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Centsible Money Basics, Issue #001 -- Finance Decisions
May 15, 2005
If you missed the introductions to the merge in our last issue please read the publishers' comments.

Welcome Note by Roger Sorensen

Did You Know?....

There are more than 7 million millionaires in the world.

80% of millionaires drive second-hand cars.

Featured Articles:
Considering a Car? by Cheryl Johnson
Filter Your Choices by Roger Sorensen


Beans and Lentils

Cutting back on meat consumption is a great way to save on groceries. Beans and lentils are a good lower cost protein to include in your diet. Find almost any kind of nutrition information you want at the USDA site,

While beans are a great source of lower cost protein, not everyone likes beans. It is sometimes especially hard to convince children to try them. Here's a great tasting recipe that has been a big hit with the entire family. Including the kids!

Lentil-Rice Casserole

3 cups chicken broth, or use water and 1 tablespoon vegetable seasoning
3/4 cup lentils, uncooked
1/2 cup brown rice, uncooked
3/4 cup chopped fresh onion
1/2 teaspoon sweet basil
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Blend all ingredients together in a casserole dish and bake 1 1/2 hours at 350 degrees. If desired top with shredded cheddar cheese during the last 20 minutes.(tightwad gazette)

Ham and Bean Casserole

A great way to use up leftover ham.
Serves 8

1 tbsp olive oil
1 large cooking onion, diced
2 tbsp minced garlic
2 cups diced, cooked ham
3 cups cooked white navy beans
2 cups diced, canned tomatoes*
1 cup grated Provolone or Cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp basil
1/4 tsp pepper

Topping: 1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs
1/4 cup Parmesan or Romano cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp olive oil

In a non-stick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium/high heat. Sauté onions and garlic until soft. Remove from heat. In a large bowl, combine the garlic/onion mixture with the ham, beans, tomatoes, cheese, basil and pepper. Spoon into a lightly greased 3 quart casserole dish.

Combine all topping ingredients and spoon evenly over casserole. Bake in a preheated 350o F oven for 30-40 minutes, or until topping is a lightly browned.

*For a spicier casserole, substitute Italian or Mexican stewed tomatoes.
(Contributed by: Ontario White Bean Producers)

Share Money Saving Tips, Recipes, and Frugal Living Ideas, Here

To be upset over what you don't have is to waste what you do have.- Anonymous

Money Saving Tips:

Cleaning Tip

  • To get rid of indentations in carpet caused by weight of furniture, place an ice cube in the dent, let it melt, allow to dry and then vacuum.
  • Wipe shower doors with white vinegar, leave on for 30 minutes, rinse clean, to remove hard-water deposits
  • Dusting the computer keyboard - use a soft brush (like a large cosmetic brush) Rub the bristles on your hand to create static electricity, this will attract dust. Keep all computer components covered when not in use to minimize dust.
  • Recycling

    From Artwork to Placemats? When old artwork displays (like the one on your refrigerator)are removed to make room for new art, use the old artwork to make placemats. Your children will love this recycling artwork idea. Simply purchase clear contact paper (available at craft stores, try looking in the scrapbook supply section), cover both sides of artwork and trim leaving about 1/4 inch all around. If you want to save special art pieces, this is a good way to preserve them as well.

    If you don't have kid's artwork (or even if you do) this is a great idea for calendar art that might be theme or color related to your dining decor!


    Considering a Car?

    By Cheryl Johnson

    As one of the "major purchases" in life, car buying is one to be carefully considered. Your first task will be to determine exactly what market you're going for.

  • New or Used?

    There are a lot of choices to consider when buying a car. Your choices will depend on your situation. Even the climate you live in can pay an important role in this decision.

    Important information about cars and fuel economy should always be considered. Guidelines for purchasing a car can be found at the Federal Information Center,, as well as a wealth of other money related issues. Check it out, you’ll be surprised at the valuable information you’ll find there.

    They even have a government site for kids at FirstGov For Kids. It’s kid friendly and contains everything from Arts to Transportation. Even has a careers page! Well, not to get off track but wanted to make sure check out all the great stuff there!

    Back on track……. You know my philosophy……. Informed Consumer - More Savings! So. Of course your first order of business is to RESEARCH!

    Always check several resources to get the best price and the best value.

  • Don't fall into the Keep up with the Joneses trap - "You are what you drive?" I don’t think so. What about that next door millionaire riding around in the weathered family car. They’re not wasting their money trying keep up with the Joneses!

    More than likely the $40,000 they wouldn’t spend on that nice fancy car is sitting in a profitable investment earning an income or interest. And I bet they’re not losing sleep over their huge outstanding debts!

    This should give you an idea how they got to be millionaires. Not by spending their money, but rather managing it first.

    A good financial plan that allows for proper upkeep and maintenance of your family car will payoff in the end. Cars that are maintained properly require less repair and last a lot longer. The next rule in purchasing an automobile is therefore….

  • Don’t buy a new automobile if you don’t really need it! -Well that’s simple enough, but sooner or later you’re bound to need one. One thing we know for sure. No matter how well you take care of the treasured family car, eventually you’ll need to replace it.

    Cars just don’t last forever! Or, you may want to pass a still usable car to a young newly licensed family member and invest in another for the main family car.

    This is always a great way to recycle automobiles and save money at the same time. Plus, it’ll make your young driver happy to have their own wheels.

    Or, maybe it won’t when they find out all the responsibilities that come with ownership. And I strongly encourage that you teach them and give them that responsibility right from the start.

    Teens who are responsible for their own automobile expenses, such as maintenance, repair, insurance, and gasoline are almost always more responsible drivers.

