Wednesday, February 29, 2012

February Financial Recap

It's the end of the month and payday for me.  Using has been an awesome way to track my spending! I do occasionally have to re-categorize some payments, but it's easy to do.  For a short month, February was sure full of extra money going out! I spent $974 more than January.  A lot of it was planned and in the budget, but it still feels like a big OUCH! to see it all layed out in a colored pie chart.

I spent $89 more on groceries/household supplies/takeout than in January.  Since I shopped for 2 weeks last Saturday, that would account for that extra amount, as normally I wouldn't have shopped for 2 weeks and the rest of what I spent would have come out of this pay period.  BUT, our take out expense category was even more ridiculous in February! $238 - for junk food! I'm really going to work this month on getting that down. I am proud of myself that since last Friday night (Thursday is always a take out dinner night) I have made dinner at home every night and plan to tonight again - and this is with feeling like crap most of the week. Tomorrow will be the only time in the past week we will have had take out and it should only be $11 for tomorrow, as I only get it for Dh.  The rest of us eat at home.  I did increase my budget for March's groceries/household supplies, though. Now that I'm tracking it I can see that I have been totally under budgeting what I actually spend each month. Even though I upped my budget last month, it was still not enough.  February's total for groceries/household supplies/take out was $1184.  I have got to figure out ways to get this down down down.  That is my goal for March - to figure out some way.  Drastic measures don't work on my family - especially with Dh.  He likes to eat and he likes specific brands, etc.

I spent $377 more on Auto category than a normal month.  $150 of this was due to paying extra on my car payment. I have no idea why I did this. This goes to my mom and I guess I was thinking since I got my sick leave bonus last month I should pay extra to her. I really should have just stuck it into my EF savings.  But at least it's $150 that reduced my loan balance and not $150 spent on "stuff".  The rest was car tabs due on 3 cars.

Home repairs was $183, but about $125 of that was the little closet make-over project for Dd. I do plan to take a picture of it and post, but we have been unable to find the other drape panel she wants! Frustrating - we found what she wanted at Walmart but they only had one panel in stock, we bought it and hoped to either find it at another Walmart, online or find it re-stocked.  No luck yet.

I spent $130 on clothing in February for the kids and a one-time $60 fee for Dd's sports fee to school. Another $183 was lumped into the "shopping" category - which was things Dh bought for out in the shop - $125 for the racking shelves system and misc stuff.  And he is going to try and sell the extra racking, so some of that money should come back to me.

This month should not see as many of those "one time" expenses, other than our landscaping project, which is coming out of the $1500 set aside for this (it is not in my EF balance).  My EF/Savings balance is now sitting at $2,816.27!!!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

It's Tightwad Tuesday

I can't believe it's another Tuesday already!  The sinus's are still kicking my butt, so I'm kind of glad this is a post I can cut and paste from my list - haha!

Here's a few things we all do regarding our hair:

Cheap haircuts for me and Dd at $12 per cut (but I give her $15 with tip).  My mom used to cut my hair for free most of my life and the kids when they were little, but she’s getting a bit too old and shaky hands, so I use her hairdresser now.

Color my hair myself – and buy with sale and coupon.  I keep my hair shoulder length, layered so I can go at least 8 weeks between cuts.  Dd keeps her's long and cuts as needed or when she wants some layers put it.

The guys cut their own hair with a Wahl hair clipper I bought a couple years ago.  This has saved a bundle!  I used to spend $18 x2 every 4-5 weeks for them to run over to Great Clips.  Once Ds started wearing his hair really short we decided to buy some hair clippers and give it a try (Dh was already with short hair - well, more like not much left!).  I did it the first couple of times, but now Ds does his own and his dad's.  I spent about $30 on the clippers and have probably saved close to $1000 in a little over 2 years, so far.  Best investment ever!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday morning

I had planned to stay home yesterday and save money on gas.  Even if I had wanted to go anywhere I couldn't have. I woke up during the night Saturday with a headache that just kept getting worse all day yesterday. Advil didn't help, the stronger pain meds I have for when my back goes out didn't work. I finally realized it was a sinus headache around dinner time so took some Benadryl.  I basically slept from 6:30 last night until this morning. Ugh.

I sure didn't get as much done as I wanted to yesterday. I did manage to get my bathroom at least wiped down, the dusting done and my kitchen floor mopped, so better than nothing, I guess.  On a good note, I made dinner at home Fri, Sat and Sun, no money spent on fast food.  Saturday I made spaghetti and there is enough leftover for me to take for lunch today and tomorrow. Yum!  And I did make the brownies on Saturday.  I used cholesterol free liquid egg whites in place of regular eggs and they turned out really good.

Back to work for the week - if this sinus problem keeps up I'm going to have to go buy some non-drowsy medicine. I can't be knocked out by Benadryl every day!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Kids Update

The kids are moving along nicely in their lives lately.  Both got 3.9 GPA's on their last quarter, with Ds getting  on his college's "President's List", an honor for those with 3.9 or higher GPA.   DD has taken her community college entrance exam test, last week, in order to start taking college classes next year (as a junior in high school) and passed with flying colors.  She starts tennis next week with tryouts (hoping to be varsity again) so it will be fun to go watch her matches again this spring. She needed a new bag of tennis balls while we were shopping yesterday and of course she was going to try to pay for them herself. I said, no, these are for your sporting activity - I budget for you to participate.

