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Archive for February, 2008

February 27th, 2008 at 02:18 pm

So forget that I haven't seen my Dr. since coming down with the flu. I know what he'll say so there's no reason to go spend money to hear it. And I won't take antibiotics for an infection that *might* develop as a result of the virus. It's still expensive, this bug.

I couldn't cook for four days so DH bought several meals. He also bought me a few meals, which all tasted like the same mushy cardboard, by the way. The cost? About $65.

We pillaged and plundered local cold/flu sections of stores twice to the tune of about $25.

I couldn't do laundry but needed it done by this morning so I could go to work if I felt up to it so we dropped it at the washateria last night and paid them to do it for us. I've done that one other time in my adult life, also when I was ill. The cost for that was (gasp!) $24.36! Outrageous! But it's nice to have it done.

But wait, there's more! Either a weird lower back ache is part of the bug or I pulled muscles coughing and if that doesn't right itself soon I'll see the chiropractor next door. That will cost $35.

So, my getting ill cost us about $115 and might cost more. Now DH has it. He's running about two days behind me in this and today is feeling very, very poorly. I'm going to work, though, and I hope I make it through the day. If I do and am not totally exhausted when I get off, I'll make him a nice dinner of something healthy...and frugal!

Financial Peace University session canceled

February 26th, 2008 at 11:08 pm

Last night's FPU class was cancelled because only one couple showed up. Everyone else phoned or sent the facilitator email letting her know they were sick. With what? This flu bug I have!

This is day four and it's kicking my butt. I can't stay awake for more than 30 or 45 minutes, I toss and turn all night with the body aches, sweating and freezing, and I've missed two days of work. I need to be at work tomorrow morning but don't know if I can handle it. In the meantime, I hope I can rest well tonight and be there bright and early tomorrow to do my job. I detest calling out even if I am sick and I need all the hours I can get.

Anyway, back to bed with me. I hope the rest of you stay flu-free!

A dumpster diving tale

February 24th, 2008 at 05:33 pm

I'm not a dumpster diver, though I've dug through one or two full bins in my adult life. I'm also not a curb crawler, though I've found a few good things on curbs. However, I don't set out to locate items using either of those methods. I just kind of happen upon them now and then. Like this morning.

DH took the trash out at his office and seemed to be gone a long time. When he returned he came into the room where I was resting (I have the flu..ugh!) with a new plastic rolling cart loaded with boxes. Apparently, someone had dumped a lot, and I do mean a lot, of good office supplies in the dumpster. In addition to the cart itself, there were 25 expanding file folders, a case or two of perfectly good, still in the wrapper paper, both letter and legal sizes, 5 desk top organizers, several hole punchers of various sizes, a brand new AT&T phone, 35 new and unused 3 ring notebooks, 3 steno pads, and more pens, highliters, markers, sticky notes and flags, rubber bands and plastic paper clips than you can imagine.

He told me there was more and asked me to go along with him. So I did. On that second run, we got two easel pads (but no easel) a very large roll of butcher paper, a clothes hanging bag, more expanding file folders, desktop organizers, notebooks, pens, highlighters, markers, sticky notes and flags, rubber bands, and plastic paper clips. Oh, and we found change in the organizers, .44 to be exact. That goes to my $20 challenge fund. There's more but my brain isn't operating too well thanks to the virus and that's all I can remember right now.

When I feel up to it, we'll go through it all and decide what to keep and will Freecycle the rest of it. My thought through all this was, "Why would someone throw all this out??" For the life of me, I can't imagine the reason for such waste. This stuff is perfectly good and all of it is almost new. What silliness...

Just thinking aloud in a virtual sort of way...

February 22nd, 2008 at 05:30 pm

The medications & supplies I use cost $1800 to $2000 a month and that doesn't include physician visits or lab work. When I didn't work and DH's business had a loss I qualified for free medications and supplies through the pharmaceuticals. Now that I'm working I still qualify but barely and if I keep the job and make more money the time will come when I don't qualify. As DH's business grows and profits the chances of my qualifying become slimmer, also, but the point at which that becomes an issue is a ways off.

