Have learned a lot already!

This is my first month for my husband and I making a real, cover everything budget. We’ve always had a budget for all for all of the “bills”, but anything that was leftover went to food, gas, etc. (gee, wonder why nothing was left and we ended up putting gas on a credit card) We’ve mapped out the end of this month and all of May (and going into June and July) I was hoping we would find some magic money somewhere with doing the budget, but it is showing we do have just barely enough to do it all. 🙂 But – the credit cards are no longer in our wallets – so that’s a huge step.
We’ve got the $1000 savings, and my husband is getting an extra small check at the end of this month, so that extra money is going to starting our debt. We thankfully dug ourselves out of $40,000 of credit card debt over the past couple of years. Now we just have small medical bills, car payments, and the biggie — my husband’s $80,000 in undergraduate and graduate student loans (I know – stupid.) Our extra money to go towards debt right now beyond minimums is only about $100 a month, but hey, it’ll get there (and by the time we pay off the cars and get to the student loan – it will be gone much quicker than the planned 13 years!)

We’re starting also to “negotiate” on some of our utilities, which is awesome. Today my husband called our internet provider (we don’t have cable, but I need internet to do my one day a week work from home – which saves in gas) and told them we were getting other cheaper offers, and no hassle, they just lowered it! That’s a tiny bill, but hey $15 less a month is $15 less a month! The car and home insurance is the next call on his list. 🙂

I’ve been lurking for a week or two.

Question: Catching up vs. budget

So I have been trying to catch up on our Main house bills. Still owe elect about 1600.00. I did a zero based budget but don’t think I can follow it until I get this caught up. Am i correct that I catch up the stables, then move onto baby step 1???

Ok, on the DNC list–like that really works

no outstanding debt except mortgage, but we have been getting many “business opportunity” calls. right, I’m sure they are legit– fake #, unknown #, private caller or just unknown caller and no # on caller ID.

so need something to destress from the DH being retired and haven’t opened his karate studio yet…I had 2 hang ups from the telemarketers today when I challenged them….I can’t wait to see how many calls I get tomorrow. I love it when they hang up on me.

This conversation is timely, because this is on our immediate list of things to do

Right now I’m just finishing reading a book entitled, Wear Clean Underwear by Alexis Martin Neely. I would highly recommend anyone with children to check out this book from the library and read it. The last time I did a will, I lived in another state and have had more children since that will was drawn. My understanding is that wills need to be state specific to the state in which you reside, but I certainly may be mistaken. As soon as I finish reading this book, which will be this weekend, we plan on getting the necessary documents, downloading them, and we’ll fill them out, (has anyone done the Quicken WillMaker Plus program, and does it have a living revocable trust with the online program?) and then make an appt. with an attorney to make sure that we’ve dotted all of our i’s and crossed all of our t’s. This should cut down on some of the expenses of using an attorney, but we’ll make sure we’ve got all of our bases covered. Once again, I’m going to strongly recommend anyone with children to read the book I mentioned, it covers a lot of scenarios you may not be thinking of.

Funny, that’s been on my to-do list for some time too

I finally copied one a friend had drawn up, changed the info. to mine, printed it, and finally got up to my bank for notarization today. They turned me away because I had to have two witnesses, and they couldn’t furnish them. I’m wondering if I can just adjust the document so it doesn’t have witness signature lines on it, but have to look up Florida will info. first to be sure I’m not missing anything.

It’s so tough to have all your ducks in a row..and yes, a challenge to have it done by 6/30!

Thanks for suggesting it!

We live in WA state as well so I will share any knowledge I find out all on the way with you

So far, I don’t know a whole lot. As to Cindy’s question, the witnesses were friends of ours at the time. We made the wills up ourselves with legal forms on the internet. But we lived in Oregon at the time. Now that we live in WA I don’t know if we need to update them or not. I guess what I was wondering is, is a will still valid if it was made and signed while living in one state but move and live in another state?
Plus, like I said before if there was ever an issue of what we put in the will and our witnesses on the will ever needed to be called to court or something, I have NO idea where those people are. I know they don’t live in the place they did when they witnessed my husband and I sign.

Richard (or anyone), care to take a friendly challenge?

We need to get our wills done too, and we keep putting it off. Shall we set a target date of June 30th to get that done? Anyone who wants to participate in that friendly challenge is welcome to do so – that particular item has been on our to-do list for an overly long time. Maybe if we all help each other get this done, it’ll get done.

So they witnessed you signing the will?

Did you know them persoanlly or were they law office personnel called in to sign? When we’ve had ours done, the lawyer just had to staff people come in and witness our signatures. We have never had friends or relatives there to witness anything. If you did not know them personally, as in our case, I am not sure what they could add if called as witnesses. If your will is still valid (no new spouse, etc.) I would think it would stand on it’s own merit but your mileage may vary. I guess it could depend on if you have some relatives who are questioning your parenting, threatening to call child services, etc. If that is not the case, I don’t know why you’d need to change it unless I am missing something.

