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Archive for September, 2007

good news and a vegetarian recipe

September 24th, 2007 at 08:49 pm

1. Paid $1000 toward CC2. I'm not really sure where the money came from, but it could be a "third" paycheck (DH gets paid 2ce each month), saved money, and/or leftover money from closing costs.

2. Got a pay raise of almost $600 per month. Woo-Hoo!!

3. Since keeping track of my coupon use this month (my month starts with my paycheck on the 23rd), I've managed to save $15.04.

Here's my favorite vegetarian recipe. Although we're not vegetarians, we try to be reasonable about our meat intake, especially red meat. This freezes well. We call it "skillet".

1/2 cup chopped onions
1 1/2 cups TVP
1 1/2 cups water
2 14.5 oz cans petite diced tomatoes
1 cup mild salsa
1 1/2 cups chopped zucchini
1 1/2 cups frozen corn niblets (I leave this out)
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans

Put it all in a large skillet. Cover and simmer for about 45 mins. Serve over brown rice and top with sour cream.

Freezer vs. Fur Coat

September 18th, 2007 at 09:56 am

I started a 403b today. I'm only contributing a small amount each month until the debt is paid.

DH surprised me last night with news of a possible bonus. We might be able to reach our goal of paying off CC2 much sooner than February.

We're still disagreeing about a new freezer (mine is about 20 years old). I'd like to get a smaller chest freezer. I know it would save money in energy costs, but I'm not sure how to calculate how much time it would take to break even. I even volunteered to forgo my monthly personal budget and use money that I earn from Craigslist or other sources. Using personal budget money goes against what we originally intended it for though. The $100 each month is meant to help us control outside spending while major purchases (such as a freezer) are something that we need to agree on. I think he's most concerned about why I want a new freezer so bad while we have so many other needs (like new furniture, etc). I totally get that...I'd much rather have a new living room furniture set. But a new freezer will save us money whereas furniture won't.

This saving money business...frugality, thriftiness, whatever you call it, has become quite a hobby for me. I enjoy reading about it, putting it in action, and seeing a difference. I guess as far as hobbies go, a husband couldn't ask for anything better from a wife. It doesn't cost anything to be thrifty. At least I'm not out shopping every week and overspending like many women...I want a freezer, not a fur coat!!

Tracking my spending

September 17th, 2007 at 02:11 pm

As I'm looking at our spending so far this month, I'm starting to realize that there is spending going on that is unaccounted for. Meaning, it is subtracted from the checkbook, but not recorded in the budget book. According to my calculations, I should have more at the end of the month than I realistically have so to find what's missing, next month I'll begin writing down everything I (and we) purchase. Then I'll highlight those expenditures that are not recorded in the budget book.

Out of curiousity, I'll also be writing down everytime I use a coupon. I'd really like to see how much money I save in one month from coupons.

Am I wasting money?

September 17th, 2007 at 09:50 am

So I was perusing Craigslist out of curiousity to see how much babysitters are charging per week. I happen to see one quote for $125 per child. This got me thinking about how much I am spending. Of all the budget analyzing I do, I have never broken down our babsitting bill. So here goes...

Total monthly bill for 2 children = $1180
Per Week = $295
Per Day $59 (5 days a week, 8-5)

EPIPHANY!!! I really don't mind the fact that I'm paying about $25 more per week than that one babysitter's quote on Craigslist because my kids really like our babysitter. Since they are the only two at her house, they get lots of attention, NEVER get sick, and they get along much better than ever. BUT, when I think about $59 per day, I want to throw up. What would I do if I had $59 in my hand right now??

I do remember that I have to work to pay debt and bills, so my children have to be cared for during the day. But here's the kicker...DH only works 3 days a week! The problem is that those three days fluctuate, meaning it's not the same 3 days from week to week. It's up to him to talk to his employer or to get a new job.

We could save so much money if we only had to pay for 2 or 3 days a week. I feel like this problem is out of my control and that I should just chalk it up to money wasted. Excuse me while I go cry...

Frugal Weekend

September 16th, 2007 at 07:11 pm

The day started with yardwork and cleaning out the garage...the good news is MIL surprised us with a new blower, sucker, mulcher thing that will make yardwork a lot quicker and easier.

I hung out three loads of laundry and one load of sheets this weekend to dry. I did let two of those loads "soften" in the dryer for a bit too much time which defeated the purpose.

Went Goodwill shopping and spend $5.38. I don't even remember what I bought. I also found a Goodwill Outlet, but I just don't have the patience to spend hours looking through bins in the hopes that I come across something decent. I guess I'll chalk the Goodwill outlet trip up to a waste of gas, but entertaining.

I made pancake syrup and a quadrupled recipe of chocolate chip cookies (froze most of the dough). Spent $33.15 on miscellaneous groceries (milk, couscous, instant soup, strawberries, instant breakfast powder mix).

We did change out several lightbulbs for CFLs. That might negate my accidental overusage of the dryer.

DS1 finally accumulated about $2.70 in dimes through extra work. He was so excited to pick out his own candy. He only spent $1.15 which means he got to keep the rest. He was even more excited that he got candy and had money left to keep. A chip off the old block!

