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Archive for August, 2007

Spending on a No Spend Day

August 29th, 2007 at 11:37 am

So DH and I decided just last week that we would establish a no spend day on Tuesdays. I already forgot about it and unfortunately didn't remember until I was in the checkout line at Randalls buying chicken breasts and Cheerios on sale. Then I remembered at work that I wasted $1.25 in the coke machine (that never gave me a coke). I ran out of drinks in my private stash.

Guess I'll try better next week.

How do we teach young ones about money?

August 24th, 2007 at 07:53 pm

One of my goals is to begin teaching my little ones about money. I'd like to begin incorporating chores (that they will do simply because they belong in our family) and extra things they can do to earn money. I need a way to keep track of this each week. They are young, 2 and 4 so the method has to be simple and easy for them to understand. I'd really like feedback if anyone has suggestions.

On another note, I finally went to the grocery store. I haven't been in about 2 weeks simply because I haven't had time. Lo and behold, I didn't run out of food! This got me thinking...maybe I could shop for 2 weeks in advance...which led to further thoughts...I made a menu of 4 dishes to be served each week for 5 weeks. So each week, we'll be having 4 different dishes. Preparing only 4 allows us to eat leftovers and misc. during the other days of the week. Then I made a mock grocery list for every ingredient I would need that week. I grocery shop for 2 weeks worth of menus (8 dishes) and have a ready made list. I can easily eliminate the things I already have in my pantry. With this in mind, I went shopping.

Randalls - $30.93 for 11 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken breast, and 4 boxes of Cheerios.
CVS - 2 gallons of milk @ $2.99 each = 5.98
Walmart - $126.75 this includes household items as well as grocery items. I bought 6 whole fryers that I roast, dice and freeze.

Total coupons savings = 19.00

I thought it went pretty well. I am thinking, however, about going back to Randalls and getting more chicken breasts. $1.99/lb is the best I've seen in a while.

I also bought a toaster oven, but I will return it. I want to be able to save energy while cooking, but the oven wasn't big enough to fit a 9x13 pan.

Goal #1....Check!!

August 22nd, 2007 at 09:39 am

I paid off CC1! What a weight off my shoulders!

Pay it off!!

August 21st, 2007 at 02:37 pm

So I've been working on redoing the budget to accomodate some changes...like a mortgage payment. I've figured that we have enough money to pay off CC1 with a small cushion leftover. I told DH about this and he said he'd like to wait to pay it. I think he's afraid to let go of the money in fear that something will come up. I'm going to continue working on convincing him to pay it!! Every card we have is at 0% interest except this one at 1.5%.

I haven't been to the grocery store for almost 2 weeks. This was not planned (I usually go each week)but I've not run out of anything and I've been getting creative in the meal planning! This got me thinking about planning two weeks at a time rather than one. This might save even more.

My Tax Free Weekend

August 20th, 2007 at 10:46 am

Because it was tax free weekend and I had coupons that were about to expire, we did some shopping which is quite unlike us. Here's the breakdown of our spending:

Goodwill - $7.44 (2 children's shirts, cookie press, and another clothesline)
Academy - $139.92 (running clothes for DH and a shirt/shorts for me)
Shoe Store- $90 (DH running shoes)
CVS - $22.22 (4 boxes hairdye, 2 gallons of milk)
TJ MAxx - $42.29 (misc clothing)
Ross - $66.37 (misc clothing)
Big Lots - $39.29 (lots of food)
Lunch - $16.90 (for 4)
Wal-mart - $190 (our computer monitor bit the dust)

DH has decided to give up Netflix! My heart skipped a beat when I heard that news! There's $15 more toward our cards each month and we'll get the added bonus of spending more time together. For not having cable (for over a year) he sure did watch A LOT of TV.

We have an upright freezer that we received for free. I've only been able to fill it up 1/4 full especially since my oven is broken. But it is over 20 years old. Since we just bought the house, I'm not sure how it will affect the electricity bill. My feeling though is that it's guzzling too much! I have a $50 gift card and a 10% coupon to Lowes. There is also a city program that will come pick up your old appliance and pay you $35. With that in mind, I'm trying my best to convince DH is would be better for us to get a midsize chest freezer. He does not see the logic.

I've been reading "Not Buying It" by Judith Levine. Although there are a lot of political undertones, her experiment with creating a personal definition of "necessity" is fascinating. I've enjoyed it tremendously so far. Of course, some of it is unrealistic since she works from home, but it raises some interesting questions...especially since I just went on a shopping trip this past weekend. I'm putting it near the top with my other favorites "The Tightwad Gazette" and "Miserly Moms"

My DH and My Budget

August 17th, 2007 at 09:31 am

Response to glblguy...very asute of you to pick up on my lingo because as I was typing that entry I kept thinking how ridiculous it was that I was doing everything pertaining to the budget, and DH had little to no participation. DH does participate in that tries to stay within his personal budget most months. But DH does little to go out of his way to help cut down on other expenses like turning off lights, finishing leftovers, being supportive of my cooking rather than eating out, shirking bottled water, eliminating unnecessary bills. Granted the journey will be more difficult without his 100% support, but a small part of me thinks that when he sees some progress he might get on board more.

