Thursday, January 31, 2008

February Income & Spending

Okay, it is officially 1/31/08, not technically the first day of the month of February, but since my husband get's his check on the last day of the month and we use it to pay the bills due at the beginning of the month, so I decided that I would count the last day of the month towards the following month. So, February's Income and Spending will include all money in and out from 1/31/08 through 2/28/08.

So, here goes my attempt at tracking everything:

Today's Income:
$2,337.47 - DH Paycheck
$729.43 - DH Commission Check
$57.74 - Return (check from AmX for credit balance)
$20.00 - JR Babysitting $

Today's Spending:
$5.66 - Food Treat (took dd to McDonalds)
$72.02 - Groceries
$7.00 - Newspaper(monthly)
$10.00 - Debt Payment (Capital One, min. pay - not full snowball payment yet)
$45.00 - Snowplow Payment
$361.25 - Oil Bill (monthly)
$1.88 - Coffee Treat (Dunkin Donuts on the way to town meeting)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

1/30/08 - Daily Progress Report

Did a few returns today. Two large Littlest Pet Shop playhouses that I had got two of my daughters for Christmas that were still unopened - $20 each. Some socks my daughter didn't like - $6, and another unused Christmas gift - $6. For a total of $52 dollars returned!

I still have a couple more things from Christmas that I know I need to return. And I'm sure if I looked around a bit I could find still more things around the house that we bought but later found that we didn't need. Returning things is one of the easiest ways to "earn" extra money, I find.

Okay, I did buy myself a couple of things - a new shirt, socks, and earrings. These are to wear on my 40th birthday this weekend, and I used a Target gift card we received for Christmas.

The kids have a half day today so it will be a noisy afternoon!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

New Addition To The Family

Well, I haven't posted about it yet, but Santa brought us a kitten for Christmas! She is very cute and a welcome addition to our family. But having a pet does cost money. We had figured on the monthly food and kitty litter, but we hadn't planned on monthly medicine.

Turns out our new kitty has a serious heart problem that requires daily medication for the rest of her life! We had been told originally that the medicine was a nominal cost. Well, today we found out the actual cost is $15 + $7 shipping for a total of $22 a month. That's not what I consider nominal. I was expecting like $3 or $5.

Not too much we can do about it though. She's a family member now and we love her.

Good thing I have that extra weekly babysitting money coming in ($40 a week). I think I need to get back to my goal of earning an extra $1,000 a month. I was able to do it a few times over the past year. I just need to keep at it. I do have stuff to sell on ebay so I think I need to get a bit organized and plan one day a week to post stuff. Need to focus on my jewelry business too.

Anyway, we love our new kitten and feel she is worth these extra costs.

Monday, January 28, 2008

1/28/08 - Daily Progress Report

Well, I'm gearing up for February 1st - Planning to start tracking every cent that comes into or goes out of my life. Going to give it a try for at least a month. This is going along with the "Your Money or Your Life" program. I did give this a try many months ago - and it was A LOT more difficult than I had anticipated.

Also gearing up for my 40th birthday this weekend. :( Yeah - can't say I'm too excited about turning 40. I think my life should be in better shape by this age. I have weight to lose, debts to pay off, and things to save for. But, I'm on the right track, so I guess things could be worse.

That reminds me of a great blog post I read recently (can't remember which blog, sorry!). It was about learning to be content as the best way to keep from overspending. I think this is SOO true! Learning to be content is definitely on the top of my list of things to work on. And I do have a lot to be content about! Great family, good friends, nice home - the list goes on and on.

I just have to remember to keep remembering that! :)

Sunday, January 27, 2008

1/27/08 - Daily Progress Report

Wow! It's been over a week since I have posted! I can't believe that.

