I cleaned/straightened out my basement yesterday. It is unfinished and often becomes a place to toss things. The girls even play down there and don't always put away their things.
In order to get motivated, I brought the laptop down and listed to Dave Ramsey. I had not tuned into him in quite awhile. I accomplished quite a bit.
I put away two puzzles, a play tent and tunnel, two comforters, moved the cedar chest, folded and put away play clothes, recycled school papers, and reorganized the office/school supplies. I found several things to donate and several things to trash!
I wanted to take a picture of my basement progress, but it looks like my digital camera is dying. I can turn it on, but the screen shows up black. I can see previous pictures I've taken, but current ones I've tried to take show up black. So...I think it has lived it's life. Nearly five years!
Am I buying a new digital camera? Nope. My daughter has one that she will let me borrow, if I need to. The purchase definitely isn't a need. So, please believe me when I say my basement reorganization and tidy up look great!
Archive for July, 2009
I cleaned/straightened out my basement yesterday. It is unfinished and often becomes a place to toss things. The girls even play down there and don't always put away their things.
Normally I would take all the extra funds and throw them on the home equity loan. I love doing that.
But, you see, there are clouds on the horizon. It just might rain. In the form of braces and eyeglasses. Technically, I should have been saving for these all along.
But...that's not how we roll around here. Generally, we bring in enough 'extra' each month to handle larger expenses when they come in.
Usually, this is a good time of year to get glasses. Last year, I paid about $50 for my oldest daughter. Our insurance covers the eye exam and then I look for a good deal on frames. She's going to want contacts soon, too. We'll see.
The braces. We have an appointment on Wednesday. I have about $1100 left of insurance coverage on those. I'm sure it will cost more than that, don't you? Most likely, I'll pay those off over time. Orthodontists are nice people...they don't charge interest!! My younger daughter might luck out and not need braces at all. Wouldn't that be nice?
So...for now the nearly $700 in extra funds I have will sit in the checking account. Waiting for instructions.
We made it to payday with $9.12 left to spare. Yipee!!
I'm so proud of us. DH and I worked as a team, not to spend more than was available. We even traded cars for a day to make it happen. I love it!
My husband's paycheck is now sitting in our checking account. However, the funds are already dwindling. He filled his car up with fuel this morning. And he took $50 in cash out. The fuel didn't surprise me, but the cash did. I think he took out an allowance. We had a discussion last month about all his small expenditures that I have to enter and keep track of. It gets tedious. So, I think maybe it's his allowance. Funny...we never did come up with an amount or a true agreement on what the plan was. I'll have to talk to him about that.
And, the account will dwindle more after I go grocery shopping. I have planned the meals for one week and made a list. I even found a few coupons for items I need to buy.
....to payday! We have about $9 left in our checking account.
I spent $10.95 at the store yesterday and only bought the items on the list. Yipee!
DH has taken our van to work, instead of his car. The car needs gas, and we're trying to stay within our spending limits. I don't need to go anywhere. Win, win on both sides.
I do kind of laugh, when I make these kinds of posts. I don't want anyone to get the wrong idea...we have money. In fact, I still have $300 in cash on the counter from selling the piano!!
The point of not spending these last few days is to keep ourselves within the amount we have allotted for spending on food, gas and misc items. The less we spend on these things, the more money available for investing AND paying off debt.
Here's to one more day of no spending!!
We did make it through yesterday without spending a dime. Yipee!
Today...may require a mini run to the store. I'm completely out of liquid dish soap. I have zero left. It feels like we are low on snacks. I will probably buy some crackers and cheese. And, while I'm there, I'll pick up a gallon of milk. I promise I won't buy anything else!!
The plan for payday. I need to repay one of my accounts for the dance/tumbling lessons. After that I should have at least $400 to put towards the home equity loan, but I'm going to wait until next payday to send the money in. The reason? I like to hoard cash in times of uncertainty. Right now, I'm not certain how much braces, school supplies and possible glasses are going to cost me. Oh, and DH is having some dental work in September that may not be covered by our insurance.
P.S. I didn't get ANY organizing done yesterday. I'll try again today!
Yesterday, was a no spend day for us. We went for a family bike ride. We visited a furniture store that has been recently remodeled. Luckily, we were able to get out of there with zero plans for buying anything a few free cookies!
Today, is set to be a no spend day as well. I have filled our backyard pool for the kids to splash around in later. I'm doing laundry. I'm going to attempt to do some organizing, too. The basement is getting out of hand!
