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Reward from My Points

January 13th, 2008 at 08:28 pm

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.

Closed Account

January 11th, 2008 at 04:17 pm

Thank you all for your input regarding my online banking post. We decided to go with ING. It seems to be the easiest to use and very good for a beginner. We could have applied the money toward the debt. Having a new home is a big goal of ours though. Even if we only have a little money in our house fund, it is a start and helps keep that goal in our minds. It will be great to see that money earning more interest as well.

I really appreciate everyone's comments and the individual blogs. Being here makes me less passive with my finances than I was in the past.

Online Banking Opinions Needed

January 10th, 2008 at 05:05 pm

Dh and I have some money in a savings account that is our mini-house fund. I got our latest statement, and we earned *hold onto your seats* $0.35 in three months. Now I realize that we do have a bunch of money in there, but .5% interest is lame. I want to try an online bank but have no idea where to start in regards to choosing one. Since everyone here has been so helpful, I am turning to all you for help. I am interested in opinons, positive and negative experiences, and basically any advice you want to share.

The Year Thus Far

January 9th, 2008 at 08:09 pm

The first nine days of 2008 have been quiet for the most part. The only mini-problem was a busted waterline due to the cold temperatures. Fortunately dh is good at fixing that type of problem. It only cost us $20 in materials.

The only other spending was for a few groceries. I have spent most of my time at home. I will start teaching next week but will not get paid until the end of February. Oh well, it will make for a good debt payment in March.

Joining $20 Challenge

January 7th, 2008 at 11:30 pm

I discovered that I had $25 in my paypal account from a mystery shopping job. I thought it would be fun to see how much money I can "earn" despite my housewife status. I think it will help me better see how all of my little things add up. I am going to start with that $25 and make my first addition of $3 from a survey payment.

Current Total: $28

I do not have a goal in mind. I simply want to see what my year end total will be.

I need to post a general update since it has a been a while and will get to that later tonight or tomorrow.

2008 Goals

December 28th, 2007 at 09:13 pm

I have been reading everyone else's goals and decided I should post my own. I am putting this a little higher than I might be able to reach, but they are still within the do-able range.

1. Pay off both loans by the end of June. This is the most important goal. I cannot work on the others until this is done. The sooner the loans are gone the better.

2. Work on full emergency fund with a goal of $1500 by the end of the year. We have a mini emergency fund already. This will start us on the road to $10,000 in savings.

3. Start a new home fund with a goal of $1500 by the end of the year. This hardly seems like enough to even deal with, but we have to start somewhere. We are in no rush to move but want to get an account started nevertheless.

4. Start saving for another vehicle. We will not be in need of one for several years. Our eventual goal is to pay for our next vehicle in cash. For now the 2008 goal is $1600.

We plan to free up a bit more fun money in the coming months. We do plan to stick to our frugal ways to accomplish our goals though. I will be looking for ways to trim the budget back a more. I am excited about the financial goals for 2008 and am sure we can reach them and hopefully surpass them!

Updated Totals

December 28th, 2007 at 01:50 am

I have updated the debt totals now that both payments have cleared. I am happy to see the totals well under $5000. In the past six months we have paid off $3200+ in debt. This may not seem like much but considering we are a one income family I think we have made good progress. It may be slow, but we are making definite progress. I was a little discouraged but now I feel a bit more encouraged. The end is definitely in sight!

Temporary Part-time Job

December 18th, 2007 at 07:58 pm

I got a call from the college I used to work at. They are looking for a computer teacher a few hours a day for five weeks. I will be teaching basic computer to some city employees. It might be a bit challenging as the skill level will vary widely. I am not exactly thrilled about braving the cold every morning, but I am excited about the extra money to put toward our debts. I am waiting to hear exactly how much I will get paid, but every bit will help us reach our goal.

Quiet on the Home Front

December 16th, 2007 at 02:58 pm

I have not posted much this month mainly due to a lack of anything to post about finance-wise. My only spending this week was at the grocery store for perishable items - milk, vegetables, etc. I am sticking with my plan of eating out of the freezer/pantry. I even managed to do that with the food for our church's Christmas party tonight. I had a large bag of chips leftover from another party. I made dip using spices I already have and a purchased carton of sour cream. I am also putting together a big tray of cookies since I overbaked this holiday season.

