May 2008


This is officially the longest title in Maxwell Family history. Hooray!

I was reading Chief Family Officer this morning and stumbled on her post about starting an Infrequent Bills Account. We started a similar process earlier this year. I took all of our infrequent, non-monthly, bills (car insurance, life insurance, newspaper subscription, etc…) and figured their monthly payment. Then, I added up the amount we would need to set aside each month, and set up an automatic transfer from our checking account into our high yield online savings account. We’ve been budgeting this amount on paper for years, but now the money is physically moved. I also added a formula to subtract this amount from our weekly worth calculation. Now, we have a more realistic number for our worth calculation, and a better idea of how well we’re sticking to our budget each month. When a bill comes due, we pay it out of checking, and then transfer the same amount from the High Yield savings account into the checking. Or, better yet, we leave the amount in the High Yield account to continue earning interest, and treat it like savings. That way we’re paying our infrequent bills, and also saving the same amount each month. 

In addition to starting an Infrequent Bills payment system, this year we also decided to switch to a yearly mortgage pre-payment. Since we began our mortgage a few years ago we’ve always been able to make extra payments each month towards the principle. Earlier this year (during a pregnancy-induced researching spree) I discovered an article that described how combining these monthly payments into one yearly payment could reduce the span of our mortgage (can’t find the article right now, sorry). It doesn’t reduce the lifespan by a whole lot, but we will be able to pay off the mortgage a couple of months sooner this way. Plus, we generally prefer to pay a lump sum rather than monthly payments. To see if yearly rather than monthly prepayments would benefit you, check out this Mortgage Calculator.

Also, I have to mention that many financial gurus DON’T recommend prepaying your mortgage if you are locked in at a low rate (below 9ish percent). This is because you could probably generate more money by investing rather than paying off your mortgage early. However, a few of these finance experts understand that the mental benefit to paying off a mortgage far outweighs the loss of these investments. As Suze Orman says, “You cannot live in a tax return. You cannot live in a stock certificate. You live in your home.”

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Looking for something special to do this summer? Why not take the kiddos to a movie?! Both Regal Cinemas and Century 16 are offering family friendly movies during weekdays this summer. Regal’s Totem and Dimond theaters are showing FREE movies on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings at 10:00 from June 2nd through August 6th. For a complete schedule see the Regal website here. Century 16 is showing selected family movies for $1 on Mondays from May 29th through July 31st. Download the Century 16 schedule here

I’m not sure if Mat-Su Cinemas is also sponsoring a similar family friendly event. Let me know if you have any info! It would sure be nice to not have to drive into Anchorage. Meanwhile, if you do end up heading in, consider bringing a friend and splitting the gas. Movies are always more fun with friends!

Some of our favorite local restaurants. Try ’em and I bet you’ll agree!

  • Sammy’s Pizza – Located off S. Colony Way in Palmer, this place has AWESOME pizza. Own a Northern Light Coupon Book? There are two coupons for BOGO pizzas. Sammy’s has been around forever. 
  • Krazy Moose Subs – Located near Fred Meyer’s in Wasilla, Krazy Moos is situated on Wasilla lake. A new restaurant, the former tenant was a great Thai restaurant. In the Northern Light Coupon book there are a couple of coupons to make your meal a good deal. Otherwise Subs are around $9 for 10 inches (which feeds 2 cost-conscious people).
  • Senor Taco – In the Carrs Mall parking lot, rumor has it this restaurant is owned by the guy who owns Chepo’s. It can be a bit spendy, but the dinners are awesome, and seem closer authentic mexican rather than the traditional Tex Mex. There are four BOGO dinner coupons in the Northern Light Coupon Book. 
  • Alpine Garden Grille – A great place for a super special date. Now that Lake Lucille is gone, this is my vote for best food in the Valley. The Grille is located off the Parks Highway, where Recluse Gardens used to be (on your left as you head toward’s Pittman). 
What are some of your local favorites? We’re always looking for a good place to eat!
Interested in purchasing a Northern Lights Coupon Book? You should be – they rock! You can order one here.

