Great White Snark: 2012

Sunday, December 30, 2012

You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.

So, with the end of the year approaching, I thought it HIGH time that I post about my favorite day of 2012, which was August 26th. 

And why, you might ask, was August 26th, 2012, my favorite day of the year?


Monday, December 24, 2012


Bethany was over the other night (!!!) and she goes, "So did you do your famous wrapping this year?" 
A. I didn't realize my wrapping was "famous." 
B. She literally wanted to LOOK at my wrapped presents. 

I thought I'd upload pics for the rest of my adoring public. :)

I went with this hipster awesome mint green wrapping paper with deer print and GLITTER. Not as fawncy as some my past efforts, but given my time (and money) constraints, I'm pleased. 

I hope you all have a beautiful Christmas, readers. I hope you're surrounded by love and the permeating hope of the season. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

"Where debt is dumb, cash is king, and the paid-off home mortgage has taken the place of the BMW as the status symbol of choice."

Well, I wouldn't, but I know someone who would!
I just finished taking Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University class at a local church and thought I should probably blog about it. I don't agree with everything he teaches 100% (because if I did, that would be Maryism, which, contrary to the popular belief of every protestant ever, is not just another name for Catholicism), but I agree with about 90% of it, and it's helped me out in a BIG and very real way. 

First of all, who is Dave Ramsey? He's a Tennessee guy who made his first million by 26 and lost it all and then some by the time he was 30. His journey from millionaire to bankruptcy was the catalyst for him developing a money philosophy: build wealth by not having any debt whatsoever. 

Now, a lot of people think they're debt-free. I did. But Dave will be quick to point out that everything you owe anything on--car, credit cards, medical bills, student loans, everything but your house--is a debt, and it needs to be paid off ASAP. If you have no debt and no payments, you can use ALL of your income to save and buy cool things, like houses, and cars that cost more than $9,000. 

Paying off everything sounds great on paper, but it's just not practical to wake up one morning and go, "I think I'll just pay off everything." First of all, no one has that kind of money. Secondly, you still have your basic living expenses: food, gas, rent, etc. that must be paid even though you'd like to pay off certain things. Thirdly, you can't do it overnight or everyone would do it and American Express would be out of business. 

This is why Dave developed what he calls the Seven Baby Steps to getting out of debt. They are as follows:
1. Save up a starter emergency fund of $1,000 (or $500 if you make $20,000/year or less). This is in case something happens when you're tackling step #2. Also, I can personally attest to the fact that as someone who's never had an "emergency fund" before, having one is EPIC for your peace of mind. 
2. Begin to pay off your debt snowball. A debt snowball is where you list all of your debts in order from smallest to largest. Every week or month, you dump as much money as you can onto the smallest debt and get it paid off while making minimum payments on everything else. Once debt #1 is paid off, you take the money you were putting towards that debt towards debt #2. Then you pay that off. Then that money goes towards paying off debt #3 and so-on. His philosophy is that by attacking one thing with intensity, you'll actually PAY IT OFF as opposed to paying a little bit on everything over the period of an eternity.
3. Build up an emergency fund of 3-6 months' worth of expenses. That way, you don't need to go back into debt when (not if) those emergency-type things happen.
4. Once you've taken care of the debt snowball (no more credit card payments! No more car payments! Whee!), you put 15% of your income towards retirement. He recommends investing in IRA's and growth-stock mutual funds, but I'm not even here yet, so I can't talk about investing and mutual funds and other really financially-adult things yet. 
5. Put away money for the kids' college. This is also irrelevant to my life, but I know that I DO want to be able to fund my kids' educations, because I have very little faith in the government actually doing so. 
6. Pay off your mortgage. I'd probably care more if I had a house. 
7. Build wealth and give

His philosophy is "live like no one else (driving crap cars and making sacrifices and budgeting) so that later you can live like no one else (having a paid off home, and car, and no debts whatsoever)." 