And to get back to your original question, I have no experience with those do it yourself will companies. If you decide to use them, make sure they are valid in your state.

The only thing that has changed is our address

No new kids, spouses, division of assets, but we live in an another state and like I said, we no longer are in contact the people who were the witnesses. I can’t really imagine needing the witnesses to ever come forward to testify on anything since my family and hubby’s immediate family all know our wishes, but I could see the possibility of my hubby’s aunts, uncles, or cousins challenging our wishes when it comes to guardianship for our kids.

I think if your life situation has substantially changed..

having more children or a child with special needs, new spouse, starting a business, etc. could signal needing a new will. Whether you need a lawyer depends on how complicated your will could be and what your state requires. In Louisiana, you can do your own w/o a lawyer but it has to be in your own handwriting, contain your signature, and any two witnesses’ signatures. It should also be dated. We went a step further with my in-laws. We had them mail their wills to themselves and put it in a ziplock bag in the freezer — fire protection, LOL. Leaving the envelope in tact helps prove the date and validity of the will.

We just had to update our wills recently having bought out my dad’s business. We also had to update things regarding what happens if we outlive our dd, which is a possibility due to her health concerns. Due to business stuff and needing a trust to go in place concerning dd, we used a lawyer and he was worth every penny. Ours specializes in life’s end planning but he really wasn’t any more expensive than general practice lawyers.

If you do decide to go with a lawyer, ask around for references. We asked a friend–who happens to be a CPA–who he would recommend.

I did some checking and there are actually several different options for

plugging computers into TVs, depending on the age of the TV and what other equipment (DVDs, VHS players, tuners) a person has. I saw variations for HDMI, VGA and a few others. One interesting note, is that if folks have a tuner or DVD/VHS player which allows you to select an AUX channel, there are often jacks on the back of that unit which will take in signals from some auxiliary machine. The trick is to match up what output options the computer has (and there are several options) with which options that tuner or player has. Lots of acronyms to work through but there are converter boxes to go back and forth between most of them. Then whichever unit has the AUX channel, can feed it to the TV as long as it’s already able to feed signal to the TV.

So for instance, we have three “boxes” alongside our TV: a home theater system tuner, which has separate CD/DVD/VHS/AUX channels, a DVD/VHS player with no AUX options, and a second VHS player which accepts cable, antenna AND has an AUX channel plugin. The DVD player is plugged into the tuner’s AUX channel, so we can’t use that AUX channel. But the VHS player has its own VHS channel on the tuner. So we could plug the computer into the AUX channel on the VHS player, and go in that way. I have a few other details to work out but it looks like all the converter pieces are out there. I probably won’t get it done this week but hopefully soon after I return from my little trip down to see Mom. I’ll let everyone know what I came up with. But that AUX channel appears to be the key to working with existing systems that are more than a few years old.

How it works:

An HDMI cable has two ends to it—one side plugs into your computer—the other end plugs into your tv.

On whether it works with your tv…..depends on the models…some started putting the plug-ins for video game systems years ago—others took longer to do.

Personally for us—our huge floor model big screen (that we bought used years ago) will not support an hdmi cable, but the other tv I bought 5 years ago does.

Easy way to check yours—buy a cheap HDMI cable and see if you can hook it up—it literally takes 2 minutes to do.

The HDMI port on your DVD player is probably just output

DVD *players* don’t have an imput – they’re just output. So what you were planning wouldn’t work. If you had a DVD burner, it might have an input, but probably only coax.
Very old TVs would only have Coax(cable) or Composite. Those you couldn’t connect to your computer. Slightly less old TVs might have a VGA or DVI inputs. Those you could connect using your normal computer VGA or DVI port. TVs that are newer still would probably have an HDMI input, which could be used with an HDMI cable.

You probably should check with the parent’s home owners because, as some like to say, your mileage may vary

Their particular policy may not allow it. Also let the parent’s know what you want to do, and you’ll have to to check their insurance or try PBC loans (USA). The insurance may allow it but the parents may not want their kids to have it for a variety of reasons.

In that particular video from VBN, the recipients had already promised it to their kids when they were debt free. Your friends may have a different reward in mind such as a special trip or new bikes, or … you get the idea. Your friends choice(s) need to be respected.

I know for us, when our dd was a kid, we would not have allowed a trampoline. Our dd has health concerns but wanted one. We told her to ask her cardiologist and orthopedic surgeon if it was okay and if they gave a thumbs up we would get one. Well I knew they wouldn’t so I could take this gamble. The cardiologist happened to be the first one we saw on the day of appointments. His first words were, “Absolutely not” but not for the reason I thought. He said the American Academy of Pediatrics has deemed them one of the most dangerous “toys” out there, or maybe the one that causes the most injuries. Something like that. Well, dd went on to ask the ortho surg. and he basically echoed what the pediatric cardiologist said for the same reasons. They both said regardless of physical problems in a kid they would not recommend it. (I thought they would not allow it only on the basis of her physical problems.)