This is the phrase we heard countless times every day since two weeks ago when a neighbor friend brought over a tricycle for Jimmy to try out. He wasn’t able to reach the pedals, but he still enjoyed having Kevin push him around the driveway. Since then he has reminded us several times every day about the time that he got to ride a “bicycle”. So, in a fit of Sunday afternoon boredom we went to Wally World and got the kiddo his own “bicycle”. It’s a radio flyer tricycle suggested for ages 2-5. It comes with this super geeky (but practical) rod that can be inserted in the back of the trike so that an adult can push and steer. Oh, and the best part? It’s got a bell attached. Jimmy will periodically stop pedaling and exclaim “ding, ding!” as he works the bell. Super cool.  

If you’ve got the time and the desire, grab up these free money deals from Revolution Money Exchange and Sharebuilder. Kevin has always wanted to play around with penny stocks, so this is a great chance to let him have some fun, and also get some additional money for the rest of the family members. Both deals have been confirmed across the web as legit, and from reputable companies. All adults in the household (over 18) can sign up for a Revolution account, and ALL household members can get the sharebuilder deal. For us this equals 25 + 25 + 45 + 45 + 45 + 45 = $230 (minus or plus Kevin’s fun) to put into our Europe trip savings.

Revolution Money Exchange:

You get $25 by signing up for an account. It doesn’t cost any money to sign up. This company is basically the same as paypal. The process takes two minutes, and the $25 is instantly available. The money can then be transferred (for free) to your bank account. Sign up here, and you’ll be adding $10 to our trip fund. Thanks!

Sharebuilder:

Sharebuilder is offering a $50 bonus to all new accounts. This company is owned by ING direct, a reputable bank. You have to spend a minimum of $5 in stocks to open an account, so your total gain is $50 – 5 = $45. Check out this post from iMommies, where she describes step-by-step how to open the account. It takes 5-10 minutes to complete the process. 

 

We’ve been doing a LOT of slow cooking lately. I like the flexibility that I have with using the crock pot. I’m never sure when I’ll have a chance to just be by myself, so the crock pot allows me to make dinner whenever it’s convenient, and then just let the crock cook it to perfection. One of my favorite crock pot sites lately has been A Year of Crockpotting. This blogger has committed to using her crockpot every day, and she’s getting me excited about my own slow cooking options. One of her recipes last week was for Fried Rice, a great way to get rid of some leftovers. We tried it out this last Sunday (threw everything in before church and then ate it for lunch) and it was awesome! I like that the blogger has children, so she always comments on what recipes her kids enjoyed. If you got some rice and leftovers around, check this out. We doubled the recipe and it turned out great. Definitly a new favorite:

Slow Cooker Fried Rice

  • 2 cups leftover rice/quinoa
  • 3 T butter
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 2 t worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 t black pepper
  • 1/4 t kosher salt
  • 1/2 diced yellow onion
  • 1 cup of whatever frozen or fresh vegetables you have on hand. (We used broccoli, but she tried carrots, peas, and asparagus)
  • leftover meat (We used leftover ham, but the author tried chicken and ground beef)
  • 1 egg
Mix it up and turn it on 2-3 hours on high or 3-4 hours on low. It took 3 hours in my slow cooker on low, but it cooks pretty hot. Let me know if you try this recipe out!

Some excerpts from Money Possessions and Eternity, Chapter 4, The Dangers of Materialism:

Who needs God, we think, when we’ve got everything? This is why Jesus didn’t say, “You should not serve both God and money,” but “You cannot serve both God and money (Matthew 6:24). Why? For the same reason a woman cannot have two husbands. When we carry on a love affair with the world we commit spiritual adultery. We place God in the role of the jilted husband. He loves us and longs for our return but will not allow us in his intimate chambers when we are prostituting ourselves to another. God will not be a half husband. He will not be comforted by the fact that we call him “Savior” when we refuse to follow him as Lord.

This analogy of the marriage relationship really helps me to understand how it must hurt God when we choose to follow other “idols”, and how stupid of a choice that action is. 

Some wonder why God still blesses with wealth many of the Western nations that have departed from their godly heritage. Perhaps the “blessing” is no longer a true blessing but a curse in disguise. The greatest blessing would be one that would return us to following God wholeheartedly – and our entanglement with wealth is certainly not accomplishing that. In the midst of prosperity, the challenge for believers is to handle wealth in such a way that it acts as a blessing, not a curse.

I love that Alcorn addresses this. I’ve often wondered the same thing. I hear about all the amazing things that are going on in other countries with respect to the Gospel being shared and cherished, and I think about the lack of this in the U.S. This chapter has really helped me to understand the seriousness of wealth and the burden of responsibility that wealthy individuals (nearly all Americans) and countries bear.