Thursday, February 26, 2009

Hey Washington DC - This Is How A Budget Works!

My fellow Americans, I want to share with you the principle of budgeting.  You hear the word budget used all the time by politicians; in reality, they have NO CLUE what a budget is!  See, a budget is something that helps you know how much money you have and what you can spend it on, so that you don't spend more than you have.  The government does nothing of the sort, and I am offended by their use of the word.  They should call their "budgets" something else, like "ridiculous and unnecessary spending plans".

Above is a screenshot from our family's budget program - which I wrote myself - showing our food budget since I got the program up and running at the start of August.  We sat down to look at things when we decided we wanted to get into a house, so we could make sure we were saving plenty.  Look what we found - in September, we spent almost $600 on food!  We looked more closely, and saw there was some emergency spending when we stockpiled food in case Ashley's family had to stay with us during hurricane Ike.  But still, we saw this as an opportunity to save.  So we set our target for food (under $400), and set some rules to get us there.  And look at the results!  We're down around $300 for the last 3 months.  We still eat out, we still go on dates, we just became more conscious of what we buy and make the most of what we do.

As a result of doing this for all our expenditures, despite paying for plane tickets, Christmas gifts, trips to Houston, Ashley getting practically no hours at work, a 5% pay cut for me at work, the $4 gas era, and the tanking economy which slashed my February bonus big time, we have saved - that means budget surplus, for you Washington DC types - at least 14% of my take-home pay every single month for a house.  And that doesn't even count the funds we've been building up for medical expenses and random emergency expenses.  Isn't that great?

When I was the financial secretary of my mission, I learned a lot about money management.  One of the first things I had to do was figure out how to slash our telecommunications budget in half, as well as other budget shortfalls.  I did a whole lot of research - luckily, we had 3 years of old bills and receipts I could go through by hand.  With the people at the church offices, we figured out a whole lot of things that were accounted wrong, and other ways the mission could save money.

Later, I got an opportunity from the mission president to accompany him on a mission tour, and teach the missionaries what I had learned.  Because of the missionaries' response to that, we actually ended up with a surplus in our budget, and were able to replace a whole bunch of old pillows, mattresses, and other things that needed fixing in the apartments.  That was all in about 6 months.  Afterwards, in my last area, me and my companion were able to eat like kings on 75% of our food budget, just because we were smart about it.  And we ended up really needing the savings for bike repairs, so it saved our butts.  (Literally.  I broke my my bike seat, among other things, in a crash.  Hehe...)

You wanna know what I taught the missionaries?  Basically, knowledge is power.  And knowing how much you have, and how much you will have to spend, gives you a lot of power.  It gives you the power to save money.  It gives you the power to relax about your financial situation.  It gives you the power to trim your expenses - you have to know what they are first!  It gives you the power to earn interest instead of pay it.  It gives you the power to get out of debt.  It gives you the power to be prepared for emergency of disaster.  It gives you the power to improve your quality of life.  It gives you the power to be charitable.  It gives you power to take control of your life!  It's too bad our country is setting the worst possible example for everyone.  I encourage everyone to figure out a budget and stick to it - maybe even undershoot it.  You will be amazed by the change you'll see.  Less stress, more money, more savings, less expenses, less interest...  It's great.  

We should hold our government to the exact same standard.  How do we do that?  To start, we need to vote out every single member of Congress - Democrats, Republicans, whoever - that voted for the current stimulus bill.  That was just a shameful waste of your money.  If your senator or representative is unlikely to be contested by a member of the opposite party, you need to get them early, in the primaries.  Replace them with someone that promises to balance the budget.  Second, we need a president that has the chutzpah to veto any bill that runs a deficit.  Don't believe that can be done?  Here in Texas, it's illegal to run a deficit.  Unlike California, which is $42 billion in debt, we have $6 billion in savings, just in case.  And amazingly, we have no state income tax, either!  How do we do it?  BUDGETING!  We make a realistic budget, and we stick to it!  But who is out there that can and will do this?  I'll give you some names of governors, former and current, who already did.  Mitt Romney is famous for this, in government, business, and the Olympics.  Sarah Palin is doing it in Alaska.  Bobby Jindal is doing it in Louisiana.  This are the people we need in charge.  And we need to put them there.

...and I'm done.  G'night everybody!

Sunday, February 22, 2009


I wasn't going to do this.....BUT since Nemo decided to call me and accuse me of posting this video on facebook when I hadn't...I shall post it on my blog :D mwahahahahahah I don't mean to brag or anything, but I think that my photoshopping skills are up there with Kevin's... although, Kevin did do some pretty awesome work on Rachel's pic. Y'all are welcome to vote on whose photoshopping expertise is superior. ;P

Happy 222 Day!

