Sunday, November 29, 2009

Black Friday

Well, I kept our family tradition and went shopping on Black Friday with two of my sisters. Yes, we are crazy. We left the house at 4:45am! We stood in long lines. It was pouring rain. But somehow, we find this fun. I guess because we do it together.

Anyway, we did get some good deals. I got a really good laptop computer for my daughters (to share) for $299, a printer/copier/scanner for $25, an ipod nano for $120, and lots more. I'm basically done my shopping now.

I had budgeted $1,400 for Christmas gifts. When we left in the morning I brought almost $1,000. (I was afraid to bring more after my "lost $1,000 cash incident" in Florida), and we had to stop back at the house because I ran out of money!

What does everyone usually spend on gifts? I budgeted $200 each for each of my 3 daughters, $30 each for my parents, sisters, and in laws, and $15 each for my nieces and nephews. My husband and I have opted not to exchange this year.

Anyway, we shopped from 5am to 5pm - and I am just about finished. And it does feel good knowing that I shopped with CASH!

Monday, November 2, 2009


My it has been busy around here!

I have been super busy with a Craft Show every weekend, and it is only getting busier in the weeks to come when I often have more than 1 show a week - yikes! The shows have been going terrific and I am now averaging over $1,000 per show - yippee!

Unfortunately, we have not seen a great impact with all this extra cash. This is definitely in part because the busier I have been, the less I have paid attention to our money, and unmanaged money has a way of disappearing . . . The other reason is my husband's job. Times are tough there and he hasn't seen a commission in months. So, this extra money in a way has just replaced the commissions we are used to my husband receiving.

We even had to dip into our Emergency Fund this month because my husband mistakenly paid our mortgage payment (online) to our old mortgage company, instead of the new company that we refinanced with. This was a huge hassle and I'm hoping won't affect our credit negatively given that our new mortgage company didn't receive the payment on time. So, in the meantime I took $2,500 from our EF to pay the mortgage while we waited to get the money back from the other company. The check finally came, so I'm hoping to take a look at our budget for November and then transfer the $2,500 back to the EF. Ugh!

Anyway, the reason that "I was almost normal" has to do with my oldest daughter's 13th birthday. She has been wanting a new cell phone and I started to think "well, it is a milestone birthday" and "she does study hard and get straight A's" and "all her friends have fancy cell phones", etc. I actually went as far as making the purchase of the phone with a 2 year contract to the tune of $70 a month!!! and as I was driving home I realized how crazy I was being. (Luckily I had checked and made sure that I had 30 days to return the phone with no charges or penalties.) So, I returned the phone without ever telling my daughter about it. And we ended up getting her plane tickets to fly to Florida to visit her grandparents over winter vacation. She was thrilled and we paid cash up front and won't be adding $70 a month to our bills for the next 10 plus years!

It really is hard to NOT do what everyone else is doing! Score 1 for Financial Peace! :)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Kill Something And Drag It Home!

Had another great craft show selling my pendants this past Saturday. I made $920! I'm so happy!
And I have another big show coming up this weekend. So, I'm feeling really good.

I got a call this morning from a woman in Florida that ordered a pendant and loved it and she wanted to rush order a bunch more. It felt great! It occurred to me this morning how much I really enjoy running this business.

I quit my job in 1996 when my first daughter was born so I could be a stay at home Mom. I love being a Mom and never had a desire to go back to work. I've never felt guilty about not earning an income. I know I've done a lot to contribute to the well being of my family. So, I am a little surprised by how great I feel about bringing home some extra cash.

It really does feel good to "kill something and drag it home" (as Dave Ramsey says)! :)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Emergency Funds Are Boring

I think that's the bottom line with our current financial situation.

I enjoyed the post 11 Ways To Spice Up Your Emergency Fund over at Get Rich Slowly, but mostly I was just happy to see someone point out what I've been feeling for the past several month - building an emergency fund just isn't exciting.

Although Baby Step 2 was a long journey to pay off all our debts, it came with a tremendous sense of accomplishment each month. It was like Debt was the enemy and I was pumped up to fight fight fight until I won.

The fire seems to have fizzled considerably.

In one way this is surprising to me because I am a worrier. And in these bad economic times, I would think I would feel more pressure to build that emergency fund up and up and up, but progress seems slow. My husbands company isn't doing well right now and his comissions have all but dried up. This leaves very little "extra" money in the budget to put towards the emergency fund.

Now, I have been doing really well selling my pendants at local craft shows. Last weekend I made $550, the weekend before I made $220, and the weekend before I made $1,050 (my highest so far!) - so, you would think that our emergency fund would be growing, but - not so much.

I haven't been great at tracking all the reasons it hasn't, but the few that come to mind are 1.) had to repair car for $250, 2.) husband went on a weekend trip for $400, 3.) I bought new stuff for our bathrooms for $600 (yikes!), 4.) I spent too much on back to school clothes for the kids, and probably lots more that I can't think of right now.

