Black Woman Blogging

One black woman's views on race, gender, politics, family, life and the world.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

My Garage Is a Metaphor for Me

As 2011 comes to a close, I'm happy and sad at the same time. Most of all, I'm filled with hope and optimism. Yes, hope and optimism, even in these trying times.

I'm happy about some of the political developments I've seen, political awakenings among the have-nots -- the Arab Spring, the Occupy Movement. I'm sad for the brilliant people we lost -- Professor Derrick Bell, Teena Marie, Heavy D, Amy Winehouse, Vesta. And I'm optimistic and filled with hope simply because of my garage.

My garage is a metaphor for me.

I started the process of cleaning out my garage back in August, and I didn't finish in time for winter as I had planned. In the process of going through over 30-plus years' worth of stuff, I came across old awards, grades, evaluations of me as a student and as a teacher, term papers, and columns I wrote when I was president of a minority bar association. One of my writing professors from a summer program I was in stated that I was a hard-working perfectionist who, in his estimation, would indeed reach perfection in her writing. Some of the evaluations from my law students stung, others inspired me. A letter of gratitude from a federal judge about whom I'd written a letter to the editor defending him and one of his most controversial decisions brought a smile to my face. I even found a treasure trove of piano books from my teen years, with pieces by Rachmaninoff and Chopin that I can barely read now but had mastered a long time ago. I've also discovered treasures large and small, pictures of long-lost friends, letters from deceased ones -- I even had a letter from Professor Derrick Bell saying that he had decided to move on from full-time law teaching to pursue his new passion -- writing. It buoyed my spirit.

It came to me that my garage is a metaphor for me. My garage, like me, holds hidden or forgotten treasures. Just as my garage houses unopened wedding presents, pictures, and all sorts of things that have the potential to make my still-unsettled house a home, I still hold the potential, hidden or forgotten, to reach goals I'd long ago given up or forgotten about on due to my age or lack of prior success, confidence, or focus.

So my one and only resolution for 2012 is to explore my hidden or forgotten potential and use it to reach goals I'd forgotten or given up on, even if I'm only taking small steps towards those goals.

Here's to my potential and yours, gentle readers. Happy New Year!

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Air Ignorance: Negroes, Please.

Air Ignorance: The mass hysteria or obsession that breaks out among broke or middle-class black folks whenever Nike releases a new pair of Michael Jordan athletic shoes.

I don't get it. I don't get the mass hysteria and obsession that breaks out among black folks, especially broke or middle-class black folks, whenever Nike releases a new pair of Michael Jordan athletic shoes, or re-releases said shoes, for that matter. (Here's a tip: If you had to catch a bus or walk to the mall to buy a pair of Air Jordans, you're broke. Save your money and buy a car instead.) I watched news footage from Houston on YouTube about a breakout of Air Ignorance at a mall featuring my people discussing the long wait in the cold to purchase the re-released Air Jordans, with one brother even kissing his newly purchased shoes. Supposedly a purchaser was robbed of his or her new Air Jordans at a bus stop.

Am I the only black person in America who is tired of being represented in the media by other black folks who are more invested in faux status symbols than in common sense? Why does the media look for the lowest common denominator of black folks to showcase to the rest of the world? I guess anything that rebuts the stereotypes about black folks just isn't newsworthy.

I have to admit, I once fell for the Nike hype. My young nephew wanted a pair of Air Jordans in the 90's that cost about $110.00 at the time. I was taken aback that he would even ask for such a thing for Christmas. I told him that I had never paid $110.00 for a pair of shoes for myself, much less for a child. He shot back that I didn't need $110.00 shoes because, unlike him, I didn't play sports. I then told him that it was because my $45.00 Nine West shoes took me to my high-paying gig that I was able to afford $110.00 Nikes and asked him how much money he was going to be able to make with a $110.00 pair of Nikes. He had no answer. I actually bought the shoes for him, but I told him, "These shoes are your Christmas and your birthday presents. I don't want to hear from you about presents until next Christmas." It was about that time that I stopped buying Christmas gifts for him altogether because he didn't see anything abnormal about being a child wanting a $110.00 pair of shoes. I figured his parents should finance his increasingly expensive tastes. Perhaps this wasn't the best way of dealing with it, but I just didn't want to continue to feed whatever it was I was seeing. Looking back, this was an enormous teaching opportunity that I missed. But I never bought a $110.00 pair of shoes for a child ever again. And I wouldn't now, not even if I had children.

