since I posted an entry here. Life has been crazy hectic but I wanted to take a few minutes to post and then spend some time catching up on other blogs.
Let's see..what's new with me? My oldest son graduated from University of Texas in Austin this last Friday. Woohooo! He's going to work a year or so then go back to school to work for his Ph.D. My mother, sister, other son's girlfriend and I rented a great little cabin near Austin and had a wonderful time. We had a nice party for the graduate at the clubhouse where we rented the cabin and had a marvelous day of it. We spent too much money but how often does one's oldest son graduate from college? This is the same son who is getting married in August so I'll spend a lot more soon.
On the job front, things are okay but very soon I have to make a major job related decision and am afraid I'll have to quit the job and find another. I don't look forward to that and am waiting to hear from the head of HR. In the meantime, I'm applying at other stores..just in case.
We completed Financial Peace University. It was a great course and we learned so much. I miss the classes now, though!
Oh yes, on the drive back from Austin my mom asked if I'd gotten my 'rebate' yet. I told her no, I hadn't filed. She asked why and I told her because I only worked about 3 weeks in 2007 and wasn't required. She then told me that I should have filed anyway so I could get the stimulus rebate. Duh! I didn't even think of doing that..I just knew I didn't need to file. Well damn, I missed that boat! Stupid tax on me, huh?
I just checked the IRS website and one of the qualifications is $3,000 of income so that disqualifies me. But at least my 'stupid mistake' wasn't!
That's about it for me right now. I'll post again later after I catch up with others.
Viewing the 'Financial Peace University' Category
since I posted an entry here. Life has been crazy hectic but I wanted to take a few minutes to post and then spend some time catching up on other blogs.
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!
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! 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.
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?
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.
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. 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!
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.
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...
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!
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.
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.
Since posting the entry earlier today about our Cash Flow Plan shock, DH and I have done a lot of talking. Blessedly, we're on the same page in all this. And even more wonderfully, he's a rock right now. He's concerned but is staying calm and keeping me from freaking out. He'll freak out later when I'm calm. That's how we do things around here;only one person freaking at a time. Otherwise it's pure chaos.
Together, we decided to have dinner out tonight (our last hurrah for quite awhile!) and enjoy it. So we went to a place that serves great hamburgers. He had a hamburger and I had a steak sandwich and we split an order of incredibly fantastic onion rings. The cost was $16.72. And since we'd already decided that we must quit smoking NOW we went to Target and got a week's worth of nicotine patches. We know the patches help since we used them during our quit in 2004. While at Target we got milk and a couple other things we needed and I used my 10% discount and a coupon for $5 off any purchase of $25 or more so we spent $37.96.
The patches cost $24.34 with the tax and discount figured in and although I'd guessed we spend about $45 a week on cigarettes he told me today we spend closer to $70. So, since we won't smoke while using the patch that's an immediate savings each week of $46 and some change. Back in 2004 I used the patches for just a few days and he used them for a couple of weeks. I don't think we'll need them for more than 3 weeks so we will see the $70 a week savings very soon if it goes as it has before.
We talked about me finding a different job and the issue with my medical expenses. He made me see some positives in all this mess like the fact that his business has very low expenses and is growing and we both know how to live on almost nothing and creditors aren't hounding us right now.
I get paid Friday and will use $87 of whatever I get to put in the food envelope. This is a three pay period month so I figure it's okay to divide the monthly food budget amount by three rather than two. It makes me feel a little better, anyway.
I remind myself to take deep breaths and I tell myself, "Four walls first, we'll be fine.." It helps.
Earlier today we filled out our quickie budget sheet for FPU. So far, so good. It was fairly painless and things looked pretty good or at least not as bad as I thought they would.
I'd read in the FPU forum several messages where members said they were scared and I wondered why they were scared. Now I know why!
We're working on our Cash Flow Plan and the numbers just aren't working! What a shock, huh? With the expenses broken down as they are in the CFP, it's very clear to me that we have way too little money. Duh, I knew that! But I've just flown by the seat of my pants and buried my head in the sand so long and so well that although I knew we didn't have enough money I didn't know just how much we didn't have. Now I know. And yes, I'm scared! I was shaken enough that as DH and I talked about it, my eyes misted over. Okay, they didn't just mist over. I actually cried a little. Yes, I'm very scared. DH is so calm, though. He's a rock, telling me it will be okay and not to worry about it all right now, that we need to know what the truth is and that this is the best thing. I know he's right but its still scary.
