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Archive for April, 2011

Truck Update!!

April 30th, 2011 at 11:26 am

I added some more money to the truck savings in the amount of $1,672. That brings the balance to $11,922!! Only $78 short. Wish I had won that in Vegas. Smile

But the real news is that we bought a new to us truck yesterday! We bought a 2007 Honda Ridgeline with just over 23,000 miles. It has the leather seats and a navigation system...which are much more than we were originally looking for. It is now sitting in our driveway!

Since our goal was to put $12K down, we went ahead and borrowed the extra $78 from other savings. We financed under $15K for 48 months at 3.39%. Some of the sales tax and registration fees were added to our finance amount. So yes. More debt. It was so fun to put down that much cash for a vehicle!! I highly expect we will pay off the truck early as we usually do, but that will likely wait as a goal until after we have moved.

We now have two Honda vehicles (both 2007) that we expect to have for quite a few more years to come. It would be nice to get the girls to college at least before we buy our next vehicles. Full cash would be awesome!

We bought the truck used from a BMW dealership. While we were waiting to do paperwork, the salesman took a few moments to talk to us about how affordable a BMW can be. Using a lease! Ugh. So not into those...the lease. I'd take a BMW if I could afford one.

Back From Vegas: Over $150K

April 29th, 2011 at 08:50 am

We are back from Las Vegas!! I don't know how much we spent yet, but boy did it seem like we were spending money left and right. Primarily food and drinks. We aren't big gamblers and actually did very little. We got off the strip a couple times to visit Hoover Dam and Red Rock Canyon. Amazing sites worth seeing.

I checked our retirement accounts today and we have reached another milestone with over $150K in investments!! It doesn't seem that long ago that we reached the $100K mark. I have been told in the past that reaching the $100K mark is key. Once you make it there and continue to invest the returns add up fast.

If your accounts are over $100K, have you noticed your accounts adding up faster than in the beginning?

Gambling

April 22nd, 2011 at 07:36 pm

My husband and I are leaving for Las Vegas in a few days. This is a planned trip. Our first time visit, too!

We might do a little gambling. Or not. It does seems like cash is flying out the window with DH's return. It would be nice to win some. But my hopes are not high.

Have you been to Las Vegas? Did you gamble and win? Tell me about it.

Went Truck Shopping

April 20th, 2011 at 06:08 am

Yep. We went truck shopping yesterday. We didn't buy anything. Yet. It seems my husband is very anxious to buy the truck he has been looking forward to for a couple of years.

The truck he is looking to buy is a Honda Ridgeline. In our area there are only about 12 used available. Out of those, only a two to three have the lower mileage we are looking for. In other words, slim pickings.

The dealership was definitely trying to pin us down on a purchase. This dealership even has 0% financing for 36 months. Tempting but not a deal maker for these particular vehicles.

We talked last night. We are going to try to wait until May to commit to a purchase, since that is when we will have the full $12K downpayment.

Revived

April 18th, 2011 at 02:54 pm

My husband's Ipod which he purchased used for $100 stop working during the deployment. He brought it home on leave and we could never get it to charge using various methods. At that time, I checked the Apple store to find out that it would cost $59 to purchase a new battery. DH decided that was too much to spend since he did have another MP3 player that worked.

Fast forward to this weekend when he was using that MP3 player and he realized the headphone jack was no longer working because any headphones he used would not allow for easily uninterrupted listening.

Today we found a local battery store that could install a generic brand battery into the Ipod for less than $32. He now has access to all his music, as well as movies and tv shows that were originally on the Ipod when he purchased it. A very good deal!

I received a Pinecone survey payment today. And I deposited a $100 check that was given as a gift on our anniversary.

We Decided

April 16th, 2011 at 08:08 am

DH and I talked yesterday about the truck money. We are going to stick to our plan and use it towards the purchase of the truck. The savings is only about half of the purchase price. The remainder will be taken out as a loan. We plan to keep our current van and this truck until our girls graduate college, which is at least 10 years away.

