Recent Divine Discussions

Friday, March 28, 2008

Link love and other ish

This post goes everywhere and back again. Hang on tight.


I am feeling giddy this morning so I thought I would spread some love. LINK LOVE that is!!!!

I have a lot new subscribers. If you would like to be featured in DDD's first ever humongous link love post then leave a comment and I will add you. You have until 11 pm tonight to leave a comment. I will compile list after that and hopefully have the post up before the day is done.


*WARNING* - I can tell the difference between a regular ole blogger and someone trying to spam my blog. I have seen an increase in spammers over that past week. Of course their comments get deleted. This post is no different so don't try it. Test me if you wanna.



This week has been hella crazy so I apologize for the lack of posts and for not visiting your blogs. It is hard trying to visit EVERYONE's blog but I do try.

I shop to damn much!!!! I mean I have been spending some of this extra money that I have been bringing in when it should go towards my debt. eBay and woot.com is the debil I tell you!!! (I so swagger jacked ya word SM!)


TGIF!


I am going to Tampa tomorrow to meet my fam. My brother is going to tour the college he is going to. I can't wait to see my sister (she is 4 months preggers).


Men urk me. Steve Harvey says that they are simple beings so why can't I "get" them. I mean I am an intelligent female. How is it that I can solve complex engineering design problems yet I can't understand these so called "simple" men.


I need to get off my arse and workout but I am so tired lazy for some reason.


And if you haven't subscribed yet then what are you waiting for huh??? Just go ahead and do it.......I don't bite. Promise.





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Sunday, March 23, 2008

She gone yall!!!

My crockpot is GONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! *sniffling* oh........HAPPY EASTER ERBODY!!!! *sigh* Before I left for church this morning I put a whole chicken in my crockpot wrapped in foil around 9 on high. Well after church my friends decided to hit up Red Lobster. I haven't hung out with them in like 3 weeks and dem cheddar bay biscuits were calling my name....mmmmmm. I had put the crockpot on high and it had already been 4 hours. So I was like ok, we'll eat and mingle for about 2 hours at the most and I'll go home and just put the food away for tonight or tomorrow.

That plan sounded so good in my head but ish ain't work out that way. My friends can talk and we had a lot of catching up to do. Needless to say I didn't make it home till 5 pm, 8 hours after I put the chicken in. Part of the foil and chicken had burned into the crockpot.........

I couldn't save her. Had to send her to the crockpot heaven above.



So now Dimps has to get another crockpot. Anyone know if they sell replacement cooking pots? My cooking pot is what got damaged, the heat element still works. I'll do some research and see what I find.

Hope you all had an awesome Easter!!!





[Image Credit: thefuntimesguide.com]

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Trimming the fat off of your monthly bills....

One important step I take towards becoming debt free is to find extra money to pay down my debt. I have been doing this from the beginning. There are many different ways to find that extra money but one way that can work for a majority of people is to trim the fat off of your expenses.

First, track your expenses. If you already have a budget in place then your golden. If you don't, then track what you spend on bills in one month. This is what my monthly expenses looked like a year ago:

BILL

Amount

Rent

$800

Cable

$70

Electric

$160

Phone

$60

Cell

$90

Car Note

$532

Daycare

$410

TOTAL

$2122



Second, analyze your monthly expenses and find areas where you can "trim the fat". If you are willing to make sacrifices then do so. Analyze each category and find cheaper alternative. Here is how I trimmed my fat:

Rent: I was paying $800 for a 2 bedroom apartment located near the university. My lease was up in April so in March I started searching the internet for a less expensive apartment. Even though I was looking for something cheaper, I refused to stay in a bad neighborhood or run down place. So in each time I found a inexpensive apartment complex I would also check this an apartment ratings website to see what past and current residents had to say. While searching on there, I came across an apartment complex that I had never heard before and had a n almost perfect rating (99.5%). I called them up and discovered that their 2 bedrooms were renting for $650. I moved in there about 4 weeks later.

Cable: This was an easy one to "trim". I simply cut off my cable. All my shows were shown online for FREE. So were my daughter's. I thought it would be hard to let go but now I wish I would have done it sooner.