Anyway, I was away for the weekend, scrapbooking with a group of friends. It is a yearly trip and is a lot of fun. Scrapbooking can be an expensive hobby though. Luckily this whole trip was paid for last year. It was great looking at all the photos of my 3 daughter's when they were babies. Boy the time does go by fast! Gets me thinking about how quickly the time will come when they will be going off to college. That thought makes me both want to save, save, save to have enough for college. And also to spend some making more wonderful memories - creating a fun childhood for them. I guess fun times can be had without spending money, or without spending a lot of money. So, for the next few months I'm planning to spend some time planning some fun activities - at least one per month. Bowling, skiing, movies - whatever. But I think we have cut our entertainment spending too much. And I want to align my spending closer to my values. So, spend more on fun for the kids, and cut back somewhere else. Need to think more about where we can cut back . . .

Saturday, January 19, 2008

1/19/08 - Daily Progress Report

My three daughter's had a birthday part to go to today. Luckily I was able to re-gift several nice toys that my daughter's had received for either their birthday or Christmas that they didn't need or want. So we didn't need to spend any money and we were able to give 3 nice, new, appropriate presents to the birthday girl.

I also did a return of a gift that I had received for Christmas and have a merchandise credit that I will use later this year to buy a gift for my sister for her birthday.

So I think I managed not to spend any money today.

I must admit though that I have not been tracking all of my expenses daily, which I had planned to do (as outlined in the steps of the Your Money Or Your Life program). This sounds like an excuse, and maybe it is, but it seems odd to start in the middle of the month, so I plan to start tracking everything to the penny starting Feb 1st.

I'm also a few days behind in posting my earnings. So here's the update since my last earnings posting:

Associated Content: $1.20
Babysitting: $45
Rebate: $5
Returns: $10.50
Ad Revenue: $ .98
TOTAL: $71.68

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Value of Long Term Planning

" Good plans shape good decisions. That's why good planning helps to make elusive dreams come true." Lester R. Bittel, The Nine Master Keys of Management.

Most of us who are interested in Personal Finance have well defined short term financial plans. Many, like myself, have a short term plan to get out of debt. These short term goals are great because they take a relatively short time to accomplish, and because we are all influenced by the lure of instant gratification, this allows us to use that desire in a positive way.

There is also tremendous value in long term planning. I find that often it is my long term financial plans that keep me inspired to stick with my short term ones.

Write out a list of your long term goals.
There is something magical about writing things down. When you write down a goal, you are more likely to achieve that goal. The simple act of writing something down can magically transforms a wish into a goal.

Your financial goals could include anything you want to accomplish in the future that will require money. This could include paying for yourself or your children to go to college, paying for your wedding or your children's weddings, paying off your home mortgage, saving for retirement, buying a vacation home, or even traveling around the world. Whatever financial plans you have for the future, write them down.

Decide on a time frame for your goals.
Next to each of the goals you have outlined, write down the year that you would like to achieve the goal. If you have a ten year old daughter and you would like to pay for her to go to college, you will need the money for her first year of tuition by 2018. So, next to the goal of "pay for daughter to attend college" you would write in "2018". If you would like to pay for your children's weddings, you could estimate that they might get married at age 26 and write in the corresponding year.

Figure out the amount of money you will need for each goal.
You probably won't know the exact amount of money you will need for each goal, but write down your best estimate. (There are also a lot of on-line resources that can help you figure out how much some things might cost in the future. A good resource to determine the future cost of a college education is available at The College Board website.)

Plot your goals on a time line.
It can be very helpful to do out a time line of the next 30 or so years of your life. Plot out all of your financial goals on the timeline along with the amount of money required for each goal. In this way you can clearly see how much money is needed and how much (or little) time you have to save for it.

Here is what my "Major Life Expenses Timeline" looks like.

Our major plans include paying off our debts, saving a fully funded emergency fund, paying off our home mortgage, sending each of our 3 daughters to college, paying for each of our 3 daughter's weddings, and retiring with enough money to live off our investments at age 65.

