Monday, September 30, 2013


I've been ridiculously tired lately. I blame grad school.
A week ago, I woke up one morning and started thinking through my day. It took me a lot longer than I care to admit for me to realize that it was Sunday, not Monday.

And, just barely I called home and asked my mum if she was watching "The Voice" she said, "No it's not on for another half hour." And I almost said that it's on right now. Ummm. Too tired to remember that not everyone lives in my time zone.

Going to bed early for the rest of the week (except Thursday, that's Project Runway night).

Friday, September 27, 2013

Your Quarterly Checkup

Now, before you can get into things like setting financial goals and such, you need to know where you stand. I am big believer that you can’t check up on your finances every now and then, you need to do it on a regular basis, several times a year. Personally, I do it quarterly. Aside from the first time you do this, it will only take maybe 15 minutes of your time, once every three months. 

I do mine the last day of March, June, September, and December. I like December most because it rolls around in time for you to make a Financial Goal for the Year. Basically what you are doing on these days is you are calculating your Net Worth. Your Net Worth is how much money you have that is not tied up in debts. I look to see if it would be possible for me to pay off all my debts and still have something left over.  

Here’s how I go about it. There’s this wonderful program called Excel. I opened up a spreadsheet, and use one page for debts, one page for my bank, retirement, and investment accounts. This sheet also has a spot for my Disaster Cash (which we will talk about in another post). The final sheet I use for my ‘hard assets’. These are things like your bedroom set, how much could you reasonably sell it for if you needed the cash? Anything that you own outright, and could sell if you really needed the money. Do not include your house or cars if you are still making payments on them! Those balances, the part you still owe, should go on your debt sheet. 

On my sheet, column A lists the different accounts or assets. On your asset sheet it would be things like, “Savings” “Checking” “401k”, etc. On columns C, E, G, I, and K, I have the date of each check up. I start mine with the last one from the previous year, so mine are Dec. 31, 2012, March 2013, June 2013, September 2013, and December 2013. This way I can see my progress over the course of a full year, I can see how much I’ve improved (or still need to work on) since last year.
First, you calculate how much debt you have. And I mean total debt, not just what your monthly payment is. If you have a student loan for $5,000 but your monthly payment is $20, then you put the $5,000 into the calculator, not the $20. Any credit card balances, student loan balances, mortgage amounts, etc. as they are the day you are doing this. If a payment hasn’t cleared, don’t calculate that in! If your student loan balance is $3,523.12, enter $3,523.12, not $3,473.12 because you are going to make a $50 payment tomorrow. 

If you own your home or car, and are no longer making payments on them, they go on your assets sheet, not here.  Make use of those little automatic calculations that Excel does for you.
Make sure at the bottom of each column you have a total debt amount. You will use this later!
Next calculate your money! On another sheet of the Excel spreadsheet, list all of your bank accounts, retirement funds, emergency funds, Disaster Cash, and I include my investment account here as well. Again, enter the totals for the specific day you are filling out. Look at the current account balances and insert them into the sheet. Don’t put in your next paycheck unless the paycheck has already deposited! A hard thing with this one, is that sometimes my investment account doesn’t update because the stock market info isn’t available or it’s a weekend. I just check back each day, a couple times a day sometimes, and once a total shows up, I enter it in. 

Again, get a total dollar amount for all of your accounts added together.
Finally, this is the one that took me the longest, BUT only the first time I made the spreadsheet, sit down and calculate your ‘hard assets’. These are all of the things you could sell should you desperately need the money. Things would include furniture, appliances, books, etc. Be sure you are realistic in your estimations, in fact, estimate low. Think yard sales, where people price things but then buyers come along and haggle them down. My list includes items like my headboard, my sewing machines, tv, antique desk, and dvds. If you own your home or car, include them on this list! Again get a grand total dollar amount. 

Then what you do is you add your hard asset dollar amount to your bank account amounts. Then you subtract your debt amounts from this number. If you end up with a negative number, no worries you’ll just have to set some goals and build some assets!

If you have a positive number, congratulations! You have a positive net worth and are doing pretty good financially. 

