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Archive for January, 2007

Starting the challenge!

January 24th, 2007 at 09:57 am

Ok, it's Jan 24, 2007 and I am starting the challenge in my own modified manner. I don't spend a lot of money on myself - or so I tell myself because I buy clothes/shoes/purses, etc. on SALE. I can't bring myself to pay full price for any of that kind of thing. However, it dawned on me that several items I buy on SALE are needless and a waste of my money. I've been enticed to buying this crap because of the 20%, 30%, 50%, 75% off sale signs. It's like a magnet for me and an excuse for me to buy something I don't need. I have plenty of clothes in my closet. I have more purses than anyone my age needs. I have more pairs of black shoes than I can count.

So, this is my challenge to myself. No, I will not stop going into the stores BUT I will stop buying things just because they are on sale, especially clothes/purses/and shoes. For every item I put back down, I will log that amount into my challenge tracker and will see how much total I saved by years end.

My modified challenge is somewhat backwards from the original theory of taking a $20 bill and making it grow. I will start with the $50 I recently saved in returning a pair of shoes that I bought "on sale" in my challenge tracker and will add in how much I save each time by not purchasing an "on sale" item. Let's see how much I save by avoiding sales! This is a big leap for me and I hope I don't waiver.

Stressing out - venting

January 24th, 2007 at 05:17 am

As we all are busy in this day and time, I ask myself what was going through my mind when I signed up for starting my MBA courses? Last night really brought everything into the light. I had such a hectic day at work - didn't stop one moment to breathe... meeting after meeting, boss asking so much from me, etc. etc. etc. I had to stay late at work so DH had dinner ready and had already eaten with the kids, which was nice, but the kitchen was a mess. He was sitting on the couch watching tv with them. I ate and then cleaned up the kitchen. Then I had to take my first quiz for one of my classes. That took an hour and since I had never done an online test before, I was so nervous throughout the quiz... then I had to give the kids baths - DH was still watching tv. After bath and story time, the kids went to bed. I went back online to participate in a discussion for my other online class. After studying a bit, I had to do the laundry that was piling up - as DH was still watching tv...it was well after midnight before I got to bed.... exhausted. I felt depressed as I was going to sleep - felt like I had so much to do and not enough time for any of it. I cannot stand the idea of making anything less than perfect grades in school and it bothers me so that in my statistics class, the professor isn't doing a thing to actually "teach" the subject. He only tells us when the quizzes are due. We haven't had any one real lecture or anything. Now, my other class is totally different. So far, the professor for that one has been A+ since day one... so, I'm not as worried about that class. But, I just know that I'll fail statistics! Have any of you ever tried to learn something like that on your own from just a mere textbook? I just can't do it. Then at work, I have so much to do that I don't feel like I can get anything done. And at home, DH usually is a great help but last night, all he wanted to do was veg out in front of the tv which just urked me to no end. I know we all have those days where we want to do nothing but sit around, but couldn't he see my stress? Well, yes, I think he could but didn't feel that he wasn't doing anything wrong. After watching tv all night, he went to bed before me and that made me mad too so I ended up sleeping the guest room! Oh, and you know what he said to me this morning... "Sorry you were in a bad mood last night." I could've killed him!

I think I have just too much on my plate taking 2 classes... but it's too late now. I'll just have to muddle my way through it all. Oh, and you know the worst thing about all of this? It's that I don't have time to do what I'm really passionate about and that is tinkering with my own finances! Geez. Smile

Thanks for letting me vent!

I love stores that allow returns!

January 19th, 2007 at 01:11 pm

Ok, I admit... I like shoes and purses. However, I rarely spend more than $20 for either at a time. So, I have a collection of cheap shoes and purses. Smile

At the beginning of the month, I had purchased a pair of shoes that were $50. I thought they were perfect. I got them home and waited a day or two and decided that was just too much money to spend on shoes. So, last night, I returned the shoes and got my $50 back... it felt good!

This is the reason I only shop at stores that have a good return policy. I tend to buy and return quite a bit --- you know, satisfy the urge to buy - look at it a day or two - then return the sucker and get your money back. And, YES, I keep all my receipts for everything I buy. I have receipts dating back to the year 2000!

maxed out Roth IRA contribution!

January 16th, 2007 at 10:04 am

I did it... just changed our systemmatic monthly contribution from $100 to $333.33 for both DH and myself to meet the $4k limit. We'll have to cut elsewhere for this to work, but we can do it. I will, however, count this additional $467 extra each month toward my original $500 per month savings goal I had established anyway... so it won't be so bad.

It's a LONG month!