On this very special day, 2/22, some of us like to celebrate more than just George Washington's birthday. This goes out to all the alumni of the greatest apartment ever assembled, Tingey 222! We're all about 7 years older now. That's unfortunate, but I'm not too worried about it! Some things may change; some of us married burger queens get married and quarter-japanese girls, others of us were just happy to finally be married. Other things stay the same; Weezer is still putting out great music and we're still the coolest people we know.

Here's to 7 more years, wherever you are, guys! Giddyup!


So, to celebrate our anniversary of engagement, we went to the dentist! It was awful, really. I hate going to the dentist...but I sucked it up and made an appointment :P I was like, okay, I'll be okay as long as I don't have a cavity! A couple years ago I got my first cavity, and I'll admit one tear may have escaped. lol I can't stand the thought of having a huge needle stuck in my gums! Anywhere else is okay...but not gums! After the x-rays, the dentist gave the good news that I no cavities!!! I was so happy! Then after probing around in my mouth she broke my heart (extra drama added for an anonymous friend...who shant be named), and told me that I did have one! I was mad b/c she lied to me, bottom line. lol anyway, I thought it was pretty messed up b/c, in my opinion, my hygeine is better than David's and yet I HAVE THE CAVITY??? NOOO!!!! He had none; not one! So the next morning, I woman'd up and let them stick me and drill me until there was no more to drill. hahah (Sorry, I'm sleep deprived and a little hyper) I survived-End of story. This picture shows our clean teeth!
So, to celebrate our anniversary of engagement more appropriately, we attended a ballet of Hamlet! I got free tickets from Capital Idea (my scholarship). Surprisingly, I didn't have to do much convincing to get David to tag along! Most men would kick and scream if they had to go to a ballet, but I have a wonderful husband. <3 Valentines ended up being quite lovely, despite the fact that I had to work at the hospital from 7am-7pm. I was pooped by the time I got home, so a couple days later, David took me out to dinner at Chuy's and then to a movie. That was all his idea, by the way. Isn't he wonderful?! He remembered that I said I would like to go see Coraline because I read the book when I was younger, and really liked it. It was in 3D, which was pretty cool. It was pretty good. From what I remember, it followed the book pretty closely. We got to keep the cool 3D glasses. They made us look pretty cool. lol We had fun together. :D

Here are a couple more pics on the way to the ballet:

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Finally! Rick Santelli Says What America Feels!

Are you feeling like you're all alone in your rage and hatred of the new socialist America Obama is trying to create? Well, you AREN'T! Check out this epic rant from CNBC's Rick Santelli!

Can I get an AMEN?! Heck yes! Why SHOULD we subsidize the mortgages of illegal immigrants?! And why should we prop up failed business models?! Why should I have to pay for the fact that the government pushed businesses to the brink of destruction and is now blackmailing them into socialism with bailout money?! This is the United freaking States of America, and we just don't DO that kind of crap! Leave that kind of BULL to China, or Cuba, or Venezuela!

So, what should you do? You need to go here and voice your support! And you need to tell EVERYONE YOU KNOW to do the same! Second, go here and email CNBC and tell them to make sure Santelli keeps his job, because you know the liberals are NOT gonna approve of what he did. Finally, make your voice heard on this insanity wherever you can: get involved in your local political primaries to make sure we can get some good, hard-core fiscal conservatives running in the 2010 elections.

MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD! Down with this socialist CRAP!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Blogger Hacking - Chronological Order

So, for the last 10 years, I have kept a journal. Except for the 2 years I was on my mission, I have always done it with a computer. Actually, I even did it with a computer for the 8 months I was in the mission office, to tell the truth... At first I used Wordperfect, but that got really long, and long files are a pain in the butt to open. Then I converted it to HTML files, and I would hand-edit an index I made.

Then I started learning about PHP and MySQL, and I fired up my own webserver and made what was basically a blog program. It was nothing compared to Blogger, but it kept all my journal entries all nice and neat, let me add them, search them, read them in chronological order, and jump around by date. It was wonderful, but not very easy to customize the layout, and I could only get at it from my home computer.

Blogger solved all of these problems for me - EXCEPT the chronological order part. Blogger posts things in reverse chronological order. And you can reverse the order of the archive, but not the actual posts. I searched all over the Internet for a widget or gadget or straight up template hack that would post them in the order I wanted, but I couldn't find anything except for "Just change the dates!" Yeah, that doesn't work very well for a journal, where dates matter. So, I made my own, and I'm writing about it here so that hopefully all the other frustrated people can benefit.