I've always wanted to get feedback on my budget and the way I keep track of it. I've read a lot on the internet about different methods, but I had to come up with my own. I definately work to cut down on bills like electricity, phone, etc., but I work extra hard to keep track of spending in other categories. I keep track of just about anything spent by recording it in a 3 ring binder. It is so time consuming, but it's helped. Here's what I have set aside for each category...

DH Personal Budget - $100
DW Personal Budget - $100
Household - $175
Groceries - $350
Gas - $200
Doc Visits/Prescriptions - $90
Recreation - $75
Gift - $30
Yearly Expenses - $132
529's - $50

Here are my rules...Our main vice is eating out, so you'll notice there's no budget for that. To curb this problem, if we want to eat out it has to come out of our personal budgets. If DH insists on eating out, it must come out of his budget or I will agree to split the bill with him. If we are over our personal budgets, that amount is subtracted from the following month. The gift, recreation, and yearly expense categories accumulate each month. The remaining gift balance at the end of the year will be applied to Christmas. Yearly expenses are for things like oil changes, inspections, magazine subscriptions, etc. It is most difficult for us to stay within the household budget and I've already increased it by $25 a few months ago. But remember, we just bought a new house. We're frequently under budget with groceries. We do pretty well with our personal budgets...some months are better than others. Any other purchase that is outside one of these budgets has to be discussed and decided upon prior to spending. Again, that works better some months than others. We do not have cell phones nor cable.

Another small triumph...last night I took some chicken out of the fridge to cook for dinner and although it had not reached expiration, it stunk pretty bad. I had to throw it out. Under any other circumstances, we would have gone to get something to eat. I served leftovers instead!

On another note, we have a teleconference set up with our insurance agent to discuss life insurance. How sad is this? I'm 32, DH is older, we have 2 children, just bought a house and we have no life insurance. I'm nervous because the agent is a fast talker (we just bought home insurance from him and have had auto insurance through him since '95). I know I want coverage to pay off the house and to pay for funeral expenses, but I'm not sure what to get beyond that. Any advice?

I need a goal

August 16th, 2007 at 07:45 am

Thanks so much for all the nice comments everyone! I think this blog is going to be the perfect tool for me. I just can't go wrong with all this support here!

My first triumph...last night DH wanted to go to Olive Garden for dinner and I talked him into staying home.

I think it would be appropriate for me to set some financial goals. Unfortunately, it's kind of hard to do that realistically as I mentioned previously we just bought a house. We didn't have a mortgage payment this first month so the budget is kind of out of whack. I also recently did a lot of switching credit card balances to take advantage of the 0% interest. I think things will be more clear next month when I have a mortgage payment and I'm sure of the credit card balances, their due dates, and minimum payments.

Our general rule is to make minimum payments on all our cards except for one. I know what you're thinking! What does she mean by "general"? Well, we were trying to save up for a house; we were determined to pay for our own closing costs so we dedicated pretty much all extra money to savings instead of the credit card.

My preliminary thoughts on a goal is I'd like to pay off one card balance by the end of the year. That balance is about $3,000. I don't think that would be too hard. I'd like to pay off our credit cards first, then my student loans, then the house. Our cars are paid off and we are lucky enough to be in a position where we don't need credit cards to pay for anything. So we're not accumulating more debt.

Our main obstacles include the price of our babysitter. There's not much I can do about that though. Also the temptation to buy things for our new house is much greater than I anticipated. We've had the same furniture since we were in college. My husband graduated in '95 and I in '97. That doesn't sound too bad until you factor in two children who've taken their toll on the furniture. Plus, it was used when we got it. Now that I'm writing this, for the first time I feel so shallow for wanting new furniture when I've got all this debt to pay off. WOW! I've decided to take one room at a time, and do my best to stay within my "household" budget each month of $175.

On another note, I rewatched "SuperSize Me" last night. Makes you not want to give your money to any fast food chain. I also ordered a book called "Not Buying it" off Half.com about a person who didn't buy anything for one full year. Ought to be interesting!

I don't know what I'm doing

August 15th, 2007 at 12:54 pm

About 8 months ago, I decided to get my family's finances under control. Since then, I've developed a detailed budget and better yet a detailed way to keep track of it. We've made some progress, but have lots more progress to make. We just bought a house about a month ago.

Why did I decide to begin a blog? I need motivation and a place of accountability. While we scrimp in many places on the budget, I question overspending in other areas. For example, why do I bother hanging clothes out to dry when I give into my husband's wishes to eat out...and not just cheap fast food!

I feel like I'm too old to be doing this. I'm ashamed of my debts because I think I know better. Why did it take so long for me to truly understand the burden debt really causes? I want to be free of these debts!