take a moment and shed some light on some of the miseducation people have while using your cards and the reasons behind these excuses for not giving them up.

Disclaimer if you have 20-50K in personal savings and absolutely no consumer debt (including student loans) and you use credit cards, this post is NOT for you ok? I will not get mad at those folks who obviously know how to manage money enough to be able to deal with these issues. But the rest of you let me clear up a couple things about these super great cards you say you have.

#1. Debit cards offer the SAME EXACT PROTECTION as a regular credit card
- This by far is the biggest misconception I think I keep seeing about the use of credit cards. If you don't believe me take a look at this...

Unlike a credit card, if your debit card is used fraudulently, the thief robs your checking account. Potentially, all your money is drained out of your checking account. It could take the bank 10 days or more to investigate and refund your money. In the meantime--you could bounce checks to your landlord, credit card company, or mortgage company. I got this off some website...

This is the biggest crock of crap I have EVER head in my life!! Listen here folks, I have been a debt card user since I was old enough to understand a checking account and I have NEVER EVER EVER waited more than 10 days to get money back from my card being lost or stolen. It has actually happen MORE THAN ONCE!! and before you say "oh you have a good bank" I haven't even had the same bank for my whole life so umm try again...... The most I have ever waited for my money to be replenished to my account was a 48 hours IF THAT. The banks have NEVER given me a problem with this and I have always had excellent customer service in dealing with these issues. Better yet when my card gets lost I get to deal with MY BANK which to me is way better than having to call some credit card company. Also the nice thing about my new bank is that the times I have found my card (in my pocket) after reporting it stolen, all I had to do is go in and have it reactivated. I don't even have to wait 2 weeks to get a new one!

But don't listen to me read this for yourself ON VISA'S WEBSITE

What happens if someone steals my Visa Debit card and uses it fraudulently?
If your Visa Debit card is lost or stolen and fraudulent activity occurs, you are protected by Visa's Zero Liability policy.* That means 100 percent protection for you. Whether purchases occur online or off, you pay nothing for fraudulent activity.

There is actually more they have to say on this issue if you keep reading......

#2. You can't keep track of spending - Again I say more BS, I have a debt card checking account spread sheet on my computer which I will be SOOO HAPPY to send to ANYONE who ask me for it to track spending. Its so easy all you have to do is punch in what you spent and how much you had and IT CALCULATES THE REST. So don't give me any crap about using cash you can't keep track and blah blah blah blah blah waaaah waaah, grow up and stop being sooo lazy that you can't even manage your own money!!

#3. These so called rewards suck - Yep I said it, those of you who SAY you are getting over check this out

Capital One® No Hassle CashSM Rewards - Excellent Credit

* 2% cash back on gas and groceries
* 1% cash back on all other purchases

So lets just say I normally spend $300 bucks on groceries if you do the math GUESS how much cash back I just got!!!! 3 bucks!!!!! woooooo im really beating on them credit cards now!!!! But let me get crazy with it and do 2%.....

a whole 6 dollars!!! WAIT LET ME DO ONE MORE! $5,000 with 2% back is .... drum roll please.... 100 smacks!!!! charley murphy!!! Yes if you spend 5,000 in a month (which I KNOW is not all on basic necessities, come here so I can give you a swirly because thats STUPID!! even If I spent this in a year or 6 months it still would make absolutely no sense, and the less I spend guess what, the less CASH BACK I get. No thanks I will pass.

#4. Online shopping can't be done with a debit card - If it has a visa or master card logo on it, its good as gold. I just explained in #1 how as long as your debt card has a logo, it offers the exact same protection and is good ANYWHERE they accept credit even online. I have made plenty purchases online and the world did not come crashing down around me. You can rent a car with a debit card, buy a plane ticket with a debt card and much much more...

The rewards of using a debt card far surpass any reward I could get with a credit card. I can be an adult and track my spending on my own without some credit card company doing it for me in the form of a BILL. I don't worry about APRS, TFD'S AND PBC'S with my debt card (have no idea what those letters stand for) and lastly I have peace opening up my mail box and not having bills fall out of it due to my spending habits. If its in the bank, I spend it and Im done. I DON'T bounce checks or go OVER LIMITS and get late fee's ect... I am a true nerd when it comes to money but Im not a nerd in area's I don't have to be.

