There was a recent <a href=>article </a> about the true cost of owning certain items.

Even though the initial price of items may not seem like a lot but some things have higher costs to own than you may realize. Some of these include e-readers, smart phones, and other gadgets.


The number of consumers buying e-readers, like the Kindle or Nook, tripled this year, to roughly 6.4 million, according to the Consumer Electronics Association. Once they own the device, consumers buy about three books a month, according to Marketing and Research Resources. That totals about $300 to $380 per year on books, plus the cost of magazine and newspaper app downloads.


Over the course of a two-year smart phone contract, the average buyer pays $2,140 for their plan, plus talk time, data, and extras, according to, which tracks the wireless industry. That’s up 13% over the past three years. Then there’s the tax bill. On average, wireless service is taxed at about a 15% rate.

Video Game Systems

Nearly 70% of U.S. households play video games, according to the Entertainment Software Association. And while major manufacturers, like Nintendo, Sony or Microsoft, haven’t introduced new systems lately, they are rolling out new, pricey accessories. For $150 each, Microsoft’s Kinect motion controller for Xbox 360 has sold more than 2.5 million units since introduced last month, for example. The average gamer also buys four games per year at an average cost of $40 each, although prices run up to $100. And then there are the extra remotes. The Nintendo Wii system, for example, comes with only one remote controller, even though up to four people can play; each remote is $30 or more.

Another thing that wasn’t included in the article is pets. Humane Society employees report a larger number of pets being abandoned after the holidays. One reason may be that people don’t consider all of the extra costs associated with owning a pet and find they cannot afford to keep it.

Posted in Uncategorized
Nancy Kvamme

A couple weeks ago at the Fargo Library book sale, a couple of the books I got were 2 of the Lists to Live by books by Alice Gray, Steve Stephens and John Van Diest.  They include lists dealing with a variety of topics including Success, Friendship, Health, Marriage & Romance, Home & Finances, Teens and Family Life.  I will be sharing some of the lists in future posts.

One of the lists is  Principles for Debt-proof Living

You must never keep it all – The first thing you must do when money flows into your life is give some of it away.

You must never spend it all – Always pay yourself before anyone else.  Always.

There are only five things you can do with money – Give it, save it, invest it, lend it and spend it.  Notice where spending comes in that lineup: last.  Spending should never be the first thing you do with your money.

Pay Cash – Paying cash requires making some lifestyle changes and sacrifices, but it will keep you from drwoning in a sea of red ink on your journey to financial freedom.

No debt no matter what – Unsecured debt is like cancer.  At first it is not life-threatening because it involves only a cell or two.  But it never stays tiny.

Develop a strategy – Without a plan for getting there, reaching your goal of financial freeom will remain a dream.  A plan turns a dream into a goal.

Nancy Kvamme

The <a href=|collegedebtcrisis|&par=vty> Price of Admission – America’s College Debt Crisis</a> documentary was on CNBC tonight. I think it will be on again on 12/26.

It was a look at how student’s are getting into trouble with student loans.

Now some of the students are getting their loan disbursements on a debit card. One thing with this is they can use it for anything. Some used them for pizza, at bars and even to buy a car. One person on the documentary said it is money for their living expenses and they would be spending the money anyways if they had received the money some other way.

One of the companies that provides the debit cards is Higher One. University of North Dakota was mentioned in the documentary. The Vice President of UND said the administrative costs are lower when they use the debit cards. Higher One makes their money from transaction fees from businesses when the students use them and from extra fees the students end up paying. Like other debit cards, students are charged fees up to $2.50 each when not using specific ATM machines. UND tuition has increased 30% over the past 5 years.

Colleges and universities keep building state of the art buildings and stadiums and the costs are passed onto students. And more costs are also being passed onto students with state budgets being stretched tighter.

Unlike mortgage problems, in most cases there is no consumer protection with student loans. They can’t be refinanced and in most cases cannot be written off with bankruptcy. In some cases student loans can outlive students. There was a case shown that a student was killed in a car accident and they went after the parents for the balance of $81,000. They suggested, if you do cosign for a loan, to purchase life insurance to cover it in case of an accident.

In some cases, students graduate with large balance of student loan debt and cannot find a job that pays enough to make the payments.

Nancy Kvamme

There was an <a href=>article</a> in today’s <a href=>The Forum of Fargo Moorhead</a> about a new survey showing that North Dakotans may not be as financially capable as the average American.

