About Budget 101

My goal for this series is to guide you through a series of assignments intended to put you on a sounder financial footing.  Basically it is eight weeks to a better budget. It is my personal guide, a beginners budget 101. Each week we will tackle one specific area for us to work on, and then complete assignments related to that segment of our financial life. Keep in mind, just as anything you need to do in life, following this series will take some effort & commitment on your part. There are many ways to budget your financial life, and this is the blood, sweat, & tears edition. Okay, well maybe no blood 🙂 Every Sunday will mark a new week towards a better budget. Come join me and save! Click on Budget 101 in the menu scale, and use the drop down to view the series by week.

Disclaimers: 

  • I am not a financial expert or certified financial planner.  I have degrees in business administration, criminal and business law, have studied accounting, and am a certified tax preparer and tutor.  I have no credentials whatsoever beyond my own experience to qualify me for teaching anyone about saving money.  There are plenty of money experts out there who could probably explain this stuff far better than me, and some I will even refer you to.  My only goal here is to try to break down the scary world of budgets and saving into manageable bites.  Yes, this is the baby steps guide to saving. This is my personal guide, and it has worked for me.

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Week 1 of Budget 101

Welcome to My Beginner’s Guide to Saving!

My goal for this series is to guide you through a series of assignments intended to put you on sounder financial footing.  Basically it is eight weeks to a better budget. Being that you are reading this, you are starting a lifestyle to a better you, and  better financial situation.

Part One: Stop Spending!!!

Saving is not easy. We live in a crazy consumer driven “have to have it” society, where the latest electronics, cars, fashions and cars are constantly being promoted; and we are made to feel like we’re missing out if we don’t have the latest or the best.  The sheer quantity of stuff available to purchase at any given time is pretty much a bottomless pit.  There is always more, more more! So we want and spend more, more, more!

So what’s a girl (or boy) to do?

Well, it’s pretty simple really:  STOP. BUYING. STUFF.

At least in theory it is simple…….

In practice, it is sooooo much harder……

Our reasons for spending money on stuff we don’t need are plentiful and varied.  It makes us feel good.  We want to look better.  We want our house to be pretty.  We want what everyone else has.  It’s fun.  We’re bored.  We’re lonely.  We want people to like us better.  We want to be “ahead of the curve.” We’re “tech junkies”.  We can’t pass up a “good deal.” We think we might need it someday.  The sales pitch worked.  We’re stressed.  We’re trying to fill a void.  It was on sale.  We’re addicted to Starbucks, tobacco, scrapbooking, shoes, video games, books, fun, etc.

Sound familiar?

The truth is that whatever the reason, much of what we spend our money on is unnecessary, a want rather than a need.  I need to eat, but I want to drink my Keurig K-Cups coffee every day. I need to wear shoes, but I want to have dozens of pairs in every color and style imaginable. I want to get my hair done, but I have student loans and bills I need to pay. I want to take dance classes, but I need to pay for health insurance every month (why is insurance so much anyways?…347.00 a month!)  😦  So much for AFFORDABLE in Affordable Care Act.

It is so very important to realize the distinction between what we think we need and what we actually need. But its not an issue of wants Vs. needs, but wants Vs. Priorities.

It is the first critical step on the path to savings.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you should never spend money on anything, and live an austere and boring life, void of pretty things, entertainment or yummy coffee drinks.

But for the sake of this series, we are going to start by curbing all spending so that down the road we can figure out how to get those things we want in a way that fits our budget.

Which brings me to this week’s assignment:

1.  Stop spending!

Try to go these next seven days without spending money on anything except what is absolutely necessary, as in matter-of-survival necessary.  No clothes, no candy, no quick stops at McDonalds, no craft supplies, no nothing.  Don’t worry, it’s only a week.  You won’t die.  I promise. It is a great way to get your budget back on track in a hurry!

2.  Make a list of wants and needs

Spend your time reflecting on all the things you spend money on in a months time, and divide those things into a “needs” list (i.e.  I need to pay rent, pay utility bills, pay health and life insurance bills, buy food, make car and insurance payment, etc.) and a “wants” list (cable, , Starbucks, etc.)

  •  Don’t just make a mental list.  Sit down and physically write down every single thing you can think of that you spend money on, from the mundane to the major.

3. Get inspired

Read a few financial articles to get yourself motivated.  It will give you something to do while you’re trying not to spend money.

