Monday, November 24, 2008

6 Things About Me

I was tagged by Won't Go Down Without A Fight to share 6 things about myself, so here goes:

1. My husband was my high school sweetheart! It's almost embarassing to have met your husband in high school, but we did. We dated for six years and got married when we were 23. That was 17 years ago!

2. I love amusement park rides. The scarier the better! I never get tired of the theme parks in Florida. We are going in April and I can't wait!

3. I am a self help book junkie. I am always reading books about how to improve myself. I read fiction too and belong to a book club, but non fiction self help is my favorite.

4. I can speak French and Spanish. I spent my Junior Year of college in Paris and spent two summers in Spain.

5. I am one of those crazy Black Friday shoppers that stands in lines at 4 o'clock in the morning. I go with 2 of my sisters and it has become sort of a tradition. The sales aren't usually even good enough to justify the early hour and crazy lines, but it is realy fun in a weird way. Only 4 days away - I can't wait!

6. I am a Diet Coke addict. (Many of you probably already know that.) And I drink anywhere from 6 to 12 cans a day (I am embarassed to say!).

I tag:

Paid It Down And Moving Forward
Nine Circles of Debt
No More Spending


Things have been busy for me. Mostly with the jewelry business. Had a really good Craft Show this past weekend and earned $300! Whoo-hoo!

On line sales have been picking up as well, so I'm really happy with how that's going.

I've done a lot of Christmas shopping already. I am doing well staying within the budget for everyone except my oldest DD. Most the things she wants are really expensive. I had planned to stay under $200 for each of my 3 daughters, but I have decided to spend a little more on the oldest. Two of the items I want to get for her are a new winter coat and a pair of boots. Both things she needs. Of course, I'm sure I could get her ones cheaper than from Hollister and Uggs, but those are the ones she will like. So, I'm glad I have earned a little extra money to be able to get her a little extra. She's such a good kid (and hasn't even asked for these things though I know she will like them) and she got straight A's on her report card!

I did have a scare with having my cash envelopes this weekend. I have all of my usual cash envelopes funded (grocery, clothing, auto gas, spending $, dining out) but this month I also have my Christmas $ envelope - and it has over $1,000 in it. And while I was at the cast party of DD2's play, I left it unattended on my chair for a while, and then couldn't find it! I was in such a panic! I don't know what we would have done for Christmas if that had been taken. Luckily it was just underneath a bunch of coats. But it did make me realize that I shouldn't have all that cash with me all the time!

Other good news is that I noticed on our mortgage bill that our balance is down to $219,000. That's not terribly low I realize but in all my calculations I had us owing $240,000 - so we are in a little better shape than I thought. And I'm pretty sure that we refinanced to our 20 year mortgage in 2003, so that was almost 6 years ago, so I think we'll only have 14 years left on our mortgage. (I know 14 years is a long time, but it is a lot better than 30 years - and in our last house every time we refinanced we started over on a 30 year mortgage!) Hopefully we will follow Dave Ramsey's plan and get it paid off even earlier. Ideally we will have it paid off before my oldest daughter goes to college in 2015, although that's only 6 years away so it might be pretty tough to accomplish, but you never know.

The bad news is that there are rumors of layoffs at my husband's job. He doesn't think he would be affected - but you never know. The rumors are they will start on Dec. 15th. This had put a bit of a knot in my stomach but I am doing my best not to focus on that. We are doing everything we can to improve our financial situation, so we'll just hope for the best.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


November Extra Income

Jewelry Sales: $439.50
Craft Fair: $57.00
Associated Content: $5.00
Blog Ads: $100.00
TOTAL: $601.50

Monday, November 10, 2008


Craft Fair: $57

Craft Booth Fee: $20

Net Profit:
Craft Fair: $37

Craft Fair this weekend wasn't as good as I had hoped. But earned a little cash.

Also closed 2 credit cards that had zero balances this morning. Hope that was the right thing to do and won't affect our FICO score too much. We now only have one credit card left and it has a zero balance. I don't think I will close that one. I just feel better keeping it around in case of emergencies. After all, our Fully Funded Emergency Fund isn't in place yet. I know Dave Ramsey wouldn't approve, but it makes me feel safer.

I did open an ING Direct account. Got a $25 bonus just for opening the account (with an initial deposit of at least $250). My plan is to use the ING Direct account for our "extra funds" from high commission months, our $1,000 Baby Emergency Fund, and money we are saving to replace the heating system, etc. All this kind of stuff. The balance will go up and down as we move funds in and out of the account.

