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Archive for March, 2009

Finally, I've made a plan....

March 31st, 2009 at 02:05 pm

for this payday. Tomorrow is the big day!

I will have $645 extra funds to allocate somewhere. I would love to send all of it to the home equity loan, but it turns out we have planned a spur of the moment mini vacation. Of course, it needs to be paid in cash! I will allocate $500 to the vacation. The remaining $145 will go to the home equity loan.

This is so hard for me to only send in such a small amount to the HEL. I'm on a mission, I wasn't ready for a detour.

The vacation is important too. And we will be taking several of these over the summer and fall. It has been a few years since DH was deployed, so it just feels like it could happen again. We want to spend quality time together while we can.

As I write this, I'm feeling better about my debt payoff detour. It is after all a vacation...not something worse!

Decisions!!

March 30th, 2009 at 09:42 am

In my last post, I explained that DH took a week off from work. We always spend too much money when he's home. We had talked about buying a new kitchen sink and faucet and installing it while he was on leave.

But, then I had a break down. Yes, there was crying involved. I was having irrational feelings about buying the sink. It didn't feel right. DH didn't get why I would say it was okay one day and change my mind the next.

Here's a little context...On Monday we had some car maintainence done to the tune of $225. I had the money in our second checking account to cover it. But that only left another little cushion. The month isn't over and we needed groceries, and DD12 had a sleepover, with friends who needed to eat. The money for the sink would have to come from the emergency fund...until payday.

DH didn't think of it as a big deal. He was off work, and wanted to do it then. In the end, no sink was purchased, but I was still really annoyed by all my feelings on this subject.

I feel like I'm the only one making decisions based on money in the bank. He couldn't tell you how much his paycheck is each pay period, how much the phone bill is, how much I send to the home equity loan. It's true, I like doing this stuff. I'm the nerd.

But, when it is time to make a decision that involves our emergency fund, or sending in less to the home equity loan...it falls on me. I'm tired of it. I feel like a parent with a child. I even tried the 'let's prioritize these wants' approach. I showed him details of the budget. This is before we went sink shopping. I didn't get much of a response.

As soon as I said, I wasn't sure about buying the sink this week, he just said okay. I don't think he agreed. He sees the money we have and the money coming in. It does look like we can afford it...BUT, is it the right decision? I can't seem to get into a conversation with him about the pros and cons, or other approaches to spending the money on the sink, or the 8 other items on the list, including vacations.

I'm just frustrated that our communication skills on these money decisions stink right now. Payday is coming up, and I'm still not sure what to do with the extra money. Set aside some for a sink or send it to the home equity loan? We are taking a trip in two weeks so some it needs to be set aside for that.

I think I'll try to talk it through with him again...I've got two days until payday.

I am here....

March 24th, 2009 at 08:51 pm

This week is my husband's turn to have the week off for vacation. He couldn't get it to coincide with my daughter's spring break last week. So far, we have spent money everyday. It's hard to say no to the person who works so hard to make the cash that makes our world go round.

My oldest turned 12 today! Next year she'll be a teenager. We bought her a digital camera that she has wanted for a couple of years. It was less than $80, but better than mine that is now over 4 years old. She will have a slumber party on Friday...more money to be spent on feeding the group.

Since DH is off, we are going to install a new kitchen sink and faucet. Price will be about $400. Although it isn't a need now, it will be a necessity when we move. This sink stains everytime you put something in it. It's awful. We'd like to enjoy the new sink for the little while longer that we live here. The funny thing is...we have picked out the same style sink that we put in our last home!! I think I'll try to sell the old one on craigslist or on the garage sale in May.

So, if you don't hear much from this week...you know I'm either spending money, helping to install the kitchen sink or fighting off the pre teens at the slumber party!!

Make it a great week!

How Much for Dog Sitting Services?

March 22nd, 2009 at 04:39 pm

My neighbor wants my soon to be 12 year old daughter to watch her 2 year old dog this next weekend. The dog will need to be let out 3-4 times per day from Friday afternoon through Sunday evening. She will also need to feed/water/play and walk the dog.

The neighbor wants to pay her $50. My first reaction is that is too much. But is it? I don't even know how much teens get for babysitting a child!

