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Budget Committee Meeting

April 11th, 2008 at 01:56 pm

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.

Jury Duty

April 7th, 2008 at 03:14 pm

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.

This Past Week & Update

April 6th, 2008 at 06:50 am

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.

I Don't Owe, but Off to Work I Go

April 2nd, 2008 at 03:43 pm

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.

Surprise #2

March 18th, 2008 at 08:52 am

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.

When It Rains.....It Pours Job Offers

February 6th, 2008 at 02:18 pm

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.

Still Here - Catching Up

February 2nd, 2008 at 02:25 pm

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.

Online Banking Opinions Needed

January 10th, 2008 at 09:05 am

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 12:09 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.

2008 Goals

December 28th, 2007 at 01:13 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!

What I Wish I Had Known When I Was Working

December 14th, 2007 at 08:07 am

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.

Still Sick & Other Things

December 6th, 2007 at 11:11 am

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 07:05 am

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.

Found $27

November 16th, 2007 at 12:42 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.

Christmas Budget

October 28th, 2007 at 03:42 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.

Substitute Teaching

October 15th, 2007 at 07:17 am

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.

How Did I Get Here?

October 11th, 2007 at 11:46 am

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 04:16 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.

Continuing Saga of Paycheck Problem

September 21st, 2007 at 10:35 am

Dh found out today that his paycheck should be straightened out on the next pay cycle. It has been off by $150 for two paychecks. Other than being annoying as it throws off my budgeting, I guess I can be patient. My budget is offset though so we could technically miss one paycheck without being behind on any bills. Dh says this happens to other people, and I wonder about those who live paycheck to paycheck. I know this could create serious problems for them.

It just reiterates the need for an EF. Until a few months ago we never never had an actual EF. There was extra money but never really enough if there was an emergency. I am amazed that a few changes in thought and spending have allowed us to set aside money for yearly bills (property taxes, insurance, etc) and have an EF of $1000+. I am glad because these changes have allowed us to handle this paycheck mixup with no real financial problems.

Lost Art of Letter Writing

September 19th, 2007 at 02:35 pm

I was very close to a no spend day today but then I caved. Part of my spending was planned as it was for Christmas gifts on sale that had to be bought now or else pay more in a month. While I was ordering I decided to get some stationery supplies for myself.

One of my main hobbies is letter writing. I have friends scattered all over the world, and we keep in touch through letters. Yes, I know we could email for free, but I feel email cannot stand up next to a lovely, handwritten letter. I love getting mail from friends and seeing the colorful stationery and handwritten words. Just as much I enjoy sitting down to handwrite a letter on pretty paper, choosing a fun stamp, and dropping it into the mail on its way to my friend.

Emails tend to be quick notes about the more exciting highlights of life. Letters are more about rambling and sharing those little moments and events that while not earth-shattering are what life is truly about. Even though email is free and letters are costly (paper, envelopes, stamps), I still choose letters. I think personal finance is about choosing which areas are worth the extra money and which areas are for saving.

Behind on Blogging

September 18th, 2007 at 04:28 pm

I have fallen behind on blogging lately. Most of it is due to lack of time but part is due to laziness. Quick update on the debt. We were able to pay extra on both loans. Now I am wishing I had not paid quite as much. Dh's check was messed up for a second time. The payroll department cannot seem to figure out how to fix their mistake so this next check will be short. I have had to juggle the budget a bit, but I think we can handle it.

Some planned expenses ended up being more than expected. My dental visit was $37 instead of $17. I took our younger cat to the vet, which cost $90 rather than the expected $60. It seems the $60 will be for the visit in three weeks. I guess budgets only look perfect on paper.

I am going to get more serious about blogging again since that keeps me focused on saving.

Surprise Money

September 8th, 2007 at 01:38 pm

Dh got a bonus at work and it was more than he had expected. Actually it was almost $150 more or almost the amount we had to take out of the EF. Of course taxes had to be taken out (ugh). We should be able to put back the EF money and pay an extra $200 toward the loans. Yeah! Unfortunately they messed up his paycheck so I have to wait until Monday to find out just how much can go toward the debt.

I am thrilled to know that there is extra money this month as I was not expecting any. Sometimes life does not work out but other times it gives you a nice ray of sunshine.

September Goals

September 2nd, 2007 at 10:02 am

I have already said that I would like to have 15 no spend days this month. Yesterday was a no spend day and today will be as well so I have a good start. I want to get the loan totals under $7K. I also need to put $150 back into the emergency fund. I had to pull that out to cover doctor visits and two car batteries. That will cut back on the extra money going toward the debt. I also want to plan a date night for dh and myself. I think we have been cutting back a bit too much and need to get out of the house at least one evening.

