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30 Day Shredding

The following is a documentation of pain, suffering, and a woman doing a ridiculous amount of jumping jacks, also known as The 30 Day Shred DVD by Jillian Michaels.  But seriously, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: DVD’s are a great way to workout on a budget.  If you don’t have the cash for a gym membership, try taking 10 bucks to Wal-Mart and seeing what you can find. 


Day 1 – Starting on Level 2 because I like to overestimate how fit I am.  This DVD is only 20 minutes and I was sweating by minute 10.  My arms are shaking as I’m typing even though my improvised weights were 1lb bottles of shampoo and conditioner.  I’m going to PUMP you up.

Day 2 – I’m a little sore from yesterday, so that’s why I think I did worse today.  Jillian isn’t sweating because she doesn’t do any of the moves.  I don’t even want a six pack like hers.  Jillian has no friends.

Day 3 – My calves really really hurt.  I look like an absolute idiot when I do, anything, but especially the jumpy-twisters.  At least I was able to keep on moving the whole time today. 

Day 4 – The 20 minutes aren’t getting any shorter.  I finally got up the nerve to try the non-modified moves.  Thank God no one is here to watch me; except for God, and I think he’s entertained.

Day 5 – Alright, I confess, I skipped on the weekend.  Don’t worry, I’ll do my full 30.  My shampoo weight is getting lighter than the conditioner.  I hope I don’t turn out lopsided.  The workout is getting easier and I do notice that my posture is getting better.

Day 6 – Today I found the first legitimate thing I don’t like about this DVD: you can’t fast forward Jillian’s non-motivational intro.  This was a major pain when my computer shut down for automatic updates in the middle of my workout.  In good news, I’m definitely noticing that I’m more toned in my thighs and stomach.

Day 7 – As with any workout video, I’m so tired of hearing the same commentary over and over.  Today I turned down the volume and put some music on in the background; made a huge difference in how fast the workout went.  I also had a big ‘ah ha!’ moment when I realized the workout is actually 30 minutes (5 warm-up, 5 cool-down)!  I’m so smart.

Day 8 – Blah.  Today went fine.  Still a little sore in my arms, still dripping with sweat by the time I’m finished.  Just blah.  Only 7 more days until I bump it up to level 3; any change is welcome (though I know I’ll regret saying that).

Day 9 – Today is Friday and I only got halfway through the DVD.  I’m pooped, just pooped I tell you.  You wanna know something else?  I’m not doing the video this weekend either!  HA!

Day 10I’m getting a little burnt out on this workout, but that tends to be my feeling toward any workout video.  That’s not to say that I’m not getting any results, because I have been pleased with how I’m feeling/looking.  I would just recommend alternating this DVD with a different workout, or finding a workout buddy who is really good at guilt trips.

Day 11 My arms are so strong.  I can now lift my shampoo/conditioner weights the entire time without crying. 

Day 12 No new developments today, so I will share a workout story: The only time I have ever been consistent enough at lifting weights to build muscle, I got confused about the exercise and built the wrong muscle.  It takes some time to get rid of Popeye forearms, just FYI.  The end.

Day 13 I had to take it easy on the knee-involved exercises today but was dripping with sweat by the end, as usual.  I’m not a sissy, you’re a sissy.

Day 14 Yes, I took a 4 day weekend.  BUT, it was to prepare for today: my first day of Level 3, and I must say it wasn’t as painful as I expected.  My favorite part of today: NO MORE LEVEL 2!!!

Day 15 Today I am sore in brand new places.  The cardio on Level 3 is about the same as Level 2, but the arm work is much harder.  I never could have just jumped straight to Level 3 with my spaghetti arms.

Day 16 I just realized it really doesn’t matter if I do the video or not, how are you gonna know?  It took me 16 days to figure this out.  Whatever, I did it today anyways.  I don’t care if you believe me.

Day 17 – Took one extra day off to drive up to Colorado for a family visit.  You wanna give me a hard time about it?  Try working out at altitude, I needed the rest.  

Day 18  A few hours after completing Day 18, I got the flu and took the rest of the week off.  This is rapidly turning into the 60 Day Shred.

Day 19 – Back on track, back to my arms hurting, back to Jillian smugly telling me that I want a six pack.  I really really can’t wait to just go for a run.  

Day 20  I had heard that Jillian doesn’t want to have kids because it would “ruin her body.”  You know what?  It’s true.  Take from that what you will.

Day 21  Maybe I’m just reaching a mental break, but I’m beginning to feel that Level 3 goes by faster than Level 2. 

Day 22  I am absolutely stronger, but my energy has not been as high as working out usually gets it.  I wonder if it’s because I haven’t done very much lifting before.  I’m pooped. 

Day 23– I think I saw a little six pack this morning.  A very very little six pack, but woo hoo!

Day 24 – The 30 Day Shred is even harder after a sleepless night of camping.  Though, it is a comfort to know I could have fought off any bears that may have bothered us; or at least done more sit-ups than them. 