I talked to the benefits department of my employer this morning and I'll qualify for health benefits in July. The choices are fairly limited, too, and regardless of which plan I choose, after the $30 co-payment, the company will only pay $500 maximum annually for prescriptions. I'll use that the first month so that option isn't a good one. Insurance through the state's high risk pool will cost me about $800 a month. There just isn't a good option from what I can see.

It's ridiculous but it seems as though I'm better off not working. I don't want to not work but I don't want to not get my medications, either.

If you have thoughts on this, please share them with me...

Can one still get a bonus when signing up with Emigrant?

February 21st, 2008 at 03:21 am

I can't find a current bonus link in the forum so thought I'd ask if that's still available.

Not a no spend day but a good day, nonetheless

February 19th, 2008 at 01:52 am

Today and tomorrow I'm off work but I got called in this morning to cashier. No problem, that's five more hours of pay for me. Yippeee! I talked to my man person during my break and he reminded me that we needed bread, milk and a few other things. I had no cash with me but did have one check so I used the check and when we made the deposit tonight I took that same amount from the food envelope and deposited it into the checking account. I'm trying very hard to stay within the confines of the budgeted food amount so that was the best thing to do.

DH had a good day today so he gave me the cash for his Yellow Pages ad and I'll deposit it tomorrow and send the check for that payment. It isn't outrageous, just $63 and he's already getting a response from the ad so that's a good thing. The bill payment isn't due until the 26th but here we are paying it a little early. Yaaaaaaaay!

After years of struggling with not only not enough money but no knowledge on budgeting, bill paying and saving money, being able to pay the bills on time or early and have money in the bank is a real blessing. You're all great support and I want to thank you! Smile

Hey, I just realized something!

February 18th, 2008 at 04:07 am

Today was a no spend day! DH didn't go anywhere all day and I worked from 3:30 to 8:30 but didn't stop anywhere on the way to and from work and didn't buy a thing from work. Oh wait, I did get newspapers this morning for $2.50.

So it wasn't a no spend day but it was a low spend day! Wink Ehhh, that's better than a spendy day so I'll take it.

I'm off Monday and Tuesday (unless I get called in to cashier) and plan to wash some clothes and do some cooking for the week.

Our FPU facilitator is gone on a cruise so we have no session tomorrow night. I'll miss it, I'm sure! I really like the sessions but DH finished putting all our financial information into spreadsheets to make it easier for me to keep track so we'll probably go over those tomorrow night. At least we'll be doing something finance related. Wink

Well, pooh! Where does one get coupons?

February 17th, 2008 at 04:41 pm

I got a local paper this morning and a Dallas paper. They both have a few Walgreen's coupons but that's it. Where in the world do you find coupons? I can't print a lot of the internet ones because right now I use a Mac that has OS 9 on it. I do have access to one that uses X but there are still a lot of sites that require Windows to print the coupons so ummm... what now?

Come on, you coupon gurus. 'fess up! Please! Smile

Edited to add:

Okay, I found them (missed them the first time apparently) but they're pitiful. There's one for coffee I might use and a Target coupon for Colgate toothpaste that I might use and the rest are for things we don't eat/use. Ugh, see this is why I haven't bothered with couponing for so long! I spent $2.50 to save maybe $1.75.

$20 challenge update

February 16th, 2008 at 06:43 pm

I finally got around to counting the money I have in my $20 challenge box and the total is $107.35, enough to open a savings account! So early next week I'll open that account and when every time the challenge money gets to $100, the money will be deposited into that account.

Go me! Smile

I heart envelopes!

February 16th, 2008 at 05:25 pm

This morning I went through the bank drive thru since the lobby isn't open on Saturday. Since I've gotten into the habit of going in to the bank for all transactions I really missed it this morning! But I managed. I gave the teller the list of cash amounts and asked him to put each amount in a separate envelope. He gave me an odd look but did it.

After finishing at the bank, I went to Wal-Mart to do a little grocery shopping. I spent $35, leaving $95 for food.

Someone emailed me asking what payments are 'enveloped' and exactly how we handle our envelope system. The business and larger expenses are funded daily by money that comes into DH's business and things like food, gas, and clothing are funded by my pay.

