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14 days, 119 pennies, and the new year is upon us

December 30th, 2011 at 06:55 am

Look, you can't see the bottom of the jar now! Smile

It's been 14 days since I've had a cigarette. I haven't cheated, haven't bummed one off someone, I simply haven't had the taste of a cigarette though a few nights ago I came close and could have smoked one. I was sorely tempted, too, but I got through it.

There are 119 pennies in my jar and later today $119 will be transferred from my checking to savings account. I've decided to split the money I don't spend on buying cigarettes. Half of it will go to a local charitable organization I've found that needs it and the other half will be saved to take myself on a cruise. I think it's fair to give away at least half the money I'd normally waste. Also, I've wanted some Flower Bomb perfume for well over a year now (and I can't even tell you how much I want it!) but it's way out of my price range and I think I might take some of the money I haven't blown on cigarettes and buy myself a tiny bottle of that before I start saving for a cruise. Wink

I feel great. I'm sleeping better (not remembering any dreams again), have no coughing, my mood has stabilized, and I certainly smell better! I haven't gained weight...yet. I have to really keep an eye on that. All in all, it's going beautifully.

Today I must pay my rent and water bill. The electric bill isn't due for two weeks and since I need to put my not smoking money into savings I'll pay it on the next pay day. I have to prioritize that not smoking money because if I don't, I'll blow it on something stupid!
Before I head to work today I'm going to re-work my irregular income planning sheet, too. It needs to have a few changes made to it.

Anyway, Happy New Year to me. And you!

Whew! Still going strong and suggestions needed

December 18th, 2011 at 05:22 am

So I went to my friend's house last night. We had roasted chicken, broccoli, and macaroni & cheese. I usually don't eat macaroni & cheese because of the carb count but I was starved and decided to have a small amount. I bolused for it and it was delicious, even if it was just the boxed stuff. Wink

After dinner we watched the football game. My friend went to his den and smoked a cigarette but I wasn't at all tempted to follow. I was too into the game at that point and wasn't about to miss even a few seconds. It appears that the Cowboys might have broken their December 'curse' but time will tell about that, huh?

This morning I put a widget on my dashboard. It's just a little no smoking sign that shows how long it's been since I've had a cigarette and how much money I haven't spent on cigarettes. It's nice to have it there if I need a little resolve booster. I also started washing the walls. What a job that is! It really does help to get rid of the cigarette smell, though, and I have a Scentsy burner going with Hazelnut Latte in it. It smells so good and does a decent job of masking the cigarette odor.

Anyway, so far so good. I figure I've not spent somewhere between $9 and $13 on cigarettes since Friday. It's hard to know just how much I haven't spent since some days I'd smoke less than a pack and other days I'd smoke two or more. In light of that, I estimate that I've not spent $12 on cigarettes! Because I used my debit card for cigarettes and putting the money not spent on those in a jar would mean a trip to the bank to get the money out, I'm going to just keep a running tab and next Friday I'll transfer that amount from checking to savings. If someone has a better idea, I'd love to know it. I'd really like some kind of visual reminder but going to the bank every couple of days to get cash for a jar seems a little counterproductive to me.

I work tonight and need to get busy now coming up with something to take for my meal. I'm thinking leftover cornish hen will make great chicken salad to have with some fresh vegetables and dip. Smile

Quick wrap up of 2009 & today's spending

December 31st, 2009 at 02:19 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

Tightening the belt

December 3rd, 2009 at 07:30 pm

should enable us to contribute $1,000 to $1,500 a month to savings/investments, presuming we don't opt for life insurance on me at this point. Now we just have to figure out the specifics. We're thinking perhaps a Roth IRA for each of us, with his being $6,000 a year and mine being $5,000 but that still leaves some money to invest.

In addition, we'll have another $10,000 to $15,000 to invest annually, either in a lump sum or some other fashion. I haven't a clue what to do with that but it seems to me that investing $22,000 to $30,000 a year should help us catch up, right?

If you have thoughts on venues other than a Roth or 401(k) please do share! We're actively researching and considering our options.

The envelope system revisited

November 28th, 2009 at 08:54 pm

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!

I loves me some end of the month money!

November 28th, 2009 at 04:18 pm

November is just about over and after bills are paid and money is put into savings, we have close to $2000 left! Woohooo! We're not sure if we should throw it at savings or earmark it for investment or perhaps do something else with it. It sure is nice to know we're on the right track, though.

Here's hoping we can produce similar results in December! Smile

Today's doings...

March 14th, 2008 at 09:52 am

I'm off today and have a few errands to run. I'm going to the bank to get cash to fund the envelopes for the next two weeks and will talk to them about opening a savings account with them. Then off to the washateria to do laundry. Oh joy!