I initially discovered Dave in the car. As many of you know, I spend an average of 60-100 minutes a day in the car, depending on traffic. I listen to music in the morning, but on the way home I need something engaging to help keep me awake (I've found that I spend an awful lot of time either trying to stay awake or planning how I can squeeze a nap into my day). I found the Dave Ramsey Show and initially started listening to hear all the crazy money problems other people were having. It made me feel better about my own situation. Kind of like how we all watch Maury and Jerry Springer. Only the more I listened, the more I realized that I wasn't really in any better situation that a lot of the callers. And what Dave Ramsey said actually made sense. He doled out useful advice (instead of chairs to hit people with and Mardi Gras beads to people who flashed the audience), and it just made sense to me. Of course! If you have no payments you can keep ALL of your paycheck! Why had no one thought of this before?!

So when I heard a church down the street was offering his class, I sort of arm-wrestled my parents into going with me. 

So do I recommend the class? Absolutely. I loved it (so did my parents). It goes for 9 weeks and covers all the baby steps in detail so you know exactly how to tackle each one. I had also read his book, The Total Money Makeover, and I recommend it HIGHLY to anyone looking for a financial revamp. It really did change the way I look at money and finances, and while I'm disappointed I didn't find this all out sooner, I think I found it at a great time, because I can arm-wrestle my future husband into this way of thinking, and maybe, just maybe, we won't have credit card payments and our kids' college will be paid for. 

One of the biggest proponents of this class is getting rid of credit cards. I had already gotten rid of mine, because I had major credit card debt (when I say "major" I mean "major for someone who makes roughly $20,000 a year." We're not talking 5 and 6 digit major, here, but major for me). Being a shiny-eyed, naive college student, I signed up for credit cards (like, a lot of them) under the pretense that I needed to build credit in case I ever bought a house or something. What I didn't realize then is that a) I have a serious addiction to shopping, and b) in order to build credit, you actually have to be able to PAY your bills. So, being the young idiot I am, I got myself way in over my head in credit card debt, which I am still paying off. Dave teaches to cut them up (in what he refers to as "plastic surgery.") and use cash in their stead. With cash, you physically FEEL money going away. You had a full wallet, and then your wallet got skinny when the money went away. With a card, you can swipe away $100 and not feel a thing.  

I thought this was stupid and cheesy at first, but it's so accurate, it's painful.

I am completely on cash now. I am making (and sticking to!) a budget for the first time in my life. Each week, I divvy up my paycheck according to what I need to buy, what I need to save, and what I need to pay off. It's tight (like, Adam Lambert's pants tight), but I'm making it work. One of the things I realized is that having a budget is, ironically, freeing. It's nice to know, "okay, AFTER I put aside money to pay my bills, I have this much left over to spend." I didn't realize how stressed I was about money until that stress went away. 

In short, I am working really hard on my financial situation, thanks to Dave Ramsey, and I cannot recommend his books and class enough. It's a long road, but I feel like I'm equipped now to make the journey--successfully. 

Dave's Book, The Total Money Makeover (I recommend this the highest out of anything mentioned in here)

If you guys have any questions about this, leave a comment or shoot me a message! I'd love to discuss this with my readers! I hope you're all having a really lovely Christmas season, btw. 

PS: I should mention that Dave is an evangelical Christian, and as such, makes copious references to scripture and the teachings of Christ. This doesn't bother me in the least bit, but if you were thinking of taking a class, take note: he does mention God stuff a lot. If that puts you off, I'd listen to his radio show or read his book. The order of preachiness goes like this, from least to highest: radio show, books, FPU class. The FPU class is traditionally taught in churches, so it tends to be more heavy-handed on the Biblical aspects of finance. He keeps it pretty neutral on his radio show, and in the books you can skip over it if you don't like it. Like I said, I actually like this part, but I'm a practicing Christian so it doesn't bother me. Just FYI. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

(French) Haters gonna hate.

All photos and quote taken from Glamour's January 2013 issue interview with Anne Hathaway. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012


I know you, at one point, read this blog. If you still do and want to talk, leave a comment or reactivate that FB account you had! I'd love to chat sometime. :)

That is all. Resume your regularly scheduled programming.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Would you like some cheese with your holiday whine?

So, a while back I wrote a post about what I missed and didn't miss about being in school.

Let me amend that post by saying the thing, so far, that I am most upset about is the complete and utter lack of any sort of winter/holiday/Christmas break!