January 15th, 2007 at 06:45 am

Now, this isn't a surprise anymore than Christmas is on Dec. 25 each year... we always get paid on Dec 20 and then our next paycheck doesn't come in until Jan 31... makes for a very long month! So although we are aware of the long gap in time between paychecks, it still hurts. We're only on Jan 15 and it stinks. Mostly I get bored because I've already done what I need to with our money (i.e. sending some to savings, paying off the car loan, etc.) and I can't do anymore until we get paid again. Oh, well...

car loan schedule confusion

January 12th, 2007 at 10:57 am

Ok, help me out here...I just put together my entire payment history for a certain car loan that we just paid off last year... I did this out of curiosity to see how much we saved in paying off the loan early...

background -
got a car loan in Oct 03 in the amount of $12,105.97 at 4.75%, with an projected interest total of $1,198.68 after 48months.

Paid off the car loan in Jul 06 (33 months later). I looked at all my payments throughout the time and the total I paid in interest is actually $1,054.48 which means I only saved $144.20 by paying off this loan 15 months early. How can the savings be that little? There were no prepayment penalties or anything like that. I just can't believe that we didn't save more money than that. The average interest charged each month amounted to about $32 so shouldn't I have saved around $32 x 15 months worth of interest (or $480)?

I might be confusing myself on this one!

Our retirement funds summary

January 10th, 2007 at 09:11 am

I keep statments forever... but just now took the time to actually compile them into a useful summary tool. We currently contribute our max of 6% to our employer's retirement system (which is matched at 7.14% of our pay) and just started our Roth IRAs with monthly additions of $100 each.

As of Dec 2006...

Employer retirement balance = $24,691
Rollover IRA = $8,528
Roth IRA = $423
Total DH retirement funds = $33,642

Employer retirement balance = $18,071
Rollover IRA = $22,952
Roth IRA = $423
Total ME retirement funds = $41,446

We each also have about $200 in a traditional IRA at our local bank but I usually don't count those as they are trivial amounts and we don't contribute to those any longer...

So, for a grand total of over $75k, I'm pretty happy with this at our ages being in our early 30's. This can be compared to 3 years ago as of Dec. 2003, our total for retirement only amounted to around $41k. That's basically saying that with contributions and earnings, we're putting in over $11k per year into our retirement... that's good, right?

I would really like to save more than this but right now, I'm putting any extra cash into paying off our last car loan, building our emergency fund, and paying for my grad school.

For those experts out there... let me know if you don't think this is actually a good amount that we have so far... what should our target be?

Snow - Snow - Snow!

January 10th, 2007 at 06:27 am

Love it! It started snowing about 11am yesterday and didn't stop until about 8pm or so. The kids got to go sledding and we had loads of fun. Of course, they get the day off from school today to enjoy it again... yippee for snow (we love snow).

Because I had to get sleds as we didn't have any, I had to spend $20 at WalMart and then another $4 to ship out an ebay package... not a bad spending day yesterday.

Finally! A no-spend day!

January 9th, 2007 at 05:59 am

Drum roll.... yes, finally... a No-Spend day in our household. These are far and in-between but yesterday, we spent... count them.... zero, nada, nothing! We ate leftovers for dinner and didn't go out shopping or anything.

Now I wonder... it will be interesting to see if we spend free-nilly for 7 days and then we chill on the 8th as a pattern... hummm.

7 day summary of spending - yuck!

January 8th, 2007 at 08:40 am

Ok, guys. Now, that's an eye opener... I have been tracking our spending for years now but not really down to the day - more for monthly budgeting... but for the first 7 days in 2007, we've spent out over $500 in stuff! No wonder we live paycheck to paycheck. I could justify that some were for groceries and doctor visits, etc, but bottom line picture is that we spend, spend, spend too easily...Sure, we have not accrued any debt in years, but our savings hasn't grown and this is exactly why. All our discretionary income goes out the door so quickly. Time to take 2 steps back and revisit how we can cut back on the unnecessary spending so that our savings can grow faster. What a wake up call!

School begins - New healthy initiative begins

January 5th, 2007 at 05:24 am

Ok, yesterday's spending recap is just with DH paying $20 copay at the doctor and then another $5 at a store for books.

I got my syllabus, schedules, etc. for my classes. I skimmed through them last night and we'll just have to see how things work out. I hope signing up for 2 classes wasn't a mistake - especially since one of those classes is a statistics type course - yuck.

I just saw the "Super Size Me" show that you all are talking about and I am seriously rethinking our lifestyle too. We are victim to too much processed foods in our family. Even if it's not eating physically at the fast food joints, it's feeding the kids nuggets from the freezer, etc. I spoke with DH about it this morning and we agree that we need to get our family in our better health. Baby steps - as with any major change - is needed so we are going to start with cutting out the sodas for us, the grownups, and cutting out the ketchup for the kids. I know this sounds trivial, but you'd be surprised by the amount of sodas we drink and the amount of ketchup the kids put on everything...Then once we overcome those vices, we'll start another step of getting to eating better and healthier foods.

