“Half my life’s in books’ written pages. Live and learn from fools and from sages. You know it’s true. All the things come back to you.” -Steven Tyler.
7th Grade was the start of middle school for me. A newly -built school to attend, the spiffy class rooms were just off of a large hallway that went in a complete circle. It had all the bells and whistles that a new school in 1975 had to offer. John Pohlman, our Janitor, had a special key that fit into the recessed light switches. These switches were kid-proof until Marty Oliver was able to pencil trace John’s key and reproduce them for all of us in metal class. It was lights out…and sometimes on. We called our new Principal, “ Cowboy,” but only behind his back, just because he wore cowboy boots to school. The 8th grade language teacher Miss Bortner (who smoked fine cigars) would write us daily passes from study hall to the resource room where, without supervision, we were out of control for an hour. But lunch time had become super special. Somehow, I believe it may have been Dan Boddicker; (a kid of incredible persuasive talents) had convinced the powers that be that we should be allowed to use our new fancy intercom system to play some music during lunch. News spread quickly of the approved lunch time activity. We waited and waited.
It was day 5 of the 6 day school cycle and lunch would be pizza today. As we gathered for lunch and stood in line the sound of music filled our ears telling us to “Walk This Way”. By the time I was into my pizza it was time to “Dream On”.
So I did, lost in thought of what could be. The power of Positive Thinking would become my mantra. If you can dream it you can achieve it. It was an incredible time in life. Aerosmith had spoken to our class and forever changed our way of looking at life. It was a watershed moment.
Reflecting back on that time is a joy. Realizing dreams that I thought would be impossible to achieve and letting go of the dreams that were somewhat make believe to begin with. Although I may still resurrect the idea of becoming president. I mean,Donald did it. But over time I never stopped dreaming.
Don’t ever believe that you are destined for a hard life. You have the power to make changes in your life that will set you on a course of success. If you can dream it you can achieve it.
So, set some goals, make some plans, and set the benchmarks, but mostly “ Dream On.”
Below is the link to the FTC website. This is a great source of information.
Scammers, hackers, and identity thieves are looking to steal your personal information – and your money. But there are steps you can take to protect yourself, like keeping your computer software up-to-date and giving out your personal information only when you have a good reason.
Protect yourself. Have a Happy Easter.
Two days ago I purchased a product from Home Depot to clean the oil and grease from my garage floor. It did work well, and I was happy I found it. It was a one-time job, and I would have never remembered the name of it if it was not for social media.
The next day after I had purchased the product, I cleaned my floor and threw the empty jug in the garbage. Later I was watching an NBA game and decided to check my Facebook account. (This is a new account that I started just a few months ago. I only have a few friends and before this account; I had never had a Facebook or any social media account). Near the top was an inserted Home Depot advertisement that showed another one of my friends stating they "liked" Home Depot. And lo and behold, in the photo, was the gallon jug of cement cleaner that I had purchased just two days before.
The card I used for my purchase at Home Depot was not associated with my Facebook email account. In fact, it has no connection to Facebook through an e-mail account or account number. I got the card back in the 90s and it may have been tied to an old AOL account and nothing else. I never even Googled the product or searched for it online.
How did Home Depot find my Facebook account and make the post? I don’t know, but I do feel that dragging my good friend in on the "Like" was weird. Was she cleaning her garage floor? What did her "liking" the Home Depot have to do with me?
Somehow I feel my identity has been compromised. My friend had the same response. She had no idea that Home Depot was telling me she "liked" them. I’m of a generation that my name was to be protected. I hope Home Depot is not telling other people how much I "like" them while showing them a photo of the product that they just purchased.
Identity theft will eventually creep into all our lives. How do we maintain and protect our identity?
We will continue to look at identity theft in this Blog and examine some of the measures we must take to protect ourselves.
In the meantime, watch what you buy … Everyone else is.