I would hope that black folks would find better things to spend money on in a recession than $180 Nikes, especially if we're taking the bus to buy them. I would hope that we would get past the consumerism and the faux status symbols and build some real wealth. I would hope we would invest in educating ourselves instead of continuing to build Michael Jordan's empire. I would hope we would line up around the block in the cold to register to vote. But broke black folks riding the bus to buy Air Jordans? Negroes, please.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dear Santa, Can We Cut A Deal?

Dear Santa,

I'm a lawyer. That means I basically grew up thinking just about anything was negotiable. I think this "naughty or nice" thing should be negotiable because, for one, your terms are vague, and two, whether my wishes are fulfilled shouldn't be an "either-or" proposition. Santa, behavior is way more complicated than that. We lawyers see shades of gray where other folks see only black or white, and we are highly compensated, unless we work for the State of California, for seeing those shades of gray. They're called "legal argument."

So Santa, think we can cut a deal on this whole "naughty or nice" thing?

First, some things need to be taken off the "naughty" table. Santa, what happens between two consenting married people in the privacy of their bedroom or other places with smooth surfaces shouldn't make the "naughty" list. BMNB didn't date me on and off for twenty years and then marry me just because of the intellectual conversation, Santa. I'm just sayin'. Some of my "naughty" has been pretty nice to him. Just because you see us when we're sleeping doesn't mean you should be watching, Santa. That's just kinda pervy, if you ask me.

Second, some of the nice things should be weighed against the naughty ones to come to a determination as to whether my wishes will be fulfilled. That's only fair, Santa.

So, here goes with the naughty things I've done this year:

I'm still not on speaking terms with some members of my family. But Santa, I have so much more peace in my life because I'm not. Do I have to give up my peace to be on good terms with people who wreck my peace just because they're related to me? No arrest warrants or restraining orders were issued because I kept to myself, Santa. I hate to stereotype, Santa, but in a black family, that's huge.

I embarrassed a public official in a public meeting. But he deserved it, Santa, because he misrepresented something and I called him on it. I did it for the good of the tax-paying public, Santa. I consider that pro bono publico, Santa. Not entirely naughty in my book.

I didn't visit my in-laws down south this summer. I allowed my work to get in the way of traveling with BMNB. That I do regret.

I did go off on some of my co-workers in a meeting. But they deserved it, Santa, really they did. I had returned from vacation and they were all on my back about getting something done that was nowhere near being late, while another co-worker who was late on a project was being allowed to skate. So I called them on it, Santa. I don't regret that, but it was naughty.

Oh, and I may have told a few people to kiss my pretty black ass, Santa, but I come by that naturally. My mom used to tell people that all the time, and I'm sure she's in heaven. I think you should overlook that, Santa.

Now for the nice:

I cooked more this year, relatively speaking. No, Santa, I'm not trying to get over on you, statistically speaking. I know that when you go from not cooking at all to cooking once, that is essentially a 100% increase. I did cook more than once, Santa. Not much more than once, but I did cook more than once. BMNB has not starved to death. Yet.

I lost weight. I joined Weight Watchers again (Yes, Santa, I know I'm to Weight Watchers what Lindsay Lohan is to rehab), and I lost weight. Mind you, when they switched our meeting leader to this insipidly happy chick, I stopped going and regained some of the weight. But I'm really going back, Santa, really I am.

I finished my book. That's huge, Santa. I should get major points for that.

I grew vegetables last summer and gave them away. No, Santa, they didn't go to the needy. They went to my neighbors and my sisters. Is that any less nice?

I took BMNB to see one of his favorite singers, Anthony Hamilton, in concert for his birthday.

I fed my sister's cats while she was away at a retreat. Okay, I know I'm reaching here, Santa, since I really adore her cats, but it was still nice of me to do so.