I will keep our Emigrant Direct savings account to put all the funds that would normally be in our Debt Snowball paying off our last debt ($23,000 Home Equity Loan). Our target "snowball" amount is $1,100 a month. We are temporarily not paying it to the debt but instead putting it into savings "just in case" (i.e. due to the bad economy - no commissions, or God forbid - a layoff, etc.). The reason I decided to put this money in a separate account is that I need the gratification of watching an account go up and up month after month (like watching the debt amount go down and down month after month). And this way, any time I earn a little extra cash I can funnell that extra money into this account. I am hoping this will give me the extra momentum that I need right now. It was driving me crazy watching our 1 savings account go up and down all the time - not giving me any real sense of accomplishment. Now I can focus on growing this account as large as I can. I hope to "get gazelle" about it!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I Like Some Money More Than Others

I have been feeling down because my jewelry sales have been very slow lately. I do have another Craft Show this weekend, so hopefully that will pick things up.

I was thinking about some of the things on my To Do List. I have several items that I need to return. This will put quite a bit of cash in my pocket (or back in the bank), yet I can't seem to get around to doing it. These returns are worth $60+, so I really need to do it.

I was thinking about how much happier I would be with $60 in jewelry sales. I would be psyched. Now, $60 is $60. But it's funny how different it can feel.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Step #4 (Continued)

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

I wrote about creating an approved spending list here. But now, here's a look at the approved spending list I have created: (I will be the first to admit that everything on this list is a want, not a need. I am clearly cheating on the 21 day spending freeze. When I first learned about the Forget the Joneses project about 6 months ago, I actually did complete a very successful 21 day spending freeze. Even though I am not being as strict this time, I still think this is a worthwhile exercize and I want to move on the the other steps, so, here it is:

Special Outings (already planned) - $350
This includes a lot of activities for me this month, including going to a concert with my husand and some friends ($100), going on a day trip to New York City with some friends ($100), buying tickets to see my daughter in a play ($50).

Halloween candy - I bought this a couple of days ago as I had none to give out to Trick-or-Treaters. $8.00

Meeting a friend for lunch - $20. I haven't seen this friend in a while and we made plans to meet for lunch on Thursday. I will need to pay for my 5 year old daughter also.

Side Bar Goals - Update

I thought I should take a look at the Financial Goals I had set in my sidebar and see how I'm doing on each one. Here were the goals I set:
  • 1. - Be Aware of Financial Dangers (sisters)
  • 2. - Plan Ahead Better (Florida trips)
  • 3. - Start Diet & Exercise Routine
  • 4. - Become Better at Budgeting
  • 5. - Start Next Year's Budget Now
  • 6. - Focus on Finances 1xDay
  • 7. - Sign Up For FPU
  • 8. - Pay Debts At Beginning of Month

1. Be Aware of Financial Dangers (especially hanging out with my sisters) - This one is a little hard to measure, except the part about my sisters. I haven't really gone shopping with my sisters, so in a sense I have avoided that danger. The real test will be to go shopping with them and to be successful (like only buying things on my list). A test of this will be coming up as I always go Christmas shopping with my sisters on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving). I enjoy this tradition but will only be successful if I stick to my list and only buy gifts for others (nothing for myself) and stick to my pre-made Christmas budget. So, we'll see.

2. Plan Ahead Better (Florida trips). Well, we do have another trip planned, but this one is for my sister's wedding. We are going in April for a week. We already paid cash ($1,000) for the plane tickets for my family of 5. I have budgeted $2,000 for spending money for the trip. It's a little early to start packing yet, but I will definitely need to plan my clothing early and hopefully avoid the urge to buy all new clothes for the trip!

3. Start Diet and Exercise Routine - nope. Not at all.

4. Become Better At Budgeting - I think I am on my way here (finally). Realizing that I need to use my calendar (as explained in this post) was a huge step forward.

5. Start Next Year's Budget Now - I have done a complete budget for 2009 (which you can view here). I do still need to remember that if something comes up in this month's budget, I might need to remember to add it to next year's budget.

6. Focus on Finances at Least Once A Day - for the most part I have been doing this. I have been posting about every other day. I have been reading the financial carnivals and other pf blogs. I have been checking my on line accounts often.

7. Sign Up For Financial Peace University - done. I am about half way through this class that meets every Tuesday night. I am enjoying the refresher.

8. Pay Debts At The Beginning Of The Month - Well, we have temporarily stopped paying extra on our debts. We are instead putting all the extra cash into savings. The reason for this is that we are nervous about the unstable economy and how it might affect my husband's job. His commissions could be much lower than we have budgeted for and we want to be prepared for that. (And God forbid if there were layoff's at his company!) I do think I could fine tune this plan, though. I don't like having our "extra money" (the money that would have been paid to debt) mixed in with our other savings. The reason is that we sometimes need to take money out of this account for daily living expenses. We put in extra money on high commission months and take out money on low commission months. I feel we could have more control and feel more of a sense of accomplishment if this "extra money" was in a separate account that grew every month (rather than go up and down). So, I need to give this some thought and maybe open another savings account.

So, not a perfect score, but not too bad either.

I think we are at least moving in the right direction. ;)