We've made it to payday! We spent pretty much every last dollar we had allocated towards spending this month. In fact, I had to dip into some of our extra cash for kleenex, since our youngest daughter caught a cold! Poor baby.
We did a really good job of holding out and waiting to spend only when necessary. I had a list of things that we could wait to buy. They included paper towels, trash bags, my haircut, razor blades, and bar soap.
Today, I'm writing a check for the first round of school pictures. I picked a package that is $17. The cheapest was $12. I decided to spend an extra $5 to be able to give another 5 people pictures. I'm sure they'll appreciate it.
The good news: after paying bills we should have $915 to allocate towards braces! I'll update the ticker when I actually get that money into the emergency fund.
It feels good to be flush with cash...even if it is only for a few days!!
Archive for August, 2009
We've made it to payday! We spent pretty much every last dollar we had allocated towards spending this month. In fact, I had to dip into some of our extra cash for kleenex, since our youngest daughter caught a cold! Poor baby.
Did you know people do this? They make a plan, a pact, a commitment for a year to not spend anything. For some of them it's for environmental reasons, for others it's for monetary ones.
Okay, they do spend money on food and health/safety items. For some of them it is okay to buy something as long as it is not 'new'. I suppose that has to do with turning against our consuming nature.
On some level, I like the idea. However, I have kids and I just don't think it is practical. I suppose I could do it just for myself. As I think about this a little more, I realize that I'm pretty close to no spending for myself. I rarely buy myself anything new. So maybe it wouldn't be so hard.
Who am I kidding? It WOULD be hard to not spend anything!! Congratulations to those who take this path or even attempt it. Do you think you could do it?
As I mentioned in a previous post, we changed our homeowner's insurance deductible. Specifically, we increased it to $1000. It seems we will most likely get a refund. If I'm reading our online statement correctly, the refund will be equal to $68.53!!
That is money I can use towards those braces!! Things did go well today. She's in minimal pain with Advil every four hours. Our orthodontist even called to see how she is doing!! I wasn't expecting that. He even offered his home phone number which I took down. I love this guy!! He's one of those people that you can tell really loves his work. We should all be so lucky.
I completed a Pinecone survey today, so I expect so see an additional $3 in our bank account soon. Our checking account has about $35 left until Monday. So, we hope to have a very limited spending weekend. I think we can do it!!
Once payday arrives, I have to buy new jazz shoes for one daughter and a leotard for the other. Turns out they both grew over the summer!!
Tomorrow's the big day: braces for my oldest daughter. Most of the money is coming from our emergency fund. We hope to have the money paid back by the end of October or sooner.
And we get to hit the emergency fund for more than planned because we have to pay my husbands government credit card for an airline ticket he didn't use! It is going to get credited back, according to the travel agency...but not for another two months! Ugh. The government is slow!! So, we have to pay the card by the due date of September 5th. I am going to wait until the last day to pay it in case the credit comes in sooner!! Please. I hope it does. Eventually, we will get the money back, but I really have no idea when or how long that process will take.
Our checking acount is down to $73.33. My husband needed cash and fuel for the car. He's working weekends...so a few extra trips into work increases the amount of gas he needs. The cash is probably for Monster drinks, so he can stay awake at work!! He's exhausted.
I received an rebate in the mail a few days ago for $15. Yesterday, I qualified for to cash out some MySurvey points. I will get a $10 check in a couple of weeks. All the money is going towards those braces right now!
I really want some more Global Test Marketing surveys. I'm less than 200 points from being able to claim a check for $50!!
Our debit card points are adding up too. We have enough to cash out $50. I will actually cash out when we get to $75.
Yesterday, was a no spend day, for me. I hope to make today another one!
We are making changes to our homeowner's insurance policy. We have decided to increase our deductible to $1000, up from $500.
When I first inquired it appreared this change would save us $59.70. In the meantime, we received our renewal notice effective in October. The notice stated the renewal premium would be $717.99!! Whoa, that is an increase of $143.60 from the previous year.