I hate to say it, but I think I have to spend a little time thinking about the reality that we could actually NEED our emergency fund in the not too distant future. I might need a little reality check and a little FEAR to make me behave with money right now. And the reality is that sales are waaaay down at my husband's company. Last quarter (Q1) was the worst ever. This quarter (Q2) isn't looking any better. Q2 ends in November and some of the people who work under my husband will probably be let go at that time. At the end of Q3 (February), if things don't get better, teams will probably be merged and my husband's position could be in jeopardy. He has already updated his resume . . .

Given that I am a worrier with a very big security gland - I need to realize how important our emergency fund is and get it pumped up fast!

We currently have $20,000 saved (not $22,000 as I previously posted as some funds didn't ever actually make it in there), and we need to work fast to get it up to $30,000 (or more).

Wish me luck!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

On The Rise

Earning and spending that is. Both on the rise.

That's not good.

Why is it that the more I earn, the more I spend? Obviously I want earning to go up and spending to go down. But how to get there . . .

And more importantly, I need to get some FOCUS. I need to focus on our finances again.

I have so enjoyed running my pendant business. It has been a lot of fun and I have been earning a lot of money. Both great things. But our emergency fund has not been going up the way it should be. We have been doing some small renovations around the house, ordering take out more and more - things that shouldn't be happening until the emergency fund is complete.

I had a feeling that it might be harder to stay motivated in Baby Step 3 than Baby Step 2 - but this is ridiculous.

I'm actually thinking about taking the Financial Peace University class again just to get my focus back.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Difficult Questions

I had a great craft show this past weekend. It was supposed to be both Saturday and Sunday, but Saturday was canceled because of the rain, so it was just on Sunday. And I managed to make $1,064 in sales! Yeay! I'm psyched about that.

I'm not so psyched about how much I spent on back to school clothes for the kids. I waited until the last minute and felt stressed - and just took them out and bought them what they wanted. I don't know the grand total, but it was definitely more than the $600 I budgeted.

Things have been very busy around here. I felt pressure getting ready for the craft show weekend, and the kids going back to school this week, and my parents are visiting from Florida and have been staying with me. My house is a mess - and things just basically feel out of control.

I REALLY need to de-clutter my house - especially the basement and the kid's clothes (that don't fit them anymore). I'm am struggling with the decision of whether to just give everything away or to save the stuff to try to sell it. My financial side obviously wants to sell the stuff. But I'm wondering if I will really get around to it. I basically have a craft show every Saturday between now and Christmas. I enjoy doing this and have made some good money at it - but I don't know if I'll have the time to do this and organize and sell all our junk.

The other decision I am struggling with is the kid's activities. My husband really wants all 3 of our kids to take piano lessons (and for our youngest to also take voice lessons). My middle daughter has an interest in theatre (she's been in several plays) and could possibly benefit from some voice lessons too.

My oldest enjoys playing piano and will happily take the lessons.
My middle daughter does not want piano or voice lessons at all.
My youngest daughter would like voice lessons, but not piano.

Piano lessons in my area are $23 for a half hour lesson.
A combo piano/voice lesson is $30 for a half hour lesson.

So, for 2 combo lessons and 1 piano lesson each week would be $83, or over $300 a month!

If I use the same teacher, I could possibly book a full hour and have each of the girls take 20 minutes of the lesson (not sure if this is possible, but it might be). This would cost me between $53 and $60 a week, or $240+ a month.

But I'm not even sure that $240 a month really fits into our budget. We still don't have our fully funded emergency fund (and it looks like it will take us almost to the end of 2010 to get it alll the way up to $30,000, at least on paper). And we haven't even begun saving for college - and my oldest is only 6 years away from starting college!

I dread discussing this with my husband. He is having a really bad time at work right now. Sales are down because of the economy - and pressure is high. I don't think he can really handle a realistic look at our finances right now. Even though I think we have been doing really well, he tends to look at the negatives - like how we will both need new cars soon, etc.

Yet I know he feels strongly about the girls having piano lessons.

I guess they don't have to start right at the beginning of September. I can wait a little till things settle down at his work - and then discuss it with him.

I hate to think that we can't afford this for our kids - but I bet Suze Orman would say "denied" if I called in to her "Can I Afford It" segment.

Oh - it's hard to know what to do.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Off Budget

Well, I can't say that my cash envelopes for August have lasted. As of today I am officially out of cash and there is almost a week left in the month - and I need to buy stuff for the kids for back to school.

Let's just say that we have been less than gazelle intense lately.

I understand losing a little steam over time, but I wish we could get the Emergency Fund fully funded up to $30,000. Only around $22,000 right now.

I do have a ton of craft shows coming up, so hopefully I'll be able to use some of that cash to beef up the FFEF.