I do hope I have shed some light on the misconceptions of debt card and credit card use and why I don't like them. If you want to yell at me go ahead cuz i AINT NEVA SCURD!!!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Hair Today Gone Tommorrow

On Wednesday I started my first day at the beauty salon for cosmetology school and I am so excited about it. I would have started 6 months ago but my beautician was having a hard time securing an approval through the State of Michigan. After hearing about all of her ups and downs I now understand what the people who call me everyday to become licensed mean. So 6 months later here we are pumped up and God is good!

Yesterday was the first time I started sharing the news with family and friends. First up was mom.....

Now I expect criticism from momma clark so it really wasn't such a shocker when she said "Girl you always doing something" Momma has raised me all my life and she knows my personality to the T. I love her so much and I know she loves me too so her lil jokes don't even phase me no more. Later on however I started to tell some other people about it and amazingly they said the same thing but it wasn't such a welcoming feeling. A few of my friends have know me to have my hand in a bunch of different things so I get that. But they don't really understand the inner workings of my mind and WHY I do what I do. Not that I have to justify every action but I will since It will make me feel much better.

#1 Im single! - as much as I hem and haw about being single, it REALLY is a blessing (at times) I can do what I want when I want how I want and the list goes on. Don't want to stay single forever (read: I wanna be married next year) but it helps when It comes to making quick decisions and I don't have to mull it over with God and my spouse.

#2 I don't have kids - oooooh yea, one day I want 4 God willing but right now is NOT the day, so why not work 2 and 3 jobs.

#3 I envision my future - My future looks like this: Me retired from my 9-5, married with 2.5 little ones doing real estate deals (investments and selling) and working at my own hair salon. To me this is the sweet life, I control my hours, and I will get to spend oodddles of time with my kids.

#4 Its my life - Sometimes you just can't sweat the small stuff. I admit I do take things to heart but I have to realize the place the negativity is coming from and let it go. People don't mean harm I know, but I also know some people stunt their own growth by NOT planning and daring to dream.

I currently have a license to practice real estate and on my way to getting a license to do hair for ZIPPO DOLLARS!! (a normally 6-11k program) eventually I will also finish college debt free. No I don't want to be the jack of all trades but I do want to unleash all the gifts I have been blessed with and my biggest gift is VISION. I may not get to the place I am seeking instantly but trust me they all have a place in my life.

So if any single folks out there let this be encouragement to you as I say you can do what cha wanna beee what cha wanna beeee!!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Goal Setting

Just thought it would be cool to share some of my goals for 2010 related to personal growth and finance.....

Become as close as possible to debt free except for the house

Finish my first year apprenticeship at the salon

Complete all my math requirements for college

Bring the Dave Ramsey program to my church

Take at least one trip

Save up annual time to take off at least 2 weeks of work for my debt free vacation

Now keep in mind though these are my goals you must NOT forget to get very detailed with it and write out how you plan to execute each of your goals. Also set a time limit on task you KNOW can be completed to ensure less procrastination.

So what are you goals for 2010?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Bare Necessities

"Don't spend your time lookin' around
For something you want that can't be found When you find out you can live without it And go along not thinkin' about it I'll tell you something true, the bare necessities of life will come to you"

I must say when I was a kid the jungle book was one of my favorite movies. I danced to it, sang to it and remembered almost every line. Never in a million years would I have thought about there being a message to the simple Disney cartoon.

Its amazing how things have shifted to whats considered a "necessity" over the last century. We have nessesitized just about everything imaginable from, cable, to cell phones, to internet all the way down to a bottle of expensive "tap" water. I am not that old, but I can remember when a 10 dollar a month pager and a quarter for a pay phone was a luxury, but today we spend hundreds of dollars on cell phones to talk about "nothing".

here are a few more items we consider to be a "necessity" vs 20 years ago

Home computer
air conditioning
clothes washer/dryer
microwave (by way some kids don't even know how to operate a stove)

As I have delved into the Dave Ramsey program very intensely and purposefully, I have discovered how much I don't really need. I have since 2008 cut out cable and internet, flat screen tv's, new cars (which was hard to resist when my credit score went up), expensive apartments and furniture. People don't really understand that this program is not about falling out of debt but its about sacrifice and living like you have never lived before.

