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I got rid of a lot of dead weight today! Amazing!

January 4th, 2012 at 04:34 pm

A little while ago I canceled my cable TV service and downgraded my cable internet to 'standard'. The prorated bill for this month is $69 but next month it will be $60 plus the one time fee of $45. The month after that it will be just the $60 or so. Wow, what a change that will be from the $116 I've been paying!

$56 a month is nothing to sneeze at and not having cable TV will encourage me to read more and get out of my apartment more.

I also canceled a $45 every three months subscription to a website I access but only occasionally. No need if I don't use it!

Then I went to Netflix and changed my membership to streaming only and cut my expense there by $8 a month.

The total for those three changes comes to $79 a month! When that's added to not spending, on average, $258 a month on cigarettes, the total is astounding at $337! A month! Yippeee!

Ladies and gents, that's half my rent! Or a nice sum of money to split between charity and my vacation fund.

Wooohoo, what a way to start the new year!

Auto insurance opinions needed

January 3rd, 2012 at 05:09 pm

I currently use Geico for auto insurance. My policy renews this month at $770.40 for 6 months. I can get the same coverage with Progressive for $323.00. Wow, that's a huge difference and it might seem like a no brainer but I don't know much about Progressive.

Do any of you use it and what are your thoughts on it?

2012 goals - not very firm yet but progressing

January 1st, 2012 at 03:55 am

I've never been good at goal setting. No, that isn't true. I'm good at setting goals but the achieving of them seems to trip me up. I'm pretty sure it's because I make goals then just kind of wait for them to happen. Umm, that hasn't worked out well for me yet so I'm going to try to set up some steps to achieve the goals I have for 2012 and see if that makes a difference. ;-)

Although tomorrow is January 1st, my plans are still pretty vague - you know, I want to do things like 'save money', and 'waste less' but don't have a lot of ideas on how to succeed.

I do have a few steps in mind, though, and here they are:

Start a $1 bill challenge for 2012. Thanks to Be A Wealthy Warrior for the idea. I'm not sure it will work for me but I'm happy to give it a good try.

Continue to take snacks, meals, and drinks to work. Doing this with leftovers really helps reduce food waste and is just an all around win!

Stay with my beautiful quit! Not spending $240 or so a month on cigarettes is pretty awesome. I'm going to split the money I don't spend on cigarettes between the local charity that needs help and my vacation/cruise fund.

Make consistent use of You Need A Budget and my Dave Ramsey envelope system. I know that the two of those work beautifully to keep me on the straight and narrow path but I have to be more faithful with them.

Work hard to have two no spend days a week. I know I can do it.

So, that's all I really have in mind right now. I'll ponder all this awhile longer and will come up with a more firm plan.

As usual, suggestions and ideas are welcome!

What kind of challenges with tangible outcome do you give yourself?

December 14th, 2011 at 07:29 am

I see some of you are still doing the $20 challenge. I never did quite figure that one out. What I mean is I couldn't figure out what the $20 meant, exactly, since some of you are waaaaay over $20 nor could I figure out just what you did with the challenge money. I like the idea of challenging myself, though, and here's where I need your help.

I can easily challenge myself to cook and eat at home, take lunch and snacks to work, and have no/low spend days. I might not succeed every time but I generally do or at least the challenge leads to improvement and progress is progress! But those things don't generally lead to anything tangible for me. What I mean is this - I might not spend $10 eating out on a given day but I more than likely will spend that $10 on something else. Probably not that day but another. That doesn't get me anywhere, you know?

So my question to all of you is this: what kind of challenges with tangible outcome do you give yourself?

Chicken thighs and motivation - a strange sort of process

December 11th, 2011 at 06:29 pm



I'm stressing a little because it's December 11th and I have no financial goals in mind for the coming year. Or the month. Or even the week! I feel so stuck right now as far as finances go and I really need to get motivated.

This might sound odd but two ways I find motivation are making my menu plan for the week and cooking. Yeah, I said making a menu plan and cooking. Both of those activities remind me that I need to use what I have on hand. And that leads to a reminder that I don't need to go to the grocery store for things I don't have on hand. And that leads to a reminder that I don't need to go out and willy nilly spend, though I really don't do that, anyway. And that leads to a reminder that I need to find ways to cut back on this or that to help me save more. And that, eventually, leads me to coming up with ways to do that. Voila, I'm motivated. Wink It's a strange sort of process but it generally works for me.

