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Archive for October, 2007

$20 Limit for Christmas

October 31st, 2007 at 11:23 am

So my dh has agreed that we will use my bonus, whatever it is, for Christmas. We are also going to limit the price tag on gifts in our house to $20 so we can have multiple things under the tree. I expect that dh will fudge a little but at least this way I know he won't buy me a $200 item.

Personally I think I have gotten enough toys lately that I should not be allowed to get Christmas gifts but then my dh wouldn't have any fun (or even listen to limits because he would just go spend what he wanted on me).

I actually think the $20 limit will be fun because we will have to figure out ways of getting lots of stuff for each other without spending lots of money on each item.

Raise Time and other items

October 30th, 2007 at 10:05 am

So I have been waiting to find out the size of my raise and my boss gave it to me today. It will mean almost $200 extra per month (take home) which is nice. That will help me eliminate some of my debts a little quicker and then go straight to the downpayment for a house.

I may have to use some of that though to replace my mp3 player that I broke. Something about bouncing off a marble floor while shutting down is just not healthy for it (I have only dropped this one 3 or 4 times *sigh*). Have I mentioned I am clutzy? I will have to price shop for a little while to see what I can find. They are definitely worth it despite the fact that I kill them within a year from the constant dropping on concrete.

Saved $7

October 23rd, 2007 at 07:10 am

Okay, so I know compared to some of you superstars, that's not a lot, but it is going to add up overtime.

We went out to eat last night at McDonalds and we normally spend about $12 but we had a buy one get one free for a sandwich so we did a large fry and water with them.

I did the math and was shocked to discover that combo meals aren't deals anymore. Take for example the big mac meal. On their own the big mac costs $2.89 and the med fry $1.00. Back when I worked at McDonalds, add another $0.20 to that and you got the price of a combo. Now you have to add another $1.00 for that to get a combo so the pop is no longer practically free!

Even without the coupon, it would be much cheaper for us to do 2 sandwiches and a large fry ($1.80) with waters than to do 2 combo meals.

So even though the coupon only officially saved us $3, it did save us a lot more just realizing that little fact.

Now I will have to check out Burger King's pricing since that is basically the only other fast food place we hit.

Painful month for the budget

October 22nd, 2007 at 02:46 pm

I have decided that having two weekend plans and suddenly having a social life all in the same month is very painful for my budget.

Its been at least a year since I needed money transferred to my account so that I wasn't skating towards the edge of overdrafting but today I had to transfer money from my savings account to my checking to make myself comfortable. I don't consider $2 sufficient funds in case something unaccounted for is cashed against my account. Yuck.

Mind you I have a couple hundred sitting in my account but there is a potential 2-day gap between when most of that goes to bills and I get paid again. I suppose I could have let up on my debt payments since they are fairly aggressive but I honestly prefer transferring $25 from my saving account (which pays almost no interest and exists solely for months like this) than slow down the debt repayment. Still feel like an idiot though...

Whoops, so much for that goal...

October 18th, 2007 at 01:25 pm

Well, just grabbed breakfast and lunch from downstairs. *Sigh* I now need to do 13 more days without eating out but I only made it through 5 this time...

Its a good thing I always have reserve money for when (not if) I blow through my out to eat lunch budget.

As a result of my willpower (or lack thereof), I am going to add a couple of things to my grocery shopping list come November in an attempt to cut out the constant out to eat lunch issue. Its definitely certain items that I am getting from downstairs and I am sure I can make them cheaper and/or buy them cheaper at the grocery store.

Entertainment Book update

October 18th, 2007 at 07:02 am

So I just got my entertainment book. It has $20 worth of coupons for the store I shop at so I will be able to use those and some of the restaurants we go to as well. My dh was really impressed on how useful it will be.

In the first two weeks of next month, we will probably have $30 of savings right off the bat so I am feeling pretty good about the purchase.

In other news, my dh will be getting about 12 hours of overtime this weekend which should pay for boarding our puppy at the vets for our Thanksgiving trip and pay for his kennel cough vaccine (which you have to get every 6 months, yeck).

Oh, and I am on day 5 of 18 with no out to eat. Course the weekends are my greatest threat but so far so good.

Making Bread

October 17th, 2007 at 08:21 am

So something for those learning how to cook from scratch to laugh at.

