Back to Back Issues Page
Cheryl's Sensible Cents - 1/01/2006 How does your finance picture look?
January 01, 2006

Happy New Year!

Welcome to the first 2006 edition of Cheryl's Sensible Cents

Did You Know
Does your New Year’s resolution include an exercise program? If so, you could be joining more than 79 million Americans who take a brisk walk – the nation’s No. 1 sports activity – to keep in shape, according to the 125th edition of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2006 issued today.

What's New?

Frugal Shopping Tips

Featured Articles:

How Does Your Financial Picture Look? - A simple way to get a glimpse of how your financial picture looks - by Cheryl Johnson
Three Financial Resolutions You Can't Afford Not to Make This Year. And how to actually keep them! - by Steven B. Smith

Featured Sponsor

How to Own Your PayCheck Again


My Favorite Fudge
Jamaican Rice and Peas

My Favorite Fudge Recipe

I tried several fudge recipes during the holidays and this one won the easiest and best tasting test!

Dark Chocolate Fudge

3 Cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 to 1 cup chopped nuts
1 & 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1. Melt chips with sweetened condensed milk and salt over low heat, in a heavy saucepan. remove from heat and stir in nuts and vanilla. Spread evenly into a wax paper lined 9 inch square pan. Chill until firm. Turn onto cutting board and cut into small squares.

Jamaican Rice and Peas

Serves 4-6
2 cups Rice
2 cans (16 oz) Black Eye Peas
4 Cups Coconut Milk
2 sliced chili peppers
1 clove garlic, minced
2 scallions sliced
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

To Prepare:

Mix all ingredients, except beans, in a big pot.
Bring to a boil and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Add the black eye peas and stir.
Simmer for 2-3 minutes until liquid is blended and peas are tender.

You can find other great rice or rice and pea recipes in our Rice and Pea Recipe section.

Get a f.ree, no-obligation evaluation from a consumer recommended company, CuraDebt. CuraDebt is a proud member of the BBB and Chamber of Commerce. Get a Custom D.ebt Reduction Plan from CuraDebt.
Send us Your Recipes

Need ideas for dinner?

Frugal Recipes

Get a lifetime membership to the cookbook library for less than the cost of a single cookbook. Download entire cookbooks. You must check this one out. You'll want one for yourself and one as a gift for that sp.ecial cook in your life.

Check out the E-Cookbooks Library and sample the many free recipe downloads. The cooks in your family will love the recipes in the E-Cookbooks Library

Country Cooking Recipes

Download your copy of the Creative Homemaking What's for Dinner? cookbook for only $7.99 (almost 350 recipes) and start using it today. You'll love all the new family-friendly dinner ideas.

Don't limit yourself. Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go as far as your mind lets you. What you believe, remember, you can achieve. - Mary Kay Ash

Share Money Saving Tips, Recipes, and Frugal Living Ideas.
Send in Your Readers Tips

Money Saving Tips

  • Use the microwave whenever possible. It uses 85% less energy than cooking on a gas or electric range. - Tiptionary by Mary Hunt
  • Eliminate bank fees on saving with no minimum amount and one of the highest interest rates available. ING DIRECT -High Yield Savings with 3.75% annual percentage yield!
  • Recycling

  • Holiday Items
    Save your gift bags and gift boxes from this past holiday to use for this year's gifts.

    If you don't save your holiday greeting cards for sentimental reasons, save them to recycle in holiday crafts, as gift tags, etc (as suggested in our last issue) for this year.

  • File Folders
    Punch holes to fit school binder or notebook and use as subject dividers
  • Old Baby Cloths
    Make a memory quilt using baby's old cloths and small blankets. Don't know how to make a quilt? The Beginners Guide to Quilting is a step-by- step guide shows you exactly what to do with clear, easy to understand instructions. In addition, full-color photographs illustrate each step along the way.
  • Cleaning and Laundry Tips

  • Mildew StainsTo remove mold or mildew stains from most white fabrics, soak for an hour or so in a solution of 1 tablespoon vinegar, 1/2 cup liquid bleach, and 2 quarts hot water. Wash and dry as usual.
  • Under bed duster Wrap an unwanted old t-shirt around broom bristles. Tie or rubberband to neck of broom. Pass under bed to dust under the bed


    How Does Your Financial Picture Look?

    I've made it through the holidays without creating any more credit card debt. How about you? To be honest, it is a very difficult task. It took me more than one holiday to master the challenge. So, if you didn't make it this holiday season, make a plan to help you master the challenge of a debt free holiday in 2006.

    I've been pondering about the question of New Year's resolutions and how I could encourage those of you who haven't already, to make 2006 the year you take control of your finances. I can't think of anything that hasn't already been said. If the alarming increase in consumer credit card debt and bankruptcies, and the decrease in individuals who are actually "saving" over the past few years, hasn't convinced you that there is a problem, then what can I possible say that would matter? Sometimes you just have to work yourself into a corner to see that the walls are closing in on you. Then you have no choice but to change.