I want it to be fair, but not over the top. Help! What do all of you think? Any advise or thoughts are welcome.

Spring Cleaning Remnants

March 22nd, 2009 at 07:39 am

Remember, I helped my daughter's clean out their rooms this week? They are both keeping them looking very nice. The youngest is actually making her bed everyday. I'm not holding my breath that this will continue for her...since spring break ends today. I can hope, though, right?

Unfortunately, I've been a little lazy since then and I have some of the remnants of the cleaning sitting in my family room...right next to the desk where I write this blog.

Here's a picture:



I think today, I need to tackle this. Some items are being kept and need to get to their new & approriate home. Other items need to be put in my ebay pile or garage sale pile. It really shouldn't take that long. I've just been a little lazy.

Wish me luck!

Update: I did it. I moved those pesky spring cleaning remnants to their appropriate areas. Of course, now the basement is going to be in need of some help, soon!

Beautiful Day...know what that means?

March 21st, 2009 at 10:45 am

There's no heat or air conditioning running. Yippee!!

A couple of days ago, I closed the gas line to our gas fireplace. Why keep that pilot light running through the warm months, right?

It's also time for spring clothes! The girls are growing, so we will head to Old Navy today to pick up a few items. I plan to spend around $50. I have a coupon, too!!

We have already taken advantage of the warm weather with a 45 minute walk around the neighborhood. There were lots of signs of spring. Enjoy the day!!

Rewards!!

March 20th, 2009 at 06:30 am

We just accumulated enough points on our debit cards to redeem them for $25. It takes us about 3 months of regular spending to accumulate enough points for this. If we have a large car repair, or purchase, then we accumulate them a little faster.

The money will be direct deposited to our checking account in the next couple of days. I will add it to my next home equity loan payment!!

I'm also getting close to accumulating enough points with My Survey to redeem $20! I should have those points by the end of the month when I complete a month long survey. That money will also go to the home equity loan! I can refer you to My Survey, if you send me your email address. (I can delete your email from comments, if you request that as well)

Make it a great day!

Spring Cleaning - Update 3

March 19th, 2009 at 04:58 pm

It's done! And that was hard. I have a headache. I had to take an hour nap in the middle. It felt like we were in slow motion today.

My youngest daughter just likes to keep her junk...or stuff. Unfortunately, I found some BAD stuff. A baggie of pretzels in a mini back pack for her Build a Bear, an opened bag of gummy bears, with three still in the bag. I also found mini candy cane's from Christmas. The worst one, however, was a baggie with a water/cornstarch mixture. It was originally colored green, but since it has been laying on the floor of her dark closet since who knows when, it hardened but developed orange spots and black spots...which I'm sure were mold! Ugh.

Here are the before pictures...see if you can spot the baggie of mold. Just kidding!





Here is our progress half way. It has to get worse before it gets better!! Really.


And finally the finished results:







Yes, the comforter was still in the dryer when I took this photo. But we can imagine how it would look, right?

Oh, and here are the bins I put in the hallway of things that have to leave her room.

There are plenty of clothes she has outgrown and a few things that are being moved to the basement. I test things I think they don't use to see if they ever make it back up to the light of day! If not, they go on the garage sale. I'm sneaky!!

Spring Cleaning - Update 2

March 19th, 2009 at 07:33 am

Turns out we didn't work on my younger daughter's bedroom yesterday. She wasn't motivated and I really was just plain tired.

We will start in again today. I really hope I can convince her to get rid of as much stuff as my older daughter. I'll let you know how that works out.

Actually, I did do a little work in her room. My memory is coming back!! I pulled down her curtains and washed them. I also set up the sewing machine to repair three of the tabs that the curtain hangs from. And, I even put it back up in her room. One less thing to do today.

I'll get the pictures up as soon as we are done! Anyone else doing spring cleaning or organizing tasks today?

Spring Cleaning - Update 1

March 18th, 2009 at 01:10 pm

So far I have only completed my oldest daughter's room. She did great! I was mostly there for support and guidance. We took pictures of clothing she was still attached to, but has outgrown. She did a great job of letting go of some of her possessions. She still has a ton of stuff, but it is getting better. I'm sooo proud. I'm almost happier about that than the cleaning.