Day 25 – Now I know why I haven’t done this workout on a weekend up until this point: it’s stupid.  Worth it, however, now only 5 days left.  Ending on a Friday will be glorious.  Maybe I will make Husband throw me a party. 

Day 26 – Tomorrow I’m challenging Husband to the Shred.  Let’s see who wins…

Day 27 – Husband is a chicken and I am almost done.  Thank goodness.

Day 28 – 28 days later and I am still dripping sweat.  I blame Oklahoma. 

Day 29 – Only ONE MORE DAY.  I’m so tired of this.

Day 30 – Chant this rhythmically: done, done, done, done, done, done done.



Article publié pour la première fois le 23/06/2010


Given the continuous dressing down payday lenders receive in the mainstream press, you’d be forgiven for thinking the short-term loan sector would attract more complaints than any other financial service; perhaps surprisingly, that assumption couldn’t be much further from the truth.

First things first: a disclaimer. This is not a post written in praise of the payday lenders. Instead, it is a factual piece based on the latest industry statistics published in the Financial Ombudsman’s annual review.

The 2013/14 annual review itself is over 170 pages long, so I’ll spare you some of the more superfluous details and direct you to a snapshot of the key facts and figures which can be found here.

Is there a payday loan witch hunt?

Much of the coverage focusing on the complaints made about payday lenders, as you can see from this article, was completely devoid of any context. If we take a look at payment protection insurance mis-selling, you will see that the Financial Ombudsman received a staggering 399,939 complaints about the practice in the past year alone. That’s more than 1,000 complaints every day. Compare that to the number of complaints the ombudsman received about payday lenders over the course of the year, just 794, and you soon see why the context is so important.

Payday loan complaints in context

Further examination of the Financial Ombudsman’s annual review, which spans 1 April 2013 to 31 March 2014, provides plenty of additional insight:

  • Payment protection insurance attracted 78 percent of the total complaints received by the ombudsman over the course of the year.
  • Payday loans did not appear in the 20 most complained about financial products
  • Credit cards, mortgages, hire purchase agreements, point of sale loans, personal pension plans, buildings insurance and mortgage endowments are just a few of the financial products that attracted more complaints than payday loans.

Of course, even a single complaint is one too many, but for some media sources to run sensationalist headlines with no context whatsoever is at worse behaviour indicative of an agenda, and at best, it’s simply poor journalism.

Are payday lenders cleaning up their act?

In the face of strict new guidelines introduced by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), payday lenders have been left with little choice other than to clean up their act, or exit the industry. Since replacing the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) as industry regulator in April 2014, the FCA has introduced a number of tough new rules which are starting to take effect.

On 1 July this year, limits were placed on the number of times short-term lenders can roll over loans; a practice which is one of the primary causes of spiralling debt levels. There have also been restrictions placed on continuous payment authority (CPA). The new rules mean lenders are only permitted to access customers’ accounts on two occasions to claw back outstanding repayments. After that point, they can only reclaim loan repayments by contacting the customer directly.

Why are there so few payday loan complaints?

Despite the constant lambasting in the mainstream press, the payday loans sector has attracted precious few complaints; but why could that be? Perhaps the majority of the two million plus individuals who use the service provided by short-term lenders are generally happy with the level of service they receive? Alternatively, it could be that payday lenders have efficient in-house customer services teams which satisfy customer complaints before they are taken any further? More pessimistically, perhaps some payday loan customers are beyond the point where a complaint will help.

Have you ever sourced credit from a short-term lender? How did you find the service? Were all the charges made clear from the start? We’d love to hear from you on this contentious topic, so please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

David Boyd is a financial blogger, commentator and aspiring journalist who spends his free time writing for some of the UK’s most authoritative websites.

Article publié pour la première fois le 30/07/2014


Emotional Spending and Breaking the Habit

When I was a kid, I bit my nails. It was terrible. I was a chronic, habitual nail biter. I bit my nails mainly when I was stressed (which, as a naturally high strung person, was quite often).  But there were other triggers for nail biting—loneliness, boredom, awkwardness. Pretty much every negative feeling a child and teenager could have triggered my nail biting. I would even do it when I was happy!  Even though I knew it was an absolutely disgusting habit, I just couldn’t break it.

I played the guitar and the piano so I told myself it didn’t matter that I bit my nails—I couldn’t have long nails anyway.  But my parents hated the habit. They  tried everything they could to try to get me to stop. Thum, that awful tasting polish that goes on your nails? The taste didn’t bother me. Bribery? Nope, money wasn’t an incentive. Manicures? Didn’t care for them. My dad telling me he’ll quit smoking? That worked for awhile until I realized my dad didn’t actually quit smoking. Nothing worked. No outside force was enough to get me to stop biting my nails. Because I wasn’t ready.

As I got older, I began to realize that biting my nails was, in fact, disgusting.  I realized that there was nothing pretty or mature or even comforting about biting my nails. I would look at my hands and get repulsed at the site of the short, ragged nails that looked absolutely ridiculous with nail polish. And did I love me some nail polish! I was so envious of the women on TV and in real life who had perfectly polished, manicured nails.