I gave out legal advice to relatives. Yeah, Santa, I know -- I'm supposed to do that.

I gave up red meat, dairy, and caffeine. Okay, Santa, fine -- I'm giving up red meat, dairy and caffeine. Yeah, you saw me last week with that applewood-smoked bacon and Gruyere grilled cheese sandwich.

Come to think of it, Santa, maybe I haven't been all that nice after all. But when you consider what I want for Christmas, I think you'd be willing to cut me a deal.

Okay, Santa, here's what I want:

A son for BMNB.

Yeah, I know -- we basically flunked our adoption classes last year as no-shows. But we've gotten our priorities in order and I think BMNB is really ready to become a dad. He's had lots of practice with our great-nieces and great-nephews, and I think he really longs to shape the direction of a young African-American boy in need of a father. It would really make him happy, and anything that makes him happy makes me even more happy.

So Santa, think we can cut a deal?

Thanks for reading, Santa.

Black Woman Blogging

P.S. Santa, I wouldn't be mad if you made it two boys, as long as they don't leave the seat down when they pee. I hate that.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Devil Don't Celebrate Christmas

They could not have been more than twenty words, but those words, recirculated in a family email, caused hurt and anger to a member of my family.

After reading the words and writing my own indirect apology (I wasn't part of the email chain), I had to get up from my keyboard and remind myself that this is still Christmas and I still have a ton of work to do to get my house ready for the large family Christmas dinner BMNB and I will host. That I was to be an instrument of peace and joy this Christmas, to the best of my ability.

Those words also reminded me of a sermon at my husband's church that boiled down to this: Guard your peace. I don't know what it is about the holidays, but somehow evil people feel the need to let loose with whatever comes into their minds, no matter how evil and hurtful it is, as did the author of the email in question. And it reminded me of this:

The devil don't celebrate Christmas, and evil don't take no holidays.

In the midst of all our celebrations, there will be many assaults on our peace, from unexpected quarters, no less. Like family. As my husband's pastor said, "The devil will use your own mama."

So when your peace is assaulted, take a breath, step back, and say to your offender, "My bad. I forgot the devil don't celebrate Christmas."

Guard your peace, folks. Guard your peace. 'cause the devil don't celebrate Christmas and evil don't take no holidays. Understand what you're up against.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, and, most of all, Peace Be Unto You and Yours.

BWB

Labels: , , ,

Monday, December 5, 2011

My Family's Revolution: Credit, Budgets, Sou-Sou's, and Gentle Nudges

CAVEAT: The information provided below is not intended to provide legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Please consult your attorney for legal advice.

Dear Gentle Readers,

I promised you a seat at the table of my family's revolution to become financially savvy, prosperous, and free. We held our second meeting of "Something to Think About: A Series of Family Talks," and, over Mexican food (Beef Enchiladas, Chili Chicken, Vegetarian Tamale Pie, Vegetarian Black Bean Soup) and white Sangria (Maso Canali pinot grigio, brandy, orange juice, sugar, triple sec, vanilla, citrus slices), we laughed and learned during our discussion of the first two modules of the Financial Literary section of the talks, which addressed credit and budgeting. I shared my bad credit stories (What do Oprah and I have in common? We both had our credit cards snatched and cut up by a cashier on orders of the issuer.), and we talked about changing our attitude towards credit -- it's a game, not a personal reflection -- and budgeting -- a budget is a spending plan, not a limitation.

We also started our family sou-sou, and with four couples and two individuals contributing $25 each, one couple who will be celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary on December 20th happened to get the first payout. We will meet monthly and contribute $25 each until each participating couple or individual has received a full $150 payout. A sou-sou isn't anything but a savings circle, as I wrote in my blog entry, "Got Sou-Sou?". It's the timing of receiving those savings that can mean all the difference.

Finally, we ended our meeting with what I called "The Department of Gentle Nudges: Encouragement from Your Elders to Reach Your Goals." We each went around the room and talked about the goals we're pursuing and need some uplifting encouragement for. Excuse me if I brag for a minute, but I'm just as proud as can be about what my family is doing. Two members of the group are going back to college, two are starting businesses, BMNB and I are studying for our real estate licenses, and two are looking to move up in the jobs they have. We applauded each other and gave each other advice, books, and, most important, encouragement.

