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Using Fun Money for FUN!


This site is about debt, life, and trying to improve yourself. I’m also a huge proponent of having fun along the way so that you never have gigantic regrets. That said, you don’t have to fall further into debt to have fun!


Traveling just sounds expensive, right? It can be but that isn’t a requirement. If you are setting aside 5% of your budget for fun, you can travel, whether that is less than $100 or thousands.   Here are some ideas:

  • If you live near a port city like Galveston, off season cruises can be as little as $300 total per person for 5 days out and about!
  • If you live near state parks or any sort of wilderness trail, you could have a fantastic day of hiking, fishing, camping, etc. for the cost of gas and maybe the entry fee for a maintained park.
  • If you are close to a Megabus terminal, you can make it to other cities and couch surf to have a fun weekend for less than $40 plus food!
  • Find a bed and breakfast nearby and have a great time for the cost of gas and the B&B!
  • Road trips for just 3-4 hours will take you out of your comfort zone and feel like an adventure.


Gambling all the time is NOT a good idea. But if your idea of fun is to risk a little money to win even more, that is doable with your fun money too!   For a couple of bucks a week, you could buy your state’s lotto tickets if they have them. Or you can use your bit of fun money on online sites like Sky Vegas and see what happens. Or if you have the time and extra money for gas, you can drive to bingo halls or casinos near you.

I live in Houston, TX, so we drive to Louisiana once in a while to push our luck. In college, we wondered if we could make money online gambling? We played poker and ended up breaking pretty much even after several months. My husband and I never became professional players, lol.

Gambling can be a safe thrill as long as you always remember – never gamble with money you can’t afford to lose!

Nearly Free Fun

If you are really tight on fun money at any point, here are some ideas that are nearly free:

  • Feed the ducks near you with old bread or bird seed.
  • Walk your neighborhood or even city with your loved ones.
  • Keep an eye out for free days at the museums and zoos in local publications.
  • Go to the local library and grab a book, DVD, or audio book.
  • Invite some friends over for a movie night at home! We take turns bringing DVD’s of our favorites or some awful movie we just happen to own, and we talk all over the movies and have a great time!

Overall, you can have fun on any budget. Saving money, paying off debts, and growing your financial self are all very worthy and attainable aims. Just make sure you don’t forget that life isn’t really about money. Being self-sufficient and affording your lifestyle are very important. So is making sure that on the day you pass on, you aren’t forced to acknowledge that you never actually enjoyed the time you had here…you just survived it until you didn’t anymore. That would be the largest regret ever.

Fiction Is Found in Real Life Situations

Don't Lend

There was a long running comedy TV series starring Ed O’Neill ‘Married with Children’ that ran through the 80s and 90s whose theme was the problems of family life; finance was just part of the situation, growing children were central. Al Bundy sold women’s shoes, a job that he detested and which did not pay very well either. He had money worries which is often a fact of life for families where there are growing children and just a single pay check coming in each month. The fact that the series ran successfully for ten years suggests that the audience related to the story on both sides of the Atlantic because it was equally popular in the UK as it was in the USA.


At every stage of life there can be financial pressure on individuals, couples and families. When times are good that pressure seems to ease but it can lead to complacency. The recession certainly brought an abrupt halt to complacency and easy credit. Real estate prices dropped so many found their assets dwindling. Those who lost their jobs often found their assets wiped away as they suffered foreclosure because they could not pay their mortgages.

While the recent figures released about the number of jobs created in the USA is a drop from recent months it is still a positive step with unemployment back to pre-recession levels. The future is looking brighter once again but many couples and families are carrying forward a legacy of debt and a poor credit score which is a hindrance to their restoring themselves to good financial health. Or is it a hindrance? Certainly a good credit score is important but those looking to improve their financial situation can recover without having a good score in place at the outset. They need to have regular income as a prerequisite but after that it is a matter of whether the sums add up.

Changes with a Loan?

There is an opportunity but it is essential that those that take it understand that the chance will not come again in the coming months unless their financial situation changes dramatically. One dramatic change would be a second pay check coming in each month if it is possible for a mother to return to work if the children have grown sufficiently. However the real chance is to apply for a personal loan that is likely to be approved as long as the amount sought is realistic and affordable. That is the logic of good online lenders today; credit score is of secondary importance. The loan at http://www.realisticloans.com/ must be used to pay off debts that are incurring a high level of interest, typically credit card balances.


That is only half of the solution. There is little point in clearing balances simply to build them up again by spending money on the credit cards once again and restoring unmanageable balances as a result. There is no second escape without that dramatic change in financial circumstances. Married couples and families that are in financial trouble need to change their lifestyle without that necessarily meaning major sacrifice. They may cut back marginally on some unnecessary spending but the main lesson to be learnt from getting into debt is to think before spending, apply some self-discipline when it comes to making decisions and act only on those decisions. Emergencies may arise and they can be difficult to tackle. They are easier to tackle if an emergency fund has been created because of following a budget and creating that surplus.