Well, the real question is how far away is Thanksgiving? That day seems to be the day in which our benchmark of holiday savings must be met in order to cover the cost of the holidays and allow the shopping and eating frenzy to begin. Ugh! For some the day seems far away. So when the thought of saving now pops into our head we rationalize our thinking. Right now it’s easy to think that unbeknownst to myself at this early time in the year, is that large windfalls of cash will be bestowed upon me between now and Thanksgiving. Also, I will find super deals on everything I want to purchase because I am so frugal and I will not need as much money down the road anyway. So why worry? Besides March is usually the month I finish paying off last year's holiday expenses. The last thing I want to do is pay for next year starting in March. Time to take a break.
Every year I have these misguided thoughts about saving for the cost of the holidays. The truth is the windfalls never come and that I end up spending more than I ever thought I would. The only thing I banked was more worry.
OK, so I have 7 months to save and put an end to the January blues. When I analyze my spending over this time of year it actually is about the same every year even though I complain that it gets more costly every year. That amount divided by 7 put away monthly will make this cold winter much warmer.
Perhaps you may have a great method of saving for the holidays you would like to share. I would love to hear it.
In the meantime I will keep you posted on my goal.
PS. I am not crafty.
For the first time ever, imposter scams (when a crook pretends to be someone they’re not—usually a trusted family member, institution or organization) have surpassed identity theft scams as the second most reported. The first are debt collection scams, which received over twice as many complaints as imposter scams…so, watch out fake debt collectors! https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2017/03/ftc-releases-annual-summary-consumer-complaints?utm_source=govdelivery
But back to imposter scams: The FTC says that the rise in reporting “is due to an increase in complaints about government imposters.” And if you’ve ever gotten a call from a fake IRS “official” telling you to pay back taxes over the phone, then you’re all too familiar with this type of scam. (Note for tax season: The IRS will never ask you for money over the phone! And if you’re deaf, they won’t ask you for it over a video relay service either.)
Source: Consumer Action SCAM GRAM newsletter
Emergencies don’t have to be financial disasters; start saving now!
You’re laid off at work. Your car needs a new transmission. Your furnace blows. These are all costly emergencies that can’t usually be anticipated and cannot be avoided once they occur. Without a fund set aside just for such emergencies, they can trigger even greater disasters.
Last year, NeighborWorks America released the findings of its third annual consumer finance survey. Chief among them is the alarming fact that nearly a third of adult Americans (29 percent) have no emergency savings. Ninety-one percent of those with incomes of $100,000 reported holding emergency savings, compared to just 30 percent of who earn less than $20,000, 63 percent of those with incomes below $40,000 and 78 percent of those with incomes between $40,000 -$50,000.
There also were significant differences by race and education. The highest percentages of households without any emergency savings at all were reported by African-Americans, adults with lower incomes, and among those with a high school education or less.
A good rule of thumb is to have enough funds set aside to cover three to six months (some say four to seven) of living expenses. This will give you enough time, for instance, to find a new job or supplement your unemployment benefits until you do. However, anything in the bank is better than nothing — and $500 will get you out of many scrapes that would otherwise put you in the hole. In other words, start small if you have to, but start.
Here are a few tips:
Remember: Expenses you should be able to anticipate, such as holiday gifts and annual auto insurance payments, are not emergencies! One of the most common problems people have with emergency funds is forgetting to plan for one-time expenses each year.
Members of the NeighborWorks America network of nonprofit housing and community-development organizations offer financial education and coaching to help you follow these guidelines. Emergencies are upsetting enough. Don’t allow them to turn into financial catastrophes as well.
Source: NeighborWorks America
Buying an asset such as a home or obtaining an education or starting a small business has shown that wealth building begins at that point. Sometimes many of these items seem out of reach. There can be many barriers to remove to get started in this pursuit of asset building.
Where do you start?
As this is a blog about saving - of course it starts with saving money and having a budget and a spending and savings plan.
How do you know what will work?
