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Kindness Is Free, Ya’ll

17 May

If there is one thing I’ve learned in my year+ of being a blogger, it is that kindness, appreciativeness, and humility all go a long way.  Funny how those things also make us successful and happy in real life, too?

I etched my first little mark into this huge internet universe way back at the age of 12 in, what, 1995?  Wow.  The web address was www.chatting.com and my 7th grade bestie and I thought it was the coolest invention on Earth to date (and I’m pretty sure it actually was).

Since then, I’ve gone from mindless surfer, to internet junkie, to blog lurker, to blogGER.  I have no idea what the heck I’m doing half the time.  But I do know one thing: interactions with others in the online world are scarily similar to the interactions with others in the offline world.  There is gossip and immaturity, cliques and mean-spiritedness.  On the bright side, there are also opportunities and mentors, generosity and friendship.

In the offline world, I’m a happy person.  Few things get me down.  I lead a very blessed life with amazing friends, family, and dogs (booyah for sweet, lovable canines).  I choose to live a life of happiness because it trumps the other option like…A LOT.  Who wants to be Debbie Downer all the time?  That sounds lame.

If there is one weakness out there that tries to hook me and drag me down, it would be gossip.  Gah, gossip gets me every time!  I always try to rationalize that chattering about how so-and-so wore purple stretch pants with a SCRUNCHIE to the office one day isn’t technically mean, it’s just stating a fact – am I right?

But my conscious always gets the better of me and I feel guilty every. single. time. I. gossip.  Annoying how that works, huh?

I’ve fallen victim to a bit of gossiping in the blogosphere, but I’ve tried to keep it under wraps instead of shouting it out on twitter (like that’s better, right?).  But fo rill, even miniscule gossip breeds negativity, so shame on me for gossiping at all.

My point here is:  kindness is free, ya’ll.

Everyone is always looking for the freebies nowadays, and dishing out a little kindness, thankfulness, and/or generosity is about as good as free gets.  I’ve received more kindness and support than I think I deserve in the form of fantastic comments from my awesome readers.  Every time I get an e-mail letting me know that one of you fabulous peeps left me a comment, it sends my little heart a flutter.  You guys  make me so happy.

So, take it for what it’s worth, but a little kindness goes a long way. 😉

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Check, check, check it out:  My interview over at Me In Millions.

Update:  Some of you are wondering what the haps are and where this post came from.  This post was inspired by some shenanigans going on in my real life.  Said shenanigans have made me realize just how important unconditional love is.  Peeps are just peeps, they aren’t perfect…..even if they wear purple stretch pants with scrunchies.  😉

Making Retirement Decisions Over Pizza & Beer

20 Dec

 

Tonight, Lloyd and I enjoyed a low-key date of pizza and beer (with a coupon, of course – who do you think I am?).  Pizza and beer is one of my favorite dates – I’m a low-maintenance kinda gal and there’s something so refreshing about an ice cold brew and a steaming slice of pie on a Saturday night.  It really gets you to thinking about…retirement?

Over slices of pepperoni, Lloyd and I got on the subject of our retirement accounts and saving for the future.  Truth be told, we’ve been talking about this subject quite a lot lately.  I’ve been toying with the idea of…not maxing out my retirement account next year. *shocked gasps from readers*

Yes, that’s right, I might stray from the biggest personal finance rule of them all:  Thou shall max out thy retirement accounts each and every year.

The fact of the matter is that we have a lot to save for right now.  We want to pay off a good chunk of our future house before we have kids, we want to build our home gym, we want to buy a dog when we have a house, we want to get married.  On top of that, while my car is close to brand-new, Lloyd’s car is almost 10 years old and we’d be naive to think it won’t need maintenance or even need to be traded in in the near future.

What’s more important:  not getting into debt again or maxing out my retirement account?

The obvious answer is avoiding going back in debt.  I made a one-time stop in Debtsville and I don’t intend to ever go back.  I don’t mind working for even 5 more years if it means that I never have to be in debt ever again.

I’m happy I maxed out my 401k this year.  If I was going to do it any year, this was the year to do it.  I now have a huge amount of shares under my belt that I bought for a really cheap price.  Who knows when the market will provide that opportunity again?

So, next year, I won’t be maxing out my retirement accounts.  Instead of saving almost 24% for retirement, I’ll be backing my contributions down to the Dave Ramsey recommended percentage of 15%.  Next year, I will contribute $5,000 to a Roth IRA and $5-6,000 to my 401k (plus about $3,000 in matching from my employer).

Our ultimate goal is to reach max-out again and stay there, but for now, we’re content with contributing just 15%.

I’m happy with my decision.  My taxable income will go up and I’ll pay a couple thousand dollars more in federal taxes, but I think it’s worth it in the end.

We had some great personal finance discussion flowing over our dinner tonight.  It makes me think: is it possible that the best financial decisions are made over pizza and beer?

(photo source)

My Ode To Summer: The Best Money-Saving Tool

14 Jun
1-summit-beach-sunset
[Source]

Dear Summer,

In my youth, you showed me that catching fireflies in a mason jar could be more fun than any activity I could ever pay for.

My friends and I relished in your long days and late nights and played Red Rover so many times that we forgot about those board games that Mom bought for us.

When I have been down, your sun’s rays have lifted me up.  S.A.D.?  Not with you.

When I was chilly, you warmed me.  When I was hot, you warmed me even more – a little too much, actually.  But I knew that this was just a sign of your relentless quest to keep me happy.

You lit my home with your natural light well into the evening without any increase to my power bill.

When my immune system was weak, you gave me a dose of Vitamin D – on the house.

When my skin was ghostly pale, you helped her glow at no charge.  The Tannery never showed me such hospitality.

When my hair was dull from the winter gloom, you brightened it without my asking.  And I didn’t even have to make awkward conversation with you like I do my real hairstylist.

You did not ask that I cover myself in head-to-toe wool.  No, you only asked that I wear just a quarter of that clothing.  High-priced, thick, warm clothing is not your style.  You prefer the lesser expensive, but more popular, light and airy camisoles, flowing skirts, and cut-off jean shorts.

When I wanted to bike, run, and walk, you provided me the guiding sunlight that I needed – with no more charge than the physical tax on my leg muscles.

When I wanted berries, grapes, and melons, you produced them at a much cheaper price than winter ever did.  Sure, apples are out of season… But, let’s be honest, apples are boring and berries are like blondes – they have more fun.

When my friend bar-be-qued me a well-done-100%-Angus-beef-burger, he did not expect a tip.  For he knew that I would return the favor at some point during your awesome 4-month reign, Summer.

The cost of that pack of hot dogs that I contributed to the BBQ, paled in comparison to my bar tabs during the winter months.

If I had my choice, you would be 12 months long instead of a measly four!

So, this is my ode to you, oh dear summer, the best money-saving tool I ever did know.

Your #1 Fan,

Carrie