I have learned really what it means to be content throughout this process and honestly enough its still a struggle but each day I am better. I get to realize that being without something doesn't actually "Change" the person that I am, nor does it kill me to resist sometimes. So I ask everyone who is considering starting the debt free plan, how much could you really do without? We now live in a microwave society where we get it now and fast and nobody waits for anything. If you want to learn a lesson as simple as enjoying the simple things I say this program is for you. I have read some amazing stories about how cutting everything out led to their family being closer or how they learned how to make things to save money like soap and deodorant. Yea sure its funny now but think about how much we have that we didn't before and how simple life really was.

So I have made some sacrifices over the last two years but I am grateful for what I have learned because I know the lessons are much more valuable than anything I could think of. I now think more about raising a family than I do having a large home, I think about paying for my kids college over driving an expensive car. My life is forever changed and I encourage everyone who thinks is hard to do just try it and you won't regret it.

better to be a nobody and yet have a servant,
than pretend to be a somebody and have no food

proverbs 12:9

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

My Stupid Tax 2009

Welcome to the first Divine & Debt Free's stupid tax edition. Today I am going to share with you one of the stupid things I did in 2009 that I wish I hadn't. Hopefully this will inspire you to A. share your stupid money stories and B. learn from other folks mistakes including my own.

So here is the story.....

It was a cold day in.....March and me and my now ex boyfriend (stupid thing A.1 lol) had been dating for several months. We had been talking about new cell phones for at least a month at the time and we thought it would be absolutely cute to do those "couple phones". Now don't go laughing at me because I know a few of you people (won't name names) who have done silly things to symbolize a mile stone in a relationship..... but I digress.....

His contract on his phone was going to be ending soon and I had a 1 year old ratty t-mobile phone that was falling apart by the second. He agreed to put me on his account (stupid thing A.2) and we would "share" the bill. So we get into the AT & T store and as soon as I walked in I saw it..... yes I had one of those moments where you see something and a beam of light shines over it like it feel straight from heaven? yea thats it. It was the newest version of the Iphone and I just had to have it. So I agreed to pay for his phone which was $50 bucks with a new 2 year contract and my phone was $200. I think I spent almost $300 dollars that day (No I wasn't budgeting for this either)

Needless to say we break up 2 weeks later (don't laugh we really did). Due to my better credit rating I was able to actually get the phone in my name so I did (stupid thing A.3). So here I am with a brand new Iphone and what seems to be a bill that keeps spiraling out of control. But did I stop there?? Hecks no, I had decided that after sooo much sacrifice (an exaggeration on my part) that I deserved this phone and I was going to keep it no matter what the cost.

Fast forward to 3 weeks ago....

after going through way to many hoops and loops with AT&T I decided to dump the phone. Turns out the only thing I was doing on it was getting in trouble at work from playing on it so much!! But thats not all, I looked at my spread sheet (cuz im a nerd) and looked at the year end total for cell phone use and it read a whopping 1,743 dollars!!! Yes you read right, almost 2,000 on a stupid cell phone(just one) !! I was so mad at myself I could have just passed out. You do realize all that money could have gone towards my debt don't cha......

Today, I am sitting here with my lil Tmobile phone with NO bells or whistles what so ever and welp I haven't croaked from boredom yet so I guess its ok. The bill is a LOT less and I still get to do what I love which is talk. I feel so bad for what I did and ever worse that I let it get out of control, but hey I said I was getting out of debt, I didn't say I was free from stupid lol.

So what are your stupid stories for 2009? Please share so I can feel better!!

Monday, December 7, 2009


Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. Malachi 3:10 (NIV)

A few days ago I was listening to one of my favorite podcast/bible study lessons. I don't remember exactly what the message was about but there was one thing that stood out to me at the very end. The pastor of the church put out one of the most amazing and bold challenges I have ever heard of. He asked his congrigation to put God to the test!!! Yes as we know there is no place in Gods word where he tells us to test him OTHER than in giving as you have read the above scripture.

The pastor said that only 15% of his church (which happens to be mega) was tithing. I found that interesting since my pastor announced the same thing going on at our church. Anywhoot so the pastor goes on to say that if you will tithes your 10% of your income for the next 3 months and you don't receive any blessings I will give you a 100% refund on your money. WOW really??

