Monday, June 27, 2011

Financial tips Part 1 from the self proclaimed economically sound brotha

Being that I'm a financial person as well as a numbers person, I feel inclined to give some financial tips that have helped me over the years. I've been living on a tight budget since well before the recession. Now I'm taking it to the next level by getting into couponing more. 11 is one of my favorite numbers so here are 11 quick financial tips I have learned over the years.

- Drive on regular roads whenever possible, and try not to speed to save on gas.

When you go at blazing speeds, (60 mph or higher) you tend to burn more gas. This is because your engine is working harder to go faster and thus burning gas at a faster rate. Therefore, stick to the scenic routes whenever possible.

- Bring your lunch to work

You would be surprised how much the average person spends on lunch/week. Some folks spend about 60/week, well over 200/month, just on lunch. Bringing your lunch is very practical and economically sound. Whether its bringing leftovers from dinner the night before, or buying cheap lunch meat and bread, you can feed yourself lunch for about $5/week, or even 20/month. Makes sense, doesn't it?

- Try to refrain from running errands on your lunch break

I understand there are times where you only have that 1 hour window to get things done. However, even driving 2 miles every day on your lunch hour can burn gas like a 20 minute road trip, especially with the A/C blasting. Try to keep the car parked at lunch. Better yet, carpool.

- Don't shop or eat out unless its a sale or a special

I feel buying nice things and eating at nice restaurants is a treat. However, waiting for a sale or a special makes it all the more sweeter, as you save money in your pocket.


Use this basic ratio when budgeting. Use 80% of your check for miscellanei, 10% on your tithes, and the other 10% on saving. The Lord must be paid first, then save some money, then use the other 80 to help out with other various expenses.

- Layaway

As mentioned in an earlier blog, layaway can be awesome. Don't turn your nose up at the idea.

- Coupon, coupon, COUPON!!!

Couponing has become more popular with the recent TLC show Extreme Couponing. Now most folks wanna do it. However, give it a try, use your Sunday papers and various couponing websites. Also, find out which stores double and match coupons.

- Buy wholesale

You have Sams Club, Costco, and the unsung BJs. Wholesale ( buying in bulk) is especially effective when you have a large family and your grocery bill is in the 100s every week. Membership to these stores is a low yearly fee, and can be well worth your while.

- Let go of the SUV

Sure its great for family vacations and the like. But that gas bill will kill ya. Try downgrading to a sedan or a compact. Think about it, theres a reason Hummer was discontinued last year.

- Unplug anything at night you don't use or need.

A woman on the Oprah show did this years ago and it worked. I decided to try it and its very true. The electric company will charge you if you have an outlet occupied. So why have something unplugged that you do not need.

- Give up that Starbucks

I also previously blogged on this. You can make coffee cheaper at your home, and you don't even need a coffee maker.

This blog is definitely incomplete. These are simply some quick tips that have helped me save money during tough times.

Stay tuned for more!

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Monday, June 20, 2011

My Father Figures

I remember once upon a time Father's Day meant nothing to me. My father, Dennis "Bill" McGill, was murdered when I was only 2 years old. My mom raised me as a single parent until she got married when I was 14. However, my stepdad was never the REAL father figure I needed. I still bought him Father's Day gifts until he and my mom divorced a couple of years ago.

However, I realized that I've had several men in my life that have stepped in and been like a father to me. I will use this blog to pay tribute to those men.

- God, my Lord, Savior and Heavenly Father

This goes without saying. Without God, I would be nothing. God has made me stronger and gives me faith and encouragemment throughout my years.

- Debbie Lanier

It would be unfair to leave her off this list. She was both mother and father to me, and is still my best friend and inspiration.

- Billy Transou

He was my high school guidance counselor and 7th grade math teacher. We developed a bond that we share to this day. He helped me get into college and pay for it, plus he always had my back and lended a listening ear. He retired from Blacksburg High this year. The school has lost a great man who molded teenagers into adults.

- Bill Parker

He was my Agriculture/shop teacher and FFA advisor. I would frequently hang out in his classroom, even after I was no longer a student. He was one of the nicest but most real men I know. I saw a college campus for the first time as he took me to Clemson University for the state FFA convention. More than anything, he was non-judgmental and impartial. He treated everyone the same: males, females, smart, dumb, rich, poor, black and white

- My high school football coaches (Gibson, Fulton, and Wilson)

I had several coaches, but these 3 stick out. I caught Coach Gibson and Coach Fulton's eye as only a 7th grader. Both would talk to me like they had known me for years. They kept coaxing me to play football not only because I was a tough kid. They saw that it would make more of a man out of me. That it did also. They pushed me to the limit, stayed on me, and always rewarded and praised me. They noted my academic and personal character more. It was deeper than football with those two.