In light of that, I'm about to work on this week's menu and I'm pondering just what to do with the chicken thighs in my fridge.

So tell me - how do YOU get and stay motivated to stay on track and save?

The Purge 30 in 30 Days Challenge

January 3rd, 2010 at 03:21 am

I've decided to participate in the "Purge 30 in 30 days" challenge and am pretty psyched about it. I'd already planned to get rid of some things so this challenge helps me get started on that goal.

Most of the stuff I purge will be given away via Freecyle but I might sell a few things, too.

So far this month I've already given away 4 items on Freecycle. If I understand the guidelines, that's 1.5 points per item giving me 6 points as of today.

I'm just happy to be rid of those 4 items!

One smallish 2010 goal met!

January 2nd, 2010 at 10:42 am

Okay, so it's not really that important but still...

I got in from work yesterday to find that the man person had gotten the database started. I've entered the last week of December's bills, payments, and other outgoing money just so I'd have some data in it and so far it seems to work well. It needs some tweaking and adjusting but it will be fine for what we need, I think. He doesn't think I'll keep up with it and he could be right but I think I will. I might need a little prodding here and there but we definitely need a way to keep up with things and I think this is it.

And there we go - one 2010 goal has been met! I had a very simple goal of finding an easy way to keep track of expenses and now that's been accomplished.

It's up to me to actually use it but the man person did his part and that little goal has been met. Yaaah for tiny baby steps!

Quick wrap up of 2009 & today's spending

December 31st, 2009 at 10:19 pm

Okay, so this year was good, bad, and even ugly financially.

The Good:

The man person's business is doing pretty well and pays most of the bills. I'm still working at the job I've had for two years and we manage to save a good portion of what I bring in or we use it for "fun" stuff.

In May of 2009 I opened a 401(k) with my employer and while there isn't much in there, it's something. I also have a very small pension amount with them. I doubt that I'll be with the company for 20 more years but who knows? It could happen.

We're about 1/3 of the way to having a fully funded EF but feel pretty good about what we have in it now. Even the amount we have gives us some security.

We rarely are late to pay a bill now. When it does happen, it's because I simply forget to deal with it, not because we don't have the money.

Our credit reports look a hell of a lot better than they did two years ago.

The Bad:

There isn't much in my 401(k) or pension account. Yeah, they've only existed for a few months but I want them stuffed with goodies..now!

We're only 1/3 of the way to having a fully funded EF. I want it fully funded..now!

Once in a while I'm forgetful and we don't get a bill paid on time. I want to have no bills to pay..now!

Our credit reports, while looking a lot better than they did two years ago, still have a hickey or two on them. I want them cleaned up..now!

Okay, so I'm a little impatient.

And the Ugly:

We have that $45,526.52 hospital bill to tend to. We have a payment plan set up with the surgeon but will throw extra at it and are paying on the pathology bill and will throw extra at it, too, but that hospital bill just looms over us as we try to figure out the best way to deal with it.

All in all, I'd say 2009 was a good year for us financially. Not spectacular but better than 2008 and certainly much better than previous years.

And here's hoping the upward trend continues in 2010.

Oh yeah, here's today's spending:

Laundry - $2.50
Cigarettes - $4.70
Denise Cell Phone - $80 (this is normally around $45 but I got a new phone and part of the monthly charge was pro-rated so this bill was higher than usual)
Americano to have while washing clothes - $2.11

Figured out how to keep track of expenses!

December 30th, 2009 at 06:41 pm

Our expenses for December ended up being very close to what we had on the planning sheets we prepared at the end of November and that's a good thing, indeed. But I've been agonizing over finding a better way to keep track of expenses. It dawned on me, finally, that I already knew the way to do it.

Some years ago the man person created a Filemaker database for me to keep track of blood sugar readings, meals, exercise, medication, physician's visits, etc. and I still use it. It's great and it's so easy to sort and find things. Why not do the same for expenses? Duh! I could even use it for income.

So, I sat down and made a list of the things I need it to have and he's pondering it for a day or two before he gets started on it. Apparently its better to get it right the first time than to revise the thing once its done.