Finally! The kids are going back to school.

January 3rd, 2007 at 04:40 pm

I love my kids and all, but I am so glad to see tomorrow come when they are back in school. They need the structure and I need the break. Isn't it strange to look forward to going back to work? But then again, I always knew that I could not be a SAHM - not that I wouldn't love it, but I don't think the kids would get much benefit out of it. I'm glad they are going to be in school again where they can get their minds working in different ways away from the Disney Channel.

Today's spending was just for lunch out with the kids. Oh, and DH did spend some money sending out packages from his ebay sales... all in all, lunch was $11 and post office of about $40. School for me starts on Friday and I'm getting anxious. I'm doing the distance education on-line thing and I have yet to see my classes listed under my profile. But, I'm told to wait it out and that it will be there... got my first textbook today - oh, what joy awaits me as I flip through it and see such exciting material (sarcasm thrown in here). I'm signed up for 2 classes and still working full-time ... hope all will work out.

Losing 10 lbs over dinner

January 2nd, 2007 at 07:27 pm

Well, for accountability purposes, I'm on here to report our spending for the day... not a pretty picture but anyway... had family offer to babysit the kids so DH and I went out shopping and to a nice dinner. Here's a recap:

DH dentist visit: $54
2 pairs of shoes for me: $84
1 pair of shoes for DH: $24
DVDs/CDs for DH: $35
Returned a couple of items: -$31 back
Dinner: $10

So, total for the day is about $176 (Eeek)! But we did use some gift cards and did return a few items so it could have been much worse. Most importantly, DH and I had a nice date night and enjoyed a very nice dinner. I might take one of my shoes back but am not sure just yet. It's so hard for me to find pumps that fit (I'm a size 5 or 5.5) so when I do see some, I tend to grab them up regardless of price. I have to dress nice for work and haven't had a decent pair of basic black pumps in years.

Tomorrow is a workday in which DH will be taking the kids to work with him... this means that we'll have to take them out to lunch to give them a break from the mundane - but it'll be fast food and shouldn't cost more than $12 or so. Hopefully, that will be all that we'll need to spend tomorrow - will report in then. I can't wait until the kids go back to school on Thurs... then we'll be back on our regular schedule. I like schedules. Smile

Oh, and over dinner, DH and I agreed to lose 10 pounds each by March. As incentives, he will not spend any of his saved money (for big purchases) until he loses his 10 lbs and I will not be able to get any concert souvenirs at the Josh Groban concert we are going to in March. Josh is my favorite artist and I snatched tickets to his March show when they came available. Now, if I want an overpriced gaudy concert t-shirt, I'll have to lose my 10 lbs first... wish us luck.

Beginning the New Year

January 2nd, 2007 at 08:24 am

Ok, I admit, I was a little sad to see 2006 end. 2006 was a great year for our family... I can only hope that 2007 will be just the same. I'm going to be more accountable to myself via my blog about our daily spending, so each day I'll try to recap the previous day's spending.

Jan 1 - spent about $10 for an iPod accessory for DH (alternative would've been $35+). He got the thing for Christmas and he loves it. So, $10 off in the starting gates for the New Year. I guess it could've been much worse. I did get a PineCone check in the mail for $5 so that helps to offset the $10 a bit.

We got our Jan pay back on Dec. 20 so Jan is always a long month for us without getting a paycheck (next one is Jan 31). We have our annual life insurance premiums due in Jan so that's about $750 out the door for the monthly budget. I can't wait until we get paid again! Christmas ate up a lot of our funds but we had a great Holiday so I can't complain. I was thinking that we haven't added to any kind of credit card debt in nearly 5+ years ... wow! We do charge most everything but have been able to pay that balance off each month - I think that's an accomplishment to note and to remind myself of every once in a while. Smile

I'm thinking about starting the $20 challenge like many of you have done for the New Year. I'm hesitant because I just don't know if I will be able to keep it up and I hate failure - so best to avoid the potential, if you know what I mean. I wish I could save money like Ima and maybe Monkey's idea of a cash basis is the way I should go. When you accumulate your money in the challenge, do you just have it sitting in a separate account? I would want to use any extra found money to pay down my remaining car loan which has a current balance of around $7500. It just seems like it might be a bit much to keep up with this and that... not that I mind as I'm consumed by our personal finance but just another thing to muddle all my spreadsheets. Will keep thinking about it, though.

Hope everyone's 2007 is starting up with a great financial bang. Here's to a great successful, paying down debt, building up savings year for all of us!!