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Archive for April, 2008

Week in Review

April 28th, 2008 at 08:06 am

We did really well with our budget except one line item. We were overbudget in gas by $77!!! I know part of it has to do with the timing of fillups but COME ON! I am really going to try to hold out filling up until this Friday to see if I can even things out a bit. I guess I'll have to watch this expense closely over the next few weeks to see if our budget number is realistic.

I'm Probably the Last One....

April 24th, 2008 at 07:09 pm

...to open an ING account. I thought for a free $25 (and potential referral $) it is a good place to keep a few bucks. I don't have a lot to keep there, but it'll do.

Soooo. I'll add the $25 to my challenge $$ and I got a $6 rebate check in the mail.

$57.57 CHACHING!

Quack Quack!

April 24th, 2008 at 10:04 am

I finally feel like I'm getting my financial ducks in a row. We're supposed to close on our refinance next week and I just started the process of rolling over my 401Ks from my 2 previous jobs. I also realized that the whopping $1400 in my Roth IRA is sitting in some short term money account get a measly .11%. Glad I checked. So, I need to find somewhere to put that. I am not investment savvy so I guess I need to start educating myself.

Mortgage Shmortgage & Milk Money

April 23rd, 2008 at 12:32 pm

We did it, we locked in to refinance. We paid a couple of points to get the rate down. When we crunched the numbers, this made sense to us. Our mortgage payment is going up by $140/month. We knew this was going to happen. If we hadnít refinanced, the payment was going to go up by $240 and that would have difficult to absorb. After some research and getting some quotes, we went ahead and refinanced with our current lender. Besides getting the best deal that I could find it will be super easy b/c we qualified for no income/asset verification and the appraisal was waived. So, we are scheduled to close next Tuesday. The person will come to our house and all we have to do is sign, sign, sign. I also inquired about making biweekly payments and Iím going to go ahead and set that up when everything is in place.

Gas is about $3.45 here. At this rate I can barely afford to go back and forth to work and itís even worse for DH who has a long commute. I stopped at a Ďconvenience storeí for milk yesterday and was charged $5.45!!!!! Had we not been completely out I would have left it there. I was going to go to the grocery store but we really didnít need anything else and itís not really on my way home. There is a little hole in the wall place on my way home that Iíd never been to. So, instead of going out of my way I decided to stop at this Ďstoreí to just pick up a gallon of milk. Lesson learned, I will never go there again. Then again, with gas prices what they are I probably would have spent on gas what I was overcharged. HIGHWAY ROBBERY I do believe that over the weekend a gallon of 2% was $3.05. At Kroger it is generally $3.92 and Walmart near home is $3.66, Walmart near work is $3.77. Note to self: pick up a gallon of milk if near Costco whether we need it right then or not. We go through a lot of milk and it definitely wonít go to waste.

Reduce Reuse Recycle

April 22nd, 2008 at 11:29 am

Happy Earth Day!

Iím bummed because itís raining and I was going to take my 3.5 yo out to clean up trash in our neighborhood. We can do it tomorrow (itís not like the trash is going anywhere) but I wanted to do it today in honor of Earth Day. Iím sure theyíre talking about Earth Day at school and it would have been a nice Ďtie-iní to bring the concepts close to home. I think Iíll just stress that EVERY day is Earth Day so we should clean up the trash anyway Ė itís the socially responsible thing to do.

Recently Iíve been bringing a lot of leftovers to work for lunch. I tend to have 2 or 3 different plastic containers at any given time so I just keep a stack of paper plates in my desk drawer. At lunch I dump my food on to the plate and nuke it. Well, in my effort to Reduce Reuse Recycle Iím going to go to the Dollar Store after work and pick up a regular plate to use. I already just wash my plastic utensils and reuse those. I donít know why I didnít think to get a plate before. I donít just heat them in the plastic containers b/c I often have more than one serving and I donít want to reheat what Iím not going to eat that day. Also, thereís always a long line at the microwave so I try to be efficient and just have to heat one thing.

I do believe my efforts to lead a more frugal lifestyle will lead to a more Ďgreení lifestyle, as well. And that is never a bad thing.

Challenge: Found 51 cents around the house . Does my house produce coins? It seems like Iíve been finding a lot of change around lately. If so, I hope it starts spitting out dollar coins soon!

Smart or Deceitful?

April 20th, 2008 at 07:17 am

I take care of all the day to day household finances - the checkbook, savings, bills, etc. DH pretty much takes care of our measly LT savings. He generally has no interest in the checking account and is happy to let me handle all of it.