I can't wait until it's ready and I can start entering things into it. I'm turning into quite a numbers geek. Wink

Post holiday stuff, more this and that, here and there

December 27th, 2009 at 04:27 pm

Even though I don't "do" Christmas, I really enjoyed taking Mom and Pop to Dallas to see the family. Both of my sisters were there, both nephews, two of my three nieces, etc. The ex husband of one of my sisters was there and he brought his best friend from waaay back, someone I hadn't seen in well over 20 years. The food was great, the company was fantastic, and the day over all was wonderful! I got some pictures but most aren't too good, darn it. We only stayed a few hours and headed back that evening. The traffic wasn't bad at all and I wasn't too late getting home.

The next morning I had to be at work at 6:30, which I wasn't thrilled about but oh well, such is life. It was a crazy, busy day, though! I think the post -holiday sales brought more people than the pre-holiday sales and we stayed very busy all day long.

The man person and I did a little grocery shopping this morning and I do mean a little. We don't need much and spent a tad over $13. I'll fund that envelope again Friday morning but until then we have $9 left to spend on food. Woot! Wink Like I said, though, we don't really need anything so that's no real challenge.

Speaking of challenges, I'm working on 2010 goals and not getting very far. The hospital and physician bills we have to deal with have crimped the plan and I'm not sure just what to do so I'm pondering it and considering options before proceeding with next year's goals.

Okay, time to head to work. Have a great day, all.

Credit Reports - not great but not as bad as I thought!

December 8th, 2009 at 11:39 pm

For a little back story, see this entry.

Since we don't use credit cards and don't have a mortgage (and hope not to have one i the future) I'm not overly concerned about credit reports but since I hadn't checked mine in a couple years I did so this afternoon. I was only able to get two of them;Experian and TransUnion but neither had the slew of stuff on them that was present when I checked it in 2007.

They each have four things listed under "Accounts in Good Standing" and two things listed as negative. One of those things is the home foreclosure from 2007 and there's nothing I can do about that. But the other is a $340 electric bill in collections from last year that I knew nothing about. Now that I know about it I'm going to deal with that one.

DH checked his reports, too. There's a small medical bill we don't recognize and are going to call about tomorrow and an old cable bill from when he was working in another part of the state.

The total of things that need to be paid on both reports is a little less than $1000. Hey, not bad from $16,000 eighteen months ago, huh? Of course, the one report I couldn't get might have a lot more on it but I don't think so. I'm going to send them the request form tomorrow and should get a printed copy of that before too long.

I don't plan to need credit anytime soon but it's good to know that the report isn't the disaster it was the last time I looked. Yaaay for paying off debts and getting them off credit reports and for old debts rolling off credit reports. Smile

But we mustn't get too terribly excited - DH's heart procedure a month ago is costing us $52,000, all from our pocket. We've worked out a payment plan for the physician's $5,000 but not the remainder. Ahhh well, life's a bitch.....wear a helmet, right?

Back to the basics for 2010 & $146.13 in change!

December 7th, 2009 at 10:21 pm



Actually, we're starting a little early with a checklist of financial things to do now and in the coming year. One of the more important tasks was to revamp our zero based budget to reflect the changes the business has undergone in the last year.

So, this morning I dug out the Dave Ramsey Monthly Cash Flow and Irregular Income Planning sheets and we've spent most of today, in between patients, coming up with figures to put on those sheets. Since our income and expenses vary substantially we budget a little over what the average for each expense is and any surplus goes in a separate envelope in case we need it for the same expense in the near future. It's a little complicated that way but we don't come up short on any bill payments. We're just about finished with the Monthly Cash Flow sheets and will work on the Irregular Income Planning tonight.

We also hauled 27 lbs. of change to the bank to be rolled and deposited into our main account. They charge 10% to roll and wrap the change but neither of us is too enthused about doing it and it's worth 10% to not have to do it. The man person guessed there was at least one hundred dollars and I figured the total would be over $125 but I just checked the bank account and discovered $146.13 was deposited. Sweet!

More on 2010 finances later...

The envelope system revisited

November 29th, 2009 at 04:54 am

DH and I talked (again) about going back to the envelope system we used a couple of years ago. He agreed that it really helped us rein in our spending and that carrying a debit card or wad of cash makes overspending just too easy. So tonight we decided to revisit that envelope system and to make it work for us. Honestly, I think we need to go back to revisiting our budget at the end of each month, too. We have a few new expenses (gym membership, a new medication for him, life insurance, etc) but the business is doing well and we need to get a handle on all of this so we save/invest money productively rather than blow it.

