Thursday, December 27, 2007

9, 10, 11, and 12

12 Drummers Drumming - a drum filled with random items with famous drummers hot glued to each item with a lovely note from the sender stating she was going to remain anonymous, but listed several things she has learned about me.
11 Pipers Piping - a New Year's hat filled with noisemakers (the piping tools).

10 Lords a Leaping - There were 10 plastic frogs that you push on their tails and they leap in the air with 10 different Lords pasted on their backs, i.e., Lord of the Rings, Lord & Taylor, Lord Voldemort, etc.

9 Ladies Dancing - 9 brownies with 9 laminated ladies sticking out of each brownie under a silver ornament meant to look like a disco ball. HILARIOUS.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Eight Maids A' Milking

Eight Milky Ways with a little girl pasted to them, along with a cow print pencil. Seriously funny...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Seven Swans A' Swimming...

Every day is my new favorite. This one consisted of a basket with seven of these acryllic swans filled with candy, all sitting on top of a blue CD (pictured) so it looked like they were on a lake. The kicker was the CD was Swan Lake. I can't believe the cleverness of it all! I have the BEST Secret Santa (or Secret MRS. Santa)!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Six Geese A'Laying...

Inside the 6-egg carton are 6 Cadbury chocolate eggs. Adorable...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

12 Days of Christmas

Once again, this doesn't have anything to do with getting out of debt, but I wanted to share with you what's being done for me this year.

Someone is doing the 12 days of Christmas for me and I must say, they are giving me some of the most cleverist items I have ever seen.

This is the partridge in a pear tree (can of pears, with tree branches hot glued on the can, with a partridge ornament sitting on top).

Two Turtle (the candy) doves.

Three French Hens (plus they added a "french" Chick Fil-A gift card).

Four calling birds (four beautiful bird ornaments that are now on the Christmas tree in the living room).

And five golden rings (five glazed donuts). This is my favorite one so far for how clever it is!

Today is day 6, so I'll keep you posted on the adorable and brilliant gifts they continue to leave on my doorstep each evening.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A Debt Free Christmas

I'm convinced Dave Ramsey read my blog, because I got his newsletter in my email in-box this morning (I subscribe to it) and it was basically chastizing me for my last post. It's called "A Debt Free Christmas." Take a look:

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Merry Christmas to you!

It's that season - we hear O Holy Night sung 52 different ways on the radio. We see Christmas lights on all the windows and now yards/trees/bushes of our neighbors. We give and receive presents. We send a family update to everyone on our address list, even though we may not have actually spoken to these people for 25 years. At this time of year, people as a general rule are either overly pleasant or really grumpy - not a whole lot of in-between.

This time around, I'm feeling rather BAH HUMBUG, as I have asked all those who usually give me gifts to not do so, as I am unable to give them presents this year. This is completely not my style and it kills me, especially when I see the perfect whatever for the perfect person, to not immediately snatch it up and wrap it and be giddy with happiness (and some relief) for finding that perfect item for that perfect person in my life.

Nope, attempting to get out debt really stinks because it means I have to focus on me, myself, and I during this giving season. Frankly, I'm not a fan of me, myself, and I, so to have to spend all this time/money on me, myself, and I puts me in the grumpy category this year.

I know I know I know - it's for the best and I'll be so much better off and all of that stuff, not to mention the home I hope to buy some day and doing this puts me closer to that goal. I'm just frustrated that it's all about me this year. Blech.

Me is SO overrated.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

I love a free lunch...

I work at one of the greatest places on earth. My bosses (I have 3) are all aware of my goal of getting out of debt. In fact one of them inspired me to start this process to begin with. They have been extraordinarily supportive and are always offering thoughts and ideas and free lunches to me to help me get through this.

Yup - free lunches. I LOVE free lunches.

Today's free lunch was CPK. A new California Pizza Kitchen opened up at Val Vista and Baseline, which isn't too far from my office. My finance boss is working on closing out the month of November and I'm helping him out today. Because of this, he purchased lunch for the 3 of us doing this.

I think I can do CPK every day of the week. Nothing like that Thai chicken pizza to put me in a largely happy mood...

And when I don't have to pay for it?!? Fuhgetaboutit!

