When dh and I got serious about our finances, we started having bi-monthly budget meetings. It may sound a bit silly, but it was the only way I can get his input on anything. Otherwise, he just tells me to handle it all.
At our last meeting we took a closer look at our "life happens" mini-accounts (auto, dental, etc). They have not made much progress in the past 10 months. We decided to take the same approach with those accounts as we would with a debt - snowball. Starting with the one closest to being fully funded, we will add extra money there. When that one is done, we will focus on the next. The idea is that this will eventually free up money to go into the house and full EF funds. It will also give us a bit more of a safety cushion.
I am glad dh is taking an interest. It takes some of the pressure off me. The budget meetings have been a wonderful finanacial tool for us.
When dh and I got serious about our finances, we started having bi-monthly budget meetings. It may sound a bit silly, but it was the only way I can get his input on anything. Otherwise, he just tells me to handle it all.
I did my civic duty today and went to jury duty. That meant missing work and, since I am a part time employee, receiving no work pay. Thankfully I was given a strike by one of the lawyers and can return to work tomorrow. I did end up spending all day there. My only spending was $5 for lunch. I decided it was too hard to pack a lunch for jury duty.
First I updated the totals for my goals. The vehicle fund had its first addition. Hopefully we will not need another vehicle for several years so that will be a long term fund.
The house fund got a small addition. We have a very long way to go with that one. I try to focus on the fact it is going up and not how much we are lacking.
The emergency fund did not get an addition. In fact we had to take some money out of the smaller fund at our local bank. Dh needed a root canal, and it was a bit more than what we had in the dental account. Then we had decided to get our propane tank filled as the gas company was having a sale(!). We got almost 50 cents a gallon off the regular price. We were $37 short in that account as we would normally get a delivery in two months. However with the discount it was smarter to fill up now. All total I need to add $53 back into our small EF. Then we can focus on the full EF again.
I finished up the first week of work. Suprisingly it was much easier to adjust to the schedule this time around. I feel the next 10 weeks will go by quickly. The first paycheck will not arrive until the end of this month. That will be split between the EF and the house fund.
Today was my second day back at the part-time teaching job. This money will go into savings. I have been packing snacks to take to work so there is no extra spending. I was even good and ate lunch at home despite the temptation to pick up take out on the way home.
Today is the last day both dh and I are off until I start work so I dragged him grocery shopping. I did tempt him with a free meal thanks to a mystery shopping job before we went to the grocery store. I will admit that taking him with me has its pros and cons. He is a big help when I am buying a month's worth of groceries. He also tends to help me buy a bit more than we need. Some extras this trip are a new fish (Hector) who also needed a bowl to live in, temporary tattoos, funky yarn for my scrapbooking, and Grey Poupon (it was on clearance). Still even with the extras we came in $24 under my budgeted amount, and between coupons and sale prices we saved $37.01. That was enough for us to have a bit of fun while out shopping.
The best part is that aside from trips to a smaller grocery store to pick up fresh items throughout the next month, we are set on food. It might even last us 5-6 weeks. Planning out that many meals was a chore, but it beats running to the grocery store for a big shop every week. I can probably recycle this menu with a few changes (new meals) for the next two months while I am working too. I guess my challenge now is to see how long I can go without a big trip to the grocery store.
It is not exactly fading, but it does have an annoying short in it. The monitor is old since we got it two hard drives ago. Dh and I decided to splurge on a flat screen since we were going to have to buy a new one anyway. I spent a good part of the morning researching and comparing prices. I ended up with a 19" for $175 shipped.
I will not be sad to see the large one go since it takes up so much space on my desk. The cat, on the other hand, will not be happy as she uses the large area for a bed.
The best part is that we have cash to cover the cost. There will be no charging it and struggling to find the money before the bill arrives. Instead I charged it and will deposit the cash on my next trip to the bank and pay off the card when the charge appears.
Dh announced today that he would like to start a fund for a new or newer ATV. I can tell we have come a long way. A year ago his thought would have been to take out a loan for one. Now we are going to save for that purchase. I need to find out the price range before I set a goal for this year.
I do not want to drop the other goal amounts down. We have agreed to save conservatively for the ATV until the EF is at $5000. I think we need a better financial safety net.
I used the calculator on CNN's article about the stimulus payments to find out what we would be getting. The majority of that money will go into the "life happens" fund to cover medical bills, car repairs, and the like. With those amounts maxed out, we will have more money freed up for other things. I hate to disappoint the government, but we will not be spending it on frivilous stuff.
First dh talked me out of my panic from yesterday regarding the house situation. It will be two years before we even think about building and a lot of changes can take place in that time.