Electric: This is one of those tricky categories because it is affected by variables that are out of your control like the type of apartment you stay in. But I started doing little things here and there that amounted to a huge savings. I stopped leaving my computer on over night and when I wasn't using it. I unplugged electronics and appliances that weren't in use. I invested in energy saving light bulbs. I also turned my AC up when I left the apartment.

Phone: I used to have Sprint. I could never understand how I was paying $60 a month on a $30 plan so I searched the internet for a better alternative and found Vonage. I have been with them ever since.

Cell: I have a personal cell and a work cell. It didn't dawn on me until a year later that I could lower my plan on my personal cell and just juggle minutes between the two. Duh Dimps!!! So I lowered my rate plan and took off all the perps I had with my Cingular phone and saved $30.

Car Note: Of course the savings in this category happened just recently but as I think over it I could have done this a year ago. I refinanced my car with my credit union @ a lower rate and trimmed off $140.

Daycare: Florida offers the Voluntary Pre-K program for 4 year olds. The program prepares four year olds for kindergarten and is free to all eligible parents regardless of income. The program also pays 3 hours of instruction a school day which allows the parents to save on daycare. I signed my daughter up and saved $110 off of her monthly tuition.

So with all that trimming, here is what my monthly expenses look like now:

BILL

Amount

Rent

$650

Cable

$0

Electric

$70

Phone

$20

Cell

$60

Car Note

$392

Daycare

$300

TOTAL

$1492


I have trimmed off a total of $630 from my monthly expenses. Now this is gradually over the course of one year. Imagine doing this over the course of a month or two. All that extra money could then be redirected towards your debt payoff, bringing Debt Free Day even closer.

I found the definition of a "debt diet" that Transwiki provides. It goes a little more into detail and actually takes into account ALL spending while my focus was on expenses. It is a good read so you all should check it out.




Thursday, March 20, 2008

One Year Blog Anniversary

and I am 5 days late........


LOL!


My one year blog anniversary was March 15th. I didn't realize that until today. Oh well......I can still celebrate and I plan on doing so.

YAY ME!!!





[image credit: MySpace]

Monday, March 17, 2008

Monday Randomness

Warning!!! This post will be going all over the place. Tee hee........have fun.



Sweet & Spicy Garlic Wings

I made some tonight. It was off the chain. Mmmmm. All I did was season some chicken wings (whole) with some cayenne pepper, garlic salt, chopped garlic, and pepper. I put them in a baking dish, drizzled some olive oil and honey on them, and baked them in the over @ 400 degrees for about 25 min (or until cooked). When I took them out, I drizzled a little bit more honey on them. Oh my goodness!!! Those wings were soo good.


eBay and Amazon

I am pretty sure most of you guys do this already but if you don't here it is: ALWAYS check out eBay and Amazon before purchasing something online. I am so mad at myself for not doing this last month. I purchased some hair products from Carol's Daughter and spent $48. Well the exact same products were on sale on eBay for half the retail price. DAG-NABBIT!!! I could have saved $24. Needless to say I have learned my lesson.


Investing in my Sanity

I have started meditating for about 15 minutes each day. I bought a cd titled, "Guided Meditation for Embracing Your Power" by Yolanda King (MLK's daughter) and Wanda Marie. I also downloaded some nature sounds. I have been using both during my meditation sessions. I am also working on thinking more positively and surrounding myself with positive people. No time for drama that ain't even mine.


Home

I signed up for the 2008 Central Florida Home Buyer Expo that will be held on June 7. There will be a lot of information given out on down payment assistance programs and other essential home buying topics. I also signed up with a homebuyer education class. The class is one of the downpayment assistance programs that I qualify for. I am getting the ball rolling. Being that I am projected to be cc debt free by September, I am aiming for a new home by the end of this year or the very beginning of 2009. Prices should be ultra low then too, allowing me to afford more home.


