Tag Archives: frugal

‘Deadbeat’ Dad Chronicles, Part Four: Protect Your Identity

In a previous installment of ‘Deadbeat’ Dad Chronicles I mentioned that putting child support payments in my ex-wife’s hand instead of going through the State’s child support office backfired big time. It was definitely not a frugal decision as it caused much grief in the form of interest added onto my “missed” payments.

To make matters worse, as happens in life, two events occurred that would affect me financially for a significant amount of time. I’ll address the first of the two in this article – Identity Theft.

Safeguard Your ID

Many folks don’t understand the seriousness of this silent crime. The individual who pretended to be me emptied my bank account, put his picture on my drivers license, wrote several hot checks, sold my social security number to eight other people and also got two jobs in my name in another state.

It’s important to note here that this thief didn’t use my credit except for the cash from the bank account and writing hot checks. I mention this because many people mistakenly believe that identity theft is all about one’s credit and credit score. Not so! Your credit is only about 20% of the situation.

Pretend you’re the identity thief. You steal someone’s drivers license and replaced their photo with yours. You get pulled over for speeding, hand the officer your insurance and license. He does his job, you sign the ticket and drive off. So who actually got that ticket?

Hint…not you.

The person whose name appears on the drivers license now has a ticket but has no clue. Let’s further imagine that this same scenario occurs several more times. Again and again you, the ID thief, drive away scott-free while someone else has no clue they’re supposed to show up in court for all those tickets. Next, Failure To Appear warrants are issued. But, again, you have nothing to worry about because none of those warrants are in your name.

Your next step is to move several states away and use that same identification and stolen social security card to land yourself two well-paying jobs. Meanwhile the victim of this theft, that’s me, is slowly dealing with the consequences.

First the bank account you drained without me knowing goes negative since I’m unknowingly writing checks I expect to clear without a problem. Next my car is repossessed. Why? Because the checks I wrote bounced! Then I am evicted, also, because the checks I wrote for rent all bounced! (Having to move back into my mother’s house was adding insult to injury.)

The point of all this is to let you see how important it is to guard your identity 24/7. There are five areas identity thieves can strike:

    Drivers license
    Credit
    Social Security number
    Criminal
    Medical

For anyone trying to live a frugal life, save for retirement, invest and put money aside for a child’s education, being the victim of identity theft can, and in my case did, cause many of those plans to be put off for many years. The financial struggle that comes as a result cannot be overstated.

Financial Security Threatened

A very disappointing aspect was the effect on child support payments. With no car I couldn’t get to work. With no drivers license or Social Security card I couldn’t prove who I was in order to find another job. Interest started piling up, the ex-wife got less and less friendly and my son started thinking his dad didn’t care about him because he wasn’t providing financially. (I’m not ashamed to say it caused this non crier to shed more than a few tears.)

Thankfully, I was introduced to Legal Shield Inc. I made a frugal decision to sell my trench coat to pay for the membership. The top-rated law firm in Texas went to bat for me. I was amazed at the results.

Identity Theft is real and on the rise. Movies like Catch Me If You Can show the real life emergence of this crime. There is actually a bigger war on Identity Theft than on illegal drugs. It’s no longer a matter of if you’ll be a victim, it’s a matter of WHEN.

Need more proof? Go to google.com and search for  the following:
* Identity breaches in 2015
* Data breaches in 2015
* reported identity theft cases 2015

The results are many and varied.
One lady was informed that her tax return may be going to someone else.
A police officer found that “234 fraudulent unemployment claims were filed from his residence”.
The title of one article reads “Georgia Woman Sentenced for Filing Over 180 False Tax Returns”.

I could go on and on but I have to sleep at some point.

I’m guessing you get the idea. Identity Theft is NO JOKE. To deny it is directly tied to your financial well-being would be- to be straightforward- ignorant. Don’t wait to react to being a victim. Prepare for the inevitability as Proverbs 27:12 reminds us:

A prudent person forsees danger and takes precautions, but the simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.

The warnings are all over the news, internet, magazine articles, websites, and on your neighbors’ lips. You have been exposed to the reality of this crime. It’s time to safeguard your family’s identities and financial situation.

Intersted in learning how? Visit my web site: http://www.ebright.legalshieldassociate.com
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Protect your family, Stay Frugal!

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The Frugal Life: #Frugalite Shopping

Save Reuse Recycle

Luke 14: 28-33 But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you.They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it! ’ “Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him? And if he can’t, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away. So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.

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If you are determined to live a frugal lifestyle it is essential that you learn the art of purchasing items at the lowest possible prices.

Doing so allows you to keep a higher percentage of your #paycheck; therefore, allowing more for paying off debt, saving, and investing. This is what allows you to build a strong financial situation. So how do you accomplish frugal spending?