And we've decided to start saving/investing my pay, all of it! Gulp! Not that its that much but I'm just sayin'...I think we'll start with saving rather than trying to invest it so that if something happens we have that little cushion. Once we feel a little safer we'll probably feel comfortable investing it. We're both sure we can live off what the business brings in, probably somewhat less than the business brings in but we'll see.

As LuxLiving said in the comment to my previous entry, we've come a long way! But we really do have a long way to go. I hope we're up to meeting the challenge and I'm so excited about trying!

The last eighteen months in a nutshell & Happy Thanksgiving!

November 26th, 2009 at 03:29 pm

I'm still working retail at the same place and the man person still has his business. It's grown quite a bit and although its a one man operation it pays the bills and then some. We left the envelope system behind some time ago but still have an emergency fund and some extra money saved. However, we still don't have any investments. Honestly, we don't know where or how to start and are afraid of making the wrong move so we've done nothing in that regard. Well, we did do something....

A Primerica rep visited with us last night and hopefully we'll have our financial needs analysis before too long. I've read good and bad about Primerica and although neither of us wants to be a rep/advisor/whatever they're called, their products might be good for us. I think we can do most of it on our own but again, we simply don't know where or how to start.

We need to change that but inertia seems to have us in its clutches. And I think we saved more and just felt better about money when we used the envelope system. Its simply too easy to overspend when we don't use it and we need to give serious consideration to going back to it. We've talked about it and agreed that we should do it but haven't actually done it.

We still don't have health insurance. DH had a heart procedure done recently and we got the bill last week. $47,000! Yep, $47,000 and that's just for the hospital. We haven't received the physician's bill yet. I haven't a clue what we're going to do about this new expense but we'll come up with something. I've already started putting pennies in a jar for it. Ha!

DH got a small life insurance policy on himself. It's only $15,000 but its a start and better than nothing. We're looking into larger policies but with his health history the premiums are outrageous. No insurance on me yet but that's coming soon, I think.

Last week I got a call to clean a house someone had bought and I earned some extra moolah. The job took a little longer than I'd expected but I did it on a day off the regular job and I made about $25 an hour which beats the $8 and 40 some odd cents an hour I make at my regular job. I really do need to concentrate on growing the house cleaning business. I don't know that I could do that only but two cleaning jobs a month would give me an extra $200 to $300 and that's nothing to sneeze at. Every little bit helps...

I'm still working on 2010 goals. I have a few cemented in my mind but most are still up in the air. I'll post about those when they're a little clearer.

In the meantime, have a wonderful Thanksgiving and don't overeat. Oh heck, go ahead and overeat. But get to the gym tomorrow! Wink

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!

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

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!

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.

Session One of Financial Peace University

January 29th, 2008 at 03:16 am

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. Smile

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!

Today's goings on

January 28th, 2008 at 05:00 pm

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.

Too many bills, not enough money...

January 24th, 2008 at 09:26 pm

Bills are due soon and we don't have enough money in the envelopes for them all. We're close on several of them and not so close on a few. Business has slowed down, which is normal for this time of year, so we just haven't brought in all the money that we need. However, things should pick up sometime between the first and middle of February and fortunately, that's close. But we have bills due before then.

We haven't used hardly any of my last paycheck so we'll more than likely use some of that to cover the shortage this week. Rats, that isn't what we want to do! But we're trying to pay bills on time and if we have to use it, so be it. And I'm thankful we have the money to use.

On the brighter side of things, my new $20 challenge total is $77.02. Yippeee! I should be at $100 very soon and once I am, that will be used to open the savings account where all future $20 challenge money goes when it hits the $100 mark. So, I feel a little better knowing that although we'll more than likely have to spend some of my pay on bills, I'll have $100 very soon to put in the bank. It softens the blow just a tad.

The sky is falling!

January 23rd, 2008 at 12:00 am



Okay, not really but one never knows. It could happen! In light of that, I read and collect books on alternative methods of doing things and plain and simple living. Even if the sky doesn't fall, it can't hurt to have some skills that might be handy in case errr....mmm, well, in case the sky falls! I have some of the Foxfire books but have coveted #3 for awhile.

Some months ago I added it to my wish list at Paperback Swap and recently got email saying someone had it to offer so I snagged it. Today it arrived in the mail and I've been reading it. Interesting stuff.

