Show Me The Money 2

Good evening, Dear Reader. And it is…a good evening, right? You slept in a bed under a roof. You could have had breakfast, or maybe you actually did. You put on clean clothes – maybe. You picked up your phone or logged into some device to read this. In other words, you had choices, and that’s my point. If you have a job that pays (in the U.S.A.) $17+ an hour, you are making a living wage. If you have a running vehicle, a place to live, and food in your belly, you have more than 80% of the 7+Billion people on the planet. Stop being such a sourpuss.

We are continuing our Things To Let Go Of series, kicking off the new year with Bad Money Habits. If you want to go back to the beginning, click here. We started off with hitting on debt reduction and honestly, to recap, reducing debt (in theory) is simple. Reduce expenses, increase revenue. Don’t accumulate any more debt until you comfortably can pay for it. I say it is simple in theory because it really is nothing more than basic math. But, most of us got into debt or can’t save effectively because of our thoughts, feelings, and experiences surrounding money in the first place. I don’t have time to address that today – the entire first part of my blogging back in 2011-2015 was about getting out of the consumer mindset. You can go back to those, or really…watch this documentary and start reading my favorite blogger, Joshua Becker from start to present. I, literally, can not thank this man enough for getting me on my road to rational minimalism.

Managing money is easy. Managing our emotions about money is…well…a bit more complicated.

But. As promised…I’m moving into my ‘how to’ guide for raising your credit score. Grab a drink and settle in. I’m going to tell you how I raised mine from 480 to 720 in a little over 2 years.

  1. Get your reports. You are entitled to one free credit report from all three agencies one time a year. To monitor for identity theft or weird things on my credit, I don’t get all three of mine at once. I order TransUnion in January, Experian in April, and Equifax in November. That way, if something odd happens to appear, I’m not waiting an entire year to find out. I also subscribe to Credit Karma (and I look at that thing once a day, sometimes two because I’m a bit retentive.) Go on…put it on your calendar with a yearly reminder. Then mosey on over to this site and get your free report. Once you have your report, you’ll be able to list all your debt and decide what debt storm to use as I mentioned here to pay it off. You will also look for things that do not belong to you. I found a collection from Go Daddy on mine and I was able to dispute it (you can easily do this yourself, do not pay someone to do it for you) and start working with your creditors to move payment dates or to lower your interest. I recommend checking out this site for more detailed information.
  2. On-time, every time. I mentioned this in my last post, but I can not stress this enough. Late payments are a detriment to your score. A late payment on your mortgage can put a ding there that leaves quite a scar for a bit. If your payments fall in odd places (like three payments due on the 13th, but you don’t get paid until the 15th), then call your creditors and ask them if they will move your payment to another day (like the 16th, in this example). Some of them will. If they won’t, then sell a bunch of crap you no longer need or get a second job and put a month’s worth of living expenses into your account so, essentially, you are ‘ahead’ in the math game.
  3. Join a credit union with a ‘credit builder’ program. If you are local to SW Missouri (417-Land) I recommend this one or this one. Why a credit union (CU)? CUs are nonprofit organizations and many of them have financial literacy (financial wellness) programs to help people restore their credit. If yours does, then get on a first-name basis with the person in charge of that program. Use every resource and every piece of advice they give you. I mean, I like Dave Ramsey – I’ve seen him live and I agree with a lot of his methods – but I don’t idolize him. And I don’t follow 80% of his advice. So, if you drink his kool-aid…then you’re not gonna like the rest of what I’m going to tell you. 
  4. Get a ‘Secured Credit Card’ (SCC). Remember my ’emergency fund’ I mentioned last time? I took my emergency fund and applied for an SCC with it. An SCC is just that…secured. This means you have to give them YOUR money to ‘secure’ that card. I don’t have space to explain it, but you can read about it here. So. I got my SCC with my $1500 and it DOES function as my emergency fund 99.9% of the time. The other part of the time? I use it wisely to play a game. I use it to buy gas and pay for anything I buy online. NOW…I don’t buy things I don’t already have the money for – I just use the SCC because it is more secure for online purchases than using a debit card. Anything I would normally buy anyway (Netflix, gas, Spotify, toilet paper, dishsoap) is set up to be ‘charged’ on my card. Then I…
  5. Play the game. I pay for some of the expenses that hit every week. So, if my Netflix ($12) and Spotify ($10) hit my SCC on Tuesday, and I buy TP and Dawn at Walmart.com, I pay those charges on Friday so a payment is hitting my card every single week (Newsflash: You can pay your credit card bills more than once a month). Now…here’s where the game comes into play. Find out when your actual payment is due (Let’s say it’s due on the 20th), figure out what 30% of your credit limit is (Let’s say it is $300), and find out when the Credit Union is going to report to the credit agencies (Let’s say they report on the 24th). Armed with this information…make the MINIMUM payment due on or right before the due date (In our scenario – the 20th). Make sure you have JUST UNDER the 30% left on the day they report to the credit agency (I’ll usually pay my Verizon bill on the 21st and get gas so that I’m right under BUT NOT OVER that 30% of credit limit threshold). Then, on the first of the month, I pay the balance in full and start the clock for the next month. That seems complicated now that I type it out, so I recommend the video on this page.
  6. Diversify your debt. You’re about to see why I go off the rails when it comes to Dave Ramsey’s advice. I use debt and credit to my advantage and I use it wisely. I do not subscribe to the ‘have no debt’ and we may not agree here. You do you. But, back to my point on diversified debt. You’ll need an installment loan (i.e. Car loan, student loans, etc.), a revolving credit line (I have my SCC, a store card, and a credit card for a home improvement store – which comes in handy when remodeling), and finally, a mortgage loan THAT YOU CAN AFFORD. I know my credit score will most likely not increase much more than where it is now until I add a mortgage to my list of creditors. I am okay with this. A note if you are renting: See if you can talk your rental agency/landlord into using a service that reports to the credit bureaus. (Word of caution: Now you’ll be on the hook to pay rent on time so DO THAT!). Lastly, Experian will do a ‘boost’ a few times a year and bring in things like your cell phone company and some utility agencies. I share a home with a relative. The mortgage loan is in her name, but my name is on all the other expenses (Cable, utilities, etc.). I use the Experian boost (It’s free!) once a year. This is only effective if you pay those bills on time. You don’t want bad stuff hitting your credit reports.