I have been teaching my husband how to cook but there are a couple of things neither of us have ever done so we have to experiment a lot to get it right.

The latest experiment was bread. It flopped bad. We weren't sure why at first, especially since we had no problem with whole wheat pitas but after a little research, I finally figured it out. When we make our pastry crust its very specific, the less you handle it the better. My husband had thought that applied to bread as well. Oops.

On a sad note, to get around our incompetence on this issue, we were attempting to use our breadmaker (never before used) to make bread while we researched what was going wrong with his attempts.

Our breadmaker unfortunately is DOA. The mixer part has croaked at some point. *Sigh* Oh well, it was a Sunbeam one so its to be expected. But at least we know now how to make bread!!

So tonight, we are so going to have fresh bread. Yum!

What's Your Vice?

October 16th, 2007 at 12:35 pm

Anyone who has read my blog probably knows that I have an insane attachment to eating out that I have been slowly cutting down. I don't even know why I have to do it so much since I am a good cook and my food is usually better than anything I can buy at a restaurant.

So the question is, do you have a vice that is spending more of your money than you want it to? And why do you think that is?

I am not talking about the things you do for yourself that you love and could never give up. I am talking about things that are keeping you from acheiving greater financial success with no real reward.

Grocery and Lunch Update

October 15th, 2007 at 03:38 pm

Currently for this month I am at $180 for groceries and paper products and at $90 for out to eat lunches. The goal is $200 for groceries and $100 for out to eat lunches.

As you can see, I need to be very very good for the next two and a half weeks.

The good news is that the groceries are pretty good. The reason its so high so fast is I did some stocking up using sales.

The bad news is $10 for lunches means only 1 more meal and that is going to be an extreme test of my will power.

So new goal, no eating out for 2 1/2 weeks. We don't need to spend dh's money either so if I can do this, we will be set for the month.

Its sad that I think of this as a major test of my willpower. Most people go this long all the time...

Weekend Aftermath

October 15th, 2007 at 08:16 am

Well, got to say. I thought the cost would be worse but we definitely need to behave for the rest of the month.

We did the Royal Gorge Railroad gourmet lunch and it was fantastic. Definitely an awesome experience. Then we went to Garden of the Gods on our way back to Denver (free entry so this didn't cost anything).

We ate out supper at a fairly reasonably priced place and then went and played pool at a pool hall until the wee hours of the morning.

Sunday we went to a friend's house and saw her babies and her for a little bit.

Total damage as of this weekend was under $200 with rental car and gas for driving all over. So overall, not too bad for what we did.

The real trick will be behaving for the next 2 1/2 weeks which is what we need to do in order not to go over our budget.

Next weekend we are definitely staying home except for the couple hours where dh is going to work overtime. I need time to cook, lol.

Cancelling Plans

October 12th, 2007 at 12:49 pm

This weekend was supposed to be crazy due to multiple planned events. Fortunately for me and unfortunately for my dh and my friend, 2 of the 4 planned events were cancelled due to other people backing out at the last minute.

Of course one of these things had the potential to be a really expensive dinner but I am not sure how much we will save since our friend will probably still want to do something. We should still come out ahead though.

New Money

October 11th, 2007 at 08:21 am

So my dh's promotion is slowly being figured out. Its currently looking like no increase in base pay but there will be a bonus come December. The other processors figure that he is guaranteed at least 1500 and maybe even as high as 3000. Either way, we are going to use whatever he gets to eliminate one of my credit cards so I can begin saving my share of the house down payment (all his credit cards will be gone by then)and to pay any tax that is due this year.

I won't know about my raise until I get my paycheck on the 31st of this month. Our office administrator is out on maternity leave so its the paycheck that will tell me instead of her. :P

Will be nice when this all comes through so that we can actually plan around it.

Crunch Time

October 9th, 2007 at 03:30 pm

So because this month has had a lot of expenses in it, I am going to have $65 to last me the rest of the month. Fortunately that only has to buy groceries and any out to eat lunches (aka there will be no more of those this month).

Main reason I am this poor is because I am trying to double pay some of my bills that keep moving too close to being on the wrong paycheck. I have a community utility bill that must be mailed in that went from the 9th to the 6th and now to the 3rd and I would prefer to have it post on the last paycheck of the month rather than the first of the month.

