Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Side Bar Updates

I have updated some of my Sidebars.

Debt Payoff Progress

Starting Debt: $44,000
Current Debt: $23,144
Total Paid: $20,966

I'm a little disappointed that it's been 20 months and we have only paid off $20,966. I would have thought that we would be more than half way to having these debts paid off by now.

I guess I can be happy that at least we are moving in the right direction.

And I do remember that during this time we have also taken a vacation to Disney World (planned with the children prior to starting our debt free journey)and paid cash (about $4,000), and we bought tickets (with cash) to take my whole family to Florida for my sister's wedding (about $1,000), and we replaced our very old mattress ($1,000), and we replaced our broken dishwasher ($1,000), and we replaced our old and broken water heater ($1,000).

And on top of that we are paying cash monthly for our daughter's braces ($100/month). And we have almost $5,500 in savings.

I guess that's not too bad. Definitely an improvement over how we were living and spending before February 2007!

Savings Progress

  • Emergency Fund: $1,000
  • Jewelry Biz Earnings: $994
  • Other: $3,500
  • Total in Savings: $5,494.00
Our monthly savings total varies quite a bit from month to month. Here is my savings projections for the next 14 months. (Keep in mind that we have temporarily stopped paying extra on our last debt, a HELOC for $23,000, to put extra into savings due to the uncertain economic situation in our country.)

Savings Projections
11/08 $5,494
12/08 $4,794
01/09 $7,694
02/09 $8,694
03/09 $7,694
04/09 $7,194
05/09 $7,494
06/09 $7,994
07/09 $19,394
08/09 $18,894
09/09 $17,894
10/09 $19,894
11/09 $18,194
12/09 $17,794

Extra Earnings

Starting in November I am also going to once again begin tracking all extra income that I am able to earn. This will include tracking income and expenses (thus profit) for my jewelry business.

Finding Meals In My Pantry

In conjunction with the Forget The Joneses Project and the 21 Day Spending Freeze, I am going to take a look in my pantry and freezer and see how many meals I can come up with.

I tend to buy in bulk and freeze a lot of things so I can hopefully come up with a lot!

1. Frozen Chicken Pot Pie
2. Pasta, Sauce, Frozen Meatballs
3. Pasta, Sauce, Frozen Meatballs
4. Pasta, Sauce, Frozen Meatballs
5. Kielbasa, Rice, Frozen Vegetables (frzn kielbasa, rice, frozen veggies)
6. Steak, Rice, Frozen Vegetables (frzn steak, rice, frozen veggies)
7. Tacos, Tortilla Chips, Salsa (frzn hamb, seasoning, tortillas, shells, cheese, salsa,*s. cream)
8. Chicken, Broccoli, Ziti (frozen chicken, frozen broccoli, ziti, parmesean cheese, butter,*milk)
9. Chicken, Rice, Vegetables (frozen chicken breasts, rice, frozen veggies)
10. Homemade Macaroni and Cheese (elbow noodles, cheese, *milk)
11. Homemade Macaroni and Cheese (elbow noodles, cheese, *milk)
12. American Chop Suey (elbow noodles, tomato sauce, frozen hamburger)
13. Homemade Pizza (frozen dough, tomato sauce, cheese)
14. Chicken Noodle Soup (frozen chicken, canned broth, egg noodles, frozen veggies)
15. Lasagna (noodles, mozzarella cheese, canned sauce, parm. cheese, *ricotta cheese)
16. Mexican Casserole (flour tortillas, cheese, canned enchilada sauce, green chiles)
17. Chicken Fajitas (frozen chicken, onions, seasoning, cheese, salsa, *s. cream, * flour tortillas)
18. Chili (frozen hamburger, seasoning, beans, cheese)
19. Beef stew (frozen beef, canned beef broth, seasoning, frozen veggies, *potatoes)
20. Chicken Picata, Rice, Frozen Vegetables (frozen chicken, lemon juice, capers, flour, butter)
21. Chicken Picata, Rice, Frozen Vegetables
22. Chicken Marsala, Rice, Frozen Vegetables (frozen chicken, marsala wine, flour, butter)
23. Chicken Marsala, Rice, Frozen Vegetables
24. Ravioli, Tomato Sauce (frozen ravioli, canned sauce)
25. Ravioli, Tomato Sauce

I have a total of 21 frozen chicken breasts in my freezer.
I have a total of 6 lbs of hamburger in my freezer.