In the meantime I set new goals for the full emergency fund and the house fund. I have already exceeded my initial goal for the house and am close on the EF. I decided to double both of those. The vehicle fund will stay the same since I am just making a set payment to that each month.
It is much more fun to watch totals go up instead of down. I start back to work part-time in two weeks. The bulk of that money will go into those two accounts. We are still looking for little bits of money to add to our savings. While the big amounts really boost the totals, those little amounts help too!
Ok so if things happen in threes, I am due one more surprise for today. I am not sure I can take another one though. The second one is that we will (most likely) not be able to build a house. It is not due to funding but instead to zoning laws. We do not live in or anywhere near a subdivision and instead are out in the country. Long, ugly story short we have to have more land than usual to put a house on. I had a nice little cry and am trying to search for the silver lining. We can do a cosmetic remodel to this house cutting the money needed by two-thirds. That means the extra two-thirds can go toward retirement and general savings. Perhaps not as good as a new house but what can we do. Hope is not totally lost until someone actually comes to view the land, but at this point I am not holding my breath. I am a pessimist at heart.
I found out today that the teaching job will last twice as long this quarter as last. At first thought I was not exactly happy. Then I did the math and that helped ease the pain a bit. I will definitely be raising the savings goal amounts. I just need to sit down and figure out what a new reachable goal will be. I think that is a good problem to have.
I went grocery shopping this morning and picked up several sale items. I go to two stores as one doubles coupons and ends up being cheaper on some items. I went a bit over budget but the snack cabinets were bare. Also some of the items were for an Easter cookout and others will last into next month.
Honestly with the rising costs I need to bump up the amount in the grocery budget. We eat three meals a day either at home or in the form of a packed lunch. I am looking forward to the garden getting into full swing which will help out with the bill.
I do some things to help keep the food bill lower. I am not brand loyal for most things. In general I will follow the coupons and the sale prices. We have chickens so eggs are free. We also get free meat since dh is a hunter. I mix my own 2% milk by combining whole milk and powdered milk. It is cheaper and tastes just as good. I also do freezer cooking. Even though I am home most days I do not want to cook a meal from scratch every day. Freezer cooking is more than casseroles. It is an easy way to have a homecooked meal on busy days.
Beginning in April dh will be in charge of cooking since he will be home while I am at work. That means easier meals which are a bit harder on the budget. I am hoping to get him more interested in light cooking so we will not turn to processed foods.
I suppose it would be a good idea to back up my frugal housewife name. When I say frugal/thrify, most people seem to think "cheap". Those are two totally different things. I do several things that might not save much and others that save more.
A few of the minimal savings things are sending dh's lunch in reusable containers and not ziploc bags. We also use cloth napkins instead of paper. I have started making many of my cleaning supplies. Vinegar and baking soda do a better job that more expensive cleaners, and there are no unpleasant fumes to deal with.
I think some of the bigger money savers are serious meal planning and eating at home. I also hang out the laundry. Our used dryer is rarely used. I plan my washing schedule around the rainy days. I also use coupons as much as possible.
Other thrifty doings I will save for future posts. I suppose many of the things that I do to save a bit of money would be unthinkable to some people. That is fine since I am sure I would feel the same about things they do.
Each of these things allow me to add the housewife part to my title. I know I am blessed to be able to do this. I enjoy it and do not want to trade my current lifestyle for debt and a bunch of stuff.
First of all, thank you again to everyone who replied with good wishes regarding my debt free post. I am grateful for the encouragement. Being surrounded by people who complain that they have to be in debt and cannot afford to save gets old quick. I prefer the financial company here instead.
Now my thoughts have turned to how to quickly beef up the savings amounts. We will be putting a set amount each month into the three goal areas. Since we paid off the debt by seeking out other money, I want to do the same to up our savings amounts.
The first extra amount going in will be the state tax refund which arrived today. Initially we thought it would be needed to pay off the debt, but we can now happily put it toward savings.
Second going in will be money from some stock dh sold earlier this week. He had watched it drop over time from the purchase price. This week it reached the highest price in over a year so he decided to sell. I guess his decision came at good time since the price dropped today. This was our only attempt at the stock market. I really need to be more informed before jumping back into individual stock purchases. I also read a financial analysis that recommended selling stocks now. I do not know how much "stock" to put in that. I think we got out at a good time for us. That money will also go into the savings accounts.
My other financial goal is to blog more. I know that helped keep me focused while we were getting out of debt. I certainly want to keep that same intensity.
The payoff on the truck loan went through yesterday so dh and I are officially debt free! I was expecting some sort of confetti explosion, fireworks, sounds of heavenly angels. I have resisted the urge to run up and down the street yelling "we're debt free, we're debt free".
