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Month of May Musings

May 24th, 2012 at 05:23 pm

In addition to the usual exhaustion, I caught a cold and respiratory infection over the past 2 weeks. My goodness, what's a girl to do?

Needless to say, I'm a little behind in the budget tweaking and tracking, but still keeping my eye on the prize.

After using my tax refund to add that extra money to my Roth and pay a little extra toward my mortgage earlier this month/last month, I felt HIGHLY motivated and still feel the urge to keep the momentum going. Problem is, I have more momentum than money. Hmmmm?

I want to do it ALL and I want to add to ALL my savings goals heavy and hard, like thousands of dollars per month. But the reality (as usual) is that I'll be tapping the nickles and dimes and dollars, which requires some more creativity...

Here's two ideas I've come up with...

(1) The extra that I have with the change in my tax withholding combined with my standing allotment toward 'wealth' savings, I think I can split between the car savings and the Roth IRA (about 100 each, each month) and the wealth account. It will take longer for everything, but I feel like I need to do something.
(2) Commit to a $50 set amount for extra toward mortgage. I've been flaky with no amount or $25 or $30 extra. If I can keep my grocery budget where it is, I can easily add $50 each month to the mortgage payment. I can also use the $20 challenge--maybe commit an extra $20 from my $20 challenge toward the mortgage. Hmmm...

Anyhoo, I'm still pushing toward the goals. Hope you all are too!! Happy saving everyone!

April Thoughts

April 30th, 2012 at 10:32 pm

Last day of April and I just made the cut-off for my intention to update my blog each month -- too busy for words, but still striving to save.

Got the income tax return back. Also, I re-arranged my savings allotments when I changed my tax withholding. My intention is to make deposits to my Roth IRA this year Not sure how this change in withholding will play out for income tax season next year, but we'll see. I can always change it again.

Anyhow, decided to put $500 in Christmas shopping account, $400 toward my Roth IRA and $300 toward my mortgage. The rest I'm still deciding how to split between my wealth account, freedom account and spending. (We need a new lawn mower!) We'll see.

Tweaking the budget a bit. Still using cash envelopes, since it has worked so well for the past few years. I've been shopping less than normal the past 2 months -- mostly due to fatigue. Thus I have more money left in my purse at the end of the month. Who would have thought there would be a payoff for exhaustion?

Happy saving everyone!! Stay encouraged!

Update for March - income tax refund

March 29th, 2012 at 09:54 pm

I finished my tax return and expect about $1500 refund. I changed my withholding in an effort to get less of a refund next year. I haven't seen the difference yet, so I'll plan for it when I have the actual number for my new take home pay.

I would like to go on record and say this about the instructions for the Form 1040: "Seriously????" I normally do our taxes, but for some reason, I had trouble understanding the language this year. I mean, SERIOUSLY???? Maybe I'm just getting older and more cranky.

I have an idea of how to divide up the refund of $1500 for savings. Much of it (about $800) will sit in my Christmas shopping account. The rest I keep rearranging on paper - some to my Roth IRA, some to my Freedom account, some to my wealth account/car account, some to our house repair account. So many choices!! I'll figure something out. I'm determined to save the bulk of it, give away a little (to church and a homeless shelter) and spend a small amount for things around the house.

Next year, I probably won't know how to act if I don't get a refund. (Or worse, if I owe!) Like several folks I know, I think I'm addicted to getting a decent tax refund. It's a nice chunk of cash to decide what to do with. We'll see how disciplined I am about saving during the rest of this year to make good on getting a bigger paycheck rather than a bigger refund.

Anyhoo, happy saving everyone!!

It's a Challenge to Focus on the $20 Challenge

February 16th, 2012 at 06:42 pm

I had so many great ideas to challenge myself previously to focus on small wins (small savings). But I've fallen off the wagon on every idea!!

My automatic savings allotments are still working for me. So that's a good thing. I just haven't done the extra focus work of saving wherever I can and then translating that savings into an actual DEPOSIT in my savings account.

Too much stress at work. You would think that would motivate me to do everything I can possibly do to get my own financial buy-out package together!! But instead it has me momentarily exhausted and unfocused.

My intention is to add a lot of little wins to my name for 2012 to add up to a big win eventually.

Reading over savingadvice helps a lot. Motivated!!

Anyhoo, here's the streamlined $20 Challenge plan for this year:

I normally use cash envelopes for some of my budget categories like groceries and household items. That allowance is about $100 per week for groceries and $25 for household items. I get cash to cover 2 weeks because I get paid every too weeks.
Since I'm using more coupons, I'll challenge myself to keep track and set aside any savings I have leftover in my envelopes in these 2 categories at the end of the 2-week period (in particular dollar bills and coins, but all savings are welcome, of course). Half of the leftover money will be loaded on a reloadable giftcard for the grocery store I shop (or other store like Walmart. That will give me a little cushion when I need it.) The other half will go into my wealth account.

