Thursday, June 24, 2010

Home Basics: Getting out of Debt!

It is easy to pretend all is well when money is rolling in. However, the less than stellar economy has revealed that most Americans are living well beyond their means. Highly leveraged individuals are finding it hard to make ends meet. Now is the perfect time to start paying down debt.

Now, I am not talking about paying minimum balances. We all know that approach does not work at actually getting rid of debt. My tried and true approach is the snowball method, a term coined by personal finance guru Dave Ramsey. I did not create this method however I can say it works!

Here’s what you do:

· List all of your loans/credit cards along with their respective balances and interest rates (full disclosure is key!);

· Arrange them from highest to lowest interest rate;

· Start making payments as much above the minimum as you can afford on the highest interest rate loan/card while still paying the minimum on all other debt;

· Once that loan/card is paid off, use the money that was going towards that payment and ADD it to the minimum payment you were making on the card/loan with the next highest interest rate;

· Continue until all debt is paid off;

· Stay out of debt!

Some recommend paying off the debt with the lowest balance first regardless of its interest rate just to get a sense of accomplishment. That, of course, is your personal choice. You may have to make some sacrifices, create another stream of income, and/or live well below your means (which we should all do anyway) until you are debt free. But it will be so worth it!

Here are some handy calculators to help figure out how long it will take to get out of debt:’s credit card payoff calculator

CNN's debt planner's snowball payment calculator

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Swimming Regimen

This summer, my daughter is on a swim team. So in addition to our frequent trips to the beach, she spends at least 3 hours a week (more on competition weeks) in highly chlorinated water. Both the chlorine and the intense sun can be very drying to hair. Fortunately, there are a variety of resources online to help create a swimming haircare regimen. Some of the ones I used are:

I was able to create a fairly simple routine for my daughter’s hair and so far it seems to be working. Her hair still retains moisture and is in good condition. Before she swims, I put her hair into two cornrows. I use a lot of conditioner as I braid it. Right before she gets in the water, I give it a generous spray of Kylie’s pre-swim conditioner. She also wears a swim cap most of the time which keeps a lot of water out.

After swimming, she rinses her hair and co-washes with Aubrey’s Organics swimmers conditioner. I make sure to deep condition her hair within 24 hours and re-braid or twist (with leave-in conditioner, some type of butter, and a sealant) until the next swimming session. So far, so good.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Home Basics: How Do You Keep Track of Household Finances?

As a a carefree, single person I did not track my finances closely even though I should have. I had a good paying job and only a few bills and no problems paying them. However, once I got married I realized that the merging of my husband's and my student loans, scholarships, and work study money (we were both in post graduate programs) needed to be monitored. And now that we have re-entered the workforce we still watch our dollars.

We have evolved from a basic Excel spreadsheet to Quicken to Mac Moneydance and back to Excel again. One of my closest friends swears by the Home Budget app to sync her and her spouse's finances.

What works for you?