Al Bundy was fiction and extremely funny fiction at that. It appears that in real life there are many families living with stress because their finances are not under control. It is certainly not a laughing matter and problems do not disappear simply by ignoring them. Anyone writing down two columns, income and expenditure may not like what they see in front of them but it is an exercise that those in financial trouble must do. They must then look at ways of changing those figures by taking action to remedy the problem.

¼ Brits can’t afford a holiday – is getting a cash loan the answer to achieving a bit of R&R?

Disneyland Paris

According to a recent poll, one quarter of Brits can’t afford to go on holiday, with 35-54 year olds the age group that could least afford to go on holiday last year.

These findings come from the Economic Voice, who looked at a recent survey of 2000 people, commissioned by Travel Channel UK and Vision Critical. The survey released last year revealed that 21% of people could not afford to go away. An average of 26% of the people polled could comfortably afford to go abroad last year, and women seemed to be the worst off, with just 22% saying that they could adequately pay for a holiday in 2014, compared to 31% of men.

Feeling the Pinch

Despite many UK people not being able to afford a holiday, with many citing the financial climate as the reasons why they cannot raise the cash, loans companies have reported more people taking out finance than ever before.

Short term cash loans of up to £1000, such as those advertised on TV – offer an ideal amount of money to afford a holiday for many cash-strapped Brits. Companies like the widely publicised Wonga, for example, offer an easy way to access cash loans and this could be why many Brits resort to taking out cash from online companies such as these.

On their website, you can use the sliders on the home page to decide exactly how much cash you want to borrow and how many days you need it for. They will then show you the full cost including the interest on this loan and, if you’re happy with that, you can click apply. They will run a few personal details and banking information for a credit check and you can have the money in your account to pay for your holiday very quickly.

In fact, The Money Pages cited affording a holiday a top reason for Brits to take out a cash loan. This even comes before buying a car and “to make ends meet.”

Why holidays matter to Brits

It is easy to see why people make sacrifices to afford their sacred 2 weeks off for a holiday. Holidays not only recharge the batteries, but they help families come back together and bond after a frantic daily life back at home.

Whether abroad or in the UK, it is no surprise that ¼ of Brits who cannot afford a holiday may consider a cash loan. Other options might include, lending money from family, or selling items to raise the cash. Of course, some people would forgo their holiday if they could not afford it. But, with the pace of modern British life being as it is, it may not be an option for many people who need to escape the stress of work and home life for a much needed bit of R&R.

3 Tips to Spend Less Money Each Month

Save Spend

Spending is a struggle for most people. You are not alone if you often spend too much on things you don’t need or if you wonder where all your money went at the end of the month. With online shopping especially, spending is easy. You can buy anything you want and have it shipped to you from anywhere in the world with the click of a button. It can be intoxicating.

If you want to avoid relying on your kids one day (or on payday loans, title loans, etc.) and working until you’re 85, you may need to rethink your spending habits and come up with a plan for spending less money. Saving isn’t as fun as spending, but it’s the only way to ensure that you have a secure future and that you can ultimately spend money on things that will really matter like your kids’ college education or a memory-making family trip. Here are some ideas that will help you spend less:

  • Analyze your necessary expenses.    


    1. Some other places you can look to cut back include your cell phone plan, your cable bill, and your food expenses. Get a phone plan with less data. Switch from cable to an online service. Eat out less and shop the grocery store with coupons and loyalty plan savings. These kinds of expenses are a necessary part of your budget, but almost all of them can be trimmed.
    2. Start with your energy use. Buy more efficient lightbulbs. Put your thermostat on a timer so the furnace or air conditioning slows down when you’re not at home. Wash your clothes in cold water instead of hot. Think about how much gas you use in the car. Could you walk or bike more often? Or maybe even carpool?
    3. You have bills you have to pay every month. You can’t avoid paying the rent, paying for utilities, buying groceries, or putting gas in the car. But, what you can do is look for savings in these areas. Just because you need them doesn’t mean you have to overpay for them or that you can’t shop around and find ways to get costs down.
  • Make a monthly budget.    


    1. Also include savings in your budget. A portion of every paycheck should go automatically into savings. How much you will apportion for savings depends on your unique situation, but even if it’s only ten dollars, it’s important to do. It will help you develop savings over time, and it automatically removes some of your paycheck that you might otherwise have spent on something you didn’t need.
    2. Create a budget that is in line with your financial goals for the future. Include all of your ordinary and necessary expenses and also include a little bit of incidental cash for spending that you might not be able to plan for. It’s important to set limits, but you don’t want to be too strict or you won’t stick with it.
    3. Once you have done the above and moderated your regular expenses, you can create a monthly budget. A budget is a great way to keep your spending on track because when you don’t pay attention to how much you’re spending, you are likely to let more money fly out of your hands. You indulge more without even realizing it.
  • Convert unnecessary expenses into working hours. 