My son is feeling probably the richest he has been in his life.  He's got a couple of nice paychecks of almost full time hours for the last 2 paychecks, he received his monthly mileage reimbursement check of over $600, he sold a part on ebay for $350 and then sold some parts at the swapmeet for $500. His income tax refund of $268 just direct deposited into his account. Yesterday he sold another $350 in parts and he got a job doing a website for someone, which will earn him $1000. He was already given a $200 advance on it.  Then last night he won $175 by winning an online racing game.  I'm hoping having this money will help him realize how nice it is to have some extra money and not feel broke all the time.  This is his first job with steady income and since he keeps trying to find additional ways to make some money, he is doing pretty well, all of a sudden.  He never had enough before to manage to save anything. I think he is really liking this idea of having all that money in his bank account.  And I even heard Dh say to him - "keep it in the bank - don't be a spender like me!"  One can only hope :)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Weekend plans

Last night Dd and I went to watch her high school put on a musical - Oh My! What a bunch of talented young people! It was really good and we enjoyed our "evening out".  I got up early and got going this morning.  I'm going to try something new.  I am sick of grocery shopping every week! So, I wrote out a menu for 2 weeks (that was hard in itself, for me) and tried to buy enough food, other than milk, bread and produce, to last 2 weeks.  Then I only have to make a quick trip or two to refill on the fresh stuff. I'm sure it will take me a few tries to make sure I am buying enough for 2 weeks but boy, am I looking forward to next Saturday morning (or sometimes I go Friday afternoons) when I don't have to grocery shop for the week.  I've been pretty much doing once a week grocery shopping since I was 20 years old. Part habit, part from the years of being paid weekly and that's all I could afford.

Dh has been watching Craigslist for some racking units he wants for out in our garage/shop. It's been in the budget for a couple of months.  He's seen them for around $200, but wanted to keep watching to see if something cheaper showed up.  He found some yesterday for $125.  Plus it's about 5 times more than he needs, so he should be able to resell the extra and get quite a bit to offset the $125 spent.  They are picking them up right now and will give Dh a project to keep him busy for the weekend.  When he has stuff to keep his mind busy, he doesn't notice the pain so much.  Our landscape project we are using the tax refund money towards will start in about 2 weeks.  He has a friend who will work very cheap to do the machinery work with a little dozer.

I got all my errands done this morning, so I should not have to drive anywhere else this weekend and spend any money on gas. It's hit $4 a gallon around here.  I want to make some brownies this afternoon, so I probably better get busy on that before I end up wanting to take a nap instead!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Ignoring the obvious

Yesterday's close call with having to drive downtown amidst the skyscrapers got me to realizing that if I don't like something I avoid it and/or ignore it, hoping it will go away. I did that for most of my married life with our finances and trying to deal with Dh and his spending.  I just tried not to think about it and hoped it would go away.  Of course it did not!  Funny how that works.

The past couple of years has been a growing experience for me in terms of how to better handle our finances. Dh has never wanted to be in charge of keeping track of it, he just wanted it to be there when he wanted to spend it. In order to avoid dealing with him over it I just let him spend it. He wasn't so much a personal spender (though when he does it's usually something big, which is just as bad) as spending big on his business.  He expected me to handle those finances too..and expected the money to be there when he wanted it. When business was good in the summer I couldn't get him to set aside some for the winter when work was almost non existent (yet the finance companies still wanted their payments).  So, he'd borrow from his Line of Credit and charge up the credit card...and the cycle would begin all over the next year.

Honestly, I was never so relieved as when his business (and us personally, because he wasn't incorporated) went bankrupt. It was finally over! At the same time this was all happening I had settled into my current decent paying job and we were at least able to live on one income.  I am the one who has to keep all this together and not fall into debt again.  My two side jobs help give us some cushion and now some money each month towards savings. I will not allow us to get another credit card.  I was thinking we should have one because of emergencies, but I know eventually it would get maxed out, so I've come to realize I'm staying away from credit cards.  We haven't charged anything for over 3 years (one year before Bankruptcy, during the LONG year it took to finalize) and now the 15 months since.  And it feels great!

I'm not ignoring our finances anymore and I'm not ignoring Dh and his wanting money to magically appear just because he wants something.  Sure, he's getting mad at me more and more, but I'm holding my ground. I have over $2500 saved up in the past 2 months and I am tracking my expenses.  Of course, it would be better if I could tell him about the savings I have set aside, but I'm not that strong yet.  If he knew about the money I've set aside in my EF, he would use every argument, pout, big puppy eyes, beg, and then get mad at me trick he could come up with to try and get me to part with it. Mentally, he is a child as far as money goes, and though I never wanted to admit that to myself, he is, and I have to adjust how I handle him and our money because of that.

As for the drive downtown - even though I didn't end up having to do it, I was prepared! I had directions printed both ways, looked into where to park, what floor in the building I needed to go to, I had my debit card and cash with me for whichever I would need for parking, I had 2 company checks ready to take, just in case I messed up writing one.  I had no plans to ignore it and hope it worked out getting there and back.  Nope, I'm in charge of this trip now.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Suburb Girl

I am not looking forward into going into work today.  I got an email yesterday afternoon from one of the company owner's that he needs me to go into the city and pick up and pay for a permit. I HATE driving downtown! The last time I had to drive down there was a few years ago to pick up some paperwork from his attorney's office. I had no warning about it so I was all frazzled, had on high heels and had to walk blocks from the parking garage, in the rain and then I didn't have directions to get back to our office.