Just wanted to check in and let everyone know we're still here.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

August 2009 Budget

AUTO-Excise Tax $0
AUTO-BR Gas $160
AUTO-Insurance $130
AUTO-Maint $0
CASH-Clothing $600
CASH-Dining Out $180
CASH-JR Gas $120
CASH-Gifts $0
CASH-Grocery $500
CASH-Kids Allowc $62
CASH-Parties $20
CASH-Schl Lunch $0
CASH-Spending $200
HOME-Cable/Ph $160
HOME-Electric $115
HOME-Mortgage $2,345
HOME-Oil $0
HOME-Water $0
HOME-Trash $0
KIDS-Bball $0
KIDS-Misc. $0
KIDS-Piano $264
MISC. $0
PERS-Cell Ph $0
PERS-Contacts $99
PERS-Life Ins. $59
PERS-Newspap $12
PERS-BR Rx1 $0
PERS-BR Rx2 $0
PERS-Cat Rx $0
PERS-Braces $200
PERS-BR Sports $0
PERS-Vacation $0
TRNSF-To Sav $2,300
TOTAL $7,526

1st Paycheck $2,261
1st Commission $3,090
15th Paycheck $2,261
Church Pay $100
Jewelry Pay $50
Other $0
Trnsf fr Savings $0
TOTAL $7,762

Beginning Balance $0
+ Income $7,762
Subtotal $7,762
- Expenses $7,526
Subtotal $236
Save Fr Nxt Mnth $236
Ending Balance $0

Beginning Balance $20,381
+ Trnsf to Savings $2,300
Subtotal $22,681
- Trnsf fr Savings $0
Subtotal $22,681
Ending Balance $22,681

New 2 Year Budget

Well, we bought a new computer and were able to upload everything from the old computer from an external hard drive - but not before I redid my 2 year budget spreadsheet. I was just too impatient and couldn't wait!

Turns out it was a good exercise to redo the budget from scratch. I feel a new sense of gazelle and calm at the same time. We are in pretty good shape and are moving forward every month. I also saved it to google docs so that it won't be lost again and I can access it from anywhere. :)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Motivating A Reluctant Spouse (with cash)

Over at there was a thread discussing motivating a reluctant spouse which is something I have been dealing with during our financial journey.

I started thinking about some of the things that we have purchased over the past couple of years, all for cash, and it made me feel kinda good. Some of these items were necessities and many were not. But the ones that were not were in a way, just to keep my DH on board with the plan.

Many of these things (or probably all) would have been purchased on credit in the past.

So, here's my list:

$500 - new laptop (old one broke)
$300 - video recorder (capture our children for memories)
$3,000 - Disney World vacation
$1,000 - new bedroom mattress
$500 - tear down overgrown shrubs and trees in yard
$400 - repair van air conditioner
$400 - replace rusted hood on van
$200 - gps for car
$1,000 - new dishwasher (old one broke)
$500 - hot water heater (old one broke)
$250 - mulch for yard

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I'm Lost . . .

. . . without my budget!

I had my 2 year budget spreadsheet on my computer - and my computer died two weeks ago. Ugh!

I have been lucky and have been able to use my husband's old work laptop (which we will probably have to give back, but until then I will use this), but I don't have a copy of my yearly budget. I don't even know what my August budget plan was. And here it is - August 4th. I know I should just get out a piece of paper and make a plan - but I don't want to. I like to see how this month will affect the whole year.

My only hope is that we did back up some files a while ago and hopefully my husband can help me look for my budget document.

Anyway, I know I'm whining . . . I'm just frustrated.

Not too much else to report. My Scrabble pendant website has been very slow. Haven't had a sale is about 2 weeks, but I guess that's not uncommon for on line sales in the summer. I should be making lots of stock for the 15 upcoming Craft Shows that I am doing.

Hubby's home - I'll post more later . . .

Saturday, August 1, 2009

June Earnings Update

Finally added up all my revenue for June 2009. I made $1,986 in extra income! Wow! I'm so psyched about that.

Updated my sidebar too.

Now if I can just get it up that high every month . . . :)

Keeping Up with My Sisters

Ugh! I just did a long post that didn't save or publish properly. . .

Anyway, July wasn't a great financial month for my family. My computer died. We haven't gotten a new one yet but probably will soon.

I definitely did not budget appropriately for the summer months. We went away for almost every weekend in July, and although we stayed for free with friends or family each time, we did spend a lot on groceries we brought as well as for outings and restaurants while we were there.

I also spent a lot of time with my well dressed sisters with fabulously decorated homes. Hence, I spent some unbudgeted money on home improvements (re-did family bathroom decor) and clothes for me.

In the final analysis, I had planned to put transfer an additional $2,000 into savings in the middle of the month. That didn't happen and by the end of the month there was only around $600 left in the checking account. Not good.

I sure hope (and PLAN) to make August a better month for us financially!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Emergency Fund Progress

We are on Baby Step 3 of Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover which is to save up 3 to 6 months of expenses in a Fully Funded Emergency Fund. Our goal is to save $30,000 which is about 6 months of living expenses for my family.

Yesterday I deposited another $3,280 bringing our balance up to $20,310. After my husband gets paid on the 15th we plan to deposit another $2,220 which will bring our balance up to $22,530. This makes our total contribution for this month $5,500 which is less than what I had originally budgeted for.

Originally my husband expected his commission for this month to be $8,000 but it turned out to only be $4,900. At first this stressed me out but then he told me he expects next month's commission to be $3,000 where we had originally budgeted for $0.

I really want to get this FFEF done but on paper it looks it might take us until April 2010 to get the full $30,000 saved. I'm hoping we'll get it done before the end of the year.

