Credit Woes and Freedom

Yikes. Did you read the news about how a radio frequency reader can be carried through a crowd, reading your credit information then emailing it across the globe?  It’s alarming and confirming that I made the right decision to live without credit.  This information apparently applies to newer cards with radio frequency, but it has spawned another solution industry – a protective sleeve so the frequency cannot be read.  If you are still living on credit, be sure to check your statements daily and look up RFID blocking or credit card shields.

Here’s another reason to end credit card dependence.  The freedom of budgeting.  Does that sound like an oxymoron?  It isn’t really.  Budgeting is planning.  When I plan for how to use our funds, I can more easily say no because I want to reach the goals that we set. One method is Freedom pages.

Freedom Pages are something Mary Hunt teaches in her Debt Free Living books and website.  These pages are a division of your savings so you don’t only have an account for emergencies (which you continually empty if you are like most of America), but you have a page for any expense that might come due more than a month away – Car expenses, home maintenance, insurance, taxes, medical deductibles, personal items, etc.  Knowing that funds will be there when needed reduces a lot of stress and is as visual as a clear cookie jar – you know what you really have left to spend (if anything) on other than budgeted items.

There is just something different about handing over my last $20 as opposed to handing over a plastic card and assuming I will figure out how to cover the bill when it shows up.  It’s been interesting this week to look at things with a new eye of asking is it worth it.  One cool result was deciding one item was not worth the price and walking away.  3 days later the same item was on sale half price. I feel like I won that battle.

Now onto something I dread even more: the closet.

Can I do it?

I got fed up yesterday.  I bought something online which didn’t work. It cost me 20% to return it.  If I’d purchased it locally, I could have tried it out and known how it functioned – either would not have purchased it, or would have returned it immediately.   Last year I had credit identity stolen.  That was not the first time for either of these incidences – so I quit.

Quit?  Quit what?  I quit using credit and shopping online.  I’m doing it for a year with the hope that this will prove I don’t need the credit card, and don’t need to shop online.  It may cost a few more pennies here and there to shop locally – or to substitute what I cannot find locally – but I’m willing to try.  I don’t care if I don’t get points, and I don’t mind that I’ll get less emails (I’ve unsubscribed to all the sale ads to reduce temptation), and I don’t care if I can’t satisfy an order-it-now urge.

Simpledown is the new word for 2011.

I’ve “fasted” from shopping for 30 days and 90 days in the past as gifts for my hubby.  I also did a one year fast from my (at that time) favorite clothing store.  Interestingly enough, I no longer like to shop there.  It seems that while I was in the habit, the sale prices seemed desirable, and now I wonder what on earth I was thinking.  I’ve already created a chart to record the things I run out of that I might usually have ordered on the web.  I’ll complete the former price, the new price wherever I find the item and compare at the end of the year if I really saved money or not.  I know just not having the monthly stress will be a treat for the hubby.

I put this under mind, as in mind over matter, but it could also qualify under emotions, don’t you think?

Hyper Grandma

An overdose of hormones, energy and curiosity can be a gift or a curse.  I’m told they make life with me an adventure in faith for my dear hubby and family.  Things happen when I’m with you, the (8)  grandkids say, encouraging me to share some of our humorous moments walking by faith…

Kim’s 14th birthday was no exception.  A photo-of-the-month prize was waiting for me in Milwaukee, and Kim thought it would be fun to ride along, and practice Spanish in the car rather than on the couch.  Time flew by with the lesson completed by the time we reached the TV station, and after we proved identification and received this framed photo of Faith, Kim asked if we could hunt for a new devotional for her.  On the way to the bookstore she asked about my previous day’s bike ride with friend Marla – laughing hilariously as I explained the riderless horse trotting down Taylor Avenue which we had to cross to continue the bike path.  There ahead of us was a mom in distress – a rope in one hand and a bucket (of oats we guessed) in the other.   Our husbands were shocked, picturing their 50-something-just-had-leg-surgery and 60-something-could-need-leg-surgery-after-today wives circling around on bikes helping to round up a runaway horse!

As we finished the tale we ended up at a bookstore across from a large mall. Beckoning us from across the street was an upscale Chinese restaurant we’d both longed to visit ‘someday’.   We looked at each other and moments later Kim was warning our charming waiter, Ben, as he seated us that “things happen” when Gramma is around, while quickly summarizing the previous days adventure.  The dark-haired young man paused, unbelieving, queried where I would find a horse, then laughed with us and took our order.  The meal was delightful as Kim and I made up stories about the other patrons and what was “really” going on in their lives.  Ben stopped by from time-to-time, seeming to enjoy bantering with us.  As I figured the tip with my remaining cash, I added a neat gospel tract that looks like a million-dollar bill, and a check for the meal – explaining to Kim how Grandpa challenged me that I couldn’t live a month without the credit card.  Ben casually picked up the folder, heading for the hostess’ desk, and soon returned frowning.  It seems the restaurant did not take checks!  Kim started to giggle, asking if I was going to have to wash dishes or be taken to jail. (notice she did not ask if WE were going to wash dishes).  I told him I did not have the card with me, but would call my husband for some back-up, and Ben went to “see what he could do.”  I stuffed the tip, tract and check in my purse, and began dialing Ken while asking Kim what she would do if they did take me to jail. She laughed and said, “Guess I’d call someone for a ride home.”  No protective action, calling for help for me or pleading to not take my Gramma –I noted sadly to continued giggles, and “Uh, oh – you’re in trouble now” pointing as I hung up the phone with Ken to a tall middle-aged man with a “manager” name tag approaching our table.

He seemed to be evaluating the situation as he approached and as I explained that Ken had a backup plan, he said, no, that’s fine – you look honest and we will make an exception and take your check.  Kim told him she liked adventures with Gramma but was relieved her Gramma would not have to wash dishes or go to jail!  We joked a bit as I grabbed the papers from my purse and once again stuffed them in the waiter’s folder for payment.  Ben brought our cute oriental boxes with leftovers and commented as we rose to leave that he would ‘never forget the Gramma with the horse-story and the check.”  We thought the incident was over, chuckling on the way home, but later that evening when I retrieved receipts from my purse, out fell the check to the restaurant!  Apparently all I’d left was the “million dollar bill” and the tip.

I couldn’t resist calling Kim first and telling her what I’d found in my purse.  “Gramma, Gramma, she lamented, you really are in trouble now.  He thought you were honest and you didn’t pay.”  The manager at the restaurant was pleased, but admittedly surprised to hear from me minutes later, reviewing how he and Ben thought the other had retrieved the check when they examined the folder after we left.  When I found out the waiter had offered to do the “right thing” and paid the bill, I wanted to bring cash immediately, but was told Ben had already gone home for the day. The manager refused a credit card, insisting he wanted my check!  Kim and I agreed Ben should get an additional tip and a note, which we included with the check.  Now Kim is begging me to take her back while they “still recognize us.”  She wants to walk in showing Ben we have the cash.  Maybe pay him before we eat…I’m not so sure he will think it is as funny as Kim does.

Four Sides of Me

I subscribe to the First Place (Christ centered diet program) description of me:  Emotions, Mind, Body, and Spirit, so these posts will vary within one of those four topics.

I have no apologies if the posts to various categories become unbalanced … my excuses are thus:

I am woman

I am Sanguine

I am Delores

and my praise is thus according to Psalm 139:

I am God’s will.

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