Category Archives: Education

Car Shopping with No Cash… My 12-Step Process

Going car shopping with no money in your pocket, having emptied out your purse and wallet, can really put things into perspective. I personally prefer to shop this way, especially when looking to make a substantial purchase as a  vehicle.

I like doing this as it allows me to “shop” my salesperson to see who is “worthy” of their commission/sale. It also allows me to truly get a better view of how that particular car lot does business; the mindset of the company or atleast management and the sales floor.

I remember my very first, solo, car buying experience. I say solo, since I was by myself, but I did have my brother-like figure helping to negotiate the pricing on my car (virtually mind you). It was a crazy experience and one I will never forget. I had shopped several lots, seeing every single thing I did NOT want and being prompted and prodded to just get this or that. Me being relentless in my thinking and knowing that I would be seriously peeved if I purchased something just to have a new set of wheels, but did not actually enjoy it, just left each lot. You see, in my mind I had plotted and planned and could see myself in a luxury sports sedan, even though I felt that I did not have that type of money and certainly not that type of credit. But I believed in prayer and in my own ability to “think things possible”.

Car shopping, decisions, decisions, decisions...

My 12-Step Process

  1. Deal Breaker List – I planned by creating a list of all the amenities and features I “had to have/deal-breakers”.
  2. Nice but Not Need List – Next I created a “niceties but not necessities” list.
  3. Specs Check – Then I went on the internet to see which makes and models had my specs and I started pulling up the KBB (Kelly Blue Book) value on all as well as checking the gas mileage, emissions and other data on fueleconomy.gov (I truly treasure this site).
  4. Virtual Car Shopping – Next I started virtually shopping the various dealerships and car lots via the web.
  5. Phone Dealer to see if Car is Still There – Once I saw a vehicle I liked I would call, to see if it was still available (this step is tricky as they will say, oh yeah it’s here, and when you get there, it was sold “right before you came” (hoax alert and automatic disqualifier).
  6. Onsite Browsing – I started to make visits to the lots on Sunday’s (Ha, most dealerships are closed on Sunday’s so no hassle, no fuss, just plenty of time for my analytical mind to evaluate in peace).
  7. Test Drive and Vehicle Inspection – I visited the lots when open, so I could inspect and test drive my prospective vehicles.
    • Inspection – This step is so very important, as I am a very particular person. I want quality, comfort, space and practicality, bundled into a cute n’ sexy design – with great gas mileage of course. So I did my standard checks for cup holders, headrest positioning, back seat comfort, seat belt types, storage placement and space, trunk space, rear leg room, rear hip room (need this for the “she/he is touching me” children issues), controls, multi-disc cd changer, stereo system (Bose is a must) etc. I take a look under the hood to see if all the things I have to keep up with (fluid levels and such) are easily accessible and not a hassle to open and close. I literally check all of these things, to name a few!
    • Safety – I checked out all of the safety ratings, including the fact that my vehicle of choice was built on an airliners frame! Oh, yes, safe and secure for my precious cargo (my babies).
    • Test Drive -Manual transmission is my “go-to” decision factor, love me some stick-shifts. So I check for shift ease, steering (too loose or too stiff = a “no”), pickup speed, on dash visuals, how it takes corners, how it handles bumps on the road, quick turning and how it responds to stops. Seat adjustments are key for comfort, love our road trips. We carry our own electronics so the only other creature feature I desire is a jack for my phone, with connection to car speaker system and a usb connection for all else.
  8. Review All My Data – After I have completed my test drives I go home, review and write down all of my thoughts and true feelings. I make a pro’s and con’s list and think over it for a few days to a week or two. Generally if it takes this long I have not found the car I am satisfied with enough and I then begin my search again, with refined parameters and specs, or a new dealer, cause they’ve made me mad.
  9. Vehicle Report – Eureka! I’ve found my vehicle, now at this stage I generally order my own Carfax report on it.