In the next year, we should be able to live on our current income even while maintaining two households. And we have our emergency fund we can dip into if needed. And hopefully it won't be needed. Once we move, we should be able to make new goals and progress towards those.

It feels good that we decided. I'm happy that we are sticking with our original plan. Smile

Truck Savings Update!

April 15th, 2011 at 07:44 am

Pay day is here. We were able to add $1627 to our truck savings. That brings the balance to $10,250!! We are getting very close to the goal.

I think near the beginning of May we can proceed to find a new to us truck. We are still trying to determine what to get and how much to actually finance. In truth, we may not put the full amount we have saved towards the truck. The only reason we won't is because of the high probability we will be running two households in the coming year. Cash will be key in keeping the additional debt down.

Do you think that is a good idea? Or should we take on less debt now and take on more debt if we need it in the next year? I don't know that we will need it, but I think I'm just trying feel some control in something that feels out of control.

The Income Drop: An Open Door

April 12th, 2011 at 10:56 am

The deployment is almost over. Yipee!!

The deployment is almost over. Darn. I say darn because the increased income and lack of tax withholding has been oh so very nice. We will have a drop in income by about $1100 per month. We have made great strides in the last year with this income. We paid off the remainder of the home equity loan, paid off our van and started saving for a new to us truck. We were able to keep saving for retirement and college along the way, too. It has been a great 'financial year'. Really great.

But when one door closes, another one opens. This time it is opening to the gift that is my husband. Today we celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary. Tomorrow we see each other again for the first time. We are fresh with new experiences. We know more about ourselves individually and as a couple. There is definitely something about this experience that makes us better and stronger and I for one can't wait to see what waits around the corner.

See, I don't care too much about the income drop. I know we'll be fine.

Renting vs Buying

April 11th, 2011 at 09:44 am

We have no idea where we are moving to, yet. However, my brain is considering the scenarios and possibilities. So here's what I'm thinking about. Feel free to chime in with your thoughts.

We currently have a 30 year fixed mortgage on our home and will have lived here just over 5 years by the time we move. The house does not appear to have appreciated much at all in that time frame. Maybe $3000. We have paid down quite a bit of principal in that time because we paid off our home equity loan. So we will walk away with more equity then we started with. Possibly around $35K.

We have been quite lucky to have lived in one place for 5 years. Many military families move every two to three years, which makes me think buying a house is just not a good idea, since we might move in three years the next time.

The idea of renting feels very odd after owning two homes for a total of 14 years. I can see the positives: we won't pay for home repairs, we won't do home upgrades or landscaping, we can move just about at anytime with out much cost, and no debt! The negative: possibly higher house payments, unable to paint or customize the house. Okay that is all I can think of at the moment.

Should we consider an ARM and still buy a house? Payments might be less than renting, but we would have the ability customize our living space. We might not increase our equity, but we don't get that with a rental either. Or maybe a 15 year loan, so that more money goes to principal.

I figure if we can keep our house payments as low as possible, we might be able to put away even more cash. Can you see I'm running in circles with my thinking? I'm guessing we will be able to make a decision once we know more about the area we are moving to and what types of housing are available in the areas we want to live.

Any thoughts? What else should I be thinking about or considering while making this decision.

Storm on the Horizon? Stop Paying Down Debt

April 10th, 2011 at 08:11 am

I've had a few conversations with my sister recently about our impending move and running two households for awhile. She has a big expense coming up in the next year also. One that she can't put off. So it brings up the issue of how to handle cash flow when a storm is on the horizon.

Step number one may be obvious: do not take on more debt. This should be easy for her. However, we already made plans to purchase a new to us truck, possibly borrowing at least half of the purchase price. We will need to look at this carefully in the next month. We need another vehicle. But do we need another loan or can we handle a larger loan to keep the cash flow available?

The next step is to stop paying extra on current debts, to set aside more cash for that storm on the horizon. Easy for us, as our only debt is our mortgage. For my sister, she has credit card debt that she has been focusing on. Luckily at very low interest rates. She will keep making minimum payments.