I mean, come on, who doesn't need to know how to tan a hide, make a banjo, churn butter, build a smokehouse, and make a broom? Those skills might come in handy should the sky ever fall. Besides, the book was free and that's a good thing and I've lately wanted to read something other than email...

What would YOU do?

January 18th, 2008 at 03:00 am

We don't have any current debt right now - no house payments (lost the house in foreclosure recently) no car payments, and no credit cards. However, DH and I both have some old debt on our credit reports, totaling something near $15,000. Of course, our credit absolutely stinks. I'd like to improve it but honestly, that isn't the biggest concern in my life right now.

This summer I'll have a few thousand dollars that I could put toward those debts but I don't know the best way to handle it. The money won't be enough to pay ALL the old stuff but it's going to be enough to pay some of the debts in full. But we also need to save some of the money. Keep in mind that we only have about $1100 saved right now, DH owns a 6 month old business with a wildly varying income, and I work retail for slightly above minimum wage, with hours being cut. And soon we'll have to find another place to live.

One of the things that stumps me is that I've read that once I pay one or two of the creditors I'll be contacted by the others wanting their money, too. But I simply can't pay them all at one time, not even if they were willing to take payments.

Should I wait until I have the money then contact a few of the creditors and pay them in full? Should I disregard them and save the money? If I pay off some of the creditors, will the others then come after me?

What would YOU do?

Musings on waste and finances

January 15th, 2008 at 05:37 am

I went to bed but couldn't sleep. I have a knot on my gum that is causing me some discomfort. I got up to take some aspirin and drink something hot but that hasn't helped much yet. So here I am again, reading and thinking, thinking and reading.

Here are more of my musings on creating some kind of financial plan for this year. It's hard! But putting my thoughts in a blog entry and getting feedback seems to help the process. So does reading the blogs of others. I've gotten some excellent ideas and am very thankful for that. On the other hand, I read the blogs of some members (like Ima Saver and Lux Living) and feel like such a spendthrift at times! But that's not necessarily a bad thing. If reading their blogs inspires me to do more to cut back here and trim there and save this way or that way, this is a very good thing! Again, I'm thankful.

I've thought a lot about waste the last couple of weeks. I'm not sure why but it's been on my mind. Perhaps the recent political issues in the news got it started. Wink Then I talked to my youngest son tonight. He's an OTR driver and called me from Indiana and we got into a discussion of government waste and the national sales tax concept. Regardless, waste of this sort and that sort has really been in my thoughts lately.

DH and I are wasteful. Compared to many we aren't but compared to many others, we are. I think we're too wasteful and want to work on reducing waste.

We throw soft drink cans in the trash. That's wasteful when we can sell them for a little bit and that could be added to the challenge money or put in savings.

We smoke still. Yes, we quit for almost a year but started again. We smoke less than half of what we used to smoke but it's still costly in many ways and wasteful. We need to quit. Period.

We try very hard not to waste food and for the most part we're good about that but we do it at times. We need to put an end to it and eat or freeze leftovers before cooking something else.

We waste time. Oh, do we! We're at the shop more than anywhere else and unless we're open we're wasting time. There's no television at the shop but we stay online when not busy. There are other things we could be doing - reading books about personal finance, discussing strategies to save and the need for a plan for 2008, continuing to work out goals for our marriage, etc. Surely there are more constructive ways to spend spare time.

Those are just four ways in which we're wasteful. The first three directly impact our finances and eliminating or greatly reducing them could save us a bundle. Quitting smoking alone would save us about $35 a week. The last one indirectly affects our finances but I'm not sure what the solution to it is or if that solution would save us money.

Okay, now I'm all verklempt. Give me a moment..feel free to discuss amongst yourselves. Opinions, suggestions, accolades and spare change welcome!

A call to action

January 15th, 2008 at 12:01 am

I absolutely must have a financial plan of some sort for 2008. I tried talking to my other half about it a couple of days ago but he was distracted at the time and we haven't resumed the conversation. I don't want him to see me as nagging so I'm going to concentrate on things I can do without his help or approval for awhile and talk to him about it at a better time. Some of these actions are small and some aren't so small but here are my current ideas.

