Saturday, October 30, 2010

You bunch of Clickers.

Wow. Yesterday we had more add clicks than we have had in all of our previous history combined. We had a 26% click-through-rate, which means that one in four of you clicked on our ads yesterday. I'm betting you did this just because I asked you to, and not because you were interested in revitalizing the look of your eyebrow hair.

Google's AdSense gives you all these tools to dissect your audience information. We know the number of advertising clicks, the number of page views, where in the world the viewers are living, and what websites are referring them to us! It's pretty fascinating, you can generate reports, compare trends and launch new advertising campaigns (although we can't control what ads come onto our site very well - so unfortunately you'll have to put up with these shenanigans on the right side.)
And so we doubled our advertising revenue, bringing us closer and closer to a debt-free life. Maybe I should just end every post with a desperate plea for clicks on our ads. Like this: we can't earn website income without you!

(It's true: Google won't count it when we click on our own ads. Not that we've tried or anything.)


Friday, October 29, 2010

A Penny Made is a Penny Paid (to the Credit Cards)

So we've finally gotten the hang of using our blog to make money - luckily our Blogger blog is connected to the Google empire, so we have automatic advertising built into our site if we want it, a serious blessing when compared to other blog sites like WordPress which do not include advertising, and make it very difficult if you want to include it on your own. (Think learning and using complex computer code: very 1980s Apple IIe.) 

So we've covered our blog in advertising, which admittedly hurts the aesthetics but will hopefully translate to some real money - ideally more and more as our blog "takes off." This process really is the old hope of any writer, waiting to be discovered, but in the blogging world it is much more anonymous, much more random.

While we apologize for the clutter of these random links and text which most likely are referencing things that you have been searching for lately,  so know that each time you see them, and especially each time you click on them, you will be helping us get out of debt and helping another family to boot when we donate these profits in the future. The most dramatic effect comes each time one of these highly personalized and yet anonymous ads is clicked, which pays big. Real big. 

While we still have a long way to go before Google will let us cash out any of our advertising earnings ($100 minimum payouts - not ideal for small-time bloggers like us) we are excited as that day draws closer. An entire box checked off our Debt Checklist just from people like you clicking on random links!

Just think "helping them + 1 other" when you click on: "Eliminate Debt with These 3 Weird Old Tips" or "100% Guaranteed Snake Oil" or "Exfoliate Your Back Hair Now."  You'll be doing a great thing, and you will have learned something about back hair exfoliation, weird old debt tips or snake oil.

And you will have our thanks.


[Thanks to the Carnival of Debt Reduction for featuring this post at Many thanks to all who clicked! _jack]

Saturday, October 23, 2010

the cleaning supplies plan

We are natural cleaning supplies people - something that wouldn''t necessarily translate into lowering our credit card debt. However, we have a plan that so far has been working very well.

When we were making our wedding registry, we included a lot of high-quality natural cleaning products, such as Seventh Generation, Method, and Mrs. Meyers. We also included plenty of the refill packs, knowing these were the kind of things we would appreciate down the road. We ended up receiving almost all of what we asked for, with many of our guests bundling them into attractive bathroom sets in garbage cans, etc. 

However, eventually those refills began running out, and we decided to refill them ourselves. We found a huge bottle of Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day All-Purpose Cleaner concentrate on sale, and have been refilling our various bottles with distilled versions of this.

Do regular toilet cleaners do a better job cleaning the toilet than this makeshift version? Not noticeably. When it comes to the cleanliness of your toilet, clean is clean. 

And this stuff smells way better.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

slow savings days = free amazon eBook

It already feels like it is harder to save money when you are busy, possibly because it is harder to make money when you are busy and so much easier to spend it out of "convenience." We have been on the go non-stop this week, and it is pretty clear from our bottom line that we are going to have to catch up next week or even this weekend. 

For now, I am going to take advantage of this offer on for a FREE Kindle eBook:

 Amazon is offering this book FREE for a limited time, so I downloaded the Kindle app (which is free and can be viewed on a number of phones, computers and other devices.)
If I can't seem to save money right now, at least I can learn about how to save money in the future...right?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

$20 date

Well, we haven't been posted for two days or so because - - really, nothing has happened in the Barley Barn of Personal Finance. 

We did break our own rule a little bit tonight and went on a $20 date.  I'm going to go out on a limb here and say it was a great choice.  The food was delicious.  I had tortilla soup, Jack had a pizza with prosciutto, cheese,  garlic and caramelized onions.  The real to-die-for was the bread and butter, served in a terra cotta pot.  The butter was whipped to perfection with some kind of chipotle/sweet sauce, and I was basically licking it out of the little ramekin.  Which is not an exaggeration... 
Maybe tomorrow we'll go back for a $5 date, just for the butter.  It was also a great date because we both ended up having really busy days, so we had a lot to talk about.   And then we came home, and are now watching episodes of Modern Family online... and I just wanted to pause and blog about it, because it was the best kind of splurge.  
We have read and heard that it is absolutely essential to have a few splurges along the way, in order to keep on track with your goals, and in order to feel like your entire life is not wrapped up in saving saving saving... Not going on occasional dates would cost us far more than $20 in the end, and we are aware of that. 