4.  Find new (free) ways to fill your time

Think long and hard about the reasons you spend money frivelously.  If you are using shopping as a way to fill a void in your life then you need to seriously explore other hobbies that don’t cost anything.  Go to the library and check out some new books, make it your mission to explore every park in a 20 mile radius, set a goal of organizing every closet and cupboard in your house by the end of the summer, or better yet, have a yard sale and make some money off the things that you already have that you don’t need.

I think the thing that surprised me the most when I stopped spending money out of boredom was how much more creative I became.  The world is full of free activities. You just have to look a little harder.

And that’s it for this week!  Stay tuned for another riveting installment next Sunday and remember, I want to hear from you!  If you’ve decided to take this 8 week challenge, or if you have any ideas for fun free activities you’d like to share, please leave a comment below.  Saving money is so much more fun when you have someone to share it with.
Samantha Jonas-Rongo

Language Barriers Create Country Borders

Image result for language barrier

We all should learn a new language not just to communicate, but to be able to get a better understanding of others around us. We need to start the process for the generations to come to live life where we all get along and live in a world where we survive together instead of fighting one another. We should be able to live in a world without borders or barriers, but it begins with language……Samantha E. Jonas-Rongo

我們都應該學習一種新的語言不只是溝通,但要能更好地理解我們周圍的人。我們需要啟動該進程為世世代代居住生活的地方,我們都相處和生活在一個世界裡,我們生存的戰鬥,而不是彼此在一起。我們應該能夠生活在一個沒有邊界或障礙,但它開始用語言。……Samantha E. Jonas-Rongo

Todos deberíamos aprender un nuevo idioma no sólo para comunicarse, sino ser capaz de obtener una mejor comprensión de los que nos rodean. Tenemos que empezar el proceso para las generaciones por venir a vivir la vida en el que todos llevamos y vivimos en un mundo donde sobrevivimos juntos en lugar de luchar entre sí. Debemos ser capaces de vivir en un mundo sin fronteras ni barreras, pero comienza con el lenguaje…….Samantha E. Jonas-Rongo

Мы все должны выучить новый язык не только для общения, но, чтобы иметь возможность получить лучшее понимание окружающих нас. Мы должны начать процесс для будущих поколений жить жизнью, где все мы вместе и жить в мире, где мы выживаем вместе, а не бороться друг с другом. Мы должны быть в состоянии жить в мире без границ и барьеров, но это начинается с языка…….Samantha E. Jonas-Rongo

Nous devrions tous apprendre une nouvelle langue et pas seulement de communiquer , mais pour être en mesure d’obtenir une meilleure compréhension des autres autour de nous . Nous devons commencer le processus pour les générations à venir de vivre la vie où nous entendons tous et nous vivons dans un monde où nous survivons ensemble au lieu de se battre les uns les autres . Nous devrions être en mesure de vivre dans un monde sans frontières ni barrières , mais il commence avec la langue…….Samantha E. Jonas-Rongo

يجب علينا جميعا أن نتعلم لغة جديدة ليس فقط للتواصل، ولكن لتكون قادرة على الحصول على فهم أفضل من الآخرين من حولنا. نحن بحاجة للبدء في عملية للأجيال القادمة أن تعيش حياة حيث أننا جميعا الحصول على طول ونعيش في عالم حيث نعيش معا بدلا من محاربة بعضهم البعض. يجب أن نكون قادرين على العيش في عالم من دون حدود أو حواجز، ولكنها تبدأ مع اللغة…….Samantha E. Jonas-Rongo

Noi tutti dovremmo imparare una nuova lingua, non solo per comunicare, ma per essere in grado di ottenere una migliore comprensione di altri intorno a noi. Abbiamo bisogno di avviare il processo per le generazioni a venire a vivere la vita in cui siamo tutti d’accordo e viviamo in un mondo in cui sopravviviamo insieme invece di combattere l’un l’altro. Dovremmo essere in grado di vivere in un mondo senza confini o barriere, ma inizia con il linguaggio…….Samantha E. Jonas-Rongo