Most of the same can be said about Coach Wilson. He was extremely enthusiastic, inspiring, caring, and gifted at molding men. He came into my life when I needed a final piece to my developmental puzzle. He is loved by many, hated by few, respected by all. When I organized and played in the 2010 alumni game, Coach Wilson stepped in and was again the final piece of the puzzle. He coached us up, got us organized, and continued to inspire us. It was just like old times. He really cared and showed it all the time

- Frank Harris ( bka "Pop")

He was the only male black teacher at BHS. You learned more than geography or history in his classroom. He taught me about life and staying current on local, national, and world affairs. He even talked to me about staying focused on getting an education first, and having fun second. He was a really cool man that helped prepare me for college and life.

- John "JT" Timmons

My former employer at Winthrop as a RA and a SWARM staff member, plus my advisor in the Resident Student Association. JT is simply an awesome person, and an encouraging, non- judgmental listener. He went to battle for me several times in crisis situations. A very fun-loving person, he made me want to do better as an RA, and RSA executive, and a man. We developed a great bond that cannot be broken. He understood where I came from, and accepted me for who I was. He only tried to enhance who I was, rather than change me.

Dr. Will Thacker

I had 4 classes with Dr. Thacker. In all of them, he taught me how to think and reason out problems, rather than simply learn out of a book. He saw my potential and brought it out in me. He knew what I was capable of, and always gave me chances to learn and excel. He is misunderstood, but like many Winthrop professors, he is kind, understanding and realistic.

- Jerry Dunn

One of my former bosses at my current company, the Robert Allen Group. Jerry let you be yourself, work hard like an adult, and treated you well. He was very intelligent, thorough in explaining procedure and down to earth. Instead of parking in the executive parking lot, he parked with the regular employees. He liked to stay on our level and was the consummate professional. He had your back also, a rarity in many workplace.

- Frankie Austin and Arthur Newson

Both of these men are fathers to my two best friends, the late Marcus Austin and Rashad Newson, respectively. Both men treat me like royalty, offer me fatherly advice, and simply treat me like I'm one of their own. I know if I ever wanna talk or need a word of advice or encouragement, Frankie or Arthur are there for me. Good positive black men are out there, and I'm glad I have these two in my life.

- David Fink

I dedicated an entire article to him when he passed away back in April 2011. Founder/owner of Your Best Body Fitness Center/Day Spa and my former trainer, he was an awesome person, period. He became like a mentor to me as we had various conversations about health, wellness, sports and the like. It's still hard to believe he's gone and I miss him daily. I wear a memorial wristband that YBB sold to honor his memory.
Happy Belated Father's Day to these people! Without you all, there would be me. I hope I can mentor and love my children someday the way you have me.
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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Do They Have Layaway?

Chris Rock once described layaway as one of the best things ever, especially when you're financially strapped. Most folks, including myself, have forgotten about layaway as an option to buy things that you need but don't have the cash all at once for.
Layaway is typically popular around Christmastime, but one can utilize layaway year round. It works better than credit in that little to no interest is required, you can set up a reasonable payment schedule, and you don't feel as financially strapped. Wal-Mart had layaway for years, but discontinued it. Currently many stores such as K-Mart and Sears still have layaway.

Obviously you have only a limited window in which to take something out of layaway, often 60 days or less. You can risk losing your money paid and that item if you do not have the full amount paid in time. This turns many folks off right there. However, if you budget your money carefully and your payments, it can be very effective. Of course you shouldn't put something on layaway that's beyond your means. For example, you shouldn't put a $4000 television on layaway if you only have 2 months to pay it off and you only net $2000/month income. That's insane right there. Layaway, again, helps you get things that you can save for in a quick time, NOT live beyond your means and keep up with the Joneses.

I personally only used layaway once in my life, 8 years ago, to purchase a leather jacket. I plan on using it on a couple of items I need in the near future. I believe in paying cash for whatever you get unless its a house or a car. However, like a vacation or saving for college, we need some thing that cash on demand do not cover.

So next time you need a new TV, washer/dryer, etc, don't panic! Consider layaway.

I plan on a financial assistance blog in a few weeks so consider this the introduction. Layaway is a great start to getting the things you need and even some you want.
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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The 4 Levels of Coonery and ratings

Many of you know how I speak and fight against coonery in every fashion. Once again, to define coonery is showing negative stereotypes and making folks look foolish and buffoonish on purpose. It sets back the black race, almost to the Jim Crow and Blackface days. We are so much more progressive as a race. We have a Black president now, equal rights, dominate pro sports, and are scholars and successful, well spoken, beautiful people.