I inquired again about the premium at the time of renewal for a $1000 deductible policy. It would be $658.47. So, even though our insurance premium is going up, it is now going up less since we have switch to a higher deductible policy.
Final increase per year: $84.08. That's about $7 per month. I think we can handle that!!
Just a week to go until payday.
I think we are doing pretty well with a little over $115 left in the checking account. I've been to the grocery store. I stocked up on meat. I'm sure there may be a run or two needed for a couple items, as usual. I have enough gas to get around, but my husband may need to fill up once.
It would be nice to end the week with a little extra...to help pay for those braces!! My daughter will have them put on Friday. The day I will pay for them in full. Scary.
My fingers are crossed for some excess cash!!
My family and I just finished watching a movie: Mr. Holland's Opus. It's an older movie, but it is really good. In the end,the main character, Mr. Holland realizes the impact he has had on the students he has taught over a 30 year career.
After watching the movie, I log on and see that Cptacek has made use of information from this website for crockpot recipes. I mentioned this site on my blog earlier this week. I've impacted someone's life, just by mentioning this. I can only guess that others have been impacted by my blog postings and yours, too!!
As a family, we talked a little about the point of the movie. My husband was reminded of a friend that we both worked with. That friend invited my husband to participate in his wedding only because he had an impact in his life. It was such a surprise to my husband. He only thought of the man as a coworker. To this day, it still moves my husband to tears to have been told that he made a difference in someone's life.
My point is that none of us will truly know the full impact that we have on the lives of others, postive or negative. But know this: You do have an impact. You do matter. You are important.
And hey, if you have something to say...join us here. Start a blog on savingadvice.com or participate in the forums. You DO have something to say that will impact someone you don't even know!!
There's something about the kids going back to school on Monday that makes me want to go shopping! I know. Crazy.
So, instead of thinking of the things I want to shop for I need to refocus. I'm going to focus on free tasks that I can do around the house.
Honestly, I have a fair amount of cleaning and tidying up around the house I could do. Here's a few things that come to mind:
clean kitchen cupboards (inside & out)
dust all blinds in house
pull out bush on side of house
make tote bags out of fabric remnants
clean bathroom drawers
put pool away for winter
sweep out garage & organize
scrounge for items to sell or donate
weed out file cabinent
wash windows (inside & out)
clean clothes washer
good cleaning of dryer vent
caulk windows, if I have extra caulk
Okay, that's enough...I'm tired just thinking about it. I really plan to get myself back to the gym and work on free projects around the house. They need to be done at some point, might as well do them while it's nice. Since, I won't be in the stores, I should save some money!!
I did get that rodent bedding returned today. Only spent $11 to get my youngest daughter's hair cut...she needed it!
Here's a cute one! My husband called this afternoon, but hung up before I could get to the phone. I waited for him to call back. So, I called him. He was calling to see if he could spend money on a snack! He knows I'm trying to save as many pennies as possible with the braces looming up ahead. He hung up because he decided he wasn't really hungry. Of course, if he is really hungry he should get some food, right? I don't want my man starving!!
I just feel like writing a bit about a few recent financial happenings.
Turns out that the auto maintenence bill from yesterday was $220.17. The battery replacement was $24 plus $15 in labor. The oil change was $19.49. Those are the only things we NEEDED. The tranmission fluid flush at $150 was not a necessity. But what's done is done, right?
Yesterday was a zero spend day. I always like those! Today, I spent about $18 on pop, ice cream, jello and pudding. Can you tell someone in the house has tender teeth this evening?
We have discovered that a cheaper pine bedding works pretty well for our mice and hamster. The pine stuff is $6.50 compared to $26 for the same amount of premium paper fiber stuff! Guess what? I have a brand new bag of that premium stuff to return!! Tomorrow, I will have $27.55(tax included) more in our checking account. I sure wish I had tried the stuff a year ago. Oh, well what's done is done.
I inquired with our homeowner's insurance about increasing our deductible to $1000. For some reason, it's been at $500 since we moved. We would save $59.60. Per year. That is less than $5/month. Of course, I don't want to over pay when I do have the cash on hand, but I'm torn about what to do. Thoughts, anyone?