    So yeah. That’s it really. I think I mentioned that I am working on getting my student loan debt down to 50% of what is owed over the next ten years. Why just 50%? Because I’ve worked with my loan company to get on a specific repayment plan that allows for student loan forgiveness after on-time payments over so many years. To be transparent, I wouldn’t be mad if Biden and his administration got their shit together to forgive student loan debt BUT I do understand that I made the decision to go to school and I made the decision to take on debt related to that endeavor. I own all of that responsibility. But, since most of what would be left would be interest anyway so I can sleep at night knowing I paid what I borrowed. In other words…I don’t feel guilty about using the tools at my disposal when it comes to paying down that debt.

    Notice we still haven’t talked about budgets. We’ll do that next time. Want a head start? Okay, then. Stop buying shit you don’t need and start paying for the shit you already bought. That doesn’t seem too hard to understand, but then again, I’m an INTJ so I can be a bit abbrasive. You want someone nicer to hold your hand through all of that? Then go on down to that Credit Union. They’ll even give you a lolipop. Ain’t that sweet?


    That’s all I’ve got today. I don’t even have a really good song that ties into this post at all, so how about I just leave you with this one: Wind & SkyBrandon Moore is a local singer/songwriter in my hometown and just a f*cking good human. You can’t help but smile in his presence. Wind & Sky is one of my absolute favorite songs on the planet. I want it played on loop at my funeral, I like it that much. You’re welcome.

The Pluviophile in Me

You’re wondering what a “Pluviophile” is, aren’t you? No worries. It’s not bad. A pluviophile (n) is a lover of rain; someone who finds joy and peace of mind during rainy days. And that’s not just a random opening sentence for this post. It’s part of the subject matter. Let’s carry on, shall we?

But, Dear Reader. before we get started, I just have to say: I don’t know which one of you sent this freezing cold weather down my way, but you can take it back now. Two days of temps in the low 20s is enough. I can’t get my steps in and that’s wreaking havoc on my HSA bonus money. So. Enough already.

I’ve been thinking about you a lot these days. You’ve been writing in and telling me I’m making a difference. I’m meeting new people who are saying “Hey – you’re that blogger! I love your blog!” and I’ve been pleased to see you are clicking the links I provide – even if my taste in music isn’t all that great! I reached over 12K visits on this site last week and while I may not be as popular as some, I am grateful that you are here with me. I’m a quality over quantity kind of gal anyway, so thank you. Thank you for being here with me on this journey.

As I stated a few posts back, my journey started in 2011 when I made my first post. The process all started when I read a blog by Josh Becker and then started following the likes of Courtney Carver and Adam Baker. And, for Heaven’s sake, let’s not forget Joshua, Ryan and Leo. In 2015 I took a break from writing. To be honest, my life was falling apart and I just didn’t feel like being chipper, if you know what I mean. I felt I didn’t have anything to offer you anyway since I was such a shitshow and therefore, I “disappeared”.