PS: You may have noticed that I'm always happy when I'm discussing food. All kinds of food really. I have to mention there are so many other things that bring me joy and happiness, but during this getting-out-of-debt process, the small things (like the tasty foods mentioned) are what do it for me.

It's probably why I'm so svelte and lean...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

NY pictures

Even though these don't really have much to do with getting out of debt, I wanted to share a couple of pictures taken while on my trip back east:

This is my mom and I in front of Niagra Falls (it was about 40 degrees).

This is my dad and I in front of the Sacred Grove. It was about 25 degrees this day and oh so so so cold. Beautiful, special, but just really very cold.

Here I am standing on the Smith Farm. Where the Palmyra Temple stands (in the background) is still part of the original land the Smiths

She's baaaaaaaaaaack.........

Hey y'all (in my best Paula Deen impersonation) - I'm back from New York. Loved every minute of it, most especially getting to visit with my parents. It was a really great trip, and I have to be honest. I spent some money. $14.50 to be exact. For only the best chocolate cake known to mankind:

Apparently this delightful grocery store called Wegman's had a contest for the best chocolate cake recipe. The winner received compensation (I think) and Wegman's bought the rights to use that recipe and make it their own. Boy oh boy, going off of my debt diet (and other diets) for this thing was oh so worth it.

I can't believe I just said that.

But I really meant it (smile).

Oh, and by the way, only 4 weeks from today until Christmas. In case you weren't aware...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I'm going to New York...

...for the Thanksgiving holidays. My mom and dad are serving a mission in the Rochester, NY mission office. I haven't seen them for a year and I have the privilege of getting to spend this holiday with them and a good portion of the other missionaries at the Palmyra visitor center. HOW COOL IS THAT?!?

Anyway, for this reason, I will not be blogging during this time away.

Oh, good news. I bought this plane ticket in July WITH MY DEBIT CARD, not a credit card, so this is one of the few things in my life that is actually paid for. It seriously makes this trip that much better, as anything this major is rarely paid for with cash. Don't know why I had such a vision of clarity when I bought this ticket. Yea for me!

Anyway, HAPPY THANKSGIVING to you and yours.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Things are going well...

Many, many people continue to ask me how things are going and how I'm doing in my quest to get out of debt.

Things are going well, but oh. so. SLOW.

Since deciding to do this, it's all I can think about and trying to figure out ways to make it happen sooner. I know I've said this before, but I can't believe I let it get this bad, for one, and for two, I am begging for patience to get this taken care of. It's AMAZING how little time you need to get so far into debt, yet how LONG it takes to get out of it. It's an awful, awful VICIOUS cycle.

I guess the best success I've had so far is the fact I haven't used or even thought of using a credit card since I first started this. That in and of itself is truly a record. Seriously. Even when you go through the exercise of cutting up credit cards and washing your hands of them, in this day and age of electronic everything, most if not all of my numbers were stored on my favorite sites ( anyone?) and I didn't need the physical card to still use it.

It was totally deceptive and I'm ashamed of myself for being so sneaky.

Needless to say, those account numbers HAVE been deleted off of my favorite sites and they have been physically removed from my wallet.

It's really a phenomenal feeling. And the scariness of not having them around as "backup" has really gone away. Maybe not totally 100%, but pretty darn close to being completely gone. Wow.

Seriously - wow.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I Love Jen...

Jennifer and I went to Costco the other night for a couple of things she needed. As we were getting in the car, she asked me, "Do you REALLY need to bring your purse?" She is my getting-out-of-debt conscious and knew if I leave my purse at home, I'm less tempted to purchase anything.

Does she know me or does she know me? (I brought my purse anyway.)

There are some rather wickedly delightful (or delightfully wicked) chocolate truffles that Costco puts out every year for the holidays. She's never had them before and I wanted her to share in this dream candy. I put a box of them in our cart and she immediately took them out and told me we didn't need them.

I felt like a child getting her hand slapped for putting Hostess cupcakes in the grocery cart instead of the celery my mom asked for.

So I sulked a little and then we got to the book section. Oh boy. They carry a book there that I just finished and absolutely fell in love with. A friend of mine has been recently laid up with some major surgery and I wanted to get her this book to read. Again, Jen told me to tell my friend about the book and let her acquire it instead of me getting it for her.

That goes against everything I have ever done. But it's what I need to do right now and once again, Jen saved me from myself.