This will be the last post in the debt category and time to start a saving category. The plan is to put a set amount each month in the vehicle fund. The bulk of the extra money will go into the EF and house fund. Hopefully we can blow by the goals I set at the first of the year.
I do want to thank everyone here for your encouragement, ideas, and your stories. It is great to know that others are trying to be financially responsible and are faced with ups and downs of life.
Woo Hoo! Debt Free! Debt Free!
Dh paid off the loan on our piece of land today. That means that we paid off our 3 year loan in only 8 months!
I mailed off the last payment on the truck loan yesterday as we received a paper bill will the final amount. It should post by the first of next week.
I am amazed by the drop in our debt balance in a little over two months. I hope we can keep up that same momentum when we start saving.
Does anyone remember the following childhood poem?
"See a penny, pick it up,
All the day you'll have good luck"
At what point did it become "see a penny heads up and only then should you pick it up; otherwise you will be cursed from henceforth and forever"? I have found three pennies in the past few days that were in the wide open of parking lots. All of them were tails up. I saw several people pass right by them, look, and keep walking. Obviously I do not fall into the superstitious category. I also realize that it is only three cents. Over time I might only find 100 pennies, but that is a dollar. I wonder if those same people would pass by a dollar bill if George's face was kissing the asphalt. After all it is tails up. Hmmm....I might start spreading that bad luck rumor around to increase my chances of finding more paper money.
New $20 Challenge Total (pennies & paycheck): $1281.56
I finally received my paycheck for teaching and was going to pay off one of the loans. The problem was that if I mailed it, the payment would not be received in time to avoid further finance charges. No problem, I thought as I headed to the website. An online payment costs $15 though. If I wait one week, I will have two weeks for the payment to post and will only get another $2.50 worth of interest. By waiting a week I can keep $12.50. I guess they are trying to make up for the interest they are going to lose since we are paying off the loan a year early. I am getting better at this patience stuff though so I will wait!
After some discussion with dh, I decided to give teaching another try. This time around the money will go into savings and not into paying down debt. I rearranged some other obligations and will be teaching four days again. This time both classes will be the same, which translates into half the work for the same pay.
I should be guaranteed this job until the group finishes. Apparently many of the students were waiting to see if I would teach before they signed up for the class. If nothing goes wrong, we should be able to exceed our savings goals for 2008 and give me a good $20 challenge total at the end of the year.
Now that I know what to expect I think things will be better. I will also be able to plan more to keep the house running smoothly with dh's help, of course.
I was very excited to find our federal refund money in the bank account today. I transferred all of it over to one of the loans. Now if the state money would hurry up and hit the bank, we could be debt free by the first week of March. Since we are so close, I am getting antsy to pay it off. I am not a patient person, but I can wait a few more weeks.
I love that I can view dh's paycheck online several days before he receives. I use Excel to do a monthly budget. In Dave Ramsey fashion I designate where the money will go before we get it.
We are getting a bit more breathing room since we have been doing this almost a year. I was able to up our eating out fund a bit. I am trying to up the amounts going into our Life Happens accounts (car repair, medical, dental, etc). This is another area to focus on when the debt is paid off.
My question is: do you consider your emergency fund to cover serious emergencies or "life happens" type of things? I am thinking that the emergency fund should be for dh losing his job or being out of work for an extended period. I guess that is my reason for wanting to totally leave it alone and using our "Life Happens" account for more minor stuff. I was curious what other people think though.
I made another change to the debt balance since the second loan payment posted. This total should change dramatically in about three weeks. Still, I am pleased with the progress we have made so far this year.
Technically my job should be over, but I ended up getting an extra day. I will get a large paycheck at the end of this month. The last day's pay will not arrive until the end of March. By that time the final paycheck should go into savings.
We are expecting our tax refund in a couple of weeks. It will go toward the debt. If the state refund comes quickly we can be out of debt by the end of March. If not it will be April, but the end is definitely in sight.
We need to build back up our household accounts (medical, dental, clothing, etc) after some spending the past couple of months. The plan is to do this while we are saving for the other three goals.
Now that the job is almost over I am looking forward to being here more often. I have missed reading everyone's posts. I do feel for all of you who are sick. I have finally gotten over the flu and am hoping to stay healthy the rest of the winter.
My current teaching job is helping me get closer to being debt free, but it also gave me the FLU. Many of the students and other staff have been sick. I had made it through 3 1/2 weeks with only 1 1/2 weeks to go without catching anything. Tuesday night I had a sore throat. Wednesday I added a cough. Today I woke with a 101 degree fever and generally felt like crap. Fortunately I got in at the doctor's office. He said I went in early enough that I should recover quickly. I got a shot of antibiotics, antibiotic pills, cough syrup, and Tamiflu. That set us back close to $140 total.
