Monthly Archives: January 2010

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It’s interesting how time and a little perspective can teach us things.

When I started this site, I had just one goal – I wanted to get out of debt.

With that singular goal, managing my finances became pretty simple.  Not easy, but simple.

An emergency fund was funded.

A debt reduction plan was created.

Payments and extra-payments were made.

Debt was reduced – and eventually – I was debt free.

Now, nearly five years later, I’ve learned a lot about myself –

How I relate to money

Why I make the decisions that I make

What my strengths are – and my weaknesses

I’ve learned to relax and enjoy the progress that I’m making.

I’ve also learned that credit wasn’t my problem – ignorance was.  I just didn’t know, and had never taken the time to learn about, how to manage my finances.

I’ve also learned the value of owning lessSpace is precious – and too much stuff just fills up my space.

I’ve learned that generosity is its very own reward.  It truly is better to give than to receive.

I’ve also learned that there is no end to the complexities of money management.  Just when I think I have the perfect plan – I learn of some new type of investment, some new rule in the tax law, or some new insurance need.  I am so thankful for my fellow bloggers, friends who keep me up-to-date with the very latest from the world of personal finance.

I’ve learned that one-size-fits-all solutions are actually one-size-fits-no-one.  My task, as the manager of Me Inc., is to create a solution that fits me – that works for me – and that will provide the best plan for my financial life.

Finally, I’ve learned that there are times, those important seasons in my life, when I will make big, huge, life altering financial decisions – and I need to dedicate myself to being prepared for those times.  Looking back over the past five years, I am greatly encouraged, and excited about the prospects for the future.

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Lawn Mower Maintenance

After two weeks of very cold weather (for us), the temperatures have returned to “normal”.  It’s in the mid-50’s and perfect weather for doing a little yard work.

Back in April, I purchased a lawn mower.  I really, really like my lawn mower, and since it has mulching blades, I use it to mulch pine straw and leaves in the yard.  Unfortunately, when I opened my shed this morning, the left-rear tire of the lawn mower was flat.

I pumped the tire back up and pored some soapy water on it.  Noting the area where the soapy water “bubbled-up”, I located a small nail that was causing the tire to leak.  I removed the nail with a pair of pliers and then repaired the leak with a  simple tire plug.  The tire is holding pressure – and for less than 5 bucks (the cost of the tire plug repair kit) – it’s ready for some mowing.

While I was at it, I checked the owners manual, to see when the next oil change was scheduled.  Since I had the time – and the weather is so nice – I went ahead and changed the mower’s oil, a couple of hours ahead of schedule.

I also checked the air filter and inspected all of the mower’s nuts and bolts.  We had a relatively dry summer, so the mower didn’t get a lot of use.  I used it a couple of times in the fall, to mulch up leaves, and I’ll use it later today, just to give the engine some time to run and clean up the few leaves that are in the front yard.

Oh, I almost forgot.  I also had to put a charge on the battery.  Several years ago, I got a battery charger for Christmas.  It’s one of my all-time-favorite received-gifts.  I use it for the lawn mower – or my old truck – when their batteries need a boost.

One final note – I was able to quickly locate the owner’s manual for the mower because I keep all of my manuals in my handy-dandy Owners Manuals Binder.  Click to read how this idea can help you keep track of all of your owners manuals.

If we are going to save money – the money that we’ve worked so hard to make – it’s important to take care of the things that we buy.  It pays to spend a little more time (and a little more money) to keep something running, rather than a whole lot of time (and whole lot of money) trying to replace it.

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Reader Feedback Request – Alternative To New Couches

I have a few questions for you guys, my awesome readers.  First, a little information.

My wife and I have a couple of couches.  Structurally, they’re both in great shape.  However, one of them has some damaged fabric on its arms, and the other has been faded by the sunshine.  We’d love to keep the couches – they’re both very comfortable – so there’s no real (non-cosmetic) reason to get rid of them.  At this point, we’re thinking about buying some slipcovers for the couches.  (We don’t sew, so we’ll have to purchase the slipcovers.)

Now, the questions.

1.  Have you ever used a slipcover to improve the look of an old couch or loveseat?

2.  If so, how did it look?  In other words, did you find a slipcover that didn’t “look” like a slipcover?

3.  What type of slipcover did you buy and approximately how much did it cost?

Feel free to leave your comments section.  If you have a site where you ordered your slipcover, feel free to leave the link.  If, for some reason, the spam filter blocks your comment, please contact me and let me know.  Alternatively, you can head over to Twitter and @NCN with your input.  Thanks so much, in advance!

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Principles Reinforced By Favorite Television Show – Holmes On Homes

I love Holmes on Homes.  If you haven’t seen the show, you really should check it out.  Originally produced for Canadian television, episodes now air on HGTV.  The show stars general contractor and renovation specialist Mike Holmes and his crew of workers.

Holmes on Homes features families who have had unsatisfactory work done to their homes.  Mike and his crew come in, assess the situation – and fix any problems.  Along the way, Mike explains how each problem was caused, how each one could have been prevented, and what he’s doing to repair them.

When the Holmes on Homes crew is finished with a house – the job looks amazing.  Seriously, it’s a great show and if you like home improvement shows in general, you’ll really dig Holmes on Homes.

Like Mike, I’m in the remodeling business.  However, I’m not remodeling houses, I’m remodeling my finances.  Here are my remodeling principles

1.  Start with an honest assessment of current situation.

2.  Recognize that a temporary fix is just that – temporary.

3.  Rip away the external and get to the heart of all problem areas.

4.  Return to the basics and focus on a good foundation.

5.  Do the hard work in the beginning – and continue with it until each task is completed.

6.  Make sure each layer of subsequent work ties in to the work that came before it.

7.  Stop making excuses and do the work.

8.  The true cost of any decision cannot be measured simply in dollars, but must also take in to account time.

9.  There is little value in appearance if it is only camouflaging structural damage.

10.  A job, well done, truly is its own reward.

My favorite part of the show, strangely enough, is the very beginning.  I like to hear Mike describe the cause of each and every problem.  Knowing a little about carpentry myself, I am always fascinated by what Mike finds – and the detailed methods he uses to repair the mistakes.

Remolding my finances works in much the same way.  I start with a current problem, need, or want.  Then, I drill down, dissecting my budget, my income, and my current situation.  Over time, a plan takes shape – and I can begin to implement the changes necessary to fix the problem, provide for the need, or satisfy the want.

I have no affiliation with Holmes on Homes – I just really dig the show.

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