I am not saying no kid should have one because it’s up to the parents. I don’t want to debate trampolines specifically. I am just passing on what we learned from 2 well educated doctors from the likes of Harvard and Texas Children’s Hospital.

It is great you want to bless someone else. Just make sure what you give is blessing and not a hardship.

I’m intrigued as well

Our TV is almost 25 years old, but our relatively new DVD player has an HDMI port on the back. So now I’m wondering if I can plug the computer into the DVD player, then have the DVD player feed the signal into the TV. In which case, yay!

I will say that

We just “purchased” another one of our favorite series last night, as streaming video from Amazon.com. “Flying Wild Alaska” is for all effects and purposes, how my DH grew up. And we have the first two seasons on DVD. But buying it as streaming video gave us access to the third season, way before it is available on DVD. The entire cost for the entire season was a grand total of $12.99, and we watched the first episode last night on his computer, basically the same way we’d watch a Youtube. It’s not available for streaming from Discovery Channel anymore, nor was it listed on Hulu as far as I could tell. But at $1.00 an episode, it’s a cheap date. The only downside is that if the computer monitor is smallish, it brings back memories of growing up with an itty-bitty TV screen. Also, we did occasionally have breaks in the streaming such that we got the buffering symbol as the DSL tried to restart the streaming. But all in all, it was a very nice way to get earlier access to one of our favorite shows. Just wish we could do the same thing with GoT.

Just as a cautionary note, prior to paying for it at Amazon.com, I did search for a free source. I thought I’d found one, but then his Windows 7 software threw up a warning screen that the download I was about to do apparently contained a virus, and did I really want to proceed? My copy of Windows XP may not have been sophisticated enough to generate a warning like that. So at this point, I’d steer clear of the apparent freebie TV websites. Sorta like kissing on the first date – you’re not really all that sure who that website really is and what they might have in mind. So, a mix of “neato” and caution this morning.

We have 2 of them and love them

There is ALWAYS something to watch, not like cable where we used to go through the channels and ask “why do we pay for this!”. My 11 year old grandson loves it. His mom has TW with HBO and he says our Roku is better. LOL!

As others pointed out, it does have its limitations. Most of what we want that’s not on there we find online and just stream through our laptop to the tv. I would never go back to cable. We’ve been using Roku for about 2 years.

I’m not going through Roku at all

I go from my computer, which has a screen darn near as big as our 20+ year old TV, and stream the episode directly from the Discovery Channel website. It’s very clunky, because the computer is located on a waist-high desk rather than on our TV stand, and we have to get up and actually manipulate the mouse on the desk rather than use the TV remote. There’s also the issue that if our DSL is slow that day, and it’s often slow, then we get skips and breaks and delays. It’s essentially like watching an episode via Youtube. But it beats the heck out of waiting a whole year for the series to come out on DVD, which is what we’re doing for GoT, since HBO apparently won’t let us stream from their website. It’s a minor annoyance, but I’d love to know if someone has figured out a way around that.

Here’s a very specific question

We ditched cable last year, and we’ve been generally pretty happy since then. We did get a digital converter to watch the Olympics last summer, but after all that high-tech hoopla, we didn’t like the signal and really didn’t like NBC’s coverage of the events, so we didn’t watch much of it. There are only a very small handful of shows or networks we wish we could get right now. The main network is the Discovery Channel, and the three non-Discovery Channel shows we want to watch are Game of Thrones on HBO, Vikings on the history channel, and Deadwood on whatever network that’s on. I’ve figured out how to do the streaming from the Discovery Channel’s website, so that part is covered. Tedious, but we can do it. Haven’t figured out yet how to get those other shows. Anyone using Roku, Hulu or Netflix or Amazon or whatever, to get those specific currently-running shows?

Roku has a one time cost of $40-89 depending on which model you buy

It runs off the internet, so you have to have that. If you don’t have internet, you can’t run Roku.

Roku runs off “channels.” SOME of those channels are live streaming (BYU TV, The Blaze TV, Wall Street Journal, BBC News, Al Jazeera….there’s likely a few more), but MOST are “pre-recorded” (Netflix, HuluPlus, etc.) All of the aforementioned (except for BlazeTV, NetFlix, Huluplus) are free. You can purchase streamed channels, but these are mostly games.

We use Roku in conjunction over-the-air antenna, antenna for live TV. Roku works with any type television (older standard def like we have, newer HD, or newest SmartTVs.)

You can take your ROKU box and plug it into any type television.

Roku just kicked off VideoBuzz which was a portal channel into YouTube, but allowed in Twonky, which (sort of) allows you to bounce your internet feed onto your larger TV.

If you are looking to replace cable with Roku, you need to decide what you can live without. You’re not going to find the Cooking Channel or Person of Interest on it. Ironically though, they do stream the Home Shopping Network 🙂

It has worked for us, but we were willing to eliminate cable/satellite and the option to “record” shows for later in order to not spend $67 a month on Dish network.