I know I could catch the flu anywhere, but that pretty much sealed the "not teaching credit classes again" decision. I did get a much better offer from another department at the college. I will be looking into teaching continuing education classes. These will be short-term (one to two sessions) in a more relaxed atmosphere and generally just more fun. The first one I am considering is a digital photography class. Basically this is exactly what I wished for yesterday - easy money with no long term commitment.
I know there are many people who are earnestly searching for a job. I am not one of them, and yet I cannot seem to escape the job offers. I did accept the one for my current teaching job, which ends next week. This job was a quick way to get out of debt ahead of our goal date. Since then I have been offered several private tutoring jobs. Monday I received a call offering me a part-time job as a piano instructor.
It does provide quite a dilemma. By taking any number of these jobs, we could quickly increase our savings. On the other side is the fact that dh prefers me being a housewife, and I tend to agree. We pay our bills just fine and once we pay off the debt in a month or so can focus on saving. Also during the four weeks I have been teaching the house has fallen into chaos. Dh does help out, but he is overwhelmed by the things I do every day.
At first glance working might seem like a good thing, but realistically we are better with me staying home. I think I will stick to short-term, easy money jobs.
Some part of me still feels guilty for passing up a good job offer. Then I remember I love being a housewife and it is all okay.
I received a paycheck for two days worth of teaching. The rest of the money will be on one check at the end of this month. My new challenge total is $322.05.
I had a long day at work and doing other things, but I packed a lunch and snacks so I had no spending. I had planned to pick up a sale item at the grocery store, but it was out of stock. I did get a rain check and will pick this up next week.
Due to student absences in the classes I am teaching, a makeup day has been scheduled. I will work another four hours after the regular coursetime is over. That will be an extra $50 for much less work as it will be for six or eight students rather than 25.
I have more to blog about but do not have the time to write more today. I will save that for another post later in the week.
I had no idea how busy a part-time job would keep me. I received a partial check on Friday, but the big check will arrive at the end of this month. That should wipe out a big portion of the debt which will make the five weeks away from home worthwhile.
I finished our taxes and was surprised by the size of our refund. We will be able to completely pay off the debt and maybe even add a bit to savings with the refund. It will be nice to see that first goal met so we can focus on the remaining goals.
Even with the dropping interest rate, I was thrilled with the interest earned on our house fund through ING. We ended up with more interest in two weeks there than in three months at our bank.
One thing I do want to work on the next two weeks especially is not spending to eat out. I end up getting stuck in town with errands after I finish working. Not eating or waiting to eat is simply not an option for me. I plan to stop by the grocery store for some frozen meals. That way if I get stuck at work later or need to run errands, I have a meal there to eat.
I have not been doing much general shopping though. After walking around a classroom for four hours straight, I have no desire to walk around a store.
If offered this type of job again, I would probably accept. It is tiring, but the money is good. Having done it once I now have a better idea how to pace myself. Plus it would help us reach our goals much quicker.
That is a quick catch up. I have barely even had time to read the other blogs. I do miss that very much as I get a bunch of helpful information and encouragement from all of you here. I hope to be back to blogging more regularly soon.
After a long stretch of having nothing to add, I got a rush of rebate checks and survey checks in the mail. So I am adding $176.05 to my challenge money. The nickel was a parking lot find.
Old total: $28
New total: $204.05
That is what I feel like anyway. I quickly found that this teaching job as well as my other responsibilites leave little spare time. I have now added to the mix a weekly tutoring session. It seems one of my fellow teachers is having trouble in algebra so I am tutoring her a couple of times a week.
I know I am blessed to be a housewife in my normal life and certainly do not want to seem ungrateful for these money earning opportunities. However, it has made me think extra hard before I spend money on things I do not need. My main focus is getting that debt wiped out.
I have taken a moment to update the balance on that. I am expecting the total to drop significantly in the next two months. It gives me hope of meeting our goal of being debt free by the end of June. I am counting on my displeasure at working so much to keep me from taking on any new debts in the future.
Okay, I knew this but after six years as a housewife I had forgotten how not fun a job truly is. I keep focused on the paycheck I will get at the end of the month and the larger one at the end of February.
Unfortunately I do not have much extra money this month to add to the debt. Looking at the bright side though the February payments will be much better.
Another downside of a job is I do not have the free time that I did before. I am keeping up with the other blogs but not posting much. I only have 17 days left though, and I can happily get back to my frugal housewife status.
Dh and I have wanted season one of USA network's show Psych. I cashed in part of the MyPoints I had earned and got an Amazon gift certificate. I paid 1.99 oop which comes from our entertainment budget. I also opted to wait until now to purchase it since the price jumped up after Thanksgiving. I know they offer price adjustment, but I was afraid it would not drop within the time period. Patience save us about $7.
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