Next month we meet to round out the financial literacy section by discussing retirement planning, investment and insurance. I don't know what will be on the menu, but I better make it good!

Below please find the agenda and module outlines.

Oh, and for those outside the family who have requested to Skype in, well, I don't think my family is ready to share all their personal business quite yet. But you'll still get the materials.

Here's to my family's revolution. And yours.

BWB



SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT
A Series of Family Talks

AGENDA
December 3, 2011
5:00 pm to 7:00 pm


I. Prayer and Call to Order

II. Purpose of “Something to Think About”
· Knowledge: Share What We Know (mistakes and all), Learn What We Don’t
· Encouragement: Helping Each Other Reach Our Goals
· Action: Holding Each Other Accountable for Taking Positive Steps Toward Our Goals

III. Five Goals for The Family
· Financial Literacy
· Home Ownership
· Having a Career
· Educating Our Kids to Prepare Them for College or a Vocation
· Multiple Streams of Income

IV. Topics to be Covered Today – Financial Literacy
a. Financial Literacy
· Credit
· Budgeting

V. Starting Our Family Sou-Sou

VI. The Department of Gentle Nudges: Encouragement from The Elders to Achieve Our Goals

VII. Adjourn; Next Meeting January 7, 2012


Something to Think About
A series of family meetings
Financial Literacy
Module 1: Credit

Disclaimer: We are not experts or role models with respect to credit. We’re only sharing what we know. You will need to do more research on your own for additional answers or clarification.

I. First Things First: Credit is a game and a tool, not a personal reflection on you.

o Bad people have good credit, and good people have declared bankruptcy. The leading cause of personal bankruptcies is medical bills, not extravagant spending.

o Having good credit is simply a function of understanding how credit scores are determined and using that knowledge and money management to get and maintain a good credit, period. Learn how the credit game is played and play to win.

II. Why Good Credit Matters – Credit can affect the following:

· Employment. Employers are increasingly running credit checks to determine whether to hire

· More Credit. Lenders and credit card companies are increasingly using minimum credit scores to determine whether to extend credit.

· Insurance. Insurance companies use credit scores to determine what your rates will be.

· Banking. Some banks will not allow you to open a checking or savings account without a certain minimum credit score or if you have a record in ChexSystem for mishandling a prior bank account.

· Renting. Landlords and property management companies use your credit report and/or credit scores to decide whether to rent to you. (Note: Joe and I have routinely looked at potential tenants’ credit reports in deciding whom to allow Joe’s property management company to rent out his townhome.)

· Student loans. Bad credit can keep you from getting student loans.

III. Basics To Know About Credit

a. The difference between a credit report and a credit score:
o A credit report is a report listing your creditors, your credit limit and how much you owe each credit, how many payments you’ve made on time or late, and any debts that have gone to collection agencies, among other things. Credit reports are generated by credit reporting agencies (CRA’s).
o A credit score is a number reflecting your credit-worthiness based on what is in your credit report. Although credit report agencies have created their own credit score, the credit score used most commonly is the Fair-Isaac Company, Inc. score, or FICO score. Everyone has three FICO scores – each is based on the information in their credit reports from each of the three credit reporting agencies.

b. What are credit reporting agencies and who they are:
o A credit reporting agency, or CRA, is an organization to which lenders, credit card companies, and other creditors report information about your payment history on accounts you hold with them. The CRA in turn provides this information to organizations you are seeking credit from (lenders, credit card companies, cell phone companies) or people you are attempting to do business with (landlords, utilities, etc.)
o The three main CRAs are Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. And they don’t get the same information from all your creditors, so the FICO scores based on their credit reports for you may be different.