* I will need to purchase these items: s. cream, potatoes, ricotta cheese, milk.

So, it appears that I have enough dinner meals to make it through the 21 day spending freeze.

How many meals can you find in your pantry?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Surprising (But Essential) Budgeting Tool

(This article was included in this week's Carnival of Personal Finance!)

As I realize that I have not done a terrific job of budgeting over the past couple of months, it has become clear to me that I have neglected to use an essential budgeting tool - a calendar.

Use A Calendar!

Up until now, I have thought about each months expenses in an almost abstract way. Wouldn't it be better to actually look at the commitments we have scheduled and go from there?

I think the reason that I haven't done this in the past is because I want to decide in advance how much I will spend on a category - and then force myself to stay within that limit, rather than plan everything I want to do and use the cost of those plans as my budget figure.

I think that true success is probably found somewhere in the middle.

My November Plans

Let's look at my November plans and budget as an example.

Normally, I budget $20 each for my husband and myself for spending money each week. On top of that, I budget $120 for the month for dining out.

Now, I will take a look at the commitments I have already scheduled for November.

11/1 - We have plans to go out to a concert with friends. We are leaving at 5:45pm and will return probably around midnight. I will need to pay a babysitter for about 6 hours at a rate of approximately $10/hour, for a total of $60. The event is byob and food. We have some left over beer and wine from our Halloween party last weekend, so no extra cost for drinks. I will need to bring some food, but that can come out of our regular grocery budget. We will need to pay for the concert tickets which will be $20 each, for a total of $40. So, the total amount I will need to budget for this event will be: $100.

11/8 - I have plans to go on a one day bus trip to New York City with a few girlfriends. The cost of the bus is $45. We leave very early in the morning and will get home very late in the evening, so I will need to purchase breakfast, lunch, and dinner (yes, I can bring coffee from home and a muffin and some snacks), but I should plan maybe $5 for breakfast, $25 for lunch, and $35 for dinner. (These are high figures, but it is NYC so I would rather over estimate than under estimate.) And we will of course be doing some shopping in the city. I don't plan on buying anything for myself, but I will be on the lookout for Christmas gifts. This won't require any extra money as I will just use the money from the Christmas budget. So, the total amount I will need to budget for this event will be: $110.

11/16 - My book club is planning a trip to the Mayflower and dinner out. I'm not sure how much the tickets for the Mayflower will be, I'll guess $20. And I'll plan $30 for dinner (a high estimate, but sometimes in a group the bill will just be divided equally, so just to be safe). Total: $50.

11/22 & 23 - My daughter is in a play that I will be bringing my family to see. I think the tickets are $10 each. I will probably go to both shows. I guess we'll need to budget $50 for the tickets. There is a cast party that we will probably need to contribute money to. Maybe $20? They will be collecting money for a gift for the organizer, probably another $20 (maybe less). So, another $40. Making the total amount I will need to budget for this event: $90.

11/27 - I will be hosting Thanksgiving for my extended family. I have already budgeted an extra $50 in our "party" category to cover the extra food (in addition to our regular grocery budget). This will hopefully be enough. My extended family will be in town for several days and I'm sure we'll all go out for dinner together at some point, so I should budget another $50 for this event.


So, for the events that I have already committed myself to for the month of November, the total amount needed will be: $400. (Wow!) This is a lot more than the $120 dining out money plus the $80 blow money ($20 each week for me), that I had previously planned for.