At least this time I am more prepared. I have printed directions there and back (lots of one way streets, so the way there isn't always the way back). I have put on comfortable shoes and rain jacket (it's raining again). I'm sure I'll be driving around the block a few times (it's on one way street) to find where to park but at least this time I'm not on a timed appointment of when I need to pick it up - all the way up on the 22nd floor....somewhere in a big huge building.

My boss did email that "one of us would do it tomorrow", so maybe she'll take pity on me and go pick it up. I am not a city girl!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The link between clutter and money

I've read numerous times over the years that getting your house in order will help get your finances in order.  As I think about the past 2-3 years, I have come to realize that for me it was the opposite reaction.

I think the money stress and problems caused a good majority of my messy, over cluttered home problem I have faced most of my adult life.  Not to say I have become a clean freak, by any sense of the term, but I have improved greatly.  I will never have a perfect, Better Homes and Garden's home like my Mom but my house no longer looks like I need to be on an episode of "Clean House" anymore, either!  I always had a pretty messy bedroom as a kid.  When I got on my own, sharing an apartment with a friend for a year, I think I did well keeping up with my share of cleaning and no clutter.

But, then I got married, too young of course, and stepped right into constant money problems - for over 20 years. And when the kids came along my house got even messier.  I could not seem to keep up with any of it and we just seemed to keep getting more stuff (toys, etc) and nowhere to put it.  As our financial life just kept spiraling into more and more debt over the years my house spiraled into more and more of a mess. Dh hated it, of course (though he grew up in a very messy house), but he also did nothing to help keep it clean. I am a saver and never imagined I'd be in debt up to our eyeballs. It made me miserable and obviously it showed in other aspects of my life - my home.

As the kids got older and less toys, it became easier to declutter some but my house was still a mess and too much stuff and our finances were still a mess.  When Dh had to stop working in 2009 is when things seemed to change. Our lives slowed down a lot, we were home a lot more (it was hard to keep up with cleaning and picking up messes when I was exhausted most evenings and gone most weekends) and I had more time to keep on top of messes.  As we have gotten our finances in order the past couple of years (a bankruptcy will do that to ya!) my house has gotten in order as a result.  Dh had more time on his hands, and while he still does nothing to help with housework (other than laundry) he did help with decluttering our family room, which all the junk had seemed to migrate to.  The room could still use another go through (we just need to get rid of a couple of big pieces of unused furniture), but it's 80% better.  The rest of the house is clean and clutter free and it now stays that way.

It didn't happen overnight, but I realized this morning as I was straightening up the living room, that less money stress has helped me with keeping my home clean. I now do this every morning, just a minute of two of putting throw pillows back where they belong, folding a blanket or two and cleaning off the coffee table.  I have finally gotten into a routine and good habits! It only took me until my mid 40's - haha!  But, I know it is because I feel so much more in control of my finances and calmer about them.  Not as much stress as all the previous years and it has helped me mentally shift that organization and calmness to my home.  I am never embarrassed now to have someone walk in my front door and see my living room, or the dining room and kitchen beyond that.  It's a great feeling to finally overcome my messiness.  We still have a long way to go to get where I would feel safe and secure financially, but I'm working toward it, better late than never.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

More cell phone savings

I now have a new way to save even a little bit more over my already super cheap cell phone pay as you go plan.  With the $10 card I recently purchased to let my unused minutes carry over for one more year I have about 335 minutes left.  I am hoping to make these last as long as possible before I have to buy another $100 card....hoping to go at least 6 months, but now I may even be able to go a bit longer. 

Comcast, my internet provider and who I use for my email, now has free text messaging that I can either do through a smart phone (though if I had a smart phone I'd most likely be on a plan that had unlimited texts, so kind of a moot point), an ipad or my computer.  When I access my email there is now a tab for text messages.  That's about the only thing I use my cell phone for - texting with the kids every so often and half of the time I do that I am at home and they are texting me about when they will be home etc.  So, now I don't have to use my cell phone if I want to text them when I am at home or work.  I can just log into my Comcast email and send/receive a text that way (it uses your home phone #).  My 335 minutes left might just last me the full year!  Plus, I am a TERRIBLLY slow texter with my crappy phone, so typing it on my computer keyboard is so much easier and faster for me. The kids always laugh that it takes me 2 minutes to send them a text back.

Tightwad Tuesday

Here's a few things from my list:
Use reusable plastic food bowl covers for leftovers - I think I spent a $1 or $2 on a bag of various sizes and they are quite handy and I haven't had to buy plastic wrap in a long time.

Recycle pop cans and aluminum.  We take them into a nearby recycling center about once a year for $25-30 average.  Usually we split the money between the kids, as they are the one's who crush the cans.
Use library for books, books on CD (for my commute) and dvd's to see movies.  I don't have the budget to spend money on all the books I read (a lot), so my local library is my best friend.  I can go online and reserve books I want to read and they email when they are ready to be picked up. Now, I go online and can download books to my Nook, without even having to visit the library.

What "tightwaddy" things does your family do?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sunday ramble

Today was some spending and a little saving.  I picked up some Colgate toothpaste at RiteAid on sale for $3.50 and get a $3.50 UP Reward back, plus I had a .75 off coupon.  The limit was 4, so I have no idea why I only bought one! Even with only 1 manufacturer coupon, the other 3 would still have been free! I guess I'll stop in again tomorrow and get 3 more.