Ta da!! Now I just need to stick to it. Happy saving everyone!

Hello?

January 30th, 2012 at 06:31 pm

Well hello there!! I've been busy, tired, have too much work, and don't have good personal computer access--lot of excuses for not blogging, but I'm determined to blog at least once a month in 2012 to review other blogs (get inspired) and update SOMETHING so I can stay better focused. I just made the cut-off for January!

Updated my sidebar as of Dec 2011. My sidebar "As of Dec 2010" copied below for comparison:
Mortgage: $60,200 remaining
No credit card debt(Hallelujah!!)
Retirement: $39,346 IRA (trad'l)
Retirement: $100,500, 401K
Wealth acct: $17,992
Freedom acct: $4,515
Christmas acct: $110
House repair acct: $345
Grandkids acct: $403
The Kid (future gift/out-on-his own acct): $521 (he has access--account is probably $0)
Education: $10,588 (savings bonds & savings acct)

I made some progress, stayed the same in other areas. Still pushing forward which is the important thing. Lots of budget-tweaking to do. New year, new hope...

Happy saving!!

Goooaaaal!

October 24th, 2011 at 11:09 pm

I've been absent for a few months - basically unorganized and exhausted. But I'm still a saving machine and I'm pressing my way.

Reached the money market goal at the beginning of this month. Gooooaaaaaalll!! I'd been on auto pilot for a while, but I feel like I accomplished something. Now I'll readjust a little in order to save for a car purchase. I want to pay cash for our next car AND keep the minimum balance of 25,000 in the account. So I may be saving for another 2 years to get there, but we'll see what happens.

I also converted $2,000 ($1800 after tax reduction) from my traditional IRA to open a Roth IRA with the same mutual fund account. Not happy with the mutual fund company and may change. But opening a Roth IRA that was a future goal that is now a done goal. Now I just need a plan to contribute to it regularly.

Yay me and yay you's, all you saving buddies!
Happy saving!

Checking In

August 24th, 2011 at 11:34 pm

It's been a little while since I checked in. I've been busy and still dealing with job burn-out, but I'm grateful for health and a job in these days and times. I'm feeling better thanks to a couple of days off... Plus I always get motivated during my birthday month.

Taking steps to take care of my health and get enough sleep. I almost wish I could take my bed and pillow with me to work, but I'm sure my boss would frown on that. (smile)

Still tweaking the budget, but it seems like a lot more money is going out than I'd like. I'd love to plug the leaks--pun intended!! We've had plumbing issues (oh, the joys of home ownership) that added a $600 expense and car issues (oh, the joys of car ownership) that are not yet completely repaired/maintained. And the Kid (oh, the joys of parenting) is doing much better--and I'm SO INCREDIBLY grateful--after his mental health breakdown last year. He is again enrolled in a few college classes so we have that expense as the Bank of Mom, Inc.

I haven't kept up with Saving Advice as much as I'd like, but I still get inspired every time I hit the site and catch up on other blogs. I love you guys!! Now I'm going to go clip some coupons. Happy saving!


Fight the Good Fight

June 27th, 2011 at 11:56 pm

Trying to fight discouragement. Job-burnout has me EXHAUSTED and impatient to hurry up and meet all my financial goals NOW. The thought of 10 more years of this job zaps my energy. I'm eligible for retirement between 7 and 10 years barring reductions/downsizing, which can happen at any time. Can I make it?

I'm grateful for my job and income. If we go through reductions/downsizing, I'd rather choose job-burnout. And at the rate I'm going, I need at least 10 more years of saving and investing and to pay off my mortgage. I'm just really really tired. I need to take it a day at a time.

In the meantime, I'm doing what I can with all the money management skills I've practiced. I seek inspiration at saving-advice and else-where.

I've committed to saving at least 70% of any extra income I receive over my paycheck.

I save change. I clip coupons. (Has anyone seen that show 'Extreme Couponing'? OMG! Not exactly for me, that investment of time, but OMG!)

I've fallen off the wagon in playing the $20 challenge. So I'll commit to my own version for the next 6 months on a daily basis and try to save as much as I can each day in addition to my regular saving allotments. Say, $1 added to savings for every no-spend day...

I can dream about winning the mega-million lottery while I clip coupons and count quarters, but while I'm dreaming, I have to keep clipping coupons and counting quarters in order to push forward. Heavy sigh...

Quick Hit

May 2nd, 2011 at 11:28 pm

Helloooooo....Quick hit due to the fact that I'm too busy and too exhausted for words.