Monday, July 6, 2009

July 2009 Budget

Expenses Jul
AUTO-Excise Tax $0
AUTO GAS - BR $200
AUTO-Insurance $120
AUTO-Maintenance $0
CASH-Auto Gas JR $100
CASH-Clothing $0
CASH-Dining Out $120
CASH-Gifts $0
CASH-Grocery $400
CASH-Kids Allownce $50
CASH-Parties $0
CASH-School Lunch $0
CASH-Spending $160
DEBT-Equity Loan $0
DEBT-Visa $0
HOME-Cable/Phone $181
HOME-Electric $190
HOME-Water $0
HOME-Furnace $0
HOME-Mortgage $2,345
HOME-Oil $0
HOME-Trash $0
KIDS-Bball $0
KIDS-Misc. $0
KIDS-Piano $0
KIDS-Preschool $0
MISC. $0
MISC. $0
PERSNAL-Contacts $0
PERSNAL-Life Ins. $0
PERSONAL-Braces $100
PERSNL-BR Sports $0
PERSNAL-Vacation $0


Total To

Total $9,494

1st Paycheck $2,239
1st Commission $4,900
15th Paycheck $2,220
Church Pay $64
Jewelry Pay $50
Other $0
Transfer fr Savings $0
TOTAL $9,473

Beginning Balance $196
'+ Income $9,473
Subtotal $9,669
'- Expenses $9,494
Subtotal $175
Save Fr Next Month $175
Ending Balance $0

Monday, June 29, 2009

1st Craft Show Bust

Well, it finally happened. I had my first disaster of a Craft Show this past Saturday.

I paid $45 to be in the show plus had to donate a raffle item with a retail value of $25, and the show was horrible! I stayed up until 2am on Friday night making sure I had enough stock for the show, then got up at 6am and drove for an hour to get there. Right after I set up all my stuff I made two sales to 2 of the vendors and those were my only sales of the whole day! Ugh!

And it wasn't just me. None of the vendors sold anything. It was a Family Fun Day type of event and there were a lot of people there but everyone was playing volleyball and basketball and eating their free picnic type lunch. The vendors were kind of across the field and nobody even came over to look.

Well, I guess it was bound to happen sooner or later.

So, in total I made $34 for the day, which really was a loss after you account for the fee and raffle item.

I really don't have any more shows scheduled over the summer. Partly because there aren't a lot of summer shows and partly because we have a lot of weekend plans already planned. I might participate in a 2 day show at the end of August but I haven't decided yet.

Once September comes, I have a show booked for every Saturday in Sept., Oct., Nov., and a couple in Dec. In total I think I have 15 more shows booked. So, I figure that I hope to sell at least 100 pendants per show (hopefully much more) - so I will need at least 1,500 pendants ready to sell this fall. So, I plan to spend the summer making stock so that I will have enough for all the fall shows.

Now I need to get my July budget finished!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Still here plugging along.

Made $400 at the craft show this past weekend. Have another one scheduled for this Saturday.

So far this month, I have made $1,700 in jewelry sales at craft shows this month! I really can't believe it. It has kept me very busy making enough stock to bring to the shows. But boy does it feel good!

After this weekend things will slow down. I have not found many craft shows that I can participate in over the summer. I am going to try to do a 2 day show at the end of August, but that's about it.

Once September is here, I'll be doing a show basically every Saturday in September, October, and November, and maybe a couple in December.

I hope to use the summer down time to make tons of stock and spruce up my on line store.

Things are going pretty much as planned as far as the budget goes. My husband is still expecting about an $8,000 commission at the end of the month which will bring our Emergency Fund up to $25,000 - only $5,000 short of our $30,000 goal. After we get the commission I plan to open that checking account that pays 4.44% interest.

Over the summer I also plan to go through my basement and get rid of a bunch of stuff. I plan to make a section for items to sell on ebay and post some stuff every week.

So, that's what's going on with me. Sorry I haven't been posting often. I hope to keep up better. Hope you all are well!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

This Week's Menu

I was inspired by Money Funk to plan out my menus for the week. Here's what I came up with (all from out of my pantry and freezer):

Sunday - Rotisserie Chicken
Monday - Chicken Fajitas
Tuesday - Chicken Noodle Soup
Wednesday - Pasta
Thursday - Shepherd's Pie
Friday - Homemade Pizzas
Saturday - Eat Out

Have you planned your meals for the week?

The Prioritizer

I learned about this great tool called "The Prioritizer" over at I've Paid For This Twice Already.

The Prioritizer is a calculator that helps you rank a series of goals or options which are most attractive to you.

Here is a list of my goals that the Prioritizer put in order for me:

1. New Hood for Van
2. New Windows
3. New Heating System
4. Re-do Bedroom
5. Tie:
Paint House
New Deck
Deck Furniture
8. New Roof

I'm looking forward to using this tool. You should check it out!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Mid June Update

June is starting off well!

I had an outdoor craft show on the past two Saturdays.

The one on June 6th was the first time that I did an outdoor one all by myself - and I did great! It was in Providence, RI, and it was a really good show. And, I was able to lug all my stuff, and set up the 10' x 10' tent all by myself. It was a bit exhausting and I was definitely sore on Sunday, but I'm happy that I will be able to handle these shows by myself. At the end of the day I had made $320 in sales. Not bad.