  1. Whenever you want to buy something you don’t need and you are trying to decide if you should, convert the cost of it into working hours. Ask yourself, how many hours will I have to work just to buy this $200 purse or this $50 spa treatment? Knowing just how much effort you have to put into earning your special treats really puts them in perspective. Visualizing expenses as working hours could be enough to make you drop the item and walk on.
  2. When you are faced with buying something you don’t need, you have an important choice to make. Hopefully you have enough wiggle room in your budget to allow yourself the occasional frivolous spend, but if you struggle to cut back on impulse buys or expensive things you don’t need, a new strategy might help.

You have to spend your money, but if you are careful about how you do it, you can spend less without feeling the pain of cutting back. Shop around, use coupons, make a budget that matches your financial goals, and think carefully about what it means in working hours before you spend. Do these things and you will make spending less a new habit.

Save Spend

Financial Freedom Brings Peace of Mind


It can be difficult not to worry about money. It is often said that money is one of the biggest reasons that marriages struggle. Almost every household worries about finances at one point in time or another. When resources are limited, it can be hard to meet all of the demands a household may experience. Bills can be difficult to handle, but there are options to make these challenges easier. Using financial services can help reduce the strain of operating a household.

Create a Budget
The first step in securing financial freedom is to make a budget. This holds true even if there is very little money involved. Listing out the income received and the expenses that have to be covered is essential because it provides a snapshot of the cash that comes into and goes out of the home. A monthly budget is the most ideal option since many utilities and bills are generated on a monthly basis. However, those who are paid weekly may opt for a budget that is categorized based on each paycheck. For example, the first paycheck of the month may be dedicated to paying a specific larger expense, such as rent or a mortgage payment.

Reconsider Expenses
It can also be helpful to evaluate each household expense. If there is too much money being spent each month, then examine each item in the budget. Perhaps a cable company could offer a promotional rate to reduce the cost of their services. Phone companies may be able bundle services and lower the cost of the bill. Credit card companies may be willing to reduce interest rates for accountholders who are in good standing. It is definitely worth the time to make a few phone calls and examine options to reduce expenses.

Try to Save
Once the budget has been made and evaluated, try to save as much as possible. Many people find that this is easier if they immediately deposit part of their paycheck into a savings account. Once the money is in the account, try to avoid withdrawals unless there is an emergency. The savings account could be used for home repairs, car repairs and other unexpected expenses. It can take time to develop a financial plan. Do not become discouraged if it takes several months to stick to a budget and start a savings account. Even the slightest bit of progress towards these goals is an achievement.

Sometimes unexpected situations will occur and will bring extra expenses. It can be helpful to use a financial services company if extra money is needed before the next paycheck will arrive. Ian MacKechnie, founder of Amscot Financial, founded his company when he realized that many of his bakery employees needed financial services. A company that offers financial services can be a valuable resource for those who are faced with extenuating circumstances that are financially damaging. Even the most prepared household cannot be prepared for every situation. In those times, financial services can help a household get back on a path to financial freedom as soon as possible.

Savings Struggles


The following is a staff writer post from MikeS.  He is a married father of 2.  So, with the cat, he ranks number 5 in the house.  He loves numbers and helping people. Please leave any questions or comments below for either Mike or Crystal.

I’ll admit it, I fall for click bait all the time, especially when it comes to personal finance articles.  My latest trap came from the following article.  The headline about the real reason Americans struggle to save made me curious.  My first reaction was people can’t save because they spend beyond their means.  Was there another underlying factor I hadn’t heard of?  Turns out, no it was exactly what I thought.  There was some other interesting or scary depending upon your perspective, information from the survey conducted by the Federal Reserve.

Savings Struggles

The survey revealed that 47% of those surveyed would not be able to handle a $400 emergency expense.  That really blew my mind, that something as small as $400 would cause people to have to borrow money.  That even isn’t that big of a surprise expense.  Simple car repairs anymore seem to run in the hundreds of dollars.  Most car or homeowners insurance deductibles nowadays are at least $500, if not more.


I have had my share of emergency expenses over the years, the most serious of them being several thousand dollars.  I know firsthand the value of an emergency fund.  I am continuing to add to mine until it is a full six months of expenses.  I have a full 3 months now and I could tap other non-retirement savings for the other 3 months.  It’s no wonder that most people carry credit card debt, they can’t afford any hiccups that life might give them.