Still tweaking the budget. Updated my sidebar goals.

Still inspired by all my saving advice friends. Did I ever tell y'all I love you? It helps to have somewhere to go when you need encouragement in the finance department even in the midst of stress, fatigue and overextending myself. True love is so hard to find...

GO SAVERS GO!!! GO SAVERS GO!!

Income Taxes Done - Yay me!

March 8th, 2011 at 12:57 am

Finished my income tax return today. Yay me. I do them by hand, because I'm a nerd and I can take my time reading all the instructions. That was a problem this year since IRS is cutting down on paper mailing -- I had to search for all forms and instructions at the library and on line.

Anyway, I got everything I needed after several trips and lots of reading. All that footwork and reading was the bad news. The good news is I'm getting money back -- close to $2,000!!

My fear was that I had to pay. When I did the IRS calculator at irs.gov around Sep 2010, it calculated that I wasn't having enough income tax taken out of my pay, so that concerned me that I would owe extra and I increased my withholding. But I guess the calculator didn't take into account any credits I may have had. Such a complicated process!!

Anyhoo...

I know some people disagree with having a large return (they say it's an interest-free loan to the government), but hooey pooey to that!! This year it's helping me with money management. I can use all the help I can get. I'm excited to be getting a refund. It will help with funding my savings accounts. I would have been happy breaking even-- This is just a fabulous bonus!

Hope all of you have good news when it comes to income tax time. It's not a fun task, but it has to be dealt with.

Happy saving!

Here I Am!!

February 16th, 2011 at 01:20 am

I realize no one has been looking for me, but I've been inactive for some time. Dealing with my son's mental health adjustments has taken its toll over the year--it's been a year since the 'schizophrenia' break, which has been downgraded by doctors to a psychotic break/nervous breakdown, since he appears to be doing better although still unmotivated and fearful and he's dropped out of college due to failing grades. Dealing with work and the household and everything has NOT gotten any easier--I think I've been depressed, which I'm sure I've mentioned in previous posts. However, the one thing I've been able to do is keep showing up for work and keep working on my finances. (I can't work on the finances if I don't show up for work--lately that has been my only motivation)

Anyway, I'm baaack! I hope to stay involved with the blog, but no promises! I still read other entries that still inspire and motivate, but writing about my progress (or lack) seems to help a great deal also. My level of depression seems mild--just haven't been motivated to do much, but if I keep showing up, keep praying, keep exercising, keep writing, keep working on the budget, I think I'll pull out of it without the use of pills or medical help.

I've updated my sidebar (I know, I'm late!). The comparison of year-end numbers are below.


As of Dec 09 --
Mortgage: $56,127 remaining
No credit card debt(Hallelujah!!)
Retirement: 34,037 IRA (trad'l)
Retirement: 84,972 401K
Wealth acct: $13,325
Freedom acct: $2,898
Christmas acct: $410
House repair acct: $125
Grandkids acct: $402
The Kid (future gift/out-on-his own acct): $923

As of Dec 2010 --
Mortgage: $60,200 remaining (refinanced from 7.5% interest to 3.9% interest)
No credit card debt(Hallelujah!!)
Retirement: $39,346, IRA (trad'l)
Retirement: $100,500, 401K
Wealth acct: $17,992
Freedom acct: $4,515
Christmas acct: $110
House repair acct: $345
Grandkids acct: $403
The Kid (future gift/out-on-his own acct): $521
Education: $10,588 (savings bonds & savings acct)

Still using my nickel and dime plan to build up my wealth account. Plan to continue. My savings allotments are on auto-pilot and it all seems slow going, but it's going. My brother thinks these small goals are useless, but they seem to help me a great deal, especially when I look back over the progress I've made. I can't convince HIM, but I've convinced myself to look at every nickel and dime with a close eye (smile).

Anyhoo, HERE I AM!! HAPPY SAVING!!

Nickel and Dime Plan

September 15th, 2010 at 12:07 am

I haven't blogged in quite some time. Too busy for words, too tired. Too lazy. And a little stressed at work. Plus my supervisor wants me to take a higher paying and more STRESSFUL position and I'm just not interested in the additional health problems and the additional work and hours. (The money would be nice, but it isn't a huge raise. Not sure if the additional stress is worth it.)

Anyway, the good news is I'm still saving money and looking for new ways to divide up a dime. Still inspired by the savingadvice camp. At one time, I felt like my budget was being nickeled and dimed to death, but as of this month (Labor Day) I'm using the concept to my advantage.

I started a financial freedom jar and intend to deposit something into it every day from the cash allowance/envelope system I currently use. EVEN A NICKLE OR A DIME!!! It's an effort to change my focus to the positive (building) rather than the negative (subtracting and whining about it).