Dd and I went clothes shopping for her. I told her she could spend $100 (from my tax refund) but she only spent $70 and got 2 pairs of jeans and 5 tops.  We stopped at Penney's first and she was surprised to find a pair of jeans for only $13.  Then we went to Ross, where she got the rest.  I told her she still had $30 she could spend but she said she had all she wanted.  Plus she got me a Starbucks with her giftcard!  It was a nice afternoon of shopping.

My new Keurig has been on the fritz a week after I got it (as soon as I threw out the box, of course), not brewing or brewing only a little. I've had to play around with it everyday to get it to work - not exactly a quick cup of coffee anymore.  Ds's girlfriend asked her mom (they have one) and they never had any problems, and she suggested to try the vinegar rinsing in the instructions. It was a long process, but did work fine this morning, so hoped that fixed the problem. We do have really hard water, but I wouldn't think one week would be that bad, plus I was leaving some water in the filler, so I'm not doing that anymore.

I wish I had tomorrow off work, like a lot of people.  I think I'll take a couple of days vacation time when my daughter has spring break the first of April.  I have almost 3 weeks between now and end of September to use, so I guess I should use some of it!  We just so rarely go anywhere that sometimes I get bored just taking it to stay home for a long week, so I try to take it in little chunks throughout the year or add it to holiday's for a longer weekend or a week off but not have to use as much vacation time. My company is thinking about combining sick and vacation time into one lump time of PTO, so since I so rarely get sick (I only used 4 hours last year) I'd have even more vacation time available.  I wish they'd finally make a decision about it. My boss has been mentioning it for months.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

They are back

I didn't get to enjoy a day to myself for very long.  Dh and the kids left at 5:30 this morning and I stayed in bed until 8am.  Got up, spent a bit on the computer and then got ready to leave so I could go do my Mom's tax return.  2 hours later I was back home to find a text from Dd that they were already on their way home and they got home shortly after I got back.  Ah well...

They only stayed about 3 1/2 hours at the swap meet, but it was miserable weather and not a big group as usual (a yearly swap meet) but Ds did manage to sell $500 worth of his parts and he also did a good deed by selling $1110 worth of our deceased friend's parts...something his wife is surely going to appreciate when he takes the money over to her!  She'll probably start crying :)

Friday, February 17, 2012

The hard part of being the sole provider

I did not have a very good evening last night.  Dh got onto a rant (again) about not having enough money and how I am always saying we can't afford what he wants. I replied that I had just told him we could spend $2000 on the landscaping project!  His "oh so logical" response was that that kind expense (and anything he wants to spend money on, really) should just be part of our budget!  There is no getting through to this man that we live on ONE set income and what that means.  I make a salary and that is that - that's what we have to live on and there isn't enough left over after all our regular expenses to just buy whatever he wants or to go on vacations (like apparently everyone else does several times a year).  I even offered him the job of managing our money so he could allocate where it goes.  Of course he doesn't want that - he just wants to feel like he's a victim and life is so unfair to him.

But, I held my ground and I don't really care anymore what his problem is with how I manage the money. If he wants more money then he can go out and find a part time job - he spends that much time a day doing stuff around here and manages to get through it, with his health problems. He spends hours and hours on his computer, so find a desk job, then.

I also realized something, while thinking to myself last night, that has been so wrong in how I have been managing our money and why it's been so hard to get anything saved up. I was basically budgeting a month ahead of time and then thinking I could spend now whatever is leftover. That probably makes no sense reading it - but I get paid twice a month, on the 15th and the last day of each month.  I have nothing extra out of the 15th check, as mortgage, auto insurance, food and gas use it up.  But, on my check at the end of the month I have some left over after paying regular expenses.  For example, on Jan 31st I paid all my bills due the first half of February, looked at my budget for all of February, and would say to myself - oh I'll have $700 left over and then would let Dh spend most of it on something.  But, of course, all through February will come up more unexpected things and by the end of February I was barely making it until I got paid at the end of February.  Now I am waiting until the end of each month and then what is leftover can be allocated to savings or spent on something "extra".

On a happy note, my income tax refund got deposited into my checking this morning! I only filed last Friday - boy that was fast! I'm transferring $1000 straight to savings, so now I will have $2522 in my EF.  I am happy with that amount. It's such a stress reliever knowing that is in there for emergencies.  If the refrigerator finally dies (I'm sure it's getting there, it's 23 years old) or one of the cars needs repairs, we'll have the funds and I won't have to borrow the money from my my mom and then have another monthly payment trying to pay her back quickly. I just want to get out of the circle of always trying to catch up.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Spending money to save money

The guys (and dd wants to go) have a swap meet they want to attend on Saturday (and I get the whole day to MYSELF!)  to try and sell a few things and see what good deals they can find to turn around and spend their money on.  This swap meet is a 2 hour drive away and in order to take one of our 6 foot long folding tables, for setting up their wares, they would need to drive our big old SUV up there.  At a gas guzzling 10 mpg it will cost almost $100 to make the round trip.