I'm off to get started on my 3rd quarter total, and see what needs to be done between now and the New Year ;)

In the next few weeks we’ll cover some things you can do to help you set financial goals, keep track of those goals, and even start saving some money!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sunday Spiritual Thought: Elder Holland Hits Home

"For this intent have we written these things, that they may know that we knew of Christ and we had a hope of his glory many hundred years before his coming; and not only we ourselves had a hope of his glory, but also all the holy prophets which were before us."
Jacob 4:4
Minerva Teichert's "Jesus and the Children"
You know, how sometimes things just keep coming up over and over again in your life for a period of time? Sometimes it makes you wonder if you are supposed to be getting a message of some sort, right? Well, this has come up a couple times in my life in the past few months and I felt that maybe I would share it with you all for today’s Spiritual Thought.

Back in 2003 Elder Jeffery R Holland, of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles, gave a talk called “A Prayer for the Children”. In it he addresses the importance of something we, as parents and role models for children must do.

“As parents we can hold life together the way it is always held together—with love and faith, passed on to the next generation, one child at a time.

In offering such a prayer for the young, may I address a rather specific aspect of their safety? In this I speak carefully and lovingly to any of the adults of the Church, parents or otherwise, who may be given to cynicism or skepticism, who in matters of whole-souled devotion always seem to hang back a little, who at the Church’s doctrinal campsite always like to pitch their tents out on the periphery of religious faith. To all such—whom we do love and wish were more comfortable camping nearer to us—I say, please be aware that the full price to be paid for such a stance does not always come due in your lifetime. No, sadly, some elements of this can be a kind of profligate national debt, with payments coming out of your children’s and grandchildren’s pockets in far more expensive ways than you ever intended it to be.

Parents simply cannot flirt with skepticism or cynicism, then be surprised when their children expand that flirtation into full-blown romance. If in matters of faith and belief children are at risk of being swept downstream by this intellectual current or that cultural rapid, we as their parents must be more certain than ever to hold to anchored, unmistakable moorings clearly recognizable to those of our own household. It won’t help anyone if we go over the edge with them, explaining through the roar of the falls all the way down that we really did know the Church was true and that the keys of the priesthood really were lodged there but we just didn’t want to stifle anyone’s freedom to think otherwise. No, we can hardly expect the children to get to shore safely if the parents don’t seem to know where to anchor their own boat. Isaiah once used a variation on such imagery when he said of unbelievers, “[Their] tacklings are loosed; they could not … strengthen their mast, they could not spread the sail.” 6

I think some parents may not understand that even when they feel secure in their own minds regarding matters of personal testimony, they can nevertheless make that faith too difficult for their children to detect. We can be reasonably active, meeting-going Latter-day Saints, but if we do not live lives of gospel integrity and convey to our children powerful heartfelt convictions regarding the truthfulness of the Restoration and the divine guidance of the Church from the First Vision to this very hour, then those children may, to our regret but not surprise, turn out not to be visibly active, meeting-going Latter-day Saints or sometimes anything close to it.”

I’ve returned to this talk several times in the past few months, and pondered how I can personally be sure that my children and grandchildren will have a sure knowledge of my testimony. When reading just yesterday, I came across a passage in the book “The Miracle of Forgiveness” by Spencer W Kimball. He supports Elder Holland’s statements by clearly telling us what our negligence in making our testimony known (Or, our lack of secure, firm Gospel living) can do:

“Such people fail to bear testimony to their descendants, destroy faith within their own homes, and actually deny the “right to the priesthood” to succeeding generations who might otherwise been faithful in all things.” (pg. 43)

As I’ve pondered these passages, it has turned my mind to what I need to do as a parent and role model to make my testimony known to the children in my life. I want my children to understand and build upon the same foundation of the Gospel that I have, as laid for me by my ancestors. I pray that my children will be able to say, as did the Stripling Warriors, “We did not doubt our mother knew it.” (Alma 56:49)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Getting a Picture of Your Financial Situation:

"You can't hit a target you can't see." 
Brian Tracy

I'd like to add that you can't pick a target unless you know where you're standing. 

So, before I get into things like making smart financial choices, saving money, and all that sort of thing, we need to get you to a point where you know exactly where you stand financially. Over the next couple of weeks I'll share some different ways to keep track of your finances, because different people operate different ways. What works for me, might not be so great or useful for you, and vice versa. Feel free to add anything you have tried that works for you because you never know what will work for what person.

This week is a very brief, but helpful post to introduce you to a useful online tool. (Most of you probably have heard of it already, and may even be using it.)It's a website called

What does is it links up all of your accounts that you have online access to. Credit cards, loans, savings, stocks, etc. And it adds everything up and gives you a total "Net Worth" (or how much money you actually have after taking into account all your debt). 