Here's the breakdown of the envelopes funded by money from DH's business:

The business envelopes are funded six days a week because the business is open six days a week and is mostly a cash one. Each night we sit down together and record what's come in for the day. Some cash and all checks are deposited into the bank. Varying amounts of the remaining cash are put into each of the business envelopes and because we add money almost every day we know where we are with each envelope at any given time. When it's time to pay a bill the money is removed from the envelope and if we have enough in the checking account to pay that bill we pay it and put the cash in other envelopes that need more money. If we don't have enough in the checking account to pay that bill the cash is deposited into the checking account and we write and send the check for that bill and start filling that envelope for the next month. Using this system we're able to know exactly where we stand with bills, pay them on time and not worry about spending food money on advertising or some other need.

The expenses covered by my pay every two weeks are set ones and here's a breakdown of them:

Food - $130 Covers food for two people.

Gas for truck - $130 My pay for this period was less than usual so I only put $75 in it. DH will fund the remainder.

Entertainment - $25 Yes, we do budget a little for entertainment. If we didn't, we might go nuts! We didn't spend the last pay period's entertainment money until last night and it was nice to go out to eat and know it was budgeted for. No pain, no stress, no guilt!

Laundry & Clothing - $20 We don't have a washer or dryer so I go to the least expensive washateria to wash and dry clothes. I don't spend $20 in two weeks and the remainder is kept in the envelope to help with clothing expenses. We rarely buy new clothes and even if we do they aren't at all expensive. We generally spend less than $200 a year on clothes.

Whatever is left of my pay, whether it's $10 or $100, goes into savings.

So there you have it - the envelope system that works for our business and personal expenses both. Is it any wonder I have a mean crush on Dave Ramsey and Financial Peace University?

Why I like paydays!

February 16th, 2008 at 01:18 am

Today was payday and my Direct Deposit is now in action so my pay was in the account early this morning. Nice! And although I worked only a few hours one of the two weeks in this pay period, my pay was about $100 more than I expected. Also nice! But a powerful testimony of my poor skills with numbers. Wink

I made enough to fund the grocery, laundry, and entertainment envelopes for the next two weeks and the remainder, small as it is, goes to savings. DH will have to fund the gas envelope but that shouldn't be any kind of burden.

DH and I went out for Mexican food tonight. We still had the original $25 we'd budgeted for 'entertainment' and decided to use it for a meal out. We had a nice time with no guilt feelings.

I just love paydays! I feel a little bit of power on these days and even though short lived, it's a great feeling.

Most of our bills are paid for this month. We do need to pay the storage bill and the Yellow Pages bill but have a little time until those are due. We have most of the money for March rent and are working on saving for March utilities even though it's still February.

Have I mentioned how much I love the envelope system? It's been amazingly successful for us!

On the smoking cessation front, it's been 2 weeks, 1 day, 12 hours, and 31 seconds. We've saved $192.84!! Go us!

Well, I offered & a question about the envelope system

February 14th, 2008 at 10:37 pm

I offered to get another retail job to help pay off debts or throw extra money at savings but DH doesn't want me to. I'm working only about 26 to 28 hours a week but he's afraid I'll wear myself out if I work too much. The business is picking up and he thinks that before long I'll have more hours at work and we'll be out of the tight spot we're in. I hope he's right but told him if he changes his mind, to just let me know.

I really am not opposed to working another job if it will benefit us and I think it would. Not that I really want to work more but 26 or so hours a week isn't many.

In other things, I spent several hours today playing with Clusty, a search engine I just found out about. I still prefer Google for general and overall results but if I need categorized or specific results Clusty is my new favorite. I imagine I'll use a combination of the two engines to maximize efficiency.

One of the terms I researched with both engines was 'envelope system'. Google turned up more results but Clusty's results were very neatly categorized and pointed me to specific things about the envelope system. That was handy.

In the process of reading the sites I was referred to one of the things I read over and over was that one shouldn't borrow from one envelope to put into another and one shouldn't use the debit card if one is out and about and needs/wants something that falls into an envelope category and one doesn't have the envelopes! Those are things we've done a little of here. And we know we need to stop. Most people, including Dave, suggest going back home and getting the envelopes or not getting the item at all but with gas costing around $3 a gallon, turning back for the envelopes isn't always the fiscally responsible thing to do and not getting the item isn't always the best option.