Then one day, I decided enough was enough. I was going to stop biting my nails. I wanted to have pretty hands! I knew I didn’t want my nails to be long or fake (acrylic nails are a terrible, terrible product. I have a burning hatred for them) but I wanted them to stop being ragged and ugly. I wanted to buy fun nail polish colors and not worry that they looked absurd on me. So, I stopped biting my nails. And I haven’t done it in over 10 years. Why? Because I wanted to stop. I was finally ready.

What does this have to do with money?

A lot, actually. I bit my nails for emotional reasons, just like we tend to spend money for emotional reasons. I made excuses for why I couldn’t stop biting my nails, just like we make excuses for not paying off debt or making good choices. I wanted to stop biting my nails but couldn’t find the right motivation just like it’s hard to find the right motivation to get out of debt. I had to grow up and realize the consequences of my choices in order to stop, just like we need to realize the consequences of our debts. And the motivation to stop biting my nails had to come from me. Just like the motivation to pay off debt or improve our financial choices has to come from within.

That bears repeating. Motivation has to come from within. Whether you’re in a mess of debt or have horrible financial habits, no amount of deterrence, bribery, or deals are going to make you change your situation until you’re ready to change it yourself.  No outside force is going to make us wake up and start eliminating debt or learning good financial skills. No one—not a sister, brother, friend, spouse, parent—can change our minds about how our debt or habits. We have to figure that out for ourselves. We have to look in the mirror one day and decide for ourselves that today is the day you’re going to make the change.  We have to be ready.

When you’re on the outside looking in at someone’s financial mess, it’s hard not to want to fix it. It’s hard not to try to put a rewards system in place to help motivate her to learn good habits. It’s even harder to keep your mouth shut and do nothing while you watch someone you care about financially self-destruct. I have had to learn this the hard way.  And it’s not pretty.

Are there any habits that you’ve had to break but needed internal motivation to do so?

Article publié pour la première fois le 28/11/2011


Around the Interwebs – Week of August 9th

Who Do You Share Your Financial Status With? @ Free Money Finance

Putting the National Debt Into Perspective @ Budgeting in the Fun Stuff

20 Tips to Achieve Your Financial Goals @ One Money Design

Article publié pour la première fois le 14/08/2010


Around the Interwebs – Week of June 28

4 Spiritually Unhealthy Motives to Save Money @ ChristianPF

Be Wary of Warehouse Clubs @ Free Money Finance

Paying for Packaging: It’s Time to Stop @ WiseBread

10 Simple Ways to Feel Rich Without Materialistic Means @ Stop Buying Crap

Can a Bad Credit Score Make it Hard to Get or Keep a Job? @ Saving to Invest

Article publié pour la première fois le 03/07/2010


How to fix your finances this new year

As the New Year gets under way the time has come to move on resolutions. People everywhere are starting to look at their lives and think about the changes they want to make. Some people want to lose weight. Others want to start a new hobby or complete a task they have been putting off for years. But for many individuals and families, their New Year’s resolutions will focus on making a financial change.

While different people will explain their financial resolutions in different ways, it all comes down to a few common concepts. Save more money. Spend less money. Get rid of debt. People want to see that their loans are paid off, that they have more money in their savings accounts and less money coming out of their wallets.

So, what can you do to make this New Year less of a struggle? Is it a realistic goal to try to pay off your debts and loans while making the most of your money? Absolutely! Here are a few ideas for turning this resolution into a reality.

Getting Rid of Debt

There is no magic wand that will decrease the amount you owe on loans or credit cards. In the same way, there is no magic to help you pay the balances down. It all comes down to parting with more money every month when the minimum payment is due.

One of the easiest ways to try to achieve this goal is to take the total amount of loans, credit cards and amounts that you owe. It can be tough to see that final number, but there it is.

Take this bottom line number and divide it by twelve. The number that you are now looking at is what it will take to come close to paying off your debts by the end of the year.

This doesn’t take into consideration interest or if you add any more debt into the mix. However, it gives you something to shoot for. If it isn’t possible to pay off all of the loans, consider choosing one or two of the loans and dividing the amount by twelve. If this is more reasonable for you, use this as a guide to paying off some of your debt this year.

Making the Most of Your Money

Unless a giant windfall of cash is headed your way this New Year, you are probably going to be counting on the same amount of income as last year. This amount can go up and down. As it does, adjust accordingly.

To make the most of your money, you need to know where it goes. Find out how much you are spending and what you are spending it on. Saving money is a great tool to get your money working for you. But this money isn’t going to just appear out of nowhere. It needs to come from you.

Finding the money you want to save with your current financial situation means cutting some things out. Take a look at what you spend and where you spend it.

By making cuts like eating out less or spending less money on clothes, you have the ability to take the extra cash and save it or use it to pay off debt.

It’s easy to get discouraged. Many people drop those New Year’s resolutions after a month or two.

Set your mind to stick with these goals, even when things get a little tough. Imagine how different next year’s New Year’s resolutions will be if you can pay off debts and save more.

Article publié pour la première fois le 03/02/2014