  10. Financing – I either have secured financing or will secure financing. I prefer the online method for securing financing, that way several companies can bid for your business at once and the one that has the most favorable bid, you choose and they literally send you a check; with in 2 days, to your home. I think I went through LendingTree. When you shop via this method, it is less stressful, in my opinion, and it is like shopping with cash. Please note: I had done all of my due diligence earlier in the year, working on my credit, had a good paying job, etc, which made this process simple for me. These days, anyone, no matter their situation can get financing. The terms may not be as favorable, but if you have to do it, there are options out there. And if you are paying with cash, go for it. Congrats and No car payment for you! There are also programs out there, in various cities; some are called “Wheels to Work”. These is a government funded programs, so to find one in your area is a good thing. Each program may be named a little bit different and through different entities, so be creative and diligent in your search; if this option is for you. Note – During this process, I forgot to add that I already, since I had researched first, knew what the price is that I desired to pay for my vehicle. So I knew full well and was not willing to go outside of that figure/price point; unless that vehicle was truly worth it. (This is the step that I like to have a male friend or male family member – who is good at sales and negotiation – do the price talk on my behalf). I also allowed “my car” to sit on the lot for nearly a month, joys of being a manual shift driver, I guess, lol. And a side note, I purchased my car, my “Audi” from the actual “Volkswagen/Audi” dealer lot, made me feel more comfortable and confident buying direct and it came with a warranty so I knew they knew what to do and how to fix it like new, if anything happened to it.
  11. Prayer – I look at it this way, I had prayed over my list of specifications prior to me even stepping out the door. I knew that the Lord was going to bless me with exactly what I needed, and even “…exceedingly abundantly, above all that we ask or think according to the power that worketh in us” Ephesians 6:20 kjv. So I had the faith that He [God] was going to move and bless in my favor; in accordance with His will for my life. So I prayed continuously over my vehicle and each week, or day I checked the price on it, on the internet (yes the lot had it online too) the price was literally dropping thousands of dollars each time. The listing price was $26,000 for a certified pre-owned 2005.5 Audi A4 2.0T, in 2007. By the time I went to collect “my” vehicle (claimed it, in Jesus name), a month later, it was $20,000. Yes! God did it, just for me! And He WILL do it for you too; and NO this does not just apply to material or monetary things. This belief and faith action applies to ALL things. By the time I was ready to pick up my car, they had it pulled to the side, for me, off the lot and they were waiting for me with my keys in their hands. They had already prepared to accept my $16,000 check… Yes, $10,000 off the list price folks…. I know, I’ll just let that sink in…
  12. Last Minute Checks and Fixes – Now, prior to making the handover of the check I had seen somethings that I felt needed to be fixed, the glass on the vehicle was allowing condensation, under the windshield (they replaced the windshield completely), there were dings and things from small, seemingly miniscule rocks on the hood (they filled all holes with same color hood paint), etc, etc, etc… not a whole lot of fixing but my pet peeve, “I’m investing, I want the absolute best for my investment” issues had to be satisfied. Pushy, I know, but the squeaky wheel, GOT the oil.

 

2005.5 Audi A4 2.0T Quattro

This is not a pic of my car, but a nearly exact representation. The main difference is under the hood, this is a Quattro. My Audi was not, but for all intents and purposes, it’s still gorgeous! Just look at those lines!

 

 

My vehicle, we lovingly named her “silver”, yes she was silver, was a blessing to my children and I for many years. She was exceptional on the road. My children loved road trips, as she was ultra comfy, smooth ride with hushed interior and oh….. that BOSE sound…. ummmm, ummmm! Sweeeeeeet!

I did have to replace the clutch about 1.5 years later ($1,500 – yes, *cough, choke, gag*) but that was the only major issue I had and the only issue I had with her for the entire time she was mine; and she drove beautifully.