This is why I love listening to Mark Gungor preach because he dares to do things unheard of. I felt inspired by this message and decided I was going to take part in this challenge myself. Now I don't actually belong to this church so I won't be getting any money back lol, but I am going to do it anyways. I started tithing faithfully a few months ago and I have been blessed very much but I want to do more and do better because I know I can.

So today I challenge each and every person to test God. Test him and see if he doesn't do what he said he would do when you give!! I personally am excited about these next three months because I have a couple things I would love God to bless me with. What better way to go into the new year giving all you got in the midst of becoming debt free right????

If you would like to take part in this challenge please feel free to contact me and let me know how well you are doing. Im not refunding any money lol BUT I truly believe in this message so much so that I know if you start giving God will bless you !!

Ready set Go!!!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Maxed Out documentary

Maxed Out takes viewers on a journey deep inside the American style of debt where things seem fine as long as the minimum monthly payment arrives on time. Shocking and incisive Maxed Out paints a picture of a national nightmare which is all too real for most of us.

Check it out here!!

Watch Maxed Out in Educational | View More Free Videos Online at

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Peanut Butter No Jam??

If there
is one thing I love on Fridays its the Dave Ramsey show, Debt Free Fridays. People call in every Friday to share their stories about how they got out of debt and at the end they get to scream I'M DEBT FREEEEEEE while millions of people listen In. I think the show serves as great inspiration to others going through the process. One thing I noticed In the last few years that I have listened is the number of "single" people calling In to scream, there just aren't that many.

Now don't get me wrong, Im not advocating single people run out and find someone to marry but I am saying Its got to be a different experience. I know you always here people say "its easy being single because you don't have 2 people to account for" But what about when you have NO one to hold you accountable at all?? I honestly believe "some" of my random purchases have had to do with the shear fact that no one was going to tell me "Noooooooo". I would even venture off to say I would probably be debt free already..... BUT I WON'T LOL.

My point is being a single person trying to get out of debt can be a little rough at times, so this Holiday season I am going to share a few of MY survival tips to those who are going it alone. Lets face it We need support too and the more the better!!

Tip #1 Do NOT ask people who aren't getting out of debt about debt - I know this may sound a bit harsh but really, when it comes down to it those people are always going to be on the spending money team. You need a good accountability partner who has or is experiencing paying off debt with you. They don't mean any harm but its just not a good idea to ask them to keep you on your toes.

Tip #2 Keep a blow money account no matter what - I must say this has been a downfall in my journey towards debt freedom. There are months where I am super intense and I am throwing every extra dime on debt, then there are other months where I spend more than I put on debt the month before. When you keep a blow/entertainment account you feel much less guilty about spending because its already accounted for. Don't cheat yourself in this area (I tried it). Even if there ends up being a few hundred dollars in the account, its better than dipping in to some other envelope when you get those "Im lonely so lets shop urges".

Tip #3 Use cash leave the Debit card home - This really is a universal tip and can be used single or married. I have had a major habit of spending outside my budget with my debt card in hand. I have found that when I take cash out of the atm I am more goal oriented and "focused" on what I need to purchase. I know that I better have a list because when the cash is gone, debt card at home there is nothing more you can do. I have found myself using my debt card a LOT more when I don't have a plan. It catches those cookies, cakes, and ice cream I mysteriously forgot to put on my list lol.

Tip #4 Spend more time with family and friends - The holidays can be a trying time when you are single. I have found the very best recipe for success is being around people you love. Round up some of your friends and have game night, or make a meal for them. There is a true sense of peace I find around my family and I don't often worry about "having that special someone" Because Im around lots of special someones 24-7 and most of the time thats free!!!

So these are my very best tips for singles. One thing I urge people to do is REMEMBER THIS IS ABOUT PERSONAL FINANCE meaning if you don't like it, don't try it. Not everyone will agree with my strategies and that is perfectly ok. If you have additional tips and Ideas we welcome them here at Divine and Debt Free because we want to reach as many people as possible with our message.