Now before you think we were totally un-frugal and went and paid out $40 or $50 Thousand Ddollars on one of these things - we did not!  We spent $5,000 on one...a used 2003 model that was a fleet truck from a railroad company, 195,000 miles on it.  When gas went over $4 a gallon, the price of these used guzzler's came way down. And it fit the needs we have for occasional use, it's not a daily driver for any of us.  But when we all (us, kids, often times a friend or two, and the dog) all need to get somewhere or we need to haul something big or with the trailer, that's what we use.  It's certainly not a frugal vehicle in anyway whatsoever but when you have a trailer to pull you need this or a truck and $5000 was about the cheapest we could find to do it. I was actually very proud of Dh on this purchase. In earlier years it would've had to be new or nothing.  Hey, I take his financial changes however I can get them ;)

One of the kids mentioned "why don't we take Mom's car?" (a mini type of crossover that gets 30mpg) and Dh mentioned the 6ft table wouldn't fit.  "Well, unless I had one of those types of folding tables that folds in half. Then we could take Mom's car."  I looked online with Home Depot and Lowes and they are about $50.  Oh man, I didn't want to fork out another $50 for something we don't absolutely have to have!  But then the accountant in me did the math.  250 miles round trip in the gas guzzler would cost almost $100 in gas.  250 miles round trip in my car would cost about $33.  Add in $50 for a new table and we'd still be $17 ahead...and have a new table to boot!  So, I headed to Walmart, to check there first before I drove all the way to the Home Improvement stores and found the table he wanted for $40.  Did I mention I get the whole day to myself on Saturday???!!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Spender half our of marriage

Dh has the short term memory of my 93 year old Grandma (but get in an argument with him and he's still fighting over something from 20 years ago!), so he has asked me several times over the past couple of weeks how much income tax refund we are getting (remember, I am telling him it's around $1500, not the $2600 it ended up being).  He asked again last night and I told him...again.  I still hadn't asked him what he wanted to do with the money, specifically. I know there is not one single part of him that will want to save ANY of it (hence, the lie of how much it really is) and more than likely what he wants to buy is something he thinks HE needs and rarely something WE don't need.

His mind will probably change between now and when the refund actually hits our bank account, but for the time being he wants to use it toward some landscaping improvements.  I'm ok with that, in fact I think that's a great plan (provided I still have my untouched EF).  He's had a plan of what he wants to do with our driveway area for about the past year and it will involve some backhoe/dozer type work, some landscaping blocks and a lot of Thuja trees to add some privacy from the road.  Now, if I can just get him to stay on track with that idea and not get distracted by something stupid to buy, life will be good.  He'll have a project to keep him busy for quite some time and I'll have a nicer yard to look at. A win win for both of us.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tightwad Tuesday

Ok, I've decided to start something new on Tuesday with my blog:  Tightwad Tuesdays.  Just some random things my family (well, mostly ME!) does to save money.

Use clothes and items until they wear out before we replace.
Dh tries to do home repairs himself whenever possible
Change our own oil on autos
Maintain our own lawn and landscaping (what made me think of this is that my step brother and his wife pay to have their yard taken care of) – other than we do have a pest control company come and spray for ants, as we were not able to keep them away on our own.  We also have a pressure washer that we have had for years and years (from dh’s business) and keep our driveway and sidewalks clean
Dh keeps tools and equipment maintained regularly to make them last

And for Valentines Day - we were the King and Queen of Tightwads today!  Last night Dh had a craving for donuts so the kids went and picked up a box of Krispy Creme's.  The box had hearts on it for Valentines.  This morning I get up to find the half eaten box left on my desk by Dh.  I ate one with my coffee and left the box back on his desk for when he got up.  We're both still laughing ;)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Weekend over

As much as I like my job I'm always sad when the weekend ends.  I'm going to make a great retired person! I love just relaxing and doing a little of this and a little of that.  But, as many years as I'm going to have to keep working, hopefully I'll at least be able to enjoy some retired years.

Saturday I got the weekly shopping done.  Nothing spectacular on coupon savings. $3.05 used in coupons at Walmart, 2 free paper towels and $1.32 saved using my red card at Target. I also had $8 in Staples rewards to use, so Dd and I stopped in there and discovered they carry K-cups coffee so I got a box and only had to pay $4, so that was a good deal found. Got the bathrooms and kitchen cleaned.  Saturday night we all went out for pizza.  We usually go early, like 5 or 5:30 when we go out to eat, but we didn't go until 7pm. Big mistake. Too many people and a baby that screamed for a half an hour non-stop.  They made our pizza wrong. It was supposed to be half meat and half cheese, but they did it all meat, so they ended up giving us a free cheese pizza.  Oh well, lots of leftovers to bring home.

Sunday I went with Dd to help her practice some tennis.  I play until I get tired, which isn't too long, but I am getting better at hitting back, and then we work on her drills.  I came home and vacuumed the house, took a short nap and then relaxed and read a book and surfed the internet the rest of the day/evening.  I don't know why but it already seems like this is going to be a long week.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

I was Tagged :)

Fun stuff! I was tagged by Louise and Mysti to answer some questions :) Sorry for the delay, Louise - I couldn't cut and past from your blog and I was being lazy and didn't want to retype!