2009 - (May) Debts Paid off ($36,000)
2010 - (June) Fully Funded Emergency Fund ($30,000)
2011 -
2015 - (Sep) DD1 College-1($54,000)
2016 - (Sep) DD1 College-2($54,000)
2017 - (Sep) DD1 College-3($54,000) + DD2 College-1($54,000) = ($108,000)
2018 - (Sep) DD1 College-4($54,000) + DD2 College-2($54,000) = ($108,000)
2019 - (Sep) DD2 College-3($54,000)
2020 - (Sep) DD2 College-4($54,000)
2021 - (Sep) DD3 College-1($54,000)
2022 - (Sep) DD3 College-2($54,000) + DD1 Wedding ($40,000) = ($94,000)
2023 - (Sep) DD3 College-3($54,000) Pay Off Mortgage
2024 - (Sep) DD3 College-4($54,000) + DD2 Wedding ($40,000) = ($94,000)
2028 - DD3 Wedding ($40,000)
2035 - DH Retire at 65 ($1,000,000)

Next determine the amount of money you might be able to save for each event.
You won't be able to guess everything precisely, but you can get a pretty good idea of how much money you'll be able to save before each event.

If you are starting out in debt, you can figure out how long it will take you to pay off your debts by using a debt snowball calculator. When you are ready to begin saving you can use a savings calculator to determine how much money you will be able to save before your next big event. Each time that you do the calculation, use the length of time that you have before your next event. Then subtract out the amount you use for the big event, and calculate again using the length of time you have until the next event.

When determining what interest rates to use for your calculations, you will need to make note of how much time you have before you will need the money. If you do not have a lot of time (like less than 5 years), you should count on a lower interest rate, like maybe 5%. If you have more time, you should be able to use a higher interest rate. (I used 10% when I had more than 5 years to save. According to Dave Ramsey you can expect this type of return on long term mutual funds.)

Enter the amount you believe you will be able to save onto the timeline in bold.
This will show you whether or not you will be able to reach your goals with the amount of money you project you'll be able to save.

Here is my timeline with my projected savings in bold:

2009 - (May) Debts Paid off ($36,000)
2010 - (June) Fully Funded Emergency Fund ($30,000)
2011 -
2015 - (Sep) DD1 College-1($54,000) {$252,340 - $54,000 = $198,340}
2016 - (Sep) DD1 College-2($54,000) {$261,849 - $54,000 = $207,849}
2017 - (Sep) DD1 College-3($54,000) + DD2 College-1($54,000) = ($108,000)
{$272,438 - $108,000 = $164,438}
2018 - (Sep) DD1 College-4($54,000) + DD2 College-2($54,000) = ($108,000)
{$224,100 - $108,000 = $116,100}
2019 - (Sep) DD2 College-3($54,000) {$170,276 - $54,000 = $116,276}
2020 - (Sep) DD2 College-4($54,000) {$170,472 - $54,000 = $116,472}
2021 - (Sep) DD3 College-1($54,000) {$170,690 - $54,000 = $116,690}
2022 - (Sep) DD3 College-2($54,000) + DD1 Wedding ($40,000) = ($94,000)
{$170,933 - $94,000 = $76,933}
2023 - (Sep) DD3 College-3($54,000) Pay Off Mortgage {$126,644 - $54,000=$72,644}
2024 - (Sep) DD3 College-4($54,000) + DD2 Wedding ($40,000) = ($94,000)
{$154,073 - $94,000 = $60,073}
2028 - DD3 Wedding ($40,000) {$412,637 - $40,000 = $372,637}
2035 - DH Retire at 65 ($1,000,000) {$1,412,749}

What if you won't have enough money to reach your goals?
If you determine that you will not have enough money, don't be discouraged. It is better to find this out now than at the time of the event. You can decide to make some different financial choices (spend less or earn more), or you can decide to revise your goal (maybe pay half of your children's college costs).

Take some time for long term planning. If you do you will have taken the first step to "help make elusive dreams come true".

This article has been included in the Carnival of Personal Finance #136 over at Green Panda Treehouse.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

American Express Tempts Me Again!

Okay. First they offer 25,000 membership reward points (equivalent to $250 in free gift cards) just for signing up. So I did.

Then they offered another 5,000 membership reward points (equivalent to $50 in free gift cards) to sign up for their extended payment option. So I did.

Now they are offering another 5,000 membership reward points (equivalent to another $50 in free gift cards) if I add two additional users to my account. Which I am thinking of doing.