Many trips 700 miles each way, sometimes every other weekend even, where taken in her and she took to the road like we were going around the corner. Gas mileage on those trips was amazing as I only had to fill up 1.5 times each way! Yes! As you can see I truly enjoyed EVERY aspect of my vehicle, even down to the trunk space. That trunk space was exceptional. You see, they took into account the wheels so that there was not that awkward wheel shape eating up the trunk space; so maximum cargo area in the trunk!!! NICE for strollers and diaper bags snacks, extra clothes, shoes, etc… (my babies where much younger back then…. *sigh*)

So, in closing, take your time. Having cash on hand right then, is not a necessity and helps to keep you in the proper frame of mind, seeing all things as they should be seen. Pray and ask God to give you what is best for you. Do your research. Don’t be bullied. Take your time some more. Weigh all of your options. Extend your research and work with the people that are the most attentive and respectful of your time; regardless of whether they think you’ve got money or not. Take a friend with you that has your best interest at heart. And, most importantly believe you can achieve the object of your dreams… Audi was my dream car and I got exactly what I wanted, Plus a few cool extras!

 

To your health, wealth and continued success. Be blessed, don’t stress, pursue happiness!

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And So Dear Microsoft… Where is the Template Gallery!?

MS Office

So what is going on with the Microsoft Office products these days? I mean yeah, they are updated and have many new cool productivity tools and features, but … What happened to the template gallery? You see, I think that it is a great dis-service to upgrade/update an application/program and then disable functional features that were staples.

I mean, why tout all these new features, while quietly disabling the functionality of the ones that were previously used? It appears that Microsoft ever so sloppily forgot or cleverly overlooked the extension link, within the programs that attached the office suite to the template gallery. Or, maybe it is just me…

And yes, I have contacted technical support to see if it was just a glitch in my personal software or my computer and I was told, of course, that nope, it is Microsoft….

So I did it the old-fashioned way, I just went to the Microsoft Template gallery online. When I got there I noticed that there are not nearly as many template options as their were in the past, since the big switch in 2010. There used to be the builders, its been so long, I don’t even remember their correct name. Those tools that came with the programs already installed to make creating documents of various types simple and easy, pre-formatted and ready to go…

Now I am faced with having to look else where, and hoping that the open-source rivals will soon over take them in functionality, due to Microsoft’s obvious lack of support, for it’s own product/program design. Build something better, by keeping the things that work and improving on the things that do not. Add new features that enhance the functionality of what is already there and streamline where possible. But don’t create something new that leaves folks longing for what was old. In my opinion that is a product creation fail. You failed to consider your consumers needs, our processes and our functions within your product.

In conclusion, to my rant, it sure would be nice if they would send a quick push-fix to this problem and beef back up the template gallery.

That is all, LOL, ughhh.

 

 

Blessings

A Life of Freedom…

break the chain, no more strongholds...

The new year is approaching and new year’s resolutions will be kicked into action, beginning January 1. Why not give that one last gift? That gift that keeps on giving. The gift of support as well as freedom from addictions or mentalities that keep greatness in life bound.

You may know someone, a loved one perhaps, or a close friend, who is in need of support, but would like an option that will ease them into the process. You may have thought, if only they could speak with this person, or have access to a group of people experiencing the same thing, then maybe they would be able to see that life can be brighter, better, positive, giving, rewarding, endearing and worthwhile.

I have compiled a list of support groups, based off of the 12-Step program format, that are available for those facing addictive tendencies and seeking a way out. The following list is intended to be a starting point for you to research, to see if the program options are viable for those intended. It also serves to show that there is support out there for those who are locked in certain habits and want desperately to be free. Give them the gift of freedom, support, accepting  and understanding community. Please use your own discretion and research each option thoroughly to ensure the best outcome. You can find the following information as well as additional links on the 12Steps.org website, and I am appreciative to them for the service they provide.