In light of that, why not use the debit card if you have one and either take that same amount from the envelope and deposit it in the bank or deduct it from the money for that envelope next time you fill it? It seems to me that either of those accomplishes the same basic thing without using excess gas and without deprivation. Yes, I understand the concept of 'if you don't have the money don't buy the item' but I don't carry the envelopes with me and sometimes need to stop for milk or bread or some such thing.

What do you do?

Simple pleasures

February 14th, 2008 at 05:42 pm

A day off

Not smoking for two weeks

Enjoying the company of my cat

Visiting with family

A bowl of freshly made chili on a cold day

Perusing the pages of Reader's Digest

Writing out checks for the phone and car insurance bills on the same day and mailing them with the solid knowledge that not only will the checks not bounce but the payment of said bills doesn't totally drain the checking account!

Happenings lately!

February 13th, 2008 at 02:24 pm

Well, let's see. What's been going on in my life the last few days...

It's been 1 week, 6 days, 1 hour, 41 seconds since we smoked and we've saved $164.74. Yippeee!

We had our third FPU session and it was a good one. We went over the quickie budget, cash flow sheet, and the other forms Dave recommends. Since we have most of them completed already that class was more of a review than anything but it was great nonetheless. Even the things that are review for us help keep us motivated and the discussions that ensue between DH and I bring us closer and remind us that we're working together for a common goal. That's always a nice thing.

Oh, and I'm now a certified barista where I work. I needed a few days of actually making the drinks to get it all very firmly planted in my mind but I got those days and feel much more competent now. So yep, I'm officially certifiable...uhhhh, certified!

That's about it for the last few days. It's been quiet and we haven't spent a lot of money though we did have to make an unplanned trip to Louisiana yesterday. Fortunately, we had enough money for it so it didn't cause any financial stress. I'm off today and go back to work tomorrow so I'm cooking some things today to feed us the rest of the week.

February so far...

February 9th, 2008 at 04:52 am

We started on February 1st using Dave Ramsey's envelope system for our personal expenses of food, gas, clothing/laundry, and entertainment expenses. And so far we're doing very well. We'd budgeted $86 for food for 14 days and we're at $108.22 only 8 days into the month. Interestingly enough, that's about the amount we haven't spent by not smoking, which right now is $108.19. Ha!

We've definitely spent more than we'd budgeted. However, we still have $24 in the food envelope. The difference between the $108.22 and the amount we've spent from the envelope, $46 and some change, came from a combination of our personal spending money and entertainment money. A little over $24 of that was actually for nicotine patches rather than food so it isn't quite so bad as it looks. But I include it all in food here because I'm lazy. Wink For you purists, I have it all properly broken down in my spreadsheet, though.

This month we're trying to spend as little as we can for most things. We're hot and heavy on the trail of an increased emergency fund and paying the bills! In light of that, we're using quite a bit of food from our pantry and eating meals like slow cooked beans, rice with a little chicken gravy and tossed salad, homemade taquitos, chili, etc. We have a beef roast, some ground beef, and several big hens in the freezer but I'm cooking with less meat for health and wealth. So rice, beans, small amounts of meat and lots of vegetables are the way to go this month!

So here's what we've spent so far:

Business rent, utilities, advertising, etc., $1000

Food, $108.22 This includes spending for groceries, eating out, snacks and drinks at work, and cat food

Gas, $49 (budgeted $86 for two weeks - will be re-funded on the 15th)

$100 for Financial Peace University

$35 to oldest stepson (we'll more than likely do this every week or couple of weeks for awhile so I might create a new envelope for it)

$60 supplies for office (not something we buy monthly - we usually don't spend even $5 on office supplies in a month)

$15 personal (budgeted $20 each for two weeks - will be re-funded on the 15th)

$7 laundry and $11 for a work shirt for me (budgeted $21 for two weeks - will be re-funded on the 15th and will have to increase that amount a little I think though I don't buy any kind of clothing every month much less every two weeks)

So far, so good. We have bills due again starting in a few days but we have most of the money for those and will have the rest by their due date, I think.

All in all, Financial Peace University and the envelope system are really helping us. And it's great to know the bills are paid..or almost paid!

