Recently I have been listening to the M.O.N.E.Y. show which inspired me to re-read the Total Money Makeover.  All this information has me wanting to jump straight into action.  The problem is I get paid once a month.  While I can plan, budget and scheme, I can’t really do much which leads to the downtime and me wondering what I can do.  I reached out to J Money…the comedy of the MONEY show, who also runs and asked his advice.  His suggestion was blog.  Find something you love and write about it.  As it happens, I have had a blog for a long time now.  It’s never really had a focus, hence the “James the Generalist”.  This has always been more like an online journal with all of three people who might read it. :^)  However, this also has its benefits since I can chronicle what I’m doing, get some of the thoughts out of my head and maybe…finally…define my goals enough to start making some solid plans.

My current interests are:
  1. Traveling.  I like traveling alone, but now that I have an amazing travel partner (my hot wife Kelly) it’s way more fun.
  2. Travel points.  With travel, I have tried really hard to travel cheaply.  Using points, flying Spirit, etc.  The obvious problem with this is you usually have to use credit cards which is always a slippery slope.
  3. Travel writing.  Sort of.  I use Tripadvisor anytime I hit a town, even one I am familiar with.  You generally get both good and bad reviews of a place from travelers and locals.  I take the time to rate and review places I find, have been recommended or that I frequent at home.
  4. Camping. I have purchased some great gear from REI, much to my wife’s chagrin, but it makes being outdoors all that more fun.  She doesn’t camp much, but I have friends that do and my daughters also love it.
  5. Real Estate.  I have always had a fascination with buying and selling homes.  I worked for Dream Homes, a build on your lot builder, before they were purchased by Jim Walter Homes.  That sparked my interest and I read all kinds of books, attended seminars and did precisely nothing with that knowledge.  Now that I have a solid career, I am revisiting that interest.
  6. Eliminating debt.  I’m not sure if this is an interest or obsession.  I have tried more than a few times to dig out of the hole, but it seems like there is always something to pull you back in.  Travel, camping gear, points collection…:^}  This one is usually in conflict with the others because I’m impatient.
That seems like a pretty good list to get started working on.  We’ll see what catches on.

Back on the Wagon

Over the past couple of month, I have let me spending get away from me.  My financial house is a lot like my physique.  Not bad, but not what I want it to be.  With just a little more effort, it can be amazing.  To that end, I started reading the Total Money Makeover again.  I get exasperated with the spiritual overtones of the book, but I appreciate the message. Do the simple things (not easy) and reap the rewards.  My oldest daughter is in band now.  She has excelled very quickly, but was wanting to know what she could do to get really good.  I told her to practice her scales.  It’s basic.  It’s tedious. And at first really boring.  However, once you get good, get them memorized and know them well, you can zip up and down, make up little tunes and it improves your ability in all the music you’ll read.  Just from doing some basic (not easy) things, you can get huge results.

Due to a windfall, I am paying off my credit cards and setting a little aside.  I have a good chance at getting ahead with a little planning.  I’ll have to sacrifice some trips I wanted to take this year and postpone some other plans, but by next year I should be in a better position to do those things.  In the meantime, it’s just keeping it simple and cheap with the kiddos and when hanging out with friends.

Dumpster Treasure

My dear wife has a ritual of hitting the various schools at the end of term to benefit from the mass clean up at schools that happens each year.  Kids leaving college for home and teachers sick of yet another year toss out so much usable stuff.  This year she hit a few of the local elementary schools and found some old head phones and two packs of Polaroid 600 instant film.  The only reason I knew this had any value was I had been given an instant camera last year and was looking for film.  I decided pretty quickly I did not want to spend $35 for 10 photos.  So I listed the two packs she found and they each sold for a little over $35 each.  So keep your eye out for valuable “retro” items some people may want, but remember to declutter if it ends up just being junk.