Then I'll deposit the collection each payday or each month CONSISTENTLY into the wealth account. (I've had issues with consistency.) The bank tellers always smile and seem to say, 'how sweet' when I deposit dollar bills and change, but when they look at the balance of the account, they seem to say 'hmmm.'

Even though it looks like I may not meet my goals by the end of year, I'm still striving for them. It just means I'll stretch the goals into 2011. Happy saving!

Mid-Year Review 2010

July 21st, 2010 at 11:42 pm

June 2010 status compared to Sidebar (As of Dec 2009):

Mortgage balance: $54,257

No Credit Card debt (yay!)

Retirement IRA: $34,637

Retirement 401K: $91,140

Wealth acct: $15,022

Freedom acct: $3,801

Christmas acct: $752

House Repair acct: $475

Grandkids acct: $402

The Kid: $494


Checking acct is still fluctuating wildly. Freedom account gets a heavy workout, too. But overall I'm making some progress. I'm practicing patience. I keep telling myself one dime at a time...
Happy saving!!

Checking In

July 15th, 2010 at 11:41 pm

Hi Saving Advice friends!! Just checking in. Don't have a lot to say. Don't seem to have a lot of time and energy to blog lately (or iron clothes or wash dishes or vacuum or run errands or...) but I'm here. All I can do is keep trying.

My parents just left my home and it was wonderful having them visit for 2 weeks from the next state over. However, spending time with them and seeing how much they've aged, it makes me feel guilty about my lack of progress in estate planning and creating a will. I still haven't done so. It's like writer's block or something.

My to-do list is still 30 miles of rough road. I really have to break it down to more manageable pieces, but then that's another 'to-do' item. (smile)
I think I need a personal secretary (smile).

Positive progress on other things:

The kid is doing somewhat better.

The wealth account has reached $15,000.

My parents were able to help us clear the tree limbs that were scratching the roof (which means we've scratched THAT item off the to-do list). It also means we saved about $500 for a handyman/tree trimmer. And some new roof shingles. (We rented a long-handled chainsaw tree trimmer for $40 for a day.)

Because my father drove his pick up truck to visit, we were also able to use it to pick up the kitchen table that I finally ordered, saving a $50 delivery fee.

Parents are great, aren't they?

I'm still inspired by everyone's blogs. Happy saving everyone!

What to do about the to-do list

May 24th, 2010 at 11:09 pm

I haven't kept up with my to-do list. I just got overwhelmed and lazy about it. The same with my budget. And I haven't quite found a simple system that works well in remembering to do things and then DOING them. I think I'm just totally unmotivated about nearly everything at the moment. I'm hoping this 'un-motivation' will pass.

Unfortunately, no list means I forgot some basic things within the last week or so. I forgot to buy laundry detergent, which put my schedule off a bit for laundry. I forgot to call to make a doctor's appointment and now no appointments are available in the time I was hoping. I forgot to buy peaches for the grandchildren and they were quite miffed. (They love peaches, but their mom refuses to buy much fresh fruit, so I often have them on hand. I went back to the store to get them the next day.) I was off budget at the grocery store because I didn't keep track of my purchases or my grocery list. I also think I missed the deadline to add more money to the Certificate of Deposit I have (not sure...will check with the bank). None of these are big deals, but they all add up.

The good news is, I wrote down as many things as I could recall that I need to do within the month or even over the next few months. Things like buy stamps, gather my dry cleaning, sew a button on my jacket, call the doctor, etc. It might not help, but at least some of that clutter is out of my head and onto a piece of paper. That's progress.

It's the next step (actually DOING the things on the to-do list) that I have a problem with also. We'll see... One step at a time...I did begin with balancing my checkbook and checked that off the list. And I checked in with saving advice. Check. Only 984 more items to go...ha ha!

Where in the world have I been?

May 20th, 2010 at 11:50 pm

Nowhere. Just somewhat stressed, trying to adjust to changes in my job and at home. The kid is doing ok--much better in fact--meds are working and the psychologists are very positive after they talk with him each time. He didn't do so well this last semester at school, when it comes to grades, but he gave it his best shot by attempting to go to class.
Appreciate everyone's kind comments on my previous post back in March.

Anyway, my energy is a little drained. I may be dealing with a little depression, but I'm not willing to go down for the count, so I keep getting up to go to work, I keep exercising, I keep praying, I keep making some attempt to do something worthwhile and energizing. The kid has been very talkative as of late, so we've had some really interesting talks about "What's life all about?"