So I have a confession to make. I always tell DH there is less in savings than there really is. Yesterday I fudged the number by about $800. He is a spender and if he thought we had 'extra' money around, he would find a use for it. I like to have that cushion in addition to our regular emergency fund for expenses that, while are not emergencies, we need/want the money for. A little security blanket if you will. That way, if he does overspend on something it really won't hurt as much. But I'm not going to tell him this b/c he'll justify his purchases with 'well, we have a cushion to absorb this.' Anway, I kind of look at it like when you tell a person who is consistently late that something starts 15 min earlier than the 'real' time so that he/she is on time. Sometimes I feel a bit guilty, but most of the time I pat myself on the back for thinking ahead. It's not like I'm hoarding the money for myself. What do you think, is it wrong of me to do this?

Oh, and I found 15 cents in the laundry yesterday to add to my challange.
New total = $26.06


April 18th, 2008 at 07:39 pm

Ok, this has nothing to do with personal finance but everything to do with laughing in the face of insanity.

My 3.5 was playing games on noggin.com (something he is quite proficient at navigating) and I was feeding my 5 month old in another room. I asked DH to go check on DS1 because I hadn't looked in on him in a few minutes. A minute later I hear 'let's go show Mommy' in a tone of voice that is trying to conceal controlled laughter.

DS1 comes into the room dressed only in his underwear. He had found a Sharpie and had written on his belly, hands and nose (that I could see). DH says (with obvious glee) 'Ask him where else he drew'!

D, where else did you draw? Did you draw on the desk?
Did you draw on the monitor?
'Did you draw on the walls?
'Did you draw on any furniture?' I'm running out of ideas at his point?

DH: GO ahead, show Mommy where you drew with the SHARPIE.

DS1 pulls down his underwear and shows me his Black Sharpie Penis.

HAHAHAHAHAHA I swear this is why I had children...for the entertainment value. I couldn't make this up. I had to leave the room before I could 'reprimand' him and explain that 'we don't color our bodies.' Oh, the joy my children bring me!!

Weekly Progress and Cheating

April 18th, 2008 at 07:49 am

Weekly Budget Update:
Underspent Childcare: $1 (really just rounding in my budget)
Underspent Food by $20 (knew weíd be overspent in beer/wine so tried to offset this)
Overspent Beer/Wine by $36 (DH used food $ Ďby accidentí)
Overspent Dining Out $6 (budget was 0 for this week)
Underspent Gas: $31

Total: Underbudget by $10 for the week

I was going to take that $10 out and add it to my $20 challenge money, but Iím going to let it ride. I suspect the underspending in Gas might be offset this week as just a timing of fillups. Iíll watch this for a few weeks to see what we really spend. It may fluctuate a bit from week to week. All in all, not too bad for our first week. It may take a while to get DH fully trained :-)

So, I feel like Iím about to cheat on my budget a bit this week. DH wants to do a big Costco run tonight. Buy a big piece of meat, diapers and a few other things. This will be funded by some money we have in savings not really earmarked for anything. So this run will be Ďoutsideí the budget and not funded by any budgeted funds. It will certainly put less pressure on our weekly food budget. I feel like Iím cheating though Ė like I should just live on whatís in our budget. I guess since itís my budget I can make the rules and I should just be thankful I have this money to use. This will leave some room in the food budget to perhaps stock up on a few good deals rather than have to spend it all on food for right now.

As I tweaked our budget over the past week, I somehow ended up with $20 extra dollars so I added that to my challenge money. I also decided that every other week (when itís my week to get an Ďallowanceí) I will take whatever change and $1 bills out of my wallet and put it in my challenge money. This week I had $4. I also found $1.16 in change around the house.

Beg Balance. $ .75
Additions: $25.16
New Balance $25.91

Would someone please slap him?

April 16th, 2008 at 10:21 am

So I get home yesterday after spending our last $4 of grocery money on a gallon of milk. I see that DH is cooking and drinking a glass of wine. Hmmm, I don't remember having any wine in the house. He must have caught a 'look' on my face because he immediately says 'I used my beer money.' Something is not adding up to me. Turns out he 'forgot' I gave him the beer money in cash and he used the debit card to buy wine. I calmly explained AGAIN that the only transactions on the debit card should be gas. Everything else is in cash and I gave him the cash last Friday. Turns out he spent it, but can't account for it. REALLY?! WHAT A SURPRISE!! Maybe this way he will actually realize how much he nickels and dimes himself into a hole. So he decided he isn't going to his fishing tournament this weekend. I think he decided he couldn't 'afford' it, or that he would rather save his money for a more desirable tournament. But there is no way he'd admit that to me. Sigh.....I hope he's learning some good lessons!