Tất cả chúng ta nên học một ngôn ngữ mới không chỉ để giao tiếp, nhưng để có thể có được một sự hiểu biết tốt hơn về những người khác xung quanh chúng ta. Chúng tôi cần phải bắt đầu quá trình cho các thế hệ mai để sống cuộc sống mà tất cả chúng ta được cùng sống trong một thế giới mà chúng ta tồn tại với nhau thay vì chiến đấu với nhau. Chúng tôi sẽ có thể sống trong một thế giới không biên giới hoặc các rào cản, nhưng nó bắt đầu với ngôn ngữ…….Samantha E. Jonas-Rongo

Dapat namin ang lahat ng malaman ng isang bagong wika ay hindi lamang upang makipag-usap, ngunit upang magagawang upang makakuha ng isang mas mahusay na pag-unawa ng iba sa paligid sa amin. Kailangan namin upang simulan ang proseso para sa mga darating na henerasyon sa live na buhay na kung saan namin ang lahat ng makakuha ng kasama at mabuhay sa isang mundo kung saan nagpapatuloy kami magkasama sa halip na labanan ang isa’t isa. Kami ay dapat ma upang mabuhay sa isang daigdig na walang hangganan o hadlang, ngunit ito ay nagsisimula sa wika…….Samantha E. Jonas-Rongo

Մենք բոլորս պետք է սովորել նոր լեզու է ոչ միայն շփվելու, այլեւ կարողանան ստանալ ավելի լավ հասկանալ, թե ուրիշների շրջապատում: Մենք պետք է սկսել գործընթացը, որ սերունդների է ապրել կյանքը, որտեղ մենք բոլորս միասին, եւ ապրել մի աշխարհում, որտեղ մենք գոյատեւել միասին, այլ ոչ թե պայքարում են մեկը մյուսին. Մենք պետք է կարողանանք ապրել մի աշխարհում, առանց սահմանների եւ արգելքների, բայց դա սկսվում լեզվով…….Samantha E. Jonas-Rongo

Wir alle sollten eine neue Sprache nicht nur zu kommunizieren, aber in der Lage, ein besseres Verständnis der anderen um uns herum zu sein zu lernen. Wir müssen den Prozess zu starten für die kommenden Generationen zu leben, wo wir alle zusammen zu bekommen und leben in einer Welt, wo wir zusammen statt gegeneinander kämpfen zu überleben leben. Wir sollten in der Lage, in einer Welt ohne Grenzen oder Barrieren zu leben, aber es beginnt mit der Sprache…….Samantha E. Jonas-Rongo

Ba chóir dúinn go léir teanga nua ní hamháin a chur in iúl, ach a bheith in ann a fháil tuiscint níos fearr ar dhaoine eile thart timpeall orainn a fhoghlaim. Ní mór dúinn chun tús a chur le próiseas do na glúine atá le teacht an saol nuair a fháil againn go léir chomh maith agus ag maireachtáil i ndomhan ina maireachtáil againn le chéile in ionad an troid a chéile chun maireachtáil. Ba cheart dúinn a bheith in ann maireachtáil i ndomhan gan teorainneacha nó bacainní, ach tosaíonn sé le teanga…….Samantha E. Jonas-Rongo

Waxaan oo dhan waa iney bartaan luqad cusub ma ahan oo keliya in ay la xiriiraan, laakiin si ay u awoodaan in ay helaan faham wanaagsan oo dadka nagu wareegsan. Waxaan u baahanahay si ay u bilaabaan habka loo jiilasha soosocda in ay ku noolaadaan nolol halka aan dhan u hesho iyo ku noolnahay adduun halkaas oo aan ku noolaan wada halkii ay dagaal midba midka kale. Waa in aan awoodin in ay ku noolaadaan dunida oo aan xuduudaha ama caqabadaha, laakiin waxay ka bilaabanaysaa afka…….Samantha E. Jonas-Rongo

Ние всички трябва да научат нов език не само да общуват, но за да бъде в състояние да получи по-добро разбиране на другите около нас. Ние трябва да започне процеса за идните поколения да живеят живот, където всички ние се разбираме и да живеем в един свят, където можем да оцелеят заедно, вместо да се биете един на друг. Трябва да можем да живеем в свят без граници или бариери, но тя започва с език…….Samantha E. Jonas-Rongo

Children and News

 
                 
Since my stepson was 3, he has been viewing the news on our local channels as well as NBC, MSNBC and CNN with me. At 9 years old, he now watches the news every morning before going to school, and at night during the evening broadcast. I am a current event and history fanatic, and see a major importance in both.  CNN, NBC and MSNBC not only take over my television screen, but my phone, including apps for breaking news notifications. I love to know what’s going on not only locally, but world wide. I believe children should be just as aware. Today’s news will be tomorrows history. Take my poll below and see what others believe and how you and I may agree or differ.

