Note: This is a post from Joan Otto, Man Vs. Debt community manager. Read more about Joan.

Shh… don’t tell.

My teenage daughter is getting, essentially, one Christmas present this year – an iPod Touch. My mom and my husband are also each getting one specific, useful gift. (But, unlike my teenager, they sometimes read MvD, so I’m not telling!!)

I was super-excited to find a way to get this iPod for Sarah and stay well within our gift budget for her. 

But then I sat down to look at our Christmas budget, and while we’re still all right, we’re not doing as well as I thought, and we’ll have to be extra-careful as we finish up our last-minute shopping.

I’d spent MUCH less than expected on this major gift… so how did this happen? 

[It took me a minute to realize what went wrong...]



Ivan ChanNote: This is a guest post by Ivan Chan. Ivan is the creator of Wealthy Without Worry, a Star Wars fan and a martial artist. In his latest quest, Ivan teaches professionals how to make smart money decisions that fit their lifestyles. Check out what he does here! (You might remember that Ivan previously shared 5 Devious Mental Blocks that Make You Procrastinate With Your Finances with us here at MvD!)

You probably have clutter in your home you just can’t seem to get rid of.

Some might have been given to you by a loved one. Some of it might be antique and could be valuable, someday. Some could become useful someday, but you’re not sure so you’re keeping it just in case.

Despite all this, you don’t think you’re a hoarder. After all, you do try to keep your home neat and tidy. And besides, you know people who are a lot worse than you when it comes to living with too much stuff.

Yet, every time you look at the clutter around your home, you feel a little guilty.

[What will it take for you to finally tackle your clutter?]



Note: This is a post from Joan Otto, Man Vs. Debt community manager. Read more about Joan.

When I was in about third or fourth grade, our gifted seminar teacher did something that ABSOLUTELY blew the mind of all the “smart kids” charged to her care.

She told us that knowledge wasn’t important.

Actually, she told us about Bloom’s Taxonomy – a set of learning objectives that, instead of finishing with knowledge, starts with it and builds outward.

The taxonomy is represented a bunch of ways – sometimes as concentric circles, other times as a pyramid, and in my favorite, as a butterfly with growing wings.

It started with knowledge. Then there was comprehension. That moved into application, which led into analysis, which grew into synthesis. And finally, there was evaluation, the pinnacle.

[Where did this come from... and how does it affect finances?]



Note: This is a post from Joan Otto, Man Vs. Debt community manager. Read more about Joan.

Since last July, we’ve dropped our debt by $10,000 more… 

And this month, we hit a milestone. We’ve now paid off $35,201.89 of our original $89,687.23 balance.

We crossed the $35K threshold, and by the end of the year, we should reach 40 percent debt-free!!!

Yeah, that deserves some exclamation points.

[See where we're going from here!]



Note: This is a post from Joan Otto, Man Vs. Debt community manager. Read more about Joan.

I’ve needed a new pair of jeans for a while. I hate buying jeans. I am, I guess, not jeans-shaped, which is to say that they never feel like they fit well. Normally, if I can find ones that are “good enough,” I go for them.

And I certainly don’t like to spend much money on jeans.

Well, here’s an interesting thing. For a long time, I’d limited my jeans-trying-on to stores like Walmart and maybe Old Navy. The occasional T.J. Maxx. Kohl’s, on a REAL splurge. Since I never like them anyway (even expensive pairs), I figured, why bother looking at brand-name stores? They’re going to be more expensive!

Fast-forward to last weekend, when I decided to go jeans-shopping. My jeans from about three years ago were from Old Navy, and while their jeans are cheap when on sale, they’re something like $29 or more regular price, well more than I wanted to pay, especially after trying on something like 6 pairs and not finding any that felt even “pretty good.”

So I tried to remember what other brands of jeans I’d worn in the past, and decided to check out the Aeropostale in the mall… mostly out of desperation, and because I knew they had a particular cut I sometimes wear. I resigned myself to the fact that these high-end (for me) jeans would be more expensive, but reasoned that since I buy them so rarely, I could deal with it.

Guess what? I walked in and out with $16 jeans in less than 5 minutes. Couldn’t believe it. And they weren’t having a big sale – they were just standard, not-new-for-this-season jeans, and they were $16 and fit as well as I ever get jeans to fit.

So I started thinking about my brand preconceptions.

[Hmm... do any of these sound familiar to you?]



Note: This is a post from Joan Otto, Man Vs. Debt community manager. Read more about Joan.

I don’t believe in coincidence or luck, but I do believe that sometimes things come together in a way that can only be considered amazing.

Call it God… call it the stars aligning… call it fate… whatever you believe the cause might be, I’ve been feeling the collision of forces in my life in recent weeks with one message:

[Find out what I'm being called to do...]