I know, I mean know, that the credit card companies are snakes and that they bite many people trying to take advantage of these offers. I know everyone thinks they will cancel the card before the free first year is over, but many do not. I know everyone thinks that the extended payment option won't matter to them because they will pay the card off in full, but many do not. I know that everyone thinks they can add two additional users to the account with no problem, etc.

There ARE risks. But in light of such incentives, the risks seem worth it to me.

We'll see . . .

UPDATE: I decided not to "take advantage" of their last offer of adding up to two users to my account as this requires each one fill out an application, etc. Doesn't even seem worth it to add my husband. But they sure do know how to tempt me!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Extra Income - Babysitting

Well, a great surprise happened to me today. The mother of one of my daughter's friends called to tell me she was in need of a babysitter for her 11 year old daughter and son (twins) and asked me if I would be interested. I said sure!

I will be watching her two children for 2 1/2 hours, twice a week, for $10 an hour. So, an extra $50 a week! Yeay! And the best part is, we usually have the daughter over twice a week anyway as she is a good friend of my daughter. And, my daughter also gets along with the brother, so I think this will be an easy way to earn an extra $200 a month.

Watch out debts, here comes the money!!! :)

1/14/08 - Daily Progress Report

We had a "snow day" today, no school because of snow. We have taken advantage of this and all stayed in our pajamas for the day, including my husband who is working from home. Fun!

I have spent the majority of today re-reading "The Complete Tightwad Gazette" by Amy Dacyczyn. This is one of the few books that I found worthy enough to purchase after I had borrowed it several times from the library. I get inspired to be more frugal every time I read it.

I think I will spend the rest of the day making homemade meatballs and flash freezing for later use. I'll probably make 5 meals worth of meatballs with very little extra effort as compared to making 1 meals worth.

It would be a "no spend" day except that the plow service did plow our driveway at a very UN-frugal cost of $45. (And this is our 3rd plow of the year, making the total cost $135! - yikes!)

In some ways this does seem like an extravagant expenses. Especially since we were going to have my daughter and her friend shovel it for $10 each. But the plow guy showed up too soon, and we don't want to lose him. (For some reason it is tough to find a plow service around here. They are all booked up and don't want/need more business.)

On days like today when my husband and kids are home, we could handle the shoveling of the driveway. But in the past, we have had it snow at very inconvenient times and had trouble getting the cars out of the driveway, or if my husband was at work, had trouble getting his car in the driveway. And that's a lot to ask of someone who just worked a 10 hour day plus another 3+ hour commute (in the snow), to get home and shovel in the dark. And I must reluctantly admit that I am not able to handle the daunting task alone. So, plow service it is.

Today's Income: $0

Today's Expenses: $45

Snow Plowing: $45

Sunday, January 13, 2008

1/13/08 - Daily Progress Report

Went grocery shopping today. Spent $120 but haven't been in two weeks, so I'm doing okay so far this month with the grocery budget.

Chuck E Cheese ended up costing $150 yesterday - yikes!

Good news from my husband though, he will be getting a $1,000 bonus (before taxes) for referring a friend to his company that got hired. Yeay! That will basically pay for my husbands car repairs he had done on Friday for $800!

Anyway, the budget is looking pretty good for this month. We need to get working on the taxes to see how much we will be getting back. We usually get quite a bit back and this could make a big difference in paying off debts this year. If we do find we'll get another large refund we'll definitely adjust our withholdings so that we can earn the interest on our money this year! :)

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Your Money Or Your Life (Part I)

Your Money Or Your Life is an excellent book by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin. I have read it before and am currently re-reading it and trying to follow the steps they outline to "transform your relationship with money and achieve financial independence".

Here is a summary of the steps they recommend:

Step 1: Making Peace with the Past

How Much Have You Earned in Your Life?

This step involves looking into your past and figuring out exactly how much money has come into your life. Luckily my husband and I just received our Social Security statements. Combined, my husband and I have earned a total of $1,258,094.00! wow!