First, pawn shops. These stores are very underrated. I frequently shop at a pawn shop in my neighborhood. Since I love buying movies I am thrilled that my favorite pawn shop sells DVDs & blu-rays for less than $5. I can buy three movies for the price of one brand new movie at popular store chains.

The movies haven’t been shortened, altered, or otherwise made any less entertaining just because they are priced lower than their brand-new counterparts. Also, I love knowing I am getting the most bang for my hard-earned bucks.

Second, #thrift stores. Along with pawn shops, these stores are a great resource for clothing, furniture, electronics, and power tools. There is a thrift store in my neighborhood where I can buy a jacket, tie, slacks, and dress shirt for less than $5. Yes, all those items for less than $5!

You may be thinking these items may be off brand, unimpressive rags that I would not wear in public. You would be wrong. I’m talking about brands like Perry Ellis, Liz Claiborne, and many others. Of course, off brands are also available. However, if you are dedicated to living frugally, the brand’s name should not matter at all.

Thrift: prudent use of money and goods: the sensible and cautious management of money and goods in order to waste as little as possible and obtain maximum value.

Thrifty Shopping

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Imagine that you have $50 set aside for clothes. You can go to a famous chain store and purchase one, maybe two outfits. Conversely, you can go to a thrift store and spend $10 for similar items. That is the art of Frugal Shopping! And of course you cannot get any more frugal than free. I like to browse the free section of Craigslist every now and then. Over the years I have acquired things like glass shelves, vases, a mattress, indoor plants, clothes, shoes, couches, a TV, and loads of other items at zero cost. It would be difficult to add up the monetary savings I have achieved over the years. Also, the barter section of craigslist is very helpful. Why not exchange something you are willing to get rid of for something you want or need? Bartering allows you to acquire items without taking away from your bank account to do so.

If you want to keep more of your paycheck and become a frugal shopper, the first step is to search for thrift stores and pawn shops in your area; and pay them a visit.

Happy, Frugalite shopping!

The Frugal Life: Give #Plasma, Save #Lives And Get Out Of #Debt

When someone asks how they are supposed to get  out of debt I give them several helpful tips including one that I think is underrated and often forgotten…Give Blood/Plasma.

finger-blood

I live about eight miles from a facility that pays around $25 every time I donate blood. Following the rules and regulations I can give blood twice a week without posing any danger to myself. (Side Note: It is very important not to give blood too often because you can do serious damage to your body and even die from it so please follow the guidelines of your blood donation center.)

Giving plasma twice a week would yield $50 to put toward getting out of debt or increasing assets. A maxed-out credit card with a $500 limit (+ interest) would be paid off in just over 9 weeks. A $50 weekly payment towards the principal of a car note would help pay off the vehicle sooner and help reduce total #interest payments. Paying off such debts frees you from #slavery to creditors. Proverbs 22:7 is worth reading concerning this concept.

Thinking of investing in stocks? Deposit that $50 into a brokerage account, like Scottrade.com each week until you’ve accumulated the total amount you wish to invest. You’ve just created an #asset without going into debt to do so.

Not only does giving plasma or blood help you support a frugal lifestyle but you literally give the gift of life.

We are all familiar with the economic impact of a bread-winner dying. What if you gave blood, saved a bread-winner and therefore kept a family out of debt and above the poverty line?

Proverbs 19:17 states If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord —and he will repay you! (NLT)

God Himself has told us we’ll be repaid for helping those who need assistance. Does this mean you’ll be rich as a result of being generous? No, but it does mean God’s paying attention to your every action and will reward you with friendships, great health, His guidance and protection and maybe money as well. His repayment comes in many shapes and sizes, it’s not limited to monetary wealth.

Imagine a child dying from loss of blood. Not only is this emotionally traumatic, it affects work performance which then affects one’s wallet.

Giving blood or plasma not only saves physical lives but boosts the global economy as well. I challenge you to search for the blood donation centers near you. Ask if they offer payment for donations. Give blood/plasma, save lives & get out of debt!

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What about you, BBM reader? Have you ever given blood/plasma as a way to help others and/or increase your income? If not, would you consider it now that you’ve read this post? I’d love to hear your stories.

The #Frugal Life: A Frugal Mentality

How Much is Enough

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Often, upon hearing the word frugal, inaccurate images float through the mind’s of many people.

Some imagine a penny-pinching Grinch that hoards every dollar as if clinging to life itself.

Others imagine a destitute fool who doesn’t recognize the so-called “finer things in life.”

My hope is that this blog post gives a better picture of the mind of the frugal individual. Set aside the inaccurate, and sometimes insulting images in your mind, and let’s discover the real reasons for developing the frugal mentality.