So, here’s how it goes:

Info on how
you pay your bills credit reports FICO Score
Your creditors----------------->CRAs---------------->Fair, Isaacs--------------->lenders

c. How your FICO score is determined (from the MyFICO.com website):
o Payment History: 35%
§ Account payment information on specific types of accounts (credit cards, installment loans, finance company accounts, mortgage, etc.)
§ Presence of adverse public records (bankruptcy, judgments, suits, liens, wage attachments, etc.), collection items, and/or delinquency (past due items)
§ Severity of delinquency (how long past due)
§ Amount past due on delinquent accounts or collection items
§ Time since (recentness of) past due items (delinquency), adverse public records (if any), or collection items (if any)
§ Number of past due items on file
§ Number of accounts paid as agreed


o Amounts Owed: 30%
§ Amount owing on accounts
§ Amount owing on specific types of accounts
§ Lack of a specific type of balance, in some cases
§ Number of accounts with balances
§ Proportion of credit lines used (proportion of balances to total credit limits on certain types of revolving accounts)
§ Proportion of installment loan amounts still owing (proportion of balance to original loan amount on certain types of installment loans)

o Length of Credit History: 15%
§ Time since accounts opened
§ Time since accounts opened, by specific type of account
§ Time since account activity

o New Credit: 10%
§ Number of recently opened accounts, and proportion of accounts that are recently opened, by type of account
§ Number of recent credit inquiries
§ Time since recent account opening(s), by type of account
§ Re-establishment of positive credit history following past payment problems

o Types of Credit Used: 10%
§ Number of (presence, prevalence, and recent information on) various types of accounts (credit cards, retail accounts, installment loans, mortgage, consumer finance accounts, etc.)

d. What’s A Good FICO Score?
o 700 is the standard score at which you qualify for lower interest rates and mortgages.

IV. How To Get Credit

o Secured Personal Loan: You can ask for a secured personal loan from your bank. A secured personal loan is a loan in which you deposit the amount you want to borrow with the bank as savings you are not allowed access to and then pay it back. Once you pay the loan back, the amount you deposited as savings becomes yours. If you fail to pay the loan, the bank takes the savings.

o Become an “Authorized User” On Someone Else’s Account: You can ask someone who has a credit card to become an authorized user on his or her account. FICO considers the payment history of authorized users in determining their FICO scores. However, if you or the owner of the account fails to pay on time, it will affect both your credit scores.

o Get A Co-Signer: If you can’t get credit on your own for a car, a credit card, etc., having a co-signer may allow you to qualify if you wouldn’t otherwise qualify. However, if you fail to pay, the co-signer becomes obligated to pay the debt and both your credit scores can be ruined. Quite frankly, I wouldn’t co-sign for anybody but Jesus, but that’s just me.

o Store Credit Cards: It’s common knowledge that department stores have lower standards for extending credit than other kind of credit issuers.


V. How To Ruin Credit

o Don’t pay your bills
o Don’t pay your bills on time
o Allow unpaid bills to go to collections
o Allow collections to become judgments
o Co-sign for someone or allow someone to become an authorized user on your accounts and that person fails to pay or pay on time.
o Agree to pay a bill that’s in collections and beyond the statute of limitations – it starts the statute of limitations all over
o Don’t use credit at all. Not having any credit is the same as having bad credit because your FICO score has no credit information to score you on, so you end up with a low FICO score, which is the same as having bad credit.
o Max out your credit cards. Charging up to or near the limit of your credit cards lowers your FICO score.

VI. How to Rebuild Credit

o Dispute inaccuracies on your credit report. CRAs aren’t diligent about making sure the information on your credit report is accurate. Disputing someone else’s bad credit information on your credit report can improve your credit score. You can get a free copy of your credit report from annualcreditreport.com.

o Dispute true but bad information on your credit report that’s more than seven years old.
o Start getting new credit (see Section IV above).

o Consider NOT paying any accounts that have gone to collections unless you are threatened with being sued. Once an account goes to collections, paying it will not remove the account from your credit report unless you negotiate with the collection agency to do so. Even then, you would have to enforce the agreement.

o Pay off your existing credit cards by choosing the one with the lowest balance or the one with the highest interest rate first. Pay one off, take the money that would go toward that account and pay off the next.

o Check your credit reports and FICO scores annually to make sure good information is showing up on your credit reports and inaccurate, bad information isn’t.

o Seek credit counseling.