So, simply by using my calendar, I have realized that I need to either increase my budget by $200, or change some of my plans for the month.

I'm very excited about the realization of how helpful a calendar can be when planning a budget. Hope it helps you too!

(Note: I am amazed at how many plans I have scheduled for November. Seems like a lot more than usual. This is going to be a challenge given my plan for a 21 day spending freeze in conjunction with the Forget The Joneses Project!)

Step #4

Forget The Joneses Project
I am participating in the Forget The Jonses Project (started by the MommySavers Forum), which involves 100 steps to get back on track financially, simplify, and add more meaning to your life. (You can read an outline of Steps 1-50 here.)

Step #4 - Create An Approved Spending List

Notebook Assignment

MommySavers says, "Write down all the things you think you will need to purchase in the next three weeks. You are only allowed to purchase the bare-bones minimum, things you cannot get by without. This isn’t the time to hit the Target clearance rack (you can do without gift wrap for next Christmas) or to stock up on kids’ clothing for next fall (chances are they’ll have enough anyway). This is a time for you stay out of the stores and to question what is truly a necessity."

"Now get going… write down everything that is on your “approved” spending list between now and the end of the freeze. As things come up within the 21-day period, decide whether or not they belong on the “approved” spending list. You may unexpectedly run out of deodorant. It’s OK to add it to your approved list when the need arises."

I'll get to work on my list . . .

Step #3

Forget The Joneses Project
I am participating in the Forget The Jonses Project (started by the MommySavers Forum), which involves 100 steps to get back on track financially, simplify, and add more meaning to your life. (You can read an outline of Steps 1-50 here.)

Step #3 - Question The Difference Between Wants and Needs

MommySavers says, "During your spending freeze, you will need to question the difference between wants and needs. Some things will be more clear than others. Yes, chances are you need gas to get to work. No, you don’t need a new necklace to match the sweater you got for Christmas."

"… But what about the things that aren’t so obvious? Do you really need to birthday card for you brother-in-law, or can you make one? Do you really need to get your hair colored? Those gray areas (pun intended) are where your challenges lie. Try to anticipate the decisions you’ll have to make in the next three weeks. Are you going to be invited out to lunch? If your child needs money for school lunch, will you have him brown-bag it instead? What will you do?"

So, the items I purchased today were: crystals for a pendant order (I think that qualifies as a need as someone ordered and paid for a pendant with a crystal and I didn't have any more of them), some glue for my jewelry business (another need to keep my business going), and some modeling clay for my daughter's school project (I guess the modeling clay isn't technically a need, we could have maybe found something else around the house for her to use for her project).

So, Day 1 of my spending freeze and after a little thought it looks like I already made one purchase that was a want not a need.

This is going to be really hard!

Step #2

Forget The Joneses Project
I am participating in the Forget The Jonses Project (started by the MommySavers Forum), which involves 100 steps to get back on track financially, simplify, and add more meaning to your life. (You can read an outline of Steps 1-50 here.)

Step #2 - Go On A 21 Day Spending Freeze

What is a spending freeze? MommySavers says, "To put it simply, no more spending. Zip. Zilch. Nada. You’re not allowed to spend money on anything but necessities. Use up the food you have in your cupboards. Your grocery budget is now limited to what you must buy (milk and toilet paper, for example). Think of it as “Mommysavers Survivor” except the only prize at the end of the game is the money you’ve saved."

"Why 21 days? Research shows it takes approximately 21 days to make something a habit. During these three weeks, the habit of questioning wants vs. needs will be reinforced."

So, today was Day #1 of my 21 Day Spending Freeze. I did buy a few supplies that I needed for my jewelry business. I really wanted an Egg Sandwich from Dunkin Donuts, but I stayed strong and came home and cooked up some eggs and homefries instead.

The freeze for me will last from today, October 28th through November 17th.

This is going to be hard!

Step #1

Forget The Joneses Project
I am participating in the Forget The Jonses Project (started by the MommySavers Forum), which involves 100 steps to get back on track financially, simplify, and add more meaning to your life. (You can read an outline of Steps 1-50 here.)

