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Archive for September, 2007

Grocery Goal

September 30th, 2007 at 02:45 pm

Okay, so what am I currently doing to keep myself from spending too much? I have little goals that I am pursuing.

Goal 1: Get my groceries under $200 per month.

This was easy when our out to eat budget was ridiculous, a little bit harder now that we limit the out to eat to a couple of times per month. Despite my being lazy, I and my dh have been learning to cook from scratch. And I mean, totally from scratch.

Sadly, this is so easy now that its kind of sad that we thought it would take too much time. Currently my dh is finding a bread recipe that we like so we can stop buying bread. We work together to make sure there are leftovers and recipes waiting for us when we get home because coming up with the idea while starving is usually what results in me saying let's eat out.

Step 2 was really comparing prices. I thought I had been doing this before, but making the conscious effort to try to only buy really good deals (on sale or bulk) and really examining what a good deal is what got me from $400 a month to $250 along with the cooking from scratch.

Good example, we occasionally like snacks so I decided to get pudding cups. Normally I would grab a pack of 4 at the 10 for $10 sale and think I was getting a deal. So wrong. I went looking for the bulk 24 pack, it was $5.77. So it still beat out the sales price and in my house, we will eventually go through the 24 pack. You do this with 10 items everytime you go and pretty soon the costs drop.

Step 3 of this goal is developing a price book. For the longest time I had this running in my head and thought that was enough. It isn't. I am still working on this one but look forward to when I have it up and working.

The really big thing about this goal, is not that it saves me a tremendous amount of money but that it keeps me from spending money on other things by keeping me entertained.

Every month I get to start over on this goal, whether or not I did good the month before so I never get disheartened. For me, that is huge because we have some pretty big debt goals and they take a long time.

My Current Budget and Outstanding Debts

September 29th, 2007 at 03:11 pm

Okay, here is the current view of my financial life.

My Income: $2000

My Budget:

Savings: $25
IRA: $50
Common Utilities: $40
Cell Phones (for 2): $84
Electricity: $110
Cable Internet: $62
Student Loan: $194
Netflix: $10
Bus Pass: $54
Groceries: $200
Extras: $200
Card 1: $500 (was 6.99 then they realized they weren't making any money so now 15.69, yuck. on ~$1500)
Card 2: $200 (11.24 on ~8500)
Card 3: $150 (11.28 on half/ 5.99 on other half ~6000)
Card 4: $100 (8.99 on ~2500)

So obviously, things changed on me. Since my 15.69 card will be paid off in December, I am not going to bother trying to replace them. They just changed the apr this month which is why Card 3 has 2 rates, instead of one. Also, 4k of this is from moving the friend out. I realized awhile back that my first budget wasn't agressive enough to deal with things that might crop up so, believe it or not, we have paid a lot of debt off even on my side of the equation.

His income: $1800

His Budget:

Rent: $700
Out to Eat: $250
Rest to credit cards. His last one is gone in December.

Come January his budget becomes, $700 to rent, $350 for miscellaneous expenses, and $800 to saving for house.

Mine switches in April, with the elimination of Card 1 and Card 4. That $600 will go to saving for a house.

I have done the calculations quite a bit and no matter which way you split it, if I want to get into a home next fall, my last two credit cards need to be paid off far less agressively. We have this lease through Feb 09 and we are going to be moving into a house of our own. Thanks to the recent fall out of the housing market, our range of $65-$100k buys a decent house close to downtown.

I know it costs interest on the credit cards to do it this way, but I am sick and tired of dealing with new landlords every 6 months to a year. Especially since each one gets progressively worse...

Oh, and what you aren't seeing in my dh's column is that he now has a 401(k) which is why his pay hasn't changed.

What is also not showing is my raise in late October and the fact that my husband has just been promoted. My raise will go straight to card 2 and 3 and his, well, we aren't sure what his will be so we will adjust when we have it. It will probably go straight to the housing fund.

My First Budget (from a year ago)

September 29th, 2007 at 02:41 pm

Obviously, something needed to be done. My dh's credit cards had the worst apr's so they had to go first.

My Income: $1800

My Budget:

Cell Phone (for 2): $80
Electricity: $80
Cable Internet/TV: $120
Student Loan: $205
Bus Pass: $54
Groceries & Extras: $600
Card 1: $300
Card 2: $150
Card 3: $400
Card 4: $0 (not due until a year later)

His Income: $1800

His Budget:

Rent and Common Utilities: $750
Out to Eat and Shopping Trips: $400
The rest to his 3 credit cards in order of apr.

As you can see, this is a cut but not a drastic one. It hurt at the time though. We had gotten used to doing what we wanted when we wanted.

However, this looks nothing like our current budget...

Pre-Budget Income and Expenses

September 29th, 2007 at 02:32 pm

Okay folks, here are my scary numbers. This was what I started with without realizing it had gotten this far out of hand.

Take home income for me: $1800

Bills for me:

Cell Phone(for 2): $82
Electricity: $80
Cable Internet/TV: $120
Groceries and Extras: $800
Student Loan: $205
Bus Pass: $54
Card 1: $200 (11.24apr on ~$9000)
Card 2: $150 (6.99apr fixed on ~$3000)
Card 3: $300 (11.28 apr on ~$6000)
Card 4: $0 (0%apr/0 payment until due, ~$2400)

As you can probably guess from payment size to balance size, I wasn't paying the minimum, I was paying more. Honestly, I have never just paid the minimum and would have sought debt counseling if I was.

Here is where the upset came in.

Takehome income for him: $1800

Bills:

Rent and common utilities: $750
Out to eat: $400-600
Shopping trips: $200-300
Card 1: min (12.9apr on ~$3000)
Card 2: min (11.99 apr on ~$4200)
Card 3: min (8.99 apr on ~$900)

I hadn't realized my dh had credit cards or was paying just the min. on them. Ouch. Needless to say, when I sat down to discuss finance with him and found these, I was a little shocked. I had thought I was taking what debt was needed and that then we would together pay it off after moving and everything. (By and by, I had been sitting him down so that we could do a budget to pay off the credit cards, I just hadn't realized how much we needed to pay off.)

This lead us to do our first budget...

Introduction

September 28th, 2007 at 08:46 pm

I suppose I should start with a little background.

I went to college for five years to get my bachelor's degree, survived on a job that paid 6k and met my husband while there. Knowing that the Michigan economy wasn't exactly hopping, we decided finally on moving to Denver, Colorado. The day after we both graduated, we were in a moving van on our way.

We have been out here for nearly three years now, both have decent paying jobs and we now need to pay for all the luxuries and necessities that we have acquired between now and then. I started trying to clean the mess up about a year ago and we are currently on track with our budget (I will be posting real numbers in the next post).

Our biggest set back so far was helping a lifelong friend of mine get herself started out here. She had been jobhunting for a year in Michigan with no luck but after having her out here for a month and a half, she is now employed, has a job in the field that she got her associates for and is living on her own.

We just finished this and it set us back 4k but it was worth every penny knowing that my friend can have a job outside of retail. Don't worry, she is on her own now though I have been teaching her about budgets.

The biggest challenge in our household is that I am the spender but my husband can't say no to me. So really, this is about me learning that I don't need everything that I want.

Especially since I had been teaching my husband some very bad spending habits and he was starting to pick them up.