Then this past Saturday, June 13th, I did another show in Wakefield, MA. It was great! I was busy all day and made a ton of sales. I probably would have made even more if I had had more inventory. (I completely sold out of my adult size ribbon necklaces!) I ended the day with $750 in sales! Yay! I am psyched!

So, I have already surpassed my $1,000 of extra income goal! I'm at $1,070 and the month is only almost half over!

The FFEF (fully funded emergency fund) will be filled before I know it!! :)

Monday, June 1, 2009

MAY 2009 Extra Earnings

May was my best month so far for earning extra income! My goal is to earn $1,000 of extra income each month - and in May I actually surpassed my goal by almost $300! Yeay!

I'm hoping that with all the Craft Shows I have signed up for, that this will be an ongoing trend.

May 2009 Extra Income
Jewelry Sales: $559
Blog Ads: $600
Assoc. Content: $6.42
Church Nursery: $128
Savings Interest: $5
TOTAL: $1,298.42

This brings my year to date total to $3,354. I'm feeling very good about that! :)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Craft Shows

I signed up for 19 Craft shows between now and the end of 2009!! (This is a photo of my booth.)

I paid a lot to be in these shows and hope that I get a really good return on my investment.

I better get really busy getting enough product ready for these shows.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

New York Times Magazine Article

Check out this very interesting article about credit card companies.


Definitely have my mind focused on money this week!

DH has been having a rough week at work it is end of quarter/end of fiscal year. He is under a lot of pressure to bring a lot of deals in by the end of the month, and a lot of them are just falling apart. He is very stressed. It's not good to have a really bad Q4, and if it really turns out that bad I'm not sure if his actual job would be in jeopardy. He says stuff like "if I still have a job". I'm pretty sure he's just blowing off steam, but it does stress me out . . .

I have been looking far and wide for Craft Fairs to sign up for, and then yesterday I saw a sign for a Craft Show in my own town this weekend! I called and was able to get a booth for Saturday. So, I will spend the next 2 days prepping for that.

I called on the Checking Account with the 4.44% interest rate, and I think I'm going to do it once we have saved $25,000. We are at $17,000 right now and should hopefully be up to the $25,000 when (if) my husband gets his big end of the fiscal year commission check (of course, now that Q4 is not looking so good, the commission could be much smaller than expected) - but we'll see.

I asked every question I could think of about the checking account and it seems do-able. Basically I'll need to make 15 debit card transactions each month (atm withdrawals don't count), and make one direct deposit each month (any electronic deposit of money counts). So, I think I can handle that - though it does messy up our accounts a little bit.

Here's how I think I will do it:

- 1st of the month - instead of withdrawing our "cash" for the envelopes at the beginning of each month, I will instead electronically transfer (deposit) funds from our regular checking account to this new account.

- I will then use the new debit card (instead of cash) to pay for what used to be our cash categories: Groceries, Gifts, Clothing, Dining Out, Auto Gas. (I think we'll still use cash for "Blow".) I will try to do as many transactions at the beginning of the month to be sure to fulfill the 15 transactions requirement. I plan to stop for gas a bunch of times and just add $5 each time and then to do a few transactions at the grocery store each time.

The 15 transactions part is a bit of a pain, but if we put in $25,000 of our FFEF, 4.44% interest on that will be over $90 a month! That's worth a bit of inconvenience to me. I'm looking at it like another part time job. I make $32/hour at the church nursery, so this should take less than 3 hours and earn me the same.

Monday, May 18, 2009


Hello! I don't know why but lately I feel like I don't have much to blog about.

We have increased our Emergency fund to $17,000 - so we are on our way to our goal of $30,000.

I spent the day filling out applications for craft fairs. I hope to do about a dozen of them by the end of the year. It's a bit hard committing to dates this far in advance, and to shell out the booth fees (usually around $100) - but every show I've done so far has been worth it, so I'm hopeful.

I received a payment from Associated Content this week. It was for $6 and some change I think. I really do like getting that passive income, even if it is small. I have been thinking about starting to write a little for them again. I also noticed that several people signed up using my referral link (thanks to anyone who did!) - but many of those people haven't written any content yet (start writing! lol!), although one person has written 39 articles - wow!

I had some fun playing around with this calculator:

You can play with the numbers and figure out hold old you will be when your income from investments will be greater than your income from your job. It's kinda cool.

That's about it. I'll try to update my totals and post some more this week.

Hope you all are well!

P.S. I have been going on the forums a lot lately. Gets addictive!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Is This Worth It? 4.44% APY

I saw an ad on t.v. today for a local bank that is offering an on line savings account that pays 4.44% APY (on balances up to $25,000).

Here are the stipulations:
Sign up to receive monthly e-Statements
Receive at least one direct deposit per statement
Make at least 15 debit card purchase transactions per statement
Use Home Banking and Bill Pay at least once per statement

I was thinking of maybe keeping my FFEF in here. My FFEF goal is $30,000.

The hard part of those requirements are making 15 debit card purchase transactions per statement. It seems (though I'm not sure) that just withdrawing the money from an ATM wouldn't count. (Although they do offer free ATM withdraws from their banks and refund up to $10 per month of any ATM fees that other banks charge.)