Here are the answers to Louise's questions:

Favorite movie - that is so hard to pick one! I think the past few years it has been "The Holiday".  I've probably seen it 10 times over the years - and Dd got it for me for Christmas.
What's your most frugal recipe? - I'd say it's a hashbrown casserole with cheese, bacon and green onions.
Which Superhero would you like to be? - I'm really not a big superhero fan....hmmm...Wonder Woman, I guess
If you could only read one book the rest of your life which would it be? - Ok, this will sound strange if you knew me personally, since I am not a church-goer or very religious person, but I would have to say the Bible!  I can imagine it would be something I could read the rest of my life and learn from, if I only had one book to spend the rest of my life with.
Who was your favorite teacher and why? - honestly, no one really sticks out in my mind as far as a school teacher, but I'd say the person I learned the most from and who make me "think" the most was my Dh's best friend, who passed away last year. He had a way of teaching about him. 
What brand name product do you refuse to give up to save money? Jif Peanut Butter.
Most memorable sporting moment you've seen?  Watching my son win a national championship.  If I said what it was for it would be TMI to keep my blog about me and my family anonymous, but it was very exciting for us all! He actually did it several times over the years but the last win, in the last year he participated, was so fulfilling and bittersweet at the same time.  I remember my daughter saying right after he won, "I have the coolest brother, ever!".
The one makeup item you couldn't live without?  Mascara
Do you have a nickname and how did you get it? No nickname
If you could chose any job what would it be? - I would chose to be a Stay at Home mom again!  I loved those 5 years I got to stay home.
How did you meet your best friend? -I gave birth to her!!  Honestly, she is my very best friend and we love doing stuff together. She even asked me to go with her and her girlfriends to a watch a school musical play coming up. I thought for sure she was going to be another boy, but I'm so glad she was a girl ;)

And the answer's to Mysti's questions:

  • What financial decision would you still do, knowing what you know now?  So many mistakes, that's a hard one to find an answer to.  I think taking the job I have now.  Dh was SO against it and we had a couple of terrible fights about it (I think mainly stemmed from his fear of change and the cost of commuting part time. The job I had was 2 miles from home) but it was THE BEST decision I ever made.  Six years ago I was making $39k a year, started this job at $50k a year, now am making $63k a year and have the side jobs.  He now, of course, admits I was very right to take it.
  • First car? A Mercury Capri, which I ran into a tree, 2 weeks after I got it, trying to back out of my boyfriends tight driveway at night.  My Grandpa fixed it.
  • Favorite meal?  Alaskan King Crab Legs
  • Pancakes or Waffles?  Pancakes
  • If you could change your real name, what would you pick?  Kathleen, I have always thought that a pretty name :)
  • How did you meet your significant other?  Through my best friend and her husband.  Dh worked with her husband. 
  • How do you take your coffee?  Lots of sugar (sweet n low) and creamer (sugar free). But, only one caffeinated cup a day. I'm allergic to caffeine and never drank coffee until about 8 years ago, but after getting hooked on Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha's I love coffee now.  I can handle one small cup with caffeine but anymore than that and my heart is racing double time.
  • What color do you have the most of in your wardrobe?  purple shades
  • If you had $10,000 to spend on a vacation (and only on a vacation!!!), where would you go?  Ireland
  • If you have kids...biggest parenting mistake.  If you don't, what one thing do you hope you never do? I should have been/be tougher about regular chores
  • What one thing do you not like to admit about yourself?  I don't like doing regular chores! (lol)

And since I only have 9 followers to my little blog and most of them have probably already been tagged (as I see this is going around blogdom) I won't tag anyone else :)  Thanks for asking me to share in the fun!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Finally Friday

Well, the taxes are done and e-filed.  The workday is done and it's time for the weekend.  As soon as Dd gets home from school we are going over to our hairdresser's for trims.  She operates out of her home and charges a very reasonable $12 each.  I think I will be un-frugal and be stopping at Subway to bring home dinner.  By the time we get done with our hair, make a stop at Lowe's to exchange the curtain rod it will be dinner time and I won't get to go grocery shopping for food to make dinner until tomorrow morning.  Guess I didn't plan that one out too well. 

The ant/pest control van just pulled in our driveway and I was like "what?!" They are supposed to be on quarterly now and were just here last month.  He must have figured out he was wrong (or he's telepathic) because he drove away without getting out.  Whew - I didn't budget that $42

My expense tracking using is going well.  Automatic and I'm liking it.  I received my electricity bill for January today - $325 - ouch! but it was EXACTLY what I budgeted, what are the odds of that?!  From here forward it should start going down quite a bit every month as it get's warmer.  My spring bills usually run $175 a month and summer around $115. 

Weekend plans? None really.  Just relaxing and working on cleaning and things around the house that need to be done.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Taxes almost done

I think I have our tax return just about done.  I'm weird - I always do our taxes using 2 programs just to see if they come out the same, LOL.  I did first and then  I guess the way Turbo tax was asking the questions and had more "info" buttons jolted something in my brain to take a closer look at our medical expenses for the year.  I had either forgotten or not realized insurance premiums counted towards the medical total.  Well that amount of over $5000 plus the expenses from Dh having surgery, several doctors appointment copays,  my copays to the chiropractor, Dh's medications and an eye exam and eye glasses for Ds took us quite a bit over the 7.5% threshold to be able to deduct for medical expenses.   It bumped our refund up by over $400.  Also, by doing the return in 2 different programs I found an error I made in entering our state sales tax info into the first tax program, and I had deducted too much, making our return $200 more than it should have been.