Alcoholics Anonymous                           http://www.aa.org

Cocaine Anonymous                              http://www.ca.org

CoDependents Anonymous                   www.coda.org

Crystal Meth Anonymous                       http://www.crystalmeth.org

Debtors Anonymous                              http://www.debtorsanonymous.org

Dual Recovery Anonymous                   http://www.draonline.org

Emotions Anonymous                            http://www.emotionsanonymous.org

Food Addicts in Recovery                      http://www.foodaddicts.org

Gamblers Anonymous                           http://www.gamblersanonymous.org

Liars Anonymous                                  http://www.dailystrength.org/groups/liars-anonymous

Love Addicts                                         http://www.loveaddicts.org

Marijuana Anonymous                          http://www.marijuana-anonymous.org

Nar-Anon                                              http://www.nar-anon.org

Narcotics Anonymous                          http://www.na.org

Nicotine Anonymous                            http://www.nicotine-anonymous.org

Overeaters Anonymous                       http://www.oa.org

Self Mutilators Anonymous                  http://www.selfmutilatorsanonymous.org

Sex Addicts                                          http://www.sexaa.org

Sex and Love Addicts                          http://www.slaafws.org

Sexaholics                                           www.sa.org

Sexual Compulsives                           http://www.sca-recovery.org

Sexual Recovery                                http://www.sexualrecovery.org

Social Phobics                                   http://www.healsocialanxiety.com

Spenders Anonymous                       http://www.spenders.org

Again, it is my desire that you use this information as a starting point for your own in-depth research. You can find the above list as well as descriptions and additional support group offerings at 12steps.org.

Blessings

When Time Stands Still… A Poem

When Time Stands Still… A Poem

by Coach Kenyatte

 children are blessings

 

Time stands still when I drop my children off at school,

and that moment comes as I pray blessings over them and watch as they walk in.

Time stands still when they are playing,

and I watch admiring how they’ve grown and are developing so nicely.

Time stands still when they are active,

and I grab them, to steal a long hug, holding them close and whispering, “I love you so much”.

Time stands still as I watch them converse,

and they engage each other in meaningful, bond strengthening conversation.

Time stands still as I the house falls quiet,

and each person, doing their chores, learns that these tasks are the necessities of life.

Time stands still as I show them my grind,

and I explain to them why I work at it consistently, so they can have the keys to a satisfying life.

Time stands still when I appreciate all God has provided me with, in my children.

Yes, time stands still.

6 of Winter Seasons Most Favored Soups, With Benefits

soup

The winter season is the special time of year that soups, stews and ultra hefty meals are increasingly welcomed, due to their ability to promote, that feel good feeling as well as warmth. I consider soups to be my go-to, in the winter months for the additional hydration properties, as well as their comfort factors. The following list contains researched faves and the benefits they provide. Don’t see yours? No worries, leave me a comment and I’ll check it out, to see about adding it to my list.

  • Chicken Noodle Soup – A post by ABC News, states that, “the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, found evidence the soup contains anti-inflammatory properties that may help prevent a cold’s miserable side effects.”
  • Tomato Soup – Contains vitamins A, E, C, K, essential minerals and antioxidants
  • Miso Soup – Anti-Aging properties, beneficial bacteria for the digestive tract, immune system strengthening to fight infection and cancer.
  • Lentil Soup – Macronutrients, Fiber and Iron
  • Split Pea Soup – Vitamin K, Fiber, potassium
  • Gazpacho – In Diane Parcells’ article, Vegetable Soup Fights Cell Damage, she cited, “Scientists at Tufts University in Boston report that volunteers eating a type of vegetable soup twice a day had lower amounts of stress-related molecules in their blood after just 7 days. The researchers say the beneficial effect was due at least in part to an increase in vitamin C intake.”