Anyway - it's not like I want to make 15 purchases every month - but 4.44% interest on $25,000 is like $94 a month.

Do you think it's worth it? Any suggestions on fulfillling the purchase requirements easily?

Thanks for any input!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Daily Progress

The Good:
- I cut coupons for groceries today. It's been a while since I did this. I used to really be good about scouring the flyers for coupons and sales and combining them to get the best deals. I used to really enjoy it and want to get back into it again.
- I had a good jewelry order for 10 pendants today. Yeay!
- I packed a lunch for my two daughters to bring to school today. Much more economical than paying $5.25 (for the 2) for lunch.

The Bad:
- I threw out some spoiled food from the refrigerator. A reminder that I need to do a better job at
managing our food consumption and plan the meals around leftovers and food that will expire soon.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Just wanted to wish all my blogging friends a Hapy Mother's Day!

We just got back from spending the weekend in Newport, RI. My mother in law has a time share there. She was planning to go but couldn't at the last minute, so she asked us if we would like to us it. I wasn't about to pass up a "free" weekend in Newport.

Well, it's true that we didn't have to pay for the hotel (time share condo), but the weekend certainly was not free. We let my daughter invite one of her friends, so it was me, my husband, our three daughters, and one friend. We brought food for breakfast and snacks but did eat out one meal each day - and it adds up fast! Then we took my Mom out for dinner for Mother's Day today. So, between Friday and tonight (Sunday) we spent $400!! Yikes!!

Also spent a little time discussing money with the hubby over the weekend. I reminded him that we are doing so great and that in another couple of months we will have our 6 month emergency fund fully in place. He said that's fine, but we NEED to replace the windows in our house and "we are doing it this summer!". Um, we can do it once we save up for it I said. Why can't we just finance it he said? UGH!!!

Over two years we have been doing this and he still doesn't see why we shouldn't finance the new windows. sigh.

I can probably stall him on the windows until we have the cash, but it is so frustrating that I can't seem to get him fully on board. Now that we are finally debt free (except for the house) - I never want to get in debt again.

Do any of you have a spouse that is concerned less about being debt free than you are? Any advice for how to convince a reluctant husband?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

February 2009 Extra Earnings

Catching up with more updates . . .

February 2009 Extra Earnings:

Jewelry Sales: $336
Assoc. Content: $4.89
Cash4Books: $9.86
Blog Ads: $10
Savings Interest: $4.18
Church Nursery: $120
TOTAL: $484.93

March 2009 Extra Earnings

More catching up with updates . . .

March 2009 Extra Earnings:

Jewelry Sales: $275
Savings Interest: $5.66
Blog Ads: $10
Church Nursery: $160
TOTAL: $440.66

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

April 2009 Extra Earnings Update

Well, I did get paid for the blog ads, so that bumps my April extra earnings income up to $774.16! Yeay!!!

Jewelry Sales: $403.17
Savings Interest: $4.18
Babysitting: $85.00
Church Nursery: $64.00 $5.15
Assoc. Content: $12.66
Blog Ad Income: $200.00
TOTAL: $774.16

Saturday, May 2, 2009

May 2009 Budget

(Well, I'm trying out a new background that I got from after seeing the cute one over at Won't Go Down Without A Fight. Let me know what you think!)

Here is our budget for May.

The expenses are pretty normal except for the closing costs for our refinance and the final payoff of our Florida trip and the large amount we are able to "pay" to savings (because of high income this month).

Our income this month is nothing like normal due to our very high tax refund and my husband's very large commission check this month.


AUTO-Excise Tax $0
AUTO GAS - BR $200
AUTO-Insurance $120
AUTO-Maintenance $0
CASH-Auto Gas JR $100
CASH-Clothing $0
CASH-Dining Out $120
CASH-Gifts $65
CASH-Grocery $400
CASH-Kids Allownce $50
CASH-Parties $0
CASH-School Lunch $45
CASH-Spending $160
DEBT-Equity Loan $0
DEBT-Visa $0
HOME-Cable/Phone $181
HOME-Electric $180
HOME-Water $0
HOME-Furnace $0
HOME-Mortgage $0
HOME-Oil $300
HOME-Trash $0
KIDS-Bball $0
KIDS-Misc. $0
KIDS-Piano $0
KIDS-Preschool $0
PERS-Contacts $99
PERS-Life Ins. $0
PERSONAL-Braces $200
PERS-BR Sports $0
PERS-Vacation $0
TO SAVINGS $15,300

TOTAL $20,698

1st Paycheck $2,239
1st Commission $6,908
15th Paycheck $2,220
Church Pay $120
Jewelry Pay $470
Other (TAX REF)
Transfer fr Savings $0
TOTAL $20,457

Beginning Balance $400
'+ Income $20,457
Subtotal $20,857
'- Expenses $20,698
Subtotal $159
Save For Next Mnth $159
Ending Balance $0

I have updated all my sidebars to reflect our current actual debt and savings balances.

I'm feeling pretty good!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Debt Free Except For The House!!!!

Well, it's official. We are debt free except for the home mortgage!