Rollin Along

September 13th, 2007 at 07:45 pm

We spent $9.86 at the hospital pharmacy for a prescription sleep aid, 3 bottles of generic children's benadryl, and a bottle of 150 claritin. What a deal! The benadryl was 67 cents each! DH works at this hospital so I'm sure that had something to do with us getting it for that price.

I also found the No Credit Needed website and will be using it to keep track of my debt reduction goals. I updated #3 goal to pay off CC2 by February instead of July.

Still looking for money opportunities. I've found that since I've been blogging about our finances, that I'm much more aware of our cash flow and how we're spending. In fact, sometimes I think I might be overthinking thriftiness. For example, while in the shower this evening, I used a new razor. I couldn't help think for what the old razor was destined. The dump, where it will rot or rust? What a waste. Then I wondered if there was a way to clean and resharpen it. That was when I realized I don't have time to get so obsessive about something like that. When would I find time to resharpen a 25 cent razor?

I will find time this weekend to do some major cooking. I plan to premake several dinners for the week, along with pancake syrup, cookie dough, and to use my bread machine.

Another random thought...how will I begin to tackle my student loan debt when I get all the credit cards paid off? It has such a big balance that it would be difficult to see any real progress (at least the kind that makes you mentally satisfied). Just a thought for the future...I have some really big goals to tackle first of course.

A Money Leap

September 10th, 2007 at 02:10 pm

I was able to pay 1200.00 toward CC2 this past week since I got my deposit back from our rental house. So our total debt is down a little over 1600.00 since last month. We set a new goal to pay off CC2 by next July. I'm hoping to do it sooner, but I want to be realistic.

I've done several things this past week to help our money situation. I got a $25 sign on bonus at ING savings. I'll use that account to accrue money to pay my son's college tuition bill next August (he is 4 yrs old and has the prepaid college tuition). I also spent time putting some clothes on Craigslist, signed up for a focus group, at e-rewards, and American Consumer Opinion. I'm considering offering services to high school or college students who need editing work and even considering babysitting during the weeknights.

My husband seems a little more positive about paying off the debt as I think he might be starting to see that there's only one way out of this debt misery...PAY IT OFF!!

Advice to my Younger Self

September 6th, 2007 at 11:13 am

I saw a similar article on another website so I thought I'd ponder it...

1. If you feel that you HAVE to spend money, buy something that will last longer than a meal.

2. You will not make enough money in the future to pay for the things you're charging now. You forget that while your salary goes up, so does the cost of living. You will want to buy a house, have children...they cost money that you can't put toward debt.

3. Stop trying to appear that you have more than you really do. It means nothing. No one is really paying that much attention to the car you drive or the clothes you wear. No one pays attention to you at a restaurant except the waiter. You have no one to impress.

4. FIND A HOBBY that can easily translate into family life. Travel to the places you dream about instead of eating out and buying useless expensive clothes. They won't fit you much longer anyway.

5. Go to financial marital counseling before the wedding. Don't just assume all as is good.

6. Even though you don't know how to invest, invest anyway. Something is better than nothing.

The guilt is eating me!!

September 5th, 2007 at 12:30 pm

I was lucky enough to stay at home with my 2 children for 2 years. I've been back in the workforce for a little over 1 year. Not a day goes by that I don't daydream about those days that I spent with my kids. My job pays pretty well, but it provides little enjoyment.

Here's the cycle I'm stuck in: bring my kids to the babysitter in the morning...watch my 4 year old wave at me through the window...get through work somehow...pick up my kids...go home and begin preparing dinner...watch my kids play together while I finish cooking/cleaning. It used to be me playing with them and teaching them how to play with one another. Now I'm so tired that I can barely get it together enough to feed them. While at work, I daydream about the good old days and what they're doing at the babysitter and when I get home I'm too worn out to make up for it.

The ironic thing is that while I was at home with them I racked up some debt. Now I have to work so that I can pay that debt and I no longer have the option of staying home. Even if the debt was paid, I would still have to work to pay bills. So now, I have even more guilt because I essentially created my own trap.

Will I ever get past this? Can I ever just accept that I have to work and that it is not possible to stay home with my kids?

Electric Shocker!

September 4th, 2007 at 07:00 pm

My electric bill is $163. I feel like crying! I've been frantic about turning off lights and relying on my programmable thermostat to control the temperature. With a gas bill of $40, I'm spending way too much on energy. My house is about 2300 sq. feet. I believe that the 20 year old freezer in the garage is part of the culprit and the other part is DH adjusting the temp. to suit his desires. Our summer here has been quite cool. DH husband is still not convinced that the freezer is a problem.

I spent way too much money this weekend. I had relatives in town for 3 days so it's hard to get around. Eating out is part of the entertainment. It's hard to go many places because we have 5 children between us and mine are pretty young (they still require naps). I haven't tallied up the receipts, but I know it ain't gonna be pretty. Probably in the $250 range.

I need to get working on earning outside money. I have a few things to sell, but just haven't had time to post anything on Craigslist. I also signed up to do surveys on American Consumer Opinion, but I never recieved a confirmation email. I was able to pick up a few odd jobs in our school district, but that will only pay about $90 when it's all completed. I'm considering trying babysitting during the week in the evenings. My kids might enjoys that too!