Block Party

August 26th, 2007 at 11:48 am

Dh and I threw a block party yesterday. We had invited around 100 people and about 50 actually came. I did not expect part of the people we invited to come, but we felt it was better to invite them. That way no one could say that we intentionally left them out.

We served hot dogs, chips, and drinks. Dessert was free ice cream, I won it in a contest. The ice cream was the main reason for the party, but we decided to throw in the rest. I think the total was about $80 and everyone had plenty to eat.

Everyone had a great time and decided that we should get together as a neighborhood more often. The cost was minimal as it was. I think with everyone chipping in a little, it could be done again.

Back from Vacation

August 24th, 2007 at 08:21 am

Dh and I decided to sneak away for a few days. We had not gotten around to taking a vacation this summer. I went to the visitor's bureau website for our favorite beach town and found a great deal at a really nice resort. It is one we have looked at many times but could never afford. We got a standard room, which was like a regular hotel room only bigger and nicer. The resort had room service and restaurants, but we took our own food and ate in the room. We know someone who stayed at the same place last week but spend over twice what we did. It was a lovely getaway that did not break our budget. I signed up for their email specials so hopefully we can find as good a deal next year.

Today it is back to the real world though. I had gone grocery shopping before we left so the house was well stocked on our return. I am back to working on those debts.

MOMA

August 20th, 2007 at 08:09 am

My tip is to separate wants from needs. Often I will see a shiny gadget in the kitchen store and decide I need it. Six months later I find that I have used it at most once. I am more strict now about what I really need!

EBay Stuff

August 16th, 2007 at 12:59 pm

Well, out of the 10 items I listed on ebay only one sold. A few had watchers so I did relist those. The remainder will go in a local free ad paper. Many of the items were new clothes, but I wear a particularly small size and there are not many takers no matter where I try to sell them.

I have about 10 more items to list (baby things and larger new clothes my aunt gave me). After that I may hang it up with selling on eBay. For me I am not sure it is worth the time I put into it. The fees have gotten higher since the last time I sold. Hopefully this next round of stuff will do better.

Spending to Earn and a Little Reward

August 7th, 2007 at 03:39 pm

All of my spending today was related to mystery shopping jobs so I will get the money back and then some. It will give some money to add to the debt in about a month. The wait to get paid is frustrating when you want to pay off debt, but that is an easy way for me to bring in some money.

I received a $25 Bass Pro gift card from MyPoints. It was earned I gave that to DH as a little surprise. When we decided to work on paying off the debt, he quit smoking. He had quit before but started back with all the stress of fertility treatments a few years back. Anyway he has been smoke free for two months now. I am proud of him and the budget is thankful as well as his lungs I am sure.

Budget Woes

August 5th, 2007 at 12:41 pm

I always tried to track the money but this is only my second month of following a budget. Somewhere along the line I lost $45. It was cash that never got deposited so who knows where it went. I did have extra money in the checking account, but that made the $$ cushion smaller. I will call that water under the bridge and try to keep a closer eye on where the money goes next month. Now I am debating on whether to put some of the money I have been saving up a)on the loans or b)on the checking account cushion. I do have $1,000 in another account for emergencies and have money set aside for all the bills. I am definitely leaning toward paying on the loans.

Shyly Peeking In

August 1st, 2007 at 02:26 pm

I have been reading the blogs for just over a month and have been very inspired by all of them. I decided that it was finally time to add one of my own. As it says on the side, I am a stay-at-home wife. I get quite a bit of grief for staying home without children. To be honest I have found we are saving more money and generally living better than when I was working. I am still trying to figure out what happened to my income all those years. At any rate we are happy so that is all that matters.

On the financial side in the past two months we have a mini-emergency fund built up. We paid off two credit cards. Well, it will be two as soon as the online payment posts today. The remainder of our debt is from two loans totalling about $7750. I have no goal date in mind to pay them off other than ASAP. I am starting to search for any money I can find to pay toward those.

The second goal after paying off those is to remodel and add onto our home. It is old and creaky, but I love it. It just needs some improvements. I also want a bigger emergency fund and more money going toward retirement as long term goals.

I do tend to be a rather chatty writer even though I am quiet in person. I think this will be fun. It is a refreshing change to see people trying to save money rather than being solely focused on spending.