I've decided that I am going to do the $20 challenge and I started yesterday. I was at lunch and I wanted something 'snacky.' I had already eaten everything I brought for lunch. I took out 75 cents and was going to go to the vending machine for some chips. I actually got a phone call and forgot about it. A little while later I noticed the coins stacked on my desk and I realized I was just going to get the chips b/c I was bored. So I decided instead of buying chips, I was going to start my $20 challenge with that 75 cents. I was also trying to figure out what to do with whatever $$ I accumulate at the end of the year. Since I normally would put change in my sons' piggy banks I am going to split my $20 challenge money 3 ways. 1/3 to put in each boys' account and 1/3 for me.

So $20 challenge balance: .75 WOOHOO

$20 Challenge

April 14th, 2008 at 04:23 pm

I've been thinking about doing the $20 challenge so I perused some other people's entries to find out how people are doing it. I find it interesting that people are paying themselves to exercise. It's a great motivator but my question is - where does that money come from in the first place? You have to have the money to begin with in order to add it into the challenge money. So if I decided to pay myself $1 every time I go to the gym and I went to the gym 5 times in one week I'd give myself $5 toward the challenge. Well, I don't have the $5 to begin with. So instead of moving money from one pocket to another (paying myself) I'll have to find new ways to generate the $$ to add to the challenge. Surveys, loose change, etc. I usually put my change in my boys' piggy banks so I need to think this through a bit more. Hmmm, I need a plan.

Easing into it

April 13th, 2008 at 04:28 pm

So, I have $4 left for grocery $$ this week and that is earmarked for another gallon of milk before Friday. I'm hoping that DH is on board. I think we have plenty in the freezer and pantry to sustain us this week but DH is kind of a food snob. Dh wanted to go out for pizza tonight and I reminded him it wasn't in the budget so he paid for it out of his 'own' money. HAHA, I feel like I'm teaching a child about the value of the dollar.


April 12th, 2008 at 02:05 pm

So DH had seen the budget. What does he do? Goes out and spends $20 on wine. So that's going to have to come out of our weekly food money. We now have $42 left for groceries this week and I have to buy night time pullups for DS. I guess we will have some interesting meals this week.

On a happy note, I got offered an online class to teach starting this week so I will have some 'extra' income coming in over the next few weeks.

Dayum, it's been a while.

April 9th, 2008 at 11:03 am

Well, after having a baby and starting a new job I'm back on the wagon! I took a paycut to have a low stress job that is closer to home. The job itself is mediocre, but the family-friendliness makes up for the lack of professional stimulation.

I've already started back with couponing and last week I spent $25 on food, but saved $40! I really enjoy the challenge and I hope that I can stick with it. DH seems to be on board and I ran the new proposed budget past him. Highlights of the new budget: we each geta $50 allowance every other week. We get paid on opposite weeks, so he gets his allowance when he's paid and I get mine when I'm paid. $100/wk for groceries seems high but that includes DH's beer (that he would buy regardless of what I say) and diapers/wipes for my littlest man. I'm hoping to keep it under that though. We just have DH's student loan and our mortgage so that's good. We do have an emergency fund so that's taken care of. I have a bit of money set aside for each child (not much, around $1700 for older DS and about $1100 for baby). I need to figure out what we're going to do with this. I do worry that my car is older (1999) and we'll have to replace it at some point. I'm not sure how to save for it as we're pretty much running on a zero balance budget. That said, we each contribute 10% to our 401Ks and we do save for those bigger, less frequent bills like car insurance and xmas. But, there isn't much left over. My most difficult challenge is getting DH to 'buy in.' He's a notorious budget buster. Not on big ticket items but on little things here and there at the grocery store or buying beer. I *think* I can work on the grocery part but he's not willing to give up his beer. He's an avid fisherman and he belongs to a fishing club. He teaches an extra class a semester and uses that stipend to pay for his fishing weekends. That's why we have a 'fishing tournament' line on our budget. That's his stipend money. Before we came up with this he was spending a couple thousand a year on that stuff so I told him he had to find a way to fund it himself. So, it's working well so far. This Friday marks the beginning of our new budget. This is for the next 4 weeks, what do you think?

Net Pay 5,062

Child Care (1,064)
Food (400)
Misc (oil changes, etc.) (100)
Dining Out (100)
Gas (500)
Savings (ins, travel, etc.) (250)
Mortgage (1,450)
Student Loan (220)
Allowance (200)
Fishing Tournaments (180)
Direct TV (86)
MLGW (300)
Verizon -
Bell South (103)
American Home Shield (41)
Daniel (20)
Zackary (20)
Total Expenses (5,034)

Ending Balance 28