Career

I am getting real antsy at my job. Over the past two months I have completed a slew of major projects under budget and before the deadline. The clients have gone out of their way to express their appreciation for my diligence and hard work to my supervisor and the VP of the company. Yet I haven't gotten so much as a head nod from any of them. I don't believe I am appreciated by my own company and I am ready to move one. I am 'ready ta go'!!!! But of course I gotta be wise about this.


Freelance Work/Side Business

I received another project to work on. I am actually going to charge for this one. It is gonna be a doozy. I know it will take a long time to complete (>2 days) but I don't want to charge the client too much (my church). So I am trying to come with a number that won't be ridiculous high to them but I will be ok with (especially with the amount of time I may need to put in). *sigh*
Gonna have to sleep on this one.


Don't you know bout me

He took me for granted. Didn't see me as the queen that I am. Blind to the aura I exude. I am me. He didn't seem to get that. So I had to let his azz go. NEXT!


Money

I want to win the lottery. I don't even need all that much. As long as I get to pay off ALL my debt I would be happy.



I am sleepy now. Goodnight.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Crockpot Recipe of the Weekend - Seafood Chowder (Dimples' Style)

Ingredients:

2 tilapia fillets = $.83

1 cup of shrimp = $.50

2 cups homemade chicken broth (or one can of store bought broth) = $0

1 cup of chopped carrots = $.25

1 cup of chopped snow peas = $.82

1 can of cream of mushroom soup = $1

1 medium size onion, chopped = $.15

1 box of sweet corn = $.75

1 cup of water = $0


TOTAL COST = $4.30 (approximate)


Prep Time = 15 min

Cook Time = 4 hours on high


Directions:

Turn on crockpot on at the high setting. Add homemade chicken broth to crockpot. Chop up carrots, snow peas, and onions, if you haven't done so. Cube fish. It can be thawed or still frozen. Add everything to crockpot. Distribute cream of mushroom evenly in pot. Cover and let it cook.



Notice that I didn't use any seasonings. The homemade chicken broth and cream of mushroom added enough flavor for me. Of course if yours needs some then add salt and pepper to taste.

Final product:



This was good and hearty. I could smell it coming up the walk way to my apartment. It smelled so good. I added a lil bit of butter (1 tbsp) to the chowder to make it more rich. You can add potatoes to this dish if you want. I actually prefer sweet potatoes over white ones. I didn't add any because I am trying to keep my carb intake down.

I have some leftovers and may be bring it in for lunch at work tomorrow. I am just worried about it giving off a fishy smell when I reheat it at work. LOL! I have never taken any fish/seafood dish to work for this very reason. A fishy smell is one smell that is HARD to get rid of!!

Anyways....

Enjoy!!!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Everything Happens For A Reason

Yes it does! And God is so good that I can't help but just be in awe of him.

Let me hip yall to how good he actually is.

I did a post earlier this week giving an update on my car situation. Due to the speediness of some awesome chicks at my credit union and the grace of God, my refinance was completed rather quickly. This allowed me to NOT have a car payment for this month. This meant I now had $550 dollars available to use at my discretion. And of course, in accordance with the theme of my blog, I planned to apply $400 of that towards my credit card debt. The remaining $150 was to be used towards my car maintenance for this month (I wanted to get some tints on my car).

Well my car has been acting funny. It would make this clicking noise every time I made a turn. And yesterday it started shaking. I called up the Honda dealership and set up an appointment to get it checked out. I went in this morning and an hours later this is what the service tech told me I needed:

  • -Two new tires ($225)
  • -Replace rear differential fluid which was causing the noise ($98)
  • -Replace worn down break pads ($170)
Total cost = $540.28

Car payment money that had gotten "freed up" = $550


Coincidence? Naw. Ain't nothing but my GOD working it out!!


I have had to pay my share of car repair bills before. And each time I wondered where the heck I was gonna get the money. Not this time.

The service rep brought the repair estimate. I analyzed it, had them remove the "suggested but not needed" maintenance items they added, asked them to price match Good Year's sale price for the same tires they had (which they did), and handed them a 10% off coupon I had received a while back. After all this was applied he gave me a bill estimate of $540. I smiled and told him that they could start working on the car. I can seriously say that that was the first time I was able to say ok to a car repair and was alright. I was alright because I knew EXACTLY where I would get the money for this.