Step #1 - Grab A Notebook

** Done! (That was easy!) :)

Forget The Joneses Project - Steps 1 thru 50

I am participating in the Forget The Jonses Project, which involves 100 steps to get back on track financially, simplify, and add more meaning to your life. (This project originated at the MommySavers Forum. It is a great site. Feel free to join and participate in the project there.)

Below is an outline of Steps 1 through 50. Follow along and watch my progress in future posts.


#1 Grab a Notebook
#2 Go on a 21-Day Spending Freeze
#3 Question the Difference Between Wants and Needs
#4 Create an "Approved Spending" List
#5 Get Support
#6 Track Your Temptations
#7 Celebrate Your Victories
Step #8: Get a Clear Financial Picture/Calculate Your Net Worth
Step #9: Reflect Upon What You've Learned
Step #10: Track Your Spending
Step #11: The Modified Spending Freeze


Step #12: Dream a Little
Step #13: Analyze Your Dreams
Step #14: Organizing Your Dreams
Step #15: Turning Your Dreams into Goals
Step #16: Supercharging Success
Step #17: Accept Responsibility, Gain Control



Step #18: Gather Your Records
Step #19: Calculate Your Cost of Living
Step #20: BONUS STEP Create a Vision Board
Step #21: Calculate Your Income
Step #22: Re-Evaluate Expenses
Step #23: Avoid Budgeting Mistakes
Steps #24 & 25: Wrapping Up Your Budget



Step #26: Know Your FICO Score
Step #27: Analyze Your FICO Score
Step #28: Get a Handle on Your Debt
Step #29: Prioritize Paydowns
Step #30: Accelerate Paydowns


Step #31: Create a Vision
Step #32: Plan Your Piles
Step #33: Create Room for What You Want in Life
Step #34: Think About Why You Hang Onto Things
Step #35: Get it Done!
Step #36: Organize
Step #37: Freshen Up!
Step #38: Maintain



Step #39: Identify Shopping Mistakes, Weaknesses and Triggers
Step #40: Come up with Coping Mechanisms
Step #41: Put Your Money Where Your Priorities Are
Step #42: Be Wary of Spaving
Step #43: Spending with a Purpose
Step #44: Be Wary of Rationalizing Purchases
Step #45: Fun Money



Step #46: First Things First
Step #47: Delay of Gratification
Step #48: Determine Underlying Wants
Step #49: It's About the Feeling
Steps #50 & #51: Energize Your Goals

Forget The Joneses Project - Overview

I have decided to revisit the "Forget The Joneses Project" that is happening over at the MommySavers Forum.

The Forget The Jonses Project is a series of 100 Steps for you to follow to get back on track financially, simplify, and add more meaning to your life! Sounds like a good plan to me!

If you would like to participate in the Project over at MommySavers, you will need to sign up as a registered user (it is a very nice site), or you can just follow along with me.

I have outlined Steps 1-50 in my next post.

I will go into each step in more detail as I go along and share my progress with you.

Wish me luck!

Thinking Through A Large Purchase

A few weeks ago our dishwasher broke. It is very old and was beyond repair.

The most frugal thing to do would be to not replace the dishwasher and to wash all the dishes by hand. A very good friend of mine voluntarily lives without a dishwasher. She built a new home about 5 years ago and actually chose not to put a dishwasher in her new home! She says she has always hated emptying the dishwasher and finds it easier to just wash the dishes by hand. So, I guess it can be done . . . just not by me. Although a dishwasher isn't an actual necessity, I personally feel that it is very close to being a need (rather than a want).

So, we had decided we would purchase a new dishwasher.

We just had to decide how much we were going to spend.

If you haven't shopped for a dishwasher in a while, they vary greatly in price and generally range in price from about $250 all the way up to $1,500 and more.