I received our tax bill two days ago and taxes are going up $86 per year. I think this is what prompted me to inquire about the insurance deductible. Maybe I should increase it. My net increase to the house payment would only be $26.40/year!!
Hmmm...decisions, decisions. Thanks for tuning in to my brain again!
My daughter had an appointment at the orthodontist today. (Braces are a week from Friday.) Since, I plan to pay in full, I wanted to know what the procedure is if we move. Moving is always a possibility as a military family!
They will figure where she is at in treatment and refund accordingly. Of course, most of the cost is upfront! This makes sense. The woman stated it is usually not very much that is returned...whatever that means. I'm just glad to know there is a possibility of a refund if we move. I'm sure we would need some of those funds at any new orthodontist, right?
The other question I'm asking today concerns my husbands government credit card. The statement arrived today for $644, for an airline ticket for a trip he did not take in July. The money is due September 5th. So, the important question is "Honey, what are you going to do about this?".
My girls and I found a great deal on some toys at Kohl's yesterday. Each item was $8, with one being half off, for a total of $12. Lucky for me, I had a coupon for $10! My total with tax was $2.10. These toys need to be mailed to a good friend for her birthday on Monday. Priority mail will cost me $4.95. Pretty good deal don't ya think?
I'm looking for all the extra money I can find in anticipation of the braces. Here's what I am expecting in the next two months:
My Survey Rewards = $20
Global Test Market = $50
Debit Card Rewards = $75
Oral B Rebate = $15
Interest = $25
I'm going to pull the interest we've earned from our money market account this year towards the cause, too. I'm not worried about paying that part back, since it is only $144. If I do find a way to pay it back...that's a bonus. All of those items together bring us $329!!
The girls recently decided to get rid of my little ponies, barbies, bratz and polly pocket dolls. We worked on sorting them today. That means brushing their hair and dressing them. I hope to find a way to sell these for a few dollars at a garage sale, consignment sale or ebay.
Yep, life keeps getting in the way. My husband called from work at 8:45pm last night, with a dead car battery. He works 30 minutes away, but we bailed him out anyway!
The battery was only 1.5 years old, so we get a credit on that. While he's getting the new battery, he decides the car does need an oil change and the transmission fluid flushed (this alone is $150!). I haven't heard the total yet.
As Boo commented on my last post, sometimes it is best just to focus on getting rid of the debt rather than within a set period of time. So, here is the new plan.
I will pay for my daughter's braces on August 28th in full. This saves us $189.05. The total is $3,591.95! I currently have $953. Of course, this is going to be less after the above mentioned car maintenence. Ugh!! The remaining money will come from our emergency fund. I know...it's not a true emergency, but I don't want to add more debt. Luckily the US Army provides my husband a stable job, so no worries there.
Since, the money is coming from the emergency fund, our first priority is paying this money back to ourselves. I hope to have this completed by the end of October. But if it happens later...so be it, right Boo?
Once we have paid ourselves back, we will turn our focus back to the home equity loan. I can't wait! Even though I've estimated when I think we can pay it off, I'm going to let the chips fall where they may.
While on this journey, I'm going to increase my focus on things I can sell on ebay or consignment stores. I'm going to do as many surveys as possible. I'm going to reign the spending in as well. We do pretty good with the spending...but I'm going to make an extra effort!!
That's the plan. I guess it's time for another ticker!
I made our regular payment to our home equity loan. With $79.21 going towards principal, our new balance is $6,342.05!!
A little history:
The loan balance was $13,999 at the beginning of January. My original goal was to pay off half. That we did!! At some point, much earlier this year, we changed the goal to pay it all off.
But then, we decided to go to Disney World for vacation at the last minute with cash. It's not something I regret, as we expect my husband to be deployed early in 2010.
Although not unexpected, we are facing costs for our oldest daughters braces to the tune of $3781 if we pay over time. But we could also pay in full, on August 28th, and save $189.