Wow, $105.88 saved!

February 9th, 2008 at 12:12 am

In the 1 week, 1 day, 11 hours, 10 minutes, and however many seconds since we quit smoking we've saved over $105! And we've only spent $24 and some change on patches so that's a nice savings, indeed! DH will need more patches on Monday but he wants me to get Step 2 rather than Step 1.

Now, if I actually had $105.88 lying around I'd add it to my challenge money! Wink

A quickie comment about the envelope system

February 8th, 2008 at 03:15 am

I just wanted to post a quick entry about the envelope system we created for office expenses. It's working and oh boy, how it's working!

Today is the 7th of the month and we already have 1/3 of the money we need to pay the bills later this month. Of course, it doesn't hurt that we're using Dave Ramsey's envelope system for our personal expenses and we've saved almost $100 by not smoking for a week.

All these things have combined to give us a little bit of financial breathing room. And I hope it continues!

I can't recommend strongly enough taking Financial Peace University. Even if you don't have debt (or much debt) it's a worthwhile course for information on budgeting, saving, and investing.

1 week, 14 hours, and 26 seconds!

February 8th, 2008 at 03:06 am

That's how long its been since I've smoked. DH has had a few butts here and there but certainly isn't what I'd call 'smoking'.

In the process of going a little over a week without buying cigarettes, we've saved....

drum roll, please....

$94.71!

I'll say it again - no wonder we never managed to pay bills on time and seemed to never have money. Our money was going for cigarettes. Ugh!

Free movie and free dinner!

February 7th, 2008 at 03:23 am

A couple of days ago I read a blog entry about Red Box. We hadn't tried it but when we saw one of their kiosks at Wal-Mart last night, we decided to give it a shot. While trying to rent "The Far Side of Jericho" we got a code for a free movie. So, I went today after work and picked up "The Good Shepherd" and snagged some fried chicken and potato salad while there. The chicken I got was the 12 piece special for $4.99 but when I got home I discovered we'd only gotten 8 pieces! I called the store to let them know (nicely, of course) and they told me to bring in my receipt tomorrow and they'd refund the money for the chicken and the potato salad. Wooohooo, that's free food and a free movie! Hard to beat either one of those but both being free is just really great!

Session Two of Financial Peace University

February 5th, 2008 at 03:45 am

DH and I both felt this class was more of a review than anything but we certainly enjoyed it. In general, it was about how couples can work together to manage their finances and teach their children to be responsible with money.

For me, one of the best parts was when one of Dave's daughters got on stage and talked about what it's like to be Dave Ramsey's kid. That she had saved $8,000 by the time she was 16 and her dad matched that to help her get a $16,000 car, paid for in cash, was pretty impressive.

Unfortunately, my kids are past that age and I missed those early years to teach them about money. I didn't know so I couldn't teach them. But I'm learning now and want them to have a better start in their marriage/relationship/adult life than I did so I plan to send both sons and their significant others to FPU. I think that's the least I can do to attempt to make up for being a bad example of financial responsibility. If only I'd known then what I know now...

And in other news, today's spending is $128. We spent $100 for our FPU course, $9 for laundry, and $19 for dinner out. We'd planned and budgeted for this dinner so there's no guilt here! And it was so nice to just take the money from the 'clothing and laundry' envelope this morning before I headed to work, knowing that it was there just for that and using it wasn't going to cause any kind of crisis...

Allowance, smoking, and FPU

February 4th, 2008 at 01:48 pm

In response to my last entry, Tweaking our budget and envelope system, compulsive debtor suggested keeping track of every cent we spend for a month to help us come up with an allowance amount for each of us. We're doing that and it's helping us tremendously. We've done it before but even though it made a difference in our relationship with money, it didn't cause lasting changes and that's what we must have. However, I think we're in the process of making some of those changes now. So, keeping track of all money spent is going on and will continue to go on for awhile. And I think that very soon we'll have a pretty firm hand on what our allowance amounts need to be.

I just checked our quitmeter and it said this:

4 days, 10 minutes, 32 seconds since the last cigarette and $45.48 saved!