VII. How Not To Use Credit

o Don’t use credit to raise your standard of living. If you depend on credit to make it through the month, at some point you will run out of credit.

o Don’t ignore the annual percentage rate (APR) you’re paying for credit. The higher the APR, the more money it will take to pay off the debt.

o Don’t use credit as a substitute for savings.

o Don’t make only minimum payments. It will take you longer to pay off the balance and it will cost you more in interest.

VIII. Resources

o Online resources
§ Creditboards.com. Everything you want to know about getting and repairing credit is there.
§ Liz Weston’s personal finance column on MSN.com (http://money.msn.com/common/commentary.aspx#weston)
§ MyFico.com.
§ Equifax.com (Equifax Credit Reporting Agency)
§ TransUnion.com (TransUnion Credit Reporting Agency)
§ Experian.com (Experian Credit Reporting Agency)
§ Annualcreditreport.com

o Resources provided in hard copy
§ “Don’t Ignore That Debt Collector,” Liz Weston, MSN.com, http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/SavingandDebt/ManageDebt/dont-ignore-that-debt-collector.aspx
§ “Debt Collector Call Script,” http://www.fair-debt-collection.com/Disputing_Collections/collector-call-script.html
§ “7 Fast Fixes for Your Credit Scores,” Liz Weston, MSN.com, http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Banking/YourCreditRating/weston-7-fast-fixes-for-your-credit-scores.aspx?page=1
§ “7 Nasty Credit Myths That Won’t Die,” Liz Weston, MSN.com, http://money.msn.com/credit-rating/7-nasty-credit-myths-that-will-not-die-weston.aspx
§ “Understanding Your Credit Score,” http://www.myfico.com/Downloads/Files/myFICO_UYFS_Booklet.pdf
§ “Fixing Credit Report Errors,” myFICO.com, http://www.myfico.com/crediteducation/rights/fixinganerror.aspx
§ “Credit Report Rights,” MyFICO.com, http://www.myfico.com/CreditEducation/Rights/CreditReportRights.aspx

o Suggested Reading
§ Glinda Bridgforth, “Girl, Get Your Credit Straight”
§ Liz Weston, “Your Credit Score: How To Improve That 3-Digit Number That Shapes Your Financial Future (4th ed. 2011)


Something to Think About
A series of family meetings
Financial Literacy
Module 2: Budget

Disclaimer: We are not experts or role models with respect to budgeting. We’re only sharing what we know. You will need to do more research on your own for additional answers or clarification.

I. First Things First: A budget is not a limitation; it’s your plan for how you intend to manage your money on a monthly basis. Everything runs on budgets – businesses, governments, non-profit organizations, colleges, you name it.

II. Why Budget?

o A budget helps you reduce stress by planning for the unforeseen

o A budget helps you know how you really spend your money as opposed to how you think you spend your money

o A budget helps you plan to achieve financial goals like saving for a downpayment on a house, going on vacation, or planning for retirement

o A budget helps you plan for retirement by giving you an idea of how much you would need to earn in retirement to maintain your current standard of living

o A budget will give married couples and children a realistic idea of how much it costs to run a household

o A budget helps you prioritize how you spend your money according to what is important to you
o A budget helps you communicate to others why you can’t give or lend them money, e.g., “I’m sorry, but my budget won’t allow for it.” What they hear: You’re broke. What you’re really saying: “I have a plan for how I’m spending my money, and you’re not in it.”

III. Budget Basics

o A budget is an ever-changing document. Budgets change when your priorities change (e.g., you add children to the family). It’s okay to adjust your budget. In fact, life requires that you do.

o You will probably not follow your budget to a T, and that’s okay. Give yourself some wiggle room in your budget.

o If you don’t budget in some fun, you will be miserable. A budget that is all sacrifice will be hard to keep.

o There are many ways to budget and many budgeting tools. Find the ones that are right for you.

