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Archive for December, 2007

Daily Spending and Saving--12/31/07

January 1st, 2008 at 12:10 am

Spending: $35.26 (DH's work lunch and splurge on evening pizza)
Saving: $1.74


The Millionaire Next Door

December 31st, 2007 at 03:30 pm

I've been re-reading this book to refresh my memory and give myself a little encouragement and push. I have Millionaire Women Next Door, too, and I'll be starting on that next.

So the formula to see if you are a PAW (prodigious accumulator of wealth), AAW (average accumulator of wealth), or UAW (under accumulator of wealth) is this:

Multiply your age times your realized pretax annual household income from all sources except inheritances. Divide by 10. This, less any inherited wealth is what your net worth should be.

They also say that you are a PAW if your net worth is twice the amount of wealth expected. And you are a UAW if your net worth is half or less than the amount of wealth expected.

I used DH's age since he is the one bringing in the money and older by 9 years. Our net worth should be $226,600. Half of that is $113,300 so according to the book we are not quite UAWs, but pretty close. Yet I know we can do better.

I figured that if we paid off everything except for the mortgage we still wouldn't be there, but we would be a lot closer at about a net worth of over $195,000 or so. But it is still very eye-opening and I can see us doing very well in the next 5 years if we keep our debt low and continue living below our means.

Daily Spending and Saving--12/30/07

December 30th, 2007 at 06:55 pm

I went to the grocery store to pick up some things we were short on. We were really short on a lot of things!

Spent: $50.12

Saved (round up fund): $0.88

Daily Spending and Saving--12/29/07

December 30th, 2007 at 04:37 am

Today was a no spend day. So nothing spent or saved.

I did find out that the customary $2 increase in my VA benefits have gone through. So I made the correction to my automatic transfer into the online savings account (#2).

Surprise Gift Cards!

December 29th, 2007 at 05:27 am

I was organizing all the sites I go through for surveys and paid e-mails; switching my e-mail address, updating profiles, bookmarking the sites to my main computer, et cetera.

As I was doing this I found $21.00 earned on Testspin and 12,600 points on Epoll!

Testspin only gives out Amazon.com gift certificates for now (they are working on paypal and checks) so I ordered two $10 gift certificates.

Epoll only gives gift certificates, but you have more choices. Since I just got the other gift certificates I opted for a $20 Amazon.com gift certificate.

I noticed I am getting close on a couple of other sites to get some sort of payout, too. Any cash I get will go towards my debt. Any with gift cards only I'll use to either offset expenses (like gas or fast food for DH) or as a treat for the family.

Daily Spending and Saving--12/28/07

December 28th, 2007 at 10:31 pm

DH only spent money on lunch today.

Spending: $5.13

Savings (round up): $0.87


Creative Bill Paying

December 28th, 2007 at 04:22 pm

I feel really good when I've successfully figured out some creative way to pay the bills in a tight situation without missing any payment dates or foregoing extra payments.

January is a big payment and paycheck month for us. It is one of two months during the year where DH gets paid three times. It is also the month our auto insurance is due.

The problem is that the bills are not coinciding with the three paychecks so that this month really doesn't help until the last day of January when he gets the third paycheck. By then all the bills have already become due.

So my plan is:

1) skip the 1st transfer of $460 that gets put into savings #1 for mortgage. (the payment for January is already there and this is for February's payment)

2) add 1st transfer of $460 to last $460 transfer so total transferred is $920 (1/31/2008).

3) only pay minimum of $96 on credit card at due date (1/7/08).

4) pay $737.30 (6 months--2 vehicles) auto insurance with Heloc funds at due date (1-19-07).

5) pay $125.59 additional funds to credit card on last payday of month (1/31/08).

6) pay additional $737.30 for total of $1037.30 on Heloc at February due date (2/15/08).

In between all this is also the truck loan, cell phones, medical bill, and Heloc payment due from the first paycheck; satellite, electric, internet/phone, water/sewer/garbage due from the second paycheck. The last paycheck will cover #2 and #5 from above plus truck loan, cc payment, cell phones from February. The last check also leaves us a surplus, which starts us out snowballing what's available for the rest of the year. I've done some figuring and it's rather nice. Smile


Daily Spending and Saving--12/27/07

December 27th, 2007 at 11:00 pm

Today was a kind of high spending day.