We are stocked up on groceries and gas. We should not need to spend a dime for the next 4 days. That's a good thing, too. We are down to $20 left of the money we allocated for spending this month.
I made sure to tell DH the status of our checkbook. The plan is to tell each other if we plan to spend anything before payday. If it is less than $20, we use the money in our first checking account. If a purchase arises that is more than $20, well, we need to use our second checking account. There is several hundred dollars in there. I'm, of course, trying to save that money for upcoming expenses or payments to the home equity loan.
Once pay day hits...I'm spending again. I need to purchase a backpack, tennis shoes, a swimsuit, a calculator, crayons, pencils, file folders and a binder. These are of course, items my kids need for school, which is still 4 weeks away. There is also a possibility of new glasses and the upcoming braces. She lost her final baby tooth on Friday!! Yipee!
I also have to plan a birthday party for my daughter. She turned 9 while we were on vacation. She is inviting three friends to our house for a sleepover. I need to set aside money for food and other necessities.
So for now...I wait to spend.
Some of you may remember that I bought a piano over a year ago, so my daughter could take lessons. Well, for numerous reasons, that did not happen. Now, she's not interested. At all.
So, I listed the piano on craigslist this past Sunday. I just sold it for $300. The man just left. Yipee!!
For now, I'm going to hold on to the cash. There are school expenses coming up and my checking account cushion is lower than I would prefer. But, this may mean some extra cash towards the home equity loan at some point.
I also received the other MySurvey check in the mail today. It was for $10.
If anyone is keeping track, did you notice that I seem to have had about $360 come into my life in the past week? Crazy, but good.
While we were on vacation I paid two neighborhood girls to feed our pets. We have two cats, two mice and a hamster. They came over for 8 days.
Originally, I had planned to pay them $50. I figured $5/day + $10 to clean the mice cage once. Instead, I paid $70 because the girl's mother came over the night before our return and cleaned out the litter boxes, the hamster cage and the mice cage for a second time. I didn't ask or intend for her to do that. But, it was so, nice to not have it smell, or have to even clean them when we returned. So, I threw in another $20 for her.
Today, the girl's mom came by and returned $30. I did try to refuse it, as I really felt comfortable with the amount I paid. She paid her two daughter's $20 each. We never did discuss money ahead of time, so I guess it does come down to miscommunication. I think they would have done it for free! I guess in the end $40 was the price for pet sitting. Good deal.
I received a $20 check from MySurvey yesterday in the mail. I redeemed another one recently for $10, so I expect to see it soon, too.
I returned a pair of capri's yesterday to Old Navy and then let the girls get two shirts each for the start of school. We bought several shirts before our vacation. I will still need to buy one daughter a swimsuit, socks and a pair of running shoes for school. Otherwise, we are set in the clothing department for a few more months.
DH went to the dentist recently. The dentist suggested an electric toothbrush. He wants to get it. It retails for $66.99. The dentist did provide a $10 coupon and a $15 mail in rebate. I found the toothbrush on Amazon for $48.99, including shipping. So, I can't use the coupon, but I save $8 by ordering it online. I can still redeem the rebate. In the end, it will cost about $34. That's so much better than $67!
we could cut back our budget more. We are actually in a pretty good place, where we have 25% of our net income available to spend or save outside of retirement and other obligations. But, if we had to these are things I would cut out of our spending:
caller id/call waiting/voicemail
unlimited long distance
automatic car washes
gifts and birthday parties
I'd put the rodents up for adoption(bedding is costly!)
our 2nd gym membership (less than $100/yr)
movie theatre tickets
dinners out (rare as it is)
Okay, those are a few off the top of my list. All of that might bring an extra $250/month. Depending one's financial situation, these items can make a big difference to a budget. I'd cut all of these before I cut into my retirement contributions.
Although, not likely, I would sell our van since it does have a loan payment. I would buy a clunker with cash on hand.
My list will be different than yours because there are some things I don't buy that you might...like cable television. I can't cut out convenience/prepackaged foods since I rarely buy those either.
What could you cut, if you had to?
Still no air conditioning for the last 8 days! In case anyone doesn't realize, that in the midwest in July that NEVER happens. Ever.
It has been so cool, that swimming outside is not pleasant either. Today, I took them to an indoor pool, with a buy 1 admission, get 1 free. I didn't want to swim, so it cost me $4 to get them in. Good thing it was cheap, they wanted to leave after an hour!! What? Kids not wanting to swim? I have never heard of such a thing!