IV. Budget Methods

o The 50/30/20 method: Determine what your next take-home pay is. Budget 50% of that for needs, 30% of that for wants, and 20% for savings.

o The “Pay Yourself First” method: Put away 20% of any paycheck in savings; use the rest for operating expenses but don’t touch the savings except for emergencies.

o The “Forecasting” method: Examine your bank statements for the last year. Set up categories of expenditures (e.g., mortgage, car payments, car maintenance, etc.). Assign each expenditure to a category. Total up the amount of expenditures for each category for the year, divide by twelve. The amounts you get are your month budgets for each category.

o The “Envelopes” method (YNAB): Assign a certain amount of your take-how pay to particular spending categories, or envelopes, such as savings, groceries, car payments, rent, etc. If you overspend in one category/envelope, you can borrow the money from another category/envelope but you have to replace it.

o The “Track Your Spending” method: Keep track of your spending for a month and base your budget on your actual current spending.

o The “Make It Automatic” method: This is a twist on the “Pay Yourself First” method. David Bach says in his book, “Start Late, Finish Rich,’ that people are lousy at budgeting and that’s why the government gets its money first by taking it from you before you get the rest of your paycheck. Bach says you need to do the same thing when it comes to budgeting for retirement – have 1/8 of your gross income deducted automatically from your paycheck and put in a 401(k). This method can also work for your personal savings – have your savings deducted automatically from your paycheck before you pay anyone else.

V. Resources

o Online resources, software, and apps
o The Dave Ramsey website has lots of tools for budgeting, http://www.daveramsey.com/category/tools/
o David Bach’s website, Finish Rich, helps you inventory where your money actually goes, http://finishrich.com/free_resources/fr_worksheets.php
o You Need A Budget (YNAB) budgeting software http://www.youneedabudget.com/
o Mint.com – free online money management, https://www.mint.com/
o Quicken – money management software
o Microsoft Excel – because sometimes all you really need is a good spreadsheet
o Mvelopes – envelope budgeting money management software, http://www.mvelopes.com/
o EEBA, free iPhone envelope budgeting app

o Suggested reading
o Glinda Bridgforth, “The Basic Money Management Workbook”
o Judy Lawrence, “The Budget Kit”

o Resources provided in hard copy
o YNAB Handbook, http://www.youneedabudget.com/book/
o Dave Ramsey Basic Quickie Budget, http://www.daveramsey.com/tools/budget-forms/
o Dave Ramsey Irregular Income Planning Budget, http://www.daveramsey.com/tools/budget-forms/
o Dave Ramsey Monthly Cash Flow Plan, http://www.daveramsey.com/tools/budget-forms/
o David Bach’s “Where Does Your Money Really Go?” Worksheet, http://finishrich.com/pdf/worksheets-step3.pdf
o David Bach’s “Find Your Stuff” Financial Inventory Worksheet, http://finishrich.com/pdf/worksheets-step1.pdf
o David Bach’s Financial Inventory Worksheet, http://finishrich.com/pdf/worksheets-step2.pdf

Labels: , , , , , ,

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Why Big Daddy (Herman) Cain Should Lose: The Clinton Principle

If you believe the parade of sexual harassment claimants and one alleged mistress, GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain is a mack of epic proportions, a Big Daddy Cain. And clearly the only chocolate sister he has any love for is his wife, although if these claimants and alleged mistress are telling the truth, I would not want to be loved that way.

Even if these ladies are telling the truth, and I'm not saying they aren't, they aren't the reason why Herman Cain should lose the nomination.

I'd be the first to admit that Bill Clinton, unfaithful as he was, was far and away the smartest president we've had in a long time. Unless you were on welfare, life was pretty good under Clinton.

Bill Clinton is precisely why Herman Cain should lose. I would call this the Clinton Principle: As long as you do your job well, no one should care who you screw. But you better damn well do an exceedingly good job.

Herman Cain, in contrast, is incapable of doing the job of POTUS. Why? He's an idiot.

Yep, I said it: Herman Cain is an idiot.

It is absolutely appalling and insulting to listen to him discuss foreign affairs. His dismissiveness of the press is insulting to the public. He's so not ready for primetime. At best, he's ready for naptime.

And that's why Herman Cain should lose. Not because he has an alleged wandering Johnson. Because he's an idiot.

Yep, I said it. And I don't care that he's African-American. He's an idiot.

Bill Clinton wasn't.

Labels: , , ,