There is a scene in the movie The Great Gatsby where Gatsby is on the second floor of his bedroom, throwing pieces of clothing down to the woman he loves. His intention is to entice her with his riches, impress her with expensive clothing, and therefore hold her affections.

This is a far cry from the frugalist’s mindset and definitely far from the mind of God. I say this because of what is written in #Matthew 6:33

Seek the Kingdom of #God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. (NLTse)

God prompts us to seek His Will, His pleasure and His mission for our lives above all else. We are not to be trapped in the vicious cycle of working hard for material gain just to be foreced to work even harder to afford even more. If we concentrare on our relationship with God first, He will align our mind and goals with His and therefore free us from such dangerous materialism that inevitably lead to greed.

The Christian Frugalite (yes, I created a new word), following the Spirit’s direction, is free to see things as they really are. Free from the prison of materialism. The frugalist understands that the really important things are neither material nor monetary. Unlike the get-all-you-can attitude of most folks, the frugally minded actually see the ultra-lavish lifestyle as both sickening and greedy.

The movie scene I described earlier actually turned my stomach. Why? Because I think of all the desperate people in the world who could benefit from the generosity of the ultra-rich.

Can you imagine the problems that would be solved if every mega-rich celebrity or sports personality decided to sell their mansions and some of their many luxury vehicles, then donated the proceeds to feed the hungry or help rescue victims of human trafficking? What if all those millions were funneled into creating jobs for those in desperate situations instead of being used to buy expensive purses, over-priced shoes and jewelry?

That would be an amazing thing!

It is the Christ-centered, frugal mind that can do this world the most good because it is not trapped by the unproductive idea of gathering more and more stuff. The Frugalite is free to give to charities, churches, and the indigent on the street without feeling she has missed something.

She understands the importance of paying a homeless person to wash her car instead of going to the car wash. In fact, giving to those less fortunate gives the frugal person a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

So the next time you’re tempted to think of a Frugalite as stingy or cheap, you may want to consider that she is not hoarding her pennies, she is proactively funneling them to where they do the most good.

I’d really love to hear:
*What frugal practices have you adopted?
*What frugal habits do you plan to employ in 2015?

Living Frugally Through The Struggle- Part Two

After selling a lot of my possessions and reducing my expenses, I suddenly felt stuck. What else could I do in order to keep increasing my meager savings and get ahead financially? Then it hit me; I could use my talents. I had always been told I should be a teacher, so I decided to teach what I knew – martial arts and hip hop dance. I put a low-cost ad in the paper and before long, my phone was ringing, with future students on the other end on the line. While this didn’t bring home a ton of money, it was enough that I started paying off some of the debt caused by the identity thief. I got a secured Visa in order to start rebuilding my credit and I started a savings account with around $300…and at that point, $300 was a lot of money in my world! I finally felt like things were looking up.

One very important event helped me tremendously.  A friend told me about a monthly plan that would allow me access to attorneys who could advise me on my situation.  Only five minutes into the DVD presentation I hit pause, got online, and signed up.  As mentioned in part one of this blog, I was arrested multiple times for crimes I never committed, each time paying bail to be released.  The law firm was able to refund my bail on four of the six occasions.  I then repaid family and friends from whom the bail money had come. The attorneys also spoke to the IRS on my behalf and proved that I didn’t owe the taxes they were seeking. I was very impressed with everything the attorneys did for me. That fact led to my next frugal decision…network marketing. I asked my friend how to make money with the company. She explained, I signed up, and within three months I earned three promotions and three raises. Enter massive sigh of relief and a sense of accomplishment.

I continued shopping at thrift stores and clearance racks while marketing the legal plan. I still bought the lowest-priced fuel and went to free – or almost free – events with my son.  I only used my secured Visa after sending a payment in the amount I planned to spend and I saved as much as possible.  I still ran into setbacks but I pushed forward.  Eventually I reached an income level that allowed me to get an apartment and purchase a used vehicle, 100% cash. I’d like to say that was the end of the story but it was not. However, I had reached a point where I could relax and felt zero financial anxiety. There would be many more years of suffering the consequences of the thief’s actions. But through it all, Living Frugally played an important role in helping me bounce back and rise above!

Thinking back to this traumatic event, throughout which I spent less than I made, reminds me of Proverbs 21: 20— The wise have wealth and luxury, but fools spend whatever they get.