Tomorrow I will be making payments on the loans. We should be able to get those well under $5K. I need to start thinking seriously about goals for 2008. I did finally get Quicken loaded and am looking forward to using it to track spending in the coming months.

What I Wish I Had Known When I Was Working

December 14th, 2007 at 04:07 pm

I have been a housewife for almost 6 years. Sunday will be my "I quit my job" anniversary. Due to extreme stress, I quit very suddenly and without any planning. My dh and I quickly went from a two income household to a one income household. The sad and good thing is that we have not once missed my income. I was not making a large amount of money, but at the time I thought we needed that income to survive and keep up our paycheck to paycheck life.

I wish I had known that we could have saved 80% of my income. I know that I needed part of it for clothing, transportation, and a few other working life necessities, but the remainder was all extra moeny. I wish I had known that part of my income could have gone toward saving for a new house. I could have been contributing to a 401K. I could have been setting aside money for a vehicle purchase. I think of all the interest I paid in as interest that I could have been earning.

Hindsight, of course, is 20/20. I can see now that I should have spent my five years of married/working life saving money. It would make life now easier than it is. Looking to the future I can see that it now makes me more careful with money. The things I did not do are now things I want to do. Rather than being careless with money in the present, I try to be careful with it so that my future is better than my past. I believe that mistakes are only truly bad if I do not learn from them. I cannot change the past, but I can and will definitely do something about tomorrow.

Spending

December 11th, 2007 at 08:48 pm

Well I will learn to go to the doctor sooner. My bill (meds & all) was only about $50. He said that I was very close to developing pneumonia, which would not have been a good way to celebrate the holiday season. I am feeling a little better although I am still being lazy.

The spending comes in with my need for new printer cartidges. I did get refurbished ones and clicked through MyPoints. I am also going to go ahead and other tax software so we can get those done at the beginning of January. My car needs a tune up, but dh can do that himself so it will only cost parts - paid for out of our car repair fund.

Hopefully the rest of the month will be less spendy, but I will not hold my breath. On a positive note, dh will get his bonus on this week's check. Even with the extra spending, we will have $300+ extra to put toward the loans.

Still Sick & Other Things

December 6th, 2007 at 07:11 pm

I am still a bit under the weather. Yesterday I felt okay, but this morning I woke up with a sore throat again and a low fever. I may end up at the doctor after all.

I have had several no spend days, but I have not been keeping track of them. Today was not one as I finished my Christmas shopping with an iTunes card for my mom and a few stocking stuffers. I also took the youngest furry child to vet to be fixed. I am still waiting on a call from them to let me know how she is doing.

I am anxious to find out how much dh's Christmas work bonus will be, but I have to be patient until Monday. I am hoping to pay another big chunk on the debts this month.

I am thinking about using Quicken to track our expenses next year. It seems that several people here use it and like it. I would like to be able to get a yearly total for our spending categories. I have a previous version that I have never installed. Is there any reason to get the updated version each year or will I be fine with what I have?

Trying to Avoid the Doctor

December 2nd, 2007 at 03:05 pm

I have been sick for about a week now with what I am calling a bad cold. Most of the people I was around Thanksgiving were sick. I feel too bad to go to the doctor and have no interest in sitting in a room with fellow sick people for an hour or so. I had plenty of OTC medicine from sales. Dh did stop and buy me some cough medicine last night for about $3. I am planning an extra lazy day today. I think rest will be as much help as the medicine.

Paying Down the Debt

November 27th, 2007 at 03:51 am

Thanks to an extra paycheck for dh we were able to make two big payments to the loans. We knocked just over $1K off this month. We have gotten rid of about $2500 in the past five months. I think we are on track to have everything paid off by the end of June 2008. I know we will have one extra paycheck in the spring.

I am trying to keep a tight rein on the budget with little unnecessary spending. It can be tempting with all of the sales this time of year. Honestly I have not been that tempted this year. My only splurge was some cheap memory cards and some free after rebate items.

Found $27

November 16th, 2007 at 08:42 pm

It was not really lost. It was simply forgotten about. I had $27 in my Paypal account from some mystery shopping jobs. I will leave the money there until next month when I make another payment toward the loans. If I move it to the checking account it will most likely disappear forever. Instead I wrote myself a note on December's calendar page to move the money and put it toward the debts. It was a nice surprise and will help boost the payment amount next month.