The other reason I am this poor is because we have two big spending weekends this month and while I saved for them, my friend decided to add on the additional expense of a fancy restaurant on top of everything I am already doing (her birthday party).

The good news is the pantry is stocked, we can afford to experiment with different dishes because we have plenty of ingredients and there is nothing to spend money on beyond this weekend.

The bad news is that I am worried that two and a half weeks of not eating out will kill me. :P Especially since next month I want to switch to only spending $100 instead of $250 of my dh's money on out to eat.

Going out to eat is sort of an addiction for me. I need to break that habit. I have gotten better (we used to use $400 of my dh's money for out to eat) but I really need to still cut back. Especially since that doesn't count the $100 I spend on out to eat food...

*Takes a deep breath and begins to chant under her breath, I think I can, I think I can...*

Friends B-Day Celebration 2

October 8th, 2007 at 07:50 pm

Okay, so I panicked for no reason. My friend has made sure everyone knows that they are going dutch and that they understand the price of the place.

Its a little weird for me to assume she would let people know these things because she didn't use to be so responsible. She has definitely gotten a better head on her shoulders since nearly going through bankruptcy.

We even set up a budget for her tonight that includes saving and retirement in it as well as mad money. She was really excited when she realized that she could get stuff and still accumulate savings and pay off debts. I gave her the excel spreadsheet so that she can play with the numbers and see what she can do with it.

Feeling a lot better now if a bit sheepish for assuming she was still my old friend who nearly ended up in bankruptcy court because of a clothing obsession. That was a mere year and a half ago.

Friend's B-day Celebration

October 8th, 2007 at 03:37 pm

Blah! My friend wants to go to Benihana's this weekend for her B-day. I am less than enthused as what I have heard about this place is less than complimentary and its expensive. I don't mind things being expensive if they are good as well but when I pay a fortune for nothing, I tend to feel cheated.

I am also a little concerned that she is having some college attending friends coming and I am wondering how they are going to like the price tag. All the people she has invited are new acquaintances because she just moved out here. She can't afford to pick up the entire check and I would prefer not to pick up the entire check for the party. I am really hoping that she made it clear that everyone is going dutch...

*Sigh* I feel really cheap saying all that but I have already spent alot of money on this friend (over 4k) and I really see this party going wrong. 10 people at $20+ for just the entree can add up very quickly. As it is, going dutch at this dinner will most likely mean dh and I don't get to eat out the rest of the month and still exceed where we want to be. I am already paying for a railroad luncheon trip for her and us that same weekend which is $70 per ticket...

Oh, by and by, this is the friend who almost had to file bankruptcy. Are you surprised?

This Weekend

October 8th, 2007 at 07:51 am

Well, I went to the Pumpkin Harvest Festival and had fun. I only spent $45 of the $100 I had saved out for it so I was quite happy.

However, my friend had one of her new friends show up at it and we ended up being kidnapped for the day and half the night. Between dinner, coffee and a couple hours of pool, we went through another $30. It was fun and I had already saved out the money but it was a very long day.

That said, I now have an extra $20+ to add back into my budget to defray the expenses of next weekend's plans.

My friend is asking for budgeting lessons!!

October 5th, 2007 at 02:36 pm

Okay, so very happy. My friend who was near bankruptcy not too long ago and who we helped to move out here so she could find a job (which she did) has requested that I teach her how to budget!

Not that I am expert or anything. After all, it wasn't the imaginary fairy who ran up my credit cards, but its nice to know that she is going to make a real effort to get things straightened out. She has been doing pretty good so far but needs to understand what this magic "budget" thing is.

I think seeing how our finances work and how that let us afford to bring her out to Denver and support the entire moving experience really made her realize that a budget helps you afford the things you really care about. I set her up initially on a "if everything goes wrong budget, this is what you need." Being able to know her basic numbers like that really helped her not to freak out when initially starting her job.

Whenever her father said it was time for a budget, he meant that the entire family needed to buy nothing to pay for his financial mistakes. Needless to say, mine was the first budget she ever glimpsed that wasn't about deprivation, its about being in control.

So this weekend sometime I am going to teach my husband and my friend the basics of budgeting and where to find additional information. The reason I am also teaching my husband is because he doesn't have any experience with a budget and all he pays is the rent. Thats a big bill but if something happened to me, he would be in a little bit of trouble trying to figure out what to do.

