About Ronnica

I'm Ronnica, the "partial, prejudiced, and ignorant historian." I'm a reader and a writer, a friend and sister, a student and a teacher. Previously known as the Kansas Girl from "Tale of a Kansas Girl."

Effortless Savings by Richard Syrop (Book Review)

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effortless_savingsI recently read Effortless Savings: a Step-by-Step Guidebook to Saving Money without Sacrifice by Richard Syrop, having received a copy to review. Since I’m always looking for ways to cut back (especially now that I temporarily without income!), I welcomed the review copy.

Effortless Savings is separated into various categories, so it makes it easy to get to the section that most interests you: Telecom Services, Insurance, Home Energy, Grocery Shopping, Health and Beauty Products, Clothing and Household Items, Automotive Expenses, Additional Shopping Strategies, Restaurants and Entertainment, Vacations and Travel Expenses, Credit Cards and Banking.

Some sections are more helpful than others. Since I’ve read similar books and websites, I probably didn’t find as many useful tips as others might. Particularly, Syrop mentions several ways to save on restaurants and entertainment I’ve never considered…my main strategy to this point has been to eat out as little as possible!

Along with some good tips, there unfortunately a few that I find unethical (misleading the cable company into thinking you’ll cancel, bringing your own food into a venue that has a no-outside-food policy) and cannot recommend.

If you are new to cutting costs, this book could be useful to you.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of Effortless Savings in order to write this review.

Walden on Wheels by Ken Ilgunas (Book Review)

waldenonwheelsI recently read Walden on Wheels at the recommendation of my fellow hippie and sister-in-law. We regularly discuss ways to consume less and pay off our student loans faster (I still am only halfway, but she’s finished now). In our talks, we have discussed many of the themes of this book.

In Walden on Wheels, Ken Ilgunas writes about his journey from graduating with an undergrad degree with $32,000 in debt to graduating with a masters from Duke with no debt, by working hard, spending very little and living his graduate school days in a van on campus.

Ilgunas frequently refers to his debt as holding him back from freedom, and I completely agree.

“Taking out student loans was a momentous event in my life, yet I don’t have the faintest recollection of the event. I know it happened because I definitely went into debt, but I don’t at all remember signing any forms, shaking any hands with financial aid officers, or noting the frown that was surely fixed on my mom’s face as she cosigned the loans with me–which was, by the way, probably a daunting prospect to her, as I’d given her no indication that I’d one day exhibit traits of industry, ambition or responsibility.

“I do, however, remember not hearing any warnings about the consequences of debt or the likelihood of a bleak postgraduation job market. And I do remember hearing, form a chorus of voices, that ‘student debt is good debt’ and that ‘money shouldn’t stop you from going to the school you want to go to.’ ” – p.8

Ilgunas speaks to the burden so many college students and graduates are facing just as they are starting life on their own. While I don’t entirely share his pessimism for the outlook for our generation (the Millennials), I do believe that we will have to change our lifestyles and stop believing all the lies about money and consuming if we are to have much hope of a comfortable life.

I have no plans on downsizing to a van in order to pay the last of my student loan debt off. However, I will continue to seek ways to do without things that other people may think are necessities.

I do recommend Walden on Wheels if any of the above sentiments resonate with you.

I Trust in You, God

I am amazed at how quickly I have felt settled here in Colorado. The only thing that keeps this life from feeling “normal” is my lack of a job.

When I was recently disappointed at being so close to being offered a job before the position was closed, I realized it was an opportunity to recommit to my trust in God’s goodness and sovereignty.

All along this job hunt, I’ve asked God that he make it obvious that the job that I will receive is from him. Yet with my actions I have continued to futilely strive for what he has not provided.

I will not sit back and passively wait for a job, because that is not what God asks of me. But in my job searching activities, I seek to renew my trust in him and belief in the goodness of his timing and ways…even though they aren’t my timing and ways.

I know that God is good, because he has shown it to me over and over. So I know that this season of waiting and uncertainty is also his goodness for me. He must have more growing and learning for me.

I do not know how long this season will last, but for today, may my heart and actions say, “I trust in you, God.”

My Life as a Coloradan

photo1 (9)I’ve now lived in Colorado for 6 weeks. I have a driver’s license and green-and-white license plates (we have them in the front too). I’ve hiked miles of mountain trails and view the mountains daily (no 2 days’ view is the same). I’ve walked to the library, park, stores and restaurants, and taken light rail to a Rockies game. I’ve met new friends and feel home in my new church.

I’m quite in love with my new state.

Apart from a job (I’m working on that!), I”m quite settled here. I’ve made big moves before, but I never felt like I got settled this quickly. I know that hard times may come, but I’m much further into the process than I would have expected to be at 6 weeks.

More updates to come, I’m sure, but I didn’t want to leave you all hanging any more!

On My Own

I only recently was exposed to the music of Les Miserables (with the movie last year), but it has grown to become some of my favorite. One of my favorite songs is “On My Own” and is in my head as I write this blog post.

That said, this post really has nothing to do with that song.

When I discussed how I would travel from North Carolina to Colorado for the big move, I talked about wanting to do it “on my own.”

Drive cross-country by myself? Yes, that’s exactly what I wanted to do.

But as I actually made the drive, I realized how foolish it was to think that I was really on my own. Yes, I know that God was with me, but he wasn’t the only one. Not one leg of this journey have I truly done on my own.

I couldn’t have packed my shipping box on my own.

I didn’t clean out my apartment on my own (a friend and her kids even stopped by an hour before I finished, so I wasn’t really even saying “goodbye” to it on my own).

The financial burden of this move hasn’t been solely on my shoulders, either, as many have given me money or gift cards to help.

Each leg of my car travel was either going from a friend or relative’s house or to one…or both.

How foolish I am to really think that I am doing this on my own. I have so many people behind me, and even some who go before.

No, I’m not on my own, and I’m okay with that.

Photo by MMarsolais

Happy Tears

The last week (okay, really a month) I spent in North Carolina has been tear-filled.

I know that most people would expect me to cry in this situation, but I don’t think my tears are as straightforward as you might expect. While there is a level of sadness in leaving, every time I’ve cried, it’s been out of an overwhelming sense of blessing and gratitude.

I can hardly remember what I had expected when I moved here almost 9 years ago, but I can guarantee that I received more blessings than I had ever hoped for. I had two jobs that I enjoyed as well as homes that truly felt like homes. Here I started a garden of my own and first lived on my own.

More than that, I’ve been a part of a church body that cared for me and walked alongside me. They laughed with me and cried with me, and allowed me to do the same for them. They encouraged me to keep striving to serve the Lord when my desire to do so was weak.

There is some sense of loss in my move, but greater still is the understanding of how overwhelmingly loved and cared for I was there. While I will encounter hard times and lonely hours in Colorado, I have the promise of God that He does not forsake us.

After all, the same God who provided me with blessings in North Carolina is the same God I’m following to Colorado.