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Archive for July, 2009

My sister's financial mess

July 22nd, 2009 at 06:56 am

I spoke with my sister the other day about her finances. She's a SAHM with two kids under 3 years old. Her husband works 45-50 hours a week just to make ends meet but they are barely getting by. He brings home NET around $420 a week or about $1,600 a month. Ok, do the math here... their house payment is $600 and their car payment is $650 each month. Yes, I wrote that correctly - $650 for one car payment!!! Her van broke down in the middle of the interstate while she had the two kids with her and her husband swore that she would never be stranded like that again... so he goes off and buys her a brand new van costing around $35,000!

nyway, that's $1,250 right off the bat just for house and car payment. Then add in about $400 in utilities, cell phones, cable, etc. There is absolutely no money left for food, gas, savings, emergencies, diapers (yes, the kids are still wearing diapers!). I don't know how much they have in credit card debt but I'm sure it's a scary number. Oh, and I didn't mention how far behind they are on all their bills so they spend probably a good $200 on late fees alone each month.

I asked my sister how they manage each month and she said that they just pay whatever is being in jeopardy of being turned off that month. So this month, it was the power bill. Next month it will be to pay on the van some. The next month, who knows?

It's a very sad situation. They are good people and aren't lazy by any means. However, they are stretched way too far and it's hard for them to catch up to even see where the break even point might be each month. My sis can't work right now as they can't afford child care, especially with her husband working very long hours. He has a good job but it takes him away from home quite a bit for days at a time. She did have a 401K and an IRA from when she did work but they cashed all that in about 4 years ago to avoid bankruptcy. He has no retirement savings at all. He is about 42 and she is 38.

I see the toll this takes on my sis and it bothers me not to be able to really help them. I give her a few hundred dollars here and there when I can but it hardly makes a dent into anything for them.

Our 'real' summer vacation plans...

July 21st, 2009 at 10:04 am

We had taken a mini-vacation a few weeks ago over the 4th Holiday. Now, it's onward to our real summer vacation that we'll be taking in NC beginning next week...

Day 1: Carowinds (amusement park)
Day 2: Great Wolf Lodge (water park)
Day 3: Great Wolf Lodge
Day 4: Camping (just bought a great tent on sale!)
Day 5: Explore the NC Outer Banks
Day 6: Outer Banks
Day 7: Outer Banks
Day 8: Outer Banks
Day 9: Return Home

We've budgeted $2,500 for the 8 days. We've been to Carowinds but as for the rest of the activities, even camping, it will all be new to us so it should be fun!

Signed up on Facebook

July 16th, 2009 at 05:54 am

Well, I did it. A couple of days ago, I signed up on Facebook and it's been fun. I've "connected" with several folks that I went to high school with. I found one girl that is now a fairly successful model. She's done a lot of print work and has been in a few commercials and a movie. I NEVER in a million years would've pegged her as becoming a model!! Interesting how life turns out sometimes.

Back on finances, July is the month that my raise goes into affect (we get paid on the last day of each month). That gives us an extra $550 after taxes more a month or over $6,500 more NET each year. Yea! It'll be a welcome addition to our net cash flow each month.

Our house is still sitting here stagnant. We've just found out that a house in our neighborhood (which was rented and not on the market) was sold a month or two ago for just $305,000. We've got our house listed for $349,000. This is not good at all. Of course, our house is bigger, nicer, and all that jazz but yikes. Our contract with the realtor runs out Aug 31. We've decided that if the house doesn't sell by then, we'll just take it off the market until next Spring. It's not like we have to sell and I'm not sure I want to just give it away either. I just hate that I won't be able to buy that house I posted earlier... Frown But, if things don't work out, it's not the end of the world. We are just fine where we are, both have really good stable jobs, and luckily are not caught in a dire financial situation like many are in today's economy.

vacation update

July 7th, 2009 at 08:54 am

So, we decided to stay local for our 4th of July vacation.

Friday, July 3: We went canoeing for 10 miles - took 5 hours, stopped for a picnic and had an overall great time.

Saturday, July 4: Spent the entire day with family at cousin's house - cookout, fireworks, etc. Cousin has a great pool so the kids got to swim which was fun.

Sunday, July 5: Went to local amusement park. Kids had a blast.

Cost of 3 days =
$47 canoe rental
$10 food purchased for cookout
$15 fireworks purchased for cookout

$72 Total

The amusement park tickets cost $50 but I paid for them last year at a local charity auction (got them for 1/2 off regular prices).

All in all, a great and cheap vacation!

Now, I'm in the mood to go camping. There was a campsite on the river where we pulled off for our picnic and that gave me the bug for trying our hand at tent camping this summer. I'll have to go and buy all the gear, i.e. tents, sleeping bags, etc. so it might be a bit costly but I think the kids would enjoy it. There are so many great places to camp where we live and it would be a shame for our kids not to experience camping while they are young... I hope to go within the next few weeks so I'll keep you updated. Smile

last minute change in plans

July 2nd, 2009 at 09:04 am

We decided to nix the Busch Gardens trip for the 4th. It would've cost around $1500 for us to spend 3 days there -- just didn't seem worth it. Instead we decided to take our kids canoeing tomorrow for the first time. The oldest DD has wanted to go forever so we decided to go for it. The river is just 30 minutes away and for a 10 mile adventure lasting about 5 hours, it only costs $47 for all 4 of us to go! I'll pack a picnic and we'll stop on the river to have lunch - it'll be great! We'll then spend Sat the 4th with my cousin who is hosting a cook out for our extended family - yea, no cooking or mess I need to deal with! Then Sunday we'll go to our local amusement park, of which I got tickets at 50% off last year at an auction. So, all said and done, we've reduced our expenses for the weekend by a truck load and we'll still have a great time staying local.