Clinton V. Romney?

Clinton V. Romney?

Samantha Jonas-Rongo

republican-democrat-battle

In 2015’s polling world, Hillary wins the race with 49 percent support out of the candidates running, compared to 34 percent for Bush and 35 percent for Romney.

Clinton advisers have said they would actually prefer a Clinton-Romney race, viewing him as the “weaker” Republican candidate in the set.

Clinton vs Romney

A recent poll suggests that former presidential contender Mitt Romney would win the Republican nomination for the 2016 presidential election, amid rumors he is considering a third run. However, the poll also suggests that Hillary Clinton, regardless of which Republican candidate runs against her — Romney, former Gov. Jeb Bush, or Sen. Paul Rand — would sweep the final election.

Commentators and pollsters waiver on the ultimate victor though, given that Election Day is still almost two years away. Though, Romney’s and Clinton’s weaknesses and gaffes have been very publicly vetted throughout past years, the emergence of new hiccups and the resurgence of old ones is inevitable during election season. Politics can be cruel!

When it comes to key demographics, Clinton might again have the edge. Younger, minority and women voters have typically voted Democrat, making the difference for Obama in both prior elections. However, this demographic largely stayed home during the recent midterm elections, making it difficult to gauge their specific impact on the 2016 race. Still, polls indicate that both minority and the youth vote are far more likely to show up for the more prominent, salient White House race, motivated by big social issues and policies.

Clinton has also snagged key 2008-2012 Obama campaign team members, which some pundits and commentators say could help her team successfully replicate the 2012 win. For some political analysts, this choice might be a hindrance to the Clinton coalition, depending on how she wants to portray her relationship with the Obama administration to both voters and the media.

Formal portrait of Hillary Rodham Clinton with flag, 2009Most significantly, Clinton’s chance to become the first female president has the potential to bring voters to a historic election that they otherwise wouldn’t participate in.

Regardless of individual biases, historical trends can be an obstacle. Clinton’s political party is the same one that currently rules the White House. There have only been a few times (most recently, George H. W. Bush’s 1988 win following Ronald Reagan’s presidency) when a candidate sharing the same party as the outgoing two-termed president was able to get elected. Most commonly this trend prevails because voters are disappointed with the turnout of how the incumbents second term has gone. Although, Obama’s approval ratings have increased over the past couple of months, his disapproval rating is still high at 48 percent. How Obama ends his presidency, could either help or hinder Clinton’s 2016 aspirations.

Regardless of the impression voters have of Romney, his public image has improved since 2012. His advisers have attempted to “humanize” him, with members of his family opening their lives up to the media. The Netflix documentary “Mitt” was a substantial part of this re-imaging campaign, making him more relatable to the public. These intimate portraits have given Americans access to Romney as a person, not just a businessman, governor and Olympic savior.

Former Massachusetts Governor and 2012 Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney speaking at CPAC, March 15, 2013.

On the policy front, some of Romney’s more criticized points have proven prescient. His 2012 foresight of the rise of Russia as a geopolitical threat and the difficult implementation of Obama Care have been borne out with time.

Regardless of Romney’s image revitalization or intuition on certain issues, there still loom substantial stereotypes and obstacles in his potential path to 2016.

For example, during Romney’s 2012 presidential run, Democratic commentators consistently portrayed him as out of touch with the American electorate. From his off-base estimate of average middle class incomes (he said $200,000-$250,000), to his infamous dismissal of the “47 percent of Americans who are dependent upon government … who believe that they are victims,” are reminders of his perceived elitism that are just a click away.

Samantha Jonas-Rongo

Deadly Tragedy in Pakistan

PreK, then K-12 equals 14 years of guaranteed FREE education for every child in this country. It is not only our rights as Americans, but an opportunity camouflaged by law. Too many people are taking for granted our education system that many others would do anything to take advantage of. While too many Americans settle for a GED, refugees and immigrants are fleeing their countries and are earning the Masters and Doctoral available on our home land. It is by law we get an education. However, for many others around the world, it is only a hope and a dream.…..Samantha Jonas-Rongo

A soldier escorts schoolchildren from the Army Public School that is under attack by Taliban gunmen in Peshawar

schoolchildren from the Army Public School that is under attack by Taliban gunmen in Peshawar

Deadly Tragedy in Pakistan

Samantha Jonas-Rongo

The Pakistan Taliban shouted, “God is great” as they made their way rampant through Army Public School and Degree College in Peshawar, Pakistan. They came in with enough ammunition and other supplies to last for days and were not expecting to come out alive, according to a Pakistani military official.