The way I saw it, we first had to think about our kitchen and decide if we would ever do a major kitchen renovation before we could decide which dishwasher to purchase.

Although we have no immediate plan to renovate our kitchen (as much as I would like to), I do dream of a new kitchen. In my dreams, we would enlarge the kitchen (extending into our large back yard) to include a large area for a table (making it an eat in kitchen) and get all new cabinets and appliances. Given our current financial situation and the fact that I would like to pay for my 3 daughters to go to college, this kind of a kitchen renovation is probably unlikely.

More likely, we would update our current kitchen keeping the existing floor plan. We would update all the appliances, the counter tops, and maybe new cabinets (or reface the existing cabinets), and get a new floor.

Deciding on if and when we would ever renovate our kitchen as well as to what extent we would renovate became crucial as we contemplated the new dishwasher.

Basically, we had 3 options to consider.

Option 1 - Real Cheap Dishwasher
My mom was for this option. She felt that we should get a real cheap dishwasher. Then, when we renovate out kitchen (someday) she advised we could just get rid of the cheap dishwasher and put in a nice one.

I thought about this but decided that ideally I would like to do some upgrading to our kitchen within the next 5 years and it would not make any sense to throw out a dishwasher that was less than 5 years old.

Option 2 - High End Dishwasher
My best friend felt we should purchase a dishwasher that would be able to be "integrated" in our kitchen once it is renovated. This would mean that it would be like a regular dishwasher now but when we get new cabinets, the front of the dishwasher would be able to be covered with the same cabinetry as our cabinets (making it integrated). Though I love the look of this, when I really thought about it I came to realize that I don't think this kind of a very high end kitchen is really realistically in my future (given the other financial goals that I would like to achieve). So, I decided against spending over $1,200 on a dishwasher for this reason.

Option 3 - Mid Priced Dishwasher
Ultimately, I decided to get a mid priced dishwasher ($550 after $150 rebate) in stainless steel. I think I will eventually upgrade all my appliances to stainless steel, so getting a dishwasher now that we can keep even in our renovated kitchen seemed to make the most sense to me.

It's funny how much a simple dishwasher made me think about our future financial goals and plans. A renovated kitchen of varying magnitudes has always been a far off dream. Even though the high end dream kitchen was fun to fantasize about, I actually feel more excited about a modest kitchen renovation that could actually happen within a decade.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Contemplating Christmas

I would like to keep the Christmas budget low this year. Actually, I'd like to keep our total Gifts Budget a bit lower than it has been - but I'm finding it difficult.

The problem I am facing is that our friends and family spend too much on gifts. This puts pressure on me to spend too much in kind.

This past weekend I had a joint birthday party for 2 of my daughters that have birthdays close together. The average gift for each daughter was $25, including actual gift cards and cash in that amount.

This puts pressure on me to give birthday gifts and Christmas gifts back to these people in the amount of $25. (Actually, some of my friends have argued that I should be giving more in some cases. They believe that if my cousin, who has 1 child, gives each of my 3 children a $25 gift for their birthday, that I should give that cousin's child a $75 gift on her birthday! This is completely outside of my budget, so I don't even get in to considering this. I would prefer that my cousin got my kids an $8 gift - but how do I do that?)

On the surface, everything seems fine. They give my kids $25 gifts. I give their kids $25 gifts. And everything is equal. The problem is that I can't really afford to spend this much money on gifts. It's not like I take the cash from my kids (even when the gift is cash). The truth is that all the kids have too much money tied up in lots of toys and stuff that they don't need (including my kids). All these $25 gifts add up to a lot of money. Money that I would rather spend paying off debts, putting into savings, paying for my daughters to go to college, investing, etc.

I have tried, especially with my 3 sisters, to get them to give less expensive gifts, but it hasn't had much of an effect.

I know I should just give what I feel is appropriate and that I can afford, and not worry about how much they spend on my family - but that is easier said than done.

C'mon - Win This!