Me, launching my blog in 2011

I reemerged in 2020 as the shitstorm was beginning to dissipate. I found my focus on simplicity to be a bit different than before, though. Life’s experiences had given me several “opportunities” to let go – sometimes with the kicking of legs and gnashing of teeth. While my life was still about keeping material possessions at a minimum, I’d come out of my cocoon with ideas about how to release mental and emotional clutter (which I think adds to the ‘physical’ clutter) and I wanted to share that story.

As I looked over the posts of the last twelve months, I noticed some themes. First, I noticed there was really no theme at all. HA! I just wrote to clear my head. My ‘creepy online diary’ was a saving grace through so many life events – breakups, reunions, more breakups, death of beloved friends, job changes. I also noticed statistical trends (that’s the data analyst in me) and paid attention to the posts that received the most likes, shares, etc. Even when I deleted my personal Facebook account, the numbers grew – proving that the Universe and my friends were on board with what I was doing.

Today’s post isn’t so much about what I have to share, but more about what you can expect from me in 2022. Don’t worry – I’ll still be your foul-mouthed little friend from small-town Missouri, but I think I’ll be less bitter about it. I recently connected with someone from my past and he’s helped me to realize that small-town life isn’t so bad and the collective experiences of both our lives led us to this very moment – which frankly, is quite delightful. Last night I was surrounded by a few of my very favorite humans, talking smack and tasting bourbon…and I was so completely overwhelmed by how loved I felt in that moment that I broke down in tears when I was finally back at home alone. I can’t believe I have come this far in such a relatively short amount of time, but as I’ve said before…I’ve got grit. The last month has given me a huge sense of pride when I think of all I’ve survived the last five years – even when I felt I couldn’t face another day – because I get to stand in the moments now with people who truly love and support me. And while I love the rain…I am so very grateful I made it through the storm.

So, to bring this all around, I just want to tell you what you can expect from me – mostly so you can hold me accountable but also so you can plan ahead. There may be a random post here and there when my brain won’t shut off and those might be completely unrelated to the monthly theme – but we, together, are going to cover (in no particular order…)

Ten Things To Let Go Of In 2022

  1. The Illusion of Control
  2. Fear Of The Future
  3. The Need For “More”
  4. “Clutter” In All Forms
  5. Guilt About Letting Go
  6. “Frogs” You Haven’t Eaten
  7. Bad Money Habits
  8. Toxic Relationships
  9. Saying “Yes” To Everything
  10. Last Year’s Goals

I’m doing this so that I can be more organized with my thoughts and posts but also because I really, really, really (too many reallys?) want to work on my novel. Maybe with a little organization and planning for this blog, I can do just that.

So, before we launch into all of this, can I ask you to do me a few favors, please? I have some assignments for you. Grab a drink. Settle in. Let’s get to work.

Assignment 1: Define “F*ck Budget”. We are going to be spending a lot of time talking about our F*ck Budget this year. A F*ck Budget includes anything that requires your time, money, or energy. Please take 15 minutes of your week and watch this TedTalk so that you understand where I’m coming from when I mention your “F*ck Budget”. It’s important.

Assignment 2: Make A Vision Board. Back in August, I started working with a Life Coach and my first assignment was to make a list of all the important things I wanted for my life. That became a ‘Wish List’ and then grew into a vision board. If you don’t know how to create a vision board – or even what that is – here’s a link that explains it. To be clear – it does not have to be fancy or overwhelming. Mine isn’t.

Assignment 3: Watch “I’m Fine, Thanks!” – This is a short one-hour documentary that I watch EVERY YEAR in January. I got a sneak peek during its launch phase in 2011 when I donated to their Kickstarter campaign. Now, it’s on Amazon Prime, YouTube TV, and possibly Apple iTunes. A quick little search located free versions on PlutoTV and Tubi. It may be on other platforms, so if you can find it – please watch it. It will help set the pace for us as we enter this year.

Assignment 4: Send me your ideas. You can put them in the comments below, or post them on my FB page. What do you want to let go of in 2022? Material stuff? Anger? Scarcity mentality? What? I’m all ‘ears’ and I’m here to help. (I’m not a therapist – I’m just a blogger – but I feel like this blog has turned into a place where we can all open up and be real with each other.) Aren’t you tired of the bullshit life has convinced you to put up with? I know I am.

And I feel like I owe you a special THANKS. As much as I loathe social media, y’all are doing a fantastic job getting the word out for me. I really appreciate it and please feel free to continue doing it. Share my posts unabashedly!

As always, I’m leaving you with a song. It’s old and cheesy, and you’re welcome. Have a great week, Dear Reader. I’ll see you over the weekend.