Friday, March 2, 2012

Looking for a house?

I was looking at some local realors websites today and just wanted to let everyone know that there are some really good deals out there.  Email me at  if you live in the Bolivar area or are looking to move to the area and I will hook you up with a realtor.  I would also love to help get anyone interested set up with a good low-rate home loan.  Let me know and I will get you some information. 

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

SNL Explains Personal Finance

This clip makes personal finance simple for anyone. Just don't buy stuff you can't afford! Watch this SNL skit with Amy Polar and Steve Martin: Don't Buy Stuff You Can't Afford. I saw this on the Planting Dollars blog, which is listed in my blogroll.

Cookin' with Court: Turkey Fried Rice

I wasn't planning on posting another recipe tonight, but Court cooked a meal that definitely deserves to be documented for future use.  The dish is called Turkey Fried Rice.  It comes from the May 2010 Edition of Taste of Home's Simple and Delicious.  We made asparagus and egg rolls as side dishes. 

Prep/Total Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

Generally, fried rice is a dish made with leftover rice from the day before, which serves as a nice base for a catch-all meal. 

1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 lb. ground turkey
2 green onions, sliced
3 cups cold cooked rice (cooked rice)
1 cup canned bean sprouts
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp. chunky peanut butter
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp. ground ginger

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium high heat.  Pour eggs into skillet.  As eggs set, lift edges, letting uncooked portion flow underneath.  When eggs are completely cooked, remove to a plate; set aside. 

In the same skillet, cook turkey and onions over medium heat until meat is no longer pink. Stir the rice, bean sprouts and cilantro. In a small bowl, whisk the remaining ingredients until blended; stir into skillet. Chop egg into small pieces; stir into skillet and heat through.  

We left out the bean sprouts and it was still really good.  This meal will cost approximately $1.11 per serving .  We both ate all we wanted and had enough left over for one of us to eat for lunch. This is also a really healthy meal. Cheap, quick, healthy, and tastes good!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Cookin' with Court: Italian-Style Salisbury Steaks

This recipe comes from the December 2011/January 2012 Edition of the Simple and Delicious magazine.  The recipe was submitted to the magazine by Heather Nalley of Easley, South Carolina.  This is a really flavorful meal.  Court has made this recipe twice now because I liked it so much.

Prep/Total Time: 20 Minutes
Serves: 4

1 egg
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 lb. ground beef
1 Tbsp. canola oil
1 can (14 1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes with basil, oregano and garlic, undrained
1 can (8 oz.) Italian tomato sauce

  • Combine first five ingredients in a large bowl. Crumble beef over mixture and mix well. Shape into four oval patties. Brown patties in oil on both sides in a large skillet. Drain. 
  • Combine diced tomatoes and tomato sauce in a small bowl.  Pour over patties. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until meat is no longer pink.  
This great dish can be made for $1.48 per serving.  That's a bargain!

Monday, February 27, 2012

How to Purchase a Car

Purchasing a Car: Step 2 of 4
Step 2: Evaluating Alternatives

1. Comparing Vehicle Options
2. Comparing Used Vehicles

Almost every purchase comes with several alternatives.  You may ask yourself: Can I delay the purchase? Should I buy the item with cash or credit? Can I find the item at a better price? Which brands should I consider?  If we begin to evaluate the alternatives of each purchase, we will become much more effective consumers.

When buying a car, most people use comparison shopping.  Comparison shopping is great when 1) making a large purchase or 2) buying items that you purchase very frequently.  A car would definitely qualify as a large purchase.

1. Selecting Vehicle Options: Optional equipment for cars can be viewed in three categories.

  • Options that improve performance
  • Options that offer convenience
  • Options that enhance the outward appearance of the car
As a consumer, we must take all of these options into consideration and determine what we are willing to pay a premium for.  For instance, power seats are definitely not a deal maker or breaker for me.  On the other hand, I definitely want my car to have a working air conditioner.  By making a list of the items that you find to be vital, you will be ready to evaluate almost any car.  

2. Comparing Used Vehicles: After you find a few cars you want to evaluate, I would suggest using this used car evaluation worksheet to ensure that you ask the correct questions when looking at a car.  I would also suggest taking a list of items you should check on the car. I really like this checklist to take along when car shopping.  It may feel a little bit nerdy caring around a clipboard of checklists, but it will help keep your thoughts clear when being hounded by the dreaded salesman.  Used cars can be tricky to examine if you are not prepared, so do your research before you go shop.  Kelley Blue Book has many great articles such as The 10 Best Used Cars Under $8,000, that would be great to look at before you go car shopping.  