I am doing another pendant give away! And I would LOVE to give it to one of my blogger friends! Won't you guys leave a comment on this post for a chance to win? It would make a cute holiday gift for someone on your list. C'mon! :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

After Holiday Sales - How To Make Them Work

This post was featured in the Festival of Frugality #149 as an Editor's Pick this week!

I am a big fan of shopping for clearance items after a holiday.

Every year I host a huge Halloween party to celebrate the birthdays of two of my daughters that have birthdays near Halloween. We do an elaborate Haunted House, so I am always on the lookout for cool new Halloween novelties. After Halloween, I can usually find a bunch for 90% off!

This is terrific. But there is another step that I seem to forget every year - and that is to check out what you bought last year before you purchase anything new this year!

This bit me twice so far this year.

First, I let my five year old get a costume that she fell in love with at CVS last week. It was on sale for 25% off, and I had $7 in extra bucks, so I went ahead and purchased the costume (for $11 before using the xtra bucks). What I had not remembered was that I had purchased her a costume (actually 2 costumes!) on clearance after Halloween last year! Of course I could return the unused costume to CVS but my daughter is already really in love with it. (She does like the other costumes, but prefers this one.) So - I'm going to let her keep it. I'm sure all of these costumes will fit her again next year (and hopefully I'll remember before purchasing another one next year!).

Second, I purchased a Halloween pinata on sale at Target and later found one that I had also purchased on clearance after Halloween last year. I returned the new pinata to Target, but lesson learned.

I hope to remember this lesson at Christmas time - and check to see what I have (probably bought on clearance last year) before purchasing anything new!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Where's My Gazelle?

Not sure what I have to update really.

The Financial Peace University class has been going well. I do wish that the discussions were a bit more personal though. No one discusses their actual amount of their debts, or their budgets, envelopes, etc. I understand that not everyone wants to share this kind of "personal" information, but I think everyone would get more out of the discussions if they talked about specifics.

It has been good for me to focus on finances for a solid 2 hours every week. In the past I easily spent 2 hours a day focusing on finances, but I find that I'm doing it less so now. So the FPU class is good for that.

Since we aren't doing the Debt Snowball right now (and rather putting that money into Savings in anticipation of "storm clouds") I am finding that I don't get that same sense of satisfaction of paying large chunks towards a goal. Our savings balance goes up and down due to saving money from large commission months and using the money for low commission months - so it's not like the savings account is steadily growing. The ups and downs just aren't as gratifying, and I fear that we have not been sticking to the budget as closely as we should.

I think that maybe I should separate our savings. One account for money that goes in and out of our checking account as needed, and another that is for the more long term savings and rainy day/snowball. Most people would probably keep the in and out money right in their checking account - but I have found that that doesn't work well for us. If the money is in our checking account we tend to spend it. I find it works much better for us to only keep exactly what we will need for the month in their (zero based budget).

The benefit of having another savings account that would just continue to grow would be that we would get a much better sense of accomplishment I think, by seeing a balance go up and up (in the same way that it was so gratifying to see our debt balance go down and down).

I don't know. I just know that I'd like to get some of that gazelle intensity back.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Bare Necessity Expenses

I decided that I should figure out what our actual "bare necessity expenses" are for one month. These are the expenses we couldn't get rid of, even with a job loss, or something like that.

The total of our necessary monthly expenses comes to $3,965.

It is somewhat interesting to me because my husband's salary (without commission) is $4,400. I actually had thought that his base salary would NOT cover our basic expenses, but I guess it does. Well, pretty close anyway. In this list I have lowered our auto gas figure considerably if my husband wasn't commuting to work.