According to the numbers right now, we have $85 less than we need per month. And that's before we figure in things like retirement fund, furniture replacement, water and gas (which we don't pay now but will at some point), any kind of health, disability or life insurance (which we don't have and do need), dental and optometry care, or payments to any of the creditors we owe (which we don't pay now and haven't in years but want to).
And then there's this. For the last year I've gotten my medications free through the pharmaceutical companies but now that I'm working and DH's business is half way good, I more than likely won't qualify for their programs. So I won't get free medications and supplies and we don't have insurance to help with that. It wouldn't be so bad if the cost of my medications and supplies wasn't astronomical but it is astronomical - $1300 to $1500 a month, give or take a couple hundred dollars or so. And there's simply no way I can afford health insurance right now even through the state's high risk pool which quoted me a monthly premium of about $875.
Okay, so what to do? Well, it looks as though one thing I need to do is find a job that either pays me enough to pay for health insurance or medication or provides HMO coverage for a reasonable charge. My employer is keeping me below full time hours and I don't see that changing any time soon so I don't qualify there. Great, just great. And I don't have the job skills to land the kind of job that's going to pay me what I need so I'll have to find a job with decent medical coverage.
So yeah, I'm scared. I'm really scared right now. And I don't like it one bit but it is what it is.
I'm drinking the kool aid and it's pretty damned bitter.
Tonight was the first session of Financial Peace University. It was great! We met some seemingly very nice people, some of whom seem to be very deep in debt, and at least one couple that is debt free except for their house, thanks to what they've learned from Dave Ramsey.
I've never really watched Dave but have listened to his radio show quite a bit. He's absolutely hilarious to watch and really does a great 'show'. Learning is an added bonus.
The kit is nice. In it is the book, Financial Peace Revisited, the Financial Peace Course Workbook, Dave's envelope system, and each course session on CD along with several bonus CDs.
The first session is basically information on Baby Steps 1 and 3, both of which deal with the Emergency Fund. Dave explains why its so important to have an emergency fund and gives some very convincing scenarios of how the EF can save your buns! I have to say that although DH was already on board with the EF concept, he wasn't really focused on it. Well, he is now!
I didn't get the savings account opened today but he said we'll have the money to get that opened this week and building that EF is a real priority for him now. Yaaaaay! It will be so much easier to stay on track if we're working toward the same goal.
On the way back from the session we talked about what constitutes an emergency and came to an agreement about that and how we'll prepare for it. We also talked about our eating out habits. We eat out a lot less than we used to and although we agreed to eat out once a week, he still likes to go to Chik-Fil-A for a particular breakfast sandwich and he likes to go get chicken wings. I don't begrudge him those things at all but if we're going to get 'gazelle intense' to use Dave's phrase we're going to have to put an end to that. So our compromise is that we'll eat out once a week only (my goal is once a month, if that) and if we get breakfast sandwiches one morning or wings for lunch that's our one meal out for the week.
So all in all, I think the first session was great and I think FPU is going to help us get on track..both of us!
This morning I paid the electric bill of $64.19 for the little house I still rent. The bill would have and should have been much lower but the neighbor who checked on the house and Bob the Cat for me recently was worried that Bob would get too cold so she kept the heater running most of the time. Now that the cat isn't there, there's no need to run the heater so the next bill should be somewhere around $20, give or take.
Since I'm off today I plan to go the laundrymat and to the bank to open the savings account. It figures that I'd open one when the interest rates are so low but I need to get the money out of my immediate reach and that's certainly one way to do it. Opening a savings account is one of my main goals for this month and the month is almost over so I need to get on the ball and just do it.
Tonight is the first night of Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University class we're attending and I look forward to that. We didn't attend the orientation but since we listen to his show and have read TMMO I figure X amount of what's presented, including most of the orientation, will be review for us. I really am excited about going, though. Thanks for all the input about FPU. I believe it will be a worthy investment for us. By the way, someone asked if the cost is $100 per person or couple. The $100 is for a couple and it includes the kit and access to the paid areas of Dave's website, apparently.
I'll post updates on FPU now and then for others who might be interested in it.