It turned out to be pretty simple. Go to your blog's Layout tab and click Edit HTML. Scroll all the way to the bottom, and find where it says </body>. Now, just before that, paste this code:

<!-- Start post reversal code -->
<script type='text/javascript'>
  var Blog1 = document.getElementById('Blog1');
  var postContainer = Blog1.childNodes[1];
  var first = postContainer.firstChild;
  var child = first.nextSibling;
  var childNext = null;
  var classes = '';

  var dateHeaders = false;
  while (child != null) {
    if (child.className == 'date-header') {
      dateHeaders = true;
    child = child.nextSibling;

  child = first.nextSibling;

  while (child != null) {
    if (child.className != null) {
      if (child.className.match('date-header') != null) {
        childNext = child.nextSibling;
        postContainer.insertBefore(child, first);
        first = child;
        child = childNext;
      } else if (child.className.match('post hentry') != null) {
        childNext = child.nextSibling;
        if (!dateHeaders) {
          postContainer.insertBefore(child, first);
          first = child;
        } else {
          postContainer.insertBefore(child, first.nextSibling);
        child = childNext;
      } else {
        child = child.nextSibling;
    } else {
      child = child.nextSibling;
<!-- End post reversal code -->

And that should do it! I'd love to get feedback from anyone who uses this; feel free to leave it in the comments section.  You can see it in action here:

Saturday, February 7, 2009

More sickness!!!

So, David and I have been sick with Cedar fever for the past month. On top of that, David was sick a couple days ago with what I thought could have been the flu. I didn't worry about catching it because I got my flu shot back in November or so. Well, somehow I got sick. I don't know if I caught it from David or someone at school...couldn't have been from work since THEY NEVER PUT ME ON THE SCHEDULE ANYMORE! (sorry, had to get that off my chest...I just got off the phone with the hospital and they left me off the schedule once again for next month)

Back to my story....At first I thought it was just my allergies really flaring up. A couple days passed and I thought it had progressed into a head cold. Then this morning I woke up and had such difficulty breathing that I had to use my albuterol inhaler. It sucked. lol It's important that I know for sure that I don't have bronchitis or the flu b/c #1 it could progress into something serious, if I don't take care of it soon (since I have asthma) and #2 I can't work in the nursery on Sunday....although, it has been crazy with 20+ nusery kids and only 4 adults... it would lighten the load if they all got sick....NO! Bad thoughts! lol just kidding :P

Anyway, to keep it short we went to the doctor today and it's negative on the flu, negative for bronchitis... but I do have a virus. That means there is nothing the doc can give me to make me feel better. :( The ony thing I can count on is Mucinex and Benadryl, to treat the symptoms. I have heard from so many people how absolutely WONDERFUL Mucinex has worked for them. But after using it, I'm so disappointed! I guess it makes me feel a little better, but not great like it has worked on everyone else. Oh well. We'll see how long it takes for me to fight this crud off.
P.S.- You can click on the hearts over to the right with my valentine dog! It sounds like glass shattering :) It's pretty amusing for me, at least.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Sick Day...

Well, I don't know whether it's the cedar or the flu, but something kicked my butt pretty good yesterday, and all the drugs in the world couldn't get me in to work.  So I took a sick day and Ashley took care of me.  :)

Ashley is so wonderful at taking care of me when I'm sick.  She makes sure I take medicine that makes me feel better even when I'm trying to "take it like a man" and do without.  She makes food for me, checks up on me, and keeps me warm and comfortable and entertained.  And even though she had an English class, she was gone for no more than 20 minutes!  See, they were editing their papers with the professor, and he asked for volunteers to go first.  Ashley wasn't scared, and instead saw it as an opportunity to leave faster and get back home to me, and so she went first.  This is exactly why Ashley is going to be so good in her nursing career: she's very good at caring for other people, and also making them feel cared for.  All of her patients (including me!) love her for that.

Isn't she great?  If you're a man and you're jealous reading this, good.  You should be.  If not, you're probably using the word "man" very loosely when applying it to yourself.

P.S.  I'm feeling much better now and I'm back at work.  Thanks again Ashley!  I love you!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Shout out!

Shout out to my parents! I just want to say that this is such a cute pic of my parents! I love this picture of them! They took this at a football game out in the cold, and they still look fabulicious! lol :D