Hope for your financial life and beyond

A Weekly Roundup: The Snowman Edition

Snowman 1I haven’t done one of these weekly roundups recently, but I had some extra time on my hands Wednesday through Friday due to the extreme weather in Atlanta. In case you missed the news, Atlanta received 2-3 inches of snow on Tuesday. It crippled the interstate system leaving many stranded overnight on the roads. There were even some kids who had to spend a night or two at school because they couldn’t make it home.

I wrote about how it created panic, excitement and pressure in my Wednesday post.

Consequently, we had three days off of school, due to the snow and extremely cold nighttime temperatures which turned all the melting snow into ice.  That allowed me to have some awesome time with the kids and also the wife who worked from home for two days. While Mrs. Luke1428 churned out tax returns, the kids and I played around the house, watched some movies and built the snowman pictured here.

Yes, we used real charcoal for the shirt buttons and Toll House chocolate chips to make the outline of the mouth. A few other added accessories like a white bow tie just above the scarf and voilà…a perfect snowman…Georgia style.

His name is Olaf or Bob depending on which child of mine you are talking with. My kids ask for your help in settling the “snowman-name-dispute” – would you name him Olaf or Bob? Share your vote in the comments section below.

In addition to our snowman construction (and multiple snowball fights), I had a little more time than normal to read this week. Here are some reads I found useful:

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An Unintentional Coke Zero Detox

Coke ZeroThe other day, after a rugged morning of shopping with three of my kids, I treated them to lunch at Atlanta Bread Company. Peanut butter and jelly kids meals for them; hot pastrami on rye with spicy mustard for me. And of course, drinks and chips all the way around.

At the drink dispensers, there were multiple drinks that I would consider health(ier) options: water, light lemonade, light pomegranate lemonade, regular unsweet tea and unsweet green tea. I went with another option – Coke Zero. At least it doesn’t have sugar in it.

I love Coke Zero! Have been drinking it for years (maybe one or two a week – nothing outlandish). Regular. Vanilla. Cherry flavor. Doesn’t matter. I even got turned on to Sprite Zero in the process.

But something odd happened when I sat down at the table and took the first cool sip.

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Should My Daughter Separate Her Toes? (Syndactyly)

syndactylyThis past week Miss LukeTeen28 (my eldest daughter) popped the question my wife and I have been anticipating for the past 12 years since the day of her birth. No, she doesn’t want to have a boyfriend. (We’ve told her she can’t date until she’s 30!) Her interest is in a cosmetic surgery to correct a condition known as Syndactyly – the fusion of one or more toes.

Syndactyly 101

“Syndactyly” is the medical term for this condition. Hers is a simple fusing of soft tissue between the second and third toes on both feet (the left is more pronounced than the right). The issue appears to be genetic in nature, as I know of one other person in my extended family who has this condition.

She is in no pain or discomfort from her syndactyly and the risks are miniscule. The surgery would be completely for cosmetic purposes. (So when she wears her sandals the doofus middle school boys at school aren’t tempted to call her “four toes.”) Maybe the fact that she is almost a teen is figuring into her asking about the procedure now.

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Post Beach Vacation Blues

With the kids on a sandbar at low tide

50 yards from shore on a sandbar at low tide

Our family was blessed last week to enjoy a beautiful vacation on the shores of North Carolina. We spent the week in a gorgeous beach house with some members of our extended family. Just a stone’s throw away.

Each morning I would get up early, go for a run, then sit on the second floor balcony of our beach house.  There is nothing like a change of venue to get the old writing juices flowing. In fact, last Friday’s post “Infamous Days Are Not Showstoppers” was penned as I watched the waves break onto the shore line and felt the gently ocean breezes against my face. Ahhh…vacation.

Now I’m back writing in my usual spot…the basement. No beach scenes here. Just spiders.