It turns out she needs an entire new wardrobe! Everything is way too small. So, ebay will be hopping with that stuff in a few days!

I ran out and bought a shelf for her books. She's wanted one for so long. I told her that she can only keep books that fit on the shelf. Price of shelf: $20. I was disappointed that when you buy assembled furniture now you don't even get real screws...plastic the whole way. Now, I have little plastic pieces to throw away that attached them all together. Ugh! I HATE plastic.

Okay...here are the before pictures:










Here are the after pictures:








Much better don't you think. Wow, we got a lot done, too! Here's one last picture: of our cat Riley. She wanted to help hang up clothes!



Now, I have another room to do!

Spring Cleaning

March 18th, 2009 at 07:50 am

Today will consist of some spring cleaning in my daughter's rooms. Things to do: wash the sheets and curtains, vacuum, dust, pull everything out of drawers and closets. They are on spring break...so they get to help!

We need to go through everything. I'm sure there is stuff to trash, donate and sell. Both rooms just plain need to be reorganized. My kids aren't too bad compared to others, but it's enough to get on my nerves at times!!

Who wants pictures?

My House Value

March 17th, 2009 at 07:19 am

We moved to our current home in October 2006 at the height of the market. We paid $173,000. The home is a 1540 sq ft split level with 3 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms and a two car garage.

I had our realtor do a market analysis and it arrived in the mail yesterday. This is mostly just for fun and information since we don't currently have plans to move. However, one never knows when our next move will be!! Oh, the joys of military life!

She gave our house value a range of $177,000 to $192,000! Wow, that is a difference of $15,000 between the high and low. Zillow currently has our zestimate at $191,500. I'm pretty sure that we could sell it somewhere in the middle...$184,500.

Currently we owe $142,257 which includes our home equity loan. Of course that balance will keep going lower as I attack that crazy 7.25% loan. Yippee to that!

Right now, we think we'll be here another two years, so that will give us time to pay the loan down a little more, as well as, see a little more price appreciation. It would be great to walk away with at least $50K in equity to put on the next home.

Only time will tell!

Large Survey Check Arrived

March 16th, 2009 at 08:46 am

I requested a payout from my Global Test Marketing account about a month ago. The amount was $50.75! It arrived in the mail this weekend. This was my first payout from them, I was glad to see that it worked out smoothly.

I'd like to send it to the home equity loan, but for the moment it is sitting in my second checking account because funds are getting a little low there.

I also received a $3 Pinecone check.

I love checks in the mail!

Less Than $8,000

March 15th, 2009 at 05:55 pm

I just finished paying bills. I scheduled an extra principal payment of $672 to our home equity loan to be paid tonight!!

New Balance = $7,987.70

That puts us under $8,000!! I can't believe how far we come in such a short period of time. A concentrated effort definitely pays off.

Our goal for 2009 is to pay off at least $7,000 to get us to a balance of $7,000. Therefore, it looks like we are only $987.70 away from meeting that goal! Yippee!!

I may have mentioned this previously, but we feel that we can actually get this loan paid off in full by the end of 2009. That's a day I look forward to. Stay tuned!

New Total

March 13th, 2009 at 06:50 am

I made our regular payment to the home equity loan. The principal portion was $65.30. This is the first month that the principal amount was more than the interest!! That is a milestone to be celebrated right? Interest was $52.71.

New HEL Balance = $8,659.70

There will be more additional payments this month due to some craigslist and ebay sales, as well as extra funds from today's paycheck. Those amounts will be posted later. I'd love to get this loan below $8K this month. Smile

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There will be a brief break in this blog, while we take a weekend trip! Have a good one.

My 1 Year Blogoversary!!!

March 12th, 2009 at 06:59 am

It's been a year! It's been so fun to share my thoughts and financial successes with all of you.

I don't know if I would be making such a big effort to pay off our home equity loan this year if I didn't have all of you to share it with. So that's a big plus.

I need to give special thanks to Thrify Ray who motivated me to start my own blog. I was commenting in the forums, but lurking here on the blogs. I'm so glad that I came on board.