I've fallen a little behind in my budget and record keeping, but intend to do some work this month. The insurance did kick in for the hospital bill that was originally $7,000--my portion is $750 (yay me!). The other good news is that I was expecting an $800 tax refund but recieved a $1400 tax refund. (yay me!) I didn't include a credit and IRS re-calculated it for me. I feel like I should send them a thank you card. Who knew?

I'm glad I was able to muster the interest and energy to check out Saving Advice blogs and update my sidebar a little. I feel better already. I've fallen behind, but feel energized now to re-focus. I have a very long (loooooooong) list of things to do, and very little motivation. But we'll see. Happy saving!!

OMG

March 29th, 2010 at 11:37 pm

Oh My Goodness. That comment goes toward both my life and the savingadvice new look. Go figure--I'm unable to blog for several weeks and look what happens--a whole new format for savingadvice. I think I like it...

The sad sad news (the other part of the Oh My Goodness) is my son the Kid now appears to have what most people would see as a topic no one wants to talk about. He had a psychotic episode a few weeks ago (totally irrational uncontrollable behavior that he was hospitalized for) and has initially been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

This has changed our LIVES, emotionally, mentally and financially. (Already I have a hospital bill for $7,000, which scares me. I'll be calling my insurance company.) I've had several weeks to semi-adjust (I don't see a full adjustment since his behavior is now more potentially unpredictable). He appears to be doing fine on his current medication, but as a 21 year old is not willing to let me mother him much, which is all I want to do. He's also an adult in the medical world, which means I can't get much info from the doctors without his consent. So frustrating.

I've read a lot and prayed. I'm trying to reach out to people who might know what we're going through. We have a great church family. He just turned 21 and is attempting to get caught up in the college courses he's currently taking (he missed several classes), but I see that he's struggling.

I've found websites and information about the subject of Schizophrenia that's helping a lot. But I notice my finances are taking the back burner and I'm here at savingadvice to get some of my life back. My checking account is down to 26.33 and that's not helping my own mental state.

Everything is so connected--life, money, children, home, spirit, health. I'm out of whack right now, but will take steps to get it together. I'm so glad you all are still here!!

Status Dec 08 to Dec 09

January 28th, 2010 at 11:05 pm

Been busy this month...

From my old side bar:
As of Dec 08 --
Mortgage: $58,741 remaining.
No credit card debt (Hallelujah!!)
Retirement: 21,500 IRA (trad'l)
Retirement: 74,470 401K
Wealth acct (Money Mkt): $7,931
Freedom acct: $3,097
Cushion in chkg acct: $250
Christmas acct: $44
House repair acct: $954
Grandkids acct: $372
The Kid (future gift/out-on-his own acct): $583
Car account: $655

From my records, as of Dec 09 (new sidebar) --
Mortgage: $56,127
No credit card debt
Retirement: 34,037 IRA (trad'l)
Retirement: 84,972 401K
Wealth acct (Money Mkt): $13,325
Freedom acct: $2,898
Christmas acct: $410
House repair acct: $125
Grandkids act: $402
The Kid (future gift/out-on-his own/car acct): $923

Checking In

January 28th, 2010 at 11:03 pm

I thought the whole month of January would pass by without being able to post an entry!! Busy month!!

I've been working on the end-of-year finance reports for my church PLUS a lot of extra hours at my regular job. Too busy for words...

Started the year 2010 with a whimper. My final dental bill is $625, which I'll pay next week. Plus the kid needed another root canal. What is it with OUR TEETH??? New dental insurance pays 50% (old dental insurance paid 20%)...still the bill for him is $600, which includes the crown.

Anyhoo...
Made some progress in 2009, but praying to consistently move forward. Trying not to focus on the time it takes to get where I want to get (it feels reaaalllly slowwwwwww). I love this time of year, because even if I MIGHT be discouraged about my progress, I'm reminded to just keep pushing forward. And be patient.

Same goals this year as last year--for the most part. I will not be discouraged. I've updated my sidebar and posted another post comparing my Dec 08 to my Dec 09 status. Cut down a few goals in an effort to focus. I really want to increase my retirement contribution, but in an effort to get my wealth account and house repair account up to the amounts I want, I'll delay the increase to retirement until I get a comfortable amount in these accounts. Failed appliances (and the resulting appliance purchases) last year cleaned out the house repair account. Time to get more realistic about that.

Are we ready? Forward march!

Quick Update & Christmas Lessons

December 22nd, 2009 at 01:22 am

It's been a little while. Took me a few minutes to find my own blog (smile).

I'm out of sorts this time of year since I work on our church's financial reports for the end of the year and not a lot on my own budget. So much to do, but I'll make it. I've been doing this same thing for the last 8 or 9 years so I know I'll make it....

I needed some motivation, though, and I came to the right place. I'm so motivated by everyone's blogs about the upcoming new year. I'm excited. It's budget-tweaking time and time to update my $20 challenge and sidebar.