Once vacation is over I’m ready to be home. But I dread the week following vacation. The week is always out of whack. First, I’m always a little tired and rundown from all the vacation activities and travel. Then there is a whole day to do laundry.  Wife back to work. Kids bored to tears because the things to do around the house don’t hold a candle to chasing crabs after dark on the beach. A huge trip to the grocery store to restock the cupboards. (The checkout clerk actually made a joke about how full my cart was. Ha…Ha…”Yes, ma’am…I shop for six. Just bag the groceries please.”) Are your post-vacation weeks like this?

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Shout Out Saturday (3/23/13)

It has been a week of recovery for me as I have allowed my leg muscles to heal from the torrid (for me) pace I set at last Sunday’s half-marathon. It’s also been a week of reflection. It has been two years this coming week that I first laced up the sneakers and started running. Oh, the pain of that first run I will never forget!

I have come to truly appreciate the value running has added to my life.  I would encourage anyone reading this who is not engaged in some form of exercise program to begin today. Exercise will mold you into a different person – mind, body and soul.

Now on to some great reading from around the web this week. Have a great weekend!

Is It Time to Get Out of the Stock Market at Frugal Rules

What It Means to Finish Something at L Bee and the Money Tree

How to Steal Like an Artist at We Only Do This Once

Loans Among Family Members: Is It Worth It? at One Smart Dollar

What You Must Consider Before Opening a Brokerage Account at Free From Broke

Setting Up a Passive Income Stream at Johnny Moneyseed

Shout Out Saturday (3/16/13)

Marathoner grabbing water

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tomorrow is the big day – 3/17/13. It’s the date I’ve had circled on my calendar since I started training in December. At 7:00 AM the gun will sound and I’ll run in the Georgia Publix Half-Marathon in downtown Atlanta. My goals for the year included running an officially timed half-marathon in under two hours. My training has gone well and my body feels really good heading into the race.  One thing that broke in my favor is that the weather has turned warmer that last couple of days. I’ll be looking at morning temperatures in the 50s instead of the 30s. Nice!

You never know what will happen on race day but I’m predicting I’m going to CRUSH my goal. I’ll tweet-out how I did after the race tomorrow and give the full details in next Tuesday’s post.

Now, on to some awesome articles from this week. Enjoy your weekend!

Ask the Reader: Would You Give Your Child a Credit Card? at Get Rich Slowly

5 Reasons I’m Killing My Mortgage at Club Thrifty

Your Kid Does Not Need a New Car at Out of Your Rut

Buying a House Tips at Making Sense of Sense

Too Focused on Money and Losing Focus on Enjoyment? at Debt Roundup

How to Select an Investment Property at KrantCents

Motivation: Words of Wisdom from Paul Milligan at The Frugal Farmer (Paul Milligan is a Christian finance teacher)

Is Fake It Until You Make It A Good Strategy? at Yakezie (about building authority in your field as a beginning writer)

Saturday Shout Outs (3/9/13)

Man on toiletIt was a milestone week as I celebrated my 40th birthday this past Thursday. So what’s a man to do that’s really kickin’ on his birthday? How about stay home from work all day and take care of a sick child. Ahhh…the joys of parenting.

In between kid-trips to the bathroom, the day off did afford me the chance to do some cleaning around the house and read some great blog posts. Here are some of the best articles I read from the past week. Have a great weekend!

An Interview With J.D. Roth – Founder of Get Rich Slowly at Club Thrifty

How Much Student Loan Debt Is Too Much at Out of Your Rut

10 Mental Barriers to Paying off Debt: You Aren’t Saving Any Money at Ready For Zero

Buy My Method, Not My Lifestyle at Reach Financial Independence

Debt Repayment Is My Middle Name at Making Sense of Cents

Always Expect the Unexpected at One Smart Dollar

What’s On Your House Hunting Checklist at The Savvy Scot

8 Money Management Tips Anyone Can Follow at Tackling Our Debt

Why Your Income and Passion Should Align at Young Adult Money

Image Credit

Saturday Shoutouts (3/2/13)

Soccer BallLooks like it’s going to be a cold, rainy Saturday here in the Atlanta area. And of course nothing beats a Saturday morning like sitting on the sidelines in 35 degree whether watching 6-yr. olds kick the soccer ball around. That’s where I’ll be. Better stop by Starbucks on the way for some hot coffee.