Oh, and I am going to attempt to set both of them on goal savings because they both like to buy things for other people and that will be the only way they won't blow everything. Its weird and I don't get it. Why do people equate giving gifts with showing affection for people? You don't have to buy someone something for them to feel loved.

Entertainment Book

October 5th, 2007 at 09:02 am

So recently I decided that I am all about experimenting to see if there are additional ways to save money. I had been looking at the Entertainment Book for Denver but decided to wait until I was offered a better deal.

Well, my inbox account offered $8 to sign up for one and Entertainment Book offered a $25 restaurant.com certificate. The book with shipping is $31. I figured if there is any time to try it, now is the time.

I was a little worried the restaurant certificate wouldn't be for a decent restaurant but I did get it for one that my dh and I had been planning to try, The Fresh Fish Company.

Now I get to wait and see if the coupons are as good as they promised. So I figure that once I can actually redeem things, I will track that while subtracting any money that I have to spend to use the coupon beyond what we would have spent.

My IRA

October 4th, 2007 at 07:00 am

I have been so good with my budget lately that I finally feel comfortable switching my monthly contribution to my IRA from $50 to $100. I had only had the IRA going for 2 months now but the $50 was my way of leveraging in.

I am one of those weird people that have to gradually take money away from myself. Its why I would never consider having a joint account with my dh, I spend what I have and that would be asking too much of me. Forced savings, as a result, work really well for me.

The $100 monthly IRA contribution is my reward for doing well. I like to watch the money go up. I had a 401(k) at my college job and I literally watched it go down for the next two years. I learned my lesson from that, conservative just means you can never make up what you lose. :P

This new one is in T. Rowe Price's Retirement 2050 Fund and once I have a couple k in there, I will probably add an international index fund to add a little more diversity. All in all very happy with this one and its historical profile. Its also nice that the $10 per year fee goes away after you reach $4k which should be sometime next year...

Husband's Promotion

October 3rd, 2007 at 06:16 pm

So a year and a half ago, my dh's company was going to promote him to a processor position. Then the layoffs came and he survived them but was never promoted. He's been looking for jobs since but the market is flooded with all these people out of work thanks to the bubble burst in the housing market.

I suspect that they figured out that he was jobhunting and instead of laying him off at the next layoff, they decided to finally move him into the processor position. (He does have the best numbers in the company for his position.)Starting next Monday he is training his temporary replacement (who is a temp worker) and starting Wednesday he will be getting trained in his new position.

I say temporary because they are talking of having him in the new position for only 4th quarter but who knows with this wacky company, especially since everyone expects layoffs in January...

Pumpkin Harvest Festival!!

October 3rd, 2007 at 12:54 pm

Okay, I am a dork. I really don't mind. I love everything to do with fall and this Saturday, my dh, a friend and I are all going to a pumpkin harvest festival.

Its free admission to the 12 acre park and they have rides, activities and food.

I am really looking forward to harvesting pumpkins and exploring the historic park.

On a financial note, I have saved out about $100 which should more than cover all the various expenses and then some. Now I just need to go get it out of my account so that I have it for the big day. (Cash is a rarity for me because I can spend it like no other. Hence, I only allow myself to use my debit card.) It feels good knowing that I can splurge as much as I want because this money was already saved out.

Feeling better about myself.

October 2nd, 2007 at 07:59 am

So my husband and I were discussing finances last night because I get impatient about how long it takes to pay debt off and so have to give myself pep talks. I also wanted to make sure that we were actually making progress and not back sliding at all.

So you want to hear the scary number? My husband and I in the past year have paid off more than 14k in debt. And at the start of that year we weren't being extremely frugal. Every time an unexpected (or unplanned for) expense has come up, I have just had us tighten our belts because I was afraid we wouldn't stay on track otherwise.

I really thought it would be a lot less. I mean we have taken a couple of trips, I have bought lots of electronic toys, and I can assure you our personal collection of books and cd's have grown dramatically. We are not the poster children for frugal by any stretch of the imagination.

This past year was all about gradually learning to make do with less so that we didn't feel deprived. I am actually kind of excited now to see what another year of this brings! I mean, if we could pay off that much while still learning how not to spend, I can just imagine how well we could do now.

As the title suggests, I am feeling much better about myself now.