PS: When I started this ministry I intended to never mention where a person could get the legal plan I mentioned in this blog. I made this decision because it seemed very self-serving because I am now an associate of the company, selling the legal plan products. However, i know it helped me out of a serious financial bind. And, isn’t what this blog site and my ministry are a ll about? So, here is a link to my site. Look around, check out the videos and write to me if you have questions. let God- not me- be your guide when it comes to deciding if the membership is right for you and your loved ones.

http://www.ebright.legalshield.com

Biblical Money Smarts- Part Five: Ignore The Hype

So, you’ve reduced your spending, created assets and learned to manage debt while educating yourself about money….wonderful! What’s next on the road to financial freedom? The answer is more of a mindset than an actual action to take, however, it is ultimately integral to your financial goals.

IGNORE THE HYPE

What do I mean by that?

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Easy, ignore commercials, the next “must have” item, the easy payments and the advice of using “other people’s money”. It’s ALL hype. It’s designed to make you feel that you MUST buy into their sales pitch. But, guess what…..you don’t need the item, the sale, the update or the newest version. You need food, clothing, shelter and most importantly, God. Everything else is not neccessary.

This is the mindset associated with Matthew 6:20 & 21 which says, “Store your treasures in Heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and theives do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”

You know the cable package you’re paying for with tons of channels you dont watch? You know why you don’t watch them? Because you DON’T NEED THEM. Human civilization thrived without cable, internet, smart phones and smart cars.

And, yes, I know….many of you will have a heartattack at the idea of cancelling your cable or downgrading to a cell phone plan without internet access. But, consider this: In the not-too-distant past there were some very well-off upper middle class folks living in California. They were making over 200, 000 dollars a year. They had the fancy cars in the best neighborhoods, their kids had the expensive cell phones with a ton of bells and whistles. They had country club memberships and prestigue. Then, one day, it was all gone. Cars were repossessed, the houses was forclosed on and families were living in “tent villages”. Lavish lifestyles became a thing of the past in a short period of time.

I’m sure you’re wondering why this happenned to such affluent families.

Well, they bought into the hype. They believed they were “supposed” to have the bigger house once dad got his raise. And when mom’s business started bringing in significantly more money they strongly believed that they were entitled to a higher credit card limit which then, of course, meant they could spend more on those great sales at the mall and the Home Shopping Network.
What they didn’t know was that behind the hype was a sinister plot to get as much of their money as possible, not caring if they ended up in financial hell. The plot went like this…

First the banker down the street sold a house to the Jones family knowing they couldn’t afford it. This didn’t matter to the banker because her plan was to sell the loan to Big Time investments. This way the bank receives the entire amount of the loan right away instead of over the next 30 years. The Jones family continues paying their mortgage as usual, not to the bank but to Big Time. Again Big Time is not concerned about the Jones Family’s financial future because they have collected hundreds of loans just like the Jones’. They sell these large clumps of loans to an even larger investor, Prime Time.

Second, the Jones family runs into a problem, their transmission on the Audi goes out. This is not a massive problem in itself for such an affluent family because they put the entire charge on a credit card with a newly increased limit. After all, they’ll pay it off easily- they’re affluent! The problem is that their daughter broke an ankle playing softball a few weeks later, mom’s business is in a seasonal lull and the roof of their house starts leaking due to a recent storm.

In this situation the sellers of those must have items don’t run to the rescue. Prime Time wasn’t sympathetic, they didn’t arrive at Mr. Jones’ doorstep with a new contract reducing his monthly mortage payments. Nor, did the credit card company voluntarily deffer payments till after they are back on their feet.

No, the Jones family found themselves in a tent with many others from their upper-middle-class neighborhood. They were all in the same situation because they all believed the hype associated with collecting stuff, stuff and more stuff.

The words of the verse I mentioned earlier would have served them well and saved them a lot of heartache and loss. With this verse in mind they would have taken the extra money from dad’s raise and invested a portion, saved some for emergencies or donated some to charity. With savings and investments they would have been prepared to deal with a leaking roof, a broken ankle and a business going through a seasonal lull.

Another verse that helps keep us in the right mindset is Proverbs 31: 10-18. This passage speaks about the wife of Noble Character. It talks about how she wakes up early, makes breakfast, buys a field and plants a vineyard. Why is that important? Because of what it goes on to say in verse 18, ” She makes sure her dealings are profitable, her lamp burns late into the night”. This is the picture of a smart woman who is not captivated by materialism. She thinks far into the future and works hard to not only maintain but thrive in any economy.

So, now that you’re on the path to financial freedom you must develope a long-term, anti-hype mindset. Heed the words of the Bible and concentrate on Heavenly treasures more than the material stuff that can be lost in a moment. Don’t assist in stuffing the pockets of businessess that don’t give one iota about your financial future. Be like the shrewd woman of Proverbs, work hard, save and be sure that every financial decision helps get you and your family closer to financial independence!!