People prepare you for the reality of no summer break, but this just completely bums me out. I want to try and be excited for the hols, but it's almost impossible knowing that I get, literally, ONE day off, that being Christmas day. I have to work Christmas Eve and December 26th (because in the US, Boxing Day doesn't count). And I shouldn't be such a whiny, petulant child, but...
I am used to having like, a week and a half at the VERY least to just lounge about in my jammies and cozy socks, read so many books my eyes feel like they'll fall out of my head, "play" with all my new stuff (here meaning "clean out your closets and bathroom and rearrange everything" and "use ALL the new soap"), watch Christmas movies, go light-looking, drink hot chocolate like it's my job...

...and this year, I just feel like I have no time for that. This is the first time in YEARS that my shopping's not been done by Thanksgiving. I'm especially bothered that I won't have time to wrap all my presents the way I like to, and I certainly won't have time to do any wrapping for the neighbors. Just BLAH, guys. This would be a great time for me to be Scroogey, but I promised I'd try and LIKE Christmas this year, and it's just hard when you feel like Bob Cratchit. 

Look, it's my blog and I'll whine if I want to. Maybe I'll feel better now that I've aired my grievances to the internet public. My aim is to be grateful this season. I want to focus being grateful that I have a job at all when a lot of people don't, and that I have an opportunity to work when I could have nothing. Because I am grateful for those things. It's just a matter of perspective. And growing up and out of "school mode." Give me time, okay? I spent 20 years as a student, that's kind of a hard schedule to break out of in less than a year. 

Perspective, perspective, perspective....
So what I told you was true...from a certain point of view.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Deck the halls.

Last weekend, I went with a friend from work to the Winter Park Festival of Trees. It's something they do annually. Various companies and organizations decorate Christmas trees and donate them to the Orlando Museum of Art, where they're put on display. Then, at the end, the trees are auctioned off and the proceeds go to charity. It's a really nice thing, and it's so visually dazzling that I had to share (a TON of) the pics I took. It put me in the holiday spirit, and that is a no small feat.

The theme this year was Fairytale Christmas. 

One of my favorites was the Beauty and the Beast themed tree.

I couldn't get a good picture of this whole tree, but it was jam-packed with all kinds of birds!
Barbie. Of course.

I was also fond of the Celtic tree.

They had a rainbow cuppycake tree!

For Beth. ♥  

Disney donated a tree in honor of the new Fantasyland. It was almost entirely Beauty and the Beast! LOVE.

A tree full of doggie treats!

Yep. That's a cardboard manatee ornament.

Puff the Magic Dragon.

I'm pretty sure this table was supposed to have a Snow White theme.
I love the apples, and I ADORE the idea of hand mirrors as coasters!

I loved this "Under the Sea" tree! 

Pink unicorn tree might've been my favorite.

I would just like to point out that there is a walrus AND a pirate in this tree. =D

It was a nice idea, but this tree is just creepy.

 To my delight, Alice in Wonderland was a pretty popular theme.

My favorite detail is the felt caterpillar lurking on the right.

 This was my favorite Alice tree. They had an absolutely delightful set-up with lots of neat little details.

LOVE the flamingo/hedgehog croquet!


They also had a section of INCREDIBLE gingerbread houses! They're too pretty to eat!

The 3 Little Pigs! Too cute!

Just look at that freaking adorable candy snail!

A very artsy "fairy dwelling" gingerbread.

Hansel and Gretel. PERFECT for a gingerbread house!

Henceforth, I think all Nativity scenes should be made from adorable marshmallow snowmen.
Had to have some wreaths, too...

Bird nest!
I really liked the sea-themed decorations! It's not something you typically associate with Christmas, but in Florida, it works.
Deck ALL the halls!

And, of course, no Winter Park event would be complete with a GIFT SHOP.

These were adorable little banners. They'd be cute in a place-setting or as part of gift-wrap, I guess.


They had a display there from Lydia and Pugs, who makes adorable dog-themed gifts, but I was thrilled to see the cute pug things! Aww!

Some beautiful soaps...taking note of the packaging!!

Glitter disco-deer?
 And I'm still not entirely sure what the point of this whole little mock room set-up was, but it combined stripes and plaid, so I kind of loved it.

 Doesn't it just look so cozy? WANT.

Anyway, I hope that ENORMOUS picspam gives you some inspiration for your holiday decorating. Or if nothing else, gives you something kind of pretty and seasonal to look at (also hope it didn't crash your browser! Whoops...). =]