Overall, the results showed some signs of North Dakota’s economic strength in the midst of the recession. The survey was conducted from June to October 2009.

Even though our area has not been hit as hard as other parts of the country, according to the survey about 20 percent of North Dakotans reported that their spending had exceeded their income in the past year, which was far below the national average of 55 percent.

But 62 percent of North Dakota respondents said they didn’t have a “rainy day” fund that would cover living expenses for three months in case of emergencies, including an illness or the loss of a job. That’s more than the national average of 60 percent.

And 27 percent of North Dakotans reported relying on higher-cost, non-bank borrowing – such as a payday loan, tax refund advance or pawn shop. That’s more than the national average of 24 percent.

Almost half of the state’s young adults, those ages 18 to 34, said they had engaged in non-bank borrowing in the past five years, while just 10 percent of those 55 and up did so.

I hear a lot of people saying things like they have never been good with money and finances. One of the main reasons, is that most of us were never taught how to handle finances. That is why I feel it is so important to teach children about money when they are young.

I have a few friends who have recently been tracking their spending and are surprised how much less they have been spending since consciously spending their money.  Another thing is try to cut back on dining out.

I am working on a workshop for children and money coming up in January and February. Instead of just speaking to them, it will be an hour long workshop of different stations, each with an activity dealing with money and finances. Please contact me if you are interested in more information and suggestions of times that would work better for you (weekends, weeknights, and times). I will also offer workshops for adults in the future.

Christmas gifts for my nieces and nephews this year are <a href=>Money Savvy money banks</a> with money in them.  They are available in a variety of colored pigs and a football.  They have 4 separate chambers for Saving, Spending, Donating and Investing.

I had an early Christmas with my brother’s family yesterday so my 11 year old nephew and 6 year old niece opened theirs.  The 3 month old was not too interested, actually I think he slept through gift opening. 

After they opened their gifts we had the chance to explain some of the meanings of the words on the bank.  About saving a portion of the money you get for something bigger that you may want.  Being able to spend a certain amount.  Examples of donating are collection at church and Sunday School.  Their Sunday School offering goes to different charities each year.  And usually when we think of investing, we think of investing in stocks, etc.  But also, investing in college fund, car, lake property were some ideas we came up with yesterday.

So, even though it was different than a variety of gifts I usually buy for them, this one will last and continue to grow for years to come.  Also, the lessons they will gain by learning how to handle their money.

Nancy Kvamme

I know by now if you are done Christmas shopping, more shopping is the last thing on your list but if you keep your eyes open during the After Christmas sales you can save money and be ahead time next year. When I had my first apartment, I didn’t have much for Christmas decorations, but I scoured the after Christmas sales and within a year or two I had a good collection. Now I pick up things I need for a fraction of original price.

It is a great time to stock up on gift bags, gift boxes, wrapping paper, cards, etc. By having things you normally use on hand ahead of time, saves you from having to buy them next year. Also, if you are just starting out or need a new artificial tree, wreaths and other decorations it would be a good time to look for them. Sometimes you can find holiday wrapping paper that not necessarily Christmas themed that could be used for other occasions throughout the year.

Other things to look for are candles, and candies. If you buy the holiday bags of candies like Hershey’s Kisses, Peanut Butter cups, etc you can use for upcoming holidays. The silver and gold ones can be used for New Years, Red and silver for Valentines Day and Green and gold for St. Patricks Day.

If your budget can handle it, you may also be able to pick up some gifts for people to use for birthdays, or even for next Christmas.

One way parents are finding deals on toys and clothes are <a href=>toy-swap sites</a>.

A few of the sites on line are <a href=>Toy Swap</a>, <a href=>Thred Up</a> and <a href=>Swap Mamas</a>.

With Thredup you can browse the available boxes, post a box of gently worn clothes that your child no longer wears, then when another member picks your box send it 100% free of charge. When you select a box of clothes you are interested in, it costs $5 per box plus shipping.

Swap Mamas offers a variety of baby, children’s, teen items and maternity items.

Following are ideas to set up a local toy swap.

Create rules for the toy swap. State in the rules that the toys must be in clean and working condition. You may also state a minimum number of toys to bring and that participants will be able to take home as many “new” toys as they bring to recycle.

