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Archive for October, 2007

holiday plans....??

October 29th, 2007 at 09:07 pm

I have friends who have everything. There is nothing that I could uy for them that they canít or havenít already have bought for themselves. A few years ago during coffee with a friend I mentioned how hard it was to come up with a list of things I want for Christmas for my family because I can buy what I need and wants I save for. We chatted about this for a while and later I suggested that we forgo gifts and make a donation some place. We chose Heifer International because we wanted to see it go someplace and know what it was used for. Now our huge circle of friends all participate.

We pool our money and every year we buy a series of things from Heifer international. I get the little card in the mail (we all contribute by thanksgiving) and then send it out in the Christmas cards in a beautiful little frame thing (that costs about 8 cents in bulk) that way we have something to remember and look at throughout the year. I put mine on the fridge with a magnet. At the Christmas party we throw each year we talk about the donation and toast to a good year for the families that received the animals.

My dream is one day to be able for us to purchase the ark gift set which is 5k and goes to 12 places nationally and internationally. I love doing this each year. I just got the latest catalog and we are selecting what to do this year. My niece saw it and now she wants to put some money in too. I told her any money she adds into the kitty I will match. Darn if she didnít put all the money she made babysitting Saturday night ($30) into the pot so now I have to put another $30 in too. I am very proud of her and wanting to help!

We are busy planning our cookie decorating contest, our carling party and of course the visit from Santa Klaus in early December.

What kinds of traditions does your family celebrate?

Remembering childhood

October 6th, 2007 at 08:33 pm

Iíve been thinking a lot the past couple weeks (since I realized how quickly I can pull myself out of consumer debt) how I got here in the first place (and how much interest I will have paid at the end).

I am not sure how much I have shared about how it was when I was growing up but my mom was a single parent raising four kids on $600 a month child support in California from 1975. We are all grown and on our own now but when I was growing up it was really rough. We never had any money to do anything except maybe a matinee movie. I remember walking to the Newsstand and picking up a candy for ten cents to take into the movie because we could not afford to purchase an candy at the theater across the street.

My mom went back to work (at minimum wage $3.35 per hour) when I was nine. It is amazing to me that I thought we were getting rich with an extra $350 or so a month (after taxes). All of a sudden we could afford clothes from Mervyns and Kmart.

I think I got myself in to so much debt because growing up there was nothing new. I had hand me downs until I was 16. When you have three sisters everything is kept and passed along to someone else. I actually remember getting my first new coat when I was 12 that was not a hand me down. I kept that coat until I was 24 (through college!) and even then I did not want to part with it. I remember my second new coat I received at Christmas when I was 18. I just pulled it out of the winter boxes today and washed it. Monday Iíll take it and have it sprayed for weather proofing for the winter.

Every year at Christmas my mom would sit us down and say something like Santa has had a hard year and has many kids around the world to take care of so it might be a small Christmas and every year it was an amazing holiday. Mom worked at a church and everyone knew she had four kids and it seemed we were always getting a food basket with goodies or presents or something. And there were the years when we needed a new roof that money came in the mail. Cash, no note or anything but it helped tremendously to fix the leaking roof that was slowly devouring the wall between the dining room and the garage.

I remember Bob and his wife Mary, a retired couple from church, who loved me like a granddaughter. They would watch me crawl around the church at daily mass when I was a year old. When I was older Bob would slip money into my hand and tell me to do something nice for my mom. It was usually a 10 or maybe a twenty but occassionally it was a fifty or hundred dollar bill. Thinking back those usually came toward the end of the month. Growing up that little amount of money passed along to my mom (never kept) would mean that we had something other than hot dogs and macaroni toward the end of the month or my mom had gas for the car. Sometime after I turned 18 when I would return from college, the money became a ďput this toward a school expenseĒ gift. I would be ashamed to show them how I am living now, being so much in debt after all they did for us.

I have always dreamed about having a "slush fund" for sending some money to people who really need it. Like when I read an article in the news paper about a local family burnt out of their home, etc. I know American Red Cross will help for 3 days maybe 4 but how nice would it be to pay for something they need: groceries, a motel room, clothes and toys for the kids.

Question for the readers: What are the financial memories you carry with you from childhood and how do they affect you now?