I'm done with Christmas and somewhat over the budget I set when I count the gym membership I purchased (It was $335 for the year, prepaid.)

The kid is 20 and I'm trying to wean him of the expectation of stuff. But he did 'persuade' me to buy him a gym membership earlier, which counted as a gift that I wasn't even TRYING to buy him. He's been gushing grateful for it everyday and has met some new friends over the past few weeks, so it was a good gift, despite my reluctance. I also bought him boxers and socks on sale and found a pair of basketball shoes on clearance, spending an additional $60. I might give him $25 cash. Maybe $50. Hadn't decided yet. But I'm done.

My husband is harder to shop for--he claims to love everything I buy him, but most of the things I've bought him have remained hidden in a closet or dusty on a top shelf or in a pile for giveaway or otherwise mysteriously misplaced. We had a chat about my inept gift-giving, which he at first DENIED, but I had proof (slacks with the tags still on them and an empty broken CD case that he doesn't remember playing or receiving from me).

We agreed not to buy each other gifts.

Instead he wanted to donate to someone at our church who is struggling with Christmas gifts for 5 children. So we did that. I bought him chocolate. We might go out to a movie or something, maybe see Christmas lights. But I'm done, done, done. Have $300 left over in the Christmas account...a good start for next Christmas.

It's fun buying gifts if it's right and useful for the receiver, but not so much fun when it's been the wrong thing over and over. Plan to simplify even more next year. Maybe I'll just buy myself some gifts!!

Budget Woes

November 18th, 2009 at 12:50 am

My budget has been wacky.

Culprit number 1 is the house. We've replaced a refrigerator, a washing machine, repaired the furnace ($390) and we continued a pest control contract (which I'd planned on ending). I neglected to include that quarterly contract cost of $120 in the budget so all that has been throwing me off.

Culprit number 2 is the kid. How big is that child's stomach?? (Pest control doesn't cover him.)

Culprit number 3 is the dental work. I believe I'm in the wrong profession -- how rich would I be if I were a dentist! My dentist currently holds about 20% of my humble current wealth account balance (total dental expenses this year about $3,000 for services rendered. Last year about the same). I feel like I need to marry him. He's not that cute, but I'd be $6,000 richer...

Anyhoo...
This is not to say I'm not grateful for having the money to take care of all these things, because I'm definitely grateful. There was a time when it was a lot harder than this...

But I'm pressing toward doing better and better every year. That's my focus.

I really need to look at my house-care account. I have a separate savings account for household appliances, household repairs and furniture. I stopped the deposits once the balance got up to $1000, thinking that we'd buy a new kitchen table and chairs and get our shower fixed. Needless to say the old kitchen table is still rocking (literally). And the shower still has a 'flow' problem. Within the past few months we've used over $900 on the appliances and repairs mentioned above and now have only $100 in this extra account. Again I'm grateful, but I definitely need to re-focus.

My freedom account has taken a few hits, too, most of which were planned for and expected (but not all), and we still have some leeway. But I'm going to have it take a couple of aspirins and call me in the morning with a new plan.

To add to all that: My brother is currently having his roof replaced on his house and it's costing him about $8,000! Yikes. I admire him that he's able to pay cash. We're almost in the market for a new roof ourselves and I definitely don't want to go in debt for it or use my hard-earned wealth account. So I need a more aggressive plan. You see, this is how it starts...my focus in every direction...

October 2009 Challenge

November 18th, 2009 at 12:47 am

Added:
$135 in paycheck allotments

$180 as my automatic transfer on Oct 20.

$250 transfer from excess from Oct budget

$15.28 interest/dividend deposited

Wealth acct/Money mkt balance, $12,530

Balance toward extra mortgage payment Oct 30, $820

Total in account October 30, $13,350



The Search for Simplicity: The To-Do List

October 27th, 2009 at 11:55 pm

Just checking in...

I notice that when I'm feeling the need to get motivated or inspired I head to Savingadvice or I flip through a few familiar books that I have. The computer at home is up and running (another wipe and fix, this time by brother-in-law), but it is faster to do internet at the library (dial-up at home is cheap but slow.)

So here I am and already I feel more energized. I usually just run through the recent posts of everyone, like Ima Saver, Tightwad Kitty, BA, mjrube94, Lux Living Frugalis, Whitestripe, Gamecock, etc. There are so many and I love to read practically all of the recent posts. It helps me stay on track.