We closed on the refinance and everything went well. The out of pocket expenses were less than I had expected ($950) and we won't have a mortgage payment due in May. The first one will be due June 1st. So that is pretty sweet!

And, my husband is expecting a large commission check on May 1st, plus our nice big tax refund should be coming soon. I'm feeling really good!!

So, we were officially in Baby Step 2 for 26 months and we paid off $23,000 during that time.

What's really exciting is that I firmly believe that we have finally figured out how to stop living from paycheck to paycheck. We have finally figured out how to do our budget with an irregular income. It feels so good to know that we are moving in the right direction and things should get better and better.

I have been married for 18 years and during that time we have always struggled with debt. We did not live below our means. Several times we would "pay off" our debts (by adding our debt to a refinance, or when we took out a 401K loan, etc.) but we never changed our ways and eventually got right back into debt. Most years I found that we spent about $10,000 more than we earned - no matter our income.

Things are different now. We forecast our expected income and our expected expenses. We follow a budget. We spend with cash.

Even our mortgage broker complimented us on our finances and said we are doing much better than most people our age that he works with. I know we still have a long way to go, but it did make me feel good. I finally feel like a grown up. I know how to delay gratification. And the more I delay, the more I realize how little I need to feel satisfied. :)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Hello, Hello

So, here's what I have done to earn extra money this week:

Church Nursery: $32
Blog Ads: $200
Jewelry Sales: $127
Babysat Neighbor Child 2 days: $85
Total: $444

I definitely need to start focusing on SAVING money again too though. Best to tackle the finances on the saving and earning sides!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Cost of Tonight's Dinner

I have been craving going out to eat, but for the benefit of our budget I have been trying hard not to. So, I decided to calculate how much my home cooked dinner cost.

Here goes. We had Chicken Marsala with rice and mixed vegetables for 5 people.

Boneless Chicken: $3.33 (1/3 of a $10 family pack)
Marsala Wine: $1.00 (1/4 of $4 bottle)
Flour: $ .10
Butter: $ .25
Mixed Veggies: $ .75 (3/4 of $ .99 bag)
Rice (store brand Rice A Roni): $ .59
TOTAL: $6.02

So, the total for dinner at home for 5 people was $6.02. If we had gone to our family's favorite local restaurant, the bill for the 5 of us would have been about $46.00!

Grade Your Finances

Check out this cool calculator at CNN Money. Answer some questions and get a grade on your finances. (I got a C+, but this should improve drastically over the next few months.)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Moving On To BS3

Well, we are still plugging along.

We have been approved for our refinance, we're just waiting to get our closing date. Our new mortgage will be a 15 year mortgage for $240,000 at 4.5%. This will cover (pay off) our Home Equity Loan and get us "debt free except for the house". Yay!

We will then move on to Baby Step 3 - save 3 to 6 months of living expenses as our Fully Funded Emergency Fund.

Here is what I come up with as our bare bones monthly living expenses:

Auto Gas: $200.00
Auto Insurance: $120.00
Grocery: $400.00
Home-Cable/Phone/Internet: $150.00
Home-Electric: $180.00
Home-Mortgage: $2,250.00
Home-Oil: $350.00
Home-Trash: $22.00
Personal-Braces: $100.00
TOTAL: $3,772.00

If I round up to $3,800 and plan to save enough to cover 6 months, that would be $22,800.00. I didn't include COBRA insurance payments (and I really don't know how much that would be) but I also didn't count on receiving "unemployment" money (which I also really don't know how much it would be or how long we would receive it for) - so I'm hoping those 2 will cover each other and cancel each other out?? (Anyone know more about these things?)

You might also notice that I left our cable/phone/internet rather high at $150 a month, but I figured we'd need the internet for me to continue my on-line business and for my husband to job hunt, and I figured we would want the cable as our only entertainment. (I fear that if we were to cancel it we might snap and go back into debt.)

Miraculously, we are expecting a large tax refund (even though we changed our withholding last year, guess we need to change again), and a large commission check in May and July - soooooo, we could actually have our FFEF by this July!!! This is amazing to me!!

This would mean that in just a few short months we could actually move on to Baby Steps 4 and 5 - and not a minute too soon as my oldest daughter is 12 and we need to really focus on college savings.

So, I'm feeling pretty optimistic tonight.

How did you all figure how much to save for your Emergency Fund?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


We're back from my sister's wedding in Florida. We had a great time, but there was one major unfortunate incident. I lost $1,000 cash.

Well, not exactly lost. The day of the wedding we had a lot of setting up to do. My husband dropped me off to help my Mom set up for the wedding and I had the cash in my purse. I never thought to give it to my husband at that time. Then I didn't quite know what to do with my purse. We were setting up at the poolside clubhouse of their development. It is a public place so I was afraid to leave my purse around with all that cash while I was busy putting centerpieces on tables, etc. So, I put my wallet full of cash in my front pocket of my pants. I spent the day setting up and then we drove back to our hotel. Well, my wallet must have somehow fallen out of my pocket as I walked into the hotel. A half hour later the front desk called to say someone found my wallet. We retrieved the wallet that was empty of all cash, and just like that we were out $1,000!

