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January 13th, 2008 at 07:43 am

Does anyone subscribe to Cheapskate Monthly or The Home Economizer? What do you think?

Summary and Dreams

January 3rd, 2008 at 11:03 am

2007 Year End Summary: (Doesn't include July data since I was off that month and didn't feel like keeping track of a darn thing)

Groceries: 3875.77
Household: 2597.09
Car Gas: 1925.99
DH Personal Budget: 1236.68
My Personal Budget: 1110.33
Recreation: 880.10
Medicine/Copays: 1054.16
Mortgage/Rent (bought house in July): 14329.40
Nanny: 11800.00
Electric: 1527.18
Water: 904.20
Gas: 157.74 (old house didn't have gas)
Student Loan: 3629.16
Auto Insurance: 1031.22
Phone: 1117.55

Do these totals strike anyone as odd? I'm concerned most about the household budget, phone, and gasoline.

Well, with a new year comes new goals. We decided to add savings accounts for certain areas that aren't budgeted for and have automatic deductions monthly. (life insurance, vacation, clothing, home improvement, and a new car)

I'm determined to take a real vacation this year. I've got a place picked out in Oklahoma, but DH thinks it's too far of a drive. We'll see.

After CC3 is paid by June, we'll begin looking at more goals. How to pay off those monstrous student loans, how much to allocate to our severly underfunded retirement, saving more vigorously for a new car?

Which brings me to my next more important point. I don't want to work anymore. More specifically, I don't want to work outside my home anymore. I want to be home with my sons and possibly try to have another. DH thinks it's a pipe dream as we can't live off his income. Even if we could cut our expenses so severely that we could manage on his income, we'd have to sell our house that we just bought in July '06, and we wouldn't be able to adequately fund our retirement, save up for a new car, pay off $49,000 in student loans, etc...The only way I got to stay home when the kiddos were babies was because I was in graduate school living off of student loans...hence the current massive student loan debt.

I've racked my brain for ideas. What I would really like to do is live on a remote piece of land and stay home with my kids. I could see myself running a resale shop part time.

Ah, dreams...will I be making this same complaint next January?

End of Year Summary??

November 28th, 2007 at 09:58 am

I'm working on an end of the year summary sheet so that at the end of December, I'll be able to get a big picture of what we spent during the year.

I'll be adding up all the monthly expenses for each category and getting a total, but where should I go from there?

I would like to be able to figure what percentage of my income went to each category...but unfortunately, math is not my forte. Any suggestions?

I really don't want to fool with Microsoft Money or Excel as I've tried those before and they just don't work for me.

Our 1 year budget anniversary

October 24th, 2007 at 03:23 pm

Well, a new fiscal month is beginning here. Time to assess our spending for the previous and set goals for the upcoming.

We were over in the following categories:
DH personal budget = $100 but spent 132.04
Household = $175 but spent 299.18
Medical = $50 but spent 56.07
Grocery = $300 but spent 407.10

I am usually under in the grocery budget, but I bought a lot on sale this month.

I did meet many of my goals this month, like creating separate savings accounts for Christmas, my son's prepaid college tuition (due yearly), and life insurance (also due yearly). I got curtains hung up in one room (hopefully to save money on energy), and have saved over $80 by using coupons.

In November, I'm going to temporarily lay off using the coupons to get deals as I've got a huge stockpile of stuff and it's contributing to me overspending in the household budget category. I'm still saving for our energy efficient freezer and plan to hang up curtains in my other son's room. I've also signed up for my first sewing class so hopefully I'll eventually be able to make my own curtains, pillows, and Halloween costumes. We will also begin tackling a new project: a compost bin. I've recently begun keeping track of how many loads of laundry I dry outside; I know it's significant b/c our electric bill is down $30.

November also marks an important occasion in our family. It was one year ago this month, that my husband and I decided to put ourselves on a real budget. We started by using Mvelopes, but progressed to our much more primitive way of doing things...handrecording. It works so much better! I'm looking at last January's budget right now, when we first began handrecording, and we spent $600.48 on groceries, $303.04 on eating out, $394.20 on household items! We have come such a long way! Yes, there are times when we overspend, but the important part is now we are aware of what we are doing and see how it truly affects our money. Nothing is random any longer! We don't have much of a savings anymore since we bought our house in July, but our overall debt is down thousands!

The good, the bad, and the very ugly

October 21st, 2007 at 08:50 pm

The Good:

1. I hung out 4 loads of laundry this weekend.
2. I am taking my first sewing class this week.
3. DH and I are considering tackling a new project...a compost bin. I'm going to the library tomorrow for more research. Can I even start that in October?
4. I updated our debt and noticed it's gone down about $4,000 from sometime (I didn't write the date) I think it might have been August, but that seems like an awful lot of money for just a few months.
5. Got a free single jogger stroller from Freecycle.

The Bad:
1. Ate at McD's Sat night
2. We've gone over budget in many areas this month. Those categories include: DH personal budget, groceries, and household. The household budget is always the first thing to go; I should reconsider that amount.

The Ugly:
1. Medical technicians are coming to take blood and urine samples tomorrow because we bought a life insurance policy.
2. We have to pay our annual premimum for life insurance probably this week. I'll know to set aside money for this in the future.

You know, I feel pretty bad considering I have a lot more good stuff then bad stuff to report. I'm not sure what's wrong with me.

Goals, Goals, Goals...They're Everywhere!

October 15th, 2007 at 01:43 pm

Before I get to our goals...I've tallied up this month's coupons savings. So far (drum roll please) we've saved $78.17! I had no idea I was doing this well!

In other good news, the electric bill was down $30 as a result, I believe, of me using the clothesline instead of the dryer.

Here are some new/revised goals for our family to consider...

1 - Begin the $20 challenge. Use money saved from coupons, $2 per load of laundry air dried, and $2 per lunch eaten at home. Use $20 challenge money for ???.

2- Create a designated Christmas account. We have 2 places in which we save for this expensive holiday and I'd like to see it more efficiently done.

3 - Use Wal-mart giftcards to purchse gasoline for the month rather than use cash. Saves 3 cents per gallon.

4 - Finally put up the curtains, check the water heater temperature, and BUY A NEW FREEZER!

5 - Consider a family vacation to New York in a few years and the best way to save for that.

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.

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.

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!

Goal #1....Check!!

August 22nd, 2007 at 09:39 am

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

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"