    They will develop pride in their ownership and responsibility and therefore a more caring attitude. Besides, it‘s a good way to teach yet another financial lesson.

  • Buying a used car? Know the Truth... Before You Buy! - Truth is, buying a used car can be risky. How do you know what you're getting? well, if you don't have an expert friend or family member, you may be able to use an online source (some will charge a small fee, but it may be worth it in the long run) to find out if the car has...

    • hidden accident damage?
    • false odometer readings?
    • been in a major car crash?
    • had a car theft report filed?
    • flood damage?
    • been labeled a lemon?

    Whatever you choose, be careful out there.
    It seems shopping for the family car can be just as hazardous as driving it!


    Cheryl Johnson is a mother of four helping herself and others become and remain debt free. Publisher of Simple Debt Free Living - A self-help plan, ideas, and resources for debt reduction, personal budgeting, frugal living, and extra income opportunities.

    Filter Your Choices

    By Roger Sorensen

    Having options and the ability to make choices can be exciting. Whether you are ordering a specialty coffee or selecting a college there are many different ways to have what we want done our way.

    Unfortunately, for many people all the choices become overwhelming when it is time to choose just one. That’s the reason why people go years without rebalancing their retirement portfolio, buying a holiday greeting card or eating at a restaurant where the menu isn’t already memorized.

    Having too many choices causes inaction.

    Humans freeze up when faced with what appears to be too much information requiring too much thinking. To make matters worse, when a decision is finally made we spend hours suffering from buyers remorse feeling dissatisfied what our choice.

    Here are five ways you can deal with choices in life and be sure you making the best decision for you. This process of dealing with choices is called “Filtering”.

  • Filter #1 - Know Your Objective.
    Understand what factors are important to you before attempting to make a decision. If you are shopping for auto insurance, you can help narrow the field by understanding that you are looking for a 12 month policy you can pay for in 12 payments from an A+ rated carrier.
  • Filter #2 – Use the Rule of Three
    The best basis for comparison occurs when you have no more than three things to compare. Trim your possible options to three by throwing out the worst options. Of the choices that made it through Filter #1, reject the ones that are not licensed in your state.
  • Filter #3 – Understand the Trade-Offs
    Say you want to buy a used car and it costs $5000, but you know that in three months the used cars will be reduced 20% for quick sale you can see the trade-off of waiting. By waiting you save $1000, but you lose the driving of the car for six months. If the money pales in comparison to the product, buy it. If you cannot decide what to do, wait a week and see if the money or the product has gained importance to you. If not, continue to Filter #4.
  • Filter #4 – What is the Cost of Waiting?
    Procrastination can be costly, especially in financial matters. Missing the open-enrollment of your company’s 401(k) plan could mean you walk away from hundreds of dollars your employer would have matched, resulting in thousands of dollars in lost compound interest over the next 30 years. Focus on what you lose by not making a decision and you might suddenly find it easier to pick between the three options you narrowed the field to earlier.
  • Filter #5 – Accept “Good Enough”
    Not every decision you make will be perfect. Content yourself with making most choices be “good enough” and move on to the next decision. Worrying about always making the perfect choice will result in buyer’s remorse and cause unhappiness with your life.<.li>

    Of course, sometimes you will need help in making decisions. For example, seeking the advice of qualified financial advisors can help you avoid making costly mistakes with your money.

    So go ahead, order a tall skim amoretto cappuccino instead of your usual grande whole latte. You just might decide it is good enough to enjoy.


    Roger Sorensen is a Financial Speaker and Author as well as webmaster of the website You can ask questions through the website, read articles he has written and join his newsletter Centsible Money Basics.

    Personal Finance Q & A

    ASK A QUESTION: You Won’t Know Until You Ask

    Do you have a question about money, finances, or the economy? Send Roger your financial questions and comments. All will be answered, a few will be published. Email to:Ask a Question

    Q. Roger,
    My friends at the gym have lately all been talking about their Investor Club. They have invited me to join, but I don’t know. Do you have any suggestions if this would be a good idea or not?

    A. Donna,
    Investor clubs have been around for many years now and some do great, a few do wonderful, most do okay, and the rest fail. There is really no way to know how any particular club will do when it first forms. I do have a few suggestions on how you can decide if this club might be one you would want to join or not.

    1. Does the club invest in markets you are interested in?
    2. Go online to and see it the club is a member of the national association. While being a member does not make for a better club, it shows their seriousness about investing.
    3. Attend a few meetings and give them a test drive. Ask members details about the services offered and the quality of their experience. If the members are all friends of yours, you might not hear any negative stuff so be aware of what is not said, too.
    4. Is the club a fan club for the founder? Avoid ones where the members are pressured to buy CDs, books, etc. from the founder and only the founder. Some selling is okay because that’s what helps clubs stay afloat, but be comfortable with what you see during your test drive.
    5. Are the dues less than $250 a year – if not, are you getting your monies worth?
    6. The speakers should be mostly local experts knowledgeable of the markets you want to invest in.

    Q. Roger,
    I’m 22 and have been working for this company for 2 years, since I received my Associates degree. I’m making good money, but my friends say I should get my Bachelors degree and make more. What do you think?

    I don’t know your situation, where you work, how much you make, what your plans and dreams are, so I can not possibly be specific with the answer. If you want to, send me another email with more information and I can help you decide what you want to do. Consider me to be a Financial Guidance Counselor. In the short of it, if you like your work and you are content with your income, stay where you are. You are young and have time to do other things later. People go back to school when they are 55, so tell your friends “maybe later”.


    Have you been to the newly refabricated website

    Go there now. You’ll find articles by Roger Sorensen, personal finance software, newsletter archives and lots more at


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