Yum.  I can't stop thinking about that butter.  

("Maybe we could learn to make it?" -Jack)

YES.  Then we could eat it EVERY DAY.

(We would like to thank the Carnival of Debt Reduction for featuring this post on their weekly Debt Reduction update, which you can view here: Thanks to mbhunter for recommending that we submit our site!)

Friday, October 15, 2010

First Milestone!

Celebration is in order.

We have paid off our first $1,000 ($1,200 really) and are renewing our energy into the construction of this blog. We want it to become something truly helpful.

 One of our big discoveries this month was that Citibank, one of our credit card account holders is offering a reward to it's cardholders by giving them 20% of any payments they make over their minimums!
The max amount you can earn each month is your monthly interest amount, so you can be darn sure we will be getting our max each month for the next five months, effectively negating our interest!

Is there anything more exciting than personal finance?


Jack's two cents

It really is freeing to write so openly about one's money. The stigma of moneytalk is one of the things that make it so easy for married couples to avoid discussing it. We all have experiences and baggage wrapped up in our feelings about money, and these feelings definitely contribute to the way we handle it.

Just imagine this hanging over your dining room table.

This public declaration of our state of fiscal emergency is like having a huge whiteboard in our apartment, with ideas and problems and solutions scribbled all over it, reminding us of our current situation and encouraging us on to find the solution. It's like having one of those fund-raising thermometers tacked up in our living room. (By the way - if anybody has a good link to one of those gadgets we would love to use one on our blog to show our progress, but we can't find one anywhere.)

As we check off more boxes, I find myself getting more frustrated about the biggest danger of credit card debt: interest payments.

Last month we paid $87.54 just for the pleasure of being in debt to these credit card companies. $87.54! And we are paying far less interest than the average consumer, thanks to low-interest cards and an interest-free introductory period whose end is approaching quickly. According to, the average credit card interest rate for October 2010 is 16.75%, so for an average borrower in our position, they would be paying $4,020 a year, or $335 a month! And this is assuming no fees, fines, compounded interest or other dangers.

This is where the dreaded "snowball effect" comes into play, and can swamp families that aren't prepared. It is most frustrating to me, knowing that each month of interest payments is another box we can't check yet.

Our plan: Know our interest rates. I have made a list of all the various interest rates, and will be paying off the high rates first. Transferring balances to introductory rate cards if possible can be helpful, as often this original fee will only equal what one month of interest payments would cost you, and you will save money over the rest of that interest-free period.


Friday, October 8, 2010

feeling a little wobbly today

3 more boxes checked off... We are almost to our first $1,000 mark!  

Spent my $10 allowance yesterday on iTunes music.  Felt GREAT about it.  I love having new music.  I bought 2 smaller albums - the Blind Pilot "iTunes Sessions EP" and the Gregory & the Hawk "The Boats and Birds EP".  Both are awesome; I've had them on shuffle/repeat since yesterday. 

I've felt very tempted this week to buy things.  Almost bought a $16 notebook yesterday at Paper Source for my class, and then realized that I didn't really love it, didn't need it, and was wanting a new notebook because I'm wanting SOMETHING to make me feel more secure and confident about my decision to take this class.  
How often have I done this in my life?  Many, many times, I am sure, and it's not good.  
We were standing at the cash register, and I said, "You know what, nevermind."  I felt relieved immediately.  That is a good sign; as a rule I tend to put lots of things back right before I get to the cash register, and tell myself that if I'm still dreaming about it the next day, I'll come back.  99% of the time, I never think about the put-back things again. 

What I needed to do was find security inside myself, not as a result of a crisp, artsy new notebook.  

I should say need, not needed - because I am still feeling insecure about this class.  Can I really be a fitness instructor??  It's hard - you have to show your stuff in front of everyone, and I'm still such a beginner, and others are so much better than I am...

All the more reason to realize that a notebook is not going to help me!  
haha... doesn't it sound so ridiculous now?  But that is truly where my mind went... "Ahh, I'm feeling unsure of myself - a new notebook will help me feel strong and capable and smart!!"

Silly!  It's so silly.  

But I can see that I am learning, and my mentality is changing a little bit.  With each relief-filled item put back on the shelf and declared unnecessary for my happiness, security, and self-worth, I am gaining control.  And that, my friends, is the goal here. 


Tuesday, October 5, 2010


woo hoo!

5 boxes checked off since September 25th!

and with Jack's eBay sales, we will probably check off a few more either today or tomorrow.  

He has been so disciplined about looking at thrift stores and garage sales for things to sell - and then he brings them home and has such a quick turnaround!  Nothing just sits around, waiting to be sold.  I love his system, and I am so proud of him for doing this, because with such huge profits it really starts to feel like "free money!!"  : ) 

I did some grocery shopping yesterday and broke our every two-week rule, because we ended up running out of things like eggs and butter and milk.  I was baking bread and making cookies for our small group, so I felt like it was necessary.  We might have to be flexible with the two week rule, and maybe do one BIG shopping trip every two weeks, but also be willing to do a very small run for necessities every week.  I don't know.  I don't want to be weak sauce about it.  Since it's still the beginning phase of all of this, we are giving ourselves some wiggle room to figure it all out.