Can you see a lack of focus here?
I tell all of this to explain how and why our goals and priorities are changing. It may have been a bit too ambitious to pay the full loan in 12 months time, particularly knowing the braces were on the horizon. However, it's really the trip that could, maybe should, have been skipped. But again, I do not regret it. It just will take us a few months longer to pay off the home equity loan.
Honestly, I think we have done an amazing job. Our debt load in total is less than the beginning of the year. We increased the amount we invest in our retirement. We paid for a big vacation in cash. We will also pay for my daughter's braces in cash. So, I'm giving us a pat on the back for accomplishing what we have.
Tomorrow, I will post about the plan for the braces, as well as give a few more details on my goals for the HEL. So, check back in!!
Well, it appears to be my lucky day! My mower was returned in working order and the charge was considerably less than I expected.
I expected a $40 charge for pickup and delivery of the mower. I expected around $75 for the labor. This would be a minimum of $115.
Upon it's return, I was given a bill of $46.04!! Yipee!
I did tell the guy it didn't look like I was charged for the delivery. He said, "Well, it looks like you get a freebie today." I wrote the check, but did state I would be willing to pay the delivery charge if they sent me an invoice for it.
The actual charges I paid today were for the labor. Turns out it didn't take the full hour to fix. That is a good thing!
Guess who gets to mow the extra long grass? Me. :0 My husband is busy with annual training for the next two weeks and working very long days.
I'm back from the grocery store.
I made it out of there paying $101.37. This is our food for the week. I will shop again next Sunday. My total includes a 24 pack of diet coke, plus the deposit, and kitty litter. So I would estimate that $85 is actual food products!
The kitty litter was good deal. It was on sale for $9.99. I had a store coupon for $2 off and a manufacturer coupon for $1 off. Final price for me $6.99!! The stuff retails for just under $12. I already have kitty litter on hand, but this deal was too good to pass up.
Tomorrow, I'm making Apricot Orange Pork Chops in the crock pot. I haven't made this particular recipe before, but it sounds good. It's from this website. The woman has a book coming out in October, but the website has 365 free crockpot recipes. I think I'll skip the book!
We did shopped for eyeglasses today. We ended up purchasing frames and lenses from JC Penney Optical.
They are having a great deal on glasses for kids. Just $49 for a complete pair! This includes polycarbonate lenses and free warranty that covers breakage and scratches. This offer is good for kids 16 and under. My coupon, which I didn't need states the deal is good through September 12th.
It seems in our state there is no sales tax on glasses, so we escaped with two pairs for $98!! That I can handle.
Pearle Vision stated their glases were $159 for kids frames and lenses. I think they were having a Buy 1, Get 1 Family sale. Turns out my kids didn't like their frames. Good for my pocket book.
The girls had eye exams today. My oldest daughter already has eye glasses. I was expecting her to need a new prescription. However, it turns out my youngest needs them now, too.
Lucky girls. They inherited my near sightedness!
The eye exams were covered by our insurance, but the glasses will be out of our own pocket. We didn't pick them out today, because we had to get back home to prepare for a slumber party!
I'm going to see if any of the stores are having some good deals.
I have no idea if this is good timing or not, but I moved $3,000 of my husband's Rollover IRA money out of cash and into an existing fund.
I wanted to do it yesterday, but I needed to confirm with him that he was okay with it. He told me he was fine with it, but by then the market had closed for the day.
There's more money invested in cash, but we decided to dollar cost average the money back in over the next several months. That way I don't have to time the market. I wish I would have started doing it several months ago. That would have been great! However, the market is still down significantly from where it was last year at this time. Really, we are way too young to have much, if any, retirement money sitting in cash.
My husband went out to mow on Sunday morning. He was able to get the front of the house done, but half way through the back yard...it stopped working.
He tore it apart...and thinks he knows the problem. But it needs to be fixed by a professional. Unfortunately, the shop he picked has the same working hours he does. 8am - 5pm. So, I'm now waiting for the store to pick up our mower. The charge just to pick up and return it is $40. Ugh!