 


The Article Garden:

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=117888

10 Amazing Health Benefits of Tomato Soup – http://www.stylecraze.com/articles/health-benefits-uses-of-tomato-soup/

Healthy Benefits of Tomato Soup – http://www.boldsky.com/health/nutrition/2012/health-benefits-of-tomato-soup-030976.html

What’s New and Beneficial About Miso – http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=114

Miso Soup: A Delicious Bowl Full of Health and Anti-Aging Benefits – http://www.naturalnews.com/025519_health_anti-aging_soy.html

The Health Benefits of Miso Soup and 2 Easy Miso Soup Recipes – http://veganamericanprincess.com/the-health-benefits-of-miso-soup-and-2-easy-miso-soup-recipes/

Vegetable Soup Fights Cell Damage – https://www.sciencenews.org/blog/food-thought/vegetable-soup-fights-cell-damage

Is Lentil Soup Healthy? – http://www.livestrong.com/article/410170-is-lentil-soup-healthy/

The Advantages of Split Pea Soup – http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/advantages-split-pea-soup-4353.html

Health Benefits of Split Peas – http://www.naturalfoodbenefits.com/display.asp?CAT=6&ID=107

Eat MORE… Winter Fruits!

fruits

With this cold and flu season upon us and the summer months behind us, it can be hard to get ahold of our favorite fruits. Here is a list of the fruits and vegetables that are in season now and oh, soooo good for these cold, icky crud months. I included plenty of links so you can read the total benefits and find out great information on each.

  • Grapefruit – Vitamin A, C
  • Kiwi – Vitamin C, E, potassium and fiber (Find out more about this fruits secret power)
  • Kumquats – Mini citrus fruit with edible peel, high in vitamin C, fiber
  • Oranges – Vitamin C, fiber
  • Pears – Vitamin C, fiber
  • Persimmons – Vitamin A, C, fiber
  • Pomegranates – Vitamin C, K, potassium, folate, copper, fiber
  • Pummelos – Grapefruit family
  • Date Plums – Vitamin A, C, manganese and fiber
  • Passion Fruit – Vitamin C and fiber
  • Red Banana – Vitamin C
  • Red Currants – Vitamin C and antioxidants
  • Cherimoya – Member of the custard apple family, high in vitamin c, fiber and potassium
  • Cactus Pear – High in vitamin C, magnesium and fiber

 


Great site article that I used as my source for the above, details the health benefits of the above fruits as well as providing a more extensive list for winter’s bounty:

What Fruits and Vegetables Are in Season During Winter? http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/whats-in-season-winter

 

 

Blessings

Tis The Season For Hydration…

Fact: Our bodies are made up of 60% water. So it is no wonder that with all the functions our body, alone internally does + the activity that we add to that consumes that water supply. In 2013 alone, it was reported that nearly 75% of Americans are experiencing Chronic Dehydration, per http://www.medicaldaily.com.

hydration

“60 percent of our bodies is composed of water, 75 percent in our muscles, 85 percent in our brains, it’s like oil to a machine,” explained Dr. Roberta Lee. “Because the human body is so unique that it will say ‘I want water’ in food, in any way, shape or form,” said Grace Webb, Assistant Director for Clinical Nutrition at New York Hospital. “People just think that when they start to get a little weak or they have a headache, they need to eat something, but most often they need to drink.” http://www.medicaldaily.com

So now that we have the gruesome statistics, what are we gonna do about it. For years, I have heard people referring to drinking tea and coffee as their water intake, well, now I’m giving you researched facts on the matter.

The following is your list of drinks and foods that truly “count” towards your body’s rehydration levels, apart from water itself:

  1. Fruit – With the biggest water heavyweight champion being … Yep, Watermelon = 92% water…
  2. Vegetables – Depending on the vegetable chosen can be a good source… like lettuce = 94.9% water content.
  3. Tea – The National Health Service, UK, quoted, “Drinking four to six mugs of tea a day is as good for keeping you hydrated as a litre of water,” reported the Daily Mail.”
  4. Fruit Juice
  5. Flavored water – Vitamin Water…

This is just a short list to get you started off in the right direction. Always remember, when in doubt, check it out, Google search it and you will find the best path or method for you. Here’s to maintaining good health!

 

Blessings


Some other great reads on winter hydration:

8 Tips for Hydrating in Cold Weather http://www.active.com/nutrition/articles/8-tips-for-hydrating-in-cold-weather

Winter Hydration: Do you REALLY know the facts? http://nuun.com/blog/2011/11/16/winter-hydration/