What Have You Got to Show for It?
This step involves figuring out your net worth. List all of your assets and subtract all of your liabilities. This will give you your net worth. My family's net worth is currently $393,500.00. This turns out to be 31% of our lifetime earnings! Much better than I had anticipated.

Step 2: Being in the Present - Tracking Your Life Energy

How Much Are You Trading Your Life Energy For?
The book asserts that "money is something we choose to trade our life energy for". "Our life energy is our allotment of time here on earth, the hours of precious life available to us. When we go to our jobs we are trading our life energy for money." Quite a profound idea! So, the first part of this step is to figure out the actual time and money that is required for you to maintain your job, and compute your real hourly wage. Basically you figure out exactly how many hours per week you give to your job, including work hours, travel time, getting ready time, decompressing time, work entertaining time, etc. Then you figure out exactly how much money you are bringing home each week after you subtract the cost of your commute, the cost of your work clothing, the (extra) cost for lunch or convenience food that working may cost you, etc.

For my husband, the computations look like this:

work hours per week: 50
travel hours per week: 10
time buying work clothing per week: .5
decompressing from work time per week: 5
business travel time per week: 1
TOTAL Work Hours: 66.5

work wages (minus taxes) per week: $1,800.00
gas per week: $50
car wear and tear per week: $20
work clothing & shoes per week: $10
coffee at work per week: $5
extra lunch money per week: $20
paid lawn care: $6
business travel expenses: $2
work cell phone: $1
TOTAL actual Wages: $1,686.00

So, my husband's real hourly wage works out to be $23.50 per hour.

Keep track of every cent that comes into or goes out of your life.
This is the step that I am currently working on. I tried to do this several months ago and found it to be a real challenge, but I am going to give it another try.

I will keep you posted on the steps as I complete them.

This seems to be a good program to follow while you are doing Dave Ramsey's Baby Steps. Especially since I will be in BS2 for quite a while!


* Save To *

1/12/08 - Daily Progress Report

Requested a credit refund check from American Express for some Christmas gifts that I returned.

Bought a gift for a birthday party my daughter is attending today. Got a $17.99 gift, used a $5 off coupon, and paid with a $15 gift certificate I had. Net: $3 profit! :)

Today's Earnings:
Returns: $58.00
Gift: $3.00
TOTAL: $61.00

We have my daughter's birthday party today at Chuck E Cheese, so it will be a high expense day. We did make cupcakes ourselves with stuff I had on hand, and I made up the goody bags with some stuff I bought on clearance. This saved the Chuck E Cheese cost of cake ($10) and goody bags ($2 each x 9 kids = $18). So saved close to $28.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

1/10/08 - Daily Progress Report

Still getting payments from Associated Content every couple of weeks for articles that I wrote months ago! Pretty good.

Also, went ahead and signed up for the special thing that American Express was offering for another free $50 gift card. This will cover $50 of my gift budget and allow me to use $50 cash to pay towards debts, so I'm counting that $50 in my earnings. :)

Ad Revenue: $4.44
Associated Content: $ .06
American Express Rewards: $50.00
TOTAL: $54.50

Simple Living

Found a great forum at the Simple Living Network (discussion forum). It is based around the book "Your Money Or Your Life", which is one of the best books I have ever read. If you haven't heard of it, though I assume most PF blog readers have, the website describes it as follows:

" Your Money Or Your Life is a best-selling book by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin about a nine-step program for personal financial transformation. Your Money Or Your Life also refers to a world of nine-step program resources for changing the way you earn, spend and save money -- and helping others do the same."

I am going to borrow it from the library and read it again.

I'm even considering taking the YMOYL on line study group.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

American Express Membership Rewards

I know that as a Dave Ramsey follower, I shouldn't use credit cards. I do believe they are very dangerous and I aspire to have all my credit cards (about $4,000 left off cc debt) paid off once and for all.

But . . . I did get some great free gift cards by signing up for two credit cards recently. I got an American Express card and got $250 in free gift cards (which I used for Christmas gifts). Then I got a Citibank card and will get $200 in free gift cards (got $150 for signing up and another $50 for using the card for charges).