    What I can say is, there is no better time than the beginning of a new year to evaluate your finances and start a new budget. Whether you're disciplined enough to do-it-yourself and create your own budget or need the professional format, guidance, and support of a successful budgeting program, you should start your new budget now. If you have a budget already and still can't seem to live within your income, try some tips to reduce expenses. Sometimes looking at your finances on a smaller scale, as in the example below, can help you see a truer picture of finances.

    So, instead of me trying to convince you that budgeting and debt managment is necessary, maybe you can convince yourself by reviewing the following calculations. Whatever else you commit to this year, please include a plan to become d.ebt free.

    If the whole ideal of a monthly budget just seems overwhelming to you then maybe you need to start on a smaller scale at first. For some people it's just easier to live paycheck to paycheck because that's what they've been doing for so long. If this is you then maybe a weekly budgeting strategy will work best for you. It's a simple approach to start you getting used to budgeting and living within your income. It can also provide a basic financial picture and be very enlightening.

    Follow these simple steps:

    • 1. Make a list of all your monthly bills. (i.e. electric, gas, cable, phones, mortgage, car payment, total monthly debt payment, insurances (if paid monthly).) Add them all up and then divide by four to get a weekly cost figure for these monthly bills.
    • 2. Figure what any "essential" variable expenses cost you per week (i.e. doctor's co pays, medicine, insurances (if not paid monthly), property taxes, job expenses, etc.) This is any expense that is essential and is not paid on a regular monthly cycle. However, I did not include the **grocery expense in the calculation for a reason.

      Figure your total expense for the year for these categories and then divide by 52 to get a weekly cost figure.

    • 3. Record your weekly "net income." This is the amount of money that you actually take home with you after taxes and other deductions.
    • 4. Add the weekly figure for #1 and #2 together. This is the amount of your income that you must set aside each week to meet the demands of your monthly bills.
    • 5. Subtract the result of # 4 from your net income from # 3. This is the amount of money you have left for **food and other expenses.

    Note: If you are paid bi-weekly or bi-monthly you can do your calculations based on those time periods instead of weekly. The idea is to come up with a figure to be set aside each paycheck. You may have to adjust to suit your pay cycle.

    **Your Grocery Expenses: I did not include food in the "essential" living expense calculation because, food costs are so flexible. It is the most flexible category in the budget and generally, if you know you have a limit on how much is available to spend (that is what is left after your bills are paid) it is easier to control grocery spending by using grocery savings tips and strategies. This is an area where many of us over spend. You can include it if you have a reasonable idea how much you actually need to spend on groceries.

    If nothing else, the above calculations will give you a clearer picture of how your expenses compare to your income. Are you living beyond your income? If that is the case, then you can see that it is time to take control of your money and get your finances in order. If you do not have enough income to meet the demands of your expenses in the above calculation then you need to make some changes. This could be why your debt is increasing at an alarming rate. When you start to use credit for living expenses, you are on the path to financial disaster. There's no wrong time to take control of your finances but, no better time then right now!

    Don't forget, this simple paycheck to paycheck budget does not include every expense you may encounter. It is a basic foundation to get you started. When you get this basic concept conquered, then you can move on to including other expenses that you know will occur such as auto or home repairs, clothing, etc. Need help getting your d/ebt under control? D.ebt doesn't have to control your life! Maybe a cre.dit counselor can help. Choosing a cre.dit counselor who offers Care One Cre.dit service is a good start.

    Are you the type of person who has little self discipline? Do you need a professional budgeting service that works using real time mo.ney management to get control of your finances? Not sure? Try the Mvelopes Personal program free for the first month to see if it works for you. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Manage debt, track spending, pay bills. Take a tour and Get a FREE 30 day trial of Mvelopes Personal. I highly recommend it.

    Three Financial Resolutions You Can't Afford Not to Make This Year

    And how to actually keep them!
    By Steven B. Smith

    Every January, millions of Americans determine to shed a few pounds and to finally get their finances in order. Unfortunately, most estimates indicate that less than 30 percent of those well-intentioned resolutions make it through the year. The reason most resolutions fail is because a plan is never laid out to help achieve the goal. If you are serious about finally getting your finances in order this year, here are the three personal finance resolutions ..... Read the entire article


    Webmaster Tools

    Maximize your marketing ROI with Yahoo! Sponsored Search. Sign up and get a $25 credit.

    Suscribe to the SiteSell E-zine
    It's free and you'll soon see why they are #1 in the business of creating web sites that Work!

    Enter your e-mail address into the box and click on the "Subscribe" button.

    F.ree Webmaster Tools

    Family Friendly Sites
    The Coloring Spot - A great collection of Coloring Printables

    Back to Back Issues Page