DH spending:
breakfast and lunch: $7.74
gasoline: $55.00
cigarettes: $3.70 (I am so trying to get him to quit, but it is hard for him)

DH saving: $1.56

my spending:
Will forms (state specific) for me and DH w/living will: $35.00

my saving: $1.00

Total spending today: $101.44
Total saving (round up fund): $2.56

My non-resolution year

December 27th, 2007 at 05:23 pm

I really dislike New Year's Resolutions. The goals are always too broad and mostly unattainable. They make you feel like you have to do it or else. And they sound too concrete and unchangeable.

Goals should be more specific. They should be broken up into little parts to make them attainable. They should be reviewed and tweaked throughout the year based on those "little things" that pop up in your life and totally ruin or improve your progress.

So I'm not working on my resolutions. Instead I'm taking the opportunity to work on improving and updating my on-going goals for a better life.

Do I want to be debt free? Of course I do! But I'm not going to do it this year. I'm also not going to fully fund my emergency fund. I don't want to make my goals too tough that I just give up, but I also don't want to make them too easy either. I want them to be reasonable.

So my on-going goal updates for 2008 are (and will be changed as needed to be able to meet and hopefully sometimes exceed my goals):

1) I would like to reduce my credit card balance at least in half. Last year I would have said I'd pay it all off, but I knew we were getting a large tax refund and DH was getting a pretty good bonus. For 2007 we tried to reduce how much was taken out of DH's checks so we are expecting a much lower refund (hopefully not much at all if we calculated right, but DH did change jobs and that may have messed it up a bit). Also we are not sure how much DH will get for a bonus this February since he just started in August. If the tax refund and DH's bonus are higher than I expect then I'll adjust the goal accordingly.

2) I would like to increase our online EF (savings #2) by another $1620. Again I hope for more and it probably will be with interest added in, but all I need is one emergency and that goal would be shot! I will adjust through the year if I see we can do more.

3) My last goal is also part of my 2008 Financial To-Do's list in my sidebar. I want to work on a menu plan and grocery list, which should at least help in the area of high grocery bills. We seem to spend between $250-$520 each month, but it varies usually staying around the $300-$400 range. I think a lot of it gets wasted and I can bring that amount down. I also think making a better menu/grocery plan will help cut down on dining out, though we don't really do that as much as we used to. So I'm going to try to work on some sort of plan for at least dinners to start with since that is when we are all home together and tend to have our "big meal".

Those are my on-going goals. I have other goals that are not financial that I've been working on as well. I've tweaked them here and there as needed, too. I think it's great to have goals and something to work on, but people put too much emphasis on only making broad ones at the beginning of each year, which end up only lasting for a couple of months.

Daily Spending and Saving--12/26/07

December 26th, 2007 at 11:53 pm

Today I didn't spend anything. I just spent the day relaxing and sometimes sleeping, sometimes playing referee with the boys.

DH spent his normal daily expenses today plus he got me a little get well soon gift (a bear that says get well soon and some little beaded stretch bracelet...awww how sweet!).

So today was a no gas day so that keeps expenses down a bit.

Spent: $12.69 (includes gift, morning OJ, and lunch)
Saved: $1.31 (into round up fund)

My Amazon.com Order

December 26th, 2007 at 11:46 pm

I used my $100 in Amazon.com gift certificates from Christmas today. I was able to pick up:

6 books: 2 cooking books, 2 fiction books, 1 real estate investing book, 1 book on writing

3 CD's: The latest CD's from Avril Lavigne, Maroon 5, and Kelly Clarkson

1 ring: sterling silver celtic knot with a rainbow moonstone

It took me some time last night and this morning to figure out the deals and what I wanted. I always like to see how many good deals I can find. This year's deals weren't as good as last year's, but they weren't bad either.

Plus this year I opted for the ring. I don't usually wear a lot of jewelry. I bought the ring I wear as my wedding ring earlier this year when my old band didn't fit anymore. It's a sterling silver with a small emerald. I've always wanted a nice chunky moonstone necklace, but I saw the moonstone ring and liked it a lot for my other hand.

Oh and I forgot that I ordered some stuff before Christmas with points I earned on my credit card. I ordered some headphones for DH and myself (I previously ordered 2 for my boys and liked them a lot) and I ordered a small bookcase for my room. The same bookcase on my Amazon.com wishlist is $49.99. To me using the points is a better deal!

Christmas

December 26th, 2007 at 04:50 pm

Christmas went off without a hitch this year. OK, we had one small hitch. A whole package of hoagie rolls were getting moldy. I just bought them Friday! So I looked at the date and noticed they were expired before I bought them! I am so going to complain! I no longer have the receipt, but I'll probably write a nice letter to the company. Their delivery people are supposed to remove old bread before they put the new stuff on the shelves.