I'm pretty sure there was a way to avoid the $40. Unfortunately, there was never any communication between DH and I about it. Miscommunication can be costly!
I'm taking a couple days off of blogging. I've got some personal plans that will keep me from checking in with all of you.
I will be back...hopefully with something interesting to report!!
My daughter is having a slumber party on Friday with three friends. This is her birthday party. Her birthday was actually last month. We celebrated at Epcot in Disney World!
So, this week we are getting ready for the party. I made fabric drawstring bags out of fabric I already had. These will be used for party favors. They are going to hunt for their favors in the back yard, after dark, with flashlights. I still need to purchase the favors. This is what I'm thinking about getting: jolly ranchers, glow bracelets, microwave popcorn, chips, gum or toothpaste, and lotion.
I don't want to spend a lot or send them home with too much candy or junk. My daughter used her own money to purchase the three girls a Mickey Mouse pin, so they will get that, too!
We are buying them pizza for dinner. I will put out simple vegetables. They can eat their popcorn and chips. In the morning, we'll put out donuts and fruit. I think I'll skip the pop, but offer milk, koolaid and water for drinks. Oh, and cupcakes!! Ugh...it sounds like too much junk.
I'll total up the costs after the party and see how we did!
I'm still deciding about how to pay for the braces. Upfront with a 5% discount equaling $189.05, or on the payment plan.
If I pay upfront, I have to slow down our home equity payoff which results in paying an additional $75.70 more in interest.
Obviously, paying $76 more in interest is less than the discount on the braces. The difference, to me is negligible, at $113. It's a toss up, I could go either way.
I'm actually leaning towards paying the braces on the payment plan. I would need to pull some money from our emergency fund to pay them in full. That leaves me sweating bullets. I don't like to dip into the emergency fund. And really this is NOT an emergency.
I probably should have been saving money for this. I knew it was coming, but it is something we can pay off pretty quickly. In fact, I think I can pay off the home equity loan and the braces by February or March of 2010. That's pretty fast for over $10K of debt.
I called the orthodontist today to inquire about a discount for paying in full. They have one. It's 5% on the balance after the insurance makes their payment.
In our case, we would get 5% off $3,781. That's $189.05.
I can't decide what to do. I really wanted to focus on the home equity loan. It has an interest rate of 7.25%. My goal of finishing this by the end of the year is stressing me out. My plan puts us on a very tight budget, especially when I put payments to the orthodontist in the mix.
I can afford to pay the regular payments to the home equity loan and orthodontist with no problem. For that I am extremely grateful. It's when I start making a plan for paying them off early, even by the end of the year that I start getting very anxious.
I need to come up with a plan that will make me less anxious, but still bring progress to our goals.
I've been notified by our utility company that our monthly budget billing payment is going down! They bill us for electric and gas.
Instead of $127/month, our new amount will be $110. A savings of $17/month, or $204/year!
Lower bills always make me happy.
Unfortunately, the water bill came yesterday and made me sad. The bill covered 40 days rather than the usual 30 because of a coversion to a new computer system. The total $93. Yikes! Last month it was around $60, and in months that we don't water the lawn it is closer to $50.
I wish it would rain!
I took my daughter to her orthodontist appointment today. She's going to have braces put on in 2.5 weeks. We're both very excited!!
Okay, I was less excited after they handed me the bill. But, while we waited for the total, I told my daughter we were getting braces regardless of the cost. It is simply that important. In the long term, it is actually a good investment in her health. She was pleased.
I know you want the details, so here they are:
Our Total $3780.00
I have to pay $780 at the end of this month when we have the braces put on. The remaining $3000, will be paid in monthly installments of $125 for 24 months!
Our insurance has a lifetime maximum of $1500 for orthodontic treatment and we used the $380 towards the headgear. I'm just realizing if she needs a retainer after the braces, that cost will be all ours.
I know I can manage the $125/month, so that is good. Of course, knowing me I will pay it off early!!