We are signing up for dance and tumbling lessons this afternoon. For 9 months of entertainment, education and exercise, I will pay $742. I may have to buy jazz shoes for one daughter, but I think the old ones still fit for now! Same goes for the leotards.
At the beginning of 2009, my goal was to pay our home equity loan down by half. The balance at the beginning of the year was $13,999. A couple months into the year, we revised our goal to pay off the entire balance by year end.
Currently, we owe $6,421.26. We have paid more than half of the balance!! Specifically, since January 1st we have paid 54.13% of the balance.
I added a page to the sidebar to show our plan for getting this paid off by the end of the year. It is optimistic. It will change, but it shows there is wiggle room to see this plan through.
This home equity loan was taken out when we purchased our current home because we didn't have the full 20% downpayment. We also used some of the cash to pay off a $6,000 car loan. I wanted to avoid PMI. I haven't yet reconciled if that was the right thing to do.
Paying off the loan, will increase our cash flow by $118.01 per month. The payoff won't exactly bring a big change to our budget. When we move, we will have that much more equity to take with us for a future purchase. That is the primary goal. (Of course, as a military family, we may decide to rent instead!)
We did a little shopping yesterday for school supplies at Target. I had been reimbursed by my neighbor for mailing them their medicine while on vacation, so I had $20 to spend. I also returned a shirt my daughter she didn't like. I had them put the amount on a gift card.
The woman checking me out was new and I had three ways I was paying: gift card, cash and debit card. When she entered in the $20, it ended up showing that I pay about $42 in cash. I quickly volunteered that I didn't think that was right. Sure, I could have left with $48 in merchandise, without paying the extra $22 I owed. But that's not right. She called for help and it was quickly corrected.
As we were leaving, the girls and I found $0.47 cents!! I found the quarter and the girls each found a dime and a penny. Now, that is what I call money karma!
We've been able to have our air conditioning off for the last 5 days! Today's high is expected to only be 73 degrees. Wow, that is amazing for July. I expect that we'll be able to have it off tomorrow and some portions of the following days to come.
This sure helps our electric bill this month. We were away for about 10 days in July, but kept the air on at a steady temp for the pets. I'm sure the usuage was less than if we had been here, since I also unplugged all unnecessary items.
Out of the four of us, I bought the least expensive souvenir. In addition to being inexpensive, I wanted the item I purchased to be something I would use everyday.
In the end, I bought a ball point pen, for $4.95. It has Mickey Mouse on the top. When I click the pen open or close, Mickey bends forwards or backwards. It's cute, fun and I will use it nearly everyday.
DH bought a ball cap with Mickey Mouse on the front. Our girls spent the most money. They bought lanyards, plastic pouches for lanyards, pins for lanyards and Mickey Mouse caps (the ones with the ears). The hats, were ones they could pick the ears and cap out seperately, so theirs are unique. We also bought a postcard and some chocolate pretzels.
I didn't total up the exact amount of those souvenirs, but we spent the $63 birthday fun card, the girls allowances of $21, birthday money of $25, as well as the $20 my oldest daughter brought along. So, at least $129 worth of Disney stuff! I don't know if the girls have used the stuff they bought since we've been home, but I know DH and I have!!
Everything is fine now on the computer front. I guess we filled up our computer's hard drive...probably all the pictures from Disney did it in!
We bought an external hard drive for about $85 to store all of our pictures from 2004 to present as well as music. So, now instead of only having 3 GB of free space we have 25 GB! I actually will have more once I transfer more pictures. DH just did his and all the music. He also did a complete back up of the computer last night in case something else drastic is going on. Obviously, this is something we should have done before having problems...but it seems to be our nature to procrastinate on some things.
DH had hundreds of pictures from Iraq and work that were on the computer twice!! Ugh. Can you tell, we don't keep up with this computer stuff. I'm going to weed some of my pictures out before I transfer them over. We gave our daughter a 7 megapixel camera for her birthday. She takes lots of pictures, so those are now adding to our storage space needs.
So, anyway, I guess you'll still be hearing from me. Thanks for the life preserver ToyGuy!
I'm having computer problems. I thought I'd let you know, in case it seems I go missing.
I may still be able to post some things before we get the problems fixed, but just keep this in mind, if I'm suddenly not around.