Now I just got an email from American Express offering me 5,000 membership rewards points (which translates into $50 in gift cards!) if I sign up for their "extended payment option". This is free and applies only to purchases over $200 - which will give you the option to not pay the balance in full, though you still have the option to pay the balance in full.

I know that it is dangerous to "play with snakes", and I do believe that the credit card companies ARE snakes. But I am considering doing this before I close the card (it has a zero balance as does the other card I signed up for).

Tonight's Frugal Dinner

This year I am trying to focus on saving money on groceries. To help with that, I am going to try to calculate the cost of the meals I make for my family so I can focus on the less expensive ones.

Tonight we are having "Chicken, Broccoli, & Ziti".

(1 1/2) Large Boneless Chicken Breasts - (bought on sale for $1.79 a lb) - $1.79
16 oz. Frozen Broccoli Florets - $ .89
16 oz. Pasta - $ .33
8 oz. Cream Cheese - $ .89
2 Tbsp. Butter - (bought on sale for $1.50/lb) - $ .03
2 Tbsp. Flour - $ .03
4 oz. Milk - $ .20
1 Tsp. Minced Garlic - $ .10
2 Tbsp. Grated Parmesean Cheese - $ .10
TOTAL - $4.36

This will feed my family of 5 for two dinners, one for tonight, one to freeze and serve later. So a total of 10 servings. So, our "Chicken, Broccoli, & Ziti" meal comes out to about $ .44 per serving.

I will track more meals this week to see how this price compares to other meals. (Note: I used my best prices from my price book for these calculations, so I need to be diligent to make sure I stock up on the great deals and never pay lower than the lowest price in my price book. This is my goal.)

Monday, January 7, 2008

Extra Income From A Stay At Home Mom

While browsing the web and reading PF blogs and their financial goals for 2008, it occurred to me that I hadn't yet added up all the extra income that I was able to earn in 2007.

So, here it is: $4,418.00!

I am pretty happy with that figure (earnings are from May 2007 - Dec. 2007). As a stay at home Mom, until I started on the Dave Ramsey financial plan, I hadn't really put any effort into earning money. My attention was on saving money by getting good deals, etc.

I still need to focus on the saving side, but this past year showed that I can earn some extra money also with a little effort. So, this year I will try to do both. I am focusing on saving money on groceries (combing coupons and sales, stockpiling, cooking from scratch) and earning money with my home based handcrafted jewelry business (though I will keep my part time job at the church nursery too).

Although I am pleased with the extra $4,418 that I earned, it did get me thinking about if all that money was paid on the debts.

So, we had a snowball of $1,100 a month and we were "on plan" for 11 months, so that equals $12,100. Add to that the $4,418 that I earned and you get $16,518.

Well, now that I have done the math, it looks pretty good. We lowered our total debt by $14,000, and that figure doesn't include interest we paid. Given that we pay around $200 a month in interest, the figure of $16,518 seems just about right.

I guess that most of the extra income I earned was paid to debts. This makes me happy!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Great Coupon Deals This Week!

I found some great deals by combining sales and coupons this week, so I thought I'd share them:


Flintstone's vitamins - (buy 4 and get $10 in register rewards, use $1 off coupon in flyers, pay $6.50 each x 4 = $26 minus $1 coupon = $25, get $10 rewards, final cost = 4 for $15)

Delsym cough medicine - sale price $8 minus $2 off coupon in flyers, final cost = $6.

Cheerios cereal - sale price 2 for $3, minus $1 off 2 coupon, final cost = 2 for $2.

Walgreens soap - sale/coupon, final cost = 5 for $1.

Tylenol Cold & Children's Tylenol Cold - use (4) $1 off coupons in flyers, get $10 rewards if buy 4, final cost = 4 for $6.

Wheat thins - sale price 2 for $4, $1 off 3 coupon, final cost = 3 for $5.

Aquafresh gel trays - sale/coupon price - $27, $5 off coupon in flyer, final cost = $22.

(30) sponges - $4.


Palmolive dish soap - sale/coupon price $ .49, $1 off 2 coupon in flyer, final cost = 2 for FREE!