So other than that it all went smoothly. Out of everything I only charged about $20 in all and the rest was paid out of pocket. This is the first year I didn't charge everything up! I actually had the money to spend for Christmas. Well, that and we put spending limits on what we were going to buy. I made gift baskets (4 of them) for each couple. Each one cost about $35, which includes the basket and a gift card. For each of our boys we set the limit at $100 each knowing they will get spoiled from everyone else anyway, which they did. Though I must of done something right because my youngest was just as thrilled opening a present with clothes as he was the ones with toys.

We bought way too much food, but that too is alright. We now have extra for ourselves, which not having to go shopping again for a while is always nice.

Everyone else spent way too much! I wish they wouldn't, but they know what they can and cannot spend. Plus they don't have children (we are the only ones which is why they always get spoiled). You know how children can make money disappear quickly! My boys received way too many toys, but they are keeping pretty quiet today so that helps me out. My parents gave us a refurbished KitchenAid mixer. I love those things! Now I have to start making bread and stuff. Anyone have any good recipes? DH is Italian (born and raised) and he loves a good fresh bread with his meals. So do I.

We also received a bunch of gift cards. My parents gave us $50 worth for Darden Concepts, which can be used at Red Lobster, Olive Garden, or Smokey Bones (and some other restaurant I've never heard of before). I also got two $50 Amazon.com gift certificates. So did my DH. We usually get them at Christmas and I'll use them for things I wanted throughout the year, but wouldn't buy usually. Like I'll update my music CD collection, maybe some books I wouldn't buy usually unless I find them for $0.25 or less. DH also had some from work. Instead of a Christmas ham, he got to choose $65 in gift cards. He got $40 gift card from Amazon.com before Christmas, but they were out for the other $25. I told him to try again after Christmas to see if they got more or he can add it to our restaurant gift cards.

The only other thing is that I've been sick. I was feeling alright when we had everyone here, but later last night I was feeling worse and this morning I was all congested. I'm feeling better now that I've been up for a while. Hopefully it will go away soon.

Oh and Christmas Day was a no spend day! Smile

Check Received

December 24th, 2007 at 10:35 pm

What a nice surprise! I just received a check in the mail from our homeowner's insurance company for a $22.34 overpayment. That's a $22.34 reduction in my credit card balance!

Daily Spending and Saving--12/24/07

December 24th, 2007 at 06:52 pm

Today I went to Publix to buy the remainder of the food needed for tomorrow. Including us there will be 8 adults and 2 children. We're doing appetizers, subs, side salads, et cetera. So today I got the produce, deli meats, and cheese along with a few items I forgot during the last trip.

Spent: $87.08
Saved (Round up fund): $0.92

Saved in advertised store savings: $3.57 (I don't usually do anything with this, but when I do my regular grocery shopping I like to see how much I would have paid if I didn't shop smart.)

Gasoline Expenses

December 24th, 2007 at 03:46 pm

Other than groceries, this is our most expensive expense. The rising gas prices have really put a crimp in our budget, but we've absorbed it and hopefully it will even out at some point (*crosses fingers).

Here are our gasoline expenses for the year 2007--may 2008 be cheaper:

Jan 2007: $403.91
Feb 2007: $357.68
Mar 2007: $375.32
Apr 2007: $477.23
May 2007: $530.63
Jun 2007: $321.40
Jul 2007: $81.58 (when DH was out of work)
Aug 2007: $449.57
Sep 2007: $507.77
Oct 2007: $608.95
Nov 2007: $601.38
Dec 2007: $475.71 (so far as of today...I'd say add another $55 to that at least for another tank of gas...thank goodness for days off from work!).

Saving Money

December 24th, 2007 at 02:47 pm

So how do I find ways to save money? There are several actually.

1) I got an online high interest savings account with FNBO (savings #2). They originally had a promotion with a 6% interest rate. They have since reduced it to 5.05%, but still that is very good! I am very happy with them. I am now using this account to rebuild up our emergency fund. My original savings account (savings #1) is only used to pay the automatic mortgage payments.

2) I have been rounding up all my purchases to the next dollar. I use Quicken to keep track of my spending and with it you can set up new accounts. I've set up one called "Round up from Checking", which is where I transfer this round up money every purchase. At the end of each month I transfer what is in it to my online savings account.