So, if my husband lost his job, we would have to earn a minimum of $4,000 a month


AUTO-Excise Tax
AUTO-Insurance 120
CASH-Auto Gas JR
CASH-Dining Out
CASH-Grocery 200
CASH-Kids Allowance
CASH-School Lunch
DEBT-Equity Loan 103
HOME-Cable/Phone 181
HOME-Electric 190
HOME-Furnace 0
HOME-Mortgage 2328
HOME-Oil 550
HOME-Trash 20
PERSONAL-Life Ins. 23
PERSONAL-Braces 100


So, if my husband lost his job, we would need to come up with $4,000 a month to survive (at least in our current house). For one person working 40 hours a week, that would mean an hourly wage better than $25 an hour. That might be hard to come by in a bad economy.

Right now we have $8,000 in our savings account. That would get us through 2 months. By the end of the year we will have $20,000 in our account. That would get us through 5 months.

I'm not sure if I feel better or worse, but I think it is good information to know.

Do you know what your "Bare Necessity Expenses" are?

Win This Breast Cancer Awareness Pendant

Hello my blog friends. Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month I wanted to give you all the chance to visit this blog post at Sarah's Surprises for a chance to win this Pink Ribbon Breast Cancer Awareness Pendant.

Just leave a comment on that post. A winner will be selected on the morning of October 13th. :)

Saving On The Electric Bill

I saw an episode on Oprah this week where a woman said she lowered her electric bill from $264 a month to $60 a month. She said the main thing she did was to unplug everything when not in use because these "phantom charges" really add up.

Then I read about using most of your appliances mostly during off peak hours as there is a big price difference between peak time and off peak time. So, I looked up the prices for my electric company and here is what I found:

Peak Hours:

January 1—March 8: 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
March 9—April 5: 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.*
April 6—October 25: 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
October 26—November 1: 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.*
November 2—December 31: 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Distribution Charge
Peak Hours
Off-Peak Hours
Transmission Charge 1.256¢/kWh
Transition Charge
Peak Hours
Off-Peak Hours
Demand Side Management Charge 0.250¢/kWh
Renewables Charge 0.050¢/kWh

So, seems like it could make a real impact if I did laundry and such either early in the morning or late at night.

Going to give it a try.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Surviving An Economic Depression

Yes, I'm in a little bit of a panic.

I spent the past several hours reading about preparing for an Economic Depression. I know this may be a little premature, but let me tell you, do a google search for "preparing for economic depression" and you will get pages and pages. Many people think this is going to happen.

So, here is what I am thinking about doing to prepare:

1. Stop extra debt payments (as mentioned in my last post). Although many articles I read suggest paying off debts as quickly as possible, I am afraid of being cash strapped. (Of course, if the dollar loses all value, cash won't be worth anything anyway.)

2. Stock my pantry. When I began paying attention to my finances I started with stockpiling groceries. It is a great way to save on food and be prepared for the unexpected. As I have gotten busier I have not stockpiled as much. I plan to start now and fill my pantry with as many non perishables purchased at the lowest price possible. I am thinking: rice, flour, sugar, salt, oatmeal, pasta, tomato sauce, soap, shampoo, toilet paper, paper towels, laundry detergent.

3. Stock up on water. My husband will think I'm crazy but I'd feel better with 25 gallons of spring water in the garage. I'd also like to look into getting water purification tablets. Can't hurt.

4. Keep some cash in the house. I'm not talking about taking all my money out of the bank, but I think I would feel better if I had $1,000 to $2,000 in cash in the house.

I think those will be my first steps.

Do you think I'm crazy?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I Am Letting My Snowball Melt

So, it's been decided. I am no longer trying to pay off my debts (well, debt - only one left). No more debt snowball.

I know. It's radical.

No - I have not given up. I just see "storm clouds" on the horizon and I want to be prepared.

With the economy the way it is (in bad shape), there is a very real chance that my husband's commission could go down - waaay down. Now, they might not - but I want to be prepared. So, to be prepared, instead of making extra payments (snowball) to our debt, I will be putting that money in our savings account. If things get bad, we will have those funds to rely on. If they don't, we can take all the money we saved up and make a big payment to our debt.

We still owe $22,000. I wish we owed nothing but it is what it is. We will eventually get to "debt free" but right now we need to be prepared for the worst.