Children's Motrin & Children's Tylenol - sale price - $6, use two $2.50 off 2 coupons, buy 4 earn $10 rewards, final cost = 4 for $9.

Special K cereal - sale price 2 for $5, coupon in flyer for $1 off 2, final cost - 2 for $4.


Hefty trash bags (45) - sale price $5.50, $1 off coupon in flyer, final cost = $4.50.

Ziploc sandwich bags (50) - sale price $1.50, $1 off 2 coupon in flyer, final cost = 2 for $2.

goldfish crackers - 4 for $5.

Kellogg's cereal - 5 for $10, rebate for $5 - final cost = 5 for $5.


Bounty paper towels - sale price $14 for 16 rolls, $1 off coupon in flyer, buy 2 get $5 Target gift card, final cost = 32 rolls of paper towels for $18.

Charmin toilet paper - sale price $13 for 60 rolls, buy 2 get $5 Target gift card, final cost = 120 rolls of toilet paper for $21.

Quaker chewy granola bars (jumbo pack of 23) - sale price $4, $1 off coupon in flyer - final cost = $3 for 23 granola bars.

Happy Shopping! :)

Saturday, January 5, 2008

1/05/09 - Daily Progress Report

Spent a nice family day at home today. Played around with our budget spreadsheet and debt snowball just to see the best case and worst case scenarios for this year. Things are looking pretty good. But my oldest will need braces soon, so I need to try to figure that in somewhere.

My husband, who is not usually a spender, bought himself some new clothes (which we had discussed), but he also came home with a Ralph Lauren Polo shirt for my two oldest daughters. They don't need clothes, and my second daughter doesn't even like polo style shirts. My husband found them on sale for $12 each and couldn't pass them up because it was such a great deal. I don't think $24 of unnecessary clothing is such a great deal. Especially since they got so much stuff for Christmas.

Anyway, he said he would return the shirt for my second daughter who didn't want it. So, it's only $12.

I just wish he wanted to be gazelle intense about getting debt free.

We'll still get there.

Friday, January 4, 2008

1/04/09 - Daily Progress Report

Sold a bracelet today. Also spoke with a friend who might be arranging a vendor fair at the nursing home she works at. If she puts it in place, I will go and try to sell some jewelry. Probably right before Mother's Day - a great time to sell Mother's & Grandmother's Bracelets.

Jewelry Sales: $35.00
Total: $35.00

Thursday, January 3, 2008

1/03/08 - Daily Progress Report

Well, I'm a bit discouraged about my husband. I was telling him how good things are looking for this year. How, if all goes well, we should only have about $8,000 of debt left by the end of 2008, and we could probably be debt free by May 2009 (except for the home mortgage).

Unfortunately, he was not so optimistic. He pointed out that our van will need to be replaced by then if it even makes it that long and his car will need to be replaced soon after that.

I said that we could save up to pay cash for the cars. He just rolled his eyes and said that everybody has a car payment. And that he wants a nice car, not a crappy one.

I wanted to say that if we started saving the $2,100 a month that we will be paying towards debts this year (starting in March), that at the end of a year we would have almost $30,000 saved to buy a car (or 2) with - but he was not in the mood to discuss finances.

I'm just hoping that our cars will last (which they should). Mine is a 1999 Mercury Villager minivan. It has a little rust on the hood which we are planning to get fixed soon, but I'm the one who drives this, not him, so I'm not sure why it bothers him so much.

He drives a 2001 Volvo "something". Nothing at all wrong with it except for being 7 years old (which I see no problem with).

Anyway - just hoping that things will work out and I can prove my husband wrong.

I did forget a little about needing to save the FFEF (fully funded emergency fund) after paying off all the debts. I didn't mention this to my husband. Maybe we can save for the new cars at the same time. We'll see . . .

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

After Christmas Sales and Returns

Not everyone will agree with me on these ideas, but after the Holidays I do a lot of returns and take advantage of a lot of the sales.