After that, I'll head to work and pop in and say hello to our DM who will be there conducting a two hour training. I won't stay long, maybe 5 minutes. I just want to meet the man and get a quick look at the training stuff. While there, I'll check out the 75% or more clearance items and see if there's anything we really need. I doubt there is but I like to look, anyway. Just in case.

From there, I'll come back to the shop and when it closes tonight we're headed to the local grocery. They're switching to a new store brand and all items of the old brand are 50% off! Hopefully we'll find some good stuff at great prices.

Dinner tonight will be Slow Cooker Chicken and Biscuits with salad and fresh green beans. I made the chicken and biscuits last night and there's plenty left for tonight. It's a good recipe and the dish is quite tasty!

Opening an online savings account troubles...

March 14th, 2008 at 06:44 am

We decided to go with Provident Direct for our savings account. Their interest rate is slightly higher than the others and we've read and heard good things about them.

So, I've been trying for three days to open an account with PD. When I completed the online application I got a message saying the application couldn't be processed and to call them. I did call and leave voice mail, thinking they would return the call the next day. They didn't so I called them again, got a different department and left them voice mail. No call. So I called them again yesterday and talked to a woman who said she could take the application over the phone. Wonderful! But there's a problem. Our driver's licenses don't have issue dates on them. I don't recall ever seeing a Texas license with that information on it and apparently it's required to open the account. The rep I talked to insisted that the account simply can't be opened without that information. I asked her if they have other people from Texas with savings accounts and she said, "Oh, I'm sure we do!" and when I asked her how they opened their accounts without that required information she got a little hostile with me, told me someone would call me today, and ended the call.

Okay, so someone will call me today. We'll see if that happens. In the meantime I still have money I'm burning to get into a savings account and don't have a license with the issue date on it... ugh!

Something weird going on with the checking account...

March 13th, 2008 at 03:59 pm

I'm not great with numbers but can handle a checking account with no problems as long as I actually stay on top of it. But there's something going on with our account right now that I simply don't understand. If I check it online or call the automated number, the balance will be $XXX.XX. I find out what credits and debits there were, add deposits that don't show yet, subtract payments and such and get a new balance. So far so good. The next day or two days later, I call and get the balance and transactions again. But the numbers don't jive. The transactions that came through don't explain the balance. Does that make sense? I'm quite frustrated. Yesterday, the balance was over $1,300 and I made a $55 deposit last night after they were closed. Today I called and it's a little over $600 with only $400 some odd dollars in transactions coming through after the $1,300.

What am I missing, y'all?

I'm off tomorrow so I'm going in to talk to them about it. But I am puzzled and very frustrated!!

Thoughts on this?

Okay, I figured out part of it. The only other online banking I've done had the pending transactions right there on the main page with everything else and they were visible at a glance. I've gone months without any kind of online banking and am just getting into it again. I realized, while standing outside fretting over this, that there must be a link to those pending transactions so I looked and sure enough, the balance the bank shows is *after* those transactions. Whew! That explains most of it. The rest I'll figure out in the morning. My brain is fried from worrying over this!

Nice little cha-ching today!

March 11th, 2008 at 12:36 am

My youngest son, the OTR truckdriver, is in town and since I was off Monday I decided to spend the afternoon with him. I picked him up around 1:00 and he treated me to a great lunch in Tyler at a Tex Mex joint called Cancun. I'd not eaten there before and it was a nice restaurant. He had enchiladas and I had beef fajitas. And to have my son pick up the tab! Oh la la, it was great!

We then went to the washateria and washed clothes together. We both needed to tend to that chore so it made sense to do it together. While the clothes washed and dried we talked about his girlfriend, money, Dave Ramsey, money, his job, money, and such.

He heads back out on the road Tuesday morning and I won't see him for another 5 weeks or so but before I dropped him off he had me take him to an ATM where he got money. And he gave me some! He gave me $300 toward about $500 he owes me. I've tried to tell him he doesn't have to pay me back, that per Dave and many other finance gurus the money was something I could do for him, not a loan. But he wants to give it back. He's anti-debt in a big way and I understand why he feels as he does. But really, he doesn't have to give that money back to me.

Since he insists, though, I took it. There are a lot of things I could do with $300 but these $300 are going into savings. What a nice cha-ching!!!

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

February 20th, 2008 at 07:21 pm

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 18th, 2008 at 05:52 pm

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

$20 challenge update

February 16th, 2008 at 10:43 am

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 09:25 am

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 15th, 2008 at 05:18 pm

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!

Wow, $105.88 saved!

February 8th, 2008 at 04:12 pm

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

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

February 2nd, 2008 at 06:47 pm

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.....


::and the crowd goes wild!::

$66.07 so far...

February 2nd, 2008 at 04:04 pm

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!

Session One of Financial Peace University

January 28th, 2008 at 07:16 pm

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 09:00 am

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 01:26 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.

