Of Mice and Money

Between increasing housing costs, medical, and school loans; it’s no wonder that so many American’s are facing problems with debt. The subject of finances is nothing new and one that usually causes the most stress. (According to an article on eHow.com, marriages in America “at this time have a 50/50 success rate potential…one of two marriages potentially heading to divorce due to a money issue.” This is not good news.

Speaking of news, did you happen to see this article from CNN that talked about how 1 in 3 American’s are in debt collections? Now, I know the data collected might have all different kinds of contributing factors, but how often have you met with someone who had money problems? It’s not unheard of for me to start talking with someone and they end up mentioning something like their mounting student loans or overwhelming medical bills. It can almost make you feel that you don’t even stand a chance, which is pretty scary.

I know that companies are even now checking applicant’s credit before interviewing. Following this train of thought, you might be someone in debt trying desperately to work your way out, but you can’t even get an interview for a job because your credit isn’t great.
I know this is an unusual topic for me to blog about, but when I read the headline, something just grabbed me and I couldn’t stop myself. I really wanted not to go on any kind of rant about the state of the economy or anything like that, but I was thinking maybe I could encourage a collection of wonderful money saving ideas on this post, so if you have some ideas – PLEASE SHARE THEM BELOW.
So, here is a personal story of mine when it comes to money.  I have noticed that I never seem to have a financial emergency until after I spend a good amount of money on something else.  For example, we just recently got a new dining room table (it was needed our old one was falling apart), but the day after we made that purchase, my husband and I hear “scurrying” noises coming from above our head in our bedroom at night. (And yes, you could hear the theme music from Halloween here.) Sure enough, after calling our pest control company, it was discovered that we had mice in our attic. (Insert girly scream…three times….by me, not the hubby.)
You remember Indiana Jones and his fear of snakes?

Still of Indiana Jones Raider's of the Lost Ark (1981) from www.imdb.com

Still of Indiana Jones Raider’s of the Lost Ark (1981) from http://www.imdb.com

Yeah, imagine that multiplied by a thousand or so. (This is what I think of when I hear mice.)

Still from The Princess Bride image courtesy of www.imdb.com

Still from The Princess Bride image courtesy of http://www.imdb.com

I know it’s silly, but I just can’t seem to control it. So when our unnamed pest control person quoted us a price tag of $1500 to seal up “multiple wholes” for the “infestation”  in our attic, not even to set traps, I was this close to discussing payment plans, just to get the process started before I lost my mind. Luckily for me, my very level-headed husband, who is not afraid of mice, was like, “Uh, no,” and we got a second opinion from a good friend who not only came over and put some traps in our attic for free, but helped us look around and find that we really only have one or two places that we might need to cover to fix this problem. (God Bless our awesome friends – we have the best.)

So, aside from flesh-eating, zombie-killing mice, all is right in our world again….for now.

Going with this theme, I recently read a book called, America’s Cheapest Family, that if you ever get the chance to read, I highly recommend it! This family survives on an income of less than $40,000 a year and they are very happy. They’ve got some really great suggestions in there that I believe everyone could benefit from.

So, what about you? Have you had any mice emergencies lately? What are some great money-saving tips that you would suggest for those out there trying to save?

I’ve Got Magic Beans

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(Image Courtesy of IMDB.com)

Is anyone else out there a Friends fan? *raises both hands*  It’s one of the only shows that my husband and I can always agree to watch, and believe me, we have watched it over and over again – a ton of times, over the years.  The other day, I was trying to figure out something to watch that I could fold laundry to (and yes, the laundry is still in a large heap on my couch), when I decided to start with Season 1 of Friends.  

Do you remember the episode (like the third or fourth of the first season’s discs), when Rachel is being asked by her credit card company’s if she is okay because she hasn’t been spending money like she used to?  Her response, after some initial freaking out because of a disastrous reunion with some old friends, is that she’s okay because she has magic beans….like (as Phoebe says) Jack from Jack and the Bean Stalk.

Now, I bring this up, not just because the show is awesome (it is SO awesome), but also because the epiphany came at a crucial moment in my life.  Lately, I have been giving some serious consideration to where I am in my life and whether or not I should be proud of what I have accomplished thus far, or rather be angry that I haven’t done everything that I thought I would have by now.

Do you remember those kids in high school that knew from infancy that they wanted to grow up to be a foot doctor or rainbow maker?  Well, I was not one of those kids.  (I had an inkling that I would love to be a writer, but that dream didn’t solidify until recently.)  I was the kid that even after a few semesters of college, enlisted in the Air Force, because I still didn’t know what I wanted to do when I grew up.

After doing that for a few years (about five), I separated from the Air Force, and moved to be with my husband in Italy. (I know, it was really tough.)  It took some time, but I finally was able to get a job in the Civil Service and have been doing that ever since.

Now, in this time we’ve also had the most gorgeous and smart little girl.  She’s amazing and I can’t figure my life at all without her.  (She keeps me on my toes and makes sure I earn my “mom-badge” daily.)

So, as I’m sitting there, not folding laundry, I’m thinking about my life and where I thought I would be when I reached the age I am, and I couldn’t help but feel a little…unsure.  I know of friends that I have (those dreaded perfectionists from high school) that knew their dreams and are now like famous in their chosen careers (probably have butlers to clean the rainbows they make in their spare time from solving world hunger), and it was hard not to think that maybe I could have tried harder.  Maybe things would be different today.

Well, then my daughter runs into the living room.  She crawls into my lap and gives me a big hug and tells me, “I love you, mommy.  You are so beautiful.”  (She must have heard me say this to her a million times, but I’ll take it.)  

I couldn’t help but smile into her big brown eyes and think, like Rachel, I’ve got some awesome magic beans!

I may not be the astronaut I thought I might be (I’m not really great at math), or the big-time lawyer I briefly imagined (seriously, they have to go to school for a LONG time!), but I have so much more than I thought I would.  I have a wonderful husband and daughter, a great job, and family and friends.  It doesn’t get much better. *smiles*

What about you?  Are you fulfilling all those dreams you had as a child?  Do you have some great magic beans?

Shower Thoughts

The other day I was in the shower and I couldn’t remember if I conditioned my hair or not because I had just been struck with a great wave of inspiration for my current work in progress. (WIP)  It was the oddest thing and I think I ended up conditioning my hair twice, but I just couldn’t be sure so off I went again.  

It got me thinking about the various places that inspiration has struck me over the years.  Once while I was driving back from a writer’s conference (yay DFW Writer’s Conference), I had all this positive energy going from the conference and all the great people I met while I was there, so half way home between Dallas and Wichita Falls, inspiration struck!  I had to immediately pull over so I could write everything down when I was thinking it because I didn’t want any of it to go away.  You know what I mean?  Going back to the shower incident, I finished my shower in record time, and even wrote some of my “notes” in the steam on the glass of my shower so I wouldn’t forget.

This is how I end up with spiral notebooks everywhere in my house.  Next to the pile of books that I always have, (must be because I’m afraid I’ll run out of new books to read), there is always a notebook of some sort with a pen or pencil, just in case I might need it for that swift moment of inspiration. (I’ve even taken to carrying a notebook and sticky notes in my purse.)

How about you?  What is the weirdest place that inspiration has struck for you?