If you all could only imagine the hustling it took to get my refinance processed by 4 pm on Monday. Mind you, I called Statefarm on SATURDAY to initiate the process. The loan department wasn't even open on Saturday. So that means that the whole refinance process took less than 7 hours. I am talking about from getting approved for the refinance to my credit union overnighting the payoff. That whole process usually take 4-5 days. Yall can't tell me that wasn't God working that miracle!!

What if they didn't process it in time and I had to pay the $532 car note??? I would have had to pay the car repair bill with some of my emergency fund.

*shuddering*

I don't even wanna think about it. Only numbers I wanna see decreasing is my debt.

I am happy. I am happy because I just paid a $540 repair bill and it didn't cause in ripple or wave in my life. I am still on track with my goal to pay my credit card debt off by October of this year. The extra $550 this month would have only helped me pay off my debt about 2 weeks earlier than my goal but oh well. Remember, I don't have a car note next month either. So that will go towards my cc debt and take me even closer to D-Day.

Well I had to share that with yall. This year has been going pretty good for me. I am getting blessings left and right. I gotta go pick up my daughter from school but when I get back I'll tell you guys about some other awesome things happening in Dimples' life.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I need a good skincare line to start my skin regimen - Any advice

One of my 2008 Goals is to start and stick to a skin regimen.

Well I need to find some products to use before I can even think about a regimen. Unfortunately, I have EXTRA sensitive skin. Some days my skin is dry as all out doors. Other days it can be real oily. But between those two, my skin is more dry than oily.

I have been using AMBI for the past 6 months or so. It has been an okay product but it is not giving me what I want. I am looking for the following things:

  • -Even out my skin tone.
  • -Moisturizes my skin.
  • -Will NOT break me out.
  • -Fades away my blemishes. (I don't have a lot but I do have this bad habit of picking at my pimples.... TMI I know!)
  • -Take care of the dark circles around my eyes. (I need to get more sleep)
Dang, you would swear I look like an old hag after reading that. But whatev! I'm cute!!!! LOL

If you know of a good skincare line that will take care of the things that I listed above or even products from different lines, please feel free to drop that information in a comment to this post or email me at dimplesdivine at gmail dot com. The product must also work with my skin color.

I am currently looking at some stuff from Carol's Daughter. I use their hair products and they are amazing! So I am hoping that carries over into their skincare line.

Anyways, I am welcome to any advice or recommendations you may have.

Laptop for $360

Anyone looking for a laptop?

MicroCenter has one on sale for $359.99.


(Hat tip to Hustler)


Check out the specs:



  • Intel® Celeron® M Processor 540
  • 512MB DDR2-667 RAM
  • 80GB 5,400RPM Hard Drive
  • Combo DVD-ROM/CD-RW Drive
  • Intel® Graphics Media Accelerator X3100
  • 10/100 Network
  • 802.11b/g Wireless Network
  • 14.1" WXGA CrystalBrite Display
  • Microsoft Windows Vista Home Basic
SKU: 394965
Mfr Part #: LX.AKZ0Y.169
UPC: 099802364373
_
$359.99

Monday, March 10, 2008

March 08 Budget




Better late than never.

Everything is pretty much the same with the exception of my car payment and car maintenance this month. I am going to take my car in and get a thorough check-up. I have noticed that my car is driving a lil differently and I want to make sure everything is running smoothly. I think it just might need a new tire or two. Anyways, since I do not have a car payment this month I am going to put some money to the side just in case the check-out doesn't turn out okay. Oh and I think I may get some tints.

All other categories and sub-categories are pretty much unchanged except for a few tweaks here and there.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Car Update

As you all know, I decided to trade-in my vehicle for a less expensive one. I currently pay $532 a month for my 2006 Honda CR-V. Ridiculous I know.