Happy Holidays!!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Before You File Bankrupt

For the first nine months of the year, individual bankruptcy filings totaled 1.07 million, according to U.S. Bankruptcy Court statistics compiled by Automated Access to Court Electronic Records. Between July and September, more than 5,900 bankruptcy petitions were filed each day in courts across the nation, AACER statistics show. They peaked at more than 6,000 per day in May, and have edged down only slightly since that time.

I remember back in 2007 when I was contemplating filing for bankruptcy. I was way in over my head at the time. I had a new car, a new house, student loans and other random debts like store cards and credit cards. Thankfully, since attending Financial Peace university I have not only learned how to avoid filing bankruptcy I have actually paid most of my creditors back and I am down to 2 YES 2 Final bills. There are many situations in which bankruptcy is not the best solution available, you need to study your situation closely. Here are five cases in which bankruptcy is not the best option:

1. You can pay off your debts within a few years while maintaining a reasonable standard of living

Sometimes having some discipline and setting a budget is all you need to do in order to pay off your debts within a reasonable time. You don't need to starve yourself, but if you can stick to a simple plan and eliminate your debt within the next few years, then bankruptcy may not be necessary after all.

2. Your most worrisome debts will not be eliminated in bankruptcy

You should be aware that some kinds of financial obligations do not usually go away when you file bankruptcy. If you are most concerned about student loans, child support obligations, or criminal fines, then bankruptcy is not the solution. In most cases, these financial obligations will remain.

What about federal income taxes? That depends, but be aware that in many cases they will not be discharged.

3. You don't want to lose your assets.

When you file Chapter 7, you will need to liquidate any nonexempt assets in order to help pay for your debts. You may not want to give away these assets, such as a second house or an expensive car. Finding a way to pay off your debt without bankruptcy can help you keep these assets safe from creditors.

4. Most of your debts are secured by collateral.

If your unsecured debts are only a small portion of your total obligations, then bankruptcy doesn't make sense. Chapter 7 will not eliminate your responsibilities such as paying off your mortgage or car loans. If you want to keep the house, you'll have to keep making the mortgage payments. Otherwise, you can just lose the house without having to declare bankruptcy and spent $1,000 to do it!

I realize things can get frustrating after thing such as an illness, job loss or divorce causing people to just give up. I completely understand it because I fell into a rut myself a while ago. If you are contemplating filing bankruptcy I urge you to think about it long and hard before doing so. Deciding NOT to file was one of the best things I did for myself now I am on the road to recovering WITHOUT a judge looming over my head and it feels great!!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

How To Fight Back Against Creditors

Have you ever had a bill collector call and threaten to take your paycheck or your children? I have a few times and I can't tell you how upsetting it is to have someone harass you day in and day out.

Interestingly enough I have been on BOTH yes BOTH sides of the fence. I have been the debtor and the creditor calling doing the harassing. A few years ago (5 exactly) I worked for a large collection agency. We collected mostly tax money (the worst) and traffic violation payments. Though the government is held to a semi moral standard we still had the ability to brow beat people into paying us. Back then I didn't really understand who I was hurting I just wanted to make my bonus bigger.

Now being on the other side of things its really frustrating to hear stories of people (including my own) dealing with creditors. They can be so nasty and cause stress beyond belief. Some creditors have even talked people into paying bills they don't owe or paying them before they fed their own family. Can you imagine having a $400 credit limit and a foreclosure sign on your door just because of a threatening phone call?? Its the pits and way to many people have dealt with this more than we know.

Today at Divine & Debt Free we are going to share ways of how to FIGHT BACK! Thats right we are going to get those nasty bill collectors off your back once and for all. If your skeptical about these tactics trust me they work because I have used them more than once even!! So lets go.....

1. Hang up on Them - Oh yes this sounds like the most obvious thing to do outside of pretending to speak another language, but it actually works. There should never be a time where they can get you so worked up that you are about ready to hand over every dime in your pocket, EVER!!! If they can't be nice, you can't either.

2. Send a cease and desist letter - according to the FAIR DEBT Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), They must stop contacting you immediately!! However do NOT send this letter via regular mail. It may cost you a few extra bucks to send a letter certified return receipt requested but it is well worth it. They are really good at getting people worked up especially at work and in these difficult economic times that is the last thing we need. Here is a sample letter.....