Mint also keeps track of things like unusual spending, unexplained fees, when bills are due, and low balances in accounts. Now this can be useful, but honestly I find it annoying at times. Mint doesn't understand the automatic identity protection program I use and that it's not a 'fee' charged to my card for using my card. It also lets me know that my bank accounts have 'low' balances when they reach something like $200, which for a starving grad school student really isn't a 'low' balance.

What I like most about Mint is it has tools to help you calculate how much you need to save for retirement. It also has a tool that shows how long it will take to pay off a debt and allows you to enter in different payment amounts. It even calculates how much you'll save on interest with each payment option you try out. 

My favorite however, is that Mint allows you to set financial goals for savings (like the retirement one), and links to an account. I set up a "House" account for a down payment on a house. Mint calculates how much I would need for a down payment, then keeps track of where I'm at on progressing toward that goal. 

And I'm all about setting and reaching goals, and I think that's the best part of Mint, it gives you a visual look at how you are progressing on goals, and what you need to do in order to meet them. 

(We WILL talk about setting financial goals later. Right now just focus on figuring out where you stand now, so you can set better goals later.)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

What's a Girl to Do?

I was avoiding my homework earlier in the usual way, reading my blogs and Pinteresting. When I came to be on one of my favorite blogs written by the Yarn Harlot. She's wonderful, I love reading her blog and look forward to her posts. She has influence in the knitting world that I can only dream of, because every time she mentions a pattern, it ends up trending in the top 5 on Ravelry for the next month (at least it seems that way....).
I usually don't contribute to this trending, but today I looked at the picture in her blog post and almost had a conniption to run to the yarn store RIGHT NOW, screw all my homework, studying, and shift at work. I NEED this project on my needles IMMEDIATELY.
Catkin from the Ravelry page, not the Yarn Harlot's version...

It's called Catkin, and yes, it is a shawl. But it's a beautiful, cool shawl with buttons! Something strange is happening to me here. It might be Tennessee, or it might be that it's September and back home September is the start of sweater weather and hibernation related activities such as knitting.

Of course, this nearly irresistible urge to cast on a shawl, my first ever shawl, comes two days after I couldn't stand it anymore and cast on not one, but two sweaters of the adult variety, and the same morning I discovered a UFO in the bottom of the knitting basket that came along with me today to be finished this week. This brings my total WIP's (actually on the needles and being worked on, mind you) to 6. 7 if you count socks as two separate projects, but I don't, a pair is one project. Add to that the three quilts I'm trying to get done so I can start the next one, and keep working on the Quilt-Along one. (see post here)

And Christmas is coming, I need to get started on things for that too...

Heaven help me and my crafting ADD.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Sunday Spiritual Thought: President Kimball on Procrastination

"One of the most serious human defects in all ages is procrastination, an unwillingness to accept personal responsibilities now. Men came to earth consciously to obtain their schooling, their training and development, and to perfect themselves, but many have allowed themselves to be diverted and have become merely "hewers of wood and drawers of water," addicts to mental and spiritual indolence and to the pursuit of worldly power.
Walter Rane's painting of the Parable of the 10 Virgins

"There are even many members of the Church who are lax and careless and who continually procrastinate. They live the gospel casually but not devoutly. They have complied with some requirements but are not valiant. They do no major crime but merely fail to do the things required- things like paying tithing, living the Word of Wisdom, having family prayers, fasting, attending meetings, serving. Perhaps they do not consider such omissions to be sins, yet they were the kinds of things of which the five foolish virgins of Jesus' parable were probably guilty. The ten virgins belonged to the kingdom and had every right to the blessings- except that five were not valiant and were not ready when the great day came. They were unprepared through not living all the commandments. They were bitterly disappointed at being shut out from the marriage- as likewise their modern counterparts will be."

Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, 7-8.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Friday... A Regular Post?

I stalk blogs. I just do. I want to be a better blogger and so I stalk people who blog to see what they do that I might be able to do something similar. But in my own way because I don't think it would be nice to blatantly copy someone, unless it's a really really good idea.

So, maybe, just maybe I might start doing a weekly tip post on Fridays. Maybe.

We're gonna give it a try okay?