1. Since he's already stated that he wants to attempt to pay all the bills with the shop income and save at least half of mine, that's one step of the plan already going. My income varies depending on what position I work and how many hours I get so although I can say we want to save half of my income, I can't get a handle on just how much that will be. I'm going to set up Direct Deposit at work with the hope that doing that and having half of my check automatically go to savings will make the saving part easier. A lot of people claim it does and I think it's worth a try.

To go along with paying the bills with shop income, I've been thinking of ways to reduce those bills to make it easier for DH and to help us save.

I really want to unplug appliances when not in use but my love dislikes when I do that so for now that's out. I'm faithful about turning off lights we aren't using and go behind him doing the same when needed. But I can be more faithful about that. The phone and internet bills are basically set amounts so there are no reductions to be found there. That goes for the rent, also.

2. Vehicles and the gas for them are issues. Right now I take his truck to work, which is only about 3 miles from us. I need to get my car registered so we have another vehicle to drive so he can do some minor stuff to his truck to prepare it for inspection. We should have the money to register my car by the end of the week. The truck is a gas hog and the car is only a little better but once it's legal again we can drive it rather than the truck. We already try to combine trips to minimize driving but we can do more of that. We can also have at least two non-driving days a week, perhaps, if we prepare for them.

3. Food is definitely one area we can cut back. We eat out too much and though we're better about it than in the very recent past we can improve. I just need to plan better since I'm often at work when it's meal time. I need to make sure there's food ready at the office for DH and I need to take my lunches, snacks and drinks with me to work. I know how to meal plan so this isn't difficult - I just have to make myself do it.

If we do those three things - save half of what I earn, reduce driving, and spend less on eating out, we should save a lot.

Okay, so this isn't really a plan yet. Right now it's more me writing out my thoughts. But to formulate a plan I have to think things through and get a handle on them and I'm doing that slowly but surely.

Now, what do I do with these ideas? How do I make an actual plan? I guess the answer is to just do them. Right?

Input on pros and cons of Direct Deposit needed, please

January 14th, 2008 at 06:18 pm

I'm considering going with Direct Deposit at work but have very little experience with it. If you have experience with it, good or bad, would you please share that with me?

Chase Bank is offering a $100 bonus for new accounts with DD and I'd like to know your thoughts on that, also. I read the fine print on the mail I got about it but haven't made a decision yet. But between Chase's offer and a few people I know encouraging me to go with DD, I need to decide. It seems that having it deposited and having half of it go straight to savings might be beneficial. That out of sight, out of mind thing!

It's so wonderful to have all you knowledgeable folks on hand.

Thanks for your help! Smile

Envelope, job, & challenge updates

January 9th, 2008 at 02:16 am

I wrote this then added to it and am now adding to it again so I edited the name, also. I might as well post just one entry rather than three.

So far the envelope system is working! Yes, it's only been three days but there is money in each of the envelopes, including the savings envelope. Smile

It feels great to know our bills are paid for the month and we're working for the next round of them. We have a ways to go before we have enough for the next round of bills but we'll get there, I know.

Yaaaaay for envelopes, cash, jobs, and a little discipline!

Speaking of jobs, I'm a reasonably intelligent person and am capable of doing just about anything I set my mind to. But correctly marking cups at work boggles my mind and I'm close to admitting I've been outsmarted by paper and plastic!

I did pretty well today but still messed up at least 6 cups. I either had the wrong size or marked them incorrectly or something else stupid. It doesn't help that customers often don't ask for an item by the name on the menu board. So I think they're asking for one thing and they're really asking for another. Example: "I'd like a Chi Tea." I mark the cup for what I think is Chi Tea. Then I look around and don't see Chi Tea anywhere. After doing this three times I realized they were asking for a Chi Latte!! Doh! When I ask what size, they say they want the medium and I mark it. Then they change their mind and want a large. Okay, no problem, I can handle that. I get another cup and mark it and bam, now they want the other one again!

It's fun and I love my new job. Wink

My $20 challenge is up to $27 now thanks to a couple of meatless meals and not buying a snack or drink while out running errands. I have some change to add to it tomorrow, about $2. Yippee!

Wish me luck!

January 6th, 2008 at 12:45 pm

Today is my first day of training at Starbucks. I'm a little nervous about it but am also kind of excited. I like to learn new things so this will be fun, I hope. But I can't help be nervous about it. So, wish me luck, y'all, and if you pray, say a little prayer for me that I'll do well and like it!


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