Your Name
City, State Zip

Debt Collector’s Name
City, State Zip

Re: Account Number

Dear Debt Collector:

Pursuant to my rights under federal debt collection laws, I am requesting that you cease and desist communication with me, as well as my family and friends, in relation to this and all other alleged debts you claim I owe.

You are hereby notified that if you do not comply with this request, I will immediately file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and the [your state here] Attorney General’s office. Civil and criminal claims will be pursued.


Your Name

3. Don't answer the phone - I am sure with all the technology today we ALL (99.999%) have caller ID. So why not just block the number or don't answer. Nothing is actually going to happen, other than them calling you back. I wouldn't advise this at work but it works fantastic at home.

4. Sound a bull horn in their ear - I just think this would be absolutely funny to do......

Bill collectors can threaten as much as they would like, most of them don't get around to actually suing on a bad debt until months sometimes years after the delinquency has taken place. If you are struggling with debt I urge you to first take care of what we call the 4 walls FIRST


Yes this means your house payment has to come before you pay ANY CREDIT CARDS!! I know this may not be what some people are used to but this is honestly the best way and it works every time. If you don't have any money to pay creditors after these 4 things are done then oh well we will try again next month after the emergency fund is fully funded (which you don't use to pay them either).

If you are unsure if your wages are going to be garnished or you are having threats of being sued, call your local court house they can check if you have pending law suits against you. Usually a sheriff delivers summons papers for you to sign if you are actually going to be sued.

So now you have the tools to fight back, if you have additional questions or need a little pep talk just let me know!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

My Favorite Things (Blogger Edition)

I have always wanted to be at one of Oprah's "My favorite things tapping" Unfortunately since her show is going off the air I may not make it, but thats neither here nor Chicago. Today I am hosting my very own MY FAVORITE THINGS blogger style!! Here at Divine & Debt Free we focus on all things great and inspirational. I have a few sites that I just absolutely love and you won't even need to pay tax once you click on the site, how is that for a bargain!!

So lets get started

My favorite blog #1 - ENEMYOFDEBT.COM by Brad Chaffee. He is the best motivational money coach in blog land next to Dave himself! I heart Brads blog and I can't even begin to say how much his money tips and budget tools have helped me. His writings have been featured in CNN articles and who knows what else! He has such a passion for debt freedom its not even funny!!!

My favorite blog #2 - SLICKDEALS.NET Ok so im NOT advocating going to this site until you have at least paid off half of your debt (I mean it!). I haven't actually made any purchases from here but It is fun to look at all the ridiculous deals and things I don't need and make fun of the people who buy all this crap. If your not down for the entertainment value then just click on the freebies link and have fun signing up for any and everything free.

My favorite blog/podcast #3 - MARK GUNGOR RADIO. If you just want to laugh your butt off all day this site is totally for you. He is a pastor and a marriage/relationship speaker. I love listening to him during the day and I have learned a lot about what NOT to do in a marriage. Check it out and if you don't like it....... check your closet for your sense of humor!!

My favorite blog/podcast #4 - DEBBIE CHAVEZ SHOW. Ok so its another pod cast but I just love it too. If you want to get motivation, inspiration on a Godly talk show you have GOT to listen to Debbies show. She features different authors of books, pastors and the like on her show. You can also request a book from one of her guest if you like FOR FREE, how ya like those apples.

My favorite blog #5 - DAVERAMSEY.COM This is by far the best site you will ever click on if your smart. Dave has pod cast, money tools, books, money calculators and forums for those who need a bit more motivation to get going. He also has what they call E.L.P's a.k.a endorsed local providers to help you find insurance, sell a house, council, or help with taxes. Its all free unless you choose to buy something(including the e.l.p service) even if you do its probably a really good deal!

These are all my favorite things and hope these sites can be of much use to everyone. I know my days go much smoother when I have downloaded a podcast or read something inspirational from one of these sites. If you have any sites you would like to add just let me know!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Baby Steps

Now that I have gotten the reasons why out of the way, let me talk to you about how I'm doing it!! I joined financial peace university January 17,2008 during the tax season. The class was $100 bucks and honestly I didn't even have the money at the time. However the church hosting the event had been blessed enough to buy books and allow everyone to make payments on the materials (go figure right lol). I honestly believed this was some big rip off plan. The only real reason I chose to go was because I knew filing bankrupt would cost way more than $100, so I figured if this don't work nothing would right.....