So, for anyone who wants to know, the book I read recently is called "Home to Holly Springs" by Jan Karon and it was phenomenal. Go to the library and be sure to check it out!

And gosh, thanks Jen for being so mean! (smile) Oh, and also thanks for the birthday present left to me this morning - a box of those exact same truffles I was going to purchase for her. Aint she great?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Blessings, blessings, and more blessings...

I love my job and the company I work for. I've been here for over 4 years and I hope to be here for many, many more years to come. (Take a look:

My company just blessed me today with an affiliate check.

Many months ago, I sent an email to a lot of email contacts in my address book, letting them know about my company and the demonstrations they have on a regular basis about our software. I sent this email to people who have small businesses of their own that I thought might benefit from our software. I included a link that they can click on to add their name to our database and it puts them into a campaign that follows up with them. It also means if they were to purchase our software, I would be the lead affiliate on their order and I would get a commission.

Someone bought today and I get an affiliate check (10% of the purchase order).

This has never happened to me before, and I have no doubt that Heavenly Father is blessing me for making (finally) some right decisions in my life regarding finances.

How awesome is this?!?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Mmm... Leftovers!

If you know me, you know I am not a fan of leftovers. There's just something about eating a dish that you already ate recently and it has lost is freshness. Weird, I know, but I've just never appreciated leftovers.

Until now.

I've said in earlier posts that lunch is usually my only substantial meal of the day, and it's hard not to eat out for lunch. I'm really trying here. It is my hugest struggle right now to be quite honest.

I go over to my sister Andrea's home for dinner every Sunday. It is truly the highlight of my week. Her little critters are some of my most favorite people to be around, and frankly, I enjoy being the referee between Andi and her kids (her husband Ron is the bishop and isn't around a lot on Sundays). Anyway, we usually have really good, substantial meals that are phenomenal.

Because my birthday is this week, I got to choose what I wanted to eat for dinner/dessert yesterday (without having to consult the kiddies). I had one of my favorites: Hawaiian Haystacks and Peach Cobbler. Life just can't get much better than this. The kids agreed with me on the Haystacks, not so much on the Cobbler (can't account for no taste at that age I 'spose).

Lucky for me, there were a lot of leftovers and I got to take some home to eat for my lunch today. I actually was excited for my leftovers. Probably one of the first times in my life that I was.

What are some of your favorite leftovers? Inspire me...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

And the final number is...

As most, if not all of you know, today I had a garage sale. My first ever. I had contributed items to someone's else's garage sale in the past, but this garage sale was my first. And a good chance it will be my last.

I've gone through so many emotions doing this. It was MY stuff being sold for pennies on the dollar, and even then people didn't want to pay the $2.00 or whatever. They wanted to haggle. I HATE haggling. But it was so great to realize items and things that I didn't need or weren't doing me any good was making me some money that I so desperately need. I was overjoyed and sad all at the same time.

Jennifer, our friend Shawna, and our friend Lori all had things in the garage sale, though I probably had the most items there with all of my books, DVDs, and videos. We started at 7:00 a.m. and pulled our cars back into the garage at 12:45 p.m. It was fun, exhausting, frustrating, exciting, discouraging, and interesting.

We met a lot of people from all different walks of life. It was quite enjoyable to visit with them and learn some of their stories. It was frustrating when someone realized one of my paperbacks was $2.00 instead of $1.00, and SHE PUT THE BOOK BACK. It was sweet to hear of a woman's story who had a 10-year old girl who loved nothing more than to read books, all kinds of books, and she went home with about 25 books for her daughter to read. Another woman saw I had almost every book a certain author had written and she was so excited to get every single one of them so she, her sisters, and her daughters could all read them. What was great about her was she didn't even haggle. She realized getting 21 books for $40 was a steal and she and the rest of her family were going to benefit from it. The happiness on her face made this enjoyable.

The total for me for the garage sale alone was $234. With the pre-sale of some of my books, the grand total that I made by selling my things was $400. Jennifer sold about $50 worth of stuff, Lori sold about $20 worth of stuff, and Shawna (bless her heart) got to take all of her stuff home. This made the net for the garage sale $300. Not too shabby for a bunch of junk, eh?