Here are some great reads on the web from the past week. Enjoy your weekend.

(11:30 am Update: There were snow flurries at the soccer game this morning. Of course the girls enjoyed that more than playing soccer.)

Buying a House With Income Potential at Out of Your Rut

Oops, I Did it Again (Almost)! at The Frugal Farmer

Longing for the Simple Times at Budget and the Beach

Make Life Better For Yourself: Change Your Attitude at Prairie Eco-Thrifter

How to Hit the Reset Button On Your Life at We Only Do This Once

Children and Money: Don’t Make It a Taboo Topic, Part II at The Heavy Purse

Got the Winter Blue? Ten Great Ways to Feel Better at Tackling Our Debt

How to Start Your Own Online Business or Blog at Your Personal Finance Pro

Top Five Investments Without Any Return at Money Help for Christians

5 Mistakes College Graduates are Making Right After Graduation at Moolanomy

How Finances Can Stress a Relationship and What You Can Do About It at Invest It Wisely

Image Credit

Saturday Shoutouts (2/23/13)

Reading I cute boyIt’s been a great week being at home with the kiddo’s during our school system’s Winter Break. Lots of great reading content and thought provoking material on the web this week and this was the best of the best of what I read anyway.

Hope you enjoy and have a great weekend!


Do We Put Too Much Faith in Money? at Out of Your Rut

Do You Have to Love Your Job to Be Happy? at Newlyweds on a Budget

Money Mistakes Parents Commonly Make at Repaid.org

How to Be Indispensable…Even if You Work at Jiffy Lube at Young Adult Money

How to Negotiate Your Bills at Prairie Eco-Thrifter

Children and Money: Don’t Turn it Into a Taboo Topic at The Heavy Purse

Are You a Slave to Money? at The Happy Homeowner

Having Multiple Bank Accounts is a Smart Move at Monster Piggy Bank

10 Ways to Get Traffic to Your Blog at Money Infant

Shoutout Saturday (2/16/13)

Here are some blog posts that ruled the week. Enjoy the reading and have a great weekend!

Frugal Habits of the Rich (Kyle James from Rather-be-shopping.com wrote a guest post for Budget and the Beach blog about the lifestyle habits of his parents and how that has impacted their financial well-being.)

Paying Off Debt is Like a Winter Blizzard (Still snowed in up north?  Kim at Eyes on the Dollar offers a creative comparison.)

7 Engaging and Fun Ways to Teach Kids About Money (Club Thrifty guest poster Julian Hearn shares some creative strategies to get your kids thinking about money.)

4 Tips for Sticking to Your Budget (Jason guest posts at Monster Piggy Bank and shares his thoughts on how you can make budgeting work better for you.)

Is Work a Form of Worship? (Can you worship God through your work? Kevin Mercadante shares his thoughts at The Christian Dollar.)

The Road to Debt Free: Not For the Faint of Heart (Getting out of debt is not easy as discussed at The Frugal Farmer.)

How to Live Debt Free for Life – 4 Things to Help You Make the Change. (Some great advice at Stumble Forward about how to make debt free living a reality in your life.)

Bonus Read:

Why Christians Should Let Non-Christians Off the Moral Hook (A thought provoking article from pastor Carey Nieuwhof on how Christians should treat those who are without Christ.)


Weekend Reading List (2/9/13)

dog readingHere is a list of articles from around the web that were valuable to me this week. Hope they will be to you as well. Enjoy your reading and have a great weekend!

LIfe Insurance – Your Most Important Insurance Policy (Kevin at Out of Your Rut explains why life insurance is a must have.)

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