I called my credit union on Monday and applied for a $10K loan over the phone. The loan officer called back in 2 hours and said that I had been approved. She put me in touch with a company the credit union worked with that would be able to get me a car at a wholesale price. The guy took my info and looked up the trade-in value of my car. He called me back and said that the trade-in value on my car was $13,500. Mind you, I owe a lil over $19K. I would basically be almost $6000 upside down on a loan for a used 2001-2003 car.

Can we say UH NO!!!

Dude advised me NOT to go this route and to just keep paying down my car for a lil while longer. He kept it real and I appreciated that. I am so glad that I decided to talk with his company first instead of going to a dealership with my freshly approved loan and walking away just plain ignorant of what mess I just got myself into.

So I called the loan officer at my credit union and explained to her the conclusion that he and I came to. She suggested that I might want to look into refinancing my car with them. Based on my numbers my interest rate would be 6.5% (down from 9.8% with my current loan) and my monthly payment wold be $392. That is a $140 savings from what I pay now.

Can we say UH HELL YEAH!!!

So I applied to get my loan refinanced with my credit union and got approved. I contacted my current car loan folks Saturday morning and they sent over the payoff letter. Everything should be final by Tuesday morning the latest.

You would think that the good news ended there but it didn't. Because I am refinancing my loan, I did not have to pay my car payment this month. (No I am not late. They are paying the loan off within the grace period.) So now I have $550 free this month to do as I please. Of course that is going towards my credit card debt.

And WAIT!! It gets better.

My loan officer said that my first payment would be due until 60 days after my refinance was complete. 60 DAYS!!! That means that I will have even more money to pay down my credit card debt next month also.

Things worked out pretty well. I got to keep my car (that I absolutely adore) and still managed to lower my monthly payment significantly. Thanks to all who gave me advice on this.

I'll hit you guys with an update once everything gets finalized. I am working on my March 08 budget. I'll post that later or in the morning.

Ciao

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Crockpot Recipe of the Week - Sweet Chicken

Ingredients:

1 whole hen (make sure it fits in your crockpot) = $3.02

1/2 cup of organic dried fruit or you can use fresh fruit (dates, cranberries, apricots, raisins, apples) = $.50

1 apple, peeled and chopped = $.25

1 cup of chopped carrots = $.25

1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped = $.35

3 tablespoon of honey (optional) = $.10

Spices = pepper, salt, 2 cloves, parsley, 1 chicken bullion (all to taste...not too much)


TOTAL COST = $4.47 (approximate)


Prep Time = 15 min

Cook Time = 6-8 hours on low (all depends on if you want the chicken to remain whole or want it to fall off the bone) I cooked mine for 6 hours.


Directions:

Turn on crockpot on desired setting. Rub seasoning on chicken. Put to side. Add dried fruit, apple, carrots, and sweet potato to bowl. Add honey and seasoning and distribute evenly. Add some of the mixture into the chicken (like you would stuffing). Put remaining mixture in crockpot. Add stuffed chicken to crockpot. You can add liquid to the crockpot BUT be forewarned that the chicken will produce it's own juices (a lot). I added about 1/4 of water to crockpot. Cover and let it cook.

Final product:


Verdict: It was soo good! I didn't add that much spices to the dish and I am so glad. The apples, sweet potato, and dried fruit mix created this sweet yet savory flavor. The cloves helped also. Oh yeah....please remember to remove those when your chicken is done. I suggest taking a tea bag, emptying out the contents, add the cloves and re-wrap the bag, and putting that into your dish. I just hang the string out on the side of the crockpot. That way you can easily fetch it out when needed. I took the excess liquid and saved that in a separate tupperware bowl. It makes an excellent chicken broth for future dishes.

This dish is one of those dishes that can metamorphosise into other dishes. I made this on Tuesday because I knew that my week was going to be crazy and I would not be in the mood to cook. On Tuesday we had some of the chicken just like that with a side of salad. On Wednesday, we had the chicken on a bed of sautéed cabbage and snow peas. The sweetness of the sweet potato and chicken mixed with the tartness of the cabbage was just splendid. See pic below.




Not a lot of the chicken was left for tonight. The major parts anyways. There were pieces and chunks here and there so pulled all the meat I could off the chicken and made this banging stew chicken. We ate that with some brown rice.