3) I receive a disability check every month from the VA for my military injuries. This is tax-free money so that gets transferred now into my new online savings account every month also. It isn't much (darn red tape Frown ), but it adds up each month. I had it going into my savings #1, but I don't like when I get lazy and fall back on it as part of my mortgage payment...so out it goes every month to earn some interest!

4) I joined MyPoints, Lightspeed Panel, Opinions Outpost, et cetera. I have received a couple of small checks from the last one already. I don't have as much time as I'd like to make more. With the first two I am able to get gift cards. I usually get ones for gas or fast food places and give them to DH to offset some of his daily work/commuting costs (he travels 57 miles one way to work each day). It's not much but every little bit helps.

I cannot think of any more right now. I'm pretty sure there are more, but you know they get to be habit and then I take them for granted. I'll update if I think of any.

UPDATE: I remembered another thing I am starting to do to save/earn money.

5) I am starting a pile for yard sale stuff. I have a huge amount of stuff in my garage for a yard sale I plan on having in the spring. I also have put aside some items that I feel I can make more on through eBay. Unfortunately, I don't feel very comfortable selling on there. I've sold books and movies on Half.com (an eBay subsidiary), but larger and/or more fragile items I have a problem with. I may bring them to the eBay store and let them handle the sales and shipping after the holidays.

My Current Debt

December 24th, 2007 at 03:40 am

So here's a little rundown of my current debt. Now don't go cringing on me. I do enough of that as it is on my own...lol!

Credit Card:

owe:
$4,900.98 with fixed 7.9% rate

payment: the minimum payment is about $96, but I pay $195 per month towards it plus anything I may have charged depending on the reasons charged and when.

HELOC:

owe:
$44,580.77 with adjustable 7.25% rate (currently at 6.25% apr on last statement...yay!)

payment: the minimum payment varies but is usually under $300 so that is what I pay each month and the difference goes towards principal.

Truck Loan:

owe:
$9,524.39 with fixed 5.99% rate

payment: the payment on this is $232.76 I currently only pay the minimum, but would like to make additional payments as soon as the credit card is paid off.

Mortgage:

owe:
$111,553.01 with fixed 5.75% rate (originally $121,159 in Dec 2003)

payment: $707.06 plus taxes and insurance escrows = current payment of $920.01. This will hopefully be lowering in April due to a decrease in escrows.

Total DEBT: $170,559.15 (with mortgage); $59,006.14 (without mortgage).

Right now we are doing our best to pay what we have down plus regain the money we lost from our emergency fund when my husband was out of work for 5 1/2 weeks this past summer. Thank goodness we had it, but now we have to recoup it in case we need it again. That plus gas prices have decreased the amount of extra money we have available.

I see the credit card going down dramatically soon. I had to charge some textbooks (and some I paid cash for) and DH has been told he'll be getting a bonus in February though I don't know how much yet.

We've already decreased our expenses to the most we can go at this time without being totally cheap and deprived. So now it is just a matter of being patient and plugging away at the debt little by little while trying to not bring it up further.

Introduction

December 24th, 2007 at 02:27 am

Hello everyone! As I'm sure you've already read my "About Me" info over to the side, I'll just elaborate a bit more on it. OK, I'll ramble on for a huge amount of time--be prepared! LOL!

I've been a SAHM since August 2004. Actually my last day of work was the same day Hurricane Charlie came through (yes, I'm in Florida). I was working for a major mortgage company and had been there for 8 years. Prior to that I was in the Army, but was discharged after 1 1/2 years due to multiple injuries (long drawn out story that really isn't that exciting).

In between I was able to get in one year of college before getting married, committing myself to a full-time job, and having children. I was finally able to go back once I could become a SAHM. I began my second year of college at the beginning of 2006. It took a while to finish due to now having children around, but I finally graduated with my AA degree in Behavioral & Social Sciences this December 2007.

I will be continuing my degree with the University of Central Florida this January 2008. I'm majoring in Criminal Justice (BS), minoring in Psychology, and working on a certificate in Behavioral Forensics. I should be done in three years (December 2010).

While I am going to college I am racking up the student loans so I know I'll need to get rid of as much debt as possible before I graduate in December 2010 and they become due in June 2011. Even though I'm sure I'll be working again by the time they are due, I would really rather not have many other bills/debts with them. Debt is evil! LOL! But I really could justify getting what I needed for college if it means a better life in the future.

So that is me for now. I'll add another post to explain where I am starting out with my debt and how I plan on getting rid of it. Ta-ta!