Wooohooo! Every now and then I get hit by a craving for a smoke but it happens rarely and when it does I just find something else to do to occupy my mind and hands. That seems to help. DH on the other hand is having a much harder time. He's doing very well but it's a struggle for him. He's smoked a long time and smoked about twice what I did and this is just extremely difficult for him. But I'm so proud of him for wanting to quit and working so hard to quit!

Tonight is our second FPU class. I'm looking forward to it and will more than likely post an entry about it tonight or tomorrow. I'm amazed at how much just one class has helped us and am eager to see what other progress is in store!

Tweaking our budget and envelope system

February 3rd, 2008 at 09:06 pm

They need a little tweaking, the budget and envelope system do. They'll work, I'm sure, but I set up this month with three pay periods rather than two. I didn't stop to think that the third pay period is on the last day of the month and by counting it in this month and dividing the monthly amount to go in the envelopes by three I was cutting it way too thin for two week periods. Does that make sense? I hope so! Anyway, after discussing it with DH I adjusted the envelope amounts to reflect a two pay period month. It should work better now, I think, but the budget and envelope system both will need a little more tweaking here and there to get them just right.

Also, it was asked in a reply to my previous entry if DH and I get allowance. We haven't done that in the past but maybe we need to. DH just keeps a little of what comes into the shop for himself and if I need money for something I ask him for it. I haven't the foggiest how much allowance we should get, though. Considering that we have a fairly low income, substantial debt, and are just getting into the concept of saving, what's a reasonable figure for weekly allowance per adult?

Okay, I have to head to work in just a bit. Not that I'm eager to do so but it helps pay the bills. Smile

I might be a little sneaky

February 3rd, 2008 at 02:47 pm

but one of the stepkids is here and we're out of bread and breakfast meat so he and DH decided to get Whataburger Taquitos for breakfast.



DH didn't think to take money from the food envelope (just like he didn't think to take it for the chips or granola bars he got) so I removed the amount he spent from the envelope and hid it away. I need to make the point with him that breakfast taquitos and chips count against the food budget and maybe this will do it. Right now there's $16 hidden that came from that envelope for 'snacks and stuff'. When we go grocery shopping next time and he wonders why so much seems to be missing, I'll show him the envelope with the deductions for Whataburger and chip purchases (and whatever else is there at that point) and maybe he'll see what's going on.

I'm not sure if I should return that money to the food envelope after the point has been made or if I should stick it in savings or if I should do something else with it.

Opinions and suggestions welcome!

2 days, 14 hours, 15 minutes, & 20 seconds

February 3rd, 2008 at 02:47 am

Wooohooo! That's how long its been since I've smoked! DH has cheated a little but all in all he's doing beautifully.

We've not smoked 155 cigarettes and we've saved.. drum roll, please.....

$30.07!

::and the crowd goes wild!::

$66.07 so far...

February 3rd, 2008 at 12:04 am

That's our spending for yesterday and today. That includes $10.59 for food at Wal-Mart, $2.24 for a hot dog and drink for me at work, $1 for coffee for me at work, gas in our truck, and $35 for my oldest stepson. The hot dog and drinks for me at work should come out of the food money since that $87 is for groceries and eating out so I removed $3.25 from the food envelope and slipped it into the savings envelope. I'm not sure if I should have just kept it for myself since I used my money to buy the things at work but I decided to just put that money in savings. That seemed fair to me. Wink

$66.07 seems like a lot of spending for two days but we didn't spend $28.71 on cigarettes in the last two days and that's a very good thing. Smile

DH confessed that he found a couple of butts and has smoked them but he's an adult and I can't prevent that. As for me, I haven't had a smoke or even touched a cigarette since we quit the morning of January 31. I know myself. I can't smoke one, not even one little drag, or I'll be off and running again.

My patch came off at work last night and I haven't replaced it. I'm fine without it. Oh yeah, now and then I think about smoking but it's when I have nothing to do, which isn't often. And even when I think about it it's a fleeting thought. For some reason I don't experience the physical agony and such that so many people do. But that doesn't change the fact that I love to smoke and am addicted. Or that I have to avoid only one cigarette...the next one.