I'm still striving for ways to simplify my life, but am overwhelmed by my lack of energy. And lack of enthusiasm. I am now inspired to create a daily to-do list of just 5 things. What a wonderful idea. Sure beats the 375 things I've been lugging around in my head like a concrete block. Of course, I have to put it into practice, which is the first thing to put on the to-do list every day, i.e., make daily list of 5. (ha ha)

I won't keep track of it here, because I don't get on the site everyday, but I do have a notebook/planner that I can use. I'm also reading another book on how to get organized. (Can't remember the title exactly: From Chaos to Order, I think).

Anyway, on the financial side of things, I did finally order my will kit, but now need to fill it out and get witnesses (heavy sigh). I increased my 401K contributions by a percentage. I researched dental plans. (They're EXPENSIVE!!) I withdrew $500 for our Christmas shopping (spouse and I, $250 each)--we decided that the full $1,000 wouldn't need to be used for Christmas gifts and have no requests for anything big. My checkbook is balanced to the penny. The church's checkbook is balanced to the penny. It's almost time to tweak the budget for 2010.

Keep blogging everyone! I can pretend that it's ALL done to inspire little ol' me!!

Grocery and Household Spending Thru Sep 2009

October 8th, 2009 at 11:46 pm

I tallied up the grocery receipts (all stacked up in a shoebox since my last calculation in May.)

2009 Planned spending for Groceries and
Household Supplies/Toiletries: $3,600

Spending through Sep 30, 2009: $3,119.62

Yikes. Looks like we're going to be over budget by the end of the year. Averaging $345 per month so far. (The plan was to average out at $300 a month.)

Bummer!

My estimate for planned spending was either a little low considering the kid is at home and not away at college or I got WAY too excited in the grocery aisles when I thought everything was ok.

We have a rotating dinner menu (6 weeks of meal ideas taped inside our cabinet door), but I notice I tend to over-buy breakfast, lunch and snack items for all three of us to get through the week. Something to work on.

I'll still challenge myself to see how LITTLE I can go over-budget by the end of the year. I can't give up trying.

September 2009 Challenge

October 8th, 2009 at 11:44 pm

Added:
$130 in paycheck allotments

$180 as my automatic transfer on Sep 20.

$200 deposit from excess from Sep budget

$15.02 interest/dividend deposited

Wealth acct/Money mkt balance, $11,950

Balance toward extra mortgage payment Sep 30, $820

Total in account September 30, $12,770

Note: I just read over my blog entry at the beginning of the year regarding my $20 challenge, and how I planned to add to this account. I can't remember having any 'no-drive' days to speak of. (I said I would add $2 for each no-drive day.) That's crazy. The good thing is, I've "supersized" my $20 challenge in other ways and have made good progress. I have 3 months, however, to save $3,000 to meet the goal I set. Hmmmm.... It looks like it will take 5 months to do that...

No Shopping for a Year???

September 29th, 2009 at 12:36 am

I was fascinated by an article I read, about a family that tried a no-shopping experiment for a year, buying only necessary depletable items like food and household items and some toiletries. The whole family was on board to do this.

I didn't get too many details, but I think I do this already, just not to the extreme that they did it. Plus, my family would not be on board at ALL!

Already, I don't go out to eat often. I've been out 4 times this month due to farewells at work and birthday celebrations for close friends. An unusual month--I usually don't go out for months at a time.

I don't have a cell phone, I don't have any fancy electronic equipment at home, I don't buy DVDs or CDs, I don't do any recreational shopping at the mall or at any superstore (it exhausts me), I don't wear a lot of makeup or perfume, I do my own hair, I don't have a computer right now that needs things, so I'm not spending much money on those sorts of things.

But are there other areas where I can test this experiment? I don't buy new clothes a lot like several of my friends, but I do shop at thrift stores for a wardrobe boost. Can I go a year without buying new OR used clothes?

Or can I skip going to the grocery store for a week and just use what's in the pantry?

Or can I do all my errands during the weekdays that I'm driving to and from work and not drive on Saturday at least 2 Saturdays a month? (No-drive days was part of my $20 challenge, but I don't think I've had any no-drive days this year.)

Can I do more baking and make my own snacks and bread?

Has anyone else tried this for a year?

Money Talks

September 29th, 2009 at 12:06 am

I've been lazy and unmotivated about the budget and tracking lately.

It could be the time of year. Or the fact that I've had a lot of money go out (new refrigerator, dental work, the insurance was due, the kid's laptop was repaired). Or the fact that there are now 2 people at home who are not on the same financial page as I am (the kid and the spouse) and that appears to drain me, even though I'm trying not to let it. (I got accustomed to the kid being away at college.)

Also, without a computer at home I haven't been regularly reading Savingadvice to keep myself motivated. I'm reading a lot of entries today in an attempt to get inspired and motivated.

I also feel like groceries have gotten out of control, but haven't tracked the amounts I've spent in the past few weeks. I'm hoping it's just my imagination.