It's payday. I feels like forever (just April) since I paid extra principal on our home equity loan. Our Disney World vacation was worth it, but I sure missed attacking this particular debt!
Today, I made a payment of $347.10 to bring the balance to an even $6,500.
Tomorrow, I will make our regular payment of $118.01. That should bring the balance to $6,421!
Turns out my girls have decided to dance and tumble again this year. Two months ago, they were ready to be done. I think they were just tired out at the end of the school year. We missed early registration, but I can sign them up any time. I will pay all costs upfront and they will waive the $84 recital fee, which is basically a 10% discount. So, there goes another $750!!
The cupboards were bare, when we returned from vacation. I sent DH to pick up about 8 items on Sunday night to get us through yesterday.
This morning I actually planned our meals through the end of the month! That is highly unusual for me, but it worked. I only bought groceries for 9 days. I will buy the rest on the morning of day 10.
Our garden is beginning to become fruitful. We picked cherry tomatoes and sugar snap peas last night. There are more peas to harvest, too! I have onions growing that could easily be harvested for the greens. In fact, I will harvest a couple tomorrow when I make taco dip! We had lettuce growing, but in the frenzy of vacation planning I never harvested any. I think I'll plant some more this fall. There is a strawberry plant, too, that is taking hold of a corner of the garden. Only one green strawberry, so far! And, we do have two tomato plants that are producing larger tomatoes...of course, they are still green.
This is only our second year of gardening, but it has been pretty fun. The girls like to help pick weeds as well as harvest the crops. It is a simple 8' x 8' plot, so it isn't too overwhelming. We even have a little area in the garden where we mulch our vegetable waste. Even that is fun!
Ugh...the last thing I really want to do is add up all the expenses of our trip. It's kind of a downer after all the fun we had.
It appears that we spent just under $2700 while on our trip. This covered the hotel, car rental, theme park tickets, baggage fee, fuel for our van and the rental car, pet sitting, souvenirs and food.
Food is expensive on vacation. I don't have an exact figure on that yet. I'm not even sure if I want to add it up! I also know that I don't have all the receipts. Darn.
One night we spent $65 on pasta at a sit down restaurant on Disney Property. The girls had mac & cheese, with goldfish crackers and a drink. I had alfredo pasta and a diet coke. DH had a beer and alfredo pasta with shrimp. There was nothing else served...no veggies! DH left a $10 tip. I did a lot of reading before we left and I knew sit down dinners on property were expensive. Too bad DH didn't know that! He picked and was disappointed. I don't tend to say "no" on vacation. I did however have Taco Bell for dinner one night...my meal was $3.69!
We spent over $600 before we left on numerous vacation expenses, such as shoes, sunscreen, shirts & shorts, books, gum, birthday presents for my daughter, ponchos, micro fiber towel (which did come in handy on those rainy days), a water proof pouch for the water park, and refilled medication. It all adds up FAST!
Total spent $3,300. Approximately. According to my side bar, I had $3,362 before I left. Right now, it seems we don't have any of that money left over. I'm okay with that. We didn't go into credit card debt for this trip. It has all been paid with cash. Yipee!!
I will give more vacation details at some point. Right now, I'm a little exhausted!
DH gets paid on Wednesday...so we'll start attacking that home equity loan. I can't wait!
We are back from Disney World! We had a fabulous time while we were there. The airplane trip back took a turn because of mechanical problems on our flight out of Orlando. We ended up spending the night at the airlines expense in Memphis and finally arrived home today. The bag arrived one flight later!
I'll elaborate more on the trip in a financial sense later.
It's good to be back and I look forward to catching up on the other blogs.
We're days away from our vacation and today is payday!! It's time to make a final deposit to our vacation fund.
I mentioned awhile back that I could use some of our regular spending money towards vacation, too, since we won't be home to spend it. By regular, I'm referring to money we set aside each pay period for groceries, fuel and other variable expenses. Usually this is about $700 twice a month. Out of this $700, I'm allocating $465 to Disney.
The extra money in our paycheck today is $915! So, adding in the $465, brings today's Mickey Money Deposit to:
Final Disney Savings: $3,362.00
Now, in my mind I hear you all saying, "Creditcardfree, now that you have saved all that money, what are you going to do?"
I'm going to Disney World!!!!
Have a great Independence Day!
Please take some time to be grateful, for this wonderful planet we live on and the freedoms we enjoy to pursue our dreams.