This was only a half hour before the wedding started and I couldn't stop sobbing. My husband was mad at me, but not more than I was at myself. I pulled myself together and got through the wedding but couldn't sleep those first few nights. I'm trying to get over it but I still have a knot in my stomach.

I might rethink using cash from now on. Or at least carry around less at any given time. (I usually do withdraw about $1,000 cash at the beginning of each months fro the envelopes for groceries, gas, gifts, clothes, etc.). Maybe just carry around one week's worth at a time.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


It's been a difficult month. We have been getting ready for my sister's wedding. I definitely did not budget enough for this. We will be flying to Florida for the wedding and all 3 of my daughters are in the wedding. Dresses, shoes, sashes, hairbows, etc. It all adds up. Not to mention the need for new sneakers, bathing suits, sandals, etc. That stuff we would have needed anyway for the summer, but I didn't really plan for enough money to get it all now.

I am also fighting my usual impulses to get a whole new wardrobe for the trip. Yes, I needed a new dress for the wedding and probably for the rehearsal dinner, but I am trying to restrain myself from more than that. I have the urge for a haircut, manicure, pedicure, and spray tan.

And as the wedding gets closer (less than 2 weeks away now!), everything seems more pressing. Being frugal requires careful planning. Rushing does not lend itself to getting good deals.

Anyway, I am really looking forward to the trip and trying not to let the high expenses take away from it.

On other news, I did well at a craft show last week. I made $320 in sales. So that was good.

Also, looks like the refinance might be back on. I'm happy about this but also feel a little stress about spending on the closing costs, appraisal, and all the other charges that come up for a refi. We only have about $5,000 in savings right now, and the costs will probably take a very big bite out of this. Next month will (should) be a high commission month that will most likely beef up the savings, but still.

I have to keep reminding myself of the big up side of refinancing - it will make us "debt free except for the house"! This is because we will need to include the Home Equity Loan in the refinance, thus paying it off, and basically rolling it into our new mortgage. The new mortgage will also be slightly less expensive each month (like $50-$100). So, at that point we can move on to Baby Step 3 and finish building up our Fully Funded Emergency Fund of 6 months of living expenses, which for us will be $30,000.

I'll keep you posted. (And try to post more regularly!)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

March 2009 Budget

For March, our projected income is $6,590. This includes $600 that will be transferred from our Savings account. It also includes $150 from jewelry sales, which is $100 more than the usual $50 that I budget. This is because I will be doing a big craft show and anticipate making some extra cash. It also includes a commission in the amount of $1,300.

Our projected expenses is $6,527. This includes all our regular expenses including $200 towards our last debt (HELOC) and $1,000 to our "Snowball Savings Account". (We are putting this money aside because of worry about the economic situation in our country. If the storm passes, we will eventually put all this money on our last debt.)

This month's expenses also includes an additional $125 for a charity fundraiser we will be attending to benefit autism (listed under Misc.). It also includes $100 for new clothing for the children for spring clothes and shoes. (This might be a bit low, but I do have another $300 budgeted for summer clothes in June.) It also includes $300 for my daughter's braces because I had forgot my checkbook in Jan. and we missed our appointment in Feb. It also includes $50 for my cell phone as I will need to add some more minutes. (I use a prepaid phone only for important calls.) It also includes $256 for life insurance (which we pay annually instead of monthly).

Our projected savings by the end of March is $5,900. Of this, $4,400 will be in our Snowball Savings Account and $1,500 will be in our Regular Savings Account (and the $1,500 is including the $1,000 BEF).


AUTO-Excise Tax $0
AUTO GAS - BR $200
AUTO-Insurance $120
AUTO-Maintenance $0
CASH-Auto Gas JR $100
CASH-Clothing $100
CASH-Dining Out $120
CASH-Gifts $0
CASH-Grocery $500
CASH-Kids Allownce $50
CASH-Parties $0
CASH-School Lunch $45
CASH-Spending $200
DEBT-Equity Loan $200
DEBT-Visa $0
HOME-Cable/Phone $181
HOME-Electric $180
HOME-Water $0
HOME-Furnace $0
HOME-Mortgage $2,327
HOME-Oil $400
HOME-Trash $65
KIDS-Bball $0
KIDS-Misc. $0
KIDS-Piano $0
KIDS-Preschool $0
MISC. $125
MISC. $0
PERSONAL-Cell Ph $50
PERSNAL-Contacts $0
PERSONAL-Lif Ins. $256
PERSONAL-Braces $300
PERSONAL- Sprts $0
TO SAV E.D. Snowb $1,000
TOTAL $6,527

1st Paycheck $2,220
1st Commission $1,300
15th Paycheck $2,220
Church Pay $100
Jewelry Pay $150
Other $0
Transfer fr Savings $600
TOTAL $6,590

Beginning Balance $0
'+ Income $6,590
Subtotal $6,590
'- Expenses $6,527
Subtotal $63
Save For Next Month $63
Ending Balance $0

Beginning Balance $5,500
+Transfer to ED sav $1,000
+Trnsfer to ING sav $0
Subtotal $6,500
'- Trnsfer fr Savings -$600
Ending Balance $5,900

E.D. Snowball Total $4,400
Ing Savings Total $1,500
Total Savings $5,900