Finally, sock away the cash!! We have at least 6 more pay periods before our storm starts...paying for DH to move to school and paying for his living expenses. My sister her time frame is not as clear, thus more reason to hang on the cash when she can. If at some point in time she sees they can pay down some debt with cash they have saved and still have some for the storm then she will do that. Oh, and for my sister, her big expense isn't really a storm, but a joyous celebration!

As I write this, I realize that if someone had debt they could pay off before the big expense arrives and have time to save for it then would be the best situation.

The ability to save up cash for a future expense is a good way to avoid more debt. That is what we are both aiming for. Once the storms pass, we will definitely refocus our efforts on debt reduction and cash savings.

In the end it is all about cash flow. Keeping cash on hand to handle the expenses forth coming to avoidl more debt. Any other advice for those in this situation?

No Worries On Pay

April 9th, 2011 at 07:36 am

Well, it seems Congress came through and made a deal so that all military personnel can be paid on time. I did get a glimpse of what our 8 day paycheck would have been. We would have been short about $1700 for the pay period, which is about the amount I was going to put aside for the truck. Interesting.

However, it appears DFAS (payroll office) took down everyone's pay stubs yesterday when it wasn't clear whether the deal would go through or not. I think the payroll office did a good job with their notice about how the pay would be affected depending on the date of agreement. They definitely did right by the customer considering they didn't have control of the decision.

This is definitely an example to all military that it is important to have an emergency fund. There really are scenarios where pay can be affected. We need emergency funds just like everyone else, regardless of the security of the job.

On a side note, I found out one of my sister in laws, along with her husband, are taking a Financial Peace University class. So excited for them to be getting on a path for financial freedom. They are using cash for about everything, using envelopes, making a grocery list and eating home cooked meals rather than take out. Again, so very excited!!

Preparing for One Week's Pay

April 8th, 2011 at 06:32 am

I'm not completely against the government shutting down. If it needs to be done to move our country forward then so be it. However, it appears we will have a delay in pay for as long as it is shut down. We should get back pay for all days of the shut down once it is over.

The really good news? My husband is back on US soil!! I got the news last night. He will be back home as soon as possible. There is still out processing paper work to be done.

So...to figure out how to handle a lack of pay in the short term. Obviously, we do have emergency funds that we can rely on. Once we get paid we will reimburse ourselves. I know not everyone can do this. For that, I feel sad.

Ticked At the Government

April 7th, 2011 at 04:56 am

Really? Come on. Just get it done. That's what the Army does. They get it done. Families and business live on the money they bring in. These congressmen should have had a budget ready in September of 2010 for this current fiscal year. Over six months ago.

I completely support necessary spending cuts. And yes, some people are going to get upset because of the cuts. But our government is spending more than it brings in. It is time to cut. And cut deep. Stop crying and get it done.

I'm just tired of it already.

After the No Spend Month

April 6th, 2011 at 06:07 am

So. After the no spend month what do you think happens?

Turns out I'm spending! I think the spending is actually typical of things we would normally buy. And since it is the beginning of the month, I'm stocking up on toilet paper, kitty litter, food, toothpaste and hair products. We did get a take away pizza last Saturday, which we did not do at all in March.

We have shopped for some spring clothes, too. It is just that time of year where things need to be bought. I'm still trying to be aware of what are needs and wants.

Today won't be a no spend day as I'm having lunch with a friend, but maybe tomorrow. It would still be good to have a no spend day here and there. Right?

Changes are Looming

April 5th, 2011 at 08:52 am

Changes will be happening here in the next year. Primarily our living situation. My husband isn't even home from deployment, but we expect him to be going to school this summer. We are just waiting on orders. This is considered a permanent move from the military's stand point. The school is for about four months and from there he will then need to move to his next assignment. Wherever that is! We don't know yet. However, that secret location is where we will all end up in 2012.

Do you know what this does to me from a financial standpoint? I'm going crazy thinking of paying for two households for at least 5 months, but up to 10. We still have to buy DH a vehicle just to get to and from work once he returns. I wondering if we should finance more of the vehicle than planned just to have cash for maintaining two households. Decisions. Decisions.