Challenge update & my plan :o)

January 18th, 2008 at 08:11 pm

I didn't spend $2.75 of the money I took to the laundrymat today so that goes in the challenge. So do the eighteen cents I found in a washer and the seven cents I found yesterday on the ground. In addition, I'm adding $3 for the three times we were out and about and I didn't get a snack or drink and $2 for two meatless meals the last day or so.

The new total is $60.83. Go me! I look forward to seeing what it is at the end of January!

Although I'd planned to, for two reasons I didn't get cash from the bank today to equal my challenge amount. One, I can't get money from the account until Tuesday and two, I think I'll spend it if it's lying around here.

I've thought about this quite a bit and have decided to open a savings account next week with the minimum deposit of $100. Whenever my challenge balance equals $100 I'll withdraw that from checking and put it in savings. I know I can do that. If I have cash in my pocket I want to spend it and if I have a debit card I want to use it. But when the money is in an account and I can look at the register and see the amount written there, I don't want to spend it. Why is that? I haven't a clue but that's how I am. And if the money in savings, that's a very strong signal to me that it isn't for playing.

On a related note, when we opened the new account this morning DH asked for a debit card for himself. I turned mine down and the banker lady looked at me like I had two heads. I don't want it, thank you! I think we'll have trouble if we both have debit cards. If he has one and gives me a cash allowance every week we'll be okay. I think. I just have to make sure to not take all my allowance with me when I go out...

What would YOU do?

January 17th, 2008 at 07:00 pm

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?

And the plot thickens...

January 15th, 2008 at 06:43 am

I just talked to my other half about our spending habits and the ways we waste money. He agreed with me immediately that we need to stop the waste and also agreed to some tactics I have in mind to help. One is that we stop smoking. The other is that we limit eating out to once a week. So, this Friday when I get paid I'll buy nicotine patches. The last time we used them I only needed them for 5 days and he needed them for about 3 weeks. If it goes that way this time we should have the $40 a week we normally spend on cigarettes freed up by the middle of February. And if we only eat out once a week, we'll see the savings there immediately!

**Quickie update** I was feeling a little hungry and thought about making some scrambled eggs and beef sausage. But I remembered some of the spicy chicken I used to make quesadillas was still in the fridge so I made myself a spicy chicken and cheese quesadilla and microwaved it. It was better than the skillet ones a few nights ago and I used up most of the chicken. There's still a little left, just enough for a quesadilla for DH for lunch. I asked him to please eat that up when he gets hungry. He kind of halfheartedly nodded but just now made himself a beef sausage sandwich. This isn't going to be easy!

So, wish us luck!

So, where is it going?

January 15th, 2008 at 05:16 am

Last night when I couldn't sleep I perused some blogs. Ima Saver had a brief entry in hers about using the envelope method. I like her way of doing it so I figured out how much we would need to put back per week if we did it the way she does it rather than how we do it now. In reality, there isn't much difference but my mind was reeling last night so I was up late playing with numbers. What was left came to about $200. The shop income varies but that's a rough guess. Huh? $200 a week after we pay bills? We never have that much! So, where is it going?

Let's figure this out. From the $200 let's subtract $40 for cigarettes. Yes, I know we need to quit but honesty is vital here so I'm stating for the record that that is an expense. Okay, we have $160 left per week. Now let's subtract $50 a week for gas, understanding some weeks it might be more and others it might be less. We now have $110 left each week. Most weeks we spend about $45 at the grocery store. Again, this varies but that's a fairly accurate figure. We're down to $65. Throw in the $8 or so a week for laundry, the $20 or so DH gives me throughout the week for whatever I might need and we're down to $37. From that subtract the drinks and snacks he likes to get when out and about and whatever little incidentals might come up. Uh huh, that's where it goes! But wait, somewhere in there we eat out and we do it too often! Hmmm, no wonder we're always short on bill paying money!

So now I know why we never have $200 after putting money in the envelopes. The question is: what can we do about it?

Well, the first and most obvious thing we can do is quit smoking. That frees up about $40 a week, though not immediately as we'll use the nicotine patch which is expensive. It's cheaper than cigarettes, though, and once we're finished with them the money spent for them will be available. We're already pretty frugal with groceries and because of dietary restrictions we can't get much lower than $45 a week so that will need to stay about the same. However, we can reduce the food we waste and further reduce eating out which will help a lot.

So if we just quit smoking and cut back on eating out, $70 or so a week will be freed up. Hmmm, in theory, anyway. This all looks fine on virtual paper but how realistic is it? That's what I don't know.

Something else for me to ponder today while at work....

Musings on waste and finances

January 14th, 2008 at 09:37 pm

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!