I so very much wanted to go out to eat tonight. Instead, I grabbed a container of store bought barbecued shredded beef from the freezer and nuked it and we had bbq sandwiches. I'd also put some wings in the slow cooker this morning and DH had drained them a few times for me. When I got home from work I drained them again and covered them with Country Bob's Sauce, let them cook about an hour more and we had those with the sandwiches. Not as tasty as mexican food would have been but certainly much cheaper!

And now I want a cigarette. Oh yes, I do want one. I won't have one but I want one!

1 day, 16 hours, 4 minutes, & 25 seconds

February 2nd, 2008 at 05:37 am

Since either DH or I had a cigarette. Cigarettes not smoked - 125. Money saved - $14.06. Not bad, not bad at all. Smile

It might just be shuffling money but...

February 1st, 2008 at 08:20 pm

It's hard to describe what the last three days have been like for me. I've been in the depths of despair and have been almost elated, also. Why? Well, let me tell you!(Glad you asked!) And no, we didn't win the lottery!

About three weeks ago or so (after we last paid bills) we set aside envelopes to put cash from the business in to pay expenses. We realized that if the money is in our pockets it gets spent. So we wrote things like Rent, Electric, Advertising, and Materials and Supplies on regular envelopes and every night, after the shop closes, we sit down together and go through the sales for the day and put it in the envelopes. Business is slow (apparently in this field it drops off somewhere around Christmas and stays slow until early to mid February) so there have been days when we only had $25 to put in envelopes but we'd put $5 in this one, $10 in that one, etc and keep just a little for ourselves. We do this every day we're open, 6 days a week. Keep in mind this is our first time of doing this and we had no idea if it would work.

Then recently we opened a checking account at a bank closer to the shop. My checks go into that account as have some cash and all checks written at the shop. I've managed to be very careful with that checking account and rarely write checks from it. DH has a debit card for it but I don't because I KNOW from experience that it's just too easy for me to spend money with a debit card. Long story there but for me plastic just isn't money. It's.. plastic! Instead I get a little cash from when I need it. When it's gone, it's gone.

We just started Financial Peace University (FPU) last week and got Dave's envelope system. Since we already have one going for the office expenses so we decided to use the FPU system for things like food,
clothing, laundry, gas for the truck, etc. After looking at that cash flow plan a couple of days ago I didn't see how we could possibly do this and was so upset! And I'm still not sure how we're going to do it. But yesterday I realized that all this is just part of getting control of the finances and rather than panic and worry I need to stay calm, learn from this, and USE it to help us.

So last night I realized we needed to get the phone bill paid immediately or we'd incur a late charge. Now mind you, in the past even if I had the money to pay on time, I rarely did. I just didn't think about it and we constantly were late on bill payments and paid those late fees.
But last night I did think about it so I called the phone company and paid the bill over the phone with an e check, making sure I noted that in the checkbook. We had the money in the checking account so there
was no danger in me doing that. Plus we had the money for that bill in the Phone envelope set up recently.

So, this morning I picked up my paycheck and went to the bank. I took the FPU envelope system with me. It's very small, looks much like a wallet and fits in a purse easily. I knew the amount of cash I needed to get for the next two weeks and knew how much for two of the four categories I needed. I couldn't remember the other two amounts but knew the total amount to get. So I get to the bank and rather than go through the drive through I walked in. Why? Well, there were a couple of reasons but one was something that just dawned on me this morning. When I use an ATM or drive through it's just too easy. It's too easy to get cash from the ATM or a drive through teller without THINKING about it. For me, it's similar to using plastic. So I decided to go in to the lobby because that makes me THINK about money. Ehh, it's hard not to think about it with all the money related stuff staring at me. Also, I needed the cash broken down into certain bills and it was going to take a little while and it's cold outside and there's no need to hold up other customers while I piddle with money. So I went to the teller, gave her the deposit slip and check with the 'less cash received' part filled out and said, "I need this cash in a certain way." No problem.

I got $87 for food for two weeks, $87 for gas for the truck for two weeks, $25 for entertainment for two weeks (not that we will use it but we figured that amount in on the CFP sheet so I did it) and the remainder was $51. I walked to a side counter and put $87 in the food envelope, $87 in the gas envelope, $25 in the entertainment envelope, and left the $51 remainder in the bank envelope. Then I headed to Wal-Mart because we needed bread, lunch meat, and a little fruit.