We could move with him at the same time to school and then to the next location. Our consideration is the girls. My oldest will be a 9th grader and the youngest a 6th grader starting middle school. I don't think they should have to move twice in a school year. Once will be enough.

I do feel fortunate to have the cash to pay for two households, but it isn't really how I want to spend our extra funds, ya know? Stay tuned there will be more to this saga at some point.

Turned It Off

April 4th, 2011 at 04:44 am

It's been my tradition to turn the pilot light off to our gas fireplace in early April. I did just that yesterday. It was 87 degrees here. Today it will only be in the 40's and it's very windy. I wonder if I'll regret turning it off?

We usually don't turn it on until mid to late November, but I figure it has to help the utility bill.

March Earned Interest

April 3rd, 2011 at 08:03 am

We earned $94.45 in interest for the month of March. I think we will still earn 10% interest on the SDP for at least two more months. It's been a nice bonus.

I'm adding the interest(rounded up to $95) to the truck savings balance.

New Balance: $8,623

We are getting closer to the goal!!

No Spend Month Wrap Up

April 2nd, 2011 at 06:51 am

Our no spend month of March is over! I'm very happy about that. It was kind of a long month. It was well worth it to come out with over $200 in money that could have been just spent away.

Total Funds $957.96
Total Spent $756.88
Total Saved $201.08(21%)

Human Food: $355.13 (37%)
Fuel: $163.69 (17%)
Birthday: $139.34 (14.5%)
Health: $28.74 (3%)
Cat Food: $28.61 (3%)
Appliances: $26.37 (2.8%)
Car Washes: $15 (1.6%)

The amount of cash that we had to work with is simply based on our normal budget. While DH is away, our spending cash is about $500 per pay period (2x per month). It is often very tight with spending anyway, but it keeps us in check. I pay all the bills due during the pay period, set aside our $500 for spending and put the rest towards our goal(s). Right now that goal is our truck savings. In March we saved $2800 towards the truck. Oh, make that $3000, since I added the $200 we didn't spend to that goal.

I will admit there are some non necessities in our spending. The car washes were a Groupon deal that I couldn't pass up, since I knew I would need and use them in the future. So far, I've only used one of three car washes I purchased.

I also had quite a bit of snacks in the grocery spending that could definitely be considered non necessities. Coffee, cookies, brownies, soda, chips to name a few. The grocery category does include a few non food purchases such as dishwasher detergent and hair products. Those types of things were minimal.

Fuel was a big expense, but necessary as I drive my girls to school everyday. We probably saved here though because we had spring break for one week and had less driving.

Remember those birthday expenses were an exception for the no spend month. I would have spent this same money on her birthday even if it had not been a no spend month. But wow. If she didn't have a birthday I would have saved even more!! This was the only time we got take away food, which was around $35.

The appliance was the toaster that I felt was necessary after our 15 year old toaster quite on us early in the month. It's a nice stainless steel and works great. No regrets!

The cat food expense is only every three months and just happened to fall during our no spend month. My fat cats could have probably waited a month without food. Just kidding!!

It has been an interesting experience, one that I may repeat at another point in the future. I would highly recommend that everyone attempt a no spend month once. Just once. And not just for the savings, but also to observe our spending habits, patterns and thought processes about spending.

Truck Savings Update

April 1st, 2011 at 11:39 am

I have added an additional $1,172 to our truck savings. This includes the $200 I saved from our no spend month in March.

New Balance: $8,528
Yipee!!

Oh, and if you read my earlier post about the Today Show....April Fool's. My husband will return in April, but we will not be announcing the reunion on national television. Sorry!

I'm off to go shopping. One month is plenty for no spending!!

Today Show

April 1st, 2011 at 06:33 am

My husband will be home later this month. Yipee!!

Turns out that the Today Show is looking to feature military family reunions and our family was asked to participate. Who doesn't want a free trip to New York City? Stay tuned and I'll let you know the day we will be featured.