Now some believe I think everything Black (TV, movies, music, etc) is coonery. While many of these avenues contain little and/or lots of coonery, I assure you this is NOT the case. I ironically enjoy some things that have lots of coonery. On the flipside, there are shows with little to no coonery that I simply cannot get into. I know the difference when folks are clowning the Black culture and when they're making harmless jokes and realistic but tasteful representations.

Here are the ratings and under them a list of TV shows and movies that fit these ratings/ categories:

G ( very little to no coonery)

The Cosby Show
Sinbad Family Values
A Different World
Family Matters
The Family That Preys
The Oprah Winfrey Show
American's Next Top Model
Diffr'nt Strokes
Love Jones
Reed Between The Lines
Love and Basketball
Are We There Yet 1 and 2
Smart Guy
Sister Sister
That's So Raven
The Color Purple
Miracle at St Anna
Brown Sugar
Malcolm X
Poetic Justice
Higher Learning
More Than A Game
Daddy Day Care
Eve's Bayou
What's Happening?
The Fresh Prince of Bel Air
Akeelah and the Bee
The Longshots
The Pursuit of Happyness
Seven Pounds
Training Day
How Stella Got Her Groove Back
Kevin Hill
Last Holiday
Just Wright
Dave Chapelle's Block Party
The Express
The Great Debaters
Antwone Fisher
Lincoln Heights
Little Bill
State of Georgia

PG (mild coonery)

Fat Albert (movie and cartoon)
Set It Off
Soul Train
Sanford and Son
The Jeffersons
For Colored Girls
Why Did I Get Married?
That's My Mama!
Living Single
Jason's Lyric
The Boondocks
The Best Man
Soul Food
The Five Heartbeats
The Temptations
School Daze
Get On The Bus
Cooley High
Do The Right Thing
She's Gotta Have It
Mo Betta Blues
Jungle Fever
Cadillac Records
Not Easily Broken
Boyz N Da Hood
The Wire
I Think I Love My Wife
Hoop Dreams
Tupac Resurrection
Nutty Professor 1 and 2
Good Times
Deliver Us From Eva
Something New
My Wife and Kids
Kenan and Kel
Good Burger
Foxy Brown
House Party 1 and 2
8 Mile
Get Rich or Die Tryin
The Bernie Mac Show
New Jack City
American Gangsta
Everybody Hates Chris
Smokin Aces
Harlem Nights
Coming To America
One On One
The Blind Side
Paid In Full
The Wiz
The Brothers
Waiting To Exhale
Jumping The Broom
Chapelle's Show
Dead Presidents

PG-13 (Some to an unhealthy amount of coonery)

Braxton Family Values
Real Housewives of Atlanta
The Family Crews
The Game
LisaRaye: The Real McCoy
Single Ladies
Breaking All The Rules
The Parkers
House of Payne
Why Do Fools Fall in Love
She Hate Me
Menace II Society
This Christmas
Undercover Brother
Comic View
Two Can Play That Game
Barbershop 2
Beauty Shop
Head of State
Above The Rim
Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins
Big Momma's House 1 and 2
The Wayans Bros
Player's Club
The PJs
House Party 3
Against The Ropes
Malcolm and Eddie
The Steve Harvey Show
Hustle and Flow
The Mack
I'm Gonna Get Ya Sucka
Half Baked
Waist Deep
In Living Color
Car Wash
A Low Down Dirty Shame
Civil Brand
Friday trilogy

R (Extreme coonery, full blown)

Most of the lineup on BET, VH-1, and MTV
Any Tyler Perry Movie I didn't previously mention
Booty Call
Homeboys In Outer Space
Tiny and Toya
Toya's Family Circus
Flavor of Love
College Hill
Hell Date
I Love New York
Love That Girl
Soul Plane
Lottery Ticket
The King's Ransom
Pootie Tang Meet The Browns (TV show)
Baby Boy
Don't Be a Menace To South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood
Perfect Holiday
Down To Earth
House Party 3 and 4
State Property 1 and 2
Master P's movies
The Hughleys
How To Be A Player
3 Strikes
Vampire In Brooklyn
Bones (movie)
Phat Girlz
The Monique Show
Wendy Williams
The Wash

I'm not trying in this blog to convince or change anyone's mind. I simply wanted you all to see where my mind is when I think of Black entertainment.

As always, I welcome all forms of comments
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