In General

The next section did not seem quite as terrifying as the emergency fund section.  Only 20% of the survey respondents said their spending exceeded their income.  Taken at face value, this does not seem too bad.  However, I would wager that there are respondents who don’t know what their spending level is, so they can’t even answer the question correctly.  Another bright note was that 63% of the respondents said they were able to save some money during the past year.  Ideally, that number should be 100%, but I guess almost two-thirds isn’t too bad.  I couldn’t imagine not saving any money in a given year.  My spending would have to be wildly out of control for that to be a problem.  I tackled those problems years ago and don’t plan on every getting back to that situation ever again.

The retirement section is downright depressing.  Almost 1/3 had no retirement savings.  39% had not even given any thought to retirement planning.  I get that I am numbers oriented and that I enjoy working through calculations like retirement planning.  The nearly 40% who haven’t given it any thought, what are they hoping for, the lottery?  One of my favorite quotes is perfect for this point.  The best time to plant an oak tree is 15 years ago; the second best time is today.  Even if you haven’t started at the ideal point, the next best time is right now.


I was in this situation about 6 years ago.  At the bottom of my hole, I had virtually nothing saved for retirement.  So, I sat down and made a plan.  I have made some minor adjustments along the way, but I have made sure that I have been continually saving.  Would it have been better to have been saving since I started working at 23?  Sure it would, but I can’t go back and change history.  The other scary number in the retirement section was that 50% were either “not confident” or “slightly confident” that their retirement assets were invested in the right assets.  I don’t claim to be an investment professional; those people are much smarter than I am.  Most retirement plans have target date funds that people can utilize.  If you don’t know what you are doing, this is certainly better than blindly picking a fund.

As usual, with this kind of article, I realize I tend to be in the minority when it comes to personal finance.  I spend less than I earn and I am diligent about saving for retirement.  As I said before, this wasn’t always the case, so there is hope for everyone.  All anyone has to do is take the first step.

Guardian Angels


The following is a staff writer post from MikeS.  He is a married father of 2.  So, with the cat, he ranks number 5 in the house.  He loves numbers and helping people. Please leave any questions or comments below for either Mike or Crystal.

I Must Be Lucky

I am beginning to think I have a guardian angel looking out for me, maybe more than one.  I opened our above-ground pool recently and in what seems to be an annual occurrence, I fell off the pool.  It is not that far down, but it is probably about a four foot fall.

We have been on the house for about four years and I’ve fallen off the pool at least 3 times.  Every time I have managed to escape serious injury.  I was thinking about this the other day during one of my morning runs.  I tend to have random thoughts when I am running for an hour.  I had landed on my right side this time and wasn’t really able to brace myself.  I thought this was lucky because had I used my right arm to brace, I likely would have broken it.  I then thought, even if I did break or if something worse happened, I am prepared for it.

Being Prepared

I have health insurance that would help pay for the medical expenses.  It is a high-deductible plan and my deductible is $7,000.  That is quite a bit of money, but I will have that and more in the HSA account by the end of the year.  I set aside the maximum amount allowable this year into the account, which was $6,650.  Since I had about $1,500 left in it at the end of last year, I will have more than enough to cover the deductible.  Should the medical expenses exceed what I have saved in the HSA, I have an emergency fund that I can tap into to cover the rest.  The medical insurance has an out-of-pocket maximum that I would hit before exhausting my emergency fund.

Work is Covered Too

Now what happens if I can’t work for either a short or long period of time?  My job is pretty flexible, so I could work from home if I needed to for a period of time. If my injuries were severe enough where I was unable to work at all, I would be ok.  I have short-term disability insurance through my employer.  It would cover me for the first 26 weeks of any absence.  After those first 26 weeks, my long-term disability policy through my company would kick in.  That policy would provide 60% of my current salary, which would be enough to cover my essential expenses.

Now, if the leave were to last longer than 52 weeks, that would be when my personal disability policy would begin to pay benefits.  I figured any disabilities that were to last that long would be severe and likely to last a significant time.  Thus, the personal disability policy is in place to provide additional money that I could save for retirement.

If the injuries proved to be fatal, I am not worrying about anything anymore.  My wife also will not have to worry about money.  I have enough life insurance to make sure she is comfortable.  My Social Security survivor benefits will provide nearly all of the income my wife would need.  I have the life insurance to cover the slight shortfall and to help fund retirement for my wife.  As my wife is raising our children, we have not been contributing to a retirement account for her.  Our retirement plan has been predicated on my income.  Therefore, no income from me and that likely creates a bleak retirement picture for my wife.  My life insurance makes that picture a whole lot rosier.

So, if my guardian angel or angels happen to be on a break the next time I am walking around the edge of my pool, I know I have the outcomes covered.  How prepared are you if your guardian angels are on a break?

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