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Byline: Janet Adamy
Aug. 5--Tracy Steverson spares no expense when it comes to making her backyard beautiful.
There are the big costs, like the $1,000 patio foundation, and the moderate ones, like the hundreds of dollars worth of fig trees, tomato plants, gladiolas and other flora that fill the yard. And then there are the ones that seem so small she doesn't think twice before making them, like the $30 she recently spent on 10 discounted stepping stones at Target.
But when Steverson sits down and looks at her $12,000 credit card bill, she knows she should curb such purchases -- even the $30 stone buy.
"I probably shouldn't have, but I did," she said about buying the stones. "I'm like a little splurger."
At age 36, this San Pablo civil inspector wants to find the holes in her bank account, plug them up and start using the surplus to ensure she can retire comfortably and send her four children to college. She doesn't have retirement savings but knows she should start stashing money away in her employer's 401(k) plan. She wants to pay down her credit card but isn't sure whether she should borrow the money against her home or simply pay larger chunks off each month. With a $68,568-a-year income, she knows there's money that's getting away from her. …