Okay yall, this is where it gets good! Why? You'll see change of thinking popping up a lot though you may see some of that already. I got to Wal-Mart and walked in with my little envelope system and my keys and my cell phone and nothing else. No checkbook, no cards, not even my purse. I walked by the deli and saw they had my favorite egg rolls at 2 packages for $5. I bought a package of orange chicken a few days ago for dinner one night this week and figured egg rolls would be great with that so I got one package. Not two, not three, just one. Then I picked up bread, lunch meat, 3 bananas and 2 apples. That's it. I didn't wander around the store, I didn't look at every thing there. Oh, I thought about it but I had $87 in that envelope to last two weeks so I knew I couldn't fritter it away. I got what we needed and went to the self check out stand where I rang it all up and paid cash - $10.59. I paid for it, put the bills and change I got back back into the food envelope, wrote on the envelope what I'd paid and the new balance, and got out of there.

I got back to the office and told DH how much my check was and such. I balanced the checkbook, told him what's in it (a little more than we usually have, even on my payday!) and started showing him the envelopes with the money. He had the office envelopes in his hand and we started going through those while we talked. He said something about being a little short on the rent money which is due today then commented that we had enough in the bank to cover it. At about that time he handed me the phone bill envelope and told me to go ahead and deposit that and send the payment. I said okay then it hit me. I paid that last night out of the checking account! I told him and he told me to just deposit it then. But he'd just said the rent money was short so I asked what he needed for that. He counted and told me. I opened the phone envelope and handed him the money and said "There, done."

I know, this is simple stuff to some of you but this is a light bulb moment for me! He took the money, grinning, added it up, saw that it was enough and called the landlord and told him to come get his money when he was ready. After giving him that money I had $25 left of the phone money. We slipped that into the electric bill envelope which is still short but we have until the 12th to pay it.

Okay, so the phone was paid last night, the rent was paid today, the electric bill envelope has about 1/4 of what it needs with about 11 days to go, and we have plenty of food because we believe in stocking up when prices are really good.

Realizing the bank account was in the positive(not a lot of money there but a little), he went ahead and ordered something he needs for advertising purposes. The cost was only about $38 or so but he did it over the phone. Afterwards, he realized that he had $30 of that $38 in the advertising envelope so he got that out and moved it to the savings envelope. Yeehaw, another $30 in there!

At this point, yall are probably thinking "Big deal, they're just shuffling money around!" and that's true, we are. But this is our first time doing this and it takes awhile to tweak it so that its just right. For awhile, it will go on like this and that's okay. The point of all this, though, is that we're beginning to see the light about how we spend and we're beginning to be able to pay things when they need to be paid, and still have a little left. And more than that, we actually have money to shuffle!! I can't tell yall what this feels like to me!

The main reason we can do this is the Cash Flow Plan and the Allocated Spending Sheet. They're helping us prioritize what needs to be paid. A lot of people can do this without help but we need help and FPU is giving it to us.

No, it won't be easy and it's going to be very rough at times. We have a lot of old debt to deal with and at some point we will. But we have to take care of the four walls and the business and that's happening, slowly but surely. And my next check will be very small since I am only working a few hours this week. But most of the bills will be paid and we'll have food. And life will rock on, even if it rocks a little slowly. Smile

I hope all this makes sense to yall. I'm just so excited I had to tell somebody! I think I see light at the end of the tunnel.

"My financial life began turning around when I took responsibility for it."

February 1st, 2008 at 02:42 pm

Dave Ramsey said that in his book "Total Money Makeover".

I read this line a couple of years ago when I read TMMO but it didn't jump up and scream, "Look at me!". It was just another line in his book, albeit a great line in a magnificent book. But for some reason it didn't click that taking responsibility for my financial life was something I hadn't done.

Recently I ran across it again on a personal finance related site. I read it a couple of times, moved on, then found myself returning to it over and over. It was definitely jumping up and screaming at me to notice it. And notice it I did. Maybe that's what's behind signing up for and attending Financial Peace University and finally being honest with myself about our financial situation. I'm 45 and perhaps growing up...