Anyway, I'm grateful to have done this, and now I'm even more grateful IT'S OVER. Happy Saturday everyone!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Need vs. Want

One of my biggest extravagances that I justified as a necessity was pedicures - every 3 weeks on the dot. I love them. A whole lot.

Since deciding to get out of debt, I have stopped having them. I miss them. Terribly.

I promised myself I would "reward" myself with one of them for my birthday, which is coming up next week. Now that the time is here, as much as I miss my peds, and as AWFUL as my feet are looking these days (have you ever walked barefoot at home and had your feet pick up the rugs that you walk over 'cause they're so dry and scaly they catch on anything that isn't locked down?), I don't wanna get the pedicure. It's an extravagance that I don't NEED.

It's amazing - this need vs. want has REALLY settled itself in my brain. I've never struggled with it in the past. All my wants were, in my mind, needs because hey - who was going to dispute me? Certainly not myself!

Myself is now disputing everything. It's awesome. My feet don't think so, but my heart and mind do and my wants are dwindling. No, that's not true. My wants are definitely still here. Strong and loud. But they're no longer needs (in my mind) and that is helping me fight this battle.

Now I want to win the war.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


Thank you to my friend Shawna for sending me this poem. It's inspiring. I keep reading it and re-reading it and am quite taken with it. Enjoy!

If you want a thing bad enough
To go out and fight for it,
Work day and night for it,
Give up your time and your peace and your sleep for it

If only desire of it
Makes you quite mad enough
Never to tire of it,
Makes you hold all other things tawdry and cheap for it

If life seems all empty and useless without it
And all that you scheme and you dream is about it,
If gladly you'll sweat for it,
Fret for it,
Plan for it,
Lose all your terror of God or man for it,

If you'll simply go after that thing that you want.
With all your capacity,
Strength and sagacity,
Faith, hope and confidence, stern pertinacity,

If neither cold poverty, famished and gaunt,
Nor sickness nor pain
Of body or brain
Can turn you away from the thing that you want,

If dogged and grim you besiege and beset it,
You'll get it!

-Berton Braley

I WILL GET IT. I have to...

Friday, November 2, 2007

No garage sale this week

My friend who is having the garage sale that I am putting all of my books, DVDs, videos, etc. in is sick, bless her heart, and is unable to do the event tomorrow. So it's been postponed a week.

At first I was REALLY disappointed as I've been gearing up for this for a week now. But the more I think about it, the better it is because it gives me one more week to really dig deep into my "things" and find what can go. I want a clean slate (and house) and I just have more time now to really purge.

So here's to one more week of cleaning out my life!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

I have a confession...

One of the many ways I am trying to get out of debt is eliminating eating out, which is one of my most favorite things to do, especially at lunch during the work week since it's usually my only substantial meal of the day. But they are too expensive and that money could go towards my debt instead.

With this in mind I've been doing fairly well in bringing my lunch from home each day, including today.

I cheated and had some soup at Wildflower instead of eating my sandwich today. Sigh.

I am weak, but I must say it was delicious. I will get better...

My first sales numbers...

As a teenager and even young adult, I LOVED LDS novels. As I get older, my love for them has waned a bit, though I think they're great reads for people who enjoy that genre. Anyway, I own quite a few of them.

My sister Andrea has a few friends (and teenage daughter) who enjoy those kinds of books, so in the spirit of getting cash for anything and everything, I took them over to Andrea's house in two boxes in hopes of selling a couple of them ($2.00 for paperbacks and $3.00 for hard cover). One of her friends has already purchased $75 worth of books from me. That's just one person. She has a couple of other friends who are interested and will be taking a look within the next day or two.

Isn't that great?

Let's hope the yard sale I'm having on Saturday will bring similar rewards...

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A quick funny...

We have a customer here at work who's last name is Budge. I needed to pull her contact record up and instead of Budge, I typed Budget and I couldn't figure out why she wasn't coming up.

I told you - getting out of debt and budgeting and getting spare cash and and and - this is ALL I can think about these days. I'm grateful I can write them all here rather than bug and bug and bug those closest to me with my day-to-day stories...

Mosiah 2:23-24

23 And now, in the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him.
24 And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?

After reading this scripture reference, I realized once I get myself out of debt of a financial nature, I will ALWAYS be indebted (interesting word choice, huh?) to Heavenly Father. He has IMMEDIATELY blessed me and continues to do so. And all I am doing is what was commanded of me in the first place. I don't deserve this abundance and I am continually humbled in this process.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I am taking baby steps.