I didn't think to ask about a discount for payment in full. I don't really want to pay in full, but it would be nice to know if that were an option and how much it might save me!
It's time to make a decision regarding retirement investing. We have some of our retirement sitting in cash. Technically, about 20% of our total retirement.
This was due to a 401K rollover. We had a hard time deciding which fund to invest it in at the time. So, we put it in cash. We talked about it once in awhile, but we never did anything. Then the market took a dive and it didn't feel right to jump into the market. It felt better to have that money at least earning some interest.
But it appears the market is recovering, and it is time to get that money invested at still relatively lower prices. Of course, we still need to decide where to put it.
Out of all personal finance decisions, this is the one I like the least. There are so many funds and types of funds. It's overwhelming. I overthink the decision and then can't make one. I've worked for a mutual fund company, so I've been trained to read the prospectus. It actually does help narrow it down, but it takes time.
Any advice or tips, so I don't keep stumbling over myself?
I'm a debit card queen. I use it for everything. I'm lucky to have a couple coins in my purse. I use my debit card that much!
Well, this week cash has been my method of payment. Why? Remember the piano I sold. The man paid in cash. Three Benjamin Franklins. By the way, I like Ben. He's cool.
We bank online and in order to deposit cash, we have to purchase a money order and mail it in. Instead of doing that, I simply moved $300 from our checking account to savings. This pay period, we have $300 cash and $400 in the checking account. It still equals the $700 we allocate for spending until next payday.
Let me tell you, cash is fun! Really. It's been so long, since I used it with this much frequency. Not that I'm spending more! It's nice not to have to record the transaction in my checkbook! I even like counting and organizing it. Probably not a surprise on the latter.
When I bought groceries, I paid my $130.02 bill with two Ben Franklins and two pennies. I received back $70 in cash. That was just fun! I'm tempted to pull the rest out in cash...so I can continue for another week.
I'd encourage you to try it sometime. It's fun!
It is pretty cool out right now. I have the windows open, but I'm wrapped in a blanket. However, I will need to turn the air conditioner on later today, as the temperatures will be near 90 degrees.
I have been amazed at how little we have used the air conditioner this July. According to the news reports, the average temperature this July was lower than June. It is still summer, so I think there are some warm days still to be had.
I'm looking forward to see our electric bill this month. I've noticed our usage has been considerably less this year. I think the lower usage may be a combination of our switch to cfl bulbs and using our laptop. At least I think I read that desktops use more energy.
I heart organizing. I love it, nearly as much as personal finance. Sometimes more!
I mentioned in my previous blog that I did tidy up the basement recently. Part of that process involved going through school/office supplies from last year, as well as extras we had on hand. Most of the used stuff is going to be donated or sold at the next garage sale. I wanted to show you what I did with the extras!
It's all behind door number three. Also known as the door on the left, leading to the basement. The door straight ahead goes to our garage, while the door on the right leads to a bathroom/laundry room.
It's an over the door shoe holder. It is a little bit like a junk drawer. It holds flashlights, notepads, sticky notes, sissors, a dictionary, a handheld radio, pens, pencils, glue bottles and sticks, markers (skinny, fat, permanent,dry erase), highlighers, erasers, looseleaf paper, bug spray, sun tan lotion,extra shoe laces, yarn, pipe cleaners, pencil sharpener, tape, calculator, protractor, non working handheld fan (needs batteries), and a tape measure.
I think I started this method, over a year ago. Many, but not all, of the items had been stored in our unfinished basement. Did you know kids don't like to go down there by themselves? Problem solved.
There is one more item in there I didn't list...can you see what it is?
I borrowed my daughter's camera to take these pictures, so I snapped a couple of the basement. After tidy up.
Inside the dresser on the left: Gift wrap, gift bags, tissue, ribbon, shirt boxes and bows! Inside the dresser on the right: spiral notebooks, file folders, blank CD's, flashlights, maps, looseleave paper, folders, 3 ring binders. I'm sure I could find more to fit in this one. It was built by my grandfather!
Feel free to ask questions!