The kid has asked me to buy him a gym membership for Christmas (a year's contract). I'm considering it, but I hate contracts. And a year contract is expensive by my tastes. But the kid will be happy with this one gift (I think) and he can use it all year and I won't do any further Christmas shopping for him, which will simplify things for me. (Except I might still buy him socks and underwear... what's Christmas without new socks and underwear?!) We'll see...

My new pay with my new job has stabilized and I have about $35 each paycheck that I want to add to savings goals. I haven't done anything about that yet either, but I need to work on that (on payday!) so that amount doesn't get absorbed into other expenses. I was going to add it to retirement, but think I'll split it between retirement and my Freedom Account. (I sound like I have a million dollars coming to me...I'm always trying to divide a dime!)

Just feeling sluggish about all things financial, but still grateful to read everyone's blogs for inspiration. Maybe if I balance the checkbook tonight, I'll find some motivation and discipline...

Home Care - New Refrigerator

September 22nd, 2009 at 12:23 am

Spoiled milk is gross!! We just replaced our most basic model increasingly luke-warm refrigerator with the most basic model we could find (freezer compartment on top)--no ice maker, no water, just a refrigerator. We found one for $399 plus delivery and removal costs, which we felt was a good deal. Actually, it was a great deal, since at home our refrigerated food (and milk) was spoiling and our ice cream was melting as we shopped.

But why did our refrigerator only last 11 years? My parents have a refrigerator that is 40 years old or nearly my age. It's old and worn (the refrigerator, not me), but it still works great. Their milk doesn't spoil. Their ice cream stays frozen. How is this possible?? I'm so jealous!! My household owned our 'old' refigerator for all of 11 years and it just conked out. And who likes shopping for refrigerators on their day off work??

It must be true...They just don't make some things like they used to...

News about the Kid

September 15th, 2009 at 12:03 am

Well, this has been an interesting summer.

Because the kid lost his scholarship, he waivered this fall semester about going back to the university he attended or remaining home with us and going to a community college to make up his credits and his GPA. (A decision made by him at the VERY last minute of registration. He failed every single class last semester.) Anyway, after a deep discussion of money, he's more mature about this then I expected he would be and despite my disappointment in all the wasted money, we are getting along pretty well. The bad news (besides the waste of money and the GPA) is that he's eating all my food and leaving all the lights on. The good news is community college is WAY more affordable then university.

Of course, his being home, means there's a transportation issue. His original plan for the summer was to work to earn some money to help purchase a replacement car for the car he totaled last September. He made some effort to look for employment, but not a grand effort as he was without transportation. Summer passed us by and no job.

He continued to think that I would purchase him another $3500 to $4500 car, that I would give in. We did go out to look at several used cars--I want a black one! he says or, Oooh, how about a Mitsubishi Gallant, he says, or How about an Acura Integra, he says. For a minute, I almost caved in, just like he thought I would. But Savingadvice friends, you'll be glad to know I didn't totally cave in.

He had $1000 in his savings account and I originally offered to add $1000 to whatever he saved from the 'summer employment'. (The $1000 in his account was there at the beginning of summer from previous income.) My spouse asked our mechanic if he knew of any used cars for sale and our mechanic happened to have a 1991 Honda 4 door hatchback Civic with a rebuilt engine for $1,400. We bought it. It's white and old and with a little rust, but I'm happy with it.

When it was in our driveway, we told the kid. He wasn't happy with it, because he's more concerned about appearance then anything, but I think he'll live. If he doesn't drive it, he can always walk. If he doesn't want to walk, he can try to catch a ride with someone or catch the bus if he can ever figure out our confusing bus routes. I feel fine about it all. I was finally making some progress in my finances and I just didn't FEEL like going backwards by $3500 or so. I realized I needed to take a stand for my finances because I'm the ONLY ONE WHO'S GOING TO TAKE A STAND. And I did it.

Thanks to all my savingadvice friends for your support!

Aug 2009 Challenge

September 14th, 2009 at 11:59 pm

Late again with the update but here goes...For August 2009...

Added:
$130 in paycheck allotments

$180 as my automatic transfer on Aug 20.

$29 leftover dollars and coins from allowance and grocery money

$8 refund check from doctor's office for overpayment of copay

$210 deposit from excess from Aug budget

$100 birthday gift deposited

$35 not spent ($15 not spent at restaurant because friend treated me, $15 not spent at restaurant because I previously won a $15 raffle doorprize gift card for that restaurant, $5 not spent for son's fast food when someone else treated him.)

$15.10 interest/dividend deposited

Wealth acct/Money mkt balance, $11,505

Savings toward extra mortgage payment Aug 30, $740

Total in account August 30, $12,245


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