Little did I know it was the best $100 bucks I would ever spend my whole life, Yep I said my WHOLE LIFE! Not only did I get to meet the most amazing families, I was able to let go of the thoughts of suicide Yep I SAID THAT TOO. I will say as I write this blog that no amount of debt or problems are worth taking your life over, but people must also realize that these statistics do exist among college age adults. It is not to be taken lightly, I was able to survive but some people don't.

I learned a lot in the class and so I am going to share the basics of each step in case anyone reading wants to get started on this plan. Matter of fact you don't even need to buy anything, you just have to want to change your life for the better and say no to debt. Ok so maybe your not convinced just yet, so again let me tell you what I learned.

Baby Step 1 - $1,000 Emergency Fund

An emergency fund is for those unexpected events in life that you can’t plan for: the loss of a job, an unexpected pregnancy, a faulty car transmission, and the list goes on and on. It’s not a matter of if these events will happen; it’s simply a matter of when they will happen. This beginning emergency fund will keep life’s little Murphies (anything that can happen will) from turning into new debt while you work off the old debt. If a real emergency happens, you can handle it with your emergency fund. No more borrowing. It’s time to break the cycle of debt! (I used my income tax refund for this)

Baby Step 2 - Pay off all debt using the Debt Snowball

List your debts, excluding the house, in order. The smallest balance should be your number one priority. Don’t worry about interest rates unless two debts have similar payoffs. If that’s the case, then list the higher interest rate debt first.
The point of the debt snowball is simply this: You need some quick wins in order to stay pumped up about getting out of debt! Paying off debt is not always about math. It’s about motivation. Personal finance is 20% head knowledge and 80% behavior. When you start knocking off the easier debts, you will see results and you will stay motivated to dump your debt. (I worked 2 jobs for over a year, and took in as much over time as possible at my 1st job)

Baby Step 3 - 3 to 6 months of expenses in savings

Once you complete the first two baby steps, you will have built serious momentum. But don’t start throwing all your “extra” money into investments quite yet. It’s time to build your full emergency fund. Ask yourself, “What would it take for me to live for three to six months if I lost my income?” Your answer to that question is how much you should save. Use this money for emergencies only: incidents that would have a major impact on you and your family. Keep these savings in a money market account. Remember, this stash of money is not an investment; it is insurance you’re paying to yourself, a buffer between you and life.

Baby Step 4 - Invest 15% of household income into Roth IRAs and pre-tax retirement

When you reach this step, you’ll have no payments—except the house—and a fully funded emergency fund. Now it’s time to get serious about building wealth. Dave suggests investing 15% of your household income into Roth IRAs and pre-tax retirement plans. Don’t invest more than that because the extra money will help you complete the next two steps: college savings and paying off your home early.

Baby Step 5 - College funding for children

By this point, you should have already started Baby Step 4—investing 15% of your income—before saving for college. Whether you are saving for you or your child to go to college, you need to start now. In order to have enough money saved for college, you need to have a goal. Determine how much per month you should be saving at 12% interest in order to have enough for college. If you save at 12% and inflation is at 4%, then you are moving ahead of inflation at a net of 8% per year! (if you don't have children yet skip this step until ya do!)

Baby Step 6 - Pay off your house early (SAY WHAT!!)

Now it’s time to begin chucking all of your extra money toward the mortgage. You are getting closer to realizing the dream of a life with no house payments. As you attack this last debt, you will gain momentum much like you did back in the second step of the debt snowball. Remember, having absolutely no payments is totally within your reach.

Baby Step 7 - Build wealth and give! (MY PERSONAL FAVORITE TOO)

It’s time to build wealth and give like never before. Leave an inheritance for future generations, and bless others now with your excess. It's really the only way to live!

Golda Meir says, “You can’t shake hands with a clenched fist.” Vow to never hold your money so tightly that you never give any away. Hoarding money is not the way to wealth. Save for yourself, save for your family’s future, and be gracious enough to bless others. You can do all three at the same time

So those are the steps all laid out for you to follow. If you need help feel free to contact me and I will answer any questions you may have in order to help you get started or you can visit DAVE RAMSEY.COM Ready, Get Set, Go!!!!