So, all in all, looks like we will be getting back almost $2700!  I had already mentioned to Dh that it looked like we would get back a little over $1500.......Because.....well, because if I told him the whole amount he'd spend it!  It's not like I keep the money from him so I can go by myself clothes and jewelry - I put it in savings and it gradually gets used up during the year for all the unplanned expenses that come up.  So, I think I'll stick to my $1500 amount told to Dh and bank the rest in savings!  My EF fund is growing nicely now that I finally put my mind to it and realized I just have keep Dh's mitts off of it. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A little of this - a little of that

I guess it is the little things that add up.  So far this week I've received or done the following:

 - whopping $1.08 dividend check received on 4 shares of stock I still somehow have from a company I worked for long ago.  I usually just deposit into checking and it disappears. I will put into savings for a very teeny snowflake.  I should just see how much those 4 shares are worth and figure out how to get rid of them.  I don't even think I have the actual shares paperwork, it's been so long ago.

- Free lunches at work Monday and Tuesday so I didn't need to spend anything on my sack lunch.  Brought home some leftovers from Monday's lunch, which is Dd's favorite (chicken pesto penne) and she had for dinner last night, I was still full from the big lunch so just had a small snack later in the evening and Dh, of course, had to have Wendy's (no frugal bone in his body). 

- Saved the leftovers from Monday's dinner and had for lunch today.

- Received a $5 Amazon giftcard from Swagbucks.

- mailed the 2 vehicle tab registrations, that are due, in early enough so that I didn't have to go into the local licensing office and pay the extra $5 (per car) processing fee.  (side note: it's nice to finally have the funds available to pay early!)

- $10.10 check from Ebates from 2 Christmas present purchases.  Will deposit into savings, instead of checking

Monday, February 6, 2012

A nice gift but.....

I had a birthday recently (I am now closer to 50 than 45  yikes~) and got a very nice gift from my son and his girlfriend - a Keurig coffee maker!  It's nice and convenient, but sure comes at a higher cost to drink coffee now.  Those little K-cups are expensive little buggers.  I'm no coffee connoisseur, so I was happy with the $8 box I found at Walmart for regular coffee.  But then Dd wanted to try the hot chocolate at $11 a box.  We both agreed it was nothing really special and Dd said it sure wasn't worth $11.  I received a $25 Amazon gift card (Dd got confused and thought I had a Kindle, not a Nook) so I am going to use that to order some K-cups.  I'll try some Chai tea and also get some decaf.  It's going to be hard to make myself buy those expensive K-cups too often.  Son's girlfriend says her mom uses the 40% off coupons and Bed Bath & Beyond or buys them at Kohl's when they are offering the Kohl's cash.  Those sound like good plans. I'll have to start watching for those BB&B coupons.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Saturday night

I'd say it was a semi productive day.  I got the kitchen all cleaned up and did the dusting.  Then Dd wanted to start putting her closet organizing cabinets together.  There were 3 in all, that stack on top of each other.  Dh decided to help, so while that made it go faster it was still a 3 1/2 hour project.  Dh helping has it's good points and bad!  He of course wanted to design her closet the way he wanted it done, not the way Dd wanted it done (and she won't try to argue with him) so I had to step in and get out her drawing and explain what she wanted.  It was like pulling teeth to get him to agree to take off her closet doors (she wants to put up curtains) but he finally came around realizing that sliding closet doors kind of got in the way of the drawer units that are now in her closet.  So, all in all I think we ended up 75% of how she wanted it done.  We're not quite done yet, we still need to do the curtains and then I will take an "after" picture.

By the time I was done helping with all that my back was done for and it's still hurting.  I didn't get much else done the rest of the day, other than worked on our tax return and Ds' tax return.  It's looking like we will be getting back about $2400.  Now I just have to figure out how much I want to keep "secret" to put into our EF and how much to tell dh we are getting.  I think I'll sleep on it and figure it out tomorrow.  I have $1500 in savings/EF right now and plan to put in about $500 more at the end of this month (barring any big emergency).  I'm thinking I'll tell him it's a $1400 tax refund.  Hopefully the 10 days or so it takes to get the refund deposited in our account will give him time to think about it and be a little more realistic about what it should be used for, but more than likely he will blow it on something(s) we don't really need, but in his mind it will be oh so important.  I can tell he's working his way towards wanting to buy something big....first because he asked me how much we are getting back and then last night he was saying that I always say "we can't afford it" whenever he wants to buy something. He asked me if I wanted to go to Mexico! I'm like WHAT? I guess 2 of his friends and their families are going down together in March. I replied "sure, are you coming into some extra money soon?" And then he started in on how I always say no.  So, I know he's trying to guilt me into saying yes to whatever he's cooking up in his brain.  It would be a miracle if he wanted to do something "smart" with the extra money.  And c'mon - he has no grasp of reality where money is concerned - we can barely afford to go out to dinner - let alone Mexico!  Good grief.

Some History and Background

It looks like I am getting a few more readers to my little blog!  Thanks for joining!  I don't have a very long memory, so I pretty much don't remember what I posted last week and I rarely go back and look at what I posted (I'd rather be reading all your blogs) so thought maybe a little background info might be helpful. As anonymous as I can be, here's the scoop:

Dh and I have been married over 25 years, have 2 kids now 20 and 16.  I'm an accountant and Dh used to work self employed in the construction industry.  His being self employed was ALWAYS a struggle financially as he never made good decisions and really just wasn't too cut out to be self employed but he struggled along anyway because I don't think he knew any better.  Then he became ill and it was hard for him to work, but he struggled on as best he could, in pain every day and working when there was work (construction is seasonal around here).  The end of 2008 hit the economy and by spring of 2009, when work should be back in full swing there was NONE. The construction company he did most of his subcontract work for had laid off over 90 of their employees so they sure didn't need him!  By the end of summer he lost his business and of course the stress didn't help his illness. Without the business income there was no way to pay his business debts (equipment loans, line of credit and credit cards) on my salary - my salary was what we lived on.  He never incorporated his business (financial advice: always incorporate!) so we had to file personal bankruptcy (a very stressful part of our life that I am so glad is over). 