Still Here & Trying to Stay Positive

November 15th, 2007 at 04:38 pm

I have not posted much lately mainly because I have little news to share. We are still working on paying down the debt. I am just frustrated that it is taking so long. Ever extra penny is going toward the loans, but I do not feel like we are getting anywhere. I know we are making progress. I think we are both simply ready to watch a total go up instead of waiting for one to come down.

I started working on the December budget. We have decided to increase the gas budget. With the increase in price, we cannot make it on the current budgeted amount. I decided to decrease the grocery amount for the time being. My goal will be to use up the pantry items and watch the sales to help restock. I am just glad we have a plan to handle all of this stuff now. It makes it easier even if it is not pleasant.

November Goals

November 2nd, 2007 at 08:52 pm

I never did get around to posting my monthly goals last night so here they are.

1. Get debt to less than $6K. I have some extra money set aside so this one should be easy.

2. Keep grocery spending to $31. I know that sounds harsh for a monthly spending goal. However if you could peek into my freezer, you would understand.

3. No eating out on errand days. I have gotten lax in this area the past few months and have caught myself hitting the fast food places. This month I will pack a snack and a bottle of water to tide me over and keep away temptation.

4. Finish Christmas shopping with money leftover. I know I can do the first part, but I am not so certain about the second. I will give it a try though.

Christmas Shopping 2008

November 2nd, 2007 at 08:04 pm

I like to shop ahead, but I admit this is pushing it even for me. Coldwater Creek put some sashes (chic belts) on sale for $1.99 from $45. I have a dozen pen friends I buy for each year. Every year I struggle to find something nice, affordable, and easy to ship. I also need something cheap to ship since about half are going overseas. These are a neutral color and will be a lovely gift for everyone. I was also able to get free shiping which made it even better.

On a relevant note I am almost done with shopping for this year. I have charged several things this week and will be paying off the credit cards on Monday. Hopefully I will come in underbudget. I need to total things up tomorrow and see where I stand.

October No Spend Days

November 1st, 2007 at 05:56 pm

I ended up with 18 no spend days for the month of October. I fear I may not do as well in November as I am trying to finish up my holiday shopping. I need to think about my goals for November above the no spend days as well. I plan to give that some thought and post my November goals later.

I Adore My Slow Cooker

October 30th, 2007 at 09:23 pm

I use mine two to three times a week in the fall and winter. I love being able to throw some things in and have a delicious meal at the end of the day. It is wonderful for those days that I might be tempted to plan to eat out. The area I live in really does not have great restaurants or eating out might be a nice treat. It does not hurt that cheaper cuts of meat come out of the slow cooker tasting just as good as more expensive cuts. I end up with a good meal with very little work, which is always great!

Christmas Budget

October 28th, 2007 at 10:42 pm

I seem to have fallen behind on setting aside money for Christmas. I prefer to have all of my shopping and planning done before Thanksgiving. I have $25 still in the budget, but I need $200. I suppose I will pull the remainder from some extra money that might have gone to debt. Beginning with the first paycheck after Thanksgiving, I will start setting aside for next year. I have tried to write down most of the amounts spent and can guess on the others. Hopefully having a more accurate amount needed will help next year. I do like to shop all year around and having the money before all of the after holiday sales should be a bonus also.

It Never Bothered Me Before, But....

October 26th, 2007 at 04:03 pm

it is driving me crazy now. By "it" I mean DEBT. It has become a nasty four letter word to me. I have always had a car payment at least. Now I just want to pay off that auto loan and save to pay cash the next time around. I am hoping that this disgust about debt will keep dh and I from ever going that route again. I am still searching for every extra penny to add to the payoff. The good news is that dh will get an extra paycheck next month that will not be needed for bills. Hopefully that will go a long way toward shrinking the total.

Estimating Electric Bill

October 20th, 2007 at 10:08 pm

Thanks to Ima Saver I am in the habit of reading my meter. If the electric usage stays the same for another week, the bill should be around $75. I think this is pretty good considering how old the house is.