And that is how you stretch a meal made for less than $5 over 3 days.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

End of the Month Report - February 08

BUDGET RESULTS


February was a great month. I brought in some extra income and received a chunky tax refund



Income: I brought in $395.26 in extra income and I also received my tax refund of $2629. The extra income consisted of sales I made on Amazon and eBay, bonuses from Revolutionary Money Exchange, mileage reimbursement from work, and blog income.

Rent & Utilities: Everything but my damn cell phone bill was cool in this area. I am highly upset with Cingular AT&T or what ever the wanna call themselves today. I supposedly went over my text messages and when I checked the bill it seems I was being charged TWICE for each text message. I called to inquire about this and got the run around. I was leaving to go out of town in a couple of hours and I did not want them to cut my phone off while I was out-of-state so I went ahead and paid the ridiculous $195.89 bill. I called them today and they are going to go over my bill and call me back tomorrow. I want to cancel my contract with them but the disconnect fee is $175.

Auto: I didn't do to well in this category . I didn't account for the trips to South Florida to drop and pick up my daughter in the gas budget. I also got additional maintenance on my car on top of the oil change and got it detailed since I will be trading it in sometime this week.

Food: I went over my grocery budget. BUT there is a very good reason for it. And organization I am the Treasurer for had a pot-luck and I brought the dessert (mini cakes and strawberry shortcake). Hence the $14.12 overage.

NOTE: I was able to make enough mini-cakes and strawberry shortcake using fresh organic strawberries and low-fat pound cake to feed 15 people and only spent $14.12.


Debt: I paid off one of my credit cards using my tax refund.


Misc: I had to get my nail and hair did for my ATL trip. I had already used up my beauty budget when I purchased some hair products from Carol's Daughter. Nothing on the medical front. The remaining sub-categories came about after I received my tax refund. I didn't want to lump them together and I wanted to show you all where the money actually went. Get more details here.

I have $1227.82 remaining from February's finances. I am in the process of trading in my current vehicle for a less expensive but reliable car. I am upside down on my loan and I may need to pay the difference depending on how much the dealership offers me. I call my credit union yesterday and applied for a car loan and got approved for $10K. Once the entire process is completed, I'll give you guys a run through and what happened.

NET WORTH



My net worth increased by $3,462 this month! Not bad. Of course my tax refund played a big roll in it. My 401K did not increase that much. Mind you I put in $439 each month. But hey, and increase of any kind is better than a decrease.

In my last end of the month report, I shared my doubts in being able to reach my net worth goal of $1 by January of next year. But if all falls through with my car situation, net worth would change drastically and I just might be able to do it.



I'm back!!

Yes indeedy!

I had a blast in the A. That vacation was long overdue.

For all those Atlantians out there:

We hit up Atlantic Station and M Bar. We ate at Gladys Knight's restaurant and I had some of the her famous chicken and waffles. It was off da chain. And while we are eating, guess who winds up sitting at a table right next to ours? Cedric the Entertainer!! I was so giddy but I managed to hold still and not bother that man while he ate. Steve and Monique were funty as hell. After the comedy show, we went to the Westin and straight to the top to have some drinks and dinner. Our last day we ate at Thumbs Up diner. We ended the trip by visiting MLK and Coretta's grave sites and visited the MLK museum. Wow! Talk about goosebumps!

On the budget front:

I tried and I tried but I did not keep to my $225 budget. I winded up exceeding it by $68.09. After visiting MLK's grave site and visiting the museum, I HAD to get some souvenirs to bring home. Good news is that I was able to cover that overage with the extra money I made. Here is a breakdown of what I spent:

Food & Drinks: $62.67

Clothes : $35.28

Hotel: $32

Gas: $45

Art Work & Souvenirs: $118.18

TOTAL: $293.13




My friends are planning on going to the Essence Festival in New Orleans this summer. They went last year and had an awesome time. This trip to ATL has given me the traveling bug so I am itching to go somewhere else and the N.O. would be great. I will most likely put my tax rebate towards that trip.