Most of the debt written off (except about $700) was all related to the business, so while we got out from under all the business debt, we were still basically in the same boat on our personal finances.  Little debt, other than our home and a home equity loan (which was taken in 2007 to keep his business afloat).  Of course, since we kept our home, we still are paying the $60,000 home equity loan.  Luckily (I guess) the month before we filed for bankruptcy the bank that held our HELOC loan offered new terms (they had been bought out by another bank earlier that year and were reorganizing their loans) much more favorable to our monthly budget.  Instead of interest only for 5 years and then the $60,000 due in 5 more years (which would have started this year) they offered interest only for 10 years and then monthly payments for 10 more years.  I took it and it got changed just before our bankruptcy was filed.  Otherwise right now I'd be looking at a huge monthly payment I don't know how we'd afford and we'd probably would've had to let our house go. But, getting this $60k paid off is really something I want to figure out how to do in less than 14 years, which is when our first mortgage will be paid off.

Dh hasn't worked since and we tried for disability but was denied saying he could work 2 hours per day, so not eligible.  Seriously, who could find a job to support their family on for 2 hours a day?  I work full time and have 2 small side jobs that I made an additional $800 a month or so on.  From the bankruptcy we were able to keep our meager assets, 3 older cars (one only worth about $500, that Ds was driving to school). Our house value plumeted and now instead of having $30-40k equity we are $50k underwater.  Some days I think we should just walk away from it and start over, but we've been here so long and we'd have to rent, which we don't want to do.

 My mom is very financially secure has has always been my "backup" when needed and I always pay her back, though she and my dad (passed away now) set aside money to pay for kids college (thank god!).  After bankruptcy she offered to finance buying me a new car (I commute alot and need something reliable) and I was going to spend about $18-20k on a new car, but we found a great deal on a 2011 car that had less than 5k miles on it for $12k, so we got that instead. It was practically like new. I'm making montly payments to my mom and LOVE LOVE LOVE my car :-)

Our only debt is the house, HELOC and my car loan with Mom.  Of course, we now have no credit card to rely on for emergencies so we have to be very careful, which is why I have been so focused on getting some savings built up.  I have one department store credit card, Macy's, that didn't have a balance and didn't get canceled (I had a JC Penneys card for 30 years, used it on occasion and was never late and hadn't had a balance on it for a year and they canceled me after bankruptcy).  I don't shop at Macy's much but have tried to use it every so often just to try and get my credit built up a little, if possible.  I'm debating whether to try getting one of those secured credit cards to help rebuild credit score, but at this point do not want to tie up what little savings I have.  And I really don't want good enough credit to get another regular credit card, I'd just use it and I don't want to charge anything.  Surprisingly enough, CreditKarma shows our credit scores at 689 and 672 - not as bad as I had imagined they would be.

Our home is very modest, 1700 sq ft manufactured home - and always falling apart!  I did finally save up enough money last year and we had it and the garage repainted, which did wonders for the look of the house and all of our state of minds.  We have a little acre of land and try to keep it looking nice, though dh would like to do some additional landscaping this spring/summer. 

My main struggle with our finances is to keep Dh from spending.  He has never managed money well and never saved a dime in his life.  I am the one who has to take care of it ALL and finally have resorted to not telling him of the $1500 EF I have built up and will probably tell him our income tax return is half what it really is so I can put the rest into more savings.  He has no concept of saving money and with retirement 20 years away, I can't imagine how we will get by.  Right now my 401k/profit sharing is only at a little over $20k and I had to stop contributing in 2009.  I was so hoping to get a raise last month so I could restart contributions but no raises were given to those who got one last year :-(  At least my company is contributing 3.4% of my annual salary each year, so it is going up a little each year.

In some ways, things have calmed done a lot in our lives now that dh isn't working and doesn't have a business.  We can't do as much as we used to, but we also are not going into more debt every year and it's a much simpler life, which I am finding to my liking.  So, my blog is a record of our journey in this chapter of our lives.

Friday, February 3, 2012

A savings snowflake

I deposited the 2 checks from my 2 side jobs today.  A bit more than usual, since I got in a few extra hours in getting the year end accounting done.  Almost $900 total! I budget for $750-$800, as that is my usual monthly amount.  When I did the deposit into the ATM I took out $20 cash. I've decided to try a little experiment to increase my savings.  Every month when I deposit my side jobs checks I'm going to keep out $20 to just put into an envelope - to save.  For what I don't know....maybe for extra Christmas money, maybe to raid for those small Murphy emergencies, or unplanned expenses, or maybe to just keep on saving and put whatever I save at the end of the year into regular savings.  I just keep envisioning having hidden this huge wad of $20 bills -  maybe my kids will find it when I'm old and kick the bucket, LOL.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

How the pie is sliced

Thanks to Tanner at Working For a Goal, I figured out how to cut and paste my colorful pie chart from into my blog.  So, here's my January:

I still have some "tweaking" to do with Mint's categories.  The "Home" category includes my mortgage payment, but is not including my Home Equity Loan payment, nor is the "Auto" category showing my car payment.  Apparently it is not picking up loan payments as "Spending".