Make it a great day!!

Update - Done!

March 11th, 2009 at 06:12 pm

My previous blog entry explained what this was about:

Home Appeal: Our Update

March 11th, 2009 at 08:20 am

We sold our last house in 5 days!! Yes, really. That was in September of 2006.

It is a fact that we will move again. I want to be able to sell it fast when the time comes. The home we have now is great, but there are a few flaws. The one I've been focusing on now is the front living room window coverings. Here is what they look like now:

The correction: 2" Oak Faux Wood Blinds

I'm so excited. They arrived yesterday. I had to have them custom made because of how large the window is. There are 3 blinds on one head rail. DH and I will install them this evening. I will take a picture when we are done.

Here they are:

Oh, yes there is a cost involved with this update: $148.90, which includes the shipping. I patiently waited for a sale and set the cash aside this last pay period.

I think a few extra touches such as nice blinds and other hardware, give the feeling that the home is well taken care of.

(I realize the early 90's couch is an eyesore, too! I need to get it recovered desperately)

Twice in a Month

March 10th, 2009 at 11:58 am

The interest rate on our money market account is going down again! This is the second time in a month that I have received notification of this.

I know it's the economy and I will have to deal with it. Ugh!

I could shop around, but it just doesn't seem to be worth all the extra effort. I just moved to this bank in the fall, too.

New rate: 2.15% APY

Discharging your Debt

March 10th, 2009 at 07:12 am

Settling your debt for pennies on the dollar can have tax implications. Check out this article from Bankrate.com.

I have never had a debt that we couldn't pay in full, so I don't know what it feel like to have to make a decision to pay less than half. However, I feel it is important to have all the information. I hope this can help someone!!

This blog post inspired by Smiley2009!

Hip Hop Cash

March 9th, 2009 at 12:45 pm

I have two daughters. One takes hip hop and the other is in tumbling. The oldest doesn't want to take tumbling next year. So, I will save over $350, unless she decides to do something else.

Registration for next fall will happen in June, so I need to start saving for this. I used last years numbers to get me to a ballpark figure of $390 for just one hip hop class. It's possible the prices may go up, but I should be able to make up the difference if it does.

Here's the plan: Save $56 each payperiod for the next 7 pay periods! That gets me to $392. I'm glad I'm thinking about it now, so that I have time to save it up gradually. I could have been saving since last June, but I just didn't know whether they wanted to keep this dance and tumbling stuff up. This way will work, too.

The dance studio does have the option of paying monthly, but I would have to tag on an additional $47 for the recital fee. If I pay in full, then I can have this fee waived...that is then more than enough to cover her shoes.

Right now, I have buy recital tights and a cd of her dance music to practice at home. Luckily...only $13.60. I think I can handle that.

Success on Ebay

March 8th, 2009 at 07:24 pm

I'm finally off to a good start on ebay. My auctions just ended. I sold 8 out of 9 items. My auctions total $63.13!!

That was fun!

March Total = $83.13
February Total = $66.50
January Total = $4.95

The March total includes $20 for a metal bed frame I sold on craigslist on Friday. At least my totals are increasing!

I'm looking forward to a garage sale, too. It's a good place to put items that can't be sold on ebay...or don't sell on ebay!

Today's Money Thoughts

March 8th, 2009 at 07:40 am

This is where my brain is today:

One week until payday and we need groceries. Over $230 in checking account. Making a meal plan. I hope to spend less than $100 at grocery store.

Lots of bids and watchers on my ebay items that end today. I'm sure I will spend too much of today clicking refresh!!

Getting impatient about the delivery of my faux blinds I ordered last week, as well as, my $50 global test marketing check.

Need to shop for digital camera for DD birthday in two weeks. Amazon's price looks good. Money is set aside for this.

Will travel out of town next week and need to conserve some cash for that.

What's on your brain today?

Don't Buy Gold

March 7th, 2009 at 07:23 am

That's what Dave Ramsey said on his show Thursday to a caller named Rich. The caller was worried about the FDIC going insolvent. Dave said, he didn't believe that (although he didn't explain why). The caller also wondered about buying gold, since he heard about it on the Sean Hannity show. My husband has been trying to convince me of the same.