The majority of this information was taken from Focus on Personal Finance: An Active Approach to Help You Develop Successful Financial Skills by Kapoor, Dlabay, and Hughes. Feel free to share your car shopping experiences and any tips you may have.

The Ultimate Gift Book Review

I recently finished The Ultimate Gift by Jim Stovall. Being a fiction book, The Ultimate Gift was something different than I am used to reading.  I first heard about this book at an agricultural economics seminar I attended at the University of Missouri. If you would like to learn more about this seminar, I blogged about it here.  Dr. Kohl recommended this book because of the timeless morals that are taught throughout the story.

The Ultimate Gift is about a young man named Jason Stevens.  Jason's uncle, Red Stevens, was a very rich man due to his cattle and oil empire.  When Red died, his family flocked to find out what the rich man had left them.  Red gave the dysfunctional, spoiled family the money they had been waiting on. However, Jason did not receive his inheritance.  Red was Jason's great uncle and he saw something different about young Jason. Red made a series of video tapes before his death that outlined the tasks that Jason was to perform throughout the next year in order to receive his inheritance.  Red's hope being that he could turn Jason from his lazy and irresponsible ways before it was too late.  Red gives Jason 12 gifts in the form of different experiences.  The instructions for each of the gifts are outlined in a new video tape every month.  Red Stevens left his lawyer, Mr. Hamilton, with the duty of judging whether Jason performed each of the 12 tasks in the correct manner.  If he did learn all of the 12 gifts, Jason would receive the ultimate gift.  The lessons taught throughout the book are outlined below:

  1. The Gift of Work
  2. The Gift of Money
  3. The Gift of Friends
  4. The Gift of Learning
  5. The Gift of Problems
  6. The Gift of Family
  7. The Gift of Laughter
  8. The Gift of Dreams
  9. The Gift of Giving
  10. The Gift of Gratitude
  11. The Gift of a Day
  12. The Gift of Love
  13. The Ultimate Gift
This book was also made into a movie.  I have yet to see it, but I hear that it is worth watching.  This book was a really fast read and was a refreshing positive story.  

Saturday, February 25, 2012

How to Purchase a Car

Purchasing a Car: Step 1 of 4
Step 1: Preshopping Activities
1.      Problem Identification
2.      Information Gathering

**Buying a car is a very nerve racking activity for most people.  My hope is that through this series of four blog posts I, along with others, will become confident car purchasers. 

1.      Problem Identification
a.       All good decisions begin with an open mind.  When many people, including myself, begin the car buying process they already have preconceived ideas of what brand they want and where they are going to buy the car. This type of narrow view is a bad way to begin your search for a new car.  Define your problem as widely as possible to allow for the most possible solutions.  Is your problem that you need a fast car, a work truck, a car that can hold more kids, a car that gets good gas mileage, or merely a means of transportation?  It is important to truly identify your problem before you begin to shop for a car, but remember to keep an open mind. 

2.      Information Gathering
a.       The better informed you are, the better purchasing decision you will make.  To be an effective and efficient car buyer you should not spend too much time, or too little time gathering information for your purchase.  In their book The Millionaire Next Door, Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko found that "There is an inverse relationship between the time spent purchasing luxury items such as cars and clothes and the time spent planning one's financial future." The average millionaire spends an average of an hour each year purchasing motor vehicles, while the rest of us spend an average of 60 hours each year purchasing motor vehicles.  Besides being time consuming, spending too much time researching automobiles can take you away from more important endeavors.  The following information sources may be helpful when purchasing a car:
                                                              i.      Personal contacts: Let everyone know that you are looking for a car.  This will put more eyes to work for you over a larger area. 
                                                            ii.      NADA: This website will give you the approximate market value of nearly any car. 
                                                          iii.      Your local dealership: Ask which cars sell the best and which cars they rarely see in the workshop.  This is a good indicator of a reliable car. 
                                                          iv.      Consumer Reports: Websites that offer independent 3rd party reviews are invaluable to a purchasing decision. 
                                                            v.      Media Information: Look through the classified ads of your local newspapers.  Research online for cars that are for sale in your area. 
                                                          vi.      A local mechanic: Ask the mechanic about the car you are considering.  Mechanics see a lot of cars and will have a good idea about which cars have the most problems. 

*This is the first phase of buying your car.  Identify what your problem is and keep an open mind.  Research and document information to find out which type of car you would most like to look for.  The next phase of buying a car will be Evaluating alternatives.

**The information for this post was primarily taken from Focus on Personal Finance: An Active Approach to Help You Develop Successful Financial Skills 2nd Edition by Kapoor, Dlabay, and Hughes.