Complete a free one-on-one housing or budget counseling session with The Home Center's certified HUD housing counselor. This will set your path forward and a give you a realistic timeline towards the end result. There are no income restrictions for the appointment and the session is free.
Please call the Home Center at 406-206-3422 to set your appointment today.
Once in a while a person must take a "Thoreau" look at themselves. So here are a few thoughts to consider:
“As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.” -Henry David Thoreau
“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” -Henry David Thoreau
“What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us.” -Henry David Thoreau
Woody Allen was once quoted saying “80 percent of success is showing up.”
Among with many other Woody Allen quotes this one has resonated with me over the years.
I apply this strategy when it comes to working out. As long as I just show up at the gym I will follow through with the workout. In this case the adage does work. If you look at the other 20 percent of the equation as “the work out,” then this seems to be a formula for success.
Monday through Friday my alarm goes off at 4:20 a.m. and by 5:00 a.m. I am at the gym running on a treadmill. Around 6:30 a.m. I have finished the workout with a couple hundred sit ups. I have followed the routine for years. It gets easier as time goes by, as we are all creatures of habit.
However, this adage has failed me at times and does not work in many circumstances when applied. It may only work when “showing up” is the critical component of the equation. When applied to other areas of life it has no impact. Is 80 percent of having a successful savings account just showing up at the bank once a month? It may be more important to have the money to deposit when you are standing in the teller line. If I cheat on 20 percent of my diet will I still lose weight? The answer is no on this one, as I fail to maintain my diet on a daily basis and can attest that I have not lost weight.
Is following 80 percent of your budget going to get you through the month and meet all your savings goals? It does not work in this arena either. You will need to be close to 100 percent of maintaining your budget to achieve your savings goals. That is why saving is so difficult. It is a complete discipline. By making savings a priority and really meaning it this time, you will develop a habit of savings that will become the norm (as I say we are creatures of habit).
Perhaps at the root of the issue is “Why Save?” After all, we are a nation that loves immediate gratification. Spending is good for the economy. Right? What’s the motivation to save?
Maybe you need to feel the sense of security, the power, the confidence before you get motivated for life to keep saving.
I challenge you to plan and save over the next year. Not to buy something big but just to save. Even if it is only a few dollars every month. Find a way to get the money in a savings account each month. I would almost guarantee the feeling of saving will empower you in ways you never thought possible. It will become a feeling of success every month when you make a deposit, and you will get the feeling of getting stronger with every deposit.
I would love to have your feedback. Perhaps you can start showing up at the gym in the morning and run the five miles with me to start your day and also share your story of your savings journey. My neighbor reacted to this offer by saying that if his body was ever discovered on a jogging trail, to know for sure that it was dumped there.
Ok, just send me your feedback here. It will be much appreciated.
If you don’t know what’s on your Credit Report and you have not pulled your free annual report I would encourage you to make this a priority next week. Go to: https://www.annualcreditreport.com
Any credit report can be mended. It can take time. I mostly think you want to have a continuous vigil in making sure correct information is on your report and you are not a victim of Identity theft. All three bureaus are available once a year to the consumer for free. There are also several web sites now that offer free credit reports. They may have one or two of the credit bureaus on their site. They may also update on a regular basis and can be accessed multiple times throughout the year to check your report at no cost to you and will not have any impact on your score.
For more information or to get help with your credit please contact the Home Center at 406-206-2717. We can help you pull your credit and create an action plan to improve your credit. The service is free.
The sooner you start to manage this area of your life the sooner your score will improve. The sooner you will be in a position to make large purchases or save money on insurance or lower the cost and buying and owning a car. The benefits are many and quite worth the effort.
I am no Dave Ramsey but I have learned a little from some of my own mistakes. As an 80s graduate of the Father Guido Sarducci Five Minute University, I was highly sought after for low-level retail jobs at first. But when they dried up, I was forced to go back to school and get an additional degree in communications. Now I would still have a low-level retail job with with student loan debit to go along with it. Facing an uphill battle, I did the smart thing and started a family.