Many of you have suggested flipping the breakers on items when not in use. My house is extremely old though, and the panel box has these huge fuse thingys (my technical term lol). I can usually pull them out but getting them back in is another story. Changing all of that is on the list of home improvements when we remodel. For the time being I am stuck with things having to stay on at the panel box. I try to compensate in other ways though and find our power usage now is about 1/3 that of our neighbors. I will be in under budget though and hope to have $25 extra to add to the debt payoff.

Loan Payment

October 20th, 2007 at 02:19 pm

I updated the real estate loan total since the last payment has cleared. I was a bit frustrated that some money did not arrive in time to add it to the payment. Hopefully this will just mean an extra big payment in November. I think we are still on schedule with our payoff goals. I just really hate seeing that interest amount every month. Strange that for years I never gave it a second thought. Now it makes me mad, which is the encouragement I need to stay on track.

Back to Being a Housewife

October 18th, 2007 at 03:09 pm

I substituted for two days this week and am happy to be a housewife again. The "work" was very boring, but I guess few people work for the fun of it. I did end up spending a bit as I ate out both days. The money came out of my spending money so the budget was not ruined. I will be happy when the paycheck arrives and a bit more can be knocked off the debt total.

I am off to start working on the grocery list. I am trying to get back to one big shop every four weeks with stops at a smaller grocery store for sale items only. This is always the easiest place for me to cut the budget so hopefully I can keep the spending under control with this shopping trip.

Substitute Teaching

October 15th, 2007 at 02:17 pm

I will be doing a couple of days of substitute teaching this week. I only substitute for adult students (college level). There is not enough money in the world for me to substitute on the high school level. It will be a fairly easy job with the only downfall that I will not get paid until the beginning of December. It will still be a nice bit of money to put toward the debts at the end of the year.

Weekend Spending

October 14th, 2007 at 08:05 pm

I will start with Friday since I am a bit behind. Dh and I had planned to go to a local fall festival and spend the evening there. It ended up being not as good as in years past. I got a candy apple (so good), and he got cotton candy before we left. We had not splurged on any fun stuff in a while so I do not feel too bad about that $5.

We ended up at the video store - our kryptonite. We both LOVE movies. We very rarely go to the theater, and we always buy rather than rent. With the rental fees and driving costs, it is cheaper for us to buy the previously viewed movies. I also like to watch movies over and over again so I think we are getting our money's worth.

Yesterday and today are no spend days, which brings my total to 7 for this month. I am about halfway to my goal of 15. I have been tempted by some online sales but am focusing on that debt total to the side instead.

How Did I Get Here?

October 11th, 2007 at 06:46 pm

By here I mean to the point where I am helping friends with their finances. Now I am not talking about major financial advice. I mean basic things that each of us here on this site do without thinking about it - looking for ways to save, having an emergency fund, paying extra on debts, etc. Some of these friends are opening their financial lives up to me, and I must admit to being a bit shocked. It is amazing that dh and I are in a better place financially than people who make 3 times what we do. I have had the worst time convincing others that managing the money you have is better than trying to earn more money.

At the same time I know that our epiphany regarding money is recent. I can see the light at the end of the debt tunnel and want everyone else to see it too. It is nice to be with a group of people here who are happy to share their victories and setbacks regarding money even if it is anonymous. I am never pushy with financial suggestions, but I am also do not see money discussions as the taboo topic others do.

Small Christmas Spending Day

October 8th, 2007 at 11:16 pm

I did a bit of Christmas shopping today. I used money that had been budgeted, but since I spent I am not going to count it as a no spend day. I bought some baking supplies. I know that I could cut back on spending if we cut out a bunch of Christmas gifts. I like doing it though and I budget for it and pay with cash. I figure if I was charging things and going into debt then it would be a problem. I shop all year around and really do Christmas on a budget.

Electric Bill

October 7th, 2007 at 09:02 pm

The electric bill dropped this past month. It was $5 more than I had estimated, but it was for 33 days rather than the normal 30. I figured up that it costs about $2.87 per day for electricity in our home. I have to say that next to indoor plumbing, electricity is my favorite thing. I guess if I had lived before there was such a thing I would have been happy. Since I do know about it, I am miserable when the power goes out for an hour....okay a few minutes is all it takes to drive me crazy. It would be nice to get that down to $2.50 a day this month. I will have to check the meter later and see how it is going so far.


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