Every morning when I wake up I wake up with the thought of what else can I do to help myself get out of debt quicker. Now that I've set my mind up to do this, I WANT IT DONE NOW.

One of my biggest pleasures is to read. I love reading and I love owning the books that I read. It has ALWAYS been a dream of mine to own a home with a real library in it, and so I was always thinking of that library as I would purchase books. Then I stopped thinking of the library and just purchased books because it was what I did. I never even considered going to a public library to read the latest and greatest Harlan Coben or Stephenie Meyer. Must. Own. Books. DUMB.

So far Heavenly Father has blessed me considerably with this decision to get out of debt. But sacrifice is a part of getting to where I want to be. I feel selling my beloved books is a sacrifice that is difficult to do, but absolutely necessary.

My sweet friend Debbie is having a garage sale this Saturday and I am putting all of my books, DVDs, and videos in her garage sale. I know I will only get pennies on the dollar for these books, but I'd rather them make me pennies than sit on my bookshelves, getting dusty, not making me any kind of cash.

And right now, it's all about the cash to pay off the debt.

If you're possibly interested in purchasing anything I have prior to Saturday, you can go to my Shelfari account. I have about 75% of those books posted on there (I sold several of my books to Bookman's so I no longer own everything I have posted on my Shelfari). Anyway, if you go to, you should be able to see what I have. Feel free to let me know if there's anything you're interested in.


I am curious.

I know it's asking a lot, but if you have any stories you would like to share and about your debt (whether it's how you've succeeded or how you've struggled), please do so here. I get inspired by hearing about the struggles, battles, and euphoric wins that people have when it comes to debt. I know it's a very personal thing, so if you would like to share anonymously, please do so. I want to learn and grow from all of you...

Monday, October 29, 2007

I am so blessed.

One of my friends who knows about my desire to become debt free recommended the book "Total Money Makeover" by Dave Ramsey. I love this book. I love the path it's taking me on. And I love that my roommate (Jennifer) has already read the book and has lived by its principles for years now. This makes for fun, interesting, and frank conversations between us about this.

The book teaches about the debt snowball. It also teaches the importance of having $1,000 emergency cash stashed away, easily accessible, but ONLY for emergencies. It also states to do this first and foremost. The reason? If an emergency comes us, it's so easy to go to a credit card that we don't normally use - one that we keep around "for emergencies." Considering how costly going in to debt has been for me, keeping a credit card around for emergencies is a little dumb, don't you think? Anyway, I have never had $1,000 spare cash. Ever. But it was a fun concept to think about - getting it before I really get into the debt snowball.

I mentioned this to a few friends of mine - telling several of them of this difficult yet exciting plan that I have and that first and foremost, I needed to save $1,000 right off the bat. Wouldn't you know it? One of them came to me and GAVE me $1,000 to help me start on this path quicker. Literally gave me the money and said that they really wanted me to start the process NOW and to not put it off any longer. To say I was touched and surprised and stunned would be putting it mildly. No one has ever done something like this. It's something I dream of being able to do for others some day. But never in my wildest dreams could I imagine having it done to/for me.

Heavenly Father has "remembered Tara" and has blessed me considerably in my decision to go debt free.

I am humbled and grateful and I don't deserve it.

I am so stupid.

I have a secret. For years. Something that I didn't think was a big deal because since I am a single person, it wasn't hurting anyone but me and frankly I was okay with being hurt because I just comforted myself with things and treats and whatever else would help me forget how hurtful I was being to myself. The never ending vicious cycle.

I've decided to share a VERY personal thing in a VERY public forum.

I am in over $50,000 in debt, and I don't even have a mortgage as part of all of that debt. Granted, some of it is vehicle debt, so-called "normal" debt that we all think is necessary, but the rest is stupid Stupid STUPID credit card debt. Ridiculous debt that I have no idea what it was used for (besides buying so-called comfort for me for being hurtful to myself). Again, RIDICULOUS.

This is going to be one of the ways of being accountable - I want to detail my path to financial freedom, and by doing it in such a public way, I feel it will make me accountable to you.

So to everyone out there, wish me luck, pray for me, and please forgive me for being a complete idiot. Now on to getting this monkey off of my back...