Get the word out. Call or email people you think may be interested in a toy swap to let them know you would like to host one. Be sure to inform these individuals of the rules and ask them to reply if they are interested in participating. Once you see how much interest there is, you can then decide on the location.

Set a date, time and location for the toy swap. If the initial response was small, you may be able to host the toy swap at your house. If you had an overwhelming response and need a larger location, you may be able to host a toy swap at your church or some other public location. If hosting the toy swap somewhere other than your house, you may ask participants for small monetary donations for the organization that is letting you use their space.

Create a flier announcing the scheduled toy swap. If this is a large toy swap include a toy drop off date, time, and location so you will be able to inspect and organize the toys before the actual event. Also note that participants should bring their own bags and or boxes for gathering toys to the toy swap.

Collect toys and check to be sure they are clean and in working condition. Record the number of toys dropped off by each participant and reward them with one ticket per toy. Organize the toys by age and type. Place in boxes until the day of the toy swap.

Swap toys. Participants arrive at the scheduled event with their tickets and bags or boxes. They look through the recycled toys and choose as many toys as they have tickets for. Participants check out by redeeming their tickets for the toys.

Clean up. Not all toy swap participants may redeem all the tickets, donate the remaining toys to charities.

This is an idea of a way to get rid of some of the toys your kids may not play with anymore and get new ones at a fraction of the cost of purchasing new. You could also expand it to include clothes and books, etc also.

Nancy Kvamme

There are two new services available at the Fargo Public Library, email notices and Library2Go, downloadable books and movies.

You can sign up for email courtesy notices at the Check-Out desk to save on overdue fines. The library will email you a reminder notice 2 days before your library items are due. Also, if you have items on hold, they will email you instead of mailing like they had been, this helps the library save money on postage and staff time.

There are also more <a href=>

downloadable books and movies</a> being added to the digital collection.

For more information about how to access items in this new digital collection, contact the Main Library’s Information Desk at (701) 241-1492, or visit the library’s website at and click on “Downloads”.

To offer this expanded collection, the library recently joined Library2Go, a group of North Dakota libraries that share electronic content through the Web-based digital distributor service OverDrive. This new resource allows Fargo Public Library cardholders to download free content to any Barnes and Noble Nook or Sony Reader device. Content is also available for MP3 players, iPods, and home computers with the correct software. This service is open to anyone with a Fargo Public Library card. Library2Go also offers additional eAudiobook offerings for library users. In addition, the library will continue to offer eAudiobooks through the NetLibrary platform.

Nancy Kvamme

One of my Christmas memories is gifts from my grandma.  On my mom’s side there are almost 30 cousins, and my Grandma felt like she still needed to buy us gifts.  For a few years she would bake us each some of our favorite things.  Then when she ended up living in the nursing home and couldn’t bake anymore she started buying us socks.  It has been at least 15 years and it is still a family memory that comes up at family get togethers.

Last year one of my uncles and his family bought and wrapped a pair of socks for us.

So even though it may seem important to buy the fancy gifts, the memories you make are also important.

So if your financial circumstances have changed, consider changing your spending habits too.  If you outspend your income for too long, you will pay for it later.

Posted in Uncategorized
Nancy Kvamme

One of the common things we hear often is “You are what you eat”, but it is also “You are what you think”.  The last couple of years I have been studying about the Law of Attraction and had remarkable results.

If you keep saying your are busy, overweight, stressed, etc that is what you are going to attract more of.  This also pertains to money.  If you keep telling yourself you are broke or can’t afford things, that is what you will attract.  Even if you don’t have money to afford things you want, if you keep telling yourself you have the money, you will in time attract the money.

Also, with the increase in awareness, I have found multiple opportunities.

I have found recently, when I get low on something and think about having to buy a replacement, in many cases I will see it on sale and sometimes a coupon for it also. 

Today I was at an event and individuals were asking others if they were ready for the holidays.  Most of the responses were that they were not and were so behind.  If you keep saying you are busy your life will keep getting busy. 

So while it may not seem like you have any extra time, if you take a few minutes at a time to think about what you need to do and see if there are things you can say no to or not do.  Even though we all want to be involved in everything, with so many things calling for our attention, we need to step back and consider what is really important to us.  It is more important to spend time with your family and friends than some of the other things that we feel obligated to do.

Posted in Uncategorized
Nancy Kvamme