I have a hobby of sorts. It spawns from the same motivation that David Bach gives in his book, "Smart Women Finish Rich". Every woman has a right to be educated about finances. That way if she never gets married, or is somehow left single later in life, she does not flounder financially. She knows what's what, how to manage money, what a retirement account is, how to make investments, and how to calculate things like mortgages and how much to save.

My little tidbit for today? Well, a lot of financial advice things that I've seen in the past say that you should try to be saving at least 10% of your income in some sort of retirement fund. However, for women, you should be saving 12-15% of your income. Why?

Because, on average women live longer than men by 5 years. So if as a woman, you are saving 10%, for the last five of years of your life, what are you living on? Not much, that's for sure.

So, how do we go about saving this money? Well, we can get into that over the next few weeks, I guess. Rally, women! We can be financially educated!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Yarn Haven

Y'know, the best part of my week? It's not walking into the Kindergarten classroom to be greeted by 2 Captain Americas, Snow White, a ballerina, Sleeping Beauty, a pirate, and a Civil War soldier. It's not preschoolers showing my 'magic tricks'. Although those are some great things that happen.

Nope, it's going to Knit Night at the Yarn Haven, and just enjoying the ladies while we all knit away.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Oh, the Possibilities

Now that I'm finally settled in my new place, I have things unpacked, and ready to go. The sewing machine is out and waiting. The knitting basket is in it's rightful place next to the couch. And the stashes are tucked neatly away in the closets.

I cannot wait to get sewing! I've been wanting to learn to make some quilts, which is a pretty big deal. If you're from my childhood neighborhood, you know what a high standard was set by the likes of Linda Hansen. One day, perhaps in my dreams, I will be near her level of artistry.

I've got a pretty decent amount of fabric ready to go. I also have a book with some simple quilt patterns on it. But the quilting thing that I am most excited about is the Jimmy Beans Wool "Mystery Sew Red Sew Along" found on their blog. They're doing it as a campaign to raise awareness for heart disease, thus the red colored theme. (You'll have to scroll a bit to get to the post... sorry for that.)

Now, yes I am aware that Jimmy Beans Wool is a yarn shop. But they've recently started carrying fabrics and are all sorts of excited about fabric[y things such as quilting. They've already posted the first block, and it's simple enough for me to get. Although they've said some of the blocks are kind of 'advanced', I'm hoping my clothing construction skills will help me out with this wonderful endeavor.

I've already got some simple 9 patch squares in red and white, so I'll stick to that theme for the rest of the blocks. I'll be sure to keep you guys up to date and post pictures of the finished product when May rolls around!

And feel free to join in the fun!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Utah and Tennessee

Sometimes it's the simplest little things that make me homesick for Utah. Well not homesick really, just kind of wishing that Tennessee was a little more Utah-ish.

For example, you know those little pullouts that they have for the buses in Utah? The curb goes in a bit so the bus doesn't block traffic when it gets to a stop?

I wish they had those here.

Monday, September 2, 2013

In which we reach September

So, I've obviously been neglecting my blog. A lot, my life got busy enough for me to not even think about blogging.

As for the goal for the year, the knitting one,  well, it's only about 30% done.

 However, another goal for the year (see that tab at the top labeled "books"?) I'm way ahead. Unbelievably so, and it's great. I've never kept track of what I've read before and it's pretty neat to see how much I've done.

Of course, I was the type of child who thought it would be fun to have a 'read-a-thon' with my friends during summer break. I often pull out a quilt and lie in the yard with a good book. I just love reading.

I would post some pictures of what I've been knitting lately, but alas, they are all gifts and not to be seen until the recipient gets them. Some will have to wait until December. But, armed with finally being settled in my new town, and wanting to start selling again, I should hopefully get at least 50% of the goal done by the end of the year. I think I will at least....

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Quilts or no?

 For those of you who know me, you know that over the past few years I've gone back and forth on running my own business.
I love crafty junk like sewing and knitting, but it can get expensive. And if you don't have people to give this stuff to, it starts to pile up.

Now, I've recently picked up and permanently moved across the country from my parents, so I no longer have the room to store things because I no longer have a Sewing Lair.
I did ship some things to myself however, and now am trying to get some more income generated in my life. Because I'm now a 'starving graduate school student'.
Almost literally.

So here's my question for you all. I have here a quilt front, it's only one of a couple that I have, and I quite enjoyed making it.
But will I be able to sell it if it's not a 'finished' quilt? Or would people buy it as just the quilt front?

Please give me your feedback so I can move forward on getting this business up and running again!