145 people, all mostly children were killed in the shootings. The schools principal was a victim of the tragedy along with a couple of teachers, including a teacher who was shot, then burned to death and the 7 Taliban extremist who all wore suicide bombs.

While children were in class at 10am in Pakistan,12am US (ET),  a car exploded behind the school. Pakistani education minister Muhammad Baligh Ur Rehman explained to CNN that the blast was meant to divert the attention of the school’s security guards before the attack.

Policemen stand beside empty coffins at the hospital after an attack by Taliban gunmen on the Army Public School in Peshawar

DR. Aamir Bilal of Peshawar’s Lady Reading Hospital, cited students that gunmen got over the walls and walked through where students in grades 8 through 10 were having classes and fired randomly.

14-year-old Ahmed Faraz who was shot in the attack told CNN that he and others were in an auditorium when 4 to 5 people swarmed through a backdoor, and started shooting rapidly.

As ninth-grader Ahmed and the other children hid in the auditorium, the gunman swarmed in and one of them told the others that a lot of the children were hiding under the benches.

“kill them”, he then said according to Ahmed.

The gunmen then climbed the benches and started firing at the children.

Shahrukh Khan, 17, said a gunman had entered his classroom and opened fire at random. As he hid under a desk, he saw his friends being shot, one in the head and one in the chest. Two teachers were also killed.

Other children who escaped say the militants went from one classroom to another, shooting indiscriminately.

Pakistani authorities spent Tuesday night inside Army Public School and Degree College looking for survivors, victims and improvised explosive devices planted to worsen the carnage.

Men move bodies of students, who were killed during an attack by Taliban gunmen on the Army Public School, in an ambulance outside a hospital in Peshawar

Men move bodies of students, who were killed during an attack by Taliban gunmen on the Army Public School, in an ambulance outside a hospital in Peshawar

Even Taliban militants in neighboring Afghanistan decried the killing spree, calling it “un-Islamic.”

This gruesome attack has been labeled as a response and revenge for the recent Nobel Peace Prize given to Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist for female education, the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate, and victim of the Taliban’s violence. (For those who haven’t read, “I am Malala”, you need too. I have and she is an amazing and inspiring young woman with such a great story and hope for the future all man kind. She is not only an exceptional role model, she is someone who we all need to know about and teach our children. I will actually attach a link at the bottom of this page so you can purchase her book.)

She was awarded for her work against the “suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education”, and victim of the Taliban’s violence.

Malala_Yousafzai_at_Girl_Summit_2014

Malala Yousafzai 2014

“I am heartbroken by this senseless and cold-blooded act of terror in Peshawar that is unfolding before us,” Yousafzai said in a statement.

“Innocent children in their school have no place in horror such as this,” she continued. “I condemn these atrocious and cowardly acts and stand united with the government and armed forces of Pakistan whose efforts so far to address this horrific event are commendable.”

She concluded: “I, along with millions of others around the world, mourn these children, my brothers and sisters – but we will never be defeated.”

On any typical day, the school is home to about 1,100 students and staff, most of them sons and daughters of army personnel from around Peshawar. A Taliban spokesman told BBC Urdu that the school, which is run by the army, had been targeted in response to military operations. Hundreds of Taliban fighters are thought to have died in a recent offensive in North Waziristan and the nearby Khyber.

If the Pakistani Taliban extremists had hoped the attack would cause the government to ease off its military offensive that began in June in the country’s tribal region, it appeared to have the opposite effect. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif pledged to step up the campaign, along with U.S. drone strikes; as targeted the militants.

Samantha Jonas-Rongo

Rescue workers and family members carry the coffin of a student, who killed during an attack by Taliban gunmen on the Army Public School, in Peshawar

Rescue workers and family members carry the coffin of a student, who killed during an attack by Taliban gunmen on the Army Public School, in Peshawar

Click here to read the first 21 pages of “I Am Malala”

Click here to purchase “I Am Malala”