After Christmas I try to return any unwanted gifts that my family received. I truly appreciate the thought behind the gift but find it wasteful to keep unwanted items. Many stores will not accept a return without a receipt or a gift receipt, but sometimes you can get a store credit. If I get a store credit, I either use it to buy something my family needs or I save it to purchase a gift for someone at a later time. If the items can't be returned, I usually save it to give to someone as a gift (re-gift) should it prove to be an acceptable item for such an occasion.

The other thing I do is to check to see if any of the items I purchased for Christmas have now been marked down on sale. If I find something that I already purchased on sale, I will buy the item at the sale price and later return it with the original higher receipt. This can save a significant amount of money.

This article has been included in the Carnival of Personal Finance #134 over at Mrs. Micah.

January 2008 Detailed Budget

CASH - Clothing $0
CASH - Gifts $50
CASH - Grocery $400
CASH - Parties $0
CASH - Pizza $ $80
CASH - School Fees $5
CASH - Schl Lunch $36
CASH - Spending $ $280
DEBT - Chase
DEBT - Equity
HOME - Cable/Phn $181
HOME - Electric $220
HOME - Maintnce $25
HOME - Mortgage $2,329
HOME - Oil $791
HOME - Trash $65
AUTO - Gas $400
AUTO - Insurance $138
AUTO - Mainten $1,000
PERSONAL - Cntct $0
PERSONAL - Lif In $0
PERSONAL - Nwsp $8
PERSONAL - Rx Al $20
PERSONAL - Vaca $500
PERSONAL - Sprts $100
KIDS - Basketball $240
KIDS - Piano $264
KIDS - Preschool $175
KIDS - Misc. Fees $0
KIDS - Camp $0
MISC- Savings $3,000
TOTAL $12,785

1st Check (31st) $2,528
Commission $8,429
15th Check $2,200
Other $0
Church Check $100
Other $1,125
Total $14,382

Beginning Balance $0
+ Income $14,382
Subtotal $14,382
- Expenses $12,785
Subtotal $1,597
Save For Next Month $1,597
Ending Balance $0

December 2007 Earnings

December 2007 Earnings

Church Nursery: $56
Savings Interest: $10.29
Ads: $1.71
Associated Content: $2.94
Cash Crate: $2.97
Jewelry Sales: $202
TOTAL: $275.91

Daily Progress Report

Savings Interest: $4.10
Associated Content: $2.30
TOTAL: $6.40

2007 Recap

Well, I just updated the totals in the side bar and we paid off almost $14,000 of debt in 2007 (plus a whole lot of interest!)!

A New Start In The New Year

Happy New Year everyone!

I can't believe that it has been over 2 weeks since I have posted. I guess there are two reasons for this.

1. The Holidays are a busy time of the year and I have been busy.
2. I fell off the "financial wagon" a bit.

Everyone gets busy. I do wish I had made it through the Holidays according to plan. Not to make excuses, but the first problem we encountered was my husband's commission check in December. He had anticipated a $2,500 commission, and instead he got a $150 commission. This was partially an error with his payroll department which we knew would get rectified in his January commission. We also knew that in January he would get possibly his largest commission of the year. But this still left us in a bind for December.

So, we resorted to using a credit card to get us through the holidays. I hated to do it but didn't really see a better option.

In all, we charged a total of $1,300.00. $1,000.00 of this was for Christmas presents and the rest was for other household expenses (like groceries).

The good news is that today my husband got his January commission of $8,429.00 (in addition to his regular salary). So, I have already gone on line and paid off the entire $1,300 we had charged and I also put aside (in savings) $3,000.00 for future monthly expenses (for possible low commission months) and $500.00 for vacation (to attend my sisters destination wedding this summer).

So, December was a rough month but I am feeling optimistic about 2008. If all goes according to plan, we should be able to continue to pay $1,100.00 a month toward our debts as well as another $10,000.00 possibly (depending on how much we get for our tax refund and if the commissions are as we expect and Murphy doesn't visit us!). And if I can earn some extra money, we should be able to pay even more!

If this all happens the way we hope, we will have all our debts paid off by March 2009! Just a bit more than a year from now!

I think 2008 is going to be a great year!!