Monday's spending, new challenge total and more

January 14th, 2008 at 07:17 pm

I spent $6 on a dozen homemade chicken tamales this morning. The maker of the tamales does a very good job and delivers them hot and fresh. I don't get them weekly but talked to her about giving me a discounted price if I buy 6 dozen or more. She agreed so I might do that soon. It's nice to have them in the freezer for nights when I work late or we're simply in the mood for them. They're great with a little chili on top, reheated for lunch at work. Yum!

Later we went to Wal-mart for a few groceries and spent $34.75. We used $8.80 in coupons for free stuff so that was a nice savings and that $8.80 goes in to my challenge money. The new total for the challenge is $42.83.

I have my lunch and snacks packed for work tomorrow;a turkey pastrami on whole wheat sandwich, a few potato chips, a tin of kippers (I run everyone from the break room with those!) and an apple. I have no drinks to take but I can get free ice water from the grill so I'll do that.

This week we'll have two of the four needed signs installed for the shop. It will cost $200 for the two big ones to go by the road. Next week we'll have the two smaller ones brought in and install them ourselves. Those signs will cost about $100 but we'll save $100 by installing them ourselves rather than have the sign company do it. The signs are vital, though. We're on the major drag in this town but the little office complex we're in is easy to miss. Signs will help increase the business and make us easier to find for the ones sent here by the local optical shops. A well written map doesn't seem to do the trick!

I also need to get my car registered so I can drive it instead of the truck. That will cost about $60 plus gas for the 50 mile trip to get it registered. And I need to pay my car insurance, about $55.

Wow, this is going to be an expensive week so I really need to make sure to take my lunches and snacks to work and not buy a thing that isn't necessary. Fortunately, the shop gives us some daily cash flow but today was slow as was the last part of last week. I get paid Friday, though. Half of that goes to savings and the other half to bills if we need it. If not, it will sit in savings. Hopefully the rest of this week will be good for the shop and we can save more than half of my pay.

Hey, a girl can dream! Smile

A call to action

January 14th, 2008 at 04:01 pm

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 10:18 am

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

Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without!

January 13th, 2008 at 07:55 pm

In response to an entry posted on Somer's blog at http://somer.savingadvice.com/ I mentioned something my mother used to say to me, generally after a discussion of wants vs. needs. After she'd coached me about knowing the difference between a want and a need, complete with examples from her own life, she'd pause then say, "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without!"

Oh, how I detested that momism! It was something I absolutely dreaded hearing and each time she said it, I'd roll my eyes (inwardly of course, I didn't dare roll them visibly!) and sigh a little. After all, I knew that as a single parent receiving a small amount of child support she provided most of my support. I knew that although she had a good paying job, it couldn't be easy raising a girl or two or three. She made sure we had a nice and safe place to live, electricity, water, and food, bought us good quality clothes, and gave us allowance. And she always had a good car to drive, carried nice purses, wore nice clothes, and seemed to have money for extras, too. Another momism she would pitch at us was "Quality over quantity!". But we weren't rolling in the lap of luxury, by any means. We wore our clothes until they were outgrown or not good for much but the rag bag. We ate well but we didn't eat expensive foods. Our houses were safe and in good parts of town but they weren't large or new. Most of our furniture was in great condition and was treated well so that it could be sold later at a garage sale.

It wasn't until years later that I learned that although we got brand new clothes, her own clothes often came from thrift shops. And that most of the nice purses she had were given to her by friends. And that a lot of our furniture and household goods that were sold at garage sales came from garage sales. Or that she wore her nice looking thrift store shoes until they had no support left, at which time she'd throw them out and get another pair. I suddenly understood why she used foil and plastic wrap several times if she could, why she saved the brown paper bags from the grocery store, and why she insisted that although we could have two servings of the main course at dinner, we couldn't pig out on it. She apparently took "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without" seriously.

As the years passed and I married then became a stay at home mother of three kids of my own, living on the small income from my husband's job, I greatly appreciated the momism I'd detested so much in my youth. I found myself remembering it when I was tempted to buy something we didn't need. I even said it to my own children a few times, though not many. I did try to teach them that when they wanted to buy something, it was good to not buy on impulse and to just wait awhile before purchasing it. I also taught them to consider if they already had something that would do the job of the thing they wanted to buy.

Now that my kids are grown and it's just me and my husband trying to pay bills and save for the retirement we always thought we'd have time to save for later (see my previous entry entitled "The best ways to ensure you'll be and stay broke") I think of those words my mom practically drowned me with as a kid and I'm thankful. I'm very thankful.

I think of them every time I wipe clean a piece of foil, dry it, and save it to use later. And I think of them every time I buy clothes at a thrift shop. Each time I add a few more cents to my challenge money, I hear those words and appreciate them again.

So here's to moms and dads and other folks who irritated us with their sayings and adages about money and thrift. May we irritate our own kids...and theirs..and theirs....

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