Cookies, A Robbery, and Wings: The Life Of A Mystery Shopper

The concept of mystery shopping has been around for awhile. Mystery shoppers go into stores, posing as real customers, and then write up an evaluation of their experience in exchange for a small payment. I started mystery shopping a few years ago primarily as a way to earn a little extra cash. But over time, it has grown to be much more than that. Did you know that mystery shopping can be used to accomplish tasks you wouldn’t have normally? Did you know mystery shopping can help improve your marriage? Did you know it can even add some excitement to […] Read more »

I Love You Like A Blogger Roundup – 4/4

Last Friday was a very exciting milestone for my wife and I.  We made our 45th payment to our Debt Management Program, but more importantly according to the tracker tool we have 12 payments left.  Which means a year from now we will be DONE with our DMP, and will have paid off $109,000 of credit card debt.  As I thought about that, I teared up a little.  Look, I’m a glass half full, optimistic, find the silver lining in everything kind of guy.  When I look back at the last 45 months, I think about all  the changes Vonnie […] Read more »

Cable TV Is Cheap Entertainment

Our cable company has been advertising new packages and lower prices, so this weekend Vonnie and I stopped into the nearby office to investigate our options, and see if we could lower our bill. Thirty minutes later we walked out the door having been upgraded to their new gold package that includes 4 DVRs, almost every channel they have, and a broadband speed double what we had previously. AND a lower bill. Driving home with the new DVRs in the trunk, I thought about our decision and wondered if we had made the right choice.  The TV portion of our […] Read more »

I Love You Like a Blogger Roundup – 3/29

The kids are on spring break from now until April 8th.  Anyone want to start a pool as to how long it will take before the first “I’m BORED” is said?  I personally am excited for this weekend because there is a Minnesota personal finance blogger meetup (FinconMN) tomorrow in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.   We bloggers have an interesting work environment as we don’t get many opportunities to talk in person to other bloggers, so I’m really looking forward to it! Enough about my weekend, you came here for links, and I’m a giver so here you go: Posts That […] Read more »

Beer, Friends, and Losing Control of your Spending

My last few Monday posts have been a bit heavy and serious, so today I thought I’d talk about something a little lighter: Beer and Movies. Well, to be completely accurate, it’s more about my weekend spending relating to beer and movies. My house is a convenient central meeting point for my brother-in-law and his two best friends from high school. A couple of times a year they meet at my house, go out, and have a great time together. I’m always invited to come with. The first few times I felt a bit out of place, but I know […] Read more »

I Love You Like a Blogger Roundup – 3/22

It’s March Madness time!  Yeah, I’m not much of a college basketball fan.  I know the Minnesota Gophers made the tournament, so I might briefly be interested in seeing how they do.  If you’re not interested in basketball, you could always checkout my favorite posts from the week,  or just read them during halftime. Posts That Make Me Fist Pump: Are You Paralyzed With Fear Because You’re in Debt? from Celebrating Financial Freedom Message Monday: The Entitlement Donut from Money Plan SOS How People REALLY Get Rich (Versus How We Think They Do) from American Debt Project You Saved $128 […] Read more »

Personal Responsibility and Debt Relief Are Not Dirty Words

Last week my story to pay off credit card debt was shared in a post on Business Insider, and subsequently picked up by Yahoo Finance.  I really appreciated the opportunity, and I think the article turned out great. There were many positive comments on both posts stating support for our journey, and for what we have learned and accomplished. There were also a fair number of comments questioning how we could have ever let things get so far out of control to accumulate such a massive amount of credit card debt as well as wondering what effects our debt has […] Read more »

I Love You Like a Blogger Roundup – 3/15

After a couple of weekends away from home I’m glad to have absolutely nothing going on this weekend.   The agenda for this weekend is relax, relax, relax – oh, and do my taxes. Yuk.  I’ve been procrastinating, because I know I’m going to have to pay in.  If you’re procrastinating too, check out the articles below – that’ll blow through an hour easy! Posts That Make Me Fist Pump: Financial Thoughts and Personal Reflections at Age 35 from On Target Coach The Art of Communication About Money from CareOne Debt Relief Services Paying Down Debt is Boring from Couple Money […] Read more »

I Don’t Want To Be A Deadbeat Geezer

Over the weekend my mom had major back surgery to correct her scoliosis. The surgery involved attaching metal rods to her spine to straighten it, and “rouging up” the vertebrae which would cause them to fuse together as she heals. My mom has a long road ahead of her as the estimated recovery time is at least a year. But the result should be a better quality of life than what she had, and definitely better than what her life would have become as her scoliosis continued to get worse. The nine hour surgery gave my dad and I the […] Read more »

I Love You Like a Blogger Roundup – 3/7

This week I celebrated my 3 year blogoversity.   On March 3rd, 2010, my very first blog post went live in the CareOne Community.  I can’t believe I’ve been writing about my family’s journey out of debt for three years!   I was off work yesterday afternoon and today to be with my parents in Minneapolis as my mom is having back surgery to correct severe curvature of the spine.    If you wouldn’t mind, send some positive thoughts this way for a speedy recovery.  I don’t know why this is the case, but every time I need to take some […] Read more »

Credit Cards Should Have A Warning Label for People Like Me

I could tell by the writing on the envelope resting on top of the stack of the day’s mail that it was the settlement check I had been waiting for. I am included in a class action lawsuit against Chase in which they are accused of pulling a “bait and switch” by offering customers a fixed, low interest rate to lure new customers to transfer balances and then later jacking up the minimum payment policy. This happened back in 2009, and resulted in my inability to meet my monthly financial commitments. It was also the driving factor that caused my […] Read more »

I Love You Like a Blogger Roundup – 3/1

I got an email from my daughter’s teacher telling me that Tori had a part in her Elementary School Assembly yesterday.  So Vonnie and I showed up to watch our daughter help teach her schoolmates about integrity.  What we didn’t know was that she was one of two people voted by her class as a person of integrity and would be receiving an award during the assembly. So. Proud. Of. Her. Another person that I’m extremely impressed with, and very fortunate to have met in person at last year’s Financial Blogger’s Conference, is Cait from Blonde on a Budget.  She’s […] Read more »

My Secret Weapon In the Fight Against Grocery Overspending

“Ha, I did it again!” I exclaimed to myself. My total was illuminated on the screen of the grocery store checkout register: $110.57.  It was the third week in a row that I was within just a few dollars of my estimate, and right on budget for the week’s groceries.  I had certainly done all of the pre-shopping steps to ensure success at the grocery store. I meal planned for the week, made a list of the items I was going to buy, and yes I had even estimated the prices of all the items.   Unfortunately, I’ve followed these […] Read more »

I Love You Like a Blogger Roundup – 2/22

You’ll have to forgive me, I’m a bit cranky at the moment. If you haven’t heard, winter storm Q is making its way through the Midwest (I have a brother-in-law in Omaha, Nebraska that is supposed to get up to 18 inches of snow!)  I woke up this morning to find 5 inches new snow on the ground, with a couple more yet to come.  Given the weather, I didn’t make my usual trip to the gym this morning.  Not because I didn’t want to drive around in the snow, but because I knew that at 5:30am the school district […] Read more »