Dave Ramsey had a great explanation. If our economy totally collapsed, we wouldn't go around trying to buying items with gold bars, but would go to a barter system. We would trade a pair of jeans for a tank of gas and so forth. He even compared it to Katrina since that is what happened there.

His theory was that eventually confidence in the government would be restored and the ability to establish a new monetary basis would be possible. This makes sense to me.

I think there is a lot of fear and worry out there. It was nice to hear someone with a calm perspective. Here's a link to his site. Listen to the archives from Thursday's show. It's about 15 minutes into the first hour.

Pending Pick Up

March 6th, 2009 at 09:31 am

I just posted an ad on craigslist for a metal bed frame. I have someone who wants to pick it up tonight!!

I'm selling it for $20! It will be nice to get that out of the basement.

Crossing fingers that they actually show up, too.

UPDATE: She showed up! An extra $20 in my pocket always feels good.

Bids

March 5th, 2009 at 12:43 pm

I have 9 items listed on ebay. The auctions end on Sunday. So far, I have three bids, 4 with watchers and 2 with no activity.

Overall, I'm pleased. I expect most of them to sell, if only for the list price. I will probably relist any that do not sell.

I'm looking forward to reporting my sales!

No More Meds!

March 5th, 2009 at 06:44 am

I have decided to stop some medication I'm taking with the consent of my doctor. I'm thrilled, since there have been a few unpleasant side effects.

Savings: $22/month

Just so you know and don't worry...this was entirely a health decision, not a financial one! The savings are just a bonus. I hope to pass this on to that home equity loan payoff!!

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I took my mother out to lunch yesterday for a wonderful mediterranean meal. We spent $28. Yummy!! She treated me to a new organic cotton shirt from the Life is Good line. It will be a great shirt for spring. I will wear it today since it will be about 70 degrees!

Make it a great day everybody!

Bills, Bills, Bills

March 3rd, 2009 at 07:15 am

I just got a peek at the bill for our auto insurance premium. It is increasing. That's always a little disappointing.

Okay, it's only going up by $26.84. That's equals an increase of $4.48 per month, since it is a 6 month policy.

This will require me to adjust our escrow payments we make each pay period. If I don't make this adjustment, eventually there won't be enough money in our account to cover these expected bills!

I think I'll increase the escrow amount to an even $5/month, or $2.50 per pay period. Easy enough!

I'm motivated!!

March 2nd, 2009 at 12:28 pm

I'm really motivated to get this home equity loan paid off this year. It can be done. I REALLY like looking forward to mini milestones, such as nice round numbers.

We just surpassed the $9,000 mark. Now that I'm there, I'm focused on getting as close to $8K as I can by the end of the month. Then after that I will be looking at $7K and so forth.

In order to get under $8K this month, I need to be careful with spending as usual. I need to be aggressive in finding things to sell. This will also require convincing my daughters they no longer need their My Little Ponies and other such toys they no longer play with!! That can be the most difficult part.

I hope that my Global Test Marketing check for $50 arrives this month,too. That would sure help a lot. I have almost accumulated $25 in debit rewards and should be able to redeem those by the end of the month, too.

I have a queen metal bed frame hanging out in my basement that would bring $10-$15 if I can get it listed on craigslist.

I already have 1 bid for an item on ebay. There are still 8 waiting for bids with a few of them being watched. They don't end until Sunday.

When I think about all the monetary possibilities out there, I feel pretty confident that we can meet this months goal. A big portion of it will come from the next pay check in about 10 days.

I'm sure I'll spend the month scrounging around to make a few more dollars here and there. I just love this, stuff!

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Just a side note: I'm finally back on the exercise bandwagon. Two days in a row at the gym. I do feel better.

A little more!

March 1st, 2009 at 06:25 pm

I made a principal payment of $75 towards our home equity loan. I know...I just can't stop, can I? It's kind of addictive!!

The money is from selling used books, my two gold rings, ebay sales, a half.com sale and a Pinecone check. A little here and there adds up!!

New Balance = $8,725

I'd love to get this balance below $8,000 by the end of March. Think I can do it?


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